An ode to sunflowers

my dearest sunflower,

Oh how you’ve grown. I met you as a seedling, and little did I know you planted your roots in me. They stretched out lovingly like tender arms reaching for a hug. A hug was what you needed. You needed roots to anchor you to the ground as your mind soared. I don’t know what brought you to me. I had accepted that perhaps I was too much for others. Maybe my blossoms were too bright, too loud, and smelled too sweet. But you sunflower, you liked that. I never attracted many bees, and when I found one I wanted, it had already picked another flower. I never found myself stretching out to find others. But then I found you sunflower.

You made my colors turn from white to pink, blushing all the time. It was like a drug, I couldn’t wilt. We were bonded together from our roots. The drought came through and we shrived up together. But like any flower, we just waited. We waited for that storm to come and save us from the drought. When the rain washed away our dust, we found hope again. Finding hope gives us chances to peak out, to grow again. Oh sunflower you grew.

You grew to the point where you let my roots take hold of you once more, and I couldn’t be buzzing with more excitement. You see when a sunflower blooms, it reaches towards the sky. The petals are yellow with ripe sunshine, and you can’t help but stare in wonder at it. It brightens you, just like you did my sunflower.

We grow entwined, we grow sweet as honey, as time passes we don’t wilt anymore because we hold each other up. You are my sunflower, my sunshine and I am so grateful that as long as the sun shines you are mine. You are my sun on a cloudy day. Always here, always smiling. Laughter like a bright, yellow melody. Keep blooming babe.

Let your roots take hold, and grow.

love,

lily of the valley

The sexuality that must not be named

This summer as a young woman who belongs to the lgbtq+ community, I decided that it had finally come time for me to delve into Litchfield Prison and watch Orange is the New Black. Revered for its portrayal of lgbtq+ women, issues of race, and the corrupt nature of the prison system- it really did deliver for me. For any readers who may be new to the series, or unsure what it’s about here’s a brief synopsis I’ve written.

Based on the novel by Piper Kerman of her own experiences in women’s prison, OITNB follows Piper Chapman as she turns herself in to Litchfield prison on drug charges. In her 20s Piper’s ex-girlfriend, Alex Vause, ran a international drug smuggling operation that eventually goes south. The warrant for Piper’s arrest is due to those charges, so she and her fiance, Larry, decide its in her best interest to turn herself in before she’s arrested. Season 1 follows Piper’s life as she adjusts to life inside the prison and soon the story expands to encompass other women and their lives before and currently in the prison.

So let’s talk about the distinct words mentioned in that synopsis I provided you. Did you get that? Piper had an ex-girlfriend and a male fiance.

The question I’ve been asking myself since season 1 (and I’m on season 3 right now) is why does Orange is the New Black treat Piper as if Bisexuality doesn’t exist?

Let’s start with how the show opens. Piper is already in prison but allows the show to back track into how she got there. We move from prison to innercity New York and into the domestic life of Piper and Larry. They’re in love, planning their upcoming wedding, and they are a bit quirky but in a sense that provides more backing to the fact that they love each other. There is never a vibe that Piper feels heterosexually pressured into being with Larry. She’s not trying to please her parents by marrying him. She’s not pretending here. Piper is in love with Larry. End of story. Now once it’s discussed more at length, Piper’s past with Alex is brought up and for highly educated people, Piper’s fiance and her best friend (Polly) are kind of…slightly…homophobic about her past relationship.

When you hear homophobic, most people jump to yelling, screaming, violence- but there is a more subtle form of homophobia at play here. Piper’s old feelings about Alex are invalidated because frankly they can’t believe she ever felt anything for a woman when she’s getting married to a man. They turn up their noses, they treat her like it was a poor mistake in judgement, or that it was just her doing what young people do and it meant nothing. Now once we arrive in prison and it becomes clear over the course of season 1, Alex is in prison with her. We see over a series of flashbacks through all seasons just how intimate Piper’s relationship with Alex was. It clearly defies all of the accusations of her friends and family that ‘it was just a phase’. (the oldest response to bisexuality in the book)

But what’s even more frustrating is hearing the phrase “She used to be lesbian” or “She’s gay now”- OITNB has used all of these phrases and more throughout its time. Understandably for other characters there is a sense of poor education, and a lack of care about correct terms which I get, they just label girls into girls as lesbians. But guys…Piper Chapman is NOT a lesbian.

You’re telling me a woman who tried so hard to keep up her relationship with her fiance while in prison, until ultimately they broke up because of her feelings for Alex returning, and then when she’s on furlough she tries to have sex with and is clearly clinging to the sense of home he instilled in her…is lesbian?

No.

I am a bisexual woman. I fall in love with men. I fall in love with women. Not at the same time. Not all at once.

If Piper were a lesbian she would have an out once in prison, to never have to have sex with Larry ever again. So why does she initiate it when she’s home for furlough? Yes Piper is acting out for attention, but no lesbian wants to have sex with a man. That’s common sense.

