Day one of Donald Trump’s impending presidency

Yesterday wasn’t what I thought it would be.

I, like everyone else, was so ready for this particularly grating election to be over and done with. I was tired. My friends were tired. My peers in the journalism school were tired. We wanted to rest. But, against all logic, Donald Trump won the presidency and our rest is far from over. For women, Latinx, blacks, Muslims, the LGBTQ+ community, people with disabilities…it’s not over.

I couldn’t watch the results come in. By the time I was finished with work and finally got to turn on CNN, it wasn’t looking good. I felt sick. My knee was bouncing, my head was in my hands.

“What if he wins?” I kept asking my boyfriend.

“He’s not going to win,” he kept answering. “Calm down. Calm down.”

I retreated into my boyfriend’s room and turned on Netflix. I kept turning off my phone only to turn it back on and check the results on The New York Times website every couple of minutes until I eventually made myself fall asleep around midnight. When I woke up at 3 a.m., I checked my phone. Trump had won. After that, I couldn’t go back to sleep.

I was in a daze. I drove home, held my cat and watched a documentary about baby animals. Every time I checked social media my heart sank further and further as the reality set in – we have elected a man who thinks it’s acceptable to grab women by the pussy. That bragging about sexual assault is common “locker-room talk” that all men are expected to do. That people with disabilities, like my sister, are something to be openly mocked. That anyone who isn’t white is a rapist and a terrorist. That wants to ban an entire religious group from the country that was founded on religious freedom. That thinks that journalists should be hanged for holding him accountable and wants to shut down some of the most powerful publications in the world.

I don’t think it hit me until I was on campus. As I was walking through the journalism school on my way to class, Hillary Clinton was giving her concession speech. Dozens of students had stopped to watch it playing on one of RJI’s many TV screens. Everyone was silent. Some were crying. I couldn’t watch it. I still can’t watch it. Later in the day, I saw someone quote it on Facebook and that alone made me start crying.

I didn’t cry the first time until my Magazines Across Platforms class. One girl was already sitting in tears when I walked in. As more of us arrived, we all just looked at each other, at a loss for words and in complete disbelief, and collectively started crying. All eight students, the TA and the professor – all women – sat in a circle and cried together. We talked about how personal it is for journalists, but especially for women.

It feels like we have been personally attacked. Half of the country decided to elect a man who has been accused by 12 women of sexual assault. Twelve. Like this article from Bustle says, “I learned that more people want to believe that a group of women would coordinate to lie about a man assaulting or harassing them before they would believe that a man habitually touched women in ways that were inappropriate.” What does that say about the word of women? Yesterday was the day I learned just how much my country values women, and it’s despicable.

One of the women in my class said that she didn’t realize how much having a woman president meant to her until Clinton lost. I feel the same. I was excited about having a woman in office, of course, and I was especially stoked because this year was the first time I was able to vote for President of the United States (I had been two months shy of turning 18 during Obama’s reelection). But when I filled out my ballot on Tuesday, I couldn’t stop smiling when I bubbled in Hillary Rodham Clinton. I started laughing in my booth. Immediately afterward, I first saw the lifestream of Susan B. Anthony’s grave and I burst into tears. That’s when it sunk in for me just how proud I was. I was so proud of women and my country at that point. I was smiling and laughing and crying tears of empowerment. It baffles me how wrong I was about to be proven just a few hours later.

I’ve experienced sexism. My friends have experienced sexism. I’ve had friends and friends of friends who have been assaulted and raped. And yesterday it was made very apparent that our country is telling survivors, “you do not matter. Your words mean nothing.” I had never felt as low about my gender and my sex than I did yesterday. For the first time in my life, I was truly afraid of what it meant to be a woman. It felt like a handicap. And I feel guilty for feeling this way, because so many more people are going to be affected far greater by this. I am a woman, but I am white. I am middle class. I am heterosexual. I am an American citizen and my parents were born here. So many others are not.

