Fears: The Economy, Money, Life, Other

Man, that discussion on sex was fun. So was my Valentine's Day post, but we're now back to my favorite topic of discussion, me! And what's better than talking about me? Me talking about my fears then relating them to other people my age who are possibly just as screwed as I am. That said, I still want to just movie west and say 'fuck you too, Virginia' maybe next year, I really want to go to SPX this September, I'll move away after SPX..

So, my fear! This was originally written on my cell phone, it ended up a lot longer than I anticipated it being and I change my title to better reflect what I think I was taking about. --

Are millennials, Gen Y, or whatever the fuck the 20-35 age group is called, going to be like our Depression Era great/grandparents when we’re older or will that be the children born in the last 15 years?

I mean, many of us “came of age” during an economic depression where compared to 50 years ago minimum wage is proportionally less when inflation is taken into account. The cost of living has sky rocketed and it’s now a life time effort to pay of college loans as opposed to a few years because low and middle class Americans are not being paid as much when compared with our counterparts from a few decades ago.

In America I've seen between 200-350% wage difference between the worker and their bosses who take bonuses even as the companies fold (here’s looking at you, Hostess) and the employees barely have the money to support themselves. Skilled labor education is lowering, and every year universities turn out graduates who are over qualified for the few competitive jobs there are.

It’s a mad house and we’ve all been blind to it as we buy technologies we don’t need (up high iPad! (and other tablets)) and can barely afford (down low iPhone 4, 4.5, 5) that cost an arm and a leg and offer little more than cosmetic changes to their predecessors.

So, I was wondering if the current generation of young adults who distract themselves from reality with more technology (I’m guilty of this in my own way, even with my Apple hating habits) but are still living through a depression, going on ebt/food stamps and are working in restaurants and retail, jobs previously left to high schoolers, will end up the way people who lived through the 1929 such market crash did and start hoarding everything. Money will be stuffed into mattresses, the banks haven’t been that well trusted in a long time going, anyway, and will we end up deadening like a generation if penny pinchers and misers when the economy turns and is robust again. Will the American economy turn around like that, again? It was aided in a global war that put all able-bodied hands to use fighting and in manufacturing that to some extent is now done overseas where labor is less picky and cheaper. The economy turned around in the 40s because military technology was now used to improve and cheapen the cost of living so more people could afford 2.5 children, a tract house and a yard (and a mean green mother from outer space hiding in said yard) and people had the money to spend on frivolities as technology replaced the need for skilled labor.

What is going to turn the modern economy around so that people like me, who have bachelor’s degrees and spend their days doing little can become effectual members of society? What is going to upset American classicism and put more money into the hands of the workers and create more jobs? What happened to the American Dream, the idea that anyone could work their way from nothing, with a little help maybe, and make a living wage? I love what Hunter S Thompson had to say with his myopic view of the future from the mid 70s

--"And that, I think, was the handle—that sense of inevitable victory over the forces of Old and Evil. Not in any mean or military sense; we didn’t need that. Our energy would simply prevail. There was no point in fighting—on our side or theirs. We had all the momentum; we were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave. . . .
So now, less than five years later, you can go up on a steep hill in Las Vegas and look West, and with the right kind of eyes you can almost see the high-water mark—that place where the wave finally broke and rolled back."

Fear and Loathing in Las Vega

America peaked and he couldn't see it’s salvation or it’s return to societal power. I believe we peaked and since we've been falling but it’s not impossible for us to reach some sort of glory again.

I do wonder what becoming an adult in America’s turbulent recent history as the idea of success and normal change, will play on us.

---

Fun Fact portion!

Minimum Wage:
USA Today: Adjusting Minimum Wage for Inflation - Feb 2013
Huffington Post: Raising Minimum Wage - Feb 2013

Wage Ga
Wall Street Journal - Firms Resist New Pay- Equity Rules - June 2012
AlterNet - Wage Gap Between CEOs and Workers Continues to Grow - June 2012
OpEd News - Corporate America's CEO Pay Heist - ~2003
AFL-CIO - CEO to Worker Pay Gap  - some time after 2011
AFL-CIO - 100 Highest Paid CEOs - 2011 

Hunter S. Thompson Quotes
I used the pertinant part of that quote for what I wanted to say here but the entire thing is beautiful, it's from the Wave Speech in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. That entire quote, and other, can be read on my old blog here

Stop Being Bitter About Valentine's Day

I like my post from last year's Valentine's Day so I wanted to re-post it and have it on this site too, so that's next.