I understand sexuality is fluid and can change over time, but this isn’t over time. This is back and forth. I see all of these articles and pages “top ten tv bisexuals” Piper is in but Piper also fits into the sad category of “is bisexual but never says it out loud”.

Read here:

Piper says, I like hot girls and I like hot guys

Piper says, Gay is a spectrum 

Piper is number 44 on the list of Bisexual & Lesbian characters

Even this article mentions that other people are frustrated by the lack of bisexual phrasing in OITNB

I think you get the point.

We have an issue when it comes to bisexuality. No one wants to say it or label it. The characters are either straight or gay pertaining to who they’re in love with. That’s just not true. Bisexuality isn’t gay or straight, or 50/50 half and half. It’s a spectrum. I see a common trope of women starting in love with a man and then falling for a woman and suddenly she was gay. But the relationship with the man was loving, it was mutual, it had actual substance. Just like Piper’s with Larry.

We deserve characters to label themselves as bisexual. We deserve them having coming out stories and being un-apologetically themselves. I want Piper to OWN her sexuality. I want her to make a big fuss and claim a nickname for her sexuality, a phrase, a term. I want it to be something she’s proud of. There’s no need to conflict with her current relationships but as a bisexual viewer, I know she’s bi.

I mentioned before about the education level of other members of the prison and how they may not know the term for bisexual. That’s completely valid but it does not apply to Piper. For a character who spends her time often spouting off random knowledge, who would probably win jeopardy, she’s frankly uneducated about sexuality. OITNB overall treats it like there’s just gay and straight. Which is so much further from the truth.

Then to add onto this I began watching behind the scenes videos, interviews, because well I’m a TV nerd do we really need to ask why? I fell in love with the cast and I love the advocacy of the entire group and they really understand the impact they have on television. It’s beautiful. But there’s a twinge inside of me every time I hear Taylor Schilling asked about lesbian sex scenes, and Piper’s lesbian sexuality. Even the cast is under the guise that Piper is straight up gay. I would have liked some back up in my beliefs of Piper’s sexuality but it’s just not there.

It’s irresponsible to make a show be the standard of progressive and to mark on all of these issues and normalize same sex relationships on tv but to fail when discussions of sexuality comes forward. Representation matters, and we deserve representation. Maybe OITNB has missed the mark, missed the opportunity, to define Piper’s sexuality as bi. But that doesn’t mean they can avoid it completely. Bring in another bisexual character. Making Piper claim her sexuality does nothing to her current relationship. It doesn’t threaten it. It doesn’t invalidate it. It simply means that her previous relationship with Larry was true, and her one with Alex was as well.

It’s also frustrating knowing that OITNB isn’t on network TV, so the writers have less constrictions in terms of being afraid of backlash or having to censor themselves for a timeslot. There’s no reason for the erasure of bisexuality and what it encompasses.

Bisexuality isn’t Voldemort. It isn’t the sexuality who must not be named. It’s real. It’s valid. It’s here. I advise creators to get on board and stop polluting media with tropes and interchanging us with lesbians and straight girls who kissed a girl once at a party. We are here. We deserve characters who will actually say the label, and be unafraid of what lays out for them. It’s all about loving and who we love, and we need to see more love and let other members of LGBTQ+ know that who they love is valid.

Piper could have been one of those great characters that did so.

oh and the purple flowers in her poster art reminds me of the bisexual pride flag which is blue purple and pink respectively.

tea: orange bubble milk tea from Quickly

Push one of epi: A look into medical tv series

Anyone who knows me knows one thing. That I’m self proclaimed “medical show trash”. The interest comes from a love of medical series that my mom, who’s worked at hospitals and medical offices since before I was born, and I watched together. This summer I decided to binge two historic medical tv shows, ER and Saint Elsewhere. Two very different shows, but who’s work I can see reflected in current shows.

St Elsewhere really takes a look into doctors personal lives, and brings a sense of identity to the medical community that I argue didn’t really exist before. Doctors in other shows would be white coats with cold personalities that often just were used to scare the character they were treating. With St. Elsewhere we see a surprisingly diverse cast for a show from 1982, with star studded cast such as Denzel Washington and Christina Pickles. I was also interested in not only was there a female doctor, but they did discuss her over working herself to prove her right to be on staff as a doctor and not a nurse. There was a female Asian medical student, and a student that had traveled abroad that didn’t know English. That’s not to say that show didn’t have a problem with racism or sexism, it did through dialogue and story as unfortunately a lot of shows in the 80s and 90s had.

Speaking of the 90s, in 1994 the medical drama ER premiered and I’ve been binging that as well. ER is such essential viewing if you’re interested in creating a drama, or a medical show because it really set off the idea of emergency medicine and how doctors respond to it. It was one of the longest reigning drama shows on US network television with a record 15 seasons, only rivaled by NBC’s Law&Order with 20 seasons, Law & Order SVU at 19 currently going into the 20th, CSI ended at an equal 15, and the current medical drama Grey’s Anatomy which finished season 13 this year and will be going into 14 in the fall.

