Costa Rica Update

Ok, now that it’s been three weeks (whaaatttt??), I am feeling like I should give those who are curious an all-encompassing post. I’m having a blast, loving class, sweating my ass off, and slowly yet surely getting accustomed to the Tico lifestyle. I got in late Sunday night (the 17th) and had Monday and Tuesday off to explore. The first week went by so slowly, to be honest, but I imagine that’s what happens when you are adjusting to a new culture and home. It’s been crazy. Absolutely crazy. I’ve flooded my kitchen, sliced my finger, had two weeks of freezing cold showers, and almost ran out of laundry because USBank hates me. But I’ve also shared in my first Friendsgiving, I love my classmates and my teacher, and I love discovering more and more that I like teaching. Two of my classmates and my TEFL trainer are from England, and my first week here I was watching Doctor Who, so that week I was trying to practice my Spanish and in my head all I wanted were some Jammie Dodgers and a fez.

I did have some flashes of worry the first week, about whether or not I was going to flourish here. It’s hard not knowing if I will have a job here or when I’ll get a job, but I wanted to take a risk, I wanted a new start, and here I am. I made it! Who cares what happens next? It will happen and I will learn and grow from it, no matter what happens. Pura Vida. 🙂

I love my apartment. It’s right above a cafe, and while I am just now getting warm showers, it’s a nice place, despite flooding the kitchen last Sunday in an attempt to do laundry. I was provided a washing machine with my apartment, I just have to wheel it into the kitchen, hook one hose up to a pipe, and hold the other over the sink for draining purposes, badoombah, laundry. Well, flash forward to my second week there. I’m working on my first mini-lesson, starting to run out of clothes, and I decided to do the laundry. I wheel the machine into the kitchen, hook up the water hose to the pipe, placed the drain hose in the sink so that it could drain, boom. Ready. Soon enough, the drain pipe was leaking all over the floor and the water hose just busts right off in my face a la typical Thursday night sitcom. And I was out of paper towels. I had to go out and buy a package of two paper towels but that didn’t even cut it-I had to let most of it dry naturally. I will never take washing and drying machines for granted again.

The next day I was feeling pretty domesticated after my first mini-lesson and was going to make some potato chips. I don’t have a peeler so I was, foolishly, using a small knife. I slipped once and almost took my knuckle off. It was like when you get a paper cut and you stare at it for a while to see how bad it is going to be. To be honest, I’ve seen more blood from a shave knick (one hit on the knee and all of a sudden its a Tarantino movie), but since it was on the knuckle, and the skin on the knuckle is pretty loose anyways, just being able to see five layers down was nauseating. Here’s an accurate depiction of what happened.

sketch1

You’re welcome.

So yeah, there have been hiccups. Moving to a new country isn’t as glamorous as people make it out to be. There’s adjusting, re-adjusting, adjusting to the recent adjustments, more adjusting, and then when you think you have it down pat, you have to adjust again. But it’s all worth it. All totally worth it. I’m learning lots about myself and where I want to go in life, but I’m also learning to live in the moment more. I’m hoping to receive my most recent paycheck from Planned Parenthood so I can start going on some trips soon. 🙂

Life is good friends. I’m trying to write more, but I’m keeping busy. I am done the 17th and then I probably will have the rest of the year off to travel and find a place to live and a job and all that fun stuff. Pura vida!

I also have a number you can text me if you want! 724-291-8083. I’ll answer only when I have wifi, which on the weekends is iffy, but during the week is pretty solid. Keep me updated with stuff in America!

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Si tu quieres

I’m going to try and make this as short and sweet as I can, while also making it not sound completely arrogant. Yesterday while talking with my therapist, as we were discussing what I’m doing to prepare for Costa Rica, she mentioned having people write letters to me before I leave, with their wishes of how they want my experience to go. That way I can have encouragement and inspiration from my friends, even when we’re in different countries. This will be a way for me to feel their influence in my life while I’m away and to know that even though I’m completely going alone, I’ll still have all my friends back home. So if you’ve wondered what you could do to help me in my journey to Costa Rica, this would mean much more to me than anything else. If you feel so inclined to write a letter (and I won’t be hurt if you don’t), you can either e-mail me one or send one by snail mail. Message me on Facebook for either my e-mail or address. As always, love you guys.

A Plea to My Christian Bretheren

Hey guys, welcome. Don’t worry, this is a safe space. Pull up a chair, let’s talk. Conversation is important, and I have a lot to say, but want you guys to feel safe. I know I come off as a raging green feminist hulk monster sometimes, but that’s just because I’m passionate about the issues, and once you know the issues, it’s hard to ignore them, so it’s hard for me to shut up. Not to mention, I’m Irish, so my natural two instincts are either: Fight or Cry. I try to only cry when I have a milkshake and I’m watching the Notebook, so a lot of what I post does seem like fighting (because it is, duh, Kate), but that’s because in person, I’m the least confrontational person you’ll meet. I feel stronger through writing, and when I see so many things just in one news day, the way I deal with that is by writing about it.

But let’s talk.

Pope Francis I’s inauguration felt like a breath of fresh air for this frustrated Catholic. Coming from a Jesuit family, I was exuberant and hopeful for the first time in a long time. I felt like I could finally get to a place where I felt safe within the Church for the first time in a long time. After high school, I was washed up in the resplendence and diversity of the world outside the Catholic Church. There was so much to learn and so many people with different backgrounds to meet. And after I was sexually assaulted at a party, I thought maybe I was feeling lost and hurt because I stopped giving my faith chances to be the healing factor in my life. So I made an appointment with a Sister of Mary who I had seen before and who I felt shared the same ideologies I did. The blame was put on me for what HE did to ME, and I left shaken and worse off than when I came seeking help.

