Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for August, 2013

“Soooo,” I said as Carissa and I were walking to class. “Remember David?”

Carissa stopped abruptly and spun around to glare at me. “Yes, I remember David. Why do you ask?”

“Uhhh…” I didn’t expect that much hostility right off the bat. I was scared to even continue.

“Katrina!” she squealed, which resulted in some curious glances from passerbys. “I cannot!”

“Listen,” I interrupted before she got too shrill. “It’s complicated.”

“How is it complicated?” she demanded to know. “You guys slept together—“

“Not so loud!”

“And then you said it was awful and you were never talking to him again, and now you’re talking to him??”

“I never said that. You assumed that. And stop saying things like that so loudly!” I hissed. I started walking again, praying no one I knew overheard that.

“What? Who cares? It’s not like you’re twelve,” Carissa said dismissively. “Anyways, you wouldn’t have brought it up like that if you weren’t talking to him again. What happened?”

“Well, it’s just…he kept texting me. So I finally answered. I figured he would be all pissy because I had been avoiding him, but he said he completely understood if I just needed some space to think things through and all after…what we did.”

Carissa quipped, “If you can’t talk about it, you shouldn’t be doing it.”

“Ug, shut up,” I snapped. “Fine, after we had *sex*. Are you happy? So, we just…you know…started talking again.”

“Have you seen him?”

“Not yet.” I was rethinking telling her this. I should have started with Josh. “Just…you know…facebook. Texting.”

Carissa was giving me a suspicious sidelong gaze. “And?”

“And that’s it,” I finished.

“Liar. What else? What did you do?”

“All right, all right… Well, the other night…he may have sent me this text…” I didn’t add anything, and Carissa’s eyebrows shot up.

“What kind of text?”

“A…uh…revealing one?”

Carissa gasped and jumped in front of me. “Katrina Valentine! He sent you a naked pic?”

“Maybe…”

“Can I see it?”

“What?!” I gave her a furious look. “No! Why would you want to see it?”

“I don’t know.” She shrugged and smirked. “Curious. Ohmygod, he is so into you! So you’re basically going back out with him.”

“I don’t know,” I sighed. “He didn’t really do anything wrong, I guess. I should probably give him another chance. “

“Especially if that text got you all hot and bothered,” she smirked again as I scowled at her. She started to prance off again, but then a thought must have occurred to her, one I was hoping wouldn’t, and she narrowed her eyes at me. “You didn’t send one back, did you?”

“What? No!” I hoped my look was horrified more than embarrassed.

“Katrina!” Carissa looked legitimately astonished. “That is just not like you! You’re such a ‘good girl’.”

“Ug, don’t say that.”

“Seriously. Don’t you know that’s dangerous?”

“The chances of some random creepo hacking into his phone and stealing my picture off of there is not as great as some people like to think. Besides, I told him to delete it and he said he did.”

“Uh, one, he lied to you. The chances that he *didn’t* delete it are larger than you apparently think. Two, it’s not someone stealing it so much as it is him showing his friends. How much did you send??”

“Just my…you know…I was topless.” I knew I was sounding defensive. “He would not show his friends. Besides, I made sure my face wasn’t in the picture.”

Carissa rolled her eyes. “Oh, because your name isn’t on top of the text box. Seriously, what if he showed someone who knew you, and he told other people about it? What would they think?”

“Hey, back off, Carissa,” I snapped back angrily. “He sent me a freaking picture first, so I have the same advantages that he has.”

Carissa shook her head and started to walk away. But she talked loudly enough that I could hear her, “Yeah, but the difference is that no one cares if a guy sends a nude pic.”

I pouted for a moment. She was probably right. There weren’t internet pages devoted to nude pictures of ex-boyfriends that I knew of. Well, I would just be really nice to him and try going out with him again. I was sure he wouldn’t to blackmail me or anything, and then I could just sneak his phone away for a moment and make sure the picture was deleted myself. Problem solved. I sighed again and jogged to catch up to my friend.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

So, I haven’t posted a blog for about two weeks now, mainly because I’ve been sick and haven’t felt like thinking a lot. But if you have read any of my past blogs, you may know that I started contributing to an online feminist magazine that a friend of mine started. I really enjoy it, and I like that it’s getting me back into writing and also giving me writing experience. Plus, there are some really good topics that are explored, and some great contributors that have a lot to say.

