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I just finished reading "Nappy: Growing Up Black and Female in America" by Aliona Gibson. I needed a book on female experiences of prejudice for my fem Naruto story I'm writing, and I figured that since I'm American and have taken classes in African American culture and become involved in African American civil rights, this was the kind of prejudice I knew the most about. I'm here to write a review of the book.

First, I would like to say that this book is surprisingly unique. I say "surprisingly" because it's the only book I could find that just straight-out talks specifically about black female experiences of prejudice. There are no other autobiographical details, it's not a fiction book or a book of poetry. It's a book specifically about one black woman's memories on what it's like to be a black woman. And in this area, it excels.

She goes through everything: the pain of prejudices based on appearance, experiences with men, and experiences of various places and cultures. She talks about how she's noticed black communities differ from area to area: East Coast, West Coast, and even Africa. There was a lot of invaluable information in there, if you were looking for it, about female experiences of prejudice in general. Fears of sexual assault, for example, or ridicule based on appearances that do not fit the "ideal."

It was not a very professionally done book and was obviously self published. That would be my only major criticism. There were a lot of weird spaces where there shouldn't be spaces, spelling and grammatical errors, etc. The book was also rather short, but I think it covered everything it needed to cover.

Overall, a good read, and I would recommend it. The book should be more famous than it is.
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I signed this petition and thought I'd give you a chance to as well. Here is the description:

The Syrian refugee crisis is one of the world’s largest humanitarian emergencies. More than 17 million people, including over 7 million innocent children, have been affected and rely on international aid to survive.

When I met my brave friend Muzoon, a 17-year-old Syrian refugee, she was living in a refugee camp in Jordan going from tent to tent encouraging girls to stay in school. While there, I saw firsthand how difficult it is to study or even attend school when there are few supplies, teachers, and little electricity.

This is why we are traveling together to the Syria Conference, where world leaders will come together to agree how much funding the world will give to education for Syrian children impacted by the conflict.

We will challenge governments to provide the money needed to guarantee an education for every Syrian child – so that they can continue to learn and build towards their hopes for the future.

The conference will take place on February 4th, so the time to act is now.

Join Muzoon and me in asking President Barack Obama and other world leaders to ensure that at least $1.4 billion dollars per year are dedicated to education for Syrian children.

$1.4 billion dollars may sound like a lot. But we did the math – it’s actually less than the cost of one World Cup stadium. In fact, it will only cost $1 per day, per child, to give every Syrian child a quality education and help ensure peace and a hopeful future. So this isn’t a question of money, it’s a question of will.

We all know how important and precious an education is to a child. As Muzoon says, “people fear that we will become a ‘lost generation’ but we are #notlost. We are the greatest hope for Syria's future and we must make sure the world invests in that hope through education.”

Please lend your voice to our call to fully fund education for Syrian children affected by conflict.

Thank you,

Malala Yousafzai & Muzoon Almellehan

Here is the link:
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I signed this petition and thought I'd give you a chance to. Here's the description:

My grandmother, Elaine Danforth Harmon, was a trailblazer. During World War II, Gammy, as we called her, enlisted in the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP). She was one of 1,102 women who risked their lives stateside ferrying planes, towing targets for gunnery training, and instructing male pilots. Sadly, thirty-eight of these women were killed during their service.

The WASP have been recognized as veterans by the Veterans’ Administration and were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal by President Obama. Yet, despite their service, and ultimate sacrifice, the Department of the Army refuses to allow their ashes to be placed in Arlington National Cemetery like it does to their male equivalents.

Gammy was the most giving, selfless woman I have ever known. She hardly ever asked for anything, so when she did, my sisters and I paid attention. Her dying wish was to be laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery with the WASP and she lobbied for decades to make this happen. In fact, when testifying before Congress in 1981, she said, “it is our understanding that we are eligible for military funerals. If there is any question about it, we would like to have this clarified.” She wouldn’t give up on this fight and so, neither will we. This is why your signature means so much to us.

Join me in asking Congress to provide the clarification our Gammy asked for all the way back in 1981 which would guarantee the WASP full military burial rights in Arlington National Cemetery.

Gammy saw Arlington as a museum for U.S. military history and we believe the WASP have earned their place among their fellow servicemen and women. And it’s not just us who think so. Representative Martha McSally (R-AZ), sponsored a bipartisan bill that would restore burial rights for the WASP at Arlington National Cemetery, stating, “These women fought, and died, in service to their country. They trained in the military style: sleeping on metal cots, marching, and living under military discipline. They deserve the full honors we give our war heroes …”

Being part of the WASP and her service to her country was Gammy’s lifelong passion. It was very near and dear to her heart because she would do anything for her country, including risk her life, as she did while in service. By signing my petition, you’re not just helping us fulfill our promise to our Gammy, you’re also bringing justice and honor to service women who deserve full burial rights at our nation’s place of honor.