1 John 4:7  Beloved, let us love one another,  for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows  God.

I think, for the first time in my life, I felt like I understood and even shared the same frustrations with the Church my mother also had. I mean, if I had to look through a mother’s eyes, who wouldn’t be apprehensive about an institution that openly welcomed my brother but systematically ignored me? What is it about my female anatomy that makes the Church think I could never have the same piety that my brothers in Christ supposedly have? By telling me I could never rise to the position that could be so easily given to a man, the Church is fulfilling its own prophecy. Who could continue to have faith in an institution that simultaneously praised the “feminine genius” while telling it that it could never compare to that of the “masculine genius”? Is it so hard to see that by praising a “feminine genius” but denying the right to ordination that one hand is reaching out to help while the other hand is pushing against so as not to allow that genius to really fluorish?

What’s even more frustrating is how I’m made to feel by my peers for having doubts. Isn’t questioning a part of life? A way to learn and not blindly follow whatever is being spewed at us? I’m made to feel like I could never make a difference within my own Church, because the moral code “will never change,” when the moral code HAS changed, and could change again. There was a time in the Church’s history where some enslavement could be seen as “just enslavement” if the slaves were treated humanely and justly, which is just like saying, “I’m baking you some cookies but you can’t eat any of them. …..Please.”

“You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must be the slave of everyone else. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:42-45)

Now I don’t expect the Church to change overnight, but I’m also not going to roll over and just accept that as the way it should be. I don’t believe the Church was meant to be a place where people who questioned or fought for justice were supposed to be told, “Well, what you believe is wrong, so either like it or get out.” An important part of the Catholic faith is the development of the conscience, and the consideration of the unique qualities and total personality of each individual. When addressing moral issues, it’s important to keep in mind the total persons involved and their experiences. Why would a rape victim seek an abortion? Well, it’s not because they’re callous and unfeeling. By judging their decision, you are not taking into mind the person who is involved, their feelings, their pain, their experiences.

Even to say it’s “immoral” to use birth control, especially if you don’t know the WHY behind someone using it, is irreverent of someone else’s personal health experiences and decisions. Why shouldn’t a girl who experiences such debilitating cramps every month experience some relief so she can actually go out and live her life? Why are her reproductive choices any of your business, and what is it to you if a woman decides she either doesn’t want to have children or wants to wait to have children? It is not a woman’s career to pop out kids whenever it fancies you or is convenient for you. If a woman arrives at a decision on her own accord, having talked about it with her loved ones, or even her faith leaders, it is no one’s business but hers what she decides to do.

“Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to cast a stone.”

So, how about this? We’re all sinners, right? Well, how about we stop pretending some people are worse sinners than ourselves? Let’s stop pretending like its our mission to intervene into the lives of other people and make rash judgments about their decisions. As my high school freshman theology teacher told us, when you point a finger there are three more fingers pointing back at you. People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. Our lives are all unique, our struggles vary, and our “success” as an individual shouldn’t be based on some sanctimonious piety/”holier than thou” notion. You can follow all the rules, but if you look upon someone with judgment, disdain, or harshness, then you are no better than the person you’re judging to be “so bad.”

Romans 13:10

Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

It’s the economy, stupid

Lately, I’ve noticed a Facebook trend (don’t know how recent it is but I have definitely been seeing a lot currently) of disparaging comments of people lambasting people on welfare, telling them they shouldn’t have so many kids and they shouldn’t be receiving welfare and that they’re all lazy and not as awesome as you are because you work hard and you are more financially responsible or some kind of magical financial expert all of a sudden because you have more money than a group of people.

Wake up and shut up. You don’t have all the answers. You don’t know people’s situations. You are not better than anyone just because you have more money than someone. Telling someone to “stop being lazy” or to “get a job” or to “stop having kids” just from merely looking at them in passing at the grocery store or whatever is not your right, not your job, and absolutely none of your fucking business and especially not a cause for you to step onto your golden soapbox and tell people how to live their fucking lives.

I don’t know if this is especially frustrating for me because by the end of this year I will have grossed about $11,000, just shy of the federal poverty level for a single family household. Yet I consider myself privileged because I had the opportunity to earn a degree and receive an education, I have a supportive family and I have an opportunity to get myself out of this situation. Not everyone has that. And I don’t consider myself lazy at all, and resent it when I see people who are supposed to very friends making disparaging comments about shit they don’t know a fucking thing about.

You work hard? That’s great. You’re financially independent without having to rely on help from family or the government? Good for you. Now shut up. Because none of that still doesn’t give you the right to insult or look with disdain at people who can’t live your lifestyle, who can’t afford the education you may take for granted, who can’t afford your lifestyle, who have to rely on checks to feed their children, who have to work 70-80 hour work weeks just to keep the lights on.

Earlier this week I had to sit in the dark because my power was shut off. I’ve been late on rent just about every month. I’ve had to pay two months worth of phone bills at one time just to keep them from shutting off my service. I have to sell furniture just to help me get to Costa Rica where I’ll only earn enough to pay rent for an apartment. But I can still come back home and get a great job. I will probably not have to worry about finding a place to sleep, where my next meal is coming from, or if I can get to job interviews.

Yet I still feel like a failure. I’ve hit the lowest point of my life, and I have it better than most. I feel like I’ve let down my family, friends who mean so much to me, bosses who may have believed in me at one point or may not have, former teachers. I’ve contemplated taking an easy way out, I’ve felt myself wanting to disappear and not have to deal with anything anymore and I’ve come to hate myself for doing what I believe I have done to myself and the people I love just because it really fucking sucks to be a millennial (or anyone) in this economy.

