Sunday, June 19, 2016

To the Teachers that Inspired Me-I'm Finally Paying it Forward

I have, as of next month, been out of high school for 10 years. 10 years ago, I was lost. I hated high school so much that I certainly didn't want to go to college. I didn't know what I wanted to do with my future, and I honestly didn't really care what was to come. It was just amazing that I made it out of high school with no serious suicide attempts.

My middle school and high school experiences were some of the worst. I was a super poor kid in a really rich town. I never got to participate in any of the "popular" kid things. I didn't have a huge prom party. I wasn't ever really asked to a dance. I had two friends in 8th grade. One of whom was my 8th grade English teacher, Mrs. Burrett. She let me an my friend Morgan eat in her classroom every day at lunch, and we would talk about books and movies. She would always recommend new books that she thought I might enjoy. Academic reading was always really hard for me (read: I never did it), so instead of making me drudge through the classics I couldn't stand, she would give me books she know I would like. That year I read over 50 books. That easily doubled my to-date book number. 
She was the first teacher I had had that showed an interest in seeing me succeed. She made sure that I felt like I wasn't alone, and she sparked my interest in the wonderful world of books. Because if I had a book with me, I always had friends. 

Now on to high school. Sweet baby Jesus, I think I have, at this point in my life, drank enough to forget about most of the horrendous things that happened there. I was such an angsty little fuck. With fairly good reason. And what do angsty little goth kids do? They write. Oh man, I held the crown for teenage angst poetry. But for some reason, my 10th grade English teacher, Mr. Zuzulock, told me I was a good writer. He saw the raw material in my to eventually be really good at writing poetry. He gave me extra credit for the poems I wrote, and encouraged me to write all the time. I finally felt like I was meant to do something. 

So for 11th grade, I enrolled in creative writing. My teacher, Mrs. Stiff-Cox (yes, that was really her last name), saw that raw material become more refined. She helped me get into the Susquehanna young writers advanced workshop. I was one of 25 poets selected across the nation, and the only one from Montana. 

By the time I hit 12th grade, I was really getting into the English thing. I enrolled in AP English, so I could take a full year of it, instead of just the required half year. I T.A.'ed for my English teacher, Mrs. Sullivan, who taught me how to read. She never made me feel dumb if I found symbols that were maybe a stretch. She was ultimately the reason why I decided to get my B.A. in English. 

Two years after high school, after looking back a noticing this trend of inspiring teachers, I made the leap and went to college. Every teacher that I didn't believe, who told me college would be different, couldn't have been more right. I went from a poor outcast with barely a 2.0 GPA to someone who had more friends than she knew what to do with, and graduated with honors. This fall, because of these 4 teachers, and a brief stint at the local YMCA, I will be going back to college to get my teaching certification. I gave up teaching in Korea so I could stay here and hopefully be the difference in some kid's life that these teachers were to me. Teaching high school English is my way of paying it forward in my community. 

I suspect none of the people mentioned will read this post, but if you do, know how much you changed my life for the better. There were other teachers too, but none as profoundly as my English teachers.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

2 Signs The Guy You’re Dating Is Crazy (And 3 Signs He’s A Keeper)

After reading this lovely article, I decided to do some research on how to tell if the dude you want to date is crazy or a keeper. After asking around to as many people as I could, I came up with this wonderful, comprehensive list of crazy or keeper.

Let’s start with crazy:

1. He calls any (or better yet, many) of his exes “crazy”

This is really telling. Can all girls really be that crazy? Short answer: No. It shows that this dude doesn’t have the ability of self-reflection. He is immature. He probably pretty full of himself. He also probably gets on the elevator before he lets other on and lets the door slam in that old person’s face instead of waiting the two minutes to help out the lady with the walker.

2. …

Nope….really, all you need is the first one. If a guy says all the girls he has been with are crazy, perhaps (most likely) the problem is with the guy himself. He has been plagued with failed relationship after failed relationship, but he is so entitled that of course he could never have help caused the break-up. I’m not saying all ladies are perfect. But most aren’t as “crazy” as guys like to make us seem. He probably uses words and phrases that are degrading to woman like “cunt” and “pussy” and “bitch” all as insults. He is really just an insecure, woman-hating, man-child who want a mother figure to come in and take care of him.

