Letter #1

For those of you who do not know, I am moving to Chicago this fall. With that, I have decided to do an installment of letters to members of my family. They will be somewhat personal, but I believe that many of you will be able to relate. So, here we go.

To my dad, the one that currently resides many, many hours away.

Thank you for teaching me the pain of distance. I know that sounds a bit aggressive, but I don’t mean it that way. Although you were not exactly there to raise me, your absence was able to teach me many valuable lessons.

After the divorce, I became aware that love does not always last, and therefore I should be cautious of the relationships I am in.

During our brief tradition of Wednesday night dinners, you taught me to never work in a job that makes me unhappy. It creates awkward silences and stress – a combination that no one should have to encounter.

When you left for the first time, you headed out to Thailand. You taught me that sometimes people need to get away to find out who they really are, and you showed that it was okay.

You went to Thailand a few times. Each time, I learned how to create a relationship with someone very far away.

When I told you I was in therapy during one of your trips home, your silence taught me that you don’t have to speak in order to understand.

When you left the second time, you moved to South Africa. That was when I learned that it is very easy to become disconnected with someone you were once very close with. I also learned that time zones are kind of a b*tch.

When you came back, I learned that it is possible to pick up broken pieces and put them together again. Certain relationships can withstand the test of time.

When you left for good, you moved away to California. When you broke the news, I learned what it felt like to have your heart shattered into millions of pieces. I learned that even when you are surrounded by people who love you, you can still feel alone.

Now that I am older, I know that it is not your fault that you had to leave all of those times. I understand that you needed to leave in order to discover who you really were and you needed to do what was best for you.

I know that you needed to hear this a long time ago, but I am proud of you. Both of us are human, both of us make mistakes, and I hope to see you back home one day.

Thank you so much for everything, even though you did not know what you did for me.

I forgive you.

Love,

Katelyn

Baltimore: the purge

If any of you have been watching the news lately, you would have seen that Baltimore has basically gone up in flames. Protests for a young man, Freddie Gray, who died in police custody have turned extremely violent. Simple marching has escalating to the looting of stores, throwing bricks at police and journalists, setting buildings on fire….. some of these events can be seen from the pictures below, which have been taken from cnn.com.

  

These pictures show unrest in all possible ways. It is obvious that residents of Baltimore are outraged with their police force, which possibly has stemmed from the recent protests for men such as Mike Brown and Eric Garner. However, it is also obvious that within these riots is pure violence. These photos show rage, confidence, a sick determination to overcome…. but overcome what? By hurting other residents of Baltimore, what are these riots achieving?

The people rioting and hurting the innocent are the same ones fighting for equality, and losing. The people destroying stores and police cars are the same ones preaching the words of MLK. The people breaking glass and disrupting neighborhoods are the same ones begging for peace. If that isn’t counterproductive, I don’t know what is.

Equality is not considered an eye for an eye or getting even, it is simply just being respected as the same. Killing a police officer for every black man who has been a victim of police violence will not create a world of peace. Basing this entire issue on race will not bring us all together.

I do not support police because I am white.

I am not against the Black Lives Matter movement just because I support police.

I am simply against corruption and for human rights.

I am not embarrassed to love myself, and you shouldn’t be either

As I sit here in this coffee shop, drinking chai tea and looking at the people sitting around me, I quickly notice the diversity that surrounds me. There is an older woman next to me who looks to be in her late 40’s doing school work. A little bit farther, there is a black girl scrolling through Twitter. To the right of her, an Indian boy listening to music, mouthing out the words while looking through a textbook. Next to the door, a white girl who biked here, drinking a frozen mocha and looking out the window. We are all different, and we may have nothing in common except the fact that we all happen to be at Biggby Coffee on this day. With that said, I cannot find anything negative to say about these people, and that is exactly how it should be.

Confidence is a hard thing to have. Nowadays, it takes real courage to stand up for yourself. Why is that? Why should it take everything you have to look in the mirror and say, “I am an incredible human being”? There should be nothing that stops you from believing that. Other people should not affect how you feel about yourself; their opinions should not dismantle your own. However, that is much easier said than done.

For a long time, I believed that there was some magical recipe for being beautiful. I thought that if I straightened my hair every day and made any cellulite I had invisible and wore really expensive makeup, people would look at me and think, “wow, I want to look like her.” As I grew up though, I realized that there is no magic potion that would make me beautiful. In fact, I began to understand that the only way other people will perceive me as a beautiful person is if I believe that I am. I’m not only talking about physical beauty either – I would have to believe that my mind exhibits something amazing too, which was very difficult.

