Tag Archive | Change

Charleston Shooting: Appearance vs Reality in the US

As an American citizen living abroad, I often have an idealized vision of my home country. I’ll defend its honor when people verbally attack it, I’ll stand with my hand over my heart during the national anthem. I love the United States of America, but what I love I now realize is only the tip of the iceberg of a truly messed up place.

When I wake up, 4000 miles away from reality, and I read that 9 innocent people were shot in a historic black church by a white 21-year-old, I feel physically ill.
So many times before, we’ve seen atrocities where children get shot and students lose their lives. And for each one of those occurrences, I feel sick to my stomach, I wonder how it’s possible for a person to be filled with so much hate, how someone could so recklessly take the lives of innocents and forever change the existence of the families of the victims. Each time, I am angry and sad, but filled with hope that finally something might change in the consciousness of the American people, in our hearts and in our government, and that something will be done to stop these senseless killings. Then, I forget. It’s a truth that I hate to admit, but that I must. After a few months, I stop remembering what happened to the children of Sandy Hook and the people of Aurora, as the stories gradually fade out of the media. Discussion changes to the threat of ISIS and of Al Qaeda, to how we can protect ourselves from the foreign terrorism we so fear.

Well guess what. Terrorism doesn’t only come from the outside. The FBI defines terrorism as “the unlawful use of force or violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a Government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.” When Dylann Roof allegedly told one of the victims “I have to do it… You rape our women and you’re taking over our country, and you have to go”, he had a social objective. When he told a survivor “I need someone to survive”, that survivor was most likely kept alive to tell the tale of that horrible day and reach a wider audience. By killing 9 and provoking fear in millions, Roof was not only committing a hate crime, he was committing an act of terrorism. We need to recognize this, and stop thinking that the only terrorists are people from different faiths and cultures, because by doing that, we’re blinding ourselves.

I studied the fight for African-American civil rights in History class this year. I dissected the demonstrations of white racism and thought about how far we’d come, how reformed the United States was. I thought that the acts of violence executed today were perpetrated by lone madmen, and that the very reason we couldn’t understand and couldn’t explain them was because they were isolated. But sooner or later, I have to face the facts: if the confederate flag has been flying on the grounds of the South Carolina State House since 1962, it isn’t so much a symbol of southern heritage as it is a constant insult to the African-American population of the state. Racism is alive and well in the United States, and Dylann Roof, with his Rhodesian patch, acted because of personal convictions that were nourished by a discriminatory culture.

This morning, I watched the families of the victims make statements to the gunman. Whereas I felt intense anger towards this perverted assassin of a boy, the messages in the courthouse were those of love. The daughter of victim Ethel Lance spoke to Roof, telling him that “you hurt me, you hurt a lot of people, but God forgive you, and I forgive you”. The granddaughter of victim Reverend Simmons stated that “hate won’t win”.  These people have lost loved ones, and yet still they are able to forgive the one that caused the pain.

As I sat, head in hands, watching Roof’s expressionless face on the television screen of the courthouse, my respect for those speaking deepened, and I knew that what those families were saying was true: love will prevail, but not automatically or because it should. Love will prevail because we as a people are realizing that we need to remember, need to talk, need to fight and need to change our country. Let’s not let another horrific shooting slip into the darkness of forgetfulness. When Jon Stewart says that “we’re bringing it on ourselves”, he’s right. But it’s the “we” that’s important. If we can bring acts like this on ourselves, then we can change. So let’s.

Live long and prosper \V/
Yours sincerely,
The Mostly Confused Teenager

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Time Is Running Out

Well, not really. I mean time can’t actually run anywhere, nor can it suddenly die from a cookie overdose (sh*t happens), but you get the point. At the start of a new school year, I realized that I’m a junior, which means that at the current moment in time, I have less than two years before I go off to University and leave my home forever. And frankly, the thought of moving on with my life scares me a whole lot.

