Monday, November 19, 2012

On Being Angsty, or Sick, or Something

See title.

I hope I am sick.

But I'm pretty sure finding out that if I ever want to be an IS major I should probably be in 2 IS classes next semester, despite the fact that I'm still not sure I want to be an IS major, a messy room, a tough news story, and feeling generally inadequate at this amazing, and yet inadequate in itself place is enough to make one angsty.  Maybe even depressed.

We'll hope for physical illness...

Also, I can't spell inadequate tonight.  Hooray!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Catch me I'm Falling

This weekend, I saw a musical called Next to Normal (the Mixed Blood Theater version was AMAZING).  It is a musical primarily about bipolar depressive disorder and its effects on one family, but it also explores a lot of ways people can be hurting.

One of the songs involves lyrics repeated over and over-

"Catch me I'm falling"
and
"Catch me before it's too late."

I want to talk about this because I think a lot of people are falling right now.  My school has a lot of demands and a lot of pressures, not to mention that everyone here has lives outside of that.  Macalester is a great school, but sophomore year is undeniably difficult, and I can see in some, in too many, the stress just below the smile.  And I know that so many people are lying when I ask them how they are.

Here's the thing- no one is going to tell you they are falling.  But no one wants to hit the ground.  If you notice the things that I do, please check in with people.  Please don't assume they will feel uncomfortable if you address it.

I have spent weeks, weeks of my life just waiting for someone to give me the slightest opening to tell them that I am not okay.  And I am a person who is OPEN about their feelings.  In those times, I would love nothing more for someone to see me struggling and to take that first step of asking me how I am and wanting to truly know the answer.

I want to be one of those people, and I want you to as well.

If someone does let you in, even the slightest bit, take them seriously.  People spend a lot of time not understanding that what their loved ones are going through is serious.  When I tell someone I am not okay, sometimes they don't know what that means.  And they don't even have to if they affirm what I am feeling and give me love.  Just know, if someone says they are falling, they are very likely awfully close to the ground.

If you are falling- I want you to know this:  It is okay to be falling.  It is okay not to be okay.  It is okay not to do/ be able to do "all the things your peers can do." It is okay to spend a day in your pajamas doing things that make you happy.  It is okay to ask for help.  It is all okay. It won't be like this forever.  And you do not need a diagnosed mental illness to be falling.  Everyone falls sometime. Do not feel alone.  If you can, find the people who will catch you and let them know you need to be caught- because the scary part is, even I, someone who knows the lie behind the smile, can't always see it.

But if you ever need an ally, I'll be by your side.

I won't let you fall.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Thursday, November 1, 2012

A Failure of Systems

Trigger warning- alcoholism, car accident

Hey everyone.  I just want to take the time to honor the life of Austin Conley, a 20-year-old Augsburg College student, who died after being struck by a car this past weekend.  It was a hit and run.  He was my mom's student, and from what I have heard, a very special young man.  But I don't just want to talk about him.  Because everyone who dies in accidents such as this is valuable.  Everyone who gets  hurt by the systems our world has set up has a special life that deserves to be honored, no matter who they are.

And yes, Austin Conley was hit by a drunk driver.  But he was killed by systems.

Because the woman who killed him had a prior DWI charge, had violated her probation, and did not appear in court for this violation hearing until she was picked up and made to go.

And according to the news article, "Two other drivers on the road that night told police that before the impact, the Lumina's driver was swerving, cutting off others and nearly hit another car."

Which might mean the police had been called about the driver prior to the incident.


The driver who hit Austin was sick.  And if I were to guess, circumstances in her life were stacked against her.  That doesn't give her an excuse.  She should have never gotten into a car at 2:30 on a Sunday morning so inebriated that she could hit a person at 90 miles per hour and claim to not have  known.  But in her illness, and her failure to get better, systems are at least partially to blame. These systems make it hard for the poor, those whose perceived racial identity is black, and women to get by.


But even worse is the judicial system. How can you let someone who has driven drunk before AND not fulfilled the terms of her probation keep driving?  What about help for alcoholism, or Breathalyzers before the car starts?


Nothing can bring back Austin.  Nothing can account for the immense pain those who knew him are in.  And it doesn't help that the world in which we live makes these situations all too easy.  


Notice how I didn't call it an accident.  It wasn't. 

Monday, October 29, 2012

Confessions

The only way I'll do squats is if Zumba tricks me into it as part of a dance to some extremely misogynist song.

I like napping more than most other things.

I am way too enthusiastic about Prospective Freshman.

I watch really bad television.

Little things are really important to me.

I'm overly judgmental, but also overly loyal.

This year, I didn't wish him Happy Birthday.  But it wasn't on purpose.  Or maybe it is still his birthday, in which case it sort of is.

I'm scared that someone or something that was once so important to you can become so unimportant, and it has. Over and over.

I didn't notice that EVERY FEMALE in my school wore skinny jeans tucked into boots until I finally got some myself.  (Or maybe they just went shopping over Fall Break?)  Either way, I still think so many other styles are more flattering. But I'm being convinced....

If my boyfriend doesn't text me every 4-6ish hours, I become afraid that he died because I am a very rational human being.

I consider talking to the squirrels on my campus a mark of insanity, which means I live in perpetual insanity.

I really love humans, but college humans (and perhaps especially sophomore humans) are rather difficult sorts.

I get lonely.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Home

I'm home.

And on Sunday, I'm going back home.

And when I go abroad, at night I'll come home.

And there is a person to whom I sing "Home is Wherever I'm With You."

And whoever said you can't have more than one home hasn't truly met me.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

I can't...

Are those two words okay to say?  Or just limiting myself?
Is it okay to limit myself sometimes?

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Independence Day

Some people like to spend the 4th of July blowing their fingers off.  I prefer to take the time to reflect on what it means to be a citizen of this nation.

In past years, I have recalled the Revolutionary War, thinking about how cool it was that the darn-awesome Patriots took down those stupid Redcoats.  I have thought of the Veterans that have made it possible for this country to be safe and free.  And I have thought about how lucky I am to have the rights outlined for me in the Bill of Rights, especially the First Amendment.

But I must be a college student because this year, things aren't quite so rosy.  When I was little I remember being told how lucky I was to live in a nation where I could express doubts about my government.  In other places, people were stoned for such things.  I remember tales of places where women were little more than property, who had no voice in politics or at all.  And so I was swept into loving being American because that is what I was, but also because we were the best...

Certainly, I believe I am lucky to live in a nation where I can vote and run for office and say anything I want about the government.  Where I can get a good education and safely raise my family in the future.  Life here is very, very good.

But I think sometimes we have a little too much American pride.  I didn't know when I was little that there were nations that not only let women vote, but elected them into office as well.  I didn't know there were places where people are healthier than we are, and I most certainly didn't know that there were places where people are much, much happier than we are.

Guys, in 2010, the US ranked 90th in terms of women's representation in government.  However, we do rank highly in the illustrious and coveted posts of defense spending and oil and energy consumption.

I'm not saying we don't live in a great country.  I AM saying that we do not at all live in a country that could be in any way considered the best.  If it could have been at one time, it is not now, my friends, and our Empire comes ever closer to toppling.  So instead of running around thinking about how great we are, let's think about how we can be better.  We should do this even when at number one, but as we are surpassed by many other nations, we must keep running even to stay in the same place.  Pride will not help us. Pride goeth before a fall.

So yes, it is good that I live in a nation where I am allowed to write this.  But it would be better if I didn't have to.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

I am Always Seeing Motorcyclists

Sometimes I like to go on rants about things that bother me.  This is one of those times.

You know what I hate, guys?  The public service announcement constantly reminding me to "Start Seeing Motorcyclists." I may be a terrible driver, but I am always on the lookout to at least make sure I don't hurt anyone else.  So I am always seeing motorcyclists.

I am always seeing motorcyclists acting like idiots.

