Tag Archives: family

18 Things of July

July is one of two candidates for my favorite month of the year. You’d better know the other candidate if you consider yourself a friend of mine. Otherwise, it’s December. Now you know.

Most 18 Things have been written at a Starbucks, and this one is no exception. I have to say that this is the world’s slowest Starbucks and it’s a little frustrating sometimes, but the barista is awesome. She has this look and this style that I just admire so much. She’s really beautiful in a kind of striking way, but she looks very normal. Very blended. But apparently the more generic the face in terms of our Western standards, the more we find it attractive. I used to come in here probably 3-4 mornings a week with C and J, but now that they’re at the horse farm I don’t come by here as often.

I don’t know what was wrong with me but I was just having a super weird morning. Everything seemed a little off and I kept forgetting things and I felt weird and C and J were being whiny little monsters and I just needed to clear my head and get some coffee. So I figured I’d stop in here and add a dash of routine and normalcy to my morning to realign my day. I walked in and the barista looked oh so put together as usual, and I got a coffee. While I was waiting the creepy guy who bought my coffee a few times said hi and I said hi, and the guy who asked to borrow my charger twice said hi and asked where my kids were. Sad.

I went to put my computer and textbook down (I actually do have some work to do after this), and then the barista said, “Hey Marissa, do you want soy milk?” And it made me way too happy that she remembered my name and that I only order soy lattes. More people recognize me here than in my own hometown. I think it’s not just that I spend more time here now, but that I am never with my parents or other fully grown human beings around here, so I’m the chief of my little posse. I guess this will be number one.

This month I also went kayaking again, and I think I am actually addicted to it. Every single time I am out there, even when this happens, I am just so happy. I am so at peace, in control, and in love with the river. And it’s not just kayaking in general that makes me ridiculously happy, it’s kayaking on the Hudson. Something about it is so, so therapeutic for me. That will be number two.

I saw my grandfather a few times this month, and he’s actually a really interesting guy. When I was younger we didn’t get along very well, but the older we both get, the more I understand him. He told us about this guy he knew that said that he loved golfing so much that if he could physically and financially do it, he would golf 23 of 24 hours of every day. And that’s how I feel about kayaking. I would definitely go Cast Away crazy and adopt a horseshoe crab or something and call it Wilson, but I would be so happy. That’s how much I love being on the river. And sailing is cool too, but then you have to worry about all of the sailing equipment and sailing technique and boat maintenance and all of that shit, and with kayaking it’s so simple. More physically exhausting and less efficient in terms of how far you’re able to travel given a certain amount of time and energy, but much more simple. Also, it’s small enough to do things like illegally camp on super cool islands, and you can just beach yourself when you have to pee and if you see a super cool little beachy point you just paddle that direction, tie up the kayak and explore. It’s a much more intimate river experience because you’re so in it and so much a part of it. And you’re paddling so hard and not exactly speeding down the river, so you really get to take in all of what you see. I’m going to turn into one of those people on My Strange Addiction who carries around a jar of river water. Or I’ll turn into this. Because it’s quite an obsession, I will also make this number three.

I’ve also been further developing my obsession with names. I guess some combination of being a linguistics nerd, thinking about my future as a parent given my current job, and my highly obsessive personality is what fuels this intense name craze which started last summer. I had lists and lists and lists of first names, middle names, name combinations, combinations of name combinations, and it got a little ridiculous. As do most things that happen in my head. Thankfully it stopped once I went to MN, but it has returned. I do have favorites and a pretty good idea of what I’d like to name my kids, and my SO will have to accept the fact that he or she will have very little say in the matter, like I get to name them. Of course you can have an opinion that I will take into consideration, but if every first born male in your family is named John and you want to name our son John, it’s not happening. Maybe a middle name. No, no probably not.

It’s really hard to pick “favorite names” though, because lots of factors affect which names are most suitable. Where I am living is a big one. Names have to travel well for me…I read about a woman who named her daughter Marley, and when she moved to London it sounded just like “Molly” with the Brit accent, so things like that must also be taken into account. And if I live in Minnesota (although that’s pretty unlikely, it’s a possibility), no names with the /æ/ sound, because I hate the way Midwesterners pronounce that. So nothing with the A sound as in Ally, Abby, or Hannah. Not that I would pick any of those names anyway, but that sound is to be avoided. I generally like names that end in vowels because my last name begins with a consonantal sound, but I don’t know if my kids will have my last name so I can’t really predict that. I do like middle names with a lot of character though. I like Soleil a lot, but it only works with very vanilla first names. Anyway, name obsession will be number four.

I also reconsidered my career path this month. I mean I am always, literally always, changing my mind about things like this – things that are in progress. But the degree to which I can change my mind narrows as I get further along in my studies because I will not let my change of heart cost me time or money, so I always have to work around what I’ve already done. I guess I just realized that I enjoy writing and linguistics and languages much more than I like psychology, and while I’m sure I’d be a bomb therapist, I don’t know if I want to do that anymore. The beauty of the situation is that no matter what I choose as the other undergrad major, as long as I stay on track with linguistics, my MA is pretty much built in, which gives me a weird sense of security because even though it is a higher degree that will provide more job ops, it’s still a pretty flimsy field of study. So that’s number five.

