March 2014 archive

Stop Complaining and Start Celebrating

I was watching The Daily Show recently, and one of the segments was on Susan Patton’s Marry Smart. There is quite a lot that bothers me when it comes to women’s rights, but few bother me as much as “The Princeton Mom”. I will say I have not read the book because I refuse to pay any money for such a despicable book. However, after watching Jon Stewart, I did a bit of research on my own. What I found made me angry. Patton is taking women back to the 1950s and demanding that women’s sole priority should be finding a husband before we all turn into hags. As a wife who married at 25, perhaps I am not the best person to write about this issue. However, I did not marry out of a need for a man. I enjoyed being single, dating around, and living alone when I could afford it. I married my husband because he was the one for me. I do not regret marrying my husband at 25, but I was fine waiting until the right man came along.

Despite the plethora of horrible “advice” given, one of the things that bothered me the most in this book (or at least from the articles I’ve read about it) is the following advice: “When she enters college, your daughter will never again be as young, as beautiful, as attractive to men, or as fertile. Encourage her to make the best use of this time.” WTF?! A woman is NOT defined by her age; thinking that she is defined by age is the reason so many women lie about age and bemoan birthdays. Age is not what makes a woman attractive. I believe confidence is the main aspect that makes a woman more attractive than others, and living life – and a lot of it – is what leads to confidence in any person. If we’re to take Patton seriously (yeah, right!), most women should be married by age 22 if you take into account that most collegiate programs can be completed in four years. Heaven forbid a woman get more schooling than the first four years. After all, men should be the bread winners, not women; women only go to college to find a mate. I realize some of my friends did marry young, and to this I write, what is right for one person is not right for all. These friends were blessed to find such great partners in life in their collegiate days, but they didn’t marry because their hormonal clock was ticking or because they couldn’t define themselves until they were married. They married – as I did at age 25 – because they found that person to complement them.

As a woman with her Masters, I can honestly say that during my college years finding a husband was not on my mind. Papers, exams, and getting the grades were the stress-consumers, and alcohol and partying were my stress relievers. But believe it or not, there were always more guys in the bars than girls. I guess according to Mrs. Patton, these fine, upstanding beer-chuggers are where it’s at! Darn, I can’t believe I missed out on that golden opportunity. While I did have relationships in college, I thank God that none of them resulted in marriage and also thank God for these experiences. I was too immature to make a good partner for someone else, and the guys I knew in college were too immature to make good husbands. We grew and learned from our relationships. College was a time of discovery, in which you shaped who you were becoming and were discovering who you were, romantically and otherwise. It was the place to make mistakes and to be free.

Patton explains further that women will not be surrounded by so many “worthy” men as they are in college. Where else will women find such a concentration of men that are just as smart or smarter than themselves than at college? I’m calling “bullshit” on this one as well. For one, please see my above comment on the oh-so-outstanding beer-chuggers. Secondly, I did have issues finding men as smart as me in college. I graduated Cum Laude in my undergraduate program in three and a half years. As far as finding someone who was as focused on academics, who was as smart or smarter than me, who could still function socially, and who I wanted to spend the rest of my life with, the pool was not just shallow but almost dried up. Men didn’t have the intellectual market cornered. There were quite a few females that could outrun many men in that Brainy 5K.

According to Patton, I should be thanking my lucky stars that I was even able to find a functioning, single male to marry after I graduated college who was willing to put up with this dried-up husk of a woman compared to the glory I once was. I should be even more thankful to find an intelligent man whom I can respect as a person, and, to be fair, my husband is one-in-a-million. However, there are many men whom I am friends with now that match my intelligence or even surpass it. These men are confident in who they are and what they do and show a maturity that few men, and women, do in college. We’re all better adjusted once we leave the safe haven of college. We’re all closer to shaping our identity. We’re all more confident.

So the moral of this blog would be to celebrate your age and stop complaining about it. Celebrate every wrinkle, every age spot, and even our changing metabolisms. Life doesn’t end after college for women. We may not be as young as we once were, but we’re still worth a gander, dammit. Don’t complain about your birthday or stress about what life achievements you haven’t checked off your list yet. Celebrate another year of wisdom gained and confidence earned. Be thankful that you’ve made it this far; some haven’t.

And with that, I will step off my soapbox, grab a margarita, and celebrate my 28 years, looking forward to the future years to come.

