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Sunday, February 14, 2016

This I Believe #5

Same as last week, please post your essay here before class on Tuesday. Please also remember to bring a printed copy of your essay to class and be prepared to read it aloud.

30 comments:

  1. I don’t think I’ve ever been more outraged in an academic setting than I was every single day I had Western Civ 2 last semester. Every single class the professor would pass out a blank piece of paper. Each person was to write their name as evidence of attendance. I don’t know why he didn’t take a quick look around the room at the beginning of class like most professors concerned with attendance, but I always harbored the theory that he wanted our handwriting to compare to our assignments. But that thought feels so silly now.

    Every single time that attendance sheet would get passed around, I had a difficult time maintaining my composure. Every single time it happened, I felt like I had left Transy, and had been transported to a place where anarchy and brutality ran rampant.

    The student chairs in the class were set up in two U’s. Even with this unorthodox set up, I still feel like the fact that there was a first row and that there was a second row was pretty obvious.

    I sat in the center of the first row. It makes sense that I would not be the last person to get the piece of paper, with people on either side of me. And yet. I was the last person to get the piece of paper. Every. Single. Day. In the middle of the first row!!!! I honestly cannot believe it even now.

    At least their disruption was consistent. The paper would start in the back row. It would go 3 or 4 people before being stretch-passed to the first person in the first row on that side. It would go until it got to the guy right next to me. At first, I would turn to him, patiently, expectedly, but once the pattern really set in I gave up hope, because without fail he would turn around and pass it diagonally behind him. It would continue in the back row until it go to the end, and then it would be passed to the front row. The first few times it was turned in from there. It didn’t even come to me at all. I had to sign it once class ended. After that, the guy next to me noticed, and always made sure I got it. I appreciated this obvious display of compassion for his fellow human, but it wasn’t enough to make up for the complete disregard for basic societal norms displayed by my other classmates. I will never understand how those people could even be capable, or willing, to participate in such barbarity.

    I believe that every single person in that room knew what they were doing. And I believe that I will never get over it.

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    1. This is one of the strangest things I've heard about a Transy class, Katie. Sounds like the kind of disruption meant to exclude you...but how would that be possible?! Glad you are no longer in Western Civ 2.

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  2. I am, in general, a neat and logical person. I don’t buy things I don’t need, everything I own has a place in my room, and I can’t bring myself to buy more socks until every pair I own has a hole in them. There is one exception to my general rule of minimalism, scarves. I practically have enough scarves that I could wear a different one every time the temperature drops below freezing. I have so many scarves and yet I only wear about six of them in rotation, occasionally breaking out a different one because I feel bad for it. My scarf collection began when I left for college and my mom freaked out that I would freeze to death without her around to remind me to put on more clothes. Ove the course of my first winter at college, my mom sent me several care packages and every one of them had a scarf in it. For the past few Christmases it has seemed that every other package I open contains a scarf. While I find it amusing that I’ve been given so many over that past few years, I greatly appreciate the sentiment. I see giving a scarf as a gift as a sign that you care. So I keep them all, whether they are beautiful or ugly, whether they are scratchy or soft, whether I think I will ever wear them or not. To me it isn’t about the scarf itself but rather the love the person who gave it to me has for me. Every time I wear one of my scarves, I think of the person who gave it to me with great fondness. I believe in scarves.

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  3. I think that every great idea I have ever had was created in the shower. Seriously. I don’t know what it is about having water spit out on you from a little metal faucet, or being naked in a really hard plastic or ceramic death trap in which you can fall or slip or hit your head really hard at any point. But it works, and I love what I come up with in the shower. I am lucky enough to have access to a shower or bathtub whenever I want, and I know I shouldn't be wasteful. But long and hot showers work best, so I try not to take them too often.

    Ideas for writing short stories, poems, movies, or ideas for paintings, community programs, new places to organize things. They all happen here, and are refined through conversation with other people later. It’s like the steam is floating through me. My body is just being rinsed of all the bad ideas and shitty things I think about, and I can suddenly see clearly. Everything is refreshed, and my internal organs and thoughts are just floating around and they are free to think about whatever they want too. It’s freeing.

    Maybe that is just it. I might just believe in showers because they are an escape. I can be alone, and think about whatever I want. No restrictions on what I should be thinking about or how. It’s mindless, but at the same time, full of purpose. I believe in showers, and all the thoughts that come from them.

