Single Digits

So if you follow me on instagram, I’ve been doing a daily photo with #HowIMetMyGraduation. I try to take pictures of things that sum up my day, mean something to me, or otherwise spark my interest. And Because I’m now officially just 9 days away from finishing my degree, I wanted to do something (probably hard) fun. I’m going to describe my undergrad degree using all 26 letters of the English alphabet. So uhm, here goes nothing.

A. Anthropology-my major. I focus on Cultural Anthropology, because I like to people watch.

B. Biology-This is what I spent two years of my degree majoring in. Because I was afraid of change.

C. Clergy-I am not only a wedding planner, I can officiate marriages too.

D. Diversity-I became Minister of Justice, Human Rights and Diversity for the micronation of Flandrensis

E. Education-which included the Calculus sequence, Chemistry, Psychology, Social Work and Political Science.

F. Fat-I gained some, but learned that my worth wasn’t a number.

G. GISHWHES-I learned how to cross the line between comfort and adventure.

H. Highway driving and conquering the fear.

I. Impair-we went through 4 (5?) cars in undergrad.

J. Journal-I started bullet journalling as a way to manage my symptoms.

K. Knick Knacks-I had to downsize 5 times since starting undergrad-for moving purposes.

L. Liberal-as in, I got liberally involved in politics.

M. Marriage-I got married in a classroom on campus just about 3 years ago.

N. Novels-I’ve started MANY, finished few.

O. Ohio State-this is where I’ve gotten my degree from.

P. Phlebotomy-I got my national certification by going to 2 colleges at once for a while.

Q. Queer-because I learned that it’s okay not to fit a gender binary-or even a standard array of sexuality.

R. Religion-I changed religions in college: from southern baptist/nondenominational Christian to earth worshipping pagan/hoodoo.

S. Subway-my first job. Followed by Rural King, Giant Eagle, and OSU.

T. Tattoo-I knew I wanted one, and for graduation, I finally got it.

U. Unhappy-I spent a long time being unhappy, because I lived in the shadow of the expectations of others before finding myself.

V. Victim-or rather, how to become a survivor of sexual assault.

W. Washburn-this is where I’ll be going to get my JDMSW (Law Degree and Masters in Social Work) in a little over 100 days.

X. Xenial-by definition, accepting-especially of strangers and foreigners.

Y. Youth-I’ve been in college the entirety of my early-mid twenties, and will be there until I’m nearly 30.

Z. Zombies? Zodiac? Zenith-meaning the most important moment, which for me is coming quickly.

 

Well, that wasn’t so bad:)

We’ll speak soon.

M.

As a White Woman, I’m tired.

I know-I’ve set myself up. But hear me out.

I’m tired of watching my friends with higher melanin counts be discriminated against. I’m tired of hearing stories of Muslim women getting their hijabs pulled. I’m tired of seeing violence against minorities. I’m tired of police instigated violence against those minorities. And I hear you, getting up in arms-I’m tired of police getting a bad rap for the crimes of the few bad apples too.

But that’s the thing, isn’t it? I’m tired of a few bad people ruining life for everyone else. I’m tired of ableist, sexist, racist, classist culture that tells people I love that their love isn’t good enough to count as the real thing. I’m tired of the people who decided that unless a person fits a certain mold, they aren’t worth anything.

I’m tired of people coming into fast food establishments on Sundays and looking down at the people working for being there on “God’s day”. Because if you didn’t come in, we wouldn’t have to be there either. And while we’re on the subject, I’m tired of being looked down on because it’s not a cross around my neck, it’s the symbol of my belief system.

I’m tired of people whitewashing. I’m tired of watching the political ideologies systematically remove the concerns of myself and the people who need to be heard so that those with the most money can continue to sweep us under the rug. I’m tired of our news outlets labeling every murderer and deviant as “mentally ill”-unless of course we’re talking about rape and the perp is a collegiate, white athlete.

I’m tired of listening to people apologize for their broken English because they’ve been trying, but it’s hard. I know it is. You’re trying-no need to apologize. And while we’re on the subject, I’m tired of seeing the fear in people’s eyes when they’re out and about. I know I’m not imposing that fear on them, but I belong to this culture and can’t help but feel it’s my fault in some way.

