Music has always been a huge part of my life. I grew up on Garth Brooks, Alan Jackson, The Chicks, and Shania Twain. Just like I grew up on Eminem, DMX, and Tupac. And like I grew up on Fleetwood Mac, Prince, and George Michael. In middle and high school, I listened to Taylor Swift, Paramore, The Fray, Avril Lavigne, Panic at the Disco, Evanescence, Daughtry, and so many others. My life has a musical thread to it. Music is the one constant. Music has never let me down. It’s always been there. Whether I need to listen to some heavy rock like Metallica, Disturbed, Shinedown, Sick Puppies, or Skillet when I’m trying to calm down. On those when I’m tangled up in anger and frustration that I can’t explain, I turn them up loud. Or on the days when I feel strangely apathetic when I need some softer music, music that hits me deep within my heart and soul. Music like Lord Huron or LEON or BANKS. Music that makes me feel a bit more connected and makes me feel when I’m not feeling anything. Or on those days where I’m sad, but I don’t know why, so I turn on some Ed Sheeran or some of my favorite musicals like SIX, Rent!, or any Disney movie soundtrack, because it makes me feel better. It puts a pep in my step, and it’s like, okay, everything will be okay because we have music. Music is there. It’s real.
There are songs that I listen to that instantly bring back memories. Like “Bad Girlfriend” by Theory of a Deadman, my friend and I danced in my house, the walls shaking with how loud the music was. we once were hanging out and having a ball when Facebook started blowing up, and my mother called me asking if we were okay after the earthquake. My friend and I didn’t even realize there was an earthquake. We were having so much fun. Even listening to Jesse McCartney makes me think of her. Two extremes, Theory of a Deadman and Jesse McCartney, and bam! All the memories, ever.
Like the fact that even though I don’t like Bon Jovi, sometimes I’ll listen to “Wanted Dead or Alive” because it reminds me of my brother Tristan, just like listening to the Red Hot Chili Peppers does. He went to a concert maybe like six years ago, and he recorded my favorite song of theirs just for me.
How when I listen to songs like “I Love Rock n’Roll” by Joan Jett or “Heartbreaker” by Pat Benatar, I think about those rare moments when my sister Chloe and I were home alone, just us girls. Those rare beautiful moments where we’d dance and sing (scream, really), and we were sisters. How much fun we had just being silly.
When I hear “1985” by Bowling for Soup, and “Mr. Brightside” by The Killers, I think of being at the club Decades with my best friends Caroline, Abby and Nick and we’d be singing it to each other like there was nothing wrong with the world. Like it was just us friends against the world, and that’s all we need. The end of last month, I went to Abby’s bachelorette party, and there was something about being back in Decades, about dancing and singing and being with friends. It was amazing.
Music reaches a part of you that sometimes you can’t explain, and in one of the shows of the summer, it addressed this. In Stranger Things, how they save Max is through her favorite song, “Runnin’ Up That Hill” by Kate Bush.
That got me thinking.
What song would save me from Vecna?
It didn’t take me long to figure it out.
“Freedom” by George Michael immediately came to mind. I can’t help it. I hear that song, and I am instantly happy. It’s like a power ballad and just, yes. Hell, I might get “Freedom” tattooed on my arm. or you know, some of the lyrics, who knows.
This song is like, a new start for George Michael. It was him saying, okay, I’m here but I’m not the same, and my music isn’t the same, and ain’t nothing wrong with that. He wanted to make his own music, and how he wanted. It’s such a power ballad and he’s like, taking back his power. How can you not like this song? Also, you’ve got supermodels lip-syncing the song, and it’s glorious.
And because of George Michael, we got this:
Yes, that is Zachary Quinto aka SPOCK lip-syncing to “Freedom” and it. is. glorious.
The point is, it’s one of my favorite songs, and if I was trapped with Vecna, I feel like it’d be that song that would bring me back.
Then I remembered that Stranger Things is set in the 80s, and this song was released in 1996, a full ten years after the newest season’s events but whatever. It still would save me.
Though if we are going based on, you know, what was available in 1986, then it would probably be a Fleetwood Mac song such as “Dreams” or “Rhiannon.”
Music is such an important part of us, who we are. you hear a song, and it brings back memories. It makes you feel something, whether that’s a good or a bad feeling. So of course it’sa song that saves Max’s life. It makes perfect sense to me.
So my question for you is: What song would save your life? Let me know in the comments!
I swear I’ve written a blog like this before. Oh, that’s right, I have. Yet here we go again. In 2019, I wrote the blog “My Body, My Choice, Your Body, Your Choice.” In that I talked about what would happen if Roe v. Wade was overturned, well, here we are 2022, and guess what, it’s no longer a discussion, it’s our reality.
As I’m sure many of you know, the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last Friday.
This caused a huge ripple effect across the nation. Some states had trigger laws and after the overturn, those trigger laws went into place which banned abortions. Abortion clinics across the nation in those states have had to tell women who come in for an abortion that they can’t do it. That they’ll have to go to another state.
There is such anger right now in the world. You can sense it. You can feel it in the air. It’s all over and I don’t think it’s going to stop anytime soon. Women are furious at this overturn. And you know what?
They have every damn right to be angry.
I’m angry too.
I’ve never been one to get too involved in politics. I vote. I pay attention to the news enough to be in the know so I don’t put my foot in my mouth. So I am not completely ignorant to what’s happening in the world. Now? Well, I want to organize a protest. I want to find a way to get more involved in politics because this is ridiculous. I want to go all-in because the overturn of Roe v. Wade is just the beginning. And if you think it’s not, then you haven’t been paying attention.
This isn’t about babies or abortion. Not really. If it was then there would be more talk about fixing the foster care system and making it easier to adopt children. There would be talks about better health care and mental health. And oh, I don’t know, there would be laws that would prevent our children from being shot up at their school (Blog post: “19”).
What kind of bullshit nation do we live in where a woman can’t control her own body but heaven forbid that we have gun regulations to prevent more mass shootings. If it was about babies, how about protecting them from gun violence? Pro-lifers care about protecting lives until it means that their gun rights are threatened.
Or I don’t know. How about let’s not yank children out of their parents’ arms and throw them in detention centers? How about that?
