Thankful, part 1 of many

I watched a TED talk in a Bonner meeting today about a guy who made it a goal to seek out people and tell somebody that he is thankful for them every day for a year.

I felt inspired by the video and while I know I don’t say it to everybody who deserves it, I’m so thankful and I try to tell people that. With thanksgiving coming, I thought I’d try to sit and really think about some of the little things that I’m thankful for that really are the big things. I’m going to write a few down and post them when I can, and maybe someday I’ll work up the courage to tell them.

Here goes.

I’m thankful for my third grade teacher, Mrs. Fillers. She had a schedule where she would sit next to a different person in the class every day, but since the tables were round, I always rushed to the lunchroom so I could sit on the other side of her, even when it wasn’t my turn. I always dominated the conversation and she never said anything- she always listened so patiently and loved me so well. After I finished third grade, we sent emails back in forth all summer because I loved her so. Looking back, she was an angel. I don’t know if I would have been as patient and kind to my annoying 8 year old self.

I’m thankful for my big brother, Chris. Today is his 23rd birthday, but it couldn’t possibly have been that long since he unwrapped his first iPhone in his 16th birthday dinner at Olive Garden. It seems impossible that it’s been 5 years since I threw a fit on his 18th birthday. Is it weird to be sentimental about your big brother growing up? Chris is the best big brother. I don’t know anybody else who has been there for me in all of the ways Chris has, from tough love to juicebox-chugging contests in his car on the way home from school. There’s no place I’d rather be but sitting far apart on the big brown sectional couch in our old living room, showing each other the best memes we found while scrolling through the internet, and starting rants any given topic, starting with “you know what’s funny?” I love you and I appreciate you, Chris. I don’t tell you enough.

I’m thankful for my middle school and high school band directors, who put up with endless shit I gave them by being the biggest attention hog- but encouraged me endlessly and gave me every bit of affirmation I craved. For letting me have the big solos. I miss playing oboe.

I’m thankful for my neighbor Hailee who lived across the street from my old house. She always let me come over to her house cuz she had the best toys and her room was always a lot cleaner than mine. She let me listen to her Hannah Montana CDs and we played with barbies and bows and arrows and pretended to be spies on a secret mission. I don’t know when or why I stopped playing with her and the other kids in the neighborhood, but I wish I hadn’t. I’d be down for some Hannah Montana CDs right about now.

I’m thankful for my dog Zeke. He passed away in May after putting up with my family for a whole lot of years. He was always pretty smelly no matter how many baths we gave him, but he was a great listener and he ate everything I dropped and was a great cuddler. When I was little, Mom and Dad used to tell him to come and wake us up in the mornings, and he’d come up to our rooms and jump in bed with us (even though that was the only time he was allowed upstairs.) He went through my trash and ate things a lot. He wouldn’t eat his food until my family was done singing the blessing before we started eating. He was always in the room the most people were in, laying in the middle of the floor because he wanted to be with us. The day after we got him, we let him off the leash in the park and he came running at me and knocked me down. I think he was just excited to see me. I’d let him do it again today if I had the option. I hope he knew how much we loved him when he passed away.

It’s an emotional thing to do- thinking about the people you love who have shaped you and trying to articulate how they’ve changed you.

More to come. I’m sufficiently nostalgic now. Goodnight, friends, I’m thankful for you. ❤️

-E

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Word Vomit

Frequently I wonder who I am.

I’m always either completely full or my stomach is growling, no in-between. I haven’t craved ice cream in forever. What’s up with that?

I like the way the stars look on an especially clear and cold night. I like it when the clouds  still look white next to the dark sky because the moon is so bright. I like how I’ll never get tired of the stars because I can’t take pictures of them with my phone.

I wish I remembered more about my family vacations from when I was little. We did some dope things that I don’t even remember and couldn’t fully appreciate.

The first thing I do every morning is reach over to my phone and answer texts, then scroll through all of my social media. The second thing I do every morning is think about coffee. I rarely drink my coffee until its past being hot and I’m running late. On Mondays I usually spill it on the arm that’s holding the mug.

I love to talk about other people and ask them deep questions, but I make jokes when it’s time to answer those questions myself.

I miss high-school me sometimes.