I wish I could say that I feel positive about what’s to come. Yes, millennials overwhelmingly voted blue. Yes, I’ve received both mass and personal messages of unity and people saying that they’re there. But this country is so divided. During class yesterday, my professor asked us, “What can we do to reach rural America? How can we have a dialogue?” And I honestly believe we can’t. I don’t see how, when every time I’ve tried to point people in the direction of accurate information and not fake Facebook media they respond by lashing out in anger with personal attacks.

We have a long way to go, my friends.

Where is that Senioritis I was promised?

Senioritis. A time of laziness, taking easy electives and wearing pajama bottoms to school. Or at least that’s what I was promised.

I’m halfway through the first semester of senior year, and it is the antithesis of being a lazy nearly-done college student (granted, more often than not I’m in class braless and wearing clothes that I may or may not have slept in the night before).

I’ve been surviving senior year as a journalism student by following a very loose schedule:

  • Set seven alarms, but probably still sleep through my 8 a.m. followed by my 9:30 a.m.
  • Shower every couple of days. Not because I have the time or the energy, but because I am no longer in Europe and therefore must meet the American standards of personal hygiene to not be shunned from society.
  • Have a panic attack, convincing myself all my friends hate me and my boyfriend is going to break up with me and my cat doesn’t love me.
  • Spend money I don’t have on food that will only make me fat.
  • Have another panic attack, for reasons I can’t quite identify.
  • Put on the facade of being a functional human being.
  • Feed the cat so he doesn’t starve.
  • Have nightly panic attack around 11 p.m. about my future. Stay up until 1 a.m. frantically working on internship applications until my fingers hurt.

We’re all at that point in the semester where everything is piling on and we all want to die. I’ve been doing this for four years now. I’m used to that mid-semester feeling. But now it’s different. Between the projects, the group meetings, the papers, the pitches and the stories is this huge, grotesque, impending shadow of the unknowable future.

In two months, I begin my final semester of college. And for the first time in my life, I don’t know where I am going to be six months. Just six months. The thought is terrifying for anyone, but particularly those who struggle with crippling anxiety and an uncontrollable need to have every single thing planned out, such as myself. I get panicked if I don’t have a plan for the weekend. Not having a plan for post-graduation is sending me over the edge.

My boyfriend keeps telling me that I’m going to be fine. And I know, deep deep deeeeeep down, that I am in fact going to be fine. And you, fellow college student/senior reading this, are going to be fine, too.

If there’s one thing I learned this past summer while studying abroad, it’s how big and beautiful the world is. There is so much out there. I promise you and I promise myself, we are not going to wind up back in our hometown suburbias working at Pier 1 the rest of our lives (even though I love P1). Everything that is meant to work out will work out. It’s moments like now, when I’m sitting here typing and eating Poptarts at 1 in the morning instead of sleeping, that I need to remind myself this.

That blackboard discussion board that you forgot to post to this week (and, okay, last week too)? It’s only a couple of points. That exam you weren’t prepared for? It doesn’t mean you’re going to fail out of the class. Those internship applications you haven’t gotten around to? There are other places to apply.

Slow down. Take care of yourself first. You’ll be okay.

And no, everyone and your cat doesn’t hate you, so stop staying up all night worrying about it.

I’m baaack

Wanna hear a funny joke? “I’m going to start blogging more regularly.”

Ha. It’s not that I chose not to blog during my European summer, but after working 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. three days a week, taking two classes, exploring London and traveling to other countries, I didn’t have much free time and the free time I did have was mostly spent napping.

It’s been almost two months since I returned to Missouri. I’m into the first round of exams of senior year and I’m working as a Digital Editor for Vox Magazine, which I am loving. I’m learning a lot about digital storytelling through social media and other digital tools. I’m only a month into the semester, but I’m already sad when I think about not being a Vox “webbie” next semester.

It’s strange being a senior. Strange, but also wonderful. It’s not that I don’t love school, I love learning, but balancing three or four journalism classes along with other coursework and a part-time job at Pier 1 is a lot. I haven’t been able to dedicate as much effort as I want toward Vox, and I’m just excited that in a few months (hopefully) I’ll be focused completely on journalism without having to do readings on queer theory or the technicalities of troop movements during World War I.

