Thursday, March 28, 2013
Maybe it’s the same kind of feeling that trees and flowers get, remembering how to shoot tiny leaves and buds out of themselves. Maybe it’s the bursting out into sunshine and cold spring air that makes them remember last spring and the spring before that and before that. Wherever that feeling comes from, I’m feeling it now. Spring makes me feel restless and reflective and a little bit like running away. I’m trying to figure out what it means…why spring makes me feel like this.
It’s like…that feeling you get when you see an old picture of yourself and you remember and it hurts. Even the happy pictures hurt. I watched our wedding video a couple nights ago. It was the first time I’d seen any of that footage. I kept pausing it to stare at that person in the video because I know it’s me, I see that it’s me…but I don’t recognize her. If I met her now, we’d be like strangers. I keep squinting at the screen, trying to x-ray her, remember what she was thinking and feeling and I can’t. If you asked me what my wedding day was like, I could tell you that I was so happy, that I couldn’t stop smiling, that it felt so quick and perfect but the girl in the wedding video…I feel like I don’t know her anymore.
Maybe it’s not like spring, at all. The way I remember and the way it was…they’re different. I wonder if a crocus wakes up in the spring and remembers all the other springs and thinks, this spring will be better than last spring…? Maybe crocuses just get to be brand new every spring and don’t have to feel the history of all the other springs that ever were weighing down on them like an impossibility.
But for me, spring is all about remembering. Every year, on that first warm-ish day when you don’t quite need a coat and birds sing Disney-style and suddenly everything smells like flowers…that’s the day I remember what it was like to plop fat garden snails into buckets, to dig in dark, earthy flowerbeds with Halmoni, to drive with the windows down and the radio up and think, I want to drive with the windows down and the radio up every day forever, what it was like to be seventeen and falling in love, to be eighteen and planning a wedding, to be twenty-two and move far away from home, to be twenty-five and scared and tired and somehow okay.
I am one pathetic little crocus.
Monday, March 25, 2013
Season 4 of The Voice premiered on NBC tonight and in honor of that, I present the thing I did tonight instead of my homework…The Voice: The Drinking Game. It’s going to be a fun season, I think. Two new coaches (I will not miss Christina Aguilera and her clown wigs, by the way) and the “steal” rule that was implemented last season – super excited. If you missed the episode or don’t have cable, you can catch it on Hulu.
Are you a fan of the show? What would you add to this list?
Sunday, March 24, 2013
It’s a snowy March night here in Columbus, Ohio, and as I unpack the last of our boxes (FINALLY), I am head over heels for this crazy-good cover by Twenty One Pilots. They’re a local band that finally got signed to a big label last year but they’ve been popular here in town for awhile. Kyle just showed this video to me. Thought it might make you smile, too.
Isn't that great?
Sunday, March 17, 2013
I know this is not the sunny St. Patrick’s post that I was anticipating writing but I’ve got something else on the brain. I’m about to get a little more serious than I normally am on this blog so I’d like to extend a caution to anyone reading who might be triggered by reading a graphic post about sexual violence.
In a world full of troubling things, very little has been as troubling for me as the Steubenville rape case. I’m not going to use this space to rehash the very public and explicit details of the case. All of that information is available online. I recommend extra care be taken if you decide to read or investigate farther. I have been a hospital advocate for rape survivors for three years and have heard some incredibly difficult things – this still turned my stomach in a really big way.
So why am I talking about this? Today, Trent Mays and Ma’lik Richmond were found guilty of rape and sentenced to a minimum of one year in a youth correctional facility. Mays will serve an additional year for the transmission of nude photographs of a minor. Both Mays and Richmond will be registered sex offenders. Read the news story here. I don’t know about you but that feels like two rapists just practically got away with it. As someone who has been personally affected by sexual violence, I’ve got to say…this doesn’t feel like real justice. But as I’ve been ruminating on this today, a few things have come up for me. So here they are, the reasons I think the Steubenville Ruling is really important:
1. Rape almost never gets punished. I mean, like…almost ever. According to RAINN, only 3 out of 100 rapists will ever spend a day in prison for their crime. 3%. In fact, I am hard-pressed to think of an example of a recent rape conviction off the top of my head. So seeing two perpetrators legally convicted and sentenced for their crimes is a pretty cathartic experience for me.
2. This particular case contradicts some of our culture’s favorites lies about sexual violence: “It’s not rape if she’s drunk,” “It’s not rape if it wasn’t physically violent,” “It’s not rape if he didn’t penetrate her with his penis,” “It’s not rape if she has a reputation,” “It’s not rape if you know the person,” “It’s not rape if you were just joking around,” “It’s not rape if she didn’t say ‘no…” To have a situation like the one in Steubenville held up as an example of sexual assault is important because it loudly says that these above statements are false, false, false. The Steubenville ruling calls attention to all kinds of rape myths.