For example:
If you would like to share the road with cars, you should act like one.  This DOES NOT mean weaving in and out of tiny spaces in fast-moving (or even slow-moving) traffic.  If you squeeze your motorcycle into my three-second-following-distance and something happens causing me to have to stop rapidly, I will hit you.  And I will feel bad.  And the world will call it a tragic accident reminding us all to make sure we are properly sharing the road, instead of a tragic accident that could have easily been prevented if you were not being an idiot.

But not acting like a car might be excusable if you took, like, any safety precautions.  For example, a helmet.  If you hit a rock, or a car, or if a car hits you, or if you hit ANYTHING on the freeway, you will die.  Hate to break it to you, but your head is not as hard as you think.  Also, long sleeves would be a good idea, but my goodness, start with covering your cranium.

These examples I see with all but the smallest percentage of motorcyclists, but of course there are always special cases that remind me that idiots truly prevail in this world.

A particular case that I remember from my childhood was an incidence of minor road rage involving a motorcyclist not wearing a helmet, talking on a cell phone, giving someone the finger, and SMOKING A CIGARETTE.  Clearly, you sir, have a death wish.

And not three days ago, I was on the road, minding my own business, driving slightly over the speed limit in the left lane on 35E when all of the sudden there is a motorcyclist on my tail.  I'm freaking out because no one with that much skin exposed should be near me in a very heavy, very fast-moving hunk of metal.

But I shouldn't have worried.

No, this particular man would not be on my tail for long.  Before I had processed fully what was going on, the motorcyclist had changed lanes and passed me, and was far, far, far ahead of me on the highway.  (Which was all well and good for me, as I wanted to be nowhere near that, but keep in mind, I was already speeding... which puts this man's speed at over 80 mph).  As he pushed his wheels faster and faster along the winding freeway, I couldn't help but notice he was wearing shorts and a t shirt... and no helmet.  To put some icing on this cake, as he sped at a rate I can't even imagine from inside of a vehicle, he removed both hands from the handlebars, and rode that way until I lost sight of him.

Yes, I am always seeing motorcyclists.  And the ways they are acting, I am always wishing I wasn't.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Facing It (Retouched Photos Make Even Girls Like Me Have Trouble Facing Themselves)

I am a pretty confident person, and I try not to spend my life focusing on my appearance- there is so much more to the world.  But I admit, sometimes that I don't have the ideal body or even the ideal body for me gets to me. The fact that my sister is long and lean and muscular with tan, perfect skin doesn't usually help.

Most of you who read this have seen me in person, but if you haven't, here is as unbiased a portrayal as I can offer:  I am 5 feet 5 inches tall and the quarter Mexican in me shows in my features.  I have mid-length, usually undone dark, dark brown hair, a forehead that recently decided that it wanted to behave like I was 14 again, smallish but pretty light brown eyes behind glasses- contacts are a torture I don't understand, and full lips.  Based on compliments, I'd say my best feature is my smile, and I hope it always was, but the smile I have now isn't exactly mine.  In the interest of full disclosure, I had braces for, from what I can tell, cosmetic purposes only, as is the norm these days, and my already-white teeth have been whitened.  According to my BMI, I am on the border of average and overweight and I'd usually say that doesn't mean anything... but I don't exercise as much as I need to to be healthy.  I still have a rather slender, long torso, carrying most of my weight in my short legs, especially around my hips.  I wear nice clothing, but I am not really all that interested in high fashion.  So I'm average.  

And I'm happy.  I like to live in my body most of the time- it can sing, dance badly, hug, write, smile, and most importantly, think.  So what should I care that I don't look like the girls they put in magazines?  There are so many more important things in the world.  

But sometimes, I can't even look in the mirror.  I don't stand in front of it hating myself.  On the bad days, I can't stand my body enough to look at it.  So I pretend the insecurity isn't there.  Being ashamed of my body makes me ashamed of myself for not recognizing the miracle that it is, it makes me ashamed of myself for falling into the trap society has created for me, it makes me ashamed of myself for wishing I could look more like my sister, or at the least (and most horrible) she could look more like me.

The reasons I spend days wishing I could trade in parts of my body are multifaceted and complex, from my frustration that due to tendinitis in my wrists, I sometimes have difficulty doing all of my favorite things (writing, playing music, etc) to being upset that my body doesn't look the way it "should."  

And today I want to focus on the "should."  Though I mostly judge what my appearance is "supposed to be" against the slightly-more-attainable standard of my sister, there is a reason her body shape is coveted and mine isn't looked at twice, and that is largely media images.

I like to read Seventeen, but it always upset me that when they (try to) show how to dress for your body shape, "pears" never get bigger than my sister, and "curvy" means plus sized.  Isn't size 8 average?  Where are those girls in this magazine?  And I was majorly peeved when the first "Pretty Amazing" contest finalists (a contest to put readers on the cover who do amazing things) were featured and the focus seemed to be much more on the "pretty" than on the "amazing."  I mean, I've never expected to find role models in the mainstream media that looked like me, but gosh, with all Seventeen's talk of "Body Peace" they could at least make it look like they are trying on more pages than one.

And to top it all off, the amazingly beautiful girls (most under size 3) that get featured in magazines (many sending women messages much worse than Seventeen does) all get their photos retouched even after spending hours in hair and makeup and, since they are models, devoting their lives to their looks.  And that's actually insulting to all involved.  If they are not pretty enough on their own for you, major magazines, no one is.  And what kind of message does that send to the world?  Seventeen tells amazing and empowering stories, but if the subliminal messaging is "no one is good enough," it doesn't mean anything.

That's why I'm standing with Miss Representation and asking major magazines to feature at least one unretouched photo in every issue.  And especially to Seventeen- you can sell anything you want to young women.  Why not sell something in line with the empowering stories you tell?  Why not improve people's lives?  I ask almost nothing, considering the very specific type of women still featured in magazines, but it is a small step to changing the norms.  And once we get there, I have a few more ideas.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Pride

As I walked through the Pride festival this weekend, holding hands with my boyfriend and one of my best friends, a few steps behind my "gay boyfriend" holding his boyfriend's hand, so much joy washed over me.

Each of us had a story, a journey that led us to the place we were, all together loving one another.

My best friend Christian grew up around pride and with two Moms, two of the best Moms I have ever heard of.

I grew up sheltered and used to believe gay people should not be allowed to have children, but eventually turned a complete 180.  Now, you can't shut me up about the importance of all families, and I declared being a part of the parade that day was better even than waving and smiling atop fancy cars as a potential princess. (Read more about my journey in the previous blog post)

My "gay boyfriend" spent much of his life attempting to be straight, living in fear of disapproval of his mother.  There are a lot of things that could have kept him from being there that day, but his perfect happiness, fingers intertwined with someone who made him so very happy, somehow prevailed.

And again I am struck by stories.

Because those are three.  And they are the most simplified versions I could tell you. But we were there among thousands upon thousands of people, and each of those people come with thousands and thousands of stories.  And it is so beautiful to think about each of those stories, from the those belonging to the nuns there to promote loving your neighbor without distinction to those of the drag queens, the stories of the adorable little children to those belonging to each person who requested purple beads, all coming together in the same place.

Each of those people, arriving for the same reason, in spite of or because of all the stories that led up to their arrival.  All of us, becoming a part of the same story.  A story of joy and love and acceptance from everyone and for everyone, no matter their story....  even if only for a weekend, a day, a few hours, a conversation, a smile, a moment.  That's something to be proud of.

Journey to Pride

I just spent the must beautiful day at the Pride festival in downtown Minneapolis, and I wanted to talk about how important the event was to me.  As a straight ally who wasn't always as adamant about rights, acceptance, and hopefully love for all, Pride is a culmination of a life journey I am proud to have taken.

