Friday, October 12, 2012

Election 2012: Who Will You Be?

At the end of the day you have to ask yourself who do you want dictating what value you, your identity, and the identity of the ones you love has in our government's eyes. When women experience perpetuated sexism that is reminiscent of the mid-twentieth century, or are likened to livestock in Georgia (it happened yesterday), it will impact their entitlement to an equal economics as well. Sexism, homophobia, racism, and classism all depend on capitalist institutions to survive. Taking a chance on a better economy is not beneficial if the social policy of that candidate prevents equal access to the opportunities it provides. I agree that we need a change, but I think that there is a nationwide understanding that Obama's economic policies didn't get the job done the first time around and he won't ignore it. Needing a change doesn't necessarily mean opt for the other guy IF the alternative's other, non-economic policies pose such threatening consequences as they do now. There's an assumption being made by a large portion of America that an improved economy under Romney's policy means we all have access to it in the same ways but we don't and would not. I want a better economy too, but I will not jeopardize my rights and happiness for it. Furthermore, this isn't just about what is right for me and my identity, but also the identity of others. The racism and classism in Romney's campaign is sickening, and it's simply not in my values to focus solely on what I can gain from the government if that same government can't offer those closest to me the same opportunities.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

"What's Meant to Be, Will Be" Motto: Why I Disagree

Somebody that I follow tonight posted a somewhat angry, definitely bitter disagreement with the theory behind this phrase, and I have to say that I agree. Maybe I'm not as angry as she is, but that could be all relevant to a bad mood that she's in. Regardless - I've never had this way of thinking, and without ever considering why, never thought it could be a trusted way to live by. Sure, sometimes when the world is overwhelming and you feel like you've put an inordinate amount of energy into getting from one place to the next and made no progress, all your mind can handle anymore is to sit back and let things play out; you realize that you can't control the situation, or even affect it a bit, and that rather than pointlessly wasting energy trying to shape the outcome of a situation it is best to prepare for how to deal with whatever the outcome may be.

But really, I have to agree with this woman that living by "what's meant to be, will be" feels lazy, and gives no justification for being upset when things don't turn out the way that you want them to. This phrase is used with dreams, goals, careers, etc. and for those instances it is more obvious that you can't sit back and let things happen. Because you know what will happen? You likely won't achieve it, because you didn't put the work in. That's an obvious one. But so many people use this phrase in the context of relationships - and it drives me crazy. Relationships take work, and effort, and time, and patience. They do not just happen, they do not just thrive, they do not exist without some extent of give and take for each other, and they do not last simply because they are meant to be. Now this isn't an excuse to stay in an unhealthy relationship by saying all relationships require work and effort; what it is, though, is a challenge of this passive phrase that allows people to assume that life will take care of itself yet we can still complain about an unfavorable outcome despite the fact that we didn't put any effort in.

The idea of a relationship that's "right" being easy, and effortless, and simple isn't true. Those words are relative. A relationship shouldn't be chaos, and constant clashing, but it will require work, and it will require compromising and thinking of somebody other than yourself. I'm sure there are many people who disagree with me, and some people who will read this and feel like their way of life is being dismantled and attacked. It's not meant to tell you that you are living your life entirely the wrong way, and always have been, but more to challenge a mode of thinking and to show when it might be okay to use it and when it could end up doing harm rather than good. I hope this interests some people, and leads people to reflect on themselves a bit.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

I made the mistake of looking at dog rescues online.

And made my way to the special needs sections and sanctuary dog sections (dogs that have been at shelters all of their lives and can’t seem to get adopted whether it’s because of age, medical needs, or they just aren’t the cutest one of the bunch but have so much love to give). Now I’m sitting here wanting to cry and rescue all of them, especially the ones overlooked because they are older or have special needs.
Abuse of animals - emotional or physical - is intolerable. It absolutely breaks me to know that so many of them go unappreciated, unloved, and neglected. Rylie, the dog that my fiancĂ©e and I share, came from off the streets where she lived as a stray for who knows how long. Without a home, she wandered and probably made it by eating trash. She is terrified of thunderstorms, probably because she had to face them alone without shelter before the rescue took her in. When she does something wrong she slinks away and hides, as if she’s expecting a beating that she got in her younger days.
Jesse, my dog that my parents and I share, came from a severely abusive home and into a lab rescue. Even you do something mild like turn around quickly and brush her with a paper shopping bag because you didn’t see her, she cowers in fear and looks at you with pain stricken eyes begging you not to hit her.
I don’t understand how anybody could damage such beautiful, amazing animals. They are both so incredibly loving, so gentle, and so forgiving despite how humans have treated them in the past. They have found their forever home, but so many have not. I am blessed to call them both mine and be a source of love, support, and caring for them. I don’t mean to offend anyone, but I could never own a pet that didn’t come from an adoption agency or rescue (my cats were rescued as kittens, too, but luckily before they were old enough to endure lasting damage). These days there are so many rescues that are breed-specific and have dogs of all ages that I don’t see any reason to go to a breeder. I’m not dismissing their work or condemning people who have gotten pets from breeders, but it encourages the reproduction of more dogs when there are so many already out there who need homes. Please, if you are considering getting a pet, adopt. If you’re that serious and need more information on where you might find the breed that you want in a rescue so you don’t have to go to a breeder I’d be more than willing to help. This post was never meant to be this long, but passion knows no limit.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

My Second Family

This weekend was Pride weekend in many states across the U.S., and for me that was St. Louis, Missouri. Since graduating high school I've taken on a "never hide" outlook, and become much more outwardly representative of who I am and the things that I believe in, be it LGBTQ rights, women's rights, racism, classism, health care, etc. I am proud of this person, but with it has come some anxiety of what connections I might lose in the process. Amazing people that love me very much could still hold beliefs that would alienate us from each other, especially when the things I mentioned typically aren't trivial opinions.

