I challenge you to burn the machine.

I’m a teacher, right? Yeah. That’s right. I teach kids. Which is often considered hilarious because I kind of still look like a kid (even though my ever-multiplying grey hairs would disagree).

But I do. I teach high school kids.

I have a really unique opportunity with them, you know? Like I get to see and hear them in ways that few ever do. Sometimes they don’t know that I’m listening or looking. But I am.

And you know what I notice? Adults aren’t fair. A LOT. Like, as adults, we pass a lot of judgments and generalizations off on kids. We spend a lot of time telling them that their generation sucks or that they’re snowflakes for getting upset about something. We don’t ask them about themselves or what they’re going through or why they feel that way. We just decide how they are because we’re older and we can do that.

We were young once, too.

But when we were young, we wanted to be asked why we did things or why we felt a way. We wanted to be trusted. We didn’t like it when older people told us we sucked or that we were fragile because we took a stand for what we believed was right. It just made us rage.

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Young. Prettied up for our first real dance.

And here we are, perpetuating the cycle.

So recently, I’ve been seeing our kids catch a lot of crap for things that I think should be encouraged. I’ve been watching us old people (yeah, dude, we’re old already), tell young people that they should shut up and be quiet. That they shouldn’t question authority because the old people “said so” and that’s how it should be. That somehow speaking up about how the feel is “wrong and disrespectful”. And yeah, maybe the way kids say things sometimes could be…improved…but they’re kids for Christ’s sake. They don’t have the benefit of experience to know how to express themselves and they’re trying their best–shouldn’t we, as their “elders” or whatever, help them do that?

Dear Young Kid,

I think you’re doing a great job. I know exactly how hard it is to be a kid–you’re at a really weird place where you want to have a lot of responsibility and also no responsibility. You wanna be a grown up SO bad. You have a lot of feelings about the things going on around you but any time you express them, someone is telling you that they don’t matter because you’re “just a kid”.
Well you’re not.
And those feelings? They matter.
Because here’s the deal, kiddo, one day you won’t be so young anymore. You’ll be the old person writing this letter and you’re gonna have a choice about how you treat those youngins around you.
So I’ve got some advice for you: a challenge, if you will.
I challenge you to challenge things. Challenge the system. Ask questions. If you’re unsure about how something’s done, ask. I don’t care if the person you’re asking is annoyed or is rude to you. GET YOUR EXPLANATION. Don’t settle for “it’s just the way we’ve always done it” or “because I said so”.
Those are lazy answers from lazy people who don’t care enough about the question. Demand answers and if the answers don’t satisfy you, develop new ways.
Stand up for what’s right and trust your gut–if something FEELS wrong, it is. Don’t let the glamour of fun or popularity influence you to walk away from the right choice even if it’s the hard choice.
If you feel something, SAY something. So many of you walk alone in your lives. In your loneliness and fear. You think that no one understands you or what you’re going through. But so many do and they WANT to help you. Find the good ones and hold onto them, they’ll hold onto you back.
Do not be afraid to be wrong, but more importantly, do not be afraid to be told that you’re wrong. Sometimes, YOU will be the one with the outdated ideas and ways–AND THAT’S OKAY. But when someone brings you something new and different, consider it. Give them credit and say thank you. They are making you a BETTER person because you now know more than you did 5 minutes ago.
I challenge you to do things with love–all things. And love challenges. It challenges hate Challenges hearts. Challenges ideas. Love challenges because it wants things and people to reach their full potential. I challenge you to stand up for each other, stand with each other, encourage each other and know that you are the ones who have the capacity to change the hearts of the people around you.

I know that there are some old people (like me) who believe in you, have faith in you, and know that you’ll make yourself and everybody proud.

So let’s do that.

Love,
An Old Person

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Senior Year, 2006. New York. Yeah dude, we were freakin’ SENIORS doing this. But we still wanted to be taken seriously.

White Horses and Cruising

Remember being little and dreaming of your “one true love”?

I do.

I watched a lot of Disney movies as a kid. Sue me.

I spent a lot of days imagining what that would be like; finding my one true love. He would probably ride a noble white horse and carry a sword. He would be tall. He would wear boots. He would be strong. He would slay a dragon and come wake me with true love’s kiss to save me from eternal sleep. (okay, maybe I watched Sleeping Beauty a lot more than I thought)

I still watch Disney movies but at some point, I grew up. And while I still love Disney movies, my idea about what my love is has changed–especially since I discovered that riding a horse everywhere in a city is wildly unrealistic. Also carrying a sword in public is generally frowned upon. Additionally, where the hell are you gonna find a dragon to slay? And why would I be stuck in an eternal sleep?? I mean, I have a lot of questions.

