Category Archives: controversial issues

Talkin’ ’bout my Generation…

What’s my Generation again? While I was browsing Reddit with my morning cup of coffee, I stumbled upon a good article (a nice break from rage comics). And it got me wondering, what generation AM I?

Now, being born in 1986 should classify me as a Generation Y, but both of my siblings are Generation X. I grew up with their taste in music, their games, their movies, their interests. Y is supposed to be defined as Gamecube and Pokemon and Dragonball Z and MP3 players, but I had Super Nintendo, Rainbow Bright, and Disney record hand-me-downs. I agree with a lot of the points made in the linked article about marriage and parenting perspectives. Am I a very young GenX? But then, unlike GenX, I’m stuck with GenY in the horrible, near-impossible job market that the Baby Boomers have set us up with.  Okay, so let’s say that I’m a GenY with a strong GenX upbringing; I’m still screwed by the Baby Boomers, just like everyone else.

I feel like GenY has been harder to classify than other generations, mostly because I don’t think that my age group really can define itself with just one title. The Internet has made it so easy to reach out to and connect with people all over the world based on interests, rather than having friends based on who’s in your neighborhood. And I think that we’ve missed out on a lot of things because of that. We’re so able to focus on our own interests and find like minded people, that I fear that we’re missing opportunities to branch out and do things outside of our comfort zones. When you surround yourself with friends that are just like you, where’s the room to grow and learn about other people’s interests? Maybe that’s why there are so many names for the generation born in or after the 80s: Generation Y, Millenial Generation, Generation Next, Net Gen, Echo Boomers, Boomerang Generation, Peter Pan Generation. What ARE we?

The last two names reflect the crappy economy and the trend to move back in with the parents after doing everything “right” like we were told. We got good grades in high school, did all the after schools activities, got good grades in college, again did all the after school activities, graduated with practical degrees, and find that the world didn’t work the way we were told it would. What really irks me is when I see articles about my “Boomerang” generation, and how lazy/spoiled we must be to move back in with our parents. If the Baby Boomers hadn’t screwed up the entire economy, we wouldn’t have to move back in with our parents. If the Baby Boomers hadn’t spoiled themselves rotten, we wouldn’t live in a country where staying at home a little longer than expected was viewed as a failure.

Ok, you caught me. I am a firm believer that Baby Boomers have screwed all of us over. Big time. The environment (global warming, the giant trash island in the Pacific), their fault. The economy, their fault. US involvement in the Middle East, their fault. The War on Drugs (which is harming us, but hurting Mexico far, far worse), their fault.

It’s left to our Generations–X, Y, and Z–to clean up the mess that our parents made. We will be the ones to struggle to close the yawning wealth gap. We will struggle to make the tough shift to renewable energy. We will live more like war-times, depending on family and close friends to share burdens. And we will get our acts together.  … So that the prosperous generation to follow ours can screw it all up all over again.

Pills vs People

A person in my life has been suffering from depression lately, and it’s so hard to watch. I’ve never really been on the other side of this as much as I’ve been lately. I mean, I recognize that my mother was depressed a lot as I was growing up, but I think she did a pretty good job of hiding it from her kids. I’m usually the one lying unresponsive on the couch, watching life through the TV because I just don’t have the energy to get up and do anything. It’s very strange to be observing this behavior instead of engaging in it, and it’s clarified and strengthened my views on depression, pills, our society, and marijuana.

My friend’s (lets call him Darien) doctors have been prescribing him all sorts of pills. At one point, he was up to 9 a day and taking well over the recommended dosage for most of them. Pills to help him sleep, pills to help him wake up, pills for anxiety, pills to make him sick if he drank, pain pills, etc. Pills. Pills. Pills. Darien was supposed to go to AA to handle some drinking issues associated with all this mess, and his shrink usually couldn’t see him regularly at all. Now I’ve never personally gone to AA, but from the stories I’ve been told, I never will. Cause some of these people have PROBLEMS. Like trading their children for alcohol type of problems. Which is a lot different than just people who tend to drink a lot when they’re unhappy and can’t seem to control it. AA is not group therapy. I would probably come out of it feeling more depressed and needing a drink. Now I’m sorry if this feels like I’m trashing AA; I understand that the program has changed countless lives and really does help people. I’m just saying that it’s not for everyone and it’s not for every drinking/substance abuse problem. And it wasn’t helping Darien. So he was basically sitting alone in his house all day except for a few random doctor’s visits and meetings, popping pills and hoping that it would all get better.

Well here’s a huge shocker: it didn’t. That’s because while pills can be helpful tools sometimes in some cases, they are not a solution to everything, and I wish that our society would realize that fact. In most behaviorial medicine, we don’t even know the full extent of what the meds do! Listen really carefully to that next SSRI commercial on TV; you’ll notice the phrase “<insert medicine here> is believed to <insert pretty picture of synaptic gaps, serotonin, etc>.” My medicine is believed to do something? Like if I believe it will work, it will? I know what they’re really saying: we’ve tested this product out on people like you and we’ve observed these consistent changes. That’s awesome, I’m glad that you’ve recognized some of what these chemicals do to my body. What else are you doing to me that you don’t know about? One of Darien’s medications actually caused him to have more anxiety, and it was such a rare side effect that his doctors at the time didn’t link it to the prescription; they simply tried to treat it with more pills. We’re treating pills with more pills. Seriously?! He got a new doctor, who took him off of about half of what he was taking, and he’s feeling better. Still depressed, but better.