2nd Grade: I find out (sort of) what being gay means.  When one of my girl friends asks for a kiss on the cheek on Valentine's day, I oblige without thinking twice.  Everyone else hesitates and refuses.  I worry I might be gay.

7th Grade: My best friend and I are having a discussion in the lunch line about gay marriage.  At this point in our lives, we know no one who is openly gay and have barely reached an understanding of what homosexuality means.  She is Lutheran, and a fairly accepting person, but unwilling to commit too much to an answer of what she believes politically.  I am Catholic and I say, "I think they should be able to get married but not to adopt children because I think that could be confusing for the children." "They" are distant from me, a group I know exists, a group I am not a part of, a group I don't really understand.

9th Grade: One of our most vocal classmates comes out, and proceeds to "change" his sexual orientation several times over.  Discussions of whether being gay is a choice ensue.  I think you should be able to like whoever you want to like, but you need to pick one and stick with it.  I mean, how could you not know?

I go to a youth drag ball, an event in conjunction with the National Conference on Tobacco or Health.  Sexualized parts of the drag portion disturb me and my innocent mind, but what really upsets me about it is the highly explicit performance of a straight safe sex educator.  My first peek into LGBTQ culture could have gone better, to say the least.

Early high school: I begin to understand more deeply and accept the many different ways people can identify.  As I get to know more gay people, there is so much less "them" and "us." One day, none of my limiting thoughts on what it is "okay" for a gay couple to do make sense anymore.  I learn about the acronym LGBTQ (sometimes just GLBT at this time), what it means, and I try to squeeze my new, more open worldview into my faith.  This proves difficult when considering bisexual people because, I think to myself, can't you just pick one?  It doesn't even matter if you pick the one that is for sure "right by God," but it feels wrong to like both genders.  And if you have a choice, how can I say God made you that way and therefore must love you?

10th Grade: I "quit the Catholic Church" (did not get confirmed) over issues of injustice and hypocrisy, one of the main ones being their treatment of the LGBTQ population. I was converted to a new set of beliefs.

11th Grade: I'm sitting in the computer lab, puzzling over something one of my friends has just said to me about his ideal relationship.  I ask further questions, and he hesitantly admits he likes guys.  I am surprised, but generally unfazed.  He's more weirded out  because, I find out later, I was one of the first people he came out to.  He spent a lot of time trying not to be gay to a lack of acceptance in his family.  Knowing something so deep about him brings us closer.  We begin a lasting friendship.

12th Grade: I stay overnight at Macalester College with a bisexual woman as my host.  She has a picture of two women kissing in minimal clothing on her wall. I'm not sure how to feel, but I like visiting Queer Union with her.

I start to push myself (and my family) out of our comfort zones on the topic of sexuality.  We go see RENT, I engage them in discussion.  I tell them that this is our civil rights movement.  I ask, "When we look back on this time in history, don't you want to be able to say, 'I was a part of that?'"I begin to become more a part of LGBTQ culture due to my plethora of friends that identify as one of the letters, and after talking, asking questions, reading, and learning about my mother's ally training, I feel like an ally too.

At Macalester, I become one of the first people another close friend of mine comes out to, who also has a difficult time with his family.  My acceptance reassures him, and I keep his secret for weeks, even though we are in one of the most accepting places ever, until he decides he's ready to come out.  I even go to the Lavender Reception with him as a straight person so he can be introduced to our queer community without having to come out to the world.  I take Psychology of Gender, learn about gender-neutral bathrooms and their importance, and attend a drag show.

Most importantly, I become close friends with many people, those with identities that fit into the initialism and those who don't, for whom love and acceptance come first.  As I try to be in the world as an ally, not only for the LGBTQ community, but for all those who might need a friend or a hand, I am inspired so inspired by these people, and every day they keep me moving in a positive direction on my journey.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Best Day- A Tribute to my Father

Father's Day just passed without much fanfare in my house.  It has only been a week since my mom got back from El Salvador, and I just began a full time job for the first time in my life, so none of us thought so much how to celebrate.  But I did want to share something with my father, and I have been wanting to share it for a long time.

Taylor Swift has a song called "The Best Day" and it describes her relationship with her mother throughout her life.  It is a beautiful song and pays tribute wonderfully, but for a very long time I thought it was about her father.  I thought this despite a verse that changes from the "you" directed at her mother to, "I have an excellent father," where she includes her whole family.  And the reason I thought this is because I am a bit egocentric and found this song to apply exactly to my relationship with my father, and figure this must be true of everyone's relationship with their dads or something.

So to show my Daddy how truly special he is to me, and tell some cute stories from when I was younger, I will go through the song and describe why, exactly, "The Best Day" is clearly a song for my Dad.

I'm five years old, it's getting cold, I've got my big coat on
I hear your laugh and look up smiling at you, I run and run
Past the pumpkin patch and the tractor rides, look now, the sky is gold
I hug your legs and fall asleep on the way home


It is a pretty common thing for families to go out and choose pumpkins from their local greenhouse.  My family does this every year to this day, the tallest and biggest pumpkin always going to my dad.  My mom comes with, too, but these times are special with him actually because we are all together as a family.  And especially when I was little enough that my sister and I had to hold an adult's hand to cross the parking lot, my dad and I started sticking together.  Sydney always wanted to hold Mom's hand, and I didn't mind if we were at the mall and looking at appliances as long as I got to joke around with my dad.

"I hug your legs" is probably my favorite line because it brings up two very distinct images of my father.  Sydney and I would sometimes, probably quite annoyingly, sit on my father's big shoe and hold onto his leg and demand a ride.  He would walk around with us.  As we got a little bigger, we danced with him by standing on his feet.

I don't know why all the trees change in the fall
But I know you're not scared of anything at all
Don't know if Snow White's house is near or far away
But I know I had the best day with you today



For much of my life, I truly thought my father was not afraid of anything.  My parents have always done a really good job of making everything run so smoothly you wouldn't be able to tell there was a worry to be had.  It wasn't until fifth grade when I discovered that my father had fears like everyone else-

It was our school's annual end of the year trip to Valleyfair, and my dad was a chaperone like always.  I liked to have him with me- it was fun for all of us and it made me feel safe in the big crowds.  I had been thinking about riding the Wild Thing for a long time.  It was a terrifying coaster, with a downward drop that seemed to me to be at a 90 degree angle from the ground.  Most of my friends had ridden it, and I wanted to be able to go on with them instead of skip it.  But I was afraid.  My father ended up convincing me.  "Come on,"  he said.  "It isn't even a big deal.  It is scarier waiting here and looking at it than being on it.  Only the first hill is even scary and it isn't that bad."

So I went.  My best friend came with us and sat in the cart behind- she had a Valleyfair pass and was a Wild Thing veteran.  I sat in a middle car just in front of her with my dad, on the side of the coaster that faced the rest of the park. I nearly panicked on the way up, but he just kept telling me to look out at the park, saying hello to rides that we'd gone on before, and eventually I closed my eyes and grabbed onto his arm.

We waited what felt like a whole minute at the top of the hill as the ride got ready to let us go.  Wild Thing is propelled entirely by the momentum of that first hill, and it is intense.  When we were finally free, I thought I was going to die.  The lap bar locked a full three inches above my legs and waist, and force pushed me upwards, I felt like I was flying, but not in any way I could control.  And then just like that we were over the first hill, onto the second, and I opened my eyes and had the ride of my life.

I got off the ride and wanted to do it again.  But my father didn't. Why?  He confessed he had a fear of heights and that first hill got him every time.

My father is brave for me.  He is there for me.  He has made the purpose of his life our family.   And we have had so many fun moments.

Thanks Dad!  (By the way, the song goes on, and I hope to continue this blog post someday.)

Sunday, June 10, 2012

I do "Weird" Things for my Birthday

You know what they say... you can tell an awful lot about a person by the kind of birthday party they have.  Wait, they don't say that?  Well, they should.  Because looking back on recent birthday parties has made me realize the socially-conscious, history-loving, slightly hippie, dramatic young woman I am becoming (or have always been).