Pro-lifers care about babies until that baby is poor, disabled, Mexican, black, LGBTQ+, etc. They don’t care. Not really. It’s not about saving lives. It’s about controlling women.
The 50s called. Why are we going backward? Seriously. How are we going backward as a nation? How does that make a lick of sense?
You think this is it? It’s not. This is only just the beginning. We’re just getting started on this.
Some states are in talks about banning contraceptives. Yes, because that makes sense. Let’s ban birth control pills and shots and what have you. You know, the stuff that helps prevent pregnancies! If it was really about preventing more abortions, then maybe make it easier to get contraceptives?
But wait no.
That’s not happening. Because it’s not about that at all. Oh, and just so you know, contraceptives include condoms. Men won’t be able to wrap it before they tap it OR even have consensual sex since chances are their little fellas would impregnate a woman would go.
Roe v. Wade meant that we had something that guaranteed we could do what we needed to do. That it was our choice. Our choice. Not the government’s.
Men don’t get to be told what they can do with their bodies but women do. We are told what we can and can not do. Women are. This affects women, and honestly if you’re a woman, and this doesn’t make you angry. . .I can’t even.
I had to get off Facebook yesterday because the comments were making me angry. I’m not the one who comments and starts an argument on social media, but yesterday. Oh boy. It was bad.
One said that if a woman doesn’t want to get pregnant then she should keep her legs closed.
Yeah. You heard that right.
If women don’t want to get pregnant then they shouldn’t have sex.
How about you teach your “boys” to use protection? How about men learn to not pressure women into sex? Or pressure them into not using a condom because the rubber makes it not feel as good? You think that’s not a problem? I’ve been pressured into sex. I’ve said “No” or “I’m not in the mood” and the guy was like “Oh, you’re not serious” and then kept pushing it. I gave in to make him happy, to make him shut up because I didn’t want to be the “bad guy” withholding sex. How about you teach your “boys” not to do that, huh? I thought I had to. I’ve been pressured into having sex without a condom because the poor little baby didn’t like the feel of it. In fact, half the time, I had to make sure we had condoms because the guy couldn’t be bothered. You think I’m the only one who has gone through that? I bet plenty of women have done the same exact things.
Why don’t you tell the guys to not have sex if they don’t want to be a daddy? But wait, guys mature slower than girls. Boys will be boys. We have to take that into consideration when it comes to punishing “boys” for their “mistakes” whereas for girls, the girl is automatically the problem. It is the girl’s fault for wearing a short skirt or acting provocatively. She should’ve been more considerate of the boys. Hide those shoulders. They send the wrong message.
I hate that phrase so much. “Boys will be boys.” Fuck you. No. Just no.
Why is all on the women? Why is that the woman has to keep her legs closed? Why is that men get to walk away? Sure they might have to pay child support but that doesn’t mean they’ll be in the kid’s life. There’s no guarantee.
How about you tell guys to keep their dick in their pants? That abstinence is the best way to not be a daddy? Oh, wait. No. We don’t hold men accountable. Not at all. I mean, it only takes two to tango and create a baby, but it’s the woman’s fault. That makes so much sense.
Another comment that had me seeing red was about how if a woman is the victim of incest or rape, that it is “God’s will” for her to have that baby.
So you are telling me that if a little twelve-year-old is not only raped, but violated by her dad/uncle/grandfather, that not only does she have to work through that trauma, that you’re going to force her to have that baby? You are going to further traumatize her because it’s “God’s will.”
Let me tell you, fuck your god. That is complete and utter nonsense. A poor traumatized twelve year old is going to be able to handle that. Hell no. Just why?
Even if you take out the incest and rape, if a woman gets an abortion, it’s her business. It is her decision. Not yours. It is her body. Not yours. What right do you have to tell her what she can and can not do with HER body? And even if abortion goes against your religion, your religion does NOT get to dictate what another person can and can not do.
I bet we if told men that they couldn’t have sex unless they had a vasectomy or used a condom, they’d throw a damn fit. They’d scream about their rights.
Hello, what about our rights? Also, if you don’t have a uterus, why do you get to tell us what to do?
The man is not held accountable. Ever. And it’s complete utter bullshit.
Overturning it isn’t going to prevent abortion. It means that now women will die doing unsafe abortions because they’re desperate. That is what this means.
Apparently, you’ve all forgotten how Baby in Dirty Dancing became a dancer. Let me remind you.
Penny, Johnny’s dance partner, has sex with Robbie the sleazebag waiter/womanizer. Penny gets pregnant and Robbie refuses to pay for an abortion. Keep in mind that in 1963, where this movie takes place, abortion was illegal. This movie was released in 1987 but it still was pretty revolutionary for even having this plot.
Now Baby wants to help. She gets money from her dad without telling him what it’s for and tells Penny she’ll fill in while she (Penny) has the operation. Penny has the operation and it goes horribly wrong. Baby has no choice but to get her dad because Penny is seriously injured and he’s a doctor.
The point is, the entire reason why Baby becomes a dancer is because of Penny needing an abortion.
Thanks to the overturning of Roe v. Wade, this will happen again. Women are going to die because of botched abortions. Women are going to die because it is no longer her choice what she does to her body. Women are going to die because the life of a fetus is more important than the life of the woman carrying said fetus. Making abortions illegal, or rather leaving it in the hands of states who have made it illegal, will not prevent abortions from occurring. It just prevents safe abortions from occurring. It means that if a woman is desperate, that she will either go to another state for an abortion, or if she can’t do that, she’ll find some back-alley place to do the procedure, or she’ll even try to do it herself. Both of those last ones can cause her death.
By Roe v. Wade being overturned, women are seen as simply a womb, an incubator. They don’t matter. Their lives don’t matter. That is tragic. Women do matter. Their lives do matter. This is such a huge step backward for our nation, and it’s not the end. No. It is not the end. That is terrifying for me. It should be terrifying for you as well. This is only the start.
Want proof? Let’s take a look at The Handmaid’s Tale.
The Handmaid’s Tale is a book written by Margaret Atwood. It was released in 1985. I haven’t read the book, but from what I have heard, the show follows the novel pretty well. Hulu released the first season of The Handmaid’s Tale in 2017, and in September of this year, the fifth season will be out.
