Do All Lives Matter?

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“All Lives Matter.”

The first time I heard this expression, I thought, Yes. This solves everything. Why hadn’t I thought of that? It desegregates angered people and unites a divided nation. Included in this slogan are both the young black men who have been unfairly killed, as well as the brave police officers who have found themselves wrongly vilified. There. Problem solved. Or so I thought…

At a time of such unrest, people naturally tend to take sides. You’re either with the victims of color or the heroes in blue. But I can’t even begin to emphasize how outrageous that truly is. Once again, people try to generalize and label and stuff each other into neat little boxes (metaphorically, of course). And once again, that’s just not possible.

The color of your skin is not a representation of the knowledge in your brain or the love in your heart. A man who has committed manslaughter and is sitting in jail is black. But so is the president of the United States. Color is meaningless.

Likewise, the occupation you choose doesn’t determine the type of person you are. Just because you put on a uniform, doesn’t mean you’re automatically a good person. At the same time, it doesn’t make you a bad person. It just makes you person. You go to work, eat 3 meals a day, and say goodnight to your family at bedtime. You’re human.

There are good cops and there are bad cops. There are cops who are mean and cops who are nice. Cops who are funny and cops who are not. The same goes for black people. Particularly, young black men.

So how can someone possibly take a side? There are no sides to take. It’s not a case of good vs. evil. It’d be easy for me to tie up my argument here and slap on a giant bow that reads, “All Lives Matter.” But honestly, that would be the most ignorant, nonsensical thing I could possibly do.

The “All Lives Matter” quip came as a response to the all-too-familiar “Black Lives Matter” movement. At its core, BLM is a wonderful thing that garners attention toward a horrible thing: innocent black men falling prey to the bullets of policemen. Unfortunately, it has escalated into hate and violence. Blacks – and whites – all around the country are burning down businesses, assaulting police officers, and setting fires. While doing so, they chant their motto: Black Lives Matter. As easy as it is to now look at this movement with disgust, you have to remember that this wasn’t the original intent. But when you see the fires and murders and violence, it’s easy to forget and it’s easy to counteract BLM with our own mantra; one that’s not seeping with violence or hate. It seems, as I thought upon first hearing it, to be the much more practical solution.

But it’s not.

I thought about it like this: Pretend you’re holding a charity event for gallbladder cancer. You gather a bunch of friends, unite under this wonderful cause, and raise a lot of money. But then, all of a sudden, a mob of people rush in and shut down your event. They kick over your money box and rip down your signs. The reason? All cancers matter. What about leukemia? they sneer. Is that not important too? Yes, leukemia is certainly important too. So is cancer of the brain, skin, and colon. But right now it’s about gallbladder cancer. Right now the mortality rate is almost 100%. People are dying of this disease more than any other. Right now those dying of gallbladder cancer need us. You can go and have a fundraiser for whatever cancer you want, but right now, this is what we’re doing.

That’s kind of what this whole Black Lives vs. All Lives is like. Yeah, white people matter. So do brown people and yellow people and orange people (spray tan crew, where you at?). But right now, black people need our attention; our help. Right now, they’re the ones suffering.

I will support the Black Lives Matter movement that was originally created. My hope is that they look to the nonviolent people of history who forged a path for us all. I hope they put away their weapons and put down their fists.

As Martin Luther King Jr. said:

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Can Emojis Change the World?

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You know that cute little gun emoji that you always use? The one that would sum up your feelings toward tomorrow’s math test that no words ever could? Well, get ready to say goodbye because as soon as you update to iOS 10, it’ll be no longer.

The issue of guns is a hot topic currently sweeping the nation. Whether or not you’re for them, there’s no arguing the fact that they can be deadly. If they fall into the wrong hands, mayhem can ensue. And it has. Something needs to be done, but no one can seem to agree on what. In a time of so much confusion, I can tell you with absolute certainty that discarding an emoji isn’t going to fix anything. But could it be a place to start?

Here’s the thing: words without actions are meaningless. At the same time, however, actions are not possible without words. After all, everything you see in this world started with a thought.

