we must be the revolution

This article is making its way around Facebook right now.  If you haven’t given it a read, take the time to check it out.  It tells the story of a teacher whose class takes an unexpected turn from discussing the ways in which a poem can be read to a frank and open discussion about rape and the recent Steubenville trials.  In the comments, there is an outpouring of compassion and support for this teacher who was willing to look her freshman class in the eyes and say, ‘This is rape.  This is wrong.  This is not a gray area.’

I wish we didn’t live in a world where this was a revolution.

I wish we lived in a world free of bullies and chauvinists.  I wish we lived in a world where this conversation wasn’t happening because the truth of it is so engrained in us, a discussion is completely unnecessary.  I wish we lived in a world where we loved each other and no one thought twice about what you looked like or where you came from or who you loved.

I wish a lot of things.

I’ve been in the process of moving into a new apartment as of late.  My move only covers a couple of miles:  from northeast Rogers Park to northeast Edgewater.  Not exactly the other side of the world.  While picking up some clothes from my old apartment, I had the sudden realization that I have yet to be catcalled in my new neighbourhood.  I was delighted by the concept, having faced daily harassments for the past couple of years from a variety of men so wide I couldn’t begin to describe all of them.  I was so thrilled that I was now in an area where men didn’t shout at me from the safety of their cars, where men didn’t follow me home growling about my body, where I could walk home from the grocery store without having to suffer an entire block of hey-girl-you-single-what’s-your-number.  And then I found myself thinking, ‘Wow.  That is incredibly fucked up.’

I wish we lived in a different world.

I don’t want to be scared when I walk home from the L.  I don’t want to avoid bars and, honestly, entire sections of town just because it’s a Saturday night and I know men will be belligerent.  I joined an online dating service recently and was immediately flooded with demands for sex from thick-necked Casanovas who had seen my picture and my status of bisexual and decided I was DTF.  Why else would I join a dating site?  It couldn’t possibly be because I was interested in meeting new people and potentially developing a meaningful relationship with another person.

Why would I ever think that?

I don’t want to be afraid of dark alleys.  I want to feel safe in my home, at my job, in my city.  I want to go to the grocery store without being accosted by strangers.  I want to run up the stairs to my train when I’m running late and not worry that some schmuck behind me is looking up my skirt.  I want to dress up to the nines or have too many drinks with my friends and not be told I was asking for it.

But that’s not the world we live in.  I’m a woman.  These things are a given.

I talk to women about this a lot.  I hear their stories and I tell them that they didn’t deserve what happened to them, that it’s not their fault.  I tell them that they’re beautiful and amazing and strong.  I tell them — I tell myself — that they are not what happened to them, they are not victims, never a victim, survivor survivor survivors.  We are moving forward, we are still fighting, we will not give up.  We are goddamn warriors and we might lose a lot of battles but the war will be won.

Then another girl is raped at a party while her assailants are lauded as being Such Nice Boys.  Another woman is killed for her family’s honour.  Another takes her life because she can’t escape the nightmare inside of her mind.  And then a couple of ten-year-old boys — ten years old! — come to school with a gun and a plan to rape and kill a classmate because ‘she was mean to them’.

We are still fighting, but there are too many lost in these battles.  And our grief is too great for tears.

I remember the first days of puberty, when my father was worried that a shirt I wore was too tight for my fledgling breasts.  I remember his concern that a knee-length skirt would ‘give the wrong impression’.  I remember my mother’s knowing smile as she left me and my first boyfriend alone in the basement, my father’s fury when he found me and a close male friend sleeping on top of my bed because it was too late for him to drive home.

I remember my mother screaming that if I ever got myself pregnant, I was out of her house.  I remember my father dropping my brother off at his first high school party with a condom and a brief tutorial.

I know they meant well.  I know they love us, me and my brother both, and they did the best they could.  They are a product of their raising and these actions are the actions of many — probably most — concerned parents.  That doesn’t make me any less angry.

