Doggie Breath

My dad always liked to say that we’re an “equal opportunity family.”

They’re black, I’m white. They’re 15 years old (or 105 in human years), I’m 20. They smell awful all the time from every orifice, I like to think that my odor is somewhat tolerable at least some of the time. They’re my sisters.

My sisters are two 14-year-old black labs.

My sisters are two 14-year-old black labs.

As an only child, they’re all I’ve ever had.

Tomorrow is the day they go to Heaven.

Losing both my sisters at the same time is something I’ve been dreading for a while. I’m trying to justify it in that Coco has been more and more wobbly lately, while she and Spooky have both been steadily losing control of their bowels.

I once read something online about why dogs’ lives are shorter than humans’. It was before a friend of mine’s dog died and I wanted to know how to comfort him when the time came. It said that people come into this world to learn how to live a good life, how to love one another, and it takes us a long time, roughly 70-80 years. But dogs are born knowing how to live and how to love so they don’t have to stay as long.

That’s the beauty in animals. Unconditional love.

Their love has kept my life so full for so long. It’ll be hard to let them both go at the same time, but their mom brought them into this world together so it’s only right that they should leave it the same way: together.

It’s really unfair that dogs can’t decide for themselves, when it’s their time to go. How can a person have the ability, burden even, to choose when the life of someone else ends?

My dad always said he would know when it was time for them to go because they’d be able to tell him. He’s not here now, so it’s been up to my mom and I. I just hope this unusually sunny day is dad saying he’s ready for them. It’s time. Send ’em up.

Spooky (red collar) and Coco (blue collar) taking a napDoggie breath is a wonderful smell that’s always followed by loving kisses.

I’m going to miss it.

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21 People On What They Would Tell Their 19-Year-Old Selves

Wow. With a mere 4 days left to be 19 years old, I’m so aware of how much I’ve learned in this life and how much I’ve yet to learn.

I have no depressing, inspirational, or thoughtful post this year like I’ve written for my past two birthdays because I don’t even know what to think about 20. However, I can say that I have no regrets and very few complaints.

All I can do now is say cheers and see you on the other side.

If you’re interested and/or feeling particularly emotionally stable… 18 til I die. If you’re not, “You’re not gonna make it to 18,” she said.

Thought Catalog

Jonathan, 55

There is no such thing as “the only one”. You will meet lots of “the ones”. Only commit when the timing is right for the both of you – that can take years for some, and that’s okay.

Miranda, 24

Drop pre-med.

Isaac, 48

Deodorant does not count as a shower, and that haircut only looked good on Bon Jovi.

Anya, 42

Make the conscious decision to be happy, and then stick with it. Society will do everything in its power to convince you that your personal happiness is dependent on something external – beauty, success, wealth, etc. – it isn’t.

Parker, 55

60% of the things you think are important now won’t matter a whit to you by the time you reach 50. The trick is to figure out the important 40% and work it.

Megan, 34

He doesn’t love you, and you will be okay.

Peter…

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What is love? (Baby, don’t hurt me)

So recently I’ve had a few inspirational experiences. I’m not sure if “inspirational” is the right word, but it’s all I have right now. I’ll spare you the gory details and maybe share some of my thoughts/reflections.

What is love? For centuries, millennia even, that question has befuddled the most intelligent of people. I like to think I have a pretty strong grip on the concept of love and maybe you’ll agree, maybe you won’t.

-Silvius, As You Like It by Shakespeare

Love. There doesn’t have to be an agreement where you see your loved ones every day. If you know in your heart that you love him/her and that she/he loves you back, that should be enough. Military families go months (years?) without seeing their loved ones. How is it that I see military couples, happily married after sending their loved ones off to serve over-seas dozens of times, still happily in love if seeing each other every day is a requirement of love? Oh wait, it’s not required. You just love someone. You miss them when they’re not there and you’re happy when you see them. That’s how it works.

Love. I think it’s supposed to be something you can have and do other things at the same time. Multitasking, people. Yes, college is a time when a person can and should spend time finding his/herself, who he/she truly is and what he/she truly believes. If you think that love is something that needs to be put on hold while you’re journeying to find yourself, or even vice versa, you’re wrong. I think that it’s an incredible gift to be able to share the most exciting, important journey of your life with your best friend and you should absolutely do these two things at the same time if you’re lucky enough to love someone during such a crucial turning point in your life. If you’re being true to yourself when you’re with that person you love, you should feel, not held back by their presence alongside yourself in this self-discovery, but rather even more fulfilled by their companionship.

