Thursday, October 10, 2013

Let's Talk About the Word Vagina

So you know those people that like to say something just to get people's attention? Sometimes they do it in a really cool way and sometimes they do it in a really annoying way. I work for a woman that does it in a cool way. In a, I just said something kinda messed up but it's something that you might say/just said so why is that, kinda way.

She casually used the word "pussy" in class the other day. It didn't even phase me. It was whatever; we were talking about virginity double-standards in Southeast Asia. She's a sex-positive feminist sociologist, what did you expect.

But half the class freaked out. And then we digressed into a conversation about the etymology of the word "vagina." To which I said it means "sheath," to which the class was aghast, to which I had to Wikipedia it to prove that, in fact, "vagina" comes from the Latin "literally 'sheath' or 'scabbard'."

Look I know I'm not the first person to mention how fucked up that is, but seriously, that's so fucked up. Its not even the comparison of vaginas and scabbards that bothers me so much, but the implied correlating comparison between penises and swords (though, apparently, technically the word "penis" comes from the Latin for "tail").

Regardless, penises are not violent tools of pain and overpowering those who are less well trained, prepared, and informed.

What a disturbing metaphor. Maybe we need a new word, not that I particularly like "pussy," but mostly because I have an aversion to cats. 

Monday, October 7, 2013

Perfect Storm

It is an intriguing talent of the cosmos to always make everything happen at the same time, even when it seems like it shouldn't. I was very pleased with my schedule this year after syllabus week because my classes all managed to have pleasantly spread-out schedules as far as work load. A paper at the beginning of November, mid November, late November, early December, much better than last semester when I frequently had two or three ten-page papers due within hours.

As per usual, however, the universe is an expert at conspiring against everyone and I'm in for two papers, a presentation, a panel, an interview, two extra shifts, one extra staff meeting, two swim meets, two quizzes, a discussion, and an RA application in the next few days. And an optional stress management session for my floor. And today, it rained, and we all know how I feel about that. Well played, universe, well played. 

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Reevaluating MBTI

My dad's side of the family gets together every two years for a week-long reunion. I think they're crazy, but it gave me a good way to make time and my development growing up. I can remember myself at each reunion and it gives me a plot point for who I was at different moments in my life. I

t helped that my aunts, uncles, parents, and grandparents had extensive rituals for systematizing all of that information, from lists of all of our clothing sizes and interests, scrapbook pages, measurements (height and weight), and to a bi-yearly reevaluation of where we stood on the Myers-Briggs test.

ENTJ. I have always tested an ENTJ. Always. Like, massively, dramatically, unquestionably ENTJ. Extroverted, intuitive, thinking, judging.

Last August, Ben and I started dating. Two weeks after that, I took the MBTI for work. I was an ENTJ, barely. I was almost an INTJ. An E to and I. An E, the part of that status I have always held most dear, taken the most pride in. There were only ever two Es at family reunions, my mother and I, the odd-balls of the group for sure. That E that put off my family for so many years started to retreat.

I'm not sure why I've always been so attached to that extrovert status. Maybe because I never really was and I was trying to grab at something I thought I could be because I kept testing that way.

When I took the test last summer someone pointed out that the introvert/extrovert dilemma isn't about how you usually spend your time, it's about where you draw your energy. Maybe that misconception is why I always tested an E; I have always tried to be busy, spending lots of time with friends and getting involved in my community.

But where do I draw energy? Increasingly over the last two years my energy comes from being alone (or virtually alone, because in many ways I consider being with Ben, being alone). The moments I am sitting in a dark room, writing a terribly self-assessing blog posts, are the moments I live for.

Perhaps as my life gets busier in terms of school and carer planning, it is nice to be calm and safe and quiet and alone.

And I think, increasingly, I like that. 

Shutdown Schmutdown

What the hell does a government shut down even mean really? The zoo animals are still getting fed, wars are still being fought, and congress is still having a crisis.

I live in the capitol city and I'd just like to put out there that not a who lot has changed.