The Handmaid’s Tale tells the story of a woman named June or “Offred” who is a Handmaid in the nation of Gilead. After a civil war, Gilead took over most of the united states and established a new regime. Since the fertility rate was incredibly low, they decided to have fertile women act as incubators. Sorry, Handmaids. Handmaids are assigned to a family, a Wife and a Commander, who then participate in a ritual once a month where the Commander has sex with the Handmaid while the Wife is behind the Handmaid, holding their wrists.
Yeah, I know, right? It’s awful.
Let’s be clear. These women have no rights. They don’t get to say no. Their entire purpose is to make babies. They can’t consent. Every month they go through this “ritual.” You know what? Let’s call it what it is. They go through rape. And it’s painted as “for the better of Gilead.” The women are trying to survive. If they get pregnant, they might have a slightly better life for nine months. The society doesn’t care about the mother unless she’s pregnant.
In one scene June is getting beaten and the Wife, Selena Joy yells “She’s pregnant!” and it’s immediately halted. Now June wasn’t pregnant but what does it say that that is the only thing that keeps June from being beaten to death.
The women don’t matter. Not to this society. They care about the baby. That’s it.
We get flashbacks of how this started. How the fertility rates were going down. How women ended up losing their jobs, how their bank accounts got closed, and how they couldn’t get abortions. It started with controlling them, and ended with this.
You have the Wives, the trophy women of the Commanders. They have no rights either. They can’t read. They have no say in the society. I wouldn’t say they have it easy. I’m sure they have it rough too. After all, Selena Joy, who is half the reason why Gilead exists, gets beaten by her husband, Fred, and a finger cut off. She is the one who wrote a book about women should be at home with their children and not working and honor their husbands and honor “God.” A woman is the cause of this society. Keep that in mind. A woman did this to other women.
The Handmaids are alone. They can’t even trust each other because they are all just trying to survive. They want to live. So they do what they have to do in order to survive. Yes, eventually, they do sort of become a group. They realize that the only person who has their backs is the one who wears the same color as them.
“They should have never given us uniforms if they didn’t want us to be an army.” Offred in “Night” (Episode 1.10) of The Handmaid’s Tale
These are women from all sorts of life. June was an editor at a magazine I believe. She was considered an adulteress because her husband was married before and they dated when he was still married. Their child Hannah was taken away to be raised by a proper family. If you refuse to be a Handmaid, then your other choices are to go to the colonies where you’ll die a slow death because of the poisoned fields or to be a Jezebel, aka, a prostitute.
The Aunts are the enforcers of the Handmaids. Aunt Lydia is an Aunt who is seen throughout the show. She bothers me. I think she actually cares about the Handmaids and tries to help them but at the same time, she also hurts them. She’s so blinded by her devotion that she can’t see the harm she is doing to them. She’s just as awful as the Commanders.
Then you have the Marthas who are servants. These women could have been doctors in their previous lives but now, they are servants. The Marthas have a network and are a big part of Mayday, a group of resistances. A few times in the series, June is saved because of a Martha. They help her a lot.
Oh, and by the way, most of the Marthas are ethnic. Most of the Handmaids and even the Wives and Commanders are white. So not only are they sexist, they are racist as well.
For a further breakdown of the types of women in Gilead, read the article below.
Those who are LGBTQ+ are treated unfairly as well. They are seen as “unwomen” or “a traitor to their gender” if they are lesbian or bisexual or transgender. It is the same with the men. They are either executed or sent to the colonies. If the women are fertile they might be spared but that’s not a guarantee. Emily, one of the Handmaids, is caught with a Martha. The Martha is hung. Emily undergoes a forced clitoridectomy. Yes, that’s right, female genital mutilation. That’s a thing in this society.
Also is cutting off a woman’s finger for reading, plucking out her eye for disobedience, beating a woman for not listening to their husbands, drowning them for infidelity, and trust me, it gets worse.
The title of this blog comes from The Handmaid’s Tale. It comes from the Latin phrase Nolite te bastardes carborundorum, which roughly translates to “don’t let the bastards grind you down.” It’s not a real Latin phrase, but it still becomes relevant in the show. June finds it etched into the wall and it becomes a mantra for her. She reminds herself that yes, she’s in an awful situation. Yes, it seems hopeless, but she has to keep going. Not just for her, but for the other Handmaids, for her daughters, for her husband, for her best friend. She can’t let them (them being Gilead) win.
It’s difficult for me to watch this show now. We started it from the beginning and it’s difficult to watch because it’s so real and you know what? It shouldn’t be real. This shouldn’t be our reality. I should be able to watch a show without thinking to myself “Fuck. What if this happens to me? To my sister? To my cousins? To my friends?” I am watching it though because it is relevant.
In the show, it’s clearly shown through flashbacks that it started off slow. It started off with little hints.
Guess what? These are not small hints. These are HUGE hints. There is a giant, flashing neon. You think we aren’t heading towards this? We are. Roe v. Wade is only the beginning. Then it’s contraceptives. It will keep going. Gay rights? Gone. Interracial marriages? Gone. Women’s right to vote? To own property? To own a credit card? Gone. Equals rights for LGBTQ+? Gone. It’s all going to be gone.
And I shouldn’t have to say this, but I’m going to: The Handmaid’s Tale is NOT an instruction manual.
This book is not your damn Bible. It is not the “how-to” on how to oppress women and all others who are not some white CIS man. Because let’s be real. That’s the people who are making these rules. Those are the people who are trying to suppress women and control them. White CIS men and religious zealots. And you know what? There are women who believe that abortion is murder.
It’s not. What do you think? That the baby is yanked out of the mouth at nine months? No. That’s not how that works. Maybe check your facts before talking out of your ass.
Pro-choice doesn’t necessarily mean that they will get an abortion. It means that it is HER CHOICE. I don’t know why that’s so damn hard to understand. It is her choice. She doesn’t have to explain why she’s getting an abortion.
Maybe she’s a college student who is in medical school and can’t afford a baby right now.
Maybe she’s an older woman who was told that she couldn’t carry to full term.
Maybe she’s got a health condition and her being pregnant risks her life.