I love a lot of people, but there are few that have the power to hurt me deeply or create a lasting, un-fillable hole in me. There are many people who might disagree with who I am and my opinions, but few whose disagreement I would seriously care about; but it occurred to me, one Christmas celebration how there are some people who mean so much to me that a disagreement in who I am would send the biggest parts of me - my identity and the ones I love - in opposition to each other. A slight anxiety built as gifts were traded and stolen and laughter filled the air and I wondered if this experience would be different if they knew; but, my "never hide" outlook surpasses any fear I could have. My mother instilled a strong sense of "be who you are, no matter what," so I didn't hide.

So I post statuses on Facebook and write about those beliefs, and stand strong in those opinions and the people who matter most to me didn't pause for a second before supporting me. They never fail to "like" a status and reassure me that I am just as much family to them as they are to me.

I have a best friend that is the best person I have ever met, and she comes with a family that is driven by love for each other and support. They are amazing, resilient people who only do good, and over the last six years have opened their arms to me. I love every single one of them, and their support means more to me than I can express. This thank you is long overdue, but I am never quite sure how to express the gratitude I feel. The truest mark of their greatness as individuals is that when they read this, they probably will think that they don't need to be thanked for viewing the world the way that all people should. I am so lucky to be blessed by the constant support of you guys, and I love you.

A Plane with Free Wifi Sparks Reflections About Love

So I will be blogging away. I miss Hanna already - seems crazy right? But it's not. It's not crazy when the purest form of happiness I reach is with her. I do not laugh with the same freedom when I am not with her, so yes, the second I walk out of her arms knowing that I won't be in them again for a while is painful and lonely. This weekend was incredible - short as it was. Our love is reaffirmed in my heart endlessly, and these last few days spoke loudly to the constant re-falling in love that I do over and over again. In the beginning of a relationship you fall fast, and hard. The world spins around you and you pray that the one you love is falling along side of you. Sometimes people think it plateaus - that you reach a certain point when you stabilize and you are madly in love but cannot love each other more than you already do. They're wrong. There are points months, years after the honeymoon period of a relationship when two people fall more in love. I arrived in St. Louis feeling like I could not possibly love this woman any more than I did. I leave loving her even more, and I sit on this plane knowing that weeks, months, and years from now I will likely look back on this time and say I love her so much more then.

The beauty of true love is that you are never done discovering and re-discovering each other. We feel like we know each other so well, like we know everything about each other, from that girl that used to be her best friend when she was thirteen to that time a man creepily stared at her eating her ice cream in a Baskin-Robbins - and we do. We do know each other better than anybody else does, and I'm confident in saying that. We know every corner of each other's hearts, dark or light, hidden or not, and there is nothing in there that makes me turn away from her; but, the magic of our love and relationship is constantly finding out new things we didn't know about each other every day. Whether it's stories we've never heard, memories that have shaped who we are, or people that have come and gone in our lives, part of the ever-burning flame that keeps this love alive is that we are never done knowing each other.

There are so many moments: like reflecting on how much our love has grown since the last time I was in St. Louis, realizing that the last time I was here was the first time I met her brother and nieces and now the kids greet me with hugs and her brother and sister-in-law and parents feel more like family than a shared connection to one person; like watching her laugh hysterically at a comedian during Pridefest, and being frozen by the beauty of her smile and the breathtaking sound of her laugh; like waking up to her arms wrapping around me and feeling that still be the first thing she wants to do when she wakes up after all this time; like still sharing and craving the passion and heat that we did one year ago; and like holding each other close, eyes glued and smiling, kissing between "I will miss you's" and "I love you's," magnets between every finger tip and nerve in our bodies, and being so in love that the airport and cars around us disappears during our goodbye. These moments are just some of what it means to be irrevocably in love, and growingly in love still.

My love for you, Hanna, will never stop growing, and never fade. We have a once in a lifetime love that I am so proud of. I am so proud of you and all that you are - I am so in love with you and all that you all. This relationship never feels old, never "the norm," never to be taken for granted, always to be worked for, and always the only thing I could ever want.

I love you then,
I love you now,
I love you always.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Tuesday marks the start of a new lifestyle

They say it takes 21 days of something to make it a habit - to adjust to a lifestyle change. That's what this is for me, a lifestyle change. I don't want working out and being in shape to a temporary aspect of my life that comes and goes. I don't want to say that I was in the best shape of my life when I was in high school balancing three varsity sports, or in college playing Division 1 softball. I want to be thirty years old and feel like I'm twenty. I want to feel invincible, like I could run for days; I want to feel strong, refreshed, healthy. I decided to take this last semester of my sophomore year off from working out to let my body recuperate from the stress that athletics has put on it, and now it is time move towards the next step. I've always had a reason to be in shape, because I've always been involved in a sport in some way; but, I won't be playing sports for the rest of my life, particularly not on a team like I am used to, and don't want to lose that aspect of my life when I move on to the next chapters. I want to amaze people with my commitment, and be the one that my friends and peers look at and say "wow, I wish I had the motivation to be in shape like that."