This month I also ran my fastest ever 3 miles, which beats last month’s time. Yay! I snapped Eva before I left telling her to send me a motivational snap, and she sent me a pic of her eating ice cream in her bed. She’s the best. And I’m not telling you what the time was because it’s still really slow. Like, trust me when I say that I am the slowest person who runs. So of all people who can truthfully say that “they run,” I am the slowest. But I’m cool with that, brah. Number six.

I turned 19. That counts. Numero 7.

I worked at the Civic Center for one day…talk about fish out of water. One of the new employees showed me the new tattoo she got earlier that day, which is right beneath her left collar bone. It was supposed to say “my family, my heart” in Italian, which would have read, “mia famiglia, mio cuore” sans articles. But the poor thing misspelled “cuore,” so it now says “coure” instead. I noticed it and didn’t say anything while I died inside of suppressed laughter because I mean really…why should I be the one to break the news to her? But the dumbass kept saying such stupid, ignorant things and making really racist jokes, and I do not have any tolerance for that. Literally. Zero. So I pulled her aside and told her that her tattoo was misspelled. “No, I think it just depends on the gender.” “No. It’s wrong. This noun does not change. Sorry, maybe you could have it fixed up.” BOOM BITCH. Maybe if you focused less energy on being a racist scumbag and more on your spelling then you wouldn’t have permanently inked a misspelling onto your body. It’s people like that who give tattoos such a bad rap. That was so bad it will count for numbers eight and nine. (Also because I’m very quickly running out of things to say about July…)

I also realized that I have a dead/literary crush on Mark Twain. Everything I read about him makes me love him so much. He just seems like such a cool, insightful dude with a very nice mustache. And his real name was Samuel, which is obviously a family name, so that’s a sign right there that we should have been together. If you know any man that kind of reminds you of Mark Twain, send em my way. I like guys who don’t like golf. And as my psyc professor Marti said, “Beautiful writers are always great thinkers, but great thinkers are not always beautiful writers. Ladies, always look for the beautiful writers.” Dead crush is number ten.

I had the best Middle Eastern food ever at Aladdin Cafe. It does not look like an awesome place from the outside. It looks very boring and it’s in a strip mall and I do not like the location. But the food…zomg. My dad and I – excuse me, my dining partner and I has hummus, falafel, tabbouleh, pita, and this awesome rice with dried fruit and spicy things and nuts and mmm so so good. Then we had a dessert of Turkish coffee, which is a weird experience that I’d like to repeat but not any time soon, and this nut, honey, and pastry thing and a cookie made of almond flour. And it was all vegan! So, so good. Number eleven.

IMG_3176 IMG_3177

I got a parking ticket. Number twelve.

And I just spilled coffee on myself. Good thing I never unpacked the duffel bag from my car so I have tons of clothes to change into. #ProcrastinationFTW # Yes

Four different people to whom I have not spoken in at least a year (one of them has not spoken to me for three years…) messaged me on Facebook. It’s super weird…but it’s nice. Three of them are from TASIS and one is from New York, and it’s really nice to reconnect with people, even if we’re on opposite ends of the earth. Number thirteen.

I was talking to Josh and he said, “I feel like I’m talking to a therapist.” He said it in a good way I think. Like kind of a compliment but not really. I mean I’ll take it. That will be number fourteen.

I only ate meat twice during the month of July, and once it was kind of a mistake because I was tipsy. I mean it was actually delicious, but I would not have eaten it if I hadn’t been drinking anything. Worst part? It was’t a fun kind of tipsy. It was tipsy with my parents. #what #whatever #numberfifteen

I just escaped another parking ticket by approximately four seconds. I could see the parking meter guy walking to my car from my window seat in Starbucks, so I grabbed some quarters and bolted and oh man that was close. So I also changed out of my coffee stained shirt on the sidewalk. I’ll count this as number sixteen because I don’t really have anything else to say about July. #Strippingonthestreet #WindowseatFTW #Yes

Hmm let’s see….I bought concert tickets for next semester? I made a list of the concerts with cost, date, and location, and then ranked them by how badly I wanted to go, and I only bought tickets for #1 because I already have someone to go with, I really love the band, and it’s the only one in jeopardy of selling out. I then created a “Concert Preparation” playlist on Spofity. Or Spotify. You know whatever. I also signed up for guitar lessons next semester! I’m not very talented with musical instruments as evident by the fact that my 7-year-old cousin thinks the chorus of Call Me Maybe is too advanced for me to handle, but it’s a 2 credit class so I figured it should be a cool, easy A to boost my GPA a teensy bit. I will count both of these as one thing of July because they’re really shitty things that didn’t actually happen, just plans that I made. Apparently not a lot happens in July, even though it’s one of my favorite months. I guess it’s just super chill? Number seventeen.

