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.

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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