I’m tired of being caged in a rape schedule. I’m tired of living in a country where more than half of the people didn’t want DJT to be president, but because of a 200-years-outdated system, and laws which require fealty over logic, here we are. I’m tired of speaking with my international friends and hearing them talk about “Americans” with hesitation and an almost disgust-and completely understanding why. I’m tired of feeling like I belong to a country that hates diversity-because that’s the most awful thing a country could do. Apart from create refugees and then not take care of them.

I’m tired of being poor. And now, I know that comes with degrees-and I’ve heard the “it could be worse” speech-and that’s true. But I know what it’s like to go through a food pantry line and receive moldy, outdated food and have to make it work because that’s all you got. I know what it’s like to live on pizza rolls and peanut butter and jelly (all off brand of course) because that’s filling, but not really nutritious. I’m tired of being poor enough that it hurts, but not poor enough to qualify for help.

I’m tired of seeing people on the news who served the country and are now homeless. I’m tired of seeing families on the street because life was hard on them in one way or another. I’m tired of abusive spouses or partners taking their anger out of others. I’m tired of the justice system that is “innocent until proven guilty” unless you’re talking about rape or domestic violence, because then it’s guilty until, well, always guilty in some way.

I’m tired of people being removed from their homes because they weren’t born here. I’m tired of seeing families broken apart by immigration officials, because their kids were born here but they came in hopes of a better life and now they’re getting that life ripped away from them. I’m tired of hearing the word “illegal aliens”-because it’s impossible to be an illegal human being. All humans are equal-because we’re all humans. And it’s beyond time for our social structures to catch up.

I’m tired of people getting denied healthcare because their bodies came a little frayed at the edges when they entered this life. I’m tired of people rising from the ashes who forget what it’s like to be at the mercy of the system.

I’m tired of abuse of our people. I’m tired of waiting for the corrupt government to tell me that instead of waging war on women’s rights to choice, they’re waging war on poverty, on neglecting human rights. That they’re going to provide healthcare to the people in Flint-because they’re owning up to what happened. I’m tired of wondering if those poor kids understand that the government fought for them to gestate nine months, but because they’ve been born, no one cares if they survive. I’m tired of staying up all night wondering if the heroin epidemic that took people I went to school with could just end if our education system didn’t cause so many mental health problems.

I’m tired of watching the injustices done against the First Nations. Since the first white people came to America, all we’ve done is pillage and murder and worse. And for what? Manifest Destiny? Since when does the white people’s god desire human blood to be spilled in order to gain redemption? And why are we still taking? Why is there so much greed for something that we’ve already taken by force? I’m tired of watching the government I have to pay taxes to use my money to wage war on the health and well being and sacred lands of the people who were here long before the ones who look like me.

I’m tired of being lumped in with the people of past generations who believe that you can pull yourself up by your bootstraps-because so many of us don’t even have boots. I’m tired of people looking at my generation, the most diverse one yet and lumping us all together as lazy, ungrateful, entitled. Because maybe all we’re entitled to are the liberties denied us by those who want to use our own identities against us.

I’m tired of being made to feel ashamed because my sexuality doesn’t exist. I’m tired of being ashamed because my mental abilities aren’t neurotypical. I’m tired of being made to feel less than because my weight is “more than”. I’m tired that it’s 20-effing-17 and we still don’t have equality-even though it’s been fought for for much longer than I’ve been alive.

I’m tired that there are people who think human rights are negotiable. I’m tired that people are abducted from my neighborhood and sold into modern day slavery, with the promise of money to fix their poverty. I’m tired of explaining over and over again that feminism is equality-and it had better be intersectional or it’s not even feminism, it’s just a lie. I’m tired of fearing for my friends who are transgender, because the patriarchy is so ready to have them removed.

I’m tired.

I grew up with stories of having dreams, of independence, of resistance. My fourth grade teacher threw out the lesson plans and we spent all year learning about African American individuals who would largely go unnamed in history. My seventh grade teacher spent the year teaching us about the Holocaust and how when books were burned, it was work on progressive sexuality first. I grew up with a fondness for people like Thurgood Marshall, Sojourner Truth, Phillis Wheatley, Noor Inayat Khan, Cleopatra, W. E. B. DuBois, Amra binte Abdurrahman and Sayyida Nafisah. I was taught the stories of First Nations people-the story of the Great Turtle, Coyote and Iktomi, and the to-be-feared power of a woman during her cycle.