That is exactly the problem. Convincing myself that I am worth everything and anything should not be difficult. I found a quote on Tumblr the other day that actually presented this in a very deep way:

“At seventeen,
the hardest choice you should have
to make is what clothes you want
to wear,
or what food you want
to eat;
not sitting at the edge of your bed
at four in the morning
considering whether or not
your existence matters in this world.”

This is an issue so many people face, and it is one that often goes unnoticed. We are a generation of “I’m fine”, and “Don’t worry about it”, rather than “I need to vent, can you listen for a bit?” We are a generation that questions ourselves and whether or not we are good enough for the people around us even though we know that we will constantly disappoint ourselves by thinking this way. We are a generation that doubts our own beauty and worth simply because we aren’t up to date on the latest trends. We are a generation that blames society and by doing so, blames ourselves.

I dare you to look into a mirror today and tell yourself that you are amazing. Compliment yourself. Walk outside, think to yourself that you are beautiful, and do whatever you need to do. Smile at everyone you walk past and tell a stranger they look good. If you present an aurora of confidence, it will pass on to those around you. In order to breed confidence, you must start with yourself. Let me get you started: I am not embarrassed to love myself, and you shouldn’t be either.

Wait, should I be scared of frat boys?

I am a young girl moving to a big city. This poses a lot of concern, most (but not all) of which lies with my parents. To comfort themselves and give me advice, these are the comments I usually hear about my future move:

“Don’t walk alone at night – ever.”

“Find a guy to take you to and from any night classes.”

“Don’t let a random guy pour you a drink.”

“Always be on the lookout, you never know what is going to happen.”

Comments like these have instilled a fear in me; a fear of what, I do not exactly know. The only thing that is for sure is that I am terrified to walk down an alleyway or past a man when I am alone.

I have heard so many stories about the “rape culture” at universities. The frat boy that uses and abuses the naive freshman, or the older guy at the bar that slips a little something into your drink as he brings it over to you. If you choose to report it, no consequences are put in place, and if you don’t, the abuse continues. That is absolutely terrifying to me. In fact, if I hadn’t had prior experience with tailgates and parties, I don’t know if I would even take the risk.

So why are girls my age so scared of boys? Is it because they are all out to hurt us at some time or another? Or is it possible that the fear comes from years of being told that we are going to be hurt by them? For example, when I was little, my mom never wanted me to go to the deep end of the pool. It was her biggest fear that I was going to drown. So as I got older, I began to associate the deep end of the pool with negative consequences – and then I started associating water in general with those same consequences. Now, I am terrified to be in lakes or oceans where my feet cannot touch the ground and I will cry out with fear if you dunk me in the pool. I think that this is sort of the same concept. We are told at a young age that specific, bad men are going to look to hurt us, but as we get older, we begin to believe that all men are like that, which of course is completely false.

Don’t get me wrong, I know that there are boys at universities and in the workplace who truly believe sexual harassment and rape is okay. I know that they are sick people that do not deserve to see the light of day. I pray that as I continue my journey into college, I do not have to meet any of those kind of people. However I also believe that we should be careful how we word things to young girls. I do not believe it is fair to tell them that men are looking to hurt them. I do not believe it is fair for me to have to be fearful walking back from class. I do not believe that it is fair to categorize males as those who create terror and females as victims. It could easily be the other way around.

You see, this is what feminism is all about. Just as I should not be scared to run an errand alone, a boy should not have to be a victim of skepticism. There should be no questions like, “Do you think he drugged her? I don’t know, he doesn’t seem like that kind of guy…” Men and women both deserve equal respect. No gender should be scared of what the other thinks of them, because that is exactly what keeps the gender lines so strong.

Rape-culture-pic

If you’re a fan – like my blog on Facebook!

I love when I see new readers coming to my blog, but I never get to see who they are! I created a Facebook page for Coffee and a Macbook, so if you’re a fan, like it! Feel free to post your thoughts on my writing or suggestions for what I should write next. I want to hear from my readers!

Link to the page is below:

https://www.facebook.com/coffeeandamacbook?ref=hl

PSA: You’re not gonna “catch the gay”

I go to a high school with over 6,000 students. This is great in the way that kids are able to make many new friends each year and there are hardly any of your classic “cliques”. It is not so great however, in the way that it gives room for many kids to feel pushed to the side, forgotten, or out of place. Until I became comfortable with myself and found my core group of friends, I was one of those kids, so I know what it’s like to feel as if you are just a walking body with no way to engage yourself.

