Switching to a New Lens . . .

•June 24, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Hello to all of our dear readers!!

We are fast approaching the one year anniversary of Reddy-Go Shoot!, and Sam and I are celebrating by completely revamping the blog. With the many changes we are sure to be experiencing in this coming year, we have decided that this is as good a time as any to change up the tune of our site. While this site will still be around for you to peruse, we won’t be updating our posts here, so if you care to keep reading our musings on life, it’s probably best to check out our new site. We have also moved all of our old posts to the new site, so if you are a new reader, you can see all of our writing there (or here if your heart so desires). We would also like to thank all of you who read our blog and send us comments and feedback day in and  day out. Without you, Reddy-Go Shoot! would not be what it is today. You are the people who keep us blogging on a regular basis, and we love you for that! So without further ado, I’d like to introduce you to the updated Reddy-Go Shoot. We hope you like it!

http://reddygoshoot.tumblr.com/

Love,

Sithara and Sam

Thank you guys!!!!! XOXO

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“Born to be Wild”

•May 30, 2010 • Leave a Comment

New York travel plans.

Falling in love with unknown destinations, serendipitous events, new friendships, exotic cultures, strange cuisines, crazy adventures, and unlikely experiences is the essence of travel. Being a travel junkie myself, I can whole-heartedly attest that these are only a few of the many reasons why I love traveling so much. From seeing enchanting waterfalls in Costa Rica, hiking previously untraveled trails in Belize, biking down city streets in  Amsterdam, and tobogganing and careening down steep slopes in the Swiss Alps; to eating Escargot in Paris, tasting ten different types of Jerky in South Africa, and catching, killing, and subsequently eating Trout in Austria; to finding and coming to terms with spirituality in India and understanding the impact of religions in the mosques of Turkey; to taking a swig of “La Fée Verte” in Prague and diving headfirst into a green-fairy-filled oblivion of sorts, traveling has provided me with a bevy of tangible memories to peruse and relive at whatever time my heart desires.

Traveling isn’t just about seeing the sights, eating the food, and immersing myself in the culture; it’s also about meeting and connecting with the locals around me. I have found that making connections can lead to some of my most rewarding experiences as a traveler. I cannot count how many times locals have given me on-the-road tips and advice, and surprisingly, many people have even invited me into their lives for the short time that I am visiting. From a chatty tour guide in Turkey to the families I met in South Africa, people have welcomed me with open arms to become a part of their lives, even for the briefest of moments. I’ve shared meals with a family in Philippolis, swapped life stories with pub-goers in London, and shared first-time experiences with fellow travelers in Amsterdam. Time and time again, I have, without fail connected with the people around me, and never have I met a place where I have felt stranded and alone. Although we may come from diverse backgrounds and cultures, as people, we can connect on so many different levels.

Recently I have come to realize that I have primarily thought of travel solely outside of the United States. Although I absolutely love traveling abroad, I have also discovered how much of the US I have yet to explore. I think I have come to take the beauty and wonder of the US for granted since I was born and brought up here. Especially living in the same city for a long period of time has made me almost numb to new experiences. I go about my daily life without the wonder and joy I know I have when I first move to a new place. Having not been able to travel very much due to class, work, and lack of vacation time, I have almost forgotten what it is like to view the world through innocent eyes.

The first time I realized just how jaded I had become with the world around me, was this past weekend when I took a trip to New Orleans. Although I normally love traveling, this trip in particular was really bringing me down.  I was ecstatic that my cousin was getting married, but I somehow couldn’t even feign the slightest amount of excitement at the thought of flying over. Rather begrudgingly, I hopped into a cab for Logan International Airport in Boston for my 10 AM flight. I even went as far as planning my escape during the taxi ride over. Maybe I could say I slept through my alarm clock, or they gave my seat to the President, or they offered me $300 for my seat and I took it, but none of my excuses really seemed plausible. Sighing, I resigned myself to my fate and boarded the flight. With my wonderful luck, I was, of course, one of the last people to board the plane. After finally finding a place to stow my carry-on  bag, I squeezed past the two other people in my row and situated myself for the two hour flight to Chicago, where I had a two hour layover. Just as I closed my eyes, trying to block out the noise and rustling of my fellow passengers, I felt an uncomfortable presence to my left. Trying to ignore it, I concentrated harder on the music I was listening to, but when the feeling didn’t subside, I opened my eyes and looked over to find an older man watching me intently.

