My Boyfriend Wears Prada

And, frankly, I don’t know how to feel about it.

On one hand, it makes me nervous. I mean, clearly he comes from a very well-off family like he says, but… I have so many issues with spending that much money on clothes. Big expenditures to me are gaming systems and tablets and stuff like that. Not one shirt for $300. Granted, he looks absolutely gorgeous in it, but that’s not the point.

On the other hand, I have this strange feeling that I don’t know how to identify. It’s like I’m glad because, if everything works out between the two of us, and I really do think it will, I won’t have to be scared of how I’d live. I wouldn’t have to be afraid that we don’t know if we’re going to make it to the end of the month or we can’t provide for the family we plan to have in the (far) future. And that’s been a very massive fear for me when it comes to having kids. I know what it’s like to go without, to have to find ways to help out, to be the adult. It is such a huge relief to know that I won’t have to struggle for years to put together enough money to comfortably raise a child.

But it still bothers me every time I see that shirt in our closet.

Valedictorian Speaks Out Against Schooling In Graduation Speech

This was shared by a friend of mine on Facebook and, though I would like to rewrite it and claim the ideas as my own, I think this brilliant writer has hit the nail on the head with this one. I’ve been mulling over the educational system for a while, particularly with my recent inability to retain knowledge after being tested on it, and have come to pretty much the same conclusion.

Here I stand

There is a story of a young, but earnest Zen student who approached his teacher, and asked the Master, “If I work very hard and diligently, how long will it take for me to find Zen? The Master thought about this, then replied, “Ten years . .” The student then said, “But what if I work very, very hard and really apply myself to learn fast — How long then?” Replied the Master, “Well, twenty years.” “But, if I really, really work at it, how long then?” asked the student. “Thirty years,” replied the Master. “But, I do not understand,” said the disappointed student. “At each time that I say I will work harder, you say it will take me longer. Why do you say that?” Replied the Master, “When you have one eye on the goal, you only have one eye on the path.”

This is the dilemma I’ve faced within the American education system. We are so focused on a goal, whether it be passing a test, or graduating as first in the class. However, in this way, we do not really learn. We do whatever it takes to achieve our original objective.

Some of you may be thinking, “Well, if you pass a test, or become valedictorian, didn’t you learn something? Well, yes, you learned something, but not all that you could have. Perhaps, you only learned how to memorize names, places, and dates to later on forget in order to clear your mind for the next test. School is not all that it can be. Right now, it is a place for most people to determine that their goal is to get out as soon as possible. 

I am now accomplishing that goal. I am graduating. I should look at this as a positive experience, especially being at the top of my class. However, in retrospect, I cannot say that I am any more intelligent than my peers. I can attest that I am only the best at doing what I am told and working the system. Yet, here I stand, and I am supposed to be proud that I have completed this period of indoctrination. I will leave in the fall to go on to the next phase expected of me, in order to receive a paper document that certifies that I am capable of work. But I contest that I am a human being, a thinker, an adventurer – not a worker. A worker is someone who is trapped within repetition – a slave of the system set up before him. But now, I have successfully shown that I was the best slave. I did what I was told to the extreme. While others sat in class and doodled to later become great artists, I sat in class to take notes and become a great test-taker. While others would come to class without their homework done because they were reading about an interest of theirs, I never missed an assignment. While others were creating music and writing lyrics, I decided to do extra credit, even though I never needed it. So, I wonder, why did I even want this position? Sure, I earned it, but what will come of it? When I leave educational institutionalism, will I be successful or forever lost? I have no clue about what I want to do with my life; I have no interests because I saw every subject of study as work, and I excelled at every subject just for the purpose of excelling, not learning. And quite frankly, now I’m scared. 

John Taylor Gatto, a retired school teacher and activist critical of compulsory schooling, asserts, “We could encourage the best qualities of youthfulness – curiosity, adventure, resilience, the capacity for surprising insight simply by being more flexible about time, texts, and tests, by introducing kids into truly competent adults, and by giving each student what autonomy he or she needs in order to take a risk every now and then. But we don’t do that.” Between these cinderblock walls, we are all expected to be the same. We are trained to ace every standardized test, and those who deviate and see light through a different lens are worthless to the scheme of public education, and therefore viewed with contempt.

