Hiatus

This blog post has been written three separate times, with three separate ideas and tones-none of which were posted. I thought this post would speak to fear, to doubt, to the way things just feel out of place when you’re on the verge of change. But I don’t think that’s been the entire picture. Instead, I find that much the way depression clears from the sky, so too have my struggles come to perspective.

When the clock hit “30 days”, I felt a surge of panic. I was getting ready to move away (almost a thousand miles) from the only life I’d ever known, make a new life from ground up. That’s a lot to commit to, especially when I had ever manner of nervous breakdown when I moved just an hour away to the university I just graduated from. But in the past two years, I’ve become someone new, and I think that’s been something I needed very much.

When the clock hit “20 days”, I felt the waves of doubt. I was entering a new lifestyle, one which I didn’t fully understand, one that I was sure wasn’t something I was prepared for. I was leaving behind all sense of security and stability because I wanted change. I was throwing my caution to the wind and letting my life float down white water rapids.

When the clock hit “10 days”, I felt depleted. I was unable to come to terms with the reality of the situation. I had just a fraction of time left before I was ready to go on my journey. I met with everyone I needed to, spent time debating with myself, talking myself out of the fears and doubts that had come before. I touched weakness and reaffirmed that I was doing what I absolutely was destined to.

When the clock hit “7 days” I finally caught a glimpse of excitement. It was small, a flicker of a fire I thought was completely out. I felt things coming together and I realized that I’d been waiting for permission to be excited.

Truth be told, I know I have a long way to go. Big change is scary, and I’ve done my share of going back and forth about being afraid. But if the fear doesn’t go away, you just have to do it afraid. And it was when I came to terms with that idea that I felt like it would be okay. I put down my constant hovering, let go of my trust issues and I told myself that I would make it work-even if I didn’t know how to yet.

I have a little less than a week left in my apartment. There are boxes where memories stood, bags filled with parsed down essentials and just a couple things splayed about, waiting for use. Each day I look at my calendar-a dry erase one which has been erased numerous times-and I remember that life isn’t meant to be static. Change is inevitable. After all, when I started this blog, I was determined to become a doctor. If that had been my life, I’d be writing you from a much different perspective. Instead, I am right where I need to be. It’s been tough-sometimes too dark to see where I’m headed, but I kept going. I’ve got more boxes to check, but for the most part this is goodbye.

I’m not sure I’ll have much more to say (or time to say it) before I leave for my last tour around the state. I won’t have much internet, apart from my phone, and even then we’ll have to see. That means the next time I will be here will be the first full week of August. I know I’ve got plenty to say, plenty to do, but I think that for now, the world is finding itself again.

Please keep fighting.

Fight for your life, your right to it.

Fight for your love, your ability to give it away.

Fight for your rights, your unalienable rights.

Fight for each other, the ones who don’t know they need you.

Fight for peace and love and happiness and hope, because the world is made a better place every time someone believes that they make a difference.

But fight for yourself, because you matter-especially when others tell you that you don’t.

You do.

Here’s to a glorious road trip. See you on the flipside!

FADA (And why it matters)

Apart from the “Luke, I am your fada” jokes, there’s nothing funny about House Bill 2802 (also known as FADA). This bill is titled the First Amendment Defense Act. And in order to figure out what it’s talking about, we need to do a little background investigation.

The First Amendment: Seems we hear a lot about this one, even though it’s not usually quoted. This is your run of the mill Constitutional Rights Amendment, and I’m going to quote it. We need to be able to work from the original to boil it down for use today. I’m adding in the numbers to help us break it down later.

“Congress shall make (1)no law respecting an establishment of religion, or (2)prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or (3)abridging the freedom of speech, or (4)of the press; or (5)the right of the people to peaceably assemble, and (6)to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

That’s a big one, no? My teachers would have penalized me for a run-on if I’d come in with something like that, but I digress. Numbers 1 and 2 are at the heart of HR 2802, but the others are important. Freedom of speech has had a lot of issues lately with interpretation. And I know I struggle with it too. Because I don’t believe people should be allowed to believe that other people are inferior on the basis of their skin color, nationality or sexual orientation. I think that’s racist and sexist amongst other things and that’s not okay. But just as someone cannot force me to believe that racism is okay, I can’t force people to believe that it’s not. I can attempt to persuade, but it is their right to believe so. (Not to act on it though, because hate crimes=jail times!) Freedom of press has been up for debate as well, with “leaks” and “false news” and propoganda and a dictator-elect (see-that’s freedom of speech) who has mentioned he’d shut down some presses for being mean to him (that is infringement of number 4). Assembly is debated heavily from BLM (Black Lives Matter) to Women’s Rights to Not My President. One exceptionally racist, ignorant individual can be seen ranting about protesting on her show. (I’m of course talking about Tomi Lahren.) And number 6? Well, I like number 6. I engage in it all the time. I petitioned for NoDAPL, I petitioned for my rights as a woman, I petitioned for recounts. I petition for lots of stuff-and the first one I did was in 6th grade against spirit bands (ask me about that-I have some wild stories).