I am NOT saying that that isn't a problem. I'm saying that's a horrible reflection on what our government gets done on a normal, non-shutdown day. In case you were unclear, it's very little. That's a lie, a lot of paperwork gets done and a lot of other bureaucratic mumbo-gumbo, but in our daily lives, little of what the federal government fights about trickles down to us.

This isn't an argument about the size of government, either; I don't much care how big or small it is as a general figure. It is an argument about effectiveness. We are doing less than the Do Nothing Congress, and for that, we should feel terrible about ourselves' utterly ashamed that we can't shut up about whether we are conservative or liberal and get some shit done, like, oh, maybe not defaulting on our debt and tanking the American economy. 

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Men: Using Privilege for Good, Speaking Truth to Power, Being Good Feminists

Toward the end of the summer, my boyfriend was walking me back to campus one afternoon. I took an unusual route, looping the outer edge of campus, rather than walking through the main quad. He asked why. I walk that way because it is quieter, not much longer, less crowded, and, in the mornings when I am usually walking home, much prettier. I added as a caveat, assuming ti was why he had asked, that I walked on the busier, more populated quad when I was alone late at night.

He paused and said to me "I am so sorry that you have to think about things like that."

Not "Oh, my goodness I'm never letting you walk home alone again!" He didn't try to claim the experience, or take it over; with that simple phrase, he just acknowledged it, acknowledged that it was something he would never have to face, and reassured me that he was there.

A few weeks later he was reading an article called something like "100 Things Men Can Do to Help Women." As he read down the list he would occasionally ask for confirmation. "Would that really be helpful?!?" Usually, the answer was yes.

There are a lot of problems with men thinking they can improve the situation for women, as so many oppressed groups find, your oppressors cannot unchain you, you must unchain yourself. But we give men a bad reputation. Many, if not most, men are allies.

This wonderful man, from whom I have heard in the course of our friendship and subsequent relationship some unwittingly offensive things, now tells me I can bring him home a pink and black "THIS IS WHAT A FEMINIST LOOKS LIKE" t-shirt from work. He has never paused for a moment to question my struggle as a woman when I choose to articulate it to him. He validates my experiences and doesn't ask how to fix them for me, though I'm sure he would do anything I asked. I occasionally tell him to check himself – his position, his privilege – and he does.

The power we have when we trust our allies to be our support, not our saviors, is immense. Too often, we fear letting allies in because we worry they will rewrite our stories as their own. So thank you, Benjamin, for continuing to allow me to struggle, for quietly reassuring me that I am not alone, but creating spaces where I have autonomy, self-authorship, and the freedom to choose my own battles, path, and destiny. 

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Tabula Rasa

Sometimes I wonder what my political views would be if I had gotten the opportunity to make those choices outside of the context of social construct that is political life in this country. I would like to think that I would still be as socially liberal as I am, I don't much care what my fiscal policy would be, but I am way less confidant of that than I would like to be. If I was raised in a socially conservative, heavily capitalist, "Don't Tread on Me" environment, I don't think I could say I would be what I am.

I was sitting in a class last night and we were talking about school choice. School choice means a lot of different things and I'll preface this discussion with the caveat that I have no idea how I feel about the concept. One aspect of school choice is public choice, where a parent can choose to send their student to any other public school. Currently, this typically happens when schools aren't meeting the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) standard of Annual Yearly Progress (AYP). Once a school is deemed "failing" parents are allowed to voluntarily move their students to other public school. The second educational choice is to enter a charter school. Usually entrance to a charter is determined by a lottery within the community, with preference sometimes given to families (basically, if the brother/sister is already in the school the second, third, fourth, etc. children have higher chances). I went to a Montessori charter school for three years and truly enjoyed my time there, especially the second two years, but I watched many of my peers really struggle, particularly upon reentry to the traditional public school system (the charter was only K-8). The third and generally most controversial form of choice is voucher systems. If voucher programs are available, students can move to private schools and their public funds will follow them.

Republicans tend to favor voucher programs, the Obama administration has actively opposed them, and I don't think I like them very much, but I have no idea whether that is because I really think they're wrong, or because I know that being liberal means I oppose them. Charter schools are an even bigger shenanigan, largely because people seem so divided. I think I like them, but I liked the one I was at. I really disliked a recent school board candidate in my hometown who didn't like them, but I don't know if that is because it feels like a personal affront to a system that served me well, or because I really think charter schools are important.

