Tribal Print Clothing (OR: On the Issue of My Privilege, Which I Totally Acknowledge That I Do Indeed Have)

I once got into an argument in the comments section of a YouTube video. Groundbreaking, right? Yeah, it was not a terribly high point in my life. I can’t really recall what the video was about or even what the argument was about, but I do remember commenting on the fact that being called “cracker” is way more insulting than being called “nigger” when you really think about the meanings and histories of those words. (Not that anyone has ever called me the latter… That would just make no sense at all.) Before everyone gets mad at me, please hear me out.

There’s a certain dignity in being the oppressed party. There is exactly zero dignity in being the oppressor. Yes, the oppressor has more power at the time that they’re doing the actual oppressing, which is kind of a similar feeling to having dignity but not really the same thing at all, but then usually either someone comes to liberate the oppressed or the oppressed liberate themselves and then the oppressor gets to sit in the corner and think about what he’s done. And the children of each party get to sit and think about what the oppressor has done. Forever.

So children of slaves have to think about their ancestors’ incredible suffering at the hands of the oppressor, the terrible indignities and dehumanization and cruelty they endured, but they also get to think about the incredible strength and resilience it must have taken to endure such awful conditions. Children of slaves can take a certain degree of pride, I would think, in the history of their ancestors, because ultimately their ancestors were on the correct side of that history. Children of slaveowners should, I think we can all agree, NEVER EVER EVER take pride in what their ancestors did, and by extension they can never really take pride in their ancestors themselves, or even the culture they came from. Now, that’s difficult. Not nearly as difficult as knowing that your ancestors were, and that you yourself probably still are, put at an extreme disadvantage because of their/your ethnicity. No one is arguing that these situations are at all comparable. But it’s still difficult. Just like the patriarchy serves no one, so too does the shared history of oppression that occurred in this country (the United States, for those of you who have yet to pick up on that) serve exactly no one.

With that in mind, when you’re in an argument with a white person about whether or not it’s okay for them to call someone “nigga” or sing along to “Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist” from Avenue Q, and you say something to the effect of, “Well you should still feel guilty because your ancestors oppressed people,” what exactly are you trying to prove? Also, is that REALLY why they shouldn’t do it, or is that just your lazy-ass fallback argument that “works” in that it gets white people to shut up? Because it does. White people in general, and here I am of course generalizing, feel very very ashamed of the things other white people have done to people of color. That’s why so many of them just morph into a blob of defensive anger whenever they’re reminded of the terrible things white people have done and continue to do. They know you’re right, and this makes them feel ashamed, and no one likes feeling ashamed, so the emotional shortcut to feeling better is to just get angry at the mean brown person making them feel bad.

It also leads a lot of white people to take this line of defense. I—and I acknowledge that if you are a person of color you’ve heard this a million times, but here goes anyway—I am Irish. I’m not going to argue that my ancestors had it as hard as any of yours, because they really just didn’t. My family was never enslaved, or interned, or any of that. However, I am going to argue that my family never enslaved your family, because that is factual. That’s just a fact. My ancestors probably didn’t systematically kill or oppress any of your ancestors, either. So when you try to use “Your white ancestors were mean” as an argument against me personally, as well as a lot of other people, it’s just completely invalid. It usually gets me to shut up, for the aforementioned reason of collective white shame, but it’s just a really dumb, lazy argument. I was raised to hate Margaret Thatcher and praise the IRA, and you’re really accusing me of being of English descent? Most of my family is Catholic and you think my ancestors were friggin pilgrims? The answer is probably yes, because literally the only criterion for looking like the descendant of a pilgrim or plantation owner, for you, is that I have to be white, and I am. But would the Daughters of the Confederacy welcome me with open arms? Fuck no, they would not. Now, you’re not being reverse racist. You’re just being regular racist. Lucky for me, though, your racism doesn’t hurt me in the slightest. Our society still privileges me, the white girl. It does sort of hurt my feelings, though.

On to the actual point, and by point I mean another tangent that may eventually lead to the point, I purchased what could possibly be described as a “tribal” print dress at Goodwill this summer. I find the large graphic design to be really pretty, and super flattering, and I take solace in the fact that I bought it from Goodwill and not the company who decided “tribal” was a good and completely morally sound way to go. But I still feel sort of weird about it. Am I just casually enjoying a certain aesthetic that was borrowed from or inspired by a certain group of people? Or am I engaging in an act that perpetuates a system of really inappropriate cultural appropriation?