March Resolutions Update

If you recall from a previous post entitled “Welcome 2014,” I made three resolutions for this year. I resolved to publish this blog every week, to read 80 books by the end of the year, and to create a piece of art or a craft project each month. To keep me honest to these resolutions, I’ll be posting my progress each month on this blog. Here we go!

You can tell by my previous posts that I have kept up with posting at least once each week if not more.

For March, I’ve read the following books, which brings the number of books for 2014 up to 31:

  1. Bray, Libba. A Great and Terrible Beauty.
  2. Chapman, Gary. The 5 Love Languages.
  3. Dahl, Roald. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
  4. Lewis, C. S. The Magician’s Nephew.
  5. Lewis, C. S. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.
  6. Lewis, C. S. The Horse and His Boy.
  7. Lewis, C. S. Prince Caspian.
  8. Lewis, C. S. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.
  9. Lewis, C. S. The Silver Chair.
  10. Lewis, C. S. The Last Battle.
  11. Truss, Lynne. Eats, Shoots & Leaves.

Here are some pictures of the one and only craft project I did this month.

20140331_131147

My awesome craft room/library. I’m so blessed!

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“Springtime Family.”

Regrets of the Dying

A part of life is dying; this is a truth everyone knows. We don’t like to dwell on it, and it’s always a tough point in our life when a loved one dies. However, there’s nothing we can do to change this fact (unless you’ve found the fountain of youth or have a friend that’s a vampire). My grandmother, whom I called Sue-Sue, used to say that the only thing we could control in life is our reactions to the things that happen to us and around us. Our reactions to death and the idea of dying are the factors we can control in this inevitability.

As I was perusing the internet, I found an article entitled “Top Five Regrets of the Dying.” These are listed below:

  1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
  2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.
  3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
  4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
  5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

Knowing these are the top five regrets, we can work to change our reaction to the idea of dying by working on some of these within our own lives. As I said, we cannot change the fact that death is inevitable. However, we can change how we live our lives. As I read through this article, I noticed that none of the regrets were “I wish I slept with more people” or “I wish I bought more stuff.” Money and sex seem to be the things that a lot of people focus on (indeed it’s what we see all around us in television, movies, advertisements, etc.), but in the end it doesn’t make a difference. Questions like “was I loved,” “did I love with all my heart,” and “did I spend enough time with the ones I loved and loved me” seem to be more important. Working too hard takes you away from the ones you love. Not having courage to express your feelings can make even the best relationships turn sour. Not staying in touch with friends keeps you away from the people you once loved. As far as living a true life and letting yourself be happier, these are personal. These focus on the questions like “what truly makes me happy,” “who am I separate from what others think I am,” and “how can I stay true to myself and focus on being happier.” Find the answers to these questions, and you can start working on #1 and #5. It may take a lifetime to truly answer these questions, but what a life it will be.

This isn’t a very long post partly because I think the article should be read and partly because this is such a weighty topic. I think it may be more important to spend time examining our lives. I believe I’m good with #2 and #4, but I need time to think over the rest. How about you?

Note: Here’s a TED Talk entitled “Jane McGonigal: The Game That Can Give You 10 Extra Years of Life” that seems relevant to all of this talk about the inevitable. :)

Sue-Sue and Me

My grandmother Sue who helped grow my love of writing and lived every day to the fullest.

Pop and Me

My grandpa Gene who helped foster a love of nature in all his grandchildren and lived every day without regret.

Ten Reasons Why I’m Thankful

Recently, I wrote a list of 15 things that bug me. It was nice getting these out, but when I went to publish it here, I found I couldn’t without a follow-up piece. It was too negative to stand by itself, so I decided to follow it up with a list of things that make me happy, that I really enjoy, and that remind me of how blessed I am. However, that list is far too long to publish in its entirety. You see, I’ve been keeping this list for over two years now when I was first introduced to the book One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are by Ann Voskamp by my friends Rachel and Simona. Though I haven’t read it, the basic principle was explained to me (and of course it’s still on my list of books to read). Despite all the bad and negative in our life, life is still filled with the beauty and happiness that God has provided for us. In fact, “in the hours before Jesus’ execution, he took bread and gave thanks.” We should strive to be more like Christ and give thanks rather than turn our backs on the beauty that is life. This thankfulness can come despite all the bad that has happened or is happening in our lives, or rather because of this bad we see and experience. Even if you are not a Christian, the spirit of thankfulness is always necessary.