So yes. My skin is a pale tan. But my heart breaks for the suffering of people who bleed the same color as I do. And it is for these reasons that I have accepted my admissions offer to the 2017 Fall cycle of law school where I will focus on a combination of criminal law/trial advocacy and tribal law. I cannot speak for anyone other than myself, but I can stop this cycle of being the white woman tired and start being the white woman trying.

Book Bloggers Needed

book blogger

Hi there everyone.

I’ve been helping an author by the name of Rachel Gold (see the blog I did about one of her books here) with some marketing and I have a favor to ask. Here’s the back work to her newest book, Nico & Tucker:

The decision can’t be put off any longer.
A medical crisis turns Nico’s body into a battleground, crushing Nico under conflicting family pressures. Having lived genderqueer for years, Nico is used to getting strong reactions (and uninvited opinions!) from everyone, but it is Tucker’s reaction that hurts the most.
Jess Tucker didn’t mean to hurt Nico, but she panicked.
And after the worst year of her life, she’s hanging on by a thread. Forget recovery time and therapy, she needs to put the past behind her and be normal again. But when her relationship with Nico becomes more than she can handle, she cuts and runs.
In this riveting sequel to Just Girls, comes a love story about bodies, healing, and knowing who you really are.

If you’d be interested in reading an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) in exchange for a review on your blog, on Amazon, on GoodReads-please let me know. We’d be more than happy to work with you, because book bloggers are our friends ❤

That being said, if there is anyone who isn’t necessarily a book blogger who would also like in on this deal-an ARC in exchange for a review, feel free to also let me know!

I’ve personally read all of Rachel’s books, and as someone who fits snugly in the LGBT community, I have to say, I’m delighted each time I read one. This new book, Nico & Tucker pulls both of my favorite characters and is moving, riveting and all around perfect.

For those of you who maybe don’t know what an ARC is, they’re quite collectible. These are the copies of the books which are released in limited edition, before anyone else can get their hands on one. These are the earliest possible editions of the book that a reader might get their hands on without working for the author or book industry.

Right now, the world is struggling to find acceptance for individuals of the LGBT community. Rachel Gold’s books cover a wide variety of topics including coming out to religious family as a transgender individual (in high school no less!), what happens as trans individuals transition, mental illness in the LGBT community, what happens to a lesbian girl when her partner is abusive and more. These hard hitting issues are dealt with in a respectful, realistic manner and are things that people should be aware of.

And in the event that you’d like to check out her earlier work (I highly recommend it), you can find her books on Amazon at the following links.

Being Emily (Her first book, really emotional, packed with really memorable characters)

Just Girls (Quick read, really excellent)

My Year Zero (My personal favorite, so far!)

Nico & Tucker (Comes out May 16)

Find out more about Rachel Gold by going to her website:
Rachel Gold Books

All For One and One For All

Feel overwhelmed each time you turn on the news? It looks more and more like a scary world out there. And to some extent, that is true. It’s so frustratingly easy to get overwhelmed and afraid, being paralyzed by it. And I get asked the question a lot: how do I keep fighting even though I feel like I’m not making a difference? Here’s what I told someone.

Resist, persist, insist, enlist. The right path is not always the easy path, but it is always right. You bring so much kindness and spunk and thought to the world. And so I will share a story. When the votes were tallied and 45 became 45, a professor asked what she was supposed to tell of students-many of whom were voting in a presidential election for the first time. And here is what I told her: Tell us it is possible to lose a battle and still win the war.

Right now, we are winning some and losing others. It’s a fight which is taking every ounce of sanity we have. But we’re doing “it”. Not because it’s easy, but because it is right. We’re seeing good people step forward, perhaps for the first time. And that’s where I think you can help most. Kindness is contagious. If one person sees it, they spread it. We just need someone to start the chain. Each day, something small. You’ve been campaigning for the earth mother and for people for as long as I’ve known you, at least. Plant some flowers, give them away. Plant some kindness, watch it bloom. And whether you see it immediately or not, millions are right beside you, planting.