Why Hating Valentine's Day is Stupid

Every February singles across America are bitter because they don't have that "one special someone" to lavish them with love, or to lavish with love. They're bitter because they feel as if the world has taken up arms against their singleness so they hate love, they hate positivity and they decide to hate their friends who happen to be in a romantic relationship. I happen to find that whole mindset to be ignorant, spiteful and stupid.  
It's common enough knowledge around these here parts that I am single and I have never had a boyfriend. I've written a few times over the years about relationships, some things positive and some negative. I've also written about love a few times. Those last two overlap but whatever. My point is I'm single and I've been bitter about it, but Valentine's Day doesn't really make me bitter. I'm indifferent because I don't really need to lean that far one way or the other.
It's also stupid for people who are single to pine, cry, and rage about Valentine's Day when conversations like "Worst Valentine's Gifts Ever" get written, every fucking year. Or how about "Valentine's Dos and Don'ts" And to manipulate people there are lists such as "Gifts for Every Woman in Your Life". People who are single take for granted all of this shit, I read it and make a confused face and laugh at the stupidity. Why is it also looked at as the man's responsibility to make Valentine's Day "perfect"? We're I able to, I'd wine and dine my fella because I'd want to.
Going back to single-bitterness, people have taken to calling February 14 "Singles Awareness Day". I feel sorry for these people because they can't accept everything else they have in their lives. I don't have A Significant Other, I have many Significant Others, I generally call them 'friends' because that creeps all of us out a bit less. On a given week I interact with anywhere between 20-50 people who worry about me, who notice when they haven't seen me in a while, who like to see me. Since last February I've made around ten new friends to hang out with, I've added a shit ton of Facebook friends, but that's different, and I feel loved.
I feel loved because I don't sit around waiting for one person to tell me they care about me. I'm not waiting for one person to buy me flowers and candy, to take me out to dinner or to stay in watching some delightfully terrible movie because why should I put everything into one person? That's too much stress and responsibility, it's ridiculous.
People say Valentine's Day makes them aware of how tragically alone they are; that's every fucking day. Think passively about the last movie you watched, just about any genre, there's a male and female lead, they hate each other, then love each other, have a falling out then they get back together before the credits roll. Action movie: the action hero/ine rescues someone else and the victim they rescued falls madly in love with them half way through the movie, there are some sloppy make outs, maybe a fade to black sex scene and finally they walk hand in hand into the sunset after the victim's been saved one last time. Romanctic comedy (I can't remember the last movie that was just a romance without needing the poorly handled comedy) Super hot really successful woman meets super hot/moderately hot/seriously unattractive and unsuccessful man who teachers her how to live and love life again, they have a falling out over something she initially found endearing, they realize they can't live with one another so they get back together. Credits. The comedy, male lead living a mediocre life meets super hot chick and cracks jokes about the main plot and some how gets his life entwined with hers, but not before they break it off for like a movie-day then get back together, a few more jokes and credits.
And it just keeps going on, many movies have a lead and their romantic counterpart and it's generally the same up and fucking down and people get pissed off because one day celebrates relationships. I'm more irritated that I have to deal with some hamfisted, unrealistic romantic relationship in my action movie instead of seeing more explosions, more trains crashing into each other and more monsters getting their asses handed to them. No, in the middle of the fight the leads realize this may be their last or their only chance to tell each other they love them, so movie time slows to like...30 seconds movie time equals 2 minutes real time, so their liplock is on DBZ levels and how fucking long has this been going on.
I'm not lying when I say I wouldn't want to wake up in the morning with someone else in my bed or that I don't want someone else to think about me all the time, but I'm not going to hate other people or a holiday just because I don't have any one else. I have many people. Hell, on Monday I walked around campus giving holographic dinosaurs, temporary tattoos and candy to people. I gave them to people who said they hated Valentine's Day, and they told me I made their day better.
Valentine's Day isn't about one person caring about you, it's about anyone caring, it's about knowing that people want you to be happy. I did what I did because I like giving people things, and I wanted candy but I didn't want to eat the entire bag on my own. You know what's amusing? Seeing a 23 year old geek out over a holographic dinosaur that shows it's skeleton. Seeing the 27 year old who has real tattoos try to put a tie-die patterned peace sign on his forehead, or the 19 year old rush to put a creepily disembodied puppy on her wrist. And that people can't resist the delicious taste of a Reese's mini-cup or a Jolly Rancher lollipop. For a moment people forgot that they didn't have a date for dinner and took joy in the kindness of a relative stranger.
I don't know, people put too much stock into one person caring about them that they forget about anybody else around them who notices when they're not there. If you disappeared for even 24 hours and nobody knew where you went, I'm sure at least one person would wonder and be worried. I like to think about all of my relationships more then just thinking about my non-existent romantic relationships
I dunno, I've just never understood the rage and hatred, especially when people in relationships still hate Valentine's Day because they have to make an effort to prove to someone they love them. The hassle it all is because society puts so much into pushing one day of love and compassion that if the 14th sucks then the relationship is destined to fail. You never win it seems, so I'd rather be happy with many, seeing many and enjoying friendships instead of depressed with one and having no one else to spend my time with.

