To Taylor, Love Tasha

Hello. We meet again.

(Except probably not because it’s probably weird that I’m in my twenties and writing posts to you and also I didn’t write this on Tumblr and I’m not in middle school, so once again I think I’ve found myself talking to the empty abyss of the interwebs.)

On the unlikely chance you read my previous open letter to you, you probably aren’t reading this one because you’ve likely been insulted by something I said before and won’t waste your time now. However! If you haven’t read it, and are reading this one, don’t go read that one. I know it’s tempting because now I’ve told you about it, but don’t. Okay, okay, fine, go ahead and read it, but just wait until I’ve made my case here. Maybe it won’t be as offensive then.

Okay, now that I’ve established I’m a crazy person, let me dive right in:

If you can’t tell, I’ve thrown all caution to the wayside. I am definitely a fan, as I think most of our generation of 20-somethings are. And though I don’t think I can truly consider myself a “Swiftie” (and I think many others would agree) I am still full of admiration for you. I am a fan not because of your music (though I do enjoy listening) but because of you as a person.

There are many, many faces and personalities in the limelight. And having lived in the land of Hollywood, though for a considerably short time, I’ve crossed paths with a surprising number of these personalities. They are not all pretty (physically or otherwise) and they are not all exceptionally noteworthy for any reason other than that they somehow lucked into achieving that certain level of fame and money that brings automatic admiration. You, however, have not only taken your creative and artistic career to a new level of entrepreneurship and business-savvy mogul-ness, but have also managed to become an infinite source of genuine kindness, love, and support to your fans and pretty much all people in general. And in a world full of judgement, hate, and desperate attempts at “other”ing, we all need a little more love. Thank you for showing that to us, and to the next generation.

I want to say I’m sorry for misunderstanding your fight against music streaming. I was aware that your purpose for taking your music off of Spotify was in protest for the lack of quality compensation for artists. Which I 100% support, no question. My argument was simply that most listeners cannot afford to buy every single song or album that they love to listen to, which is why streaming is such a break-through in distribution, not only for music fans, but for new musicians needing to grow a fan base. Music streaming allows listeners access to hundreds of thousands of artists that they might not have the means to discover otherwise.

Thanks to your open letter to Apple, though, I realize now that these two arguments do not necessarily correlate opposite sides. In fact, the only way these two arguments connect is through a mutual center: the streaming distributor. And I think you hit the nail on the head when you said that Apple has the means by which to get the streaming service right. It is up to the distributor to provide fair compensation to artists while also providing an affordable service to listeners so that both sides can enjoy the mutual benefits of beautiful art.

I love music. It speaks to me in ways that not even writing can. And I love discovering new artists and music, and becoming part of a fan base. Music streaming gives me the opportunity to learn about and support artists that I otherwise would not know, because I live on a very tight budget working towards my own career goals and dreams, just as you have. But I see now the opportunity for this distribution method to grow while still compensating artists fairly and not crushing consumers’ wallets.

So thank you for being awesome. I hope that one day we can be friends on a high-five basis.

Yours truly,

-tlc

P.S. My prayers are with you and your family. I hope that your mother is well. I know all too well the experience of a mother with cancer. I would not wish that on my worst enemy. Yet another reason to admire your strength.

An Open Letter to Sam Brownback

Dear Governor Brownback,

Here’s the deal. I realize that the blame for the $400 Million deficit that Kansas is in can’t  be laid entirely upon your shoulders. I realize that the think-tank that you’ve surrounded yourself with, and that the senate and house have been a part of, somehow got the crazy, naive idea that the trickle-down system works, and y’all just rolled with it. And I truly think that with the way this furlough thing is landing, you’re FINALLY starting to question your original opinions on feeding the full and starving the hungry.

What I can’t understand is, how the HELL did it take you this long to see this (that is, if you really can see it)? Oh, and please stop pointing fingers at everyone else. The blame might not fully be on your shoulders, but when you chose to run for Governor–and then chose to run for Governor AGAIN–you entered an unspoken contract in which you, being the voice and head of Kansas state government and legislature, would also take responsibility for your actions, and the actions of those working beneath you. So, it might not be your fault, but it IS your fault. You signed it into legislature. So, yeah.

