classifications

last night i hung out with my newly found friend, Paige. she told me that, when leaving her apartment, one of her roommates asked if she was, “going to Emily’s”. her second roommate asked, “is Emily the girl who always wears hats?” with the cold weather and my seemingly infrequent showering schedule, hats have become a lifeline for me: keeping my ears warm and dirty hair hidden.Image

in the picture on the left, i am wearing what quickly became my favorite hat. it fits my head perfectly, not too tight, not too loose. it’s a nice blueish teal color and flops down at just the right level. i have to admit, this hat was not meant for me. my roommate exchanged hats with a volunteer at a camp she regularly visits, but we’ve established long ago that what’s mine is hers and what’s hers is mine. 

without even realizing this hat was not “mine” i started wearing it nearly every day. once, i apologized to Hannah for kind of stealing the hat from her. she replied with a simple, “no, Emily, that hat is yours. it belongs on your head. just like those softball sweatpants are mine.” and she has a point, she’s been wearing “my” sweatpants and sweatshirt from high school for the past year. i don’t even think twice when i see her wearing them because they aren’t mine anymore…they’re hers.

wow, talk about getting off topic. anyways, after Paige’s roommate described me as “the girl who always wears hats” she laughed because that’s not how she would classify me. when we started talking about this, Paige brought up a good question:

how many different ways am i classified to different people?

we’ve all been guilty of saying “that girl with the red hair” or “the boy who is 6 feet tall” or “that person who walks on the tip of their toes” or any other classification when trying to explain who it is we are referring to. it’s funny because, although someone may classify me as “the girl who always wears hats” another person might classify me as “the girl who never talks in class” or “the girl who drives a silver car” or “that person that has a funny face” because, lets face it, i can’t control how other people classify me.

it does, however, make me think twice about how i classify other people. i never want to be that “girl who is a total bitch” or that “girl who always has dirty hair” (hence the reason for the hats) and if i wouldn’t want to be classified as that, then why would i ever classify someone else as that? it makes me think that maybe i should try a little harder to explain people, rather than my opinions of those people. it’s not always easy to set your opinions aside, but sometimes it’s for the better. like if my boss asked me how i classified her i would put my opinions aside for the sake of my job and say, “you are the woman who is dependable at work and always kind to your employees” even though that may not be what i’m thinking.

Advertisements

weekly photo challenge: reflections

Image

 this is a well visited spot in one of the parks located around downtown Mt. Pleasant. i used to call it the heart shaped pond, but with more and more adventures leading me there, i’ve slowly changed the shape i see. From some angles, it looks like a giant jelly bean, other angles it looks like a whale. whatever shape you see, it’s clear that this little pond reflects as much sky as it possibly can. it’s in a prime location, down a hill from an overlooking platform, in the middle of a field of some plant i’m not sure the name of but sometimes reminds me of cat tails, which i don’t even think is the scientific name of that plant…

i was exploring with my friend, B, one day when we decided to venture even closer to this pond i’ve gazed at so many times before. Imagewe crawled down a hill and made our way through ground we weren’t sure was sturdy enough to not suck us in. we made it right to the pond’s edge. there, we stood. taking everything in; the sun, which was just starting it’s journey into night; the water, rippling away from water bugs; the sound of nature, birds singing loudly as if they were gasping for just a few more minutes of sunlight, and the loud buzz of distant cars and close-by bugs blending together.

at one point, i sat down, unsure of the condition the seat of my pants would be in when i stood up. but, at that very moment, i didn’t care. i was so caught up with the fact that i was standing in a spot i’ve only explored visually before that moment. i had seen this water, this land, so many times before but never once have i actually experienced it. i’ve never journeyed down to the water’s edge and realized how much smaller i felt when i was standing next to it, rather than standing over it. the sun was at the perfect part in it’s decent towards the horizon to illuminate our faces and reflect off the water, providing us with double the amount of sun for a short moment in time.

this is one of the pictures i captured while sitting:

Image

 when going through the pictures with B after our adventure, it took us both a minute to realize that this picture was not upside down. this picture captured the reflection of the clouds perfectly, only to wrinkle it with baby waves created by something moving in the water. it still sends my brain for a little loop trying to understand that those plants are only a reflection of the real thing: a mirrored image of what the world looks like upside down.