Here is a smaller list from my current list of the major things in which I am thankful. These are in no particular order.

  1. Random Acts of Kindness – These can include any number of things, such as someone paying for your meal in the drive-thru lane or doing this yourself for the person behind you. A random act is wonderful to receive but possibly even better to do.
  2. Trying New Things – We aren’t all great adventurers or risk takers, but something as small as trying a new restaurant can be a blessing in itself. Whether the food is tasty or whether it’s somewhere you’ll never go again, the experience is what matters as well as breaking out of that rut of monotony.
  3. Snuggling/Cuddling with my Husband – To be able to physically be close to my partner in life is a huge blessing, but so is hugging a friend or holding a baby. There’s something powerful about human touch.
  4. Puppy Power – Animals are always a huge blessing in my family. My dog Bella brightens my day and reminds me of the things that matter when I’m feeling down. Nothing else matters to her except for the humans in her life and the simplicity of a good run and a yummy treat.
  5. Wasting Time – Recently I’ve been feeling guilty about wasting any amount of time instead of doing something creative, enhancing my knowledge, or even just working. I told my husband of my concerns, and he quoted this to me: “Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.” From that point on, I’ve made sure that if I’m wasting time by watching television, playing a video game, etc., it is time I am enjoying.
  6. A Cup of Coffee, A Great Book, My Reading Room, and a Cozy Blanket – This is my happy place in the house, and this is an activity that I love. The combination of these things makes me happy and able to let go of the stress I am feeling.
  7. The Sights, Smell, Feel of Summer Turning to Fall – I enjoy every change of season because it’s like watching the paintbrush of nature. However, the change of summer into fall is always when I see the most vibrant colors and is thus my favorite time of year. It announces the holiday season and promises the rebirth of nature in the spring.
  8. Medical Advancements – As a person with migraines, I am truly thankful for the advances in neurology and medicine to help control these. With the surgery on my heel, I was again thankful for the science behind it. Morphine, Imitrex, even allergy medications are all things for which I am grateful.
  9. Spending Time with Friends and Family – The people you surround yourself with define who you are at least to some extent. Because of this, I’m very particular about who I spend my time with, and these people add to the happiness in my life for which I am thankful.
  10. Way of Life – This includes things like my car, our house, the ability to go out to eat, etc. When I went on a mission trip to Guatemala years ago, I saw how truly blessed I am and learned how you can be happy with much less. It was an eye-opener, and because of this experience, I make sure to give thanks for all I have in my life that makes life easier and gives me freedom.

There are much more things I could have included on this list, but I wanted to keep it focused on just ten things. When was the last time you surveyed your life and found reasons for which to be thankful? If it’s been a while, perhaps it’s time to make that list, either physically or just mentally.

Hans and Bella Closeup Hans and Crystal at Erica's

Fifteen Pet Peeves

I was watching Hank Green’s “Ranting about Books” YouTube video. Beside the fact that he stated that we’ve been reading books for thousands of years, which just isn’t historically accurate, (thanks for pointing that out, Travis!) I found I agreed with him on his various rants. This got me thinking about the other peeves in my life to the point where I wrote a list. Now, if you’re a person whose pet peeve is people that write lists, we may not get along or at least don’t peek on my desktop, journal, or calendar. I left off the most obvious things like abusing animals or prejudice because I feel that these are much more than just things that get under my skin.

Let’s see if anyone else finds some of these to be as frustrating as I do or if I’m just an insane lady who may need more margaritas in her life.

