Saturday, January 3, 2015

Back to the grind!

I haven't been blogging. I'm sorry.

First, work happened. December 30 was my first day off in 3 weeks (perks of working two jobs that both have endless hours) and I have been exhausted and miserable to be around. (Sorry boyfriend, and roommates, and friends).
Sorry I was awful. 

Anyway, I don't really have much by way of a topic today. I've been out of touch on everything - Twitter, Facebook, blogs, podcasts, etc - which I'm trying to catch up on now. I'm also trying to be better about making time to read instead of watching television. I have to put that Kindle I got for Christmas to work.

I have been getting my classes in at Shogun Martial Arts pretty religiously lately. Which makes me feel awesome. So that brings me to a solid topic - talking about what being a woman in a male-dominated sport can be like. 

Usually Muay Thai, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and other full contact sports go hand-in-hand with talking about the male athletes who participate in those sports. Don't get me wrong. The dudes I workout with and learn from are awesome athletes and friends. 

The ladies don't get enough love, and I'm going to do something about that.

Coming up as a woman in a really male dominated sport can be awful sometimes. The questions, criticism and awe you get from people outside the sport is just...well, bizarre sometimes. 

I remember once being told that I was "too pretty to get punched in the face". Most people would take that as a compliment. I know that the person who said it meant well, but what are those words really saying? 

They're saying that as a woman, I should be more concerned about my looks than participating in the sport that I really enjoy. Why? Why should I be more concerned with how I look instead of how training makes me feel? 

The other general reaction I get is shock. At this point, I've learned to laugh at that reaction and just purposely make people react like that. The astonishment is just entertaining at this point, because why shouldn't I do something that people are astonished by? Why does it shock people that a woman would do these things?

The women I train with are some of the fiercest, most driven and wonderful people I get to spend my mat time with. They are not only funny and kind, but they are tough as nails. They will beat the snot out of you and then tell you how well you did afterward.

They are great teachers. They smile at you the whole class and make you laugh, but put you through your paces at the same time. (We don't call it "Kru Ann's house of pain" for nothing.)

That's Kru Ann. She looks sweet and all, but she's scary. 

The whole point of this praise-shower/rant fest is to say that it shouldn't be weird for women to be Muay Thai fighters, or welders, or whatever else they want to do just because it's a male-dominated thing. 

I do have to praise the guys I train with - never have they ever made me feel lesser because I'm female, never have they just gone harder or easier on me because I'm female. They spar with me and train with me based on skill level, nothing else. 

The only difference between us is our rank and skill-level, as it should be. 

Some crazy chicks I let kick my ass. 

Thursday, December 25, 2014

From darkness to the light...

Thanks to a beautiful gift I received for Christmas, I can complete my yearly holiday tradition of moving from old journal to new. While filling in the first page, I figured out that I had created my own small solstice ritual without even having realized it.

The whole point of this season, (no matter what tradition you follow) is banishing the darkness and embracing the light: be it in the form of lighting lamps from oil that wasn't meant to last, welcoming a Messiah as the light of the world, or celebrating another turn in the wheel of the year.

From here the days get longer.

The light lingers.

What has that got to do with writing?

For me, writing in a journal is cathartic. I can say and feel whatever it is that I want with no filter. I can freely express whatever thought pops into my head, no matter how cruel or inappropriate. It usually keeps these thoughts from spilling out of my mouth. (Usually.)

The downside, is that the pages I fill often bear witness to the crappy person I can sometimes be - the poor choices I make, the way I hurt people. It is a chronicle of my lowest moments and times I feel utterly lost.

Pages upon pages of my handwriting have been dedicated to these moments, both good and bad, to the point that each journal I fill is heavy with more than just ink. Every fear, every tear and every scar is etched there, to the point that carrying it around is like carrying around the entire year in my bag.

I have spent many a day burdening myself with carrying around the last year, condensed into the pages of the journal I filled.

The whole point of the winter solstice, of Christmas, is to disperse the darkness and embrace the light - to rid yourself of things that burden and no longer serve. Every year, I rid myself of the thoughts of the past year and give myself a blank canvas to fill again. This is just the first Christmas that I have recognized it for what it was.

Most people would think to start anew with the first of the new year. I don't think that's necessarily wrong. If making a resolution and starting fresh with the new year is your thing and it works for you, then by all means, go for it.

For me, starting with a new journal and a fresh outlook is like embracing the light and ridding myself of the negative thoughts I carried in the last year. This is a chance to think new thoughts and write new words on new pages - to break the cycle and not carry thoughts and habits through to the new year and the time of year when the sun rules the sky.