here’s one more picture, just because i love reflections and mirrored images:

PA264721

daily prompt: fight or flight

while i was in Kenya, i can rarely pinpoint a time where i truly felt in danger. there were definitely times i felt uncomfortable, or like i was in the wrong place, but nothing too terrifying. i can recall only one specific moment where flight or fight came into play: when there was a man on the beach. now, i stayed in a volunteer house, backed right up to a palm tree path down to the Indian Ocean. the back porch was open with some day beds, a table, and some (broken) chairs.

before i really get going, i’d like to mention how it gets dark in Kenya right around 6pm. and when i say “right around” i really mean exactly at 6pm…it just gets pitch black. before dinner we would need to use a flashlight to even get up the path to our house.

with that in mind, i want to tell you the time in which this event took place, but i can’t. all i know if that it was really dark when two volunteers came sprinting up the path, up the stairs, and onto the porch. in between gasps of air and exhales full of tears i could make out Karissa saying, “there’s a man…on the beach…coming towards us…”

oh, and Louis threw in something about Jack still being down there.

just as quickly as our scattered brained reaches Jack’s name, he also came hurrying up the path and practically diving onto the porch pale and a little bit greenish. i can remember him saying something like, “those guys just left me!” as he pointed towards Louis and Karissa. hearing people talk about the man, he said, “he’s following me!”

immediately, myself, and other clever volunteers ran into the house. Karissa was trying to get out the front door, which was locked a little while earlier when our cook, Florence, went home (it had something to do with our house curfew that didn’t really exist). i was frozen and Jonah grabbed an umbrella that it could really fight off a stalking Kenyan. all the while, Chris was calling the security that had just visited out house a few days earlier to talk about safety protocol and how “Kenyan men don’t just break in. they break in and rape.” COOL.

two people were scurrying to close the double (glass) doors and get the small bolt locked on the doors to the porch as fast as possible when someone projected, “he’s on the porch…”

my heart then sank to my stomach and i couldn’t help but think my parent’s worst nightmare of their child getting killed abroad was actually coming true. the one time in my life i took a huge leap and did something on my own (with my roommate) and i’m going to get killed for it. how. lousy.

During the hustle i kept picturing the man circling Jack, Karissa, and Louis down on the beach. they said his arms were hanging down, away from his body. he walked towards the water, then back towards them. he got closer. and closer. and then Karissa ran, leaving Louis with the only option to follow. but for some reason, Jack stayed. later, he claimed, “I was just…frozen.”

I then pictured the moment Jack did start back towards the house. first, walking slowly, then a little quicker, and then full out sprinting when he realized the big shadow of a man was still coming towards him.

finally, the madness stopped. Matt was standing on the porch questioning why everyone was running away from him and why the house was full of screaming volunteers, terrified Karissa, and still-pale Jack.

it turns out, Matt had circled them because, like i said before, it was really dark on the beach and he couldn’t tell if the three shadows by the bushes were the three people he was looking for. rightly, he did not want to wander up to three random Kenyan’s on the beach at night. in the dark. alone. he also claimed he had shouted their names but the strong sound of the ocean behind him covered his voice.

even with the relief of it only being Matt, people were left shaking. Chris was once again on the phone with security telling them it was a false alarm and that the whole house apologizes. surprisingly, they had already gotten to the beach and cleared the area (which was actually really assuring of our promised safety).

the common room and glass doors leading out to the porch

a few of us, still a little wound up with adrenaline, sat in the common room discussing what had just happened. i can recall one volunteer, Ashlea, bringing up how stupid she must be: when everyone else ran away, she ran towards the porch so she could see who was out there or something…

this just goes to show that some fight responses are drastically different from one another. for example, Jonah grabbed an umbrella to fight and Ashlea just went bare handed. There are also other degrees of flight. I chose to fly into a corner and cringe while Karissa attempted to fly right out of the front of the house.