That's what I wrote last year and I still feel the same. Platonic relationships are incredibly important and under valued. And my movie thing, I don't think that hamfisted love plots make a narrative better, I really would rather see more explosions than a poorly constructed relationship. When I want to yell at the lead to tap that, I'll watch a rom-com and then be mad at them pussyfooting around their mutual desire to rub genitals.

So there is something new to this, this year, instead of passing out bitchin' temporary tattoos I made Love Bites, you can watch me make them:

I also recorded the video version of this very topic where i used a ridiculous analogy because that's how I think.

So, those are my thoughts. I have been twitterpated, I have been bitter about my lack of a significant other, but it's not the end of the world. Instead of being a bitch, do something nice for someone else, everyone I gave a love bite was so damn excited and happy, both the single and the spoken for. People like getting things and they like knowing that someone care, even as a friend. Go make someone smile instead of crying over not having someone to swap DNA and germs with, think about someone else and make their day better. 

Dear Blank

Dear Hollywood (Television and Movies)

Give me a black person who speaks like a normal fucking human fucking being. Give me black people who aren't there as the magical black person, who doesn't do voodoo and doesn't speak English like they're from a fucking island. Give me black people who aren't from the 'hood' who don't speak like they're uneducated and don't have a real vocabulary. Give me black people who aren't characterized by the non-american aspects of their nationality. Give me black people who look and speak like normal black people. Maybe give them a bit of Africa and cultural pride. Maybe give them distant family members who were poorly educated and don't speak English right. Maybe give them a weave, afro or short cropped hair (if they're female) or dreads. 

Just stop making all black people either mystics, god fearing baptists, creole speaking witch doctors, illiterate, illegal gun having, illegal drug crazed, sexual beasts or well hung med. 

Just take all of the characteristics of a white dude and cast someone with more melanin. Want to know why Troy isn't the most annoying black dude even though he's not the smartest person in the study group? Outside of having been a football jock and therefore falling into that stereotype, he's a a developed and rounded individual. And Shirley, could have just been Christian sweetness and vengeance but she has other attributes that could be applied to any other race. Are they perfect and do they completely break out of racially constructed bounds? No. But what they are does not include being a laundry list of hokey stereotypes of accent and tomfoolery.

Hell, look at John Luther from Luther. He's not great because he can be a big scary black man, he's great because he's a fucking genius who thinks differently to solve cases and happens to be black which is virtually never mentioned as a derogatory for his character. 

Black characters can be written and understood without painting them black with bright pink lips and the whitest of white eyes and teeth. Black character can be people without being tinted with the hate and misunderstanding of the past. Black characters can be written as having aspirations and being successful and you don't have to be black to write them well. 

I'm ready to see black people coming from the suburb who didn't have problems in school, were well liked and well educated and have high hopes. We have fantastic people like Neil DeGrasse Tyson who show that black people are that smart, have the drive and potential to do the things that change the world for the better and our media needs to reflect that more often. So a homogeneous mixed race group of friends who don't fall into historically hurtful stereotypes, mix up people's strengths and flaws. Have a lead who's not a 'perfect' white dude and work to reflect more of the real America. Not the weirs country, southern conservative version of America where everyone's xenophobic, but an America that's growing and working on it's problems with Others. We need to work to a world where it's not an 'us' and 'them' mentality, just an 'us' and we understand that everyone's the same no matter what their skin color, sexuality, orientation, gender, occupation is. People desire to love, succeed, many reproduce, leave a legacy and enjoy our blip of existence as starstuff. 

In thinking about it that way, it's wholly possible to write characters of different races as being strong capable individuals without falling on old, unintelligent habits that work to only hurt.

End of Formal Education: A Lazy Walk Through My Scholarly Life

It has been a long 19 years I the making but I’m finally reaching the end of my formal, school education.

I started school at the delightful age of 5, a bit before my 6th birthday I entered kindergarten at Terraset Elementary School in Reston, Virginia. A school designed by hippies that had partitions for rooms the school was divided into circular pods for the classroom areas of the school and the library. The front end was fairly normal shaped. I guess the most interesting design aspect of Terraset was that it was inside of a hill. They built it and then covered the back end of the building with enough soil that they were able to plant some might fine trees, honeysuckle and other plants on the roof of the building. The things you consider normal.

I don’t remember being traumatized or stressed from my first day of school. I had gone to daycare, a place called PALS, I don’t know what that stands for. I remember one of the teachers used to tease me and I didn’t like him because of that. You know the book Hot Zone, my daycare was right next to where that happened, I learned that when I actively met people who weren’t from Reston, so around middle school? I still haven’t read that book. What else about PALS, I distinctly remember a bike day once, we rode in circles around a small parking lot. My mom got a flat tire from a nail in a tire so I was late to daycare and she was late to work, I don’t remember what I did that day. I also know I was at PALS for 2 years. With my November birthday, the Fairfax County school system made me wait one more year before I joined the ranks of real school, so kindergarten.

