Hate is a strong word

(This has some feels so be prepared for non-multimedia related content to follow)

I hate everything.

Well, not everything, but most things. And by most things, I mean things that are enough to plague my mind.

I hate feeling disconnected and out of the loop. I thrive on human contact and social situations. Don’t cut off my air supply.

I hate anxiety. I hate the feeling of my stomach twisting and churning like a washcloth being wrung out by weathered hands of a woman whose laugh lines reveal more of a frown these days. I hate feeling my shoulder muscles, slowly but surely, tense and raise up to nearly meet my ears with a friendly handshake. I hate not being able to sit still and pacing around the room, trying to slow down my breathing as if that will slow down my race car mind.

I hate apathy, something that I felt too much these past weeks. Ironic to say, but too real to feel. It is a hurdle that my short legs can’t get over and my body stops myself mid-run, preventing me from dealing with the aforementioned anxiety. I hate how it makes me feel like I will never be good enough, but, I guess, why even try?

I hate the inadequacy I feel, making feel an outsider even among friends. Success seems like it lies on a completely different plane than my trajectory. Even when I do see it I am unsure if it is the newest version, possibly lagging behind the newest precedence.

I hate comparisons, even though I sometimes do it myself. I hate knowing how stupid and wrong it is to try to measure myself on a scale that wasn’t built for me, yet I do it anyway. Sometimes that scale was one that was built for me in the past that I seem to not fit. I hate how illogical that seems to my confused standards.

I hate decisions. I mean, choosing my clothing or other small things aren’t usually an issue. It’s when you make me choose between two things that I am trying so hard to formulate a win-all solution that will still lose. I hate when these decisions prevent me from doing something I love over another love. I hate seeing that losing score after trying so hard from the sidelines.

I hate crying. I hate how it makes me feel weak and stupid, even though it feels good and I know I need it. I hate how it makes my throat feel like a wool sweater with a drawstring around the neck that just keeps getting pulled tighter. I hate trying to wipe my face and making sure that no make up is smeared so people won’t know that my facade is cracked and leaking.

I hate ignorance. I hate how people don’t understand how things work and what things mean. I am no teacher and I don’t know it all, not even most, either. I just know to not speak on things I am not educated about and not assume, yet if I even accidentally seem to be assuming, I am called out. I hate people not understanding what feminism is today and not trying to. I hate people expecting things to be a certain way or certain races to be a lesser and for me to agree with it.

I hate being 19. I hate how pointless it is and how little it means to me and how I forget that is my age half the time. I hate how I can still be represented as a teenager, plagued with the stereotypes shown on a Lowes commercial of being disconnected, tuning out with music and phones. I hate how my age shows on my face and I have to prove myself to those that are 20, 21, 22 and older that I am mature. I hate how it separates me from those of legal age, my friends who make decisions at the same level as me.

I hate how society puts people in boxes that even I can’t not see and use to hold my bias. I hate how these boxes make it hard for me to consider doing somethings without the fear of being judged.

I hate not having a focus, structure, lane for my mind to run in. I hate how I can love individuals but hate them in a group. I hate how I can give chances to people who don’t deserve it and turn down those who do because of my pettiness.

I hate how my insecurities come up to get me, even though I try so hard for them not to exist. I hate how many times I typed “hate” in this and how it hit my soul and confused it with the meaning of a word as blunt as child safety scissors.

Hate is a strong word but I really, really don’t like it.

CPOwhY am I not this talented?

Kevin Cook of MU won the Interpretive Project Gold in this year's CPOY.

Kevin Cook of MU won the Interpretive Project Gold in this year’s CPOY.

This past Tuesday my J2150 class had the opportunity to sit in on the darkened Tucker Forum in Gannett Hall of the timeless J-School to watch the trials and triumphs of talented college photographers click pass our eyes. It was CPOY68.