When I was a little girl, I had no concept of time. Some people, namely my mother, would argue that I still don’t, but it has come to my attention how much my appreciation of the timey-wimey wibbly-wobbly stuff has changed (DOCTOR WHO REFERENCE). At the age of six or seven I had no fixed timetable, no calendar to look at and remind myself that I had an orthodontist appointment the day before which I missed (Oops, oh well. *doesn’t care*). School was school, and it went on until my mom told me it was time for vacation and that I’d only come back in two weeks. I never knew that my last day of 1st grade was the last day, I only knew when I didn’t have to get up too early for my organism to handle the next day. Summer vacation was eternity, each day stretching out with limitless possibility, succeeding the last with equal importance. My mother’s birthday (the 22nd of August) which now seems abominably close to the end was just a random event in the long fabric of vacation. One day, it was time to go back to the world of books and number two pencils, and that transition was made without question. I was not in control.

As I got older, time started speeding up. I knew when school started and when it ended. When vacations came around I always looked forward to the first day of lying around in bed in a cocoon of warmth and coziness with glee, wishing the end would never arrive. During the summer I kept a conscious eye on the date at all times, measuring out the time I had left. Heck, I probably spend more time worrying about what things will be like when something ends than enjoying it while it happens.

Even though they have been filled with quite interminable math and latin classes, the last two years have flown by. On the first day of school you think; “Oh man this year is going to be soooo long, I don’t know how I’ll ever survive the boredom of lessons everyday. Better warn my unicorn to be ready each afternoon so that I can at least ride home in style”. And then, BAM, before you know it, you’re laughing and crying on the last day, swearing eternal friendship and wishing fervently that you were still the awkward new kid (although let’s face it, you still are and will always be, the awkward new kid).

This teenager has one terrifying question on her mind at the moment: if time has sped up so much in the past few years, where will things be at in, say, ten? Will a month then be equal to a day now? Does time keep speeding up until you’re whizzing around at the speed of a deranged giraffe? I’ll admit, I’m scared of what will happen. I guess that it’s important for me to remember that change can be good and that holding onto the past is not always the right path of action to take. Whatever metaphorical deer rush into my headlights, I’ll make sure that they’re all right in the end.

Live long and prosper \V/

Yours sincerely,

The Mostly Confused Teenager.

Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes *voice breaks*

Cookies :D

Cookies 😀

Sit back and listen to the tale of CT’s search for the Holy Grail. Um, wait no that’s not what I wanted to say, I’ve gotten too poetic-like after yesterday’s post. I meant “sit back and listen to the tale of CT’s botched birthdays”. See, it doesn’t even rhyme.

Ever since I was a little girl I’ve loved my birthday; it was always a day where I was the queen and I got to eat cake and open presents. I got a special birthday dinner, which, let’s face it, always consisted of pizza and everyone was happy, or at least pretended to be. I remember that my dad, who drove us the half an hour to school every morning, always fighting with me on whether it was better to have the windows open or the air conditioning on. Since he had control of the car he consistently won that battle, but on the week of my birthday, as a special present, I got to roll down all the windows and ride with my hair flying in the wind.

As I grew up things slowly changed, not only circumstances but people. I moved to Paris and those big birthday dinners weren’t really possible anymore. I still get to choose what I want but it has to be able to fit into our tiny microwave-oven which greatly limits the possibilities. My little brother and I evolved into teenagers and suddenly there was no assurance of a good mood on the special day. And then last year it all went south (I mean literally, the EABJM is south).

