Dogs make everything better

I am stressed.

Finals week is almost upon us.

I’m graduating, I’m moving to Lincoln, and I’m on job search mode 24/7.

I receive about 6 emails from Indeed a day, I’m still getting Zillow emails, even though I’ve got an apartment, and I’ve bothered to unsubscribe yet because I’m just tired.

I’m finished with 2 of 5 classes, but I still have lots to do.

Dogs and puppies help me feel less stressed, and I’m sure that some of you feel the same way, so I’m just going to compile some pictures of all the dogs in my life.

Maybe it helps you out too.

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Meet Bear. Bear is my current family dog. He misses momma when she leaves, but he’s always happy to see me when I go home. Bear has a sensitive tummy, so we’re always really careful what we feed him. Even though he gets less treats now, he still does he adorable tricks.
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Bear is a good boy. He barks at other dogs (or any animal) on TV, and, when they’re no longer on the TV, he sits on his hind legs and cries. Bear loves other dogs, but if they act like puppies for too long, he gets tired of it. He bosses the big dogs around. He likes snuggles and to chew on his bone.
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Meet Chaser (right). Him and Bear hang out sometimes. Chaser is the neighbor dog. They made me ride in the backseat once. Chaser is a “peckerhead” according to my mother. He causes problems sometimes, but he can be a good boy.
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Meet Chewy. Chewy is massive. He is my aunt’s dog, and he’s one big lover. Chewy might look and/or sound ferocious, but as long as you don’t feed your hand to him along with his food, he’s a big, gentle beast.
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Meet Ollie (front) and Archer (back). I dogsit Ollie and Archer from time to time. They are big boys, and they eat a lot of food.
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Ollie is an oaf. He’s adorable, but he does not know how big he is. If he lays on your legs, they will go numb. When Ollie wants attention, he looks at you with those big eyes, and it’s near impossible to resist.
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Ollie is the biggest boy, but he needs help to get on the bed. This is his face while he waits for me to get up and help him.
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Archer is a sweetie. He’s a good cuddler, and he’s very protective of me when his momma isn’t around. He also waits for me to get into bed, often times in a position such as this.
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Archer is smart. We have very deep, philosophical conversations, and we have staring contests. Archer listens better than his brother.
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Meet Maggie. Maggie is Ollie and Archer’s neighbor. She’s a lover, and she’s tiny. While I’m dogsitting, she likes to come over to the screen door and scratch at it until I let her in. Once inside, she gives me a couple kisses, eats some food, and then she’s ready to leave.
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Meet Buddy. Buddy was my first family dog. He was a barker, but he was a lover. He gave the best puppy kisses.
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Buddy was very photogenic, and he let me take lots of pictures of him in the short time we had him. Buddy died young, but he will always be remembered.

Sexual Assault Awareness Month: College Campuses

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. In honor of that, I’m going to post a series of blog posts this month about different statistics and areas of sexual assault. If you haven’t already, check out my first three blogs in the series: Sexual Assault Awareness MonthSexual Assault Awareness Month: LGTBQIA+, and Sexual Assault Awareness Month: Understanding Consent.

Today I wanted to dedicate my blog post to sexual assault that occurs on college campuses and among college students. Unfortunately, sexual assault is very common on college campuses, and, according to Women’s Health, one in five college women will be sexually assaulted. That risk for sexual assault is much higher within their first few months of college, and the risk of sexual assault can be up to five times higher when a student is studying abroad.

Why is sexual assault so prominent on college campus?

  • Drugs and Alcohol – common among college-aged individuals. A study found that 15% of college women had been raped while incapacitated (under the influence and incapable of giving consent).
  • Reporting – Only one in five female victims of sexual assault report their assaults. Many women are afraid to come forward, but reporting could help stop the perpetrator from committing the crime again, and it could allow the victim to find the proper help.
  • Peer Pressure – College-aged individuals are sometimes be pushed by their peers to go to parties, etc. and take drugs and/or alcohol. They might even be coerced into unwanted sexual activity for “social acceptance” (sexual coercion).

