The Truth Board

A Blog by the Editors of
The Truth About the Fact: An International Journal of Literary Nonfiction

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Location: Los Angeles, California, United States

The Truth About the Fact: A Journal of Literary Nonfiction is an international journal committed to the idea that excellence in the art of letters can play a vital role in transforming the planet we share.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Testing out the waters

Last week The Truth About the Fact had it’s annual REAL TALK event on campus. This year we gathered to listen to four panelists from a variety of careers discuss what it takes to be a powerful woman and what exactly one must give up to get there.

The room started out quite empty and minutes before it was supposed to start I got that rotten feeling in my gut that this was going to be some disastrous flop. Yet slowly people made their way into the venue and before I knew it seats were full, windows were foggy and a low murmur hung over the crowd. After shakily introducing two of the panelists I sat back and tried to enjoy the rest of the event.

It wasn’t until after the poems were read, the DJ spun and the panelists shared their experiences and their advice that I had one of those exciting “ah-ha” moments. You see, I’m an English major. I love reading, love writing and truly enjoy going to class, but I’m currently having a mid-college crisis (yes it exists) which causes me to imagine myself living at home for the rest of time trying to figure out what to do with an bachelors degree in English. My peers ask me what I’m going to do when I graduate (which luckily is over a year away) mostly because people think an English major is worthless, but I plan on doing what majority of the graduating class plans on doing, finding a job and supporting myself.

Regardless of the common justification of my choice of major to peers and myself I do often worry about what’s next. Thus, leading to my “ah-ha” moment. As I listened to these powerful and brilliant women speak I noticed a consistency in their stories. They didn’t wait, they were driven and they didn’t let a few mistakes ruin their climb. And then, one of the panelist’s husbands who I spoke to gave me the best advice of all, “just hop in the river”. He noticed my confused expression and began to explain his brilliant idea. If you’re standing on the side of the river and need to get down to the bottom, you can’t just sit and watch the water move, you have to hop into the flow and get swept away.

For college students, this time in our lives is exciting but nerve racking to say the least. It is arguably the greatest adventure thus far. So, while I will admit I have no idea what river is calling my name, I’m about to throw on my bathing suit, lather up some sunscreen, buy a floaty and test the waters.


Sunday, March 28, 2010

In Praise of Biddies

I love biddies. And I don’t discriminate. I love small biddies, tall biddies, feathered biddies, biddies named heather, nose-haired biddies, biddies with nose rings, behaved biddies, depraved biddies, biddies with walkers, biddies who are talkers, roasted biddies, toasted biddies, biddies with mashed taters, biddies who are skaters, fried biddies, brown-eyed biddies, biddies with beaks, biddies who are grade-A geeks…and that’s just enough to get my fingers warmed up for this entry.  


Confused? Well, you’re not the only one. Who’s to blame for this? We’ll call her Mama M, or M&M for short. She stalks these blogs waiting for easy prey. Last week, I was the unfortunate bowlegged gazelle ripped to shreds by this merciless predator.  So who is this mysterious rogue, this covert biddie basher purposefully misapprehending my words and making me look a fool? I can’t be entirely sure of her identity, but she left this message…




Sorry . . . were you trying to pick up poultry or old ladies? Tee hee!


bid·dy 1 (bĭd'ē) 

n. pl. bid·dies

A hen; a fowl.


[Origin unknown.]


bid·dy 2 (bĭd'ē) 

n. pl. bid·dies Slang

A woman, especially a garrulous old one.


[Nickname for Bridget]


“Tee hee”…my god! Has this villain no heart?! For some perspective, here is the line that apparently warranted the above tear-inducing ridicule:


“My peacocky displays of male bravado—street hockey at recess, pull-ups at gym class—were not directed at intimidating the guys, but attracting the biddies.”


Now based on context clues, I can totally understand why M&M would mistake my reference to a young, attractive biddie girl for an old lady, or better yet, a CHICKEN! As is common knowledge, young boys often hit on fussy elderly female biddies and chicken biddies at RECESS! Shame on me for not being clear as to which biddie type I was referring to.


Notwithstanding the piercing humiliation I’ve been feeling for the past week, I appreciate M&M’s appeal for clarification because it has deepened my biddie love. Here I was all this time thinking that “biddie” was a term used exclusively to denote a young single girl. How small-minded of me! I now know that two more creatures, one feathered and another weathered, take refuge under the same biddie umbrella that shelters those I originally had in mind. Consequently, my love for biddies has increased threefold.


Lets start with chicken biddies. For me, there’s nothing like cart-cruising alongside the poultry section and seeing a solid serving of packaged biddie on sale for $2.99 /lb. I especially love chicken biddies that are hormone and antibiotic free because I’m not trying to have any genetically mutated biddie botching up my body. I wouldn’t want to scare away the girly biddies with a tail or a sixth toe.


And don’t even get me started on my love for them ol’ lady biddies. Lets just say that the only thing in this world that I love more than a woman is a garrulous old one who embraces her biddie status with gusto and pizzazz.


But all kidding aside, this post is simply a shout-out to our biggest supporter and fan. Even though she harasses me for my word choice, her enthusiasm for our blog more than makes up for it. M&M is one amazing biddie whom I know only indirectly through her daughter, but one that I somehow feel strangely well acquainted with. By definition, she’s a stranger, but in my book, she’s an amigo.


M&M faces each day, even the not so fun ones, with smiles and good humor. That’s why she just won her very own biddie definition (*Price is Right Showcase Showdown “A Brand New CAR!” voice*)!


So here’s my M&M-specific biddie defintion in acronymic form, a throwback to my preschool days.           







Elfish (sorry, it was getting a bit sentimental and I’m no good with the letter “e”)


We love you M&M and wish you a speedy recovery!


Oh and don’t worry about those squats. Relax for now. You’ll be doing them sooner than you think. Because you may not be quite as strong as an ox, but you ARE as strong as a biddie, and that’s saying something!


Ian M. Johnson 

Friday, March 26, 2010

Spring Break Blues

As Spring Break nears, many of us are looking forward to a whole week of no lectures, no driving to and from school (for commuters), and no gosh darn alarm clock reminding us that we have 30 minutes to get up, get dressed, brush our teeth, cram for that test, and get to class. A week will never be long enough to catch up on sleep from pulling all-nighters, taking jello shots at Taco Tuesday, or, hell, Saint Patrick’s Day alone. However, we will not complain because it is a start.
While many people’s main problem is deciding whether to go to Cancun or San Diego, I am having an even bigger dilemma—why the hell is it almost April already?! This year, beginning 3½ months ago, is already almost 1/3 done. This means that my birthday is almost here, which surprisingly evokes bittersweet emotions.

