United We Kneel

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“Back when I was growing up, football players just played the game and kept their mouths shut,” a family member said during our nice dinner. Picking up on the hint, I kept my mouth shut and didn’t point out the fact that Colin Kaepernick wasn’t actually saying anything but kneeling but anyway…

If I had spoken up, I would’ve brought to his attention the fact that he basically explained the reason why today Kaepernick feels the freedom to kneel during the national anthem as a form of protest: change. It’s a thing!

In fact, it’s the only constant in life.

I think it’s a generational thing? My parents’ generation of white people tend to be reserved and polite (well, their definition of polite), not wanting to make a stir. Better to be silent than, goodness forbid, make anyone uncomfortable. Or maybe that’s just my family, which would explain so much…

ANYHOO

Fighting against this type of societal progress is like vehemently lobbying the movie industry to continue to churn out VHS tapes. Because you’re kind, and you prefer to rewind for Blockbuster (Google it, chillins).

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To be fair to my family member, he’s consistent. He also believes actors should shut up and act, too! But why shouldn’t an actor or athlete with a platform share their opinions or give light to injustices? Are they exempt from being citizens with full rights just because they’ve gained recognition in the public eye?

(Hint, hint: NO.)

Since our country has the First Amendment, any person in this country has a right to share their opinions, including those with a national platform.

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Those with that platform don’t gain national recognition with an asterisk and conditions inherently attached limiting their ability to use it in certain ways.

It’s theirs, they earned it, and they’ll have to deal with any negative as well as positive consequences that come with it. Either way, it’s still their choice and their right to use it, not anyone else’s. Much like how women should be able to decide what we want to do with our own bodies without the government telling us otherwise but let’s stay on topic here…

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Even if you don’t have a national platform, you have access to the Facebook and the Twitter and the YouTube. Like my friend’s 8 year old son, you, too, can share videos of, say, you playing hours of video games that, as she constantly reminds him, no one cares about.

So whether you’re Colin Kaepernick or some variety of a Kardashian or an 8 year old essentially talking to himself while playing video games, the American people still have a mind of their own to agree or disagree, speak out about it, or post vapid selfies.

That’s the beauty of America.

What is NOT American is cherry picking which individuals get to enjoy the rights allotted to all our citizens and which do not. Condemning an individual for utilizing free speech and “abusing” their platform to speak freely is wrong. So wrong, in fact, that our country has a history of fighting other countries that condemn or oppress or even kill people who dare speak ill of their country.

Y’all remember hitler, right?

And unfortunately, it’s not yet a thing of the past. There’s still that little man in North Korea who will move you and your family to a political prison camp for speaking out against the country. Likewise, there’s that other man in Russia instituting anti-protest laws.

So it’s one thing to disagree with Kaepernick for the message behind his kneeling, it’s another thing to disagree because he’s kneeling in the first place.

That’s not how the First Amendment works.

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Contrary those who prefer to apply it on an ad hoc basis, the First Amendment is nondiscriminatory.

You can’t allow those who glorify the message of an evil, murdering psychopath a stage for protest because they have the right to free speech but then turn around and condemn a football quarterback for peacefully protesting.

So what is the message behind Kaepernick’s kneeling? If this is the first time you’re asking yourself that, WELCOME! So happy to have you here and that you thought to ask. Here, I Googled it for you:

 

Please note: Kaepernick initially sat for the anthem. But after discussing it with friends, teammates, and a veteran, he decided to kneel because it was a more respectful gesture. It was purposeful and considerate, not flippant or done lightly.

And it actually makes a lot of sense. Anyone who has played a sport knows that when someone is injured on the field during a game, everyone takes a knee. Including players of the opposing team. It’s to show respect and human concern for the individual, no matter what side you’re on. I’m not speaking for Kaepernick but it’s like the country is hurting now, we’re very divided, and taking a knee for that seems appropriate for an athlete who is protesting.