one of my friends in high school was always so certain he would be the only one to live in a potentially life threatening situation. if a killer came into the basement he would throw something at him and run…he had a few of these situations played out in his head and for some reason he was always the only one who got away. part of me kind of wanted to see him in a dangerous situation. this way, i could see if his body really did act how his mind thought it would.

flight or fight aside, adrenaline and terror can make people do some interesting things.

weekly photo challenge: thankful

today, i am thankful i have a roommate who is okay with doing this:

Imageboth my roommate and i work with people who have different abilities. we currently both work with children who are 11 years old and have autism. this requires us to brush their teeth, comb their hair, and get them dressed properly for the cold weather. i’m not sure how it started, but Hannah decided she was going to brush my teeth. we agreed that since we work with kids who are nonverbal, it’s hard to tell what kind of job we are doing when we brush their teeth before bed time. are we pressing too hard? do we gag them? these, along with other questions, could be answered with just one situation: brushing the teeth of someone who is verbal. don’t worry, i totally returned the favor…

Imagei am thankful for a roommate who is also a friend; who can find laughter in the little things; who can brush my teeth and provide me with a spit cup when things get a little too foamy. i am thankful to have such a beautiful person in my life (and i don’t just mean that gorgeous face). as days roll by, Hannah is what i am thankful for. she’s someone that can bring positives into my somewhat, sometimes cynical way of viewing things but also someone who looks to me for advice when she’s feeling cynical herself. 

i am thankful for her because even though sometimes she can not relate or agree, she still will understand.

 

 

 

coyote tree

i wrote this poem almost exactly a year ago. i was standing in my friends driveway, surrounded by tall trees backed by moonlight and dark sky. i’ve just rediscovered it in my folder of poems so i thought i would share…

 

she stands tall.
dodged by the lawn mower, hugged by the hippy, and climbed on by the kids.
her arms life to avoid a collision with a mower.
her arms hug the hippy back.
and her arms have held tire swings two feet from the ground longer than the ropes could last.
you see, she never gives up.
she keeps growing taller even after They stopped marking her height on the wall.
she’s fearless.
she stood up for her Mother even when They tried to chop her down.
she’s full of stories that they will not listen to.
They think she’s outgrown her family,
and sometimes the wind blows slow and rocks her to sleep.
it blankets her in air too soft to sew into a comforter,
but it still manages to comfort her.
she watched Them in the light of day but at night she lets the moon steal Their shadows.
she lets the forest steal Their sight.
at night, her job isn’t over.
she sways in the breeze and drops a few leaves all in the name of night.
night.
the sky is dark, but her bark is darker.
and tonight, she will not be rocked to sleep.
the wind is too strong to sooth her and she’s restless anyways.
she gets that way before and after storms.
you can call her moody, but her howls move me.
and tonight, she transformed.
she is a coyote tree,
dropping back her head and raising her chin.
she is a coyote tree,
howling.
trying to connect with the few people who aren’t asleep
because maybe the night owls will listen when the squirrels won’t.
howling.
she is a coyote tree.
at night she lets her guard down because They put the saws down.
she drops her branches and lets her bones creak.
night is the only time you can tell her age,
she’s always trying to look youthful, but somehow the moon’s light illuminates the wrinkles on her sun soaked skin better than daylight can.
she is a coyote tree.
howling.
hoping her story can be heard because the drone of the chainsaw was not quite loud enough to cover her brother’s tears as they tore him apart,
but they were just loud enough to cover her pleading.
she reached for him.
her arms didn’t grow fast enough to protect him,
but she can’t be held responsible.
she is a coyote tree.
howling.
They used her arms to cut down his.
she howled.
she is a coyote tree.
Their arms moved on to his shoulders and didn’t forget about his knees.
she howled but could not be heard.
Their arms left him nothing to beg on.
Their arms left him nothing to stand on.
her howls turned into weeping.
his legs were shredded all too quickly.
he never had the change to run away and she never will.
she is a coyote tree.
howling.
howling.
hoping to be heard and her arms have helped a lot more than Theirs have,
so she howls while she can…even if it keeps Them away.
she’s a coyote tree who is not quieted by Them.