Mostly, I just wish I could have had a chance to make up my minds about these issues, and all issues, outside of the bubbles of liberalism or conservatism. And I wonder how different of a person I would be, and, for some reason, it really disturbs me that I might not be exactly who I want because I grew up in a society that was giving me competing views on what to believe. There is much agreement that the social construction of beauty is dangerous for women's health and happiness, why, then, is politics not subjected to the same criticisms of a socially constructed institution?

So the point I end up at is one where there cannot possibly be any right or wrong, even though I desperately want to believe civil rights, freedoms, and liberties are right. And if that's the truth then nothing I think really matters much anyway. That's an incredibly disheartening place to be.

In many ways I crave being right, yet at the same time we reside in this culture that, at least at face value, places the utmost importance on respecting all opinions and recognizing all positions as valid. I cannot be right and recognize others' rightness, so I must be wrong?

Monday, September 16, 2013

The Failings of People

One of the greatest mysteries to me in this world has always been hate: bigoted, racist, sexist, ideological, homophobic, adamant, fearful, unwavering, unfounded hate.

A student of sociology I completely understand how one learns to hate. What is around us, shapes us. If we grow up in a community and a culture that hates, that is almost invariably our course. But we land in that position not by thinking we are hateful and going on anyway, but by truly believing the lies that we are being fed to be true. Generally not even by malicious people, but by other people who were raised and taught the same way,

What really baffles me though, is maintaining all of those feelings after being given clear and contrary evidence. A child gets told all gay people are sinners, and so they believe. But when they later meet lovely gay folks, and learn about them and their lives and their dreams, logic would require a tipping point at which all minds were changed.

Hate seems to be one of the easiest things in the world to learn, but one of the hardest things in the world to unlearn. It seems to me that one of the sole priorities of humanity on this planet now should be figuring out why.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Grieving for Girlyman

I don't think it ever occurred to me that I could grieve for something other than a person.

As I've now written here many times, I saw Girlyman for the first time the night before my first day of high school. I remember not really wanting to go to the Indigo Girls (Girlyman was opening) concert because it was the idea of an aunt I don't like very much and I was so nervous to start school the next day. I feel in love with Nate's song about his grandmother, and only in writing this have I come to realize that that is largely because is many ways "Reva Thereafter" reminds me a lot of my own grandmother. I don't know that there are many musical groups that an 80-year-old woman, 50-year-old woman, and 20-year-old woman can consistently enjoy together, but we managed it. Girlyman has always been a bit of family affair for us.

I spent high school surviving on the power they gave me. I screamed songs at people that had hurt me as I sung along, we would have rousing choruses in the car, and it helped me to articulate love.

Several months ago, Girlyman announced that they would be taking a hiatus from touring and writing as a group to work on themselves and other projects. I was annoyed, but fine.

Yesterday, Girlyman announced that they were permanently breaking up and I find myself profoundly angry.

Who gives these four people the right to take away one of my greatest joys over the last four years, second only to my job and my amazing relationship. I can't even listen to old music now because it is too painful a reminder of something I will never get to have again. I never get to sit in an audience next to my two best friends in the world and just lose myself in the magic and the moment and the ability to feel.

Perhaps it's because I have always found it rather hard to express or validate my emotions, even to myself, and Girlyman was a space in which I could do that. They kept saying everything I wanted to but hadn't figured out how to yet.

"It's not quite gone, but it's not around. Must be somewhere different now."

Except it isn't. You made it gone. And I don't how or if I will ever get past that. And so now I am stuck grieving a thing I didn't know I could lose. And I don't think a new star is growing out of this supernova.

"Gone the supernova's over, burned out. Everywhere I look for it I strike out."

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

To Move Beyond, Must We Forget?

Twelve years ago I was sitting in a third grade classroom two miles from Ft. Detrick as my peers names were coming in continuously over the intercom saying their parents had come to retrieve them. Today, I sat in the Pentagon Memorial reading 184 names of people that are no longer with us. The youngest person on flight 77 was three. Her older sister was nine. Their parents were both on the place as well.