So before you start insulting people for having less or being lesser than you because of what is or isn’t in their bank account, just remember that at least they have a fucking heart.

#Tampongate from a Community Organizer’s Perspective

By now, most of you have probably heard about the outrage over Texas State Troopers confiscating tampons (among other things), but allowing guns as people lined up to enter the Texas Senate gallery. When I first heard about this, of course I was outraged at first. Why were tampons, and later, I found out, diabetes medicine, being confiscated but guns being allowed? At the insistance of Lt. Governor David Dewhurst, who expressed concerns about gallery patrons throwing them at legislators, State Troopers were told to confiscate tampons/maxi pads. Personally, I can imagine throwing a tampon, but never at someone (unless they had asked and they needed it). Maybe more like, into the trash or throwing it up in the air dramatically because periods are hard, man. Really hard.

Then it came out that other things were being confiscated, for very obvious reasons, such as jars of urine, feces, paint, glitter/confetti, etc. The Texas Department of Public Safety reported, “During these inspections, DPS officers have thus far discovered one jar suspected to contain urine, 18 jars suspected to contain feces, and three bottles suspected to contain paint. All of these items — as well as significant quantities of feminine hygiene products, glitter and confetti possessed by individuals — were required to be discarded; otherwise those individuals were denied entry into the gallery.”

Ok, ew.

 

OK, ladies. We all know that I pride myself on being a feminist and staunch pro-choicer. But this worries me. By all means, get mad about the Texas Senate passing a harmful law. You have every right to be upset. But throwing urine and feces at lawmakers you don’t agree with won’t make the law go away, and by doing so you are hurting the image of feminism. Yes, feminists shouldn’t stand down from a fight that wages war on their own bodies. Yes, we should act. Yes, we should shout and kick our feet because this law hurts women, and that is never ok. There is no reason not to act when you are upset, but there is something to say about the way in which you protest.

I am not an expert in these matters, I have only ever gathered in the gallery of a legislative building to speak one-on-one with my elected officials. I have not felt the rush of standing in a crowded gallery with thousands of others, screaming and hollering for justice. I can only imagine the power of that atmosphere. I do not fault those who wish to gather where laws are made in order to make their voices heard through chants, yelling, or testifying. This is a democracy and you should be able to participate, especially when there are laws that are being passed that will affect you. But I do not want to be clumped together with a group of people who think throwing feces and urine at lawmakers is ever the answer. That is the moment they stop listening to us. And there are many feminists, myself included, who would never use such a tactic.

Our first amendment right allows us to assemble and to make our voices heard, yes, and we should never fail to exercise that freedom, but as with other freedoms, we should practice this right with care. If we want lawmakers to listen, then by all means stand in the rotunda of your state’s House/Senate building and demand to be heard. Stay until the early morning hours if you have to. Join in with the chants and the shouting and delight yourself in the fact that you have every right to speak your mind and to let lawmakers know how wrong (or right?) they are. But nothing, absolutely nothing, is accomplished by throwing feces or urine on a lawmaker. Other than a stinky lawmaker.

As a community organizer, I know of different methods of taking action. Methods that I don’t claim to be more right or more proper than gathering and assembling, because one part of organizing includes reaching out to supporters and asking them to, in fact, gather and assemble where their lawmakers work. It should be noted that there is generally some training by organizers if this happens, but I do not know the protocol for larger crowds, like with what we’ve seen in Texas. After training, organizers usually step back and let the constituents have their shot at talking with lawmakers and making a difference. They usually urge the constituents to get their message across, but in a way that would not result in all participants being thrown out. That, I should hope, would include throwing urine/feces at the lawmakers.

It’s ok to be angry. It’s ok to feel like you have been cheated out of a voice or cheated out of a victory. That happens, it happens more often than you would think. But that doesn’t mean you should pee in a jar and throw it at someone you disagree with. When would that ever be an OK thing to do?

As far as the guns go, I think it’s ridiculous that they were allowed in. Just because they have a permit doesn’t mean they have good intentions. We all know that there are pro-lifers who kill abortion doctors (at that point I would probably re-think calling yourself ‘pro-life’) or who drive into Planned Parenthood clinics. If you’re going to be paranoid about women throwing tampons, why would you be less worried about, you know, a bullet shot at the head of a legislator? It doesn’t make any sense. If there’s a possibility of someone throwing a used tampon (again, gross), then why wouldn’t there be a possibility of someone shooting off a gun?

Furthermore, the confiscation of people’s diabetes medicine is not only wrong, its cruel. And I do not understand why that was even an option. And confiscating tampons/maxi pads that were unused and wrapped? Behind childbirth, sitting for hours with an unexpected period and no way to clean yourself or get rid of the smell or cramps or whatever, has got to be the most uncomfortable thing about being a woman.

Basically, the way this was handled was obviously a logistics nightmare. There should have been training for the Troopers so they would have a better idea of what to confiscate, something that is much more fair and practical. Allowing snacks for diabetics and allowing wrapped/unused tampons/maxipads (because what woman doesn’t carry an emergency pack in her purse for ‘just in case’?). Go ahead, confiscate jugs of urine and feces and all that matter. But if you’re going to confiscate any and all tampons, you have no right allowing loaded guns into the chambers.

It’s all about getting your point across, in my opinion, but bringing a gun or bringing jars of urine/feces is usually the point where I would stop listening to someone. I have seen comments of men clumping all feminists into a small group of people who decided to throw urine at lawmakers. That is not fair. It will be harder to get our points across because of that, just like it’s often hard for pro-lifers to get their points across when they advocate for killing abortion doctors or driving into health clinics. There has to be a line, otherwise nothing can be done.