ER took the concept of bringing human qualities to those in white coats with a different twist than St. Elsewhere, because what is more dramatic than an Emergency department in downtown Chicago? Location is a very big key reason why this show did so well, shooting in local Chicago areas and developing the industry in the city but also because the amount of trauma they saw seemed relevant to the urban legend of Chicago being such a dangerous city. The cast changes as the seasons grow, and while I have just finished season one I can not speak for the diversity or the topics covered through all 15 years but I can talk about the 26 episodes I have seen. As a viewer you’re thrust into the fray without much explanation of who, what, and where- almost like you’re a medical student alongside doe-eyed John Carter who starts his first surgical ER rotation in the first season.

Notable other series I’ve watched and recommend are: NBC’s The Night Shift, canceled Emily Owens MD (on netflix), Black Box (canceled),  Saving Hope( which is a sort of Canadian Grey’s Anatomy that deals with life between death), Private practice, Code Black, Strong Medicine, Chicago Med, and Rosewood.

I think that medical dramas are such a rich environment that really looks at the human condition in such a unique way. There’s this quality about them that writers should strive for, and that’s what’s so beautiful. The best medical dramas to me are not just the white coat doctors trying to save a life, they’re the ones that show you every person’s flaws. If a doctor believes he’s gods gift by saving lives, the intern who just can’t get their confidence up, the kid who followed the family dream and has yet to find our their passion for the art of medicine- all of these characters that exist alongside us in our own civilization.

What a driving force of Grey’s Anatomy was, is the nostalgic feeling of not knowing what you’re doing as an intern. Things got messy personally, and then the patients reflected the personal challenge in the doctors lives. The key for everything is humanity. To show characters as well rounded individuals.

Some TV doctors you see preforming to their best, being messy but saving the day eventually and you say, I don’t want them to save me- but I argue that one of them probably has and you just didn’t know.

I think that the beauty in TV medical shows is that it’s this secret world, you think just happens there but really it doesn’t. You see what makes the news but you don’t know every story of your local ER. It’s magical to think these situations could exist from interns sleeping with their boss and not knowing, to nurses over dosing, irony of neurosurgeons dying from the lack of head CT, or doctors struggling to not become cold and shells of themselves from working so hard. These are human issues. You can sympathize with these amazing casts.

That is what a medical drama should be. You should feel a pull at your heartstrings from the sheer imagination of real people going through this, but also a wonderment of them pulling off the most heroic day of their lives only to wake up and try to outshine it the next day.

Every day heroes. That’s what they all are at their core, and it’s so beautiful to watch them. Medical dramas teach you about medicine, yourself, and what it takes to be a doctor. I’ve learned so much about who I am from the characters I love, and I’ve learned terms, and how to talk myself through injuries, or situations in my life that parallel the screen. You can always learn from TV, never let anyone tell you that you can’t.

So here’s to the tv doctors, the tv surgeons, to the lives saved at St. Elgis, from Seattle Grace to Grey Sloan Memorial, to Cook County, and the lives lost. Thank you for being there. Thank you for being human.

tea: orange zinger celestial tea

 

 

 

The Anatomy of a Nonprofit

I’ve seen the term a lot recently and have donated myself to nonprofits. So I wanted to discuss the ins and outs of them. Now we all should know what a nonprofit is. However if you don’t here’s a quick summary from The National Counsel of Non Profits

When you think of a “nonprofit” what do you think of? Most likely, you think of a group making a difference in your community. Maybe you are thinking of a large organization, such as Big Brothers Big Sisters or Make-a-Wish, or maybe you think about a local animal shelter or community theatre. These are groups that are tax-exempt under Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)(3) as “public charities” because they are formed to provide “public benefit.” Community foundations are also part of this group (and so are private foundations, although tax rules treat them a bit differently than public charities.)

Okay so they define it as a public charity whose money goes to benefiting others. This is through millions of different ways but the goal is still the same. That goal is to always donate or use the money in a way that helps others.

But really what is a successful nonprofit, and why should we give to them?

Let’s start and look at where the most number of nonprofits are.

The top three states tend to be

  1. California
  2. Texas
  3. New York

As per the Counsel of Nonprofits. This makes an incredible amount of sense due to each state’s population and resources. The more population you have, the more people you have in need of charity. That charity may be anything from more food banks to feed the poor and homeless, donations to aid medical care/fight for a cure, donations to organizations who fight discriminatory practices and so on.

Nonprofits need a clear goal of donation, the ability to successfully market and engage others in their work. Organization and policy are two other things that are very important for them as well. Everything must be clear and concise.