So Tuesday marks the start of a better lifestyle. I am not looking to deconstruct how I have been living and eating and rebuild myself, because there is a difference between a "change in lifestyle" and completely altering how I have been living. Let's get this straight: I am not trying to lose weight, I am not out of shape, and I do not need, for health reasons, to change my diet; I simply want to feel better. This is much more about how I feel vs. how I look. So, I won't be saying goodbye eternally to bacon, or coffee, or Coca-cola, or chicken tenders; but, I will try to drink more water than I do Coke (I have an addiction, it's fine), and if I'm choosing between fried chicken tenders and a pasta dish I will try to go with the not-fried option... and pasta, I will buy whole wheat pasta and bread instead, and maybe grab a banana instead of that grilled cheese in my school's cafeteria when I need just a little more to eat. And all of those things that I love to eat and drink - popcorn, bacon, Coke, curly fries, pizza, mac & cheese, chicken tenders, coffee, etc. - I will still eat, just a little less often.

So June 12th should mark the end of the "21 days" it is supposed to take to make these new changes a lifestyle. I can't wait to check back in and see how I feel.

Thursday, May 17, 2012


Well, it's the end of another year at school, which marks my half-way point at college. A lot has changed in these last few years, let alone this year. I have a more definitive path in terms of what I am looking to do after college, and an internship this summer in that field to help solidify where I want to go career-wise. I have been lucky to have had good jobs in the past with very nice, accommodating bosses, but those jobs never truly related to where I saw myself heading. I am very excited to take a step in my career direction this summer, and gear up for what I am anticipating being a rough junior year in academics. I finished this semester with the strongest grades I have had in my college career thus far, and it felt really great to see that my hard work paid off; that late nights, decisions not to procrastinate, throwing myself in to class discussion, and pushing through when I wanted to say "fuck it, this paper is good enough as is," all led to an outcome to be proud of. Hanna and I are also taking steps forward. A year ago we were just beginning our relationship, hopeful to see where it would lead us. Now, we have been together for a year and are engaged, and as she prepares to graduate this weekend and to step foot into the real world, I prepare to look towards that journey, too. I scheduled classes early in the morning with 1 three-hour lecture at night, and a lab during the day on Mondays, and will have a job during the school year next year. Hanna and I will be sharing some expenses, trying to adopt a dog, and balancing our lives. It's not a typical experience, especially for a college student, and I'm sure some would ask why I set such a rigorous schedule for myself instead of enjoying the college freedom, but I am more excited about taking a partial step into the real world to balance the mature relationship that I am so fortunate to have with Hanna than I would be to spend my days doing nothing. I am excited about getting used to living off of our income and controlling our finances. It's going to be tough - I can't pretend that it won't be - but I believe that we are ready, and capable, as I always have believed. All of this being said, I have reached somewhat of a different mindset as I head into this summer.

With all of the changing, growing, maturing, learning, life, and love that these past few years, but this past year in particular, have brought me, I have also had a change of direction mentally: I need less, and I want to get a little more back to my roots. I want to give more and take less. I want to give more to my body by getting back to a consistent exercise and lifting routine, and take less from it by cutting out some of the ridiculously unhealthy things I eat now (I am a Coca-cola addict, for example). I want to give more to the community and others by donating so much of the old clothing that I held on to from high school because I thought that I'd forever cherish each of my 20+ t-shirts with my school name written across the chest; 20 years from now that would be an awesome thing to still have, to show my kids, but I think one or two will do. I want to take less from the environment, and make a greater effort to live without the convenience of certain things at the expense of the Earth beneath me. There are certain things I can't change about myself, and I'm not looking for a complete deconstruction and rebuilding of who I am, but this progression is part of who I am too. I am in need of a cleansing of mind, body, and soul; a process of letting go of the stress that was this past year, of giving back, of taking only what I need, of working for others to better myself, and spreading love.

So once I get myself settled back in here I am going to do a massive, multi-day cleaning out of my room: closets, desk, drawers, everything. I will have a lot of clothing that I will be giving away to those who needs it, and a lot of old "crap" that I'll be throwing out to make room for new things. I will be cleaning out my computer, unclogging it of all of the random things from this past school year and the things that I meant to delete but never did. It's been one hell of a year that I am so thankful for. I have learned so much, and as Hanna and I both move forward into this next chapter together I am taking the good with me, leaving the bad behind, and making a small shift that hopefully helps me maintain that balance.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Relay for Life, 2012 - In Memory of Aunt Karen

Last night was the annual Relay for Life in our school's fieldhouse. There were members of sororities, fraternities, sports teams, independents, faculty, and town residents walking, laughing, celebrating, donating, and crying. Speeches were made by several students who have battled with cancer or lost somebody to cancer, and there were performances by our a capella and dance groups. I have often had people on here ask about why I don't talk about my dad much, and the most information I ever give is that he has health problems. He explained to me during lunch one day, in one sentence, that cancer is at the root of his disease; but, the word "cancer" is never used around my house. In fact, that's the only time that word has ever been used in relation to him - in that one sentence, on that one day, just between me and him. The truth is, his condition is much more complicated than that. Because of that, when I think of cancer I think of someone else. During the luminaria ceremony last night I couldn't help but think of my Aunt Karen. When I was thirteen I had my Bat Mitzvah in February of 2005, and she was there in full spirit and laughter as she always was. She and her family went back to Canada where they lived, and I didn't see her again until October of that year.

