Zings, Odes, & Estrogen.

Sometimes I write. Sometimes I don't.

Perspective.

I drive a truck. And that’s all you really need to know about me. 

Actually that’s false. But if you’ve been a part of my life for the last four years you’ll know that I’ve had a lot of problems with my truck - and that makes me a frustrated human. 

You can imagine my irritation when I got in my truck one morning last week, to-do list in hand, only to find out that it wouldn’t start. 

Again. 

So I pulled out my handy dandy AAA Membership Card (Thanks mom!) and called them, again, and waited the mandatory 45 minutes for the creepy Bryan College Station AAA guy to come tell me what was wrong with my truck. Again. 

As it turns out, my battery was dead. So creepy AAA guy made a few bad jokes and a few awkward passes at me before he finally jumped my truck so I could drive to Sears and buy a new battery. 

As I was navigating the new-college-freshmen-and-their-parents induced traffic, I started thinking about all of the problems I’ve had with my truck each year of school. Expensive problems. There was that hit-and-run accident freshman year, flat tires, a new fuel pump, alignment problems, and that jerk who backed into my tailgate in the student parking lot and drove away. I started calculating the hundreds and hundreds of dollars I’ve spent on this stupid old truck and started to get very annoyed.

Then something clicked.

I have a vehicle that’s mostly reliable. I don’t have a car payment every month. My parents gave me this truck for free - not because they had to, but because they chose to. My parents are also super supportive and help me out financially, like renewing my AAA Membership every year or giving me that new set of tires last Christmas. That was pretty neat. I’ve built up a nice savings account over the last five years, so I really don’t have a problem spending the money to get my truck fixed when I need to, unlike many people who live paycheck to paycheck. And if the biggest headache in my life is some car trouble every now and then, I’ve got a pretty good life. 

Yeah, it’s annoying. But I’d be an entitled fool if I didn’t recognize that I’m way more blessed than I am inconvenienced…which makes my whining and frustration uncalled for. 

So I ended up spending an extra hour and a hundred bucks getting a new battery. Big deal. What it really came down to is this: I had a choice. I could take the spoiled route and agonize over a little blip in my day, or I could take the adult route and be grateful for what I have, blip and all. 

I chose to count my blessings.

That, my friends, is perspective.

Birth Control: DIY

Before you read this, I want you to be aware of two things. The first is that this is entirely based on my own opinion that I’ve reached through my personal and educational experiences. The second is that if you think this is going to piss you off (It’s the internet; it probably will.) then just don’t read it. I won’t be offended, you won’t get mad, and we can still be friends.

If you do read this and want to challenge me, go for it! Just keep it respectful.

I was very conflicted as Burwell v. Hobby Lobby (formerly Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby) made its way to the Supreme Court because of the lasting impacts it had the potential to make. In fact, I was just as conflicted then as I was when I decided to sit down and write this because I know how starkly and passionately divided people are when it comes to issues like contraception.

Especially contraception.

But when it was announced today that the Supreme Court, just as divided as the country on the issue, announced in a 5-4 decision that Hobby Lobby and other companies like it had the right to abstain (lulz) from providing certain kinds of free contraception to women who are covered under those companies’ health insurance plans, the champion of small government and liberty within me did a little happy dance. 

