Temerarious

 

I spent the last weekend bedridden with a horrible flu.

The flu can be detrimental to one’s health in a number of ways- there’s the physical component of the illness, of course, in which the immune system is insufficient for fighting off pathogens, but there’s a physiological component that, in my experience, is far more harmful than any fever, bout of chills, or stuffy nose.

When you’re as sick as I was last weekend, you have no other option but to slow down-your body insists. But your brain is not forcibly stagnated to the extent that your limbs might be. What I’m saying in way more words than are necessary is that I had far too much time for thinking over the past couple of days for my own good.

In a desperate attempt to occupy my mind and focus my racing, unorganized thoughts, I began (and finished) the Netflix original series Thirteen Reasons Why. For those of you who haven’t heard of it, I suggest that you set apart the next 13 hours and binge the entire series. If you don’t have the time for that, I’ll provide a brief synopsis.

The story centers around Hannah, a high schooler who takes her own life, but not before explaining her reasons for doing so via 13 audio tape recordings. The topic of each tape is one of her classmates who has contributed to her ultimate decision to commit suicide. Among those reasons are betrayal, rape, objectification, and harassment. Ironically, all things that I have experienced, as well.

This powerful series was profound and resonated deeply with me, and unfortunately, has forced me to face some things that I’ve never truly allowed myself to process. Ever since my body was invaded, it’s felt as though it no longer belongs to me. And sometimes I feel that all I am is a body, and maybe that’s why I haven’t been handled with care-by men since him, or by me. The most practical remedy is to enclose oneself in a pod of isolation-just big enough for one. Because the illusion of control is much more satisfying there.

I’ve been played with, used, ridiculed, and objectified. I am left weak, afraid, and tired.

I’d like to think that I’d never engage in self-harm, but this sudden flooding of relived past experiences has forced me to feel things that I’ve suppressed for far too long, and I’m paying for it now. How does one who’s deceived herself into strength cope with the fact that she’s been wounded the whole time?

I think that the biggest take-away message I got from viewing Thirteen Reasons was that we are reckless. Humans are reckless people with little to no awareness on how significant our actions can be in the grand scheme of things. Our actions have the power to significantly alter another’s perception of self, and the consequences of a poor self-perception can, as in Hannah’s case, be fatal.

Human interaction is a complex phenomenon, and everyone experiences his or her own truth. If you claim that I hurt you, I don’t get to decide that I didn’t. So it’s best to err on the side of safety, right?

Unfortunately, unless you’re Ghandi or Mother Teresa, you will inevitably hurt those you interact with, intentionally or not. But we don’t walk around with a gauge pinned to our shirts, notifying those around us how close we are to our breaking points.

It’d be extremely difficult, and frankly boring (not to mention unrealistic) to treat everyone as if they are fragile as fine China, all of the time for the rest of our lives. That’s where I think that a little self-awareness could go a long way. And believe me, my hands are definitely not clean here.

Watching the way Hannah was treated by her classmates in Thirteen Reasons was piercingly painful for me to watch. I could feel her solitude through my computer screen, and it transported me back to my own lonely years as a high school student. (Which was much more difficult in some ways than my desolate college years now.) Each episode’s conclusion catalyzed another stream of tears from my eyes, and I found myself in bouts of severe regret for the way my life has been going so far.

People can cause a lot of harm, but they can also do a lot of good. The only problem is, once you’ve experienced enough harm, you find that it’d be foolish to put yourself out there in pursuit of some good, because that would leave you vulnerable to even more harm.

So, you withdraw further.

And what’s so noble about being fine all the time, anyway? Why does being able to be okay with people treating you like shit make you strong? Resilient, maybe. But I’d argue that strength is found by allowing yourself to feel real pain-to hurt to the extent that it hurts, and to heal in your own time, and your own way.

That’s what I feel like my experience from this weekend is forcing me to do-to allow myself to not be fine anymore. Because the last thing I am is okay. I am weak, wounded and alone. And if I don’t accept that now and deal with it, the next time I get hurt might pull me completely under water, and I’ll drown.

I fully admit that I’ve done more than my fair share of harm to other people. My hands are far from clean. But I’ve gained a heightened awareness of my deeds and their potential for harm or help to my fellow man.

But why are we so reckless with each others’ lives? Should it not be more of a priority to minimize the pain we inflict? Or are we simply just not aware?

M.

 

 

Advertisements

Reasons Why I want To Be Tina Fey

Image

Recently, I stumbled upon Bossypants, a gem of a book written by the delightfully comical Tina Fey. It was one of those books that you read cover-to-cover in one night, regardless of the fact that you have two finals to take in the morning and haven’t done a lick of studying. If you haven’t read it yet, you really need to figure out what time-waster needs to be eliminated from your life and get reading. 

It’s quite possibly the best piece of feminist literature since The Declaration of Sentiments.  

Now, without further ado, here are the reasons why I want to be Tina Fey. 

1. Her flawless Sense of Humor: A trait we both have in common. Seriously, though, I’m pretty sure the general public can come to a consensus that Tina Fey is a master of comedy. From playing Sarah Palin on SNL to Kate from Baby Mama, she  can get a sincere laugh out of just about anybody. Not only in a professional, scripted setting, but in her everyday life as well. Her entire book is her narration of real events from both her normal and professional life. 