You can tell which classes I like and am interested in because I’m doing really well in them. You can also tell which classes I don’t like and am not interested in.

I crave approval from everybody I come across while simultaneously tell myself I don’t care, and those things are hard to balance.

I won’t ask for affirmation but it’s all I think about.

I miss my family, the way it used to be.

I have put my childhood bedroom away in a deep pocket of my mind because I get choked up when I think about not having furniture of my own anymore.

I think about people a lot more than those people know.

Generosity and gratitude are my absolute core values. I wish I had more to give. I wish I were better at spontaneous gifting. I hope you know I’m thankful for you.

I like when people laugh at my jokes.

I switch the way I write my “a”‘s when taking notes when I feel myself getting bored. Somehow it helps me focus.

My summer coffee order is an iced coffee with a shot of vanilla, with cream and 2 Splendas. My winter order is something less predictable. I never know until I hear the words leave my mouth.

I like mugs a lot. I keep collecting them. Recently, I realized that all of my mugs are white with small details. I bought a blue one the next day.

My hands are always cold.

I like painting my nails until they start chipping, and then I obsessively peel the paint off and leave it in little piles on the floor under me.

I have infinitely more respect for every person who has ever served me food after working for a catering company for one weekend. I can’t imagine how tired people who do manual labor jobs are at the end of a lifetime of doing it. Us folks with desk jobs should be endlessly thankful. We are spoiled.

Writing makes me feel better. It’s like dusting in your brain. You have to take all of the dust and turn it into dust bunnies before you throw it away – or make a bigger dust bunny. Whatever you want, really.

Thanks for listening.

I feel dusted.

 

 

Thoughts on #MeToo

I’ll start with an important detail: I don’t consider myself among those who have been sexually harassed or assaulted. I know that I am lucky. 

I’ve had 3 brothers with me everywhere I go for almost my entire life, and I really feel like this is a reason people have left me alone. I know that I am lucky. 

I can’t imagine anything worse than being sexually harassed or assaulted. Sometimes I forget how horrible it must be, until I get little reminders.

Last year, I was at Cookout with my roommate when a guy with a face tattoo from a booth across from ours stared at me as I ate every bite of my meal. I kept making accidental eye contact, but was choosing to ignore him. When I got up to throw my trash away, he leaned over to me and simply asked “what’s your name?” I said, “doesn’t matter,” as I hurried out the door. This seems like a small incident and really, it was, but I still felt disgusting. When I got home, I put fleece pajamas and a big sweater on instead of my shorts and a tank top because I didn’t want anyone to look at me ever again. If “what’s your name?” made me feel like that, can you imagine what unwanted touching (or much more) would do to a person? I know that I am lucky. 

When I was 14 and snapchat was in its beginning phases of popularity, I got a friend request from someone unknown. At this time, every friend request came with a big red number on the screen and I’m that kind of person that can’t stand the clutter. On the friend request, it said that there were 3 pending snaps. I know I shouldn’t have done it, but hey, I was curious. I accepted the request from the unknown person and planned to unfriend him as soon as the notification had cleared, which I did, though not before I saw pictures of a naked man for the very first time. This is sexual harassment by some creep that gets off by sending pictures to strangers. I pushed this situation out of my mind, but it disturbed me, and still does. Can you imagine what this kind of contact would do to someone younger than myself? Can you imagine what a “harmless flashing” in unexpected and unwanted situations does to people? I know that I am lucky.

The other day, I was walking down the street in D.C. with my dad. I was wearing my favorite jeans. A large man was walking down the street in the opposite direction, and his eyes followed a couple in front of us who were walking a dog. He turned completely around as they walked by. I thought to myself, “I wonder if he’s checking out her butt or the dog?” As he walked past me, he did the same thing, and this time, he hollered. I thought, “yep, definitely her butt. And mine.” I wanted to throw those jeans away.

These are small incidents. I don’t consider myself scarred. I know I am safe. I don’t share these stories for you to feel sorry for me, because you shouldn’t. Very little, insignificant harm came out of these situations. My point is, my experiences are the tip of the iceberg. I know that I am lucky. This is what is normal for even the most protected women in our society. It is disgusting, to say the least. And it is completely avoidable. This is what the #MeToo movement is about.