I didn't see all of my family in Canada often after I started middle school. My dad and I often took the seven- to nine-hour up when I was younger, especially when we were moving my grandmother, Nana, and grandfather, Gramps, into nursing homes. I was pretty young when they passed away, but those trips with my dad were always marked by the smile and hug of Aunt Karen when we would finally arrive. I would always beg him to stay in her room at the hotel, and she would help talk him into it. Many of my memories with her consist of doing things that she undoubtedly wouldn't want to do but would for me, and somewhere along the way we'd be crying and could barely breathe from laughing. We went pedal boating in a lake, and she freaked out when we saw a snake in the water. We shattered the glass table on my porch when my ten-year-old mind thought it would be a good idea to try to chip all of the ice off. Whatever we did, we laughed, and when I had to tell my parents about the table she stood next to me like a child my own age as we both smiled guiltily. But, as I grew older and schedules got busier, we only saw my family up there for funerals or weddings. I treasured Thanksgiving, when Karen and her kids, who are all at least 15 years older than me, would come down to the United States; it was the one occasion I could count on to see them. I often forget that I have a big family on my Dad's side; the kind that stands by you because that's what family does. Karen made sure I remembered that.

In September of 2005 my Aunt Karen was diagnosed with colon cancer. I never knew the steps leading up to that, why she went to the doctor's, or anything else. I knew the diagnosis, and that she had to start heavy treatment immediately. Apparently it was in a very late stage, but I didn't understand at the time what that meant. Several weeks later my parents told me she was going to come down to the United States to get treatment at the hospital close to my house because it has a nationally ranked cancer center and overall better care than she was receiving. She had to make the trip quickly, because soon she wouldn't be strong enough to travel. She called me on Tuesday, October 11th from the car on the way to my dad's house. She told me that everything would be fine, and she would see me on Friday when my mom and I went up there, and not to worry because she was going to be okay. I now believe that she knew she wouldn't be okay - she had to have known that - but she wanted me to believe she would be okay. That Friday when I went to the hospital I was in shock. She was unbelievably thin, and her skin and eyes had a yellow hue because the cancer had spread to her liver. She could barely move, and my mother explained to me that she couldn't talk. She wasn't the always-smiling Aunt Karen I had always known. In her eyes I could see a person trapped in a decaying body. But even then I was too young to understand the situation. She passed away three days later, on October 17th, 2005.

I didn't cry until the very end of the funeral when they were loading the casket back into the hearse. I'm not sure I understood that she was gone; and as they took her away I kept a secret with me that I would share for quite some time. That Friday when I saw her for the last time, and doctors and my parents calmly explained to me that she couldn't speak and had trouble moving, she spoke to me. When the doctors and my parents left the room, she told me that she loved me, and to continue to always laugh.

Her absence was felt every day after she passed. My dad changed forever, and the grief consumed him. He lost his sister, and though he has two other siblings, they were the closest. He also lost the last connection to both of his deceased parents. The shared the logistics of moving them into nursing homes when they couldn't care for themselves anymore, the pain of his father reintroducing him to his own brother when the Alzheimers worsened, and the planning of funerals. There is a garden behind my house dedicated to her now, marked by the yellow rose bushes - her favorite flower. For months afterwards I would sit in my room doing homework and hear "Angel"by Sarah McLachlan playing downstairs as my dad watched the funeral procession over, and over again. Every time I hear that song I flashback to the image of her being taken away, and feel the arms of my cousin around me. I remember being the youngest one at her house afterwards as we celebrated her life, and how I sat on the floor lonely because I was still too young to feel part of everybody else. That's when it sank in that she wasn't there, because in those moments she always made me feel like it was cool to be the baby of the family, because that meant I got to hang out with her.

When I think of my high school and college years, and all of the landmarks, I wonder what it would have been like if she were there. I wonder how our relationship would have grown into a more mature friendship, too. She likely would have been the adult I turned to when I couldn't yet turn to my parents. I think about coming out, the college process, high school graduation, the death of my best friend's cousin, and now, finding the woman I want to spend the rest of my life with. I wonder what she would say if I told her that the love of my life is a woman, and that I wanted her at our wedding. I would love to believe that she would be the same unfailingly supportive role model that she always was to me. Nights like last night make me feel guilty for not being more involved in organizations like Relay for Life. I wrote a few months ago about the "Kony 2012" uproar of activism, and how it made me realize simultaneously how many worthwhile causes there are in the world and how it is impossible for me to donate time, money, and support to all of them. I have dedicated myself primarily to the LGBTQ and animal protection causes,  as well as sexual assault/rape advocacy groups when I can. This semester, through the course I've taken, I've delved heavily into the recognition that we do not live in a post-racist America, as much as they teach that the civil rights battle gained full equality for all races. Maybe I need to be making room for one more cause. Statistics surrounding cancer are astounding, and in any space you will find someone whose life has been harmed by it. Aunt Karen passed away when I was too young to understand much of this, but had she passed away now I would undoubtedly immerse myself into this organization. Being a college student makes it hard to involve yourself in so many causes. I don't have $100 to put towards the four, including this one, causes that lie close to my heart. Maybe involving myself in this one doesn't have to include a personal financial expense. I love working out and running - maybe I could sign up for a run and my donation would come in the form of (hopefully) many of my family and friends supporting me. I miss you, Aunt Karen, and I'm sorry if it feels like I've forgotten what killed you seven years ago. I'm sorry if it feels like I haven't supported you the way that you supported me, but your memory hasn't faded at all, and I hope to make a change in your honor.