Once you install iOS 10, that silver gun emoji will suddenly turn into a harmless, green water gun. There! Problem solved! Right?! Obviously not. But not everything is meant to lead directly to change. Any movement in history – from color equality to women’s rights – required thousands of failures and an unremitting dialogue. No, that one protest isn’t going to make a huge difference, but it’ll make difference. And that’s all you need.

When I first heard about this emoji fiasco, my first instinct was to roll my eyes. It was dumb, pointless, and honestly? I happened to love that gun emoji.

But then I gave it a bit more of a thought, and I realized how cool of Apple this really is. What a subtle statement. No, Apple didn’t solve world hunger or put an end to violence. But you have to realize, that’s not Apple’s job. As a tech company, Apple simply can’t do those things. What it can do, however, is start a conversation, and hopefully that conversation can one day lead to change.

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The Phenomenon of “Likes”

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Why oh why is everyone so obsessed with likes? What difference does it really make if your Instagram photo has 50 likes or 500? Will the photo suddenly change? Will the colors pop more or the contrast intensify? Will your teeth become more white and your blemishes disappear? Will the picture in any way, shape, or form change?

It’s really interesting that we (myself included) will judge a photo based on how many likes it has. If a stunning picture of a sunset only gets 20 likes, then eh…it’s not really that pretty. But if a mediocre selfie hits triple digits, suddenly it’s a great picture. Why? Because other people have put their stamp of approval on it, so it has to be pretty amazing. If 400 others thought this was a good enough picture to like, then it must be worth something. We assign value to things based on a skewed system of popularity. We want what everyone else does. We allow others to control our desires.

At a restaurant, this makes sense. If everyone’s devouring the shrimp tacos, then those things are probably quite tasty. In that case, I’ll have ten!

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But in real life, when it comes to people, it’s irrelevant. You shouldn’t let anyone else decide how you feel about someone. Jimmy could get a million likes on his shirtless picture, but still be a pretty crappy person. And Mike might only get a few likes here and there – but GET THIS – he might ACTUALLY be a really great guy! It’s a crazy concept, I know.

There are people who will delete a picture if it doesn’t get enough likes. There are people who will comment “like for like!” and “like back!” on pictures of celebrities. I know people who sit and like every single picture on their newsfeed in the hopes that friends and followers will then return the favor. People literally make it a full time job. But for what? What are they really accomplishing? What are they winning?

I’m not saying it’s not nice to have a lot of followers and get a lot of likes. I’m not saying I don’t check how many likes my Instagrams get and I’m certainly not saying I hate it. What I am saying is that it doesn’t affect, control, or alter my life in any way. I don’t lose sleep over it and it’s just not something I think about. And that’s the way it should be.

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I feel like I have one of those lives…

Most people I know seem to go about their days normally; effortlessly. Some have never broken a bone nor have they ever had to make a trip to the good ol’ Emergency Room.

Then there’s people like me.

At one point in my life the ER was a second home and I’ve been to more specialists than I care to name from podiatrists to orthopedists to immunologists to ophthalmologists. And if it’s a bone in my body, I’ve probably broken it twice. A light scar sits just above my left eyebrow from the time I was riding my heelies (do you remember those?!) and went flying when a pebble got stuck in the wheel. Face plant. I have a more noticeable scar on my right hand from when, just a few months ago, I was walking home from the nail salon, tripped, and wiped out.

The only thing I can think of that’s more embarrassing than wiping out while walking is wiping out while riding your bike. And yep – you guessed it! – that’s exactly what happened on this fabulous Saturday morning.

Clancy + messed up bike gears + parked car = disaster.

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How many people do you know who have wiped out on their bike (in front of multiple neighbors) in the past week? What about month? Year? Decade? ONLY ME.

I really wish I could see what I looked like. The worst part was that I couldn’t even ride my bike home because it completely broke. I now sit here with a sore wrist, pounding knee, scraped up elbow, and broken bike. I guess I should cut my losses and be grateful that the bike was the only thing that broke (I think).

I don’t know whether I’m clumsy or just plain unlucky, but I’m willing to bet it’s a combination of both. Either way, this is just another classic event for a girl who lives one of those lives.