We had the ability to sit in on the editing session for the Feature category, which had photos that would accompany a feature story, or as CPOY puts it, saying,  “A candid picture of a found situation containing strong human interest, a fresh view of the ordinary or humor. In all cases the dignity of the subject must be respected.” We saw the panel of judges, ranging from those who hailed from National Geographic to The New York Times, trudge through hundreds of photos with a chorus dominated by “out” to get it down to 38 to finally get it down to the Gold, Silver, Bronze and three Award of Excellence recipients. They would all shift through the photos, taking composition, caption, story presence, emotion, etc. into account before they clicked their clickers to get a majority vote of “in” or “out.” It reminded me a lot of Project Runway in that way. Heck, one of their promotional mini buttons (one that I added to my backpack button hall of fame) just had the word “out” repeated in tiny print over the entire glossy surface.

I was in complete awe that my peers created such pieces of artistic photo-j wonder. I was also baffled by how these judges could quickly go through these photos, just throwing away photos that I thought were wonderful. I mean, all of these are wonderful compared to the kind of photography I do (more like iPhoneagraphy). Speaking of iPhoneagraphy, Kevin Cook of the MU got silver in the Feature category that we were watching and also placed gold in the Interpretative Project in which he used his iPhone to capture images around Philly. His iPhoneagraphy puts any white girl’s selfie to shame (I mean, that does a good job of doing that by itself). But, in all seriousness, it was interesting to such beauty, emotion, art and storytelling capacity coming from a device that usually promotes self-absorption. And, I think the true talent comes from that, using something that is unconventional to capture unconventionally beautiful images.

This once again invigorated my secret dream to be a world-reknown fashion photographer, something that is such a reoccurring pipe dream thanks to my interaction with photo-j at the J-School. Oh, don’t tell me “Veronica, you could do it if you really want to” because my craft needs so much work and writing is what I feel like I excel at anyways (honestly, I excel at talking but that is neither here nor there). But, in a way, the photos were doing their job. They were invoking strong, chill-inducing feelings in me. Some photos made me stifle laughter (I had to be quiet so they could judge), smile, feel a tinge of pain in my heart, be washed with sadness or just be in awe and excitement. The fact that MU was the backdrop for this gathering of art and the esteemed judges of it makes me feel so inspired by my school, which is something I have been needing lately. Just like photography, sometimes you need just need a new perspective to be inspired and make something beautiful.

Call me on my STRIPES phone

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STRIPES car hats hang on the wall on Saturday, Nov. 2, 2013 in the
STRIPES house. Drivers are advised to not drive over 55 mph because the car hats can fall off at that speed.

Columbia, Mo.– Supportive Tigers Riding In Pursuit of Ensuring Safety, better known to a slew of intoxicated MU as STRIPES is where I am spending this game night. I volunteer for STRIPES at least 5 times a semester doing everything from driving cars, being the passenger that deals with navigation and to taking phone calls for the first time tonight. STRIPES was something I joined because I thought it was fantastic that my school had a confidential, free safe-rides service. Plus, I am someone that loves to help people in anyway and never wants anyone sto endanger themselves and others by driving drunk. The fact that I have such an awesome STRIPES family now is just another warm-fuzzy that can be added to the warm-fuzzy of helping people.
In fact, one of my many STRIPES friends is sitting next to me doing phones as well. Josh Gilmer, MU sophomore, is similar to many of the men that volunteer for STRIPES in listing driving the nice AVIS rental cars as his favorite part about being in the organization.

Have you seen my car? It’s crappy.

says Gilmer.

Those fancy push-to-start cars are a nice change of pace to my 2002 Saturn S2 Coupe (is your car discontinued and have three doors? Didn’t think so), but personally I love being a passenger more. The nights that I will forever remember as part of my college experience are when I have been dying laughing with one of my good friends as the driver and me as the passenger as drunk people say ridiculous things. I have a note in my phone just dedicated to all the crazy things they say.

This week and next week are membership recruitment weeks and I only can gush over STRIPES. I mean, free food, fun people, and helping keep drunk drivers off the road isn’t enough to get you involved, I don’t know what will.

So, call me maybe.