So here’s a little medicine that I’ve witnessed firsthand with Darien. Its side effects are happiness, sleepiness, slight paranoia, and hunger. Oh yeah, you know where I’m going with this. Marijuana. Now he’s only smoked thrice since I’ve known him and all three times have been when he feels like his medicine has failed him and he has to calm his shit down. And you know what? It works. He feels calm immediately afterwards, and he is more productive and motivated the next day. None of his prescription medications do that. Unfortunately, after telling his doctors and the program he was attending that his medicine wasn’t working and not getting any serious response from them, he smoked. He felt better. He was helping himself where they were failing him. And they kicked him out of his program. That’s messed up. I mean, I can see things from their perspective too. It was a substance abuse program, and the participants are supposed to stay clean. But it’s not like he’s a regular user or even abuser of pot, and he kept pestering them about how bad he still felt and they did nothing.

Ok, so even though I think that marijuana is far better than pills for anxiety and depression, I think there’s an even better cure: people. One of the worst things about depression is feeling alone. Darien is alone in the house all day, every day, watching TV. Days begin to blend together, all motivation is lost, and time begins to mean absolutely nothing because it just keeps dragging on. Circumstances like that would drive a completely stable person a little crazy, so what effect do you think it has on a person who’s already a little off his rocker? We are mainly social creatures that need to interact with other people. Even introverts need company sometimes. I fully believe that companions or life coaches are one of the best ways to combat depression. In my mind, they’d be sort of like the companions that old people have sometimes. You know, they help them take their meds, buy groceries, get to doctor’s appointments, etc. But depression companions would help the depressed person work towards their goals and keep them motivated. When Darien’s sister was in town, he was the most active I’d seen him in months. He was sleeping on a more regular schedule, getting up and staying up most of the day, and helping around the house. It’s because he had to entertain his sister and do things with her. A companion would serve the same function. They’d make sure that a good combination of diet, exercise, and activity worked to help the person get their life back on track. I realize that this is probably impossible for most people because it would cost a lot more than even prescription meds (which are already ridiculously expensive), but I still think that it would work the best. Ultimately, it’s going to come down to him wanting to get better and finding the motivation to help himself.

I just really wish that our society viewed depression differently. Doctors overdiagnose people with it all the time and throw pills at them that they don’t need. What people need is to not feel alone with all of their problems in this chaotic and unstable world that we’re in. This is one of the downfalls of being a competitive, dog-eat-dog, capitalist society.

The Fake Feminist

Feminism has been brought to my attention a lot lately, probably because I’ve been reading the “TwoXChromosomes” subreddit a lot. And one thing that weighs heavy on my mind is the “fake feminist.” Now this is a girl that gives all feminists one bad reputation. Let me paint you a picture of this ignorant chick.

First off, she obviously calls herself a feminist. But anyone who knows anything about feminism and men’s rights should be able to see through this lie right away. She only believes in policies that bring down men instead of lifting up women to a level of equality with men. She believes that she should get a job over a man with better credentials because she’s a woman. Anything that isn’t fair in the workplace she blames on the fact that she is a woman, not the fact that she’s completely incompetent. Being a woman is her trump card to everything. She’s in a bitchy mood, but she’s allowed to be ’cause she’s a woman on her period. She tries to dress in power suits and hide the fact that she’s a woman because she claims that she’ll be treated differently if she flaunts the curves God gave her. She claims to not need any help from men because she’s strong and independent and can do it herself, but she gets offended when a man doesn’t hold a door open for her. She uses inconsistent language. She’ll bitch and moan whenever someone uses the word “bitch” because it’s degrading to women, yet she’ll have the audacity to say something like “That exam totally just raped me” and think nothing of it. She calls herself a feminist because she wants to be strong and equal, but she doesn’t know how and would rather drag men down to her level than nut up and play with the big boys. She is usually a spoiled brat.

To all the Fake Feminists out there: You disgust me. I consider myself a feminist, and your actions make me and those like me look like bitches. You’re the reason we have a bad rap of man hating and whining.

Here’s how I believe a true feminist should behave. She’s confident in her looks and knows that dressing in pretty colors, skirts, lace, and frills isn’t making her any less serious. In fact, it doesn’t matter what she wears because she’ll get the job done either way. She’s strong and confident– the kind of woman who can strut her stuff in 6 inch heels or flats or sneakers. She holds herself accountable for her actions and rises to the challenge of keeping up in a fast-paced business world. She juggles a career and a family, sometimes with grace, sometimes with a lot of coffee. Or she focuses on a career. Or she focuses on a family. Doesn’t matter because it’s her choice.  She respects everyone despite their gender, holds doors open for everyone behind her, helps elderly citizens across the street, and saves kittens from trees. … Okay maybe I went a little overboard. But the point here is that she treats everyone as an equal and her attitude towards life demands that she be treated as an equal as well. She is a mature adult who understands that the world isn’t fair and that to blame it on being a woman only adds to the problem and doesn’t solve anything.

