Tuesday, November 25, 2014

To The Angels: An Open Letter to My High School.

La Reina High School has about 600 students in it at any given time. Grades 7-12, a private Catholic school exclusively for girls. I am part of the 2011 graduating class. I attended La Reina for 5 years.

Zoom out to my hometown-- the quiet, cookie-cutter suburb of Thousand Oaks, California. A largely conservative city with no original culture to speak of, punctuated by chain restaurants and car dealerships. To help give you an idea of what we were up against, Thousand Oaks is 80.3% white people. The percentage of black people in Thousand Oaks? 1.3%.

I remember no more than 20 black people, in any grade, at any time, attending La Reina High School. I do not remember specifically thinking about racism during high school-- the most I can remember is learning about the Civil Rights Movement in 10th grade U.S. history, in that passive, apathetic way you'd learn about something that happened as long ago as John Smith founding the colonies. I was consumed with thoughts of sex and gender, because they felt personal. But regardless of whether you are white or black, racism is personal. I apologize for arriving late to the conversation. I'm here now, and I'll try to talk the best I can.

If there were any safe spaces for black students at La Reina High School, I do not remember them. I do not remember any discussions of contemporary racist issues. La Reina has, for a long time, failed to address that not all of their students are white, heterosexual, Christian women. I remember, specifically, taking Morality class in 10th grade. This was part of the religious studies requirement we had to complete each year.

I will never forget the chapter in that Morality book that stated that homosexual people should be accepted for who they are, but homosexual acts could not be tolerated. I remember thinking my teacher spoke about homosexuality as if there could not possibly be any lesbian young girls in her class-- that here and now, homosexual people and their problems didn't exist. I cannot help but relate this to the invisibility black people must feel when they attend La Reina High School, or live in Thousand Oaks. If racism was discussed at school, it was not concretely related to the present, or as if racism was not still an issue. Until I got to college and lived in an actual city (Seattle is largely white but it's a huge step up from Thousand Oaks), I did not feel pressed to connect the issues of racism we learned about in school to present instances of racism. This is both my failing, and the failing of the people around me growing up.

However, I'm not writing this as a specific call to La Reina High School as an institution, though I will say every high school should engage in urgent dialogue about specific ways to combat racism, to create safe spaces for black students, to remind students that racism clearly still exists today. This is an open letter to the students and former students of La Reina High School. If you're reading this, we probably know each other, and I'm asking you to join the national conversation about race that's been sparked by Michael Brown's death.

I've noticed some of you have joined the conversation already, at least on Facebook. I want to say to those individual La Reina students that if you have, I'm proud of you. La Reina had a tenuous connection with the outside world, and I'm relieved we both found a way out of it and are now functioning as more conscientious adults.

I have also noticed a lot of you have not spoken up about the Michael Brown case through social media. I recognize that social media is not the only vehicle you can use to contribute to ending racism. However, I paraphrase this brilliant article about 12 things white people can do to combat racism in light of Ferguson, when I say that a lack of education on the subject of race or the fear of speaking out is not a valid excuse to remain on the sidelines of this conversation. I am fucking terrified of saying the wrong thing when it comes to race, because I am white and come from a place of privilege. But I know that I have a moral responsibility to speak out about racism-- as a white person, I am part of a 238 year tradition of black genocide, and I am called to enlighten other white people to their own privilege, and to challenge myself to combat racism in my everyday life.

Black people do not need to be told how fucked up racism is. They have been living in a racist country since the day they were born. We, as white people, are the ones who have to talk to each other about racism. We are the majority in this country. We can only alleviate racism if black and white people unify together, to work for black equality. And we are a long fucking ways away. If you still don't believe we are, let's take an example of racism a lot of people are talking about right now: please educate yourself about police brutality specifically perpetrated against black Americans. A black man is killed in the U.S. every 28 hours by police. Michael Brown was unarmed when he was killed. He was 18 years old.

Several teachers of Michael Brown described the young man as a "gentle giant." He was a teenage boy, with a big life ahead of him, and he did not deserve to die. In the New York Times profile of Michael Brown after his death, Michael Brown was referred to as "no angel."

