Give Love Today

I was going to do a piece today about trans fear at my old high school. I was going to tell you all about this great idea about how to revamp the education system so that ignorance is blotted away by comprehensive education. I was going to tell you about the hopes I have for the future.

Instead, I got in contact with the people I know from Florida, made sure they were safe.

Instead, I checked the pages of my LGBTQIAP friends, to make sure they were still alive, still safe, still okay.

Instead, I found out that there was something similar going to happen in California, but it was stopped. And that people were murdered in my home state today as well.

Instead, I searched the news, angry to find that not only had people lost their lives, there was a bomb that would have gone off as well.

Instead, I opened all my social medias and watched the solidarity of people praying for a better tomorrow.

I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry for the lives lost. I’m so sorry for the way that the education system failed. I’m so sorry that people are still afraid of what they don’t understand. I’m so sorry that hatred is a larger driving force than compassion. I’m so sorry that people will take this event to talk about Islam, LGBTQIAP and gun violence in an ignorant light, without actually helping the situation, creating more ignorance and bigotry. I’m so sorry that there were tweets this morning about “deserving it” and “AIDS on the walls”. I’m so sorry.

I won’t promote hate. I won’t hide who and what I am. But I want to ask all of my readers, followers, friends, family, fellow bloggers, and everyone who may come in contact with this post, or me, to please be careful-especially if you’re planning on going to PRIDE. Please. Don’t let hatred force you back into the shadows. But please be careful. Be safe. Be loved.

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Hindsight

When I was in high school, there happened an event that has stuck with me ever since.

I was the field commander of the high school marching band. It was the best thing that could have happened to me, honestly. I took my job very seriously, regarding each of the band members and color guard as members of my own family, who I would defend to the death (I was very theatrical back then). Anyway, part of my duties was to ensure safe transport of persons and equipment post game. Our instruments were hundreds, if not thousands of dollars. So I would holler out “Band coming through!” And other things, like “Watch out!” And “Excuse us!”

 

(This is basically my podium/ladder-basically huge)

 The event happened one home game my first year commanding (I was commander for 2 years-the first in school history, I believe). I was VERY passionate about my job, but also very polite and I was trying to get all the band and guard members into the school without damaging anything or anyone. Carrying my “ladder” (it was a platform I conducted from which was more than twice my size and a workout all its own), I was announcing our departure when a group of our school’s football players came up from behind me and yelled “No one gives a shit about you band faggots.” And I do not think there has been a single moment in the history of who I am that I contemplated murder more seriously. I think I could have wafted my ladder at him (and yes, I know exactly who he was) and it would havebeen a blood bath. Thankfully my director saw and heard what had happened and talked me down. If I recall, I had to stay after the game because he was telling me about how some football player wasn’t worth my future. I fumed about it for days.  And when the football player came down to the band room to apologize to the director (but not the rest of us), I saw red once more. If it had been a band member, we would have been crucified! How dare he just get off with some shitty apology! Make him pay, dammit!

  

But this story doesn’t end there. Fast forward to the last day of the year 2015 (so today-6 years later), that same football player and one of his cohorts is playing Call of Duty with my husband. They know who he is, but none of them know who I am, other than his wife. So my husband (who was in the band as well) asked if they remembered that incident, as well as a couple others. And they did. I held no hopes that they might have changed, fully expecting them to make more slurs and laugh about it. My opinion was so low, even after over half a decade of separation that I expected them to be the same low-life people they had been before. And after six years of holding that grudge, I got my apology. 

  

So, there was enough time in 2015 to see to it that I learned one more lesson. I spent a good chunk of time today thinking about the implications of the entire event. How is it that I try so hard to hide the mistakes I made in high school from the me I am now, so that people judge me (and you know they will) based on the person they see before them and not the one from before-but would not extend the same courtesy to someone I barely knew? Why did I expect him and his friends to not change what-so-ever, but to have seen nothing short of a revolution in myself? What did that say about me?

And as I look at the clock, watching time pass by, I have a smile on my face. I cannot condone his actions, but my own are no different. I had originally started this post as a declaration of how we are all pressured into being unique but also conforming. And what I learned was that those are the struggles which have defined my past. I’m going into 2016 with a keen awareness that maybe I need to do more to be a kinder person, to keep less stereotypes, to open my heart to forgiveness and the pursuit of happiness. Because one of the only things that is more liberating than”I love” is “I forgive”.