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On Tuesday, I listened to a YouTube video with a law school friend of mine. It was posted by Brandon Tatum and here are some highlights of what he said:

A.   He asked, what does your perceived oppression have to do with the flag or our national anthem? Tatum’s opinion was that they have nothing to do with Kaepernick’s message of protest, and that the flag and anthem represent our nation.

Ironically enough, Tatum was sharing his opinion and exercising his right to free speech, and in doing so, was saying that someone else had no right to express their opinion or exercise their right to free speech. What a symbol or song stands for is subject to one’s own interpretation and opinion. An opinion, by it’s very nature, cannot be wrong.

It’s an opinion!

Your opinion might be to disagree with what a symbol stands for, but to condemn someone and call them a fool for expressing their opinion because it is tied to a nation’s symbols is contrary to American values (see oppressive countries referenced above).

B.   He claims that there is no positive aspect to his kneeling in terms of the flag or the anthem. And that kneeling is only highlighting negativity and slavery.

As stated above, Kaepernick initially sat down during the national anthem. He decided that kneeling was more respectful, as he didn’t want to discount the people who fought for the freedom to do exactly what he was doing: speaking freely and protesting injustice. So that in and of itself seems to hint that he does have respect for the flag and anthem, but also that he is disappointed in what is going on in our country.

As far as I’ve researched, Kaepernick doesn’t focus much on slavery but rather the current mistreatment of people of color in our country. And yes, that is negative, but basically all protests are. It’s… it’s in the nature of a protest… Ugh.

C.   He says Kaepernick’s not acknowledging the very flag or anthem that gave one man the opportunity to go from cornfields and picking cotton to becoming president of the US, or, in Kaepernick’s case, being paid millions to play football.

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Oh shit… Seriously, dude?! Ok, three things IMMEDIATELY come to mind. First off, when that flag was first made in 1777 and the national anthem written in 1814, slavery was definitely a thing in the US and going strong. So neither of those things have anything to do with freeing the slaves from cornfields and picking cotton. HOWEVER, Tatum is entitled to the opinion that that is what he thinks they represent. Still not a fact though.

Second, the only reason black slaves were given that “opportunity” was because they were first taken from their own country to be slaves in ours, THEN well over 200 years later President Lincoln finally had the balls to recognize that slaves were human beings and slavery is wrong (at least in part, there were economic incentives too because #murica). And nowhere in history does it show that Lincoln was like,

“Shit man, that flag and anthem, though. Gotta end slavery.”

Finally, the anthem was written during the War of 1812, which was fought against the United Kingdom. However, it wasn’t for our freedom, that had already become a thing by the 1800s. Instead, it was to break free of the oppression the UK was imposing on the US by way of trade restriction, forcing Americans into the UK’s Royal Navy, and limiting the US’s ability to expand its territory.

Soooo… we were fighting a force that was trying to keep us down and oppressed when Frances Scott Key became inspired to write a song about our country’s bravery and valor in fighting that oppression, which later became our national anthem. Sound familiar?

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D.   He claims people are kneeling to be trendy and that it has nothing to do with the flag.

This one’s easy: you can’t speak for others. Much like assuming that Kaepernick is kneeling to be negative and to purposefully disrespect those who’ve fought for our country, you can’t assume that others are simply doing it to be trendy.

Also, our nation’s racism crisis has been dialed up to eleven. It’s not a “trend,” it’s a poignant issue that keeps getting worse. So who can blame a people who feel cheated and abused by a country for using every possible platform they can to get their message across? Specifically a people who have literally dealt with this shit their entire lives.

E.   He says Kaepernick and other kneelers should do it at another venue, go out and do something, and vote to pass laws that will change things.

There’s no universal rule that only sports can happen during sporting events. Yes, it’s intuitive, but there’s no law, nature or human-created, prohibiting non-sport things from happening at sporting events. And it’s not like it hasn’t happened before.

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What is intuitive though is the fact that a lot of professional sports (ok, not hockey much) make billions every year on the backs of people of color, leaving them with little else once they leave the sport. In that light, it seems natural that they would use this type of platform to make a stand.