But more infuriating than what seems to be your honest, naive, stupidity and selfishness in wanting to use Kansas in what seems to be an economic and social experiment, is what seems to be your opinion on what is important and what isn’t. Both my parents are teachers in Kansas, and for as long as I have been alive, I have watched them work harder than anyone else I have ever known, and still strain to make sure that the bills were paid, food was on the table, a roof was over our heads, and that my brother and I were provided for. They are the most amazing people I have ever met, and they are damn good at their jobs. I know that both my parents have touched the lives of many students, helping them succeed, preparing them for their futures, and instilling a desire for learning. This is a very rare thing these days, with as much non-productive stimulation as kids can receive from video games and TV. My parents have been praised by their colleagues, and have received nothing but the highest recommendations from their administrators in every school that they have taught in. My parents are involved in their schools–My mother single-handedly instituted and manages an annual science fair for every grade in her school, and students prepare their projects all year long. My father holds an administrative degree and often stands in as assistant principal when other school administrators cannot be at school. My father also helped implement the school’s after-school PBD program, which helps students who fall behind in classes and grades catch up to their peers, and you can bet that he is there, helping those students after school hours are over, too. And probably most endearing, my father volunteers as a prom valet every year. Last spring, my father broke his leg, and even though he was in a wheelchair and couldn’t drive, he still showed up at Prom to wish his students a fun night.

My parents love their students and take a lot of pride in what they do. So you can imagine their sadness, and my heartbreak, when they are told that their work is essentially worthless. Why are they being told this? Because you, Governor Brownback, tell them that everyday that you allow budget cuts to continue for Kansas schools and education. Since you decided that a small percentage of Kansas’s tax dollars were worth more than funding our schools, you have caused salary freezes, supply cuts, and stricter regulations on paid teacher time, which does not mean that teachers are working less–it means that teachers are simply working more unpaid time.

You see, what you might not realize about working in education is that it isn’t like a normal 9-5 job. You don’t just go in to work, do your time, and then leave it in the classroom. Many teachers–even ones who work in states that actually care about education and paying their instructors–put in hundreds of hours outside of those they get paid, just prepping their classrooms and lesson plans, not to mention being a visible part of their students’ lives, so that their students feel supported. Many teachers also spend their own money suppling their classrooms, as–even on a regulated budget–schools do not typically have enough funding to cover every classroom purchase. Teachers do this out of love; love for their jobs and love for their students, because teaching isn’t a job, it’s a calling.

But when, for nearly five years, you continually “thank” them for their dedication by providing them less and less financial support, spirits begin to break. Educators who were once eager in their work are looking for ways out. My own parents, who have dedicated a combined 50+ years towards education, are at their breaking points. People are tired, and they can only carry the weight of your ignorance for so long.

And what’s really sad is what this means for our children. A whole generation has lost five years’ worth of quality education because their teachers’ hands have been tied, their wills broken, and their funding made nonexistent. And the cherry on top? The fact that schools closed early this year because of your budget cuts. Why has education been so unimportant to you? Do you hope that by dumbing down the masses, you might be able to continue on in an otherwise damned career? Frankly, I would like to know what idiot politician cut school funding while you were learning economics, because the damage is evident.

Though I can only speak directly for the education realm, I have no doubt that every other facet of this state that has felt your budget cuts has similar woes. No, I don’t think there is really anything you can do to make up for the idiocy that you’ve instilled trying to run this state for the last four and a half years. You can start trying, though, by eliminating the tax cuts that you’ve put in place for the last four and a half years. Just remember, you can’t change the damaged past.

For everyone reading this who isn’t Brownback (which is probably all of you) I can’t stress enough how important it is to be an educated voter and VOTE EVERY TIME. Please, for everyone’s sanity, VOTE VOTE VOTE, and educate yourself ahead of time.

Thank you, and please get your shit together, Brownback.

-A concerned ex-Kansas-resident (that’s right, I left because I couldn’t stand you), tlc

DATING.

