Category Archives: Thoughts

Products of an overactive brain.

Size Doesn’t Matter – Your Attitude Does.

Over a year ago, without really realizing it, I started on a journey that would make me into something I never in my wildest dreams thought I could be.

It all started when I began studying for the LSAT. I knew I needed to cut out TV to focus better, but I needed something else to do with my free time. So instead, I replaced the hours I would spend watching TV with hours in the gym. I’ve always low key hated weights and the treadmill, which is why I started with something simple that I’ve used plenty of times before – the elliptical. I went from ‘running’ for 15min, to 30min, to 45 and eventually 1hr30min. It went from a way to kill time to an activity I had to do otherwise I would feel awful and be incredibly grumpy. Essentially, I became addicted to running – which is super ironic since my old motto in life was ‘there is nothing worth running for.’

What I never realized was that my new favorite past time was completely transforming my body. At the same time, I had completely changed my diet to better support higher brain activity. Where I used to eat take out at least once a week, I almost always ate steak and spinach. Where I once ate Fruitloops and other super unhealthy cereal, I now only ate Cheerios or Kashi. Instead of drinking a gallon of milk in less than a week, I cut out all dairy except for in coffee (because coffee without diary is just unfair.) And it was paying off; my test scores for the LSAT were extremely high. But it was also working with my new exercise habit in ways I didn’t imagine it would.

For most of my life, I’ve tried really hard to diet and exercise. I always tried to make myself into the ‘ideal woman’ in the magazines. My legs were always too big. My stomach always too fat. My arms too large. But I was extremely active. Most of my body was muscle, from what I could tell. I ate what I thought was healthy food. At times I barely ate at all. I tried everything under the sun to be the ideal woman, and I never could get there. Even swimming an hour every day never got me there. I had actually accepted the fact that I would never be society’s idea of ‘beautiful’ – I was me, and that was all I would ever be. I had never been smaller than size 10, and I accepted that I never would. I just wasn’t physiologically capable of it. To be honest, this mindset was actually very good. I was very comfortable with who I was, and was confident (finally) with what I looked like. But, as life goes, as soon as I was okay with something, everything changed.

I first noticed I was smaller than I had previously been when I went on a trip with my father in January. My pants didn’t exactly fit right, but I spent most of my time at home in yoga pants for the gym or a swimsuit for my job. So it really didn’t matter to me – why buy new clothes when I never wore normal clothes?

Then February came. I was going to spend the next month and a half in Europe with friends, and needed new clothes. So I went to target and grabbed what I thought was a size 10 – after all, I had never been smaller than size 10 so obviously that was as small as I could ever be. On accident I actually grabbed size 8, and when I put on the pants and they were too baggy, I was utterly shocked to find that I was wearing such a small size and it was actually too big for me! (I immediately messaged my university friends, absolutely elated and shocked and almost speechless, barely able to comprehend this new development in my life.)

I ended up buying $500 worth of new clothes in that euphoric high of fitting into such small clothes (which I promptly took back once the high wore off). Size 6. How could I fit into size 6. This was absolutely incredible!

What was so shocking, though, was while I was the smallest I had ever been in my life – smaller than I ever imagined I could be – I was not the lightest I’d ever been. At the time I was 175 lbs, 25 lbs heavier than when I was 16 years old and size 10. I didn’t understand, how could I be so small but still not be the lightest I’ve ever been?

That was in February. Eight months later, in October, I’m only 10 lbs lighter, weighing in at 165 lbs, but I’m wearing a size 2. Size 2. The size I thought no human could actually fit into fits me. A goal I never thought was possible was reached without me really realizing what was happening. Every health barrier I thought was impossible to pass had been not only passed but absolutely obliterated, without me even realizing. It is actually to the point where I don’t want to lose more weight – a feeling I’ve never had and never thought I would have. None of my clothes fit anymore, but not because I’m too big. For the first time in my life, they don’t fit because I’m significantly smaller than I once was. Even the clothes I bought in February barely fit. It’s so surreal, I’m not even sure these words really capture the pure mind-fuck this entire experience has been. I look in the mirror and literally do not recognize myself. Going through photos, I can’t believe what I looked like versus what I look like now. It’s absolutely mind blowing.