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    1. (It says unknown but this is Teddy...)

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    2. I like your description of showers as an escape--even though they are also often described as death traps :)

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  4. I believe in the power of music—especially Country music. Being a small town girl near Nashville, I have gained so much respect for artists and their music that they pour so much of their time and soul. Many people think that country music is all about whiskey and finding that “tan-legged Juliet” or a “redneck Romeo,” but it isn’t.
    One of Brad Paisley’s songs is “This is Country Music,” which expresses how country music talks about both the mentionable and unmentionable—whether it is an apology, love, cancer, Jesus, and even tractors. The genre is full of topics that are endless. Essentially, country music is “your life in a song.” I truly believe in this. I seem to always find some sort of song that goes right back to my situation.
    For example, when I was heavily bullied, the first song that came to mind to boost my confidence was “Fight Like a Girl” by Bombshel. When I needed to understand why my daddy thought like he did, I listened to “Butterfly Kisses” by Bob Carlisle. I would listen to “Burning Bridges” by Jessie James when I felt like I truly needed to figure out how to mend some sort of relationship with a family member or friends. “Gunpowder and Lead” or “Kerosene” by Miranda Lambert would bring my whole world back down when I felt so angry in a relationship with a significant other. On good nights, Rascall Flatts or Gloriana could pop up on the radio. Truly, there is a song for EVERYTHING in country music because it is based on real life.
    Now, country music is just one genre. Other genres may do the same for others, but I see a significant difference in the array of topics that country music covers in comparison to the more upbeat party-style or hard-core rock star music being played. Every person is different, and listens to music that accords with oneself. For me, I listen to every genre, even the old style, original rock KISS and Aerosmith to rap with Whiz Khalifa and Eminem.
    Listening and playing music are both different and the same. Some people have the talent to write, while others have the talent to play. However, both are manners of expression. I know for me, I play flute and piccolo, and I am not quite sure where I would be without it. Whenever I am having a bad day, I can go and put my entire heart and soul into playing, and come out of the practice room with a completely different attitude. Back when I was first learning to play, I had issues with fitting in and being bullied, so I always turned to my music to express the hurt and withdraw into it to actually mend that broken and lonely feeling. The same goes for artists writing songs- I mean, look at Taylor Swift as an example! She does the same exact thing with writing her music and connecting to her fans through accessing her own feelings! It truly is amazing to witness and experience.
    Overall, I just wanted to express how much music means to me, and how ultimately, it can relate to every single person in this world in some manner. Because of this power to relate, music truly is one of the most amazing things in this world and has the potential to save someone from their thoughts and life events. Because of this ability and my own experience of music saving me, I thoroughly, without a doubt and to the end of the world, believe in music.

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  5. I like to believe that I am settled in a pretty stable foundation; but I know I’m living in a house of cards. About to break, about to cave in, about to fall. But I like to believe that my house is beautiful on the inside with spades and hearts as wallpaper, and numbers and letters that define the ground level to the top story. I am so close to being blown away; one mistake—one misplaced card—and my temple is demolished. I believe in the fragility of emerging adulthood, in the fine line between being so successful you feel you can touch the stars and utter failure, because we are so small yet are expected to become bigger than we can possibly handle. Every day I try to successfully achieve that greatness that society talks about; however, I know that at my 19 years of age I have gained nothing more than the vague idea of who I want to be. This is an everlasting pain in the butt. It is because of this delicate structure that I keep moving along, though; making art, working part-time, going to college and listening to every piece of advice anybody gives me, because I myself want to do great things. Rather than being greatness, I want to do great things. Once I lie beneath earth’s surface, there’s no going back and I do not want to regret the life I lead or wish I had done more and created more. The problem resides in the fact that I am an emerging adult; so I am not wealthy, independent, or successful whatsoever. Heck, I still struggle to do my own taxes. This is what that line of fragility looks like. Being torn between having to comply with civilization’s rules and wanting to break from the norm; to desire to go spray paint a building and make a statement, but holding back because I could get charged for vandalism and probably get fined or arrested. It is this thrill of becoming an adult that keeps me going; not knowing whether I’ll live in a nice apartment or under a bridge. I’m scared that I’ll ruin my house of cards if I bump into it, but I have the hopes that it’s stable enough for me to lean on my precious sanctuary.