 

Thoughts and Questions on Fear

“Is it useful to feel fear, because it prepares you for nasty events, or is it useless, because nasty events will occur whether you are frightened or not?” ― Lemony Snicket

When I was five I had this recurring nightmare that a T-Rex was sitting outside my bedroom window waiting for me. I would wake up in the middle of the night, convinced by the rustling and the light outside that it was actually there, and I would jump out of bed and into my parents’ bed and burrow myself under the covers, casually forgetting that my little brother shared a room with me. “He’ll be alright,” I thought to myself as my mother jumped when my cold feet touched her legs.

Of course a scared five year old’s mind won’t be easily convinced that it wasn’t actually a T-Rex outside her window, so my parents let me grow out of it in my own time, and since it didn’t even faze me during the day, they didn’t worry that much. Eventually something else replaced my fear of that non-existent T-Rex and as I grew older, I found other things to fear. Bugs. Boys. Bad Grades. Republicans (I keed, I keed.). It would be silly to say I’m not afraid of things, but I manage to live with them. I’ve fallen from 300ft despite being afraid of heights. I’ve given speeches in front of 200 people despite being afraid of public speaking. I’ve swam in the ocean, despite being afraid of sharks.

But lately I’ve felt scared of something new. Afraid of something I desperately want and have wanted for as long as I can remember, something I believe in, but now so desperately afraid that it will never happen. And not in a way that I will never be lucky enough to experience it, but in a way that my fear of being hurt by it will trump my desire to progress and to learn and to grow and to love. And it feels unfair. It feels wrong. But it follows me in my every so crazy dreams night after night and I don’t know how to shake it. It comes suddenly when I’m at work, or when I’m out with friends, or when I think about the future.

I don’t know really how to face this fear. I don’t think I can just jump off and challenge this fear by facing it directly. It will take patience, I think, but I honestly don’t know how to approach this new fear. I really don’t, and I think that’s what scares me the most.

Intra Ecclesia Paulo Salus Nam Mulieres

Ok, I apologize for the potentially bad latin translation. I went off the old Catholic teaching Extra Ecclesia Nulla Salus (No salvation outside the Church) and amended it to say: Within the Church, no safety for women (and you could also add the LGBT community, but for the purposes of my argument today, I’m choosing to focus primarily on the role of women in the Church, spurred from an interview with Frmr. President Jimmy Carter.

Here is the text:

I think there’s a slow, very slow, move around the world to give women equal rights in the eyes of God. What has been the case for many centuries is that the great religions, the major religions, have discriminated against women in a very abusive fashion and set an example for the rest of society to treat women as secondary citizens. In a marriage or in the workplace or wherever, they are discriminated against. And I think the great religions have set the example for that, by ordaining, in effect, that women are not equal to men in the eyes of God.

This has been done and still is done by the Catholic Church ever since the third century, when the Catholic Church ordained that a woman cannot be a priest for instance but a man can. A woman can be a nurse or a teacher but she can’t be a priest. This is wrong, I think…

…I think that what the major religious leaders say is used by others who discriminate against women as justification for their human rights abuse. For instance if an employer, who might be otherwise enlightened, if he is a religious person and he sees that, he might be a Catholic, and a Catholic does not let women be priests, then why should he pay his women employees an equal pay [as men]?

In the United States that prevails all over. We have an average now of about 70% that a woman earns compared to a 100% that a man earns for doing the same job. And very few of the corporate boards have I think 50% women. Very few of them. And of course we have a very few percentage of women in our House of Representatives and in our Senate. We never yet had a woman president, but I think that’s going to come in the near future. But I think in general terms this is a very derogating thing.

I’ve spent some time thinking about this, had some time to sleep on it and I feel ready to approach this issue calmly and with as much respect as I can give it. But I think President Carter is spot on in his assessment. This is not to say that the women who do feel safe within the Catholic Church are wrong, or that their experiences are somehow less valid because they are very privileged to be the lucky few who still feel welcome and equal in the Church. What upsets me the most, however, is when these women see their privilege as being the norm, and if other women feel differently, then they are simply wrong and they shouldn’t be listened to. It upsets me greatly as a Catholic woman, because I, unfortunately, have experienced shame and guilt after seeking guidance from a Church leader.

Months after I was sexually assaulted (about six months) and not seeking any help prior, I decided I couldn’t keep this on the back burner anymore. I had to take care of myself, and while I thought I was being selfish, and while I still feel selfish even talking about what happened to me, I feel as if this is pertinent to my argument. I sought counsel from someone I had seen before, a spiritual guidance counselor, if you will. This was the first time I had talked to any kind of counselor about my assault, and I didn’t know how to tell her what had happened. I somehow found a way, and crying, I told her about what had happened to me. She handed me a tissue and let me cry and we talked for an hour. At the end of the session, she stood up, walked me to the door and said, “I hope you’ve learned your lesson.”

I felt ridiculous. I felt cheated. I was angry. I felt stupid. I had let my guard down, shown my vulnerability and my confusion of what had happened to you and when I sought guidance from the Church I was made to feel ashamed and guilty, even though I had had no control over what happened to me. While I know that not all clergy members are the same, and some are better spiritual coaches than others, and I have met great clergy men within and outside of the Church. My experience is not everyone’s experience, but it is not unlikely. When I hear women saying that the Catholic Church is, actually, a safe environment for women and to say otherwise is either stupid or foolish or just plain wrong, I feel exactly how I did after that session almost a year ago. If you feel safe, good for you. But your experience is not superior, and your experience is not normative, and it is certainly not “the only way.” The privileged experiences of those lucky enough to feel safe within the Church should not discount or invalidate the experiences of others who have been made to feel unsafe.