When I have told people what I’m doing, they haven’t said much. And I would joke, “Don’t worry…I don’t burn my bras everyday.” I figured there were still old stereotypes going around about feminists being “bra-burners” and crazy. That’s not at all how I am. In fact, this friend of mine once jokingly but seriously said she was a “reasonable feminist,” and to this day I use that phrase, because I think it’s a perfect description without going into lots of words and details.

The thing is…I have recently and suddenly come to realize that the “old” ideas of a bra-burning feminist isn’t necessarily “old.”

I watch a lot of youtube, because I don’t have cable, and it’s easy. I subscribed to several people, so there are related things that pop up on the sides of the videos and my homepage, and I will click on one if it sounds interesting. I have come across a few videos made by self-described feminists, and I have seen reply videos and just videos in general by self-described anti-feminists. The thing is…I watched the feminists videos and thought a lot of it was ridiculous, whereas I would watch the responses then and think…this guy isn’t being totally out-of-line. (Note: This is excluding all user comments. If you are on youtube a lot, you probably have noticed that user comments are at best usually horrific. I’m not taking them into account because the video poster can’t control what stupid people say, and usually people post beyond awful things just because they think they are brave and anonymous on the internet.) And then I would start to question myself. Like, am I really a feminist? This goes back to another internal debate I often have, about whether I’m actually religious or not. I describe myself one way, start listening to and reading about people who also describe themselves that way, and then suddenly I am just filled with doubt. Am I really what/who I think I am?

On a similar tract, one of the things I have done for the magazine since I said I would contribute is that there is a quote section. I find a feminist quote that at least partially relates to the overall theme of that month’s issue, and I write a short 300 word analysis of it. So I started searching for this month’s quote. This is somewhat new to me, because two past quotes were offered to me by my friend to help me out, and the rest I found pretty easily. This month, I just searched “feminist quotes violence against women” into google. And…the first page that came up was basically just feminists quotes, BUT…they were awful! I just scrolled through them and thought, “Are you even kidding me?!” Terrible. They *all* said things like, men should all die. Men are all rapists. Even if a woman thinks she is consenting to sex, the man is still committing violence against her and raping her. Men are animals at worst, robots at best…on and on. From feminists. I was horrified. That’s not how I think at all!! Not even a bit. Some men are bad people, and some men rape or think that rape is okay…but most certainly not all men. In fact, all of the men I know, am friends with, or are in my family are not anything like these quotes were saying. So I go back and click on another page. And there are more. Just quotes about how women should rule the world and kill all of the men.

I will confess, I say that I hate men a lot. A lot. I am mostly joking in that I am currently frustrated with a guy for some reason, and I will just grit out through my teeth, “I hate men!!” I don’t actually mean that. I love my father, my husband, my uncles, my grandfathers, my brother, my male friends…I love them. They frustrate me. They do things that are stupid. Their logic is usually unfollowable. They may be jerks sometimes. But I don’t understand the overwhelming hatred I saw for them on those sites.

And that’s when I started realizing why a lot of people didn’t have much to say when I told them I was contributing for a feminist magazine. Maybe they thought that’s how I thought, then. I didn’t realize how prevelant a lot of extremists feminists’ opinions were. That is most certainly not how I think, nor any of the feminists I know. And for the record, this magazine is fair and reasonable, in my opinion. In fact, I think I surprised my husband when he asked what topic I was writing for this month, and I said it was on male victims of abuse. There is a “male feminists” section. There is a LGBT section. There is sometimes a youth section. But yes, most of it does focus on women.