On my lunch break at work I was scrolling through the news and I stumbled upon  a Huffington Post article entitled, “My God is Better than Your God”. Oh, God. Each reference to this Onion-esque piece will be directly quoted because, well, this thing pretty much makes fun of itself. 
 “It’s a dark day in American History,” Lea Grover, a Mommy blogger and contributor to the Huffington Post writes, “…a day when all the non-Christians stood slack-jawed and shocked, amazed that now, their employer could dictate their lives beyond work based on some idea that their moral authority is better, that their faith is more important, that their God is better than your God.”
Frankly, I find this article offensive to people who believe in and worship multiple gods. But let’s continue.
“Hobby Lobby, who claims deep religious beliefs, says it’s an infringement on their freedom of religion to support those evil, selfish, sinning harlots if it provides them with a third party insurance plan that includes birth control.”
Well, that’s one way of looking at it. It’s good if you’re just trying to rile people up, but it’s not really the point of the case. This case was about the Obamacare mandate that required companies like Hobby Lobby violate their own religious morals to provide  free birth control to their employees - not an issue about providing insurance that gave an employee the opportunity to pay for their own contraception.
“Now that Hobby Lobby has the right to deny me my legal protections because of their religion, I might be fired for taking off Jewish holidays. Or if I skipped shul and went to work on Yom Kippur, I could be fired for refusing to take my lunch break, what with my fasting and all.”
Wait, what?
“Now Hobby Lobby has opened a door that MUST be closed: the elevation of one religion over another.”
What the fuckity fuck? Did she just stop at the headline?
“Now that the Supreme Court has ruled that Hobby Lobby has the right to ignore federal laws under the guise of religious persecution, it’s open season on non-Christians in the workplace.”
…and out comes the tinfoil hat. Instead of reading or listening to the facts about the ruling of this case (or even the premise of the case itself, really) she chose to write a scathing idiotic rant about Christians are evil while whining about her right to use birth control no matter what Hobby Lobby thinks. And the Huffington Post chose to publish it, because that’s what the Huffington Post does.
A few seconds’ worth of research (insert appropriate Associated Press link here), of course, shows everything in this article is complete and utter nonsense and that nobody gives a flying feather whether or not she’s on the pill.
“The court stressed that its ruling applies only to corporations that are under the control of just a few people in which there is no essential difference between the business and its owners…like Hobby Lobby.”
This means that this ruling in its entirety doesn’t apply to all corporations—only small, privately owned businesses—which becomes an even smaller amount of businesses impacted given the number of small businesses that are excluded from The Affordable Care Act in its entirety.
“Alito also said the decision is limited to contraceptives under the health care law. “Our decision should not be understood to hold that an insurance-coverage mandate must necessarily fall if it conflicts with an employer’s religious beliefs,” Alito said.”
No, Mrs. Grover, Hobby Lobby isn’t going to prevent you from observing your Jewish holidays because they’re a bunch of Jew-hating Christians. In fact, might I add the scope of this decision is so narrow that it only applies to the contraceptives in question, namely the morning after pill and a few kinds of IUD’s. Even left-leaning outlets with an ounce of journalistic dignity can’t ignore the fact that Hobby Lobby and the other companies involved with the case are completely okay with most types of contraception, including the pill. 
And the point that Mrs. Grover—and sadly, most Americans—are missing here is that this isn’t an issue of whether companies like Hobby Lobby have to provide insurance that happens to cover birth control. This is an issue of whether companies like Hobby Lobby have to go against their religious beliefs and provide certain kinds of contraceptives for free. Nobody is forcing someone to work at a place like Hobby Lobby, and all of their employees are completely free to pay for their own forms of contraception. 
“[Alito] suggested two ways the administration could ensure women get the contraception they want. It could simply pay for pregnancy prevention, he said. Or it could provide the same kind of accommodation it has made available to religious-oriented, not-for-profit corporations. Those groups can tell the government that providing the coverage violates their religious beliefs. At that point, the groups’ insurers or a third-party administrator takes on the responsibility of paying for the birth control”
I don’t understand how, at this point, anyone can honestly believe this is an access to contraception issue. The Supreme Court Justices everyone so vehemently hates for “denying women access to birth control” and “dealing a low blow to women’s rights” is telling us how to go get contraceptives. (But really, is it so bloody hard to go down the street to your neighborhood pharmacy or grocery store and spend the $30-$40 for Plan B if you end up needing some?)
In summary, this supreme court case released a ruling that was so specific in its scope that it’s honestly the best compromise either side could ask for: small companies with strong religious roots don’t have to provide free forms of contraceptives that they see as morally wrong, and nobody is being denied access to those contraceptives whatsoever.The trouble here is that we’re so lost in the emotionally-driven narrative that we’ve forgotten what compromise is, or how to understand or even consider the facts.When the hate-fueled angst is louder than rationality, it’s impossible to find common ground with anyone.
I’ve used birth control religiously (trolololo) since 2011. In fact, I’m a strong supporter of using birth control because it’s responsible (and it makes me less PMS-y). It’s $10 a month at Walmart, and if I got a job at Hobby Lobby or any other evil Jesus-loving privately-held organization, I could still continue to purchase my estrogen pills. The only inconvenience is having to interact with the People of Walmart.
But using birth control or supporting its use does not mean we have a right to have other people pay for it for us. We are not entitled to free contraception.  We ave a right to access it and purchase it, and the ruling on this case does not prevent these things in any way.
So if you use contraception of any form, good for you!
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Nobody is standing in your way or trying to take it away from you. The ruling of today’s case doesn’t change that.  So you can take your sensational journalism and exaggerated rhetoric…and make a pretty collage out of it.
I hear Hobby Lobby’s offering a sale. 
 