H. L. Mencken wrote in The American Mercury for April 1924 that the aim of public education is not “to fill the young of the species with knowledge and awaken their intelligence. … Nothing could be further from the truth. The aim … is simply to reduce as many individuals as possible to the same safe level, to breed and train a standardized citizenry, to put down dissent and originality. That is its aim in the United States.”

To illustrate this idea, doesn’t it perturb you to learn about the idea of “critical thinking.” Is there really such a thing as “uncritically thinking?” To think is to process information in order to form an opinion. But if we are not critical when processing this information, are we really thinking? Or are we mindlessly accepting other opinions as truth?

This was happening to me, and if it wasn’t for the rare occurrence of an avant-garde tenth grade English teacher, Donna Bryan, who allowed me to open my mind and ask questions before accepting textbook doctrine, I would have been doomed. I am now enlightened, but my mind still feels disabled. I must retrain myself and constantly remember how insane this ostensibly sane place really is.

And now here I am in a world guided by fear, a world suppressing the uniqueness that lies inside each of us, a world where we can either acquiesce to the inhuman nonsense of corporatism and materialism or insist on change. We are not enlivened by an educational system that clandestinely sets us up for jobs that could be automated, for work that need not be done, for enslavement without fervency for meaningful achievement. We have no choices in life when money is our motivational force. Our motivational force ought to be passion, but this is lost from the moment we step into a system that trains us, rather than inspires us.

We are more than robotic bookshelves, conditioned to blurt out facts we were taught in school. We are all very special, every human on this planet is so special, so aren’t we all deserving of something better, of using our minds for innovation, rather than memorization, for creativity, rather than futile activity, for rumination rather than stagnation? We are not here to get a degree, to then get a job, so we can consume industry-approved placation after placation. There is more, and more still.

The saddest part is that the majority of students don’t have the opportunity to reflect as I did. The majority of students are put through the same brainwashing techniques in order to create a complacent labor force working in the interests of large corporations and secretive government, and worst of all, they are completely unaware of it. I will never be able to turn back these 18 years. I can’t run away to another country with an education system meant to enlighten rather than condition. This part of my life is over, and I want to make sure that no other child will have his or her potential suppressed by powers meant to exploit and control. We are human beings. We are thinkers, dreamers, explorers, artists, writers, engineers. We are anything we want to be – but only if we have an educational system that supports us rather than holds us down. A tree can grow, but only if its roots are given a healthy foundation.

For those of you out there that must continue to sit in desks and yield to the authoritarian ideologies of instructors, do not be disheartened. You still have the opportunity to stand up, ask questions, be critical, and create your own perspective. Demand a setting that will provide you with intellectual capabilities that allow you to expand your mind instead of directing it. Demand that you be interested in class. Demand that the excuse, “You have to learn this for the test” is not good enough for you. Education is an excellent tool, if used properly, but focus more on learning rather than getting good grades.

For those of you that work within the system that I am condemning, I do not mean to insult; I intend to motivate. You have the power to change the incompetencies of this system. I know that you did not become a teacher or administrator to see your students bored. You cannot accept the authority of the governing bodies that tell you what to teach, how to teach it, and that you will be punished if you do not comply. Our potential is at stake.

For those of you that are now leaving this establishment, I say, do not forget what went on in these classrooms. Do not abandon those that come after you. We are the new future and we are not going to let tradition stand. We will break down the walls of corruption to let a garden of knowledge grow throughout America. Once educated properly, we will have the power to do anything, and best of all, we will only use that power for good, for we will be cultivated and wise. We will not accept anything at face value. We will ask questions, and we will demand truth.

So, here I stand. I am not standing here as valedictorian by myself. I was molded by my environment, by all of my peers who are sitting here watching me. I couldn’t have accomplished this without all of you. It was all of you who truly made me the person I am today. It was all of you who were my competition, yet my backbone. In that way, we are all valedictorians.

