Wednesday, December 31, 2014

I Am a Theatre Artist

I am a theatre artist. And I've noticed that in the past couple of years I've lost a lot of confidence. Now, I haven't lost any confidence that theatre is what I want to *do*, but I have lost confidence in the way that I *say* that to other people. I've actually started to dread the "What are you studying...and what do you want to do with that?" conversation, because so many years of fake smiles, so many years of "do you want to be a teacher, then?", so many exclamations of "but you're so quiet!", and so many jokes about becoming a waitress, majoring in hobbies, and hints that I'll change my mind or that I should get a degree in "something that I can use" have chipped away at my desire to talk about my career plans with people who aren't artists.
So, here is my real resolution for 2015. I will quit caring about other people's reactions. I will stop skirting around that conversation just to avoid judgement. I am a theatre artist. I am pursuing acting. Yes, acting. We can talk about why I think acting is important later, but for now, know that I am in fact pursuing it. I am not going to teach acting, not to high school students, not to college students, not to children. (Well, maybe as a volunteer thing at some point, but teaching theatre will not be my career.) I have utmost respect and admiration for theatre instructors and for teachers in general, and to treat their career choice as a consolation prize for people who didn't "make it" is an insult to a group of very hard-working and intelligent people who have earned their place in the academic field. I will not do theatre "on the side." I will not "keep it up as a hobby." I have wanted to make acting my job since I was fourteen, and that hasn't changed.
Will I fail? Maybe. It happens. Does that scare me to death? Duh. But I'd rather try and fail than fail by avoiding my desired career because it got difficult to talk about during Thanksgiving.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Ways to Know that You're Dating a Woman, Not a Girl

1) She's at least eighteen years old.




...That's basically it.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

An Open Letter to the Girl Who Wrote "Nice Guy"

For context, read "An Open Letter to the Girl Who Let the Nice Guy Go" first, then read the rest of this post. The original post was first published in June of this year, but I only recently saw it on my facebook newsfeed. This is my reaction to the letter. 


Dear Writer, 

I can see that your letter comes from a good place, that you are probably writing on behalf of your friends. You've probably seen some wonderful guys get ignored, and I can see that this frustrates you. As a woman, I too have experienced the frustration of being ignored. Perhaps you have too. I applaud you for questioning the minefield of dating, because it truly is a minefield, and trying to navigate it brings up all sorts of difficulties and heartbreaks. 

But now I have to address the sentiments of your letter that bothered me, the attitudes that are pervasive in our culture. These attitudes may spring from a place of good intentions, but ultimately they hurt women. Your open letter is full of genuine concern, but beneath the surface, some problematic outlooks lurk. 

First, you begin by lamenting the women who consistently date men who treat them like dirt. And then you said this: 

So you tried to push the nice guy away. When he wouldn't go away, you pushed harder. Still, he didn't give up and every time you pushed harder, he pulled you in even more. He ignored your fears and forced you to grow; He fought for your passions when you were too busy writing them off. He forgot your wants and focused on everything you needed. Then you walked away because he was too nice. 

This may come as a surprise, but she probably walked away for reasons other than him being "too nice." Let's talk about consent for a minute. We usually talk about consent in terms of sex, but no means no whether or not the situation involves sex. You're asking for a commitment that goes far beyond sex. The "nice guy" here wants an emotional commitment. He wants her heart, her time, her trust. He wants what she clearly isn't ready to give to him yet, and he's not respecting her "no." In fact, he's willing to "pull [her] in," "ignore [her] fears," "force [her] to grow." Words like pull, ignore, force, and forget your wants, should send up a giant, bright red flag. If we were discussing sex, it would. But we're discussing something even more important than sex. That's not to diminish the importance of sexual consent but to highlight the importance of emotional consent as well. Her mind, her heart, and her soul are all more important than her body, and the "nice guy" wants her to give all of those things to him on his own terms, not hers. The first paragraphs in your open letter reveal that this hypothetical woman has probably been hurt by the men in her life. And yet the "nice guy" thinks that she should be ready to date him because he's nice. It's not just about him. It's about her too, and whether or not she is ready to be in a relationship with him. He can't force an emotional bond with her. No does not mean please ignore what I want. No does not mean you know what I need better than I do. No not mean pull me in further when I push away. No does not mean maybe or keep asking or I'm playing hard to get. No means no. That's it. The end. 

