Monday, March 31, 2014

Just Hormones

Last year I did a post about the unfounded stereotypes against the teenage brain. I've noticed many people use the same sort of arguments about hormones. As a teenage girl, I have two strikes against me.
I'm a teenager.
I'm a girl.
Let's look at that second one first, shall we? Everyone knows women's hormones act up once a month. In the past (and, in many cases, today ) this was used as an argument against women. Women can't be strong. Women can't be rational. Don't trust them with anything important.
Of course, if you try saying that in front of a woman at the wrong time of month...yeah. So that argument pretty much fails.
But wait, even if they can be rational and strong, women are still different from men, right? They can have kids. Pregnancy sets our hormones crazy. You can't have a woman in any sort of position of authority. What if she decides to have a baby? She'll transform into a sappy bucket of tears that leaks out every time a Band-Aid commercial comes on TV. She can't think straight anymore. We're all doomed.
But I don't need to tell you that women are rational creatures. That our emotions, opinions, and problems matter. We've spent the last several decades debating this and finally came to the conclusion that women are not inferior to men because of our hormones act up every once in a while.
Yet the argument still stands with teens.
Apparently teenagers aren't capable of true emotion. If we fall in love (never mind that people do get married out of high school and marrying later doesn't guarantee a happy, divorce free marriage) it's not real. It's not because we're in the process of becoming adults. Adults, those people who are supposed to find people they care for, get married, and raise a family.
It's just hormones running wild.
If we get offended, it's not because we have strong personal opinions that conflict with someone else's.
Our hormones are just acting up.
If we feel insulted, ignored, and beaten down, it's not because we've been insulted, ignored, and beaten down.
Life is just fine.
We're the only ones wrong here.
But it's not our fault, no, it's just the hormones raging in our body the compel us to fight back.
Breathe in.
Breathe out.
This will pass.
It's just hormones.
We're not even real people yet, just men/women-in-training.
None of what we feel right now will matter in the future. As adults. In real life.
There is nothing more insulting to your own humanity than to be told your thoughts don't matter. That's you're nothing more than a collection of impulses and mood swings. Because if you can't think, why live?

Sunday, March 23, 2014

All Dressed Up

Displaying photo 2.JPG
Left: Me. Right: Not me.
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Left: Still not me. Right: Me again.
This is my prom dress. Do you like it? Thanks, so did I. That's why I chose it over the other nine I tried on. Ten dresses at one store is pretty good. I got the dress hunt over in one day-unlike some girls who spent a week going to six different stores, putting dresses on hold, and then just ordering one off the Internet.
The salesgirls were happy to help whenever I needed advice on my size or wanted to see the same dress in green. But I couldn't help think of the last time I went dress shopping.
My cousins, Sarah and Anna, were in town for a few days back in summer. Since I live in a suburb and we got bored after sitting around and watching TV, we decided to drive to the mall. None of us are big spenders. I held a twenty dollar pair of shoes in my hands for a good half hour while they played the Angel/Devil Game.
Sarah: If you don't want them, don't buy them.
Anna: Buy the shoes! You always need more shoes!
Sarah: You can always come back and buy them later.
Anna: You know you want them.
All our trip had produced so far was a pair of earrings and two headbands. We're lookers, not buyers. Then we found a formal dress shop. It was summer, far away from any dance, and at that point Sarah and I had never been to one. Anna wasn't sixteen yet, the minimum dating age in our family.
But we wanted to look inside. The store was empty, except for one woman talking on the phone behind the counter. She ignored us while we wandered around and stroked the different materials. There was this sign that said, "Children under 16 may not try on poofy dresses without an adult present." That puzzled me. Exactly how 'poofy' does a dress have to be before it's off limits?
Eventually Anna found a dress she liked, determined it 'not poofy' enough, and went into a dressing room. The woman put down the phone, marched over, and demanded to know how old she was.
Even though she's the youngest, Anna's been taller than both me and Sarah since we were toddlers. But she told the truth. "Fifteen."
"Do you need help in there?" the woman asked.
"Uh, no, I'm good."
Next she asked me for my age, even though I wasn't holding a dress. "I'm sixteen." She glanced over at Sarah, who's the oldest of us, but didn't ask her.
"Why are you here?"
That bothered me. Yes, we didn't plan on buying anything. But most girls who go dress shopping don't buy anything from the first store. "We're looking at dresses for our aunt's wedding," I told her. Our youngest aunt has been married for several years and has a baby.
"Uh huh." She didn't kick us out, but she didn't offer to help us find dresses either. I got the sense we weren't wanted.
I pulled out my phone. The time said 2:23. "Oh, look, guys, it's almost 2:30."
The woman nodded. She liked the way this was going now. "Is that when you have to leave?" She suggested.
"Yeah, we're meeting our aunt in the food court." We left the store, stopped at the food court for some smoothies, then decided we were fed up with the mall entirely. We ditched it and drove over to Barnes and Noble. Anna bought a children's book because she felt like it and I read a few pages of a steamy adult romance aloud to mock it. No one asked us, "Are you going to buy that?" or "Are you old enough to read that book?" or "What does a person your age want with a novel in the first place? It's summer!"
Fast forward to a few weeks ago. I get asked to prom, realize I need a dress, and go to a store forty minutes away instead of the one at my local mall. The salesgirls are nothing but helpful. I can't help wonder if that's because my mom's standing next to me.
I doubt I'll ever go to that shop again. I don't see myself recommending it to my friends either. I have, however, been back to Barnes and Noble several times since that day. It's nice to know there's one store where I won't be judged for my age.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Refuting the Prom Queen Stereotype

