I’m Sad and Proud

Sometimes it’s okay to wallow. Because sometimes life fucking sucks and pretending it doesn’t isn’t helping anyone. When you have a shitty day, be upset. Be angry. Be sad. Because those emotions are just as legitimate as elation or contentment. Demand acceptance from a world that demands a constant smile. Demand they see you as you are – a human, with real emotions and real problems.

And on the days you feel shitty with no cause, accept yourself. Give yourself the space to feel depressed. Depression is an illness. An illness for which your body needs extra love. Extra rest to be nursed back to health. When you have the flu, no one tells you “have you tried just not having the flu?”. When you have a broken bone, no one tells you “it’s just in your head” or “other people have bones way more broken than you”. So why do you tell yourself these things when you’re feeling depressed – feeling ill?

I call upon you, fellow humans, to drop the act. To join in the human experience in its entirety.

Today, I feel like shit. I feel sad and depressed and I’m not sure why. But I’m proud. I’m proud I can feel and express the full extent of emotion, even if that results in rejection by a happy-face society.

Today, I don’t have a smile to offer. And that’s okay.

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Bliss or Curse

This is technically a scholarship essay, but I’m quite proud of it, and it is somewhat applicable on this post-election day.

“Ignorance is the curse of God; knowledge is the wing wherewith we fly to heaven (Shakespeare).” In a society saturated with ignorance and lacking absolute truth, is the world in its entirety therefore cursed? Is there opportunity for redemption; for flight to heaven? The school system attempts to rectify this curse, but it is in the hands of learners to accept the knowledge imparted. Ignorance may be bliss, but it is knowledge that allows transcendence and therefore success. As a life-long learner, I strive for this knowledge, for the wings of wisdom. My personal definition of success is centered around worldly knowledge, and is therefore extensively important. The first step is clearly education, which is why I am seeking college admittance, and I will continue on to aim for mastery for the purpose of battling the illness plaguing today’s society, even if my only victory is over my own ignorance.

Numb

It starts slowly. A thought, an idea, a trigger. And then it grows. It feeds off the strength you use to ignore it, gobbling your resolve and belching its omnipotence.
The illogical thought process spirals into quick sand: the more you struggle, the faster you sink. You fight against the darkness, stabbing weakly at what you hope and pray is its vulnerability, but it laughs at your futility.
The laughter echoes in the hollowness, reminding you how empty you feel inside. You scream out of frustration, but the silence that ensues only deepens the rips in your chest. The claws curl around your ribs, tearing at flesh and bone until you’re suffocating on your own inadequacy.
Long tendrils weave themselves into your thoughts. Your brain is at the mercy of this horrid creature. The pain is blinding, deafening, and then it stops. It all stops.
The screams weaken, and then stop.
The darkness softens, and then disappears.
You’re relieved, for the monster has been stopped, never more permitted to torture you. The pain is gone.
But so is the joy, the love, the emotion.
You are numb.

Armour

The knight emerges from the fog, embraced in mystery, holding his glittering sword high. The ferns bow to his step, the breeze carry his legacy. For under his watchful eye, the dragons are slain, the maidens saved, none fearful of the dangers lurking.

High on a mountain, the enigmatic knight lives in a perpetual state of disconnect. Quite literally shielded from the world, his emotions separate from those of banal bourgeoisie as he casts his circumspect gaze upon the land. Clothed in honor and hung with glory, the knight deserves none less than exhaustive respect.

And from all but one, he had garnered obeisance. But the One remained unsatisfied by the ubiquitous glamour and resolved to ascertain the knight’s caliber for herself.

And so she commenced her ascension of the great mountain housing the brave knight. The treacherous journey evoked little fear on the girl. She was brave, no victim of the blind trust that captured her community, leaving them ignorant and faint-hearted.

After conquering the climb, the juvenile had finally reached the summit and gazed upon the great knight.

“Hello,” she ventured. The knight said nothing. “I’ve come to befriend your greatness.” Again, no reply.

As she crept forward, the cavalier cowered. Shocked at his bashfulness, the girl gained courage.

“I am no threat, so won’t you please show your face?” She continued to advance.

“Don’t come any closer,” the knight growled. The girl tossed her head in laughter.

“Are you afraid of a little girl?” she guffawed, reaching her hand out to touch the gleaming metal on the knight’s abdomen.

“Do not touch me,” the knight said in warning, but alas, the girl’s fingers had already grazed his armour.

She yelpt, jumping back in fear and pain. The armour had sliced her dainty fingers and blood began to drip, staining the dirt.

“You horrible man, you hurt me! How could you? Are you not charged with the task of protecting our people? I was simply trying to be close, to offer friendship.” She ran from the mountain, irate and embarrassed.