Yes, part of me thought that my new diet and exercise habit would lead to some weight loss. Some. Not a pure transformation of who I was. And honestly, I am not 100% sure I love it. But those are personal feelings that I have to work through myself, and eventually come to accept. Maybe one day I’ll write another blog about it.

An extremely important conclusion I have come to is – there is no such thing as a barrier. If you put your mind to something, even without realizing, you can break every wall you thought was blocking you, even some you didn’t realize were there. And also, I don’t care what your scale says. It doesn’t matter if you are 110 lbs or 170 lbs, all that matters is whether you are healthy (which, according to my doctor, I’ve never had such good blood tests in my life) and if you are happy. Size doesn’t matter – your attitude does.

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.

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!

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.

IMG_3521
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…)

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.

 

January 20th, 2017

On this dark day in American history, I struggle like many of my fellow citizens.

It hurts – truly hurts – to know that my country has chosen a man so morally deplorable; a man caught on tape bragging about sexually assaulting women, as if it is his right to have any woman he wants simply because he is rich; a man who has bragged that he settled a lawsuit for fraud for less than what the plaintiffs should have gotten; a man so against my values I can’t even hear him speak without cringing.

It devastates me that this man has now gained the title of ‘leader of the free world’ when he has infringed on so many people’s rights throughout his life.

It terrifies me that I could lose not only my access to healthcare – potentially losing either my livelihood from medical bills or my life from a treatable illness which I cannot afford to treat – but also my right to do with my body as I wish.

It saddens me to think that so many Americans may (and most likely will) lose so many of our rights in this short period of time, rights that will take much longer than four years to gain back.

It shocks me that nearly 63 million Americans actively chose to vote for a man they knew would limit the rights of their fellow citizens.

It crushes me that our system has been set up so that a man who did not gain the majority of the vote could still become the leader of our nation – despite having over two million less votes than his opposition.

It astonishes me that such a vital election had the lowest voter turnout in 20years, with about 45% of the American people ignoring their right to vote – a right that thousands have fought and died for.

It horrifies me that this new leader almost immediately erased civil rights, climate change, and LGBT rights from the ‘issues’ that the whitehouse.gov website addresses, disregarding the lives lost in the quest for our country to address these vital topics.

It pains me that all the progress we have made will be destroyed, sending our country back to dark days when only white men were truly given the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

And it angers me that there has been so little push back, that there are so many people have apathetically decreed ‘well it is only four years’ or ‘he’ll be impeached so its fine,’ with some people even going so far as to say that an assassination of Trump would be better than a Hillary presidency.
I’m scared. I’m honestly freaking terrified. I don’t know what to think, I don’t know what to feel. I don’t feel safe in the country I once loved and supported with all my heart. Now? Every new update I see about my nation sends a stabbing pain through my heart, causing fiery balls of salty water to well in my eyes which threaten to go speeding down my face for hours on end. How could a country once so great give in to such fear and hatred? How can my rights be removed because others in my nations think theirs are more important? How do I continue to call myself American when I feel anything but that?
I am lost. I am in pain. I am bewildered, feeling as if I have been forsaken by my homeland. And I remember – I’m a white woman from a middle class family – if I feel this terrible, how do those at higher risk for discrimination feel? Do they want to curl in a ball and weep as badly as I do? What will happen to them, if this country of ours has already started stripping my rights away and it’s barely been twelve hours? How can I help them, if I cannot even protect my own rights?
But most of all, I’m truly heartbroken. I said it on election day, and I will say it again – this is not my America. This is not the country I know and loved. This is a country I no longer recognize. Trump will never be my president. I will fight with the Resistance. I will never give in to the fear and hatred that this man wants my nation to rebuild itself upon. And I will always support those in need, regardless of their sexuality, race, ethnicity, immigration status, or religious beliefs.
But today – today I’m going curl into a ball and weep for the future of the nation I once loved. For today is a dark day, and it is truly hard to see the end of this devastatingly scary tunnel.