Ever since I was younger, my birthday has always been an amazing event for me. Although my mom’s birthday is the day before, it has always been centered on me. Each year until last year, my birthday has always been somewhat of a big deal. At my first birthday, my mother hired Mickey and Minnie impersonators. Another year, I had a full-out Hawaii luau in my backyard. Last year, my first year at LMU, put an end to it. I had a very tough final on my birthday, which I had not anticipated upon entering in the school year. That final, though only 2 hours long, shocked me because I was used to celebrating my birthday however I wanted, and school not ending until the end of May at the latest.

At LMU, the school year ends the first week of May, which is finals week and my birthday week. This year, there are no finals (thank God), but my birthday is going to be overshadowed by another event—graduation, particularly, mine. Therefore, when Spring Break ends, there is not going to be a transitional end for me. It will be a 5-week long downhill. My birthday, May 5th, falls in between my two hardest finals, “Shakespeare” and “Christian Marriage and Sexuality,” thus, making my birthday somewhat of a relieving breath of fresh air and a stress-inducing event.

Don’t get me wrong, I am very excited. Not many people can say that they received their Bachelor’s Degree three days after they turned 20 years old. However, being that April is almost here, my birthday and graduation is coming very soon. This will be the second year where my birthday is not actually centered on me turning another year older, but also me obtaining my degree. Anything I decide to do to celebrate my birthday will be combined with my graduation, which I am not used to. Once Spring Break is over, I will be surrounded by images of caps and gowns, book returns, and finals—things I am not ready to face. As Spring Break approaches, I hope that God grants me favor and allows time to creep at snail’s pace so I can enjoy it. I hope you do, too!


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

See You Next Fall

If its true that the important moments in life are the ones that take your breath away, then a marathon is about 3 to 5 hours worth of huffing and puffing breathless moments. At mile 23, I told myself I’d never do something so outrageously crazy again. At mile 26.2, collapsed on the ground and with my head in between my knees, I couldn’t wait to sign up for the next one at the first chance I could. They say that a truly profound spiritual experience is like a death of the self… I’m still not certain I know what that means, but I know that after running the LA marathon this last Sunday, I have never felt more dead and more alive at the same time.

Biomechanically speaking, running is technically just a form of controlled falling. Each step is just another break in a repetitious series of forced flings forward into space. One of the largest muscle groups in the human body, the Gluteus muscles (maximus and minimus, also known commonly as "the butt"), are disproportionately enlarged in the humans as compared to other primates for exactly this reason. Based on the laws of physics, it requires a lot of muscle power to keep our elongated torsos straight and upright, and even more to do so in the midst of a controlled fall. Perhaps this is why butts can be a feature of attraction amongst both genders—adaptively, a nice butt is essential to survival.

Most people don’t realize it, but there are multiple features of the human biological arsenal which make it clear that as a species we are designed to be long distance runners. The most inarguable of these is a certain tendon that we have in our necks, one that is found elsewhere in only dogs, wolves, hyenas, horses, and zebras—all of which are species that use long distance running as a method for survival. The tendon keeps our necks stationary over extended periods of exercise. This may not seem like a big deal, but if you put any other type of animal on a treadmill and have them run for half an hour or more, their necks will begin to sway violently and they eventually would collapse from the exhaustion it causes to their brains. To this day, there are some tribes in southern and central Africa that still practice an ancient hunting technique (one which was once practiced by some Native Americans as well), in which the hunters will chase after an antelope, never being able to catch it by speed, but never giving it enough time to rest or drink water, so that within a few hours the animal simply collapses in fatigue and the tribesman have their meal all laid out for them.

Here in Los Angeles, in our “modern” and “civilized” society, it often seems that the concept of running as a matter of survival is something completely foreign and alien to us. If we run at all, its not to get food but to burn off the calories of eating too much food. We may be biologically designed to run, but our culture has somehow managed to get completely separated from our evolutionary past. And yet, the culture of marathon running could be called nothing less than a mass social phenomenon. 25,000 people congregated in Chavez Ravine before the sun had risen this last Sunday, urinating and defecating in the woods just like their primordial ancestors, because the race organizers simply hadn't provided enough port-o-potties to go around. 10,000 years ago, anthropologists estimate that humans roamed an average of 10 miles each day in their hunting/gathering pursuits. Today, in modern Western cities around the world, a teeming throng of people, who as whole probably only average 10 miles per week, psych themselves up to do 26.2 miles all in one fell swoop.

As I found myself staring out at the immeasurable mass of bodies stretching out before me as I ran, I couldn’t help but wonder how this phenomenon was possible in such a sedentary culture. But as I worked through the pain and the agony, and finally the sheer joy of the finish, I came to be aware that in a way, we still do run for our survival. Maybe not biologically, but certainly for a kind of spiritual survival. What makes a marathon unlike any other kind of “race” is that at the end, your time doesn’t really matter—its just about the sheer feat of finishing. By mile 18, you’ve abandoned any last futile attempts to mentally calculate your pace, and your only goal becomes simply putting one foot in front of the other. Past and future melt away, and honestly the prospect of ever reaching a plausible end to it all seems impossible. You simply keep going for the sake of going—you move for the sake of moving. You live for the sake of living.

What is life, after all, if not just one big controlled fall? The specter of death is always off on the horizon, and yet it is always looming right over our shoulder. We are all racing to our graves, no matter if it will be a Prada coffin or a gutter on the side of the road. There are so many varieties of goals along the way there, but what do any of them ultimately count for? At the end of each day, all you can really do is keep putting one foot in front of the other, one foot in front of the other, one foot in front of the other. And maybe along the way you will discover the beauty of the small fragments of the world you get to run past, or the miracle that is in the kindness of others who you bump into during your journey. And maybe, just maybe, when you turn a corner and the end is suddenly in sight, you will be able to smile, and the pain of the journey will have been worth it.

And then you’ll be ready to sign up for the next one.

--Paul Beckwith

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Assembling your Dream Team

The “Dream Team” was the 1992 United States Men’s Basketball team that competed in the 92’ Olympics in Barcelona. The team gained its namesake due to the sick amount of talent organized on a single roster aimed at winning the gold medal.

So I took the concept of the Dream Team and semi-corporatized it for an exercise I considered yesterday:

If you were going to start a company, and had to choose four other partners to start it with, who would you choose, what characteristics would you seek out, and why?

First and foremost this is an extremely broad topic because you could argue that the type of business you’re starting should ultimately dictate the people you choose, their strengths/weaknesses and overall professional specialty. I’m going to argue otherwise. I think any business initiative is possible with the right people with their heads screwed on straight. You could be selling anything, from ice picks to raccoon hats, I don’t care what it is. With the right amount of human potential, shared (borderline reckless) optimism and drive, a solid business plan, and of course, financial backing, you could you start a company and make it successful.