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  6. I’m from Alabama, and even though we occasionally get a few dustings of snow we never get icicles. I remember many hours spent driving, passing all of those icicles hanging down on the side of the highway and never being able to touch one. I’m one of those people, I have to touch everything. In Target, you’ll find me running my hands along all of the clothes and if someone is wearing corduroy it takes everything in me to keep from touching it. It might stem from me being a kinesthetic learner or I might just be weird. I don’t know. But I remember when I saw the biggest icicle that i’ve ever seen in my life. It was January of my Freshman year and I was driving up to Red River Gorge with a few of my friends. I saw this massive icicle and I knew that I had to touch it. I didn’t even ask my friends before pulling my car off to the side of that windy road. I jumped out of the car and looked in awe at this huge--it had to have been at least 6 feet tall--icicle. My friends were a little bit confused, but as far as I could tell they were excited to look at the icicles too. We spent about 15 minutes taking pictures, and I think someone even licked one. We got back in the car and, of course, my car wouldn’t budge. It was a warm January day and all of the icicles were melting...causing the ground to be muddy and wet. My car was stuck. We tried everything to get my car unstuck. We pushed on it, put sticks under the tires, and even tried to dig the mud out from under it. Needless to say, all of our attempts failed. We ended up calling a tow truck and having to wait in my car...which by this point was halfway on the road at a weird angle with the front tires still stuck in a bed of mud. Eventually, we still got to hike and, even though it was definitely not free to touch those icicles, it was still a good experience. Also ever since an icicle killed that creepy man Mr. Harvey--from the Lovely Bones--I’ve always thought they were super cool.
    I’m from Alabama, and even though we occasionally get a few dustings of snow we never get icicles. I remember many hours spent driving, passing all of those icicles hanging down on the side of the highway and never being able to touch one. I’m one of those people, I have to touch everything. In Target, you’ll find me running my hands along all of the clothes and if someone is wearing corduroy it takes everything in me to keep from touching it. It might stem from me being a kinesthetic learner or I might just be weird. I don’t know. But I remember when I saw the biggest icicle that i’ve ever seen in my life. It was January of my Freshman year and I was driving up to Red River Gorge with a few of my friends. I saw this massive icicle and I knew that I had to touch it. I didn’t even ask my friends before pulling my car off to the side of that windy road. I jumped out of the car and looked in awe at this huge--it had to have been at least 6 feet tall--icicle. My friends were a little bit confused, but as far as I could tell they were excited to look at the icicles too. We spent about 15 minutes taking pictures, and I think someone even licked one. We got back in the car and, of course, my car wouldn’t budge. It was a warm January day and all of the icicles were melting...causing the ground to be muddy and wet. My car was stuck. We tried everything to get my car unstuck. We pushed on it, put sticks under the tires, and even tried to dig the mud out from under it. Needless to say, all of our attempts failed. We ended up calling a tow truck and having to wait in my car...which by this point was halfway on the road at a weird angle with the front tires still stuck in a bed of mud. Eventually, we still got to hike and, even though it was definitely not free to touch those icicles, it was still a good experience. Also ever since an icicle killed that creepy man Mr. Harvey--from the Lovely Bones--I’ve always thought they were super cool.

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  7. My mom and my neighbor have been best friends since they moved on our street in the early 90’s. In July of 1993 my neighbor had her first and only child who happened to be a girl which she named Claire. In December of 1993 my mom had me, her last child and only girl. The day I was born obviously our moms decided we had to be friends. Once we were old enough to actually play together our parents constantly scheduled play dates for us, trips, and other outings. Although our parents somewhat forced our friendship, from around 3 years of age until middle school we were inseparable. Since Claire is an only child and I grew up with older brothers, she became the sister I never biologically was able to have.
    Once middle school hit and we started to branch out we did not remain as close as we once had been. She was definitely still my best friend at the time however we both had made new friends, and had slightly more freedom which led to us not seeing each other as much. This continued into high school. Especially once we were able to drive we both were not home much and also became more consumed with our studies. Since Claire is a grade older she also went off to college a year before me. Although we slightly drifted through high school, the day she left for college was just as sad as my own siblings moving out of the house. Not only was she leaving for the longest time we had ever been separated, she was leaving me to go all the way to Boston. Once she left for college we still remained in contact and every break she came home for we were able to hangout a lot. Then when we were both in college and on the same break schedule we began to get closer again because every time she came home we were so excited to see each other since it had always been months since our last visit.
    Now Claire is graduated, living in New York City and I am still here at Transy finishing up my senior year. Since I am now used to her living far away the idea of her being gone is not as sad anymore. Especially since we have grown and matured, our friendship has matured as well. Even though we do not see each other as often as we did way back when we were younger, I believe our friendship will last forever which leads me to believe in hanging on to lifelong friends. I believe this is true because when we are reunited it’s like nothing has changed, and that is how I know we have a true friendship.