The Bombshell That is Life

A few weeks ago, while sitting in a hostel room with my new friends Daisy and Jess, I received an email that blew up my life plan for the next year and a half. My new unfortunate reality: the teaching program I was set to participate in while in Colombia has been cancelled for this year.
As I am sure many other people have experienced, life likes to throw curveballs at times when you really can’t do anything about them, just to mess with your mind a little more. And since I really couldn’t do anything at 8pm on Halloween night, despite being fairly devastated and in complete shock, my new friends and I went out for drinks and I put off figuring out my life for a few days.
After 23 years on this earth, I pretty much view life and the world as a giant maze. And I am wondering around, trying to find the way out to the riches on the other side (history lesson: in greek mythology, those who made it out of the minotaur’s maze were rewarded by becoming the hero of the castle; in my maze, the other side is having a career I like, money and time to travel, and general happiness). Only, this maze is like a 21st century, high-tech, crazy-ass one with booby traps around every corner. In my imagination, this looks like the arenas in the Hunger Games where the game maker – eg Life – throws challenges at the ‘contestant’ – eg me – to make it more ‘fun.’ All while the greek gods sit in their leather reclining chairs up above, watching intently (I imagine they laugh at my [many] misadventures.) And as I was following the path labeled ‘Fun Year Teaching English In Colombia,’ life decided to set off a giant bomb, destroying the pathway and sending me running for my life Katniss-style, back to where I started.
So here I am, finally away from the detonation zone, sitting in a crossroads, treating my wounds and trying to figure out what I should do now. I could go back towards working in Colombia (avoiding the detonation zone by going through a different company and program this time. Downside – no matter what, I can’t start until March.) I could also possibly go with the same company on a different program to privately tutor students, but that just feels too close to the denotation zone for comfort…

 

As I am looking into how to travel down the Colombia path again, while circumnavigating the detonation zone,  I see there is another, overgrown doorway leading to a pathway with an old and aged sign saying ‘Colombian Adventure Minus a Job.’ What would I do if I take this path? Take one or two months ‘living’ in Colombia, hanging out with my best friend in Bogota, exploring South America and perfecting my Spanish – only without having a job there….my wallet is screaming ‘Whhyyyyy?!?!?’ but the blown up bushes down the other path definitely have my brain thinking ‘hmmm…. Better plan? Maybe.’
And then one of the patron gifts comes flying down from the sky. While in Luxembourg, completely stressed out and attempting to figure out my life, I ran into a group of graduate students – half from King’s College in London, and the other half from the London School of Economics. As it turns out, the girls at King’s are studying exactly the type of thing I want to study in graduate school. And, unlike the other grad schools I had been looking at, King’s is only a one-year commitment with a very reasonable price tag.


Whoosh. A piece of the green wall in front of me goes flying down, revealing another pathway in my maze – “Masters in London.” And with this pathway, I can take a side route down to Colombia, while also getting to visit some friends around North America. My wallet and my savings are both now screaming ‘WHHHYYYYYY???? Nooooooooooooooooooo. Moonnneeeyyyyy.’ But my brain is thinking ‘You know, that really might be the best option.’
To be perfectly honest, I am still sitting at that crossroad. My wallet and savings are fighting with my brain, while my phone-a-friend style advisors (family, friends, random new friends I have met on my adventures) are leaning me more towards graduate school. And I keep getting patron gifts flying down from the sky that open little excursions along the different pathways. Plus: the situation in my home nation definitely doesn’t help (my heart is throwing its hat in the ring, arguing I should stay in the states and help with the rebellion against the racist/sexist/xenophobic policies sure to come out of our newly appointed white supremacy government).
So at this current point I really can’t say where I will be in 3 months. But the one thing I would like to announce is, since I now have no commitments until at least mid-march, my dear friends in Vancouver will get to see me for longer than originally planned. And I may need a job in Vancouver for January to May, if anyone knows of one! (I am sorry y’all, but there is absolutely no way in hell I’ll spend another summer in Vancouver. It is too damn cold there☃️😑 I’m not sure where yet, but I’m 100% sure I am flying south for the summer. It’s better for [what is left of] my sanity.)
Also, friends in NYC and DC, I am planning on visiting in early January! Before heading back to Vancouver. So message me if you would like to meet up!