Being a woman requires constant vigilance.  Escape plans for every situation.  Mace.  When is that going to stop?

We should teach our girls to be cautious.  We should teach them to be independent and clever and to protect themselves.  We should teach them to hold people accountable when they have invaded personal space, crossed lines, when they are pushing them to do something they do not want to do.  We should teach them that they are worthwhile and deserve respect and admiration.  We should teach them these things because we should teach all children these things.

But it shouldn’t be up to girls to protect themselves.  We shouldn’t live in a world where the only thing standing between a woman — a girl — from rape is her steadfast assurance that she does not deserve to be raped.  We should live in a world where no one rapes.

We shouldn’t live in a world where this is a revolution.

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a real florence nightingale

For those of you who have met me, you might already know that I get sick more often than a normal, 24-year-old person should.  This can be mostly attributed to my two obnoxious, pre-existing health problems: asthma and hypoglycemia.  The asthma ensures that I am completely debilitated every time the weather has an extreme change.  The hypoglycemia guarantees I am completely insufferable if I haven’t eaten in two hours.

How I still have friends is completely beyond me.

Autumn has decided to actually show up this year and temperatures took a pretty impressive drop in the past couple of weeks.  I had managed to stave off my usual season-change illness for some time, but Saturday night my body finally decided that This Bird Had Flown.  I don’t know if that actually makes sense in this context, but I’ve got a system full of Mucinex that says it does.  So now I find myself a coughing, phlegm-y mess and at my office, praying that the clock manages to speed up so that the next ten minutes pass in ten seconds and I can go home and curl up in bed.

My bosses have been out the past few days because they were honeymooning in sunny Florida.  Because of this, I have been working on both mine and my supervisor’s computer off and on since Thursday.  I know for a fact that boss has a weak immune system and, on the off-chance that what I have is actually contagious, I got out some sanitizing wipes to use on her computer now that it is the end of the day and I’m done working on it.  Then I realised that I had also man-handled the container the wipes come in, causing it to be potentially contaminated as well.  I have now reached a disconcerting paradox wherein even the sanitizing wipes are not sanitary because I have touched them.

I never expected proper OCD to feel so much like a Mucinex overdose.

let’s get drunk and talk about periods

So here’s something about me that you never thought you’d know.

I haven’t had a real, honest-to-goodness period in about two years. This isn’t due to any abnormality or constant reproduction or anything like that, so don’t panic. I was put on a birth control pill that my body responded to very well and it allowed that part of the menstrual cycle to be cut out of my life. It just happened. I got used to it.

This past fall, however, my prescription price more than doubled. It’s caused a huge strain on my wallet and I can’t justify paying so much on a medication when there are other options available to me. Let’s face it: there’s a plethora of birth control options out there. So when I saw my lady doctor about a month ago, I told her about my problem (she was not aware that the pricing had changed; their rep. hadn’t thought to share that little bit of information) and she gave me a generic prescription instead.

I am now in the process of having my first period in two years.

Now, I’m not going to get into the gory details of menstruation. This isn’t a post like that. I think everyone here has a basic understanding of the process. I will say that I have been in pretty consistent pain since at least Sunday and it’s a little overwhelming. But this is making me think, as many things do.

Looking back on my life, I’m realizing that the process of becoming a woman (or womyn, if you prefer) has been an unpleasant one for many reasons. I remember feeling sore throughout the early stages of puberty when my body was ‘filling out’, as my mother so daintily put it. There was my parents’ constant squashing of my sexual awakening at the same time that so many outside forces were beginning to sexualize me. There were the too-small bras, the hair pulling, the menstrual cramps, the doctors’ probing questions, the massive ovarian cyst of one high school summer. And now, looking toward the future, I have childbirth to consider, menopause, and, of course, the seeming never-ending cat-calls and eye-fucks and fear.

I know this gets said a lot, but being a lady kind of sucks.