I have my own reasons for why I don’t feel safe or welcome in the Catholic Church anymore, but there are a few ways in which the Catholic Church perpetuates an environment where women are made to feel inferior in one way or another. One of those ways is the Church’s refusal to ordain women into the priesthood. One of the arguments we’re used to hearing is “It’s always been that way,” but tradition doesn’t necessarily preclude possible changes, and it doesn’t rule out the possibility of ordaining women. The Fathers of the Church used obsolete and archaic ideas to support their position that women are inadequate to be ordained, such as the notion that God created women as inferior beings, and that men were superior to women in intelligence and character. Also they used the concept that God subjected women to men as a punishment for original sin and that women were ritually unclean (WO.org).

“And what about Jesus?” most oblivious opponents of women’s ordination will say. “He didn’t have any female apostles, did he?” Well, first of all, you’re not Jesus, so let’s not try and put words in His mouth, shall we? Furthermore, “Jesus’ not chosing any women as apostles does not mean he deliberately barred them from ever becoming priests.”

From WomensOrdination.org:

However, Jesus’ not chosing any women as apostles does not mean he deliberately barred them from ever becoming priests. After all he left many aspects of his apostolate to the future church; the writing of the New Testament, or the abolition of slavery, not to mention the full liberation of women which is still in process. The decision not to include women among his twelve apostles says nothing about women as priests except that Jesus, as a Jewish male of his time, knew that the custom and tradition of his day did not allow women to assume leadership roles. By following the prevailing custom Jesus was not precluding a time when women, along with men, could be ordained.

For if women were to be permanently excluded then why not Gentiles? Cultural conditions can change and with them the justification for barring women from the priesthood. The fact that women were not among the twelve does not rule out a day in the (near) future when women will be ordained as priests. Using tradition as a rationale for why a practice does not exist is no proof that it won’t become a reality in the future.

Rome also uses a male priesthood as the norm when it proclaims that women do notimage the male Jesus and therefore only ordained men can adequately represent Christ. However, they ignore the fact that the priest is not signifying Christ’s maleness, but rather his role as mediator. Women can, just as truly, signify Christ because they are equal in Christ.

The idea that “its always been that way so it’s ok” or “God made women and men differently” falls directly in line with douche-monkey Erikk Erickson’s claim that since men are made “biologically stronger” than women, then women can’t possibly be the breadwinners because that means society as we know it will crumble and the earth will open up and swallow us all, right? Well, while we’re waiting for that to happen (don’t hold your breath), here’s why those arguments don’t work for the whole “The Church is a safe place for women” argument. Not only is the idea that men are made different from women unfair to women looking to express their faith as openly and equally as their male counterparts, it also puts an unfair pressure on men. Like with the breadwinner thing, casting men as the primary breadwinner of the family unit places an unfair burden on the man to do “all of the work” just to have other people spend “his” hard earned money. Allowing women to have more of a role in “bringing home the bacon,” it takes away the pressure of the man having to do it all the time. By only allowing men to become priests, not only are we ostracizing half of the Church’s demographics by saying since they have boobs, they can’t possibly have as much faith as men, we’re placing this immense pressure on men to become priests in order to save the priesthood from dwindling down into nothing.

By focusing on the maleness of Christ, rather than the peacefulness and love of His words, we are assuming that women are not equal in Christ’s love. Simply because of anatomical differences. Last I checked, everyone’s hearts look pretty much the same (whoa, cheesy. Slap that on a Hallmark card, someone!).  So, how are we still supposed to believe that women are safe or seen as equal within the Church? With the arguments of “men are different from women” and “its always been this way” just perpetuates this image of women always being the players, but never a coach. Furthermore, the Church, in reality, is just pathetically clinging to gender roles that are no longer normative to today’s society. Gender roles have shifted-and they are not always so clear cut (and should not be for that matter). Pretending otherwise will just perpetuate the notion that there is an inferior sex that is unworthy of being seen as equal among their peers. By the way-this is usually when people break out the “Well why should THEY have MY rights?” bullshit argument. Sit down. Nobody is actually trying to take away your rights, they’re leveling the playing field by bringing those who have been cast down and raising them up to have the same opportunities as those privileged enough to have them (and isn’t that an act of Christ-like compassion? To advocate and fight for the vulnerable or for the downtrodden?). This supposed threat to your comfort and privileges is fictional, and a ludicrous reason to oppose reform. What’s comfortable isn’t always right.

In the end, the Catholic Church continues to remain a heteronormative boys’ club that continues to give power and privilege only to the men. Pretending that one’s experience of privilege and comfort within the Church is the only “right way” to feel within the Church is to refuse to listen to anyone else’s experiences-particularly those who are merely trying to obtain a respectful hearing within the institution and its theological academy. Turning a blind eye to the inequalities or the injustices of ANY institutions, is to ignore the pleas for change amongst those who are craving it most-and you’d be surprised by how many of those who have been cheated out of feeling welcome in their Church actually want to come back. Just because things haven’t changed for years, decades, centuries or whatever, doesn’t give us a reason to ignore the reasons for why change is necessary and that, yes, those reasons do exist, and we should not let comfort, privilege, power, or ignorance outweigh the experiences of those who have been made to feel guilty about who they are or what has been done to them.

It all boils down to this: we must listen as Christ would listen. To ignore the stories of others as false or wrong or not in line with what we believe or what we find comfortable is not what Christ taught us. He came to Earth to deliver a message, a message that was difficult to hear at the time, but it was necessary that He deliver it. Think of were we’d be if we didn’t listen (and you know, some people technically didn’t until it was too late [you know…there are always those people]) to Christ’s message of undying love, grace, and mercy. I think it’s time we start listening once more. This time to each other.