Either way, I hoped that he’d be funny–like laugh out loud, give me headaches funny. And smart. I hoped he’d be a nerd like me and know how to cook the things I don’t know how to. I hoped he’d be strong and handsome. I hoped he’d listen to country and rap. And metal. And 90’s pop radio. More than anything, I just hoped he’d be my best friend. I hoped that beyond being my “one true love”, we’d be friends. The kind of friends that take care of each other. That will hold my hair back if I’m sick and that would still kiss each other with morning breath.
Ultimately, I hoped he existed.

Somewhere along the way, I gave up looking. It was futile. And stupid. Prince Charming isn’t real. There are no white knights or dragons. I’m not a princess waiting to be saved.

But then, he was there. Not Prince Charming. My best friend. And he was always there.

Since we were 14, he’s been one that makes me laugh until I cry and will debate me on things that no one else will. Who knows how to make caldo de res and who nerds out to Star Wars. Who sings along to Breaking Benjamin and then to Intocable and then to Blake Shelton (don’t tell him I told you). He’s handsome and strong. He’s tall and wears boots. He isn’t so great with his words all the time and he isn’t perfect, but neither am I. He doesn’t slay dragons but he’s saved me from splinters in my feet, from having to get my hair wet in the rain, and from the most awkward, hurtful situations.

And while he isn’t a prince, and I’m not a princess, we are best friends.

Disney got it wrong, the whole Prince Charming thing (BECAUSE YOU CAN’T MARRY A GUY YOU JUST MET, ANNA). Because you don’t live happily ever after with some douche on a horse with a sword, dancing a waltz in a ballroom.

But if you’re lucky, you get a pretty legit life, rapping Dr. Dre and singing Evanescence, cruising around in a truck, holding hands with your best friend.

And that makes for a way better story.

 

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Left: 2004, Right: 2018

A Word About Feminism

Feminism is getting a really bad rep these days. 

For some reason, I keep seeing women talking about being “anti-feminists” because “they don’t believe they should have to hate men” or “they don’t think women deserve special rights to put them above men” or because they “don’t think it’s okay to be a hate mongering asshole”.

Weird. Because I agree with all those things and I am, indeed, a feminist. 


1. I would love and respect my boyfriend, too. 2. I make my own decisions without being pressured. 3. I enjoy makeup and like feeling pretty. Also, I don’t need to be superior to men. I want to be equal.
“I need to be partnered”–Which is exactly why we should be equal.


So when people say this ridiculous shit, I channel my inner Inigo and say “I do not think that word means what you think it means.”

Imagine a world where there was actually a whole movement dedicated to equality of the sexes…oh wait.
Rights that you would, quite literally, not have without the feminist movement.



So here’s the skinny (strong?) about feminism:
It just means being equal. It means believing that a woman’s life is worth the same as a man’s life. 
I mean, I think we should all agree to that, right?

What feminism doesn’t mean:
Feminism DOESN’T MEAN you hate men. (uh, obvs, I’m a man lover over here).
Feminism DOESN’T MEAN you get special consideration. (Uh, because if you got special consideration, you’re not equal. See?)
Feminism DOESN’T MEAN you’re a hate mongering asshole. (I mean, you might be. But that doesn’t make you a feminist.)

IT JUST MEANS YOU WANT THE SEXES TO BE EQUAL. 

Herein lies the problem. A lot of women (and men) have become so accustomed to today’s lifestyle, they don’t really realize the part that feminism has played in where we are socially. 

Like, without strong women and men who supported equality of the sexes, a woman would still be considered a man’s property.

Without strong women and men who supported equality of the sexes, women would not be allowed to go to school.

Without strong women and men who supported equality of the sexes, women would not be so much as CLOSE to a computer, much less able to create a meme of their own image holding a sign declaring why they’re “anti-feminist”. 

See where I’m going with this?

So stop it. Stop holding women back and telling us to get back in the kitchen, take off our shoes and get knocked up already. 

Stop telling little girls that they can’t be strong or that they can’t be whatever-the-hell they want to be-whether it’s an astronaut, a stay at home mama, or a crossfit affiliate owner– because they freakin’ can. 

Stop telling girls that when men mistreat them on the street they should just “ignore it” or when a man yells some obscene thing at them that they should “take it as a compliment”. 

STOP. 

