I’m Not Going to Your Pretty Party (But Thanks for the Invite)

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When I was 5 years old, I went to a friend’s house with long curly hair and left with the Dorothy Hamil haircut. With little to no convincing, my friend put lotion in my hair to prepare me for “my wedding” or “school” or whatever engagements sound grown up to  a 5-year-old.

I never questioned what the scissors gracing my scalp had to do with impending adulthood. I was young, trusting, and promised a strawberry fruit roll up.

I remember looking in the mirror and feeling nothing towards my new appearance. The fear only set in when my mother rang the doorbell and I found myself underneath the table, tightly clutching said fruit roll up.

I went to school the next day and a kid told me I looked like a boy. I cried because I assumed this meant I was ugly. I cried because, at 5 years old, I was already a failure to my gender.

Cut to the present and my hair is almost as short, and almost as styling, as Dorothy Hamil’s. I barely wear makeup, I only respect a utilitarian handbag, and I find shopping to be a frivolous chore that is better left to my boyfriend.

Needless to say, I don’t feel pretty on the day to day.

Needless to say, I don’t really try to.

As a “woman,” I resent society’s pressure to tell me what traits I should care about. I resent that the admittance of not feeling pretty is immediately met with well-meaning  but generic coos of “yes you are.”

I appreciate your insistence that I have value, people in my life, but that’s not really what I’m questioning.

Because, in my mind, pretty is a pretty thing that exists in pretty people. It affects the way they move, speak, and stylize themselves in ways that are both put upon and inherent.

I do not move prettily. I move like you should get the fuck out of my way.

I do not speak prettily. The word “fuck” is not a curse word to me. It’s a second language.

I do not stylize myself prettily. Again, I repeat the phrase, “utilitarian handbag.” Also fuck.

It is not self-deprecating to see pretty as an adjective that belongs more strongly to someone else. It is self-deprecating to cry when some kid on the playground asserts that your appearance is wrong for both your gender and your identity.

It is self-deprecating to believe that because of your genitals, you have to feel pretty or make an effort to be so.

I feel no ill will towards pretty or the friend that cut my hair almost 18 years ago. She knew me before I knew myself. She knew that I was something other than “pretty.”

Planning on Planned Parenthood (And Other Womanly Concerns)

Planning on Planned Parenthood                                                            (And Other Womanly Concerns)

Growing up, I always loved to think about the future:

What I wanted to look like, who I wanted to marry, the job that I wanted to have, and what I hoped to earn.

I was a smart kid and I knew the world wasn’t perfect. I knew that women earned less than men, were less safe walking down the street, and even had to defend their use of South Park references from time to time to ignorant teenage boys.

Or maybe that was just me.

Needless to say, I knew the world was getting better. I knew that progress was inevitable and it was only a matter of time before my sisters and I could get that metaphorical corner office and “have it all.” The First Wives Club was a favorite flick of mine and if Diane Keaton, Bette Midler, and Goldie Hawn could recognize that the patriarchy didn’t “own them,” then so I could I.*

And I did. Until I turned 23 and realized that I only had three years left of my father’s health insurance. Only three years left having the assurance that I can afford a gynecologist.

Only three years left of not needing Planned Parenthood as an affordable option for female healthcare. Of having $20 copays, free birth control, and the safe feeling of knowing that my decisions as a responsible female adult aren’t punishable by death.

Or at least, subject to incredibly hostile twitter rants.

You see as society progresses, the Fearful fight harder to keep things the same. To dial it back to a simpler time before gender was fluid, non-satirical race jokes weren’t racist, and women were getting black market abortions and dying from complications.

I guess it’s selective memory that made America “great.”

If I sound angry it’s because I’m scared shitless and being scared shitless doesn’t warrant a pleasant “feminine” response.

It doesn’t warrant electing leaders who defend terrorists. It doesn’t excuse consumers who can’t tell the difference between a doctored video and actual news.

It doesn’t stop people from having daughters/mothers/girlfriends/wives who might someday need assistance from Planned Parenthood if they don’t already.

It shouldn’t change your priorities as a decent person because it doesn’t change mine.

And I’ve never been to a Planned Parenthood.

*Reference to the scene and Lesley Gore song that made me a baby feminist: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q_oFL_b719g

Getting PC on my MAC And Other Reasons Why LA Drivers Are Bad.

Getting PC on my MAC And Other Reasons Why LA Drivers Are Bad.

People are naturally bad. I know this because I’m an LA driver.

Or maybe bad is just a little harsh, let’s just say that people are naturally selfish and driving on crowded LA freeways brings out a dormant survival instinct where everybody is out for themselves or whatever alliances they’ve made with other cars on the road that look just like them.

Or maybe I’m not really talking about traffic.

You see, every time I put my blinker on to change lanes (as the good handbook tells me) the response I get is not the slowing down of someone who respects my fundamental driving rights but rather a flagrant desire to get ahead and beat me on the race to morning Starbucks; even if it means that both cars become damaged and one of us winds up dead.

To be fair, Starbucks now serves Red Velvet Frappuccinos.

Through the Darwinistic desire to prove whose car is faster or which coffee is hotter, people have become walking sports teams on and off the road. And, as a white, liberal feminist, I guess I’m just frustrated.

I’m frustrated because calling myself a WHITE LIBERAL FEMINIST reduces me to a stereotype who cares more about her right to wear cornrows on social media than disempowering structural racism and sexism.