I am now supposed to say farewell to this institution, those who maintain it, and those who stand with me and behind me, but I hope this farewell is more of a “see you later” when we are all working together to rear a pedagogic movement. But first, let’s go get those pieces of paper that tell us that we’re smart enough to do so!

Erica Goldson

Reposted from: http://theyallmisunderstoodme.tumblr.com/graduationspeech

Just Like The Movies

You know how, in older mushy, romantic stories, there’s always that part where the girl realizes that the man who is way out of her league is not only in love with her but willing to do crazy things just to make her smile or something else that just seems silly because it never happens in real life?

Well, I have just been shocked out of my mind. Almost literally.

Actually, let me back up a bit. So, as you may or may not be aware, I just recently came back from a trip to California for my grandmother’s funeral. Adjusting’s been tough, but manageable. Well, last Saturday, I talked to my mom and she informed me that her mother, my other grandmother, was sick and they were scared it was serious. The thing was, I had to wait until Monday because that was when she was going to go to the doctor to get it looked at.

So, I waited. Monday came, no results because the tests that they had to run would take a few days. So, I had to wait some more and, by this time, I was quite worried. The illness they were saying she might have has no cure. In any case, I waited and waited and, today, during lunch at work, I called my mom to see what was going on, if the results had come back, and how they were doing.

What she told me was that the doctors are pretty sure that, yes, it is what they suspected and that they’d have to do a biopsy to confirm. The whole time she was talking, I don’t think it ever registered in my brain what it meant exactly. Like, all the little things that it would mean. I was going to try to get through the day without breaking, but I couldn’t. For the first time ever in my naval career, I was sent home because I could not work through my grief. I couldn’t just “suck it up” and keep going.

Well, this is where the story turns into something out of Hollywood. Almost literally, again.

My boyfriend, who’s almost finished becoming a doctor, himself, is having a friend from a very well-known hospital review my grandmother’s case. The man, according to him, is one of the hospital’s leading specialists. And, while this doesn’t necessarily speak well of the man I am so passionately in love with (yes, I will admit it), he isn’t doing this out of the kindness of his heart out of concern for my grandmother, though I do suspect some of it has to do with something I mentioned to him a while back.

He told me that he is going out of his way to help my grandmother because he can’t stand to see me upset like this. He said that what he gets out of this is seeing me happy again.

Oh, guys, I’m so mixed up about this. It makes me beyond happy not only that someone is looking at her case, but that it’s someone who specializes in cases like hers and is really going to be able to make a difference. Not only that, but it’s such an amazing feeling to know that someone you love cares so much about you that they’re willing to go to all that trouble over you. At the same time, though, it’s something that, with my self esteem issues and inability to accept or ask for help, I’m having trouble processing.

I mean, it’s literally unbelievable. That someone cares about me that much is just… mind-boggling. Add to that the fact that he’s actually able to do something to help and… I don’t know. I don’t know, guys. I think my words are broken.

Past That

There comes a point in a relationship where the giddy wears off. You’re no longer bouncing up and down in your seat just because he replied to your text. Holding his hand while walking or being just plain being together feels so natural you might as well have grown up with him.

In the past, for me, that’s where relationships ended. I was looking for a lasting giddy feeling, someone to make me constantly feel like I was losing my mind because they were just so amazing. I didn’t know what a long-term relationship was supposed to feel like. I didn’t realize that what I really wanted was someone to feel like family.

But I’m past that now.

I’m not saying we’re that level of serious to where being family has been discussed. By no means are we at that point. I’m just saying that I’ve finally realized that is what I want. I want someone that I can hold at the end of the day as a lover, a best friend, and a family member. I actually want that feeling.

You want to know the amazing part?

This is the closest I’ve ever come to that feeling.

Untitled

I don’t know where I’m going with this. Part of it’s venting, part of it’s just an exercise. I haven’t written anything in a while and this seemed like a good place to pick up again. Besides, I think this might have some promise.