As with most of these blog submissions, I think I could go on to write 2000+ words on this topic, but let’s run through it quickly. Here are mine:

One. The Numbers Guy.

You need the guy who’s going to run the numbers. The guy who will take all of the budgets, costs, expenditures, velocity of sales and price points, and somehow get a ridiculously complex financial model to spit out a (hopefully) profitable, positive number and suitable ROI. You can call them bean counters and cubicle-based life forms all you want. But I want a straightforward, loyal business analyst capable of communicating all of the business financials in layman’s terms to the partnership. That skill, to me, is invaluable… and one which many accountants lack in general. Now if we could just implant personality…

Two. The Consummate Salesman

This is pretty self-explanatory. Give me someone articulate, somewhat emotionally intelligent, charismatic, excited, loyal, straight forward, physically attractive, persistent, focused and hard working. That’s it. Now, repeat after me: “Just sell baby.” Maybe a little bit douchey to maneuver with the yuppie niche in your market, but not full blown. That should do it. I note hardworking because too often I see people in sales make their quotas, or who get so used to working on their own schedules that they forget how to grind.

Three. The Project Manager

You’re going to need a lynchpin. A creative problem solver, team motivator, organizational Chimera of a person capable of taking a pile of personnel, sorting it all out and pointing everyone in the right direction to produce optimal results and increased profit margins and efficiency. This person is a facilitator, empowerer, communicator and producer of the show. Give me someone ambitious, driven, team-oriented, aggressive, organized, outspoken and loyal. Someone who relishes a challenge to get their hands on anything and make it work. A solid project manager is tough to come by and highly sought after by the world’s top companies, agencies and governments. It’s why project management is one of the fastest growing professional disciplines since 2006.

Four. The Jack.

In many ways I feel like the Jack needs to possess a little bit of all three of the positions listed above. The creative spark in the business who can do a little bit of everything, but not micromanage and overstep boundaries. In many ways, the right hand man to the owner/CEO. This isn’t to be confused with being a bitch and doing everybody’s work they don’t want to do. On the contrary, The Jack is the guy who closes deals, looks for new opportunity, gets things done and is afforded a little more freedom that everyone else. Extremely bright, social, loyal, straightforward, entrepreneurial, outside-of-the-box thinker and value-based logic. So just give me an articulate business-minded mechanical engineer hybrid person and we’re all good. He's an opportunist.

So there you go. There’s my “Dream Team”.

The preceding team building exercise could and should be an obligatory question during any new hire interview. It reveals certain character traits about a person immediately. Generally it tests two things: one, who would you do business with and how would you construct a team and two, what kind of company do you keep in your off hours. I want to know both up front because you’re representing my company 24 hours a day. Analyze the company people like to keep, and you can begin to pinpoint what makes them tick. It reveals the traits and characteristics that a person admires and holds in the highest regard. Take mine for instance. I list “loyal” and “straightforward”, as a characteristic every single one of my team members should have. That’s because those two qualities are on the top of my list when it comes to people I surround myself with –both in business and my personal life. If those two qualities are completely lacking –get out. Just get out. I don’t deal with people who tip toe around issues and aren’t confrontational, and I’d take a bullet for every one of my friends and they’d do the same for me. I don't even feel awkward typing that even though I've never been shot at.

I’d urge you to take 15 minutes and consider the exercise above. Not only will you learn more about yourself, I guarantee you learn more about why your friends are your friends, and why your acquaintances stay that way. Who knows? Maybe you wake up tomorrow with a brilliant idea and all of a sudden you need to assemble a core of people around you to make it happen. Live a wishbone lifestyle. You have options.

-Cole Breidenbach

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Independent Lady

Driving through Manhattan Beach on my way to Palos Verdes, I couldn’t help but notice the hundreds of gorgeous beach homes, ranging from Arch Deco, Venetian, Classic, to Modern architecture. They were, of course, million dollar condos and homes that one could only dream of inhabiting someday.

I turned to my girlfriends in the car, and pointed at one of the gorgeous homes to our left. It was a stately red brick home, with a white picket fence, white door with a gold doorknocker, and a bright green grassy front yard with a white wood swing chair on the front porch.

“I want to live there,” I said. “I want to buy that house….I want to do it myself and I don’t want a man to buy it for me,” I added. Then we all laughed and said how the only way that would be possible is if we all moved into to the home together and shared the mortgage payments.

As we drove past my dream home, I couldn’t help but thinking. Am I, as a woman, incapable of buying myself a nice home such as the one in Palos Verdes, by myself? Is the only way I can reach that dream, through the help of a man?

Since I was a little girl, my ultimate goal has always been to support myself. I have never wanted to depend on a man for financial support. This mainly stems from watching many of the women in my family get (for lack of better words) ‘screwed over’ financially by their husbands after a divorce, trying to find menial jobs to support their children, while he lived a life a luxury only paying a grand a month in child support. This observation caused me to open my eyes to the idea that had my aunts supported themselves originally in the marriage, they would not have had such a hard time finding jobs when it failed.

However, I’ve always been curious how my views would effect my ability to create relationships with men. When I repeated my desire for independence and my ability to support myself to my male entrepreneur friend , he responded, “That’s great, but from a male perspective, I would never want a wife like that. I want to support her, I want her to need me.”

I was shocked. I always thought that my views made it so I wouldn’t put so much pressure on the man in my life. I thought that with dual incomes we could live a more comfortable lifestyle, and that my lack of codependence would in turn make me more attractive to men. However, as I’m getting older, I have begin to find that many men are intimidated by a woman who doesn’t want her only place to be in the home.

In order to grapple with this understanding that I could end up a very lonely woman if I continue to pursue my dreams as a ‘career woman’ I turned to the wisest man I know, my father. I remember when I was younger my mom told me that she sat down with my father after they were married and they decided together that she would be a ‘stay at home’ mom. I couldn’t help but wonder if this was her decision, or my father’s, so I asked him.

He explained to me that when he looked for a wife, he just wanted to be with someone who did what they loved. My mother always wanted to be a mom, so he supported that, knowing that in turn he would have to be the only one ‘bringing home the bacon’ in our family. He told me that had she wanted to work, he would have supported that too. He said that all he has ever wanted for her is to be happy.

And so I learned that ultimately, I need to find a man, who feels the same way as my father. I need to be with someone who roots for my success, and is comfortable with my independence.

A wise person once told me that true love is putting your happiness in the happiness of another. I understand now that I don’t have to do everything alone. Having a man’s help doesn’t make you any less of a woman. It makes you a partner, a confidant, a trustee. And as long as I don’t lose ‘me’ in the process, then I’ll be just fine purchasing that red brick, white picket fence dream home, with a little help.