One part of nonprofits is that many people fear their money is not going to where it should be. When looking for a nonprofit to donate to a good phrase to search for is “100% of all proceeds will benefit_______” or “direct donation” which means your money will go straight to the charity and not be in a separate bank account or in the bank account of a person before given to the charity. Yes, there are known charity scams which I just suggest to research every charity before you make a considerable donation. Make sure the charity you want to donate to does what it says and stands for what you want it to, and that the owners do as well. It can be disheartening to learn after the donation that one of the owners uses the money for something else or doesn’t stand for what you believe in.

Nonprofits truly stand on the ideas of trust and for you to give in and trust the place you are donating to. You must trust that they will use the money for what they’ve said they would.

For more information on myths about Nonprofits I’ll link you to The Counsel of Nonprofit’s page on it.

The top charity in the world is UNICEF which is the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund or just the United Nation’s Children’s Fund.

What Unicef does is help aid children in developing countries so that they gain access to clean water, food, hygiene supplies, and other basic needs. You can donate here!

The second top charity is Human Rights Watch. Human Rights Watch defends human rights across the world. They consist of over 400 staffers from lawyers to defense attorneys, and other scholars of higher academia that fight for human rights. They meet with governments to ensure the changing of polices to benefit people, sue government leaders who endanger their citizens, and much more. They also team with journalists to report on crisis situations where human rights are being denied or are in danger. You can donate to them here.

The site that lists the top charities is https://topnonprofits.com/lists/best-nonprofits-on-the-web/. They’re listing the top charities that get the most traction online, which is where most people learn about charities now. My first true interaction with the charity known as the ACLU or American Civil Liberties Union was through the platform of Twitter.

Earlier this year our president put forward a controversial ‘Muslim Ban’. The ACLU found that this was unconstitutional and challenged it in court. Here’s what the end of that case looked like, from the ACLU’s website itself.

While the text of the Muslim ban “speaks with vague words of national security,” the court recognized that in context it “drips with religious intolerance, animus, and discrimination.” The ban’s message of religious condemnation is contrary to the bedrock constitutional requirement that the government remain neutral among religions: “When the government chooses sides on religious issues, the inevitable result is hatred, disrespect and even contempt towards those who fall on the wrong side of the line.”

The framers of the Constitution recognized how dangerous taking sides would be for our country, and the Fourth Circuit today vindicated this fundamental principle.

One of the members of the court, Judge Wynn, pointed out the historical context. “We have matured from the lessons learned by past experiences documented, for example, in Dred Scott and Korematsu,” he explained, referring to the shameful decisions permitting slavery and Japanese internment. “Laid bare,” Judge Wynn explained, “this Executive Order is no more than what the President promised before and after his election: naked invidious discrimination against Muslims.”

And that is unconstitutional.

The ACLU relies on donations to defend the constitution and the rights of the American people. What began circulating through twitter was a wave of people who did not support the ban, and they would make monthly or large donations to the ACLU so they can keep defending our rights. If you donate 10 dollars you can become a card carrying member of the ACLU which proves you fight for what they believe in which is at its core equal rights for everyone. Donate here.

But of course nonprofits are not always political and now I’ll do a brief list of the charities I’ve donated to and I encourage you to look into and donate at your wish.

  • DSWT– a wildlife fund to protect Elephants and other African wildlife.
  • MFPLA– My Friend’s Place LA is a Los Angeles homeless shelter specifically for the youth of the city. I donated as part of the Tough Mudder Crowdrise challenge hosted by Grey’s Anatomy Actor Giacomo Gianiotti.
  • Rights4Girls– a charity that helps young female victims of sexual assault and human trafficking.
  • Red Nose Day– benefits the poor communities of the United States!
  • ACLU– I’m a card carrying member myself.
  • Jane Goodall Institute– Following the work of Dr. Jane Goodall, the institute works with conversation efforts and helps women in developing countries.
  • NAMI– National Alliance on Mental Health dedicated to protecting those with mental illness, end stigma, and help generate resources.
  • SickKids Foundation– Sick Kids is a Canadian foundation for hospitalized children with illnesses. The money goes to help treatments, find cures, and help the kids!
  • Global Citizen– Global Citizen is a movement that gathers together people to fight for a cause. Their issues are generally human rights issues and they bring together movement that urges governments to vote in favor of human rights. They also host a Global Citizen festival that headlines with Coldplay, artists like Beyonce, U2 and more and donate the proceeds.
  • Dempsey Center– created by Patrick Dempsey to help the battle against cancer each year the Dempsey Center hosts the Dempsey Challenge which is a walk/run, cycle challenge that you must raise 150 dollars for the foundation to participate in. You can donate either directly to the center or as a challenge participant.

Those are just a few off the top of my head that I remember donating to. I’ve donated a lot of money over the years and I don’t always count it because that seems like a waste. The real issue isn’t how much money I have personally donated but how much we can raise all together. Even as little as five dollars can pay for something so meaningful like a vaccination for a child in a developing country. It’s about humanity and doing what’s right for our world. That’s something I really believe in. So the numerical value of my totals don’t mean much to me because it’ll always be growing.