The Election

When the US election results first rolled in, it was about 5am in Prague. I honestly couldn’t sleep that night, and my facebook/snapchat/whatsapp was filled with messages from friends around the globe commiserating at the election results. So when my dad said ‘Trump won’ all I could think is ‘….No.’ A few friends even messaged me to ask if I was okay, knowing how much I adore my nation and how completely devastated I am to see such hatred and fear fuel the largest miscarriage of justice we have seen since before the Civil Rights Movement.

 

That day will always be remembered by me as one of the worst days in American history, and in my lifetime (and trust me, I’ve had a ton of bad days, so this is really saying something). Why was it so bad? Because it was the day that I truly questioned why I have chosen to remain American. I have lived in Canada 5 years, I have a 3-year work visa there, I can become a resident and later a citizen. And to be perfectly honest, my first reaction was to do just that. And part of me still wants to. But then I saw something that I care about more than being ashamed of my nation – my facebook feed has been filled with detailed accounts of homophobic, racist, xenophobic and sexists attacks on my fellow citizens – some even to close friends, and not just within the borders of the United States. Anyone who knows me at all knows I am one of the most protective people on this earth – you hurt my friends, you hurt me. So this is one thing I cannot and will not stand by and watch idly, whether I know those being discriminated against or not.

 

No – I do not feel like this is my America. No – this is not the country I know and love. Yes – I am still ashamed to be American, and have still told those who ask where I am from that I am from Canada. But does that mean I am going to leave the US? No. Because another thing I saw – those who voted for Trump want the liberals to leave. They want the liberals and minorities to stay quiet and allow them to ‘cleanse’ our population. What I realized is – if we leave, if we pack up and say we are done, if we stay quiet and allow the horrific proposals of Trump to be passed, we will have failed those discriminated against a second time. And I, for one, am too ashamed that we failed them once to let it happen again.

 

So my conclusion – I still haven’t decided whether: a) I will stay in the US and volunteer with every organization possible to protect the rights of the US citizens, and the immigrants and refugees who came to our country hoping for a better future; or b) I will go abroad for more schooling (because the reason I didn’t this year is I can’t afford US graduate schools, but I can afford international graduate programs – another extremely big problem in our nation, which is absolutely deplorable: how can we expect to remain a world power if our citizens can’t afford a good education?) so I can come back and fight for the rights of my fellow citizens, immigrants, and the refugees who have feared so greatly for their lives that they risked everything to come to a nation which is treating them like the very people they were fleeing from. But one thing is for sure: I am an American liberal, and I will do everything in my power to fight for the rights of the the immigrants, refugees, and my fellow citizens – all of which do not deserve the hell we have put them through in this past week.

 

And for those following my blog – Yes I will still be posting about my travels, but I am also starting a series of political posts. It is up to you whether you wish to read them or not.

A Sobering Comparison 

Today I decided to feed my inner International Relations nerd by visiting a series of museums dedicated to WWII and the Holocaust – including the Anne Frank House. Pretty sobering experiences on their own, they were made even more so by the striking similarities between the events of WWII and those of today.

 

To start, you have your ‘charismatic’ leader – Hitler for the 1930s and Trump for present day (although personally Trump’s limited vocabulary and lack of knowledge for current events makes him seem more dumb than a kindergartener to me – which is an insult to kindergarteners.) But regardless of my opinion, people support him enough for him to have the possibility of becoming President of the United States.

Now for the more disturbing part: to get to this point, Donald Trump has spewed a series of racist, homophobic, hateful ideas in multiple campaign speeches, many of which members of our population have wholeheartedly agreed with. His accusations that all Muslims are terrorists and all Mexicans are rapists and drug dealers strike a disturbingly similar tone to the hate speech of Hitler towards the Jews and Gypsies.  Muslims have become our modern-day Jews – blamed for everything even though the vast majority are responsible world citizens (bear in mind 23% of the world’s population are Muslim, and over 80% of this population does not support ISIS according to a recent poll); and Hispanics our modern day Gypsies, entering borders illegally as they are not allowed to travel any other way, only to be met with disdain everywhere they go.

