Tag Archive | Sadness

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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Don’t cry for me, high school

graduationThere are two days left until graduation. Two days of the same classes that we’ve been subject to all year, with the same teachers who have drowned on about Kant and Keynes for hours that have seemed like days. This week is different though, tinged with a sort of pre-nostalgia. When we put on those hats that make it look like one has a table on one’s head and the robes one gets at the hairdresser’s, we’ll be closing the door on one stage of our lives and saying hello to college all-nighters and disgusting frat parties.

Now before y’all get teary-eyed on me (yes, I’m flattering my writing, deal with it), you should know that French graduation, at least at my school, is a complete sham. It’s so early in the year only so that the International Baccalaureat kids (who are now on summer break, bastards) can go on vacation. Which means that while they waltz off to their expensive tropical destinations and sip those diabetes-inducing cocktails with little pink umbrellas in them, us normal students get to go back to class so that the teachers who have only taught a quarter of what they’re supposed to on the year can jam 3/4 of the program into a week and then have the nerve to tell us that we’re “not going to fail final exams”.

Every kid I’ve ever wanted to punch here, every adult who made me wish arrest for money laundering on them, every failed test that I quietly and unceremoniously set fire to (after having examined and learned from my mistakes of course, geez mom) is soon gonna eat my dust as I jet off to the land of capitalism and bacon.

Still, I’m getting graduation goggles. Why? Because for every five assholes at this school, there’s been someone to squeeze your hand and say “just keep swimming” when you’re staring at that despairingly low grade and wondering if it’s time to just give up and flush your dreams down the toilet already. Because for every five teachers who made you come in at 8am on a Saturday to take a four hour test, there’s that one who squealed and hugged you ’til you needed CPR (preferably administered by a hot shirtless dude, obviously) when they learned that you got accepted to your first-choice university.
The way your face lights up when you spot a friend in the hallway that you feel like you haven’t seen in weeks even though you saw her yesterday, the contests to see who can eat their slice of pizza the fastest, the lazy afternoons after class spent lying on the grass staring up at the Eiffel Tower eating way too much ice cream… These are the things I am going to so desperately miss. Because as cheesy as it sounds, they are the reasons that I painfully convinced myself to not smash the 7am alarm clock all these years.

Ladies and gentledudes, Classes of 2015 around the world, we did it. Props to our brains for not going through with the idea that they would much rather be potatoes.

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

Music and Me

musicThe setting… CT’s horribly long and difficult math test:
“The distance in between two points in a plane is V(X2-X1)+(Y2-PRINCE ALI, MIGHTY IS HE-Y1). Crap, what’s the question again?”
The result of my best friend putting Prince Ali in my head right before a math exam… An F.
Ok so maybe I would have still gotten an F without having a extraordinarily repetitive song playing over and over again, turning  my cognitive functions (aaaaah, functions! They’re following me everywhere!) to mush, but the idea is there! Thanks Washington, love you tons. And no, I’m not criticizing the government (although I risked not getting my passport on time to go do a college tour in the States on Wednesday because you couldn’t get your shit together about Obamacare), I call my best friend Washington. Deal with it.

I started listening to music when I was a little girl and my parents would put on CDs of classical music during dinner. Yes, CDs! I feel so old. On special days we would get to listen to a jazz record, at which point my brother and I always got super excited and would run around the house as if we were on drugs. The unfortunate corollary of this jazz disk was the fact that we couldn’t actually sit still while we ate; we were obliged to dance around in our chairs, shouting the words to Ella Fitzgerald’s “Let’s do it” (um..) at the top of our lungs.

For a long time, jazz and classical were the only kinds of music that I knew. The only other novelty came from the numerous musicals that we watched after dinners on weekends (I know Annie’s Tomorrow by heart. HA. You don’t feel bad that I do and you don’t? Oh, well, I stand corrected). Then came the era of the boom box. When we got it for Christmas one year, it was like a gift from a higher power. It could play CDs, tapes and the radio. We were over the moon. and that’s how I got my introduction to pop music. Actually, the first song that we ever heard on the radio was a Lady Gaga song. Harmless, say you? Think again. It was one of her more… um… ribald pieces. I’ll let you imagine my mom’s face when we ran up to her, two little kids, and yelled “I WANNA TAKE A RIDE ON YOUR DISCO STICK”. Yeah, it was that bad. From then to basically today I have avoided talking about music with my parents.