Here is the link:
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I signed this petition and thought I'd give you the chance to as well. Here is the petition description:

More than a year after police shot and killed my 12-year-old cousin Tamir Rice as he played in a park with a toy gun, a grand jury declined to charge the officers who opened fire on Tamir in less than 2 seconds of arriving to the scene.

My family is saddened and disappointed– but we are not surprised.

Since Tamir was killed, Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty has been on the side of the police -- manipulating the grand-jury process so that they would vote against indicting the officers. We need the U.S. Department of Justice to step in to conduct a real investigation into the killing of a 12-year-old child.

Even though video shows police shooting Tamir immediately, Prosecutor McGinty hired so-called expert witnesses to tell the grand jury their conduct was reasonable and justified. It is unheard of, and highly improper, for a prosecutor to hire "experts" to try to exonerate the targets of a grand-jury investigation. These are the sort of "experts" we would expect the officer's criminal-defense attorney to hire — not the prosecutor.

He gave the officers special treatment which would never be given to non-police suspects.

The Department of Justice has launched independent investigations into police killings of civilians before. Last year, they launched one in response to the killing of John Crawford, who, like Tamir, had a toy gun in his hand while shopping at a Walmart when police rushed in and shot him to death. A petition helped make that investigation happen and that’s why I need your signature.

Please sign my petition asking the Department of Justice to launch a federal investigation into prosecutor McGinty's handling of the grand jury process; and for the killing of 12 year old Tamir Rice.

Here is the link:
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Me, my sister, and my closest friend all had lunch together yesterday. We went to an Italian place and ate too much spaghetti and pizza and chatted. Then we went shopping around the nearby mall -- my friend bought some stuff from Old Navy.

We took our friend back to our place, where we sat around and watched movies (The Fault in Our Stars, Kill Your Darlings on Netflix). We were originally only supposed to finish Kill Your Darlings, which is about Allen Ginsberg as a young man, but then we got to the part where the two boys pretend to hang themselves, then fall off the chairs they're standing on and almost really hang themselves, then free themselves... and then laugh about it.

My friend and I, who both suffer from mental illness and have both been suicidal, felt so sick that we turned the TV off. We turned on The Fault in Our Stars instead and talked about how Augustus Waters doesn't use words like "metaphor" or "soliloquy" correctly. English major problems.

Anyway, there was lots of laughter and Googling hot celebrity guys, lots of movie analysis. It was fun!

Then we went with my friend's husband to a nighttime showing of Concussion with Will Smith, which was playing in the next town over. I don't have much to criticize. The movie was superb. Will Smith did the performance of a lifetime, and the movie was REALLY intense. Unlike with Kill Your Darlings, there was suicide in this one, but it definitely wasn't joked about.

I did like the message to Omalu's speech at the end, that people just need to know this is a risk in playing football. I enjoy football as much as the next small-town country gal, but I agree. People have to know the risks of what they're doing -- you can't just shut that up.

We had an interesting talk on the drive home later that night in the car, me and my friends. It all started with someone commenting in amazement that Omalu spent over 20,000 dollars on this personal research project into CTE. Then my friend's husband pointed out that with the houses Omalu owned and the cars he drove, as a doctor with several degrees, that might not have been such a big deal for him. He made the example of someone he knew: both he and his wife made about a hundred thousand a year, and this man decided independently to spend ten thousand a year to pay for the childcare of the daughter of a friend who was struggling. When he finally told his wife about it at the end of the year, she shrugged it off. Said she'd spent that much on a horse earlier this year. When you get wealthy enough, ten or twenty thousand doesn't really mean anything, the way it would to most ordinary people. We're not even talking about the top one percent here. Maybe, like, the top ten or twenty percent.

That's how we got to talking about how people spend their money. We talked about an experiment Howard Stern did -- he and his show gave a homeless man forty thousand dollars. The only stipulation was that they got to see over the course of one year how the man spent the forty thousand dollars. It turned out? The man bought a really nice coat and a hotel stay through the winter. But a year later, he was back in the same position he'd always been. It did not seem to have occurred to him that for forty thousand dollars, he could pay for a year of college and dorm living while looking for a job. For forty thousand, he could have bought a house -- not a great house, but a house. It's all about how you spend your money.

My friend's husband put it best with a quote from a book he'd once read. There's an old homeless man talking, and he says: "There are two kinds of poor. God's poor and the Devil's poor. God's poor are people like orphans and widows and those who would benefit from Christian charity. But then you have the Devil's poor, vagrants like me, who you can't help no matter what you try."

Unfortunately, there's a grain of truth in that.
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I finished a 500-and-some-odd page book in two and a half weeks of winter break, and I'm here to write a review. The book is "The Paying Guests" by Sarah Waters.