  

Time may change me, but I can’t change time.

Role Models and Hope For A Messed Up World

I couldn’t find the words I wanted to say right away, so this post is coming almost a week after the incident, but the concept has been stuck in my head for quite some time. As an individual, I love being a singular version of myself. But I look often for someone else who is also a trailblazer. I wanted to write about why I look for and who I select as a role model for my life. I think it’s important for people, women especially, to have someone who is an upstanding, respectable example of the lives we want to lead. Now, I’m not saying that there aren’t people from older stories who could be role models (I frequently look to Joan of Arc, personally). The problem with using people from the past is that things were different. The world was not the same then as it is now, and we need people who are more like us than sword bearing warriors or queens from afar. 
  There is the social media factor, I suppose, which lends itself to a certain realm of role models, some good, some not. But it seems that the news represents best those who are not good role models for the young (and young-ish) people of today. I am of course talking about the celebrities like Nikki Minaj, Lindsey Lohan and to some extent even Katy Perry and Lady Gaga. They all represent the pandemonium of fame and the pit falls thereof. We could also examine outlets like Disney or Matel, who have presented the world with prestigious Barbie, Cinderella, and Ariel (just to name a few). It is these three which are both a great help and a hindrance to young women of today. I want to explore them and then propose my list of four individuals who are better role models for our generation. 

  Barbie: In almost every household you might find her, or a cousin or a friend. She is blonde, brunette, red headed, light skinned, dark skinned. She has had a plethora of jobs, donned an impressive collection of costumes and even manages quite a large variety of accessories. Over the years, people have yelled at her for being too skinny, too unrealistically proportioned and too shallow. I mean, there was even a brief moment in Toy Story 3 where she was introduced to public audiences as a complete and utter bimbo, followed by a weak attempt to reclaim her dignity. But the thing is, she’s too uniform. She has no individualized flaws. No scars, stretch marks, beauty marks, wrinkles, pimples, or really flaws of any kind. Her makeup is always done, she’s always smiling and there is nothing any of us can do about it.

  Cinderella: She’s Disney’s star princess. I mean, who didn’t want to be a princess because of her? She came from rags to riches, found a guy, married Royal and viola. She even had a set of killer shoes. But what does she have as far as personality? She’s got wishes, desire. But she lacks motivation and drive. She “asked for a dress, shoes and a night off”. I get it. But that’s not real life at all. And why do you need a man to provide you with everything? I mean, independence goes a long way. I know in the original story she was a teenager, but isn’t that kind of the point? In her time period, that made her basically an adult, and I know she would have been in need of a man, but this is the 21st century and we don’t need that anymore. Say it with me: I am a strong, independent woman who needs no man, but can have one if I so desire.

  Ariel: With a golden voice and perfect hair, who cares about anything else, right? Wrong. Again, you don’t need a man to be the best woman you can be. The thing is, Sebastian was right. Giving up everything, your soul and life included, just to get a man (or attempt to) is not the way to go. And by this point, wouldn’t you also need to make exceptions for finding the right partner-be it woman or man or just a good friend? As with Cindy, sorry Ariel, but there’s nothing that warrants me looking up to you if you’re going to change everything about yourself for someone else.

So I’ve given you a basic run down of my issues with the above, but I do want to mention that I know these characters are fake, but they are widely distributed and influential. I do not want to come across as impossible to reason with so the last person (it’s actually two people) are fictitious as well. And I also realize that the women I am looking at have flaws. But that’s exactly why I chose them. And I will go over them as well. These are, of course, my own personal opinions and you can take what I say with a grain of salt. I would love to hear your opinions in the comments, as always. So,without further adieu.

Michelle’s List of Role Models for Women of 2015.

  Judge Carolyn Walker-Diallo: You might not have heard of this woman, but she is the reason I’m doing this post. Seven days ago, she was sworn in as a judge in New York. She wore a headscarf, because she is Muslim and she was sworn in on the Qur’an. Now, none of this even really seems like anything out of the ordinary. But the amount of hate mail she received for being sworn in on the Qur’an is astounding. This woman vowed to uphold the law, as she has done her entire career. She is an upstanding citizen who was voted into office. I came across this story in my FaceBook news feed because of how many ignorant people are accessing social media to tear her down. You are permitted to swear into office on any holy book and even the constitution of the United States. She has done nothing above and beyond the average expectations I have for a law abiding citizen, but she is my candidate for a role model for the simple fact that she stuck by her faith, even when people threatened her and heckled her about it. She stayed true to herself, even though that path offered great resistance.