As soon as he saw my eyes open, he proceeded to pelt me with questions about life, travel, and being a student in Boston. He learned so much about me in those two hours, yet I only learned two things about him, he used to live in New Orleans before he joined the army. Lost in my annoyance with the world, I completely brushed off the kindness of a stranger who was willing to give me insider tips about a city I hadn’t visited in more than ten years. I didn’t give my actions a second thought during the flight, and to tell you the truth, it only really hit me once I had landed in New Orleans. How could I have even thought of scoffing at someone who was so excited for me to visit their hometown? It’s almost as if I had turned into some kind of mutant-freak travel snob who couldn’t even bear the thought of leaving my luxury, latte-filled life at home. Who was this monster who was an obvious homebody with a temper that could rival that of Christian Bale, and what on earth had it done to my travel-obssessed alter ego? Where was that girl who met and engaged a passing author on the New York subway in deep conversation, who once shared a meal with a sweet, elderly lady on the bus back to Boston, and who always managed to make friends on the road? This lightning bolt back to reality really hit me hard. I was stunned by how quickly my outlook on life could become so jaded.

As my plane landed in New Orleans, I renewed the pact I had made with myself four years earlier, after my first experience traveling on my own itinerary in Europe — I promise myself that I will live every day like it’s my last, and I will constantly experience my surroundings as if it is my first time seeing them; I will take charge of my world as it flies by, and I will push myself to veer from the beaten track; I will always be open to new experiences, and I will forge new friendships; I will take chances, and I will fall in love with travel once more.

~Sithara Reddy~

Stationery Life

•May 28, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Letter Written with Pens and Pencils

Ever since I can remember, pens and paper have always had some sort of magnetic draw on my hands and fingers. There’s just something enchanting to me about a notebook that has just the right amount of paper and is just the right thickness to look satisfying on its own. I know all the different types of pen and exactly what type of ink should be used on what type of paper. For instance, my favorite type of pen, the gel ink pen, writes well on almost any type of paper at nearly any thickness. The ink “rides” on the surface of the page and doesn’t bleed through to the other side or into the fibers of the paper itself (a definite no-no in my book).



But as many of you know, I’m a math and science dork…what am I doing getting highs from the perfect pen or the ideal notebook? It’s not because I have ever considered myself a dedicated journaler like Sithara, or an aspiring author, like one of my roommates. And of course, math and science people still do use pens and paper, but half the time the notebooks I buy are left completely empty because I hardly ever have the energy or willpower to sit down and write. And now that I have a computer that is extremely accessible at all times, writing anything down with my bare hands almost seems like manual labor.



This seems pointless and definitely wasteful. (Rest assured, though, I do end up using everything in some form or another. It might just take me a couple of years to finally use up all the items I acquire in one buying spree.) You may be thinking why am I reading a blogpost about pens and paper? Why does this matter so much that it merits an entire post, especially when it seems to be inconsequential even to the author? (Or maybe you’re just thinking, “Wow, Samantha is weirder than I thought.”)



Well I’ll tell you. It’s not inconsequential…to me at least…because it is one of the few things that I know ties my brother, my mother, and myself together. For probably 12 years of my life, I always thought that my mother never understood why my brother and I loved going to the stationery store in a local Japanese supermarket that we frequent. She always seemed extremely unwilling to let us buy pens and pencils and notebooks from this place, even though they definitely would be useful tools. But then one day, when I entered middle school, my mom pulled out a very small item from her secret treasure trove somewhere. She held it in the palm of her hand, and it was no bigger than the last joint in her thumb. It was a small pink stapler, literally no bigger than 1inch long and 3/4 inch wide. She handed it to me and said, “This was the stapler I used when I was in high school. Now that you’re going to middle school, I think it will come in handy for all of your work. You can have it. Just take good care of it. This stapler is older than you!” And then my mom explained to me that she always liked stationery since she was young, too, and it makes her happy to see that my brother and I also share that passion with her. But she wanted us to be careful when we were younger to not spend too much on bad pens or on paper we would never use. “You can’t just buy and buy everything. You have to learn what they’re good for so that you can buy the right thing when you need it. Then it will serve you well when you actually use it in school or work.