And I don’t know about other kneelers, but I know that Kaepernick has raised awareness and money for various charities that are in line with his message. As for legislation, that’s a great point and those charities that Kaepernick has pledged and given to also fight for that too. So, yeah, great idea, Tatum…

F.   He claims it does nothing and that nothing has changed because of it.

How can he say nothing has changed? What is he basing that on? At the very least it’s raising awareness and forcing the much-needed conversation about police brutality against, and the general topic of mistreatment of, people of color in our country. And, again in point E, clearly things have been done.

What’s more is that Tatum is a police officer in Tucson, AZ. That city is in the 8th percentile of city safety. That means Tucson is only safer than 8% of all the cities in the US. And guess what?

It’s gotten worse.

So clearly the police efforts in Tucson aren’t really changing the city and making it safer. Perhaps Tatum should halt his efforts because obviously it’s not doing much, nothing has changed. And that is how his flawed logic operates.

G.   Finally, Tatum calls Kaepernick and other kneelers names, tells him to stop whining like a baby, and just play the game.

Again, keep in mind this dude is a police officer. They take an oath when they become officers, and reaffirm it throughout their career. Here is it in full:

I (state your name), do solemnly swear (or affirm), that I will support the Constitution of the United States, and the Constitution and laws of the State of Arizona, that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same, and defend them against enemies, foreign and domestic, and that I will faithfully and impartially discharge, the duties of a peace officer, to the best of my ability, so help me God.

(emphasis added)

This comment speaks more to Tatum’s character and inability to have an adult conversation with those he disagrees with more than any commentary on the character of Kaepernick or his message. Anyone whose argument becomes reduced to name calling and petty comebacks clearly has no argument. And has little to no control over their emotions. But enough about our president.

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After watching the video with my law school friend, I told him I disagreed for all the reasons I just stated above. He said he was just sick of hearing about it because it’s coming from everywhere and he just wanted to watch football.

I’ll give you one guess as to what he looks like.

I pointed out that he couldn’t relate because he is a white male. True to form, he didn’t like this and went off on how sick he was of hearing that, too, especially from people in California (where we live, he’s from Texas).

He eventually did admit that he couldn’t relate, however, his reaction showed that he wasn’t going to try to relate either (in law school, we call this willful ignorance and it doesn’t absolve you from being or doing wrong). Had he attempted to empathize and hear these people who are kneeling out, he might be ok with the first few minutes of his football game showing players kneeling, absent from the field, or unifying by locking arms.

Because the message is worth listening to.

On that note, I’ll end with a white man eloquently explaining (and doing what more white people need to do) why the act of kneeling isn’t disrespectful:

headphonegrrl plugged in: Girl Crush

I’ve written this post a few different ways but was never really comfortable with it… Until a dear friend of mine brought up how her daughter was internalizing messages about females from popular songs. Her daughter said that in the song, the singer was saying how much she needed her love interest. My friend immediately corrected her and told her that she and her husband wanted their union but they most certainly did not need each other. Given that, below is the version of the post I like the most.

What is it about music that makes it have such a power over us? We can feel betrayed, angry, vindicated, stronger, and changed in a span of four minutes. Or maybe elated and inspired to tears. Perhaps even feel immense love simply by the power of song. But why?

In my humble opinion, I think it’s because it’s part of who we are at our very core. I see music not only as a gift but as a part of us that has always been. It’s like an itty bitty part of the universe tucked inside our DNA that blossoms when it’s exposed to humans feeling great emotion, and music is its way of showing itself through our natural born talents.

This is why I see music as something sacred,

my personal sanctuary.

So I can’t help but feel that it’s being tarnished when a song like Girl Crush comes out. Since I’m an active member of the lyric police I found out fairly quickly that I didn’t like the message of this song. But what really irks me is that I love the composition and melody! I can’t help but sing along.