3. It holds young people accountable for their actions. The heartbreaking truth is that Mays and Richmond are kids. They’re not “hardened criminals” or serial killers. They’re children. As a (hopefully) future parent, I am seeing the ways in which kids are not being held responsible for their choices. I can’t imagine what these boys’ parents must be feeling right now but I am thankful for the Steubenville ruling because more young men and young women need to see actual consequences for sexual violence.
4. Because sexual violence is happening. It’s happening to people we know. It’s happening in our schools and churches and communities. And the reality is, something like 54% of those instances went unreported last year and probably 54% will go unreported this year. So the Steubenville ruling, the stupidly little bit of jail time Mays and Richmond will get, the conviction, the sentence – it matters. Especially if just one more woman, one more man, one more child, feels empowered enough to come forward and say, “This happened to me and it’s not okay and I don’t have to be quiet about it because rape is wrong and rapists get punished.”
5. Maybe one of the most powerful lessons to come out of the Steubenville trial is this pervasive image of the bystander. I was so struck by this paragraph in the news article I read today [emphases are mine]:
"It wasn't violent," explained teammate Evan Westlake when asked why he didn't stop the two defendants as they abused a non-moving girl that Westlake knew to be highly intoxicated. "I always pictured it as forcing yourself on someone." […]
At one point of the night of the incident, Westlake, who was sober, determined that his friend Mark Cole was too drunk to make a 10-minute drive home. At first, Cole refused to turn over his keys, claiming he could operate his Volkswagen Jetta just fine. Westlake was undeterred, though, eventually "tricking" Cole by waiting for him to relax and then forcibly seizing the keys.
Yet maybe a half-hour later, Westlake walked in on the girl, sprawled out naked in the middle of a basement floor. To her side was Mays, exposed and slapping his penis on the girl's hip. Behind her was Richmond, who, Westlake said, was violating her with two fingers.
Westlake said goodbye to the guys and kept walking. A good friend with his eye on the safety of others just minutes before was suddenly unaware or unsure of what to do – or simply uncaring enough to do anything at all.
If Steubenville can teach us anything, it’s that the bystander has power to change the course of events. I would like to believe that most teenagers, or just people, who witnessed this moment would know that it was wrong, that it shouldn’t have been happening. But how many of them would be able to act? How many would know what to say? How many of them would be brave enough? We are all responsible for our own choices and Evan Westlake made a choice to keep his mouth shut. He has to own that for the rest of his life. But what a picture we are left with! The bystander who could have made the difference for this girl. And did nothing. I don’t honestly know why Evan Westlake made that choice. And yet, I am filled with a sense of renewed purpose. If I could speak right now with my future children, if I could offer them something to make them braver, to guide them, I would say, If you see something happening that shouldn’t be happening, say something. You are powerful. Your voice matters. Everyone’s voice matters. And if someone has their voice taken away, HELP THEM GET IT BACK.
Friday, March 15, 2013
Last weekend, we got to see a couple of our friends get married here in Ohio. It was a wonderful reminder of love and the privilege of marriage. Except for the part where Kyle and I bickered the entire drive between ceremony and reception.
“Kyle…the speed limit is 65.”And then Kyle kept ruining pictures by putting balloon strings…in his mouth (???) Marriage is a privilege, marriage is a privilege…I repeat to myself as Kyle tries to ditch his suit jacket for the sixth time after leaving the church.
“Just let me drive!!”
“Seriously, slow down. You’re gonna get pulled over.”
“Will you stop nagging me? Ugh, why is this jacket so hot and itchy?”
“Stop messing with it, you look good!”
We stopped fighting long enough to take this picture and to dance to House of Pain during the reception. Marriage is a privilege.
It’s taken eight years but he finally has given in and let me dress him in grown-up clothes. Shirts with collars and belts that match his shoes. Shirts with yellow accents that complement my cardigan. Shirts that don’t have pictures of dogs farting on them or band names on the back. Marriage is a privilege, marriage is a privilege…he must repeat to himself as I force him to tuck his shirt in. Again.
Can anyone relate?
Wednesday, March 13, 2013
I seriously love this old, ramshackle apartment. It’s cozy and vintage and it feels exactly like home. But the downside to all that vintage is the way things seem to keep falling apart. The sink is leaky, the cabinet is crooked, and a couple days ago, one of the legs on the bathroom vanity came off. A little part of me went, Ugh! When will things just be perfect so that I can finally enjoy living here?
You know how much I love a good metaphor. This one is hitting me hard today. Things break. Things fall apart. That’s what they do. The car will break. The car will be fixed. It will break again. School will get harder and then easier and then harder again. Money will flow and get tighter and flow again. We’ll get sick again and well again. I could spend the rest of my life waiting for things to stop breaking and start being perfect. And I’ll be waiting a long time.