At the same time, I find myself fiercely proud of my body and of the women I know who have made it to this point: the point of being a woman. Every girl I know has had a day where she stabbed herself in the eye while putting on eyeliner. Every girl I know has had her hair yanked or pulled out while someone was trying to primp her so that she Looked Pretty. Every girl has had cramps and mishaps and razor burn and awkward parental experiences while in the terrifying process of figuring all this shit out. And I rather enjoy the fact that we can talk about our periods and someone else can relate to my story of my mother trying to demonstrate proper tampon procedure when I wanted to go to the pool when I was twelve.

It’s amazing to me to see women continue to be strong and independent despite everything that’s against us. Politicians call us whores and we won’t get paid deserved wages and we have to reenact that scene from Alien on a regular basis just for the species to survive, but we keep on trucking along and just trying to live our lives. I love that women have taken beauty aspects that society has pushed for and made them their own. Yes, the shoes hurt, but I look damn good and I know it. Maybe some second-wavers (or third-wavers, for that matter) won’t agree, but I can’t help but be proud when I see a girl strutting her stuff and stopping traffic. At the same time, I am downright gleeful when someone in ripped jeans and Birkenstocks is reading Gloria Steinem on the train, or a mother in sweats running with her child in the park.

I’m just so proud of all of us.

It’s nasty business, growing up. But we’ve made it this far. I think that’s kind of incredible.

in someone else’s life

So on my trip to work this morning, I picked up a copy of our local free newspaper, Red Eye, and found myself reading this article.  I didn’t finish it before I got to work due mostly to the need to walk without running into things (a daily challenge), but it’s been a very slow day, so I got to finish it this afternoon.  It’s a quick read and pretty well-written, so feel free to check it out.  But there was something in that article that really, really bothered me.

The first woman interviewed, a 25-year old wife and mother of three, is quoted as saying the following:  ‘I love my life.  I love my kids.  I love living like a grown-up.’

Well.

As I’ve written before, I know a lot of people in my age group who are getting married and having kids (not necessarily in that order or related to one another).  And, honestly?  That’s fine.  It’s your life, do what you want to with it.  Personally, I am WAY too young to get married and nowhere near a point in my life where I have any interest in procreation.  My cousin has a nine-month-old Winston Churchill impersonator and I am currently scheduled to attend five weddings this year.  I don’t need to go do this myself; there’s just not enough time.  But if you are in a time and place in your life where you believe you should get married and have kids, that’s just great.  Please don’t think this is me taking an issue with marriage.  I’m much less opposed to the idea now that I’m not anyone’s maid-of-honour.

Rather, what I take issue with is this woman’s assertion that her way of life is the ‘grown-up’ way.  A ring, children, and a house payment are what constitute adulthood.  I’m calling bull-hockey.

Let me tell you something, chick from newspaper article.

I could have gotten married right out of high school.  It’s true.  My high school girlfriend was planning on proposing to me.  And if I had known about this, I would’ve said yes because of the fact that I cared about her and wanted to make her happy.  I didn’t know about her proposal because, as fate would have it, I broke up with her a few days before she was planning to do the deed.  She was shocked to say the least.

Since that ill-fated almost-proposal six years ago, there have been a lot of things that have happened to me.  I moved away from home.  I got two BAs in four years.  I went into therapy…three times.  I got my heart broken five times.  I held my mother’s hand while she cried.  I picked up and moved to a city I couldn’t afford with little more than a suitcase full of clothes.  I lost two jobs and kept going, finally landing something full-time.  I talked a friend through another’s suicide.  I counselled marriages.  I saw concerts and world-premiere plays.  I risked things.  I figured stuff out.

I pay my own rent.  I buy my own groceries.  I support myself, albeit barely.  I donate to charities.  I help people out.  I do the best I can.

How is your life more ‘grown-up’ than mine?

Everyone’s path is different.  You can plan and scheme and do whatever you can to make life go the way you want it to, but you will never succeed.  You got engaged when you were nineteen.  At nineteen I was studying Medieval German.  No one’s accomplishments are better or more ‘adult’:  they’re just different. 