Christmas has become a season that is just as much about family, friends and spreading love as it has become a time of reflection. Winter time (and Christmas especially) is a pivotal moment when we can look back at where we have been and look forward to where we can go. It's almost like standing in the center of the seesaw. You can either step back and live with the habits and thoughts that have troubled you, or leave them behind in the darkness and step into the light.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The one thing that all women should do throughout their lives


Yes, I meant to yell at you.

Just stop it. Stop wasting your time with lists that tell you "22 things that all 22 year olds should be doing" or "the 25 things every 25-year-old woman should own" and all that other horseshit.

Yeah, I said it. All of those "articles" (which is a term I use very loosely) are just telling you anecdotes and presenting them as facts. In reality - the only things you need to worry about doing by the time you're 22 is being 22, whatever that means for you. I say this so many times in a week it's almost ridiculous, but anecdotal evidence does not a fact make. 

Now, that doesn't mean I would condone you not having a job and not contributing to society in some sort of way - because I personally think that you can't get away with that kind of crap after the age of 17. Even if you're in school and studying your butt off and volunteering in your spare time, do your thing. If you're 22 with a GED and working, do your thing. If you're 22 and working two part-time jobs, do your thing.

The key here is doing your thing.

I'm 26 and just starting to figure out how to do that and not feel like shit about it. I'm a college graduate. I went to a great high school and got a great education. I live in an apartment with two roommates, pay all my own bills, all that "fun" adult stuff that I have to do. I work two part-time jobs to do it, which totally sucks sometimes, but I'm doing my thing, and not anyone else's.

The important thing is that all those listicles don't teach you anything. Nine times out of ten, they just make you feel like garbage for not having it all figured out, or not having it all together. The person who wrote that list? That person probably doesn't have it all figured out and is just as confused as you are.

There's nothing wrong with being confused. There's nothing wrong with taking the time to figure it out. There's nothing wrong with not having it all together. There is something wrong with doing nothing, though. There is also something wrong with making yourself feel badly because it seems like everyone else you know has it all figured out. (That last bit I'm still working on myself.)

So instead of reading one of those stupid lists and making yourself feel badly, take those 10 minutes and do something constructive with it. Text a friend, call your mom, take your dog for a walk, read some of that book that's been sitting on your bedside table for months that you just haven't bothered with (which are all things I need to be better at, also), but don't waste your time and your precious energy on reading something from some schmuck who really has no place judging you (or anyone else) and then feeling badly about yourself afterward.

All 22 year olds are not the same. No list is going to cover all the bases of what you could be doing with your time, especially a list only 22 points long. No list is going to take everyone's different life into account - those lists are written from a very narrow point of view. there are no study groups, no demographics. It's one person looking at what that particular age should look like through a very narrow lens, then touting it as fact.

So get out there. Do your thing. Make your own list of what you should be doing. No one else can write that list but you.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

If you aren't learning, you're doing it wrong.

I'm 26. Depending on who you are, you might consider me mid-20s. You also might consider me late-20s. Either way, I'm closer to my late 20s than I am my early 20s, that's for sure. Not that I'm lamenting that fact.

Actually, I'm kind of enjoying it. Here's why.

It might be hard to believe, but you don't actually stop being fun when you're in your mid-to-late 20s. You just start having fun in different ways. There's nothing wrong with that.

In my early 20s, fun was going out drinking, partying and making friends with people I met in the bar bathroom.

In my late 20s, fun is happy hour then going out to dinner, dinner parties with my friends.

Maybe it's because I can't handle a hangover like I used to (might as well admit that fact now) or it's just exhausting to party like that. (Also a fact.)

As I have aged, my tastes change. We all know this. The thing we aren't told growing up is that our time becomes something we want to spend in fulfilling ways.

Personally, I spend a lot less time drinking cheap beer just for the sake of drinking it. I spend a lot less time in crappy bars with bad music. I spend more money on quality ingredients than I do on a crap-ton of bad food.

Time, more than anything else, is a huge investment. It has becoming increasingly important to me how and with whom I spend my time. I have been dedicating more time to my health - going to martial arts 3 times a week (when I can and am not working) and trying to eat better.

There are just some things that you should outgrow: binge drinking is one of those things. I don't mean you should stop because it's "not cute" or unattractive, but it's detrimental to your health, people.

Outgrowing the person you were in your early 20s is like outgrowing playing with Barbies. It's just something that happens.