Courtney M. Myers

A Grandmother's Love

I have the best grandma in the world. Now don’t go tellin’ me that you’re grandma’s the best in the world because it just isn’t true. She might be pretty awesome, but the best she can hope for is a distant second as long as grandma Franciotti’s still kicking…and cleaning.


My grandmother is a small, soft-spoken Italian woman of 87. She barely scratches 5-feet but commands respect as though she were Andre the Giant. Grandma Franciotti is the quintessential matriarch. She runs the show without demanding top billing; she gets R-E-S-P-E-C-T without conjuring Aretha. 


My g-ma doesn’t have a degree from a prestigious university or any professional work experience. If you’re a resume fanatic, you’re liable to overlook her. But if you’re perceptive, you’ll sense in her a wisdom of the unconventional variety, the kind ill-suited for Microsoft Word inspired brag sheets.


Angelina Franciotti received her education from the original school of hard knocks: Real Life University. Her family emigrated from Calabria, Italy to the United States when she was a young girl of five or six. Like most immigrant families, the Franciotti’s were poor and marginalized. Their new homeland proved unsympathetic to their plight. Because her father’s job paid poorly, little Angelina was forced to quit her studies in the 4th grade and seek employment to help support her family. She never returned to school. While her peers were learning algebra and romance languages, Angelina was sewing garments for nickels and dimes.


My grandma is a woman who has lived her entire life in service of others. She is the most selfless person I know. She wears ragged nighties and moth-holed slippers not because she cannot afford new outfits, but because she would rather spend what few dollars she does have on her family. A talking rooster from the toy store, especially if it’s for her grandchildren, who she knows will become disinterested in a matter of minutes, is a better buy in her eyes than new slippers, especially when she “already has a perfectly good pair.”


But don’t think her generosity reaches only as far as her family. If you--yes YOU--came over, she would literally empty her pantry to ensure that you went home with enough food to last you the week. You know how at those Oscar parties celebrity guests receive gift baskets stuffed with cutting-edge electronics and expensive cosmetics? Well, when you depart from 334 Nicholas Road in West Collingswood Heights, you leave with an Acme grocery bag stuffed with all sorts of goodies: tomato paste, canned beans, Campbell’s chicken noodle soup, bottled water, Andes Mints, a pound of lasagna, disposable coffee filters. You might think my grandma stores these items in such absurd quantities in anticipation of the apocalypse, but you’d be overlooking her nature if you did so. 


My best memories with my grandma all center on food. Cooking is of particular significance to my grandmother. For her, the ability to feed others is the single greatest pleasure in life.


When I was five, my diet consisted of mainly two things: Yoo-Hoo and Pillsbury Toaster Strudels. My grandma kept each delicacy in comic abundance so as to be sure that her first grandchild would never be without. Her vast stores of toaster strudels were particularly essential not only because of how fast I ate them, but also because of the way in which I ate them. For those of you who have lived lives deprived of toaster strudels, allow me to give you a little background. Each box contains six strudels and precisely six packets of icing. Why they don’t include extra icing packets is a question that to this day tortures my very existence. Pillsbury should anticipate strudel junkies like myself indulging in a few packets per strudel, but for whatever reason, they don’t. So as I would eat my strudels with extra icing, my grandma watched me with great enjoyment, as she munched on plain, uniced strudels. In later years, I apologized to my grandma for my selfishness but she always maintained that she liked them better plain. I don’t know if I believe her, but I love her for saying that.


To say I was misbehaved as a teenager is a gross understatement. During my high school years, I returned home on weekdays at all hours of the night. My grandma, the light sleeper that she is, would creep downstairs once she heard the door close behind me. She never asked me where I was and never scolded me for my insubordination. Now some would say this is irresponsible grandparenting, but if you knew me at that age, you would know that I responded to any authoritarian moralizing with greater defiance. And so she would simply give me a hug and kiss, and ask me if she could “fix [me] a sandwich.” I never passed on the offer. Just as when I was 5, my grandma would sit across from me and smile as I ate. I remember thinking it was odd that she did that, but now I think she was just happy to know I was safe, and fed.


Now that I’m three thousand miles away in Los Angeles, I don’t get to see my grandma as often as I used to. I find myself missing her a lot, especially during meals. Unlike normal people, I seldom look down at my food when I eat (don’t take advantage of this), even when I’m alone. I think part of me still expects to see that beautifully wrinkled face looking back, smiling.


There are few people in this world that love you without qualification. Cherish these individuals because their love for you is stronger than you can imagine. It is a love not contingent on how your hair looks or whether or not you can tell a great joke. It is a love without precondition. It is a love that stands on its own.


I miss my grandma. I think I’ll give her a call. And when I do…


“Hi grandma.”



Ian M. Johnson

Friday, March 19, 2010

Daylight Savings Life

The moment Day Light Savings changed time, my perspective on life changed. As graduation gets closer, I worry about my future. I am going to have two degrees before the age of 21, yet I am scared as hell of the “real world.” I have been out of my parents’ house since the age of 16, but now, it feels like I am truly alone. I will be looking for a one-bedroom apartment and a full-time job starting this Summer. As all of these things cross my mind, I begin to think of my generation as a whole.

It has been said that my generation is going to be the generation that makes less money than the previous. This makes me nervous. We have the most advanced technology so far, so how is this possible? While I do not think that we are less intelligent or determined, I do believe that we have a misguided sense of direction.

Martin Luther King Jr. and other activists in the past have made huge contributions in the world without the usage of cell phones and the internet. My generation has come up with the cleverest excuses and ways to get out of parking tickets, class work, and paying full price for anything. Therefore, we have plenty of potential, yet we use it for unnecessary things. For example, we have people such as Soulja Boy and Nicki Minaj who have found a way to make millions of dollars with nursery rhyme type music, but will not use their voices to point out injustice in the world. Their voices reach millions, if not billions, of sets of ears, but they have yet to announce fighting against drug abuse and the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.While others fought discrimination and other inequalities, we use our cell phones and video cameras and other resources to do God-knows-what like sex tapes, advertisement of $500 tennis shoes, etc. For us to come up with catchy songs, the latest dances, and other new inventions, I think that we can come up with many ways to help the world and make a huge difference.

I am not saying that everyone in our generation is like this, but I wish there were more people who were willing to speak out against it. For me, I would like to use my “powers” for good. On May 8th, 2010 I will be getting my English degree, and working on getting my teaching credentials in the summer. For me, being an English teacher is my dream because teachers have a major influence on a student’s life. They are the people who see their students almost more than their parents. Therefore, there has to be some sort of bond between them. As a teacher, I would like to be more than an educator, and more like a friend. I would like to inspire my students to write out their feelings if they find it hard to speak out. This is one example that the youth in my generation could be influential.

