Tag Archives: Mom

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.

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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


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.

And then I ripped his head off.

I used to have a private blog of my dreams. I had a couple hundred different dreams on there, but then I realized that if anyone ever saw that, they would basically have a perfect view into my subconscious, and I am not so sure I would like that. So I deleted the blog and its contents. It was a little sad because there were some great ones on there, but sometimes I just let go of things because the pain of losing them is sweet. It’s like the pain that we feel when we have a bruise and we just keep poking it.
Anyway, I have put some of my dreams on here, and I am going to put part of last night’s dream on here today. It was a really really weird dream, but I can’t stop thinking about it. It probably isn’t the best idea to put this on here because it may or may not have quite a lot to do with what is going on in my conscious and subconscious thoughts, but whatever. It’s going up anyway.
I had quadruplets. I didn’t know I was pregnant, then bam…four babies just popped out of me. I was like, “Awesome. I always wanted kids. Cool.” I had three girls and one boy, and one of the girls was born without an arm. I thought it was my fault that she didn’t have an arm…and I felt so, so, so bad about it. I mean I didn’t think I directly caused it, but I felt like it was somehow a result of something I did. Then I had to name them. I spend A LOT of time thinking about names. Not just names of my future children, but names in general. I think of why people pick certain names, what different names mean, what names mean to me, and how different names sound together. So I already knew of quite a few names that I love, but I needed to give my daughter who was born without an arm a perfect name. I couldn’t think of one, because I always find something wrong with every name, but I named her Ilana. I then realised that I don’t even like that name very much, and it just didn’t sound strong enough, so I started freaking out because I couldn’t think of a good name.
I eventually named her Emiliana. I do like that name. Five syllables is a little long, so it would definitely require a nickname, and I don’t like most of the nicknames that would likely come from it (Emili, Emi, Ana). The only ones I kind of like are Lia or Liana. Anyway, I named her Emiliana Ryan. Last names didn’t exist in my dream apparently. The other ones were Leila Pax, Noelle Hudson, and Samuel Alexander. I quite like those ones. I apparently have a thing for liquid consonants. They’re kind of my defaults. Because every 18 year old should have default names for their nonexistent children incase they have kids in a dream.
When I was younger, there were three kinds of dreams that I would have quite often. In the first, I was somewhere without my shoes. I would just forget them or I would have lost them, and somehow I was somewhere important without shoes. In the second I would be in a car and unable to drive. I would have to get out of some place, but I would be at the wheel with no idea of how to drive a car. In the third, I would have a child and have no idea what to name it. All of these dreams are really stressful for me and I usually grind my teeth when I have them (I am aware of this because my jaw is sore as fuck the next morning). All of these come from lacking a certain preparedness, and even though I will probably not forget my shoes and I do now know how to drive, I still have those dreams sometimes. It’s odd.
Anyway, that’s why I got super into names this summer. I had so many dreams about not knowing what to name my child and stressing about it and trying to research names and figure out the perfect name, so in reality I decided I should probably just look into names a bit more so I could feel less stressed and more prepared in my dreams. I am so, so, so weird. Not that “unique, special, interesting” kind of weird. I am just dumb. But it’s ok. It’s fine.
So in the dream I finally named my children, and I went to my house in NY. Then my mom started taking them from me and I was like, “No, chill. I got this.” And I had it. In my dream I was actually really confused because I was aware of the fact that you can’t really be pregnant with quadruplets and not know it, but I ignored that fact. Then my family was setting up for Christmas Eve, and my dad’s friend came over for brunch and he brought his dog (he doesn’t actually have a dog). The dog went up to the quadruplets and started barking at them, and so I literally ripped his head off and threw his dismembered body out the front door and into the snow, and all the snow turned red. Then my dad’s friend started yelling at me and hitting me for killing his dog, then my dad killed him. Everything was then weirdly normal (as normal as me having quadruplets can be) and I was just sitting there with my parents and my children in our living room with the Christmas tree and music and everything was fine.
I realize that this post is a disorganized mess of things that you probably shouldn’t know, but it’s finals week and this dream would not leave my head until I got it out. It’s out.