Maybe she’s a sixteen-year-old girl who is not ready to be a mom.
Maybe this, maybe that.
Either way, it’s none of your business why she is getting an abortion. You don’t believe in abortions? Fine. Then don’t get one. But that doesn’t give you any damn right to take away another women’s right to get one. Women shouldn’t have to justify their reasons. Women shouldn’t have to fight for the rights of their body. It’s their body! Do you see men fighting to defend their rights to their body? NO. They’ve never had too! Not like we have had to since the moment we’ve existed.
Now is not the time to be silent. It is not the time to tuck your head in the sand and let the world continue on. If you are a woman, you should be pissed. You should want to grab your shields and swords and rage at this unjust. If you are a man and you have women in your life, you should be furious on their behalf. It’s not time to ignore the problem, because guess what? The problem isn’t going away. This is only the beginning. Keep that in mind.
This is only the beginning.
I want you to remember that.
I’m going to be involved because it is important to me. It affects me. It affects my friends, my cousins, my sisters, so many people. I’m not ignoring the problem. Neither should you. I’m going to find ways to be involved. Yesterday I went to a protest in front of the Saline County courthouse. There were probably over 75 people there and more were coming when I left. Below are some pictures from it.
And I will be going to others if I hear about them.
As most of you know, I’m the oldest of six. I have three younger brothers and two younger sisters. Their ages are 26, 22, 18, 18, and 13. The two 18-year-olds (No, they are not twins, they don’t have the same mom or dad) have graduated high school and are off to college to discover themselves. You know how teenagers do. The thirteen-year-old will be entering eighth grade. That much closer to high school.
19 children will never go to middle school. 19 children will never go to high school. 19 children will never attend college. And as I sat on the couch yesterday, crying because I was sad for those poor parents who lost their children, angry that this is our new reality, our children’s reality, I had a sinking thought.
This could happen to my thirteen-year-old brother. My little brother who loves Batman and Star Wars. My little brother who sends me a picture of every new sketch. That could be him. That could be my professors who have children of their own in elementary, middle, and high school. That could be us at the universities and community colleges. That fear that we can’t even send our children to school, a place where they are supposed to be safe. That we are afraid to send them school because we could get there and they could be gone.
I was sobbing yesterday. Some children had to be identified by DNA. Parents talked about how their child was on the honor roll, how they wanted to be a lawyer like their mom, how they loved football, just over and over, all these parents who lost their children. Most who were maybe only ten years old. It was the day before summer vacation started. Now, instead of planning trips to see grandparents or to the beach, 19 parents will be planning funerals.
It’s more than tragic. It’s more than awful.
I mean this has been a problem since Columbine. And yet, nothing still hasn’t been done about it. Some talk about arming the teachers. Yes. Because more guns is the solution. Why don’t we figure out why these kids shoot up schools? Did you ever think about that? Mental health is a major problem and it needs to be addressed. I do think there needs to be background checks for guns. It needs to be necessary. You want a gun? Cool, fine. Whatever. But first, you have to have a background check. You have to learn some gun safety. I don’t think 18-year-olds should be able to own a gun. They can’t drink or smoke cigarettes at 18. Raise up the age to 21. And personally, though I know I’ll get some hate on this, I don’t think anyone needs Aks and the assault automatic rifles. Why do you need that? To protect yourself. Please. You don’t sleep with that in your nightstand. No, it’s probably a pistol or a handgun. Why do civilians need guns that are for military use mostly? Just saying. I’m not saying take the guns. I’m saying that there is a clear problem. It’s been clear since Columbine.
This isn’t about guns. It’s about protecting our children. Because honestly right now, I wish my brother was being homeschooled. Now I wonder if he’s safe. I wonder if he has to do intruder drills. We did. In middle school and high school, much like we did fire drills and tornado drills, we did intruder drills. The teacher would close all the blinds if we had windows in the classrooms. We had to either hide under our desks or crowd in a corner as far away from the door and windows as possible. Because that’s going to work when the intruder has an assault rifle.
At my old office, maybe a year and a half ago, we talked about what we would do if someone came on campus with a gun. Our office doors are glass.
There was no safety measure we could really take because the doors are glass.
I wish there were more words to say. I wish I had something I could say. But it’s all been said. Over and over and over again. It’s been said. This isn’t new. This is our reality. Our children’s reality. The tragedy is that this didn’t have to happen. That if for once we could come together as a country, set aside our differences, and finally be together and realize that it’s about our children, and come to terms on gun regulations and fixing the mental health crisis. That maybe what happened in Texas wouldn’t have happened. But we can’t even do that. I’d like to say that we won’t have another school shooting, or another shooting at a mall, concert, grocery store, etc., but until people in the government finally do something, we probably will.
My heart goes out to those who lost a child in Texas. I’m so sorry for your loss. I’m so sorry that this happened. That this keeps happening.
I used to think that I was a horrible friend. Maybe it’s because in middle school and high school–especially high school–I was always told I was. Maybe not in those words but I felt like I was a horrible friend. I won’t lie, I did things I’m not proud of in high school. I got caught up in the petty drama and I hurt my friends, but can we also acknowledge a few things?
Like the fact we were teenagers. Teenagers are stupid. They do and say stupid things to impress their friends. They say and do stupid things just to do it. Teenagers want to fit in and be cool, and I was acting like every other teenager, more or less.
In high school, my friends would act all supportive and then call me a whore and slut behind my back. They’d talk about me, the constant whispers took a strain on me. That happened a lot in sophomore year. I’d hang out with them and then the next day a rumor would start about me. It hurt. So you know what, I did retaliate. I stirred the drama pot. Looking back at it now, I think I wanted to fit in, I wanted to not be the whore or the slut. Or the girl who was causing problems. I just wanted to blend in and be the wallflower. Instead, I ended up as the doormat.
I think we need to realize, or rather acknowledge and understand. that in high school, I wasn’t just going through the regular teenage stuff. We all had our own problems and issues that we were all going through. You never know what’s going on in someone’s life.
Now that’s not an excuse. I wasn’t the best friend, but it is a reason. But come on. What teenagers make the right decisions? No one does. Add in hormones and peer pressure, you get a disaster of a human beings. Then on top of all that teenage idiocy, I had adult problems.