 

Ood Behavior

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In Doctor Who, there are telepathic humanoid creatures called the Ood-kind. They have tentacles on the front of their face, no vocal chords, and therefor communicate through telepathy. The Ood also have two brains, a forebrain in the head and a second hindbrain that was connected by an umbilical chord connected to their faces and held in their hands. The forebrain was responsible for thinking and storing the telepathic centers, while the hindbrain processed memories and emotions. If disconnected, it would lead to mental instabilities, including the common disease “red-eye”. When an Ood gets red-eye, and the symptoms included bright red eyes, rabid temperament, and anti-human sentiment.

If you’ve ever gotten into a political fight with me (or even worse-insulted a member of my family, which would trigger some REAL rabid behavior), you’ve probably experienced my version of the “red-eye”, and on some occasion its possible my eyes have probably turned red. Now, I’m not writing this to apologize for my beliefs. I will however apologize for the fury with which I sometimes espouse my beliefs in arguments or through other means. We all have our beliefs, some of them stronger than most, and we shouldn’t apologize for that, but it’s important that discussions about important topics remain respectful, educational, and with a clear message. I’m also not writing this for sympathy. Writing helps me reconcile feelings I just kind of look at and go, “WTF are you?”

If I’ve ever replied in strong opposition to something you’ve said and in a way that seemed hurtful to you, I apologize. Sometimes, if I’m passionate enough about the topic or if I felt attacked for my beliefs, I tend to react strongly. Almost as if I black out with rage. That mostly happens though, again, when I’ve felt personally attacked or I feel as if someone has attacked someone I love. Regular discussions don’t tend to faze me as much. Obviously the former reaction causes a bit of a problem and most likely tension between me and people that I care about. I don’t like the idea of political beliefs driving a wedge between me and someone I care about. Of course its easier to surround yourself with people of like mind, but easier is not always better, and you certainly cannot grow if you are never challenged. I agree that I tend to be stubbornly irascible and unwilling to backdown in a fight. That certainly doesn’t excuse rudeness, however. I don’t like to think of myself as an angry person, just passionate.

When, in a disagreement, I react strongly and it’s because I feel like I’ve been patronized or been made to feel stupid or ridiculous about what I said (and in my black-out rage moments I assure you, I do say stupid things), it is because I have never really felt particularly intelligent or smart. I feel like I’ve always had to prove myself to others, and in later years that hasn’t always been the case, and I’ve become more lax and laid back about silly things like that, and I have things now that I can be proud of. But it will take a while for me to teach myself to not always think those thoughts about myself or to not think that others think I’m stupid, ridiculous, childish, or whatever. When we create those pathways in our brain its much harder to create newer, more positive pathways than it is to keep forging the bad.

I don’t excuse rude behavior regardless of how I may or may not feel about myself, though. And I make a conscious effort to be mindful of the things I say and how I say them or how they might make others feel, because I know what it’s like to be on the other end of hurtful words. But I guess that’s what life is for-to always be learning things about yourself and other people, and always keeping in mind that others might be feeling the same pain that you are, or that your pain doesn’t give you a reason to lash out at others. I might learn after posting this that I made gramatical errors or that I didn’t quite say something the way that I wanted to, but that’s how I learn. We all learn things about ourselves in different ways, and I don’t want to wake up one day and realize I’ve become the kind of person to be an incendiary or inflammatory debater that can’t be stopped because my eyes are red or I’m just spitting out words in a black out rage.

I don’t want to be an Ood, is basically what I’m trying to say. So air hugs to everyone reading this, and sweet Doctor dreams (or companion dreams for you men out there) tonight. Here are some GIFs.

 

Tootsie Roll Republicans and the Lessons We Learn

This evening I took part in an alumni+student career event, which was set up exactly like a speed dating layout. For five minutes, students wandered around the room to talk to the person representing a career field they were interested in until the cow bell rang, signaling the time to move on to the next career, a surprisingly accurate portrayal of what life is like for organizers and millennials alike. I was a little nervous at first, like I always am when talking to people I don’t know very well, but the students who sat down to meet me were enthusiastic enough at the beginning to keep the conversation going for the first five minutes. After that, most people who sat down only did so because I was the last one they had visited or they didn’t know what grassroots organizing was.

While setting up my table, which was basically putting down two Mountain Dew cans, I looked to my right to see the guy at the Real Estate table focused on setting out candy, which immediately took me back to my time as a field organizer for President Obama in Iowa when I was setting up for a organization fair at a Community College in Peosta. I had brought the usual table props-chum galore (buttons, posters, stickers, fans, you name it), information about fellowships, Voter Registration forms, and Vote by Mail request forms. Yes, I was ready. My years as a UNO College Democrat had prepared me this. As I was setting up my ‘Women for Obama’, ‘LGBT for Obama’, and ‘Iowa for Obama’ signs to the front of my table, two women who from the local Republican Party’s table walked by, side eyed my table (it was glorious and they were obviously jealous) and passively aggressively muttered-in a way that ensured I would hear, “The Democrats didn’t bring candy.”

It didn’t register right away. The woman at the Radio Shack table next to me laughed, the kind of laugh the girl who hangs at the outskirts of the popular kids’ circles hoping to get noticed laughs, and by the time what they said had become clear, it was too late to respond. To this day, however, I still dream of pivoting on my heal and waving dramatically, “OH MY GOD YOU’RE RIGHT I FORGOT THE CANDY!” and with a playful chuckle I would add, “You know, sometimes I think my mind is SO FREAKING LIBERAL it’s a wonder I can even get dressed in the morning, amiright ladies?! I mean, who in their RIGHT (*rimshot*) minds would forget the friggin candy? I’m calling my boss, telling him to pack up the office. This election is over. We know who won. When historians look back on this moment, they will wonder why one insignificant field organizer managed to forget the damn tootsie rolls of all things. Here I am with stupid VOTER REG forms and no candy! Amateur!” Naturally, this didn’t happen in real life, not only because of my consistently non-confrontational personality, but because, even if these women were twice my age, SOMEONE had to be the adult.