On May 8th, 2010, while I am walking across the stage and crossing further into independence, I am also hoping that the rest of my graduating class will prove everyone wrong that we are selfish, egotistical, shallow, and naïve. I know that I am not perfect, nor do I expect perfection, I just feel like we can start small and eventually change the world for the better.
What do you hope to contribute to the world?

The American Dream: A Tale of Immigration and Deception

In the 1840’s, the Germans and the Irish were the first to feel the hatred. In the 1920’s, America moved on to Southern and Eastern Europeans. In 1965, Latin American nations had their turn. What I am aiming to say here is that groups of immigrants in the United States of Americn have never had it easy. Growing up with a father and mother that lived in poverty in Mexico until they were able to immigrate to this country in the mid 1960’s and early 1970’s, respectively, I have always been deeply fascinated by the tales of immigrant groups. The history of excluding immigrant groups in America, of barring them from entering this country, has very deep roots. Such a history includes the Immigration Act of 1924, a federal law that limited the number of immigrants who could be admitted from any country as well as the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 which set up strict quotas on the number of persons who could legally enter the U.S. from Latin American nations, and most new Mexican migration to the U.S.

            Again, I’ve been thinking a lot about the tales of immigrant groups lately, especially as I plan and lay out my options for internships and grants for the summer. One such grant I am extremely interested in pursuing is the opportunity to work for a nonprofit group that focuses on a particular social justice issue. As I look further into a career as a lawyer, I have a strong desire to work for a nonprofit law firm that specializes in cases dealing with immigration this summer and so much of that desire comes from years of listening to a story of my father’s.

            When my Dad was sixteen years old, he came to this country with falsified documents, pretending to be his uncle’s son, an uncle who was already an American citizen. A false birth certificate typed by a secretary in my dad’s small town whom his uncle had bribed, adjusted my father’s year of birth from 1947 to 1949 in order to make the American government believe that my father was the same age as my uncle’s deceased son who’s identity my father was assumung. After setting this deception in motion, my father was able to sneak past the barrier imposed by the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 and settle into the American promised land.

In his first few years in America, my father worked at a meat packaging plant in Omaha, Nebraska where the little boy from Mexico grew into a man who could endure cold, harsh American winters. After saving a good deal of money, my father moved to California in the early 1970’s where he met my mother, a girl from a town ten miles away from the ranch he grew up on in Mexico. They were married in 1975, had three children, and together, my hardworking parents saved enough money to move their Mexican family to a two story home in the suburbs.

But because of the deception that set my father’s life in America into motion, my father was never able to fully appreciate the beauty of his rags to riches tale. For nearly forty years, my father lived in fear that the government would learn of the falsified documents, tear his family apart, and deport him back to Mexico. For forty years, my father felt guilty and ashamed and suffered from depression, which he kept hidden from my siblings and I. It was not until one year ago that my father finally decided to take the test and become a US Citizen which lifted the burden off his shoulders.  He passed the citizenship examination with flying colors but the story of all those years of inner turmoil has certainly stuck with me. The story of an immigrant man living the American Dream who constantly fears that the dream will be taken away from him is something I cannot easily forget. I believe it was Theodore Roosevelt who said, “Every immigrant who comes here should be required within five years to learn English or leave the country.” Well it took my father a little more than five years to learn English and even after forty years in this country, he still can’t speak it entirely well but he did manage to make a beautiful life for his family, and despite his deception, I couldn’t be prouder of my father.

 I’m sure there are several men and women out there like my father, men and women who are in this country illegally, living here in America for years and years and yet miles away from the path to citizenship. This summer, I would love to have the opportunity to listen to the stories of these people. I will try my hardest to work alongside a pro bono law firm to review cases and listen to the stories of these immigrants. I certainly know, better than most people that, given the chance, immigrants, immigrants like my father can do amazing things if they are only given the opportunity.





Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Girl Power

Women and power; it’s not just an enticing title for our upcoming event but an unfortunate paradox in our society today. It is rare that you will find a seminar on “men and power” that does not merely perpetuate the correlation between maleness and power structure that already dominates western ideology. But women and power, there’s a topic filled with controversy and intrigue and perhaps even some hope. “Power” in and of itself is a vague term and when aligned with women can manifest a number of meanings and images.

Take, for example, the recent academy award win of Kathryn Bigelow for best director which marked a historical moment in movie history with her beating out boys club royalty like James Cameron. She is a shining example of women rising to the occasion in professional roles that have been primarily cut out for men only. Women have been receiving best actress awards for decades, which is an honor nonetheless, but given that they have a category designated to them it doesn’t hold as much weight as the success of a woman over her male competitors. While our event on Thursday applauds and seeks to learn from women who have shattered glass ceilings, the work place is not the only venue in which women can possess power and we needn’t have a male counterpart comparison to make such power visible.

Women are powerful in what they give to the world as a whole. They have been shown to be more likely to donate to charities and give a larger portion of their income to such causes, despite earning less than men. They populate the world through the grueling and body-reshaping process of childbirth and my own mothers have served as powerful examples of both motherhood and the ability to balance career and family. Looking back to the private sphere, women have long been powerhouses in domestic fields such as cooking, entertainment and design and though such ideals of women taking their place within the home, such homemaker duties should not go overlooked in the power that they provide. After all, the home was the first domain over which women had near complete control and should be seen as stepping stone to their authority in the workplace.

In recent years, women have been stepping further and further outside traditional female roles, taking high ranking as successful athletes, military leaders and have been innovators and inventors for centuries, despite only recently having the power to claim the credit for themselves. Women seem to overflow with creative juices and are dominant forces on the stage, the screen, and in literature. They are even proving more and more their abilities to succeed in the sciences, with the number of women in engineering increasing by 70 percent in 1999 and no doubt the number has grown in the decades since. The world is now getting to see those powers that lie beyond the private sphere: our brain, our brilliance, our ingenuity.

It is difficult to comprehend why, in our increasingly diverse and accepting society, women are still being held back when they have for decades now proved their worth in the realm of men. We worked the factories during the war, we have run and started multiple successful businesses and have bravely fought the daily battle that is the life of stay-at-home-mom. But more importantly, in conjunction with the recognition of women as equally worthy of head-honcho status, there needs to be more recognition of the inner strength and abilities of women to overcome any obstacle, to boldly go where no man, literally, has gone before, to be faced with judgment in every aspect of their life and to truly encompass the meaning of “power”.

