Category Archives: Life Stories

Pre-Birthday, Much Delayed Life Update

So I’ve been lazy and haven’t given many people an update – mainly because my life is so in flux and I’m just too lazy to keep explaining the changes. But here is an important one:

[Warning, long post, so for those who want a summary, scroll to the bottom for TLDR]

About three months ago now, I was accepted to the law program at the College of William and Mary – which was a really amazing thing, because W&M is a wonderful school in a beautiful town. And I was proud, so I told everyone about it (via instagram, because 2018.) But my heart was never truly in attending there. I had visited W&M before in high school, and it wasn’t my favorite, but I applied as a backup because it truly is an amazing school.

Fast forward a few months. Life threw me a curve ball – I was accepted to W&M, but I was waitlisted at literally every other school I applied. Georgetown. George Washington University. American University. UNC-CH. Everywhere but W&M. (Though, really, waitlist is better than rejected, so at least there was that.)

Admittedly, I had been very conceded about my application process, and I truly believe it was the universe’s way of bringing my big head back down to earth and humbling me (I definitely need it sometimes). So, since I hadn’t gotten in anywhere else, W&M was going to be my school, and I planned a trip to go visit Williamsburg and start staking out apartments.

But like I said – my heart wasn’t in it. My whole life I have been a big city girl. Part of the reason I left Raleigh was because it was ‘too small’ in my mind. After living 6 years in the 3rd largest metropolitan city in Canada, with nearly 2.5million people, the size of Williamsburg – a city purposely frozen in the 1700s, with barely 15,000 people living there – was a serious shock to my system. And I hated it. [And had a semi-mild mental breakdown that my father had absolutely no idea how to help me with.]

Yes, I did want to be a veterinarian for the majority of my life, but having cows and pigs and sheep grazing – in 18th century farmyards, no less – right next to the law school was definitely not on my list of things I would expect for my future home for three years. No matter how many times I told myself, “You have to like this; this is your only choice”, it just wasn’t happening. Maybe for a year I could deal with such a small city in such an isolated place. Maximum two years. Never for three years. For gods sake, they don’t even have a dance club! What type of college town doesn’t have a dance club??

The ultimate dealbreaker – the closest airports were 50minute and 45minute drives away. Even in Vancouver, the giant metropolitan city with a million things to do both in the city and around the city, I would regularly fly away for the weekend because I have such insane wanderlust and needed to explore the world. Yeah, I will probably never have time to explore during law school, but I need the option. Otherwise I feel extremely claustrophobic. There was no way I could go to William and Mary; it was just not possible.

(All this talk of logistics aside, the school also has a seriously small international law program compared to the other schools I applied to [except UNC-CH, which also has a small program for IL, which is why it was my 2nd backup] so realistically the university was not good for my career options either. You should never attend a law school in an area where you do not want to practice, because a big factor in getting good law jobs is the connections you have. So you want to attend a place where you will make connections in the field you want to work, or the region you want to work. W&M had neither. It wasn’t just my insane nitpickiness about what type of city I can live in.)

So the decision was made. I would not attend this school in the fall; my life plan was now up in the air, and depended completely on the schools where I was waitlisted. It broke me a little, honestly. I seriously considered whether law school is really for me. Most of the adults in my life are lawyers, and all of them tried to discourage me from pursuing law. Maybe they are right, maybe it isn’t for me. I greatly disliked the constitutional law class I had sat in on at W&M; maybe this was all a sign.

With all these doubts in my mind, I chose to visit the DC area again – partly to see the amazing Tanner, but also to go to the last waitlist-open-houses that Georgetown, AU, and GWU were holding. I’m so glad I did.

I was very fortunate to meet with another close friend who graduated from AU Law this summer, Cynthia. What both of us thought would be a short coffee and see-how-you-are-doing (plus a quick tour of the law school, which was very informing!) turned into multiple hours of talking through life and remembering (at least for me) why we are friends and why I am ever thankful for having Model UN in my life (because without it, I would never have met her, or Rebekah, or Verna, or Ayush, or Angela, or Joy, or… well the list is very long). After that, and after seeing how amazing AU treats its law students, I realized my doubts were wrong. I could be a lawyer, and I should be a lawyer, but I should make sure I am going to a school that I truly believe will be beneficial for my life – I can not and should not settle.