“We do not find the meaning of life by ourselves alone – we find it with another.”

-Thomas Merton

In life, it’s normal to get lonely. When you truly love someone, you’re never actually alone. That person is in your heart, as awfully corny and clichéd as that sounds. With every action you take and every word you speak, that person is present whether they know that or not, but you know it, you never forget that.

At the point in my life where I’m really starting to find myself (so far I like to think I’m pretty independent and strong, but we’ll see) I don’t NEED the company of another to make my life complete, but I want it with my heart and soul and I go out-of-the-way to show it every day. I’m self-reliant, I’m self-sustaining, I’m ambitious, and I’m independent; that doesn’t mean I deserve to be alone.

The ambitious people deserve to be loved too.

Sorry if that was excessively ranty. Had to let it out. Thanks for sticking with me through my temper tantrum. I promise it doesn’t happen very often.

Thought Catalog: they’ve done it again

Thought Catalog posted a real winner again. This article describing one man’s negative, ignorant perspective on vaccinations comes only a month after a writer posted an awful piece on feminism under the pen name “Amy Glass.”
I posted a fierce response to the original feminism, but strangely anti-feminism post, here.

This “Amy Glass,” really one Chrissy Stockton, wrote later claiming that her article about why she’s not sorry for looking down on young women with husbands and children was actually written for the shock factor and to spark conversations.
Well, folks, it looks as though Thought Catalog is at it again. They really want to shock people into being angry. If that’s really their goal then they’re doing a decent job. I’ve yet to see a positive comment on the vaccine post.

Anyway, this is not another angry response to an infuriating post written by an uninformed ignoramus. I would rather talk about the Thought Catalog blog as a whole.

On its “About” page, Thought Catalog explains that it is owned by an “experimental media group based in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, The Thought & Expression LLC. I’m guessing they mean “experimental” in that they’re sitting behind their laptop screens at work laughing at all the angry comments flooding their newest, most whiny, ranty posts written by their intentionally offensive writers (if you can call them as such). I hope they’re making spreadsheets, calculating and predicting how many innocent people they can aggravate correlated to the number of impressionable people they can manipulate.

One of the first posts I read on Thought Catalog, I must have agreed with or something because I remember it led me to their “About” page where I discovered the ideals of the blog. I remember wanting to steal them and use them for my own blog so badly. I still think they’re great ideal, but the fact that Thought Catalog shows complete disregard for these ideals lessens their impact on me greatly.

Ideals:

  1. Thought Catalog content should be fun, smart, and creative, i.e., entertaining, journalistic, and literary.

  2. The site should be beautiful and clutter-free.

  3. We believe all thinking is relevant and strive for a value-neutral editorial policy governed by openness. The more worldviews and rhetorical styles on the site, the better. We want to tell all sides of the story.

  4. We’re about today. But our mission is also archival. We want to catalog the times for tomorrow.

  5. We want to help shape culture by empowering you to share your ideas and stories with the world.

They really need to add a disclaimer in their ideals somewhere that says, “Most of these articles are written completely for our entertainment as we watch you mere mortals trip over your words in fury at what we’ve posted. Please don’t take anything we’re writing seriously because we’re blatantly wrong and we are completely aware of it.”

These ideals are what I strive for in my blog and I wish that an organization as reckless as Thought Catalog would not falsely claim these ideals as its own, when it doesn’t fully appreciate their impact or embrace their values.

That’s all I have to say for tonight. I’m really upset about what’s been happening with Thought Catalog lately.