I was talking to my dad about my opinion of my own veganism, which evolved into a discussion of hypocrisy, and I have to say that I do believe everyone is a hypocrite to some degree. Everyone tells everyone what they should be doing or complains about other people based on an ideal, and no one is an ideal, so everyone is a hypocrite in one way or another. I think the difference for people like me, as I put it to my dad, is that “Everyone is a different person behind closed doors. I just leave my doors open.” I don’t hide from the fact that I’m a hypocrite, because everyone is. “A man is never more truthful than when he acknowledges himself a liar.” (Mark Twain)

Anyway, I am opening this door because I don’t have an eighteenth event for July, so I guess I’ll take my own advice here and share one shitty thing that happened this month – I lied to my parents and my friends. And it was sad. I wanted to do this thing and I told myself that only I truly understood all of the circumstances, which although true, is no reason to lie, but it was my weak ass excuse. Anyway, I lied to the people that matter most. It’s not exactly a huge problem to lie to your parents most of the time, because everyone has to lie every once in a while. It’s life. We all have secrets and we need them. But my parents are a little different in the sense of this particular lie, and it was just really bad that I lied to my friends. So I eventually realized that lying to my friends is probably a pretty good indicator that I should not be doing what I lied about, and the lie just got bigger and bigger because I kept having to cover for it, and then I was caught and just came clean. The lesson here is don’t lie to your friends. Leave you’re doors open. People offen … I just spelt “often” as “offen” lol what is wrong with me. Anyway, people often mistake transparency for weakness because it makes you more vulnerable. When people judge a lie you don’t care as much because they’re not judging the truth of who you are, but I think it takes a real solid strength to be transparent. Because then when you’re criticized, someone is attacking the truth of who you are, and that’s scary. Anyway, there’s the eighteenth thing.

“A wonderful fact to reflect upon, that every human creature is constituted to be that profound secret and mystery to every other.” -Charles Dickens

Girls

I have watched both full seasons of HBO’s Girls, and it was something that I didn’t like very much at all  until the season 2 finale. The problem for me is that I hated Lena Dunham’s character Hannah and I read somewhere that she was loosely based on Lena Dunham herself, so I started to hate Lena Dunham – the creator, writer, starring actress, and director of the show. Which made me dislike the show, even though I kept watching all 20 episodes because reasons.
The one thing I have to say that I do like about the show is that it is a much more realistic representation of certain aspects of a young woman’s life, as per my experience, than some other shows out there. What I dislike, however, is the fact that it’s pretty obvious that Lena Dunham is the director when you see the types of guys that she’s getting with . . . I mean goddamn, Lena. May I also add, though, that I read a review about the series in hopes of finding someone out there who disliked it for the same reason as me, and they reminded me of something that hadn’t occurred to me. I hated Hannah so much, in part, because she’s such a whiny, entitled loser begging for her parents’ money. The review reminded me that Lena Dunham can make her character as much of a loser as she wants because Lena Dunham is actually as far from a loser as possible. She’s wildly successful, creative, witty, smart, and awesome. So that soothed my hatred a bit.
There were two scenes in the final episode of season 2 that rung so, so, so true with me, and it was nice to see someone broadcasting that to the world because I never felt like anyone else experienced these things. One was the scene when Hannah calls Jessa. If you know the show and you know me, you know who my Jessa is. And it was nice to know that someone else has a Jessa.
There was also a scene when Hannah just cut her own hair and was sweeping up the hair into a dust pan, and talking to Laird after he made the perfect bowl cut. She tells him about how when we’re little and we break a glass, our parents tell us to get out of the way and put shoes on so we don’t hurt ourselves and they can clean it up. She then complains about the fact that she no longer has anyone to clean up the glass for her.
It reminded me of something interesting. Last summer when I was watching my cousins, one of them broke a glass on their kitchen floor. I handed him his crocs and told him to get out of the way so he didn’t hurt himself, and I swept it up. I remember thinking of that same thing, and how I was now the person cleaning up the broken glass. I was moving up in the world.
There are a few differences between me and Hannah. Firstly, I liked the feeling of being the one to clean up the glass, literally and figuratively. Hannah is talking about the fact that she doesn’t have anyone to fall back on anymore, and her parents are not being very helpful. I actually enjoy that independence and the ability to figure out my own shit. It makes me feel like what I call a “real person.” The kind of person who makes her own pesto for dinner and does all of her own laundry and knows how to talk herself out of a jaywalking ticket and cleans her own bathroom. For some reason, I derive a huge amount of happiness and fulfillment from being that kind of person. I like cleaning up the glass.
Secondly, my parents taught me how to clean up the glass. Hannah seems really lost and like she has no idea what she’s doing most of the time, but I’d like to think I have this shit figured out as best as any 18-year-old can. Hannah’s parents seem really dumb and like they try to help Hannah in all of the wrong ways. They didn’t teach her to be self-sufficient, and then they get pissed when she feels entitled and is asking for money because she doesn’t know how to do things for herself. That’s on them. They’re the Dr. Frankenstein of this situation. 
The third difference between me and Hannah is that my parents will still clean up the glass. I have a feeling that they will always be there for me always be able to help me with pretty much whatever I need. In Hannah’s case, she is asking for money to get herself out of a legal contract which she failed to uphold, but I would never ask my parents for that. She sucks and she failed and that’s on her…it’s completely unfair to expect your parents to bail you out of problems that you inflict upon yourself because of your own laziness. My parents would, however, always help me clean up the pieces when things really do get messy. This past semester I was feeling particularly shitty and my Minnesotan experience had taken a bit of an unfortunate turn, and I’m over it now but in the following few weeks I was really sad and I just wanted to be home. So, my parents flew me home for the weekend, and it meant the world to me. They didn’t even demand an explanation, they just wanted to do what they could to help me sweep up the glass.
This was just created as a means to help myself further procrastinate the completion of my paper. And now I write…