I had to figure out how to pay for bills and food.
I had to get up early to make sure the kids got on the bus.
I had to help the kids with their home, cook dinner and clean the house.
I had all of that on top of teenage life and school work. And I think that’s why I was a doormat.
My friends got me through high school. They were my safe haven. They gave me a place to go when I needed a break from my shitty life. When I wanted to just be a teenager and that’s it.
But you know what? My friends also hurt me the most.
I put up with the whispers and the taunts because I didn’t want to lose them. I didn’t have anyone else I could turn to but my friends. So I shut my mouth, most of the time, smiled and bared it, and you know what, I did lash out after I’d had enough. Then I was the bad guy. They made me feel like I was always the problem. Like I was the one who had to apologize for my shortcomings. But they never did. They made me feel like my words were insignificant because no one ever listened anyways. They made me feel like I had to change and adapt to the situation, and then they’d call me manipulative and a liar. They’d call me fake. I got called that a lot. Along with a whore.
You know what? I did fool around in high school with different boys and a few girls. But I didn’t have sex with anyone until I was 18. After high school. I was experimenting during high school. What teenager doesn’t? I will say that it was nice when I did come out as bisexual and the support I got from my friends, it was great.
My mother on the other hand. She said it was ‘phase.’ I hated that.
But honestly, all that experimenting in high school, it was detrimental to my health. I was lonely and hurting. And honestly, I wanted to feel something. Life was rough and I wanted to feel something. It didn’t make me feel better. It made me feel worse. And I think a part of me went ‘Well if they’re going to call me a whore, I’ll give them one.’
When I got back from Iowa, I slept around. I screwed over my friends, both literally and figuratively. I burned a lot of bridges. I was angry and hurting. I thought I had finally escaped my shitty life with my shitty mother, but I hadn’t. I was right back where I started. That pissed me off. So yeah. I slept around. I messed up some friendships. I regretted it afterwards.
And when I moved to Arkansas, and I was in a better headspace, I apologized. I apologized to the guys for using them and hurting them. I was hurting and barely any of my friends reached out and thought to ask hey are you okay?What do you need? Instead, I was alone. Maybe not all the way alone but often times I felt like If I reached out to complain they wouldn’t care. That it was just typical Keely.
I know I was awful then but I was going through a lot. And honestly, I don’t think I was near as awful as I think or how people made me out to be. It doesn’t excuse it, but I have apologized, and I think it’s time that I gave my 15 year old self, my 19 year old self, and the ages in between some credit. I think it’s time I apologized to myself and to realize that I was only 15. Yes I made mistakes, but I don’t need them thrown in my face.
I was only 19, angry at the world. Yes, I slept around and screwed over some guys. But come on. What 19 year hasn’t? That’s the time to explore and figure out who you are. Now I wasn’t trying to figure out who I was. I was self-flagellating. I was hurting myself by letting guys use me however they wanted because again, I wanted to feel something. I’ve acknowledged that. I’ve apologized. I don’t need it thrown at my face every time. I needed a friend then, and I didn’t really have one. Not a consistent one.
I used to think that it was all on me why I have this habit of losing friends. Like it was all my fault. That I was the awful friend. Truth is, after a lot of thought, I’ve realized that I’m not an awful friend. In high school I wasn’t the best but I tried. Now I do more than try, but I think I have the tendency of getting friends who don’t try. I claim everyone as my best friend but I’m not theirs. I cling to them. I make excuses. I don’t see the fact they’re not a good friend to me. Like the fact I always answer their call when they need me but they are always too busy to talk. If I don’t answer then they get angry at me. How I spend a week with them and they made me feel like an inconvenience the entire time. How they treat me like an idiot, talking down at me, being condescending. How I can never get a word in edgewise. It’s always about them.
Or how when they call and want to talk about their job, and I’m excited about my job so I ramble. I realize that I messed up and I apologize to them. They had said they were hurt that I did that. So I acknowledged that and I apologized. Tell them to call me and I want to hear all about it. Because I’ve missed them and it’s been a crazy semester. I want to caught up. I enjoy talking yo them. Then they call and tell me that they want to take a break from our friendship. That they need to work on themselves before they can friends again. And it might be the truth, but also, this isn’t the first time.
It makes me wonder if I’m the problem. If they want a break from me because I did something wrong. I apologized. But they don’t want to be friends. It makes me self doubt and think I did something wrong. Was it just that incident? I apologized and I was sincere. Was I never a good friend to them? Was I never their best friend? Do they even miss me? I’ve gone through a break up and family drama and, I, of course wanted to reach out to them but I don’t. Because they don’t want to speak to me. To be friends. Do they even care? Or are they going through their life, carefree and free of my apparently awful friendship?
Perhaps it’s petty to write it here. Maybe it’s being shady or something. But I’ve never been good at speaking. I get tripped up and I stutter. But when I write, it flows. It’s why I have this blog. I’m a writer at heart. I mean this blog is called “The Inner Workings” after all. It’s all about me and in my head.
I’m almost 28 now. I’m not the same person I was ten years ago. I’ve grown up. I’ve learned. I’ve evolved like a Pokémon. I’m proud of who I am and I can’t wait to see who I am ten years from now. Maybe it’s naive to think I’ll keep my friends from high school. It is naive. None of us are the same. I barely speak to those from high school. Only a few random messages and comments on FB. But that’s okay. We’ve all grown up and adapted and changed. We aren’t the same. We talk when we can and that’s enough. The congratulations and how are you doings. It’s enough.
And you know what, those two people may have not thought I was their best friend, they may have hurt me intentionally or unintentionally but they were my best friends. They may not be anymore but that’s okay. I’ve learned from them. We’ve had great times. And not so great times. But without them I probably wouldn’t have made it out of high school. At times I miss them, but I’ve got life to live. They can’t consume my thoughts because, honestly, I don’t think they think about me. I think to them I was a burden. I was some clingy girl who clung to them and they allowed it. But I wasn’t their best friend. I don’t even know if they considered me their friend. I do know that I ignored the issues. I ignored how one would talk down at me and how the other brought up my sleeping around with guys and accusing me of cheating on my bf at the time. And how they bowed out when I did something wrong. Like I was too much for them and they needed a break. I didn’t realize how much that hurt until now. How a friend just stepping away hurts. I just accepted it as normal. They’d come back and I’d apologize for whatever I did wrong. I always bowed down to them and always agreed that I was in the wrong.