"Wait," the nice guy may be thinking, "but why is she saying no to me but not the jerk?" Well, if somebody is hurting her, if he's abusive in any way, be that physically, emotionally, or sexually, then Nice Guy should do something about it. He should encourage her to get help. Call the authorities if she's unable to get help on her own. But he does not get to decide that a relationship with him is what she needs to heal. He may offer support, but he should not force her into a relationship. A "nice guy" coercing her into an emotional bond is the last thing she needs, especially if the aforementioned jerks have toyed with her emotions in the past. 

This letter assumes that women owe men. Hollywood has been perpetuating that idea for many years. But it's time that we call out these attitudes so that we can put a stop to them. 

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Covenant House

"Oh please please please snow," I muttered while staring out the window. We'd had a light snowfall already, and it wasn't sticking, but because this is Texas I was holding on to hope that my classes might still be cancelled. It's the benefit of living in places like Texas and Tennessee. When you don't get much snow, the tiniest bit of it will shut everything down and give you a day to read books and watch Netflix. Or finish that paper on Russian theatre. I had the news turned on. They kept talking about the dropping temperatures, because again, we panic about that stuff over here. Nothing about school cancellations, though.

"Come on, snow!" I whispered. I was getting irritated. And then I looked at the TV, and I forgot about school for just a minute. On the screen, a group of women were setting up a table of hot food. The camera panned over to a group of homeless men. They lined the sidewalk, huddled up against a building, bundled into sleeping bags, hats, and earmuffs. It wasn't enough. How could it be enough? And then it struck me: I'm sitting here praying for the exact thing that can only make their lives worse right now. Suddenly avoiding my classes didn't seem so important.

I enjoy winter, but I realize that everything I love about winter involves avoiding it. I like the giant sweaters, the time spent in front of a fireplace, and wrapping up in a blanket while I enjoy the aforementioned books and Netflix. If I didn't have food, shelter, and heat, winter would be a nightmare.

And for many people under the age of twenty one, winter is a nightmare. Think of the last time you felt truly cold, when the wind crept under all the layers and cut into your skin, when you shivered violently as your body desperately tried to get warm again. That moment might have been this morning, but how long did it last? Long enough to get your car warmed up? Long enough for you to dig your keys out of your bag and get into your house? What if it didn't end? Can you imagine spending an entire night feeling that way? For homeless teens, these nights aren't just cold. They're dangerous.

That's why Covenant House, an organization supporting homeless teenagers, is so important. It's more than a shelter. Yes, it does provide shelter and warm beds, but it also provides job training, help for mothers, and so much more. I only found out about Covenant House a month or so ago, but it's clear that they provide a lifesaving work. And if you, like me, don't have a lot of extra cash lying around, there are ways you can help that won't cost you any money, although donations are always helpful as well. For now, why not take a look at the website and just get to know the organization a bit? It may inspire you to make a difference.

Monday, December 1, 2014

If We Treated Everybody the Way We Treat Artists

I am a theatre artist. I'm a theatre artist suffering from a huge case of Impostor Syndrome, but I am theatre artist. Recently I started wondering what it would sound like if we treated everybody the way we treat artists. All of the following are based on things that have been said to me or about me. 

  • I want to be a high school teacher.
  • Hey, you know what you could do? You could teach middle school! 
  • Well yeah, if that's where the jobs are, but I really want to teach high school. 
  • Or elementary school! 
  • I'm not actually great with kids... 
  • You can be a coach. 
  • I'm not athletic. I just want to teach high school. 
  • And that's it? 
  • Yes. 
  • Oh. 

  • Look, you should at least minor in education. You can totally still do your business administration thing on the side. 

  • Your work can't be that hard. You're a math major, right? 

  • What's your major? 
  • Engineering. 
  • Oh, so you want to be a teacher?
  • Actually, I want to be an engineer. 
  • Really? 

  • She got a degree in biology. I think she's going to get a Master's in something she can use. 

  • Psychology is a hobby, not a career. 

  • He's probably really full of himself. All architects are. 

  • Are you still doing that dentistry thing?
  • Yes. 
  • What do you want to do with that? 
  • Uh...dentistry. 
  • Huh. You dating anyone yet? 
  • Nope. Pass the mashed potatoes. 

And finally...

  • I gave up sociology when I converted to Christianity.