I was born in the arms of imaginary friends.

These past few weeks, I had been feeling a little restless and frustrated with Minnesota. It was finally getting to me. At the point when I had just begun to feel comfortable in my new surroundings, I had also turned the corner from the excitement and thrill of discovering a new place. It was like the point in a relationship after the initial buzz has died down a little. Then you start to notice all of the things that you actually hate about that person. He’s always late. She always smells like a French whore house. Those little things can really just pile up and piss you off.
That’s how I had started to feel about Minnesota. Well, not the entire state, but what I know of it. The little things started to really, really piss me off. I even drafted an entire blog post about it. As we are all well aware, I am a very emotional person, and my surroundings are quite a bit more important to me than they should be. Thus, my being pissed with my environment is very, very dangerous.
Last night I talked through it with some people who really get me, I had a wonderfully cathartic cry,  and I washed my face and went to sleep.
I woke up this morning, and I decided to go for a run. For those of you who don’t know this, Minnesota is cold. Like, really fucking cold. The kind of cold that instantly freezes the inside of your nose when you step outside. The kind of cold that just hurts, and causes actual pain if you’re not dressed appropriately. (Guys wearing shorts and flip flops- you’re not impressing anyone. No one wants to see your blue toes.) Therefore, my spontaneous decision to go for a run (outside) was a little out of the ordinary.
I put on my Under Armour and gloves, grabbed my iPhone, and decided that today would be the day to wear by bitch socks. Not only are they adorably sassy, but they have some pretty awesome memories attached to them. I laced up my Nike’s and set off on a journey across the Mississippi.
I got to the Sketchy Bridge, and I felt pretty warm. I stopped half way across the river just because the Mississippi looked so badass. It was so dark, but the snow around it was so bright. I don’t really know how to describe it – it was just beautiful. It was powerful. It was pretty cool…running across this huge mass of ice water, listening to the very best running song of all time. I then ran through the West Bank, and ran back across the Covered Bridge (I still don’t know their names. I just refer to them as the Sketchy Bridge and the Covered Bridge.) and through campus, and thought to myself, Oh hey. That wasn’t so bad. Let’s do it again! (The “us” being me and Sydney Carton…we do a lot of things together. He just helps me evaluate myself and helps me keep my cool.) So, we did it again. The second time I was crossing the bridge, I stopped again. There was no one else on the bridge, and it  made me feel so powerful. I then resumed my little run, repeated the same loop, and stretched defrosted on the yoga mat next to my bed.
I then showered for approximately seventy minutes, applied a Body Shop tea tree face mask, and moisturized the shit out of my skin because that run sucked every ounce of moisture from me. I then met up with two other students from my class to work on this week’s problem set. We did ours independently and compared results, and I had a completely different analysis from them. It scared the shit out of me, and I really doubted my ability to ever study linguistics because I came at it from a totally different direction, and these guys knew their stuff. The chick I was working with is really, really good at this, and she realized that the right solution was actually a combination of our analyses. I was like, Oh hey. I’m not dumb or useless. I’m actually a necessary element to this solution! High five, Sydney! I didn’t really know the girl I was working with very well until today, and she’s actually really interesting. She was all snappy and kind of frustrated with my immense lack of understanding in terms of her analysis, and she let it show. It made me so, so happy. Every time she let me see how she really felt about me (which is not 100% pleased), I kind of wanted to hug her. But I didn’t, because the Jackal would not have appreciated that.
After we successfully completed the analysis and I had finished my vanilla chai, I went to the piercing shop and got my lip pierced. Just kidding. But I did go to the piercing shop, because the second ear piercing that I got in September had been acting a little weird and I needed to get it checked out. The piercing guy asked me where I was from, and we started talking about his time in NY. He asked me what I thought of MN, and I told him that I liked it, and then he asked me which I preferred. He seemed like an alright dude, so I told him the truth – that I have no idea. I told him what I liked and disliked about each place, but that even if right now I am feeling a little bummed in terms of my relationship with Minnesota, I need to be here. He thought everything I said was pretty accurate, except for he was a native Minnesotan, and he doesn’t really fit the bill in terms of the (usually accurate) stereotypes. Piercing Guy then told me his story, and it was really cool. He told me that he felt the same way when he moved back to MN, and he couldn’t connect with a lot of his old friends because they were “bros” and he had deviated from the bro culture. He told me about a few places I should check out to find “more people like us.” I’m not exactly sure what he meant by that, because I am not a man and I do not have neck tattoos, but it still felt good to hear some freaky dude refer to me and him as “us.”