Real Estate, guy, however, couldn’t care less what I was there for, and I was OK with that, although a small part of me wanted to rectify my lack-of candy past (and present) and I would have been ready for it, too. Dammit, I would’ve. Instead, I passively sipped my Mountain Dew, my right leg bouncing up and down, already experiencing the effects of  excessive caffeine. Eventually students started sitting down at my table to talk to me. The first student who sat down did so only because he had been invited five minutes prior to the event and had no idea what he was supposed to do. We laughed about his casual attire, as I told him how I wished we could have dressed up in clothes indicative of our career (much like a kindergarten class, now that I think about it…), because I would have been much more comfortable in jeans. The student responded, “I thought you were a doctor at first.” And I know what you’re thinking and yes, this absolutely did go straight to my head. I straightened up and felt a boost in my confidence before delving into a brief synopsis of what organizing is.

Apart from asking, “What is grassroots organizing,” the question people asked me the most was if a political science degree was necessary to pursue a career in politics. “Oh, no,” as I laughed the way a jovial grandparent would laugh at that handsome Anderson Cooper’s giggles, “I’m a Spanish major!” In some cases, this proved to be distracting for the student however, with one woman asking me for advice on how to become fluent in Spanish. I felt like Lucy from Charlie Brown, expect I wasn’t charging a nickel (another lost opportunity, damn!) for each session. The second most asked question, and only because it was the same guy asking it three times in different ways, was “How do you get your foot in the door in politics?” After telling him three different ways: Volunteer, volunteer, volunteer, the message finally stuck.

Similar questions included, “Do you work for one person or several?”, “When do you work?”, “How do you conjugate ser into the pluscuamperfecto tense?”, “How do I get involved.” Before I describe how I answered the last question, I should let you know that lately I have been referring to (with slight malice but even more heartache) the upcoming inauguration of Mayor-Elect Stothert and the “what shouldn’t have happened” end to Mayor Suttle’s term as Mayor as “The Switch”. So when one student asked how he could obtain internships at the Mayor’s Office, I replied, “Well I don’t know if the Mayor’s Office is hiring summer interns right now because of,” as I paused dramatically for effect, “‘The Switch’, but you could always try the Governor’s office, Lee Terry’s office, Deb Fischer’s office, and maybe in the fall try the Mayor’s office again.”

As I was listing off the offices where this tiny, frightened student could intern, it finally hit me as I got to the Mayor’s Office that, “Holy fiery shit balls they’re all Republicans now!” And, there-to that poor, poor student-I made a declaration to work as hard as possible to make 2014 different. Fortunately for the boy, the cow bell rang and his turn with me was up, which was great timing because I had gone completely pale, my eye started twitching, and I began muttering under my breath.

While I don’t know what the students I talked to took away from our conversations, as each one took shape organically and in different ways, some people enthusiastic to be talking to a fellow Democrat, and some people asking repetitive questions about how to make it in the biz. What I made sure to tell them, apart from the leadership skills and how transferrable the duties of an organizer are to any facet of life, whether personal, professional, or otherwise, was that, since a huge portion of the organizer’s work depends so much on the help of other people, that it was important to remain humble, above all. Adding to that, I told the students that to be an organizer it was also important to be appreciative, and to always make your volunteers like they’re making a difference and that their help is invaluable, to always be kind (because it’s true that the volunteers will come for the candidate and stay because of you), to be encouraging and reinforcing of great work, and to know your volunteers’ strengths and to build upon those.

It doesn’t matter who you are or what your name is in the end, it depends on how you acted under the immense pressure that comes with being an organizer-whether you’re on a political campaign or an issue based campaign- and how you treated others. When it gets to be too much and you feel like you can’t take another hour of data entry, it will be your co-workers who hug you when you’re crying behind the office. Your co-workers will be the only ones who understand what it’s like to work on a campaign; the long hours, the angry voters, the uncertainty of what’s going to happen tomorrow that will completely shift your schedule, and the endless piles of empty pizza boxes everyone keeps tripping over.

When you leave a campaign office for the last time, you don’t leave the whole campaign with it. On your way home, as you drum your fingers away to songs that kept you fired up through the long hours, angry voters, and flaky volunteers, you might find your lips twitching stubbornly into a smile as you reminisce about things you found funny only when you were going on three hours of sleep and everything seemed to be falling apart.

You’ll find yourself missing the midnight basketball scrimmages behind the office that helped keep everyone sane as you worked well into the early hours of the morning. You’ll check the time neurotically and wonder when that volunteer is bringing in that lasagna for the office dinner. As you’re driving through town you may perk up because you think you’ve seen the car of a co-worker, and when you honk and wave stupidly, it will soon dawn on you that the person you thought you were waving at is now 500 miles across country.

When you find people at the bar who live in the state you worked in, you start drilling them about if they voted by mail, what county they voted in, and what their precinct demographics are. You’ll wake up in a cold sweat in the middle of the night because you convinced yourself that you forgot to prepare for a major event and to get yourself back to sleep, you’ll start counting voter registration forms, imagining pieces of translucent paper gliding into a box hovering above your pillow in order to lure yourself back asleep.

