Tuesday, January 31, 2012


We read Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes in fourth grade. I really liked the book, but it came and went like many we read in school. Then I came into school one morning with the knowledge that my country had just entered a war, but without the knowledge of what that meant. I read an article in the paper and talked to some friends and (apparently I was ridiculously pacifistic in addition to naive) decided I did not like the war. So my group of friends that felt similarly decided we wanted to do something. We started to make 1,000 paper cranes. We planned to send them to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. We thought we could change things. I think at some point we got up to about 800, and then at some point we gave up, or realized the voices of a handful of elementary school girls probably didn't matter much to the men pulling the strings. But it was a nice thought, and a fun adventure while it lasted. 

The Children of War

We, my generation, are the children of war; a war to which we are blind. I was in fourth grade when we entered the Afghan war. I have not known a world where my presidents did not argue about the troops would come home, our troops, my troops. Children who are raised in a war, even if they are against that war, are accustomed to it. Those children will hesitate far less at the onset of the next war, for I'm sure we can agree their will be one. Yet ask a 17-year-old if they feel the war has impacted them, and unless they've had a family member or friend who was in the armed forces, they will probably say no. We were conditioned in history class to think of was as Rosie the Riveter and Freedom Gardens and rations. Children of this war forget that we are very much a wartime country, but we also forget what it is to be free. Classically, we are free. As adults, we will vote in open and fair elections for the men and women we want to voice our interests in national politics, we can (in many states) have diverse families, and incredible education and employment opportunities (if we momentarily disregard how many opportunities are closed based on socio-economics, race, sex, gender, and sexual orientation). We do not, however, truly have freedom, freedom from a fear that is so far departed from us, freedom from this monster we call war.

Friday, January 27, 2012

The Art That Has No Name

I'm far too young to be writing a memoir, but I don't know what else to call this thing that I write. No one has ever read it, and perhaps no one ever will. But it is a record of my life and the lives of those close to me in their sheerest and most delicate forms. My heart is at its most vulnerable in that work and anyone who read it would know everything I know about myself and my world. It includes good stories and bad ones and talks of moments I am proud of as well as those I am ashamed of. Anyway, I have a strong inclination to share it with someone, but it is a lot of myself to give to someone. I also feel as though I do not want to share it until it is finished, but just as I will never be done growing, neither will my story. I think that perhaps it is better to write when you think no one is reading. It makes you a more honest author. That's why I initially really enjoyed blogging. It was a place to lay myself on the line without the fear that anyone would know me. I still maintain some of that control. It is anonymous unless I tell you about it. I feel compelled, however, to recognize how close I am to the people who see these words. I think I'll defend that anecdotally so here:
I was reading the blog of a young woman who at one point had worked for a depression hotline and she relayed the story of a boy who had called that she ended up talking to for several hours and apparently helping quite a bit. Before he hung up he asked if they could meet, obviously her position precluded that from happening, but she said how confusing it was that she could be so deeply intimate with a person she would never know. She knew him in a way no one else probably ever would.
I feel that. I share things I would never dream of saying out loud on here, and, yes, sometimes I really wish certain people would read certain posts, but in general I try endlessly to be true to my feelings and thoughts and write as if no one is reading. It is a raw and genuine experience that we are having together, you, reader and I, writer. I don't mean to make anyone feel uncomfortable, and I realize I have spoken directly to readers before, but I want every one who comes across this to know what a special thing they are helping me to do, and I want every one to find that thing which allows them to express themselves in a most basic and genuine way. It is a beautiful thing. Dance like nobody's watching. Always.