 
 

AJ.

My little brother is a pretty weird kid. 

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We fight constantly. 

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And he’s quite the prankster.

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Lately, we’ve had a really hard time getting along. AJ’s been in a rough place for the last few years because he has a lot of issues to deal with. Issues that have made his childhood struggles a lot more significant than mine, or anyone else’s that I know. It’s because of this that I’ve always seen myself as a role model in his life, partly because I’m the only sibling he has that he should look up to, and partly because I know how much he copies what I do. He’s an incredibly impressionable person who has been heavily influenced by a combination of his upbringing and a whole lot of raunchy pop culture. For the last few years I’ve always thought my place in his life was to be the good example and that’s it—which is why I’ve never condoned any of his dirty jokes or little boy antics. The problem is that I’ve been so busy trying to lead by example that I’ve forgotten how to be a sister to him. And our relationship has paid the price for it.

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Even worse, I’ve ignored, belittled, and fought back with him because, well, he’s obnoxious. But the combination of all of this has made him outwardly cold towards me with the exception of a few rare moments of affection. 

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I’m not sure what’s more important, being a good example or being a fun sister, and since I’ve forgotten that it’s possible to be both, it’s costing me the opportunity to get to know a pretty smart, funny kid. And at the end of the day, my parents are right; he’s the only full blooded brother I have. (Not that blood matters, but we were the only two with the same upbringing, and I think that means something.) I’ve been so caught up having close relationships with my older two brothers and blowing off my little brother as some jerk who needs to grow up, but maybe that push he needs in the right direction involves having a kind heart for a change.

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The irony of the whole situation is that I actually prayed for the dork. When I was little, my older siblings were gone and I was lonely. But there was no way my parents—who were 42 and 48 at the time—were going to have another baby. So I just prayed like I was taught in church. I guess all of the stress and headaches that go into raising a wild child like AJ is my fault. Sorry, mom and dad. 

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AJ is not only a testament to the power of prayer, but he’s the reason I have faith and a solid relationship with Christ. And maybe God is using him again to teach me how to put aside my pride and learn how to empathize with others. Maybe He’s using AJ to teach me how to actually love. 

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So this summer I’m making an effort to get along with my little brother. No matter what it takes, by the end of the summer we’re going to be buds. I’m not sure if I’m writing this to hold myself accountable or to ask to be held accountable because I know a commitment like this requires that I soften my heart first in hopes that he eventually does the same. Admittedly, that’s not something that comes easily to me.

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I’m not entirely sure how to do this. Usually the relationships I nurture are the ones that require minimal effort—which makes this one that much more important. As a woman who aspires to raise a family one day, I recognize that this is perhaps one of the more important things I can learn how to do, which is why I’m opening my heart and mind as much as I can so that I can be the best sister to this little weirdo as I possibly can. 

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Maybe someday I’ll have some guy who I make feel very lucky. But until then, I can focus on making this kid feel as lucky as I feel to have him.

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A Friend Lost, A Friend Gained.

I have a guilty pleasure of exploiting the stupidity of others for a quick laugh. Is this fault? Probably. But when I acquired a new roommate last October who was a whirlwind of dimwitted irresponsibility and foolish choices, I just couldn’t help but take to my usual social media antics and share my stories.

And they turned out to be quite popular. From the potato she set fire in the microwave, to the endless partying resulting in lost phones, keys, and memories, it was very clear from the beginning that the two of us were wildly different right down to the priority.

In her defense, she’s a sweet, thoughtful girl, and she’s a good roommate, but I’d be a downright liar if I said I didn’t feel a little sense of superiority out of sheer intelligence alone. Aside from a few conversations here and there (the source of my material) we didn’t interact on a regular basis, mostly because our schedules were very different and she was rarely home.

About a month ago, I had an old friend from Austin come stay for a weekend. I knew he had problems with drinking alcohol in excess, but I did not know its magnitude—and the potential for violence that came with it. I felt trapped in my own home with a belligerent, intoxicated person who refused to leave. I felt even worse because this was someone I had called a friend for the last seven years. I had no idea how to handle the situation, and I had never been so afraid in my life. Then out of nowhere my roommate utilized the street smarts she gained from her broken home and took control, putting the drunk asshole in his place without showing an ounce of fear. She helped me call the cops who escorted my now ex-friend out of my home.