  Adele: Let me say that I am a huge fan of Adele. Her voice is so beautiful, and she’s gorgeous. She’s not stick thin, and I love her for it. She says what’s on her mind and once again, stays true to herself. She took time from her career to take care of her baby. We’re almost the same age and that means a great deal to me. Why, you ask? Because she’s proving that not all 20 year olds and 20-somethings are wild and crazy and awful. She’s a credit to our age group. She even works at a record shop. Her flaws? She’ so soulful in her music that she really only sings sad songs. Which isn’t like a huge flaw, but I don’t associate anything other than sad love songs and break up songs with her. 

  Angelina Jolie-Pitt: Did this one take you by surprise? I really thought that this spot would be occupied by many other people, and indeed it could have been, but there are lots of women who could have taken this spot who simply aren’t as well known. And while you are all entitled to have your own individual role modes, for the purposes of this blog, I needed someone visible. She adopts underprivileged kids, she works with charities and organizations, speaks on behalf of underprivileged people to the UN. And on top of that, she preventatively had a mastectomy so that she didn’t have to worry about breast cancer. I mean, that sounds like a very personal thing and she’s known for her body. I remember a lot of people were upset at her for taking charge of her own body, and that is why I commend her for doing it. She did what she had to do so that she could live her life to the fullest. Also in this spot, Emma Watson for similar reasons. 

  

  Molly Hooper/Buffy the Vampire Slayer: I told you I would bring in some fictitious characters. I chose one from my younger adult life and one from my current adult life. So I will start with Buffy. She was a kick-ass teenager who saved the world a lot. And the thing is, that was badk when TV series were filmed with people who looked like teenagers playing teenagers, and incorporated flaws and diversity of character types. Buffy had an attitude, she was impatient and made mistakes. She needed help and asked for it, she complained about life and then grew up and made sacrifices. She represented real teenage life, apart from vampire hunting. And her friends were just as painfully realistic. But they all had a moral code and they represent a lovely era of beautiful story telling.

   Molly Hooper. I have great aspirations to be Molly Hooper. For those of you who do not know who Molly Hooper is, allow me to tell you. The BBC produces a show called Sherlock, based off of Sherlock Homesfrom Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. In the BBC version, there is a medical examiner by the name of Molly Hooper.  She has an enormous crush on Sherlock, does everything dignified she can to get him to notice her including buy him a present at Christmas. He’s rude about it and she calls him out on his bad behavior. Later in the series, she also tells him he’s throwing away his gifts and that he should apologize for various actions. Sherlock comes to respect her. And she didn’t change herself. She stayed true to her personality and persona, all while being a valuable asset to a team. Honestly, I know that this is all fiction, but really, if I were ever to model myself after someone who never existed in real life, it would be Molly Hooper. If you haven’t watched Sherlock, I HIGHLY recommend it. I can discuss all manner of theories with you. I’m a true and devoted CumberCookie and Sherlockian.

Anyway, this has been my short list about female role models in modern society. I hope you’ve enjoyed it. 

What an Effing Nightmare

I’m fat is the stupidest sentence on the whole damn planet. I am not a blob of blubber, just as I am not strep throat or bipolar. I have those things (except for strep-I have had but do not currently). Anywho, I have spent over a decade telling myself this stupid sentence. If you notice, I have no pictures of myself on this blog, I have maybe 3 selfies on Instagram and overall, I really don’t do photographs. But why? Because I’m still trying to figure out how to define myself according to rules which are not that sentence.

  (This picture drives me crazy. At least we’re active, dammit.)

 I have fat. Mostly a lot of it. It’s kind of a big deal. And I hate it. I’ve been weaning myself off of soda (Dr. Pepper is my weakness), and I added a small but intense workout to my daily routine. It’s planks, wall sits and low cardio. And I have chosen to be open and honest about it. Not because I want you all to laugh at me, but because I have a message that others need to hear.

  (These aren’t me, but I think they’re a pretty solid representation of the parts that I keep hidden.)

 I decided I’d had enough of being fluffy. I want to look healthy, not like I do now. I feel embarrassed, and it’s a great source of sadness. I made myself this way, but I also didn’t. I was put on the birth control that allows for 3 periods a year because mine were really painful. And while I was on that birth control, I gained 80 pounds. That’s 4 times more than I gained from mood stabilizers and anti-depressants. I stress ate and that didn’t help at all. But after that, I continued to be large and in charge. Only I wasn’t in charge. I was out of control.