in honor of awareness

a few days ago i went to a candle light vigil outside of University Center here at CMU. it was the kick off to Transgender Awareness Week and a handful of people gathered to bring awareness to Central Michigan’s campus. we lit some candles, read names of trans people that are, sadly, not still with us, and had a moment of silence. it was short. about a ten, maybe fifteen, minute deal.

the whole time i was sitting there, holding my candle between finger tips frozen from chilled almost-winter wind, i couldn’t help but think how cool it was to even be a part of a small event like that. it was a small event, but it addressed a big topic: transgendered individuals. now, i’m fairly new to the LGBTQ community, but so far, i don’t have many complaints. from my experiences, at least around campus, this community is so much more than tolerant of people; they accept people and embrace them whole heartedly. that can’t be said about every group of people i’ve run into here. no matter what you’re personal interests are, if you’re gay, trans, bi, or just flat out questioning gender identity or sexual preference all together, you’re going to have one thing in common…you are part of a group of individuals who have so much pride in who they are and what they can do when they come together.

i’ve kind of rambled now, and strayed from what originally inspired me to write this post. while using the restroom in some random lecture hall i found this note in one of the stalls:

Image

in a nutshell, this little handout explains the issue of no gender neutral bathrooms on campus. we are now in a time where genders are not simple “boy” or “girl” and even when they are, the look of “girl” and the look of “boy” cannot be filed in only one folder. there are boys who wear tight pants, boys who wear big baggy t-shirts, girls who wear sweats everyday, and girls who won’t leave the house in anything but a skirt and ten layers of makeup. it’s personal preference and it cannot be described in a one syllable word. 

i’ve talked about gender neutral bathrooms with a few of my friends before. even though i’ve never had any problem being called out in a girls bathroom for being in the wrong place, and i’ve never gotten in trouble for wandering into the boys bathroom when the line for the girl’s bathroom was five times as long, i have many friends who have had situations where they were dragged, physically removed, from a bathroom they had all the right to be in. that, to me, is just unfair. after one incident, my friend, B, called me all worked up. a lady had grabbed her arm, told her she was in the wrong bathroom, walked her out of the door into the busy hallway of a lecture hall, and continually told her she had entered the wrong bathroom. now, i don’t know about you, but i think urinals not being on the wall might give something away…

B put it really well when she said that some people should just mind their own business. she said something along the lines of, “even if i did wander into the wrong bathroom, don’t you think i would have figured it out soon enough and leave? people can’t even trust someone else to know which bathroom they belong in?” and i can’t agree more. if one day i walked into the girls bathroom and saw a man with a beard and chest hairs longer than the hairs on my head, i would look at him, say “hi” and go into the stall to do my business while i trusted that he would figure out if he’s in the “wrong” place or not. because B is right: it is none of my business. 

what i like most about this flyer that was left in every stall in this particular restroom…and on every sink, is that it gives little suggestions like, “trust that fellow bathroom users know which restroom they are in and respect their decision” or, “recognize that many people do not fit into the categories of man or woman” and lastly, “understand the difference between sex and gender and respect a person’s identity”. 

i couldn’t have said it better myself, LGBTQ services, hats off to you. it’s tiny things like this that can make a big impact and also make me proud to be a part of such a community here at CMU. in a town like Mount Pleasant, it’s amazing to see how many people come out (no pun intended) to support groups and social..issues is the wrong word, but for lack of better verbiage, it will have to do.

tomorrow is the official Transgender Awareness Day, so i hope this post will kick off a few thoughts about this topic and maybe bring awareness to someone who has no idea what the heck i’m even talking about. so, everyone please, keep these individuals in mind, not only tomorrow, but as you continue to walk down streets that can be full of people with stories a lot longer than their first name.

weekly writing challenge: in an instagram

in the split second i tasted this guacamole:

my life changed forever. i will no longer to be able to settle for that green mush squeezed out of the bag in the same consistency as toothpaste. no. way. this guacamole was full of tomatoes, onions, roasted peppers, corn, and a variety of seasoning. this guacamole was full of everything i never thought guacamole could be. it. was. awesome. and it was good on everything; toast; crackers, chips, carrots, and pretty much whatever else i found to slather this delectable topping onto.