So, I guess after reflecting, I just think women should be treated less like property or the “weaker” sex. I understand that they are not the exact same as men, because otherwise women would be men. But we are not less intelligent than men (as a whole), and women shouldn’t be assaulted, raped, killed, etc like they are. I shouldn’t be alone in my house at night, for fear someone will break in and rape me. On the flip side, there are just bad people out there that want to hurt anybody and everybody. It’s an on-going problem for the world.

Those are my thoughts. Have any to share?
-AV

Read Full Post »

I’m going to make a very serious kind of blog today, and this is about something that I, unfortunately, know very personally. This is not only about depression, but also about the guilt that seems to always be around depression.

Some people know this about me, but I don’t think a lot of people do, and I know some people who I’ve tried to tell who try to dismiss or block this information out of their heads. But I’m going to say, I’ve been depressed for most of my life. Now, what this means is, I’ve dealt with major and minor depression throughout my youth and what I’ve lived of my adult life. I haven’t tallied up anything to prove that I’ve been depressed more than I haven’t…and most people who have dealt with depression know why that is an almost impossible thing to do. I have had “major” depression where I know there were long stretches of time…weeks and months strung together, maybe even a whole year, where I was just flat out depressed all of the time. There would be periods where I would be mostly fine, but there would be sporadic or intermittent periods of depression. So it’s not an easy thing to necessarily keep track of. I also suffer from chronic anxiety and stress problems, even had panic attacks, so sometimes it’s hard for me to know when I’m just overly anxious about something or depressed or both or more happy than that tinge of depression I also feel and anyways…it’s not always black and white.

And the thing with depression is that it can affect anyone. By that, I mean that you don’t necessarily have to have a “terrible” life to have depression. You could even have a period of depression that stems from something that happened, in life or to you personally, like the death of someone close to you or even from something like 9/11, whether you knew anyone directly impacted or not. But I have had a pretty “good” life. I can look at my life and evaluate it to be good. A lot of people with depression can, when they are not in a depressed mind-state. And that’s where it sometimes gets hard. (Side-note: I don’t mean to overlook or gloss over people who have depression that stem from bad/hard lives or who have it from some event or anything like that….it’s just that that isn’t the case for me, and I don’t want to discuss or talk about something that I have never dealt with or really researched a lot, because I don’t want to portray it incorrectly.)

Sometimes it’s hard for other people to look at someone who says they are depressed and understand it, when they have not experienced it. Because they look at this person, they know this person, and they think, This person has a good life. What do they have to be sad about? There are people starving in Africa, people being killed all over the world, people living in oppression in parts of the world, people who are so poor they have no home, people who were raped or their child was killed…and *this* person says they are depressed??? What right do they have?

That’s the guilt. Little does this person know, that the depressed person has most likely already thought all of those things and more at least once. I *constantly* think those things. I think that makes my depression worse, because the second those thoughts enter my mind, suddenly I’m even more depressed because I’m so guilt-striken that I’m depressed. And it’s not a light thing or I’m trying to make myself sound better. Seriously. I think, I have no right to be depressed; so many people have worse lives than me–and it makes me sick. That just wraps myself deeper into the hole of depression, and I know it does for other people, too. I can read and logically think that it’s not my fault that I’m depressed, but especially when I’m going through a stage of depression, it’s so hard to not guilt-trip myself. Other people doing it make it even worse. But that’s the thing–I’m *not* depressed from a bad life. I’m assuming I’m depressed because of some chemical imbalance, or some genetic makeup or predisposition. I don’t know for sure, but I know I don’t choose to be depressed.

That is another thing that people who have never been depressed like to use against depressed people. It’s hard for them to understand that the depressed person does NOT WANT to be depressed. They say things like (and I have had this said to me several times), Just be happy. Stop being depressed. Just don’t think about it. Think about how much better your life is than X person (and that ties in with the guilt). Unfortunately, it’s not that easy. Although, I will say, probably the best thing that I can say that helps “break” through my depression is not thinking about it as best as I can, but that just seems to be my go-to line of defense for almost anything…and ironically, I don’t think that’s entirely healthy. I don’t know if I would necessarily recommend that to everyone, but it’s what I’ve almost always done as best as I can.