Ahoy, matie. There be spoilers below.

"The Paying Guests" is really about the evolution of a relationship -- a lesbian relationship set in London in the 1920's. Frances Wray and her aging mother used to be very wealthy, but have fallen on hard times and have to take in boarders. Their boarders turn out to be a handsome young couple who on the outside seem to have the perfect life.

But looks can be deceiving. Both sides are hiding things. Frances's father squandered the family fortune, her brothers died in World War I, and she's had brushes with the law in the past at pacifist and feminist protest rallies and has had to turn away from a previous lesbian relationship to take care of her mother. Meanwhile, the young couple, the Barbers, have a crumbling marriage based on lies, adultery, and lost babies. (After miscarrying the first time, Mrs Barber actually gets an illegal abortion at two different points because she doesn't want her husband's baby, and one of the abortions is described in rather brutal terms.) Neither Miss Frances Wray nor Mrs Lilian Barber seem to have a happy life.

But they find happiness in each other. They begin a secret relationship, which is evolved slowly, and rather than this being idealized and romanticized, it's quickly shown that this falls apart. First, it's made quite explicit that carrying on any sort of homosexual relationship is insanely hard in this time period. But there's more. Mr Leonard Barber finds out about his wife's adultery, and -- quite hypocritically, since he's committed adultery himself -- he tries to strangle Frances. Lilian responds by killing him from behind. The ensuing scandal as they try to cover up the truth of the death from the police nearly tears the two apart as they begin criticizing and second-guessing each other's motives, the strain and stress of their crime weighing on each of them. (One interesting point: Lilian claims the death was accidental and she just wanted to hurt her husband, but she also got a great deal of money and newfound freedom out of his death, so Frances isn't sure whether or not to believe her. Since it's all from Frances's point of view, we never really know what to think of Lilian either. This is never quite resolved. Lilian's motives remain mysterious, perhaps even to herself.)

A few thoughts on the book:

You can't help but dislike Frances and Lilian for the last third of the book. You don't feel like you're on their side anymore. A young boy is about to be convicted for their covered-up crime, but they're going to wait until he's committed to the gallows before admitting their guilt. When he's set free by the court, they never admit what they did at all. It's a triumph for the characters -- they get to be together and at least somewhat patch up their relationship at the end -- but it's also a moral failure, and the characters seem very aware of that. Basically, they get away with at least involuntary manslaughter in order to be together. That the death was in self-defense is only part of the puzzle.

I didn't really like Lilian and Frances's relationship -- until the very end. When after it all, they have that quiet moment together when they sit in alcove on the bridge and watch the passersby, close together, and a completely silent understanding passes between them. Paradoxically, even though you've stopped liking the characters, you like the relationship. It carries a heaviness and subtext that the previous, somewhat childish relationship lacked. I liked the relationship better that way -- I'm not sure what that says about me.

The pacing was a bit odd. It was slow, of course, I've said that, but for most of the book it worked. For that last third, though... it just dragged on and on and on. I'm not sure if that was intentional, to get us into the characters' trapped mindset, or if it's just a failure on the part of the author. But either way, that last section involving the murder trial and investigation centered on the young boy was torturous and agonizing in its slowness.

Also, shoutout to the deliciously complex relationship Frances has with her mother. I really liked that part. Mrs Wray in herself is a bit boring, your typical friendly and gullible little old lady used to being wealthy and Churchgoing and doing charities, but put her together with her newfound lack of money and her rebellious yet responsible and duty-bound daughter Frances... oh, and interesting things happen.

Overall, it was a good book, as you can see by the fact that I read it in less than three weeks. I would recommend it to others.
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Dear Teenage Self,

I’m not quite sure how to begin. There’s so much I want to tell you; so much has changed. Most of it for the better.

First, I know being a teenager is hard. It seems like people are always trying to under-rate the problems of being a teenager. But I remember: being a teenager is insanely difficult. Just know that things will get better, if you give them time.

I know you think you’re ugly. I know those bullying girls in middle school make you feel like you’re ugly. And I remember what you look like in middle school: long frizzy hair, braces, snobbish little gold-rimmed cat’s-eye glasses, tomboyish clothes. I remember that you cried the first time you heard “I’m Not That Girl” from Wicked. You pretended you were smarter and more arrogant than everybody else to hide the truth -- that you never felt like you fit in, that you doubted you’d ever find a boyfriend or fall in love.

Well, guess what? All those bullying girls in middle school? They’ll lose interest in you in high school. Your braces will come off. One day you’ll just decide to cut off all your hair, and it will feel incredibly liberating. You’ll get some new square plastic black-framed glasses. You’ll learn to make your tomboyish look work for you, with band T shirts and checkered open sweaters and long wool coats and skintight jeans.