This also leads me to a lot of other questions I have. Is cultural appropriation only bad when the group being stolen from was oppressed by the group that’s doing the appropriating? It is only bad when the group didn’t share my ethnicity? Could I wear this dress with no qualms, for example, if I belonged to whatever “tribe” this “tribal” print was inspired by? Should I also feel bad about the appropriation of punk culture by stupid hipsters? What about the appropriation of “cholo” culture by the Japanese? You demonize me for not fully understanding the history of the print on my dress, but how about your “nerd” costume? What about those plastic, lensless glasses you put on in a poor imitation of a group that has been demeaned and abused for decades? Do you understand the history of nerds in American culture, do you understand their struggle? Can you even compute a basic integral or tell me any differences between Marvel and DC?

In matters like this, I prefer to go directly to the source. If I could figure out which culture the pattern on my dress is poorly attempting to imitate, I would, but the fact is that “tribal” prints have evolved so much from their original inspiration that they share almost nothing anymore with the culture they originally came from. I mean, I imagine someone at some point invented polka dots (Was it Germany? I mean, they produce a lot of other polkas.) and then eventually someone from some other ethnic group then appropriated those polka dots and began the global spread of polka dots as a pattern. Is that also problematic, or is it really just the harmless spread of a certain pattern?

Recently I saw photographs of these beautiful garments, works of art really, that took the shape of a traditional Japanese kimono and combined it with the rich, brightly colored fabrics characteristic of so much African clothing design. Did the African designer appropriate Japanese culture when he made these kimonos? Most of us would say no. Granted, I understand that Africans have never oppressed the Japanese or vice versa, but what basically happened is that he decided he liked the style of the kimono and wanted to make some. If I saw some Native American beadwork and was inspired to emulate it, am I engaging in cultural appropriation or am I demonstrating my appreciation for their style? Now, obviously mass produced clothing that outright steals patterns from oppressed ethnic minorities and then profits off them is pretty problematic. All I’m really trying to say is that the lines between what’s acceptable and what’s unacceptable for white people to wear and say and do is often incredibly blurry and very hard to navigate. All I’m asking of anybody who feels strongly about these issues is that you do your best to help us really confused white people out, and that you do so as gently as possible. We’re only human, and we’re just as fragile as you are, and just as capable of learning and changing.

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Tips for Staying Energized

So I am taking summer classes for six weeks, and I live about an hour away from school, slightly more if traffic is particularly heavy. This results in about two hours, maybe more, of being on a bus every day, and about ten total hours of being in not-my-house every day.  I don’t know what it is exactly about being in cars or buses and also being surrounded by people that my body finds so tiring, but when I get home I am exhausted. It’s been about three weeks and through sheer need to stay awake during the day, I’ve found some things that work for me in keeping me more energized and alert.

1. Drink water. I have a tall glass of water every morning and I try to drink the equivalent of two or three more throughout the day, plus another glass with dinner and one before bed. I live in an especially dry area, and now that it’s summer it is just ridiculously hot and dry. So water is important. Especially if you tend to drink a lot of caffeinated beverages, that are around water neutral (ie. your body doesn’t actually benefit from the water in them), you can easily trick yourself into thinking you’re hydrated when you aren’t. That said…

2. Drink tea. Or coffee. I prefer tea. I like a lightly sweetened black tea in the morning and an unsweetened chair or green iced tea in the afternoon as a pick-me-up. Tea has near to no calories, and green tea is allegedly good for you I think, but mostly tea is just refreshing  and good and comforting. And it wakes you up. I like to sit with my morning tea at home, but since I commute I’ve found the optimal time to drink liquids is about an hour before I have to leave. Otherwise I will really have to pee. As a sign of how much of an addict I am, I always carry a variety of tea bags with me everywhere I go just in case I’m able to find a microwave and some water.

3. If you can, nap. If I have time, I’ll find a nice shady spot on the grass and use my backpack as a pillow. Napping is just part of life in many other cultures, as well as in our Great Ape cousins, but here it’s been slightly stigmatized, which is a shame. If your body is telling you it’s tired, sometimes it’s best to just give it what it wants. If you can’t take a nap…

4. Give yourself time to rest. This need not be in the form of sleeping. Your body and brain will still benefit from some designated rest time. On your way home or when you get there, give yourself some time to just isolate yourself, space out, listen to music, watch the Daily Show or your favorite webseries, read a book. You probably have to make yourself dinner soon and have like five more things you need to do today, but right now just chill.