  1. Ignorant People—This is my numero uno frustration in life. Stupid people cannot help it but ignorant people can. Do your homework before you use your mouth.
  2. Grammar Mistakes—Everyone makes them from time to time, but they can be quite the distraction depending on the type and number of mistakes. It’s especially frustrating when I’m reading a mass market publication. Why are editors/proofreader hired if they don’t catch all the mistakes? It’s also extremely frustrating when a boss’s correspondence is littered with grammar mistakes. Why am I taking orders from you again, and how did you reach that position in the company?
  3. Nail Biting, or Onychophagia—There is so much bacteria and other icky stuff under fingernails that when they’re bitten, the biter ingests all that funk. Just gross.
  4. Cracking Knuckles—The noise is annoying because it’s coming from your joints under your skin. It’s kind of gross to think about, but when I hear someone cracking his knuckles, that’s all I can think about for that moment. It can also lead to swelling or issues with your grip.
  5. Scratching a Seat Belt—The one is really a personal pet peeve. It’s like nails on a chalkboard to me.
  6. Uncleanliness—This is a general category, meaning that I find uncleanliness on one’s self, home, car, etc. to be an irritation. If you don’t shower every day, people CAN smell you whether you think so or not. Also, as a person with allergies, I appreciate cleanliness in the home. I wouldn’t categorize myself as a neat freak, but I do think the tidiness of one’s home is an indicative of that person’s personality.
  7. Not Finishing a Book—I do this occasionally because the book is just so horrendous and I think about how I’m wasting my time. However, it bugs me for a few days after I put it down since I didn’t complete it.
  8. Noisy Eaters—I don’t want to see or hear your food in your mouth, and for goodness sake, finish chewing before talking! My grandpa used to ask me the purpose of a straw. “To tell a blind man when he gets to the bottom of the cup!” This was his not-so-subtle way of telling me to knock it off with the straw noise.
  9. Tardiness—If you know when an event started, there’s no excuse for being late. The rest of the adults get it.
  10. Saying 110% or Any Other Variation of This—It just doesn’t make sense mathematically.
  11. Not Picking Up After Dogs—Owning a pet is a responsibility, and one of those responsibilities is picking up your dog’s feces.
  12. Overusing the Word “Favorite”—As an adjective, favorite means “preferred above all else,” so by definition you can only have one favorite.
  13. Misuse of the Word “Literally”—If you can literally eat a whole horse, I’d like to see that.
  14. Movie with Loud Music But Quiet Dialogue—The same goes for louder commercials than the actual television program. I’m looking at you, Hulu.
  15. Wearing Too Much Perfume or Cologne—I get massive migraines that are easily triggered by smells, including floral or strong perfumes. I even had a professor state on her syllabus that she would not tolerate the smell of perfume or cologne in her classroom due to her migraines. Therefore, I despise the strong smell of perfume and cologne for medical reasons.

Whew! OK, I’m done. I’m sure my brother who’s majoring in psychology would have a field day with this. 😉 This comic written by Dog House Diaries is a great illustration of “Things That Get Under My Skin.”

Rachel and Crystal

Flashback Friday – A Published High Schooler’s Poem

Recently I have been converting my old floppy disks to files on my laptop. Most of these are old high school writings, and, wow, are they bad! Angst, yearning for love, and an innocent view of the world. However, I admire my younger self and her need to write constantly. She was following her passion no matter how retched some of her poems or short stories were and had hopes of being a great writer. I miss this blind ambition that has been replaced by gray reality. When did this replacement happen? Oh well, all I can do now is to continue to write and to fuel that writer’s passion.

Here’s a poem that was published in O, Georgia Too when I was either a sophomore or a junior (eleven or twelve years ago). I felt it was quite an accomplishment because we got to leave our podunk town in South Georgia and journey to the Atlanta area for me to sign books.

“The Silhouette Within Myself”
My face is painted against a frost-bit night
My face is dark
There is no light
My heart is jumping against the cold, winter air
My scalp tingles as the wind blows my hair
My skin has somehow strayed from my bones
Leaving only my interior to be shown
I feel as if I’m standing alone
Here by myself
No one but me
For everyone to see
People stop and stare
At my brilliance and light
I seem to bare
That which comes from within
Since I lost my skin
My fingers are numb
As I clench up my fists
My heart is sore
I have one last wish
To receive my skin
To cover up what comes from within
For I would rather build a wall
Around myself
Than have them all
See
The silhouette within myself

At the book signing

A Past Examination

I am a person who likes to compartmentalize. I like to categorize everything. I need everything labeled, and when I’m done with whatever it is, it goes in a neat, little compartment so that I don’t have to see or hear about it again. I don’t think this is necessarily a negative trait of my personality, but it can be when I do this to people and the relationships I have. If I’ve moved on, either literally or metaphorically, I clean house of the people that could remind me of the past, so that I think I have a clean slate for the future. I know this stems from moving every summer as an Army brat and attending nine schools from kindergarten to twelfth grade. I got really good at leaving people. Now, I simply find it easier to quickly move away when I begin to yearn for a change or when things get too dicey.