I used to judge people my age who got married.  I think I was just angered by the undeserved superiority — by the assumption that I wasn’t ready to grow up because I didn’t have a long-term boyfriend or girlfriend and I didn’t see this as a problem; that my lack of interest in buying a home was because I didn’t want to commit; I didn’t want to take care of anything other than myself.  I’ve made a commitment not to judge your life and your choices.  How dare you judge mine?

I really do want to get married someday.  I want to own my own place.  Probably not a house; they’re too expensive in the city.  But I’d like a condo at least, something with a lot of windows and its own washer and dryer.  I’d like to grow old with someone and get sick of them sometimes and tell them all of my secrets.  Maybe I’ll even have kids.  Who knows?  I’ve got most of 75 years to figure that stuff out.  But I’m not there yet.  And there is nothing wrong with that.

So you can keep your house in the suburbs, your husband, your two-and-a-half kids.  You can keep the Labrador Retriever that I’m sure you plan to have.  And your opinions of how I choose to be an adult?  You can keep those to yourself.

 

life’s like a movie:  write your own ending/keep believing, keep pretending/we’ve done just what we set out to do

you’ll be doing alright with your christmas of white

Well, I have exhausted all potential work activities for the day. Guess it’s blogging time…?

As you continuing readers have probably noticed (and are sick of hearing), the holidays are a pretty negative time of year for me. This year isn’t much different, though I’m having a very hard time trying to decide how I feel about this holiday season. Thanksgiving was a hot mess at my folks’ house: Grandma had an accident, Mum was a wreck, Grandpa was incredibly rude. I got to meet the famous Winston (my cousin’s now nine-month-old son), but there were few good parts to a very long and stressful 36 hours.

The Monday after Thanksgiving, both of my grandparents fell and they have been recovering in a local nursing home. This brought about a lot of relief and those of you who know me or even just read this blog will understand why. My grandfather managed to fracture a vertebra in his fall and my grandmother was pretty bruised up, so it was nice to know they were somewhere where someone could take care of them and keep them safe. I was hoping that they would remain in the nursing home until after Christmas as it would take a lot of pressure and worrying off of my folks and we could maybe have a good holiday for the first time in ten years.

Unfortunately, my grandfather has decided that they’re coming home.

Today.

I haven’t called my folks yet and I’m not looking forward to the process. I’ve been at work since 8.15 and am using the errands I need to run afterwards as an excuse for not calling. That’s just the kind of kid I am. With my hopes of a happy family Christmas now dashed, I am not keen to get anymore involved in the whole sordid situation. I will call, of course. I always do. I just want to delay the inevitable for as long as possible.

But despite all of this, I’m trying to stay optimistic about things and get into the holiday spirit. I’ve been listening to Christmas music. I decorated the house. I’ve been buying presents and planning baking adventures and going to parties. I watched Disney Christmas movies with Greg. I drank eggnog. I went to see the zoo lights. I decorated the office tree.

I keep finding myself a little bit more excited about the time of year, a little more optimistic that maybe things won’t be so bad or hectic or upsetting. I’m nervous to get my hopes up because I know what holidays are like with my family. But I know that it’s just me and Da on Saturday and I know I’ll see some friends while I’m home. I’m trying to focus on the good things. It’s tricky, but I’m giving it the old college try. Yesterday I found myself thanking Greg because he had, in a way, encouraged me to make amends with a person I don’t care for who has caused me a lot of stress and hurt feelings. Life’s a lot different when you put yourself in a position to be around positive people. And while I’m not feeling 100% better about the situation and I’m not really looking forward to going home on Friday, I’m going to keep keeping my chin up, because that’s what positive people do.

So this weekend, I’m going to take my menorah with me to my parents’ house. I’m going to spend Saturday making heavily spiked eggnog and riffing with my da. I’m going to sing in my mother’s choir and smile through all of the jokes about how scary the Big City must be compared to my parents’ basement. I’m going to be as polite as I can be to my grandfather and walk away when I can’t take it anymore. And one of these days, things will be better back home. And one of these days, we’ll have a happy Christmas.