Watch Your Mouth

When I was in sixth grade, my seat in class was next to my best friend. I brought in sticky foam letters to pimp out our Crayola desk labels, and our desks were super fly. The next morning when we went back to our desks, someone had rearranged the letters to spell different words. Using some of my friend’s letters and my middle name, he spelled out “Marissa Cerone Is Gay” on my desk.

We both knew what douche bag had done that, and it was the only person who ever gave me a hard time about being best friends with the boy I sat next to. I had previously been forced into a group project with that tool, and I learned that he was actually alright, but that he was just extremely annoying. One day after the project, he asked me if I wanted him to go to the dance that weekend. I didn’t understand exactly what he meant. I told him that I didn’t not want him to go, but I had no particular desire to see him there, and that I really didn’t care at all about whether or not he went. So then he said, “So you don’t want to go with me?” Now, that was a different story. I knew for sure that I would not go with him, because he was a tool, and I told him that (probably worded a little bit differently). “So are you going with him (referring to best friend)?” I explained to him that he was only my friend, and that I was not going with anyone. “Well if you don’t like him, and you don’t like me, then who do you like?” I told him that I didn’t like anyone (in 6th grade, “like” is a loaded word. trust me.), and I am pretty sure I basically told him to piss off. “Well are you a lesbian?” I didn’t exactly know what that word meant (Catholic school for nine years hollaaa), but I had heard it before and I knew it didn’t apply to me, so I told him so. I then asked my friend what that meant, and he started laughing to the point of tears (not a rare occurrence…part of the reason we were such good friends is that he rightfully never took me (or anything else) too seriously.) as he explained to me that it was just what people call gay girls. (He was also the first person to seriously tell me to seek psychological help and to tell me what a bong was. He was impressively accurate for an eleven year old.)

So I knew exactly what tool had written that on my desk, and torn up some letters to make a G and an I because neither of us had any extra of those in our names.

I removed the letters and my teacher asked me why I was throwing them out. I told her that someone had rearranged and torn the letters and messed up our names, and that I would just use markers like everyone else. She asked me what they had written, and when I told her, she gasped and said not to worry, and that she would get to the bottom of it. I told her to chill (probably not in those words) because I knew who had done it, but that I didn’t really care. (At that point, I had just had a pretty big emotional outburst in class that involved me throwing a lunchbox across the room. There was a reason that my best/only friend was a boy. Eleven-year-old. Hormonal. Emotional. Disaster. So I did not want anymore attention.) She then told me that she had a zero-tolerance policy for name calling, and then I reminded her of what he had written. He didn’t call me a name or make fun of me, he just said that I was gay. Then she reminded me of how sorry she was about that, and she explained to me that it wasn’t nice to call someone gay. I then remembered hearing the kids on the bus using it like that too, but I still didn’t get it, so I asked her why it was a mean thing to say. “Well, homosexuality is a sin.” I highly doubted that. I mean, she wasn’t the brightest teacher I had ever had, and that was such a silly thing to say. But she was speaking quietly and she seemed uncomfortable, so I just told her who did it and moved on.

I mean, my uncle was gay, and he wasn’t a sinner? I mean, he was to the extent that all of us are, but he didn’t commit the kinds of sins that people have to whisper about? But…my parents didn’t like it either. They didn’t whisper about it or anything, but they were angry with him for telling my brother about it. I just kind of figured that out, but I figured out lots of things about people when they thought I wasn’t listening. Anyway, she couldn’t be right about this. “Gay” was just the word people used for people who love other people who are the same gender. It was just like another kind of love…Being gay could not be a sin. I would ask someone else.

I asked my friend, and he didn’t know. We never really talked about these things in a religious context, so I didn’t know. When we got to my English class, we asked the teacher, and she was a little startled. It was odd (was going to use the word queer- there is a time and a place, my friends) how she spoke quietly as well. She told us that homosexuality was taboo, and absolutely a sin.

In that moment, I felt a little sick, but more confused than anything. Only a few weeks prior I had learned that sex was more than a synonym for gender, and I knew what being gay meant, but I didn’t know it was wrong.

Maybe you could say that I didn’t think it was wrong because I didn’t perfectly understand the biology of it all, but I don’t think that’s it at all. I think I just didn’t understand it because it seemed silly. It seemed stupid. I wanted to know why it was wrong, but I could not ask my teachers. They didn’t seem like they really wanted to talk about it. I couldn’t ask my parents, because I was 11 and they were my parents, so I kind of just wondered until I was home alone and could Google it on the desktop in our kitchen.