I keep breaking and am bound up again. Maybe this is what they mean when they say you should live in the moment. I am looking for the joy in the broken. It’s here. Can you see it?
Tuesday, March 12, 2013
I recently used a laundromat. I know. Stop the presses. Your world has been forever altered. The truth is, we used to do all of our laundry at the laundromat. Then we got cool enough to rent an apartment with its own laundry room. And we got a little spoiled. It was mere STEPS to wash and dry our clothes. We could (and did) do our laundry at one in the morning. Our new apartment also has a laundry room. It is, perhaps, less luxurious and more limited than our last. After waiting almost three hours to get through one load of laundry in the shared space (that closes at 8 pm), I threw my hands up in surrender and drove to a little place I like to call the Clintonville Coin Laundry. That’s right. They’re so cool, they even have a website. Also, an extra spin cycle, free wifi, and a requisite bespectacled hipster manning the counter. It may have been a few years since I’ve used a laundromat but I have to say, I think they’ve gotten cooler. Maybe you’re a laundromat veteran. But, just in case you’re not, I thought you might appreciate Elizabeth’s Totally Obvious Guide to Public Laundry Facilities.
1. Scope out the joint. Can you see a group of empty washers near each other? If you’re doing more than one load, this will be helpful.
2. Consider the time of day and week. Nights and weekends are going to be the busiest times because, just like you and me (or maybe just me), everyone waits until they’re down to the last pair of underoos before making the pilgrimage to the coin laundry.
3. Practice courtesy. If it’s busy, maybe you really shouldn’t take up six washers at once (like, cough, me). And whether you have one load or ten, be prompt about moving wet clothes to the dryer and dry clothes to your basket. No one likes a Maytag hog.
4. Laundromats require change but luckily, most of them have one of these:
If this change machine is out of service, it is probably because a) you are in a hurry, b) all the banks are now closed, or c) you only have a $20 bill. My advice is to carry small bills and be nice to everyone. You never know when you might have to ask a stranger for quarters.
5. Pay attention to the inside of empty washers and dryers. In a public laundry, you have basically no way of knowing if the person before you used bleach in their cycle and left chemical residue in the machine. If they did, your bath towels might end up discolored or stained like my last three sets. Also, check dryers for things like gum, hair, tissues, crayons, chap stick, tar, or pen ink before loading your wet clothes. If only, if only someone had been around to tell me that an Oxford button-up ago.
6. Follow directions for detergent carefully. Commercial machines can be different than the ones we’re used to at home and you risk over-sudsing clothes or causing other issues.
7. Ask the attendant for help. Every washer model has a different set of terms to define cycle choices. Some machines have little tricks to getting them started. Sometimes dryers make horrible, scary noises. Not sure what’s going on? Ask.
8. If you notice you’re having trouble getting certain heavier items (like denim) to fully dry, try putting one of your bath towels in the mix. The fluffy terry cloth will help absorb some of that moisture and things will dry out a little faster.
9. Fold at the laundromat. Use the handy-dandy folding tables that basically none of us have at home. This keeps wrinkles from setting in (If you sort your loads into clothing type – tops, bottoms, underwear, towels, this will be easier.) It also saves you from the grossness three days later when you realize you never actually ended up folding that basket of clean laundry, can’t remember if you washed that cardigan or not, and end up rewashing everything. Much to my mother’s horror, I speak from personal experience.
10. Stay safe. I’ve never felt too skeeved out in a laundromat but if you’re ever feeling weird or uncertain about someone in the parking lot or someone in the building, do what you need to do to take care of yourself. Keep your cell phone handy. If you’re doing laundry at night, park in a well-lit area visible from the inside. If you don’t feel safe walking to your car, ask the attendant if they would mind walking you. It might feel like an overreaction but feeling safe is that important.
11. Don’t get bored. Bring a book, people-watch, write a letter, live-tweet the entire process, make friends with your fellow laundry-doers.
Alright, your turn. Have a public laundry tip to pass on? Have a weird laundromat story?
Be sure to check out Elizabeth’s Totally Obvious Guide to Using Public Restrooms.
Friday, March 1, 2013
If you don’t hate me for that terrible title, I demand that you begin.
In other news…it’s MARCH!!! Which means spring is just days away now, MINUTES really. Mere minutes.
Things are going to change on the blog a little. And by change I mean, well, I’ll probably write on it. And not go weeks without posting. That kind of change. My focus is shifting, for sure. This month I am writing a paper, and a conference abstract, and a grant proposal, and a dissertation prospectus. We’re finally completely moved from one apartment to the other, so I can finally start snapping some real pictures of our new place to share here! I’m even doing a little bit of acting right now, just for fun. It’s going to be a crazy March.
But the warmer weather (crossed fingers) comes all my hope and energy and I’m really looking forward to the coming month.
What is March bringing for you?