Now on to the keeper:

1. He is compassionate and kind

He doesn’t insult women just for being women. He doesn’t insult men for “acting like women” (like expressing emotions or not fighting). He holds the door for everyone he can. He has manners. He can discuss failed relationships in an honest way, where he can take part of the blame for it’s failing. And he can be honest with you about his wants and needs, and compromise with you for yours as well.

2. He doesn’t act like a man-child

If he doesn’t get his way, he doesn’t throw a fit. He genuinely wants to hear your thoughts and opinions as much as you want to hear yours. He can compromise. And above all…

3. He is honest

He wont lie to you. If he just wants to have sex with you and ins’t interested in a relationship, he won’t string you along. He will be open with is intentions. And he won’t call you crazy for expressing your emotion.
So, unless you are certifiably insane* (like meds and mental institution), you are not “crazy.” If the guy thinks you are crazy just because you like to be alone, are independent, or express you emotions, then he is not a keeper. If he is willing to work through issues, listen and even maybe compromise, then he totally is a keeper (even if it is just to have fun). Good luck, ladies. And men, keep this article in mind before you go off spouting about how all your ex’s are “crazy,” because you just look like the one who’s nuts. TC mark
*Even if you are, no one should be made fun of for their disabilities.


Sunday, November 2, 2014

6 Problems You Only Encounter If You Are Addicted To Books

You know who you are. The one who slinks away into the book isle of the grocery store just in case they have one that might look good. Or the one who can justify getting a Barnes and Noble membership because you spend so much there that the 10% you save will more than pay for the fee. I feel ya. I am one of you (as is evident by the three full book cases and four full boxes of books in storage). Here are some of the literal worst things that can happen:
Shutterstock
Shutterstock

1. Buying a book that looks awesome, then realizing that it’s the third book in a series (you haven’t read) when you sit down to read it.

Really, it doesn’t get much worse than this. You get all hyped up about getting a new book that you are excited to read. Then you get home, and have to do other things. You pick up the book before bed, turn the title page and BAM! The dreaded “Other books in this series:” page appears. And yours in quite a ways down on the list. Is it even worth it at this point? (Spoilers: Yes.)

2. Accidentally moving your bookmark.

We’ve all been there. You roll over in the middle of the night and accidentally roll onto one of the books you have in bed with you (don’t judge). The next morning you wake up with the book mark by your hand and the book by your feet. NOOOOOOOO. You spend the next ten minutes trying to find where you left off in the story.

3. The broken spine snap.

I may be too careful with my books, but I try not to break the spine on them. Partly because, you know, when you are tired, you get kind of lazy while turning the pages. And if you accidentally let go with a broken spine, the pages snap back to where the break was and again, you spend the next ten minutes trying to figure out where you were in the story.

4. Buying more books than you can read.

The Japanese have a word for this: Tsundoku. I, and many of my friends, have a huge list of books that are in the queue to be read. But no matter how many you have waiting you always have to buy more. And the only thing suffering is your bank account (and maybe your fridge).

5. Reading books just because you liked the movie.

The book vs. movie debate is one I am very passionate about. I truly think that they should never be compared since they are totally different mediums of story telling. It’s like comparing apples and pineapples. They are both fruit, they have similar names, but the differences are so vast it’s not worth pitting them against each other. Though, we have all fallen into the trap of loving a movie and find out a book exists before hand. And by the time we are done with the book we hate either the movie or the book because one or the other was just down right better at getting the story across.

6. Being stuck without an “emergency book.”

I always carry a book around. And I have one in the car. Just in case. You never know when you are going to be stuck somewhere and need a book. And it is the worst having to kill time with nothing but candy crush and almost-used-up data to keep you company. 