5. Make the distinction between things you do for The Man, and things you do for you. Homework, class, work, laundry–these are things I do for The Man.  Cooking, reading, mending clothes, coding–these are things I do for me. I try to recognize when something I’m doing that my brain starts to process as a “task” or “work” is actually something fun or relaxing that I enjoy doing. Certain chores can feel calming, and not all of your self-improvement projects have to be miserable. Try to get in a few things every day that feel rewarding. It’ll help keep you motivated for tomorrow and add variety to your day.

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A Motherfucking REALISTIC College Checklist.

Okay, so you got into a college and you’ve accepted and decided that you’re going to live in the dorms. What do you even bring to dorms? What is it even like to live in them?

So, I am currently a college freshman, at the end of my second quarter, and I have a few things (not all the things) figured out. Just to establish some context, I live in a triple in a regular residence hall, meaning I have two roommates, our room is slightly larger than my room back home but with two more people in it, and I share a bathroom with roughly half my floor (genders, yo). I have one desk, one closet, and there is no under the bed storage because my desk and closet are under the bed (lofts, yo). I am female, I try to brush my teeth twice a day, I shower basically almost kind of every day, and I put on makeup every day. I am not what I would consider “high maintenance”. I am also not what I would consider “low maintenance”. I mean, fuck, I put on makeup every day, but I don’t like straighten my hair or anything.

So now, here are the things that I think are necessary to bring to a college dorm, arranged into categories that I thought were appropriate.

Your Bed!

  1. Pillows. You need at least one, and you’re gonna need some more if somebody’s sleeping over on your floor.  Or in your bed. Or in your roommate’s bed.
  2. A blanket. This will also come in handy if your guest is sleeping on your floor or your roommate’s bed. (Spoiler: most people don’t like it when other people sleep under their covers. Seriously, bro, unless I know you and know what you’re about, don’t sleep under my covers.)
  3. Sheets. Honestly, one set is enough. You’re not going to wash your sheets, let’s be real. (Okay, maaaybe two sets, but really you’re not gonna sleep while you’re doing laundry, just put the same set of sheets back on when they’re done drying.)
  4. Comforter. This is a necessity during finals week when you just want to pull it off your bed and make yourself a cocoon. (Like I’m doing right now…)
  5. Mattress protector. Ain’t gonna be no bedbugs all up in here.
  6. Stuffed animals. I don’t care what your gender is or how much of a badass you think you are. You’re gonna need something to cuddle. These can also be replaced by decorative pillows or something, but I prefer stuffed animals. I have three.

 

Your Desk!

  1. Just enough organizing shit to get you to stay organized. Personally, I have a few mason jars for pens, pencils, makeup, etc. I have a few bowls and a large shell for jewelry and hair ties and bobby pins and shit. For my papers I have two magazine holder organizey things and four folders that I just keep vertical on the desk between the magazine organizers.
  2. Lamp/reading light. Mine is just a nice little clip-on one from Ikea.
  3. Laptop case if you’re bougey like that. Also a laptop lock if you’re paranoid like that. If your roommates have a lot of friends over who you don’t know, or if you know they leave the door open while you’re not in the room, maybe invest in one of these. I use mine about half the time, which I figure at least slightly reduces the risk of it being stolen from my room.
  4. A stapler and some staples can come in handy, but chances are your computer lab or library or wherever the fuck you’re printing your shit has staples.
  5. Tape. I literally haven’t use my regular tape at all, but I HAVE used my purple duck tape. I love my purple duck tape so much.
  6. Tissues. For when you’re crying over your chemistry homework. And also when you spill shit. You can also use hand towels for this, but we’ll get to that later.
  7. Post-its. If you’re like me and you forget shit all the time, these are very necessary. What’s my mailbox code? What time is that club meeting? When is that roommate contract due? Let me check that handy post-it note I wrote for myself!

General Necessities!

  1. Power strip. You need this. A lot. You might need two. And an extension cord. There are literally two sets of outlets in my room for three people, and they are located not so very close to my desk/bed.
  2. Command hooks. I have them in my closet for extra purses, I have them on my above desk shelf thing for necklaces, I have one by my bed to hang a flashlight for emergencies. I use command hooks like nobody’s business.
  3. MAYBE some little stick-on battery-powered lights. You know the ones. If you don’t, well, whatever. I have one under my shelf above my desk and one inside my closet for the mornings. If you turn on the overhead light while any or all of your roommates are asleep, you are an asshole.
  4. Speaking of being an asshole, bring headphones. Your roommates do not want to listen to your music. My roommates don’t like my music, and I don’t like theirs, so headphones are just always the way to go.
  5. A laptop. This is sort of obvious, unless you can’t afford it. Even if you think you can’t afford it though, think about it because it’s a really really really good investment.
  6. FIRST AID SHIT. This is important. Your RA will probably have a more extensive first aid setup than you, and that is good. But just in case, you probably need bandaids, antibacterial cream, painkillers, other medicines, stuff like that. Maybe a thermometer if you’re really concerned about getting a fever, though I haven’t used mine yet and you could probably just borrow a friend’s.