And guess what else? Guys will call you pretty. So will girls. You’ll be asked out on dates. You’ll make new friends. College will free you from the confines of teenage hierarchy -- yes, you have to wait till college, and it will frustrate you because it seems like everyone else has it all figured out in high school. (They don’t. Trust me.) In fact, you’ll go to prom stag with a bunch of your girlfriends instead of with some immature teenage boy, and you’ll have the time of your life. You’ll rent a white limo and put on a lavender ball gown, and you’ll giggle and silly dance on top of a ship overlooking the sea sparkling in the night. And then, eventually, a year or two later in college, you’ll have the courage to ask somebody out and romance will happen for you.

But you’ll also learn not to let your beauty define you. I know you can’t even conceive of this right now, but you’ll get into a relationship, realize this guy’s not right for you, and you’ll have the courage to tell him “no.” He will validate this idea of the beauty you never thought you had, but he will not be the right person for you, and you will realize that it is okay. It is okay for him not to be the right person for you. You don’t owe anyone anything just because they called you pretty.

And it is okay not to have a boyfriend. Especially in high school. Ya got time, girl! Go easy on yourself!

Also know this: you still haven’t completely fallen in love. I think you’re probably one of those people who falls in love really intensely, but only once or twice a lifetime. And you’ve realized that’s okay too. You’ve kissed boys, held hands with them, even made out with them, but you have never given your virginity away to a guy who hasn’t earned it. And your inexperience? That doesn’t bother you as much as it used to. In fact, you’re a little proud of it. You go slow, and that’s okay -- your relationship experiences will be more rewarding that way. It’s okay to wait until the time is right.

You will try to force it. There will be a point in college when you try to force relationships that aren’t there, out of some misguided idea that you’re supposed to. And guess what? You’ll get over that, too. It’s a phase. You’ll grow out of it.

Don’t get me wrong. You’re not always the paragon of self confidence or anything. You still have your self conscious moments, but you’ve learned that those are okay. Progress can be imperfect and still be progress.

I know you have a lot of celebrity and book crushes right now. You’ll grow out of those, too. Don’t get me wrong, admiring sexy guys is awesome and so are idle daydreams, but the intense crushes on people you’ve never met? I’ve found those usually fade as you get older as well.

I also remember that those bullying girls used to call you a freak. Behind your back, which is worse. Even now, you still haven’t forgotten that girl who cheerfully told you, “I know everyone says you’re a freak, but I think you’re really nice! Oh, wait. You did know people call you a freak, right?”

You hadn’t.

Yeah. Ow.

That one still hurts a little.

But overall, you’ve come far. Time heals most wounds, and all those times you were socially humiliated in middle school? Those times don’t seem so important anymore. You can look back now and see those bullies for exactly who they really were: immature airheads. You can remember the memory, and be exasperated by it, and not feel pain.

And you know what? You ARE a freak. And you should be damn proud of that! The freaks are the best! They’re the originals, the daring ones, the ones who will change the whole fuckin’ world! Dare to be different! Live it up! Don’t let those assholes weigh you down!

And don’t give up on your childhood dreams. Remember when you wanted to be a novelist, a poet, a musician, an actress, but everyone told you that would be too hard and so you gave up? Don’t give up! You’ll get to a place where you’ll feel brave enough to start dreaming those things again.

You’ll also get better at talking in front of people. You don’t just babble incoherently and shake like a leaf in a high wind when you get up in front of people anymore. You’ve learned to deal with crowds, parties, and yes, school presentations -- at least to a certain extent. They can even be kind of fun!

Don’t start drinking. Stick to your principles and instincts and don’t get caught up in that addictive cycle. It may separate you from your peers now, but you’ll be so grateful for it later. For the ability to have an occasional beer or glass of wine without feeling the need to get drunk.

Yes, you WILL find jobs. You'll volunteer at the local library for a year in your senior of high school, edit someone's book for publication for a fee, and you'll have a really cool virtual internship doing business writing for an environmental company. (Your major right now is Creative Writing, with a minor in Marketing -- this may surprise you because I know you were thinking Psychology. But really, budding young writer, is it such a surprise?)

Also, you know that girl you’re best friends with? The daring, original one who loves goth stuff and who you walk home with every afternoon so she can show you her anime collection? The one you really admire and envy for her sheer comfort in being different? The one who takes you to the cool rock concerts? The one you wear bandanas with because you want so badly to be her? Yeah, you’re not really friends with her anymore. Not because you had a big falling-out or anything, but just because you both went off to different colleges and she turned out not to be the kind of friend who wanted to keep in contact with people she didn’t see every day -- even though you DID turn out to be that kind of friend.

I’m not going to lie to you and say that won’t hurt. It will. It’ll hurt like hell. It’ll feel like a betrayal. But eventually, you’ll come to the realization of this: that girl you admired and envied? You ARE that girl now. You’re comfortable being yourself, and being different.