Originally Published on Thought Catalog  

Saturday, August 30, 2014

I Went to School in the Rape Capitol of America

Trigger warning for discussion of rape, slut-shaming and victim blaming.
The day Jordan Johnson was pronounced not guilty for the rape of a young Jane Doe was the day everything changed in Missoula, Montana. Suddenly, victim-blaming and slut-shaming not only because socially acceptable, but encouraged around the small town of 70,000. In case you didn’t hear the story, University of Montana in Missoula was one of the schools that started the Title IX and inaccurate reporting craze. We are the town that was so lovingly dubbed “The Rape Capitol of America.” The story is one that has been heard over and over again over the last few years, but most people stepped forward after the Department of Justice got involved in my school.
I was raped by a locally-famous-in-his-own-mind guy roughly two years before any of this got out. As a victim, I knew it was in my best interest to not go to the local police, as there were already rumors about how poorly they treat women in the town. And since the prick wasn’t a student, I knew the school wouldn’t do anything to help me. There was always subtle slut-shaming happening — I mean, it’s impossible to escape the rape culture. But for the most part, I was pretty proud of my town and how progressive it was.
That is, until Mr. Star-Football-Player™ was accused of raping one of his lady friends. The town erupted with anger at this girl. “How dare anyone accuse the quarterback of the beloved Griz football team of doing something so horrible.” “This is Griz Nation! We don’t want any little girls crying rape because she feels slutty and disrupting the football team! Let’s kill the bitch.” “Little bitch was probably asking for it! I’ll show her what rape is!”
Let’s just stop for a second. I seriously heard all this and more while walking across campus, coming out of not just males’ mouths, but those of other women. Girls would claim to know who the girl was, and then talk about how short her skirts were, or how bad her grades were, like that somehow mattered.
Johnson eventually got off on the basic argument that because he didn’t understand what consent was, he didn’t violate the clear lack of consent present. Because she didn’t scream or fight. Because she just lay there and took it. The town lit off fireworks they were so happy about the ruling.
This, clearly, pissed off the local feminist community, a community I was very lucky to have found after my rape. They helped me acknowledge that what happened to me was rape, and that it was nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, they encouraged me to be loud and never stop talking about it. It was hard for all of us, as victims or survivors, to see what Jane Doe was going through. She had no voice. And our voices (those of us not afraid to speak up), were being stifled in a big way. Every time the word “rape” was mentioned, someone had to intervene about how Johnson was innocent and more men like him are probably innocent because bitches like to lie – or whatever crazy idea they had about why rape isn’t real – unless it’s little boys and girls being raped. Then it’s real. Or stranger rape. Or forced rape.But friend rape and partial rape and wanted rape (?) aren’t real. These, again, are all things I heard.
The feminists in the town decided that they would show their support however they could for this girl that none of us (to my knowledge) knew. We took to Facebook and created the page ‘We are ALL Jane Doe.’ We all took pictures of us holding up signs with that on the front. The community support was amazing. It made me personally feel like we had finally found a tiny voice and that people were listening. The local newspaper contacted ever admin for the page to try to get an interview, though I believe we all declined. We were all a little afraid of getting our names out there as Johnson haters. Several of us received rape threats and were called every nasty name in the book.
Watching the town turn so dark right before my eyes made me constantly afraid. I was having flashbacks fairly consistently with all the news coverage, and with the young men so hopped up on testosterone, ready to defend Johnson, I started carrying not one, but two cans of pepper spray when I walked my dog at night. I imagine that there are other women out there going through the same thing as me right now. They either ARE Jane Doe, or afraid to become her, or are dealing with the constant news coverage of something horrible their school did which may cause the PTSD symptoms to increase. But what I want to get out there to those ladies is: You are never alone. Find the community in your area. Go online. Any of us at We are ALL Jane Doe will listen to your story. But never be embarrassed or ashamed, and never ever stop talking about it.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Pick Up Lines for Women that Work IRL

1. "You look familiar. Do I know you?"

I know this sounds silly, but it totally works. It will make the guy feel kind of guilty for not recognizing you and it opens up the conversation for possible mutual interests. It has worked 100% of the time for me.

2. "CanI buy you a drink?"

Classic, I know. Women hear this all the time. But men? Men hardly ever get a drink bought for them, so it will make them feel really special.

3. "Why aren't you dancing?"

This really only works at a dance club kind of place. It shows the guy you noticed him and it gives you a chance to invite him out to dance with you.

4. "That's a really cute shirt/tie/shoes..."

Again, women hear this a lot but men don't get complimented as much so it will boost their ego right off the bat.