I write this for young women who the world considers angels-- I'm writing this to white La Reina students, and any other white people reading this, who are given every resource from this nation to achieve their dreams and live the lives they want to.

If you were killed in such a fashion-- no, wait. You would never be killed in such a fashion. This kind of tragedy would never happen to a La Reina girl. And for that reason, it is you, floating high above the fear of becoming a victim of racism, who needs to speak out about why racism is wrong. You don't have to talk about it on Facebook if you don't want to, though I would encourage you to, because the more people you can reach, the better. But simply talking about racism with the people around you is a huge step in the right direction. Explain to your friends and family what's going on in Ferguson (remember that these are protests, not riots). That is your first step. Please consider doing it. It won't be comfortable immediately, but if there's one thing I've learned since my time at La Reina, there are more important things in this life than feeling comfortable. Discomfort is where growth happens.

Okay, so I've convinced you with my superior writing ability and adherence to basic logic regarding how fucked up racism is to take action. What can you do to help, angels?

--Look for ways you can help combat racism in your community. Racism exists everywhere, not just in Ferguson.
--Sign this petition to bring the Michael Brown case to the Missouri Supreme Court, with Darren Wilson as the accused.
--Learn about the seemingly infinite number of microaggressions that happen for people that aren't white every single day. Anyone in a minority group experiences microaggressions. Learn what they are and do not let them become a part of your life. Get brave and call other people out when you catch them doing it.
--If you didn't go out and protest last night, protest today. National responses are being planned throughout the country. Your presence at these protests would speak volumes.
--If you don't want to protest, donate to the legal support fund for those arrested in Ferguson protests standing for Justice for Mike Brown. You may not have time to spare, but I know you have money. Use it.

These are just a few ways you can help. I encourage you to do research on your own about a way you can gain entry into the conversation about racism. What will get you to care? Do you need to know the specifics of Michael Brown's case? Do you need to read more about our history of racism? Do you need to consume more media with black voices? Figure it out, and get back to me. Talk to me about how you can get involved if it helps.  I don't know as much as I could-- I feel like an infant in terms of how well-versed I am in talking about racism and working to fight it. But I promise I am working. I think you should too.

In Thousand Oaks, there are less than 2,000 black people. This painfully mainstream suburb of ours does not reflect our nation. In 2013, the US Census Bureau estimated 45,003,665 African Americans. And for 238 years, our system has failed to protect them. In 2014, that system continues to fail. And it can't change without your help.

Note: If you are black and reading this, and feel like I am incorrect in any way in my thinking or discussion of this issue, please speak with me directly and point out to me where I'm wrong and how I can fix it. I cannot imagine what it is like to be black in America, and I only want to help. You know better than I do how I can help.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Being Nice is Lying.

As I continue to pull adulthood further and further down to hide my childlike face, I'm realizing that my maturity is most frequently stunted by my inability to say no. When my sister was born her first word was 'no,' and I still envy her for that, because if you do something once it becomes easier to do it a second time; you've signaled to your brain that you can do this thing and your heart won't spontaneously combust. My first word was "Dad," because I love my dad! My first word was all about recognition and love and accepting that this person in front of me, changing my diaper, had a name, and his name was Dad. The only time I ever had to say "no" to my dad is when he insists he doesn't mind paying for me to fly home for Thanksgiving, even though Thanksgiving is tomorrow and it would require my mom adding an entire vegetarian option to the menu.

I used to think it was a strength of mine, saying no. One time I went to visit my ex-girlfriend at her home in Santa Cruz, and one of her roommates was walking around shirtless and educating the rest of the house about the ways muscles interact with the brain. Just above his belly button I remember he had a tattoo that read "I'm Down." He asked me a question, something along the lines of, "Are you okay? You're sitting there so quietly." And I just nodded as I do, because I was fine and really stoned, and he immediately smiled at me and said, "You've got a chill vibe. You just go with the flow, I like that."

People ask me on a fairly regular basis if I'm okay, because I'm sitting quietly, and I've always said yes, because I am okay. I do like to go with the flow. It's important to me that I know I can adjust to any situation and find some joy in it. Even though I didn't follow the discussion of muscle activity relating to the brain, I stared at the I'm Down tattoo for twenty minutes and I was set. I firmly believe that it is otherwise well-off people, with plenty of material and emotional resources, who constantly try to look beyond what's happening in their own life for fulfillment, that are permanently unhappy.

