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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

i am stressed.

Here is the all of the shit (good and bad) that is happening and/or needs to happen in the next couple weeks:

read a book about feminist therapy. find 15 resources about feminist therapy. write a ten-page paper about feminist therapy. clean this stupid house. go to work. say goodbye to a friend who is moving. go to an interview for an internship and crush it. find resources about feminism. snort cocaine. make a powerpoint presentation about feminism. give presentation about feminism. read two chapters about counseling. write about those two chapters. write a short paper about wellness or something. eat food. host my mother-in-law for a weekend. write stuff on a message board about ethics. respond to classmates' posts about ethics. run. figure out my fall semester schedule and send it to my boss. go to weight watchers meetings. email the school tech guru about their stupid portfolio program that doesn't work for me. go to counseling. try not to have a nervous breakdown. host my dear friend crystal for a short but overdue visit. order wedding photos before our discount expires. try to have fun at some point. write another paper i haven't read the requirements for yet. sleep? remember that this end-of-semester scramble will happen four more times until i am done with school forever. cry. take a final. write a blog post that isn't this. study for a final. take a final.  have a nervous breakdown. regret decision to go to grad school. remember that it will be over soon. jump off a cliff.

(I'm not actually suicidal)

This will likely be a regular feature at the end of every semester.


Monday, July 22, 2013

Man-Baby: A Compilation

I'm blatantly stealing this idea from YouTube extraordinaire Hayley G. Hoover but I'm feeling really ragey and this felt like the right kind of catharsis for me right now.

If I were to write a song for all my former significant others/flings/huge disasters, this is what the song titles would be:

Man-Baby (Volume Barf)

  1. My Dad Was Right About You And That Sucks
  2. Let’s Try This Again When We’re Grown-Ups (Or Not)
  3. At Least I’m Not As Crazy As You Are
  4. Killing Me Softly With His Pompous Evangelism
  5. Some Hipsters Have Social Skills, Why Can’t You?
  6. You Think I’m Really Smart Because You’re Really Dumb
  7. I’m Just A Girl, And You Should Probably Be In Jail
  8. I Know You’re Faking That Accent, You Studied Abroad Three Years Ago!
  9. I Want to Know What Folk Metal Is (Wait, No I Don’t)
  10. Oh, What a Pointless Three Weeks That Was
  11. Screw You For Ruining That Band For Me
  12. We Built This City Out of Smoke and Chiseled Jaw Lines

Feel free to judge me on the number of songs, asshole.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Reason Number 137 I'm a Feminist

I think I need to officially come out on this blog as a feminist, because I'm going to be writing about it a lot more. A lot of people take issue with the word "feminist", thinking it refers to a woman who hates men, or a woman who wants females to overthrow men and reign supreme over the land and have tea parties instead of wars.

But that just isn't true. Here's a fun fact: If you think that women and men should be treated equally, you are a feminist. That even includes MEN with those beliefs. Imagine that!

If you think they're treated equally now, you're just plain wrong. Lawmakers are not trying to govern men's reproductive choices. Men don't have to avoid walking anywhere alone at night in fear of getting attacked. Men don't have to fear being called "baby" or "sweetie" or being called "hot ass" in public and then called a bitch when they don't think it's the best compliment they've ever received. Women don't get paid as much as men for doing the same job and having the same credentials. But the most salient difference between men and women, one that all women have to live with every single day, so much so that it's been internalized as "normal," is body policing. Or body shaming. The belief that women's bodies need to fit into a certain norm.

(And for any men reading this, you may already be thinking to yourself that men experience this, too, and that I'm being a jerk for not mentioning it. That is also wrong. Read this article about why. By all means, I want to hear your opinions, but if all you say is "but what about the men?" I will barf. And then write a ranty post about it.)

It's one of the primary reasons I consider myself a feminist, and it sucks. And I just remembered yesterday how troubling the effects of one of society's favorite past-times (i.e. dictating the way women and girls' bodies should look) can have on real people.

