Thursday, September 27, 2012

but maybe i shouldn't want someone like you.

This is practically a no-brainer, but it's been on my mind lately: I see it on Tumblr at lot, or even Facebook and Twitter and Youtube. There's this tendency, this need to paint Adele's anthem of heartbreak "Someone Like You" as that song that will be the soundtrack for your pain and recovery. Don't get me wrong--it's a beautiful song. Adele sings it beautifully. The music video is beautiful. But I've really grown to resent it over time.

"Never mind, I'll find someone like you"? But why would I want someone like you? ("You" being the guy who pretty callously placed my heart on IKEA floating shelf and then took an ax to the whole damn wall.)

I mean, think about it. This seemingly-perfect guy who made the world feel whole and warm broke Adele's heart, and went off and settled down with some other girl so quickly after telling Adele he didn't want to settle down. Then he went and did it anyways, and it had nothing to do with not wanting to settle down; he just didn't want to settle down with Adele. "I can imagine being about 40 and looking for him again, only to turn up and find that he's settled with a beautiful wife and beautiful kids and he's completely happy," she revealed about the inspiration behind the song, "and I'm still on my own."

That blows.

Have you ever felt like "that person" was embarrassed of you? As if they didn't want you around and didn't want to introduce you to his/her friends or coworkers or family? As if "that person" has this overwhelming need to remove you from his/her life? I bet Adele never got introduced anywhere. I bet Adele would be used and tossed aside. I bet Adele wouldn't have gotten left alone at a Brooklyn subway stop at 3 a.m.

Okay, I'm projecting. I've been deep into the world of Mindy Kaling and Joni Mitchell this week, and it's causing me to dig deep into these personal issues of heartbreak and healing (or, semi-healing). Basically, watch out when you love someone because it'll probably lead you to a pretty dark hole that you--and all the stuff you carry with you as a reminder of that "summer haze" (photos and letters and trinkets and more)--will fall into someday. And if/when you crawl your way out of that whole, don't try to find someone like that person who led you there in the first place.

(Disclaimer: I still love Adele, I promise.)

Friday, September 21, 2012

fill-in-the-blank friday: autumn is coming.

1. Something I am very proud of is  figuring out how to navigate the New York subway system in less than a year of living here. I thought it would be impossible when I first moved here .

2. My favorite thing about myself is  my ability to get things done (for the most part) .

3. My favorite color for fall is  red, but I'm generally a fan of red year-round .

4. Something I've been learning lately is  how easy it is to settle, and how rewarding it ends up being to not .

5. A book I am reading now/have read recently is  The Table Comes First by Adam Gopnik .

6. My favorite Pandora Station is  She & Him. It's been doing me some good lately .

7. This weekend I will  waffle, because that's what weekends are for .

Thursday, September 13, 2012

eighteen years later, VAWA still matters.

Eighteen years ago today, President Bill Clinton signed the Violence Against Women Act into law. VAWA, drafted by then-Senator Joe Biden, received broad bipartisan support and cleared both the House and Senate by clear majorities (though Republicans have tried to cut the Act's funding since 1995). Politics aside, I think it's important we take a look at what VAWA has accomplished, and understand the importance and need for a continuing discussion about violence and abuse in our society.

Think Progress noted today just a few of the victories achieved through VAWA:
  • Victims can call for help. The National Domestic Violence Hotline was established as part of VAWA. It currently serves over 22,000 victims a month and has taken a total of 3 million calls.
  • Law enforcement officers are trained to help victims. 500,000 law enforcement officials, judges, and prosecutors a year are trained with VAWA funding to help domestic abuse victims.
  • Partner violence and homicides fell. From the year before VAWA’s passage until 2008, the number of women being killed by partners dropped 43 percent, and partner violence against women fell 53 percent.
  • Stalking became illegal. Before VAWA, stalking was not a federal crime. The law established stalking as a felony offense.
  • Rape is rape, no exceptions. Since the passage of VAWA, each state in the United States has updated its laws so that rape by a partner is treated equally to rape by a stranger.
There is currently a fight on the Hill over the bill because Democrats have added language to expand VAWA to protect Native Americans, LGBT victims, and undocumented immigrants. There's also the matter of many conservatives who find the bill "redundant." But, as I argued back in May, "VAWA's sole purpose is not to criminalize violence against women."
The Violence Against Women Act was first passed in 1994 and provided taxpayer money for protection of domestic abuse victims and other programs and services to support victims, including community violence prevention programs, funding for victim assistance services such as rape crisis centers and hotlines, and legal aid for survivors of violence. The Act also allocates money to investigate and prosecute violent crimes against women. 
The bill has largely been seen as a bipartisan issue, and was reauthorized by Congress in 2000 and again in 2005, but has been a point of contention in the House this year when the Senate's version expanded those protections to same-sex couples, illegal immigrants, and those living on Native American tribal lands.
There is story after story that can be found online of survivors who've benefited from the resources created because of VAWA, and I urge you seek those stories out to understand more of why VAWA matters. (For those unfamiliar with Project Unbreakable, I cannot recommend it enough.) And, even though it's been 18 years, VAWA will still continue to matter because there are still victims of violence out there who are silenced every day.

