What Comes Next

In response to the events of the recent past, I have no more words-I have said what I needed to, and the extent of my voice has been used. What comes next? Actions. For too long, I have been behind the scenes planning and debating and thinking. I wallowed in my defeats and I am prepared to start the good fight (or rather, continue it more actively). I can’t say it’s a surprise, but I’d like to pop away for a moment from politics and do what I do best-speak from the heart about issues important to me.

I applied to law school today. My applications are finished, and my letter of rec providers have been notified and I’m preparing for my LSAT in just three weeks. I debated long and hard about whether or not being a sexual assault/rape prosecutor would still be a viable job option for me and ultimately I decide yes.

The need for a compassionate, justice driven lawyer who actively works to better the lives of victims has never been more necessary. I have not changed-I still want to help people who have experienced the depravity of the human condition and I know that it’s something I am uniquely qualified to do. So I will-and I will do so most fervently.

There is one more way I can help-and it’s something I’m going to actively pursue for the time being, to see where it leads me and that’s politics. I’m not going to make this all about me just yet-but I’ll keep you informed. I’m going to be 25 next year, which puts me right in the prime zone for House Of Representatives in the midterms. But as I said, more on that later.

Bill Cosby believes that he will return to his career after his case is over. A picture of Taylor Swift was leaked in connection with her sexual assault case. Donald Trump’s case was dropped. DePaul University saw an increase in sexual assault crimes this week. My own university saw an increase in hate crimes. And the list, quite literally, goes on.

But you know what? I’ve seen incredible kindnesses this week as well. I saw friends gathering together to keep each other safe, I saw (and was involved in) several hugs with strangers (with consent to hug, of course!) and I know that there are good people out there.

I wanted to do a full report over the cases like I usually do-but I’m still not done talking about love and acceptance. It’s what the world needs right now-it’s what I need right now-and I hope that wherever you are, you find a little piece of hope as well.

I’ve lost family members over this election. I have friends who were disowned over this election. Trust me, I understand. I’m in the boat with you, and all I’m asking is that we not let this boat sink.

Love and light, people. For the night is dark and full of terrors.

Falling

It is a rare (or perceived rare) circumstance that everything which needs to happen falls smoothly into place. I believed it would, and now it has begun. I desired a job (for some extra spending money-which we shall discuss soon), my husband desired a job (to feel more productive) and I desired my financial aid to be released so that I could go back and tell my boss at the department I could continue working (because I really like it there). I desired to find a place which would not cost an arm and a leg to live in, somewhere quiet, with lots of serenity, and I believe I have found it.

Do not get me wrong, all of this is wonderful. I am at ease that there are things going along in my life which have been much needed and are better for my future than the alternative. But I wonder if there are other people like me who reach this point in their lives-when everything is as it needs to be-and the panic sets in.

I cannot tell you how many times i have applied to a place of employment during an “up” period in my life only to find that when an interview is scheduled, there is a pit-of-the-stomach panic that tells me it’s an incredibly bad idea to go through with. A lot of doubt about the situation arises. What if something comes up? What if something bad happens? What if there is too much demand on me? What if…?

I know that it’s a mental game. I know it. And I know that I cannot pass by every chance I get. I know that once I get into a rhythm, everything sorts itself out-every. single. time. But it is getting to that point which is a period of great stress for me.

I just keep looking at the end goals, the things I want more than not and saying how lovely it is that I am able to work, that I can get a summer job out of desire, not out of necessity. I think part of the problem is that I’m beyond ready to move on with my education, with my life and I feel like hourly jobs are just reminding me that I’m not there yet. But it’s not a difficult job, and the people are all very friendly seeming. I just want to be at peace with my decisions for once.

Life Update

Captain’s log, Star Date 93978.45 (Yes, I looked it up and made sure it was the right date.)

In all the wonderful things which may happen to a person, this week (for reasons which I hold firmly in my belief system) has been such a bountiful treasure. My little apartment garden is up and thriving (little cilantro and tomato plants are cropping up!), I’ve had THE most successful blog I’ve EVER done (thanks you guys!) and I’ve been offered an interview at a place I’d love to work on Thursday. On top of that, I am now a contributor for The Mighty! I’d like to thank and welcome my new followers, and extend many loving thank yous to my lasting followers. I am beyond blessed.