For anybody that is still reading, thank you. Even if your identity is hidden behind a tumblr URL, or an anonymous grey face, your support is felt.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Full Body Scans at Airports, Why I Refused

These full body security scanners have been added to many airports nationally and pose a serious privacy risk for trans-identified individuals. When going through security individuals are selected at random to be scanned by this machine instead of your typical walk-through security booth. A person has the option to refuse, but if they take this option they must commit to a full body pat down by a member of the same sex. Going through these machines pose a risk of being outed, subject to further security measures, and other issues for a trans person. Binders would be visible, packing could be visible, etc. Not only could a trans-person’s identity be revealed, something that for many is an incredibly person and private piece of them, but they could then be asked to reveal what the binder or packing is, why they use it, etc. We can all agree that this is not okay.

I first encountered on in the Colorado airport over winter break. I wanted to refuse but the security long was incredibly long, others were waiting for pat downs for multiple reasons, and I was running late. I went into the body scanner, cringed at the sense of guilt as a member of the LGBTQQIAA community and strong activist, and continued on my way. Today, in the airport, I had plenty of time because I had to drive somebody else here in time for her flight, which was two hours earlier than mine. I wondered if I would have the chance to refuse, and I wondered if in my anti-conflict heart I preferred to not have the opportunity to refuse because they would direct me to the regular scanner; but, they didn’t. The security man directed me towards the full body scanner and I confidently refused. With a slightly confused look on his face he directed me towards another man who stood next to me in a roped in box that I needed to wait in. A TSA woman came over and asked which bags were mine to she could grab them from the belt for me and I moved in her direction so I could clearly point out which bins were mine on the piled up belt, where I was told in a strict and almost-fearful voice not to move by the man standing next to my little box. She grabbed my stuff and then I was escorted over to another area where she explained how she was going to pat me down and asked whether I would like the pat-down to be done in private. I said I was fine with it done in the public box, she did it, and I was on my way.

I wished she, or somebody, would have asked why I refused the full body scanner. Usually people have a reason other than “I think it’s wrong,” which likely explained the confused and suspicious way everybody treated me. While I completely understand the need for strict, harsh, watchful security in an airport, I was annoyed by the fact that my decision turned what is usually a friendly process for a 20-year-old 5’3” girl in to and experience that made me feel like I was suspected of dangerous activity and going to be on slightly close watch for the day. I think that, above all, was why I wished somebody had asked me why I refused, so I could explain to them that I was just like the countless of innocent people trying to get from one place to another. I wasn’t doing anything suspicious, was not trying to get around and security measures, or hide anything - I was trying to make a point that this system isn’t right, and that I will take a stand for it even if it doesn’t apply to me.  Just because something doesn’t affect you and your life every day doesn’t mean it doesn’t affect you at all. I am a cisgendered bisexual woman and my body scan would have appeared completely “normal” to their standards, but I am not free until all gender-identities are free.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Kony 2012 - After those moments of reflecting on your own gratefulness for the life you've been given.

The whole eruption of the Kony 2012 campaign has put a lot of people into a place of deep reflection on their own lives; how am I fortunate in ways I never consider, am I doing enough to give back, and how can I enrich my life by contributing to organizations like these? What upset me most about the campaign is that a huge aspect of it is that nobody, or at least very few people, know about this. The aspect of this whole reflection that came after those initial questions, for me, was that here is another organization putting forth a cause that is incredibly worthy of attention and support. Here are people suffering in ways that most of the world is oblivious too, and they deserve our aid and support. How do I know where to focus my energy and resources and fight, when there are so many important "fights" that I already am aware of let alone the ones that I have clearly lived a good part of my life being unaware of. As of right now I give most of the time and donations a college student can give to organizations that support LGBT equality, environmental and wildlife foundations, and, if I can spare it, support foundations for teen suicide and self harm like To Write Love on Her Arms. Now that already ignores my devotion to women's rights, the battle against rape and sexual assault victims, the right to health care for all within the United States, those in Japan who are still homeless from the tsunami, poverty, racial issues, and religious oppression. This post is not to in any way lessen the importance of the issue that Kony2012 sheds light on; it is an incredibly important issue that has my support and action to both educate and contribute to the resources necessary to combat it. This post is meant to express the overwhelming helplessness I feel in knowing that I, and others, have lived so long without knowing the suffering of these people and acknowledging that, given that fact, there are probably countless other battles to be fought that we don't know about, too; furthermore, it's to express the helplessness I feel even in having three or four serious causes I would like to give to and can't.

Ultimately you can't make an argument for whose plight is worse, who needs your help more, or who needs more resources; you just can't. Is it children who worry about being abducted and forced to kill their parents; is it the partner of a 15 years of a soldier who risked her life for me, and you, and everybody else in this country, who is in a hospital bed alone because her girlfriend isn't legally allowed to see her in states like New Jersey; is it the red pandas being illegally hunted and ruthlessly skinned alive, all for their fur, that don't even have a voice? As I said, everybody can have their priorities, but nobody can deem one inequality worse or moe important than another.