 

Sitting back in her tiny office chair, she wondered how long it would be before he realized he wasn’t truly in love with her. She knew somewhere, in her heart, maybe, that her smile and sad eyes could never mean what a relationship based on friendship would.

Every time she saw the two of them together, she couldn’t help but shrink back and shy away from even polite conversation. After all, he was the popular one, the guy that might piss everyone off, but they all still loved him and the other girl was pretty and thin and social. Everything that he could possibly need.

She knew she was far too broken to mean anything to him. She knew the sudden tears for no reason, the ongoing battle with depression would drive him away. Yet, when they first got together, she’d let herself believe that maybe he’d be the one to stand beside her and drive the darkness away. Foolishly, she’d let herself believe that even she deserved happiness with someone.

The computer screen in front of her taunted her, the spreadsheet she’d pulled up hours ago still blank. She hadn’t even gotten around to formatting it for the data that needed to be entered in. The fact that her personal life was distracting her from work only pulled her down deeper into the growing pit of despair.

It seemed unending, the way her heart would just suddenly break and her world came crashing down. It seemed so unfair that her happiness was so fragile. How could it be that she found happiness to be such a struggle when it came so easily to the rest of the world? She wondered how long it would be before she caved in and went to see a doctor about her depression. It was her own stubborn nature that kept her from going in the first place. To her, seeking help and taking pills to be happy were forms of cheating. In her eyes, if she was meant to be melancholy, she would bear it with pride. She wouldn’t surrender what emotions were rightfully hers just because they were too heavy a burden. She would rather break into a million pieces than lose the pain that had become so familiar to her.

Tapping her fingers on the keyboard rhythmically, she tried to think of things to take her mind off her pain. She tried thinking about the orders she had to place, the repair parts that were scheduled to come in that afternoon, or even the mess waiting for her in her apartment. She had been so stressed that she hadn’t been able to do laundry all week and hadn’t taken out the trash at all. Take-out boxes covered her table and half-emptied soda cans sat around her desk where she’d tried in vain all night to boost her word count. But, lately, even her characters couldn’t help her through the pain. Every time she tried to make some progress, her characters seemed as dull and lifeless as she felt.

It felt as though nothing was going right.

Then, one morning, when she climbed out of bed, still blinking and rubbing her eyes, she noticed something that wasn’t there before. A single miniature sunflower sitting in a mason jar of water. Stretching, she tried to think of how it could have gotten there. Had someone visited her in the middle of the night without her knowing? Or had it been there the whole time and she simply hadn’t noticed before? Whatever the case, she bumbled closer to take a look at it. Beside the jar was a small piece of notebook paper that read,

“I am just two and two

I am warm, I am cold

I am lawful, unlawful

A duty, a fault

I am often sold dear

Good for nothing when bought

An extraordinary boon

And a matter of course

And yielding with pleasure

When taken by force.”

Puzzled, she read the little slip of paper over and over again. It seemed so strange that someone would leave such a challenging little riddle for her in her bedroom. Aside from the note, there was also the question of how someone would even get into her room in the first place. She kept her apartment locked and no one else had the key.

Immediately, she began checking her room for signs that someone had broken in. It frightened her that someone could get in without her knowing, while she was asleep. Though, when she finally paused to think about it, nothing valuable was missing and the only thing that had been changed was the note and sunflower.

Still, it sent shivers down her spine to think that someone had been there when she was her most vulnerable.

Regardless, she decided to get dressed and head to work. For a moment, she thought of calling the police, but, when she stopped to think about it, filing a complaint that someone had put a sunflower and a riddle in her room seemed a bit ridiculous. She slipped on a pair of pale blue slacks and a pastel yellow blouse that cinched around her waist and checked her reflection in the mirror. When she was satisfied with her appearance, she slipped the sheet of paper into her purse and walked out the front door, checking at least three times before she was satisfied that the door was actually locked.

At work, the computer monitor taunted her once more. This time, however, her mind wasn’t on the vast number of problems that typically bogged her down. Instead, she was trying to solve the puzzle that had been mysteriously placed in her room. She loved a good puzzle as much as the next person, but everything she came up with seemed off.