So that’s why I know so much more about pens and paper than probably most other people ever consider thinking about. And now you know why it’s become even more important to me. I understood my mom better, I can share it with my brother, and I can write with pride and fulfillment. It’s so special to us, in fact, that every time we travel back to Taiwan to visit my relatives, the various stationery stores around the city of Taipei are a “must visit” location (up there with temples and the 101).



Pencils, paper, pens, pencil bags, notebooks….yea, they’re all just objects, especially if I haven’t even bought them yet. But the ultimate idea is something that we can all appreciate. They represent the potential to connect not just with the rest of the world but with the people we care about most. That key idea has a new extension to my computer and this blog. Think about your own computer that you’re reading this post from now. Isn’t that why you love and depend on it so much (well at least when it isn’t frozen or crashed or somehow thwarted your plans)? It must be at least part of the reason why you’re reading our blog.


~Sam Go~

Chronicles of Life

•May 1, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Journaling in today's world.

The very first time I sat down and wrote that sentence about my life, I became an addict. Stating my mind and expressing my feelings to a nonjudgmental audience just felt so right. With the first scratch of pencil on paper, I was hooked. Being a shy, unassuming girl, I have always gone through life censoring my thoughts and actions. Finally allowing myself an outlet for all of these feelings has been one of the greatest gifts I have ever given myself.

Journals have been around since the invention of writing, but even before then, people found ways to record their lives. Whether through stories and myths passed on by word of mouth or through paintings and drawings that have stood the test of time, human-kind is marked by a significant affinity for finding ways to document life.

Even though times have changed and technology has progressed, the art of recording life has not vanished; if anything, it has become more prevalent within society. While people may still write in journals, paint artwork, and take photos; blogs, websites, and social networks have dominated much of society throughout the last few years. As websites imitating MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter pop up all over the internet, more and more people have become involved in chronicling their daily lives.

Although many have come to accept this as part of the new age of a technologically dominated universe, there are still many that question and doubt its’ authenticity and existence. More times than I can count have I been asked why I choose to keep a blog, and while there are many answers to this question, they never seem to appease these questioning minds.

I may be a child of this technology-driven era, but I too had my doubts when blogging first appeared on the scene. I remember, quite clearly, the first time I ever heard about MySpace and Facebook. I was a freshman in high school when the obsession with social networking sites started to escalate. I remember wondering why anyone in their right mind would want to put everything about themselves online. It made absolutely no sense to me. What was the purpose of a site like Facebook? Wouldn’t it just make life more complicated? Why not just use a phone, write letters, or type up emails to communicate? All of these were valid questions for a person who was in high school with no need for the services that these sites provided, but at that point in time, they were mostly used by college students and artists, not the masses.

Even to this day, I have never signed up for a MySpace account. Whether it is because it was simply not a big thing among my friends, or the fact that I saw it as more of a place for upstart and established artists, I was never interested in opening an account. On the other hand, I do have a Facebook and Twitter account, as well as my own blog and website. While some shrink in fear from the new, changing face of social networking, I have obviously welcomed it with open arms. Now, don’t get me wrong, I still question certain aspects of each new phase of social networking, but I have, for the most part, come to like and accept much of this ever-changing technology.

Blogging has brought me closer to an entirely new group of people that I would have never connected with otherwise. It is an online journal typed up for the world to see, and thoughts and opinions are published on daily basis. Some choose to censor their opinions while others could care less. Although potentially anonymous, I have found that blogs tend to uphold a certain level of sincerity and trust. Though you may never know the person behind a blog, people have a tendency to trust a blogger’s opinions and thoughts on the world. It is a curious thing that an anonymous blogger’s opinion can receive just as much attention as that of a well known journalist. This is one of the many perks of blogging. Your opinion is out there for the world to see, whether they like it or not. It is a way for the unknown to be heard and well-known to discover new points of view.