However, I vividly remember not that long ago that I also really liked what the Weeknd was producing. Partly because of the musical genius behind it, but mostly because it reinforced my preferred method of self-medicating to compensate for the shitty life situation I was in. Well, some of it. He’s into some pretty heavy stuff…

Artists have a power because of the impact their music can have on people. The downside to this is that a song can reinforce an internal insecurity of a person and ultimately perpetuate it. So along those lines, let’s examine this song, shall we?

GIRL CRUSH

I got a girl crush
Hate to admit it but,
I got a hard rush
It’s slowing down
I got it real bad
Want everything she has
That smile and that midnight laugh
She’s giving you now

The song’s instrumental is solid and draws you in nicely. The melody is simple, appropriately somber, and the vocals are crisp and stripped down. All that, for me, makes for the beginnings of a good song. And the first few lyrics aren’t bad. I initially thought it might be a song about a lesbian outing herself and was about to give HUGE props to the country music world, but that didn’t last long…

I want to taste her lips
Yeah, ’cause they taste like you
I want to drown myself
In a bottle of her perfume
I want her long blonde hair
I want her magic touch
Yeah, ’cause maybe then
You’d want me just as much
I got a girl crush
I got a girl crush
 

Anyone else a little disturbed? Just a bit uncomfortable? Songs about jealousy are nothing new and to be expected. Love, hate, jealously, happiness, feelings of all kind are sung about. Even insanity! But this song is the type of insane that makes you wonder if you should call for help for this poor, twisted girl. Drown herself in her perfume?

…it’s a bit much.

This isn’t jealousy, it’s obsessive insanity.

We’ve seen how that story ends. We really don’t need songs about it. Unfortunately, it’s not done yet…

I don’t get no sleep
I don’t get no peace
Thinking about her
Under your bed sheets
The way that she’s whispering
The way that she’s pulling you in
Lord knows I’ve tried,
I can’t get her off my mind

Besides the fact that it’s jealously to the degree of insanity for one girl to think this way about her ex’s current girlfriend, it’s also just plain sad. I pity this girl. She clearly has no self-esteem if she’s pinning over her ex-boyfriend’s new girlfriend and totally straight. She wants to be like the new girlfriend so badly that it’s keeping her up at nights. All so the dude who dumped her will want her again.

Dear goodness that’s pathetic!

What an awful place to be in. This song is depressing. And I feel it’s a violation of the blessing that is music because I don’t think we should be putting this out there as something we need to reinforce. This is the type of crazy shit you write in private, on paper , which you intend to burn immediately after you’re done writing it. Then you pick yourself up and keep moving on.

This song is the exact opposite of self-love.

Country music has enough issues when it comes to women. The last thing female country fans need is more songs about wishing they were something else. I was really happy when Girl In A Country Song came out.

We need more songs like that.

Look, I’m not against looking damn hot and feeling myself in doing so. We can’t and shouldn’t completely irradiate all lyrics relating to physical beauty. We are physical beings after all! However, I don’t think the degree of saturation our songs have containing that superficial image is an accurate representation of women today. Nor is the crazy, jealous type. That’s few and far between and has no business being so representative as to take up an entire song and a damn good melody.

Why musics gods, WHY?!

I’m not against expression of feelings, or even concentrating on jealousy. Every emotion can be and should be expressed in the way one sees most fit for oneself. I even support the crazy in Girl Crush, I only wish they’d taken it full circle and had some self-love in the bridge and an altered chorus to end on a more positive note. Or how about just a song about jealousy that isn’t so damn self-loathing. For example:

If you’re still with me, dear reader, I love you. This could have very well droned on about how the image of women in media and society is damaged enough but I shall not (but if you feel the need please do rant in the comments section, rant on to your hearts content). I trust you get the picture.

So what do we do?

I know there are artists out there who consistently push out positive messages in every song they produce. We can only support those we believe in in the hopes that their songs will be blasted louder than all the rest. So turn up the volume and tune out the haters and

SING ON!