The knight fell to his knees, weeping, devastated that even a girl could not reach out to him without enduring pain. He knew the fault did not land to him, but the village people could not understand. For what the girl did not know was that the armour was not protection, but a cage holding the knight hostage: denying emotional connection and hurting all who attempted amity.

Breakfast Metaphors

I think everyone is like an egg.

Unbreakable to some forces, and completely shattered by others. Incredibly powerful structure, yet a fragile shell.

Every time we discover something about ourselves, we chip away a piece of the shell. It makes us more vulnerable, but better. More open to ourselves, others, and to the world as a whole.

Sometimes when a piece of the shell is removed, you see clean, healthy egg. Sometimes a unique birthmark. And sometimes an ugly bruise. But it’s all part of what makes us whole.

At the very center, the yoke represents our core: ourself in the purest form. This is where the strength is; the protein if you will.

But to reach this core, one must first completely discover themselves, removing the entire shell. Then, only by giving themselves away are they able to see the yoke.

The shell, the mask.

The white, the self.

The yoke, enlightenment.

RAK

Today is International Random Acts of Kindness Day. It started in New Zealand in 2005 (yes, I am nerdy enough to research it), and has since become an international holiday! Everywhere except for America because America is stupid.

But anyways, in honor of RAK Day, here is a list of random nice things people have done for me:

  • My coworker bought me Starbucks TWICE
  • Andrew rubbed my back until I fell asleep
  • My sister let me have one of her cookies
  • My mom picked me up ice cream
  • Emmalee called me beautiful
  • Spencer picked me up on the other side of the river so I didn’t have to swim across
  • Cobey rubbed my feet
  • Erin offered her land for me to stay on
  • My dad helped me figure out insurance which is a lot harder than it sounds
  • Cheryl gave me a discount on my house
  • Cam taught me how to check my engine
  • Ruth taught me how to use the nebulizer
  • Anita taught me how to give shots
  • Jordin trained me for my current job
  • Mary let me have a candy from her stash
  • Keith let me try his smoked salmon salad
  • A lady opened the door for me
  • My granparents stayed with my sister and I when my mom was gone
  • Bridget gave me handmedowns
  • Zoe shared her drink with me
  • The other Zoie let me borrow her ukelele
  • A man gave me a flower
  • An elderly man told me I was pretty
  • A little girl gave me a hug

I challenge you to do something nice for someone and to make a list of all the nice things people do for you.

Happy International Random Acts of Kindness Day!!!

What Gives, Morocco?

Here’s about how this went down: I applied to an international study program, CIEE, but didn’t specify what country I wanted to go to. They called, asked if I wanted to go to Morocco, and I agreed. That’s pretty much it.

So a couple months later, I hopped on a plane to New York, met up with a group of students, and flew into Casablanca. Once there, they stuck me with a roommate in a hotel room. That was pretty much all for the first couple days. I explored the streets of Casablanca and learned to tolerate my fellow American students (harder than you’d guess).

After that weekend, a family came and picked my roommate and me up and drove us to Rabat. Our house was beautiful. A mansion by Moroccan standards; complete with fruit trees in the yard, a 10 foot wall and a full wait staff. We got settled in to our balconied rooms (the only two students who didn’t have to share a room) and met the whole extended family. It was a strange mix of broken English, French, proper Arabic and Darija, the local dialect.

About two days into the weekend, the entire family informed us that they were going to Paris for a wedding, so my roommate and I would be left at home with the maids and the next door neighbors, who’s children seemed to constantly be digging through my stuff.

We quickly settled into a routine: wake up, get dressed in culturally appropriate clothes, eat whatever breakfast the maids prepared (and then refused to eat in our presence), catch a $3 taxi to the next town over and arrive at school. We took Arabic language and culture classes at the local CIEE school, which was conveniently placed across from the frozen yogurt shop where I overdosed daily, except during Eid, when we all fasted during the day. Classes were mostly boring, but I learned a ton, specifically the Arabic language and Muslim practices. At lunch, you could find delicious sandwiches and plates of food for about $4. As a money saving student, this was probably the highlight of my entire experience. While the other students were going to pool bars and social events, I was reveling in the grocery stores.

Because our host family was pretty much gone the entire time and the maids didn’t have a phone, my roommate and I never had a curfew or really any rules. We’d stay out late, exploring the town and getting ourselves into all sorts of interesting situations. There was the ladies gym, where we did some sort of aerobic dancing; the pool bars where we tried (and failed) to hustle Moroccans and the literal piles of kittens that followed us around, begging for treats that we picked up at our beloved grocery store/market. One of our best adventures occurred when we stumbled across a group of cliff divers at a community beach. They immediately invited us to dive with them, and after much persuasion, we obliged. The tides would rise slowly and then suddenly drop the water level about 10 feet every 5 minutes, so you had to time your dive perfectly to avoid slamming up against the rocks. They neglected to tell me until AFTER I had already dived that death was about 50% likely. Luckily, even if I had misjudged the water level, there were dolphins below, ready to help should someone get lost in the waves. It was stupid and risky and absolutely exhilarating.