--Heather Maupin

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Reminiscence Sets In

As I near graduation after four fast-flying years, I’m becoming increasingly nostalgic about my undergraduate experience. In my growing amount of reflective moments about college, I’m already realizing the uniqueness of this exciting environment, and how much I’ll miss it. My appreciation has increased exponentially through the years, and I find myself feeling like most seniors must around this time, that is, true gratitude and the urge to run up to every freshman and advise them to soak up every minute of this.

Coming to LMU as a freshman I had no declared major, no four-year plan, and no clear direction for my educational path. I took a handful of core classes, and for a while considered business as a plan of action; it seemed to make post-college financial sense. However, I never quite appreciated those early classes. When after two basic English classes I found myself craving more writing in my curriculum, I recognized a major I could see myself caring about. In retrospect, declaring English as a major was a fitting choice, and with my personal history of writing that extends far beyond formal schooling, I’m only surprised I didn’t make it earlier.

Once I found a niche and moved beyond core classes to those that interested me more, education reached a new level of meaning. And that significance and value, it seems to me, is the essence of higher education. My classes in junior and senior years felt tailored to my interests; I began to devote my time and energy to them not out of desire for good grades, but because I truly cared about them. As a whole, the classes I’ve taken in the last four years have enriched my understanding of concepts far and wide, and have only made me eager for the same type of open minded discussion, research, and excellent instruction in the future.

The last four years’ combined experience goes far beyond the classroom level. What I’ll miss most after graduation this spring is this charged environment of intellectual discussion, new ideas, debates and panels, widespread shared interest, contributing to a community that I highly value. These are the reasons I feel that fusion of gratitude and nostalgia; I’m beginning to see the remarkable aspects of my surroundings.

The collage of experiences that make up my time at LMU are dear to me, and I fear it will be hard to find such a lifestyle in the future. What else could provide such amazing classes, a bi-weekly, energized convo hour, the chance to go to the Beverly Hills hotel to meet Holocaust survivors, an on-campus farmers’ market, service organizations, a student art gallery, the opportunity to help publish a journal, current speakers and music from the community right here on campus, all with this picturesque backdrop of West Los Angeles? I’ll miss LMU, but at least with such memories to look back on I will no doubt have motivation to pursue graduate school education in hopes of finding more experiences like these.

Corinna Ace

Benefiting from Misery: A Case Study

There are few enterprises that take as much pleasure in your suffering as towing companies. The towing business openly prides itself on its singular ability to lawfully turn your pain into their profit; and boy do they do this with nauseating grace. This past Friday, I saw Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, The Whigs, and Mini Mansions play at the Echoplex over on Glendale Boulevard. Little did I know that in addition to the $25 ticket, a $200 towing surcharge would be making its way onto my bank statement by night’s end.


My fellow concertgoer and I arrived at the venue with little time to spare before the show. Bad form, I know. I have been to enough shows to know full well that Rule #1 is “arrive early.” But for whatever reason (I know the reason, just not at liberty to disclose it) things were rushed that night. We methodically patrolled the avenues in search of roadside parking, going up and down each street in hopes of chancing upon a blacktop nugget we could lay claim to for the evening. But luck was not on our side. And once Lady Luck lined up on the opposing team, I knew she was unlikely to make her way back onto our side without spear tackling us in the gut first. Such was the case. We rolled snake eyes all night and by the next morning felt the sting that invariably accompanies a hearty bite out of the ol’ checking account…


…but I’m getting ahead of myself. As showtime neared, we knew we had to leave the 89’ Chrysler New Yorker somewhere, and so made the fateful decision to park at Walgreens. Now judging by the commercials, you’d think Walgreens’ employees are a friendly and accommodating bunch. Not true. You know how they say the camera adds 10 pounds? It also adds a veneer of niceness that disguises a diabolical interior.


But thinking only of the impeding musical jamboree, we failed to detect the snake in the bushes, or in this case, the Walgreens’ employee patrolling the lot, and so left the vehicle without cause for concern.             


The concert was incredible. The Exchoplex is the kind of venue that attracts the heart and soul, the dirt and grime, the essence of the Los Angeles music scene. Strangers discuss openly and intelligently the subtleties of Iggy Pop’s brand of sadomasochism as well as the merits of including a bridge in every modern song: “It’s become so formulaic man, so patterned—verse, chorus, bridge—1, 2, 3. The bridge is the most contrived offspring of the music industry. It’s Backstreet Boys rearing its ugly head in the 21st century.” I said they were intelligent, not geniuses.


We left the show with an acute case of post-concert amnesia, a curious little disorder that causes its sufferers to forget all things unrelated to the afore attended show. Victims can recall set lists with remarkable accuracy but lose any and all recollection of pedestrian concerns, like for instance, where in the hell they parked.


All we could say for sure (or so we thought) was that we parked on a hill. In affluent southern California residential communities, hills are about as rare as nerds at Stargate conventions.


But then, in a recollective flash, I remembered where we had set up shop earlier in the evening—Walgreens. We walked to the store, and on arriving, stared with mouths agape. The lot was empty. Our first reaction? Disbelief. Our second? S***, F***, A**, Q******, X***** (the English language proved insufficient in expressing our anger and so we got creative). 


Now you may think we deserved to get towed for our idiocy, BUT allow me to preempt your reprimand by relating an important piece of evidence: there were no signs indicating that our protracted presence (30 minutes, according to Walgreens) would cost us twin benjis. In America, if it’s not in writing, it doesn’t exist. Apparently Walgreens doesn’t feel obliged to abide by this patriotic imperative. Terror watch list anyone?


Once composed, we called the towing company. They told us their price: $215.58.


If you just stop to think about it, the whole premise of towing is sheer insanity. Someone takes your property, holds it captive, and forces you to pay an exorbitant fee to get it back. I’m no legal expert, but in any other context, these hoodlums would be doing 6 months in LA County.


The towing company’s property was something out of a b-grade Hollywood horror. A chain-link fence, barbed at the top, marked the perimeter of the compound. Two obscenely large canine specimens (I presume the product of many generations of large breeding) ran down to scare the piss out of us (their primary function). Behind the dogs, a shadowy figure approached from 20 yards away. At 10 yards he asked us what we wanted. “Hello, we’re here for the tour,” I said. No I didn’t. But really, at 3:30 in the morning, what else would we be doing there besides reclaiming our mode of transportation?


We played it straight and told the man that we wanted to get the car and be on our way. He opened the gate and led us to his office, wherein he presented us with the bill. 


As we got to talking to the guy, we realized he meant us no harm. He didn’t own the place. He worked there for an hourly rate that just barely exceeded minimum wage.  He even offered us a cookie. The stale confectionary creation was little consolation for the bill that preceded it, but it was a kind and unnecessary gesture nonetheless.