So 1 and 2. No government control of religion and no stopping someone from being religious the way they choose. Sounds solid enough to me. So why do we have FADA?

The first line of the bill says “To prevent discriminatory treatment of any person on the basis of views held with respect to marriage.”

Oh.

Does this bring up memories of a court clerk who went to jail for not doing her job and handing out marriage licenses? Because it should. Quickly, Kim Davis refused a gay couple a marriage license saying she was acting under “God’s authority”. She went to jail, was told to just do her job, and of course didn’t. We have the Marriage Equality Act which states: Marriage is defined as a legal union between two people as spouses.

So let’s look at HR2802. The First Section is just the “short title” which is what I told you in my first paragraph.

The second section is the “Findings”. Now, I can’t imagine everyone who reads my blog is going to  want to read the document (even though it’s only 7 pages with large font). If you’d like to click HERE. I linked straight to the .pdf so there’s that. Anyway. The findings section is pretty generic. It talks about marriage equality and religious liberty are sometimes at odds, the President knew it would be something that needed worked out. The Solicitor General discussed tax status for religious schools needing to be addressed. Paragraph 4 talks about the government needing to remain neutral when it came to religious rights, not picking one over others. Paragraph 5 talks about protecting religious rights will lead to tolerance and contribute to peace.

Hold on.

I have 2 problems so far, and we’re on page 3. First: who are these “leading legal scholars”? You don’t give me names, you don’t give me universities or institutions or positions. You’re not telling me who weighed in. For all I know, it could have been the most anti-LGBT, anti-human rights community of lawyers (*cough* Alliance Defending Freedom *cough*). And what does it take to be a leading legal scholar? I read loads of cases, do these breakdowns. If I call myself a leading legal scholar, can I start weighing in? Until names get released and the public can do internet background checks, I remain unconvinced of the legitimacy of this already.

My second problem is found in paragraph 5. I’m not saying that I wouldn’t like for it to be true. Because I would. But we have religious freedom right now. I can freely be pagan all the live long day and no one can stop me. I could convert to Judaism tomorrow and no one could stop me. And do you know what I see? I see groups like Westboro taking that liberty to the extreme. I see the KKK abusing that liberty. I see hate spewed from religious groups to religious groups just the same as I see acceptance (although I have to dig harder for news stories about acceptance). The thing is, religious freedom doesn’t mean the same to everyone. Religious freedom, to me for example, means that I don’t have to be afraid to wear my religious jewelry outside, or go to a pagan supply shop and not get harassed. Religious freedom for other people means something along the lines of “adhere to my religious beliefs without making me uncomfortable”. My high school set out on a foolish endeavor to sue the Department of Education because they wouldn’t let a little girl use the restroom simply because her Ohio birth certificate still said “male” (you can’t change it in Ohio if you’re a trans person). They lost that case, with the judge telling them to let her be the “little girl she is”. I can’t tell you the amount of people who flipped out, saying she was a pedophile and feared for their children’s safety. That little girl by the way, is in elementary school. Third grade, I think. 

Section 3a. No (discriminatory) action will be taken against someone who is acting according to their religious beliefs.

Section 3b. Discriminatory is defined as: altering tax treatment, not allow tax deductions to charities, withholding government money and grants, withhold government benefits, otherwise discriminate (that’s what it says).

Section 3c. You can’t be denied a licensure or certification based on your behavior if you are acting in accordance to religious beliefs you hold in respect to marriages or sexual relations that are reserved for marriage. (It says specifically one man, one woman.)

Section 4-A person can assert actual or threatened violation and be awarded compensation, even if the person didn’t seek administrative remedies. 

Section 5-This is meant to be a broad protection, not meaning to conflict with other laws, with the written in section about how if one portion of this bill is deemed unconstitutional, the rest of it will remain intact.