I encourage everyone to seek out a nonprofit close to their heart and to fight for it. It takes a village, and we are each other’s best sources of help. It’s all about coming together to make the world a better place.

 

Aside

Hamilton & Diversity

I had the privilege of going down to San Francisco recently to see the traveling cast of Tony award winning Hamilton. Now if you’re unfamiliar at all with Hamilton, it is a musical based on the life of founding father Alexander Hamilton and what history books generally gloss over.

Lyrical genius Lin Manuel Miranda takes you into each character of Alexander’s narrative with rich songs full of intrigue at a rapid pace that has you on the edge of your seat. The cast does not dare to take a second too long rest between songs, and keeps his world spinning time and time again. Speaking of spinning, the show utilizes a rotating inner stage in which they even reverse for certain songs. It was truly a masterpiece.

But what truly is the forefront of Hamilton is its use of diversity in theatre on such a grand scale. Something that I’ve always admired about TV and television production is the notion of blind casting which was used for the show Grey’s Anatomy specifically, but it meant that actors were not cast for characters with skin color in mind. That was what Lin tried to with Hamilton, and succeeded.

See where as Lin was not only the writer of this show but he played Hamilton in the original New York Broadway run of the show, and Lin himself is of Puerto-Rican descent. Subsequently he makes sure that for each of his shows that a majority of the leads are people of color. This was true of the production I saw in San Francisco, and I honestly would never think to change it.

My Hamilton was played by Michael Luwoye, a young black man. He did phenomenal as far as I am concerned. Something else that really struck me was the character of Angelica Schuyler played by Emmy Raver-Lampman. She had this beautiful hairstyle including a half shaved head, which I think contrasted against the period clothing she wore was very eye catching.

While Hamilton is the story of a white founding father, and very much a story that is something aligned in the ‘american dream’ it is important for us to make the american dream accessible for everyone inside our country so that includes through the media allowing people of other cultures and races to feel at home. Everyone can be Hamilton because of his unnerving want and will to better his world. And if we can step forward and accept others opportunity is just as great as ours, I think the world could be such a greater place.

For more Hamilton content you can buy the soundtrack and mixtape (which is a series of popular musicians covering some of the songs) as well as the novel it was based on, Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow, and watch the PBS documentary on how the show came to be. It is worth the investment to see the show.

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TV saved my life last fall

This post is going to be deeply personal for me, I just want to preface. I may cover topics such as implied sexual harassment, and mental health so I want to warn readers that I will try my best as to not be overtly detailed as to cause triggers. But I will let you know I do cover those topics. Also I have omitted names, as well as some other fine details because they’re too sensitive or not in my place to speak of.

So I started my first year of college last year. This drastically impacted me being across the country from home, being in a large city, and being alone from all my friends. It’s no surprise I felt depressed at times, or I struggled with opening myself up to making new friends. But something that really hindered this was my living situation at the time. I’ve opened up to close friends who know exactly what happened as I told them in real time because some of what I witnessed or lived through is quite honestly something so bizarre and unspoken about it could be a tv pilot.

But I do want to say that in that time Television was my solace. I had several moments inside my apartment where I did not feel safe. It was during this time that I sought out using the tv as a distraction. Thing is I would binge 30 Rock, and eventually completed the series last fall because it was all my distracted mind could focus on. That and Grey’s Anatomy. Which I had finished the year before and can basically recite like the back of my hand.

Now when I say I didn’t feel safe in my apartment you have to understand some things.

First, I shared a bedroom and a bunk bed with another girl. I was on the top bunk. She over the time spent in our room was a terrible roommate. And no it wasn’t that she was just loud. There’s really no excuse for doing laundry only twice from August 31st to October 28th. She would let her hamper overflow to the point where she began to leave laundry on her bed, she never put away clean clothes so they laid with the soiled ones, and then it became a large pile that stacked all the way up to our window sill. Once I climbed out of bed and found she had thrown a thong onto my chair. This was not all though of course it couldn’t be.

I told you I wasn’t safe.

See as the laundry accumulated, she had also moved out of our room. She began sleeping in our living room next to the couch on the floor, which she littered with instant noodles and chocolate pudding cups. She did not tell us why.  I, being a shy and timid person, had not really interacted with her much. Through all this she had boyfriend troubles so every few nights we all pitched in and did damage control for her emotionally. So as things progressed she just grew angry and agitated, coming back home from spending the night at her boyfriend’s dorm and slamming the bedroom door as she came in while I ‘slept’ (or pretended to be asleep so she wouldn’t talk to me). Throughout this time she had been coming in and out with her boyfriend through the days and there were a lot of moments where they had sex in the bathroom and we all could hear it. There wasn’t so much of a group text to let us know to leave. I was locked out of my bedroom without my phone once. But then she broke up with this boyfriend. There was a period of time where she would bring home random guys.