Someone who is depressed cannot just stop being depressed because another person tells them to be happy. Otherwise, there would be no depressed people. I guess my plea in this is to ask people to stop just immediately judging and adding to the depression and guilt unknowingly. Try to talk to the person and find out what he/she is feeling and thinking. Don’t make them feel worse, whether you mean to or not. Sometimes the depressed person really just wants someone to listen to them and not judge them (as best as you can…it’s a human thing to judge, but try to reserve it as strongly as you can). You listening to this person and not condemning them or guilt-tripping them might make all of the world to them. That alone might make their depression a little lighter, to know there’s someone who cares and is there for them.

And there is help out there. I have tried some of the options, and I would say the best is counseling. Unfortunately, I don’t have enough extra money right now to afford a pyschologist, but I really would liek to go back to counseling. I just need to find one that is cheaper or will work with me on payments, and it’s really just a need to research and look around. But while I was in college, that was the best thing to I did. I found out that they offered free on-campus counseling to students, and I drew up the courage to go in. It was a weird thing, because I feel like I already researched so much and read so much and did so much internal searching that I knew basically all of the logical and factual and practical things she was going to say, it still just helped so much to have someone listen to me. To have someone be concerned. To have someone try to stop the line of thinking that I was cycling through constantly. And after being extremely depressed all through high school and through three years of college, at the beginning of my last year of college, I had a break through. I felt a lot better than I ever remembered feeling. I still had my “dips,” but I knew I was in a better place. Just because I had someone to listen to me.

There is medication, and your doctor or, if you have a psychologist, your counselor can discuss options with you. I have tried I believe three different kinds, and I hated all of them. I think one might have technically been an anti-anxiety med, but I honestly think it’s all basically the same. They all made me sick or made me act strangely. I personally decided I didn’t want to try anymore medication, but decision is not for everyone. A lot of people react positively to medication, and a lot of people need or want to be on it. That is your decision, and something to be considered carefully.

As always, never think you are alone. And do not guilt trip yourself! It was especially hard after I got married. I had a few bad bouts of it, and while I haven’t had any long “string” of it since I’ve been married, it’s hard to even have a day where I’m depressed, because I just tell myself–I have a great husband. We’re doing fine. Why am I depressed? Well, I’m starting to tell myself that it’s just me, that’s how I was born, and maybe someday it will be different. Maybe it won’t. But I’m trying to lead myself toward greater self-acceptance. I have almost *always* hated myself, from being overweight to having bad skin to being horribly shy to being tired all of the time to be anxious and depressed…I have just hated myself. So everyday I try to give myself a break and try to like myself a little more.

I don’t know if this will help anyone, but even if it just helps one person, then this blog is worth it. Love yourself, and love others.

-AV

Read Full Post »

A high school flashback edition
Incident 4, or, Stereotypes and Contradicitons

It was 11th grade, which meant the novelty of high school had long worn off and I hated myself more days than not. While I was pretty sure everyone else hated themselves, too, they seemed to do a better job playing it cool than I did.

I was trying to find my niche. Usually by 9th grade you have your group of friends, and then by 10th grade you have a crisis and start questioning everything, and then by 11th you’re back to looking so that by graduation, you know who you are. At least, that seems to be what everyone else keeps telling me is normal. Currently, I was stuck between a stuck up cheerleader and an angry feminist for best friends. How does that work, you might wonder? Not very well. Not very well, indeed.

Samantha, who refuses to go by anything but Samantha (“Why should you call me ‘Sam’? Because it sounds more masculine? Do I need to sound like a man to be taken seriously??”), also refuses to let me buy lipstick or skirts when we go shopping together. This has resulted in my having to sneak around to go shopping. If she calls me while I’m at the mall, I have to ignore it and then profusely apologize later for not answering with some elaborate lie—“Oh, I’m so sorry! My, uh, my dog grabbed my cell phone and was chewing on it, and uh, yeah, it’s not working properly now.” She means well and all, fighting for the female cause, but she doesn’t understand that some girls want to buy a lipstick now and then. At least a lip gloss. Instead, she flares her nostrils and vents about how society forces us to wear makeup in order for men to have something to look at. Maybe I just want to look at pink lips when I look into the mirror.