But you know what? I wasn’t always. I’ve acknowledged my problems. I’ve apologized. And I’ve realized something.
I’m not an awful friend. I’m not perfect but I’m a good friend. I try.
Friends are supposed to build you up not make you feel bad about yourself. Friends are there to support you. They may not agree. They’ll give their opinion and say they don’t agree but they don’t leave. They support you through everything. And if you make a mistake, they don’t rub it in your face. They tell you that they’ve got you. Even if you make mistakes, they’ve got you. They are here. Because they’ve made mistakes too. Friends know when you want advice and when you want to vent. Friends can disagree but not argue. They can agree to disagree and understand that everyone has their own opinion. Friends are there. They don’t bow out. They stick through the ups and downs because a real friendship does that. They realize that hey you messed up and I did but we’ll get through this. Because I love you. You love me. Our friendship is worth more than this one down. Let’s work on this together because I’d rather have you in my life even when we aren’t getting along, than not have you at all. Friends are important because they help you grow and you help them grow and then there’s lots of growth. And it’s like, wow, look at us now. Look at what we’ve become. Look at what we can become.
I didn’t know what true friendship was until recently. Until my internship in DC, and I met some wonderful people. We still talk to this day, and we met in 2018. They’re some real friends. I know they have my back and I have theirs. We may stop talking for a few but we always come back and check in with each other. We get each other and it’s nice to have people who support you and metaphorically have Pom poms in the air. Always. We all build each other up and when we break down, we help and we say ‘Hey we got you.’ It’s a beautiful thing. It’s real. And I love it. I didn’t know that friendship could be like that until them. Just like I didn’t know what being someone’s best friend was until now. I think that’s a wonderful feeling.
So maybe I don’t get to keep my best friends from high school. That’s okay. People change. People grow apart. I’ll always be grateful for what they’ve taught me, and I wish them all the best in the world. But you know what, I’m doing alright without them. I have my friends and they have theirs. Maybe our paths will cross again.
Through all this I’ve realized that I need to stop acting like I am an awful friend. Like I am the bad guy and the one that’s wrong. I’m not. I’m not perfect but I’m a good friend. I try. And I think that’s more than good enough. That’s all anyone can do. Is try.
Do you remember being thirteen years old? I know I do, though I definitely try not to remember. Let’s be real here. Even if now you’re some hotshot CEO or a popstar or a NASA astronaut, at some point, you were an awkward 13 year old. Don’t deny it. You might me smooth and cool now, but let me tell you, nobody was cool at thirteen. No one. At thirteen, you are hitting puberty and trust me, it’s dreadful. Your emotions are all over the place. If you’re a girl, you suddenly get this thing called a period and you don’t understand why it’s a taboo. Boys voices crack and they get hair in strange places. Basically, thirteen year olds are hot messes. They are walking disasters. In their minds they consider themselves a “young adult” but you know, most of them still have their baby fat. Thirteen is that awkward strange of not being a kid but not quite being a teenager yet either. You want to be taken seriously but you aren’t even sure who the hell you are.
Who was I at thirteen? Fuck, if I knew. I was trying to figure that out. I had braces, so you know I got called “Brace Face.” (I know, I know, so original.) I also had glasses so you know “Four Eyes” as well. I believe I was in 7th grade. That’s when I really started to figure out who I was. Who I wanted to be. I used to wear whatever my mother wanted me to wear, which was pink and girly and just not me. In 7th grad I was like, nope. No more. I wore a lot of black and fingerless gloves and probably the first time I dyed my hair red. I wasn’t quite popular but I wasn’t an outcast either. I was something in-between. I made decent grades. I was in choir and art. I hung out with those folks. But also with the skaters and the ones who didn’t quite fit in with the other cliques of middle school. Think like The Breakfast Club.
That was my friends and I, basically. Some hodge-podge, mismatched motley crew of people who probably shouldn’t mesh but we did. I’ve always hung out with people like that.
In 7th grade you want to stand out but not too much. You want to be cool but not a snob. You want to blend in. You want so many different things. And there are lots of shows and movies that show the teenage years. But let me tell you, this movie perfectly captures the sheer awkward, cringeworthy of being a thirteen year old.
Seriously. I got secondhand embarrassment from this movie.
Now I’m not going to tell the whole movie, because well, I want you to watch it. But here are the basic details and my thoughts.
Turning Red is a Pixar film released February 21st, 2022. It follows a Chinese-Canadian girl named Mei who is trying to be the perfect, good daughter while also trying to be herself. This gets a bit more complicated when Mei finds out that in her family, the women turn into giant red pandas once they turn 13 and hit puberty. She can control the panda if she controls her emotions.
This movie talks about the messiness of being a teenager. It’s about school crushes. It’s about puberty. It’s about identity. It’s about how women are told to control themselves. To smile. To be perfect. To not show their anger or their sadness. That’s what the red panda is a metaphor for. Not just a metaphor for puberty, but the repressed emotions women have. That strain that society has put on them. It’s about the pressure that family can put on you (much like Encanto. I discuss intergenerational trauma in my blog post on Encanto too). Like the pressure Mei’s mother, Ming puts on her daughter. That was learned. Ming learned that from her own mother.
But you know what? It’s also about friendship. It’s about the friends you make that sometimes you keep forever. The friends who have your back. The friends who do silly things to try and make you feel better. Mei’s friends accepted her. All of that. And I think that’s beautiful. I know that without my friends in middle and high school, I don’t think I’d be here. My friends saved me, and in a way, Mei’s friends saved her too.
So, check out Turning Red. You’ll cry. You’ll get secondhand embarrassment, but trust me, it’s worth it. It’s a movie that I feel like everyone can relate too.