The problem with finding the beauty in everything, however, is that you become less discerning about what you actually WANT. Want as in, the stuff that gives you goosebumps or makes you want to vomit from excitement and inspires you to write bad slam poetry. But there's a huge difference, I'm realizing, between what I WANT, and what I have figured out how to appreciate.

For instance-- I have figured out a way to appreciate my last General Ed class of college. I sit in the back and I force myself to write, or make a To-Do list, or draw on my hand. The General Ed class is designated productivity time. Sometimes I also count how many times my teacher brings up that he has a PhD. If you showed me a brief five minute clip of the goings-on of this class, and asked me if I thought it was a worthwhile use of time, I'd say FUCK NOOOO! BECAUSE I'M TIRED OF GENERAL ED AND I'M RESISTANT TO LEARNING! But I have to take the class for this other, bigger reason (college degree), so I find a way to make it work.

Recently, however, I have taken pains to identify when I am participating in an activity I don't actually, inherently enjoy, but have chosen to try to appreciate for some other, less worthy reason. I then try to identify if that other reason successfully justifies me spending time on said-activity. For instance, I have several friends who really love the band Sublime.

There are several reasons why any one person could appreciate the band Sublime. Goofy guy vibes! California nostalgia! Catchy lyrics! Comedy and music combine! But after years, and years, of patiently listening to other people listening to Sublime, in cars, at parties, around the bong, HOLY FUCKING SHIT, IT IS A MANDATE, THAT IF WE ARE GOING TO HANG OUT, YOU WILL NOT PUT ON SUBLIME. BECAUSE I KNOW WHAT I WANT FROM THIS WORLD. I WANT FEMALE VOCALS AND SAD HOUSE MUSIC AND RAP THAT REARRANGES YOUR BRAIN AND I DO NOT. WANT. TO HEAR YOU PLAY SANTERIA ANYMORE.

I hate Sublime because I got tired of inventing ways to like it. I am tired of pretending I like things I do not like. And I'm working up to, slowly but surely, embracing this sort of honesty in as many parts of my life as possible. I will, of course, politely express that I fucking hate Sublime, but the fucking hatred will be expressed. It's nothing personal. I still love you if you love Sublime. But unfortunately, we can never marry.

I've always prided myself on how nice I am. I've often considered myself to be a nice person, outwardly. But there is a difference being nice, and being kind. And I'd say about 9.5 times out of 10, being nice is lying.

So, in conclusion, to summarize, in short, in an attempt to wrap it up: I think I've always been uncomfortable with the parts of me others would deem ugly. But there's some ugly stuff going on in me, just like anybody else. And it's too lonely to keep lying about it. Because every second of my life is urgent and worth appreciating, but what I WANT? What I WANT? I want to make out with Emma Watson, and break the taboo that says I can't make out with other people named Emma. And I will not let my propensity for niceness, stand in the way of my dreams.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Duck Grid.

Hi reader. I've been doing a lot of reflecting recently. There are several reasons for this.

1. It's senior year, and I feel inclined to take a magnifying glass to my last four years of college, to carefully examine my lessons and my flaws so I can carry forth applicable wisdom into REAL LIFE ADULT WORLD. There's a lot of material there. I've really fucked a lot of things up.

2. I wait, WITH BAITED BREATH (what a weird phrase, I had to use it), to begin my honors project in WQ. Next quarter is when my year really kicks off, and I'm finally engaged in stuff that I care about! Two badass philosophy classes + English honors!-- but right now I'm stuck finishing up General Ed requirements. Save for one magical English class, my analytical skills are hardly engaged this quarter, and so I'm turning the knife inward and carving up my own character development rather than some fictional asshole's, as I should be.