Walking back a friend mentioned that one of our peers was annoyed that the anniversary services are getting smaller and smaller each year. But isn't that natural, even appropriate? Those of us that are young adults now barely remember our 7-year-old selves; the U.S. is moving out of the wars 9/11 got us into.

We cannot move forward, thinking about the attacks less and less only to whip out a giant ceremony once a year to make ourselves feel like we aren't being irreverent. We can and should be moving on. And we shouldn't be afraid that moving on means diminishing the value of those lives or our sympathy for their sacrifice.

As a nation we cannot continue to pretend one a year that one day 12 years ago still plagues our day-to-day national consciousness. 

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Bill O'Reilly, Blogs, and Summertime

I did this thing once, where I wrote this amusing blog. It is probably as good an update about my life currently as anything.

I'm about to wrap up my final week as an intern at the Feminist Majority Foundation in D.C. It's been a ton of fun and I get to do all sorts of exciting things like build websites and write things. So that was one of those things. 

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Face of God

I find, since college has started, summers are a time of tumult, change, passions (all of them, not just romantic), and courage. They are the moments we have to strike out and try new things and when we begin to find our way. They are free opportunities to explore the options life offers. They are also moments to reflect, on ourselves, on the progress of those around us. For the most part, people float through summers, undocked and adrift in the possibilities. In an unusual string of events involving some idiots, some opportunities, and a lot of luck, I have found myself decidedly grounded.

There is a line at the end of Les Miz: "Remember the truth that once was spoken: to love another person is to see the face of God." There is something very different between knowing love and seeing love. You can know love though hearing it spoken, reading it written, or witnessing or receiving actions that make it evident. But when all you have to do is look at someone to know love...

I have spent most of my life as an atheist  largely because I just don't care, but, seeing that every day could make a me a believer. 

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Six Year Olds and Drag Queens

This morning for work, the professer I partnered with last semester and I took some of our students to Drag Brunch at Perry's in Adam's Morgan. It was a lot of fun, even though it's a little pricey and you need to get there pretty early. A great show, about ten ladies each of whom performed twice, and an impressive variety of shapes, sizes, and colors. Admittedly, men dressing up as women and dancing on me still throws me off a bit (I made the mistake of sitting at the seat along the walkway, a dangerous move), but that is, essentially, what I came for. Okay, well, actually, we came to sociologically observe an optimization of gender as a performative action, but whatever.

Anyway, in the corner of the room there was a little boy. The first time I noticed him he was handing a dollar bill to one of the performers which made me whip around and stare wide-eyed at my professer, which was supposed to communicate "What the hell? Why is there a little kid here?" She got the message, but just sort of shrugged and ignored me. As the show went on, the boy continued to be sent down with bills. The point, let me clarify, is that you give queen a bill and she dances on or at you for a moment. Many of the performers clearly did not know what to do with the kid, obviously you can't dance on him. One of the queens, Justin, who talked to the audience for a while called the kid over.

"What is your name?" Justin asked.
"Isaiah," he answered.
"And how old are you, Isaiah?"
"Are you having fun?"

Good, because it's important that the six-year-old be having fun at the sex parade.
I turned back around to my professer, making another face. Instead of the "Wow," I expected, she said that his parents were probably here a lot and it just isn't a big deal to them or him.

Now I have mixed feelings. On one hand, yes, I think sex is absurdly under-discussed and, quite frankly, over-sexualized in our society. And part of me feels like this restaurant is a really open, friendly, and welcoming place where there were all sorts of patrons, performers, and staff. But the other side of me questions the appropriateness of a drag queen bouncing splits on the ground with gigantic fake breasts falling out of a few bedazzled coverings three feet away from a six-year-old. And I wonder why his parents thought that would be good. I wonder more why they think he should be the one to run over and hand the performers money.

I know I want to say that it is great that we can be that open about sex and the human experience, but I don't think I believe that. There's a difference between explaining the emotions and biology associated with sex and letting a Kindergartener watch porn. At least, they stil seem different to me.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Do you hear the people sing?