And then there’s Melissa, who refuses to go by anything but Missy (“Doesn’t that just sound so much prettier and feminine than ‘Melissa’? Melissa is so harsh and…ug.”) She is petite and blonde and has a permanently crinkled up nose when she sees me hanging out with Samantha. She also forces me to buy red lipstick instead of pink when we go shopping together. She claims it’s “sexier.” I told her I was barely legal for anything and didn’t need to be sexy, which she waved off as “nonsense.” This resulted in my ignoring her calls also when I went shopping. “Oh, you called? Huh…I was just doing…uh…yoga… Must have been so into it that I didn’t even hear the ring!”

One day, I was with Samantha when Missy sashayed up to me to inform me there was a party Friday night. I wanted to say, “But it’s Friday morning! I had no warning! And you know I don’t want to drink or do drugs or make out with a guy in a dark corner, which is all that happens at these things!” I didn’t say any of those, due to the five other cheerleaders at her side and most of the football team behind her. “Be there,” she said pointedly.

“I don’t know if I can go,” is all I said meekly. Another cheerleader, Roxanne, shot me a sympathetic look. Because Missy was having none of that. By the time they walked away, Samantha was already making my ears bleed. I can’t let that bossy, prissy, bad-excuse-for-a-woman tell me what to do! At least, that’s what she said. I was mostly already daydreaming elaborate excuses to blurt out come Monday morning when she asked why I didn’t show up.

Unfortunately, Missy wasn’t waiting until Monday morning. She called me right after school and had a half-hour long lecture on why I had to be there. I was trying to listen, but it got kind of redundant and I was trying to finish this really awesome book that I found. “Brida” by Paulo Coehlo was the newest best thing to come into my life. I’m sure the talk would have been longer if she didn’t need two hours to get ready for the party. I hung up, feeling resentful. My feelings didn’t change when my phone immediately rang. Samantha gave me another half-hour long lecture on standing my ground and not becoming a stereotype. I didn’t know who I was by the time I sadly hung up. Should I go and be popular? Should I stay at home and be a geek? ‘Geek’ would be the nicest thing Missy would call me if she knew I wanted to stay home to read a book. I almost thought I would cry for a minute. Then my phone rang again.

“Hello?”

“Uh, is this Katrina?”

“Yes…?”

“Hi, this is Roxy.”

And I was so shocked I almost didn’t respond. Roxy, or Roxanne, didn’t refuse to go by anything. When teachers or new kids asked, she would shrug and say, “Whatever you feel like calling me.” “So, anyways, I got your number off of Missy. She called and mentioned she had been talking to you again. About the party.”

“Right…”

“Well, uh, I hope you don’t think I’m weird. I just noticed at school that you looked like you really didn’t want to go. And I just wanted you to know…I’m not going, either.”

“You’re not?!” I was dumbfounded in a way only a sixteen year old can be about news relating to a party invitation.

“No. I told Missy I was, but since she thinks I’m going, she won’t even notice that I’m not there.”

“What are you doing instead?” I asked curiously.

“Oh, I don’t know. Probably read a book or something.”

My mouth was probably hanging open. “Really? Me, too!” Did that sound way too enthusiastic? In confusion, I blurted out, “Hey, I have a question…do you like lip gloss?”

“Uh…yeah?”

“What color?”

“Oh, um, I guess pink or light brown looks best on me.” Then she understood my strange question. “Listen, Missy doesn’t understand that red doesn’t look good on everyone.”