It’s absolutely terrifying being on the cusp of entering the big real adult world, but I still have eight months to figure out my life. Right now, I’m not looking that far into the future. You just have to take it one day at a time.

My Last Night in America

My living room is in disarray. On the floor sits an open suitcase packed with clothes, bags of toiletries and piles of shoes I still need to stuff somewhere. Stacks of books rest on the coffee table. A large cardboard box of discarded clothing rests to the side. My mom will arrive home in about half an hour and is definitely going to have a conniption that I a) am not finished packing and b) trashed the spotless living space.

It is my last night in America. Tomorrow I’m flying out of Kansas City and, after connecting through North Carolina, I’ll be arriving in London Wednesday morning. I’ll spend the summer working an internship and taking classes abroad, and won’t be back home in Missouri until August.

I’m terrified. What if I mess up my internship? What if I can’t do it? What if I don’t like it? What if I hate my classes? What if the other 14 girls (and one boy) who are going on this trip with me don’t like me? I’ve never left the country before, and being so far away from my family, my friends, my boyfriend and my cat for so long is scary.

But it’s also so, so exciting. I’ve dreamed about living in London since I was a little kid, and now it’s actually happening. The London Eye, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, Big Ben and Buckingham Palace are all going to be within walking distance of the flat I will call home for the next three months. I have the opportunity to not only explore London, but visit other countries as well – Ireland, France, the Netherlands, Italy, Spain…

I’m going to be keeping a journal of my experiences abroad, and I’m going to try to blog more regularly now that I don’t have a million things going on like I do during the school year. This semester burned me out, and I want nothing more than to enjoy my time in Europe and take the time to write for me again. Feel free to follow along as I (attempt to) blog at least once every couple of weeks about my travels, internship and other adventures or thoughts.

But for now, on my last night in America, I’m keeping this post brief so I can get back to packing and watching Bob’s Burgers.

The Five Stages of Grief and The Lion King

There are five stages of grief.

  • Denial
  • Anger
  • Bargaining
  • Depression
  • Acceptance

I remember being in middle school health class when I first learned about these stages, only to reiterate them in 10th grade health class by watching “We Are Marshall” and filling in a stupid work book. Grief is what you go through when someone — a friend, a family member, a pet — dies. Grief is worse when the person dies suddenly and unexpectedly. That’s what I learned in health class and wrote down on my assignment sheets.

As I’ve gone through this tumultuous year, I’ve learned first hand how bullshit Missouri public school health classes are.

Everything exploded when my dog died last August. I had spent the whole summer living back at home, taking a community college class, babysitting my sister, and living in denial that my dog Freckles was deteriorating. A week after I returned to school, I got the call from my mom. It was a Wednesday night and I had just returned home from my multimedia class. My mom was crying so hard she couldn’t finish telling me they had to put Freckles down. I hung up on her and texted my friends, asking them to come over for a game night because I couldn’t be alone.

That was the day my depression was realized. I made self-destructive decisions, I drank too much, I did everything I could to keep my friends close to me because I felt like they were drifting away from me. I saw three different therapists, started medications, stopped drinking, went out of my way to try to make new friends.

I’ve spent the last year and a half grieving. Not the loss of my dog, though I haven’t gotten over that, but I’ve been grieving the person I used to be.

I never thought I’d miss high school. And I don’t. Not really, anyway. I do, however, miss the person I used to be and the life I used to have — a solid group of friends who don’t judge me when I mess up, straight A’s in school, nights I’d spend bingeing “America’s Next Top Model” and “Teen Mom” with my mom. I long for the happiness and ease of these years. And I grieve them.

The five stages of grief. Denial. Anger. Bargaining. Depression. Acceptance.

If only they had come in that order for me, maybe I would be handling everything better instead of being stuck in the anger phase with denial and bargaining behind me and depression acting as a big umbrella I can’t get out from under. I hate being angry all the time.

I don’t do well with change. I don’t do well with ending friendships and moving on and leaving the past behind me. Sometimes I think I’ve accepted some loses, only to literally hear them through my walls and immediately revert back to stages two or four as I put in my headphones.