What has a book ever done to you? Personally, if I was to ban a book, do you know what books I’d ban? Math books. Math books have harmed me. They’ve made me cry. They’ve made me scream. They’ve made me faceplant on the desk in hopelessness. But in all seriousness, what has a book ever done to you? What have they done that they warrant being banned from schools? You know if we decided to ban the Bible from schools, people would lose their plum minds. Then if we decided to replace the Bible with the Qur’an, then boy, howdy, people would lose it. Yet, the Bible hasn’t been banned from middle schools or high schools. Hell, in some schools they had a “praying time” in the morning. That later got turned into “read time” or “quiet time.”
Somehow, books are constantly being banned.
Now, I am one of those people who have never believed in the whole banning books thing. Can you name a single book that should be banned? Can you? I honestly can’t. I don’t think any book should be banned. Nor do I think music should be censored on the radio (See this blog: “Unnecessary Censorship”) Or movies censored on television. All that being said, let’s talk.
I’m sure you’ve heard about how a Tennessee school banned the graphic novel Maus by Art Spiegelman. This book details his parents during the Holocaust, depicting Nazis as cats and Jews as mice. The book was taken out of a middle school curriculum. Now, it was banned, according to this article, because it had several curse words and a naked woman.
However, this banning has caused massive controversy. A lot of people have spoken out about it, and it is still ongoing. That it isn’t about swearing or a naked woman, that instead, it’s about the context in the book. Since then, the book has been selling even more copies on Amazon. I plan to order it at some point so I can read it.
What other books have been banned from middle or high schools?
Let me tell you, there’s been a lot. Harry Potter, The Golden Compass, Dr. Seuss, Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry, Judy Blume, To Kill a Mockingbird to name just a few. A few, mind. There’s a lot more where that came from. (See links below.)
But why ban books? Well, in my opinion, it’s because the board of directors are trying to control what children learn. Do they want children to know our country’s history? Yes, but not in a negative light. They want the kiddos to know yes, slavery was a part of the country and leave it at that. They gloss over a lot of things in history classes. Such as slavery, the Trail of Tears, the Holocaust. Why? Because events like that were dark periods in our history and they (the board of educators, the government, pick one, there are lots of ‘theys’) don’t want to remind the public about those times. So when it comes to books such as Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, or To Kill a Mockingbird, which both address difficult topics such as racism and slavery, of course, they will get banned.
As for books like Harry Potter and The Golden Compass, they deal with magic, and honestly, not to be rude, it’s the Christians or other religious sects who want those banned. Especially The Golden Compass which is very anti-religious.
I don’t believe books should be banned. Ever. I think that children should be able to read whatever book they want to read and draw their own conclusions from it. They need to learn and figure it out for themselves. But how can they do that when they are prevented from reading certain books? When books are banned?
So I’d like to challenge you to read one of the banned books listed in the articles below. Any of them. Make a list. See how many you can read before Banned Book Week in September.
Now to decide my first banned book to read. . . It will probably be either The Color Purple by Alice Walker, The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, Beloved by Toni Morrison, or To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.
The little green caterpillar munches on a leaf, looking around with big brown eyes as the world spins around and around. She keeps trying to catch up but her short legs can’t keep up. She keeps falling and falling, further behind, scrapping up her knees and hands, blood staining her clothes.
She tries to keep her head down, be like all the other girls.
Keep smiling. Be sweet. Shut your mouth.
Don’t say a word even as the greedy grasshopper grabs her ass.
Don’t raise your fists as the angry ants swarm her, her supposed friends, calling her names and acting like she’s all to blame, Crawling inside her and devouring her up until there’s nothing left but green goop.
Don’t try to be unique. Get in line.
Neat little green caterpillars all in a row with their perfect white teeth, every hair in place, letting greedy grasshoppers move their limbs wherever they want them to go, bending and twisting, putting on a show for the whole world to see.
You’re too thin whispers the others. But don’t they know that it’s because she has hungry larvae to feed? So she hides behind baggy clothes and shrinks into herself like she can just disappear into nothing, fading away into the mist.
The whispers get louder and louder, crueler and crueler.
She’ll spread her legs for any grasshopper, they say. Let them stick their greasy claws in and tear out her insides until she’s just a Hollow husk of flesh with empty dead eyes and a broken heart.
The green caterpillar hides away, until she’s finally free of angry ants and greedy grasshoppers.
She builds up her shell, making thick outer layers to protect herself but doesn’t harden her heart. Instead she creates solid bones, a spine to hold up her head and a sharp tongue to defend herself.
Slowly the caterpillar starts to strengthen with the care and nourishment she never had as a child, flourishing and flourishing.
She becomes strong, finding her voice and speaking her truth with no fear of the repercussions, knowing that she’s not the victim. She is the heroine in her story as long as she believes. She builds herself a suit of armor, made of the encouragement of the others before her, telling her. You can do it. You can do it.
Just keep trying.
Keep your head held up high.
She wraps herself in her own strength that she never knew she had, forming a cocoon.
She used to be so afraid but now she’s not, even as she dissolves into green sticky liquid in her cocoon, shaping into something new. Change can be scary but she’s somehow she’s not afraid even as she breaks down until she’s nothing.
But then, then ugly brown shell cracks and the caterpillar slowly breaks out, shaking the wet off her face, more pieces crumble and as she dries, she spreads out beautiful wings of multitude colors. Vibrant blues, reds, yellows, oranges, greens. All in varying shades. Some pieces darker than others, others darker, some have no color at all, instead black as the night or as white as snow.
In some places, the wings have holes, letting the light through, a little scarred, torn in places but they will still get her where she goes.
She takes a slow hesitant step, still afraid. What if they get more torn? she wonders.
She will simply add more colors, more scars and more tears that tell the story of her life.
So she spreads her wings, the kaleidoscope of colors shimmering in the sun and then she takes off to the sky, feeling the wind in her air and the sun on her face, as she finally tastes true freedom at last.
The house looks so picturesque, like something you’d see in a magazine for Home Garden, the Christmas edition.
The front yard blanketed with a fresh layer of snow, icicles forming on the gutters, so artfully dripping as if it was planned.
A neat snowman with a black top hat, a checkered blue and white scarf around his frozen neck, little black buttons to make him a sharp jacket, a carrot for his nose and blue buttons for his eyes, a smile on his face. He carries a briefcase in his hand.