After visiting the three DC schools, I can honestly say American University was my favorite. It may not be ranked as high as the others, but you can easily tell how much everyone cares about one another. Their international law program is amazing, as is their intellectual property law. Their buildings are brand new, technologically advanced, and right next to the metro. And the best part – well, no, there isn’t really a best part because the school is just overall very amazing – but a really good part is that they very clearly put a focus on student wellbeing and health, which is something I always thought was seriously lacking at UBC.

Since that visit, I’ve examined my life. I’ve examined my priorities, my goals, my fears, and my expectations. Its all come down to this final decision – it is not worth 3 years of my life and $100,000 of debt to just get a JD; I need to get a JD in a place I care about that I know will care about me. I’ve gotten in to other schools on my list, but what they offer me is not what I believe I need. So as my life stands, I’m moving to DC in the fall and hopefully will be attending AU Law (waitlist pending); if not, I’m going to try to get a job in international relations in DC – we’ll see how life works out.

Ultimately, though, I want to stress this one thing to everyone: everyone has a limited amount of years on this earth. You never know when you will go – it could be tomorrow, it could be in 100 years – so don’t waste it doing something you dislike, being somewhere you dislike, just to reach a goal you may not live to see or may not live to enjoy. Life is precious and fleeting, so enjoy every second while you have it. As the overused yet completely accurate saying goes, “Live every day like it is your last.”

TLDR: I’m not attending William and Mary law in the fall; I may or may not go to law school in the fall; I am 90% sure I’m moving to DC anyway (90% because life always throws me curveballs, so really I never know what is going to happen.) But ultimately – don’t settle; life is too short to be somewhere or do something you don’t like. Live every day like you last, because it really could be.

A Global Citizen

A few months ago, I read an article deriding the use of the term ‘global citizen,’ suggesting that the moniker should no longer be used. And it has really stuck with me. According to the article, the use of this classification is misleading – everyone has citizenship in one country or another, there can be no such thing as a ‘global’ citizen.

 

I disagree – true, the phrase as a moniker has been used too widely; however, it does classify a specific population of people. A global citizen is a person who has experienced the world; who has lived in multiple countries; who has travelled extensively and has taken time in each place to learn the culture of each group of people. A global citizen is a person who no longer can classify themselves as simply their original nationality, nor can they accurately classify themselves as any of the nationalities in which they have lived. A global citizen is a person stuck in the middle ground – not totally A, but also not totally B. After 18 years of living in the United States, 6 years living in Canada, and assorted months in between living in Australia, Colombia, and Netherlands, I fully classify myself in this middle ground. I am not longer fully an ‘American’ – but neither am I a Canadian (or Australian, Colombian, nor Dutch.) In this strange middle ground, I encapsulate habits of all the countries I have lived and many of the countries I have visited. I still maintain a collection of behaviors from my American upbringing, while also often speaking like a Canadian; I continue to use Australian slang from the months I lived on the Sunshine Coast, while also maintaining habits I learned in the Netherlands. I am, therefore, ultimately placed in the middle ground of not truly being any one nationality – and there is only one title which I can claim: global citizen.

 

After my time in the Netherlands, I was speaking with a close friend of mine who has also lived in multiple countries and has travelled extensively. I explained to my friend how difficult I found it to describe my nationality – she agreed. She has the same trouble. While she is originally Singaporean, she is also a Canadian. Having grown up in Singapore, she is identifies as Singaporean – but she also was taught at an American school, and has spent the past 7 years in Canada. And she has the same trouble as me – she is not fully classified as any of the nationalities of which she claims. So what is she then? She is as I am – a global citizen. A person who has travelled extensively, lived in multiple countries, and observed the cultures of each place she has lived.

 

In a time such as the one we live, where people can easily traverse national borders, it is understandable that the idea of ‘global citizen’ can be applied too broadly. Any person who travels, who learns of different cultures in an academic setting, can call themselves a ‘global citizen’. And it is understandable why this over classification could cause problems. That being said, should said person travel, live, and absorb the cultures in which they explore, the moniker of ‘global citizen’ is not a false one – for some people, it is the only moniker to which we apply.

Life Update – Introducing Phantom, the Toy Australian Shepherd

Two years ago today, I lost my best friend and baby girl, Carma. Last year today, I was escaping my grief by preparing to leave on my Grand Adventure in Europe. This year today, I have finally gotten enough courage and faced enough of my pain that I decided I could finally have another puppy in my life again – meet Phantom (because his face reminded me of Phantom of the Opera and I’m a nerd), a toy Australian Shepherd.