I was in morning kindergarten,(what what, half days) with Mrs Sybert, I believe. I don’t remember much, from then. I was in SACC (School Aged Child Care) after that, I remember never wanting to take a nap (something I think is insane now, I take naps many days) I also remember one day we went on a walking field trip to Lake Audobon (I think) nothing special happened.

Blah blah blah, elementary school. I got put into the Gifted and Talented class, which was cool, in second grade they pulled us from the classroom, put us in a different room and taught us other stuff. I felt special, I was told I was smarter than other people which lead to my education downfall. I know I don’t try as hard when I’m aware that the class isn’t a challenge. So when I got into classes I needed to study for, I was shit at it.

 I just remembered, my school was trying out split classes, first/second split, so forth. The idea was you’d have the same teacher for 2 years and half of each class would be each grade. You’d have more time to be friends with the people in your class at least and some other stuff. I don’t remember all of the theories around having a split grade class, and I only just thought to look into the findings from it. I think I will.

For third grade I went to Sunrise Valley Elementary school. It sounds all sparkly and nice. No. I didn’t like it at all. They had a GT program so my entire educational existence was advanced thinking. That’s cool except it was not a warm school. Terraset felt very homey, always warm, inviting and friendly. Sunrise Valley was cold by comparison, not just the GT class. People there were cool enough, we all knew why we were there, but the school didn’t seem as inviting of a place to be. I did have some interested experiences. We raised baby chickens all spring long. Our teacher had a student teacher shadowing her and we were all infatuated with the idea that she had a boyfriend. Thinking about it now, we were 8-9 and the other girls were super into this idea. I didn’t care all that much, but I did talk about Ed (oooH! So exotic?) with the others in the class. We went to DC, that happened a lot in elementary school, but this year someone in my class had a parent who worked in Congress (I don’t know what they did) so we got a slightly different tour and they let us ride on the tram between Congress and the House. We were told about some bloody stairs where someone hot hurt (shot?) and the blood stained the marble. That’s what I remember, the morose shit. I remember being bad at long division, so third grade was the start of my math problems, at least having problems with how they wanted me to show and do my work. I was also a part of some event with the 1996/7 oldest living woman, the school celebrated her birthday I think.

Around now, I think, I was in a pageant hosted by the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority. I won for Little Miss AKA, I think I was told you won based on selling tickets or something, and maybe how well you did. I don’t know. I remember scolding my mother for styling my hair big, like Oprah’s and making her change it before I went on stage. I performed some ridiculous monologue/poem/play. I have it on vhs and haven’t watched it since I was in it. I learned etiquette for this and I actually follow when I’m in a formal dining situation. I’m not always aware of it but I guess it’s for the best? Hmm. I was taught a waltz and foxtrot and danced with my brother, so incredibly embarrassing. Other stuff happened, it was all afternoon that day.

Fourth grade I was back at Terraset, not in a split class. I made my first good friend with someone my own age because she got kicked out of the ‘popular’ circle. I do remember one insult she said to someone else, she told me about this some time in high school. She called some other girl a wavy line, as in she wasn’t straight.  Harsh. She’s a really nice person now, but all kids are dicks (she also likes all people so it seems out of place. Or she was describing herself, I don’t remember, I just remember the phrase and I think I want to use it in something). She also told me my favorite story about myself. I was sitting on the side of the school reading. She comes up or had been there, I don’t know and notices I wasn’t actually reading the book, I wasn’t turning the pages. I responded “If I look out at everyone someone will bother me and ask what am I staring at. Same if I look at the ground. If I look at a book they leave me alone.” I still think that the 10 year old me who said this was a genius. I think it also shows how much I live in my head that at a young age I wanted to be left to my own thoughts. It’s things like this that make me think I’m in introvert. I started orchestra this year, I played the violin and it played assist to my love of classical music. It made it better because I now got to PLAY classical music.