There is nothing wrong with a woman having a lot of sexual interaction, but when it puts other girls at risk that’s where it’s a problem. Not only was my roommate putting herself in danger with a stranger, she put us in danger as well. One such time when she was agitated if I remember correctly, I did what any logical person would have done. I went to the room next to mine, closed the door, sat on the floor with my other roommates and I made them watch the Grey’s Anatomy pilot.

Watching the pilot made me feel so at peace in a time where I did not know what was going to happen to me. I think what made such an impact on me was that I was watching characters who didn’t have a firm grasp on life as I did in that moment. They felt lost, they felt unsure of the world they had just stepped foot in and so did I. We felt safe for 43 minutes.

Then the random guys brought alcohol into the mix as well. So the girl I shared a bedroom with would bring men we both did not know home, while intoxicated and underage, and not tell any of us. I guess I slept through a few nights where my other roommate walked some of the men out of the apartment in the middle of the night because this girl was too drunk. So as this was happening I was sleeping.

I can not tell this story without mentioning that she sexually harassed my other roommate while drunk however that story is not mine to tell but I will say my story comes back into this because she and I discussed it a few days after.

I felt guilty over it because that was one night when this girl came home very drunk, crying and she eventually called her mom and she was very loud. It was 11 or 12 at night and I had an 8:30 the next morning so I closed our door, and tried to block out the noise. That was when the harassment occurred and I wish that I hadn’t shut down and knew what to do in the situation but I didn’t.

So the victim and I were talking about what happened and about reporting her when she tells me that the girl had been bragging to her the night before about having sex in her bunk with a random guy while I slept.

I couldn’t sleep for weeks. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t feel safe, my privacy had been violated. The worst part of all of that is that I do not know exactly what occurred and I do not know if I myself was touched by them at any point in time. My sense of self was so out of place from then because I truly do not know. I woke up clothed that is all knew.

We eventually reported her and that was when my other roommate and I began to binge Grey’s Anatomy together because it was something that took our mind off of what was happening. Suddenly we were afraid to come home at times we knew she was there.  The process of deciding to report her and to who was a messy blur. I remember hiding at our starbucks around the corner and then in our lobby until I knew she wasn’t there.

But once it came to the time where the sexual harassment offices got involved I did not report, although my roommate reported and then I went with her to follow up meetings with officials to verify her story with my own. It was because of this that the biggest incident happened.

I was sitting, doing homework on a Thursday afternoon where I didn’t have class. Everyone was having class. Or so I thought. She had been taken into the title ix offices and told of the accusations against her. I got a phone call from her that I stupidly picked up.

I heard “Why are you lying,” and I automatically responded by saying that it wasn’t me filing a claim against her that it was the other roommate and it was confidential so I could not discuss the case with her before hanging up.

I felt my heart racing to the point of I felt faint. My face was blushed, I could feel the heat rising in my cheeks. I had no choice, I didn’t know when she was coming home. I did NOT want to see her. I felt in danger. I closed my laptop. I sent an email to my RA, I told her I didn’t feel safe and I also let my other roommate know. She asked me to come to her room. At this point I felt very weak. My heart was pounding in my ears, I felt the need to pack everything up because every bad thing I could think of raced through my head. What if she came back and broke my camera? My laptop? What if she stole my clothes? What if she…what if she-?

I eventually grabbed my purse and made my way down the hall. I knocked on my RA’s door. While I waited the elevator dinged multiple times, and each time I jumped with panic that it was this girl coming back to our apartment. Once inside my RA’s room she led me to her couch while she went to make a phone call to her adviser to tell her the situation.

I found myself on her couch watching whatever she had turned the TV to.

It was Grey’s Anatomy.

I didn’t touch anything, I didn’t even realize until my heart had slowed down and I heard that voice that made my days so much better.

Grey’s Anatomy actually saved my life. Hearing just the familiar voice of Meredith Grey that I had developed a connection to over 13 seasons actually ended my panic attack. At that moment nothing mattered. I watched for those five minutes before my RA came back in and talked to me. Those five minutes took me away from the emotional hell I had been living in for weeks. It took me to a hospital where I knew everyone’s name, and I didn’t feel at fear for what could happen to me. That’s all that mattered. Grey’s Anatomy made me feel safe. I will always be in debt to Shonda Rhimes, and to the cast, to Ellen Pompeo- for making a show so full of heart that it became the light in my dark.

and to my RA for  having it on. She didn’t know. She was catching up on some studying with it on as background noise when I came to her. TV transcends itself by being such a staple we live on and for me it was such a sign. TV came to me when I needed it the most. I needed it for an escape and it provided that. I don’t know what would have happened had it not been playing when I came over because it was such a terrifying situation. This girl was also bipolar and off her medication and had been for weeks. Her behavior was erratic and extreme which made me fear for my safety a lot and knowing she was angry at me led me to a lot of anxious thoughts.