Originally on Listicle!

Monday, May 19, 2014

How Nicktoon Shows Ruined Our Generation

I suspect that most of you Gen Y folks out there, like myself, grew up being plugged into the various shows Nickelodeon had to offer. Saturday mornings with Rugrats, Hey Arnold!, and Ahhh! Real Monsters. After school with The Amanda Show and Keenan and Kel. And (if your parents weren’t there) watching as much Ren and StimpyAngry Beavers, and Rocko’s Modern Life as possible. My parents didn’t like me watching those shows. As a kid, I couldn’t possibly understand why, but now, watching them again as an adult, I fully agree with my parents. Most of what Nickelodeon showed in the ’90’s was perverse and disrespectful and it ultimately ruined us plugged-in Gen Y kids.

1. Ren and Stimpy:

I feel like I should save the best for last (since this single show is case and point), but I figured I’d start with a heavy hitter. I have very vivid memories of me at my cousin’s house watching this show when I was 5. No child should watch this show. It features a gay couple (which is totally fine), but makes them so slap stick and disgusting that it trains us (the viewers) to not respect any sort of relationship like the one Ren and Stimpy hold. The homosexuality wasn’t hidden – from simulate anal sex to saw dust ejaculation, it makes a mockery of homosexual relationships and encourages the viewers (the 5 to 10 year olds) to do the same.

2. Rocko’s Modern Life:

This is another show that features a homosexual relationship that is openly mocked. This show is just as bad in that respect as Ren and Stimpy. Though, it ruined Gen Y in other ways as well. One way is it minimizes and makes fun of sex work and sex workers. Rocko has several jobs throughout the show as various forms of sex work; phone sex operator being just one. It taught us that sex work is easy and fun and cute and funny. It also taught us that sex workers shouldn’t be taken seriously. Another way this show ruined us is the constant unhealthy eating. It’s something all these shows have in common. All the characters are seen eating fried foods or snacks or sweets which makes the viewers want to do the same.

3. Rugrats:

This show is mostly harmless. It has fun plots and good morals (and it even teaches children about other cultures and religions!). But the focus of most plots is of the children going behind their parents back to do whatever it is they want. I wish I could count how many times Dede shrieked, “Where’s Tommy!” in the series, but alas, I don’t have enough fingers and toes for that. Shows such as these taught us that being disrespectful of our parents was normal and OK.
Bonus: The Amanda Show (and most other non-animated shows on Nick):
These shows were the worst at teaching kids disrespect. The Amanda show didn’t come around until I was roughly the same age as the main character. It showed skit after skit of kids disobeying, making fun of, ridiculing and pranking the parents. It made disrespect of elders cool.
That disrespect that these shows taught us in varying ways is what made us who we are today, a culture of lazy and rude animals. Our parents came out of the ’70’s, so they wanted us to know we were individuals with out own minds and free will, but in their lax way of raising us, they forgot to tell us that this is now how children, and subsequently adults, should act. We can’t go around doing whatever we want without fear of consequences. We can’t bully and disrespect the people around us for fun or because they are different. Dick and fart jokes aren’t funny. It’s not cute to be stupid. Intimate relationships are not yours for the judging. And we should really stop eating so much crap. We were the first generation to truly be plugged in. We would give up play time for TV time, and it sure didn’t do us any favors in the long run. 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

I dont write enough, so here's some shitty poetry

Bacon: An Ode


Pre-packaged bits

of young

fat

pink and gray

pigs

spending days 

and

days

and weeks

in splintering

wooden pens

just eating

and

eating

and shitting

all so I

can have my

delicious

 brown

bites of 

fried fat

pig.


Tessa

We would go on walks.
She would dance, and sing and 
twirl around old lamp posts,
in tune with the rain drops,
knocking against the concrete.

“Oh!” She would say, as her
hand slips from the poll,
revealing black paint chips
stuck to her like new swim 
trunks- 

just tighter than normal, so
they don’t fall off. 

We would go on walks.
I would watch her red hair cling
 to the back of her wet neck like 
a roller coster, as she spun in 

yellow light, her face glowing 
like a jelly fish at the bottom
of an old ship wreck, stopping
to admire


broken Dresden china.