I have chosen to believe that all things will work out for the best. That I am going to be able to do what I have set out to accomplish, that I will make it with some success and that I will be happy. And depending on how this interview goes, we might be moving closer to my new job. Which is also pretty cool. But we haven’t really decided anything yet, and therefore I cannot speak about that much.

I cannot be so presumptuous to think that these masterpieces of situations are all due to me. I know that somewhere out there, I’ve had a lot of prayers whispered over me, I’ve had the guidance of the best parents, the hopes of teachers who truly cared, and the blessings of the deities who watch out for me. I just start the ball rolling. It’s all about where I put my intentions.

Coming up this week: be on the look out for a blog about the “grey areas of suicide” and the “realities of self-harm in a post-emo adult world” as well as something about my topic of existence: bodily safety. Maybe, just maybe, I’ll write something a little more artsy-fartsy about purpose and meaning in life, but we’ll just have to see.

This is my masterpiece. And I won’t stop til it is beautiful. (Thanks for those words, Andy Grammar.)

A Delight

Yesterday was the last day of classes (unofficially) for me. I still have finals and I have work, but it is the last time that I will need to bring a pen and paper with the express purpose of taking notes. And that serves as more than enough reason to reflect. Reflection is something I do quite a bit, but since it’s the end of something and the beginning of something else, I think it’s worth it.

August 2015: Moved to the big city. Started college at the big campus. Was entirely overwhelmed and became a recluse, having frequent panic attacks and long periods of depression.

September 2015: Began looking for a job. Driving was non occurent. Stayed home as often as I could. Panic attacks frequent in car.

October 2015: Admitted I needed a mental health day for the first time. Anxiety levels still high.

November 2015: Found job. Made an effort to sit in car longer. Began more attentively budgeting.

December 2015:  Made resolution to drive more. Began working on deciding what I wanted to do with my life.

January 2016: Went to job and class, drove to the store only-with husband.

February 2016: Began to discover women’s issues as field of interest. Took LSAT for law school.

March 2016: Convinced women’s issues are “my thing” and received LSAT scores. Began looking at law schools.

April 2016: Drove self to school each day, narrowed down schools, began Operation: Educate Everybody

May: I guess we’re about to find out.

This summer will be hectic. And I will love every minute of it. I’m planning to get some serious balls rolling, including a new and improved list of resources, which will be just bursting with information for everyone. I’m very excited about it. This summer I will be working my absolute hardest to do something I haven’t before: acted on a passion. And it took more growth than I knew it would to get here. Now that I have roots, it’s time to rise and shine.

Step one of O:EE complete. Now on to phase two.

I Have Listened

To be heard, you must first listen.

It is said that they best way to help people is to first be willing to listen to them completely, to be open to the way they view their lives and to accept that their story is real to them. It follows that they only way to truly understand that person is to “walk a mile” in their shoes-to experience what they have experienced before you jump to conclusions or make judgment. I have listened.

I have listened to the cries of the oppressed, to the whimpers of those who were too afraid to speak up, to those who could not speak up. I have listened to the sound of naysayers and those who would use cyclical logic and bare minimum reasoning skills try to cover up and wash over the actions of others. I have listened to the tear filled sobs of those who came before me, of those who have told me their stories and I have held them in my heart the way a slave held their chains. I have listened.

I have listened to the numbers, the facts, the statistics. I have listened to the “reasons” why these things must be so, why it is always someone else’s fault, why there is nothing that can be done about it. I have listened to the voices who say that there was never a problem to begin with, that those who cry out in their injustice are “seeking attention”, are “asking for it”, are “just trying to get ahead by any means necessary”. I have listened to the campaigns and the speeches that neglect to mention individuals by anything other than their relationships to others, by the crime they reported, by everything except the name they were given at birth or chose for themselves.

I have listened to those same people rise up in exhilerated joy as a victim comes forth with the unnecessary “confession” that if they hadn’t been at a certain place and a certain time, wearing certain things, drinking certain things, talking to certain people, avoiding certain people, if they had made any choice other than the ones they did, perhaps it would not have happened to them. Perhaps it would not be their fault.

I have listened.