I am a Humanist

A bit ago I watched the Oscars at a co-worker’s house with her and 7 of her friends, all women. Her husband hid in the computer room while we praised NPH and all his awesomeness. Patricia Arquette accepted the award for Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role and said in her speech

“It’s our time to have wage equality once and for all and equal rights for women in the United States of America.”

And the whole party exploded. I’m not a “whoo” girl

but I was certainly in a room full of them and it got loud. And rightly so! However, a bit later, John Legend and Common accepted an award for an original song, which was for the movie Selma. They pointed out that the injustice artfully demonstrated in the movie is not exclusive in cinematic form, it’s still being done today, especially towards the black man. As one could imagine, the room was pretty silent. Well, at least in the sense that there was an absence of “whoos.” These are just two examples of the various social and political issues brought up during the show, all of which had varying reactions and that struck a chord with me. It reminded me of a conversation I had with a friend…

A few years back, a friend and I were reflecting upon social issues and injustices over a glass of wine and listening to our favorite records. You know, typical Friday night shenanigans. At some point my friend described a situation where it was awkwardly clear that he was being treated differently in the workplace due to his race. I chimed in that, although I couldn’t relate specifically, I did have a similar instances of being judged by my looks and gender, and gave a few examples of my own experiences at work. Which were ample! At the time, I worked for the biggest accounting firm in the world (read: company run by old white men). His response was heartbreaking:

“Yeah, but you’re white.”

With just four words he belittled every very real experience I had being treated less than due to my gender. To put it into perspective, he admittedly had a problem with treating women right. I attempted to explain to him that although I am white, I am still female and my struggle is just as real (albeit different) as the next person who’s judged on their appearance. He wasn’t having any of it, he couldn’t look past my pale skin.

My first reaction was to start going back in history to demonstrate how women have had it harder for a vastly longer amount of time. Not only to highlight examples in the past as far as we can imagine, but to point out that the deplorable treatment of women today hasn’t changed. I could have given him the same response, “Yeah, and you’re male,”

but I didn’t and I won’t.

Because what would result would be the most pitiful pissing contest ever and only further drive the wedge he’d placed between us. What I realized was that (in a way) it’s all the same. People being treated poorly, no matter what superficial identifier you assign them, are still people, humans, being treated poorly.

I figured out I was upset not because I had it worse over all and he didn’t want to admit it. Rather, I was upset because we had missed an opportunity to become closer because of outsiders. He’s right! I can’t understand what it’s like being a black guy in today’s world. At the same time, however, he doesn’t know what it’s like to be female in today’s world.

By discounting the issues of others because they don’t directly relate to one’s own, we’re perpetuating the injustice we received in the first place.

When people come together, miracles can happen. The best example I know is in music and collaboration. When two artists from different genres work together, something better than either of them could have made alone is created. I experienced this with the guy I previously mentioned. He had made a beat he’d intended for an R&B song but wasn’t happy with what he wrote so he let me have it to see if I could come up with anything

and I blew his freaking mind.

Not because I’m an amazing lyricist and vocalist. I’m quite average, in fact. He just never would have thought to do what I did with it. I vividly remember his shock upon first hearing it: This is dope, I believe we’re his first words.

Nothing came of that recording but for a moment we were both inspired and it was because we came together with a common goal and used our respective talents to do so.

Muscle Shoals is an example of successful and very talented musicians coming together and making something that would change music forever. It’s the birthplace of Fame Studios and some of the greatest music hits of all time. I’m not exaggerating. Check out the list of what it birthed. And that’s not the amazing part! This was during a time of strict segregation and the studio is the Deep South. You could see cotton fields just outside the studio. But inside, everything was different. White and black disappeared and all that remained was the music and look what happened.