The only conclusion I can come to is to set my feet in to causes that I attach my life to; these are the ones that consume my life because I am an LGBT feminist woman who is simultaneously passionate about the psychology of severely troubled young adults and animals. In addition, when a new cause such as a natural disaster tragedy or as it did tonight with Kony2012, I will do what I think is the right thing and contribute what I can but not sideline the causes to which I dedicate my life. I am coming to the... yes, helpless... conclusion that I can't give my heart to every cause, but I can contribute and say I made a difference without abandoning those organizations that have always had my unwavering support, unconditional dedication, and heart. I can't save the world, but we can.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Looking at Strangers

My feminist philosophy professor challenged our class to fulfill, at least once, what the author of our reading hails as a difficult, anti-instinct way to cultivate compassion within ourselves and others. In honor of Valentine's Day and celebrating love, we must work to look at a stranger the way that somebody who is in love with that person would. Dean Spade, an FTM transgendered author, in his essay For Lovers and Fighters writes,

"Sometimes while I ride the subway I try to look at each person and imagine what they look like to someone who is totally in love with them. I think everyone has had someone look at them that way, whether it was a lover, or a parent, or a friend, whether they know it or not. It’s a wonderful thing, to look at someone to whom I would never be attracted and think about what looking at them feels like to someone who is devouring every part of their image, who has invisible strings that are connected to this person tied to every part of their body."

It's true, that in looking at strangers we are our most critical selves. A person walks on a bus or in a room and the first thing we do is assess what we think of his or her outfit, hairstyle, aura, etc; but what if we were to look a complete stranger, just for a moment, through the eyes of someone who utterly adores him or her? It's an interesting concept, and undoubtedly simultaneously promotes compassion and combats the shallow, competitive hostility that fills our world.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

First Kiss

Because of the second part of this question I'm assuming you're saying "together" as a classy way of hooking up haha :) If not, this is awkward and just tell us in our ask and I'll answer whatever you actually meant haha.

The first time we were together was the build up a ton of sexual tension that had been intensifying from the moment we met, so when we finally got that opportunity we were both really nervous. What if all of that tension built up and it wasn't as amazing and we didn't have the chemistry we though we would? What if we messed up a beautiful friendship for something that didn't work out?

But, when we finally kissed for the first time it was nothing short of perfect. It was magic, and personally, despite the expectations we built, I was even blown away by how much I didn't want to stop kissing her. I thought the idea of "sparks flying" was purely metaphorical and mental, but there was something physically electric about that first time. Given how high we had made our expectations for the chemistry and flawlessness of what we could be together, odds were we it was going to fall a little short; but it far surpassed anything either of us could have ever imagined. We were so wrapped up in that kiss, in that moment, in what the rest of the night held and what the future could unravel to be. Nothing in that moment mattered except me, and her - nobody else. It was the kind of fire that ignites an un-destroyable passion in both of us that we could never let go of.

It was a kiss that made every kiss or more with anyone else before it irrelevant and meager.

January Morning

It's 11:11 a.m. on a Saturday morning in January and Hanna is snuggled into the space between my neck and my shoulder with her arm and leg draped over me. She's half-awake and absolutely adorable. I am so thankful for her in my life. Since we began I have entered a world where I wake up happy every single day and rest easy by her side (most nights, except when we have to do the long distance thing). It's the beginning of the second semester of her senior year, and with that comes many of the stresses I refused to think about until this time. In the next few months we will find out where she will be next year and how far our 2 years of long distance will be. I must admit, it's scary to think about, especially if she is a flight vs. a drive away. Two years is a long time to have to spend apart when we are so ready to start our lives together now, even though we know there are some things we have to get through first before we can truly begin that next chapter (I have to graduate, she has to establish where she is living and working, etc.). When I think about all that has happened in 2 years, and apply that length of time to a world in which we may only get to see each other every few weeks (which, all things considered, would be amazing), or months, it's scary. I know my love for her will never die, but it will be immeasurably painful to be so far away. My only hope is that somehow she will find a great job opportunity somewhere a few hours away. I wouldn't mind the 4 or 5 hour drive every now and then, just load up on some coffee, food, and good music and it will all be worth it. Above all else, though, I could never imagine enduring two years of long distance to get to the better part of life with anybody else. She is my world, my everything, and I am here to stay no matter where she ends up. I will put everything into making it work and I know she will too, and as long as our love stays strong we will make it. That doesn't diminish how hard it will be to wake up on a Saturday morning without this, but having her in my life regardless of distance makes me happier than I ever thought I could be. She is amazing, and as I told her last night, I think if we never had met I still would have missed her; I would have felt her missing, but I wouldn't have known what it was. For now I'm going to curl back up in bed with her, throw my arms around her, and feel so incredibly lucky to be able to wake up this way.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Anonymous Tumblr Challenge Post #1: How "love at first sight" took some form in my relationship

The first time I saw Hanna I was drawn to everything about her. She has a radiant smile, a talent for making people laugh, and sweetness about her that showed the depth to which she could care about someone. I need to be part of her life in one form or another, and what we thought was an amazing friendship was masking a love waiting to be set on fire. When we finally came forward with how we both felt about each other there was no stopping and no slowing down. I knew she was going to be an important part of my life and I always wanted to be around her. We fell in love faster than we could realize it and have spent every moment since falling farther together. She is my world, my rock, and someone I am so grateful to have in my life. The first time I saw Hanna I had no idea what was about to hit me, but I knew against all fear of loving again that I wanted to love and be loved by her.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