The biggest issue with my relationship with Minnesota was that it just couldn’t really appreciate a lot of what makes up the best parts of me. I suck at so, so many things. I’m not that nice. I’m not that attractive. I’m not that smart. But there are a few parts of me that I know with certainty are awesome – the parts that make me happy with who I am. The people who stay in my life are the ones who can see that, and the ones in whom I see the parts that really shine. Minnesota and I were having a really hard time seeing one another that way.
One of those parts of me is my appreciation of things that are greater than myself. I can count on two hands the number of times in my life that I have literally been in awe, and could have just stared at something for hours. I can also count on two hands the number of times I have tasted something that I did not know could ever exist, as well as the number of times I have actually said to myself, “You will never, ever forget this moment.” I would try to explain some of these moments, and I would be brushed off as “Oh, well that’s just Marissa.” Minnesota would mistake my desire to express the magnitude of those moments and their importance to me as bragging or trying to seem superior, and it would not try to access or understand those parts of me. It couldn’t appreciate this part of me that makes who I am. Today on the bridge, I had one of those moments handed to me by Minnesota itself. A moment that I’ll be able to return to every time I get my lazy ass in gear and run across Sketchy Bridge in freezing temperatures.
Another part of me that I value is my ability to connect to people. Do you know how hard it is to connect to something that isn’t being honest with you? It’s really hard. I had been desperately searching for a person to be honest with me. “Minnesota nice” is alive and well, but I tend to forget that just because someone is being nice does not mean that they are also being honest. Minnesota does not like to offend me, and that’s fine. But when you cross the line from politeness to untruthfulness, it just makes me endlessly confused and frustrated. Today, Chick from Linguistics was brutally honest with me. When I wasn’t understanding something, she was frustrated, and she let it show. Not in a rude way, but in a way that revealed her complete transparency. It felt so, so good. To top it all off, even though she was tired of explaining the same thing to me over and over again, she kept doing it until I understood. She was transparent, but also determined to help me understand. She was both good, and honest.
Another part of me that Minnesota just really couldn’t grasp was my lack of interest in anything under the umbrella of “trivial” or “petty.” I don’t laugh at things that I don’t find funny. I don’t use sarcasm because it’s anger’s ugly cousin, and lying to me is no form of humor. It’s just deception. And I don’t find it funny. I spend way too much time thinking about what I want to happen to my body after I die, WWSD (What Would Sydney Do?), and how I can use whatever scraps of intellect that have been given to me to prevent bad things from happening to good people. Some would say I take life too seriously, but it’s just how I’m wired. I smile when I’m happy or when I’m trying to be, and I don’t feel the need to regularly validate my emotions by telling everyone on Facebook just how much I love one person. And I don’t know that much about him, but Piercing Guy seemed like he “takes life a little too seriously” as well. He could just be really weird and a good listener with a good story, but nevertheless, he seemed like he got it. Maybe he didn’t, but it seemed to me like he did. Maybe that’s what he meant by “people like us.” I don’t know.
It’s certainly no coincidence that the day after the Great Catharsis of Spring Semester 2013 was the day that I seem to have resolved my problems with Minnesota. I talked to a few people yesterday, a few of the ones who always know exactly what to say to push me over the edge and make me get over myself, and they all said that I had to stop looking at the bad. It’s such a cliché, but my life is 85% how I choose to look at things. If today had happened a few days ago, I guarantee that I would not have chosen to see the value in these experiences because I would have been drowning in my own pessimism and disappointment in Minnesota. Last night I made the decision to stop being a dick and to start being happy, so I saw all of the beauty of today. Today was beautiful.
Have a beautiful day.

(I just posted this, and stretched my arms back because I’ve been chillin in Starbucks for like 2.5 hours. I looked down, and far too many buttons on my favorite shirt had become undone to reveal the obnoxious pink bow on my bra. I have no idea how long my shirt has been like this. That’s the problem with hanging out with literary characters…they don’t tell you this shit.)

The Why

There have been an unusual number of shootings in the news, the most tragic taking place at Sandy Hook Elementary School. If you haven’t heard about this, I suggest you reevaluate your priorities.
 
Everyone has their opinion about this, so I figured I would share mine if for no other reason than to just have a document of what I thought about this when I was 18. And then laugh at my ridiculously over-optimistic naïveté.
 