For your closet!

  1. Thin hangers. Pls. Do yourself a favor and just get those nice thin velvety ones on the cheap, they are AMAZING and save so much space.
  2. Maybe one of those hanging shoe rack things. I don’t put shoes in there, I roll up my t-shirts and undershirts and stick them in there along with underwear and bras and shit. Shoes go on the floor in a pile, bitch.
  3. Maybe some other things to hold your things. I have a couple little boxish things from Ikea that I stack on top of each other. One’s got PJs in it and the other holds all my socks.

For Eating!

  1. ONE bowl. MAYBE a plate if you really think you’re going to use it. I do not use my plate. At all.
  2. As many forks, spoons, knives as you think you will need. I use my four spoons a lot for tea and oatmeal, and I use my forks a lot for apple fork (if you don’t know what this is yet, don’t worry, you will). I only use one knife for peanut butter, soo…
  3. One reusable water bottle, and one to-go coffee mug thing.
  4. Mugs! Go ham. If you drink tea, like me, or if you drink coffee or really if you drink anything and if you like to share warm beverages with friends like any sane human being, you need mugs. I have four, and they are always dirty because I have a fuck ton of tea parties with my friends. They’re just more fun than cups, even if you’re just drinking water. That said, maybe also bring ONE cup just for you.
  5. Pitcher. Unless you want to go to the sink or drinking fountain every fucking time you need a cup of water, you need one of these. It does not have to be a fancy one, especially if, like me, all your water is for tea anyway so you’re just going to boil it.
  6. Electric kettle if you’re a big tea drinker or enjoy instant noodles. In other words, you need this. ALSO, instant coffee. Who needs a coffee maker when you have boiling water and powdered coffee weirdness at your disposal?
  7. Assorted foodstuffs. Bring what you think is appropriate, but just know that you CAN and you WILL smuggle food out of the dining hall. This includes but is not limited to desserts, fresh fruit, bagels, and any of the cutlery or cups that you forgot to bring (those last aren’t food, I know). Food I DO have in my dorm includes a bag of almonds, a box of Cheezits, instant oatmeal, emergency chocolate, snacking chocolate/candy, instant noodles, and a box of chocolate Cheerios (not to eat in a bowl with milk, just to snack). Also tea. I have an entire drawer of tea. (Sidenote: if you like tea, also bring a tea infuser. Even if you don’t yet have loose tea, you will make tea-loving friends who have some.)

For Cleaning!

  1. Disinfecting wipes. I wipe down the surface of my desk occasionally. Also sometimes my windowsill. That’s about it though.
  2. Dish soap. You just kinda need it.
  3. A pack of sponges. I did not bring this and just ended up stealing a sponge from a friend, but these are useful. You don’t actually need a sponge to wash your dishes (surprise, surprise), but they’re handy little motherfuckers.
  4. Dish/hand towels! These little babies are the reason you’re not bringing paper towels. Bring a fair amount of these. I have like six, but regularly use about three per laundry-doing period. You wipe shit up with them, you dry your face with them, they’re just very handy.
  5. A couple real towels. Unless, like me, you wait as long as you possibly can to do laundry (meaning, until you run out of clean underwear). If this is you, or you think you might become this, it is indeed worth it to buy a third towel.
  6. Shower shoes (really cheap flip-flops). I know we just morphed into shower stuff, but whatever, it’s for cleaning yourself.
  7. Possibly a robe. I have a Forever 21 satiny leopard print robe that I sort of splurged on with birthday money. Ideally, though, you want something that covers your butt while you walk to and from the shower. You can seriously just wrap yourself in your towel though, pretty much everyone does it.
  8. Laundry detergent. Yes, we just morphed into laundry, it’s still for cleaning so whatever.
  9. Dryer sheets. I guess you could do without these, but c’mon, man, think of the lavender breeze.
  10. Laundry bag. If you’re in a triple like me, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE do not bring a hamper that you’re going to leave out that just takes up a shit ton of space. Bring a bag and hang it somewhere out of the way and be fucking courteous. If you have more space, by all means be a bitch and bring a fucking hamper and drying rack. I mean, drying racks can be handy but why not just be ratchet like me and hang your delicates on your bed and off handles and shit?

For Fun!