Though I definitely enjoy blogging, it does not always satisfy my need for writing as well as my personal journal. Sometimes it is just nice to be able to scrawl my emotions over a page and not have to think about the repercussions. No one, as far as I know, has read my dairy, and no one, as long as I am alive, will read it. It is for me alone to express my feelings and understand my emotions. It is the one place where no one will judge me, where I can figure myself out, and where I can fully comprehend my life. There is something strangely satisfying about filling up the pages of my journal one by one. Whether full of pictures and drawings from my travels, poems and reminisces from wonderful experiences, or nostalgic reminders from the past, my journal houses my life story. Every important, exciting moment is recorded for all of eternity.

Even though I have openly welcomed blogging into my life, I have by no means stopped writing in my journal. Both of these forms of expression serve very different purposes in my life, and while technology continues to improve and evolve every day, I hope that long established forms of recording life will not be forgotten.

~Sithara Reddy~

Activism (cont.)

•April 3, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Connected to the world from your own home court

(continued from February 27, 2010 post)

One commenter brought up her 3 sheets of quarter-folded paper and a jar full of what she claimed was tap water from her sink or a nearby river. Imagine dunking your glass into the bottom of the Charles or Los Angeles River. What you would see is separated layers of gunk, mud, and colloidal light brown water as a purposely imperfect natural specimen from their home town. Voice cracking from a mixture of anger and fear, the woman pointed to the glass jar and asked the CEO, “Would you drink that?”

Now as many of you know, I am concerned about the environment and what impact us humans have on it, in the past and in the future. But by no means would I ever consider myself an activist or environmentalist, per se. And these activists just turn me off that path even more. Certainly, I wanted to know what the real impacts of the natural gas drilling are on local populations, but they were just so rude and obnoxious to the presenter and to the rest of the audience that they seemed entirely unapproachable. Observing them protest and represent something they really care about is admirable for sure, but it also helped me understand why so many upper-ups just want to ignore them and shove them aside. They lacked a sense of common decency in that presentation that many people develop when they are in elementary school.

If, by some random chance of a Google search, one of those activists reads this blogpost, they may call me a snobbish intellectual college student. They may even dare me to come and see their homes and the devastation that they claim the company has caused them. But you know what? I accept that challenge. I am not trying to de-fuse or de-rail your protesting nor do I think you’re all ludicrous for thinking that natural gas isn’t the way of the future. I don’t work for the company, and I have no personal investment in a particular technology. As a future environmental scientist and researcher, I want to make a point of not losing sight of the local implications. What is so amazing about the environment is the unifying power it has because we all share it, even though I experienced the divisiveness first-hand that day. Each person’s connection to the environment is not in carbon emissions or average number of degrees warmer; it’s the local effects that change a person’s pre-existing way of life. That is what the climate change really is at its core. It’s not about protecting some abstract notion of “the people’s” global environment, although to many that is the only way to understand environmentalism. It’s about preserving the values of each community on its own terms. We can only achieve the positive universal effects of environmental science if each of us can better connect with our own neighborhoods, but there is a fine line to represent ourselves respectfully. Yea, sometimes, you have to be loud and obnoxious to get noticed. Sometimes you have to be a little irrational to fight the powers above. But impoliteness and rudeness does not equate to getting more attention. In the short term, maybe…but in the long term, it’s simply counter-productive. Activism takes many forms, just look through the posts we’ve written recently. Look in the news, think back in your own memory: Which movements come to mind first? Which have been the most effective? Why?

So who am I siding with, exactly? Powerful natural gas? Or grassroots voices of protest? I guess I haven’t really decided, but I also don’t think I should come down on only one side of that equation. There are ways to make effective compromises that benefit both sides without settling for a less-than-optimal decision. I just have to remind myself as I continue my scientific studies that not everyone will accept the typically universalist understanding of science that we have all been taught since middle school…but that does not mean that they are ignorant or un-educated about their own environment. I haven’t lived there, I haven’t experienced it. It’s important to humble myself and realize that I’m the ignorant and uneducated one about nearly everyone else’s environment. So much more to learn!