I went shopping with my mom and my twelve-year-old niece. It was a really fun day. I was trying hard not to be infuriated at the clothes in the juniors' section that looked like they were made for toddlers, remembering in my middle and high school years some girls who really were that tiny, as their bodies hadn't fully matured, or they were simply genetically predisposed to being small. And that's okay!

But, then we went to get a snack after five grueling hours of fun, and my niece didn't want to eat anything. She has always been a picky eater, so it didn't strike me as odd or out-of-character. Until we got onto the awkward topic of food and nutrition. I say "awkward" because most people don't know jack shit about these things, especially kids, and it's really hard to explain without sounding like a dick. I didn't understand any of it until I started seriously attempting to lose weight last year. I don't want to preach to anyone about what they should and should not be eating, so I attempted to stay out of the conversation my mom was having with her about eating more fruits and vegetables and less crap that comes out of boxes or bags. And then my niece hit us both with a doozy: she thinks she's fat. My Hollister-size-zero niece thinks she is fat. I tried not to explode while my mother awkwardly (and maybe misguidedly) attempted to alleviate my niece's worries by asking if she can "pinch an inch" on her belly (she couldn't) and explaining that it's "unbecoming" for a woman who isn't fat to call themselves fat. I told my niece that all bodies, no matter what size, show rolls in the belly when someone is sitting down. It's just the way bodies work. She replied, "Well, bodies need to be different."

My niece is twelve and may very well have been being dramatic. I don't really think she thinks she's fat, or that she believes she needs to lose weight. I am a little worried about her nutrition, but I don't think she is at risk of becoming seriously ill. I believe she was just demonstrating the "cool" way to think.

And that's really fucked up.

I remember middle school. I wish I didn't, but I do. At my lunch table, the popular girls only ate a cookie for lunch. Some never ate anything. One of my good friends had a "phobia" of eating in front of boys. Some girls bragged about how they "had anorexia earlier in the school year," even though most people could tell it was a lie to get attention. But the point is that these girls wanted people to think they had anorexia. Because anorexia is cool and means you're skinny. This mental illness, in fact the mental illness with the highest mortality rate, was something that was desired by young girls. Because it's cool to want to be skinny. It's cool to hate your body even if you are skinny. It's never cool to like your body the way it is. And it's never cool to eat.

On my drive home, I wondered if maybe it would be better if humanity just started over, because there are still twelve-year-old girls who believe it's desirable to hate on their bodies. Maybe our society needs to die a little because we let this happen and it doesn't seem to be a big concern. But I decided not. Batman was right, there are good people in Gotham, and there are good people trying to empower girls and women not to take society's norms to heart. It is hard. Especially for girls, who believe that their lives depend on the approval of their peers.

My niece has no idea, but I'm a feminist for her. Even if she did have an idea, she wouldn't give a shit because she's twelve and One Direction, her friends, and cute boys are the most important things in her life right now. She's where she should be. But she'll grow up soon, and I can only hope like hell that she doesn't take these body shameful feelings with her into adulthood. But if she does, I hope she finds a nice feminist community who will tell her she doesn't have to keep them forever.


Thursday, July 11, 2013

Half Birthday

Tomorrow is July 12th, and that means it is my half birthday. Around the time of my birthday this year, I made a list of 25 things I want to accomplish before I turn 26. I think it would be fun to look at that list and assess (lol, "ass") what, if anything, I have accomplished in six months. Here we go!