I'm sure that you've seen listicle after listicle from websites that tell you "13 things you start doing in your late 20s" or "22 things that you should be doing at 22". Here's what I have to say to those listicles: STFU.

What you do at 22 and what you do at 26, 28, 32, and so on is YOU. Your choices are yours. There are no rules to follow. There are no directions to read.

I have chosen to spend my time and money outside of work focused on my relationship, my friends and my health. These are things that matter to me, and should have always mattered to me as much as they do now.

But when I was in my early 20s, I spent a good chunk of my time screwing my life up in several ways. I picked up the pieces. Now I'm just putting them back together.

Not that there is anything wrong with doing that. Your 20s is a great time to mess everything up. You don't have a ton to lose, really. So if you're going to make mistakes, make them now. The price you pay for them now is a lot smaller than later, I believe.

In your 20s, there is time to rebuild yourself and who you are. The building and establishment and learning of self is one of the most rewarding things that you can spend your time doing.

Knowing who you are is by far the most important thing in the world - more important than money, fame, your job, everything - because it is the one thing that your life will always revert back to. When you're in a morally compromising situation, knowing who you are will help you make the right decision. When your life gets hard and you aren't sure what to do, knowing yourself is how you make things work. When you have a fight with your significant other, knowing yourself is where you start to make things better.

I spent a lot of my late teens and early 20s not being sure of myself. I let other people's opinions dictate who I was to be and what I could do. Now I have learned who I am and how to be that person. Sure, I still screw things up occasionally, but that's life.

Your only real job is to live it. If you aren't learning from it, you're doing it wrong.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Education ain't all about the benjamins.

Recently, I have been considering going to Graduate school to pursue a Master's Degree in (most likely) English.

I posted something about this on my Facebook page. It got a decent amount of response from friends and family, both in favor of my returning to school and those who said it wasn't worth it.

Let me outline a few things about this. I had/have a college fund that my grandparents set up for me when I was very young. I do not have any student loan debt from my undergraduate years. I do know how lucky I am to have this.

A graduate degree would do just about zip for my job. It isn't something that is necessary in an industry that is pretty much a learn-as-you-go type of thing.

I have money left in my college fund.

So all that aside, I can't say I was too surprised at the number of resounding "no" responses I got from people about going back to school. A lot of it had to do with about their being a return on the investment, if it was worth the money, if I would make more money afterward, etc etc. You get the picture.

Most who responded with "yes" didn't give much of a response other than "DO IT!" No other reason, no other explanation.

I fully accept the fact that getting my Master's Degree isn't going to do anything for me financially at this point. In fact, it would make my life harder, because I would undoubtedly have to quit one of my jobs in order to make the time in my schedule to go to school full-time.

In truth, going back to school has nothing to do with my job(s). It has nothing to do with making more money (right now anyway). Going back to school has everything to do with what I think would make me a better writer. What would get me more opportunities and what would open more doors for me in the future.

I believe that learning is important - if it's learning how to cook something, learning to change your oil, or learning how to write well - all of it is important.

I'm not saying that school is the only place that learning happens. It isn't. What I am saying that money spent on an education is never wasted. If money comes of it, great. If not, that's okay too. It's a bummer, but it happens, especially today.

The undergraduate degree has become the new high school diploma. A lot of people have one and if you don't, you feel like people look at you differently than they would otherwise. A Bachelor's Degree is becoming so generic that articles are now coming out that there's no point in furthering education past high school.

The problem isn't that a ton of people have B.A./B.S. degrees. The problem is how we view education. We see education as a stepping stone to make money, a time in our lives when we prepare for our careers.

I think that we should be viewing education as a chance to grow, expand our minds and be around people who think differently that we do and are different than we are. University has turned into a place where we take required classes to fill our required major, instead of taking classes that we are interested in and pursuing tracts that we like.

Universities today (American ones, at least) don't offer us the chance to meander, try things and test things to find out what we REALLY love to learn about, instead we must declare a major after two years and we must follow a specific set of classes, just like everyone else.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Kim Kardashian needs to go away.

Honestly, I don't care what kind of hateful comments I get for this blog post. (Assuming I actually get any.)

We're going to talk about Kim Kardashian's ass.

No, I'm not going to post a picture of it, or link to it or anything. Google that shit yourselves.

What we're really going to talk about is our collective reactions to her post, and why they are all equally shitty.

We insulted her intelligence

Just because Kim K. has spent a good chunk of her time in the spot light exposing herself, we think she's an idiot. (The fact that she isn't a brainiac notwithstanding.) That's a problem.