Recently, I was watching “The Lion King” with my roommates. I have seen that movie thousands of times since I was a little girl, so many times that I basically have the whole thing memorized. But this time, watching it was different. One scene stood out to me as being incredibly poignant; a scene that I had never really related to that much in previous viewings. It’s the one where Rafiki comes to Simba to help him come to terms with his past.

Rafiki hits Simba with his staff.

Simba: “Ow, geeze, what was that for?”

Rafiki: “It doesn’t matter, it’s in the past.”

Simba: “Yeah, but it still hurts.”

Rafiki: “Oh yes, the past can hurt. But the way I see it, you can either run from it or learn from it.”

For the past year and a half, and the past six months especially, I’ve been running. Running from my mistakes and blame and the repercussions and people who are mad at me. And I’m tired of running. I’m tired of bending over backwards in the hopes that other people will like me and forgive me. I’m tired of beating myself up. I’m tired of letting other people judge my self-worth. I’m tired of apologizing to other people for being who I am.

Maybe I’m moving closer to acceptance.

Sloth Blog

I haven’t written in a while.

I mean, sure, I’m currently taking a summer English class at community college for which I’m currently working on a 10+ page paper about gun control, and not too long ago I posted about how spectacular “The Perks of Being A Wallflower” is (because duh). But in terms of actually writing something, I haven’t done it in a while.

In fact, I haven’t done much of anything in a while.

My daily routine has consisted of a) going to class, which is a complete and total waste of time, b) babysitting my sister all day every day, c) wasting hours upon hours on the Internet doing absolutely nothing, and I actually think I’m getting carpal tunnel because of it, d) Netflix binges, e) reading, and f) napping/sleeping. Needless to say, summer 2k14 has not been the most exciting.

I’ve often found myself sitting and thinking, “Should I write something?” only to follow that thought with a “meh” and continue watching documentaries on Netflix (“Jesus Camp” is the scariest thing I have ever seen, and like the first half hour of it takes place in Lee’s Summit. #Represent). I’ve been preoccupying myself with my Maneater editor duties like brainstorm Long Reads ideas (to no avail), but overall it’s very sparse since we only have two summer issues.

Mostly, I haven’t done a thing.

Maybe after I spend a good three months being a sloth I’ll return with extra inspiration and vigor come August. (Hopefully? Please?)

In the mean time, here is a list of topics I could, theoretically, write about, but will choose not to:

  • How Robin Thicke is super creepy and stalker-y and how much I love the much-deserved backlash he’s receiving
  • #ThingsTimHowardCouldSave
  • Feminism
  • How infuriating it is that my community college professor continuously tries to impose his personal beliefs about religion, relationships, drugs and alcohol onto us
  • As I mentioned before, “Jesus Camp” = scary af
  • The day I went on a manhunt and found Juan Pablo at a sports bar in Lee’s Summit
  • How I’m not willing to die at the hands of Kim Jong Un because of James Franco and Seth Rogan’s movie
  • Private angsty posts (which are beginning to outnumber my public posts)
  • Gun control (it’ll happen one day)
  • Creepypasta

Why #YesAllWomen is the Most Powerful Hashtag I’ve Ever Seen

Because when a guy wanted to dance with my friend, she had to tell him she had a boyfriend so he would leave her alone. When he moved on to me, my simple “No thank you,” wouldn’t deter him and I had to weave through a sea of people to get away from him. (Why should I have to lie about having a boyfriend to get men to stop their unwanted advances?)

Because, at a party, a guy my friends and I had never seen before walked up and said, “You’re gonna blow me, right?”

Because, at that same party, a guy told me to “bend over.”

Because I’ve had to ask my male friends to walk me somewhere through campus at night because I’m too scared to walk alone.

Because people give girls respect based on how much clothing they’re wearing — including one of my female friends, who regularly refers to girls at parties as “whores and skanks.” (People can wear whatever they want and that’s cool, dammit.)

Because my RA felt compelled to make a bulletin board about rape.

Because I receive police clery emails about rapes on campus — rapes in dorms.

Because a friend of a friend is struggling to get a restraining order against her rapist.