Feminism is not about holding men down so that we can rise up. It’s about being completely equal and holding our own. It’s about the choice to be able to do what we want with our lives, our careers, and our bodies. The fake feminists try to take away men’s rights just because they can’t figure out how to live in what they call a “man’s world.” Fake feminists, put on your big girl panties and learn to deal with it because life is not going to slow down for your spoiled asses.

I believe that beside every good feminist is a good partner, supporting her when she needs it and whom she can support when s/he needs it.

A Stronger Service

I’ve been feeling pretty doom and gloom lately about the state of affairs in the US and the world. I’m just having trouble believing that we can turn these horrible situations around, and I don’t feel like anything good that I do will make a difference. Mostly because I feel like the solutions are too big for anyone to agree on. I mean Congress can’t even decide on a budget; how are they ever going to decide what policies will actually help us get out of the rut that we’re in?

I have a few ideas.

Service: We boast one of the strongest militaries in the world. I think that America should be known for a different kind of service–a stronger service. I think that programs like City Year should be mandatory across the country for graduating seniors from high school. If every student that graduated high school did a year of volunteer service, think of all the good that would be done for the country. Parks would be clean, affordable housing would be built, schools would be better taken care of and better staffed, afterschool programs would flourish, etc. And those are just the starting ripples in a larger pond. For instance, if one of the choices of service was to help run a variety of afterschool programs, kids would have more chances to find their passions and less chance to get involved in mischievous behavior on the streets. I’m all for nation-building, but I wish that we would focus on rebuilding our own crumbling nation rather than focusing on sovereign nations whose resources we covet. And maybe after we’ve fixed our own nation, we can send peaceful nation-building programs overseas to extend the activities of the Peace Corps. Instead of teaching other nations how to run a military or police force, let’s teach them more about sustainability practices, building wells, farming, building schools, etc. Maybe the world wouldn’t hate us so much if we stopped being the big, bad bully and started being the no-nonsense humanitarians. Let’s redefine “service to our country,” and maybe it’ll start fixing our problems.

The problem with this idea is that there’s absolutely no funding for it. Teach for America is turning down a record number of applicants because it simply doesn’t have the funding for all the people who want to be in the program. Same problem with City Year. Until it’s a nationally recognized ideal that’s given priority in the budget, it will never happen. Until then we just have to make-do with the limited public service organizations we have and the various smaller religious service organizations.

Sustainability: There should be at least one class taught in every high school across the country about sustainability practices. Classes like home economics have been cut from the majority of schools because it’s not seen as a core part of the curriculum. But in my opinion, traditional Home Ec classes weren’t enough. We need to teach people about buying fish only from sustainable environments, how to raise a chicken per household, how to make the most of a square foot of gardening space, how to use eco-friendly living practices like recycling, etc. In my opinion, there should be one class all four years of high school about this. If people knew how to take care of themselves and didn’t rely so much on a crumbling economy and unreliable resources, maybe we wouldn’t be suffering from soaring food prices. Maybe we’d develop a stronger sense of community if apartment buildings in urban areas all had common-space gardens on the roofs. Maybe it would encourage a more collectivist society where we care about our neighbors and watch each other’s backs instead of the dog-eat-dog capitalist world we’ve created for ourselves. So many studies and media reports say that Americans are miserable. Well no shit. We’re stressed, we eat like crap, most of us can’t afford decent healthcare, and we all have this inbreed sense that we’ve got to be able to take care of ourselves because no one else will. The lucky people belong to communities where they do have good support systems, but I’d wager that these people are in the minority.

Anyway, these are just my thoughts for turning our seemingly hopeless situation around. If you have any other positive ideas that make our situation seem less hopeless, please share them. I could use a little optimism. *steps off of soapbox*

We the People…

Ok, so I’m going to start this post by saying that social studies and politics were always my least favorite subjects in school, and I have spent my life ignoring the news and politics for the most part. But now that I’ve moved to DC and started “the adult life,” I’m finding that I just can’t ignore things anymore. What I’ve learned in the past year makes me very, very sad. If any of this is wrong, please post a comment with links and citations so that I can learn more. I’m always open to civil, intellectual conversations.

1. The Electoral College. This system is so messed up. I was actually just talking about this with my roommates last night. This system basically ensures that only a Democrat or a Republican will make it into office. It discourages people to vote because if your state traditionally votes one way, you know your vote isn’t going to make any sort of difference in the long run (at least for national elections). I was shocked as hell in the last presidential election that Indiana was blue instead of red. I think that was the first time in my lifetime. But for the other election that I was eligible to vote in, my vote totally didn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. Seriously, why don’t we switch to popular vote? I know the technical answer: Congress will never approve it because then they lessen their chances of getting re-elected.

2. It’s “We the People,” not “We the Corporations.” This issue is especially relevent because of all the collective bargaining rights conflicts in the Midwest. Our elected officials keep passing legislation that helps businesses and corporations and hurts middle-class working citizens. Seriously?!?! By helping corporations, you’re completely wiping out whatever free-market we have left, eliminating competition, and making it nearly impossible for new companies to emerge. Isn’t that how the lifecycle of everything is supposed to work? Companies begin, they grow, sometimes they make it to the big leagues, they fade, they die. Start all over again. But if we keep bailing them out and making it easier for them to live much longer than they should, doesn’t it stifle innovation and keep new companies from starting?? And isn’t that horrible for the economy in the long run?