While I will never blame a victim, and I believe that we need to change the way we educate our young ones (especially boys) on consent, healthy relationships, etc., there are things that people can do to protect themselves (even though they shouldn’t have to):

  1. Before spending time alone with someone, get to know him/her
  2. When going to parties or other social gatherings, go with friends, check in with each other, and leave together.
  3. Meet first dates/new people in public spaces and tell someone where you’re going.
  4. Trust your gut. If something feels wrong, maybe it’s best to leave.
  5. Keep track of how much alcohol or drugs you’re using.
  6. Don’t let your drink out of your sight.
  7. If you start to feel drunk right away even though you haven’t had that much to drink yet, get help immediately. Someone could have put something in your drink  without your knowledge.
  8. Be aware of your surroundings, especially at night and/or while alone.
  9. Know your resources: campus sexual assault center, campus police, campus health center, etc.
  10. Always have a plan to get home.

Sexual Assault on college campuses is something that we need to be talking about. The past couple years our college campus has brought in what is called “edutainment” to help explain sexual assault while also keeping students entertained. I personally believe it’s insensitive to try to make an event, that is talking about something so important, into entertainment. Last fall’s event was well attended; however, I was surrounded by a large group of men involved in sports that had been required to go. To many of them, the entire thing was a joke, and that alone proves to me that more needs to be done. The education can’t stop there.

If any of you would like to learn a little more about reporting sexual assault on college campuses and the problems women have had, I would highly recommend the documentary The Hunting Ground. I was able to see it a couple years ago at The World Theatre, and it is now on Netflix. The main two women behind the documentary visited campus at one point, and I purchased their book as well: We Believe You: Survivors of Campus Sexual Assault Speak Out. It describes the stories of several different woman. It’s incredibly heartbreaking, but it is also a call for change and a reminder to other survivors that they are not alone.

Recommended Resources:

  • EROC – End Rape on Campus
  • RAINN – Reporting to Law Enforcement
  • CDC – Understanding Sexual Violence
  • Victim Connect – Confidential Referrals for Crime Victims

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I made a blanket…

…and it was super easy.

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My boyfriend’s birthday was last week, and I tend to be a practical gifter. I almost always buy him clothes, I’ve bought him sheets before (because his had holes), and for Valentine’s Day this year I literally bought him a winter coat. He tends to buy me “cuter” gifts: jewelry, stuffed animals, flowers, etc., and I wanted to try my hand at something a little more heartfelt than just buying him underwear.

I thought that making him a tie blanket was sort of combining a practical and cute gift. This was something I had never done before, so of course I read several other people’s blogs in hopes of finding one to follow — no such luck. I ended up combining many different ideas from different websites.

I ended up buying 2 1/2 yards of two fleece fabrics at Joanns. I checked a couple different places for sales. My dad picked me up a brand new pair of scissors because I know that cutting fabric can be hard on them (Thank you, Dad). I washed my material first IMG_20180412_095711269.jpg(separately because of the red), and I got to work.

I had just enough room in my living room/kitchen to spread out my fabric. Many people suggest cleaning up your edges before starting. I didn’t bother because my material was pretty even to begin with.

 

I lined everything up and held it together with bag clips and clothes pins. I then cut out corner squares (4×4 in.), only doing one side at a time. Once those were cut out, I started cutting strips (1 in. wide).IMG_20180412_143151937_LL.jpg I started by just trying to hit that four inch mark, but by the second side, I learned that cutting to one of the lines in the pattern was easier.

I did one side before starting to tie it together. Remember to double knot it, so that they’re not always coming undone.

It’s pretty repetitive after this point. It takes a little bit of time, and I would recommend either doing it all at once, or having enough space somewhere to be able to leave it and come back.IMG_20180412_153512022.jpg

After tying each side, I would pull on the edges to straighten it out some, so that it’s not all bunched together. Once I was completely finished, I washed the blanket again and vacuumed because there was red fuzz everywhere. I then slept with it for several nights until I had to wrap it up and give it to my boyfriend. Just had to test it out.

I think these blankets are relatively easy to make, and it’s great because if your cuts aren’t perfect, you really can’t tell. They make great gifts, and it’s also nice to have something like this for yourself.

End of an Era

We’re coming up on the end of an era.

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We became friends my junior year of high school — that’s six years of fantastic memories, of eating too many sweets, of late night drives, of random trips to Target and Olive Garden.