I first heard the song of angry men a few days after I turned 12. It was a birthday present to go see my first real show. My grandma, mom, and I went to the National in Washington, D.C. on a school night and saw Les Miserables. I was taking French at the time and I suppose they picked it for being one of the more "serious" shows touring at the time. I was absurdly excited and sang the entire way home. I also remember that some character made a sex joke and I thought that was pretty impressive. It started to snow on the way home, which later became a theme for my mom and me seeing shows. It also meant I usually went in to school late the next day, which was helpful. Les Mis has never stopped fascinating me, or making me cry. Over the next few years I saw the movie version (which isn't a musical) in French classes and listened to the soundtrack pretty frequently. It has always struck me for its passion. Any good show should have passion, that isn't my point, but the pasion of two or three people and the passion of a nation are very different things. Les Mis makes me sad that I wasn't alive to fight the French Revolution because half way through the show I'm ready to leap up on stage, risk my life, and stand on the barricade. Last fall, the movie came out. I have some issues, but, overall, it captured me in just the same way. Tonight, I will go see the musical production again, at a theatre I have grown to love. Every time I revisit something I love, I worry for a split second in the midst of excitement that perhaps it will have lost its magic. But that isn't how magic works. Watching Brigadoon emerge out of the Scottish highlands is still just as impressive and magical now that I know it's on a sound stage in Hollywood as it was when I was five and very possibly really thought there was a town like that across the ocean in what, accurately or not, I consider my motherland. So, will you be strong and stand with me? I want to see the world beyond the barricade, over and over and over again.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Searching for Silver

I often find myself surprised by the moments and people who give us the most strength. I would never have expected a young woman I've met once in my life and tend to think isn't that impressive to become the silver lining that puts a sparkle in what will undoubtedly be a long, dark tunnel, but she did it. And she didn't even do anything for me: all she did was ask for a phone number and make a few Facebook friends. I would never have expected the people who keep me sane and give me hope to be people I've exchanged just a few sentences with in my life and mostly see from the distance of a front row, at best. But that's the power music has. I debated with a friend once about the difference/similarity between music and books. We each argued (I for music, she for books) that it was an escape. I think that was a poor assessment. Music doesn't take me away, it brings me back to the present. When my mind races and life is overwhelming, music grounds you to the singer and the instrument and the message and the moment you're in, and isn't identical to your life and your problems, but it's just close enough that you can think about them without them killing you. Funny, that the people who help us the most will never know.

Monday, March 25, 2013


I remember a high school teach telling me in my junior or senior year that I would stop liking snow when I went off to college and it became a hassle rather than an excuse to skip school and play. Perhaps it's because my university tends to be pretty liberal about dolling out snow days, but I still enjoy it. I don't have the same desire to run about outside and play in it that I used to, but that is mostly due to a lack of appropriate clothing at school. My appreciation of snow is now from afar, glancing out the window, or more likely staring for a long time. Snow makes everything inside cozier, I assume because of the juxtaposition of temperature. Sitting inside during the snow with a mug of hot cocoa or tea and being curled up under a blanket, makes you unbelievably appreciative that you aren't braving the weather outside.

It's ironic that I post about snow on this day, when, for the first time, we actually have a few inches of snow, and yet, the university texted everyone saying, "All classes at activities will be held at regularly scheduled time." They are taking away the magic of snow. The magic that is tilling inside, looking out. The feeling that the outside world is very isolating, very quiet, and that you have this enclave, wrapped up in your blanket, of warmth and happiness, and hope.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Et je vais essayer de vous fixer.

My boyfriend once said to me, "Well, you do seem to attract broken people." I laughed and said, "So does that mean you're broken?" He shrugged.

My entire childhood, as soon as I got upset about anything, my mom would start listing solutions. This, frankly, annoyed me. I just wanted to be allowed to upset for a while; rarely do I want things to be fixed, rarely do I need them to be fixed. But, she wanted to fix things...and I'm starting to realize I inherited it.