💙💙💙

But first thing’s first-self care. Remember to heal yourself before you take on the world.

_______________________________________________________

You see, what the world needs more of isn’t business, infrastructure or money. The world needs more kindness, acceptance and happiness. We need to treat other human beings as our equals, giving them the same love and attention that we ourselves need. But what about the earth? That’s something that needs our devotion too-but it’s much bigger than any one of us.

So here’s what we can do.

Start small. Be kind as often as you can, and start with being kind to yourself.

Dream big. If you want to change the world, you have to have a pretty big idea in mind.

Find your passion. If you feel really strongly about feeding the homeless, saving the bees, reducing polar ice loss, caring for the sick or fixing a broken social institution, pursue it. Now is the time to make those changes, to start movements.

Get involved. Find organizations that support what you do and see how you can help. Time is just as valuable as money.

_______________________________________________

It’s a hard fight we’re in for. To change the world requires nothing less. But to reiterate what I said above, nothing that is worth having comes easy.

And it is on that note, that I must impress upon you that what the world needs most is for you to realize that you have the power to be important. It does not matter what age you are, what ethnicity or gender or health status. It does not matter what religion, what political opinion, what country you belong to. It does not matter what your cultural heritage is, who you love, or what your socioeconomic status is. You have the power to be a positive force in the world.

I’ll wrap up with a story.

As I was helping some protests in my area concerning the Dakota Access Pipeline, several people were speaking about the reasons they were there. Many spoke of the injust treatment of the First Nations, many spoke of the need for clean water (I live just a few short hours from Flint, Michigan-another hotspot for water need). Some spoke of feeling “the call”-the feeling that they needed to be present. But no matter the reason, we all came together because it was something we felt needed to be done. Soon after, our governor recalled the police officers he’d sent to Standing Rock-because we were present.

As I was attending political conventions and rallies this last year, opinions and emotions ran high. There were central issues discussed, there were concerns presented and voices raised. We came because we were concerned, many of us were scared. We showed up. As I lobbied for better mental health laws, for human rights bills, for individual liberties and freedoms, thousands and millions of people were with me, marched with me, called with me, fought with me.

These big actions are not so different from the ones we take every day. Coping with depression, caring for a disabled loved one, sacrificing wants for needs, forgiving people who have wronged you, working hard to graduate or get a promotion or maybe even just getting a job in the first place. We use what we have to keep going.

That’s how you carry on. That’s how you win. You show up, be present. Keep fighting. Be kind.

You are valid. You have worth. You are irreplaceable.

Tick Tock

A lot of balls are up in the air right now. I’m waiting for colleges, I’m waiting for graduation (23 days!), I’m waiting. And that’s okay. Because while I wait, I’m putting my time to good use. Obviously I’m still doing classwork (and there’s a fair amount of it) but I’m also doing a little investigating, a little snooping. And it all stemmed from classwork, so in the end-is it really that bad?

I watched a documentary on college campus assaults and since I go to an INCREDIBLY large university (second largest in the US by enrollment numbers), I thought perhaps I should learn a little bit more about the rates on my campus. Turns out, that is an incredibly deep rabbit hole that I am only just beginning to flesh out. While I am doing so, I’m coming to a lot of really confrontational data, some of which I think can be remedied pretty easily. For instance, the search menthod of the daily crime log (as mandated by the Clery Act) could be easier to navigate-by searching for type of crime (such as body violation, or sex crimes) instead of searching for crimes by name (I searched “sexual” crimes and the list did NOT include rape, stalking, domestic violence or menacing). But there are still questions I have about the number of crimes. For example. I was made aware of a menacing account that took place on Wednesday (April 5) but there is no record of it on the daily crime log (which is against the law). There are reports of “administrative information”-what does that mean? There are records of “refusing to cooperate”-what does that mean, and in what context does a person “refuse”? There are a couple names that come up repeatedly (perps) over a span of a couple years, for sexual crimes-why? What qualifies as “unfounded”? What does “ill-aided” mean? Why are cases from 2001 still pending? What’s the difference between pending and active? Why does 9-1-1 redirect to campus police instead of CPD? What is being done about the locations which have been “hotspots” for sex crimes for over a decade?