We’ve grown a lot together. From being annoying, “fangirling” teenagers to being slightly less annoying adults who have been through some shit and have become better people because of it.

We’ve known this day was coming for three years, but after it continually didn’t happen, we pushed it into the back of our minds.

Now, here we are. The house has sold, the room you’ve occupied in my home is empty for the first time in seven months, and I’m not sure where we go from here.

We started as a group of six. Through the years, the “original six” has dwindled down to just us. People grow apart, but we never really did. As I graduate from college and start my adult life, and you move across the country with your family, we are officially ending the “original six.”

We’ll still talk every day. We have to keep that Snapchat streak going.

We say that this isn’t good-bye officially, but we both know that it’s a small, but very real, possibility.

It may never be the same, but we have the last six years to cherish. We shaped each other’s lives more than we could imagine.

Saying goodbye to you Thursday has been one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do, and watching you cry was just as difficult.

I’m so proud of the person you’ve become, and I know that someday you’ll be able to be everything you want to be, and I’ll always be behind you, supporting you 100% (even if I’m 17 hours away).

I’ve cried a lot in the past two days (I’m crying right now), but I can’t imagine how hard it’s been for you. I’ve said one goodbye — you’ve had to say dozens.

Good luck on your newest adventure. I’m sorry that I can’t be there with you for it.

Thank you for being my best friend the past few years. You’re my person. (Even though that reference doesn’t mean anything to you, I’ve put it in here nonetheless.) I’m not really sure what my life would look like without you in it.

I will love you always.

 

Pulitzer Prize: Poetry

I’ve only started reading poetry (for pleasure) within the last year. Being forced to read poetry is one of the most painful things, in the world of homework, I’ve ever experienced. So, for me, finding poetry that I enjoy reading is an incredible experience.

When I saw the Pulitzer Prize awarded to Frank Bidart for poetry, I was immediately interested. The title of the collection is Half-light: Collected Poems 1965-2016, and I was intrigued by the fact that these poems span such a vast number of years. Each person’s voice changes with them as they meet new people, experience new things, and I think that that would really be apparent in including poetry from several different decades into one volume.

As I read the description of the work, I was interested by amount of voices that Bidart apparently uses in his work:

“His pages represent the human voice in all its extreme registers, whether it’s that of the child-murderer Herbert White, the obsessive anorexic Ellen West, the tormented genius Vaslav Nijinsky, or the poet’s own. And in that embodiment is a transgressive empathy, one that recognizes our wild appetites, the monsters, the misfits, the misunderstood among us and inside us.”

Taking on a range of voices is incredibly difficult to do. A lot of my own writing revolves around the same themes, attacking the same ideas. I often find myself writing similar characters with similar experiences, and while I think those characters are important, I do think that being able to write different characters and experiences is incredibly important as well. It’s something I’ve really tried to work on this last year in my creative writing.

I found myself reading a Bustle article about the book. E. Ce Miller praises Bidart’s work and discusses the vast amount of topics and issues that he covers, also commenting on the way he writes and the style he uses:

“Bidart is hardly known for being a traditional poet — instead, he is one who plays with typography, word arrangement, and meandering monologues, and utilizes unconventional punctuation and capitalization. His collections have explored a wide range of themes from the darker corners of the human psyche: guilt, murder, eating disorders, disease, illness, death; but also revels in experiences of sex, love, and the desire to live.”

When reading prose, I love looking at different types of formalism and seeing how writers break the traditional realms of writing. From my understanding, Bidart takes the liberties of breaking those rules as well.

I’m also curious how he chooses to handle the topics mentioned above because I think that many of them are difficult to talk about.

Hopefully I’ll be able to pick up the book at some point, but until then, here’s a video of Bidart reading some of his poetry. I really enjoyed “Queer” (4:52).

Sexual Assault Awareness Month: Understanding Consent

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. In honor of that, I’m going to post a series of blog posts this month about different statistics and areas of sexual assault. If you haven’t already, check out my first two blogs in the series: Sexual Assault Awareness Month and Sexual Assault Awareness Month: LGTBQIA+.

Today, I want to discuss what I believe to be the most important part of Sexual Assault Awareness: Consent. There are some people in the world that intend harm when they sexually assault or harass another human being; however, in many other cases, there is a lack of education about consent and what it looks like.