Thursday, January 26, 2012


My mom always tells this story about how we ended up Unitarian Universalists. She took me to the local UU church when I was about 4 years old and after Religious Education (RE) class ended she picked me up and asked if I wanted to come back. I told her I wanted to come every week. Now, for all I know they were serving a snack I liked in class that day, and I'm not trying to say I was making some vast spiritual decision before I even started kindergarten, but I do consider that to be very symbolic of me religious experience in general. I have always had the luxury of being incredibly autonomous in my spirituality. During middle school, we wrote new personal credos in RE every year. Also during middle school, we spent two years exploring in-depth other believe systems from Judaism to Jainism. I have been allowed, even encouraged, to change my views as I gain new experience. However, it is far too easy for me to forget that my experience is not typical. Many people are not afforded the freedom to shape their own thought. It is a generally held principle of UU RE that we do not teach our religion to our children, we present options (and yes, perhaps we hope they will make our choice). Unfortunately though, because the beliefs are so personal and so transient, it is often hard for UUs, particularly young UUs, to explain themselves. Over the years, I have taken to describing us as new-age hippies to people I do not have time to fully explain the religion to. It also means so many different things to the individuals involved. We have Christian UUs and Buddhist UUs and Pagan UUs. I tend to mesh many belief systems and I believe very ambiguously, but it works for me. It becomes clear to me that UUism is less of a religion and more of a constitution. We have no scripture, no statements of belief except for seven simple principles that are, in and of themselves, ambiguous.

-The inherent worth and dignity of every person.
-Justice, equity, and compassion in human relations.
-Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations.
-A free and responsible search for truth and meaning.
-The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large.
-The goal of a world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all.
-Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.

I believe these things. I strive for these things. Thus I am UU. But in my mind that makes virtually everyone UU. So I am still searching for what makes us different, because I do not want to be the same.

Monday, January 23, 2012


So, I general categorize myself as a leader, but at college it's become apparent that I don't really like doing things alone. I want to go to dinner with friends and always beg people to come to the gym with me. I've decided there are more categories than leaders and followers, for example, I am a leader who requires followers. At any rate, my schedule this semester requires I do a lot more on my own which at first I was vaguely annoyed about, but I have since decided that it'll be good for me. For example, I'm currently perfectly happy to sit at a table in the student center and eat lunch while I write this.

And by the way, the thing about the lemmings jumping off the cliff together isn't true. 

Sunday, January 22, 2012

New Year's Resolution

I've never really understood how people use New Year's Resolutions. I suppose I always thought it was a little selfish to make resolutions about how you would improve yourself and a little arrogant to make resolutions about how you would treat others. I never make resolutions. I've decided that resolutions are for bigger, more complex, and more ethical or philosophical issues rather than the daily living of our lives. I'm going to take a brief voyage on a tangent now, but I promise to make it connect by the end of the paragraph. I have noticed recently that I seriously judge people's system of grief. Grief is such a passionate and intense mental state that every person's grief is incredibly personal. While this makes it a very spiritual and bonding experience, it also can alienate us from one another when our grief systems clash. I've found that I personally am frequently put off by others' modes of grief (and to some extent I've witnessed people close to me coming up against the same issue). So, this year, I think I want to make my New Year's Resolution to be more accepting of all forms of grief, however off-putting I initially find them. Back on resolutions, I've also found it odd that people say "I will do [x]," as opposed to "I will try to do [x]," because there is no why I can guarantee, without a shadow of a doubt, that I will accomplish said goal. Anyway, I will try to be more accepting of grief in all of its forms and expressions.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012


I have always been pretty capable of coping with loss. I was raised in an environment that allowed me to accept mortality. I have never been scared of death or of people close to me dying. However, recently, I have come to realize that doesn't translate to not be scared of being without them. I have, and you have probably read about it, dealt with several losses recently, all of which affected me in new and surprising ways that I haven't been entirely prepared to deal with. The worst shock, however, was someone I never met. Very close friends of the family lost a child at 18 months old before we ever knew them. Friday, I was over at their house and happened to be rearranging things on a bookcase when I came across funeral pictures. First of all, how morbid is that? Pictures at the funeral, maybe, but these were pictures of an open casket, an two-foot long open casket with a baby boy in it. And he did not look peaceful. I wouldn't say he looked bad, but he certainly looked off. And I don't know what I would have expected him to buried in, but he was dressed in a simple yellow onesie. I'm not even quite sure how I feel about it, except perhaps disturbed, but I know I will never get the picture of that tiny white coffin out of my head.