3. When something is wrong, the wheels start turning, right? And the way this often works for me is, there's something "small," something concrete and specific, that is wrong. This small wrong thing speaks to a higher idea, something "big," that relates to my understanding of past events as well as informing what I want in my future. Of course, there are always small parts of your life that aren't fulfilling-- "life has a gap in it... you don't go crazy trying to fill it." But I'm coming to the understanding that when enough small things start to go wrong, eventually your brain is gonna take notice. It's time to attribute all those small things to bigger issue in your life, maybe. Or at least, it's important to look for a pattern-- not FORCE a pattern to be there, but look for one. Patterns in your small issues will communicate the big issue, the little voice in my head believes.

I've had a sense, for the last few months, that some of the small issues are piling up. Something is blocking their resolve-- something is blocking their resolution on a bigger level. The IDEA level. Little issues are like, when some dumb toddler ties your shoes together under the table. You just take a second to untie them, and then you get up from the table and you keep walking forward. Big issues are like, some FULL GROWN ADULT (how did you not see him, under there? Stuff must be so fucked up) has found a way to create a cement block AROUND BOTH YOUR SHOES, and now the cement has dried, and you are really fucking stuck. You consider amputating your feet, or just sort of leaving the cement where it is, and using the rest of your life savings to hire a servant to bring you food and your laptop eternally. After about an hour of entertaining this no-hassle, sedentary life, you decide there's only one thing to do. You have to get the cement off your feet.

I can't be sure, reader, but I'm beginning to get the sense there's cement on my feet. Someone's starting to get cement in there. It's not final, and it's not as bad as it could be, but it might be starting, so I have to keep my eye on my shoes. I need to clean up the mess that's already there and then get up from the table. But what, oh what, is the mess?

This is the first step. Locating the mess. And the mess is hidden deep in this other mess. And that mess, is called, Society.

If the human self is just a compilation of outside influences (nothing and everything is real! we're all connected! Those flowers, also me!), it can be a uniquely difficult experience, figuring out what resonates with us, which values we care about upholding. I used to think everyone had basically the same values, but I'm not sure that's true anymore-- if we all have the same values, ultimately, the way we express those values sure does come out in weirdo ways. Some people say I love you with a kiss, some people say I love you with a prayer in Church, some people say I love you by leaving a bag of flaming shit on your front porch. In any instance, this may be somebody's ultimate expression of love, but an outside party probably couldn't gauge the sincerity, because they too have a bunch of other crazy shit racing around their head, because they too are trying to figure out what they think would be their individual, ultimate expression of love.

The thing I'm trying to get at is, I know my core values: honesty, liberation, and kindness. But the way these values manifest for me has always been tricky, because I've had so many different influences since the moment I was born telling me how kindness should be expressed, what honesty is, how to ultimately free yourself, or even, if you should be free. It took me a long time to realize I was worthy of self-expression, because there are so many forces in the world telling me that if you like girls, if your gender identity is fluid, if you can experience attraction for multiple people at once, if you're just generally kind of unsettling to the Wonderbread of this world, you should suppress it. Because Wonderbread is right, and you're wrong.

Man, a lot of people think that non-bread stuff is wrong. But I know my stuff isn't wrong. And it's horrifying, to realize how many people are cruel and judgmental about natural human instinct. It's horrifying to see the countless, massive institutions that enforce these rules of social conduct. The hardest part of my life is attempting to follow my inner voice and feel good about it, because it seems like the farther I go in the direction of myself, whatever that is, the more people I lose-- and not just any people. The people who I loved and trusted from such an early age, the people I discovered my beliefs with, are not always coming along for the self-discovery ride the same way I am. I feel like my ideas are getting more radical with time and the public acceptance of those ideas is decreasing.

It morphs into a yelling match in my head. "Are you crazy? Are you just being a selfish fucking lunatic? Are you what happens when evil gets a soul and a body? Or are you a pioneer of free-thinking, at the forefront of a movement towards maturity and individual freedom, of superior appreciation and trust in human nature?" And I don't know. I don't think I'm all evil, but maybe I'm a little bit evil? I can't figure it out. So I sit, and wait, and think, and hope something useful is revealed to me.

In the meantime? All this waiting and thinking is making me a crazy banana king. The only thing that alleviates the tension even slighlty is to write about it (badly, incompletely) because at least then I'm doing SOMETHING with all this nervous energy. And I know all the thinking is happening because of a refusal to act-- the thing is, part of this refusal to act feels necessary to where I'm at right now in my life, aka, COLLEGIATE WORLD OF COLLEGE MAN, COLLEGENESS AND ALL HIS COLLEGE FRIENDS.