Take my 15th and 16th birthday parties- both pool parties where beforehand I took a big group to Feed My Starving Children, where we packed meals for those living in extreme hunger. A lot of people asked me why I would do that for my birthday, but honestly, it wasn't even being selfless. I think FMSC is one of the most fun places we can go, it is free, and we can be helpful?  Sign me up!

When I turned 17, my big birthday party was just a pool party, but on the day of my birthday, I was saying goodbye to a very dear friend of mine, a foreign exchange student from Germany.  We decided to go to one of my favorite places (and a place she hadn't yet seen)- the Minnesota History Museum.  My sister boldly declared I was a nerd and questioned my sanity.  But we had so much fun.  We even made lighthouse hats to commemorate the Split Rock Lighthouse.  You wish you were that cool.

For my 18th, I was honestly so focused on graduating that I didn't do anything huge.

And as for this year- I am turning 19 tomorrow, and I will be heading to a personal shopping appointment at a thrift store with my mom and sister!  My party will be the following weekend, and we will be heading back to the 50s to solve a murder mystery.

Sound like me?  I think it does.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

I Was Just Thinking...

To become a writer, you need a darn awful lot of people to believe in you.

(Thank you, Christian Smith, for being one of them tonight.)

Friday, June 1, 2012

A Note on Society and my Previous Post

I would like to strongly acknowledge that there are single fathers out there, families with two fathers, no fathers and no mothers, all of which have people who work extremely hard to make the family work.  My post is personal, about my family and my mother, and it is not to suggest those things do not exist.  It is also not to diminish the role of the father in a household with a father and a mother, and not to belittle my father.  (My father is an amazing man.  He could be more helpful occasionally, but the reality is that he works longer hours than my mother and spends a great deal of time maintaining our yard and the physical issues with our house- our house is, by accident and preference, not by force, very gender-normative).

I would also like to recognize that, for the vast majority of women today, the situation I described is what is expected, is life, and is probably an ideal life for some of them.  Women are obligated by society to maintain their homes first, even when allowed to have a career.  They are afforded little thanks for this work, and stay-at-home mom's are often seen as lazy, having fun days at the park with their children, because clearly being a mother is not work.  Women who have a career are expected to be both stellar at their job and stellar at home or people will criticize them.  This is not true of men.

I know that there are more and more exceptions every day, and I know that most women choose to have both a career and children.  However, they often make sacrifices that are not expected of men, and often work what is essentially two full time jobs.  I have no solution to this problem, I just wanted to talk about it, and I wanted to remind myself and others to do a little of what we can to take some of the immense pressure off the women in our lives.

On Being "Mom" and Being Mom

So, all of you basically know me well enough to know that I am everybody's Mom.  This is not a particularly fun or attractive quality, but I kind of like it because everybody needs that person who has an extra pen, who will go get you what you need when you don't feel well, and who listens to you when you are upset, no matter where or how old they are.  It is even a bit selfish- I like to feel needed.

However, in the past little while, I have been a lot more than "Mom." Because I am home and not busy (and interested in getting my family to eat more vegetarian food), I have been preparing dinner.  And let me tell you, dinner takes work.  Grocery shopping isn't easy, and you have a whirlwind of decisions coming at you- calorie count, nutrients, price, brand, organic, local, is it in season, do I have a coupon?  There are too many things to consider, and that's just when you can spend the entire day in your pjs on facebook until you get up to go to the store.

Today, I was Mom for real (minus that full-time job thing) because my mom is in El Salvador.  I tried and failed at getting up early enough to get our health case of a dog everything she needed on time, so I had to watch her guiltily all day to make sure she felt all right, I cleaned my kitchen, exercised, and I headed to the grocery store.

I was buying both family basics and ingredients for three brand new meals.  I spent like a year in the vegetables section "Where is the garlic?" "What even IS a green onion?" (Thank God for smartphones.) "Do we already have this at home?" "Should I be checking prices?" "I want to buy it organic, but do we have the cash?" It took me darn near an hour, complete with crisis over how I was going to ever do this when I started my simple full time job this summer, much less how I was going to feed my children healthfully when I have them.

I came home exhausted, thankful my Dad was going to cook dinner, and had to cajole my sister into helping put things away.  After a brief rest that was dinner, we commenced (all together) to clean the kitchen.

Then, I volunteered to take my little sister to the store to buy some shorts, which she needed.  It was a Friday night, so I assumed all would be well, but she had a project to get back and work on, so by the time I was finished trying on my items (everything, especially shopping) takes me a long time, she was so angry she was nearly yelling, and she described feeling sick.  Her anger at me made me feel unappreciated and nearly ruined our time together.

And I finally understood what everyone tells me I am going to understand years from now.  It is damn hard being a Mom.  (Especially my mom, who works a full time job and does more than this daily.)  To be a "good" Mom is a full time job (I will probably write about that and my difficulties with wanting a career and children at some point).  And I don't think that is even the problem.  Because Moms do what they need to do.  They step up to the plate when no one else has because if they don't, kids will go hungry, not get to practice, wear old clothes, and probably throw a fit.  I think the problem is, at least in my house, that it is a thankless task for which they do not get help.

No one thinks to thank Mom for keeping the household running- households just run.  Even when I think about the things I admire about my mother, the fact that all of our lives run more or less smoothly almost entirely under her guidance is not usually one of them.  But that isn't easy at all.

And though, "You shouldn't have to be asked," is one of my mother's favorite phrases, we do all have to be asked to help out.  And even then, we are reluctant.  We say just a minute, hold on, or no.  And the problem really isn't the lack of help in terms of the fact that it gives our moms more work.  The help is a gesture.  The help says, "I know you are working hard.  I want to try to make it easier."  And the gesture is not there.  Being a mom can be lonely and tiring, and I've only done it for like half a day!

When we are being busy and self-centered, it is the hardest thing in the world to help.  But now I know that Moms don't have time to be self-centered.  To read? To keep a blog? To maintain friendships?  It is amazing that they can go from full time job to full time job to rest.  Thank your Mom.  Or better yet, help her.  She deserves it.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Full Circle

I am sitting here in a nearly empty room that used to be mine after an unbearably long week of "see you later"s  (I'm not too terribly into goodbyes).

Getting out of here involved stress, parental criticisms on how I choose to organize my life (or choose not to), laughter, nervousness, excitement, boxes, laundry baskets, being unsure what to take with me, forgotten items, and plenty of reflection.

Parents and cars are all over campus, and people are walking in and out with odd random belongings.  Everybody is starting a new adventure.  Some people are looking forward to the freedom very much, others don't exactly know what they are doing yet.  Some are excited to go where they are going, some are going there because they could not go anywhere better.  Phone numbers and addresses have been exchanged, with promises to visit and skype that will maybe be kept.  It seems like a long time that we'll be apart, but it will fly by.

So we have come full circle.  Things are just as when we came here.  We left home, and made a new home in a room smaller than our kitchens that we shared with a stranger.  We shall leave here.  But we aren't really leaving.  We are arriving somewhere else.

Humans are strangely adaptable creatures, yet we do not believe this about ourselves over and over again when faced with change.  When I came here, a group I am involved in had me write a six word story about how I was feeling at the time.  I have never been great at doing these things on the spot, and especially not within the constraint of six words, but I wrote mine on the light purple piece of paper nonetheless.

"ready for adventure
                        nervous for transition."

As I sit here facing summer, I am unsure where I will work, what I will do, who I will see.  I'm dreading the return to the land of cows and conservatives, where I am far more than seven seconds away from my absolute best friends, but I'm looking forward to being seven seconds away from the people who are unconditionally there for me even if they really, really want me to pick up after myself and empty the dishwasher.  And I'm wondering if the person I've become will even be able to occupy a similar space the person I was did.  Will I be a puzzle piece that has outgrown the puzzle?  Will the puzzle be totally different as well?