Trump vs. Clinton | I DON’T KNOW.

Donald Trump vs. Hillary Clinton. My, oh my. How did we get here?

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Until recently, I had always been the type of person who always had to have an opinion and would make it known to anyone in a 3-mile radius. Everything was black and white and you either agreed with me or you were wrong. But now? Not so much.

If you ask me who I’m voting for in the presidential election, my answer is simple: I don’t know.

You don’t WHAT? 

Saying this, to some, is social suicide. It makes you look ignorant, uninterested, and uneducated. Or maybe even a combination of all three. A younger me wouldn’t dare appear to be any of those things. She’d fire an answer at you at warp speed. She’d spout out her reasonings and would probably look like she really knew what she was talking about. But she wouldn’t.

Right now I am far from ignorant, am very educated, and uninterested? Please. I don’t know anyone more interested in politics than me. I read a 600-page unbiased biography of Hillary Clinton front to back, as well as Trump’s The Art of the Deal. (Unfortunately, I later learned that the latter was ghostwritten and it was all pretty much garbage. #itried) Every single morning I read the newspaper in its entirety and every night I watch hours of political shows. I listen to Republicans and Democrats alike.

Yet, I sit here and say that I still just don’t know. And to be honest, it is the greatest thing ever.

In our society today, we so often feel the need to label ourselves and everyone around us. It’s comforting to be able to fit neatly into a box; to say with a single word who you are. I am a Republican. I am a Democrat. But by doing so, you’re missing the opportunity to be so much more. You’re confining yourself. And you’re playing it safe. Everyone wants to fit in somewhere; to belong. But what’s the point?

No one likes not knowing. Growing up, one of my worst fears ever was getting a question wrong in class. When the teacher would write a math problem on the board and scan the room to find a victim student to solve it, my heart would instantly beat a million times a minute. I’d slouch down, avert eye contact, and pray to the heavens that I would not be called on.

And when I didn’t understand how to do something, I would never raise my hand to ask for help. That would be humiliating.

What an idiot! my classmates would surely think.

In reality, absolutely no one would care. In reality, I was supposed to mess up. I was supposed to make mistakes. I was supposed to look like an idiot. This was the time to not know. Otherwise…why was I in school? I was there to learn things that I didn’t know. If I’m getting the answers wrong on tests, that’s a problem. By then, you need to know. But before that, in the classroom, I’m supposed to learn. And not know.

Likewise, if I don’t know who to vote for come November…yeah, that’s a problem. But now? It’s what I’m supposed to be doing. Listening to both sides. Hearing both candidates. Exploring things I never thought I would ever believe in and dissecting sentences I never would’ve listened to. When you declare your allegiance to one side, you block yourself off from so much.

In the wake of Benghazi and the e-mails, I could’ve declared I’d never vote for Clinton. But, I thought, why not get to know who this woman is. Why not get to know why.

And when Trump spout out racist, sexist remarks, I could’ve immediately written him off. But what good would that do?

In order to come to a fair, accurate conclusion, you have to at some point not know. It’s as simple as that. And right now I don’t know. I feel like the only person in the world who is saying it, but it’s the truth. I just do not know. And it’s the greatest thing ever.

 

Sexism and The Bachelor

There’s a double standard that exists in this world.

You know it and I know it.

There’s sexism and there’s discrimination and there’s inequality, and no matter how many feminists get together or how many movements there are, it will always exist to some extent. Of course it can get better (and has!). We have created so much important legislation that gives women what men have always had. But even with our right to vote, fight in the military, and work, we are still treated differently than our counterparts.

Why?

Because men are men and women are women and that’s that.

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Whenever I say this, feminists get angry. They tell me I don’t know what I’m talking about and that I’m “anti-woman.” That’s ridiculous. I’m simply stating the truth because no problem is going to get solved if it can’t even be discussed. Living in a fantasy land is hardly conducive to making a change. From a legal standpoint, we’ve made leaps and bounds, but socially that’s just not the case.

One of the biggest signs that we’re a long way from where we need to be (from where I’m not sure we can ever be) actually comes from The Bachelor. (Trust me when I say that nothing brings me greater pleasure than relating a real-life problem to my favorite TV show.)