Before she knew it, the day was over and she was still no closer to solving the puzzle. Sighing in defeat, she slipped the paper back into her purse and grabbed her phone to call a taxi. After unlocking it, she found that she had several missed text messages, all from her boyfriend. Part of her jumped for joy inside to hear from him, excited to be able to simply hear from him. The other part, however, ached because she had a gut feeling the messages were telling her he wouldn’t be able to come over because his other friend, the cute, slim-framed girl, had asked him to go hang out with her.

Opening her inbox, she found that her fears hadn’t been unfounded. He said that he wouldn’t be able to come over right away, that something had come up with his friend and she needed someone there with her. Though it stung to read (over and over again), she texted back that she understood and to let her know if he was going to be coming over later. She hoped it wouldn’t come across as her wanting him to choose between them because it wouldn’t be fair of her to ask, but, secretly, she did wish he knew just how much it hurt her to see him so happy with another woman.

She sighed once more and started back home. The taxi wasn’t a good idea, after all. She needed time to clear her head. Time and her headphones blaring an eclectic mix of rock, pop, indie, dubstep, and J-pop. The music consumed her as she walked home and, though she hadn’t completely forgotten her heartache, it had faded into a dull background pain, like being sore after a good workout.

When she settled into her room, she noticed something peculiar once more. The mason jar now had two sunflowers and another tiny piece of notebook paper. This time, it simply read, “Open the door.”

Curious, but frightened, she crept to the door and slowly opened it. There at the door was her boyfriend, holding a single sunflower in his hand and smiling warmly. Her heart pounded, both from confusion and happiness at having him come home sooner than expected. She embraced him tightly, however, and tried for that one moment to forget that she was still emotionally bereft.

“I’m sorry,” he said, when she finally let go. “I didn’t realize just how much I’d hurt you by being with her. I just wanted to make sure she was ok, you know?”

Her lip quivered and her heart felt like it was going to leap out of her throat and run away forever. She couldn’t stop the tears that were coming and knew she was going to say something she’d regret.

“I-I’m the one who should be apologizing,” she replied. “I shouldn’t be so upset, but I am. And I’ve made you feel bad even though you’ve done nothing wrong. I just sometimes feel like you’d be happier with her. I mean, you hang out with her all the time and everything about you two says that you’re dating. It doesn’t feel like we’re in a relationship at all! And I know that we have to keep it quiet for now. I know there’s no avoiding having to keep it a secret. But I just wish it felt like I was the one you wanted to be around, not her.”

Her boyfriend remained silent for a while and she felt her heart break even more. How could he hear her say those things and say nothing? Did that mean he had no intention of even acknowledging her feelings? Why wouldn’t he say anything?

“Did you figure out the answer?” he asked quietly. She shook her head, somewhat outraged that he thought a puzzle was more important than the problem they were facing. “Did you even try?”

“Of course I did!” she answered bitterly. “I sat at my computer all day trying to figure it out.”

Just then, he placed a hand on her shoulder and gently kissed her cheek. She tensed, thinking he was trying to seduce her to make her forget about the other woman.

“What was that all about?” she asked and he smiled.

“The answer.”

“A kiss? What does that have to do with anything?”

“I know you’ve been worried. You think I don’t see you hurting when the three of us hang out, but I do. I left that riddle because I know how much you love a puzzle and because I know how smart you are. I thought you would figure it out.” He sighed. “I left that riddle hoping you would realize it was from me. Because you’re the only woman I want to kiss. You’re the only one I want to hold at night. And, most of all, I want you to know that I’m here for you even when you don’t see me. Just because I feel responsible for someone else doesn’t mean I love you any less.”

Thank You~!

Somehow, while I was away, I managed to get to 100 total likes on my posts! When I first saw it, I couldn’t believe it. I mean, me? With that many likes? Naw… It couldn’t be, right?