Alrighty. Seven pages later and where are we? Confused? Frustrated? Furious?

As someone who was Christian for half of their life and then pagan the latter half, this worries me. I don’t need to go through my credentials to prove that I’m telling the truth, but as a human being, this worries me. Section 3a is already happening. In Mississippi this past year, a landlord kicked an interracial couple out of their homes because of his religious beliefs. He is quoted to have said : “Oh, it’s a big problem with the members of my church.”  Section 3b means that the Salvation Army can continue to deny help to LGBTQ individuals who need it without facing repercussions. Section 3c means people like Kim Davis can continue to deny marriage licenses-even though it is a federally guaranteed right to all people of legal, consenting age regardless of orientation or gender. Section 4 means even the words I am writing today, can be used to prove I infringed on someone’s religious rights. Section 5 means that if passed, Congress will need to revoke the ENTIRE amendment in order to remove it from doing more harm. Do you know how hard that is? Exceptionally.


So why do I bring this up? I’m a woman (as self-defined) and I married hetero. We’re both white, both American. So is this an issue for me?

It’s an issue for everyone. I’m a member of the LGBTQ community-and marrying hetero did not change that. My husband and I are not self-proclaimed Christians, so we belong to religious minorities by default (even though I’m technically the only religious one of us).

I’m also an ordained minister. I perform weddings, plan weddings (yep, have that certificate too) and I do that for ALL people who want to be married to each other (and are legally allowed to be). Interracial couples? Yep. Interfaith couples? Yep. Same-sex couples? Yep. No sex couples? Yep. No faith couples? Yep. I think you get the picture. 

Look, I know I’m not the representative for anyone more than myself. I get it. But as someone who is trying to make a life in the world, as someone who is trying to make sure that people feel safe being themselves, who have rights and equality, I’m just asking for other people to look beyond their insecurities, their biases, their stubbornness and try to see the life of someone else. Try to imagine (or ask them!) what it’s like to feel disenfranchised by their own people. And then ask yourself if you’re actually being infringed upon at all. Because you can’t control other people. You can only control yourself. Being kind doesn’t kill anybody and it makes the world suck a little less.

So this is my last blog of the year. I hope you all stay safe for the last day of 2016. I’ll be watching it go out like I watch every year-with the difference being that this new year, I’m preparing for a revolution.

Quit Asking For Easy

My oh my! What a lovely thing to take a break from the news and come back to find a spike in readers and followers and all around interest. You have my humble thanks, as always. To find value in what I have to say means that I’m making a difference, asking the right questions. 

So I want to address why I’ve been mysteriously absent. No one asked me where I was, but I feel like lessons can be gained from a modicum of transparency. Plus, it further illustrates the point that we are all connected in a much larger picture. (I mean, one of my favorite things to look at is the way humanity ebbs and flows. Sometimes I get to see it in my own life, sometimes in others.)

November 28. My university was under a lock-down for a good long while on the 28th because of an attack on students. 11 people were taken to the emergency room for injuries directly related to the attack. The attacker was brought down and ultimately died right outside of the building where I work and have my major classes. I wasn’t on campus that day, but all of the people I care about at the university were and I reached out to each of them to make sure they were okay. They saw the whole thing. And the response teams were cleaning blood off of the sidewalks for two days after the event. That was something I kept looking at, asking the questions that these events often bring to the surface.

The LSAT-Take Two. I was supposed to take the LSAT again on Saturday. In the building right beside mine, where the attacker was shot down. I withdrew my registration and sent explanation emails to the schools I applied to. I also decided I was not going to be retaking the LSAT before applications needed to be in. I accepted that the scores I had were the ones I would be judged on. The schools responded with understanding and well-wishes.

The Meltdown. I am a passionate person. When I am happy, I am happy to the fullest. I am invincible and giddy and on top of the world. When I am sad, there is no one who can lift my spirits. I am morose, I am depressed, I am wading through the depths of hell. And there is nothing to suggest that I would not feel confusion at those same extremes. And that is what happened. I seem to have come to a very rough crossroads. And it all has to do with what kind of person I am.

You see, I spoke with a friend a while ago and I was complaining that I was a “Watson trying to be a Sherlock”. Now, what I meant by this is that I am a supportive figure. I help other people find their passions and direction. But I want more. I want to be in the spotlight. I want to be the one people look up to. I’m tired of being used for what I can offer and having no one (with the exception of my husband) to see how much I care about others. And her reponse (goddess love her) was “There is no shame in being a Watson. Sherlock would be in rehab or dead without his.” I, of course, was not as responsive to this, as I could not reconcile the frustration I was experiencing. But trust and believe, that message came back to me several times over in the coming days.