  But what is it that I ate? Salads mostly. And coffee, soda, pizza, spaghetti. My calorie intake was between 1300 and 1600 per day, over half of that was drinks. I ordered low fat coffee from Starbucks if I chose to get anything other than tea. Even now, I eat maybe twice a day, I drink coffee like it’s going out of stock and I drink water, between 2 and 3 bottles a day (unless it’s a hard day and then only 1-which is bad, I know). My calorie intake recently has been between 1400 and 1650, with most of it being creamer and dinner. My breakfast is usually peanut butter toast. Is it super healthy? No. But I should not be obese.

Did that word startle you? It did me too. But it isn’t a death sentence unless you make it so. Which is where we find me this past week. I decided I was far too stressed and I was going to try to get into a regular workout routine. And so far, I’m doing great. But it’s because I know the shitty parts have to end sometime.

  (This is a plank. It’s also called pain.)

 It started out just feeling tired. I felt like my body was at the point of sheer exhaustion. Then came the nausea, the light headedness and the muscle pain. The latter I had expected but the first two I hadn’t. This came on slow and then got worse the more days that passed. Fast forward to today (Okay fine. Today is day 3, but I’m trying darn it!) and I feel like I can only keep water down. Food turns my stomach, I feel really icky on the inside and my muscles are aware that I mean business. And it was in that line of thought that I recalled watching several seasons of The Biggest Loser a few years back. A lot of the people were really sick while they were beginning their workout routines. I remember watching an episode where the woman had to keep stopping to puke because her body was detoxing.

  I brought this up to my husband and he reminded me that I hate eating fast food and that I always get salads and I should be fine. But the thoughts persisted. He asked if I wanted him to work out with me and I said:

No. It’s embarrassing.

He then asked why it was embarrassing that I was making myself into a better me. I shook my head and got down to business. 

  But really. Why is it that I felt like it was embarrassing that I struggle? I’m doing something. I’m trying, which is more than I can say for the old me. It’s really hard. I feel sick, my tummy hurts (because I’ve been doing abs) and I feel all around like a big ball of crap. But I’m already more dedicated than I was in the past, because I’m pushing through the pain and working out anyway. And yes, I still feel a little embarrassed that I can only hold a wall sit for a minute and a half before it feels like someone is sawing off my thighs or that I can only hold a plank for 30 seconds before my flabby arms buckle from stress. But you know what? I’m doing something about it. And maybe today I will go for 2 minutes straight, or learn how to use an elliptical. And the fact that I’m still trying is worth more than the pain.

  

Or at least, that’s what I keep telling myself.

What I want people to take away from this, more than anything is that it’s hard. Change always is. And we can sit around waiting for life to correct the travesties it has enacted upon us or we can get up and kick it in the face. I really hate working out. I hate running, I hate lifting, I hate all of it. But I’m not doing all this because I really want to look at the number on the scale and smile. I am, we are so much more than a number. I want to look myself in the eyes in the mirror and be attracted to myself. I want to learn how to take myself out on dates, and have the confidence to walk into the mall and get my hair done or my nails (am I even that person?!) without feeling like everyone is staring at me because my stomach is round. I want you to take away that this sucks worse than anything I’ve ever purposefully done to myself, but I turn my music up that much louder and scream over how much it hurts. Because if I want to be around to see all my reams come true, or to survive the zombie apocalypse, I’m going to need to practice my roar.

  

(I would like to thank Google for always having the pictures I need to make my point.)

The One With All The Problems

I’ve been trying to come up with a blog that isn’t preachy or condescending or depressing or overly critical, and I’ve come short almost every time. I know that my interests and passions are not those of others, and I respect that there are people out there with different opinions. I try to be understanding and accommodating of those differences. We all have different backgrounds, different vantage points and different futures. Each of them is valid and it is something of a marvel, truly. 

And then I remembered that this is my blog, and if I want to complain or preach or whatever else it is that I so choose, I can. I do not live in a country where I feel the need to be afraid of my words and ideas, and for that I will always be thankful. And it is with that in mind, that I would like to engage in a soapbox rant. But first, a little side note: I chose the title, because I’ve been binge watching F.R.I.E.N.D.S. in my spare time (when I have some) and I have a little bit of a nostaliga problem. Anyway.