Fifth grade happened, nothing special. Sixth grade they tried making it like middle school with a home room and we all changed class rooms for different things. One teacher taught history, another English, another math. Science and art happened somewhere. I was still in the GT classes but now I also left class for orchestra and to be a mentor to a pre-k kid. I liked that I got to leave class for three hours every week to do something else. I don’t remember the name my pre-k girl had but I remember not liking her very much. She was mean and didn’t like playing with me, which was fine. I got to miss class for an hour every Friday and play dress up and do stupid shit with a bunch of 4 year olds. I did try to engage my kid but she ignored me no matter how much I tried, so I ended up mostly playing with a friend and their kid. I miss school one day; I’m surprised I don’t remember why. My mom never let me miss school (I was also never sick, luckily I really was never sick but I never got pretend sick days either. As an adult I realized she couldn’t take off to take care of her kid. She was a single mother) I think were might have gone up to New York to visit my grandparents, I think my grandfather had been sick, I really don’t remember. I do remember the following week after talking with the teacher that my kid had actually been upset that I wasn’t there to play with her. She apparently liked ignoring me? I don’t know. She was a bit nicer to me after that. It was weird. I think this is the first time I noticed that I had an effect on people even if I didn’t notice it. I still don’t know or notice whatever affect I have on people. I do remember being told this was my kid I was also told I was being given a more difficult and less engaging kid because I had a calm demeanor. They figured I’d be a good match and I’d be able to put up with her better and help more. Maybe I did. I don’t remember the point of the program I just remember I got to leave class and every week and not do anything.

Seventh grade, I went to Langston Hughes Middle School, most of the middle schools in Fairfax County are named after poets. Herndon is one of the few that isn’t because everything in Herndon is named after (Lord?) Herndon. Langston Hughes is an oval, I’m in the GT group of the seventh grade classes, I’m in orchestra. I’m newly into manga having been into anime when Dragon Ball Z and Sailor Moon started years earlier. The first manga I ever bought was a Sailor Moon Super Stars, book 3. I had read books 1 and 2 in the Barnes and Nobel and I wanted to finish it, so I bought that first $10 crack book, starting a ten year (give or take) addiction to manga in addition to liking anime. I made a bunch of friends in from other elementary schools. My grandfather died that spring, it was my first funeral, I was nervous and laughed out of being nervous which my family misinterpreted. This winter was the first time I got depressed, I think. It was a shitty winter, I didn’t know how to handle it. I did so poorly in school.

Eight grade 9/11 happened which was weird. All of a sudden, after one class, students were disappearing, their parents having picked them up. The rumor I first heard was that “They” were targeting school. No one said who ‘they’ was (how often do we know who ‘they is?). I learned what had happened when I got home and watched the news with my brother, not knowing it would be the only news that month, or just about the next month and on. A bit later, my brother’s godmother got re-married, which led to my favorite picture of my with my mother, we’re both wearing claret dresses, I had just gotten my make up lightly done and there were still a few hours until the ceremony. My brothers were just off camera. It’s one of the last good photos of her taken. There were others but that one was special.

I moved on to South Lakes High School, following the same schools my brothers had both graduated from. I was now in International Baccalaureate (IB) classes (It’s advanced thinking, I’ve always called it the same as AP and I still think is pretty much is – I guess a major difference is that the county pays for everyone in an IB class to take the IB exams as opposed to other places where the students have to pay for them. That, and my school wasn’t just one focus IB, it was everything. Science, math, English, the arts, history – we gave out IB diplomas) they were fun, I got to read banned books. I hung out with my first gay friend a lot more now, I had never known he was gay and now more often than not I don’t think about his sexuality. He makes it such a non-issue that instead of being my gay friend, he’s a friend who happens to be gay. This is a good dude. He’s also one of the few friends who would hit me back, which just lead to me hitting him harder, I was angry and a dick. I’ve (mostly) stopped hitting people (they were always love taps anyway).

I can’t think of anything spectacular from ninth or tenth grade. I did orchestra just for 9th grade, which is well enough, after that the teacher left to go do other things and there were rotating teacher/conductors who varied in skill. I started at the school newspaper and was in the anime club which introduced me to yaoi and hentai, things that I think have played into me not caring about other people’s sexualities, I don’t know. I almost moved out of Virginia to go to South Carolina but I argued that I had just made friends in middle school so we stayed, which I think made other things better. I loved my 9th grade English teacher, Mrs Lynch. She retired after my tenth grade year but was a blast. We read like, 14 books that year, she had us read Night by Eli Weisel (I hated it) and then Maus by Art Spigelman (which I loved! I had never been able to read comics for school, I was excited, even with the holocaust being the point of the book). Across Five Aprils, which we covered with a student teacher, the student teacher gave us the dumbest assignments, something I almost told her to her face. I really didn’t like her. We read Dickens, Great Expectations,  which was the first book I had to read for school that I didn’t finish. Yellow Raft on Blue Water still stands out, that was during the banned book (specifically banned books) session, one third read Catcher in the Rye, one third read Tuesdays with Morrie, and my group Yellow Raft, I’ve been meaning to buy and re-read it, it was a discussion on each generation affects the next starting with the narrator as a teen then her interactions with her mother and grandmother. It made me think about families and now it’s making me think about my relationship with my grandmother. I need to re-read this book. We read a few others, that’s not 14 books. Mrs. Lynch also let me borrow some books, off the record, that I never returned, including the Invisible Man by  , I’ve been meaning to give it a real try, I didn’t understand it too well when I tried reading it before.  ((Thinking about it, I think my brother’s godmother got married when I was in 9th grade, I need the year…)

Tenth grade I was mad that my English teacher had been a clerk or something and that he didn’t teach us anything off the  IB curriculum. I spent a lot of time drawing in his class, with my colored pencils on my desk. I was that bold. This was also the only year in high school I didn’t have history at the end of my day, it was all wrong.