2. She Acknowledges Her Shortcomings: Throughout her book, Tina Fey distinctly illustrates her flaws. She is fully conscious of her limitations. Fey narrates significant events from her life starting from childhood, and throughout the pages, she anecdotes times that she admittedly screwed up. 

3. She Embraces Her Flaws: Fey mentions multiple times how weird her feet are. Personally, i’ve never seen them, but apparently she was given some deformed feet. But you know what? Not once does she wish she had normal feet. She even says she wouldn’t trade hers for the most beautiful feet there ever were. She talks about her “gut” and how she’s a pasty-dough ball. What she doesn’t do is wish for a perfect, model body. She knows that she is human. 

4. She’s Part-German: This implies that she’s also part-fiery and harsh. If you read back to my bio, you’ll find that I, too, am part-German. Deutschland ist das beste! 

5. She Can Laugh At Herself: One chapter is entirely dedicated to her responding to her own hatemail. Rather than retaliate by getting offensive and defensive, Fey goes along with her anti-fans’ insulting words and even (sarcastically) admits to their claims. And THAT is how class and wit is done. 

6. She Has A Daughter And Her Dream Job: At one point in her book, she talks about how there was a time when she was trying to get Oprah onto her show 30 Rock, plan a Peter Pan birthday party for her daughter, and write for SNL all at the same time. All three events were equally important to her, and she even finished planning details of her daughter’s party in between shoots at 30 Rock and SNL. 

7. She Has Fantastic Legs: Need I say more? 

8. She Knows How To Identify Sexism In The Workplace: Rather than play the victim, Fey brings to her readers’ attention the gender stereotypes in the world of comedic actors and writers. She knows that there are ignorant people out there who claim that women can’t be funny the way men can, and should stick to playing the role of the ditzy cheerleader or supportive housewife. But she doesn’t let that stop her from continuing her work the way she wants to do it. She doesn’t care if you like it. 

In short, Tina Fey is my idol. 

Now go forth and read Bossypantsmy dear readers. 

M. 

 

Wander

One of my biggest dreams is to go somewhere, totally unheard of, totally spontaneous, and without a plan. I want to literally lose track of time. Lose the phone. Lose everything but the shoes on my feet, the clothes on my back, and a couple bucks to get by.

This year, I refuse to endure yet another one of Utah’s merciless, endless summers with nothing to do and nowhere to go. I’ve been begging my parents to let me fly across the world to embark on an adventure in a new country somewhere, by myself. I’ve got the funding and even found a program especially for wanderers like me.

How fantastic would that be? To jump on a plane to a foreign destination all alone to spend 20 days exploring, seeing, and experiencing a whole new culture?

Here’s my parents’ argument as to why it wouldn’t be the best idea:

1. I’m a 5’2 blonde girl.

2. There is no number two. That’s it.

Now, my naive, teenagery mind says “so what? What’s the worst that could possibly happen?” To which my parents respond “neither of us are Liam Neeson. We lack the resources and smarts to come rescue you if you get taken.”

Anyway, the whole summer travel thing is a work-in-progress. Wish me luck with that.

Today, I was feeling particularly adventurous, so I drove my little self to the city to do some aimless roaming.(I am a self-admitted loner. I love doing things by myself. I’ve become an expert at keeping myself company.) I started at the mall, thinking I’d just mindlessly browse the clothing shops and try on articles way out of my price range as I usually would on a day when I have a few hours to kill. But then, I started browsing through Barnes and Noble. Let me tell you, I could spend an entire day in a book store, just reading the backs of novels.

Also located on the back of the book is Barnes and Nobles’ price sticker. Those suckers are the most discouraging, heart-breaking numbers to a girl after she’s immersed herself in the excerpt from a book. And I’m sorry, but $17.99 for a paperback novel is just plain ridiculous.

Stay with me, this story relates to the topic of this post. I’m getting there, I swear.

After getting my heart broken by too many overpriced books at Barnes and Noble, I decided to go searching for a used book store. So I set out on the streets of Salt Lake City in pursuit of a reasonably priced read.

I walked maybe two miles before finding one. And I crossed some very interesting, somewhat frightening people on my way. But it was well worth it once I found that bookstore. It was a labyrinth of shelves and shelves of used books. The selection was slightly overwhelming. I spent a solid two and a half hours raiding those shelves.

The Best Book Ever Written

The Best Book Ever Written

There were two young sports browsing the shelves of the store rather close to me. After a few minutes of awkwardly browsing the same shelves simultaneously, one of them finally broke the ice and introduced himself. We shook hands and immediately after telling him my name, he asked me if i’d ever seen the basement. I hadn’t.

He explained to me that the bookstore used to be a dance club, and that the basement still had contents from the building’s night club days. I asked him to show me, so the three of us-me, him, and his friend- went down into the basement and he gave me a tour of the entire bottom floor.We talked for a while before I decided it was time to wander myself back to my car.

In summary, today was a blissful, unscheduled, and spontaneous day. I made two friends of whom I may never see again, discovered a location at which I can purchase discounted novels, and lost myself in time and place.

That’s the kind of “vacation” I want. I want to go somewhere previously unknown to me and just wander. Go where the wind blows me. And one of these days, I’m going to do just that.