A post in spite of Amy Glass of Thought Catalog

I recently read this post on Thought Catalog and although I thought the things I should be doing right now are important, I have to post about this absurdity. I’ve loved Thought Catalog, but this just really rubbed me the wrong way and so my day is buried in the seeds of rage. I had to reply to her post because Amy Glass’ simple-minded attitude that life for women is based on black and white decisions is seriously flawed. I plan to do “exceptional things” in my life, which INCLUDE having a family. Ms. Glass, I’m sorry that you think getting married and having kids is something that’s “average” or unworthy of celebration. My immediate response to this infuriating blog post is the following:

“Wow. Your thought process is so one-sided. I really hope you get to experience all that life has to offer so that one day when you grow up (yes, this is coming from a 19-year-old college student who’s a lot more mature than you are from the sounds of your post), you’ll see that there are benefits to every lifestyle a woman may choose. Both working and having a family, which you absolutely CAN do at the same time because I watched my beautiful mother do it her whole life (how DARE you say it’s not possible when you’re just too afraid to try), are equally as rewarding and challenging. I do genuinely hope that you find in life what you’re meant to do, whether it be working or raising a family or BOTH, and that you’re extremely happy doing it. Please, in the mean time, try to keep your unsettling, asymmetrical opinions of equality to yourself. You should follow my blog because I plan to accomplish exceptional things in life, INCLUDING raising a family. Maybe you’ll learn something valuable. For now, I feel sorry for you that you feel the range of your life so limited as to only being able to chose one path, work or a family, and do it successfully. https://leakyblather.wordpress.com/”

I do not regret the things I say in the heat of the moment because they’re usually exactly how I feel; however, as a writer, I do wish I had taken the time to speak more eloquently and less emotionally. I’m just going to elaborate a little more on my response now…

Ms. Glass,

You began the post with an ugly sort of attack on women’s freedom to make their own decisions about their lives. You said, “Every time I hear someone say that feminism is about validating every choice a woman makes I have to fight back vomit.”

First, that’s a hideous reaction. It’s melodramatic and really unnecessary. This was my first clue as to your level of maturity.

Then, I unearthed your first mistake even before leaving the first paragraph of your post when you asked, “Do people really think that a stay at home mom is really on equal footing with a woman who works and takes care of herself? There’s no way those two things are the same.”

Referencing the comment I made on your post earlier, this “black and white” approach you have to life’s journey is nauseating. I think your interpretation of feminism is way too radical, bordering on a different sort of oppression, reminiscent of the patriarchy you’ve set out in rebellion against. You think that women can only be acting in a progressive way to benefit women’s rights if their decisions are all toward contributing to the work force and reflecting the priorities of most men. I don’t want your naivety to spread, or the idea of this self-inflicting oppression, parallel to that of the patriarchal oppression we’ve seen in the past, to overtake any impressionable peoples’ views of equality.

There is no such thing as freedom in the society toward which you strive.

You also have a one-sided view of what is exceptional. Although you refuse the idea in your article, women CAN successfully have both a family and a career, which are both “exceptional” accomplishments in life. Like I said, I’ve watched my beautiful mother, as well as all the women I’ve admired throughout my life, balance their careers and families with great poise and strength. There is room for celebration of both birth and marriage, as well as of promotions and embracing life’s adventures.

You say, “as if it’s a huge accomplishment and cause for celebration to be able to get knocked up or find someone to walk down the aisle with. These aren’t accomplishments, they are actually super easy tasks, literally anyone can do them.”

If your lashing out at the traditions of baby showers and wedding showers is your way of having a written temper tantrum, I have no respect for it. Just because “anyone can do them” doesn’t make the institution of marriage or ability to have a family any less remarkable. No one is forcing you to do either of these things and my impression of your character, through your display of negativity, causes me to suggest you don’t pursue either of these paths in life because you won’t be able to fully appreciate them.

In one of the thousands of comments under your article, Ozma asks you who you are to judge what an achievement is. Let me tell you, it usually doesn’t involve any sort of competitive tendency like you suggest in your article.

TheFreeDictionary defines the word “achievement” as “something accomplished successfully, especially by means of exertion, skill, practice, or perseverance.” There’s nothing about what men value versus what women value or what’s achievable by everyone or what’s achievable by few. Ms. Glass, you call the act of marriage and having a family “settling for average.” You call our celebration of these life events “applauding [women] for doing nothing.” How dare you.

I could easily go on for thousands of words, dissecting the atrocity you wrote line by line, but I think everyone should just read your post for themselves and judge accordingly what response it deserves.

So in reply to your post, Ms. Glass, I look down on people who write blog posts about looking down on other people and I’m not sorry. Here’s a Condescending Wonka I made especially for you:

Condescending Wonka on Feminism

Again, wishing you luck and happiness in your life.