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    1. I hope you'll consider sending this reflection to Claire. And that your friendship will last for a very long time.

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  8. I believe in keeping my nails cut short. My nails have never been beautifully manicured except once for my senior prom that—spoiler alert—sucked because my date had broken up with me earlier in the week yet still went together with painfully plastered smiles on our faces for awkward photos. But hey, my nails were on point.
    With short nails, I don’t have to worry about the shape that the nails end up being or the amount of random dirt that settles underneath them. When I was younger, I used to cut them short in order to be able to adventure more in the woods near my grandparents’ house so that I would not break or chip them when I looked for fossils or grabbed branches on my way into the creek.
    The long and short of it is that nails are overrated. As long as there are no ‘cheeto fingers’ (the hands that I distinctly recall of a girl named Cassidy in middle school that would lick her fingers and scarf down cheetos without washing her hands, ever), nails are fine short or long.
    Maybe, it is a superstitious thing that makes me cut my nails almost to the nub or from my childhood when I watched my father cut his nails. Nothing good has ever happened when my nails were long, they either break as I am in the process of growing them out or I can’t stand the constant dirt that seemingly comes from nowhere. However, I envy those with long nails because if they get attacked in the street, they have a decent defense.

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  9. I believe in running.
    I was a sprinter when I was in high school, and I was one the fastest kid in my class. I always made into the final, but I never won.
    I joined the Cross Country team in my high school my junior year, I like to run around my campus look at the beautiful views and hanging out with my friends. Although the training was hard in high school, I still found it was fun. All the hard work would pay back, especially when I got a couple awards during a few of the meets.
    I joined the Cross Country team in college my freshman year. The training became harder and much more serious. I would wake up at five o’clock in the morning, and ran to the track as soon as I got up. The sky was still dark, I could barely see the road without light. With it also being cold and in a tee shirt, I began to question why I continued to run, but after finishing I always enjoy it. I believe running Cross Country is a big challenge, I am always challenging myself to become faster, and to break my own records. Running Cross Country is very similar to school, I cannot just sprint all the way to the end. In order to get there, I need to be keep working, even if it becomes difficult. The sense of accomplishment when I took a shower and laid on my bed made me feel content.

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  10. Because there is no better tool to loosen the string—tied into knots by overly-aggressive boy-scout-trained deli workers—that holds wax paper onto the smoked nova salmon sandwich from Katzinger’s deli in Columbus, Ohio, I believe in my teeth.

    Because of the deep-pocketed tooth fairy—who frequently took weeks to collect anything I put beneath my pillow—they should have been my first viable source of income. They weren’t. I didn’t lose my first baby tooth until the end of fourth grade and my last was with me until the winter of my 33rd year. My youngest sister was married in Tortola that winter. I flew to her wedding as the photographer and bathed in a vine covered, outdoor shower shared with lizards that rained from the ceiling to drink droplets of water before they hit unglazed tiles on the floor. The cake, decorated with the small silver candy balls that appear only on the fanciest of iced surfaces, shattered my last baby tooth. I was already 14 years older than my father was when he had every last cavity-riddled tooth pulled and started to wear the dentures that he still stores in a cup of water as he sleeps.

    Though I should have, I never wore braces or stopped eating candy.

    And though I should have, I didn’t maintain the three-times-a-day brushing, flossing, and mouth-washing routine I knew I needed to protect teeth just slightly harder than the Swedish Fish I use them for.

    My basement flooded. I lost a friend. I created reasons to explain my slowing to twice-a-day brushing and once flossing. My teeth didn’t care about my reasons and yielded to the sugar I pour daily into my body. And I have made this promise to myself: to never again eat cake at a wedding.