So, I'm in my senior year of college. I have a city I know and love, a bunch of friends, a steady relationship, determined values, a campus job, classes to get through, and a place to live. College has served as a foundation for all of these things to happen. As I graduate, I realize I can only carry all that I've found here for so long-- some of this stuff will stay and develop along with me, other stuff will naturally fade, remaining solely a part of the "college experience" forever, or maybe mutate into something else entirely. I guess the fear is no longer that I won't know what to do after I graduate-- it's that the picture is finally forming, and changes have to be made, but those changes aren't clear yet, but whatever those changes end up being I am SCARED AS FUCK IN ANTICIPATION OF MAKING THOSE CHANGES. I AM SCARED AS FUCK IN ANTICIPATION OF BECOMING WAY MORE BADASS AND CONFIDENT IN MYSELF AND HONEST AND FUCKING FEARLESS. BECAUSE CHANGE.

And because right now, in a lot of ways, I don't feel badass. I feel stuck in skool, I feel quiet and contemplative. I feel genuinely afraid. But it's just cause I'm getting my ducks in rows and columns, I try to remind myslef. This is how I operate-- I need lots of planning time to figure out what the next move is, to nail down just what it is I am about. Reader, I am building a duck grid. And soon, this duck grid will come crashing down, onto the head of the patriarchy.



Thursday, November 6, 2014

HEARTBREAK UNIVERSE.

HELLO READER. Hello. I don't know if you know this about me, but, frequently, I get ideas.

Q: You get id--

A:

As I was saying, I get ideas. One of my ideas is for a revolutionary new dance club. This dance club is the dance club I am always looking to go to. It is the dance club that will meet all my clubbing needs. This dance club will be appropriately, titled, HEARTBREAK UNIVERSE.

NOTE: I OWN THE IDEA FOR HEARTBREAK UNIVERSE EXCLUSIVELY. PLEASE DON'T BE A DICK AND STEAL MY BRILLIANT AND REVOLUTIONARY IDEA. A PATENT IS THE WORKS, SO FUCK YOU.

With that being said, welcome. To HEARTBREAK UNIVERSE.

The entrance to HEARTBREAK UNIVERSE will play on Lisa Frank, probably, or maybe some cutesy 80s font with a bunch of bulging cartoon hearts, broken like those shitty friendship necklaces you get from Claire's. The entrance will also include an onslaught of bubbles. This is a high-end club and we can afford bubbles and also a carpet covered in little broken hearts. This is a high-end club.

Because HEARTBREAK UNIVERSE is a high-end club, there is always a cover (to be determined when I consult my financial advisor (CURRENTLY HIRING, INQUIRE INSIDE FOR FINANCIAL ADVISING OPPORTUNITIES)). And I agree, covers are a fucking drag, but only when the club is not worth it. This club will be worth it.

The first bar of the club appears immediately as you enter, and enforces the HEARTBREAK UNIVERSE policy that all alcohol is available and priced as one might typically expect, save for one exception. This exception is always true at HEARTBREAK UNIVERSE. The exception is that our house margarita, a great $7 deal, is made with Patron.

Naturally, everybody gets fucked up on Patron margaritas at HEARTBREAK UNIVERSE, because we're going for a SPECIFIC VIBE HERE, PEOPLE. Here at HEARTBREAK UNIVERSE, we encourage people to access their innermost emotions. We want you to cry and scream, because the music coming from the speakers is always loud enough to drown you out anyway. Your cries and screams mingle and combine with all the other cries and screams, and the expertly executed house remix of the best popular music of the ages, and you are no longer alone. No one is ever truly alone, emotionally ruined though they may be, when they step inside HEARTBREAK UNIVERSE.

However, at the first sign of violent expression of these emotions (injuring other patrons verbally or physically, not finishing your Patron margarita and leaving it in the bathroom), you will be thrown out of HEARTBREAK UNIVERSE and kept on a list. You get two strikes, then you're out eternally. We encourage good natured emotional release. We don't want anyone to get hurt. We just want to cry about all the people who hurt us.