Victoria's magical 25 before 26:
  1. De-clutter my life (closets, drawers, basement) - I did some of that, about half of what I originally wanted to do. I'm still planning on cleaning out the rest. It's just a slow project. Meanwhile, I keep accumulating more crap. Such is life. 
  2. Move to a more spacious place - Not happening. Joel and I have decided that we need to stay here for awhile, no matter how much the smell of smoke wafting in from upstairs gives me the sneezes. It's just not in the cards right now, and I'm OK with that. 
  3. Get on a regular sleep schedule - I can barely type this because I'm loling so hard. Not even a little bit has this improved. I may need a doctor.
  4. Go to the doctor/dentist (even without insurance... ugh) - I got signed up for some free program which allows a yearly checkup, and that's about as good as it's getting. I floss every day, so fuck the dentist. 
  5. Run a 5k! Hopefully The Color Run. - I'm doing that! I win! Joel and I have a team with our dear friends Molly and Kyle and we're called The Cheesy Blasters! It's the beginning of August! I should probably train for it... 
  6. Go grocery shopping with Joel (more) regularly. (Fun fact: I HATE grocery shopping) - I did it once by myself about a month ago and never want to do it again. Seriously, there are few things I hate more than grocery shopping. I could go into a huge rant on why, but I'll save that for the next time I actually do it, which will probably be awhile. 
  7. Plan weekly menus ahead of time so grocery shopping might suck less - Before Joel started work, we were awesome about this! I even made a little menu thing. When he started working 50 hours per week, this fell on the backburner. I am confident we can pick it back up again when we feel the need.
  8. Go to Cedar Point! - Not yet. Still a possibility, but kind of unlikely due to finances.
  9. Go camping with friends - We are planning a weekend trip with our friends Ryan and Rachel to Northern Michigan. We'll be staying in a hotel, so it's not actually camping at all, but I'm saying it counts because I was hoping some friends would plan the camping trip and it doesn't look like that's going to happen. And the last time I planned a camping trip was a huge disaster. 
  10. Be involved in theater - Nope. That may not happen because of school. I still really want to, but I need to be practical with my time and energy. I've been watching it, though!
  11. Take more photos with my Canon Rebel XTi - Working on it. Once the semester ends, I'm going to do one of those awesome photo-a-day (or week, if I'm being honest) things while getting reacquainted with my camera. 
  12. Travel outside of Michigan/Ohio/Indiana/Illinois/Ontario - We went to Joel's parents' condo in Ft. Myers at the end of April. They paid for the majority of it; it was their birthday gift to us both. We didn't have a lot of money to spend on activities, so we spent most of the time in the condo or by the pool. We didn't even make it to the beach once because it stormed on our beach day! But it was still nice to get away from Michigan for awhile and I saw come cool birds and stuff.
  13. Go to Chicago for a weekend with Joel (and others, if possible).  - Ugh. We all suck at planning trips. Also the money thing.
  14. Go to the Binder Park and/or Detroit Zoo because I love zoos. - Nope. Hopefully, though. I would really like to feed some giraffes.
  15. Read at least one book per month. - Though I haven't been reading as much since school started, I read a bunch of books before May, and I've been able to squeeze one in here and there during the semester. I'll blog a list of them later, because I obviously love lists. 
  16. Start graduate school - Yay. I did that. And I even added another masters into the mix. So I did this one REAL GOOD. 
  17. Be better at school than I was before (i.e. don't procrastinate... as much) - (Cue farting sound)
  18. Take a moment daily to be thankful - I think I do this about 50% of the time, which is a lot more than I was before. It's hard to be positive when the world can be such a shithole. But I'm working on it.
  19. Lose 40 pounds - Almost half way there! It's a pain in the ass, but I'm determined! 
  20. Plan an appropriate budget that allows for saving - We have a budget. We're still paying off some debt, but saving for a honeymoon/second car/private island is in the hopefully nearish future. 
  21. Eat 5 fruits/veggies every day - I haven't exactly tracked how often I do this, but I'd say it's most of the time. I mostly choose fruits over veggies, because fruit is nature's candy and I like candy. 
  22. Paint something - We painted the coffee table! It is teal now instead of brown/hunter green/water stain white. Though I don't remember, I'm pretty sure I meant something artsy when I wrote this goal. I want to try this Brush Studio place so they can teach me how to not be a spaz with a paintbrush. And also so I can drink.
  23. Make the ladder shelf with Joel. - We are doing this! We have the ladder and the paint! We just gotta make time for it, which we've been planning to do for about two weeks. I'll blog it when it's finished, which may or may not be until October. 
  24. Spend time with just my girlfriends at least once per month - Yes. I've done this. And I'd go nuts without it. (Sometimes I go nuts anyway)
  25. Tell my favorite people I love them more. - I need to be better at this. Okay, if you're reading this, I probably love you. NOW I'M DONE. That was hard. Ugh, emotions.
I still have some work to do, but I've made progress on my goals in the last six months. Some of these things are not going to happen at all, and that's okay. I have a lot of other things I want to accomplish other than these 25 things, but I'm glad I started my 25th year off having a general guideline for things I wanted to accomplish and experience in the upcoming year.