  1. Deck of cards. I use this regularly.
  2. Board games. If you want to become the most popular person on your floor, bring Cards Against Humanity and Monopoly. These things are essentials on weekends. Believe it or not, college kids go apeshit for a good board/card game.
  3. Movies you love and want to share with other people.
  4. BOOKS. If you’re like me and you like to read, you’re going to want a new-to-you book or two to read in your spare time. You don’t really get spare time, actually, but when you just want to sit down with a cup of tea and book, well, you need a book. DO NOT bring your favorite books unless you KNOW you’re going to reread them or loan them to people.

Extraneous and/or Girly Shit

  1. I have a lot of earrings, so I have an earring holder made out of window screen and a largeish picture frame. It’s just up there on command hooks. Again, command hooks. They will save you.
  2. A couple pairs of heels. One of them should be professional, like a pair of black pumps or something, and one of them should be for frat parties. The former you will need for career fairs and shit, and the latter you will need for frat parties. Now, I didn’t think I was a frat party kind of girl, but inevitably you will go to them, and you need a pair of heels that make you feel sexy but that you also don’t mind getting some beer on.
  3. Frat party clothes. Guys, you can get away with wearing whatever, but LADIES, we have it tough. If you’re like high school me and you don’t have any “party clothes”, invest in one or two crop tops and a black bodycon skirt, or a dress that can be slutted up a little, something that’s slightly too ratchet for your mom to see you in.
  4. A resume. Just consider drawing one up over the summer. You may need it for those aforementioned career fairs.
  5. Career fair clothes. Literally just one pair of black slacks and a nice top.
  6. Decorations. I have some assorted posters and a picture from the Women in Physics conference I went to hanging over my bed. If you want a bunch of pictures of your family and hometown friends, that’s good too.
  7. If you plan on going swimming, hiking, camping, plan accordingly and bring proper attire, shoes, sleeping bag, etc.
  8. Also, if you have facewash, lotion, makeup, a straightener, a curling iron, any of that other shit, you already know you’re bringing that. Straighteners also double as irons in a pinch, because who has room for a motherfucking iron and ironing board? ALSO you may not think you need it now, but dry shampoo. Think about it. Some days you just do not have time to shower and this stuff will fucking save you.
  9. A bleach pen. These little buggers are amazingly useful, but when I need one I just borrow one from a friend.

THINGS YOU ABSOLUTELY WILL NOT NEED.

  1. A television. What’d you buy a laptop for, bitch? It’s like you don’t even know what Netflix is. You can play DVDs on here too.
  2. A printer. Yeah, you do not need this.
  3. A vacuum. Your fucking RA has one of these, I know she does.
  4. Any of that other stupid shit those other checklists will tell you to bring. You just do not need a can opener, or oven mitts, or an over the door organizer, or a bagel slicer, or a pizza cutter. You’re a starving college student now, you don’t have time for that bougey nonsense. Notice that I did not even mention a fridge, microwave, or toaster, or a blender, because you DON’T NEED THOSE THINGS EITHER. You think you do, but you don’t. You don’t need fucking yoghurt every morning, or perfectly toasted whole wheat toast. Ramen will do for you now, thanks, I mean who even has time to cook? Not us starving college students, that’s for sure. What’s your meal plan even for, bitch?
  5. And lastly, condoms. No, I am not telling you not to have sex. Have all the sex you want, just don’t PAY for your condoms. There are so many free condoms out there. Find them.
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Things to Look for in a Partner.

Sometimes you make lists of things you want in a partner. Sometimes you do this when you’re sad. Someday you do this when you’re angry. Sometimes it seems like a good idea, helpful even.

These lists range from, say, baseline things like, “Must not be abusive,” and “Must love dogs,” to very, very specific things, to the point where you’re about forty-two items into the list and they just keep getting more specific, like, “Must not be a Brony,” and, “Must take me horseback riding on the beach annually.”

Now, I’m not saying that it’s not okay to want your potential future partner to share some common interests with you, or to want them to take you out on dates or have a nice smile, but oftentimes these lists get far to specific far too quickly. For the purpose of comparison, let me show you my list of things I look for in a partner.

  1. They must value me as a friend and lover.
  2. They must respect me.
  3. They must be able to hold decent conversations with me.
  4. They must want to do enjoyable activities with me.
  5. They must share a similar worldview to mine.

Yeah, that’s it. Also, all of these hopefully go both ways. But see how simple that is? None of this, “They must be at least five inches taller than me,” or, “They must love John Green books and want to talk about them with me.” I don’t go in for that shit, and let me tell you why. When I first met the man, who was then a boy, who is now my long-term partner, I never thought we would end up dating. I had standards. (Yeah, freshman year me, ‘cause you were such a catch yourself.) I wanted somebody who was as “smart” as me. I wanted someone who loved Harry Potter as much as I did. And he was just a regular non-Harry Potter-reading plebian who was taking all regular non-honors classes.