It is my senior year now, so I have spent four years watching kids close themselves off from the world around them. I have found this to be especially true with students who have come out to be gay or transgender. As they gained courage to come out or went through the very difficult transition of publicly stating which gender they want to identify with, people around them quickly shut their eyes and walked away. Maybe it has something to do with my generation or the age of high school kids, but I simply don’t understand why so many people who are so close to me choose not to accept their peers. What are they doing that offends you? I’m aware that this argument is one that has been repeated too many times, but it is still extremely valid. If two girls are holding hands, does that somehow make you any less of a person for having seen them? Does it make you any less straight? Does it make you any less religious? In case you can’t answer those questions, I’ll do it for you. No. It does not do any of those things.

If someone has the courage to come out as gay, then there is absolutely no reason for someone else to ridicule him or her. Using the word “fag” in a derogatory way or treating him or her like he or she is not truly a man or a woman is the epitome of immaturity. If a boy decides that he is more comfortable as a girl, then you have two options: either stand by her and support her or pass by without saying anything. You have NO right to look down upon her or verbalize hatred towards her. With that, I don’t see why anyone would want to do so. How can someone else’s actions cause you so much anger that you feel the need to act aggressively towards them?

This rant was fueled by comments I heard today during class:

“He came out as gay?”
“Why would anyone wanna hang out with a fag?”
“I’ll beat my kid if he comes out as gay.”
“Is he going to start talking like a girl now and wear short shorts?”

I’m sure most of you can see the unbelievable amount of ignorance in these comments. Actually, I was so angry that these words actually came out of someone’s mouth that I got up and left the room. I feel bad for people like this. It is obvious that they have chosen a life of immaturity and stupidity. You do not have to support an act to accept it. All you have to do is end your negative comments.

If you have come out as gay or transgender or anything else and have a story to share, feel free to do so. I am open to listening and responding. I promise that you will have my unconditional support. If you read this post and realized that you may have been acting homophobic or transphobic or just plain mean, I suggest giving the person a simple apology. Sometimes that is all it takes to make up with someone.

I cannot stress enough how much equality is necessary in our world. We cannot achieve peace unless we all work together, so please, help me to help all the people around you and end the constant bullying. Speak words of love, not hate.

Prompt: What is in the sky?

Have you ever wondered what is contained in the stars above you? It was said in a legend long ago that each star was an ancestor; another said that each one was a king or a queen or a leader of some sorts. To move into contemporary legends, some say that the stars are other life forms living among us… watching us. If you asked a practical person, such as a scientist, what stars are, they would explain to you that they are simply just collections of gas in space.

I feel as though the question “what is in the sky?” is more complex than it looks. If you take the time to think about it, you will come to realize that many things are up above us. The first things you will think of will be the most visible, such as birds and clouds, or the moon and the stars; however there are also conceptual items that seem to be in the mass of the unknown, such as prayers, sorrows, wishes, and even a higher power who controls the world in which we live.

For those of you that believe in a God, you know that when prayers are said, they are always sent up – never down – because up is where the heavens lie, and down is where despair awaits. You also know that your God is far above the clouds, invisible to the human eye, way beyond where our galaxy dares to reach. To ask for a blessing, you beg the planets and the stars to align in a fashion that brings you what you wish for. Everything that you ask for is sent to a place in the sky with hopes that something miraculous will be sent back down to you.

As for sorrows, people often use the phrase “letting go”. Whether letting go is acted out in a physical manner, such as writing down your burdens on a Chinese lantern and watching it float on into the sky, or figuratively, such as taking a deep breath and allowing your troubles be exhaled to a place beyond your reach, you are pushing something away from you in an upwards manner. As people, we feel the need to have balance in our lives, and it is believed that the sky brings that feeling of relief to us.

If I can bring you back to the image of stars for a moment – have you noticed that the number of stars visible is different in every part of the world? In America, you see quite a few, yet in the populated areas of China you see next to none, and then in Canada it seems as though the sky is lit up with glowing freckles because of the millions on millions of stars that you can see. If one of the legends is correct, that the stars truly are our ancestors whom have gone before us, then does that mean that one area has more than another?

I don’t want to seem as though I am full of ignorance. I know that pollution and gasses and such affect the visibility of the sky above us, but just think with me for a minute; pretend those facts don’t exist. Perhaps the places with the most stars are where our ancestors feel the most at home. I believe that I would much rather look out at the mountains for eternity instead of a busy city.

So if you were to ask me what I believe is in the sky, I would tell you so much more than the stars and the moon and the planets and the birds. I would tell you that everything I have ever dreamed, every prayer I have ever said, every wish I have ever made at 11:11 and every burden I have ever pushed away from me. Part of me is up in the sky above me, as is part of every other organism here on this earth, and maybe after we finish our time here, we will be reconnected with our lost pieces up above.