And maybe you’re not different in the same way she is. Maybe you don’t wear dark eye makeup and dye your hair twenty different colors. But that doesn’t make you any less special and unique. Guess what? She’ll admit to you one day that SHE always really admired YOU -- for your dedication to your creative endeavors, especially to your writing, a dedication and creativity she’s found she can’t quite match.

Another compliment you’ll get, from a completely different girl, at the end of high school? That you’re “mysterious” but “passionate about your music.” And here was you always thinking people don’t talk to you because you’re a dorky loser. They may actually have been intimidated by you!

Speaking of that girl you’re friends with, you actually did want to go to the same college she did. She got in. You didn’t. And guess what? She was fucking miserable there. You cried when you didn’t get in, and she didn’t even like the goddamn place. So you moved far away, to a college in a different state right in the downtown area of a big city. You explored different kinds of cuisine. You tried online dating. You got interested in politics. You became addicted to coffee. You found out that snotty private school kids can be cold, bitchy, judgmental, and mean.

What I’m saying is -- first, you’ll get into college. Don’t worry about that. But second, the college you first went to? That wasn’t even your final destination. You ended up transferring to a totally different college, a public one in a small, rural town, and meeting some absolutely incredible people there. You’ll move out on your own, share an apartment with your college-age sister. The two of you will become incredibly close. You will successfully become independent.

Somewhere in between the first college and the second, you’ll be diagnosed with bipolar disorder. That’s right, all your online research proved you right. And I know that right now you’re trying to convince other people that how you’re feeling is an illness, and they’re grownups so they’re trying to tell you it’s really just because you’re not doing THAT and THIS and THAT OTHER THING.

So I just wanted to validate you. You were right. And finally getting that diagnosis and starting on the path to recovery? It’ll feel like a huge relief.

That brings me to my central point. I know you’re feeling suicidal. I know your parents are angry with you because you withdraw and hide in your computer so much, but you’re just trying to get good grades in class (you feel a lot of pressure there) and ignore the feelings welling up inside you. And I’m not going to sugarcoat it for you -- it’ll get worse before it gets better. There are times when you’ll sob and scream. There are times when you’ll just want to fucking die. There are times when you’ll feel broken. You will lose people. You will be bullied and abused. You will act fucking insane. Horrible things will happen to you.

But I’ll let you in on a little secret: It. Gets. Better.

You will go see a psychiatrist and a therapist. You will find a medication regimen that works for you, and learn self management techniques to keep bad thoughts from controlling your life. You will also start being healthy -- going out walking regularly, eating more frequently and healthier, sleeping more (but not too much), and you’ll travel and find tons of new hobbies! (You’ll even feel brave enough to take night classes in swing dancing downtown above a really sketchy bar.) These might all sound cheesy in isolation, but put them together and you’ve got a great recovery strategy.

Recovering from depression and suicidal thoughts is the most incredible feeling on the planet. All of a sudden, you’re grateful for everything -- you’re so much wiser, and you take a whole new lease on life. Life is an incredible journey, and you’ll want every part of it.

And the realization will come to you, over and over and over again: That you made it. You survived. You’re a survivor. And that realization never stops coming. It’s the gift that never stops giving. You will feel that triumph again, and again, and again. Every time you learn something, every time something good happens to you or you get reflective, you will feel that triumph again.

Like today.

So congratulations, kid. You’ve hit your twenties. You made it.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
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Just to be clear, I have not decided who I'm voting for yet. But I do agree with Bernie Sanders on this particular issue. Massive university costs is one of the biggest barriers to closing the gap between the rich and the poor.

I signed. Please sign if you agree:

Here's the description:

If you study hard, you should be able to go to college regardless of income.

As it stands today, higher education affordability is a giant barrier to growing a prosperous middle class. Massive student loan debt is not just a student’s problem, it’s an issue faced by families across the nation.

More than ever before, student loan debt is a multi-generational challenge within families. Parents still working to pay off their own existing student debt are struggling to save for the rising costs of their children’s college education. On its current course, the cost of higher education is a burden that will continue to impact our economy for generations to come.

Access to education shouldn’t be a luxury that only the upper class can afford. Stand with Bernie to support free access to public higher education.

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I signed this petition and thought I'd give you the chance to as well. Please sign if you agree. Here's the description:

Since birth, my sister has been both mentally and physically handicapped. Becky was born with Down syndrome. At the age of 15, she had two massive strokes, was diagnosed with a terminal illness called Moyamoya, and was placed in hospice. She needs to be fed, dressed, bathed, and taken to the bathroom. In short, she depends on us for everything.

However, under the current U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) guidelines, my husband, an active duty member of the Armed Forces, and I are unable to claim Becky as a secondary dependent, even though we are her legal guardians. To me, this is unfair and puts undue strain on a military family who should be concentrating on supporting their loved one off defending our nation.