But like any good Taylor Swift song, we have wound back to the beginning of this beautiful year, and if summer is anything like this year, it is going to be a little scary, but mostly wonderful.

I am nervous for the transition.  But oh boy, am I ready for adventure.

Let's jump in the pool.  (Metaphorically AND literally.)  : )

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Person I Used to Be

I am going home soon.

I am scared because I am not sure if the person I am will be able to live in the place of the person I used to be.

And I am even more scared because sometimes I don't remember the person I used to be at all.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Popcorn

This is a metaphor that Zoe Leanza used to make my life feel better.

In high school, each of us were popcorn on black carpet (this prompted by my intense need to vacuum my room).  Pretty darn astounding and attention-grabbing.

Here, at Mac, we are popcorn in a bowl of popcorn.  No wonder we feel average, sometimes mediocre.

But I say that being a kernel of popcorn in a bowl doesn't necessarily make that kernel less valuable.  I also say that all my kernel needs is a little extra butter to make it stand out.  And I get there day by day.

What I learned from Drag Queens (and Kings)

There was a drag show to commemorate Day of Silence at my school on Friday night.  The performers were super cool and lots of fun.

I watched each one- of different body types, styles, lip-syncing ability, talents, personas, costumes-shaking what they had (or didn't), singing and telling funny jokes.  A particularly curvaceous woman looked fab in leotards and sparkles and fishnets and everything I thought I could never wear.  They flirted with the few males in the audience, and the males flirted back.  They were hot.  The drag king danced so well he made even me feel attraction, though he was short and chubby and biologically female.

And I sat there, dumbfounded, realizing that it doesn't matter if you are overweight or "too skinny," or short, or "weird," or biologically (and by identity, in some cases) a MAN.  You can be hot and fun and wanted and cheered as Nicki Minaj or a 50s stewardess or even a crazy cat lady.  You can wear what you want, sing songs written for females half in falsetto and half as a deep baritone while wearing a dress, you can drive the audience wild by being who you are and by being whoever you want to be.

All it takes is confidence.

Mostly, I'm still looking for mine.



An addendum:  Confidence never means everyone will like you.  It can be really hard to be who you are.  Whether you are transgender, a gay man who likes women's clothing, you hold values different from your friends or the society that surrounds you, your skin isn't lily white (or it is, depending on your situation), you do things differently than most people, you are socially awkward, you're female, you're male, you don't identify with a gender, or anything, anything, anything else, it isn't easy to be who you are in this world.  People are always going to want to change you.  We sure liked the drag queens, but I know a lot of people who do not.  But I think that is something even more beautiful.  Confidence isn't about being who you are in order to be cheered for it.  Confidence is about being cheered because you are who you are.  It takes the most confidence to be who you are when you know you won't be cheered for it.  But when people are cheering, they'll be cheering all the louder.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Things that are True

1) Today? Not actually a holiday.
2) This time of the semester it doesn't matter how much you like your friends, or PFs, or sleep.  You must work.
3) I am very hungry.
4) PF males have been proven to be 75-99% more likely to like me romantically than Macalester "men."  I am still trying to figure out what this means. (Said PF males do not necessarily end up going to this college, and are regularly considering Carleton.  Hmm.)
5) It already smells like pot.  A lot.
6) Stress relief = Call me Maybe.
7) I wear dresses when I haven't done laundry in so long I have no more clothes.  (Guess what today is?)

Friday, April 13, 2012

Let's Play Good and Not-So-Good (Mis(s)adventures!)

It was Friday the 13th today, which I tend to think of as a slightly dangerous, but actually lucky day.  Or just any other day.  Today proves all of the above.

Starting from this morning...

Sleeping through class- Not good.
Finding out class was cancelled- GOOD!
Having already sent an email to your professor in apology- Not so good... and awkward.
Eating lunch with PFs!- Good. :)
Stress over final projects which have no guidelines, no rubric, no nothing that all fall at the same time- Not good.
Major miscommunications over group meetings for said projects- Not so good.
Anger/Sadness/Stress buildup- Not good.
Dinner (because when my blood sugar is low I am CRABBY)- Good!
Having family support to get rides to concerts- Good.
Spending a long time waiting- Not so good.
Playing silly games with Ruth, Inga, Rebecca, Hannah, and Gina to pass the time- Quite good!
Getting to see FUN.'s largest headlining show ever (and being at my first real-real meaning we did not sit on the fancy level and eat cheesecake-concert, and sharing the experience with such wonderful people)- SO, SO, SO GOOD! <3
Getting elbowed a lot- Not all that good.
The fact that the band was just as excited to be there as we were- SO GOOD!
The fact that if that was the largest headlining show Fun. has played, so, so many people are missing out- Not so good.
Two encores (and the energy of the room, and when the band made us turn and meet someone new/ music bringing people together)- SO, SO GOOD! :)
Having ordered a taxi for the exact perfect time without knowing how long the concert was- Quite good.  (This is me giving my organized self a pat on the back.)
That one time drunk people tried to steal our taxi and then made fun of us for being young- Not so good. But very funny.
That the taxi driver kicked them out and played great music that we all sang to- Good.
Finding out my sister was in a rollover car accident- Not good. Not good!
Finding out everyone was okay- VERY, VERY, VERY good.
Finding $10 on the ground to contribute to cab fare- Good. :) (And pretty cool of me, I might add.)
While talking to my father on the phone about the drunk people that tried to steal our taxi, some other drunk people  on campus thought I was talking about them, and proceeded to tell me that they were 24, not 20 or 21-Good??? (It is your call guys, I am really not sure about this one...)
Water- Good.
Sitting- Good.
Remembering I have chocolate- Very good.
Reflecting on QUITE a day- Good.

Friday the 13th was like my life.  I'm not sure whether to say it was lucky or a mess, but I do know it was wonderful.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Sometimes I Wonder

The PFs are here!!!  (I love PFs.)  While mostly I've just had to do my homework and pop in and out of parties of tons and tons of students and prospective ones, I got to thinking-  this is probably because it is 1 am.  I always think about this when people talk about the college search process:  I only applied to three schools.  And now I wonder.  I love Mac, love, love, love it, and the truth is, I probably could not have picked a better school (for me).  This is in terms of price (I get a tuition benefit from my mom's job), location (my family is kind of big on living close to one another, plus I they are there when I need them but not if I don't), fit, academics, people, etc.

Sometimes I wonder what I would be like if I'd gone to college in a different environment, a more conservative one, for example.  Would I question my faith as much?  Is this challenge a good thing?  Is what Macalester has to offer what I need?  Academically, spiritually, etc?  I am very aware how much college is shaping me- so significantly.  And I am also aware of the effects of my environment.  True, it is one of the wonderful qualities of humans that we can adapt, but it is also scary for me that it is easier to believe in God at home with my family than at school.  Shouldn't some things stay with you no matter what?  I came to Mac to be stretched, but I don't want to be too malleable. (We're talking like cold clay before you start working with it versus silly putty here.  I'd rather have aspects of me be cold clay, and I think they are.)  But mostly, truly, I just enjoy my life here.

Another thing I wonder sometimes is what it'd have been like to go on a big, fancy school college search.  I want to know if I can get into an Ivy League or the University of Chicago.  I want to travel and visit schools.  Heck, I want a rejection letter.  (Well, not really.  In an ideal world, I'd turn down Harvard and come to Mac... not that I think I could get into Harvard, but I do have qualifications that look good to colleges beyond Mac.)  I wonder if, if I'd done that, I would have ended up somewhere different.  I saw Harvard and truly wasn't all that impressed.  I was more impressed by quirkiness and individual attention and super cool people and parents that don't hound the tour guide.  But who knows, maybe Stanford would have won my heart.  I want to know if I am even qualified- when I was looking at schools, I was afraid I wouldn't get into Mac.  I laugh at that now, but I want to know what I was capable of, even if it makes no difference.  I wonder if my college choice has the potential to change my future, or if it is what you make of it no matter what.