And here we are four years later. And you wanna know what I’ve learned?

A fucking lot.

So, going back to my list, let’s justify them. The first two are very baseline. If you think those two are too much to ask for, we have a problem. These two do, however, encompass a lot. In terms of “communication”, which I hear is necessary for maintaining successful relationships, as far as I’m concerned as long as you value me and I know that, whether I know that through little acts of love or you straight up telling me, we have zero problems. And if you respect me then you will, as a logical next step, be honest with me even when it’s hard or awkward or you think I don’t want to hear it, which is really all communication is about anyway.

As for the third one, I really don’t care if we’re both passionate about the same things or not. I don’t care if we agree on things, either. I don’t care that you love the tenth doctor and I love the eleventh, or that you don’t like Doctor Who at all, or that you’ve never even watched a show on the BBC. I care that we’re able to talk to each other about things. (Side note: This is not in fact communication. As I learned from a vlog retelling of Jane Eyre, “You think being able to talk to someone, really talk to someone, all night, talking about anything, would mean that you can communicate. But it’s not the same thing.”) For instance, I really had no interest whatsoever in astronomy in my first year of high school, but Pudge loves space. Back in the day he could literally talk to me about space for hours. It was during one of these astronomy rants that I realized I was completely infatuated with him, and the best part was that he’d get mad at me if I wasn’t paying attention. He was so intent on sharing his passion with me, and how could I not get excited about it too when he loved it that much? Having decent conversations also ultimately hinges on me and you being passionate about something, or somethings, whether those things are the same or different. Eventually, our conversations are going to get really boring if neither of us have any interests.

The fourth encompasses a lot of things. It encompasses sex, and baking together, and going out to movies, and sitting on the couch watching Game of Thrones, and everything else we might enjoy doing together. This also encompasses compromise, because if I think skydiving sounds like a terrible idea, and you loathe watching Sherlock, then we probably shouldn’t do those activities together, because we don’t both find them enjoyable. We need to find enough common ground to be able to have multiple activities that we like to do together. This also plays into sex. If I find doggy style enjoyable, but you vastly prefer cowgirl, then we need to take our differences into account and find a position that’s enjoyable for both of us, like maybe reverse cowgirl.

As for the last one, I know many people are going to disagree with me. Maybe your husband is a Republican and you’re a Democrat. Maybe your girlfriend is Jewish but you’re Christian. But neither of these examples really gets at what this one means, because you and your partner can be of different religions or political parties and still share a ton of common ground in terms of your worldview. That said, these two categories are often excellent litmus tests. For example, if you’re a libertarian and I’m a straight up communist, but what we both want is for everyone to  have enough to eat, then we don’t really have a problem, we’re just ultimately on different paths that hopefully head toward the same goal. However, if you think we should cut food stamps and increase our military spending, and I think we should provide a socialist floor so that people don’t die of preventable causes, then we have a big fucking problem. This is also true the other way. We might both be atheists, but if you’re completely nihilistic and I’m a closet optimist, I am not going to want to be your girlfriend.

Anyways, the takeaway here is that you don’t need to rule anybody out because maybe they didn’t score as high as you on the SATs, or they don’t know the first thing about hockey, or maybe they hate hiking. The point of having a partner is having someone who values and respects you and who you can have fun with, and if you’re making it any more complicated than that, you’re making it too complicated.

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Pulling an All-Nighter

So for those of you who don’t know, and I’m hoping that’s none of you, pulling an all-nighter is when you stay up aaaaaalll night into the wee hours of the morning, and then either crash sometime during the day (beginning the cycle of slowly becoming nocturnal) or stay up until it’s nighttime again and then you sleep. Or you’re in a lab or being tortured, and you just keep pulling successive all-nighters until you go totally insane…

These usually happen because of one simple reason: you procrastinated. Whether it’s that lab report, or your six-page paper, or that monologue you just haven’t gotten around to yet, you know that unless you stay up all night working and turn it in the next morning, all bleary-eyed and zombielike, there’s no way it’s gonna get in at all. And it’s like 15% of your grade or something, and you just really need to get it done and you should have started it way sooner, but OH WELL, here you are.

Unless you’re me.