I’m frustrated because that’s what I think of when I think of a WHITE LIBERAL FEMINIST, and I’m exhausted that there aren’t more people on my computer screen to prove me wrong. Or right. Because name-calling on the internet is stupid and compartmentalization is what got us here in the first place.

You see, as I watch the news and talk to people, and read blogs and twitter, I find myself bombarded by two extremes that are missing the point. It’s not enough to be right and it’s not enough to prove others that they’re wrong. It’s about creating allies so that gaps in income,education,race, gender, and television preferences can merge together to form a middle where everyone’s needs are safely met, all voices are justly heard, and the boxes can stay in the basement where they’ve always belonged.

Again, it’s not enough to be right.

I say this as someone who has been exposed to many people of different backgrounds and perspectives on life. I’ve been militant in my desire to prove my liberal ideals but have been reduced to anger and tears when I can’t get others to intersect. To explain, to really patiently explain my perspective to someone that I perceive as “ignorant” is hard to achieve when my first reaction is always knee-jerk. In my desire for someone to just get where I’m coming from, I’ve ignored the “yes and” part that is so wisely the first rule of improv.

My blinker may have been right, but I hesitated too long and blocked the road.

At the end of the day, I’ve learned from my mistakes in communication and am wary of all defensive and aggressive driving. I’ve learned to shift into neutral and dream of when others will slow down and catch up. I dream of an America where sports teams only exist on the field. I dream of a world where both *Bell Hooks and Beyonce are unquestionably considered feminists and homeless veterans are two words that are rarely put together. I dream of a strong middle class that is not reminiscent of the exclusionary 1950’s and I have a dream of an American dream that is not based on material gain or enacting violence on others.

But mostly, just like everyone else, I dream of a more pleasant commute.

*This refers to an intellectual gathering at The New School where acclaimed media scholar Bell Hooks called Beyonce a terrorist for hyper-sexualizing her body in her music. I love Bell Hooks but don’t see how the whole women vs. women thing has furthered feminism in the past/present. 

If You Don’t Have the Job You Love, Love the Job You’re With.

If You Don’t Have the Job You Love, Love the Job You’re With.

Like many millennials straight out of college, I find myself feeling both profoundly lucky that I’m employed-at least in the part-time sense-and confused by the job I have-in the full-time sense, at least.

For over a month, I’ve been doing work that has nothing to do with my college degree, in an office whose contrast to my forward-thinking liberal arts college can best be described by the general opinion of gender pronouns. And guns laws. And whether or not I seem like I was a cheerleader in High School.

But hey, if I was going to stare at a screen for five hours anyway, I might as well get paid. And, if I suddenly look like a leader who cheers well then, *Bring It On.

Because truthfully, I’m just happy that I made a first step to figuring it out and have some sweet PDFs to add to my portfolio. I’m happy for the upgrade from my $0.00 internship wages even if the current rate has me *Feeling The Bern.

It’s just, for the first time, I find myself missing interactions with people my own age. Even though, I always swore I hated those.

Or maybe I just hate compromise.

You see, when you’re in school, it’s pretty awesome to refuse to compromise your values. You may have less friends, but you get a neat high horse to ride and the comfort of knowing you didn’t sell out. If you get too opinionated as an independent contractor, then you run the risk of getting fired and having to sell that high horse for gas money home.

Needless to say, I don’t pay for my own horse.

I guess at the end of the day, a job’s a job. Much like school, it’s a reason to get dressed in the morning and interact with a world that can still afford AC. It’s not always good but it’s definitely not bad and indeed.com always holds the promise of a new day and opportunity.

Or maybe that’s just the optimism of Saturday night delusion. I guess, we’ll know Monday.

*Bring It On is a cheerleading themed movie franchise. You’ve heard of it.

*Feeling The Bern is a reference to potential Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders. If you don’t know much about him, look it up. He’s a good dude who thinks you deserve a living wage.

What to Expect When You’re Expecting Unsolicited Advice (AKA Returning To Your Childhood Home)

What to Expect When You’re Expecting Unsolicited Advice  (AKA Returning To Your Childhood Home)

22 is too young to be feeling this negative. That’s what my father told me last night and I can’t say that he’s wrong. 22 is too young for a lot of the ways that I’ve come to define myself: cynical, tired, curmudgeonly in the face of Excel tutorials. And yet here I am, 22 with a glass half empty and an unshakable desire to skip to the last page of a book I’ve all but completely written off. Because hey, the twenties are a lot like the last Harry Potter book: full of hasty narrative choices and a needless amount of time spent alone in the woods. But, unlike Harry Potter, who had his teen years and a genocidal wizard lord to justify his angst, I just have my feelings. And my free childhood home. And a lifetime of institutional privilege. And a father who is still alive to tell me I’m negative.

So, what do I do? Do I feel guilty that I’m not as happy as I should be or do I take the Inside Out approach, and just feel Joy that it’s okay to be Sad?

OR

Do I cry it out now and feel bad, and miss my boyfriend, and hope that I can wake up tomorrow and go to work and feel like a person instead of an ungrateful garbage monster?

OR

Do I just take a deep breath and admit that maybe my dad, no matter how well intentioned, was wrong? I am feeling negative but I’m not too young to do so.

The thing about being 22 is that there’s a seemingly never-ending amount of emotions, questions, and choices. There’s no Dark Lord to slay, but the path to self improvement is just as daunting. Answers still need to be found. Excel still needs to be learned.

Today, I choose to not to feel bad about feeling bad. I choose to listen to my family while still accepting that I may not (or may) have the maturity to implement their advice. Tonight, I choose to shut off Excel and save self-improvement for the next chapter. Harry out.