Because we tell little girls that the boys are mean to them “because he likes you.”

Because it’s not “men hating,” it’s courage and bravery to speak out about the reality women face every day.

Because no means no and women don’t owe men anything.

Because “Blurred Lines” reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100.

Because ignorant men created #YesAllPeople as a response.

Because I, a teenage girl, have been honked at and cat-called by middle-age men while walking down the street.

Because my friend has had suggestive racial slurs yelled at her from guys who slow their cars as they pass us when we walk through campus.

Because I’ve grown up in a society where I’ve been taught that only guys can make the first move, so I bite my tongue and swallow my feelings and grow used to being romantically frustrated while I wait for guys to text me first.

Because the high school I went to holds annual self-defense classes for only female students.

Because a man wrote an article about how women shouldn’t cut their hair short because it makes them less appealing, as if women should dedicate their physical appearance to pleasing the eyes of men.

Because I walk a little faster and look over my shoulder when walking home/to my car at night.

Because a man went on a shooting rampage because he thought women owed him affection.

Because of tweets like these.

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May the Force (Fourth?) Be With You

Today is May 4th, Star Wars day. Today is the day when the internet is overflowing with Star Wars memes, people are tweeting and updating their Facebook statuses to “May the fourth be with you,” Star Wars TV show trailers are released, and people all over the world gather to watch their favorite of the six movies.

Lucasfilm
Lucasfilm

I remember when I first saw Star Wars. I was about eight or nine years old when I discovered the VHS box set pushed to the corner of the movie shelf, which was overflowing with my countless Disney and “The Land Before Time” tapes. I scanned the cover before holding it up, inquisitively, to my mom. She didn’t tell me anything about it, but granted me permission to watch it (my parents were always very strict about what I was and was not allowed to view. I was never allowed to watch a PG-13 movie until I was 13).

I remember popping the first movie, “A New Hope,” into the VHS player in my basement, turning off all the lights, and sitting directly in front of the TV. I remember going into the trilogy not knowing what to expect. I remember being completely enthralled.

It was a December evening and my mother came downstairs and told me to pause the movie, that we were going to go to Christmas in the Park, as we do every year. Of course, I argued  — why did we have to go right then? I was right at the part of “A New Hope” where Luke, Han, Chewie, and Leia were currently trapped in the garbage room with the walls slowly closing in. I had to keep watching. But, of course, I lost the argument. I paused the movie and got into the car, but throughout the multiple-hours-long escapade to see Christmas lights I’d seen a thousand times before, my mind was with my heroes who were currently trapped on the Death Star.

I devoured each movie, one after the other. It was like nothing my little grade-school self had ever seen before. I couldn’t get it out of my head. I’d talk endlessly about my favorite parts and my favorite characters and about how cute Han Solo is and debate with people who said “The Empire Strikes Back” wasn’t the best of the three.

Despite my enthusiasm for the original trilogy, I didn’t get around to seeing the prequels until years later when I rented them from Family Video in sixth or seventh grade. And me, being an emotional and hopelessly romantic preteen girl, got caught up in the love story of Anakin and Padme — so much so that I cried at the end of “Revenge of the Sith” and proceeded to spend my free time making tribute videos on Windows Movie Maker. (The prequels also sparked a short-lived obsession with the “super cute” Hayden Christensen, but that’s beside the point).

When I think about Star Wars, I think of the many fond memories I’ve made over the years which center around the galaxy far, far away. I think of the time my friend and I attempted (without success) to watch all six movies in one night in middle school; the many movie nights with many different people where we watched “A New Hope” or “The Empire Strikes Back;” the time my best friend who, as a junior in high school, had never seen the original trilogy and I made it my personal mission to introduce her to the movies; the time I was scrambling on layout night to write a story about Disney purchasing Lucasfilm for my high school newspaper.

Star Wars has a big place in my heart.