Unless you’re living under a rock, you know The Bachelor has a spinoff show called The Bachelorette where the men vie for the heart of one (lucky) lady. There aren’t many differences between the two shows, but one that struck me as downright disturbing was the contrast between how the villains of both shows were perceived. (For those still under that rock, each season has a “villain” who stirs up drama.)

VILLAIN #1: OLIVIA CARIDI

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Olivia was the villain on the last season of The Bachelor. She bad-mouthed the other contestants, was a little too cocky, and was hated by everyone in the house. When the season aired, she was hated by what seemed like everyone in the world. Death threats flooded her inbox and everywhere she looked – Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, gossip websites – was flooded with the meanest comments you could possibly imagine. If it’s a word terrible enough to make you want to cry, she was called it.

As I was watching the show with my friends, we all hated her too. Every week we’d hope this was the week Olivia would get sent home and cheered with excitement when she did. Olivia Caridi was mean, cocky, and undeserving of Ben’s love. She got what she deserved.

Villain #2: CHAD JOHNSON

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Then there’s Chad. Good ol’ Chad. Like Olivia, he was the villain on the latest season and did all of the typical villainy things. Only worse. Where Olivia would only speak negatively when prompted in interviews, Chad threatened to find a contestant at his house after filming. Where Olivia simply used words, Chad threw fists. Where Olivia was a little cocky, Chad was absolutely enamored with himself. Chad Johnson was mean, cocky, and undeserving of JoJo’s love.

And yet…people loved him.

If you look at the comments on Chad’s Instagram pictures, it’s full of a bunch of women who are obsessed with this man. Yeah, there are a few negative comments, but they’re pretty much cancelled out by all of the swooning women. Immediately, people jumped to his defense and made excuses. “It’s because his mom died not too long ago!” they cried. “It’s not his fault!”

But where were Olivia’s defendants? Where was Olivia’s excuse?

If a woman is confrontational, cocky, and controversial, it’s the end of the world. But if a man is those same things? It’s no big deal. For some, it actually makes him more desirable.

You can make all of the laws you want, but how are you going to change perception? The problem, I’m afraid, isn’t going to be solved in Washington D.C. It goes so far beyond that. Unfortunately, I don’t have a solution but I think a conversation is a pretty good place to start.

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SURPRISE! I’m Alive.

It has been quite some time since I last wrote on here because as much as I love writing, I needed to focus my full attention elsewhere. Doing a lot of things is great, but sometimes it’s not so great when you’re giving a little bit of effort to a lot. I’d rather give my all to one or two things at a time. Lately that’s been creating content for my YouTube channel and writing my own personal book.

Basically everything I do falls into the creative realm, and I have realized that there are 2 caveats to being a part of this particular “world.”

(1) It is SO hard to make content unless you feel inspired. If you’re working at a retail store and you don’t feel like doing it, you just do. You just fold those clothes, help the customers, make the sales, and then go home. But if you don’t feel like working when you’re doing something creative, it’s almost impossible to get the results you want. The finished product just won’t  be the same.

(2) The more effortless something looks, the more time it probably took to make. That’s actually a really interesting thought. So much of what I do looks like I just whipped it up, but in reality, it takes TIME!

So…where does all of this leave my blog? Well, my goal is for it to just kind of be there. Somewhere I can jot down random thoughts about absolutely anything. Like if I want to post a picture of the glorious salad I ate for lunch yesterday next to the sea, I will. 😉

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Side note: I am never eating onions again. They are disgusting and I don’t know why I do it. In the moment, it’s all fun in games but the taste lingers in my mouth UNTIL THE NEXT DAY. I had this at about 1p.m. yesterday and woke up tasting onions. Mind you, I must have brushed my teeth a million times yesterday, and had other meals, but the onion taste remains. Disgusting.

Tip of the day: Don’t order a salad on a first date. You might think, Oh, of course I’ll just order a nice, light salad. It’s the safest option. NO. The pieces of lettuce are always too big and you’re left looking like some sort of dinosaur with leaves falling out of your mouth. Definitely go for the rack of ribs.

I always wonder if people get my humor…