In the meantime, we’ll just get drunk.

thanks for the christmas card…

we’re gonna end up in a great big fight

For any interested parties, here is what life is like in BTown right now:

I’m living at home, in my parents’ basement like so much really depressing Fonzi.  I haven’t had much of any contact with someone close to my age since I got here, with a few exceptions for the very lengthy graduation party, some phone calls, a brief coffee date with Christie, and a trip to Rockford.  My mother has become infinitely more coddling in the past few weeks than I ever suspected possible in that amount of time, and Da is never home.  I have a job.  It’s at Sam’s.  So ‘job’ is kind of a euphemism  for ‘semi-constant frustration’.  My brother is attempting to turn me into an alcoholic, which is nothing new, really.  I spent today at the Kickapoo Pow Wow outside of LeRoy, which was awesome, but the sauna-like atmosphere of the tent seems to have given me a slight case of heat stroke, so I’m kind of a pain in the ass right now.

This all sounds terrifically sophomoric and whiny.  Awesome.

I wish I was more optimistic about this whole ‘job’ situation.  I know I complain about it to an extent that is trying on everyone, including myself.  The pay is relatively decent, especially considering the fact that it’s part-time.  But the fact of the matter is, I’m working for one of the largest companies in the world; I am nothing but a number to these people (and a tiny one at that); there is nothing challenging about this position except the amount of patience it tries; and I am not living up to my potential in any sense of the word.  I’m bored.  I’m frustrated.  I’m far too over-educated for this job.  I would rather be working anywhere else than for this company (and I’m including Mickey D’s in that, mind you).  I need something ELSE.  …Preferably SOON.

The issues I have with this ‘job’ are infinitely multiplied by the steady conflicts I’m having with my mother.  She has this really brilliant tendency to neglect to remember that I’m of legal age now and capable of making my own decisions and consequential possible mistakes.  She also refuses to LISTEN when I’m talking to her.  And this isn’t just about important stuff, like the fact that I don’t like driving her car because I can’t see anything in it and am terrified of having an accident (which I’ve already had a few of in said car).  It’s things like, ‘You look tired.’  ‘That’s because I am tired.  I was working.’  ‘Why are you tired?’  THIS IS A CONVERSATION I HAVE ABOUT ONCE A DAY.  I repeat myself constantly.  And this is coming from someone who willingly hangs out with a guy who’s partially deaf!

Gah.  This is old news, I know.  I guess I could just handle the drudgery of my ‘job’ if I had somewhere I could go and relax at after said job.  But I don’t.  I go back to my parents’ house and proceed to be grilled on why I look so miserable and tired and why I’m never at home and why we’re (my mother and myself) not hanging out and how’s Pete doing today?  I haven’t talked to Pete, Mother.  I was at work.  WHY DO YOU THINK I’M LIKE THIS RIGHT NOW????

Motherfucker I’m so sick of her.

They’re buying another car.  Another fucking HHR with its fucking blindspots and fucking shitty brakes and she has NO IDEA why I’m upset about this or, now that I think of this, that I’m upset AT ALL.  Maybe when SHE spins off the road in the middle of a snowstorm in that little plastic deathtrap because it doesn’t brake for shit, SHE’LL understand why a person would never want to get inside that kind of car EVER AGAIN.

And on top of all of this, I desperately miss everyone.  Stupid heat stroke.  Stupid Bloomington.  Fuck me in the ear.

For the thousandth time, I want to go home.

you can have the christmas tree

Here is what I’m thinking about right now.

Maybe this is a Jew thing or a emo-kid thing, or maybe it’s just a Kirius thing, but I really, really, really dislike Christmas.  I dread Christmas.  The one day of the year that most of the country can agree is pretty swell is the day I most desire to sleep through or ignore.  I wake up every Christmas morning, violently willing the day to not be the 25th of December.  Any other day.  Please, Lord, let it be any day that isn’t Christmas Day.  But, of course, it always is.  Which only makes things worse, really.  This probably makes me a Scrooge or a fascist or something, but I can’t even stand the idea of Christmas.  But let me tell you why.