Moral of the story? Walgreens sucks—unless you like chicken poop. Then it’s a hell of a joint.

~Ian M. Johnson 

Monday, March 15, 2010

History and Grandparents

i am going to

fly a banner


where is hanner

haven't gotten



is she playing ball

can she be


the mall

did she


is she in



a cane

she must be


in a tizzy

i love her


always will


My Grandfather, Poppy and I used to write poems to each other via email as our way of communicating. At that point we lived in different states, and I was a bratty teen who had lots of very important things to do so it was the best way for us to keep in touch. Generally my poems had little to do with anything of much importance, they just rambled on about how stressed I was for finals or that I scored a goal in the past weekends soccer game. And Poppy’s poems where an eccentric jumble of words with a loving ending that continuously made me feel like the most special person in the world. That’s what grandparents are for after all, spoiling you; stomach, brain and soul.

Now my three grandparents live within a 30-mile radius of my front door so poetry email is scarce but Sunday night dinner is commonplace. For a while I wondered, are grandparents the key to success or a vision into my future insanity? After all each one of my grandparents is lovably unique and undeniably odd. My grandmother Gaga for example can only eat half a banana, the other half she saves for days and days for all I know. Poppy takes out his hearing aids when he’s on the phone because he can’t hear, but our conversation generally ends with him saying “I couldn’t really hear what you said but I hope to see you soon.” And my grandmother Bobs said “Bah! Humbug!” Christmas morning as us kids used to race down the stairs at 5 in the morning.

Maybe the kooky words of my grandparents are both the building blocks to make me believe I’m special and the frightening insight into the craziness I will surely reach one day (arguably, I’ve reached it at 20 so it’s only downhill from here.) The presence of grandparents in my life has opened my mind to a world of stories, to a time I couldn’t comprehend on the pages of history books or behind the black and white of old family photographs. My grandparents make the past a reality. I know about the time my Poppy got $20 stolen at a movie theater “which was a lot of money back then”, about the beautiful elementary school my grandmother attended which no longer exists, about the time my other grandmother took classes from a famous artist at Brooklyn City College.

When I was young, I didn’t realize color existed before photography had color in it. I imagined everyone was black and white just as the picture of my Poppy as a young boy looks. While I still have some doubts of whether or not my Grandparents lived in color or not, I believe in history. Maybe I’ll repeat it, maybe I wont, but I know it.



Will The Class of 2010 Please Stand Up

Will The Class of 2010 Please Stand Up

What would you do if as an aspiring athlete you lived in a country where people were openly negative towards you and the newspapers of your community publically ridiculed you at every opportunity, despite your ability to compete well in your sport? Sound familiar? Perhaps like the current situation graduates are encountering in pursuit of their career aspirations today despite their ability. Now that I have your attention keep reading, and get inspired.

This was the negative social climate that Joshua Clottey, the undisputed 2008 welterweight champion, faced in his native Ghana before coming to America. Clottey began as a street fighter who had aspirations of continuing the legacy of great boxers that come out of Ghana like Nelson and Hall of Famer Quartey, but was met with bitter opposition and public denunciations of his dreams and ability, even close friends telling him to give up his ambitions due to his age.

Clottey comments on his experience in his home country reminiscing that, “It would have been easy to quit,”…“Nobody was on the side of Joshua Clottey. Nobody. I had faith and I knew if I kept working and kept trying, sooner or later it would happen. And here I am.” Not taking no for an answer, Clottey picked up his fighting gloves and the clothes on his back and left to make a career in America.

However, no American Dream fulfillment is ever quite complete without obstacles and Clottey faced plenty when arriving to America. On top of not knowing anyone, the person who had agreed to sponsor him dropped him off at a motel in Las Vegas. Clottey learned the next day when he was asked to leave that his “friend” had only paid for him to rest his head for the night and the motel turned him on the streets. With only the money in his pocket, he called the only other Ghanian he knew, an acquaintance but not a close friend. However, the atmosphere that surrounded him at his new home was exactly what one can expect to find in Las Vegas, largely influenced by drugs.

Upon the advice of his brother Clottey left Las Vegas to pursue proper training and representation in the Bronx in NYC. Clottey felt that in the Bronx he had found his niche, or rather his new home and an environment that facilitated his growth as a fighter. “It was like I was home in Ghana, but I was living in America in New York,” he said. “I said, ‘Wow, I’m never going to leave this place. I have found it. I love the Bronx.’ “

Clottey spared no time in finding a gym and rapidly building his reputation up as a worthy fighter with a growing potential. Not long after arriving in the Bronx Clottey caught the attention of a famous New York boxing manager by the name of Vinny Scolpino. Scolpino had Clottey fight one of his own fighters and seeing his ability approached Clottey about his fighting career direction, recalling: “I could smell something different about him. He had that something about him, a drive that made him different.” Clottey expressed to Scolpino that he was in desperate need for someone capable to represent and manage him.

After meeting Scolpino Clottey’s career really began to take off, but not without some false starts. Despite some setbacks, Clottey was instilled with the confidence that creates champions, and a champion he became 2 years later in 2008 winning the title of welterweight champion of the world.

Another fortunate circumstance has resulted of Clottey’s hard word and perseverance. As a result of the Manny Pacquio vs. Floyd Mayweather fight falling through, Clottey was moved into Pacquiao’s slot, his hopes of following in his fellow Ghanians footsteps to be in the International Boxing Hall of Fame becoming, with every fight, that much closer to being a reality.

As a soon to be graduate, if there is something worthwhile that I have taken from Joshua Clottey’s story it is: to never let someone else tell you no, because those may be the wrong people. DO NOT measure yourself by anyone else’s ruler but your own. Joshua Clottey’s story of beating the odds despite the overwhelming obstacles standing in his way, is inspiring to someone like me, an American who has been handed every opportunity. Clottey’s ambition is not unlike the ambition of those graduating come May 2010, however the situation and odds he was up against far outweigh our disadvantages, so I’ll end my blog with a challenge for the class of 2010: In the words of Father Lawton, “ Make every day a masterpiece.” Make your dreams come true, because if a penniless African from half a world away can make it here, then we should be able to as well. Olympic Gold Medalist Summer Sanders once said, “Champions are made, not born.” We have been made into Champions for our communities and for the world. Do Big Things Class of 2010.

By Christina Lo Duca

Three Things You Can Learn From A Five Year Old

Over the past few weeks I have surrounded and allowed myself to partake in something that brings both a secret joy and tears to every 16 year old girl's eyes: DRAMA. For those of you who don't know the modern day meaning of the word, drama is a way of relating to the world where a person, typically an adolescent girl, consistently overreacts to a situation that can easily be resolved. This incredible and ridiculous phenomenon is embedded in our society, and is especially ingrained in college life and the Greek community. Sorority life is something I choose to join last year and something that has given me a system of networking for the future, memories I will never forget and my best friend. It has also given my many opporunities, most of which I have taken, to participate in this unavoidable causality that is drama.