So, I don’t think it’s about guns. It’s not about guns. It’s not about guns.
 
It’s about you and me, and how much we all love seeing other people sink. When other people sink, we all of a sudden float a little closer to the light. Or we think we do, anyway. And we all encourage one another’s perception that we’re floating a little higher.
 
Guns do not kill people. People kill people. I’m not one of those guys running around trying to protect my precious guns, and I could not give a single shit about my right to bear arms. Maybe I should, but I don’t. I think I have a little too much faith in our government, and I really don’t think they would repeat the same mistakes made over and over again throughout history in terms of civilian access to certain weapons. I just want it to be clear that while I don’t think that guns are the problem, I also don’t actually care about my right to own them. That said, guns are definitely not the problem. That brings us to the infinitely frustrating question of, “What do we do?” I’m not telling everybody that I have all the answers, but I have the answer to this one. Are you ready?

You sure?
 
The only way to prevent such tragedies as these from occurring is for all of us to stop being heartless douchebags to one another. That’s it. Stop raising our kids to be little manipulative brats, and stop thinking that we’re innocent. The blood of those 28 victims of Newtown is on all of our hands. That’s right…all 28 of them. Including Adam Lanza himself. A gun is not what killed those children. Adam Lanza is what killed those children. That gun is not the reason that 6 adults in the school, Lanza’s mother, and Lanza himself are dead. Adam Lanza is the reason they are dead.
 
We all have to stop acting so innocent. We, as people, suck. We suck. We love it when other people fail, because it gives us a chance. We hate to admit it to ourselves, but deep down, when we hear about that guy that spends his days in his basement playing video games and building computers and lacking any substantial form of human interaction, we love it. That means that there is one less person out there against whom we have to compete. To us, he is just another loser. “It’s his decision. He’s the one who chose that life for himself.”
 
Ok. Now why did he choose that life for himself?
 
When I was in 10th grade, I took AP European History with the one and only Mr. Kirsch. That guy was awesome. After class one day, Kirsch pulled me aside and told me to stop asking “why.” He told me that it was really actually a good thing that I was always asking “why,” because it showed that I actually cared about understanding rather than simply memorizing information. It showed that I understood the importance of the “why,” and it’s applicability to the future. But that in terms of my exams, I had to stop with the “why” and focus on the “who, what, where, and when.” The “why” was irrelevant as far as the AP was concerned, although it was critically relevant to our understanding of human nature, and how to prevent the recurrence of any mistake that has made history.
 
That made sense to me, but I still kept asking why. The why always matters, and I knew that. In terms of AP scores it doesn’t matter, but the AP itself is a terrible system that doesn’t matter either. In reality, the “why” is actually all that matters.
 
The why is all that matters.
 
If you can put the brakes on the why, then you can stop the ball before it starts rolling because there won’t even be a ball. Guns have nothing to do with it. Guns are the how. Lanza could have walked into that school with a machete and done just as much damage. With the amount of emotion and rage required to murder 20 children, he could have probably done just as much damage with a paring knife. The why comes before the how. The why is the ball, the how is the direction it will keep rolling.
 
In the days following the shooting, all forms of social media were exploding with people asking questions like “What kind of psycho could do that?” and referring to Lanza as a “sick bastard” who they distance themselves from so much. In our minds, we are absolutely nothing like Adam Lanza. We would never, ever kill anyone. Especially a child. Especially 20 of them.
 
Lots of people aren’t going to like this, but that’s too bad: Adam Lanza was just like us. Adam Lanza was us. He had red blood pumping through his veins. He was a human. He was a person, and people don’t actually just wake up and decide to kill 28 people. There is a why. There is always a why, and it’s all that matters.
 
The why is all that matters.
 
Now…defining said why is obviously quite a challenge when we know close to nothing about Lanza himself. Everything I can find, at least, is pretty much speculation that he could have had Asperger’s syndrome, and that he really didn’t know anyone. He was that guy who spends his time playing video games and reading books in his room, and his recent human interaction consisted of online communities and the woman who cut his hair. Obviously there is always more to the story than anyone can really ever know, especially someone whose only access to Lanza’s life is whatever articles I can find online, but the fact that there’s nothing out there kind of speaks for itself.
 
The why behind that kind of an existence is probably not too far from the why behind his drive to kill 28 people. There can only be so many whys in someone’s life. At least that’s how I see it.
 
I don’t know how the rest of the world thinks about these things, but for me, why can almost always be answered by who. I am driven by people. Not just the individuals in my life, but by people in general. I feel anger, sadness, happiness, love, frustration, a sense of responsibility, hope, and despair, all because of people. Adam Lanza may have had a who. A who may have been his why. Unfortunately, though, I think that maybe in his case, the why was the lack of a who. There was no who for him…and that was his why.
 