Reasons Why I Don’t Like Christmas:

1. I live in America.  In particular, I live in Illinois.  Southern Illinois, most of the time.  And maybe this is the case in predominantly-Christian countries everywhere, I don’t know, but in Southern Illinois, Christmas begins in August.  Which means that Christmas decorations are up, Christmas presents are being sold, and Christmas music is being played for three and a half straight months.  Christmas songs are, by far, the most annoying songs in the entire universe, if for no other reason than when it gets to be the Christmas season, one is hard-pressed to find a radio station that is playing anything but.  Also, there are…what?  A dozen or so Christmas songs?  Twenty at the most?  And they are covered by every single sorry sap with a recording contract.  And played.  Constantly.  Quite irritating.

2. Christmas is a holiday I do not personally celebrate.  I don’t begrudge anyone who celebrates Christmas; that’s totally cool with me.  I have said on several occasions that I really enjoy casually observing Christmas.  The lights are pretty, the snow is gorgeous (when it happens, which it doesn’t much in Central or Southern Illinois), the general feeling of good cheer is really nice to be around.  I even like some Christmas movies (top five Christmas movies: Nightmare Before Christmas, The Muppet Christmas Carol, It’s a Wonderful Life, Batman Returns, and The Charlie Brown Christmas Special).  I can enjoy Christmas.  However, I prefer to enjoy it from the outside.  I am a Christmas wallflower.  I don’t want to be immersed in it, stuck in the mall while it’s going on, practising it with any real dedication, or going anywhere near a church on or around the supposed date of Christ’s birth.  It’s just not my thing.

3. As a general rule, Christmas at the Palm house is the worst holiday of the year.  My da is usually working (tomorrow being a great example of this rule) and Mum gets overly stressed real easily.  There is almost always a fight about me going to church (Mum usually wins just because I get tired of her yelling); there is inevitably some sort of fit involving grandma and grandpa, usually ending in Grandma crying, Da yelling, or Grandpa holing up in the bathroom for an immeasurable amount of time; my brother is generally an asshole (which is, really, nothing new).  And that’s on the good years.  Everyone is stressed out, irritated, and, in general, unhappy.  Yet we all are told to pretend that this is a happy holiday?  Yeah, I know, it’s the anniversary of Jesus’s birth and all that bullshit, but I don’t fucking care.  In fact, the thing that keeps me from outright disliking Jesus is the fact that his birthdays tend to suck as much as–if not more than–mine.  We’re kindred spirits in that regard.

Is it too much to ask that this sort of falderal ends?  That we could have one Christmas that doesn’t end in tears and upset stomachs?  That we could do something quiet and simple and actually have a nice time?  Actually be a loving family and maybe do a little something to bring about that world peace everyone talks about?  I don’t think it’s ridiculously selfish to want one national holiday that doesn’t involve feeling like shit.  I really don’t.  It’s not even Christmas yet, and I feel like shit already.  This isn’t healthy, you know?  This doesn’t make us a stronger family or better people.  I’m sick of that being an excuse for all of the bullshit we go through at the holidays.

Someone asked me a few weeks ago what I wanted for Christmas this year.  I thought about it a while and decided that I want a Christmas that doesn’t happen in BTown.  I want to spend the day with one or two people who love me unconditionally, who don’t care if I got them expensive presents or made them cookies.  I want to not have to feel guilty about everything and have a day that’s just for me.  I want to sit on the couch with Lem and eat frozen pizza and drink egg nog and watch movies with those one or two people who love me unconditionally.  I want to laugh.  I want to enjoy the holiday without having to be a part of it.  I want the chance to never have to go through any of this pain and depression and bullshit ever again.

But I knew that wasn’t what they were asking.  So I said to get me some socks instead.

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