But then I stop wondering.  And even though I can't share the stories of having applied to 15 schools, I am so happy.  Because I applied to three.  And I found one.  One where people love the flower in my hair and draw funny things on the chalk boards and embrace social awkwardness.  Where the professors know your name and give you extensions when you are sick and you care and you learn and you grow.  I found a place I am happy, even if everywhere I go I am going to be a little "different" from the average.

And the only thing I keep wondering is how those kids even had time to apply to that many schools and why everything takes me so much longer than the average person.

And then I realize I am on the Internet again.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Tougher Days

Sometimes, really all I want is to be told that I am beautiful and everything will be all right.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Manners (A Rant that May Count as Advice)

It probably makes me judgmental to be thinking these things.  But in this case, I seriously don't care.  And since I'm sure no one wants to hear it in real life, I will complain here.  No one reads this thing anyways.

Dear World, whatever happened to good manners?  I'm not asking for anything big or significant or difficult.  I am talking about the silly little day to day things that make you not a jerk.

For example, if it is one in the morning, and you are drunk and going to a rave, that is okay.  It is even okay to comment loudly on the light show as you walk beneath my window.  However, it is not okay to have a conversation so loud that I not only need to put in ear plugs, but also shut my window.  After which I can still hear you.  If you want to have a conversation so loud, do it at the dance, or on the lawn, not right up next to a dorm.

Further example from last night, it is okay to break a glass in the bathroom.  (Although really, I don't know why you have a glass in the bathroom at all.)  However, here is how you respond to a broken glass in the bathroom.  #1- pick up the big pieces.  #2- Get a cup of water and pour it over the sickeningly-sweet smelling drink made of sugar and alcohol so the floor isn't unbearably sticky.  #3- Do the thing you, or some good Samaritan did and put a sign up warning us of broken glass.

But especially do number two.  Because now we have gnats. And the bathroom smells awful.

Example from today on the bus- Though I understand that it was a terrible idea to have something like 100 students take public transportation at the same time, we can all do some things to make it easier on each other and the public.  Here is the order of who gets seats if standing is required (and it soooo was) #1) The general public and those students who cannot stand (I'm not sure if there were any).  #2) Those with minor injuries and those who have trouble reaching the straps to hold onto.  #3) If you are a gentleman, you may, though you are not required, to give up your seat to a lady.  I know this is loaded with all sorts of gender issues, which is why it is a choice.  If you are anyone who feels comfortable standing, you may offer a seat to anyone who is currently standing.  This is not gendered and super nice, in my opinion.

Example from in general- you don't have to like people, but treat them with respect, I mean, seriously guys, this is college, not middle school.

Okay, rant over.  I realize how much I sound like your mother.  I'm fine with that because #1) I am going to be a damn good mother, and #2) Clearly someone needs to sound like a mom around here.

On a positive note, an ADORABLE little boy who was at Mercado Central (where we went on the field trip) gave me a kiss on the cheek today.  <3 <3 <3

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Thank You

I really, really love to say thank you.  I like to write cards, I like to make people feel appreciated.  But I don't do it enough, and silly things get in the way.  Since I am in a funky mood and I know being grateful will help, I have decided to write thank you notes to everyone I want to thank and haven't or can't anymore or don't thank enough or it would be awkward to in a place other than this.  If you don't make the list it means nothing other than that I always need to be more grateful.

Professor von Geldern- Thank you for always assigning us a manageable amount of reading, in which each reading has a clear purpose or takeaway message that will further my understanding of International Studies.

Alex from Food Politics class- Thank you for bringing your attractive self to class every day.  But in all seriousness, thank you for always having something really really good, and relevant to add to the discussion when you raise your hand.

Andrew Kippley- Thank you for continuing to be a model of how I should interact with the world.  You were a wonderful friend and contributed so much to your world.  Thank you.

Those closest to me- Thank you for putting up with me, loving me, always being there for me, and enjoying my weirdness.  Thank you for long talks and long hugs and the simple knowledge that you are there, even when things are bad or when I do not appreciate you enough.

Those I have gone on some weird rant in front of- Thanks for not judging too much.  :)

My Grandmother- Thank you for bringing us to concerts and supporting us as we made music too.

Papa- Thank you for dropping everything to drive me where I need to go and acting like it is nothing.

My Roommate- Thanks for being so cool and respectful, putting up with my weird friends, and letting me basically run the place.

Tommy Hayes- Thanks for teaching me about everything a relationship should be, as well as what it should not.  Thank you for your patience with me.

Uncle Don- Thank you for telling me I should keep writing and being my first fan.

Wesley Brolik- Thank you for reminding me that I am driven, and that that is impressive.

Whoever invented sweater vests- Thank you.

To those who aren't afraid to be different, so long as they are themselves- Thank you, I am inspired by you.  Keep rocking.

To the people who thought I was weird but were nice to me anyway-  Oh, I know you guys are out there.  You matter.  Thanks.

Mrs. Agerter- Thank you for believing in me, thank you for teaching me how to write an annotated bibliography, thank you for being the best history teacher ever.

The police officer who responded to my car accident- Thank you for telling me the story of when you borrowed your father's new car and rolled it over in a ditch.  You could have been mean, but you made it okay.  Life happens.

The staff of ECFC- Thank you for helping six year old me get over her separation anxiety.

Mrs. Nygren- Thank you for essentially saving my college life over and over and over again.  

Andy Berndt- Thank you for still liking me and helping me get where I am today even though you met me when I was a beyond awkward 9th grader.  Thank you for telling those girls doing my hair and makeup at the summit on my birthday "Why don't you just let MacGeiger be MacGeiger?" because even though I liked having my hair done, I also needed to know I was okay as I was.

To be continued...

Monday, March 26, 2012

Flat on my Face: Mis(s)adventures Juxtaposed

I had a very adventuresome weekend.  From being involved in a play written, produced, and performed in only 24 hours to heading to the river to a school dance, I was busy.

But I'm not going to talk about that.

I am going to talk about my incredible talent for falling flat on my face.  Literally.  (Like, while searching for a vocation, as I am, I should be seriously considering specific careers for accident-prone people.)

You see, this weekend, while heading back from the river on a particularly non-treacherous stretch of sidewalk, a combination of misdirected momentum and sheer Mariah-ness resulted in me splayed out on the concrete picking up my glasses and having a flashback to the 8th grade.

Picture this- It is the first week of middle school.  New building, new friends.  I am an awkward but not shy girl in the hideous required gym uniform.  Ready for torture. Not particularly athletic, I am dreading having to run my first-ever two-mile, which I'd better get used to because it is going to happen every two weeks. We head outside and are told to begin.  We'll be timed.  I start off in the middle-back of the pack, jogging.  We'll start out on the sidewalk next to the street that leads out of our school, then switch to a jogging path along the main road.  As I jog, I notice the different shades of the blocks of sidewalk.  They've been re-doing this walk, a few squares at a time, so some of it is brand new concrete.  It is bright, bright white with two-centimeter ridges across.  I am the kind of girl who, were there no time limit and no new classmates around, might stop to examine more closely.

Time limit or no time limit, the next thing I know, I am examining the cement very, very closely.

I puzzle over how I got there, not remembering the fall.  The few kids behind me ask if I am okay.  OMG someone saw that.  The last thing I want is any attention from eighth graders at this time, I tell them to keep going.  They do.

I pick myself up and examine the damage.  This time, my glasses have remained on my face, and for that, my right lens has a large scrape across it in the pattern of the brand new sidewalk ridges. I also managed to scrape both sides of one hand (how does that even happen???), and I feel like something might be up with my forehead.  I look down at my knees and noticed two big scrapes.  Oh.  I think, My knee is bleeding into my shoe.