3. Why does it seem like everything that we’re doing lately is only a short-term fix? Bailing out banks, bailing out Wall Street, bailing out auto-maunfacturers… Seriously, won’t all of this hurt us more in the long term than it helps in the short term? And since when has it been the Government’s business to financially prop-up the private sector?? Couldn’t that money be better spent on creating jobs in the public sector that will benefit everyone? Like public transportation. If we had more high-speed rails connecting major cities, we wouldn’t need to depend on foreign oil so much, right? One thing that I LOVE about living on the East Coast is that I can easily travel between all of the major cities. Now trains are a project that would have to be built slowly, but if we start where there are already good systems (East Coast, Denver, Chicago) and branch out from those, we could eventually get most of the country, yes? But even just fixing all of our decaying high ways and bridges would do a world of good.

4. You’re ALL wrong, and you’re all dirty politicans.  Conservative, liberal, libertarian, Tea Party, Democrat, Republican, GOP, left, right, I DON’T CARE. You’re ALL wrong. And you know why you’re wrong? Because you refuse to work together, you refuse to compromise, and your policies are made up of what makes your campaign investors happy. You. All. Suck. You’re screwing over the average American. You’re so obsessed with winning that you lose sight of the issues at hand. You don’t consult teachers when you make legislation about education (No Child Left Behind is horrible, but that’s a different rant). You don’t consult doctors and nurses when passing medical legislation. You quote “experts” that are on your payrolls to present only the information that helps your political agenda. You aren’t interested in helping or representing your voters. You only represent yourselves and your own political career interests. Why can’t we go back to the days when people in Congress had other jobs and professions? Seriously, I want a “simple cobbler from Connecticutt” (1776) back in office!!! Let’s get practicing teachers, lawyers, doctors, evironmentalist experts, etc into elected offices. Maybe they would focus on issues instead of playing games to keep themselves in power.

So in conclusion of this very unorganized and under-researched rant, I’m just very discouraged with our government and fail to see any way to change things. I’m afraid that we’re going to be the next Roman or British empire and crumble because of imperialism and corruption.  So please, if you have any good news in politics or if I got things wrong, comment and teach me. Because no body will be able to do anything productive if we stop learning and listening.

You People Make Me Sick

Sorry I haven’t posted in a while. I actually have a few drafts that I’m working on and finding appropriate pictures for, but this issue just couldn’t wait for polishing or a picture.

To all the close-minded, Christians out there who are going to march on Washington to oppose gay marriage: Shame. On. You. You people make me absolutely sick. How dare you say that this isn’t similar to racial bigotry?! You’re denying a fellow human being the right to a union with the person he/she loves because of a difference in belief. You’re DENYING EQUALITY to a MINORITY.

If you’re trying to protect the sacred tradition of marriage, then you should also move to make divorce unconstitutional. That seems absolutely ridiculous right? That’s what you sound like protesting gay marriage!

I can barely put sentences together, I’m so angry at the moment. Mostly because of this guy: http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/242517/getting-ready-march-washington-kathryn-jean-lopez

“One man and one woman, that’s equality.” FOR REAL DUDE?!?! You might as well just say, “Only white people, that’s equality.” It’s JUST YOUR view of equality. And it doesn’t include everyone, so it’s obviously wrong or flawed in some way or another.

What’s so wrong with love and allowing people to love?!

I’m sorry to all the Christians and conservatives out there who are actually good, loving, open-minded people. Because these people make you all look like idiots. 

Hey Brian Brown, Jesus would be ASHAMED of you.

And I’m stronger because of it…

So July 13th is a pretty important day in my life. Not that I really want it to be and not anything that deserves a celebration. Not that kind of important. Important as in the start of hitting rock bottom. One of the major turning points in my life.

Before July 13, 2007 I was a mess. I was deeply depressed, doing poorly in school, cutting myself off from friends, hardly ever leaving my room, sleeping too much, having one night stands, getting high, and getting fat. I’d made a lot of bad choices, and they were catching up with me. But in the spring and summer of 2007, I had started to pick myself up and dust myself off. I wasn’t doing spectacular or anything, but I was doing better. I spent the summer at home, living with my mother and hanging out with my girlfriends. I hadn’t slept with anyone in six months, and I was very proud of that because I really wanted to end my trend of one night stands. I didn’t want to do it anymore because it only made me more unhappy. I was making better choices. If only I had known.

Going out to the hookah bar with your gal pals seems totally harmless right? And then running into an old guy friend you’d known elementary school through high school is also harmless right? Having him join us, smoke and drink with us, catching up on old times. And then he invited us back to his place for a few more drinks.  … If only I’d never gone. If only WE’D never gone. Because if he hadn’t done it to me, maybe it would’ve been one of my friends. And I hate that thought even more than what he did to me. On July 13th, 2007 I was raped by someone that I thought was a friend. In the week following that, I believe I hit rock bottom. Imagine not being able to shower or change clothes without dissolving into tears because being naked seems so painful and venerable. I cried constantly and refused to leave my mother’s house.