We think that any woman who exposes her body to the public to be stupid, because "why can't she do anything I think is acceptable?" People do any number of things for any number of reasons.

Maybe women strip because they like it. Maybe they do it because the job market sucks major balls and their kids need to eat. Maybe because shaking their asses on a stage makes a whole hell of a lot more money than doing that 9-5 thing that they went to school for.

Either way, Kim K. knows EXACTLY what she's doing by posing nude for Paper and trying to "break the internet" - she's keeping her name in our mouths, because like it or not, she is part of the "there is no such thing as bad press" machine.

We think she's promiscuous

For some insane reason, we tell women that sex sells, that being sexy is something that they should be. We tell them all these things, then when they fall into this role that we create for them, we hate them for it.

We break them down for it. We hurl insults at them and call them whores. We think they are attention-seeking and slutty.

And here's the part where we talk about the shitty consequences of treating people this way.

Human bodies, particularly women's bodies (but men are victims as well) become commodities. A woman's body becomes property of all of us, something to be bought and sold, traded and degraded and judged.

Which is a big fat load of crap.

WE (meaning society) teach these women than their bodies belong to everyone and everyone has a right to look at them, touch them, own them. We teach them that their bodies are something to flaunt, something to show off. So when they do it, when they follow the rules that society lays out for them, we hurt them for it.

So Kim K. is doing exactly what society wanted her to do in the first place. All people talk about is her body. Okay, people mostly talk about her ass. Women want an ass like that, and men want their women to have asses like that (yes, I'm being general here and not speaking for everyone, I know).

Kim takes those facts and runs with them, showing us the one ahem....asset...that she has that we constantly talk about - and we turn around and crucify her for it.

Sure, it would be nice to see Kim use her celebrity (which may or may not be earned) for something worthwhile. We'd like her to be a good person, or create something, or DO something with the celebrity that she was gifted.

And why, you might ask, does she need to go away? 

Because while she's laughing her ass all the way to the bank, she's also become part of the machine that perpetuates the shit-tastic treatment of human bodies (see my body image post). In fact, she has 100% embraced being part of that machine that teaches young girls that doing anything to look good is something you should do and teaches other's that a girl's body belongs just as much to everyone else as it does to her. Or even more so.

Kim K. needs to go away because her celebrity does NOTHING but set us back as a society and teach people that your body is NOT your own. It becomes a collective belonging. Kim K. perpetuates rape culture. Kim K. perpetuates eating disorders.

People like Kim K. need to just go away, and take their asses with them.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Dumb is NEVER cute. Stop it.

Thanks to a friend, (shoutout to Rebecca!) we have a topic that will probably just turn into a giant rant for me, but whatever, you guys signed up for this.

Ladies. (I say ladies because we are the ones who usually feel the need to dumb down our intelligence for the sake of other people.)


Never. Never ever.

Why do some of us feel that it is necessary to play dumb to attract other people we want to date?

Why do some of us feel the need to "dumb ourselves down" around other women?

Because dumb is easy. 

It's easy to get along with, it's easy to deal with, it's easy to be around.

People don't have to put any work into dating you, grabbing your attention or being your life. That's a problem. People should have to put effort into their relationships, either intimate ones or friendships.

If you feel like you need to pretend to be dumb in order to attract that person you're interested in, then chances are that person is not for you.

You shouldn't be ashamed of your intelligence. If you're smart, then be smart! The people around you who care about you will appreciate that you're being honest with who you are.

Men don't do this. (And I don't mean men as in "men do this and boys do that" I mean men as in those who are male, either born that way or identify that way.)

And we shouldn't either. It's insulting to yourself and everyone around you when you do it.

The reason why the people in this video act stupid and ditzy when asked to do things "like a girl" is because we perpetuate it. We allow ourselves to be viewed that way. WE allow ourselves to act that way.

Maybe it's a self esteem thing. Maybe some people have been told so many times for so long that they are really dumb. That they are stupid and worthless.

So they act stupid because they think that's who they are. THAT'S BULLSHIT TOO.

It's not who you are.

Acting dumb isn't cute. It's not attractive, nor is it funny. It's hurtful. It's a setback. It makes people think you're simple and don't deserve the respect that they would give someone who doesn't act like that. Instead you just get the pat on the head like a child would.

Either way, continuing to do it doesn't help anyone view us as the strong, smart, badass women that we are. Which sucks.

Acting stupid to get people's attention means you're selling yourself short. Your mind isn't something to be bartered, or something you can trade off in order make someone like you.

If you're afraid that people will feel intimidated by your brain, then screw 'em. You didn't need them anyway.