Your girls and your women are worth more. They are worth every bit as much as everyone else. And they should know it. 
Because you should tell them. 
You should encourage them to be strong.

Encourage women AND men to love each other.
And protect EACH OTHER.
And lift EACH OTHER up. 

Because the only way our society gets any stronger is if we all get stronger together.

Growing Up A Tiger


“How did you end up at LSU?”

I get this question a lot. Like, a whole lot. Most people ask me where I’m from and when I tell them I’m from south Texas, that’s the follow up question. 

I realized-thanks to a reader!-I’ve never told that story here, so I guess I should. 

Mama Nancy is from Baton Rouge, kind of. She was born in south Texas and moved to Baton Rouge just before her freshman year of high school. She went to LSU and finished her bachelors, masters, and law degree all from the LSU system. 

Growing up in Texas, my entire family was split: they were either Texas A&M Aggies or Texas Longhorns. But my mama was a Tiger. The only one around. Saturday afternoons, we would watch the Tigers play and every touchdown, I could count on my mama to do her signature touchdown dance. I knew I wanted to go to LSU and be a tiger.

Once I got to high school, I started thinking really seriously about my future. I had a boyfriend at the time that loved the University of Texas. He was two years older than me and he wanted me to follow him up there when I graduated. I was young and in love, so I considered it. 

The summer before my senior year, I visited LSU and University of Texas on an official “figure out what the hell you’re going to do with your life after high school” trip with Mama Nancy. To her credit, she was incredibly unbiased and she kept saying, “I just want you to go wherever you’re going to be happiest.” 

I liked UT a lot. It was big and diverse. 
But it was so big. 
Like, really big. 
The people were nice but, I don’t know, it didn’t feel right.


We made the drive from Austin to Baton Rouge, talking the whole way. Mama Nancy pointed out where the trees became covered in Spanish Moss and where I could get the best boudin sandwiches. When we got into Baton Rouge we took a mini tour of the city where she showed me the hospital at which she used to work (Earl K. Long) and we passed by her childhood home. We drove up Government Street into downtown and then onto campus and down sorority row. 

We toured the campus the next day and things felt right. Like I belonged there. My mama added in her own whispered commentary during the tour, pointing out her favorite places to study and tailgate. 

photo credit: http://www.lsu.edu

I just knew. I knew I was supposed to be a Tiger. 
I applied to the one college I wanted to go to and got my acceptance letter on August 6, 2005. 

Now there are two Tigers in the family. 
We have good memories of hot boudin sandwiches, road trips to New Orleans, afternoons on the parade grounds, large diet cokes in the student union, and studying for hours uninterrupted in the Law Library. 
We drank Jack and Diet Coke at tailgates, raised hell in the student section of Death Valley, got chills during the LSU Fight Song, and stressed over exams in Middleton Library.
She yells, “GEAUX!” and I yell, “TIGERS!”  
30 years apart.

Our very favorite building. Also where my office is now located! Photo credit: http://www.replayphotos.com

And even though we’ll both be in Texas in 3 very short months, you can catch us every Saturday in the fall having our very own tailgate in the backyard. Chicken on the grill, beer in the cooler, and doing our own touchdown dance for every point our Tigers put on the board. 

I guess you can say it runs in the family.

If my mother only knew…

If you were to ask my mama, she would say I wasn’t that bad of a kid. Ask me? I was a demon child. 

Don’t let the Glamour Shots fool you. And that denim jacket gave me ALL the life.

I made good grades but I challenged everything. I thought every confrontation could be solved with a fight (oh. you wanna fight about it?). I always had to know “why?” I bitched and complained about cleaning, cooking, and sewing.

“Mom! Why do I have to sew?”
“Because who is going to darn your husband’s socks, Aislinn?”

“Mom! Why do I have to talk Spanish?”
“Because how else will you talk to your mother-in-law, Aislinn?”

“Mom! Why do I have to cook?” 
“Because I don’t want to, Aislinn.”
(Just kidding. My mother tolerates loves cooking)

“Mom! Why do I have to write and speak correctly?! I wanna say ‘lol’, ‘brb’, and spell ‘cool’ like ‘kewl’ like my friends!”

(with a really judgemental look on her face)
“Because you will sound ignorant and I will not let anyone say that ignorance came out of this house. Also because people will judge you.”

God. I was so annoying. 

Second grade. Yes, I have a pasta necklace on. Yes, that is my real hair. All that judgment you’re doing? Quit it. Right now. Second grade was rough.