In which case, you pull all-nighters seemingly just… because you can. When those two or three people are holed up in the dorm lounge, and around five thirty a.m. everybody just needs a break so they start commiserating, talking about formatting their diagrams, or why concluding paragraphs and titles are even remotely necessary, or how they just can’t get that one line right, you’re just sitting there like, yeah, I have nothing due tomorrow, I’m just kinda here.

So this was essentially me yesterday. Or… today. Or whatever. It was somewhere around midnight, and my friend… eh, let’s just call him A. for now. So A. said, sometime around like midnight when he and Jess and I were getting hot chocolate that he was planning on pulling an all-nighter to finish his lab report, and we were both like, cool, come to our floor’s lounge, we can all stay up together. And then Jess bailed like three hours into it. BUT NOT BEFORE she could share a lovely compilation of poetry conmigo (it was the Sigma Tau Delta English Honors Society’s 87th volume of their publication the Rectangle), where I found two quotes from poems by somebody I don’t know anything about other than her name, which is Amanda Blythe.

The lines that really stuck with me were these:

“When she stopped sleeping altogether at the age of twenty-five, she filled the thick inky nights with milk tea and white chocolate and the light touch of frost on the leaves and the trees and her notebook paper.”

“Just as he will know how to tether me back to him, with the promise of debate, courting my refusal to be at fault. Just as he will know how to cradle my head in his large hands to make me feel pleasantly small.”

Now, I know you don’t have any context, but these are just plain beautiful lines. The first just conjures up such beautiful images and emotions in my head, and the second one I like because when I read it the first time I had that feeling you get when you suddenly remember that other people can feel the same things you feel. That sounds weird, but you know when you read something, and the way it’s written is just so exactly the way you felt about something that you pause for a moment and wonder if you and the writer aren’t like long-lost siblings or Feelings Twins or something? That’s how I felt.

And on top of discovering those two beautiful things, as well as the series of three poems, or the poem in three parts, that those lines are taken from, I also got to read Virginia Woolf. I was supposed to read it for class, but I didn’t, and then while I was bullshitting my way through a discussion of the book, which was To the Lighthouse, I realized that I actually did want to read this book. So last night I got almost halfway through it, and I really like it, and the point I’m sort of trying to get at is that had I not pulled that unnecessary all-nighter, I would probably not have read any of it, unless I decided to write my essay on it. And I probably wouldn’t have written these two haikus.

This first one is for the usurper who I actually grew to quite like as the night progressed into morning:

Chex crunch bag rustling

Five A.M. too late to care

Fucker took my spot

This next one I wrote about A., and the backstory is that he’s got Pandora on and is failing to realize that I’ve just made him a cup of tea.

Hand on chin, eyes scan

Mumbling lips curve, humming songs

Jasmine lingers cold

So as much as adults and sane people deride all-nighters, I still think they have some merit. While I don’t recommend making a habit of them, in college or in life, they are definitely something you should try if you have a friend or two to stay up with and keep you company.

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Islamophobia and “Assimilation”

Alternate title for this could be, “My Grandma Still Bitches About You”.

So, recently, a resolution to pass divestment (if you don’t know what this is, you should, but it’s not integral to the story) from Israel’s violence in Palestine failed to pass my college’s student council. This is not important to the story. What IS important to the story are the figurative piles of hate mail (I say figurative because all of it has come in the form of emails, facebook messages, and texts) that supporters of divestment have received, mainly from Zionist students but also from a variety of other people. And I should also clarify something else, which is that supporters of divestment in general really haven’t received that much hate mail. It’s mostly just the really “Muslim Arab” looking supporters of divestment who have received hate mail, along with one other really specific case that comes to mind. I support divestment, but I have received a grand total of ZERO threatening messages, and I suspect that even if I was far more vocal about my support for divestment, I would not be the victim of hate speech. Why, you ask? I’m white, silly.

What I wanted to address in particular today is the comment made by one Zionist in which she urged the recipient to rethink “attacking Israel”, “stop whining”, and focus on “assimilating” into American society.

Now, there are so many problems with this, but I’m only going to get into the most topical.

This girl is Jewish, and in this message she effectively claims that Jews have completely and totally assimilated into the white majority.

Imma stop you right there hunnychild.

The test I personally would use to test whether or not an ethnic group “fits in” or has been “accepted” by the white majority is asking every white person’s racist grandma their opinion on the matter, and if they do not go into a twenty minute tirade on the aforementioned ethnic group, then you’re good and you’re one of us.

Now, I can’t speak for everybody’s racist grandmas, but mine certainly does not view “the Jews” favorably, evidenced by the fact that she uses the term “the Jews” to refer to Jewish people. Sidenote: if white people put “the” in front of your group, you have not been accepted by the white majority. See also: “the Muslims”, “the blacks”, and “the Mexicans”.