If you are a male finding yourself wondering how to react, thank you. Know that women are not waiting for you to respond. We know you’re seeing our words. We know you’ll do your best not to “mansplain.” We know you won’t send unwanted pictures. We know you you’ll stop yourself when you find yourself wanting to talk over us. We know you won’t stare. We know you’ll feel empathetic. Well, we hope so.

I know I have little reason to be talking about this topic. Many stories are much more significant than the ones I have shared here. However, I want people to know what the tiniest things do. The interactions that seem insignificant ripple more than anybody knows.

I’m grateful for the conversation. It’s about damn time.

I Want One of Those Black Medical Boots.

IMG_C478A8118645-1My brother Richard snapchatted me a picture of his swollen and bruised ankle after attempting to jump across a creek. The doctor said he sprained his ankle in two ways and that he’ll have to wear a boot for the next few weeks. And I’m really jealous.

Not jealous that he sprained his ankle, not jealous of the bruises, not jealous of the pain,  just jealous of the boot!!

I remember sitting in front of the TV watching Nick jr and having to have the toy featured in every commercial. “I want that!” Do you remember that too? Now you understand how I still feel about the boot.

I can’t explain it, something has always been ~cool~ about them. Like a weird fashion statement. A sign of badassery. A conversation starter, if anything. As if when you have a boot, suddenly everyone is thinking “wow, what did they do?” But without the inconvenience, smelliness, and ugly toes sticking out of a cast.

I feel the same way about glasses. I can’t be one of those people who wears fake glasses and I do enjoy being able to see, but I want them. They’re cool. They’re for smart people. They’re a personality piece.

Richard said I can have his boot when he’s done with it. Is it bad that I’m thinking about it?

The Right to Bear Arms

I sat in a meeting today with many people that I love and care about. We’re a diverse group and we frequently clash about our personal and political beliefs, but I generally think they’re great people and we work well together (on matters that aren’t politically affiliated.) If you ask us to pack 100 food boxes or landscape a garden, we’re all in.

This meeting was centered around researching the legislation that exists around gun control on both sides, and the point of the exercise was apparently to practice listening to the perspectives of an opinion that is different than yours and consider it before formulating your own opinion. They divided us up into two groups – pro-loose gun control laws and pro-strict gun control laws. I was put into the group that argued for pro-loose gun control laws. I had already decided that I wasn’t going to participate.

I wasn’t the only person in my group that felt strongly against the position we were asked to research, and there was palpable tension between us and the others. We started researching, and it was clear that nobody wanted to be doing this.

A few things really upset me:

  1. I didn’t want to be researching the reasons that nothing should change regarding gun laws in this country. 59 people died this week. We have had 2 “biggest mass shootings in the history of modern America” in an embarrassingly short time. I have considered this view already and I have rejected it. It’s not okay to say that things are good as they are.
  2. It’s too soon to be having this debate. Talk to me in a few weeks.
  3. Nobody in my group wanted to talk about it. Even the people who believe in loose gun control laws didn’t seem to care that much about justifying their position. The best we could get out of them was “the 2nd Amendment says…”
  4. Everything my group came up with was based in misinformation and lies. Let me explain.

These are what I begrudgingly put on our poster.

  • “Switzerland has a 24.7% crime rate, which is ranked 74th in the world, and every family is required to own a gun.” – This is false. Every household may own a gun, but many choose not to. Wikipedia cites that only about 24% per capita own a gun. Secondly, consider this excerpt from Time.com  : “Kids as young as 12 belong to gun groups in their local communities, where they learn sharpshooting. The Swiss Shooting Sports Association runs about 3,000 clubs and has 150,000 members, including a youth section. Many members keep their guns and ammunition at home, while others choose to leave them at the club. And yet, despite such easy access to pistols and rifles, “no members have ever used their guns for criminal purposes,” says Max Flueckiger, the association’s spokesperson.” No such structure exists in America.