One day you might be walking down the street and see a flash of blue and you’ll follow it like a loyal puppy to see if it was a bumper sticker for the candidate you worked for. You’ll have to consciously stop yourself from talking in acronyms. “I worked for the IDP, collected 300 VBMs, and recruited 4 SLDs, with the help of my RFD and NTL. It was awesome.”

Somethings you might be happy you left behind. The volunteer who only wanted to bring in food and not knock on doors or make phone calls. The volunteer who never showed up or who showed up with a million irrelevant questions about what they were supposed to do. The county party chair who had plenty of opinions on how to run the campaign but never enough time to knock on doors. The long hours, the horrible diet, the constant turf wars.

But the things that will never leave you will be the most precious things you may carry with you, like the moments when your world was collapsing in on itself and your crew stepped up to have your back and save the day, and when you could return the favor. It becomes impossible to forget when your boss encouraged you to keep fighting when you thought you had lost the battle. You’ll miss taking trips across the parking lot as a group to get breakfast at the Panera across the way, the endless string of inside jokes and the volunteers who stayed for an extra shift to knock on doors and make phone calls. The knowing nods, giggles or eye rolls you gave to a co-worker across the office when a volunteer was doing something they shouldn’t have been doing will now be between you and your roommate (or just yourself in my case).

After all the conference calls, recruitment calls, persuasion dials, and one on one meetings, you go home at the end of the day wondering why you chose a job where you’re constantly surrounded by people 14 hours a day for months on end. Then, when it’s all over and you leave, you start adding up the value of your personal belongings because you’d give anything to have those people back in your life again.

You may never be able to adequately describe the work you did on that campaign to anyone outside of it, but in a weird way, you find comfort in that because when the world starts to crumble outside, you have a safe, secret place to retreat to and remind yourself that there was another time in your life when it seemed the world was falling apart, and you made it through that a better, stronger person. You can breathe, smile, and tell yourself, “I’ll make it through this, too.”

So to the new breed of organizers who are just starting to cut their teeth into this tricky business, don’t be scared. Four years ago, although I wasn’t your typical college junior, I was absolutely scared of what I was going to do (but that could have been because it was the fall of ’08 and I was scared of a possible repeat of the last 8 years of terror and incompetence). It wasn’t until I walked past the UNO College Dems table that I decided to have a go at politics, and for my first meeting I sat in a corner, staying silent and hoping no one would notice me. When I joined the exec board, my friend Niki Jordan worked very hard to make sure I had something to say at each meeting. Cut to me two years later, giving a speech in front of 200 people. Cut to me today, talking to complete strangers about this passion of mine and preparing to move to another country for a year. Organizing isn’t just a resume builder, it’s a million life lessons crammed into one job.

So just remember: be humble. No job is too small.  You can learn so much more on a school board race than you could ever learn on a presidential campaign. In politics, it’s all about who you know, and if you don’t treat the people you know well, you won’t be successful. Don’t be scared. There are people who are ready to get you started on this path and they’re excited to see you. And they believe in you and the power you have as a young person to help change the world (suck it, Bill O’Reilly). The world doesn’t end when you lose, either, it’s just a wake-up call to remind you that you’re human, you make mistakes too, but you learn from them and you move on. Better to have lost fighting until the very end than to have lost by doing nothing.

So go crazy, kids. And help us change the world.

Life is a Dream

“Life is an opportunity, benefit from it.
Life is beauty, admire it.
Life is a dream, realize it.
Life is a challenge, meet it.
Life is a duty, complete it.
Life is a game, play it.
Life is a promise, fulfill it.
Life is a sorrow, overcome it.
Life is a song, sing it.
Life is a struggle, accept it.
Life is an adventure, dare it.
Life is luck, make it.
Life is too precious, do not destroy it.
Life is life. Fight for it.”
Mother Theresa

I don’t know what changed in me. Maybe it was the upcoming 25th birthday. Maybe it was the seven months of desolate unemployment (permit me a skosh of journalistic flair, to paraphrase my uncle). Maybe it was the inevitable crushing fear of what happens after college graduation, a fear that was delayed when I moved to Iowa to work for the President. But in the past few weeks I’ve felt much more compelled to see the world, and not just in a flippant, “Oh I’ll get around to it eventually” manner. I’ve challenged myself to see and do as much as I can before my 30th birthday, not because I think life suddenly ends at 30, but because I think I still have so much to learn before I start settling down.

My aunt told me the other night she thought I was handling this period of my life very well, even in the face of being beaten down by people I had been loyal to for years, having to rely on my parents financially, and the insecurity that comes with endless job searches that yield no results. While I’ve finally found a job I really enjoy and am excited about, the journey to this point was absolutely challenging. In some ways it feels like the end of an era, but in many other ways, it feels like a new beginning (#anustart).

It’s possible that my recent yearnings to travel has come from re-watching episodes of Doctor Who, watching him get into all kinds of adventures, the Earth still standing because of him. While I know that there will be times when I will be travelling alone, and while that might drive some people crazy, I’ve always been enamored by the idea of the lone traveller. As an introvert, I do tend to enjoy my solitude once in a while, but of course have to balance that with surrounding myself with beloved family and friends.

If you haven’t watched the video about Zach Sobeich, then you should watch it now. When given months to live, he embraced life fully, touching those around him with his music, love, and beautiful, amazing spirit. Zach’s story inspired me, and helped me to come to terms with my silly problems and how life is too short to be upset or angry or bitter. We become stronger when we look at what is supposed to destroy us in the eye and say, “No.” Of course there were many successes in my early twenties, and I do not discount those, but I have always loved a good challenge. And just like Mother Theresa said, “Life is an adventure, dare it.”

So, life, I double dog dare you. Show me what you got.