You just worked together. You never thought about who was white, who was black. You thought about the common thing and it was the music. Music played a big part in changing the thoughts about the people especially in the south about race. By us being in Muscle Shoals and putting music together, I think it went a long ways to help people understand that we all were just humans. – Clarence Carter, Muscle Shoals

Obviously I’m partial to music but there are ample examples. A movie called PRIDE demonstrates the coming together of two VERY unlikely groups (miners and a gay and lesbian group) who bond over a common injustice and both come out better together. I’m sure you, dear reader, can think of more examples as well. Feel free to share : )

Ultimately, I see it as a choice to respond with love instead of hate. Part of loving another is trying to understand where they are coming from.

In Zulu, when you see someone and want to say hello, you say Sawu Bona, which means “I/We see you.” The response is Sickhona, which means “I am here.” They’re not just confirming that they comprehend the other persons words but that they see them wholly as a person. The response indicates their recognition of the other person, which is what validates their existence. They’re validating their truth and that’s love. We need more of that. It’s lacking today because the ego is far more present. It tells us that validating someone else’s truth cheapens our own, but, as with all things egotistical,

it’s a lie.

Validating the humanness of another validates one’s own humanness as well. We all hurt, we all struggle, it might come in forms but in the end it’s all the same pain. The very least we can do for each other is try to see the commonality in our respective struggles and make something good come from it instead of furthering the initial hurt that was done.

The very least we can do for each other is not invalidate another’s truth because their skin doesn’t match yours.

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Red Flag

One of my most damaging relationships was also my most healthy. Psychologically I think we both left more messed up than we started, but as far as growth and love goes I believe we both learned a lot about ourselves. It ended terribly but I wouldn’t change a thing. However, when it happened I felt like a complete failure. I was deep into codependence and we left things without the slightest hint of closure. I didn’t realize the extent of my dependence until we broke up and I moved back home.

 My family didn’t recognize me.

Well, physically, sure, but the rest of me was foreign. I didn’t have so much as an opinion or original thought, I was a shell of my true myself.

I’m now five years removed from the terrible break-up. I am high on life, focused on what I’m interested in, and surrounded by incredibly supportive family and friends. Along with therapy and finding my own spirituality, I thought I’d be an iron curtain to anyone who might want to change any part of me that shouldn’t be changed.

Oh how wrong I was…

I met this guy in my apartment a few weeks ago. He was attractive, charming, seemingly intelligent, so we made plans to hangout. After you read what’s below, you’ll see why we sputtered just as quickly as we sparked. It was disappointing, but it did demonstrate how easily the process of losing sight of one’s self can start even from the very beginning if one is not paying attention.

Here we go.

Observation #1: His apartment is sparse. Very few personal affects, very little of anything. It looks more like one of the places they decorate to show rather than one that someone lives in. He mentions that he doesn’t like to stay in any one place too long and will probably move again in May. He also leases his cars every 1-2 years.

First Impression: Ok so he’s got commitment issues, what guy doesn’t? He’s 37, I’m thinking now is about the time he’ll start to realize that commitment isn’t so scary. And he’s really nice to look at so I’ll just keep doing that…

Impression Upon Reflection: DEEP into commitment issues. You know what they say: the older you get, the more like yourself you become. The voice in my head is saying

Run. Run away very, very quickly. No looking back allowed.

Observation #2: When I mentioned how sad it was that Tim Burton and Helena Bonham broke up he got excited. He said they never married but had children together. They didn’t live together but had houses on the same street. “It’s like dating forever! Isn’t that cool?!”

First Impression: Ok so he wants the best of both worlds. I’m sure he’ll come to the realization that marriage promises a much deeper connection than trying to maintain the benefits of the not-quite-fully-attached life.

Impression Upon Reflection: He has absolutely no idea what a healthy, happy relationship looks like. He’s got these irrational fears based on the lives and relationship experiences of others. What you create in your mind will manifest in your life.

RUN FASTER.

Observation #3: This conversation happens during our second encounter –

Dude: Have you thought about me since we last saw each other?

Me: Yes *smiling like the fool I am*

Dude: How many serious relationships have you had?

Me: Two.