And I can listen no more.

enough

Over the past month, with it being SAAM (Sexual Assault Awareness Month) I have pressed each and every fact I could latch onto into my brain with the feeble hope that perhaps it would come in handy, would save someone’s life. I have collected, hoarded stories from victims, from all walks of life, from survivors and politicians and naysayers and people who don’t even believe rape culture exists. I have written the story of my anger and hurt and rage so deeply that it has become tattooed into the person I am at my very core. And I have preached these same concerns to everyone I meet, making sure that other people know the risks, the concerns, the reality. And they have listened.

But I can no longer content myself in just saying

“Hello, my name is Michelle and here are the facts about how difficult it is to make the justice system believe that you are a victim.”

I am no longer content in just saying

“Did you know that one in five women will be assaulted?” or “Did you know that the governor of Ohio has stated that if a woman doesn’t want to be raped she shouldn’t drink alcohol?” Or “The CDC says that in order to protect babies that you have a risk of conceiving, women shouldn’t drink at all?”

I am no longer content running the same lines about concerns, statistics, sound bites of interviews from men who know nothing about what it is like to be a woman or a survivor.

My message is changing. It is a very great and noble cause to warn women about the dangers that they face each and every day. But it is not enough. Instead of just speaking, I have to start matching actions to words. Putting movement to my thoughts. I cannot do this alone, but I will be the one to start.

You see, in the end, all I wanted was to change the world. It’s what I have always wanted. And more than that, I want to change it for the better in a way that I know will be felt by so many. I want to have that iconic moment in Mitch Albom’s The Five People You Meet In Heaven when literally everyone I’ve ever helped is standing there smiling. That is what I want. And that may be selfish, but I’m not just doing it for those reasons. Never.

I want a woman to feel that she doesn’t have to sell her body to make do. I want a woman to be able to walk safely in her neighborhood without being afraid. I want a woman to see that the justice system which exists to ensure that. Equality and integrity can thrive will not continue to let her down, as those in her life have. I want a woman who made her own way in life to be judged not on the fact that she was a woman, but on her actions as a decision maker. I want respect for all-regardless of biology or skin color or socioeconomic background. And I don’t think that’s impossible.

This summer, which is literally just 10 days away for me, will see a maturation of my message. I am hoping to get a research project/grant for the fall so that I can present my research at the Denman (our research exposé) in the spring. I am hoping to gather my wits and material and create a “touring” speech which can be taken to schools or to the classes of the freshmen on my campus. I am going to try to pack as much as I possibly can into this summer so that when I hit law school next (NEXT) fall, I will do so running. I cannot remain an armchair advocate. That has proven to not be enough. The next step is something I will be sharing with you all as I go. There will be changes along every step, and I expect some feedback (please) because it isn’t my intention to preach, it’s my intention to educate. And I know that there will be setbacks, but nothing will stop me. My heart is a flame and the only direction I can go is up.

I have decided to rename the idea (I told you there would be changes!) to Operation: L.Y.F.

This stands for Love Yourself First. I know that Supernatural is doing a campaign with the same moniker (LYF) but I have an acronym for Love, I’ve been working on it all night and while I do not wish to take away from the Supernatural one, I have ideas.

First, this really must be an operation. We must all take our duties, our capabilities and make ourselves into little squadrons and teams based on what we do best.

LYF is slang for “life”. And that’s how long these changes must be for. That’s what these changes are all about.

L(ove) is the theme of my children’s book (of which I have yet to hear anything). In it, I detail what body safety looks like, using the letters L O V and E to remember.

Y(ourself) because the focus is on empowering the individual to protect themselves and to be aware of their rights.

F(irst) because self-respect and self-love are the basis of a fulfilling life. You cannot truly live unless you love yourself as number one. Not in a “I’m more important than you” way but in a “I am me and I love myself with the most respect and devotion possible” way.

So, although this is final’s week (and I’m off to study!) I will be actively working behind the scenes in order to promote my ideas and the possibility of researching on campus in an academic setting. I’ll keep you updated as soon as I have tangible actions!

‘Twas The Week of the LSAT

Ever since I decided I wanted to be a diplomat, I have been researching the job, deciding how best to fulfill my dreams and really just trying to find out if that really was the best decision for me. Ultimately I decided it was, that I needed to go to law school..

Stop.

Law. School. Admission. Test.