The dance floor is the main event at HEARTBREAK UNIVERSE. The floor itself is pink and black checkerboard (think early Avril Lavigne, before the Nickelback thing). Music genres of all kinds are welcome, as long as the music plays on your basest emotions. Bonus points if you can sing along. Generally you will find house music of superior quality, as well as the most innovative pop music, ACCESSIBLE dubstep, anthemic indie stuff-- our DJs know what's up. We pride ourselves on having the best DJs in the biz. All DJs are subjected to several interviews before being hired officially, as well as an audition. DJs must exhibit expert empathy, kindness, basic intelligence, a broad understanding of musical trends (classical to contemporary), and actively create their own music in their spare time. In short, when you come to HEARTBREAK UNIVERSE, your DJ is smart and beautiful and loves you. You're in good hands. THESE ARE THE HANDS YOU ALWAYS DESERVED. THESE ARE THE HANDS THAT NIGHTMARE OF A PERSON REFUSED TO BE FOR YOU.

In closing, HEARTBREAK UNIVERSE is your home when the person you've depended on the most for any number of months and years has decided to abandon you. Are you a tortured soul? Come to HEARTBREAK UNIVERSE. We have wet t-shit contests, in which the person with the most tear stains on their shirt gets a free Patron margarita.

Here at HEARTBREAK UNIVERSE, we treasure feeling. Our job is to help you feel. Some people need house music and margaritas to do that. When R Place inevitably disappoints you for the last time, come on down to HEARTBREAK UNIVERSE.

***NEED A CATHARTIC METHOD OF GETTING RID OF THOSE ROMANTIC PICTURES OF YOU AND YOUR OLD FLAME? DON'T MISS PHOTO BURNING FRIDAY THIS WEEK AT HEARTBREAK UNIVERSE! WHOEVER BRINGS IN THE MOST FORMERLY ADORABLE AND NOW LIFE RUINING PICTURE GETS A FREE PATRON MARGARITA!!***

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Why It Sucks to Be a Gryffindor in your 20s.

Today a young man on the street told me I had a leaf in my hair directly over my right shoulder. I asked him to help me get it and he said, "Walk under trees a lot?" and I said "Yeah? This happens to me often. (?)" And then I said thanks and we were walking in the same direction for a long time mostly keep pace with each other on accident. And then I thought about how I was 21 years old and still hadn't picked a favorite season or a career path.

Anyway, that isn't what I wanted to write about. What I wanted to write about is how it sucks to be a Gryffindor when you're in your 20s.

Folks are always telling me that because I'm in my 20s it is time for me to be selfish and TRUE TO UR HEART, which is a saying that doesn't actually mean anything and seems deliberately confusing. Sometimes your heart and your head aren't friends. Sometimes your head has your heart tied up in the back room, arms behind its back and mouth all gagged, so when you try to listen your heart for the typical sage, coherent advice-heart-poem all you hear is MMM! MMMMFFFGHHH! which in human roughly translates to JUST DO IT! DO! IT! WHATEVER IT IS! DO IT! EVER! ACTIONNNN!

But I digress. Anyway, I'm supposed to be primarily achievement oriented because I'm in my 20s, doing everything to service the great adolescent deity, the Me. But Gryffindors subscribe to something much larger than the expectations of any era of youth-- the eternal ideals of bravery, truth, and chivalry.

What does this mean for a 2014 muggle lesbian? It means I talk too often about how gay I am, in hopes of helping some other burgeoning lesbian feel less lonely, it means I over share and panic if I sense ANY PART OF MY LIFE IS A LIE, and I love the ladies, in that real affectionate, committed sense.

I feel like an old Gryffindor dad. I just want to sit at home with a Butterbeer and a pug romping to and fro and have a wife and kids to sit down with at the kitchen table where we talk about our weekends and our values. I don't want to have a foursome or dance naked on a rooftop on 3 tabs of LSD or "develop professionally." I want to fast-forward to the part where I've already accomplished a bunch of stuff because I'm so brave and true. Where is the part where I'm fat and boring and have endearing wrinkles on my face? WHERE IS THE PART WHERE I GET TO SACRIFICE FOR THE SAKE OF MY FAMILY?