Now that she’s gone, Grey’s doesn’t leave our TV often. After having binged the entire show my roommate promptly started again. It’s on when we eat, it’s on while we study- it brings peace to us because we had to make our apartment our safe space again. We didn’t move out, she did. But the places where she hurt us were still there.

“When something bad happens there’s always a handful of beautiful things that come out of it “- Ellen Pompeo

I write this because I was just diagnosed with anxiety/depression and I made a promise to myself. If Greys can last this long, why can’t I? Obviously my livelihood does not depend on the show but understanding that I have over 300 options of episodes to calm me down during the worst of times is comforting. It is time that I stop blaming myself, or questioning why this happened to me but to put myself forward to not be prisoner to my anxiety anymore. So what, something bad happened to me but I found beauty in how I was saved.

“What’s broken can be mended, what’s hurt can be healed. No matter how dark it gets, the sun’s gonna rise again”- Meredith Grey.

TV will always be there next year too.

It’ll be there and it’ll be safe.

tea: wildberry zinger 

My Person: Where are our female friendships?

I want to preface this post by giving a little bit of insight about me. I haven’t always been a social butterfly and growing up I had a small central friend group that broke entirely around the time I was in 10th grade. Ever since then I understood how hard you have to work for a friendship, and how to regain friends, and just simply overall I had a hard time. So I have my one female best friend right now whom I refer to as my person and I have a small close, tight knit group of other friends who are primarily long distance or online friends. For me, an introvert, that’s really beneficial.

So let’s get into this post. What’s it about? My opinions

no really though,

I want to discuss how we see friendships of women in tv and how beneficial it is to younger viewers. I’ve always found in times where my own friendships were scarce or failing, I can find something to bond to. How women a portrayed on media is really a precursor to how women in society act. And what I mean by that is that young girls see what’s on screen and without knowing they mimic it. It’s a subconscious thing, where you aren’t aware of it. You imitate Rachel, Phoebe, and Monica more than you think- trust me. We like to take snippets of pop culture and reimagine ourselves through it.

What female friendships do is give women standards that they can expect from each other, and say that I want someone like that- and it’s honestly about bringing one another up. Friendships are not always conventional and I’ll discuss how the infamous “I’m your person” phrase from Grey’s Anatomy comes about next.

If you haven’t seen the scene, here it is:

 

Okay so let’s talk about context. Cristina and Meredith have only known each other for a season and Cristina is pregnant with Burke’s baby and she doesn’t want it. In order for Cristina to sign off on the abortion she has to put someone down as an emergency contact. She has no family in Seattle and chooses Meredith to be her ‘person’. Cristina is no nonsense about feelings, and generally has a disposition of focusing on her work rather than personal life. She shuts away a lot. Meredith and Cristina get along fairly well by this point in the series as work friends, they’ve gone out drinking with the rest of the group before but they’re hardly what’s considered a normal best friends situation.

Which again begs a question of what even is a normal best friend situation like? Newsflash there really isn’t one as long as you aren’t manipulative or abusive, which friendships can be. Cristina marked their friendship, and despite her never following through with the abortion due to other causes- Meredith kept her obligation her. She became her person and in return Cristina became hers. They were always there for each other even if they didn’t agree with each other, or if they bickered or disagreed- there was a mutual respect and the want for each other to thrive and grow. Girls supporting girls does not have to be a complex idea. It really just means letting your friends exist in an environment where they feel appreciated and understood. You don’t have to text every day or get fancy with gifts for them. You just have to be someone to lean on and someone who they can let go with.

There’s a beauty in women’s friendships because women feel inseparable when they’re with someone who understands them. What Cristina and Meredith demonstrate is this thing that I witnessed at a younger age because of the broadcast program I was in but it’s that women in jobs have this weird like sixth sense friendship. I don’t really understand it fully myself but what I knew is I attached to this girl and we were the best of work friends. I went to her place sometimes. Hung out once in a while, she was part of my friend group that broke but I stayed on this fence between friends and work friends. But more so I felt like even though I wasn’t her best friend, or person, I could trust her. Trust is such a big part of female friendships. That’s what’s important here. TRUST.

I had issues in friendships where I was manipulative or mean, because I wanted control and I desperately never want that in a friendship again.

Okay so now let’s talk because Cristina Yang left Grey’s Anatomy in s10 after a messy season where she fought with Meredith a lot- and that entire storyline was suddenly and magically solved whereas in my opinion it needed better closure. So Cristina has been gone for years now and I just find that frankly what Grey’s Anatomy is putting forward isn’t enough.

Grey’s season 13 is lacking strong female friendships. And what’s worse than that? They’re breaking girl code 101 by creating this weird as hell love triangle between Meredith, Nathan, and Maggie. Like for me it was always neither of you get the guy until someone says I’m fully over him and confidently prove that. But that’s just me apparently.

There’s this constant drag and pull from the writers about Maggie finding out about Meredith going behind her back and sleeping with Nathan, which in itself is a terrible problem I won’t get into. Why is this something viewers would want to see is my question.