Of course, one can blame everything on him having some form of mental illness. Many do, because we will never know for sure, and that gives us an out. “He was crazy. It isn’t anyone’s fault.” Sure. Ok. But if that was the case, someone should have been close enough to him, and cared enough about him to notice, and to help him. To love him enough to realize that something was wrong, and to find some way to help him. Someone should have been a who to him.
 
I think the reason that so few people want to accept this is not because it’s invalid, but because it means that we would be accepting blame. We would be taking some responsibility, and we cannot accept that there is any blood on our hands. Adam Lanza could have been any number of unstable human beings who we do not acknowledge as being in need of our love and acceptance. If we want to get selfish about this, then think about it this way: We’ll be protecting ourselves by expressing love for everyone. I’m not saying to plaster on a fake smile and tell everyone to have a nice day, but I’m saying to pay more attention. To actively love people. To teach our children to actively love everyone. To accept everyone. To be that person that someone can come to, and to stop pushing other people down to make ourselves feel better.
 
I am done with high school. I am done with middle school. That part of my life is over, and I have my final collection of the stories which constitute “my childhood” and “my high school experience.” They’re quite different from most people’s, but I still have the horror stories. I know exactly what it feels like to be that person that they are pushing down, to be the extremely self-conscious twelve-year-old girl, sitting in the middle of the classroom at lunch time, alone. Everyone else who I had at one time considered my friends, sitting together at the edges of the room, and to be sitting alone at my desk in the very center of the classroom. To feel their eyes on me, to hear a burst of laughter and turn my head, only to see them all looking at me as they laugh. I know what that feels like. To be alone. To not want to finish my applesauce because a tear fell into it. I wanted to be home schooled, I wanted my parents to take me out of school so I wouldn’t have to deal with it. My teachers didn’t do anything about it. Those girls were laughing, and the teacher who was our lunch monitor came up to me while I was sitting in the center of the classroom, eating my lunch with Harry Potter, and asked me if I was ok. Did I look ok? Really? Would she describe what she saw happening as “ok?” Tears welled in my eyes, I choked up and pressure built in the back of my throat, and I told her I was fine and I just kept reading.
 
We can’t let those things happen. I had a who to blame for getting choked up during lunch time in my classroom, but I was one of the lucky few that had another who at home to get me through it. To call my school and get things worked out. To tell me that it wasn’t my fault, it was them. They were wrong and stupid, and I was right, and I would be ok in the end.
 
What if I didn’t have a who at home? What if my parents just told me to suck it up, or if they told me nothing at all. What if I had parents who wouldn’t invest as much time as mine in learning the details of my life, and playing an active role in my development?
 
I would have crumbled. I may have ended up in my parents’ basement, seeking a sense of community among my gaming friends, because I would be too terrified of real human relationships. I may not have been able to deal with the reality of the cruelty of people anymore because I was so hurt, humiliated, and afraid of going through it again. And I’m really a normal person. I look like everyone else, I’m pretty smart, I am pretty good with your day-to-day social interactions, but what if I wasn’t? What if those girls had a legitimate reason to push me under the water and watch me drown? What if they had actual ammunition to use against me, and they knew to hit where it hurt the most? What if I was also missing the love at home that got me through?
 
I would have drowned. I could have felt enough rejection, and like enough of an outcast at such a vulnerable time in a young girl’s life that I would have just thrown in the towel and given up on any form of a successful relationship. I could have lost hope in my fellow human beings…the concept of feeling loved and accepted could have seemed just foreign enough that I started to doubt its existence. I would stop making an effort to connect. I would have turned out much differently, and I’m not saying I would have killed 28 people, and I’m certainly not saying that Adam Lanza is completely excused from doing what he did, but I am saying that I don’t think it can ever be 100% his responsibility.
 
So, what do we do? We look at our kids. We look at ourselves. We don’t worry about tightening up gun control, because it’s a waste of time and effort. Guns are the how. There can always be another how. When there is a will, there is a way. It’s not the how that we need to be worrying about, it’s the why. We stop the why. We stop pushing other people down. We stop letting our kids “just be kids” and we start being the adults, the example of how to live a life of loving others. We start teaching our kids that for their own good, they must be good.
 
Please be good to everyone. Teach everyone how to love by loving. Please.

Comeback Story

This is really messy, so in an effort to organize it a little more, I split it into parts. It really didn’t change the fact that none of this makes sense in the same post, but whatever.
Part I
I have returned to the land of the passive-aggressive, and it feels so good. I had my first class this morning, and I am actually really looking forward to puttin it to the grind stone and banging out an amazing semester. I am going balls to the wall and trying make this semester academically perfect and trying to stay healthy while doing so – that means a lot more sleep and working out and a lot less bullshit. Three cheers for less bullshit. On all accounts.
I am currently sitting in the Starbucks on West Bank. It’s a really cool place – two of the walls are glass and it’s on the top floor of a building, so it has a cool view and tons of natural sunlight, which is something I crave (especially when it feels like -29F outside (I’m not kidding)). There are these three seats in this Starbucks to the left of the door, and literally every single time I have come in here they have been taken. While waiting for my tall soy vanilla spice, I would stare longingly at those three golden seats, imagining how it must feel to have the cozy chair that everyone desires. And today, ladies and gentlemen, I scored one of those seats. And it feels glorious.
I sat down and sunk my teeth into a tomato and mozzarella panini, and the chick next to me was eating an apple. She took a bite, and I am not exaggerating when I say that the juice from her apple sprayed my ear. It literally travelled like 4 feet through the air and squirted the side of my head. It was an incredibly strange experience and reminded me of this.