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    1. When my father was in grad school he had a friend studying to be an orthodontist. He offered to give my dad braces cheap. He had to pull 7 of my dad's teeth. My dad doesn't have any canines. His teeth go straight across.

      I haven't worn my retainer in months. Maybe years? I stopped counting. I bought floss a few months ago. I haven't used it yet.

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    2. Teeth are the worse. I cringe to think about how other animals with teeth get by when something goes wrong with their chompers.

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    3. Floss, when you find the right one, is surprisingly fun and rewarding. To arrive at that realization, though, I had to try many many types and make a video artwork featuring extreme closeup footage of several Transy faculty flossing. Maybe that is not the best path for everyone

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  11. I believe that I share the things I like with others only if I have enough time to get properly excited about them...

    I typically have a hard time holding conversations with others, especially when I'm trying to explain something about myself or what I like. I have a hard time being comfortable with divulging that kind of information which is so personal to me...a lot of the things I like mean a lot more to me than I feel most people would think is normal. And I don't want to mess up talking about something like that and give others the wrong idea about it because I'm not good at explaining. So it's kind of an uncomfortable situation for me to bring those things up. It follows that I don't usually strike up these conversations myself...

    But there are occasions when it seems like someone might be interested in some of the same things I am. There are occasions where someone shows the tiniest bit of interest in one of my favorite things, and then I have to hold myself back from bombarding them with information and questions and elation and wild hand gestures. Once I've gotten a confirmation for genuine interest, it's difficult to stop myself from exploding all of my enthusiasm and artifacts on the other party. I experience minor trembling and my voice rises a few pitches. “WATCH THIS ANIME!” I want to say, or “PLAY THIS GAME!” “LISTEN TO THIS SONG” “LOOK AT THIS VIDEO!” “FOLLOW THIS ARTIST!” “READ THIS STORY!”

    Part of me feels embarrassed that I react so dramatically to the slightest possibility of having those likes reciprocated by someone else, but another part of me is happy that I consistently feel very strongly about the things I like and get so excited when I'm telling someone about all the reasons behind the like. It's true that I have more personal relationships with characters that aren't real than with a lot of people who are...so these media, the shows, games and stories that I like are more of a significant link than what others realize. And I easily get carried away when discussing them.

    I'm going to take this moment to formally apologize to anyone who's told me they like something I like.

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    1. Great opening and closing statements, Kristen! I am guessing I am not "owed" an apology :)

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  12. Many people do not believe that ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) is a real disease but rather an excuse to give rambunctious children some pills to shut them up. I do not believe this is the case. While ADHD is undoubtedly over diagnosed, I believe the disease is real and that the medication for this disease is beneficial. My proof comes through my own experiences with the disease and its medication.
    My father is 52 years old. He has taken medication for ADHD for more than half his life, and continues to do so. Many people would probably criticize my father for his reliance on medication, and tell him he doesn’t need it. Does he need it to survive? Certainly not, but it definitely helps him do what he needs to do to provide for his family. My dad works hard, and he works long shifts. He often works from home after coming back from work. My Dad has led a significantly stressful life, and he continues to do so, but he just keeps working as hard as he possibly can. The man has incredible focus when he takes his medication. It allows him to take on numerous tasks with full confidence, and to complete them to the best of his ability. Does he need the medicine to complete these tasks? No, but it definitely makes him more efficient. It keeps him from losing interest in the countless mundane activities he is responsible for (something that no person can totally avoid). From what I have seen, it seems that his medication allows him to access his full potential. I feel the same way about myself.
    Growing up and going to school, I always had a really hard time staying focused. I would often just get up out of my seat and pace the classroom for no reason. I vaguely recall one instance in which a teacher had to tape me to my seat in order to get me to sit down. I went all the way through school without ever really being passionate about any subject, because I just couldn’t dedicate enough focus to anything I was being taught. I was diagnosed with ADHD when I was 17, and I have taken the medicine ever since. I can honestly say that school became much more bearable for me when I started taking the medication. For once, I wasn’t constantly thinking about how much I hated school, but I was beginning to embrace the information I was being taught. I was no longer just going through the motions/ I genuinely cared about knowledge. Now here I am, a senior in college, and I feel the same way. The medicine helps me stay on task, and dedicate my mind to learning. I am not saying that this is completely natural, or that there is nothing wrong with taking medication for focus, because it is a very gray area, but if it helps you access your true potential as a student, or worker, or whatever you aspire to be, how can you say it is a completely negative thing? I hope that some day I will feel comfortable not taking any sort of daily medication, but until then I will continue taking it for its benefits. I believe that ADHD is a very real disease, and I believe that the medication has helped me become a more productive person.