I briefly want to bring back the idea of trust and how it’s been broken, several times by the main character in question and how Maggie being betrayed is so harmful. So many people have brushed off this storyline with well Maggie should stop being a drama queen and give Meredith who’s had it worse the man. But you don’t see here that the drama isn’t necessarily around Nathan. He didn’t take no for an answer and Meredith eventually gave into his persistent bothering. However Maggie isn’t upset Meredith slept with Nathan. Maggie is upset Meredith lied to her about it, she went behind her back, she did not discuss any of it with her, and all while fully understanding that Maggie never told her explicitly she was over Nathan. The lack of trust between them is the real issue at the core of the matter.

(and psa girls, if you have to hide your man from your half sister I will just give you some advice…he ain’t worth it)

and yes rereading what I just wrote above makes me feel like I’m 14 and it’s the day after prom, and I’m trying to list through the drama that went down. It’s tiring. Slightly humiliating to actually care, or want to care about. Again though, that drama from highschool was hardly girls lifting each other up until about my actual prom where we kind of tried harder with each other. If girls stood up for one another, a lot of drama from highschool would be cleared up in a day.

Look Meredith Grey doesn’t have a lot of people left in her life. She’s lost her friends, her half sister, her mom, her dad doesn’t exist anymore, her husband’s dead, and her best female friend left her.

Yes Meredith and Alex are cute and he understands her but there is no female best friend for Meredith right now and I think that it’s something she’s lost and she needs. The undeniable strength that comes from women fighting for each other is something we all need more of. So why is it that we have to suffer as viewers through the one person Meredith was sort of opening up to, thrown down the drain every chance we got?

She’s there one second, not the next. I think it’s very sad for teens to be catching up with the show and see the absence of that. Meredith is still the main character. She is the goal. She is who you watch and you care for and you make sure you root for her. I do understand that there’s side friendships like April and Arizona (who don’t have as strong of a bond as I think they’re hyped up to have by the fans. That is my opinion however). But I struggle with even those because forgive me if I’m wrong but shouldn’t the common thread in every relationship be the connection to Meredith Grey?

Some characters seem to forget Meredith even exists. It’s very frustrating as a fan because I’m not inclined to care for them if they can’t care for Meredith. April and Meredith haven’t been friends since season 6 I’m convinced. Like there is the friendship?If they don’t have a good one that’s different but frankly they don’t act like each other exists. Same with Arizona. She only cares about Meredith when she’s distracting Alex from something. When was the last time these girls leaned on each other? Cared for each other?

I’m not asking for some amazing astounding friendships but like come on here. I get it, I’m a lot like Meredith Grey. So yeah she can be a bit hard to make friends with, let’s say that. But I truly think that even just one stronger female friendship for her instead of these plot lines based on proving she’s grieved, which she hasn’t properly done, but that’s another post too. I also have an argument that all of her friends have peer pressured her into taking risks she’s not ready for but I won’t cover that either. What I will say is that using the continuous drama that I could walk into a middle school campus and find, is just pathetic really. Using that for every ad, for every promo, it’s boring. I miss caring about these relationships.

So when you threaten to break Maggie and Meredith’s trust down, again…you’re harming two characters I highly identify with and I would love to see them support each other. Because not only does Meredith not have anyone, but Maggie is alone too. They have this mutual need for control and the need to be right but where as Maggie is the moral scientific way and Meredith fights for what she thinks is right which can be a bit ethically murky. On top of this they’re half sisters.

I don’t have a sister. But I do have cousins who are sisters and the one thing that I really observed is that we need more sisters sticking together. I mean frankly at this point because I feel that this season is written so out of character for Meredith the least they could do was add in some female friendships for younger viewers to hold onto. This idea of who’s being more petty just puts people on the outs with each other, while the real people you need are someone who will save a life with you- come on.

Alex doesn’t have all the answers for Meredith, and I don’t think we should rely on him to. I haven’t even touched on Meredith’s relationship with Amelia simply because the two repel each other only because they’re highly similar people.

The exclusion of female friendships is harmful because it leads to the idea of a woman who thinks she can not lean on others. When you don’t see strong women beside each other it is then when the negativity, the shaming, the I’m better than you idea comes into play. Because you’re out to be higher than another woman instead of caring about her like you would a sister or a close friend. You don’t have to be best of best friends with every woman you meet but to empower them? It doesn’t take a lot. It takes being kind and being there for them. I would be lost without strong women in my life and I had to seek out women that would be as strong to me as I am to them.

But what my main point here is that there’s been a movement through younger generations of calling each other their person, and creating this idea of someone who will stand with you through anything and yet that idea is lost currently. Women deserve friendship and knowing that they still can find friendship despite how dark it can get. I miss that part of Grey’s a lot. Women supporting women is EVERYTHING.

So I leave you with this moment from Paley Fest.

 

moral of the story is

HOES BEFORE BROS

Drink of choice: Tropical Green tea from English Tea Shop