Now I'm going to go cry forever because I didn't get my free Slurpee today. 


Tuesday, July 9, 2013

This is a rage rant.

This is a rage-against-the-establishment rant and it is going to suck. Don't read it if you're not into that sort of thing. I just didn't want to accost my Facebook community with it.

I am really fucking sick of being dicked around by student loan companies. One of my loans through Citibank was sold to Discover, so now I pay two separate companies for two small private loans that were originally with one company. It is frustrating, especially since I know anything these companies do has to be at the detriment of my finances and a profit on their part. But overall nothing much has changed, it's just been kind of annoying to deal with keeping track of two payments instead of one. Whatever.

But, now, my Federal loans, the BIG ones, were transferred to a company called NelNet, which is a stupid name and I hate them already. No one bothered to tell me this. Neither Federal Direct nor NelNet currently has my information, but they assure me that NelNet should "by the end of the week." They told me that the change in companies doesn't change anything about the way my loans are handled or the amount I'll have to pay. They did this because the "extremely high volume" of loans has required other companies to take over the handling of them so that the federal direct loan program and its employees don't collectively jump off a bridge or something.


OR MAYBE just make college affordable so that students don't have to take out like $30,000 JUST to get a bachelors degree, which is turning into the 1995 equivalent to a high school diploma.

I realize it isn't that easy. I don't know much about economics or loans, but I know it has taken a LONG time for the cost of education and the rise in federal loans to get this out of hand, and it won't be fixed anytime soon. Especially if our lawmakers refuse to talk about it because helping anyone EVER will destroy the economy and America will stop being a super power and we'll all end up working in Chinese sweatshops. I'm just waiting for the loan bubble to burst, but I really don't think it will. Especially since our interest rates just doubled and lawmakers can't seem to decide on anything ever.

The system is infuriating. There is nothing I can do to change it. I just have to deal with it, or choose not to continue my education.

By the time I'm done with both of my graduate degrees (btw, I decided to get the MPA. But I still question that decision approximately six times per day, IMAGINE WHY), I will have a combined debt so high that the thought of it makes me want to immediately quit school, and maybe also jump into a ravine. Except that won't work because my family would still be responsible for my private student loan debt.

Money freaks me out. I was raised that way. When I was growing up, if my mom and I ever went shopping, even for something small, we had to hide purchases from my dad, who would chastise us for spending unnecessary money. He called all money "HIS money" because he was the major breadwinner (cue dramatic eyeroll I repeatedly got grounded for as a preteen). I remember my mom had a breakdown in the student loan office the first few weeks of my undergrad because she had no idea how we were going to pay for it.  I've kept that mentality ever since. Neither of these are healthy mentalities and I know I don't have to continue them. But it's always my fallback. Extreme financial anxiety is my immediate response to situations in which I feel out of control. I am in zero control over how much I pay for school and it sends me into uncontrollable rage strokes followed by uncontrollable terror. I have little idea if the money I'm spending on school is necessary or will be worth it, and I have no earthly idea how I'm going to pay for it.