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  13. I believe in adapting a spirit of opportunistic proximity. Some call it being serendipitous, other may call it something like playing your cards right. But no matter how you refer to it as, i believe that there are people in this world that work as inertia. There’s a special type of people that get planted in some particular circumstance and always finds a way to make it work. those people keep the world spinning. Honestly, I believe that. At my work there’s a chicano guy named Clementine, who everyone calls Taco, for some reason. He usually speaks broken spanish to a mexican guy that replys in broken english. There’s something incredibly endearing about their friendship that even a bystander can appreciate.
    Taco is kindof a big nerd with a bunch of anime tattoos and taylor is as clean-cut as they come. Taco is also an awkward small gay guy, while taylor is a tall obnoxiously straight guy. the two are worlds apart, and yet they talk to each other all the time as if they had more than virtually nothing in common. I’m not quite sure how their friendship started, but overtime it must have blossomed, because both them have made it work.
    It’s as odd a combination that comes in a small town restaurant. I often can’t help but chuckle when I eavesdrop on their conversations, because they look like antonyms standing next to each other. It’s an odd sight. one small, fragile facial haired, pale guy, standing underneath a crisp clean jawline making conversation about whatever people without any mutual interest make conversation about. I usually don’t listen too intently, but I pay attention enough to know that they consider each other good friends. They make the circumstance work. I’m sure that if you’re going to spend months on end working long hours beside someone it usually seems beneficial to befriend them, but there are plenty of people that seem to think otherwise. I’m sure their TIB are about how they find certainty in avoiding everyone around them until they clockout. Not these two most unlikely of friends, though. they saw an opportunity and they made it work. They jived where no one else would have tried. I’m sure the language barrier would have shut most people down, but these guys make it seem like code-switching is as easy as shifting to the emoji keyboard. Anyways, I digress. Needless to say, I admire people who can make the most out of any situation in life.

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    1. Love your description of these guys. Love their (unlikely) relationship.

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  14. When I first became a feminist, I was shocked every time I learned something wasn’t normal. When I learned that women are taught to hate other women, and it isn’t just a natural reaction, I was confused. Why did society want us to hate other women for no reason?
    I’ve learned that the truth is, sisterhood is dangerous for people who want women to lie dormant in their abuse. If women hate each other, they won’t share their similar experiences they’ve had with men. When a group of women discuss how they all have been with a man who made them feel small and scared, they start to notice it more in their next relationships. They also inform other women about these things. After a while, women’s tolerance for poor treatment is lowered. So the patriarchy has to think of a new way to belittle women, and that usually is turning women against each other.
    I was in a bad relationship all through high school. I had never been in an adult relationship before, so I didn’t know what to expect. I assumed it was normal for boyfriends to give you a hard time in front of their friends by teasing about your weight, smile, and other things. I had been taught men have crude humor, so this meant I was one of the guys, and what girl doesn’t want to be one of the guys? That’s the ultimate goal! The dream is to not be like other girls and to finally be chill enough to hang out with guys!
    When one of my friends came to hang out with my boyfriend and his friends, she pulled me to the side and said “I don’t like how he’s talking to you.” I was upset that she would even say anything like that. Clearly she was just jealous she wasn’t one of the guys, and she was responding with the typically girl response: starting drama.
    Except, she wasn’t. She was right. He was just insulting me and it wasn’t to give me a hard time. He didn’t want me to feel good about myself so that I wouldn’t leave him for somebody nicer. I started to look for that behavior and I eventually dumped him. I’m not sure how much longer it would’ve taken me, had my friend not been on my side.
    Sisterhood is dangerous for people who want women to lie dormant in their abuse. When women bond together, things change for them. So society tries to get us to hate each other. If we don’t trust each other, we’ll never bond together; internalized misogyny is that strong. I believe sisterhood is how treatment for women improves, because its more powerful than anything we’re taught to believe about each other.