Not going to lie, its been a bit hard having a new puppy because it reminds me how much I miss my Carma, but I know she would be happy as long as I am happy – and I know she would have loved to play with her little brother!

 

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Little baby, Phantom (yes, he is that tiny!)
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My Carma and I, Christmas 2011

Life Update

Hello everyone!

It has been awhile since my last post, so I thought I’d give a quick update on what I’ve been doing:

About 8 months ago, my maternal grandmother passed away. As my mother is the executor of the estate, her and my father have been dealing with consolidating all of the worldly belongings of my grandmother’s. Thankfully, most of her things had been sold/given away when she sold her home over 15 years ago, but she still had enough stuff to fill a 3-bedroom condo – all of which has now been moved to my parent’s house and a storage unit.

So what have I been doing? Well, basically I’ve been helping my parents deal with the estate, clean up our house, get rid of the random stuff that we haven’t used in over 15 years, and train their crazy 70 pound puppy named Zippy who likes to jump up on people like Tigger (she is currently laying on the chair next to me). And in the course of all this, I have finally gotten convinced to take the LSAT to prepare for my likely career as a lawyer (Dad also keeps dragging me to his Alma Mater’s law school reunion events. His thought: ‘Well, if she has to get a law degree, she has to get it from UNC-Chapel Hill’).

So thats a quick update on my life! And because I hate studying for tests, I’m going to be spending some extra time before I leave for Europe on July 5th writing some blog posts to update everyone about how my trip went! (Honestly, if anyone has anything to help me procrastinate, I would love it!)

Because Fear of the Unknown Affects Us All

To be honest, before every long trip (and even some short trips) that I’ve taken, I get a little nervous. My heart starts fluttering – have I made enough plans to make sure I have a smooth trip? Is it going to go as planned? Will I like it? Will it be worth it? I’m traveling to a completely unknown area, and I am all alone, is this a good idea? Should I just cancel? If my flight gets delayed or cancelled, is it a blessing in disguise? Should I just stay home?

These thoughts have consumed my mind before every trip I have taken; when I was 14, flying off to 8 days in Japan with my middle school, I was so nervous I thought I would do something terrible wrong and cause an international incident. No joke. My mother spent hours calming my down from a full-out, crying-so-hard-I-couldn’t-speak freak out. But, just like mom said, I did not actually cause an international incident (would that even have been possible? Probably not).

The thoughts happened when I flew to Greece and Italy a few years later, and when I went to Australia the year after – and the year after that. They happened when I flew out to UBC for the first time (although, let’s be honest, who doesn’t freak out a little when they move all the way across the country, into a totally different country, where you know absolutely no one?) Even when I was going to Europe in October, my heart was fluttering. As I was rushing to the airport, wondering if I’d be late to my flight, the thought crept into my mind – ‘well, if I miss the flight, I can just stay here. Thats a lot less scary than two months, alone, traveling all across Europe.’

As I laid in my bed last night, the thoughts crept back in – ‘What if the fake-gun-fiasco (as I have now named it; if you don’t know what I mean, read my last blog post) means I can’t fly? Then I’ll just stay home. I might kill my parents after, but 6 weeks here is a LOT less scary than 6 weeks in place I have never been…’ But despite my heart beating rapidly and my mind nervously wondering what the next 6 weeks have in store for me (and despite the fake-gun-fiasco), I boarded my flight into the unknown, defeating the anxiety bubbling in the pit of my stomach, and started my next Grand Adventure!

Fear of the unknown affects even the most seasoned travelers, but giving into that fear means you miss some of the most exciting adventures the world can offer!

Because No Plane Ride is Ever Uneventful

If you follow my travels, you will know that any flights I take are far from uneventful. To be exact, I cannot name you the last time something outrageous didn’t happen on one of my flights. I can, however, tell you the most outrageous (albeit, in some lights, possibly deserved?) thing that has ever happened to me on any trip. Ever.

For a little background – over the past four years I have been a student of Krav Maga (Israeli Military Martial Arts), practicing at the UBC REC center normally twice a week. Over that time, I have achieved a yellow belt, first stripe status (and would have already tested for my second stripe, but I’m always out of town when testing occurs…) Needless to say, after four years I’d consider myself very devoted to practicing Krav Maga, which caused me to get two things: a practice knife and a practice gun, both of which I use to prepare for my belt tests. And since I’m moving back to America, I brought them back in my luggage, with all my other earthly possessions still in Vancouver, so I can practice at home as well. But I was smart – I put them at the very top of a checked bag filled otherwise with clothes, at a place easily accessible by TSA, and totally expected my bag to be searched by TSA. No doubt.