Gryffindors are all about ideals. Only a Gryffindor would idealize age.

I talked to my grandma on the phone today because it's her 90th birthday (a Gryffindor, for sure). She was really excited that she received two different birthday cakes as presents. I sense that my grandma and I closer now.

Where I'm trying to go with this is, everybody thinks sacrifice and chivalry is irrelevant to being 21, and they're probably right.


Sunday, November 2, 2014

A Privilege Problem.

Hello reader. I decided I wanted to take a break from being frivolous and self-obsessed so I'm writing about something I've been thinking about a lot recently. I hope it's something you've been thinking a lot about, too. The something is privilege.

To start talking about how privilege manifests and is harmful, we have to pick an access point. We'll go with the recent Lena Dunham controversy.

Q: Lena Dunham? Controversy? Who's the whatsit?

A: In Lena Dunham's new book Not That Kind Of Girl, Dunham describes a scene from her childhood when she was trying to figure out what a vagina was. After a conversation with her mom, a 7 year old Lena Dunham decided to look insider her 1 year old sister Grace's vagina to see what was up. The excerpt in question is as follows:

"One day, as I sat in our driveway in Long Island playing with blocks and buckets, my curiosity got the best of me. Grace was sitting up, babbling and smiling, and I leaned down between her legs and carefully spread open her vagina. She didn't resist and when I saw what was inside I shrieked."

The media got wind of this, and the outrage of various people on the Internet, who are claiming that Lena Dunham molested her younger sister and should not be glorified or revered because of this. Dunham took to Twitter, angry about the "twisting of her words" and the "demeaning of sufferers" caused by the resulting media coverage.

Yet again we have an example of one of my favorite comedians in a gross controversy. The feelings I have right now are reminiscent of the ones I had when Woody Allen was accused of sexually abusing his daughter, and when Sarah Silverman made that video for the National Women's Law Center that completely disregarded the plight of trans people everywhere. It's disheartening to see people I've looked up to and tried to emulate in my work for so long grow so completely blind to their own privilege.

Here's what I mean: Lena Dunham's aesthetic is the quirky upper middle class white girl-- when she talks about her childhood experiences, including the scene in question, she maintains that glib tone that's worked so well for her in Girls. Dunham didn't think about how she presented the story about her sister's vagina because it never occurred to her she needed to.

Now let's examine if Dunham had written the same story, but identified as a lesbian. Wouldn't there be a slew of implications that aren't currently present? Surely there would be more questioning on the media's side, a flurry of conservative Catholics yelling "pervert," and another punch to the teeth of the fight for LGTBQ respect and equality.

Many people have come to Dunham's aid over the Internet, trying to defend her interaction with her sister as harmless. It's hard to say whether the act was harmless or not. The real concern I have is, if Dunham were a lesbian, or black, or transgendered, or had risen to fame from a lower class, would so many people be coming to her aid? Would she have so easily written about this part of her life, trying to pass it off as quirky and charming?

If I had had the same experience Lena Dunham had with her sister, and wanted to write about it in my memoir, I would be forced to carefully construct the story, and consider every minute detail of its potential impact, because I'm a lesbian. My tone would not be light-- I would have to consider the weight of this moment, and I would ESPECIALLY have to consider the way my readers would respond. When you're discussing something as controversial as sexuality manifesting during childhood, it is your responsibility to consider how your expression of the event may be received. In this case, Dunham did not consider the diversity of her audience-- she didn't think about how such a casual treatment of her story could be triggering for many people, and how it only further emphasizes her privilege as a white upper middle class cisgendered straight woman.

Anyway. Woosh. All right. De-serious-ify. I hope that made sense and people got something out of it. Maggie says blogs are for ranting so writing this post was okay. It just sucks when someone you've practically worshipped does something that screams IM STRAIGHT WHITE AND LOUD I CAN DO WHATEVER I WANT STRAIGHT WORLD FOREVER. If I offended anyone at any point or sounded dumb or missed something, please feel free to talk with me about it (as respectfully as possible, I like constructive criticism not Internet fighting). I never really write anything political but. Yeah.