If you say you are going to do something, do it. If you claim to be an adult, act like it. If you live in the apartment below ours and you feel like having a party in the middle of the night in the middle of the week, grow up!

But I guess that’s all besides the point, isn’t it? I mean, my real frustration right now isn’t necessarily the lack of responsibility shown by a lot of people, it’s the general lack of respect and common decency.

My parents were not perfect, are not perfect. But I know that. And as an adult, I know that they gave it their very best, every day. But the one thing I am exceptionally grateful for is the fact that no matter what they tried to teach me (I was a stubborn child), the lesson that stuck was respect. So naturally, growing up in a small town, with small town values and settings and friends, I grew a little too fond of the way we all knew each other’s parents and values. Some got a little rebellious, and that, I suppose you could say happens. There are also the people from that small town who never understood what it meant to be considerate and respectful.

I’m not perfect, and I will always be the very first person to admit that. The stubborn streak I had as a child, it only grew and with it, little spurts of anger accompanied by a large amount of ranting. But I know that when someone asks me to keep a secret, I do. When someone needs a hand, I lend one. When someone needs an ear to bend, a kind word or a healthy dose of reality, I am there 100%. Sometimes I need those things too. But I’ve found that outside of some of those lasting friendships I made in the small town I grew up in, not too many people understand that.

It’s all take and no give. And I can’t seem to wrap my head around that. 

 You see, the thing is that of all the things I listed up top about “understanding”, not having a code of conduct which follows a general “Don’t be a dick.” guidelines doesn’t make sense to me. How is it that you cannot seem to understnad that being an adult means being responsible, but also so much more than that. It means understanding that you aren’t the only person in the whole wide world who matters. It means working toward a compromise instead of calling in someone older or bigger than you to solve your problems for you. It means helping out, even when you think you are better than the task at hand (In which case you NEED to be helping out). Being an adult was never about a show for power-that’s being a child. Being an adult means taking the hard way every time so that you will be refined into a success story.

I also don’t understand people who leech off of their parents even though they are “adults”. My parents, whom I love, were not exceptionally wealthy while I was growing up. They worked hard for everything we had, and I saw that. I may not have always understood, but I do now. When I was an only child, I remember Christmases where presents stacked almost higher than the tree. When I turned 4, my brother had just been born and I was still well-gifted. By the time I was 8, my sister had been born, and there was a slight change in Christmas. By the time my brother and I were teenagers, Christmas was more intimate, more family oriented. And you know what? I knew at the age of 15 that my parents were working harder than ever to make sure we had everything we needed, let alone what we wanted. I understood. 

And when I went to college, I moved out on my own. I understood why life was so hard. Money comes from 16 hour shifts three days in a row, followed by a full day of classes, homework and then more work. It doesn’t just appear, it (like respect) has to be earned. When someone who didn’t understand that got in between my boyfriend (who is now my husband) and I from moving to a new apartment, I spent my  21st and 22nd birthdays back with my parents. It just so happened that my husband and I needed to move closer to campus and found two other college students who did as well and we all became roommates.

I’ve met people since then who need their parents for just one thing-money. They go out to eat every day, buy things they don’t need and have no time for, waste resources that could be conserved. I watch people, you see. And it greatly influences my perception on the world. Or maybe it just increases how confused I am by it. And there continues to be more confusion.

I spent my first year of undergrad thinking I wanted to be a pediatric oncologist. I had the grades, the study habits and the desire. A year later, I thought I wanted to be a nurse, because that was who I felt would help the most people. A year later, I settled into anthropology. I didn’t pick it for the fame or the recognition or the reasons I wanted to be a doctor or nurse. I picked it because, well, it picked me. And now, I get to look at cultures-but more specifically, I get to look at religious hate crimes and religious extremism (as well as the occult and all things mythological and religion based).

But why am I telling you all this? Because I have come across quite a few kinds of people in my short time on this planet, and I have only ever found three types I didn’t understand.

1. The ones who don’t know how to respect someone else, have some decency and responsibilty.

2. The ones who use thier parents for money, and cannot stand on their own.

3. The ones who are so filled with hate that they cannot fathom each other as equals.

When I look around, I see huan beings, filled with potential, open to the world. And it hurts my heart to see people hate so much that they do not see it too. It hurts my heart that there are people who only look out for themselves, their own best interests. I don’t understand, and I feel like maybe that’s okay.