~Sam Go~

GMHC

•March 23, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Annette Messager's exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art."My Vows" 1988-1991

“Live in my house, I’ll be your shelter. Just pay me back with one thousand kisses. Be my lover, and I’ll cover you.” – RENT

**Viewer Discretion Advised this post contains language about delicate topics that you may not be comfortable talking about**

“There was once this nineteen year old boy who came to visit New York from Jamaica. On a whim he decided to get tested for HIV here. He was positive. When he called to tell his mother, she told him that he was no longer welcome back home. She said if the family didn’t kill him, she would make sure the neighbors did. That’s how we got him a student visa to go to college in the United States. He graduated college here and is now doing very well for himself.”

This is one of the many poignant and inspiring stories that echos through the halls of the Gay Men’s Health Crisis, a center that serves people who are HIV positive. Although the center started out as a sanctuary for gay men with HIV and AIDS, today it stands as a haven for any person who is HIV positive no matter of their age, gender, or orientation. Their mission is to not only provide services for people with HIV, but to also continue fighting the stereotypes and misconceptions surrounding HIV and AIDS, as well as the ever continuing battle against homophobia. As shown by the people shouting homophobic slurs at openly gay Massachusetts Representative Barney Frank, homophobia is still a highly prevalent issue in today’s world. GMHC commits itself to fighting these negative stereotypes against the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) community.

GMHC is an organization that assists people living with HIV and AIDS, and they provide numerous services for people who are not able to get them elsewhere. I had the incredible opportunity of volunteering with GMHC this past week. Along with 35 other volunteers, I talked with clients, served lunch, worked with AIDS walk, and learned the most up to date information about HIV and AIDS.  Having been educated about HIV and AIDS in high school, I came into these workshops thinking that I knew everything there was to know about the disease. What I soon realized was that I had so much more to learn. It is disheartening to know that there are still stigmas attached to HIV and AIDS and that every day people are not receiving the same treatment because of their personal health. It is also scary to know that the population at risk for HIV is ever changing. Even with all of the information available in the United States, people still make unsafe decisions in their lives.

Having been fully educated through these workshops, people may believe that I feel it is my duty to at least spout off a few random facts about HIV and AIDS, but truthfully, I was genuinely interested and surprised by many of the new facts I learned. So here are some things you may not have known:

1. There are only four ways to be infected with HIV: blood, sperm, vaginal secretions, and breast milk. You would be surprised how many people believe that just coming in contact with saliva or being touched by someone with HIV could transmit the disease. Many people are discriminated against in the workplace, alienated by their friends, and even exiled from their families because of these stereotypical misconceptions about HIV.

2. In the United States, the highest killer of women ages 14 to 24 and people over the age of 60 is AIDS. Most of these women did not know they were HIV positive until it was too late. Many of their husbands and boyfriends were unfaithful and in doing so became HIV positive, transmitting the disease to their significant others. One of the GMHC volunteers I worked with didn’t find out she was HIV positive until she had a daughter who was born HIV positive. Unfortunately, her daughter passed away at the tender age of 7, but she continues to dedicate much of her time volunteering with GMHC.

3. A person can’t die from HIV, they can only die from AIDS. A person is diagnosed with AIDS when their T-cell count is 200 or below. HIV attacks the immune system until a person’s body can’t fight off diseases it would normally be able to deal with without a problem. These opportunistic infections start emerging when a person has AIDS. Some common examples are Pneumonia, Herpes, Kaposi’s Sarcoma, and Lymphoma.

4. Most of GMHC’s clients are under or just above the New York poverty line, which means that treating HIV and AIDS is not their sole priority. Many find that housing, food, and just getting by from day to day is their main concern. True, there are also many who do not fit this description, but what is amazing about GMHC is the fact that they offer clients free HIV testing and consultation, a wellness program, GED courses, dining services, and legal aid. Not only do they offer care for their clients, but they also make a great effort to educate this new generation in preventing HIV and practicing safe sex.

There are many more facts that I learned during my week at GMHC, but I just wanted to share a few that I found most alarming and important to know.