On the weekends, our group of students would go on excursions to other parts of the country. One weekend we went to the center of the country and visited Fes and Meknes. We saw ancient ruins, European in appearance, and explored the differences in culture between the coast people and the in-landers. Another weekend we reveled in the Spanish-influenced towns of Tangier and Asilah, where I *finally* got to use my fluent Spanish to communicate with the locals, instead of my broken Arabic that was probably less effective than hand gestures.The trips were probably my favorite part of my time in Morocco. So many new sights and sounds and things to do.

My all time favorite town we visited was Chefchaouen. Nestled away in the Rif mountains, the blue city sat in all its glory, free of traffic pollution (cars were banned) and filled with markets selling everything imaginable (clearly my happy place). We stayed in a little hotel; my room was on the roof. Every night, I climbed out my window to sit on the ledge below, watching the hustle of the night market and looking up at the tranquil, proud mountains. Truly an out-of-body experience. We quickly discovered that there were ways in and out of all our friends’ rooms via the roof, so there was quite a bit of window acrobatics that weekend. We also got our exercise from climbing up and down the neighboring mountains. Once you arrive at the summit, you can see the entirety of the hill-contained town. All the buildings are painted turquoise, a nod to the history of the location. Green buildings symbolized Muslim households, while blue represented Jewish homes. The town was predominately Jewish, but the turquoise paint represented the unification of the town as well as the freedom of religion in Morocco. Chefchaouen was absolutely beautiful, and the energy of the town reflected that.

Because my flight left so much later than everyone’s at the end of the trip, I had an extra day to myself, which I spent wandering through the markets (no surprise there) and the flower store, where I was gifted succulents and a single rose. Plunging in to American culture after a semester of covering my ankles was borderline offensive. It probably took me longer to reintegrate to the sex-saturated American culture than it was to virtually practice Islam. My trip to Morocco was by far the most eye opening destination I have ever experienced.

 

One in Three

This post shifts gears quite a bit from my previous blogs, but it is so important to me and feel it necessary to share.

While 1 in 3 women (and 1 in 33 men) have experienced a sexual assault, only 6% of these horrendous crimes were reported to the police. And from those reported, only 25% end in arrest [Abbey, A., BeShears, R., Clinton-Sherrod, A. M., & McAuslan, P. (2004).Psychology of Women Quarterly]. 

And so I ask myself, what the hell gives?

Several years ago, I found myself to be the one in three; I was raped. On three separate occasions, spanning from my 15th birthday through my 17th. It took me years to finally come forward and say anything about my experience to anyone. That one fateful day, I had finally built up enough confidence to speak up. I decided that even if nothing would come of it, at least I would know that I didn’t let the rapist silence me. My counselor and I called Child Protective Services and then both my local police department and the one of the town it occurred in. Here’s about how the conversation went:

-I was raped.

When and where?

-A couple months ago on vacation.

What were you wearing?

-Why is that important? I was wearing a long sleeve and shorts.

-Just in case it was pertinent to the case. Were you drinking?

-He forced the alcohol down my throat.

*scoffs* You shouldn’t have been drinking. Why weren’t you using the buddy system?

-I was trying to protect my friends. I know it was a bad decision, but in the moment I was more scared for their safety than my own.

Did you get a rape kit?

-No, I was too scared.

So you have no physical evidence.

-I have a full confession from the boy who did it.

-It probably won’t hold up in court.

 

Let me first start by saying that I have nothing against the general police department, but in this situation, they completely dropped the ball. It would’ve been one thing if this was some grouchy old man shoving his opinion where no one wants it, but this was an officer charged with keeping me safe. A FEMALE officer. Silly old me had hoped that I would feel safe with these people; instead I felt attacked and vulnerable.

After this call, there were several months without any word from the officer on my case, despite my many emails and calls. Finally, I received the call from the out-of-state police department:

-Your perpetrator got a lawyer.

-I understand, I expected that to happen. What’s the next step in this case?

Actually we’re dropping it.

-Why?

-You didn’t get a rape kit, so we don’t actually have any evidence. This won’t hold up in court, and honestly, we don’t think you can handle the stress that comes with actually following through on your claims, should they even be true.

-So my full confession and CPS support mean nothing? Even you don’t believe me?

His lawyer’s good and we don’t feel like taking this case. Plus how do we know you didn’t want it to happen?