Next to the snowman is his snow wife, a pink scarf around her frozen neck and a cream-colored faux fur hat, a wide smile plastered onto her face. She holds the hand of the snow girl, a mini copy of her with the same pink scarf and faux fur hat. The snow boy stands next to his snow father, a baseball cap on his head and a mischievous smile on his face.
The house is strung up with lights that start white then flash to green, red, blue, yellow, and every color in between. A Christmas tree behind the little snow family, the decorations perfectly in place. Not a pine needle out of order.
No, no, that must never happen. Everything must be perfect.
Emerald green, shimmering silver, gleaming gold, and radiant red delicate glass ornaments so carefully set in the tree. A string of white lights and a wide velvet ribbon wrap around the tree like a noose. Glittery white snowflakes and shimmering clear glass icicles. Cranberries and popcorn on a thread in between the ornaments, snowflakes, and icicles. The snow father placed an angel on top of the tree, her beautiful face filled with reverence, gold wings stretched out behind her, and a glowing halo above her head.
Everything is perfect. They seem like the ideal snow family. Their house is seen in one of those magazines that talks about how the family, a mom, and a dad, two kids, one boy, and one girl, have lived in this house since before there were children. When it was just snowman and his little snow wife.
It seems like nothing is wrong until it slowly starts to melt, revealing what they don’t want you to see.
Snowman yells at his snow wife and broke her carrot nose, blue buttons flashing with anger. “I am the man in this house!”
Snow wife threw a plate at his head even as she clutched her bleeding nose. “It’s Christmas!” she yelled. “How could you?”
Snow boy hid with his little snow sister in their closet, covering her ears instead of her own. “Everything will be okay,” he whispers even as the shouting gets louder, flinching at the sound of glass shattering and their mothers cries. The front door slams.
The icicles dripped onto the polished wood floor.
The angel turned up her nose as her wings turned black and charred, a broken halo on her head.
Snowman knocked the tree over, scattering pine needles and glass for his snow wife to cut her feet on as he fled. “Don’t come back!” screams the snow wife.
Crows eat the cranberries and the popcorn while the snow wife cried, her tears freezing on her face.
Snowman grabbed his car keys and screeched out of the driveway, running over the snow boy and snowgirl in the yard, leaving a track of mud.
Snow wife pours herself more mulled wine, telling her best friend over the phone, “I can’t do this anymore.” Her face in her hands, the tree still laying on its side, needles bent and broken. The first ornamanet they ever bought, a simple blue ball with a pretty white Christmas tree painted on it, laid in pieces on the floor.
Snow boy creeps out of his room, sneaking a candy cane to give to his sister. He carefully picked up the pieces of the ornament and took it to his room, spending all night trying to glue it back together, cutting his little fingers, his tongue sticking out of his mouth in determination.
Snow girl hides under the covers, crying but not understanding why, sucking on the sweet candy cane but not tasting it, clutching her stuffed bear tight, a red bow on his neck.
Snow man drives to the bar, picking up a blonde with too much red lipstick smeared on her face. “Make me feel something,” He tells her. But as she leaves red stains on his tie, the one his snow wife bought him as a gag gift, the one with little briefcases on it, he feels nothing. He shoves her face further down, closes his eyes, and finishes the bottle of whiskey, melting into the bed that smells like piss.
Later snow man will come home. He will kiss his snow wife’s cheek. “I’m sorry, baby,” he’ll say. She’ll smile and forgive him, like she always does. “It’ll get better,” says the snow man as he kisses her frozen lips.
And maybe it does. For a while. The snow boy proudly shows his parents the blue ornament he spent all night fixing, lines of silver glitter hiding the Elmer’s glue. The snow wife will say, “It looks even prettier now.” Presents will be given, red and green wrapping paper on the flooring.
The snow man gives his snow wife a heart shaped dimond to hand around her neck. It will get heavier and heavier as the years go by as her smile gets wider and wider. Back to crisp suits and steak and potatoes on the table. Back to screaming and crying, slamming of doors and broken bottles.
The snow man will continue to see random, nameless woman with lipstick smeared on their faces and cheap perfume. He’ll end up dying of a heartattack, sitting in his own filth in front of the television and leaving his wife all his gambling debts.
The snow wife will drink, throwing herself into PTA meetings, soccer games and ballet recitals, and trying to make everything perfect, putting so much Botox in her face, it’s like she’s permanently smiling. She’ll have to get a job after her husband dies, then another until she’s working three jobs.
The snow boy will drown his pain in pills and whatever else he can shove down his throat to forget the yelling that happens. He’ll turn to a life of petty crime, begging for someone to see him, to save him, until at 17 he ends up on a slab with a bullet in his head. His own hand pulled the trigger.
The snow girl grows up with earbuds in her ears, locked inside her own mind as she makes red lines on her arms and writes into a batter composition note book, hiding from the world. She won’t even mourn her father. She barely knew him.
She’ll try to help her brother but it’s too late, and she’ll always remember the blood on their family portrait and he said, “I can’t do this anymore.” She’ll remember her mother screaming and hitting the ground, clutching her brother’s body.
She’ll end up going to the school counselor and pouring her heart out. Her father’s drinking. The fights between him and her mother. Her brother’s crime record and suicide. She’ll slowly heal, telling her story to group therapy sessions and then eventually to a crowd of teenagers at her old high school, with her wife by her side and her children in the crowd.
She’ll visit her mother every weekend, take care of her and talk about the good days. Only the good days though.
She’ll place flowers and baseball cards on the grave and tell her brother that she’s okay, that she still loves candy canes and making snow angels with her children. She’ll tell him that it wasn’t perfect but at least they had each other. She’ll tell him that now she counsels children who came from homes like theirs so maybe there won’t be another him. Maybe she can save another snow boy when she couldn’t save him. She’ll tell him she loves him and that he was right. It will get better. Maybe not at first but it will.
Then she’ll set a blue ornament on the grave that their mother kept all these years, little lines of white glue visible where the silver and gold glitter had flaked off. She’ll remember how she took a glitter pen to hide the glue and how her brother said “That’s a great idea!”
Then she’ll walk away, taking the hand of her snow wife, their daughter in her arms as they walk away. Money is tight. Stress is high. Their daughter is sick. Her snow wife lost her job. But the snow girl will remember.