I have aptly given this post the one-word moniker accompanied by the end-all, be-all period punctuation because this is the best way to describe how this aspect of human interaction fits into a twenty-something’s life: Abrupt, obnoxious all caps with no context and a quick finish.

Okay, no to explain myself and make a little more sense…probably.

Unless you found your life partner in high school or college, dating is a giant gray cloud that hangs over all of our heads as twenty-somethings. We want to meet people, and most of us dream of meeting that one person we’ll enjoy being with more than any other, and frankly, most of us are impatient. We don’t want to have to wade through a bunch of duds to find “the one”. We want to just find “the one” and enjoy the perks of having someone who is always obligated to go to brunch with you.

At the same time, we’re not ready for commitment. We think about marriage and the first words that come to mind are “not now.” So we shy away from really, seriously dating or pursuing anyone. It’s a vicious cycle, though, because then we spend any down time we have thinking about how much we wish we had someone–but not just any random loser, “the one”–to do something exciting with, instead of being bored, sitting at home because all of our friends have plans and we don’t have any hobbies because this is the digital age and let’s face it, any time you could have learned a how to do something cool with your hands you were scrolling through Facebook and Twitter.

So then we turn to online dating because that’s easy, impersonal, and you don’t have to put pants or make-up on.

I held out for a long, long time on trying the online dating realm. I just didn’t like the idea of it–it seemed to me that you wouldn’t be able to find genuine people via dating sites because the only people (in my mind) who used online dating were weirdos who couldn’t make conversation with people in real life. And then one day, it dawned on me: I’m one of those weirdos. So I gave it a try. And I realized that it wasn’t just for weirdos, it is honestly the way that people are meeting these days. It’s the new bar. And let me tell ya, don’t go to a bar to meet people now days unless you really, really want absolutely zero commitment or investment in your time, because all people are looking for now days when they go to a bar is to get drunk with their friends.

I had a misconception about online dating, though. I thought–and here I have no idea why, maybe simply because I had zero familiarity with it–that dating apps were either for hookups, or serious daters (depending on which app you were using). And I figured that the dating app for serious daters would make meeting people extremely easy, because they’re basically handed to you on a plate, and there’s no question of whether or not their interested, because they’ve liked your profile. All you have to do is have a conversation.

Oh, was I wrong. Within the first week of having this dating app on my phone, I realized that online dating is really no different from meeting people in person, except that you know ahead of time that whoever it is you might be talking to finds you attractive, or at least, thinks there’s potential for attraction. Dozens of people will express “interest” by liking your profile, yet, for every dozen that “likes” you, only one or two will actually initiate conversation with you. And out of those one or two, maybe, MAYBE, one will respond more than once and keep the conversation going. And the likelihood of someone asking you to even meet for casual coffee or ice cream is slim. And if they do, it’s usually the person that you’ve already realized you’re not compatible with via your online conversation.

All of this simply to say that my stint with online dating has taught me one thing: There’s no easy solution or shortcut when it comes to meeting genuine people that you want to spend time with. And I still think that meeting people and making connections in person is the best way to live your life. It’s definitely difficult, because people hide behind their screens so much these days. But maybe, if we all try to get out a little bit more, and stop staring into our computers and phones 24/7, we’ll be able to make it a little bit easier on ourselves.

So go forth, my twenty-somethings, and make friends.

-tlc

Learning To Be A Good Person

As a twenty-something trying to navigate her way through the mud of work, career, and relationships, I find myself observing the human species on a larger whole more often than entirely desired. Why do I say that I would desire to observe less about human beings? Because it’s often a depressing topic, and far too complicated to provide any useful information.

This isn’t to say that there isn’t any relevant or enlightening information to be gained, it simply means that the information isn’t useful. Why, if it’s relevant and enlightening? Because people are stubborn, and harbor enough self-conceit to think themselves above the habitual nature of animals.

It’s one of the more frustrating things about studying faucets of anthropology in college; you learn all these things about the nature of the way that people think and interact–and you even see it acted out before you in strangers, friends, and family–and yet, the second you try to point out this almost instinctual habit of reaction and interaction and explain it, said person(s) become defensive or irritable. It’s because no one likes to be told they’re wrong, and certainly more so do people hate their opinions being discounted for reasons beyond their decision-making conscious.