Part II
For Christmas, my dad bought me framed pictured of Bannerman’s Island, the Hudson River, and the Clearwater, as well as a glass Clearwater and a glass bird from Hudson Beach Glass. I hung them all yesterday, and it makes my room feel so much nicer. I hung the bird and the Clearwater from a chain of paper clips because I couldn’t find a string thick enough to support them, and it actually looks really cool because they are hanging from the Christmas lights above my bed. I also have this green Swarovski crystal that Yulia gave me a few years ago that I hung on our window, and the way it casts light around the room is beautiful.
Part III
After having spent so much time with people that truly understand me and mean the world to me over break, I realized what a high standard I put on the relationships in my life. I don’t have room for friends of convenience or anyone who causes me problems. I can be such a bitch. Really. I can be unbearable. And while I do have control over myself and I try to not be a psycho bitch most of the time, the people who make a mark on my heart are the ones around whom I don’t have to try to control myself because I feel nothing but love for them. The people who make me feel so thankful for their existence that I never have the desire to be anything but the best version of myself around them. Those are the people who make it into my book of “Yeah I’d take a bullet for you.”
My great grandfather said (well, my father says he said) to only befriend people who are better than you in some way (I am assuming there is a substantial amount of paraphrasing here), and I have to say that those words are pure gold. I look at the people who have stuck around – the ones whose friendship has lasted the test of time, distance, or disagreement, and they are the ones who I can learn from. I have to say though, that this advice can only be used by a specific kind of person. The kind of person who has not only the ability to teach someone a thing or two about how to better their existence, but the kind of person who is still humble enough to be able to accept that they themselves have a thing or two to learn from others, and can work toward becoming that better version of themselves. I’d like to think I fit the bill, as do any of the people that I have the honor to call a friend.
Part IV
Yulia travelled 9 hours from Rhode Island by bus, train, foot, and car, to spend 18 hours in NY. I met her on 85th and Lex, and I saw her fountain of blondness from a block and a half away. We went to Mike’s basketball game, and it was weird to think that my little brother goes to school there. He commutes, every day, to go to high school, when he could have very easily gone to Lourdes or even Arlington. Then I thought about my academic track record, and I think it’s cool that we kind of seek these opportunities. I think it says a lot about us. Granted, none of it would be possible without my parents’ help (financial and otherwise), and they never hesitate to remind us of that, but we are still the ones who seize these opportunities, and I’m really proud of that. After his game, Yulia and I went to dinner at this restaurant near Gramercy. 

We were standing in front of the theater with two hours to spare, so we Yelped the best restaurant in a 10 block radius and found this place called Maialino. We had risotto croquettes and tonnarelli a caccio e peppe from the bar menu, and it was fabulous. In that moment, sitting in a restaurant in NYC with my best friend in a ridiculously sparkly red dress, glass of wine in one hand and iPhone in the other, I thought about how lucky I am and how good life has been to me. I thought about how happy I am that I basically cracked at 16 and had no problem getting up in the middle of morality class and playing the crazy card to get out of class, and that I decided to move to Minnesota, of all places, just to try something new without the direct access of my parents, and that I understand exactly how dumb and irrational I am sometimes, and that I can admit when I am wrong and that I am capable of changing. In that moment I felt privileged and like I didn’t deserve to have such a magical existence, but then I pulled myself from the depths of my mind because that’s a bad neighborhood.

Yulia came for the Augustana concert at Gramercy, and ohmygod. I don’t know what combination of Dan Layus, live music, NYC, sparkly dresses, alcohol, Yulia, and an accordion made that concert feel so magical, but it was an experience like no other. Sometimes I get this feeling during a song that I can’t explain. It makes me feel like something beneath my skin is moving. Like something is shifting. We’ll call it a songasm. I have never seen anyone else try to explain this so I don’t know if it’s a normal thing, but it has happened a few times before, most notably during Rufus Wainwright’s live performance of Hallelujah. Anyway, most of this concert created that kind of a feeling. When Dan started talking to the audience, he apologized for going on and on about his life and other things, but I had to use every ounce of restraint within me to not beg him to keep talking, because his voice is just so mesmerizing. Well done, Augustana. Well done.
I could not have had a better last day in New York. Alas, I am now back to negative temps, dorm living, and lots of work, so the fun from that last night in New York will have to last me a little while. Until next time.