If the last seven months have taught me something, it's that there is a time to be quiet: a time to not open your mouth because getting the last word in matters a lot less than not going to bed angry, a time to quietly listen because you don't know the solutions. I have learned that I am really bad at watching people fall apart, even though in those moments I often feel the closest too them. I, like my mother, want to be able to fix things, and, when possible, will quietly fix everything I can. I will wake up and make coffee or help you time manage if that will make your day better, because there are some things that I cannot fix, that cannot be fixed. I can't make a parent love you, or take away all the scary things that have happened to you. Those are moments for silence, not solutions.

He's right. I do attract broken people, but, get real, who isn't a little bit broken.

Monday, February 25, 2013

The Langelan Standard for Good Sex

So you may have gathered that I took a Sexual Harassment class this weekend (an academic class, not a workplace seminar). This little old lady spent a weekend yelling at us on and off about how we could all help solve the problem. One of her more amusing outbursts was about our standard for sex. The debate is always was it forced or consensual. "Get rid of consent!" she said, "Consent is a terrible standard." "The standard should be enthusiasm." She proceded to rant for ten minutes about how if we ever found ourselves in bed with people that weren't enthusiastic we should "get out of that bed." She argued that enthusiastic sex would always be better anyway and I think she's right. Chatting with girlfriends over winter break who complained that with exes they've gotten bored, been watching tv, not cared, waited for it to end, etc, I was really sad for them, but even more now. I was also appalled last semester to hear one of my close friends say she swooned when a guy asked her what she liked. PEOPLE: IF YOU HAVE NEVER BEEN ASKED IF YOU FEEL GOOD/WATCH TV/ARE BORED/HAVEN'T BEEN ASKED IF YOU FEEL SAFE/WAIT FOR IT TO BE OVER, TRY SOMETHING OR SOMEONE NEW! Please. Make your standard for a partner and your standard for yourself enthusiasm, every time.

Who Am I? 24601

I did some reading for a class, Power and Protest, a few weeks ago talking about the development of Creole identity in Latin America during colonization. Creoles were not accepted by Spanish-born colonizers, but no more were they indigenous to the continent. Hence, they would end up a bars together and, essentially, bitch about all the ways greater state power disenfranchised them. Identity, Anderson argued (the reading was a chapter of a book Imagined Communities), comes from exclusion, not inclusion. I don't identify as a woman because I am "woman" but because I am not "man" just as I do not identify as a feminist because I am feminist, but because I am not anti-feminist. And in fact, identity only exists inasmuch as there is an "other." If everyone is similar in one category, there is no need to identify as such. The only people calling for hominids to identify as "human" are people on crusades for us to recognize our sameness, but you don't get anyone running around making their master status (the sociological term for your "most important" identity, in the United States our master status is usually our occupation) "organism" even though we all are. Identity, then, emerges from our difference from others, not our sameness with those who share the identity. This look is, admittedly, kind of depressing. It implies that identity, which I tend to think of as positive, only arises from being excluded, but perhaps it isn't as sad as that. Difference isn't and doesn't have to be exclusion, and maybe the best way of ensuring that is for me, and you, to stop assuming it is.

Who am I?
unitarian universalist
dog person

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Facts, Figures, and Profoundities from Sexual Harassment Class

- Ten percent of American women have quit a job because of harassment.
- Make friends with the homeless men in your neighborhood (women too, but especially men). They are the ones who will hear you when you scream on the street in the middle of the night, and they're more likely to help if you've made friends. Homeless individuals often stop assaults.
- Coors beer donates money to the Klan.
- Harassment is worse in D.C. because it is such a power-driven city.
- Privilege is having blinder on: you don't have to see it if it's never done to you.
- Consent shouldn't be our standard for sex, enthusiasm should be the standard.
- The oppressed always knows the oppressor better than the oppressor knows them.
- We continue to lock up women women to "protect" them from "inevitable" male violence rather than sanctioning men.
- It is a privilege to not have to walk down the street doing constant risk assessment.
- People who need the law the most are those who can least afford it.
- If you need a pro bono lawyer, the local NOW chapter usually knows where to find them.
- People don't change when we call them stupid, they change when they call themselves stupid.
- Being a screaming crazy person does not encourage allies.
- You are far more likely to be sexually assaulted by someone of your own race and socioeconomic status.
- Anger is not a strategy. Anger is a sign you need to do something that works.
- It isn't about men versus women: it's about all of us versus the jackasses.