As much as this post is about GMHC and its clients, it is also about the volunteers. Many of the volunteers and employees at GMHC work there because of personal reasons. Whether they volunteer because they lost a loved one to AIDS, they themselves are HIV positive, or they just volunteer out of the goodness of their heart, each and every person is there because they are dedicated to the cause. No one is there for the money or the fame, every person sincerely loves and cares about what they are doing.

Of the hundreds of heart-wrenching stories I heard, many came straight from the mouths of GMHC volunteers and employees. From a lawyer’s HIV positive brother who committed suicide, to an employee’s discovery that he was HIV positive and subsequent coming out to his family and the world at the young age of 14 left me wondering what I could possibly do to help those in need in my own community. I can’t put it in any better words than Luna did. He said, “I would like for young people to take up activism. To get angry and speak up. You know, to get involved, with themselves, but also with their community. I would like the scene to be the way things were before, in terms of belonging.”

Though New York has the highest concentration of HIV and AIDS cases in the United States (more than Miami, Washington D.C., and Los Angeles combined), there are always people who are not so lucky as to live in New York where organizations like GMHC exist. Whether it is raising money and walking in the AIDS walk in New York or Los Angeles, volunteering at my local HIV and AIDS clinic, or starting up my own non profit in the future, I am committed to doing as much as I can to help out people living with HIV and AIDS.

The most important things I took away from my time with GMHC were open-mindedness, understanding, perseverance, and hope. Hope for a time when everyone is treated equally. Hope for a world without prejudice. Hope for a future where HIV and AIDS can be both prevented and cured. And love for all those who  have died.

Sithara Reddy

New York, I Love You

•March 6, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Downpour Galore

. . . Drip . . . Drip . . . Drip . . .

The steady beating of rain on the roof lulls me into a sleep-like trance. Water pours down the buildings and gushes into the streets. Scattering, people run for cover. Newspapers, umbrellas, and coats shield bodies from the untimely downpour.

Crash!

Dogs howl as thunder drowns the constant hum of traffic in the streets.

“Excuse me, miss?” A quiet voice jerks me back to reality, “Here’s your coffee.” I thank the waiter before tucking back into the novel that I had drifted away from.

Steam rises from my cup of hot coffee, begging me to take my first sip. Knowing the sting of a burn to come, I cautiously bring the cup to my lips, only to set it down a moment later. A hint of a smile lingers at my mouth as I notice a pattern meticulously drawn into the foam. The waiter subtly winks at me as my eyes scan the coffee shop counter. Attention to detail is what sets this coffee shop apart from the many others that litter the streets of Manhattan. From my seat towards the back of the coffee shop, I watch as people walk past. A group of hipsters with their skinny jeans, fedoras, and cool attitude walk in as a punk couple snuggles on the couch by the door. A pair of well-dressed, make-up caked, elderly ladies gossip to my right while their grumpy, teenage grandchildren glare at everyone in sight. A dreadlocked hippie and her dog sit and watch the petering rain on the door step. A trendy man across the room listens to music on his iPod nano, mouthing along with the words. I glance out the open window in time to see a homeless man animatedly conversing with his friendly companion, a giant trash bag.

People are in their own little worlds, but somehow at peace and connected with everyone around them. As the hippie’s dog runs off toward the traffic, a hipster boy doggedly races after him and returns to the shop, runaway puppy in hand. When the elderly ladies leave behind a single, pricey glove, the young punk couple reach out to let them know of their missing treasure. As the trendy man walks out of the shop, he manages to spare a few dollars for the chatty hobo. And just as I get up to make my way into the flooded street, the waiter passes by with a shy smile and slips me a gift card for a free coffee on his next shift.

Only in New York does this free-for-all blend of personalities, cultures, and groups mix with such ease. I love the individuality of every single person who lives in this city. It is an unabashed, brazen slap in the face to all those who judge them. Each and every person I have encountered in New York has never ceased to interest me. Whether it be their style, interests, conversation, or personality, they all seem to possess an inherent love of and passion for expressing their individuality. I think this is why I love New York so much. It’s not just the city itself, but also the people that give this city its natural charm and edge.

New York, I love you.

Sithara Reddy