There's No Comfort in the Waiting Room

Right now my best friend is almost three hours away in the waiting room of a hospital surrounded by the most loving family I have ever had the privilege to be a part of. I am not related by blood, though I could easily pass as another cousin on her mom's Irish side of the family, but every one of Casey's siblings, parents, cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents feel like my own. Just a little over a year ago, tragedy struck when her cousin was killed in a fatal motor cycle accident and I have never been more affected by others' pain as I was by this. I came home from college in the middle of my softball pre-season and told my harsh and anything-but-lenient division 1 coach that I was leaving. "Asking" was never an option. I was not requesting to go home, but informing her that I was going home, because she is my family. I wavered cautiously by Casey that entire weekend trying to balance being the arms for her to fall into and letting her take the space and time she needed. I was incredibly thankful to be welcomed with loving arms to even what are usually "family-only" parts of letting someone go, and my eyes were open to the fragility and beauty that is life. I had met him a few times before but we were never as close as I am with some of Casey's cousins, yet experiencing the pain of so many people that I cared about changed me forever. I wasn't just there for Casey, but also to put my arm around her brother who remained incredibly strong through everything and let the consoling arms hold his sister and mother instead. I was there to hold her younger cousins whom I have become very close to, have stayed at my house, and become family in my parents' eyes as well. It is an indescribably lucky experience to have two families feel like one, and I feel so blessed that Casey and I are at the route of that. During that weekend I saw strength and love in a family unmatched by any measure of the two qualities that I had seen before - in anyone, in anything.

Tonight her cousin Claire is in surgery for a brain tumor, and I simply don't understand what power of nature allows a ten-year-old to go through that. It feels wrong being so far away, and I feel a weird sense of being out of place sitting at home in front of my computer. I feel like where I belong right now is in that waiting room too. She is in some of the best hands this country has to offer, and once again this family's love and strength is overcoming the most trying challenges. I can't imagine sleeping tonight until I hear from her.

This family possesses a bond that I could never find words to describe. They are the most beautiful, loving people, and I can't imagine my life without them. I can't express how fortunate I feel every day, but particularly tonight to call Casey my best friend. She is inspirational, selfless, and the epitome of strength and goodness in my eyes. It's so rare that two people can spend an infinite amount of time together and not get sick of each other, can make themselves completely vulnerable and not feel threatened before each other, can assure each other of unconditional love even at each other's weakest, and can trust without fear of betrayal. I have found that and I will never let it go. Her family is equally amazing and deserves the best that life has to offer, and just as she sees tonight how lucky she is to be part of such a supportive and devoted family, I sit here and feel blessed too. I love you, Case.


I'm in an unbelievably, ridiculously bad mood and have been for the past 2-3 days. Everything annoys me, the smallest things can send me downhill, and no activity whether it's working, running, sitting at home, or running errands feels satisfying or releases tension. Everything is frustrating, and every person has the ability to get on my nerves. I need to do something to let this go and find a way out of it.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

People Watching

I am sitting in a Starbucks in my hometown and it's around 3:15 on a Thursday. I am waiting for the inevitable rush of preppy students in their maroon and navy kilts to walk in from my high school and middle school, anxious to order their grande ice caramel macchiato with extra whip, annoyed at their parents for not letting them go to that party on Friday night, and nervously darting their eyes around to see how might come in next (God forbid somebody walks in that they're unprepared to see or somebody that they would like to look prettier for). There's the typical business men in long black wool coats and scarves, high-strung mothers, artsy writers lined up along the bench as I am, and the casual stay-at-home-dads reading the newspaper or a book on their iPads. I wonder what their stories are, what are they doing here. I know why I'm here: I had lunch with a friend and needed to let the food settle before I go for my afternoon run, but don't want to sit at home - simple. But, what kinds of lives do these people lead? Do they go home to happy families, or do they go home to a destructive teenager and a husband that puts in less than he should. Are they lonely, or are they on top of the world, or they happily independent?

A boy sits next to me, probably in his mid-twenties, and he is different. He wears a grey wool top hat and a long back trench coat, has long dirty-blonde hair with a goatee and mustache. He is nods his head to the music an walked with a certain bounce to his step. He is the guy most would look at and peg as a strange teenager, probably into heavy metal, and likes to talk about things like Plato and conspiracy theories and Harry Potter. He's the kind of guy that the preppy high school students would look at as the outcast, and the parents look at him as "not the kind of guy I would want my daughter or son to date." He is my favorite, though, of all of the people that have walked in here, because in reality he is probably the guy that would treated you well instead of the accessory that a lot of the jocks around here treat people. He probably knows a thousand songs by small, unheard of bands that you would never give a shot, like him, that make incredible music. He can probably hold a conversation, unlike many of the guys around here, and will talk to you about things that you can't talk to others about because others won't care. He probably isn't afraid to show his heart, because the way he gets outcasted his emotions have spent a little more time developing than those of the instantly-excepted basketball star.

My point? Sometimes you find the best people in the most disguised appearances. As humans we innately stereotype because it is in our evolutionary nature to pick out what is different about people and fill in the unknown with speculations; that is okay, because it's natural, but it is what we do with those stereotypes that matter. Give the ones that seem different a chance, because often they will turn out to be some of the best people you meet. Remember that everyone has a story and a purpose, and everybody needs someone to give them a chance to tell that story. Sometimes you also find these people buried beneath their own personalities because they are trying to find in, and it takes someone caring to see that there is more to them. Try to deepen your relationships by giving the "different" ones a chance. Some of the most important, influential, and inspiring people in my life are "different," and I thank God that they are because by being that they become irreplaceable.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Working Out

I've never watched what I ate, counted calories, or forced myself into the gym to work out - I never had a reason to. I never needed to lose weight, I am always involved in athletics, and have no health problems that restrict my diet. The past month, though, I just didn't feel as healthy as I want to be. When I look in the mirror I don't dislike what I see, but I dislike how I feel. I am thin, but I don't feel fit, I am strong, but I don't feel powerful, I am at a healthy weight, but my body feels weighed down by foods I eat every day. I am a Coca Cola® addict - there, I said it.
I don't eat horrifically, but I drink a lot of Coke (sometimes I legitimately crave it), eat a lot of pastas, breads, carbs, and meat. I barely like any vegetables, I like fruit but don't eat a lot of it, have always consumed incredibly inadequate amounts of water given I am an athlete, and generally take in a lot of sugar. Most of the foods I eat have simple healthy alternatives - whole wheat pasta, whole wheat bread on my sandwich instead of white, grilled chicken instead of fried, etc.