Eventually, slowly, I began to heal. My short creative non-fiction story “Second hand” talks about this healing process and the friend that helped me through it. A lot of people helped me through it actually. And writing that piece especially helped me through it.

On July 13, 2008 I tried to plan the most super fun day that I could think of to keep my mind off of what had happened only a year ago. It backfired. The day didn’t live up to my expectations, my friends all cancelled, and I ended up crying in my room most of the day. July 13th, 2009, I was at a summer publishing program with no one that I knew (in fact it was only the third or fourth day of the program). And you don’t wanna start off something like that by going “Hey! Guess what terrible thing happened to me!” So I sat quietly in class, ate lunch alone, and generally avoided people all day. There were definitely some tears that night as I watched the Denver stars, sipping on boxed wine and bottling all my feelings up. edit:hahaha I always forget about Denver for some reason… 2009 is updated/correct now. I probably had a harder time remembering this cause it was sort of my routine behavior in Denver. I know, I’m such an emo when I wanna be.

But July 13, 2010, I went to work, I worked out, I had dinner with my roommate, and I ate cake. I had no expectations for the day. I just wanted to be normal. And for the most part, it was and I was. Beth and I had a long talk that evening about the past and how every single tiny little choice affects us. What if we had gotten a table inside the hookah bar and not out on the patio? Would we have run into that bastard then? Would fate have found another way to put him on my path? Or would that just mean that it would happen to someone else and not to me? Every choice has a great impact on our lives whether we realize it or not.

It has taken me three years, but I’m finally able to say that I wouldn’t change it. It was the most horrible thing that’s ever happened to me in my entire life. But it made me who I am today. And the person that I am today is so much stronger, understanding, selfless, and more compassionate than who I was before. Rock bottom didn’t erase all of my character flaws–I’m certainly not perfect, although there was a time that I’d tell lie after lie to make you think so–but it did smooth out a lot of my rough edges. It’s like Tyler Durden said: “It’s only after you’ve lost everything that you’re free to do anything.” And it’s so true.

I was going to post this reflection on the third anniversary, but I was doing other things and trying to be normal. But I’m doing it now. Because I need to. Because I’m better. Because I’m stronger. And because I took myself out on a solo date–something I’ve never had the guts to do before. Yep, two weekends ago, right before my black anniversary, I took just me onesie out to a movie. Completely alone. And I wasn’t self conscious, and I actually had a good time. Yes, I saw Eclipse and bought a 12 pack of beer because I’m one classy broad like that 😉

Happy anniversary. I’m so proud of you

The Demise of Big Butter Jesus

Anyone driving down I-75 in Ohio has seen the 6-story Jesus statue in front of the Solid Rock Church. And if they missed it, well they’re just blind.  It has many nicknames such as Touchdown Jesus because of the way his arms were held aloft to the heavens, signaling a score for God, or my personal favorite, Big Butter Jesus. Because yes, the Lord did look like he was carved out of butter.  The Heywood Banks’ song “Big Butter Jesus” became popular on “The Bob and Tom Show,” a morning radio broadcast that I severely miss because it’s not syndicated in DC. It’s alright, I’ve found the Kane Show out here.

Jesus in flames

Well, Big Butter Jesus met his demise late last night when a bolt of lightning (probably from Zeus) struck his right hand and sent him up in flames. The church’s auditorium next door suffered minor smoke and fire damage. For the most part, only Jesus and his cross went up in the holy pyre.  I find it amusing that Hustler Hollywood sign for the adult store across the street went unmolested. What I find more amusing though are people’s reactions. One guy said something along the lines of “Of all the things that could have been struck, I just think that that would be protected. … It’s something that’s not supposed to happen, Jesus burning” (Levi Walsh, http://www.daytondailynews.com/news/dayton-news/jesus-statue-fire-damages-estimated-at-700-000jesus-statue-fire-damages-estimated-at-700-000-762245.html). It was a giant statue made of Styrofoam and wood; of COURSE it would burn! Did you remember to bless it? Maybe that’s where things went wrong. Or maybe the firemen ran out of holy water when trying to smother the flames of righteousness.

Where's the faith???Oh I’m just having way too much fun with this. The irony just tickles me. People can’t believe this could happen to a church. So nature is supposed to follow your beliefs as well? It’s a high point; it’s going to attract lightning. I think it shows a lack of faith when churches crown their steeples and crosses with lightning rods. Practical, yes, but since when has religion in our time ever been practical? Well, more like, when has religion in our time ever been reasonable? But these are the people who are supposed to be examples of faith. Why do they need lightning rods? Big Butter Jesus, that’s why! God is angry at their misuse of his name, his word, and his image. So he rains down judgment in the form of lightning. AWESOME.

I would just like to conclude with “NO GRAVEN IMAGES.”  Jesus, don’t you people pay attention to the one book that you actually read? Unless you’re Catholic, then you’re not encouraged to read it, but have it spoon fed to you during Mass.