 

And that was it. I wasn’t believed, supported or even treated as a victim. As far as they were concerned, I made the whole thing up, and in the case that I hadn’t, I must’ve wanted it.

I have since reconciled myself with the fact of being raped. It was horrible and traumatizing, and I don’t think I will ever be “over it”, but I have grown so much as a person, and have found it in my heart to forgive the officer, the police department as a whole and even the rapist. I’ve since done my best to advocate for rape victims, including spreading the word and making it an ongoing conversation as well as simply offering support and belief to victims. I’d like to share with you a free verse poem I wrote not too long ago on that specific matter:

 

Let me tell you about a little girl:

A girl who’s childhood was taken because she was alone.
Because she was dressed wrong.
Because she was asking for it.

Let me tell you about a girl who was told to stay quiet.
Told to get over it.
Told she was worthless.

Let me tell you about a girl who was stripped of her love and innocence when she was stripped of her clothes.

Now let me tell you about another girl:

A girl who can stand for herself because she is empowered.
Because she loves who she is.
Because she is loved.

Let me tell you about how this girl is told that she’s beautiful.
Told that she has a voice.
Told that she matters.

Let me tell you about how this girl can say “no” because she lives in a world where “no” has meaning.

You choose what life our girls live.

 

I was once that little girl. And today I strive to be the other girl: a girl who loves herself and the world we live in. But the only way we can make this world better for girls like me is to stop the perpetuation of rape culture. We have to teach our children that “no” means no and that rape isn’t funny. We have to teach our society that the victim is never at fault, and that this is a REAL issue that can happen to anyone from any race, socioeconomic background or gender. It happened to me. Now let’s stop it from happening altogether.

 

Image from wortfm.org

Statistics from wikipedia.com (cross referenced)

Tiny girl, Big world

Here’s a fun little series of poems I wrote while dreaming about my future in the great, big world.

This first poem I wrote several years ago. It’s actually one of the first songs I ever wrote. And just as a disclaimer, it’s not about anyone in particular; more the idea of my future love or whatever ya call it 😀

Keep Up

I’ll travel the world,

I’ll make a difference.

I’ll still be your girl

if you can keep up.

 

‘Cause boy, believe me

I’m going places.

No one can top me,

you gotta keep up.

 

You can come with me,

Let’s have adventures!

But try not to miss me

if you can’t keep up

 

Let’s play world wide tag-

keep them on their toes,

but try not to lag.

Remember to keep up

 

Someday doesn’t wait,

and I’m ready to begin.

Don’t be too late.

I want you to keep up.

 

‘Cause when we’re together,

the world changes quickly.

Like Colorado weather,

it’s hard to keep up

 

Your kisses are sweet,

your hugs are so loving.

My heart skips a beat-

I have to keep up.

 

And when we’re done running,

remember the times

our love was flourishing

and you learned to keep up.

 

This next poem started as a song, but never completely got finished. It, too, was written several years ago, but it’s always been one of my favorites. Originally it was about me, but gradually changed focus to one of my best friends, who’s an even crazier gypsy than me.

Gypsy Soul

She floats around with dreams in her head

What’s said, she don’t pay no mind

She keeps on dreaming and singing

And leaving the world behind.

 

That girl is going places

That girl’s gonna live her life

That girl knows stars have faces

She’s got that gypsy soul.

 

She leaves footprints on everyone’s heart

A part of the world, yet high above

She keeps on living and giving

and filling the world with her love.

 

That girl is going places

That girl’s gonna live her life

That girl knows stars have faces

She’s got that gypsy soul.

 

She takes risks wherever she goes

Knows no boundaries and lives with the earth

The stars keep on shining and smiling

filling her soul with mirth.

 

That girl is going places

That girl’s gonna live her life

That girl knows stars have faces

She’s got that-

She’s got that gypsy soul.

Wait

Here’s a little poem I wrote just for fun; it would be a slam poem, and a bit stream-of-consciousness, so interpret as you will. It was a day I was lost in my head, and (you guessed it!) asked “what gives?” of myself, my future children and life as a whole.

Wait

 

Do you ever just think?

Not about anything,

you just think.

About the birds

and your words

and the things that you’ve heard

and about those birds that

never

stop

singing.

And you wonder

about the song you’re singing;

the song that’s ringing

in your child’s head, bringing

a young perspective

to that song

you’re

singing.

And you keep clinging,

clinging to the hope that even if you’ve made nothing of yourself, at least you’ve passed on that song

that you’re singing

to your child.

That that child will become something.

That that child will never stop singing and bringing

hope to the world.

and hearing whatever’s to be heard

and minding his words

and appreciating the birds.

and thinking.

Just

thinking.