I’m still in the really early stages, as I said. I’m having trouble locating the older annual safety reports, as they have been removed from online. Which means that once I compile my questions, I’ll be taking a trip down to campus security to have them explain to me what’s going on (or as much as I can convince them to anyway). I don’t know that I have anything to find, but if I find something, I need to make sure I understand what it is that I actually find. Bottom line: I don’t know if there’s anything to find, but if there is, it’s gonna be huge.

I’m not trying to make waves-I’m trying to make changes. Because here’s my thoughts.

I would rather have problems be presented up front, with solutions and options than have problems swept under the rug. I want to know the faults of a process, rather than be blissfully ignorant. I am entitled (gasp) under the law (Title IX) to equal access to safe education. If information is withheld that would otherwise hinder my safety, or access to education-that is against the law. Universities know that. Title IX issues are a BIG deal-especially right now. Do I expect to find a problem? I hope not. Will I actively pursue action if I do? Absolutely.

First thing’s first. I’m going to collect all the data I have access to and check the reports against the annual safety report. If the numbers match, then I will focus on the question si have above (and more). If the numbers don’t, the real investigation begins. Contrary to popular belief, I don’t have a vendetta against the college school system (student loans are a different story) but I do have a vendetta against rape culture. Fair and safe is the only way to progress. And even as I wait to begin my life as a rape culture smashing DA, I can do my part.

Because as I learned recently, it isn’t entirely the fault of the patriarchal laws that govern our country. It isn’t entirely the fault of the judges who see “potential” in rapists and “blame” in victims. Rape cases don’t go to court because there aren’t enough DAs (District Attorney) who will take the cases. That news hit me like a rubber bullet. The very thing I want in life is the one thing we have a dire need for, and is something I must wait to see happen.

In the meantime, I’ve applied to the spring program, and I altered my application a little. I’ve decided that it will be in my best interest to get a dual degree. So I applied for a JD/MSW, allowing me to both practice law and be a licensed social worker. I need to be able to combat this on all levels-and if spending an extra year in education is what it takes, then I will absolutely do so. I want to use everything I’ve got to make the world a better place. Focus on religious minorities. Focus on LGBTQ+. Focus on nonbinary genders. Focus on men and women. Focus on justice. And I will.

Because I know I can make a difference. I just have to believe.

SAAM 2017: Engaging New Voices

The theme for Sexual Assault Awareness Month is Engaging New Voices. According to the NSVRC (National Sexual Violence Resource Center), the targets for involvement are: Greek life members, Coaches, Fathers and Faith Leaders. It’s one of those occasions where I get to don my faith leader hat and use it to further an important cause.

I’m Pagan. Those words are already a turn off to a lot of people, and I know that. All it means is that I find the divine in nature. I think that’s pretty amicable grounds-Chrsitians often cite nature as a way to prove their beliefs. Islam’s holy book is filled with depictions of nature. It’s universal because it surrounds us. But I’m bringing this up for a different reason.

A LOT of mythologies contain depictions of assault. Native stories about Coyote have them, Celtic stories, Norse stories, Greek and Roman traditions, even Slavic ones. And there are mentions of it in Judeo-Christian texts as well. It would seem, from the beginning of the written word (at least), sexual assault has occured. I think though, the most well-known story about it is Medusa. This story is one that I hold dear-but for a little different reasons. I’ve told other people, but I think it’s a really good lesson for others as well, plus it fits with the current climate.


(Cellini, 1554)

The version that is spread around in academic settings, and even in pop culture is the following.

Enter Medusa, an incredibly beautiful woman who devoted herself to her beliefs. She worshipped the goddess Athena, who was a virginal goddess-meaning her followers would also be virgins. Poseidon, god of the sea, seeing that Medusa was beautiful, came to visit her and try to woo her. Medusa was devout and refused his advances, returning inside the temple to pray. Poseidon followed after her and raped her. Athena, then angry, cursed Medusa to live as a Gorgon-a winged snake woman with snakes for hair and eyes that turned men to stone. Medusa is then killed by Perseus and her head was removed and used later. Perseus is hailed a hero, having vanquished a foe, with the help of other gods.