Monday, February 18, 2013

St. Valentine

I have, at multiple times in my life been in a relationship on Valentine's Day. Interestingly, I have never done anything with that person, and rather, have always gone out to lunch or dinner at a Mexican restaurant with my parents (when I was little I also used to consistently receive pajamas as a gift). My dad always gets me flowers, my mom gets me a card or candy. Last year was my first year away at college and my high school boyfriend and I happened to be dating at the moment (just accept that that is, indeed, the way that sentence must be written to be accurate). He, however, was working (or something) and didn't want to come down to D.C. for the evening. So, my mommy and daddy swooped in and came down to have dinner with me. We went to a restaurant called Tia Queta, which happens to a be a restaurant the two of them used to go to when they were dating. My family is cute like that. I had a delicious meal and got a gift (the board game Betrayal at the House on the Hill) from friends at home. Altogether, one of the best Valentine's Days I've ever had. This year, despite being in the midst of the most stable, loving relationship I hav ever encountered, I had yet another chance to spend a Valentine's Day with my mom and dad at that same restaurant they used to go to. My current boyfriend had class until late in the evening on Valentine's Day and so, yet again, I found myself in a relationship and unoccupied on the day of lovers. I got to eat the same delicious black bean and parmesan dish I ordered last year and visit with my parents who I hadn't seen in a over a month. I know that it is a cheesy tradition and that it inevitably has to come to an end and I move deeper into the world of my own relationships (plus my parents would probably appreciate finally getting one to themselves), but I love it. It is one of the strongest traditions I have with my family. Other things I've been holding on to my whole life have been slipping away for the last few years, mostly holiday traditions, and perhaps it's just me being stubborn, but it makes me sad every time I lose one. I suppose I just need to start some new traditions, and chicken pesto parmesan and a poem certainly seems like a good one. It just always surprises me how bad I am at letting go of the past. 

Friday, February 8, 2013

Girly Gone?

I've written before about Girlyman, an incredible, although not well-known, group of talented musicians who let there listeners in to an amazing degree. It's why I loved them. They were people I got to know intimately (well, I suppose music has a habit of doing that). The second you know the whole impetus for a song suddenly that song is the artist wearing his or her heart on their sleeve. Anyway, for better or worse, I've been drawn close to these people who I've only met three or four times. Their music has been a constant in the tumultuous life that is being a teenager: it has followed me through relationships, break ups, uncertainties, jubilation, sadness, and fear. Almost every morning I hop in my car they're playing and I thought they, essentially, always would be.

Girlyman is breaking up now (they refuse to call it that because they assume at some point they will no longer want to be apart, but as far as I'm concerned at that point they will just be getting back together). It feels like my parents are getting divorced (having never had my parents get divorced I am uniquely unqualified to make that statement), not so much in that it is traumatically emotional, I haven't cried over it, but in that something I saw as so concrete and stable appears  to be able to come tumbling down so easily.

Most of me is mad at them, which, reasonably, I have no right to be. I feel betrayed by these four people I have spent less than 15 hours of my life with because they made this silent promise to always be there, for each other, for me, and they're breaking it. 

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Maybe It's Beautiful

One of my all-time biggest pet peeves is when people say things to the effect of "Well, we have a black president," with the implication that because Barack Obama, a half white man as much a half black man, is president, clearly racism isn't a problem in America.

I'm taking a class this semester called Race and Incarceration in the U.S. Whether you believe it is a systematic and intentional phenomenon or not, you have to be able to look at the numbers and see that blacks are incarcerated in this country are disproportionately affected by the penal system. Another student in my class said yesterday, seeming exasperated with some of our more close-minded cohorts in the way I frequently find myself to be, "Just imagine if in Germany Jews were six times as incarcerated." Take a second to really think about that. The world would be in utter uproar if something like that were occurring, so why is blackness a ticket to being ignored in this country, and, quite frankly, around the world? It cannot be that black people are simply more prone to commit crime (and yes, I agree that poverty breeds crime, but check yourself for a second, climb off your I-know-everything horse, look up some statistics, and realize that there are far more whites in poverty in this country than blacks, even though a larger percentage of the black population lives at a lower socio-economic level). I hope you can tell that this is an issue that absolutely infuriates me.