Also – both the gun and the knife are 100% plastic, 100% solid (meaning they cannot be modified into a real weapon), and the gun is a comically bright banana yellow. Both are very clearly fake, no question. (The knife

See, clearly not a real gun.

And to be clear, I knew it might be a red flag for TSA, but I honestly did not think it would be that big of a deal. Turns out – I was wrong.

It was such a big deal that US Customs agents pulled me into the back room, called the RCMP, had both Customs and the RCMP question me, filed a full out report, and searched through all my bags – TWICE. Lesson learned, don’t fly with fake guns. Because despite being clearly legal on the TSA’s website: “They are okay, but please pack them in your checked bag”, you will get pulled over. And it will cause a problem. But unlike real guns, there is no procedure to declare you have a fake gun, and there is no guarantee TSA won’t just confiscate it (thankfully they returned mine.) So there is literally no way to bring one without causing trouble at the current administration’s TSA checkpoints.

For those curious, here is the full story:

Check my bags, no problem. Get through security check, no problem. I’m in a trusted traveller program (well, two of them: Nexus and Global Entry), so everything is a breeze. Get up to the Customs agent (you do US Customs in Vancouver if you are flying straight to the states, which I was), he passes me through – again, no problem. Walking to leave the area when a guard approached me, “Lena Raxter?”

Me: “Yes sir?”

Him: “You’ve been selected for a random screening, please come with me”

Me: (thinking) Shit, if this is some of the bullshit executive order, try-to-deny-an-American-entry-back-into-my-own-country, I’mma be super pissed.

Him: “If you just have a seat, an agent will be with you soon”

Me: (not thinking, mainly because this is super weird and has never happened to me in the hundreds of international flights I’ve flown) *takes out my phone to check the time*

Him: Ma’am, please, no phones. Please come with me, is there anything I should know about your bags?

Me: Yes sir, I have a fake training gun in one of my duffel bags that I use for martial arts.

Him: (With an expression that I thought was surprise on his face?) Oh, okay, thank you for letting me know. We’ll get your bags. Here, this border agent will help you.

Me: (sits with the border agent, still a bit pissed, wondering if I’ll make my flight)

Guard 2: (asks tons of questions about where I live, my criminal record, etc. etc., repeating at least three times ‘So you lived in Vancouver?’ and I’m like ‘umm…. I just said that?’ Still wondering if this is another of the Trump-era witch hunts.)

Original guard, whispering to Guard 2: “We have her bags and have removed her from the flight” Wait now, WHAT????

Now, I’ll admit firsthand, I did get a bit defensive. Why? Because number one: you removed me from the flight???? Maybe I heard him wrong, maybe he just removed my bags, but I have pretty good hearing y’all.

And two: when the border guard started talking to me about my fake training gun I use for completely legitimate purposes (my yellow belt was also in the bag the gun was in), he made a point of questioning my judgement.

Guard 2: “What level are you?”

Me: “Yellow belt, first stripe.”

Guard 2: “And what does that mean?”

Me: (Explains in deep detail)

Guard 2: “So that means you should have good judgement?”

Me: “Well, um, yes, I would think so?”

Guard 2: *rant about how I couldn’t have good judgement because blah blah blah (summary – bringing this fake gun is bad judgement)* Rant included: “Would you bring a fake grenade on a plane?” Well, no sir, I wouldn’t, that is actually illegal.

OKAY, dude no. Lets remember: I put it at the top of the bag. I stated immediately to the first guard that I had it. The gun is banana yellow (on purpose, because I never wanted people to mistake it for a real one). I can, in vivid detail, explain what I use it for and my qualifications I have attained through the practice I have done using the training weapons. Just to stress this, I never concealed I had it, while at the same time making it extremely accessible. And also had checked into TSA’s requirements: “Please pack them in your checked bag.

(Now, maybe I should have told United at the gate that it was in my bag. But I honestly had completely forgotten – after all, I was carrying around four 50lbs bags plus a backpack and a giant jacket stuffed with other jackets. So it completely slipped my mind.)