Since that awkward time, I’ve branched out into other types of music. For a while I listened to only music from the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s because I had to supply it for my mom to sing to in the car. I have over three hours of Queen, the Rolling Stones and the Beatles (among others) on my phone, and I still listen to them fairly regularly. I’ve discovered the genius of Tom Lehrer, the awesomeness of Imagine Dragons and the Artic Monkeys, the catchiness (made up word alert!) of Coldplay and Green Day… And I can only hope that my horizons will keep expanding. Isn’t that a weird turn of phrase?

Music is something that lets me escape, transfer my thoughts to the song and/or melody instead of concentrating on the depressing details of my teenage life. This being said, I oftentimes find that a song is directly applicable to something that I’m going through. Ah yes, the “I am the centre of the Universe and everything is about me” syndrome. But nonetheless, if I’m feeling sad I may be unable to listen to a happy song and vice versa, it really all depends on my mood.
I sense that I’m hitting a writer’s wall here so I’ll stop while whatever shred of dignity I have left is still intact.

Live long and prosper \V/

Yours sincerely,

The Mostly Confused Teenager.

A Festival of Sobbing

I’m a very emotional person. <– that sentence is very hard for me to utter, because it’s like admitting that I’m not totally in control of my feelings, and as you might have gathered, I tend to be a control freak. The fact that I even have feelings may come as a shock to some people, because from the outside I sometimes look like an emotionally unavailable zebra (is that an insult to zebras? If you are a zebra and are offended, please accept my sincere apologies.).

The fact that I retreat to my inner protectivd shell as soon as anything bad happens can be taken badly. Last year my uncle was in a horrendous accident and for a week we hoped and prayed that he would stay alive. My mother and my brother both cried when they heard; I stayed silent, seemingly unperturbed. I got a couple concerned looks from my dad as I continued to act as if everything was normal. But inside, inside I was on fire, hurting in every sense of the term. However I did recognize that I needed to open up somewhat and promised myself that when I started my new school in September, I would be more liberal with my feelings. Thinking back now, the only time I really lost it when I was little was each year at Christmas when we watched Frosty the Snowman. Even though he comes back, it’s still heartbreaking to see him melt. To this day I have trouble with snowmen.

When my grandfather passed away in the spring, I realized that I was evolving. I was crying, and it felt bloody good. Of course I only allowed myself to show my grief when the rest of my family wasn’t around for fear of increasing theirs, but I was mourning in my own way. Now I’ve let myself take a lot more freedom with my emotions, letting my tears bubble over and sobbing hysterically when I watch the end of Star Wars Episode XI (can you believe they’re making another one? Geez.), alone in my room, surrounded by tissues.

I also, like most people, can cry of happiness. That kind of crying is very much easier for me to do in front of other people for one reason or another. For example on my birthday this year my awesomesauce friends, the best in the whole Universe (sorry if you thought yours were, cause they’re not, mine are :)) threw me a surprise birthday party. They made me one of the best cakes that I have ever tasted and a giant cone of cookies with caramel drizzled on them. Heaven. Seeing this blatant display of affection I immediately started to blubber like a walnut and felt like an idiot when half an hour later, when all the pictures and videos had been taken, I realized that my makeup had run (run awaaaaay! Right, sorry) and that I looked like a half ass raccoon.

I wonder what the future will in terms of letting my emotions show. Frankly, I’m ready to accept just about anything, as long as it doesn’t involve sobbing profusely on the street because I don’t have enough money to replenish my chocolate stash.

Live long and prosper \V/

Yours sincerely,

The Mostly Confused Teenager.

PS: The evolution towards emotional availability may also be caused, in part, by PMS. Who the hell knows.

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*