In the midst of the police report and the chaos, I was literally in awe of my roommate, who, in that moment, taught me a valuable lesson. I should never underestimate someone because I think I’m smarter than they are. God blesses each and every one of us with gifts, and some of those gifts are vastly different from others. But nobody has it all. While I consider myself blessed in many, many ways, there are things my roommate does that I simply cannot do—like handle a crazy situation. To her, it was nothing, because she was used to it—which made me feel worse because I had been exploiting the product of a less than stellar family.

It was certainly a bonding moment and after that we started talking more. We’ve worked out together once, and we’ve even gone out together. She even told me the other day in a drunken stupor that I inspire her because I’m so dedicated to working out every day, which felt pretty cool. Granted, she followed that up with an offer to teach me how to twerk so I can get an ass for days (Okay, we may be friends now, but we’re still very different), but all in all, we’ve had fun together.

While my new roommate has taught me things like how to make really good margaritas or how to sneak a minor into a bar, the most important thing she’s taught me is that you shouldn’t take anyone else for granted even if you’re smarter than them. Everyone is endowed with certain qualities, and she ended up having the right ones exactly when I needed it.

So I deleted the statuses I had made about her on Facebook and accepted her friend request. She may never know how smug I used to feel around her. But if she ever does find out—probably by reading this—I hope she makes it to the end where she reads how much I’ve grown to like her, and how sad I am to see her go. 

An Overdue Post.

The last year of my life has been a wonderful, blessed blur. I haven’t had the time to actually sit down and write something of substance, and I had initially abandoned this entire blog because I was feeling pretty bummed for a while. But as I reflect on the last year and approach the conclusion of my third year of college, I can’t help but gush over how much I’ve actually grown up and how excited I am to face the growing up I have left to do. In the last year I outgrew and abandoned dead-end and depressing relationships, pushed my boundaries, dabbled in corporate America, jumped out of my comfort zone by revealing more of my personality and identity to the world than I ever had before, took risks, leaps of faith, failed, tried again, succeeded, learned more about myself and my purpose in life, lived more than I ever thought I was capable of, got more piercings (much to the chagrin of my mother), stood up for myself, made connections, made friends, mentors, memories, good grades, bad grades, and sometimes I even had time to sleep.

In short, I can’t help but acknowledge that this has been one hell of a confidence-boosting hallmark of a ride for me—and it’s only the beginning. And deep down, when I’m completely honest with myself, I think a lot of this run-on sentence-induced happiness has to do with both coming out of my shell, and more importantly, my determined attempts to once and for all cultivate meaningful relationships and aspects of my life while rejecting and distancing myself from those I no longer wish to be a part of.

I started off the first two years of school feeling trapped inside of many things I simply was not, and when time came to break that mold I approached it with fear and hesitance because I first mistook those feelings for a fear of change. Later I realized it was really a fear of being myself—and being rejected for who I was. And when I finally understood the reality that I had to stumble, fall, and change who I was and what I was surrounded by, I learned that embracing the positive changes in my life and rolling with the risks and punches could lead me on an incredible journey where I learned who I really was and where I’m supposed to go.

When I look back on all of the foolish things I’ve done and the stupid manner in which I did them, I’m so proud to say I don’t look back on those moments with regret. Instead, I see them as an experience where I learned something that helped me become a better person. I have faith that my attitude and approach to life will continue to lead me to great things. Above all, I’ve learned to laugh at myself, live with myself, and love myself, no matter what others think. I’ve broken some hearts, bent some rules, and pushed my limits more than a few times. But I’d like to think I’m a stronger woman for it.

Don’t get me wrong—I still have a long way to go, and it hasn’t always been a smooth ride, but even in my weakest moments I still feel stronger and more empowered than I ever have before. For the last few years I wearily tiptoed into a whole slew of new experiences with reservation and self-doubt. Now, I’m ready to sink my teeth into anything that comes my way, and I’ll do it my best to take on anything and everything head-on with grace (as much grace as I’m capable of, anyway), enthusiasm, and an open mind.

I’m. So. Ready.

I wouldn’t have gotten here if it weren’t for the help of countless individuals. So if you have touched my life in any way, I thank you. Even if it was an awful experience and I hate you, thank you for teaching me something about life, the world, and myself. And if you’ve been a part of my life in an absolutely wonderful way, I love you and thank you from the bottom of my heart and ask that you continue on this journey with me.