But all of you who’ve been following my ramblings, listening to me talk about all sorts of nonsense, you’re the ones who’ve got me to this point. Thank you so much! It makes me feel much better just knowing there are people out there listening to what I have to say, you know? Do you ever get that way, too?

Alrighty, so, here’s my update for the weekend. I’ve pretty much moved in with my “boyfriend” (he apparently dislikes being labeled as such, but more because he hates labeling people in general). We just got a new TV (which is awesome, by the way) and a PS3 with a handful of new games plus what he has on his account. It’s been fun, especially because I surprised him (and I use the term very loosely) with the new Tomb Raider game, which he’s been playing almost nonstop since we got everything set up last night. I got a new RPG, Atelier Ayesha, which has been interesting. And, by interesting, I mean there are irritating voices and a very slow beginning.

The only problem with my moving in has been that we do have to spend time apart during the week. It’s only because there’s a level of professionalism we need to keep at work and, more importantly, transportation issues. Neither of us has a car right now and taxis get expensive after a while, so we’ve been restricted to walking, hitching a ride with other people on the ship, or giving in and getting a cab. I try not to go for taxis as much as possible, mostly because I just don’t like to rely on them after one left me hanging all morning (did you know there are people who STILL don’t own cell phones? #FirstWorldProblems)

Well, now that I think about it, I guess it really isn’t a problem. I just have to learn how to deal with it and use me time again. Which is weird because we pretty much smothered each other in the beginning. I don’t know how many other couples do that and, frankly, I don’t really care. I just want this to work. Which, for me, means I need to have time to devote to my physical fitness (the PRT- physical readiness test- is just around the corner), studying for ESWS (Enlisted Surface Warfare Specialist), and just taking care of myself as a person.

It’s weird, but I’m starting to see myself as someone of worth. Is it through the number of likes I’ve gotten here? Partially. But I think it’s more the way I’ve been able to rationally organize my thoughts here while still keeping myself true to what I’m feeling. It’s making me a better person, being able to both recognize and categorize my emotions without cheapening them or pretending they’re something they’re not. There’s something truly liberating about being this way and I don’t plan to stop here. This is just the beginning.

I’m going to keep writing, keep drawing, keep thinking, and start doing. And I hope to keep seeing you along the way~! <3

On Friendship

I’ve been thinking a lot lately. Typically for me, that means the smoke detectors are going off and I should stop, drop, and roll, but, this time, I’ve managed to bypass that bit.

I have a lot of friends. Most of them aren’t near me and that makes living a normal life difficult. But there are some things about friendship that I’ve realized and I thought it might behoove me to share. Because sharing is caring, right?

So, first on the list.

Being friends doesn’t mean you trust them with everything.

I have a great number of friends that I simply cannot tell everything to. They’re gossipers and, while I understand and accept this about them, I don’t like personal things being spread around. I know lots of people who seem to think that being friends means that you trust them and can open up and tell them everything and, for a while, I thought that was true.

But I’ve realized, through a friend of mine that I’ve found I can’t trust, that I can still be friends with a person like that. I could never tell her about who I’m seeing or how I feel about someone else without her telling the world about it. But, and this might just be that I’m naive and don’t know any better, but I still like her as a person. She’s fun to be around and I care about her and her family.

Friends may come and go, but that’s no reason to stop trying to make new ones.

This has been a toughie for me and it still is. I’m in a highly transient job, being in the Navy and all. I move a lot. And I made friends a while back in Great Lakes, IL, friends that I wish I could still see because we were always able to have such wonderful fun together. But, when I transferred and they ended up on other sides of the world, I felt like there was little point in trying to make friends because they’d end up leaving or I would. And making friends just to lose them was about as appealing as sticking my head in a heated oven and slamming the door shut.

But, lately, I’ve begun to see that it’s not about that at all. Just because we don’t see each other doesn’t mean we’re not friends anymore. Just because they have other friends doesn’t mean I mean any less to them. If we aren’t always together, that’s fine. Best friends forever doesn’t have to apply to every single friendship.

 

I swear, I thought I had more to it than this. Maybe it’s just because they’re both very BIG realizations…