As I’ve stated before and it’s clearly obvious in this post, yes, I have a beef with organized religion. Mostly because of the fanatics and nutjobs and cults. You don’t need a church to worship in. You don’t need 6-story statues that looked like they were carved out of butter to worship to or show some sort of status: “My Jesus is bigger and butterier than your Jesus!” Think of all the money wasted to make that statue. I believe that I read somewhere that it was around $250,000. What else could that money have gone to??? Homeless shelters, battered women shelters, after-school programs, soup kitchens, starving children in Africa, starving children in any of the projects of any city in the United States, natural disaster reliefs, the list goes on and on and on. Stop trying to broadcast the fact that you’re a Christian and actually try to be one. Why is this such a hard concept to grasp???

Check out the video of Heywood Banks’ song with the footage of it burning. Pretty amusing:

Oh, one last thought. Maybe God wiped the statue from the face of the Earth because there was already a Touchdown Jesus at Notre Dame. There can only be one TOUCHDOWN JESUS!

Second-hand

 

You sat there in your car and the rain softly tinkled on the windshield as you just looked at me. There was sadness in your eyes, but not the kind that somehow holds an indirect judgment, just a sadness that expressed your understanding that this was yet another painful battle scar in my long history of war and grief. I lit a cigarette, nervous about how you’d react, wondering if I should have even told you. I exhaled and watched the smoke disperse along the contours of the windshield, giving you time. But when you spoke, your words shocked me.

“I already knew. I guessed.”

I averted my eyes from yours and took another drag so that I wouldn’t have to fill the silence. You already knew. Were the changes that obvious? Did I really physically flinch every single time someone said it in jest during a conversation? I thought that I only flinched in my head. On bad days though I know I’ve snapped out the line, “Don’t joke about that.” You already knew. I let out the breath and the smoke that I didn’t even realize I was holding before turning back to you. You slowly reached for my hand, and I passed you the cigarette, knowing that’s what you wanted, and for a brief instant our rings mirrored each other. Yours said “Dream” and mine said “Live,” and when you gave it to me as a birthday present, you specifically gave me “Live” to remind me that no matter how hard things get, you wanted me to live. We shared everything: cigarettes, rings, clothes, secrets, dreams, coffee, everything. Of course I had to share this with you. You were the only person who had any chance of understanding.

I met you our freshman year because we both hung out with the same upperclassmen, and we were their pet freshman; they nicknamed us “TwinBots.” That was back when your hair was still long and I didn’t dye mine black. Spring revealed that we had a crush on the same guy, and you started dating him. I distanced myself from you; you didn’t need me. I let a boy come between us. I watched the angry tears slide down your face as you tried to get some sort of emotion out of me, some sort of explanation as to why I felt no remorse for kissing your boyfriend. I tried my hardest to make myself a stone, not to flinch, not to care, because caring hurt, and I was hurt. You didn’t hate me for the kiss. You hated me because of what I said to you.

“I don’t care.”

My right cheek stung worse than it ever had as I staggered backward and put my hand over the red imprint of your own. I didn’t speak to you for a year. I hated you, you hated me.

But somehow, maybe seeing the worst side of a person allows you to fully accept her. I apologized, you apologized. But we thought that our trust couldn’t ever be healed to what it was before. We weren’t TwinBots anymore. We were different. You had no idea how different though.

When we started to hang out again, you knew something had changed. I was quieter, more studious, less social. Somehow you knew that the girl who you’d known as selfish and self-sufficient was no longer taking care of herself. I slept maybe three hours a night tops. I barely ate. I’d lost fifteen pounds in two months. You always knew exactly where to find me in the library, with a sandwich in one hand and a huge thermos of coffee perfect for sharing in the other. You began to take care of me while I remained closed and distant from pretty much everyone. What encouraged this behavior is still beyond me. You tried to bring me out of my awkward new shell. When I realized how much I needed you, I couldn’t bear the thought of telling you what had happened. You’d already seen me at my worst once. I didn’t want you to see me at my weakest as well. But somehow, you already knew. And now you’re beginning to understand.

I argue with myself about this every time I tell you something more. This isn’t your burden to bear, it’s mine. Should I be telling you? Why should you have to think about it everyday like I do? What is this doing to you? Everyone realizes that it’s traumatic for me, the victim, but what few people think about is how it affects you, my friend. There are others who understand what you’re going through—people like you, who have a friend like me. Even I don’t understand how all of it affects you. But as you observe me, notice how I react, learn what triggers the flashbacks, and experience the best ways to calm me afterwards, you begin to grasp what it has done to me and what it’s still doing to me. And as I realize that every day you get better at soothing me, knowing how to protect me, learning more details, I begin to see what it’s done to you too.

I think of it as a scab. It was a wound. Poisonous. But I’ve worked hard to heal it and turn it into a tough, impervious scab. I pick at it, hurting myself on my own terms. I make it bleed just a little bit, enough to deal with and bear, and then I let it scab up again. Hopefully, all the picking will create a thick layer of scar tissue. I mostly pick at it by myself, feeling safer by myself than with another person.