I've talked with many people about issues related to abuse, sexual assault, and rape over the last few years. These are things that nobody ever likes talking about, but I think it's important that we see and hear the stories in the mainstream media so we can end the culture of violence that still exists today.

Every story I heard, every person who opened up to me about their pain--it's been more than a journey through their stories; it became an understanding and acceptance of my own. It became an understanding and acceptance that this violence exists, it's real, and it needs to be talked about. It became an understanding that just because this happens to you doesn't make you a victim forever; it can be something that empowers you to become a survivor. Violence at the hand of somebody who is supposed to care about you is something that happens to you, but it doesn't need to be something that defines you.

It doesn't define me.

We can walk through our lives with masks on and pretend like the pain we endured is as invisible as some make it out to be, or we can stand up and affirm to the world that we are stronger than our attackers made us out to be. We are braver than our attackers thought we could be. We are worth more than our attackers told us we would ever be.

Violence against men and women still exists, and too often the attackers go free even after the crime has been reported. The statistics are out there, and the survivors are out there, and unfortunately the perpetrators of these crimes are also still out there. We need more education and we need more compassion if this cycle of abuse is to end someday.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

an open letter to Terminal B.

It wasn't my fault.

I know it's uncommon to believe young adults these days, but believe me--TSA was to blame.

Like any frequent traveler, I packed lightly and compactly. I didn't have any giant bottles of liquids in my luggage, and I made sure to keep those prohibited items at home. I took my shoes of, and my jacket, and emptied my pockets. I removed my laptop easily from my backpack and prepared to see my items through the x-ray: one backpack, one laptop in a tray, another tray for my shoes and seater, and my carry-on suitcase.

"It's okay, I'll get it," a short, plump TSA agent with glasses and curly hair assured me. I insisted I wait (a TSA agent at Dulles yelled at me once for trying to go through the medal detector without watching my items enter the machine), but she sternly instructed me to go through the detector. I complied, then everything went wrong.

I walked through the detector effortlessly, then waited on the other side as items went through the machine. Finally, my backpack emerged, then my laptop, then my shoes…but no suitcase. I looked up and saw the young TSA agent at the computer signal to another agent, and they stopped the belt. I looked around the machine and didn't see my suitcase. It was stuck inside the x-ray machine.

A few agents circled the machine and tried to dislodge it with a stick. People around me started getting irate.

"Someone," the young agent said, glaring at me, "put their suitcase in wrong."

I bit my tongue to keep from correcting her from her improper use of the plural pronoun, and said loudly for other passengers to hear, "I'm sorry, an agent told me to go and she said she would put my luggage through!"

Apologies don't matter when it's 5:45 a.m. and people are mad. I'd never wanted to disappear more, and the yellow sweater I was wearing wasn't helping. The woman who's stuff was behind mine was insisting the agents let her items go through another line. She had done nothing wrong, she kept saying, and had a flight to catch at 6:30--the same flight as mine.

By 6:05, my suitcase was still stuck, and they finally let the lady go to a different line.

"I'm sorry, ma'am," I pleaded. "They said they'd put my suitcase--"

"Yeah, yeah," she snapped and shoved past me to go back to retrieve her things on the belt.

I glared at the agents as they continued to poke for my suitcase with a stick. Were these machines not equipped to handle this? Was there no escape hatch?

Finally, a minute later, the conveyor belt began to move again and my luggage emerged. The same agent who had promised to see my suitcase through grabbed it and brought it back to the front of the machine to send it through again. I closed my eyes and prayed it wouldn't get stuck a second time.

It didn't. And it was fine. And I grabbed it and fled the security line before the angry lady who was behind me could catch up to me.

I got to the gate right before they were about to announce passengers on the overhead who were missing. As I stood on the connecting walkway to enter the plane, I heard an exasperated sigh behind me. I slowly turned around. It was the angry lady.
I scurried down the cabin and hoped she wasn't sitting near me. She wasn't, but I could imagine the angry lady complaining to passengers around her about me, and knew she'd be telling the story to her family and friends for days to come. In my rush, I sat in the wrong seat, broke a nail, and nearly decapitated an old man with my suitcase as I struggled to lift it into the overhead bin.

PS- You all heard me apologize profusely, right? :(
PPS- Angry lady, you made your flight. Stop hating me, please.
PPPS- TSA, I hate you.