It was the weirdest phone call I had ever had in my sixteen years of life. She was like me, and I wasn’t sure how to recover from that. I thought I was the only one caught in a tug-of-war between nerdom and a desire to play dress-up, between wanting to be smart and informed and wanting to wear a nice pink lip gloss if I go anywhere. We eventually hung up, and I saved her number in my contacts. Looking down at my book, I decided to eat some of the cookies that mom baked after all…and who knows, maybe I would try yoga later.

Read Full Post »

I was talking to people at work the other day, and I convinced one friend to finally listen to this band that I love (Kamelot). The problem? Which CD do I make him listen to so he can best understand how amazing they are as a band?? I have several of their whole CDs on my iPod, which I was going to loan him (one of the best perks of work is that we can wear earphones/headphones and listen to music all night long if we want to), and I think they all sound different. So that got me thinking…what do I consider the best CDs of the bands that I love the most? If you don’t know the people I’m mentioning, go check them out! Most of them are along the alternative kind of music, so if you hate that genre, I guess don’t check them out…whatever. Feel free to comment with your favorite musicians and their best CDs 🙂

(BTW, in no particular order…just people I am currently listening to the most)

Kamelot (btw, the friend really liked them and best described them as rock opera)–“Epica,” with “Poetry for the Poisoned” and “Ghost Opera” getting close second and third ratings. I can’t help but mention all three of them. I’ve been super hooked on this band since I saw them opening for Nightwish last year.

30 Seconds to Mars–“A Beautiful Lie”

Evanescence–I have all three CDs by this band, and as with Kamelot, I feel that they all sound different and are completely amazing in their own ways. If I *had* to pick one, I would say their newest “Evanescence.”

Korn–“Issues”

Disturbed–“Ten Thousand Fists”

Goo Goo Dolls–“Dizzy Up the Girl” or “Gutterflower”

Three Days Grace–“One X”

3 Doors Down–“Away from the Sun”

Nightwish–“Dark Passion Play”

Breaking Benjamin–“Phobia”

Loreena McKennitt (Celtic/world music)–“Book of Secrets”

Apocalyptica–“Worlds Collide”

Seether–“Disclaimer II” with “Karma and Effect” in a very close second

And as two honorable mentions, I want to throw in Vertical Horizon–“Everything You Want” and Shiny Toy Guns–“We are Pilots”. I only have on STG CD, but I feel like it is different from a lot of stuff I listen to, and it’s really good. It’s more of an electronic sounding music, but it’s not techno (I don’t think…I hate techno). And Vertical Horizon…I don’t actually know if they have a lot of CDs or not. I have two. But “Everything You Want” is seriously one of the best CDs I own, and I love every song on there. Again, it’s not normally what I listen to…I consider it more “light” or “easy listening” (but I don’t know if it actually is because when my husband says, “Put on something happy,” I panick and click on Three Days Grace or Breaking Benjamin, which he proceeds to point out is not normally happy). But it’s definitely worth listening to, I think.

–AV

Read Full Post »

I just finished reading stand-up comedian Jim Gaffigan’s first memoir “Dad is Fat,” and if you’re thinking about reading this–do it! If you’re looking for a funny book, read it! If you’re a parent or thinking about becoming a parent, you should also probably read it. I feel like it will both assure you that you want kids and also terrify you and make you rethink your decision. In a funny way, of course.

Jim Gaffigan is probably best known as the “Hot Pocket Guy.” In fact, a couple people at work were like, “Who?” And then I’m like, “He does the ‘Hot Pockets’ joke.” And they were like, “Ohhhh, that guy! Yeah, he’s funny!” And this book does not disappoint. If you have seen his comedy acts and you can read the whole book with his voice narrating it in your head–not gonna lie–it makes it even funnier.

Mr. Gaffigan is married to a woman he claims can get pregnant from looking at babies, and they have five children, who I believe are currently age 8 to infant. They live in an apartment in New York…which only has two bedrooms. I think my favorite part was when he drew pictures to show how they did bedtime.

The book revolves around how he and wife Jeannie live their lives with their five children and how they are received due to their large family count. This was a great read and definitely worth the cost.

–AV

Read Full Post »