RAINN defines consent as an agreement between individuals to engage in sexual activity:

“When you’re engaging in sexual activity, consent is about communication—and it should happen every time. The laws about consent vary by state and situation, but you don’t have to be a legal expert to understand how consent plays out in real life.”

There are many different ways to ask for or give consent, and RAINN details a few of these: asking if something is okay when transitioning to a new activity in the bedroom, explicitly agreeing or giving affirmatives to certain activities, or using positive body language to signal your comfort to your partner. There is many more ways, of course, but it’s important to remember communication when asking for or expressing consent.

According to RAINN, Consent does NOT look like:

  • refusing to acknowledge “no” or other words that signify that your partner is not interested
  • assuming certain behaviors (flirting), clothing, kissing is an invitation for more
  • someone being under the legal age of consent
  • someone under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol
  • pressuring someone into sexual activity by using fear/intimidation
  • assuming you have consent because your partner has given consent to you in prior situations

Different states have different definitions for consent, but RAINN defines three key legal terms regarding consent.

Affirmative consent: Did the person express overt actions or words indicating agreement for sexual acts?

Freely given consent: Was the consent offered of the person’s own free will, without being induced by fraud, coercion, violence, or threat of violence?

Capacity to consent: Did the individual have the capacity, or legal ability, to consent?

Capacity to consent involves many different factors. Whether or not a person has the legal ability to consent to sexual activity could be based on age, developmental disability, intoxication, physical disability, relationship of victim/perpetrator (was perpetrator in a position of authority?), unconsciousness, and vulnerable adults (i.e. elderly or ill adult). To view specifics of these factors, visit RAINN.

If you take anything from this blog post, these are the points I want you to remember.

You always have the right to say “no.” Even if it is your significant other or you’ve previously been involved with sexual activity with them.

Someone that is drunk or high is incapable of giving consent. Even if they seem into it at the time, they do not have the capacity to consent to sexual activity in that moment.

You can always change your mind. Consent is continuous, and if halfway through, you decide it’s no longer what you want — tell your partner. You have every right to stop.

Communication is key. Get comfortable asking for consent, and get comfortable providing it. Having open, healthy communication will truly benefit a healthy sexual relationship/encounter.

Remember you are not alone. If you need help, call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800.656.HOPE (4673) or chat online at online.rainn.org.

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Media Criticism: Facebook “News”

I have a few Facebook friends that post some frustrating or offensive stuff. I see a lot of pro-life posts (that bash women more than they protect unborn children), and I see a lot of homophobic or transphobic posts. Typically, that would lead to an unfriend, but when they’re family, I can’t do it that way.

One particular post caught my eye a few weeks ago, and I immediately sent it to my boyfriend, so that we could start fact checking. The problem with these posts is that they don’t link to any sort of source, and we often know very little about the person posting it.

The following image was posted with the caption, “The 1st gun control law passed should be to bar democrats from owning guns. Dems blame The NRA??” (Copy and pasted word for word, by the way). Click here to see the original post.

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The last line invites you to go fact checking, so that’s what I did. I started looking to see if I could find the political party of the people that committed these mass shootings. It wasn’t an easy task. If I didn’t know the name right off the bat, I first had to find the name of the mass shooter before I started trying to find whether they were a Democrat or not.

What did I find?

Very little.

I gave up about halfway down the list. Have you ever tried searching for someone’s political party before? If they aren’t a politician, or someone in the spotlight, you’re not going to be able to find this information more than likely. I confirmed maybe 1 or 2, but majority of the sources I could find were unaware of the mass shooters political affiliations.

I would venture to guess that whoever created this list was aware that this information would be hard to find and/or just created the list to rile up anti-democrat people. And it succeeded. The comments are filled with people agreeing, hating on Democrats, and claiming that they are the ones to blame for everything.

Regardless of whether or not that list is true, regardless of whether or not Democrats are to blame for “everything,” posts like these shouldn’t have the reach that they do.

I’ve gotten so used to including sources in my blog posts that I forget that it’s not commonplace in the world of social media. People post things without fact checking, without providing where they got their information, and other people see it, agree with it, and believe it.

When I see posts like these, I want to ask for sources, for more information, but some people just take this information, adding it to a list in the back of their minds — the “next reason to hate Democrats” list.