The Resolution. To say that I struggle with who I am is probably the biggest understatement. Who I am, who I want to be and how to get there are all at odds with each other it would seem. What I think I know is no longer useful, as I am over-analyzing everything-to the point of insanity. The way this break from social media and whatnot turned out is that I don’t know what I’m doing. I don’t know who I am, where my life is taking me. I don’t know.

And that’s okay.

Because the minute I sit down and think about all the things I think I know, I cut myself off from all of the things I could know but don’t.

So my “resolution” is to experience-not know. Knowledge changes. Every science student knows (ha!) that what is printed in their textbooks is only good and factual for a couple years at most. And then something happens and the information becomes obsolete. So why am I so focused on “knowing”?

I adore the movie “The Bucket List” with Morgan Freeman. And it got me thinking. I have a bucket list (a list of things you want to accomplish before you kick the bucket). Why should I hold off on doing those things until I’m dying? That seems rather dumb to me.

Instead of waiting around for a convenient time to do things, I need to make time. So I will. It starts with graduation. And then, I take on the world. Maybe I’ll do a separate blog for my bucket list-so I can be accountable haha!

To Be Thankful

Well hi there!

I’ve got a really important piece coming out this week, but before I jump right in, I want to do a little recap, a thought and then move forward.

We survived the annual eat and drive marathon, our families were great, everything worked out and I’m not entirely sure what I’m doing awake at this fine hour of 9AM (we got to bed extremely late). But I hope you all had a lovely day yesterday, a safe day and more importantly that you had a day of love. I know with Ben and I gearing up for our respective terminal degree moves, family was on everyone’s lips yesterday-especially the future bits. I’ll be reading all my fellow blogger’s accounts, and interacting-something I always tell myself I will do and then just hit the star and get sidetracked. 

My heart is saddened by the shooting at Rocks (a gay club) last night.

My heart is saddened by the events at Standing Rock (And I will finish that post this week).

My heart is saddened by the people who feel it is okay to put others down.

But my heart is made happy knowing that within a few hours, there was enough money to draw an audit of several states (believed to have manipulated voter ballots) and so perhaps we shall see the change in our society for the better. But our work is far from over, even if that were to occur.

So on top of saying hi to all of you lovely folks, and thinking about some great tragedies of the 2016 year, I will also be making good on my word. I have set aside the rest of break to thoroughly prepare for the LSAT. I’ve been looking at practice questions, taking practice tests and generally just attempting to get ready, but the time has come where apart from a couple straggling assignments, I have time to throw myself into this test. And I shall.

I’ve made myself some coffee, I’ve made a pillow fort, and we’re ready to start the day.

Oh, and it is NOW acceptable to play Christmas music. Ya’ll doing it right after Samhain is just batty. As much as I hate that Thanksgiving is in the same vein as Columbus Day (in the fact that millions were killed by the ignorant and self-serving ideals of others), a time to be thankful is INCREDIBLY important, and representative in many cultures. So you calm yourself with your falalalalas and your silver bells until after you were thankful to have the option.

And yes, fun fact, there are holiday carols for people who practice paganism-no Christmas carols don’t offend me-yes I know all the words to all the Christmas ones-sure I’ll sing along with you-maybe I’ll do a blog about Yule carols-who knows.

Well, TTFN-Ta Ta For Now!

Hello from the other side.

Greetings all!

I apologize for my absence, but it couldn’t be helped. My brigade of help and I moved our entire apartment on Tuesday. I spent yesterday trying to remember that my limbs were not, in fact, made of noodles and then today trying to clean the old place so that I could come here and find some words which might impart my thoughts.

I’m trying to catch up with all that’s been going on in ya’lls lives, but I thought a lot about what had happened in the last three days and discovered a delightful experience.

For almost 72 hours, I was disconnected from the internet.

Now sure, I did still have internet on my phone, and I did use it a couple times sparingly (to let my Facebook friends know I was still alive) but my phone is so outdated that I really couldn’t do more than that. And I didn’t mind.

So that got me thinking. The first day, I was too busy moving to actually notice the lack of internet. Yesterday, I kept thinking about emails which may arrive, tracking on packages I was expecting and how I missed Netflix. It is only within the last hour or so that I’ve gotten internet back and yet, I checked everything I needed to and feel that I could remain off of it for the rest of the day without very much hesitation.