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Josh Gilmer, MU sophmore, works the phones in the STRIPES house on Saturday, Nov. 2, 2013. On busy nights, up to three people will be phoning.

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Handmade and official STRIPES banners and posters are usually on display throughout the STRIPES house, but the recent renovations keep the main house walls on Saturday, Nov. 2, 2013 bare except for the new orange paint.

Halloweak

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This week was referred to many as “Halloweek” or the Thursday, Friday and Saturday were called “Halloweekend” but the way people went about their costumes was “Halloweak” in my eyes.

Sure, I just totally wore out that wordplay in one sentence, but what I am trying to get too is the weak excuses for “clever” or “relevant costumes. The fact that there are people in this world that would dress up in a bloody Trayvon Martin Costume is absolutely disgusting to me. OH and we can’t forget about the loving mother who dressed her child as a Klansman. Yes, people like this do exist and think it is all in good natured fun and tradition to dress up in such ways.

Halloween tends to bring out the insensitivity in people that they disguise as humor. They joke saying things like, “Oh, it is just Halloween, it doesn’t mean anything.” Do you think it “doesn’t mean anything to the social group you are marginalizing? Many people fall culprit to cultural misappropriation when All Hallows Eve rolls around. Cultural misappropriation usually refers to people choosing parts of a culture, usually stereotypical and possibly falsified information, as the major representation and identity. Ladies love to do this with their Native American (or even better, “Indian,” for those that don’t understand geography and correct terms) costumes, complete with headdresses, skimpy beaded dresses, pigtail braids and war paint. Men are more lazy and will throw on a poncho, sombrero, fake mustache and hold maracas or  a burrito. Ladies, it is okay to dress up as “Pocohantas” because that is a character that you are portraying, not just what you think a culture is. Would you get upset if someone of a different culture than you dressed up in something that they deemed as the “norm” for your culture? I am sure you would. So, don’t do it because cultures include real people NOT characters.

I mentioned “skimpy” as a descriptor for the Native American costume, which brings us to the crux of another major Halloween problem. Slut shaming and implied consent also plague this season just as much as Baby Ruth’s and Kit Kats. For teen girls and women, many of our pre-made costume options are limited to those that use the adjectives “sexy,” “slutty” or the tactful “sweetheart” and contain about the same amount of fabric as the comparable costume for an 8-year-old. But, lucky for us, we live in what is considered a free world where we have the freedom to choose how we want to express yourself. If you love wearing short skirts (I do!), then go ahead and do it on Halloween. If it is not your thing, wear a almost complete coverage Hulk costume (also something I have done). But, women that wear the former type of costume are in no way, shape, or form “asking for it.” That doesn’t mean that they will allow people to touch them, squeeze their asses, cat call them, or take advantage of them sexually. If that women wants to hook up with someone, she will because that is her choice. Her clothing is not consent. Her saying so is consent. This all sounds so simple but yet women are still victimized because of some cute, little costume that they were excited to wear.

I went as Miley Cyrus for Halloween (Thursday I wore the teddy bear unitard complete with little bun nubbins for the infamous VMAs Miley. Friday I wore a cropped tank top with white boy short underwear over pantyhose with a handmade wrecking ball for the equally infamous “Wrecking Ball” music video Miley), and when I told people that was who I was going to be the first think they would mention was something along the lines of how little clothing I would be wearing. “Oh, you are wearing that to be a slut.” Yes, my costumes did leave me wearing little clothing. Yes, Miley is notorious for her overtly sexual behaviors. No, neither of those are reasons why I chose the costume. I have been told that I looked like Miley multiple times when I was at the LouFest music festival by strangers because of my hair cut. So, I thought it would be fun to play off such a current cultural icon and embody her, especially her “fuck the system” spirit. Sure, I have had some issues with her use of back up dancers as more like cultural stereotype props, but in general she is raising some good issues about identity and roles to the public in a really interesting way. But, just because I am not wearing that much clothing doesn’t make me a slut. It makes me confident and comfortable and it makes me something that maybe I am not on a daily basis. And, that is what Halloween is all about.