Dude: I’ve had three. Although I’m scared to get into another one because I’m afraid I’ll hurt her.

Me: Did you do something bad to a past girlfriend?

Dude: No… they just didn’t work out.

Me: Well that’s nothing to feel guilty about. Sometimes things don’t work out.

Him: Yeah… *eyes full of valid guilt*

First Impression: He’s such a sweetheart! Break-ups are hard and he can’t stand to see someone he cares for hurt.

Impression Upon Reflection: He’s a serial monogamist. And this isn’t just guess work, he volunteers the information. Probably as a scare tactic but I don’t know the definition and let it go. I Google what it means after he leaves and find this definition: One who jumps from one serious relationship to another. They may last a few months to years, however the serial monogamist is always holding back and if the other partner in the romance pushes at all, the serial monogamist will end the relationship swiftly and often without emotion.

Are you feeling the burn yet? Too bad, KEEP UP THE PACE, DON’T SLOW DOWN!

Observation #4: He comes over for about 15 minutes before he heads out to dinner with a friend. This is our third and final planned encounter. I’m trying to make normal, polite conversation: how was your day, who are you going to dinner with, etc. Besides the answers to my questions, just about everything from his end is dripping in sexual innuendo, if not just out right sexual. Ie, are you going to get off thinking about me tonight, and if so, can I watch? Not a direct quote but very close. He’s also very handsy, so handsy I playfully but forcefully push him off me. Twice. Triggers follow…

First Impression: Wow, I guess he finds me really attractive. I mean, that’s nice, but I’d rather him find my personality just as stimulating. Next time I’m not going to allow him to touch me.

Impression Upon Reflection: I was triggered. THAT’S NOT GOOD. After he left, I felt very sad very quickly, like I wanted to cry but I didn’t know about what, and I was shaking. I’ll be the first to admit that I need to be attracted to my significant other but that’s only one of the many aspects I look for in a man. If that’s the sole focus, we’re not compatible…

SPRINT WOMAN!

Observation #5: I left the gym and saw him with a woman. It looked like they were on their way back to his place with takeout. We crossed paths and I could’ve stopped and at least made eye contact, you know, so he’d know I knew. But I walked like I didn’t see them, I thought we might actually run into each other in a brief bit. He made sure that didn’t happen. He directed her to a different elevator, not the one that’s most efficient to getting to his apartment.

First and only Impression: Fuck him. We’re not an item. So even if he was dating her or they just met or whatever, he should’ve been able to take the same elevator as I did. The fact that he didn’t means he’s shady.

Most overlooked observation: He’s an actor. I should’ve known!!

The moral of the story? You’ll never emerge from a bad relationship and magically be equipped with all the tools required to weed out the bad apples. I think for me, a fun, healthy, happy relationship is something I crave more than anything. So much that I tend to lose sight of the red flags waving in my face. I spent all this time focusing on myself to get back to me, and then the second someone seemingly promising comes into view, I forget nearly all of it and start making excuses for a stranger. I no longer get down on myself like I did before (Cause I’m only humaaaaaaaaan! Thank you Christina Perri). If anything it’s a reminder from the universe telling me I need to maintain that selfish streak and not let an attractive facade cloud the real mess smiling back at me.

It’s kind of like how I feel about [NAME OF NEWS STATION YOU ABHOR]. When they present information how they want it to be perceived, it makes me want to scream, “THAT’S COMPLETELY TAKEN OUT OF CONTEXT! YOU’RE NOT LETTING PEOPLE SEE THE WHOLE STORY!” It seems I do that to myself. I spin their story how I want it to be and then secretly hope I’m right and they’re a much better person, they just don’t see what I do yet.

(I literally couldn’t type that without laughing at myself)

It’s in times like these that I think of Professor Moody (for those poor few of you who aren’t Harry Potter fans, he was a retired Auror, maimed from years of defense against dark wizards, who was completely bat-shit and paranoid). His motto was: Constant vigilance! I think that’s what I’ll need to remind myself of when encountering my next crush.