Lately, though, memories have been crowding my mind palace, begging to be seen. I’m realizing that this constant need to compartmentalize and to leave the past in the past has steered a lot of my decisions. If I went through a painful breakup, I’d quickly find a new man, live in a new city, and hang out with his friends. I didn’t stop this running away from past relationships and friends until I found Jesus (as I had hid Him away for quite a while as well). He helped to ground me, helped me to find a forever home, and helped me to examine the person I would eventually turn into if I didn’t stop what I was doing. Because of this, I stayed in Atlanta even when I was itching to get out. I stopped looking for the next guy. I stopped looking for the next best thing because I had found it in Christ and I was discovering it in me.

Because of these needy memories that refuse to leave, I’ve started to realize that the goodness of the people in my past is something that I truly miss. This isn’t to say that I’m not happy with the present and the people in my present. I am thankful for these “present” people and know I’m blessed to have them in my life. However, I do wish I would have kept up with the “past” people as well. It’s interesting as I look back on the past, and instead of focusing on the negative of my “past” people, I can only see the kindness. Unfortunately, this doesn’t apply to me. I tend to focus on what I’ve done wrong in the past, on the mistakes I have made, and on the people I have hurt. I know that most people are harsher critics of themselves than anyone else is of them. We’re all too consumed with our own imperfections to focus on others. We may notice them briefly but cannot focus. Knowing this, however, has not made my knowledge of what I had done in the past any easier to take.

Because the past has made me the person I am today, I felt it necessary to fully examine it. People say to let sleeping dogs lie or that the past is the past. But without a close examination of the past, how will we learn? How will we be cognizant of where we started and where we are now? How can we appreciate our journey? Without reflection on the past, how can we truly know ourselves? Due to this knowledge and the memories that had taken root in the foyer of my mind, I decided it was time to right some wrongs from my past. I did what I do best and started writing. I wrote down my feelings. I then wrote letters to a few people that I felt deserved an apology, no matter how long ago these instances occurred. I sent them out without the expectation of a reply.

But replies did come. And all of them were positive, expressing that they look back on our experiences together fondly and wouldn’t trade the friendships we had shared. My mind is no longer a stormy sea, and I can enjoy the calm ebb and flow of its waves. This experience was a bit weird but worth the catharsis and worth reconnecting with “past” people.

I urge you to examine your own past and appreciate how this has made you the person you are today. You could even write notes to the people who have affected you and/or to the people you may have wronged in some way. You don’t have to send them out; just the process of writing these thoughts down can be your catharsis.

Through this examination and activity, I have come to realize that in the end only kindness matters. People will remember you more so for the kindness you showed them instead of the wrongdoings you may have done at some point in the relationship. Kindness matters.

Thoughts on My Brother’s Keeper

Last Friday, I checked my Facebook feed as I always do and saw that Obama had launched the group “My Brother’s Keeper“. Unfortunately, I only found out about this because of the multiple negative comments about how this is prejudice to white males since MBK focuses on young men and boys of color and helps them stay out of prison. The trolls were having a field day with this one. Usually I don’t get involved with debate or take a stand on anything remotely political on Facebook. My husband and I talk frequently about politics, and I don’t feel the need to broadcast our beliefs to the public. I vote and donate to the causes I believe are worthy. On this case, though, I had to speak up. Sometimes, enough is enough.

After researching what My Brother’s Keeper is in various news sources and then researching statistics on the demographics within our prison system and how our prison numbers are relating to other countries, I felt justified in my opinion that Obama did not form this group out of prejudice. He formed MBK based on the overwhelming statistics of men of color versus any other race in prison, the systemic issues with this, and his own personal experiences. The Huffington Post cites that “one in every three black males born today can expect to go to prison at some point in their life, compared with one in every six Latino males, and one in every 17 white males.” There are many reasons for this disparity among the races and prison time. I’ve read that this may stem from the war on drugs, racism among cops, juries, and judges, the economic situation of the different classes, copying what you see around you, and the general stereotypes we all see played out in television, movies, books, and music. Whatever the reason, research shows that more men of color are in prison. This is reason enough to form MBK.