Once I got into junior high and high school, I started being a rebel. Kind of. Like, I did things I wasn’t supposed to…but there was NO WAY I was gonna flaunt it in my parents’ faces. Because I knew some kids who did that and their parents were just like “oh no! What will we do about our rebellious child?”
…but I knew if I did it, my parents would murder me. Straight Texas Chainsaw Massacre. 

I was a rebel on the down low, yo.

So! If my mother only knew…

1. I tried smoking cigarettes twice. Both times they were Virginia Slims Menthol Lights. Both times I failed miserably and I did NOT become an immediate addict like all the literature in the school nurses office said I would if I tried smoking. 

2. One time, in college, I skipped all my classes for an entire month to pick up extra shifts at work because I blew all my money at one time and couldn’t afford to pay my bills. I didn’t tell my parents because I was really embarrassed that I could be so irresponsible. 

3. My first semester of freshman year at LSU, I literally drove every other weekend to San Antonio to spend time with my then boyfriend, but he was not the reason I wanted to transfer to UTSA. That would be because I wanted to take class with my best friend, Brittany.

4. In elementary school, I used to creep into her room and try on her bras to estimate how big my boobs would get and then meticulously fold them back the way that she had them so she wouldn’t notice. Ha. 
(ladies, don’t even try to tell me you didn’t do that)

5. I always knew that she kept Christmas presents at the bottom of her closet behind the shoes, but I would literally WILL myself to stay away from them. I didn’t want to ruin her surprise (she LOVES giving Christmas presents).

6. (if my mama and daddy both knew!) One time, my dad almost accidentally threw away all of the love letters, pictures, and little notes/artifacts from before and just after my parents got married. I managed to save them before certain demise and I’ve kept them safe ever since to avoid a accidental and unfortunate fate at the bottom of a trash can. 

I know I’m saying all these like she doesn’t know…but knowing Mama Nancy, she probably does know. With the exception of the last one. And if she didn’t before…she knows now! (hi, mom!) 

Linking up with: Two Thirds Hazel and Mommy in Heels

Meet Axl!

It’s pretty well known that I love animals.
So when this guy came into my life, it was love at first sight.

Meet Axl.
He was found on the highway wandering, completely oblivious to traffic.
He was badly matted, so badly even, that the cable that used to be around his neck was matted into his fur. So he got all shaved up. 

Oh. 
And he’s deaf.

According to the vet, someone loved this little big guy once. 

I put him in a shirt because I felt like he was too naked. He was all the way over my photoshoot.

So far, Axl likes:
Car rides, napping with me, wagging his tail, being petted all the time, all food and treats, sleeping with a paw on me, and drinking out of the toilet.

Axl dislikes: 
being ignored, the ceiling fan, stink bugs, and strangers. 


We’re working on signs for “sit”, “come”, “crate”, and “toilet”. I think it’s safe to say we’re both learning a lot. 

This is how Axl sleeps on me. Who needs blankets?


10 Things That Make Me Really Happy

Recently (read: yesterday) I ran across the #BlogEveryDayInMay challenge from Jenni @ Story of my life. I’ve been reading a few of my favorite bloggers doing it and I thought, “why not join in?”


Today’s topic is things that make me happy. And that makes me happy. Duh.

1. Sweating. It’s taken me a long time to get to here, but sweat means I’m working hard and I’m earning something. Even if I don’t know what it is yet.

2. My grandma’s smell. Even though she’s been gone awhile on earth, she’s always in my heart. Sometimes, I swear I can smell her Merle Norman, homemade flour tortilla, sweet grandma smell.

3. Seeing my best friends after a really long time. It’s one thing to be able to talk to each other (thanks, cell phones) but being able to see Brittany and Anthony in real life is priceless.

4. Watching a groom’s face as his bride walks down the aisle. Because that’s when you can see true love.
Credit
5. Family. Sometimes they make me crazy. But they always make me really happy.

6. Sleeping during thunderstorms with the house at subzero tempuratures. Because is there any other way to sleep?

7. Knowing I wrote something good. People always ask me why I take my “hobby” so seriously. Because I’m putting something into the world and I want to make sure that what I’m putting into it is good. 

8. Having a full gas tank. Must be payday!

9. Texas. No reason necessary.

10. Blue Heeler puppy dogs. Because you can’t convince me there’s a better, more loyal dog in the whole world. I mean, come on, George Strait has one.
Tell me these guys are the most adorable puppies you’ve ever seen. I’m obsessed. Don’t judge me.
{What makes you really happy?}