Currently, service members may add parents, step-parents, legal guardians, incapacitated children over the age of 21 (whom you had custody/guardianship of when they became incapacitated, or prior to your enlistment), children and step-children. I am calling on the DOD to include incapacitated siblings in the list of those we can care for legally.

Our mother, who dedicated her life to caring for Becky, passed away from pancreatic cancer, and our adoptive father is not willing to care for her any longer. If we had not taken her, she would be in a nursing home. When we became Becky’s caregivers, I had to quit my job to be here for her, which reduced our income by a lot. As a family of 7 living off of one income and what little Becky draws from Social Security, we are struggling just to pay our bills.

Since we are unable to add her as a dependent, we cannot add her to our family insurance plan, forcing her to rely solely on Medicaid for her medical needs. It's not enough. She requires expensive specialists who are equipped to care for someone like her, and most of these specialist don't accept Medicaid.
Another issue we are running into is being able to enroll in the military's Exceptional Family Member Program. This program is designed to assist military families like mine with priority for housing, specific consideration regarding duty stations, 40 hours of respite care per month, and many other supportive services. Unfortunately, because we are unable to add Becky as a dependent, we cannot enroll in this program that was designed to help military families just like mine.

Our family is suffering because of an arbitrary clause that won’t allow us to to claim my sister as a dependent, even though she is clearly incapable of taking care of herself. We need your help to help the DOD realize that this is wrong, so they change their policy and finally provide some peace of mind for families like mine. Please sign my petition.

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I went on a date today!

Not with the guy I mentioned in a previous post -- the one from American Lit class who seemed kind of like he was flirting with me? Yeah, it wasn't with him. It turns out he:

(A) Has a girlfriend


(B) Is a bit of an asshole, so I don't really envy her

No, this guy I met through feminist club. He's sweet, kind, and funny, with glasses and a long coat. He studied kendo (Japanese sword fighting) for several years. He studies business and environmental science. He has a learning disability but still manages to get As, and is currently interning as a Study Abroad Counselor after having spent some time himself in Thailand. He asked me out, and he also paid for our first date -- though politically liberal, he's pretty socially conservative. His Dad was a Mormon and his Mom was a Catholic.

We just went to a cafe downtown and had a casual coffee/lunch together. We wore fancy jackets and tried to look nice, but we also both just wore jeans. It was the perfect blend of "nice" and "casual."

We talked anime, because it turns out we're both really into that. (He shall henceforth be known as Cowboy Bebop Dude.) We also talked politics, religion, and family and life experiences. It was a really nicely intellectual and deep conversation. We even made future plans: to watch Cowboy Bebop together (I've never seen the whole thing) and to take swing dancing lessons in 2016.

We went to a bookshop afterward, and then we went back to his apartment briefly. It's a really nice apartment right in the middle of downtown. His roommate is a funny guy who drinks a lot and talks to his plants. We got helmets from his apartment and then he drove me home on his scooter/motorbike! I was nervous getting on, but it was so much fun!

We hugged and kissed briefly at my door, and then I went to go back inside. If I were a less awkward person, this would be the moment when I threw him a sly smile over my shoulder and walked smoothly in the door. As it is, it took me a full minute to find my keys and another two minutes to force my way in through the door. He thought it was kind of funny. He applauded when I finally managed to get in.

Just me being my usual, awkward self.

I called my Mom and dished with her over the phone after the date was all over. I also made sure to emphasize to said boy that I had a great time, we should do this again, and he should text me. I even texted him to let him know I had a good time.

So now soon I guess I'll know one way or the other if he was really into me. But either way, it was just nice -- to meet someone through normal social avenues (instead of online) and have a sweet, casual date with him.
grimrose_eilwynn: (Default)
I signed this petition and thought I'd give you the chance to as well:

This Iranian woman was a women's rights defender and activist. She was arrested and imprisoned for fighting for women's rights in Iran. She has served six years in prison.

She should have been released this summer according to Iranian law, but officials have elected to keep her imprisoned for at least another two years.

The woman -- Bahareh Hedayat -- has failing health (in the area of the kidney and reproductive organs) and is suffering major depression. She may not survive another two years in prison. This is completely ignoring the fact that she was unjustly imprisoned in the first place.

In recent weeks, Iran has been releasing many political prisoners, and Bahareh's husband is hopeful that with this petition his wife will be one of them. Please sign and support justice and women's rights in Iran.


Oct. 18th, 2015 07:01 pm
grimrose_eilwynn: (Default)
I went with my sister and a friend to see Pan in theaters yesterday. I'm here to write a review.

My biggest criticism would be that I didn't see Peter's old playfulness and braggadocio enough in this film. He was a little too shy, under-confident, and serious for me.