Luckily, I hadn't gotten far.  I take myself back to my gym teacher, less than a block away, who looks me over and states he hasn't seen such a horrible injury in all his time teaching, even during rugby.  (And this teacher was pretty serious about rugby).  Since I had reached safety, the pain hit me.  I started crying and laughing at the same time.

And that, my friends, is how I spent the first week of middle school with a large band aid on my forehead.  (It turns out I had scraped it up pretty badly).

Oh yeah, and my new crush in my Spanish class declared I was going to have a horrible scar there and nicknamed me Forescar.  Attractive.

Fast forward to freshman year of college, and the story is sadly similar.  My fall didn't cause nearly so much damage as the sidewalk was not brand new (thank you City of St. Paul)  and I was wearing jeans, but I did manage to fall harder on my left knee than my right, scrape both sides of my right hand, and I even have a tiny scrape on the side of my glasses.

As I smile, laughing at myself, the bruise/scrape on my temple hurts.

Some things never change.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Extreme Motivation

Today, with the renewal of good weather and a Spring Break where all I did was sleep, I am feeling infinitely joyful and extremely motivated.
I am in one of those "I can conquer the world" phases that typically come after breaks which means my Google calendar is fully up to date and full of lots of opportunities, my sleep bank is stocked, and my desire to socialize is great.
The sad part about these things is that I know that they won't last.  Some of these good habits are impossible to keep up with.  But goodness I am motivated to hold onto as many as I can this time around because if life were always this good, I wouldn't want anything more.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Naivete

I am a little obsessed with Ugly Betty.  Here's what she has to say today:

"Is it really naive to want to believe in people?"

Some days, I don't know.  But every day, I know I couldn't live if I didn't.

The "F-Word"

I was just thinking, I wonder how many people can remember the first time they said the f-word. I wonder because I understand it is not such a big deal to most people, but I can, and vividly.

I was at theater camp.  It was the summer institute of the nation's most beloved all-black theater, and I only got to attend a day camp so far from home because my mother worked nearby. It was in the city, and most, though not all, of the kids attending were very much from the inner-city.  I was very, very much not.  And also overprotected.  And slightly terrified when I heard about some of the "adventures" of these children, many of whom were younger than me.

But I loved theater, and I definitely can get along with anyone if I, and they, keep an open mind.  So I was sticking with it and determined to win my fellow campers over by being nice and trying not to stick out more than I already did.

It came time to read a play aloud to practice scoring the script.  It was an excellent piece on a teacher who chose to work at a public school in The Bronx.  I was reading the role of one of the students, all of whom were really tough pupils.  It wasn't easy, reading aloud a vernacular I rarely heard, much less saw translated to paper, but I struggled through it.  Some of my fellow campers struggled too.  Others hardly sounded any different than usual.

Then, I saw it.  It was a few lines ahead.  The fourth grader (or so)  I was playing had a line with more than one f-word in it.  My thought process went a little like this:

OMG (goodness, not God, of course), the f-word!  Should I really say that out loud?  Maybe they want me to skip over it, like in middle school.  
Stupid, stupid.  Mariah, this is theater.  And it is a normal part of most people's vocabulary!  
Yes, but not mine...  
Yeah, but you can't look like such a goody-two-shoes in front of these people.  Do you want to make friends?  You are already too white and suburban and innocent.
Yeah, because saying the f-word will convince them that I'm not... I can't say that word.  I can't even think it.  
Are you morally opposed?
No, it just sounds funny.
You're right, it kind of does.  haha.  No, but seriously, it will sound bad if you do, but think about how it will sound if you don't.
AHH, but I've never said it before.
Well,  I don't know, practice in your head or something because you are going to have to now.  


Even the practice in my head sounded awkward.

We got to my line.  The word felt funny in my mouth, but we kept moving.  I did end up making friends at camp, but most of them weren't the ones who were super-comfy with the f-word.

Incidentally, this year in acting class, I picked a heart-wrenching monologue for my final... that just happened to include a lot of profanity.  I hadn't really used the f-word much since the camp, and my main criticism was- you guessed it-I sound awkward saying fuck.  Which is why I haven't typed it this whole time.

Because this is my voice.  And wasn't that awkward?

On Systems

Instead of doing my Food Politics reading today (Michael Zis gave us a whole book over spring break... not cool), I started thinking about what I have learned-- first from that class, then from college, then from almost all my education in general.  It can be summed up in a sentence.

Systems are flawed.

It started in my mind from the food system.  Lots and lots of flaws.  Guess what?  Even our national school lunch program is flawed, and I'm not talking about the fact that the pizza is sub par.  It was flawed even before they served "pink slime" and had standards so outdated they contributed to obesity.  In fact, one may argue that the system started out flawed, being designed to get rid of agricultural surpluses more than to feed hungry children.

But I knew systems were flawed long before I got to Food Politics class.  In 10th grade, I decided to stop being Catholic.  Afterward, I went on a little soul search and explored my options.  I was still very Christian and simply had some issues with what essentially came down to systemic hypocrisy.  But I discovered that little issue was going on in every church, and really every organization.  So, while the Catholic Church, and any church, is a great idea in theory, in practice, religion is at least partly responsible for most of the conflict, violence, and hatred in this world.

The school lunch program, in its idea phase, was meant to feed undernourished children and was proposed by strong women of the Progressive Era.  It ended up, in its early stages, reinforcing other systemic inequalities based on things such as race and gender, and in its later stages, did not provide proper nutrition to children.

I could go on with the examples, but this is rather simple.  People see it every day.  It is what makes my fellow college students stand up, get involved in activism, try to fight the system, and generally complain about norms and hegemony and all that jazz.

The thing is, I'm into policy.  I want to create lasting change.  Lasting, systemic change.  Or I did.  Until I had this little epiphany so simple I can't believe I didn't discover it long ago.

We who want to change the world, we the idealists, we who might someday have the power to employ the ideas we have, we will create new systems, even if we don't want to.

How can we be sure those systems are not riddled with hypocrisy?  How can we be sure the impact of the changes we make are positive?

I don't think we can.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Explaining my Tagline

Miss Advice, Mis(s)adventures, Mis(s)cellaneous-  What does that mean?
When I started this blog, those words served as inspiration as to what I would like to blog about, not to mention they created a cute little theme.

So this is my mission as I put fingers to keyboard and get this blog off the ground:
Miss Advice-  Any of my friends will tell you I'm the girl you can come to in a crisis, and I LOVE to give advice.  I read advice columns more often than I read anything else for fun, and my head and my heart work well together to create practical solutions.  Therefore, advice will show up naturally throughout this blog, whether it is advice on how to have a healthier diet (I have a food blog, too), or how to survive midterms.  It may be serious and I will also probably put some sarcastic guides up, too.  In addition to the advice I naturally give, as I have more followers, I would love to answer questions.  I am not an actual expert at anything but being human, but sometimes that's all you need.

Mis(s)adventures- I'd love to call myself Miss Adventures, but that would be a misnomer.  Unfortunately, I spend a lot more time doing homework than having adventures.  However, when I do go on adventures, funny and embarrassing things happen without fail.  For example, there was that awkward moment where I got too nervous to get off the ski lift on the 7th grade ski trip and instead got stuck up there.  The attendant had to stop the lift and essentially pick me up and put me on the ground, all while we were precariously perched over an uncleared brush area, as the ski lift had already begun its descent.  Since I don't mind laughing at myself and my cynical sense of humor always saves the day, I enjoy telling these stores.

Mis(s)cellaneous- Well, this is quite self-explanatory.  I like to talk.  I like to say what's on my mind, to explore key issues, or to simply muse.  I also really like quotations and lots of other things I am probably forgetting.  I definitely need a Miscellaneous section for when the randomness takes over.