But no sir, please don’t question my judgement for following the very regulations that our government has set. When I was doing something that was completely, 100% legal according to TSA’s website.

Side note – I also got really pissed when he said “And I’m here to protect my country and say who can go into it” – Again, sir, No. Because this is my country too. I’ll give you leeway, because you are guarding entry to my country and hey, maybe it was a real gun – but when I am upfront and clear, don’t act like I am trying to subvert the letter of the law for the nation I was born and raised in.

Following this, two RCMP agents (for those who don’t know, they are like Canada’s version of federal police. Kind of like the FBI, but they function as a police force for areas that lack a local police force.) And, like Canadians normally are, they were supppeerr nice.  I talked with the officers, explained – in very vivid detail again and with a fully calm tone, which is probably how I managed to make my flight – everything that I had explained to the Customs agent. The officer smiled, thanked me, told me I wasn’t in any trouble,  that they were also informed that the gun was fake and comically yellow by the screening agents. They understand, no big deal, everything is fine, they are just required to follow up on this. Then he asks for my address, I give it to him, he says no problem, have a great day.

30min later, FINALLY, after more annoying questions and what seemed like an endless amount of typing into his computer, the US Customs guard finally lets me leave. So I run to my flight, only to find out it had been delayed more and still hadn’t started boarding yet. (Yay! But also, really?)

Here is where I can be at fault – I did pack a fake gun into a checked bag and was taking it across international borders. Despite being super careful and upfront about it, I can understand how it was a problem. That being said, as my angry father is hearing the retelling of this story – “No dear! You do not need to apologize! All you did was pack a fake gun, which is completely legal!” (Dad is a lawyer, for those who don’t know.)  And to be honest, if they did this to someone who is carrying a US passport, neither my father nor I can bear to imagine what foreigners are being put through!

But either way: dude – what a freaking crazy experience. I did not, in a million years, realize a comically yellow, solid, plastic, fake gun would make that big of a fuss. As long as there is a story, right?

Also, lesson learned (again) – Canadians are nicer than Americans. Much nicer.

A Cookie Recipe

Recently I tried my hand at baking cookies, and found out I’m apparently somehow good at it? Which is surprising, because in general I am a TERRIBLE cook. But by popular demand, I’ve decided to post the cookie recipe here!

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Warning – these contain enough sugar to cause diabetes. Because that’s how Southerners cook. 

FIRST: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (sorry ya’ll, I have no idea what that is in Celsius.)

Ingredients (in order of adding to the bowl, with instructions beside them):

In any order: 

1/2 cup of granulated sugar

1 cup of packed brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon of baking soda

1 cup of all-purpose flour

Now add (in any order):

1 egg

1/4 cup of water

1 teaspoon of vanilla

Mix everything together. (I used a random spoon because I don’t have anything else. A whisk would probably have worked better. But really, use whatever you want.)

Next: Add 3 cups of oats (the type that take 15-20min to cook, not the quick oats. I think they are called steel cut? (UPDATE – I have been informed they are called ‘Old-fashion Oats‘) Really ya’ll – I am a terrible cook, I don’t know how these actually taste good. I blame the 1.5 cups of sugar.)

NextMelt 1/2 a cup of salted butter (normally will be 1 stick of butter. You are technically suppose to use 3/4 cups, but that comes out uneven if you get a box of 4 butter sticks. So 1/2 cup works. ALSO – You can use unsalted and then just add 1 teaspoon of salt later, but I’m lazy so I use salted butter.) Pour the melted butter over the oats. Mix together.

Next: Add 1 or 2 cups of semi-sweet chocolate chips, depending on how chocolatey you want it to be (I’m a chocoholic, I add 2 cups.) You don’t add the chips before the butter because they will melt (which is fine, but harder to ball up later for the cookie sheet!) Mix together.

Finally: Put the cookies on a baking sheet, put them into the preheated (350degrees) oven, leave in for 12-15minutes, enjoy delicious diabetes cookies!