However, there’s another piece to this. The United States leads the world in the number of incarcerated individuals. The NAACP website cited that the United States leads the world in incarcerations with it being 5% of the world population but 25% of world prisoners. Furthermore, “from 1980 to 2008, the number of people incarcerated in America quadrupled—from roughly 500,000 to 2.3 million people.” In the state in which I live—Georgia—it is currently ranked as the fifth largest prison system yet it is only the eighth biggest state based on population and the 24th biggest state based on land area. The average annual cost per inmate in Georgia is $16,888. (Find out more about your specific state here.) These statistics show that not only are more men of color incarcerated than white men, but there are also quite a bit more incarcerated than other countries. There are so many people incarcerated that our prisons are overcrowded. Again, there are a plethora of reasons for our high prison numbers, such as tougher crime legislation and the reasons listed in the above paragraph. Whatever the reason, though, the truth is that our prison system is overcrowded and only getting worse. This is yet another reason to try to stop feeding our hungry prisons by creating groups like MBK.

By creating a group for the largest race groups that are currently incarcerated, Obama is trying to improve the lives of young men of color and alleviate the monetary strain of our prison system by preventing the creation of another generation of criminals. Does this not seem to be a worthy cause no matter who initiates it? White males are not the most pressing issue to our prison system so this group wasn’t created with them in mind. There are a number of ways to help prevent crime and bring awareness to the prevention of crime. For more information, click here or Google to find local groups in your area.

The most important thing I’d like everyone to get out of this post is the importance of eradicating ignorance. We must educate ourselves about the issues around us and not just take what we read on Facebook as truth. It’s also imperative that we speak up against the prejudice we may see, hear, or read. Things are not going to change unless we bring certain issues to light and intelligently talk about the issues. While I don’t always agree with what our president does, I do appreciate this effort.

Prison

To Lose It or Not to Lose It – That Is the Question

I wrote this last December and think it is a topic that needs to be shared. Enjoy!

I overheard an interesting conversation today at work. Virginity—when is the right time to lose it? And the most interesting part, this conversation was happening between two adolescent males, either in the junior or senior class. The class was working on their worksheets, aka “busy work,” and I was reading my novel. The students were talking but also getting the work done. No problems there. It was a science class, so maybe these guys felt this was the appropriate place for this conversation.

What caught my attention initially (besides the fact that they’re talking about sex in front of the teacher’s desk) was that male #1 (let’s call him John) was talking about how he was going to lie to his parents about spending the night at a friend’s house. Male #2 (let’s call him Steve) told John that was a good idea. I mean, his first time should be really special, and booking a hotel room was the thing to do. John confessed that he didn’t know if he could actually go through with it, much less convince his girlfriend to go through with it. But on the other hand, he was so tired of waiting. What if he waited until he was, like, twenty-five (oh my!) and realized that he had missed out on all those years on something terrific? Or worse, what if he had been worrying for all those years about something that wasn’t even that great once he finally did it?

Steve admitted those were all good questions. This Casanova could say from experience (if this was a nature show, he would have puffed his chest out a bit) that John would not be disappointed. In all of Steve’s vast experience, it was all good. They then went on to talk about other male-related stuff, and I found interest in my book once more.

The thing that struck me about this conversation was that we (and I mean the collective, societal “we”) hardly ever think about what the males are actually thinking and/or feeling when it comes to losing their v-cards. We’re all so focused on the females, the damsels, the maidens, the ones who must be protected at all cost. We see the female perspective on television and in movies, yet where is the male’s perspective on losing one’s cherry? Surely they’re not all sex-crazed maniacs that will stop at nothing to get in the pure, white undies of the females? So why don’t we see their perspectives? I know shows like Freaks and Geeks tried to illuminate the situation for us with Sam and his friends, but these are few and far between. Let’s have some gender equality in that. And let’s applaud this teenage boy for thinking about his options rather than jumping feet first into a situation that will be life-changing.

**On a side note to this piece, a documentary entitled The Mask You Live In is coming out this year, and it focuses on American masculinity. This is made by filmmaker Jennifer Siebel Newsom, who also made Miss Representation. Too often we expect boys and men to swallow their emotions and “be a man.” But what does that truly mean? And what is the cost of this continuous need to prove masculinity? It’s one of the documentaries I’m looking forward to this year, and you can read more about it here.