That being said, I will be attempting to blog more diligently within these categories, and possibly making up new ones.  You never know with me.  Stay tuned.

El Otro Lado de la Cama

Today in Spanish, we were talking about who had a good idea for a sitcom (it was part of an exercise.)  I stated to the class that I often felt that I was living in a sitcom.  Zoe pipes up, "Yeah it is kind of like 'El Otro Lado de la Cama!'"
Which is a movie we had to watch for class about two couples who are cheating on each other by secret partner swapping.
Of course, I was shocked, and so was the rest of the class.
Erin, mi amiga, stated, "I thought I knew you, Mariah."
I am going to have to get to the bottom of Zoe's perception of our lives.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

My Wise Best Friend Zoe Told Me

If you keep doing what you've always done, you are always going to get what you've always gotten.

So do I want something new?

Thursday, February 2, 2012

OMG Roommate

Hello Internet world,
So much is going on in my life!  I got into the class I wanted (Food Politics), I have been spending much time with friends, I do not feel like doing my abundance of homework, and I have a NEW ROOMMATE!

My old roommate and I split over issues of bedtime, and the rest of last semester I peacefully whiled away the hours in a room with so much floor space, desk space, closet space, storage space, etc, I didn't know what to do with myself.  I bunked the beds and set up the desks in the corner so that I could use both of them, and I did a lot more random singing and dancing.

But then Mariam came knocking on my door.  She needed a place to stay because her roommate had issues of bedtime and cleanliness, and she was super kind and communicative.  I was instantly okay with sharing my epic space.  As I post here, looking around at what has changed so suddenly and unexpectedly but positively, I realize a few things.
1) I am not a freak of nature who cannot live with other human beings.  I like living with Mariam.
2) Though my room is pretty, I can be quite disorganized.  I get the picture this girl never is.
3) I thought I had a lot of clothes.  Then, I met my new roommate.  She wears lots of pretty colors, too. My clothing is rather neutral.  I like my clothing the way it is, but I kind of like having that stuff take up the other closet.  It is pretty and neat, and it is not so lonely.
4)  What was I doing without an abundance of pretty air fresheners? My room smells fresh, like rain, now.  I am into darker, spicier scents, usually, like cinnamon or cherry, but I really like these.
5) I like the symmetry we have going on in our decorations.  I have a peace sign hanging from my bookshelf, she has a dream catcher.  I have a wax hand made during one of the first weeks of school in sign language for I love you, she has two fingers up, a peace sign.  They are both purple.  Her decorations are olive green and blue, mine are the same olive green and fuschia, with influences of that blue.  We are definitely different people, but I like how this arrangement is working out so far.  With our complimentary attitudes, communication styles, and room decorations, it is like we were meant to live together.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

My Little Reasons for Living

I like to make lists.  Many of my lists are negative.  I know lots and lots of these "Reasons to Smile" list exist, but that is not going to stop me from making my own, personal list of joyful things in life.  I have made a list like this in the past in a notebook.  I am starting over, with elements that are the same and elements that are different. Smile!
1) Butterflies
2) Sustainable food
3) Inspiring quotations
4) My family
5) Purple pens
6) Colorful office supplies
7) Best friends
8) iPods
9) Cities 97 and their Sampler CDs
10) Macalester
11) Having my own dorm room
12) Crayons
13) Impressionist paintings
14) Tutoring at Grace-Trinity (Patricia and Samera)
15) Hot baths
16) Great books
17) Informative books
18) Books just for fun (chick lit)
19) Libraries
20) Earrings
21) Headbands
22) Wearing flowers in my hair
23) Snail mail
24) Naps
25) Hugs
26) Idealism
27) Getting to choose the in-store play at Barnes and Noble while working in music
28) Reaching sudden understanding (lightbulb!)
29) Tea
30) Tortillas
31) Orange Juice
32) Babies
33) Puppies
34) Laughter
35) Argyle
36) Nerdy glasses
37) Boys
38) Being able to help someone
39) Words of Affirmation
40) Holding hands

To be continued...

Friday, January 13, 2012

Becoming a Bloggist, or something like that.

Hi, my name is Mariah, and this is my first blog post.


Well, not really.  I have been blogging for several months now for an organization called Catalyst.  There, I blog about food, mostly school food and food politics.  I have long wanted a personal blog, but I already have a personal journal, and I generally do not assume that other people care all that much about the random musings that fly through my head.  Yet, in the age of facebook posts where people tell you they have school tomorrow, (Really? I never would have guessed.) it seems we all have this desire to put ourselves out there, and perhaps I have something valuable to contribute.  When I was little, it was my dream to become a published author.  Though those dreams have mostly faded in favor of things I am better at, I still have fantasies that one day my journal may not only be historically valuable, but also enjoyable for public reading.  But for now, I'm hopping on the self- publishing bandwagon.


The problem is what to write about.  And I'm still figuring that out.  But today I decided what I wanted to put in my journal was actually the perfect place to start a blog.  After spending much time reading and finally deciding it was time to begin calling it a night, a thought popped into my head in that semi-profound, semi-insane fashion that thoughts do while you are brushing your teeth.  I don't have a single unique thought in my head.  A single unique thing to say.


This idea would have depressed me once upon a time.  A lot.  But it isn't (necessarily) that I am not creative or that I am a very boring person.  It is simply that:
#1)  All of my thoughts have been influenced by something outside of me.  Attempting to be original is futile.  Your thoughts, your writings, everything comes from something else that already exists.  Yes, there are ways to be novel, but never independent of influence, at least not in the kind of world I live in.
#2) While you are running around making up things that are supposedly unique, or simply just living and thinking, 7 billion people are doing the same thing.  And this is where it gets beautiful-  because of our shared humanness, we all go through similar experiences, thoughts, and feelings at one point or another, even when our lives are vastly different.


And number two is the reason why I think people choose to write, why they make music, why they dance, why they paint, draw, sculpt, talk, express.  We have vastly different ways of expressing these similar thoughts and feelings.  When we express ourselves, we give a gift.  And when we receive the gifts of others, we share in our humanness, in the beauty that comes from sharing, in the vastness and smallness of our world.  And the world is brought together by what we have in common.  Chalk it up to an evolutionary advantage of being in a group, a God-given gift of fellowship, or just something meaningful to pass the time, it is beautiful.  


When I read the works of others, when I listen to music, when I see a piece of artwork, I get to learn about the creator.  But I also get to learn about myself.  And over, and over, and over again, someone has expressed exactly what is on my mind in a more articulate way than I could ever dream of doing.  It makes me feel whole, and most importantly, it makes me feel like I am not alone.  


The fourth grade girl felt so much more normal and okay when her best friend swam the sea of awkwardness after Growing and Changing class and said she was uncomfortable and afraid.   


The eighth grader sat struck dumb on her bedroom floor, wondering how a girl in hiding from the Nazis could write such hopeful messages for world change and peace in beautiful words, expressing what the eighth grader also wished for the world.


The sophomore, shaking in English class, trying to hold it together after the death of a good friend to cancer and the diagnosis of another friend that came immediately after held onto a song, a plea to God, "Please don't let me go, I desperately need you."  


The senior read aloud the passage about betrayal over and over again because even though she hadn't been cheated on, that was exactly how she felt when he decided to leave.


The college first year awkwardly perched on the edge of a platform holding chairs in a packed black room, wondering how the students competing in the poetry slam could make her feel, deeply and truly, something she'd never experienced, and how they articulated who she was on that stage without knowing her.


So the reason I am choosing to publicly write is precisely that I don't have a unique thought in my head.  Certainly, I cannot ever represent an entire population in any form.  But each person, I hope, will be able to identify with the humanness of my thoughts, my hopes, my dreams, my rants.  Because I am not entirely unique, I can offer myself to the world, and in turn, the people I reach can receive little bits of themselves.