As a child of technology, I know that I often feel a little constricted by the level of connectedness. I feel pressured into updating everything I am a part of at each moment of change in my life. New place? Better take a picture for Instagram. Better send out a tweet about sore muscles hashtag workout. Update Facebook status. Write blog about the meaning of moving boxes. Complain (wittily) on Tumblr. The list goes on and on. But for three days, I didn’t have the capacity to do so. And I felt so relieved. I felt private and mysterious and adventurous-except for the whole sweaty, sore, sneezing from all the dust thing.

Anyway, I guess the point today is that maybe more people should disconnect from the internet from time to time. I know I’m going to do so more often. This has been absolutely wonderful and made for a great bit of reflection.

Life Update

Captain’s log, Star DateĀ 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.)

Inconceivable.

INCONCEIVABLE:

adjective
  1. not capable of being imagined or grasped mentally; unbelievable.

RaACISM

noun
  1. the belief that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races.

INEQUALITY:

noun
  1. difference in size, degree, circumstances, etc.; lack of equality.

STEREOTYPE:

noun
  1. a widely held but fixed and oversimplified image or idea of a particular type of person or thing.

FEMINISM:

noun
  1. the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men.

ASSUME:

verb
  1. suppose to be the case, without proof.

DIVERSITY:

noun
  1. the state of being diverse; variety.

Today’s topic, as you can see, is a social justice one. It’s been something that’s floated around in my mind, waiting for a moment when I could write everything down properly. I included some definitions today, simply because too many people don’t actually know the real definition of words these days. Pity.

I, as we have discussed, am part of the millennial generation, the group of people born between 1980 and 2000, and I speak with those of us who do not wish to see the world fall to ruin.

loraxEQ.jpg

Each and every day I am surrounded by gobs of people, and I know almost nothing about any of them. But sometimes I come in contact with people that I do know something about, or I catch a snippet of a conversation and what I hear is something like the following:

“I just think that there are a lot of [insert “race” here] people who are a waste of space…”

“I don’t think women should be so concerned about…”

“I’m not racist, but…”

“I know it’s anti-feminist, but…”

benjen

I have heard enough. I have heard ever so much more than enough.

I am the daughter of farmers, a third generation American (on the one side), and although my skin is pale, I have a voice and I’m ready to use it. In fact, let me list out as many minorities that I belong to as I can.

Woman. Pagan. Pro-Choice. Third-gen American. Liberal. Anthropologist. Mentally ill. Multi-lingual. Bisexual. First generation college student. Poor (I think that counts).

You know what? We’ll stop there. It’s enough. And no, I’m not a woman of color. I know that. I will never know what it is like to feel discrimination on the basis of the amount of melanin in my body. I am aware of that.

But NONE of those things make me lesser-or better- than anyone else. Let me repeat that for the people in the back.

original

I belong to the generation that takes offence to everything. And maybe it’s for good reason. It’s not okay to make racist or sexist jokes. It’s not okay to group people together under assumptions and broad generalizations. (Case in point, the millennial qualifiers I have highlighted.)

We are all people. We are all human beings searching for the meaning of life, the reason for living, respect and empathy. And I am so tired of hearing people, listening to people I know make comments and “jokes” that they shouldn’t. And I’ve started calling them out.

It isn’t an internet issue per se, and I’ve been working in person to make the conversations around me better too. Even so, a large portion of communication these days is online. And that is where it is almost worse in some ways. It’s easy to assume that because something isn’t in person, that it doesn’t matter. But it does. It really does.

No one is born racist. No one is born sexist. No one is born with the thought that they are better (or lesser) than someone else. We are all just born. We all just die.

diversity-1

I love diversity. I love it so much, in fact, that that’s what drew me to anthropology. And I love that we’re not all exactly cookie-cutter versions of the same person. That’s dull. It is only through our differences that we can thrive. But it isn’t the differences that make us better as individuals, or as small collectives. Our differences are like the glue that holds our species together, building us up. Something to be proud of, not ashamed of.

You may notice that I haven’t specifically mentioned all of the terms that I laid out for us in the beginning. I’m just putting them in because it’s a “food for thought” thing. I know they’re important, it’s just important that people start using them the right way for the right reasons.

(As always, these pictures came from Google, I’m not trying to steal them, I thought they were great. I did add words to the Lorax and the picture of the hand. That part was me!)