With that said, the scenery was pretty fucking amazing. The special effects were great, and Peter was a suitable enough troublemaker to fit the role. It was over-the-top -- see the nuns in the first part of the movie -- and very adventurous, and that was what made it fun.

I'd have liked to see an actual flashback scene between Blackbeard and Mary, not just the hint of one. I feel like we didn't get enough about him -- he could have been explored further. He was an interesting character, I'll give Hugh Jackman and the movie-makers that. Very emblematic of the more problematic aspects of colonialism and the old pioneer settlers out West.

What was up with the portrayal of the natives? Cue the stereotypical "have special attachment to nature but tie good, ordinary people up and kill them over a fire" portrayal. Oh, and the feathers. My God, the feathers. Do you know what feathered headdresses actually signify? Each feather symbolizes the battle of a strong warrior. NO ONE WOULD EVER BE ABLE TO ACCRUE AS MANY FEATHERS AS TIGER LILY HAS IN HER HEADDRESS, NOT EVEN IF THEY WERE HUNDREDS OF YEARS OLD. And why in all the seven realms of Hell was Tiger Lily WHITE? SHE IS A NATIVE AMERICAN.

Also, I saw them setting us up for a sequel there. I see what you did there, movie makers. You did not fool anyone. ANYONE.

Despite its problems, it was just a lots-of-fun adventure movie and I would see a sequel in theaters. Maybe not buy it, but it's worth a sit-through at least once.
grimrose_eilwynn: (Default)
I signed this and thought I'd give you a chance to as well:

Liam is a kid with Down Syndrome, and as such has been ignored, withheld from regular classes, and shut away by his elementary school. Liam's parents took the school to court, and the judge mandated that Liam should be in proper classrooms just like everybody else. But the elementary school still won't change anything.

So this parent started a petition asking people to sign so Liam can receive a regular education just like any other kid.

I strongly support the integration of disabled children into regular classrooms. My sister has learning disabilities. When she was young, nobody thought she would ever be capable of anything intellectually. They wanted to put her in special ed day classes. My parents forced her school district to integrate her into regular classrooms with special accommodations. She is now at university in the process of obtaining a four-year degree. Never underestimate what one child can do if they put their mind to it.

Please support learning disabled integration into schools and sign this petition.
grimrose_eilwynn: (Default)
Read this article:

Chris Mintz, an Army vet, was on campus during the Oregon school shooting. He was shot seven times trying to save other students from gunfire, and appears even to have charged the gunman and attempted to subdue him. He has been sent to the hospital in critical condition.

This petition asks President Obama to award the Medal of Freedom to Chris Mintz for his heroic acts. I signed and thought I'd give you the chance to as well:

Such brave acts deserve respect and reward.
grimrose_eilwynn: (Default)
I signed this petition and thought I'd give you the chance to:

Here's their summary:

Students all over this country have to fear that what happened at Umpqua Community College, and many other schools, could happen to them. The killing of ten students yesterday in Oregon is a stark reminder of this reality for all of us. That is why we must act.

As an organization of students who are incredibly saddened by what happened in Oregon, we think improving the background check system is simply common sense. While the national background check system has prevented millions of gun sales to prohibited purchasers, it has several flaws.

States do not have to submit information identifying people who would be ineligible to possess firearms, like those with a violent criminal record or mental illness, into the federal gun database and they have no incentive to do so.

This makes the information used by law enforcement during background checks incomplete.

We can fix this problem. Sen. Chuck Schumer has proposed legislation that would allow the Department of Justice to create rewards for states that submit these records into the background check system -- and penalties for those that do not -- with a particular focus on the records of people with mental illness.

From Charleston to Oregon, everyone is affected by these mass shootings. Whether you are black, white, Latino, Asian American, Indian American, the failure of Congress to pass legislation on simple gun control laws will eventually affect all of us. For some people, it already has. Every day, 88 Americans are killed with guns.

Let this be the last mass shooting where we say we could have done more.

Please sign our petition in support of Sen. Schumer's proposal that will fortify the national background check system so we can prevent more violence due to guns.
grimrose_eilwynn: (Default)
"Landlord, landlord,

My roof has sprung a leak.

Don't you 'member I told you about it

Way last week?

"Landlord, landlord,

These steps is broken down.

When you come up yourself

It's a wonder you don't fall down.

"Ten Bucks you say I owe you?

Ten Bucks you say is due?

Well, that's Ten Bucks more'n I'll pay you

Till you fix this house up new.

"What? You gonna get eviction orders?

You gonna cut off my heat?

You gonna take my furniture and

Throw it in the street?

"Um-huh! You talking high and mighty,

Talk on -- till you get through,

You ain't gonna be able to say a word

If I land my fist on you.

"Police! Police!

Come and get this man!

He's trying to ruin the government

And overturn the land!

"Copper's whistle!

Patrol bell!