So, with the new year I have begun a new workout routine and a healthier way of eating and living. I cannot stress enough, I am not trying to lose weight. I am not irrationally telling myself that I need to be thinner because I don't, and am happy with what I look like when I look in the mirror. I simply want to feel healthier and have a healthier body for the long run. I am trying to incorporate more fruits in my diet and venture out from the usual mac n' cheese dinner. The added bonus is that I LOVE to cook, so finding new recipes and trying them out is fun for me too. It's actually very difficult to find recipes that are healthy but not low calorie, because I need the calories. So far I have found a few favorites, and will add a page of my favorite recipes on this blog later today.

I have also set somewhat rigorous but undoubtedly achievable goals for myself in terms of my workout:

  1. Run 6 days a week. This is the most important one, and one that I cannot "slip up" on because even professionals say that once you let yourself miss a few days of a routine it completely alters your motivation and drive to pick it back up again.
  2. Weight lifting 3 of the days I run, and do an ab workout 3 of the days that I run.
  3. I would love to incorporate swimming on the days that I do ab workouts (because they are less taxing than lifting) because it is an incredible, low-impact workout; however, I don't know what the pool situation will be once I get back to school... and I have a feeling that one might have to wait until this summer.

I am currently on day 4 of my new way of living, and the motivation/drive to workout is kicking in. The first 3 days I had to push myself to run, but right now I am sitting at work wishing I could go home and workout instead of sitting at this desk. I am not missing the Coke too much, and am forcing myself to drink more water because yesterday's run felt substantially worse and more sluggish than Saturday's and Sunday's, and I'm pretty sure I can attribute that to treating myself to a coffee in the morning and Coke at lunch since all I had to drink was water since Saturday. I know it sounds silly, but caffeine addictions are completely legitimate.

I use the Nike+ sensor, which a family friend gave me for Chanukah this year because I already had the Nike+ compatible shoes, and the Nike+ GPS app on my iPhone to track my runs, set goals, and see my progress. I love it and it definitely adds huge motivation and sense of accomplishment to set how far you want to run and then see that you achieved it.

The one thing I have to say about working out, and this is what made me an athlete from the moment I was born, is that when I run I feel unspeakably alive. The pounding of my heart in my chest, the ache in my legs telling me to stop, the hot sweat trickling down my back, and the burning of my lungs - sounds like something you would never want to submit yourself to, right? No, because feeling everything reminds me that I have a purpose, and I am doing something to make me better; and when I look behind me at the end of my workout and see how far I have come, how I didn't stop when everything in my body told me it would be easier to, I am alive.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Books, Art, and Music

I used to love to read. I'd go through a Nancy Drew book a week, and when I finished all of them (yes, every single one) I started the Hardy Boys books. I read effortlessly, enthusiastically, and relentlessly. My parents used to tell me to have to put my book down at the dinner table because it was as if I wasn't there, and I wasn't. I read until I lost track of time, until I knew the characters as my best friends, and until my eyes burned in the early hours of the morning. I feel like I lost that person in middle school and high school when reading became a chore. I would love to get back to that place where I can lose myself entirely in a book. I would love to read the famous, brilliant works of art that grace pop culture references that fly over your head until you know the words from the text, and I want to read the books that were banned until we came into a more progressive era, and the ones that nobody has heard of but speak the words in my heart in ways I don't know how to express. Lately I've had this craving to inject my life with more passion. I love photography and connect with music in a way I don't think most people do. They are both part of my life every day, but I long to feel more enriched by the world. I want to get back to playing guitar, and invest some time in the film camera I have, and read those books that I will fall in love with. The only problem is college. When I am there I can't do those things without feeling guilty, like there is some sort of work or studying that I should be doing instead. But, I would love to try so I'm setting some goals:

  • To be to constantly reading something unrelated to academics, even if I only have time for a few pages each day or every few days.
  • To bring my camera with me even when I don't think I will use, want, or need it. So many of my favorite pictures have been taken when I happen to have my camera with me, not when I set out to take pictures. That's part of what photography is for me - finding beauty in the unexpected. 
  • Put some real time into getting better at the guitar. I get frustrated easily because my hands are small and sometimes I find a tab that involves a chord that I physically can't play because my fingers won't reach. Guitar is something you need to struggle through to get good at, and isn't easy to start, but will be well worth the hard work if I can get good at it.
  • Continue to work out. I feel unspeakably alive when I am done running. I feel more connected to the Earth and the world around me, I am happier, and I feel better about myself. I am not in it to lose weight, but to be healthier and feel better every day.

Too many disconnect from the world. I don't want to forget the novels that inspired, the music that made us survive, or the passions that express the innermost secrets of our hearts.