Whenever I’ve told people, the first reaction to cross their faces is horror, then the sympathetic look, and the hug. They think it helps. But in all honesty, I hate that look more than anything else. It makes me feel weak, like they think I’m a victim, someone fragile and delicate, about to break at any moment. I’m done being weak. I’m done being sad and hurt and broken. I am angry. And I want them to be angry too, but they don’t know that. They just look at me like I’m suddenly a different person, and they think that a hug will help. I can’t blame them, because they don’t understand. They’ll never really understand either, because I don’t tell them all the details. I can’t tell the details, can’t give them all the information they want. It hurts too much. I can’t relive in words what I have to relive everyday in my head. I don’t want them to see me pick at it. But sometimes I do it around you.

The first time was when I actually had to tell you, sit in your car as the light rain fell, and wait for your reaction. But you already knew, somehow. I should have known. You’re my best friend, you know me better than any other person. Of course you already knew. But you were only aware of the occurrence. You still had no idea of the effect.

I’m not quite the same person anymore, and things that never used to bother me do now. I don’t usually volunteer details very often, but I know that I have to explain my behavior to you sometimes. Like when you were tickling me and I couldn’t breathe and begged you to stop and then started crying when you didn’t. I couldn’t breathe and you kept laughing and tickling. We were stoned out of our minds and pretending that we were little girls at a slumber party complete with movies, pillow fights, and tickling. But you didn’t stop and something in my head clicked on and suddenly the panic was keeping me from breathing instead of the laughter. I think I pushed you. I don’t remember. I just remember curling in on myself and crying, and then looking up at you. Your eyes looked as if I’d slapped you—hurt because you knew that somehow you’d unintentionally hurt me. I explained a little more, picked at my scab just enough for you to see the poison lurking beneath the surface. “But I’m your best friend. You know I’d never hurt you. Doesn’t that matter?”

I felt so guilty for making you feel like I didn’t trust you. But the truth is that it doesn’t matter. After panic sets in, rational thought completely disappears. You’re no longer my best friend tickling me in good nature; you’re a person that didn’t stop when I told you to. I’d told you bits and pieces before, making very small picks around the edges, but this was the first time you’d seen blood. That’s because it wasn’t just me telling you, you’d seen it too. You’d seen the tears and how I immediately curled into the tightest ball possible, trying to close in on myself and disappear. I deal with it slowly, in tiny pieces, releasing the poison little by little until one day, it will hopefully leave my system forever and I’ll have a clean, fresh, pink scar instead of this crusted, infected scab. But when other people pick at it, they don’t gently chip away at the edges like I do. They usually rip away a sizable chunk. And that’s when I completely lose it.

We went to our usual Friday night party together, but this night was different because every single person there was completely out of weed. Except for me. Taking advantage of the monopoly that I was suddenly in control of, I made it into a game. If people wanted to smoke my weed, they had to flirt with me. I got the best compliments and kisses, dances and lame pick-up lines. I was in heaven. I sat down in my designated green chair to pack yet another bowl to keep my confidence flying high, when he sauntered up to me and sat on my lap. I remember feeling uncomfortable for the first time that evening.

“Hey baby, you know I’m gonna get the green hit off that bowl, right?” He was far too close to me. “Cause you know, all these other fools ain’t got nothin’ on me. I’ll give you the best time you ever had.” He leaned in closer.

He was just joking with me, of course; that’s how it usually happens. Comedy turns into tragedy. He didn’t know the memories that he was digging up by trapping my body under his, leaning very close to me, trying to intimidate me. I’d known him and partied with him every Friday night for the past two semesters; I knew he would never hurt me, but that didn’t stop my fear from starting. He was only rising to the challenge, completely unaware of my rising level of panic. I tried to laugh it off, because if I didn’t think about it, didn’t make the connection, maybe I could fight it off. I was so much stronger than I used to be, I had healed so much. I was stronger than this. I looked at you and saw you watching me very carefully as well, measuring my reactions to determine my mental state. I told him that he’d proven his point and to please get the fuck off me. But the joke wasn’t over yet, he still felt he had something to prove, and he leaned in to brush his lips against my ear while cupping the back of my neck with his hand, stopping any chance I had of dodging him.

R.I.P.

My heart instantly tried to hammer its way out of my chest to punch him off me as a flood of memories broke free of their carefully constructed confinements, drowning my reason and rationality. I was trapped. I couldn’t move. He was too close. I still tried to fight it, tried to lock the memories back where they belonged, tried to block the panic, but I wasn’t strong enough. Never strong enough. The poison won, and then he was shoving my face into a pillow to muffle my sobs, whispering things like, “Yeah baby, moan for me.” His hand was rough against the back of my neck, scruffing me like an animal, forcing me to stay still, convincing himself that my constant crying meant that I liked it. My struggling made him think that I wanted to play rough, so he gave it to me rough. He scratched all down my back, dragging his dirty fingernails over my flesh while constantly babbling, “Yeah, you like that.” I had given up. I didn’t fight. I had said no. Multiple times. It hadn’t mattered. So I gave up, sobbing and wishing that it would be over soon.

It all returned to me in less than half of one of my frantic heartbeats and I looked at you immediately. That moment is like a picture burned into my memory. When I looked at you, the present came back immediately, emphasizing the fact that the past few seconds of my life had not been at the party. You were standing there in your blue dress with the black belt buckled fashionably around your waist. People were moving and dancing in the background, but you were absolutely still, watching me, and I saw myself and my panic reflected in your eyes, mirrored like the matching rings on our left hands.