Resentfully yours,

Melissa

Thanks to Nikki of lifethroughexpression for posting the original super infuriating Thought Catalog article on Facebook so that I may be inspired to react to it. She’s the bomb!

Why Craig Ferguson has my heart

Lately, I’ve been struggling with content, but I finally found something that I need to post or else I will be genuinely angry at myself. It’s not that I can’t come up with content (I’ve never sat at my computer and asked myself what I should write about) or that I don’t have the time to sit down and write (well, that’s some of it), but it’s mostly that I’m so self-conscious about what I think it worthy of sharing with people. I really need to get over it because I love writing and I really shouldn’t care how many likes it gets or page views. It’s just so hard to ignore that stuff sometimes and if you’re not careful it can become a measure of self-esteem and, trust me, it’s a downward spiral you don’t want to be in when you love writing as much as I do. Anyway, this is completely irrelevant.

I found something today that slapped me in the face and then hugged- no, it crushed all the superficial, insignificant worries out of my body. I have always had heaps of respect for Craig Ferguson. The man is a hero in so many aspects. Okay, so I found this clip from one of his show a little over 3 years ago (before I was able to actually enjoy my time awake at night by watching late night talk shows because I was too busy doing gobs of homework), it speaks for itself. My heart aches, in the greatest sense of the word, for this man’s talent and his integrity. Please watch. I apologize for the video quality.

By the way, I found this video as supplementation to an article about Justin Bieber on NPR. Go, NPR!

Think Different

In 1997 Apple Inc. created a new advertising slogan, “Think Different.” I was really affected by the original concept of the campaign and the philosophy it reflects. The original text is below. I found it on Wikipedia.

Apple Inc. Think Different advertising slogan in 1997.

Apple Inc. Think Different advertising slogan in 1997.

“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes.
The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them.
About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They invent. They imagine. They heal. They explore. They create. They inspire. They push the human race forward.
Maybe they have to be crazy.
How else can you stare at an empty canvas and see a work of art? Or sit in silence and hear a song that’s never been written? Or gaze at a red planet and see a laboratory on wheels?
We make tools for these kinds of people.
While some see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.
 

In the past year I’ve experienced so much, not even a fraction of what life has to offer. It’s overwhelming, but I think I’ve figured out what I want to do with my life and that is change the world. There’s so much wrong in this world that doesn’t have to be. I’ve been joking recently that my to-do list gets longer and longer with every mention of world news and how am I going to save the world when the world is working so hard to prevent being saved. I know it’s not a one person job, but talking about it this way makes me feel obligated, responsible to affect change- or at least try. I have one whole life to live and when I’m gone, everything I wanted and everything I had will be inconsequential. I’ve always been passionate about living my life for others, but I think the idea really embedded itself into me since I’ve arrived here at Virginia Tech. With all the opportunities for self-discovery and learning about others, it’s hard not to come away with the idea that we are not alone in this world, so why live only for ourselves? Anyway… I digress.

Steve Jobs was a great, smart man. In 1994 he spoke in a documentary by PBS, offering his wisdom. Like Jobs, I’ve seen a trend in the way people approach the idea of “life” in that it is an existing, predetermined structure, that we are all pieces in the game and we follow the path to the Candy Castle or we get stuck in the Molasses Swamp on the way. That’s not true at all. I like to believe that we can affect the game board; that we are the path, not the pieces. As Jobs put it, “when you grow up you tend to get told the world is the way it is and your life is just to live your life inside the world… That’s a very limited life.” I want my life to be broader than those smothered by this simple idea that the world is unchangeable. It’s not. I, like Jobs, want to change life to make it better.

I want “to shake off this erroneous notion that life is there and you’re just gonna live in it, versus embrace it, change it, improve it, make your mark upon it.”

Though I haven’t figured out what medium through which I’ll attack all the messed up things in this world, whether it’s through pursuing a degree in higher education and working to reform the cookie cutter university model, or bringing my fresh ideas based in ethics to the world of corporate finance, or flying to Nepal to work with orphan children and pursue my purely humanitarian interests. All I have in mind is the end goal for now. I’m going to change the world and I’m going to stray from the path on the game board; I’m taking the Gumdrop Pass (whatever I decide it will be).