Even I’m guilty of it. Why, I practically spelled out in my last post how much I hate being told I’m wrong, because I obviously think very highly of my own opinions. Why else would I put them out there for the world to see?  And it’s certainly not that I feel I am the end-all-be-all of opinions and what is wrong and what is right, but rather my goal is to use this platform to explain in depth POVs that I’ve reasoned as logical, and which I don’t feel get heard enough. (Granted, this may only be because my Facebook newsfeed is largely made up of residents of Kansas, which means a large portion of my newsfeed is devoted to conservative, Christian, and Republican opinions/values.)

So, when faced with wading through all this muck on top of the already thick mud of adulthood I sludge through every day, I’ve come up with what I think is a very good suggestion on how to be a good person:

1) Don’t be a dick.

That’s it! It’s that simple. Stop being a jerk, and life will get better for you and the people around you!

But Tasha, what does this entail? How do I know whether or not I’m being an overwhelming jerk?

Great question!

The tell-tale signs of being someone that no one likes are as follows:

Making bigoted or ignorant comments or actions against someone else because you don’t understand their lifestyle or choices.
A great, topical example of this is Caitlyn Jenner. By this point, I know I’m being repetitive when I point out that the crass, judgmental comments about Caitlyn and her bravery–though few in comparison to the welcoming and positive response she has received–are completely uncalled for. Even those with religious views against a transgender lifestyle who actually have hearts are disgusted by those posts. (I’m looking at you, Drake Bell.)

Not saying what you mean.

This is why all politicians are universally hated by all. Yes, I know that everyone needs to choose their battles. I agree that if everyone lit a fire under everyone else’s asses for every little thing, we’d all be scorched bottomless. (Actually, an ass-less world might not be a bad thing…though the terrible constipation the world would suffer might not be worth it.) But the truth of the matter is, people don’t like to be duped. They don’t like to be pushed around, they don’t want to be lied to. Things become far more complicated and frustrating when you cause more work, which is what always invariable happens when you don’t just come out and say whatever the heck it is you mean to say the first time. Don’t make us drag it out of you. This is why being extremely passive is the most irritating thing in the world. Be a nice person and find a way to say things nicely, and people will forgive you, even if you tell them that their mother is a fat witch.

Dumping your emotional baggage on others.

Yes, I know life is hard and sometimes you need help carrying the load. That’s fine. But if you find yourself feeding like a vampire off of the emotional response you can drum up in others, then that’s not okay. Creating emotional chaos does not lead to a good home, or a good person. Everyone gets emotional, everyone needs support, but once you find that support and fix the problem, drop it and move on. Do not dwell on the issue and continue to bring it up to your friends, roommates, and family like a festering wound that won’t heal. Festering wounds are disgusting and full of puss. Don’t be full of puss.
But Tasha! I do all of these things! I’m a huge, horrible asshole! Is there no hope for me?
Don’t fear! Here’s what you need to do to stop being a terrible person:

Love.

Now listen up, because it’s important that you make a distinction here: we’re not talking about lust–that love-like feeling that makes you a cuddle-monster–we’re not even talking about loyalty–that love-like feeling you get around your closest friends and makes you want to spend your whole paycheck on greeting cards for them–we’re talking about full-on, self-sacrificing love. The kind that is hard–maybe even sometimes painful–that means putting every being, including those annoying people you think you hate, before yourself without expecting a damn thing in return. Sound impossible? Well, you might be right. I know I’m not perfect enough to get that kind of love right all the time. In fact, I can’t even get it right 95% of the time. But I’m working on it. And if you want to be a good person, you should too. This kind of love is generous, understanding, and forgiving. This kind of love doesn’t post stupid judgmental comments on Facebook or Twitter. This kind of love doesn’t make a person feel like they are a bad person for living differently than you. This kind of love accepts all and lives by example.
So live by example. Learn to be a good person. Stop being a dick.
-tlc