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  15. On days when flakes of chilled whiteness fall from the sky, I am reminded of growing up in Bulgaria, of winters my American children will never experience.

    When I was six, I was allowed outside in the winter only when wrapped in a waterproof coat, hand-knit hat and gloves, and a thick scarf. The woolen scarf covered my mouth tightly. Inside the scarf, my breath turned into wet rivulets.

    My six-year-old won’t wear a coat even when winter lows dip down to Arctic levels. My kids don’t tolerate scarves. They consider gloves optional.

    During my trip to Bulgaria last summer, I made a list of the things Bulgarian mothers forbid their children (fathers were absent from the playgrounds where I carried out my research).

    When it rains, you won’t spot a Bulgarian child outside. Even if it’s misting, the children are gone from parks, playgrounds, and neighborhood swings. Rain is believed to cause illness. Mothers call cabs, rather than let their kids walk two blocks in the rain.

    The same goes for drafts (the circulation of air), temperatures under 60 degrees F, and summer storms. At times, boys are allowed to play when temperatures dip down to 60, but only with thick sweaters wrapped around their delicate bodies.

    Bulgarian children aren’t allowed to drink cold liquids. On a sweltering day in July, my mother’s friend told off a waiter for serving her daughter a soda straight from the fridge. The daughter had to wait half an hour before she could try a sip of her Fanta.

    In Bulgaria, children are not to run (“You’ll fall!”), play in fountains (“They’ll think you’re a Gypsy!”), or climb up and down slopes (“You’ll fall!”).

    I admit that on occasion I, too, force my children to wear unwanted clothing. When it snows, I tell them they need jackets. They haven’t yet called me a tyrant.

    I believe I can’t fully escape my upbringing. Try as I might, I believe jackets essential to surviving a cold winter.

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  16. I believe in hygiene, specifically oral hygiene. Ever since I can remember I have dreamed of becoming a dentist. There is something about the mouth that is so fascinating to me. Maybe that is why I have never feared the dentist. Or maybe that is because I have never had a cavity and had to under go drilling noises and pain. Since high school, I have struggled with the idea that maybe I’m not smart enough to attend dental school. This negativity kept me back from pursuing my dream. Every year I would flop back in forth with what I wanted to do. I knew I wanted it to be health related. I knew I wanted it to be a dentist. It wasn’t until junior year of college that I decided “Heck with what I keep telling myself, I’m doing it!” This past summer I got an internship at a pediatric dental office. I shadowed almost everyday. That entailed getting up at 5 in the morning, and let’s just says I am not a morning person, but being able to live out my dream even if its still dark out changed my morning attitude. I saw some pretty graphic things. Somehow that still did not scare me away. In fact it made me want to excel even more. Finally making my decision on attending dental school has set me back a little, in the fact that I will have to attend more school before I can even apply to dental school to fulfill all of my science prerequisites, but that won’t stop me. I am going to remain positive and hope for the best! Maybe one day I will look back on my journey and how it brought me right where I need to be- telling a child about brushing their teeth day and night.

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  17. I believe in Kanye West, the artist and the person. I recognize his misogyny, the fact that he thinks that “bitch” is an endearing term in hip hop. That’s just wrong, but I can’t help but get invested in him, his twitter rants, his insane imagination, and more than anything else his artistry. He’s crazy and he’s is a blatant dick, but I don’t think that anyone who is not an African American or a minority in America should instantly write him off because of his attitude. He is a pop star that demands the attention of millions of people every day. This may be a stretch but I think this is true, that there has never been a black artist that has garnered as much attention as him. Or an artists in the past 20 years that has released a string of albums so influential in their scope and influential on countless young musicians and artists as Kanye West. He has constantly envisioned new ways to bring underground music movements to the forefront of hip hop and therefore the contemporary popular music community. To his use of auto tune on 808s and Heartbreaks that has influenced the like of Future and Drake, to his Backpack rap that has given us Chance The Rapper and the like. He will always live on through his music through his apostles. I believe that he will define a generation of music, especially when hip hop whether white people like or not, garners the most attention both critically, politically, socially and most of all culturally in the vast social sphere. Kanye West has always been out of control but marks the driver seat of the hip-hop movement in the past 10 years. From his defining days as a producer and rapping with his jaw wired shut, to interrupting a white female artist of privilege at an award show, to releasing an album full of crass statements and his own delusions of his life. He wants everyone’s attention and he is angry. I think we should all sit back and listen to him, try to look at his timeline as an artist and delve deep into a catalogue that in one way has either influenced some artist you enjoy or a song that you listen to. Look for the connections. The most quotable line in his new album “Life of Pablo,” is “name one genius who wasn’t crazy,” as said in his song Feedback, we are witnessing the life of a genius as we never have through the use of social media and constant media eyes giving us all the news we want. Kanye was at the center of the news this week, every day in the section top story on the News App on my iPhone, Kanye was there reminding us of his narcissism, sexism, and eccentric behavior. I’m sure we would all treat him differently if our only view of him was through his music, and I’m sure he would be different as well. But he is a reflection of what social media can do for personalities like his, what happens when genius is embedded in a black body, let us sit back and reflect on Kanye, listen to his latest statement and maybe you’ll find you enjoy his music.
    Disclaimer: I’m just another white person talking about Kanye West so this is not original or important at all. I am not condoning his sexism; just highlighting that he has been undeniably influential. Whose fave isn’t problematic?