Eleventh grade I met the two people who effectively became my first pair of best friends and were instrumental in my transition to being an adult, in a way.. It was a special summer program for IB students where I met one who had an obsession with England and the Kaiser Chiefs. She introduced me to Shaun of the Dead in I tried watched Doctor Who then on Sci Fi (back when it was spelled in a logical fashion) I brought her into my swarming mob of friends and was vulgar, relishing in making her blush. My other best friend is male, years later I named him Ficus and I had a crush on him for so long which thankfully has broken and left us as really good friends. He introduced me to Game of Thrones by giving me the first 2 or 3 for my birthday and I promptly read them, falling in love with Westeros, being fascinated by dragons, loving the insult ‘brotherfucker’ and having to put them down and read crap for school.

While my friendship romances were happening my mother was diagnosed with Lymphoma and started getting her affairs in order. I worked a job at Target and was able to buy my first laptop, a little HP that had issues (probably viruses) from the start. School was a thing, I went to class but it wasn’t that important. I started teaching myself photoshop during the newspaper class and I drew comics for my high school paper! I remember some of these. One was about fitting in and this one kid who didn’t dress like everyone else being mobbed to ‘be unique’ like everyone else (EMOs! Am I right?); the school being a hellish maze to get from your locker to your first class, it was an impossible maze, we actually had to print a retraction explaining that. They forgot I did comics not draw mazes; I did some rock star singing ‘eep opp ork ah-ah’ for Valentine’s Day and one about poor temperature control in the school. I remember I wrote articles about the school plays and because I had so many techie friends I made sure to highlight the crew, because no one remember how important they are to a final production.  That spring I joined track, to hang out with 2 of my friends more really, I was okay at throwing shot put and discus (wherein I start my short lived love affair with weird sports). I dropped out of IB physics with our OCD teacher (who was proud of his being OCD) and took regular physics, which I barely passed.

Twelfth grade happened. I dropped out of IB bio and took psychology I was writing for the paper still and I think I took an art class, I don’t remember too well. This was my best and worst year of high school, I was finally “done” with school and worked to apply myself places. It ended up being the worst year because that’s when my mother died. I was pretty much prepared for it but that doesn’t mean it didn’t suck. I took my IB exams and was a part of my school’s Model UN that spring. I graduated a month after she died and I still think that I got more applause than I would have had she been alive and fine. Everyone knew,  what had happened and I’m sure they called me “brave” for finishing school, but come the fuck on, I know I wasn’t straight, I know I was fucked up but I had to finish school, take those exams and move on with my life.

Not too long ago I called myself a shark to a friend of mine, I need to keep moving and progressing or else I’ll go insane. I also can’t go back to where I’ve been and I know I’m not where I need to be to spend the rest of my life. Norfolk has been a good ‘training ground’ for me and my young adulthood but I have always known I was not meant to live here forever.

College happened. I started as a bio major because that’s what my mother wanted. I hated my freshman year roommate with such a blood lust that I know I have never really hated anything, not before or since. Thinking about her makes me aggravated, and puts me on edge. I can honestly say I wanted to grind her face into the cinderblocks that made up my room. Any time I was around her. I decided she wasn’t worth going to jail for and my RA was useless in making anything better. I started fencing (hey, remember that sport thing. Yeah, there we go, weird sports!) and made me next best friend pair, one was the grad student who started fencing club and the other was a freshman and I don’t remember how we met. We never had classes together, let’s chalk it up to that’s just how my life works. I spent parts of almost every-single-day  around these two. They kept me sane, I wonder if they know how important to me they were, are to be honest. The grad student friend insisted a group of us go and see Iron Man which introduced me to Western comics and started me on my current life path. I also spent my summer volunteering at the US Botanic Garden in DC, that was cool.

I have college things documented on my old blog and around online. I don’t feel as much the need to write everything I can in some slipshod order.

My second year I lived with the worst roommates and I never had the Hollywood experience of making friends with my roommates, and having lifelong adult pals! I hated them all so much, if you read my earlier post about them you’ll understand why. I was diagnosed with Hidradenistis Suppurativa and smoked my first cigarette this year. The smoking has helped nothing and anytime I get stressed and anxious I go back to smoking knowing it makes everything worse. I’m a big dummy. I also got really depressed this year and it lasted longer than any other and was kind of worse than any other. I had my first surgery to excise my diseased skin which went really well. I had been losing mobility, I limped quite horribly and I could barely move. I loved the pain killers, I’ll be honest here, I never abused them. I first got into podcasts with Kevin Smith’s SModcast. I remember the first Monday after my Spring Break surgery it took me an entire hour to slowly shuffle across campus, a direct distance of a bit less than a mile. I would normally make that was in fifteen minutes.