Whats more, Hitler – Freudian slip, correction: Trump has even shown a disregard for disabled peoples, having mocked a disabled reporter during the primaries. He even had the gall to insult a Gold Star Family – something I doubt even Hitler would dare to have done.

Now, you may be reading this and think – ‘Well that is a jump – Hitler actually killed people, Trump is just talking crazy’ (or heaven forbid, you are reading this and somehow agree with Trump’s comments.) But bear in mind, Hitler was elected too. And during his election speeches, he held back, speaking mainly of the evil Jewish people were believed to be responsible for. Even Hitler wasn’t as blatantly warmongering as Trump:

  • Case one – Trump’s declaration that he would kill the families and children of suspected terrorists, an action that is strictly forbidden by the Geneva Conventions – which, if you didn’t know, were based off the events that occurred in WWI and WWII.
  • Case two – Trump advocating for the torture of captured individuals, also internationally outlawed by legislation inspired by the events of WWI and WWII, and given up by the US due to a significant domestic backlash after the leaked photos from the Abu Ghraib prison, and significant evidence that torture does not work.
  • Case three – Trump’s taped confession [though is it really a confession if you are bragging about it?] to multiple counts of sexual assault (a federal crime outlawed by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.) With absolutely no remorse for his actions, neither then nor now.

I could go on. But I digress… (And yes, I do recognize that these were  common practice before becoming strictly outlawed, but Hitler made a point of never outright condemning Jews, or any others, to death during his election; his speeches mainly focused on fuelling feelings of hatred and discontent during his campaign and in his early years in office.) It is just disturbing to think Trump is going down the list in a ‘First they came for the Socialists’ manner (if you don’t understand this reference, note the quote at the end of this post.)

Yes, our society has progressed far enough that proposals for concentration camps would be met with immediate horror and disgust (though I thoroughly believe there would be a sector of our society in favor of such a proposal for Muslims.) But have you ever stopped to compare the conditions in overcrowded, underfunded refuge camps to those of the concentration camps?

Or worse – compare the guaranteed death many refuges face should they return to their ISIS-controlled homelands to the death guaranteed by the gas chambers? By denying refuges access to international safe havens, we are repeating the past mistakes which, in one case alone, condemned 254 passengers of the MS St. Louis to their deaths (imagine how many people we have condemned in the 5year Syrian ‘civil war’? Quotation marks because the battle as evolved to one between not just the state and the civilians, but also non-state actors such as ISIS. [They are not recognized as states because then it gives legitimacy to their claim that they rightly deserve to brutally govern the people in their illegally controlled territories – illegal because they aren’t a state]. However, since the conflict only involves one state, it is therefore still considered a ‘civil war’ despite spilling over Syria’s borders. )

And then there are the claims Trump has made regarding mass deportation. Will this deportation take the form of so many before it, where those being deported die on their journey? Or are denied basic human rights? Will they be forced to leave at gun point? Ride on cattle cars, stuffed inside like animals, like the deportations of the Holocaust? Even more practical, will we spend vast amounts of money to deport these ‘undesirable people’ rather than spend that money on the poor and impoverished US citizens?

Its sobering, it is all extremely sobering. And scary. Going through exhibit after exhibit, all I could think was, ‘Has my country really come to this? How can we be the nation with the largest Holocaust Memorial Museum and yet support someone who mirrors Hitler so significantly?’

This post is in no way supporting any candidate – I dislike all candidates in this election, I’d much rather have Elizabeth Warren vs. John McCain instead. (Then at least we’d have two well-liked, knowledgable, qualified politicians as candidates.) But that is not what this post is about. This post is supporting America – the America that feeds on hope, not hatred. That was created for religious freedom, not persecution. The melting pot that blended so many cultures together, succeeding in creating the largest economy in the world (which still maintains a GDP greater than all other nations in the world, despite our economic downturn.)

I implore you. Do not focus on the fact that you hate Hillary. Do not focus on the fact that you dislike the political norm we have today, which – no question – has failed us. Focus on the risk we face of electing a modern-day Hitler. I don’t give a damn who you vote for come November 8th, just don’t let it be the candidate who has repeatedly mimicked the most brutal leader in modern history.

 

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

~Niemöller