"Precinct station.

Iron cell.

Headlines in the press:




- Langston Hughes
grimrose_eilwynn: (Default)
Let's keep this short and simple. The Global Partnership for Education is having a meeting to decide whether to expand its goals to support funding for education for every girl through secondary school, as in the new United Nations Development Goals agreed upon by world leaders.

I think this is basically a no-brainer. More educated girls means a better world for everyone. That aside, when Malala Yousafzai asks you to sign a petition, you'd better shut up and listen. She's asking in her petition for us to sign to ask the GPE to expand their goals to include 12 years of education for every girl.

Here's the petition. I signed. Please sign if you agree:
grimrose_eilwynn: (Default)
Yesterday was the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, so today I'm going to talk about my memories of that time.

I was barely old enough to remember the 9/11 attacks -- just a little third grader, an eight year old girl. I went to a little alternative learning elementary school: three grades to a classroom, the classes focused on small sized lessons and kinesthetic and auditory learning, with a little garden outside. We could sit anywhere, around tables or on the floor or outside, and just as long as we finished our individual packets of work by the end of the week we were left alone.

Well, we had a janitor everyone called Mr Dan, a friendly man who listened to a portable radio attached to his hip as he worked. He heard what was going on that morning through the radio. He hurried into our classroom, pale. "Turn on the radio," he said to our teacher -- one of my favorites I've ever had, the woman who taught me how to love reading by walking me through books side by side with me.

Our teacher turned on the radio and started crying. Everyone looked at each other, silent. Not a single one of us knew what was going on.

We were sent home early that day, and for the next few days all anyone did was sit around the TV screen and watch what was happening in shock. My mother cried. My father called everybody he knew just to sit in silence with them over the phone and say over and over again, "Are you watching this? I can't believe this."

I remember certain images from the TV broadcasts. I remember the huge buildings falling in hails of fire. I remember a woman and her baby, freshly saved from the buildings by first responders. They were both covered in blood. The woman was clutching her baby, screaming. My mother saw my face and quickly turned the TV off, scolding my grandfather for letting the image run while I was sitting there. But maybe he thought I deserved to see it. I've certainly never forgotten it.

And I remember it just making me think: "How can people be so cruel to each other? There is no excuse for anyone doing this to anyone else -- none at all."
grimrose_eilwynn: (Default)
I signed this petition. Please sign if you agree:

This mother of a learning disabled child found that her daughter was being physically abused at school, and subjected to the general school curriculum, which she didn't understand. As a sibling of someone with a learning disorder, I find this appalling and unforgivable. Unfortunately, it happens all too often -- teachers don't know how to handle troubled students and are not willing to put in the time and care necessary to help them. Not all teachers are like this, but many are, and I've had personal experience with that. We just cannot trust these people to simply do what they are required to do.

Therefore, I support this mother's petition to put cameras in special education classrooms in Kentucky. It's high time this became a nation-wide policy.
grimrose_eilwynn: (Default)
Today, I took the bus back to campus in the late afternoon to go to the first feminist club meeting of the year at my university. I'd just been sick to my stomach that morning, and it was raining, and the meeting was during the early part of dinnertime, but no way was I missing this.

The meeting consists of about ten people, all but one of whom identifies as female. One of them is a guy, though. Also, one of them is Black and one of them is Trans, which I mention simply because it shows there is at least some diversity among the group. We all just sit in a little circle in the women's center, which is a dinky little room full of squashy armchairs and couches in the gym basement. And there, we talk about all things politically related, along with some other stuff that's not politically related.

Today, for example, we discussed popcorn flavors for our exhibit at a student fair. We then went on to talk about political stuff: Planned Parenthood, cultural appropriation at the VMAs, and Caitlyn Jenner. (One memorable quote: "If you're going to dress up like a trans person for Halloween, dress up as one of the trans people who died.")

There was a big feeling of acceptance. The leader of the group said that while she couldn't guarantee a safe space, just because she couldn't control other people's reactions, she could promise a brave space -- a space where it's universally acknowledged that not everyone's going to agree and speaking your opinion is brave. She also said she didn't want any shouting or name calling. One girl found out I dislike needles just as much as she does and she gave me a high-five.

In general, there was just a friendly, fun atmosphere. I was left with a good first impression. There was lots of jokes, snarking... Everyone seemed accepting of everyone else's opinions, and I got the general feeling that people were trying to be respectful. (Once, for example, another girl asked the Black girl there how she felt about dreadlocks in relation to cultural appropriation. I actually learned a lot about dreads I hadn't previously known.)

My sister went to the first meeting with me to see how it was, but she didn't like it. She's more conservative, like our parents, and she's also not very political. So she's not coming back with me, and that's okay, but I think I'm going to continue to go to meetings.

Hopefully I'll make some good friends.


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Hopeless Dreamer

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