But then another student said something really remarkable.

"The people that cant see that more black people are being arrested and that that must mean something: that's beautiful, because that means they don't have frame of reference."

And you know what? Maybe. Maybe it is kind of beautiful (in a twisted and really counterproductive way) that some people don't see American racism as a problem that exists because they simply never see it happening. I think it might be beautiful to have my children grow up in a world where they can't comprehend what racism is because they never see it affect anyone.

But, one the other hand, I'm not quite sure if I'm ready for us to forget, even if we do manage to keep fixing the problem. 

Happiness: A Statistician's Dilemma

How do you measure happy? Subjectively, I measure "happy" everyday. I see friends looking stressed and my personal happy-meter bings, "Uh, oh, you are not rating well today." Well, I get asked if I'm happy a lot more than I used to and I pretty much always say yes. The levels of happy that I am when posed that question are presumably different, and, objectively, I am probably always a little unhappy, too, but I know intrinsically that "Yes," is the right answer. And not right in a you-will-feel-better-if-I-tell-you-I'm-fine kind of way, but right in a this-feels-right kind of way. More importantly I don't think one can (or should) rate their happiness against others, ie "I am happier than you are." In my current relationship I have a no one-upping rule (although to be honest I'm not sure he really knows it except to the extent that I shut him down immediately if he ever says anything that qualifies). This means no "No, I love you more,"s and no "You're the best." I don't want to measure that emotion against someone else's (besides, you should already know you're the best). Why measure something unquantifiable? I'm happy. Can that be enough? Can we stop trying to be happier

What Mexico Stole from Me

So my closest female friend at school is off on the adventure of a lifetime (which isn't really true, since I know she'll have many more) studying abroad in Mexico this semester. This isn't that tragic on the surface, except she has been one of my closest friends for eight years and in a very real sense I have never had to do anything without her. She is always there to quote Koala Lou at me gossip be a sounding board for dilemmas. Whether this semester is just hard or whether it is specifically harder because of ehr absence is a mystery to me, but without my closest confidant I have to admit I'm floundering a little. To his credit, my boyfriend (rightfully) assumed he'd have to pick up some of the slack and has been remarkable. She is in Mexico having a very real sink or swim moment which will prove to her and everyone around her that she can make it in the real world, and, in a much more quiet way, I have to figure out how to swim, too. 

Monday, January 14, 2013

Something Stuck

My friends would probably say I have a hard time getting along with people I disagree with. I would probably try to discredit this accusation as false. What I have a hard time getting along with, is people that never listen when disagreeing and people that seem to be incapable of changing their minds even when presented with clear evidence. My best friend as school is a Republican. This is notable because frequently this has been a deal-breaker for me in relationships. There was a time when many of my friends joked that the only men I could be friends with were gay Democrats, so this straight conservative was quite a find, but that's another story. Anyway, my views, while continuing to liberalize socially have become drastically more conservative (let me just stop here and clarify that I mean a lot more conservative for me) fiscally. I presume this is due to the close contact I have with many of my friends' views (I also managed to make friends with a bunch of Libertarians, go figure). At any rate, I get along with my best friends because I alway know he hears me, not agrees necessarily (although increasingly frequently as we both move to the center), but hears and, most importantly, considers. I try to always do the same for him. I'm pretty sure we both know this is happening all the time, but we are also both a little too proud to readily concede to the other in the moment and, at least for my part, that system works. Well a week ago I turned 19 and got one of the best birthday presents in the world: a blogpost, similar to this one, in which I was cited as a driving force in the changing of one of his opinions on an issue very near to my heart.

I get the impression that a lot of people, particularly young people, have grandiose notions of the ways in which they will affect the world, but it isn't the big ways, its the tiny ones that all, hopefully, add up to meaning something. This particular man intends to go into law, a place where he might get a chance to keep a woman safe, or at least find some justice for her, and I always get to know that I was an itty bitty part of that. Perhaps not grandiose, but pretty damn grand.