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The REAL North Carolina – and My Third Tattoo

Whenever someone asks me, “Where are you from?” My response is rarely ‘the United States of America.’ More often than not, I will quickly answer ‘North Carolina’, assuming that whoever has asked will know that NC is part of the USA. This is a strange habit, though – when asked where they are from, most people will normally respond with the country, not the state or city in which they live(d). Any people who know me will also know: I often have to explain the strange behaviors United States citizens have. This is one of them.
SHORT HISTORY LESSON: When the US was formed, there was a large debate between two factions – the federalists and the anti-federalists. The federalists believed there should be a Federal government which is responsible for many things – like what you see in Canada. On the other hand, the anti-federalists believed the federal government should be kept as small as possible and regulations should be left up to the state governments with little or no federal interference. This is ultimately where the bill of rights came from – it was a compromise between the federalists and anti-federalists for how the US government would work (specifically note Amendment 10 – “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.”[If you want more of a history lesson, more information can be found here.]

 

So this leads me to my point. Why do I always answer ‘North Carolina’ first? In short – the struggle between the federalists and anti-federalists has left a lasting impression on the American people (especially the South, where most of the anti-federalists were from – ask me about it if you want another history lesson). So now: first and foremost, I see myself as a North Carolina native, born and bred within driving distance of both the breathtaking Appalachian mountains (Canadians – APP-AH-LATCH-EN, not that stupid/wrong way you pronounce it!), and the awe-inspiring Outer Banks.

 

Moreover, my mother’s family, the Scott Family, was one of the first to settle in NC, and established themselves as one of the most prominent families in NC. In edition to owning huge farms in Alamance County, the Scotts established schools across NC (my name sake, Elizabeth Scott Carrington, helped raise the funds for UNC’s Nursing School, which is why there is Carrington Hall at UNC-Chapel Hill). The Scotts were also pillars in the Medical Community (my grandfather was in the first graduating class at UNC’s Dental school, and my great-grandfather delivered over 6,000 babies in his lifetime – including my childhood best friend’s mother) and devoted themselves to public service (my great-uncle Kerr Scott and his son Robert Scott both served as governors of NC). Robert (Bob) Scott was the governor who “oversaw the creation of the 16-campus University of North Carolina system” and worked heavily to make post-secondary education accessible for all in NC. The Scott family were also huge into religion – Samuel Scott and his wife Nancy Bryan Scott helped start the Hawfields Presbyterian Church in 1755, a church which is still in existence today (it is where all the Scott Family is buried). So, as you can see, my family has a ton of history in North Carolina. No wonder I recognize myself as a North Carolinian first, right?

 

Fast forward to nowadays. Seeing NC struggling as it is – our representatives have specifically refused to attend town hall meetings and have claimed the constituents who are constantly calling, trying to get the representatives to listen to the people who they are suppose to represent, are paid and are bots trying to create ‘denial of services’ for ‘real’ constituents.  Our education system is devolving, with NC’s public education failing (in 2016, in a ranking of the best High Schools in the country, NC was ranked 38th out of 51 states [because DC counts a state in this ranking, even though it is really a district]; we also have one of the lowests pay rates in the US for our teachers). Higher education is no longer easily accessible in NC – I attended university at UBC over an in-state school because I could receive a better education for less money by attending school internationally instead (which I am sure caused my great uncle, Bob Scott, to roll over in his grave). The icing on the cake: after this recent election (and years of shady politics), NC is no longer considered a democracywith our “overall electoral integrity score of 58/100 for the 2016 election, which places us alongside authoritarian states and pseudo-democracies like Cuba, Indonesia and Sierra Leone.”

All of these horrible things happening to the state my family helped create truly breaks my heart… So, over the summer, I made a choice. It became a reality to me that I would not be returning home, because – to be honest – this current North Carolina does not feel like home. But the current North Carolina is not the real North Carolina, in my opinion. The real North Carolina is the 250 years of progressive history that the Scott family helped contributed to. The real North Carolina is the one whose government representatives value its people over the representative’s party politics. The real North Carolina fights for democracy, and sets examples for the rest of the nation on how to prevent discrimination – not how to implement it (I don’t like cursing in blogs but I’mma say it – fuck HB2 and NC’s extremely unconstitutional voter ID laws.)  The real North Carolina believes in accessible, quality education for all. Because education is not a privilege of the elite, it is a necessity for a country to succeed. The real North Carolina understands this – the current North Carolina does not. 

So in September of this year, I decided to get a tattoo: my North Carolina, the real North Carolina, on my side by my heart, as a symbol of my love for the state and my hope that one day the real North Carolina will return.

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My tattoo: an outline of NC, with a heart around my city (Raleigh, also the capital), blue waves by the coast and mountains where the Appalachians are.