 
 Four of the scariest words in my life. And you all think I’m joking. But on the review websites for the GRE and the MCAT (Grad School and Med School respectively) there are the people who say things like “Honestly, it’s hard, but f you just take some practice tests, you’ll be fine.” The LSAT reviews? They ALL say things like “If you don’t study every day for 7 hours, at least 9 months in advance, you’re doomed.”

Okay, so maybe I’m getting a little carried away. Or maybe not. But here’s my thoughts on the subject.

I’m not a simpleton. I know I can and will succeed. I know that there are people who took the test before me, and will take it after me and life will go on. The only difference is, I will be going to law school. (I know that for sure, I just need the scores to tell me which one haha).And I’m going to make something of myself. In 4 years from now, I will be a lawyer! But not just that, I will have taken the FSOT (Foreign Service Operative Test) and be *hopefully* on my way to being a diplomat. In this I am very confident. But I just feel like this entire week has been a mental game that has gone on for far too long.

  
It all started Saturday, one week from test day. I knew I had 7 days to prepare myself, to give myself the best chance I could. I became nervous. Like, pit of the stomach cranky nervous.

Sunday, the panic set in. I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t sleep and I began grinding my teeth at night. This is something I haven’t done since my senior year in high school when I had to decide where I would go for college. See the connection?

Monday, my jaw hurt from the grinding, but I felt like I was starving. I couldn’t find it in me to get enough caffeine. This was my first tip off that I was more stressed than I let on. Me and not wanting caffeine is NOT normal behavior. Clearly.

Tuesday, I drank more caffeine than the last three days combined. (Back to normal?) My jaw quit hurting and I scurried to do all my homework for the week. I rarely do homework marathons, but I needed to get everything done. ASAP.

Today, I woke up late, got to work late and grabbed a tumbler of cold, left-over-from-yesterday coffee before starting my day. I think I’m just about crazy. In the first hour of my day, I had more accidents, more uh-ohs and more “oh crap”s than I have probably all week semester. I will get home and inevitably either not be able to sleep, of fall asleep for 500000000 hours. (I know, that’s the one I’m assuming too.)

Tomorrow: I begin practice scenario day 1. I have taken practice tests before, but this day will be timed and punctual, as if I were actually taking the test. It’s going to be me against the exam, and I really have to try hard.

Friday: Simulation day 2. I cleared it with my boss, I won’t be coming in and I will instead be doing more practice tests, same as Thursday. But I assume there will be more panic for this one. And just like a child on Christmas Eve, I won’t be able to sleep, I’ll be up all night and then when I do fall asleep, I will wake up with a terrible stomach ache and find out I only slept for two hours before needing to leave. Which brings us to:

Saturday: Game day. Let the all out screaming, panic induced brain games begin! I will inevitably grab a large coffee, need to pee before my test, get anxious, start pacing, get the notice to take my seat and then I will be in total concentration mode. I love that part of me. I can stress out about a situation for weeks and then get to that moment and everything will just go away and I will be able to complete my task with the utmost efficiency and calm. Works like a charm every time.

Sunday: As a reward, I will be going on a friend date to see Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Because Jane Austen is the best, and I’m just a big sucker for the undead. I literally cannot wait for this. It is my secondary source of hope. 
Now that you all have my week’s planner, let me tell you about this big scary monster test.

First, I had to go get a passport photo. And if you’ve ever taken one yourself, it is the most stressful thing on the planet. The lighting has to be just perfect, no glare, perfect exposure. So I did that, ordered it online and then my order was delayed. I went to the store and found out their printer was making excess lines in the photos so I was going to have to wait. I did and got the photos about an hour later, but I had nothing short of a breakdown first. While I was at the store, I had to pick up wooden pencils, because mechanical ones aren’t allowed. I also picked up some really nice erasers, because reasons. And I can have a water bottle and some snacks, but everything I own has to be in a gallon ziplock. I can’t have anything electronic on my person, so I can only carry my keys, wallet, pencils, erasers, pencil sharpener, my admission ticket and my water and snack. That list makes me feel naked as a person. I rarely go anywhere without my phone, even if it’s just in my pocket and I don’t use it. Also, I’ve used mechanical pencils or years. Wooden ones are not my specialty. But I guess it’s alright, because I will be going to law school where I’m pretty sure they’re okay with me carrying mechanical pencils, pens and my phone.

Anyway, I guess I’m going to be away from social media for the next couple days and that’s my story. I’ll see you all on the other side of the weekend!