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  19. I believe in disappointment (kind of ranty, kind of rummaging on past memories)

    Around this time last year I raved on and on about how exciting things were happening in my hometown and that Will Russell was going to create a roadshow renaissance with the acquisition of ‘Funtown Mountain’. For everyone who is unaware, the Mammoth Cave Region is an economic paradox since the national park brings in a lofty amount of tourists yet everything else around it is in an economic slump. Well, on the counterpoint, the cave country economy is not too bad considering the recent acquisition to sell alcohol but still, the money is not booming. Anyway, Will Russell was going to take the then defunct Guntown Mountain-the wild west of Kentuckiana where there were staged shoot-outs and hangings - and turn it into “Funtown Mountain”, this bad ass roadside attraction that would celebrate Mammoth Cave and Kentucky history while preserving the charm of Guntown.
    And let me tell you, I ate that shit up. I hawked on social media when the project was first announced and told everyone about Wil’s feats such as bringing in this pizza parlor animatronic band (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fd5c3Qtcr_w) or whatever wild antics he posted online. Hell, I remember waking up at 4 AM so I could cross the bluegrass and come back home just so I could prance around in a knock-off big bird mask for a kickstarter promotion video in April. But then summer came along, and things started to get strange. Will kept on hyping about the “Grand Awesoming” in June despite having none of the big attractions opened. I recall texting Kurt about this as well since he was down in my home area (by the way, if you read this essay, ask Kurt about Amish Donuts). Funtown Mountain, in a sense, was like a supernova since it shined brightly on Cave City but started to explode as no one was committing to drive to an empty attraction and Will Russell was succumbing to the pressure he created.
    It has all been unfortunate really, since Will had a fantastic idea but the execution and past skeletons in the closest such as alcoholism and severe mental illness which eventually dragged Will,Funtown Mtn., and his other business into the ground. He stopped posting facebook status in September; I still occasionally make weekly checks online in hopes he is doing better (I think he is?). This experience has never made me angry or upset but just downtrodden and disappointed. I can understand why people might be swept off their feet when someone says they will take a perceived shambly area and make it great but unless they have a clear plan and more show than talk, it will be all disappointment. I know this for sure

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  20. I believe in moving. I believe in running and skiing and swimming and climbing, because somehow a stationary body doesn’t feel so much like my own. I fail to move sometimes, and suddenly I wake up and realize I’m not who I want to be or who I thought I was. I sit and watch Netflix late into the night on my good days, sure, usually with people around me and drinks and plenty of sleep from the night before. But on my bad ones, it feels like a small breakdown, like I can feel my already poor cardiovascular system losing a bit more strength; my muscles not relaxed, but oozing and melting. I don’t like the feeling I get from sitting still. When I can move, my body and my mind are one organism, neither a trap for the other. I choose when to turn, to speed up and slow down, to take another step. My muscles breathe under my skin—I feel awake. And just like everyone else when things are busy I don’t go to the gym often enough, I struggle to run the mile and I’m jealous of people who can aim a soccer ball. But I wish my life could always be full of motion. Because when it is, I feel like myself, the version I like the best, the one with sore arms and sunburned cheeks alive and awake late into the night, running first thing in the morning. I believe in moving, because my body without its own purpose is a prison for my mind.

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