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And really good running shoes in case any red flags pop up.

Shake It Off Mr. Lefsetz

I recently came across a blog post by one of my favorite bloggers, Bob Lefsetz, regarding Taylor Swift’s new single “Shake It Off.” Besides some of the personal tangents he goes on, I generally value his opinion and advice on the current state of the music industry. He has a long history with the music business and thus has solid insight on the goings-on of today. However, I believe he missed the mark with his post on Ms. Swift.

I’m far from a diehard Swift fan but I’ll admit to occasionally finding a song of hers intoxicating, and “Shake It Off” was certainly one of those tunes. Before any digging, my initial impression was that it’s a great message for young people.

I felt very isolated from just about everyone in my life growing up but if I needed to feel validated I’d find a song that spoke the words I couldn’t find and sang the shit out of it. Even if I was the only one who heard myself sing, which was most often the case, it was cathartic and I always felt better after a few acapella solos.

I sincerely wish this song were in existence during my more awkward years.

For some reason, Mr. Lefsetz had a different reaction to the new single. You can read the post in the link above but in a nutshell he got the impression she was putting on a certain bravado and asserting that she was “untouchable,” which he believed counteracted the efforts she’d put in to acquire an insecure, nerdy, “real” fan base.

This has led to me believe that perhaps Mr. Lefsetz never experienced what it felt like to be an outcast. I wouldn’t be too shocked, he’s a white male with a law degree.

He was right in stating that she portrayed herself as an awkward nerd who sang about her crushes and how they weren’t very nice to her. Apparently that’s where he thinks she should coast. That’s all a female artist needs, right? To cry over boys, complain about how they mistreated her, and show that she’s really a nerd at heart and has flaws just like you!

This is why I think Mr. Lefsetz has no idea what it’s like to be ostracized or have the whole school staring at you and judging. When you feel like the whole world is against you, the very thing you need to hear is a loud and resounding

“Fuck them!”

Ms. Swift says it in a much more catchy and happy way but essentially it’s the same message.

I might give him the benefit of the doubt if he truly could not understand why the exact fans he described would need to hear that uplifting message. However, today we have The Google, which knows all, so he has no excuse. To prove this I searched “Taylor Swift Shake It Off Meaning” and got a bunch of hits. However, Mr. Lefsetz chose to reflect on what it means to him. And honestly I think that’s one of the best things about music: an artist can write something meaningful to them but it means different things to different people.

This is not one of those cases.

If he’d even tried to find out the message Swift had behind her new single and video I think he’d realize it fit perfectly in line with her messages thus far. Click the links above if you’d like proof but here are a few quotes:

“A lot of people who I think will relate to this song are people like… who are dealing with like not ever feeling cool about themselves because other people make them feel like they don’t fit in.”

“One thing I learned in this whole process is like… is you can get everything you want in life without ever feeling like you fit in.”

“You know, selling a million records doesn’t make me feel cool. Like, it makes me feel proud and like I have a lot of people on my side and I’ve worked really hard but, you know, I don’t think it’s the most important thing in life. To fit in. I think it’s to dance to the beat of your own drum.”

I know every person has the right to express themselves however they’d like and I respect that. With media and the power of editing today, it’s hard not to be affected personally by what you see. We need more songs like Ms. Swift’s and those who think like her.

I just so happened to be in a fit of nostalgia the other day and watched Spice World. Looking back at acts like the Spice Girls, the era of girl power was an amazing time for females. Of course not all their songs were to empower the female in society but a lot of them had great messages. The movie itself was a statement for female empowerment and a focus on the important things in life instead of fame and money.

If Mr. Lefsetz took the time to listen to the lyrics carefully and then maybe watch an interview or two he’d realize that she is still a nerd. And she’s telling her fellow nerds that you will be hated on and people will be fake but don’t take it personally or else you’ll worry yourself to a heart attack. That’s exactly what her fan base needs to hear and I’m sure they love her all the more for it.