That summer I moved into my first off campus housing, taking a sublet room in a tiny duplex. I also decided, after doing a week long wetlands conference that I wasn’t right as a biology major and that fall I transferred to being an art major. I made a bunch of friends in who live in Ghent and are a part of the local music and arts scene. I started going to Borjo more and made friends there. I spent that fall taking classes I didn’t really need, I didn’t know that until way later. I moved into the apartment I current live in that fall and my roommate was a girl who was a senior my freshman year of high school who was in the orchestra with me.

I progressed as an art major, going to more local art things. I did my first 100 Days journal comic the following summer, 2010. I created Lawrence and co that fall in a creative writing class. Even though I got depressed I was overall a lot happier than I had been any year previous. My following years progress with me spending most of my time in Norfolk with a rent, friends and social life down here. Even now, I feel I miss on things when I’m not down here for a holiday. A party happens that I wish I had gone to, a show, an event, or I even just miss being in my own bed.

It has been a long climb, I have changed as a person but I can also see some important aspects of me now reflected in who I was when I was younger. I made sure to say I was done with my formal education because I will always be learning and seeking out new information. I spent a few hours today watching Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s StarTalk YouTube show. I’m done with my formal, in class, in school education with as far as I’ve planned it out. I’m excited to try new things, to travel and move and meet more people. As shy as I am, I want to meet the people I know online. I want to be known for my comics and I’m ready to feel like I’m really getting a grasp on my life. I look at other comic artists only a few years older than I am, and I feel like I’m ages behind. I feel like I’ve wasted my time and it’s too late for anyone to know who I am. And then I remember I’m only 24 and I (should) have many years ahead of me to live and experience the things that I have been flirting with in my imagination. I have time to meet more internet friends, I have the time to have some great romance to be heartbroken. I have the time to wake up in an unknown place, cramped from sleeping in my car and hung over. I have the time to freak out when I meet idol and the time to act on that first rush of a lust and a crush with that scruffy haired dude I just met. I have the time to do things I sometimes write off, feeling like I’ve been forgotten. I’m unknown, not forgotten and I have the time to make a name for myself and to figure out how to market myself as a comic artist who writes crazy essays, generally about herself, but also questioning life and those around her.

Thoughts on Sexual Assault

Edited Fem 4, 2014 Author's Note: At the bottom of the essay, in addition to rape and assault hotlines and websites I have added links with resources about domestic violence and getting help. 

I have never been assaulted, if I had I think I’d be open about it. I’m open about so many things, but I don’t know. I hope you’ll trust me that I’m being honest about this. There are so many reasons to lie.

I just read an article in the Washington Post about how a Notre Dame alumna isn't going to be supporting ND in some game on January 7th because they protect and defend their football players who have been accused of rape and assault. You can read the article here. I find that the school protects accused assailants in the ways identified to be horribly disgusting. I’ve seen different image projects pass through tumblr where an assault victim has written what they were told to say on a piece of poster board. 

The above images are from Project Unbreakable, the exact posts: "I'm Going to Fuck You" "C'mon...Nobody has to know..." "Stop Struggling"

These statements are all victim shaming which is also telling these people that their peace of mind is valued to be less than that of their assailant. These women are actively being told that they are less important and that they’re lying about being assaulted. These are the things that feminists and people are and should be fighting against. Institutions that protect someone accused of something. Institutions that drag their feet to find the truth about what happened to a potential victim. Institutions that grill and attack the victim on the witness stand and turn a blind eye to the wildly changing story from the assailant.

What about the women who lie? So fucking what? If a woman lies the truth will come out. If a man lies the truth should not be protected. It isn’t everywhere. I really did feel proud that at ODU they protect women. We take all of October, every year, to educate on sexual assault. There are little seminars and speakers against it. ODU has a sizable women’s center that works with women who have been assaulted to help them the best they can. ODU has persecuted at least two accused football players for sexual assault because the understand that college football is fleeting for most, the fallout from sexual assault isn’t. My university tries and when it fails and an assault happens they do what they can afterward to help. We are a little, moderately known public university in south eastern Virginia. We have a new football team that apparently has been doing quite well and bringing us notoriety. Our other major sports, before we had football (which has been around for only 3 years) were women’s basketball, men’s soccer and I think woman’s field hockey or lacrosse  I’m not a sports person, I don’t really care, but I do think it’s a big and fantastic thing that ODU works for victims as much as they do and that some of our biggest draws in sports were our women’s teams. That’s respect.