Lucasfilm
Lucasfilm

Last week when the cast for Episode VII was announced, I enthusiastically raved with my friends at the dining hall. Oscar Isaac, Domhnall Gleeson, Andy Serkis (who I am excitedly expecting to play some sort of alien creature) are just some of those who will be starring alongside Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher. And, call me crazy, but I have high expectations for this new Star Wars trilogy and the various spin-offs that will come with it. Disney does great things and I am excited for the future of Luke, Han, Leia, et al. December 18, 2015 can’t come soon enough.

Star Wars is awesome, and may the fourth be with you.

Lolla Loves (Part 1)

What I’ve been listening to lately, from my Lollapalooza 2014 playlist.

Kodaline

All I want is nothing more, to hear you knocking at my door.

‘Cause if I could see your face once more, I’d die a happy man I’m sure.

The 1975

Lorde

I feel grown up with you in your car, I know it’s dumb.

Arctic Monkeys

General musings on my last day of doing nothing

So, this is it. Today is the last day my butt will be parked in my favorite chair in my living room with the Netflix logo perpetually on my TV screen.

Saturday I’m going back to CoMo and tomorrow is my 19th birthday, so I will be out and about with my mother- celebrating at the movie theater with a showing of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (finally), stuffing my face at the Cheesecake Factory, and buying more books I don’t need at Barnes and Noble.

I’ve been looking forward to returning to school since before I left, and I am happy to be going back. But now that the date is basically here, I’m getting to be a little homesick. Despite being home alone all day and bored out of my mind, I have enjoyed being back. I love hanging out with my mom and watching trash TV (namely America’s Next Top Model and Breaking Amish. However, I have recently introduced her to the perfection of Arrested Development, and she is hooked.) And, I never thought I’d say it, being around my dad and sister is pretty nice too.

So, in my last few hours of doing nothing, I thought I would take the opportunity to post because I have been neglecting to do so these past few days. This last week I’ve actually been doing things! I know, it’s amazing, right?

I’ve spent the last few days hanging out with a few of my friends who are still blissfully in town, being introduced to a terrifying video game called Outlast, and I’ve been working on articles for The Maneater for the first time since November- specifically, I’ve been swamped with two stories and my very first column.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that having a movie column is completely intimidating, daunting, petrifying, and other scary adjectives. On Monday I went to AMC (alone. sigh) and saw Spike Jonze’s Her, which I chose to discuss for my first column. The whole time I was trying to write I just kept thinking: “what have I gotten myself into?”

I love movies, but I don’t claim to be an expert. What if  I completely misread something? What if I give an awful movie a good review? What if I give an acclaimed movie a bad review? What if I sound horribly pretentious? What if I just sound stupid? Oh my god, I’m going to have to set aside time every weekend to make it out to the CoMo movie theater. Oh my god- I’M GOING TO HAVE TO SPEND SO MUCH MONEY ON MOVIES I DON’T EVEN WANT TO SEE. Let’s see, 16 weeks a semester, one movie a week at an estimated $7.50 per ticket, that makes me…BROKE.

On top of my column, I’m going to be assigned a story for my Student Life beat every week. Like I was this week. Today I woke up to an enthusiastic Facebook message from my editor that literally began with, “I HAVE A PITCH FOR YOU AHHHHH ARE YOU SO EXCITED??!” Um, sure? One story, one column. No sweat. But, of course, I have signed up to write a different story for MOVE this week, bringing the grand total to three. THREE. Oh goodness, how do I get myself into these situations?

Changing the subject before I stress myself out even more, today I had an orthodontist appointment. I’ve been suffering through adult braces for just under two years, and today I received fabulous news. In six short weeks, at my next appointment, I will be liberated from this living hell. That’s right, no more braces for me! Thank. God. I can’t wait to eat an apple like a normal person without having to cut it up first. I can’t wait to not awkwardly bite guys with my braces when we kiss. I can’t wait to be able to sink my teeth into a burger or one of those amazing buffalo chicken sandwiches from Dobbs without getting hella food wedged between my brackets. I can’t wait to not look like a 12 year-old. Life is good.

Well, I think I’ve neglected packing my mountain of clothes that is currently covering the floor of my room for long enough. And I don’t want to be bothered with packing on my birthday, so I’m going to go be a responsible grown-up person now.

This may be my most random post to date, so thank you for hearing me out.