Now, there’s no question that Jews (See? Not “the Jews”! Attitudes are evolving!) are far more accepted than those other groups I mentioned, but I’m sorry, you are not at this point in time part of the majority. My racist grandma is still racist against you, and that is not going to change until she dies. Once you actually DO become part of the majority, I’m sure your current fellow minorities will thank you for your incredibly tolerant attitudes toward them, because they are now and probably will continue to be discriminated against, just like you were, and you know what that’s like so friggin help them out a little bit, would you? Ethnic minorities like you need to stick together, and white people like me need to recognize that white privilege and the tyranny of the majority are both very real and take action to make our society more inclusive.

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Hooker Heels

So I bought a pair of high heels for five dollars at Goodwill. How high, you ask? Like about six inches I would say. Maybe more. They’re pretty tall. I myself am only about 5’2 ½”, but they still make me decently tall. We haven’t actually reached the story yet, this is just the exposition.

So I bought these heels, right? They’re all stiletto-y and platform-y, and super tall, right? They’re also like fire engine red, so all in all, these are some VERY hookerish heels.

But you’re not a prostitute, you’re saying. Why do you need these heels? Why did you buy them?

To which I say: You don’t know me, internet stranger. You don’t know my life. I am not in fact a hooker, though, you’re right. I’m not a stripper either, so to be perfectly honest, I do not actually need these heels for any reason whatsoever. But they’re like actually some decently brand name, fancy heels, and here they were at Goodwill only lightly used, in my size, and five dollars. So I bought them. And since I bought them they have basically been in my closet at home.

Now, I go to college. Mind you, we’re still in the exposition. I go to college, and I live in dorms, and not in my house where my family lives. But my house is close enough that I go home some weekends, and for doctor’s appointments and stuff. So my friend who was with me when I bought the heels had been asking about their whereabouts, and I told her, they’re in my closet at home because where the heck am I gonna wear them anyway, what’s the point of bringing them to college where they’re just going to take up some of my already very limited space? Her response was effectively: Dude, wear them wherever the heck you want, they’re badass heels, go get them right now and learn to walk in them and then just wear them everywhere you go until your ankle tendons get all screwed up. So, long story short, I took her advice and picked them up last Tuesday when I was back at home for an appointment with my OB/GYN. And now they’re in my dorm.

But see how long it took me to explain all that? Do you see? So that’s effectively twice as long as it would take me to explain these heels to, say, my roommates. And seeing as we’re hardly in the room all together except for when we’re all asleep, I’d probably have to tell each of them this separately, which would take, by my calculations, twice as long. So we’re back to where we started, and I just don’t have time to explain my hooker heels, and I don’t have time for their mildly judgey looks.

Oh, I’m sure they wouldn’t judge you once you explained, you’re saying.

Nope. Think again. I, good sir or madam, am the WEIRD roommate.

Exhibit A: There’s a cupboard above my bed that goes reeeeaaally far back, and the other day I wanted to see if I could fit in it. And so I climbed up there. And I fit quite nicely.

Exhibit B: I have a slight obsession with tea. I have a tea infuser with a handy little hook at the end so that it just hooks to the side of your mug and doesn’t fall in. I thought I’d see if it would work as an earring. It does.

This is very quickly just turning into a resume of this week’s accomplishments.

Anyway, Exhibit C: I watch vlogbrothers videos. Often, in those videos, either John or Hank gets very passionate, and when your roommates can’t hear what’s going on and they have no previous knowledge of John and Hank Green, apparently it just looks to them like you’re just watching some random guy rant, which is apparently not normal. I have tried to explain John and Hank Green to my roommates, but they are not on youtube nearly as much as I am, so none of my attempts have been especially successful. I have lately taken to hiding my love of vlogbrothers, and Emma Approved, and jacksfilms, etc. from my roommates because I don’t want to spend ten minutes explaining youtube, and youtube stars, and youtube web show series things, just to have them still look at me like, “That’s nice, hunny. You have fun on your little internet. I’m off to do yoga and then have sex with strangers / I’m off to my Christian fellowship meeting where I will pray for the sanity of the man I just saw on your computer screen.” (That man was Hank Green, by the way.)

Now it sounds like I’m being judgey, right?

Yeah. So it goes.

Moral of the story, I am going to continue to hide my hooker heels under my desk every time one of my roommates walks in while I’m practicing walking in those monsters, because while I know it will really only take two minutes to explain why I have them, I really just do not need my roommates to think I’m any weirder than they already think I am.

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