On the plus side, though, Maggie came over and she's wearing a cute sweater.




^SWEATER^


Horrifying.

Since Halloween is over, I thought it would be good to talk about how horrifying being alive is. I thought it would be a fresh topic that would be invigorating like my orange exfoliating face scrub that isn't helping anybody.

If you think about it, for all the people who are alive for a full lifetime, those people have to be really okay with being horrified. Like, how much of life is just acknowledging something is horrifying, and either making it your big cause, or deciding you already have enough big causes and just sort of forgetting about it/ignoring it for the most part?

I'm a lesbian and it's important to me that my life contributes to making the lives of other LGBTQ people better. But I don't care enough to like, become a full-time activist and sacrifice my alone time binge sessions so I can get good with a megaphone. And there are so many other kinds of people who are oppressed in awful ways and I can do little things to try to help their cause but the fact of the matter is I can't do anything substantial to help their causes because I already got causes. I got mad causes to promote and protect and I will not be spoken to that way sir this is a library.

So, for 21 years I've grown accustomed to being horrified by stuff. I feel horrified by me, a lot, first. I'm super lazy! Think about people who have to actually perform manual labor in order to secure themselves food and water and shelter for their families. Right now my job is to write essays on Charles Dickens. I'm horrified by how far removed I am from survival and how impossible it is to anticipate all the potential side effects of its absence.

And then I'm horrified by some other stuff, like overpopulation and cancer and the government lying and war and racism and people who only watch Family Guy, but it always comes back to my own horrific nature, founded mainly in self-absorption. Marginally less important, the me being naturally horrific and self-absorbed part, but when you're me-- is it really?

I'm also horrified by: people dying, drool, spiders, the Bubonic plague, violence of any kind, misogyny, iPhones, small talk, being assertive, becoming consumed with regret in my old age, losing my memories, anyone I know dying, chronic drug use, my contribution to the common good of the world at this point, and that they cancelled The United States of Tara after season three.

If I were to get cancer or join the war effort, I would probably think about cancer and war a lot more often. But right now all I've got is I'm a self-absorbed lesbian and everyone is horrifying and is being horrified every day.

WELL AWLLL RIGHT!!!!

So everyone is just walking around fully aware of how fucked up a lot of things are, except not really because I believe in people who don't actually have brains. When they were born it looked like they had a brain in the X-ray but this was really just a trick of the fluorescent light, and somehow their head inflated to look like it had a brain inside. These are the people who insist they think with their HEART but everybody knows metaphors aren't real and the heart only has two thoughts probably, STOP and GO, and it only ever talks to one thing and that is circulating blood, unless you're unlucky and it talks to a wooden stake or a knife.

Do you ever see these people? They have two main living commands for themselves, STOP and GO, that seem as arbitrary as a pattern back and forth. WALK, then DON'T WALK. DATE, then DON'T DATE DUE TO THE EMOTIONAL UNAVAILABILITY YOU JUST MADE UP IN YOUR HEAD. INTERRUPT, then STOP PAYING ATTENTION MID-SENTENCE. EAT A BROWNIE, then GO ON A HIP DIET. And the horrific part about these people is that with every STOP and GO, they are hugely passionate about this very well-thought out choice of theirs. YES!!! I LOVE STOPPING! STOPPING IS SO IMPORTANT!! AND BY THAT I MEANT GOING!! YES GOING IS MY THING!!

These human traffic jams I guess are not horrified on the daily, and that is why I don't trust them with my secrets or my eye contact. I only want to talk to people who also think everything is mostly horrible and when beauty occurs it is a miracle of science and people who think about science when they're alone on a Saturday night.

Basically, if you are horrified, and plan on keep being horrified for the foreseeable future, would you like to hang out sometime and get an ice cream? Ice cream is not horrifying. The health effects of binge eating ice cream are horrifying, and kidnapping cows for milk from their bodies is horrifying, but ice cream itself is not a horrifying thing. It's just everything that comes before and after ice cream, that is horrifying. So let's just be happy for one second and eat ice cream and then we can get back to being miserable and horrified about everything once we run out of ice cream and have to go capture more cows.