When I saw this on facebook yesterday, I had no idea it would make national news. I've had classes with both Kendra and Amanda. Kendra's such a happy, positive person. Some of that, I'm sure, is because her disability helps her sympathize with other people. But that's also just the way she is. I'd also like to add something the video leaves out: Amanda isn't just some random student. She was nominated for prom queen as well and was first attendant before Kendra gave up her title.
Still think teenagers are self centered?

Monday, March 17, 2014

Tech Advice for Old People

1. Never type a full sentence into google
That just wastes time. If a query is phrased in the form of a question, like, "How do I dodge a snakebite?" you'll only get results for yahooanswers and "Dodge snakebite" will suffice.

2. Less is More
If you're making a PowerPoint or some other sort of presentation, don't put everything you plan to say on the slide. Your audience will read it before you're done talking and get bored. Never put more than five items on a slide. Each item should be one to three words, unless you need a quote or specific name that's longer.
3. Picture's Worth a Thousand
If you're doing a blog post, presentation, or some other text-heavy thingimajig, put a picture at least every thousand words. Eyes glaze over after a few paragraphs. Actually, 200 is a better number. If you can think of any excuse at all just zap a picture in there. Like this.
This is a panda. It is relevant to this post.
4. NO
Just because you see an acronym used in one post, one website, or to describe one person doesn't mean it's a common one. There are about six acronyms known by everyone on the Internet. And please, don't use an acronym aloud. It just makes you sound stupid.
Also, don't use an acronym until you are completely certain what it means. LOL means laugh out loud, not lots of love, and it's not an appropriate response to "My uncle just died".
6. Figure it Out
My mom uses hotmail. She's constantly asking me how to attach things, format things, and reply to things. I can't help her. I'm a gmail girl. The best I can do is push buttons and see what happens. That's my standard response to any piece of technology I don't understand.
7. Don't feel bad

I saw this in the library the other day and I don't like it. Are seniors really a special type of dummy? Do they need their own book? Do we need books in the first place? I glanced at my nokia's user manual for a few minutes. But for the most part, I learn by doing. The day I got it I sat down and figured out all the important things. How do I add contacts? Where's the phone? Where's the camera? How do I send a text to a person in my contacts? How do I send a text to a new number? I had it four months before I figured out how to forward a text. Until then, I didn't need to know.

This is a TI-83, the calculator I use for math and chemistry. You can pick one up at Walmart for about a hundred dollars.

This is the computer system that put Apollo 11 on the moon forty five years ago. My calculator has six times the processing power. In a normal day, I'll divide things, multiply things, and find a few square roots. If I'm feeling fancy I might plug in a logarithm or two. I don't use the dice roll simulation or pick-a-card-from-a-deck-of-52 simulation. I've barely scratched at the surface. And that's okay. Technology exists so you can do what you want with it.
8. Don't Assume We Know Everything
See number six. Yes, I've been playing computers games since age three, but that's only fourteen years. You've been exposed to technology longer. If you want to learn it, you can. There's no excuse for not trying.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Rachel Canning

I usually don't jump into these big name cases like this. In those rare instances where teenagers make headlines, like Trayvon Martin or Malala Yousafazi, I stay out of it. What can I say that hasn't already been said? But Rachel Canning's case caught my attention. For those of you who haven't been following her story, Canning is  a high school senior (and honor student and cheerleader and lacrosse player) at a New Jersey Catholic private school. She moved out of the house last October and she's now living with a friend across town. According to her parents, she did this of her own free will, 'cause she's just rebellious and obstinate like that. According to Channing, she was fleeing abuse. Now she's suing her parents for school tuition, living expenses, transportation, legal fees, and, wait for it, college funds.
Private school fees? Sure, her parents enrolled her. Living and transportation expenses? Maybe. You could justify that. College? I don't see why or how they should end up paying. Plenty of parents cut off their children financially. It's not at all unusual for a college student to go into debt. I doubt she'll win. And even if she does the Internet trolls will rip her to shreds.
If you want an in depth analysis of the legal issues, go elsewhere. What bothers me is the way media has handled this case. Most articles I've seen-not to mention the comments at the bottom-call her a brat and say that as a legal adult she's not entitled to any financial support. But when they want to mock the situation, it's presented like this:

If you want to hold her responsible, she's an eighteen year old adult. If you want to call her out for being spoiled, she's an eighteen year old child. It can't be both ways.
Ms. Canning, if you are truly fleeing abuse, then I salute you. When the smoke clears you'll inspire other abuse victims to take a stand. And if you're not? If you're just like that woman who sued Nutella for not being healthy (and won three million dollars), then none of this will help.
This is a personal case. That's why it's so hard to come to a simple conclusion. Canning's parents claim that of course they love their daughter, of course they only want what's best for her, and of course it's just an oversight that they let their family get international attention instead of resolving it quickly and quietly. Oopsie.
I can understand if Sean and Elizabeth Canning don't want to pay the exorbitant legal fees and all the other costs. But if Canning truly ran away on her own, if she's a partyer who isn't going anywhere in life, it strikes me odd that her parents don't want to finance her high school education.
Let's leave the Canning family to work out their personal problems. Let's go back to reading about the Ukraine and Syria and whatever Obama's up to at the moment. And while we're at it, let's try to find a less two faced way to depict young people.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Child Labor Continues Today

We've raised the minimum age and thanks to outsourcing we no longer have to labor in textile mills. Those have become more mechanized anyways. Workers don't personally weave cloth, they supervise the machinery. But unequal pay and long work hours continue.
My friend Jade works in a retirement home, sometimes 13 hour shifts. I see girls stumble into first period bleary eyed because they worked until close and that came at 1:00 A.M. At fifteen, I got a job selling hot dogs and churros at my local baseball park. They hired under minimum age to avoid minimum wage. We earned three dollars an hour. That is one cheese burger an hour. Minimum is $7.25.
Yes, our lives don't look like this anymore.

Certainly working as a young person isn't as hard to today as it was in 1914. But aside from the things I've mentioned, not much else has changed. We are still a valuable, important sources of labor that keeps the economy going. That's why the voting age should be lowered to sixteen.
In 1969, the voting age was lowered from 21 to 18. Because eighteen year olds have opinions? Because their voices deserved to be heard? No, because eighteen year old boys were sent to fight and die in Vietnam. No, because of the 25,593 boys who died in a war they never voted for. That's not counting soldiers who were sent to Vietnam before they were 21 but passed a birthday while they were there.
Let's look at this logically. If an eighteen year old deserves to vote because his life was put at risk, shouldn't that mean only soldiers should have the right to vote? Why not say, "The right of citizens of the United States, who are in military service, to vote, shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any state on account of age." That would exclude disabled males and almost the entire female population. But the ammendment passed, and they were given the same rights as their friends in Vietnam. Rights they had never earned.
Teenagers work. From sixteen on we have to pay taxes, but we have no voice in how the government spends our money. And while it's true that not all of us work-especially since adults sunk down during the Recession and stole our fast food jobs-we all have things we'd like to say. Yes, not all people would take advantage of their new voting rights. At least not immediately. If at sixteen you begin to entertain the notion that your thoughts and opinions matter, you'll be more eager to show up at the polls when you're eighteen. Most eager than a high school senior who has never kept up with the news, never gone to community political meetings, never even paid attention in government class.
You might say that teenagers would only be influenced by their parents. But who isn't? Do you vote the same way as the people who raised you? Who taught you right from wrong and right from left? Do you vote the same way as your spouse, your friends, your coworkers, the billboards glaring down at you as you drive to work?
On Election Day back in 2012, I typed the word "who" into google. I don't remember what I was searching for, but I remember google's top suggestion: "Who should I vote for?" In a day and age when people let search engines dictate their political beliefs, parents are not the worst influences. Besides, if you agree with the stereotype that all teenagers are rebellious, wouldn't we naturally vote against our parents?
Voting isn't the important issue here. Sixteen to eighteen is a (relatively) small slice of the population. It's unlikely that we'd be able to sway an election, just as the first female voters in 1920 brought no great political change. That wasn't the point then and it isn't the point now. It's having the right to vote in the first place. Rights are infinitely more precious than whatever you decide to do with them.

Monday, March 3, 2014

What I Found on Facebook Today

I've always loved these kinds of poems. And I've always loved people who can take everything I rant about and put it into concise, beautiful language.

Sunday, March 2, 2014


The following definitions are taken from
1. Next: immediately following in time, order, importance, etc.: the next day; the next person in line.
2. Rising: growing or advancing to adult years: the rising generation.
We are not the next generation. The next generation has not been born yet. If you need to call us something, don't bother with cutesy names like "Millenials" or "Generation Y". Generations are fuzzy categories anyways. Two of my brothers were born in 1999 and 2002. If you view January 1, 2000 as the cutoff date, they're different generations.
Just say the rising generation.