What I saw scared me so much. No, it wasn’t porn. It was something about why it was sexually wrong, and I didn’t really understand a lot of it because I just did not know enough about sex to get how everything worked. It didn’t scare me because of that, but it scared me because it seemed really angry, and I still could not wrap my head around why it was so wrong. (I have tried finding the site but I can’t find it…it’s from pre-2007 so it’s probably in the depths of web somewhere that I do not have the time to delve into.) This was the first time that anything about my religion did not make sense to me, and I just assumed it was because it was about lots of things that I didn’t know about.

That was it for my curiosity for a while, because every time I thought about that I felt sick. I would get knots of embarrassment in my stomach whenever I remembered how I had unknowingly asked about such a taboo topic, and I was mad at that stupid boy for tearing up my letters and writing that on my desk.

The realization that “gay” could be used as an insult made me sick in the same way that “retarded” did. My mother raised me with the awareness of how hurtful of an insult that was, not because it’s not nice to the person you are referring to, but because it’s incredibly disrespectful and just cruel to the people who actually are mentally retarded. Imagine…people commonly using your condition as a joke, or an insult? My mom is particularly sensitive about these things because her sister has Down’s Syndrome, but she also told me not to judge people who use it because they probably just don’t know any better. As a child, I had a particular hatred for curse words, and I would literally feel sick when people used them around me. It wasn’t that I never heard them at home (obviously, if you know my parents, you know how that is definitely not the case, and I have since gotten over that as evident by these blog posts), but the fact that you would choose to use a word so horrible that I am not allowed to say it made me sick. Hearing racial slurs still puts a little knot in my stomach, because I feel like you are hurting someone that I care about. Even when used humorously, I believe far too much in the power of words to accept that something is ever “only a word” and that is cannot do harm.

When “gay” and “retarded” are used as insults and any kind of ethnic or racial slur are used at all, you are saying that there is something terribly wrong and undesirable with that group of people. “Gay” and “retarded” are different from terms in regard to race because the first two are not negative in their essence, and it’s fine to use them properly. However, most ethnic slurs are literally created as a means to degrade a group of human beings, and I just don’t know how we can call ourselves decent human beings while we still use these words on the regular. I am not a hippie who says that “Love is the answer,” I am not a Christian who is telling you to “Love thy neighbor,” and I am not a pretentious teenager (Well, I try) who thinks that I know the solutions to the problems of society. I am just a human being that believes that any kind of term coined for the sole purpose of putting down people that I love is a crime against everything I believe in, and that every time you make a joke and use those hurtful words, you are widening the gaps that so many individuals have fought to bridge throughout history.

I could think and write about that forever, but my point is that when I first learned that being called gay was an insult, it resonated a lot more with me than it probably does with most people for a few reasons. I was not raised in a house where that was an insult, so I didn’t understand it. I didn’t know that homosexuality was something that was so undesirable to enough people for it to become a common term of offense. And finally, although I hadn’t considered it so thoroughly by that age, I still had the awareness of the power of language and the societal implications of derogatory terms to know that either something was wrong with me, or something was wrong with everyone else.

If in my 11-year-old innocence and naivety I found it ridiculous that calling me gay was actually meant to hurt my feelings, then perhaps we should all just take a second to wonder where that little brat learned that calling someone gay was an insult. Bingo.

And don’t get me wrong, my parents do not think less of any human being regardless of that long list of things that make us all so vastly different. However, I even see in them the manipulation that is the result of hearing these words, making those jokes, and saying things that only harm. Even if you think something is hilarious and you just have to share it with someone, don’t. Because somewhere along the line that joke or comment will land on a pair of innocent ears. And what that child hears will shape his opinions about different kinds of people, and what a crying shame it would be for him to think it’s okay to think less of any group of people because of you. That kid admires you, and looks to you as an example of how he should live his life. “As long as it’s just a joke. I don’t really mean it.” Even if whatever you are thinking is fall off your chair hilarious, keep it to yourself. Every time you say something that degrades any kind of human being, you reinforce the idea that it’s okay to think that way, to place the worth of any group of human being below another’s. That kid is getting it from music, from his friends, from TV,…please don’t reinforce those bigoted influences with your own words.