But that’s not the version I know. Here’s the version I learned.

Medusa, an incredibly beautiful and intelligent woman, lived her life devoted to her faith. She worshipped the goddess Athena, known for her wisdom and strategy, as well as being a virginal goddess. Her followers, then, chose to remain chaste as well. Poseidon, god of the sea and enemy of Athena, saw that Medusa was beautiful and came to visit her, to try to woo her and make her one of his followers instead. Medusa refused his advances, returning to the temple to pray in safety. Poseidon, angry at her rejection, followed her and raped her, then left. Athena returned to her temple to find Medusa, no longer a virgin, crying. Athena told Medusa that she could no longer be a servant in the temple, but that Athena would like to help her. When asked what she needed, Medusa told Athena that she needed a way to protect herself from all who would harm her. Athena then turned Medusa into a Gorgon, giving her the power to stop anyone who came to harm her in her tracks.

The first version is told from a male perspective. Perseus conquers the monster and sets everything back in balance. The thing I couldn’t ever get past was Athena punishing Medusa for being raped. That wasn’t her fault. Rape is NEVER the victim’s fault. And for the longest time, I felt like mythology had made a giant mistake. Until I came across the version I know. Instead of punishing someone who was already punished, the victim became a survivor. And that’s why I share that story.

Sexual Assault and Rape and Domestic Violence is not the victim’s fault. It doesn’t matter the circumstances, the clothing, the drinks, the location.  That’s why SAAM is important. 

Rape culture isn’t a new concept. It’s not a myth. 

They didn’t know I was a seed.

“For a seed to achieve its greatest expression, it must come completely undone. The shell cracks, its insides come out and everything changes. To someone who doesn’t understand growth, it would look like complete destruction.” -Cynthia Occelli

This quote means so much to me. Especially that last sentence. Today’s been rough.

I set out with the goal of going to law school. And Friday I got my final letter. In the fall, no one wants me. After 10 weeks of waiting, I finally heard back with news that was crummy: waitlisted. That means that unless enough people reject them, I have been rejected myself.

I’ve debated how I want to say this-having typed up four different blogs and then trashed them. Because no matter how frustrated I sound, or how hopeful, nothing quite “gets it”.

You see, I started writing this blog on Friday, when I found out. I was so full of emotions that the words were pallid, flimsy. I spent all day Friday just moping. I mean, I was at work, so I didn’t mope too hard, but I moped. Saturday came the hard-hitting break down. All I wanted, all I’d worked for-gone. And there were a lot of deep questions that went unanswered. I reevaluated everything. I gave myself a one-over and grew frustrated. Nothing had gone the way I’d planned. If I got off the waitlist, it would be because someone else rejected their offer. I’d be getting hand-me-downs. Not how I wanted to start law school, to be sure.

And I woke up this morning. I barely slept last night-so there was lots of coffee involved. Over my second or third cup of coffee, I realized that I wasn’t as sad any more. I realized I was in need of a plan. So that’s exactly what I did. I sat down and got to work.

Most law schools begin classes in autumn. But there’s one school that I applied to for autumn that also has a spring start. I looked, and the application for Spring 18 opened yesterday. That means that I’ll be applying incredibly early (as compared to my other applications) and I will be closer to the top of the pile (meaning I’ll get a decision first). I know that that decision could just as easily be another “waitlist” or worse-“denied”, but I sat down at my computer, spit-shined my application and submitted it without a second thought.

It’s been a whirlwind weekend. I cycled through a lot of emotions, a lot of coping techniques and a lot of coffee. But I came out the other side. And I came out on my own terms. “If I can’t say I wish for this to my choices, I have the power to make different choices.”

I’m a seed. I was buried, and I burst open. My roots are coming out and I’m starting to grow. It’s hard, it’s dark, but there’s sky above me and that’s all I can ask for at the end of the day.

It’s Sexual Assault Awareness Month. And that means that my fight goes far beyond just myself. It’s time to rise up, for the greater good.

And nobody in all of Oz, no wizard that there is or was, is ever going to

bring me down.