Thinking about what I learned about “why” sexual assault happened as a kid, in the glorious rainbow filled 90s that had the best cartoons, I remember kids in elementary or middle school saying that fat and ugly chicks should “ just lay back and enjoy it, it was the only way they were going to have sex”. That is an incredibly ugly, hateful and poorly educated sentiment and it’s horrifying that children thought this about assault. It’s showing a lack of understanding about how adults go after sex to begin with, but also showing how little respect women had that they should accept and expect to have no choice in how they were going have sex. It’s also an interesting dichotomy of adulthood where the hateful statement is that “she deserved it for dressing how she was/being where she was/being alone etc”.  That dehumanizes a woman in one of the worse ways imaginable and it’s saying that men have no control over their sexual urges. Both of these faulty statements take the responsibility of the assault away from the assailant and put it on the victim. That is never right. If we lived in a country where we were truly past ‘feminism’ and it wasn’t a thing that people worked for and identified with as a social statement then falsehoods like those would never be uttered. There wouldn’t be an assumed statement that the victim of sexual assault deserved it to any extent. There wouldn’t be the heaping of responsibility onto women on whether or not a sexual experience was going to happen or not. If we lived in a truly post feminist world victim blaming, shaming and quieting wouldn’t happen. Victims of assault would not be afraid to point out the accused. Hell, if we lived in a truly post feminist world and everyone was humanist wanted equality for everyone, maybe sexual assault wouldn’t happen. Maybe no one would be pressured into a situation they didn’t want to be in and the party that wanted a sexual experience would back off and find a willing partner or handle it on their own.

Both of those statements involve an unhealthy relationship and understand of sex what all parties involved are expected. The first one shows that men will fuck anything and they don’t care about what their partner wants. That’s incredibly selfish. The second says that but it’s also saying that men have a right to sex whenever they want it and that women need to be punished for showing too much skin. The second statement says that women are just walking sex toys for any interested penis and if every penis is interested then her vagina is theirs for the taking. But really what’s worst about both of these is that it’s reducing all factors involved in a sexual experience to a dehumanizing base where men have no control over themselves, effectively ever if they will equally rape a ‘fat/ugly girl’ and a ‘scantily clad hot girl’. This thinking also says that women have no say over their bodies and that they exist solely for the pleasure of men and that women have no interest in sex. 

That’s all just me thinking about an entirely unwanted sexual situation and not considering other ways for people to get to a sexual situation and maybe wanting it for a while then changing their minds. That’s allowed. Either party can change their mind and any time. I never wrote out any hypothetical situations that could lead to an unwanted sexual situation because I don’t think it’s necessary that I make those up when there are real accounts of assault that can be found and read online.

I have kept to the more common male attacking female situation but understand that men do have control over their faculties, as much as they jokingly deny it, and they can be assaulted. The body will react to stimulus that the brain doesn’t approve of, that is not consent for either sex. Women can be sexual predators and that is never right. It doesn't happen or isn’t reported as often but it can happen. And after that, there is unwanted homosexual assault that happens. There is never a right time to blame a victim for their proclivities, their fetish, their sex, gender, age, race, orientation, fashion choices and especially their sobriety.

There are many resources online for information on what to do in instances of sexual assault and my favorite anti-assault program I’ve ever heard that works to educate young men that assault is wrong and they should use their strength to protect women and make them feel safe and not to abuse them.

I know I used 'assault' more often than 'rape' and polite euphemisms don't really make things better, but this was a time I felt more comfortable with the euphemism.

Reference and Help
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More from Project Unbreakable here
If you are struggling, RAINN has a free, confidential, 24/7 sexual assault hotline: 1.800.656.HOPE(4673). or online -
  Online
Similar to Project Unbreakable, It Happens Here
Laurie Penny sharing her story of assault
Societal Attitudes About Rape - Stats and numbers
Men Can Stop Rape - I mentioned this for a moment in the last paragraph above. This organization works with young men to educate them on not raping people, and not just on avoiding getting raped. That is one of the most important and biggest things that can be done to be a rape deterrent 
Title IX - the cause of many of the assault problems on colleges
Sexual Assault Prevention Tips
An old essay of mine: American Sex Culture

Edit: Feb 4, 2014

Verizon Wireless: Hopeline -- Karen Ogden informed me about this program through Verizon which works to get help to women, people though, in abusive situations. By proving phones to people who are in danger but have no safe way of getting help, hopefully more victims can break out of he dangerous life they had and get to safety.

Helpguide - This site has information from psychologists for getting help with depression, anxiety, abuse, family issues, weight change, and others. Here for Abused Women - Here for Abused Men

National Guide for locating women's shelters

Oprah's Domestic violence resources

Shelter for Help in Emergency

Safe Horizon - various types of abuse assistance

National domestic violence hotline - help understand if you're being abused and how to get help and move to a safer situation.