Now, to be honest, after the past few months, I really question whether the real NC can return. But I am sure of two things – James Taylor’s song ‘Carolina In My Mind’ will always remind me of home, and my tattoo will always remind me that NC once was a progressive state, and maybe, one day, we can be one again (electing Roy Cooper was a great start! Attempting to remove his ability to govern, on the other hand, not so much…)

The Continued Struggles of Lena vs. the Lion’s Mane

Over the past few days, I have written at least 5 different blog posts about politics – none of which will probably ever be published here because they are basically my endless ranting (something I prefer to keep to real conversations, not one-sided blog posts). Even beginning this completely non-political blog post, as you can see, I have an extreme desire to start ranting again. But honestly, everyone at this point needs a break from insanity, so I decided to write an update on my archnemesis – the Lion’s Mane.

I kept saying I would get a haircut. Over and over during Europe, I’d think ‘As soon as I get home, the Lion’s Mane is getting tamed!’ But, life happens, and nearly a month after getting back from Europe I still hadn’t tamed the beast. I’m super paranoid about getting a bad haircut and had spent two weeks asking friends around Vancouver who I should have cut my hair, followed by hours of research into the best hair stylist out of the options I had gotten. Until one day, while talking to my friend and debating what to do with my hair, my friend looked me in the eye and said ‘Lena, stop procrastinating, just cut the damn mane!’

I’ll let the pictures talk for themselves –

 

First, a reminder of what the Lion’s Mane looked like, even when it was confined to its braid prison:

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And then the fateful day when the Lion’s Mane would be tamed:

Its natural state wasn’t actually too bad that morning – the day before I looked like the bride of Frankenstein.

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Pretty right?? So straight and beautiful! AND TAME!!!!! But as I’ve learned, the Lion’s Mane always looks pretty after being manhandled by professions. The real test of a good taming is what the mane does after the first wash, when it is back to just me and the mane in our never ending struggle:

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Annndddd the afro returns….. Successful taming? Sort of. It’s not tangling as bad, so bright side – less headaches after brushing.

 

But I still look like Simba.

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Women’s March on Washington

Like yesterday, today was a pretty emotional day not only for myself but for many Americans. Why? Because the overwhelming amount of emotions which flooded into our hearts as we saw protesters – both American and not – around the world meet together to advocate for rights which the Trump administration has threatened to remove.

 

Originally I had intended to travel to Washington DC and stand with my fellow ‘Nasty Women’ today, but as any readers of my blog will know – life does not go as I originally plan most of the time. So instead, in a bit of a spur-of-the-moment decision, my close friend and I ended up at the Vancouver edition of the march. And let me say now – I’m 100% surprised I wasn’t balling within 5min (I nearly was; I had to fight back tears all day).

 

Why would I cry at a protest shrouded in controversy around the globe for ‘lacking inclusion’ – whether it be of pro-life individuals in the US, or of Black Lives Matter individuals in Vancouver? Because it isn’t about the organizers. It’s about the hundreds of thousands (most likely millions) of people around the globe who care so deeply about the rights my fellow Americans and I risk losing that they showed up in droves to support our Resistance. Because it proves that hatred and fear are not the rules of the day; it shows that many – not only in my nation but world wide – are standing together to support one another in our darkest of days. Because I know that if my rights are taken away, there are hundreds of thousands of people who will help in the fight to get them back – just like I will if this new administration attempts to remove rights from any black, muslim, LGBTQ+, disabled, or underprivileged people. Because humanity has not been lost, like I have been fearing since the election, but rather it has been pushed under a rug by spiteful rhetoric and now it is kicking and screaming to be set free once again. Because by every account it is clear that more people have shown up today for this display of camaraderie than they did yesterday to watch the malevolent leader be sworn in. Because no matter how terrible I feel, no matter how scared I am, I know there are people out there who will support me as I will with them.

 

To be honest, all I’ve wanted to do all day is go home and hug my loving dog, who unfortunately is only in my heart and memories anymore. And it is days like today that I remember how much that really truly sucks. But seeing the support that these marches have shown – that make it suck just a little bit less.

 

I’ll end with three of my favorite signs today:

Our security lies in our fight for the rights of all.

 

We know most of you didn’t want this!

 

And my ultimate favorite:

When he comes for the women, I am a woman.

When he comes for the Muslims, I am a Muslim.

When he comes for the Mexicans, Soy Mexicano.

When he comes for the refugees, I am a refugee.

When he comes for the environment, I am the trees and the mountains.