I have no idea what you saw in my eyes when you looked back at me. Pain? Terror? My silent scream for you to save me? Doesn’t matter what you saw there because you already knew. And with more force than I knew you had, more speed than I thought you were capable of, you freed me, pulled him off of me, allowed me to escape and break down where not so many eyes could find me.

I fled from the living room, up the stairs, and into the first doorway I encountered. You found me in the upstairs bathroom with the noise of the party below and only my panicked breathing echoing in the pitch black bathroom as I pressed myself as close to the cold tiled wall to the immediate right of the door as I could, only vaguely aware that the sharp object digging into my back was the light switch. You came in just as the sobs started and I slowly slipped down the tile and pooled onto the floor. You didn’t say anything. You didn’t touch me. You just let me cry it out until my senses returned and locked the memories back in their cage where they belonged. And then you were ready for me as I flung myself into your arms, needing the hug that you’d desperately wanted to give me this entire time, crying and apologizing for my flashback. You wiped my tears away, fixed my make-up, and gave me an alibi. Few people had even noticed my rapid escape, so none of it really mattered anyway.

But it did matter to me. You couldn’t save, weren’t there to save, me from him. But you could and did, frequently, save me from myself.

I guess it must be hard for you to be my friend now. Being my friend used to mean that we shared cigarettes, rings, clothes, secrets, dreams, coffee, everything. Unfortunately for you, I guess that being my best friend now means we really do share everything. Being my friend now means you’ve witnessed a flashback, watched the panic seize and take hold of my brain, locking out all logical thought and reason, ripping me from the present, forcing the past on me again and again. Being my friend now means knowing what to do for me when I can’t do anything for myself, knowing that you must watch in silence, knowing you can’t touch me because you already know how that only makes the panic worse, knowing that you can’t do anything but wait it out until it runs its course so that you can be there as soon as I regain control of my own thoughts and actions.

We used to be so similar that people called us TwinBots. But we fell apart and were somehow strong enough to patch ourselves together again. My ring reminds me every day to live. You have helped me do that day by day. Your ring reminds you to dream. Because you have to do that for both of us now. When we sit in your room and smoke while doing homework, my eye is always drawn to the James Dean poster. “Dream as if you’ll live forever. Live as if you’ll die today.”  So I live, and you dream, and we both smoke. I often wonder how our freshman selves would react if they could see us now, slowly killing ourselves while still trying to make each day count. Being my friend then was about grand adventures and our shared belief that life was just beginning with so much to look forward to. Being my friend now means that you‘ve had to experience my second-hand trauma. They say that second-hand smoke can kill.

You’ve told me before that you think about what you’d do to him if you ever got the chance. You’ve smoked cigarettes on your roof, imagined sitting on him and putting out each smoldering stick of cancer on his chest until a large R burned angry and red in his flesh. I have to live with it every single day. I remember it every single day. I bear the scab as proof and someday I’ll bear the scar. Just another scar next to several others. All lined up nice and neat and dealt with for one hour every week. I bear the badge of the victim whether I want to or not. You want to brand his crime into his chest to remind him of it every single day of his life, so that he can never forget the violence he inflicted upon another human being. A human being he had been friends with since second grade, had dated in middle school.

Sometimes I smoked those angry cigarettes with you, enjoying the feel of the smoke burn through my lungs, so close to my heart, and I was happy that someone else understood.  That someone else felt angry with me instead of feeling sorry for me. That someone else understood why I didn’t report it for the past’s sake, but realized my burning desire for closure, for pain, for revenge. So even though I still don’t know if it’s right to let you help me carry this burden, I chain-smoke those angry cigarettes with you and let my anger loose. But I still worry about you.

Second-hand smoke can kill.

What does second-hand rape do to you?

Pullman > Rowling

Did I get your attention yet? Good. Did I piss off all the Harry Potter fans? Eeeeeeeeh, not so good since there’s a LOT of you. While I absolutely LOVE Rowling and Potter, I do believe in the statement that is the title of this blog post, and I mainly made it just to get your attention. I know. I play dirty.

I did an intensive independent study on C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia and Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials. At the end of the study, I wrote a paper focusing on the theme of maturity in the His Dark Materials trilogy. Then I modified this paper for my senior thesis.

The point of this post is that I love Pullman and what he did for young adult/children’s literature. And while this series is hated and misunderstood in the United States (what else is new?), I believe it’s one of the best epics in print. And for the last time, IT’S NOT ABOUT KILLING THE CHRISTIAN GOD. YEEEESH people; read it and try to understand it before you burn it. *sigh*

But, the other point of this post was to tell you that I’ve made two new pages where you can read my independent study paper and the shorter bastardized version that they made me do for my senior thesis. So go click on them in my pages to read them!!!

Yeah, you are pretty much fucked...

Oh, and the movie SUCKED. EFF you Chris Weitz. You turned something that I love and cherish and (although you made it very VERY pretty) turned it into SHIT. You should be ASHAMED of yourself and your “screenplay.”