On the 5th of September 2012, 15 years after I was born, I found myself standing awkwardly in the midst of crowds of students who all already knew each other. It was sophomore year, the first day of school, and I was alone. I found the other new kids and started to panic when I realized that I was the only stranger in the group (–>Stranger Danger). I thought that maybe they all came for the same school but it was soon explained to me that there had been a meeting that all of the new students had attended, except for me. I wasn’t invited. Finally the headmistress (mistress of the head, sounds weird) got around to dividing us up into classes. Guess who’s name was never called and was left sitting on the cold hard gymnasium floor by herself? YES, it was me. If you guessed right, have a cookie, if you guessed wrong, do a math excercise. Mouhahaha I feel so evil, oh dear I’m choking. The result of this was that I went in late to my class and everyone stared at me. I tried awkwardly waving and they stared even more. It was a tough crowd. When it came time to pick up our school books, they didn’t have, of course, mine. When I told my French/homeroom teacher that I wouldn’t have my French book the next day she told me to either have it or get detention. I felt like crying. Luckily one girl saw my pathetic surface as worthy friend material and took me under her wing, although she talked so fast I couldn’t understand a single word she was saying. She’s now one of my best friends ever. All afternoon I buzzed around trying to find a way to get my books, which I eventually did. I’m just glad that that birthday didn’t serve as an example for the following year.

Yesterday, after my first (incredibly stressful) first day of school, when I got back to my apartment, my parents pounced on me and started singing happy birthday, they then asked if I wanted my presents right away or later. Looking at them in incomprehension, it dawned on me that they had gotten my birthday wrong. Frickin’ fantastic.

Now it’s early morning in France, and it’s officially my birthday. Happy Sweet Sixteen CT, let’s make it a good one.

Live long and prosper \V/

Yours sincerely,

The (finally 16 years old) Mostly Confused Teenager.

 

The Shining Dusk

Isn’t ‘dusk’ an odd word? It makes me think of ‘duck’. First sentence and I’m already going off topic. Crud. The Sun, our lifeline, our light, our heat; in a sense, our God. For me, the best, no wait let me rephrase that, the most flagrant display of that singular power comes when it goes down and the world prepares to go to sleep.

Now I could use the dawn as an example, but I’m not going to because let’s face it, I don’t often see the Sun rise for the simple reason that I like to sleep. On the other hand, since I don’t go to bed at 6 pm (or 10, or 12, or whatever) I do see it set. During vacation I’m sluggish during the day and it’s only around 5 when I feel the bite and crispness return to the air [what a strange turn of phrase don’t you think? It makes me want to eat air. Unfortunately it doesn’t taste like much, I just tried some] that my body jumps into action and I have to accomplish everything I wanted to do during the day in a few short hours.

I then start running around like the mad procrastinator that I am, scaring the cat to death and provoking the dog into chasing after me. Oftentimes I get my family to come out and toss a football or a baseball around just before my time runs out. No don’t worry I’m not planning on dying or anything, but once we’re shrouded in gloom the bugs come out and the general mood drastically lowers. When the world around starts sparkling and the moon, as small as a sugar ball (great, now I’m hungry again) appears in the darkening sky, we know we only have a few more moments left.

So we play until the Sun disappears over the horizon, taking the light and the warmth with it. In a matter of minutes a flashlight is needed to get back to the house safely without trampling one of Daddy’s precious plants (for which we would be, quite literally, never forgiven). A chill permeates the air and Lucy, who usually hangs around while we play, being a weirdly social cat, blends into her surroundings and becomes nothing more than a speck of darkness. On second thought she may just have chameleon-like powers.

When I was little I learned that when there was a beautiful sunset with lots of mingling colors that cast a glorious light over our house; Santa’s elves were hard at work. Here in the countryside we are often awarded these brilliant light shows, so I considered myself to be a lucky little girl, and would always wish all of the elves well. HA! So naïve was I… now that I’m older and wiser, I can clearly see that the elves work insanely long hours and that Santa Claus is (most probably) breaking the law by making them work so late. Not so sweet and innocent now, eh Santa?

Live long and prosper \V/

Yours sincerely,

The Mostly Confused Teenager.

PS: please forgive me if this post doesn’t reflect my usual cheerful self today, you should know that I’m writing for the perspective of a heartbroken Mets fan who spent a good deal of her night alternating in between uncontrollable sobs and bursts of anger at the whole Matt Harvey situation. *says a whole lot of bad words*