 

  • “The 2nd amendment says ‘A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.'” – I’m thinking that my group interpreted that in this context to mean that the government should not restrict gun ownership. I can see that if you only look at the second part of that statement – “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” However, I’m in a government class and we have talked a lot about what our founding fathers must have meant by that. Firstly, the Constitution was radical at the time because it took power away from states and gave it to the federal government. At that time, each state had its own militia, and giving power to the national government meant surrendering these militias. That really freaked everyone out because they were afraid of being invaded by the national government. Therefore, this clause was put in to assure the people who were worried about this that they had the right to bear arms against the government. This is a system of checks and balances. It holds the national government responsible for regulating itself (Federalist paper 23) because there is a threat of rebellion if it does not. We’re not talking about home invasion or self defense. These arms are not for personal use – they’re for militias. (And well-regulated (trained??) ones at that.) Just quoting the constitution. And not just the parts that work for me.

 

  • “Strict gun control laws threaten the right to self-defense and a sense of security and protection.” – I’d argue that the possibility of being killed at a concert by a psyco on the 32nd floor of a hotel or in my classroom or literally anywhere else this could occur is a threat to my sense of security and protection. Even if I had a gun, if I am shot dead before I can use it, I’m still feeling pretty robbed of my right to self-defense. We are literally all at the mercy of any given gun owner.

 

  • “Concealed carry laws increase the chances that someone with a gun could kill an active shooter before that person kills more people.” – I’m so sick of this argument. To this, I’d like to direct you to a video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MCI4bUk4vuM I know that this video paints people who believe in the “good guy with a gun” scenario in a foolish light, but honestly, it’s a good watch regardless. This is the story of a guy who went through much more training (including active shooter training) than is required to own a gun, and still “dies” in every simulation. The point? Being a “good guy with a gun” doesn’t work as well as you’d picture it.

 

I don’t know all of the facts. I can’t say that I know what the solution is. I just know that what’s going on isn’t working, and many people who are pro-loose legislation on the issue haven’t done enough research. I’m not saying that all of them haven’t, but these are weak arguments and I wish they would generally do better.

I’m tired of uneducated arguments not based in fact. I’m tired of mass shootings. I’m tired of waking up sweaty from nightmares about being in a shooting, and I’m tired of wondering when I’ll be next.

How many people have to die before we do something?

Something has to change.

Not being “The Triplets”

Of course I’m still a triplet and I’ll always be- it’s one of the most important ways I define myself. Lately, though, I’ve been trying figure out what it means to me now that not everybody I interact with knows. For literally my entire life, Richard and Matthew and I have been a package deal. I used to get really upset in middle school, when we had all of the same classes, that we’d be referred to as “the triplets” instead of our real names, like we didn’t even exist outside of each other. Well, now we certainly exist individually, and while I like being able to drop the triplet bomb on people really casually, (“two of my brothers are also sophomores and we like to compare how our schools are differe-” “whoa, wait, are they twins?” “Triplets, actually…”) I’m slowly figuring out that life outside of the bundle isn’t actually all it cracked up to be. (Not to exclude Chris, I adore him and he’s every bit as loved and missed.)

If I’m being completely honest, life at Berry College is exciting and inspiring and perfect sometimes and it’s desperately lonely at other times. I have had trouble making true, deep, meaningful relationships where I can talk about both Gossip Girl and social injustice in the same sitting. The kind where you’re satisfied sitting together in silence. The kind where a nerf war could start up any moment. The kind where your friend asks how you’re doing and they legitimately care about the answer (and dig for the answer when you don’t give it to them right away!!) At times I’ve wondered if I’m in the right place, and at other times I’ve wondered if there’s just something wrong with me. Maybe I have RBF?

It occurred to me today that maybe it’s because I’m not part of that bundle anymore. I’m not a 4 second walk from a conversation about nothing (or everything) with someone who knows me, feels what I’m feeling, and cares about me the way a brother does. I know this is so tacky but seriously. It’s a huge thing that’s missing from life right now.

I’ve never had to eat a meal alone. I’ve never had to actually socialize in an unfamiliar situation- I had a brother to stand next to. I’ve never had to worry about approaching groups of people because I always had a brother who knew at least one person in any given cluster. I’ve never not had anyone to complain about a teacher or a homework assignment with.

I miss late night meetings in the kitchen when we somehow all woke up at the same time wanting a glass of water. I miss sitting on the couch next to each other, all on our computers/phones, sharing any funny picture or interesting article that we ran across. I miss being a bundle. (Don’t tell my middle school self. She never thought this day would come.)