Thankfully I have an amazing person that constantly reminds me of how absurd I can be at times. His name is Shane. Shane is five, loves chocolate and SpongeBob, and I am lucky enough to spend six hours a day with him. Shane is a constant reminder of some lessons we all learned early in life but have somehow forgotten over the course of "growing up". In lieu of my recent participation in this drama, I took a trip down memory lane, talked to Shane over a cup of chocolate milk and realized we all need to forget about everyone else, focus on ourselves and re-learn a few things.



"Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a myster, but today is a gift that's why it's called the present"

-Master Oogway - Disney's Kung Fu Panda

As we grow older we become increasingly focused on the past or the future and ignore the now. We worry about grievances that have already occurred and worry about things that may or may not happen. But for a five year old, everything that is currently unfolding in the real is the main focus. A five year old has not yet mastered the art of being consumed with the past or future, but instead is enthralled with the gift of the present.

An hour after Shane's older brother calls him stupid, he is not still crying about it or worry about whether he will one day be intelligent; he is instead kicking my butt at a game of "Chutes and Ladders". Even when someone has said something mean about him, Shane doesn't hold onto any anger or resentment, but instead lets it go, moves on and focuses on his happiness at that moment.

Everyday a child wakes up and it's a new day; what happened in the past stays in the past. The energy Shane has at the start of each day is breathtaking. As an adult I have become so consumed with people pleasing, being successful and having a good reputation that I have lost this energy and enthusiasm for life. Starting each day with a smile can help restore this simlicity and eagerness for life.


"Treat others as you want to be treated"

This is a rule we have all heard, said and known to be true in our hearts since our early elementary years. But somehow when the going gets tough, when our egos are hurt and when it can further our own interests this rule gets tossed out the window.

When you are in a sorority it entails you spend a lot of time surrounded by 140 other girls. Sadly gossip is what follows. We all spend so much time judging, criticizing and openly talking bad about each other. I don't appreciate it when someone say something mean about me behind my back, yet I continue to speak badly of others behind theirs. Do I do this because of my own insecurities? Do I participate in bad mouthing for entertainment? Who knows, but it doesn't make me a better or a happier person.

We all know this golden rule, so why do we forget to follow it? We all need to spend a few minutes each day doing something nice for another person. Whether it's using please and thank you on a regular basis or respecting someone despite disliking them; treating other as we want to be treated is a start to making the world a better place.


"Love yourself, for if you don't, how can you expect anybodyelse to love you?"

-Lisa Lisett, Writer and Mother

Love yourself naked: yes figuratively and yes literally.

Not to give T.M.I. but I love being naked. When the weather is nice, the roommate is gone and I need a little mood booster, I take it all off and walk around my apartment in my birthday suit. I'm not the only one who enjoys a little nakedness. We have all been to the beach and seen the 4 year old running around, suit off and sunscreen on. I can guarantee it's that child that is having the most fun. Unfortunately there does come a time when it's no longer socially acceptable to strip down. But everyh once in a while, in the privacy of your own home of course, there is something freeing about accepting yourself without the Steve Madden shoes, Seven jeans and Mac make-up.

Loving yourself naked is only the beginning to loving yourself whooly. In order to love and respect others, you must first love and respect yourself. In an attempt to surpass the dramatic part of sorority life I need to be able to respect everyone, even the people I don't get along with.

Sorority life is a vast ocean, and it's easy to get caught in the current. I plan on stealing Shane's inflatable SpongeBob arm floaties in an attempt to stay above the waves. Every important life lesson is learned in Kindergarten. Sharing is caring. Clean up your own mess. Keep your hands to yourself. Say you're sorry when you hurt someone. And it always remains true, no matter how old you are, when you go out in the world it is best to live in the moment, follow the golden rule, love yourself naked and hold hands to stick together.
-Alex M. Mead

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Life as a Woman

With our much-anticipated Real Talk event, Women in Power: How to Get it & What it Costs, finally approaching (March 18th, 7pm, at Loyola Marymount University in The Living Room) I can’t help but have feminism on my mind. Recently, there are two images from my past that I just can’t seem to shake from my memory.

I am about twelve years old. It is dusk. My brother is in a golf tournament in Las Vegas, and my mother and I have accompanied him. It is my first time in Las Vegas.

Wearing a jean skirt and tank top, I am standing on a concrete ledge, holding onto the metal railing, leaning forward so the mist from the spouts reach my face.

I am watching the Bellagio water show. It is my first time seeing it.

I remember my mother’s yell, and then a forceful yank of my arm that brought me closer to her. There was a swift gust of wind as something flew by behind me. I turned my head to see a short, stout, bald man with a camera blur quickly out of sight.

The man had taken a picture under my skirt.

I instantly burst into tears. But no one consoled me. My mother was quiet, and my brother told me it was my fault for wearing a short skirt. Even at the time that comment infuriated me.

I remember I was wearing white Limited Too underwear with little cartoon frogs on it. That’s how young I was, that’s how innocent. When my tears finally subsided later that night I remember coming to a scary realization: This is life as a woman.

Fast forward seven years....

I am nineteen at my job as a beverage cart girl at the Grayhawk golf course in Scottsdale, Arizona. I have been working there for a few months, and at this point had become used to being hit on by men. Everyday there was a new awkward pick up line or marriage proposal. The men were constantly staring at my body, which, by the bold ones was usually followed up with degrading comments like, “Oh gurl, you be packin’ like a sista.” I could go on forever.

I remember this day was different. This crowd of men was particularly rowdy. It was 8am and they were still drunk from the night before. They were all ordering vodka redbulls. One guy was simultaneously puking and peeing on the tee box of the first hole.

My female boss pulled me aside and apologized that I would have to be dealing with these men all day. However, this was quickly followed by “But you can tell they will be good tippers.” This was our M.O. You had to put up with the bullshit because you needed the money. I got paid three dollars an hour, my livelihood depended on these men tipping me well, which meant I would have to be nice and deal with it.

There was one guy who stood out. I could tell was the ‘ring leader’ of the pack. He was tall, muscular, blonde and tan. He had piercing blue eyes and a loud obnoxious voice. I could tell he was a ladies man. When he came up to order his drink from me he already reeked of alcohol.

“What’s your name pretty thing?” he asked.

“Hi, I’m Courtney. I’ll be taking care of you today.”

“I bet you willll…God you have a hot body. Here give me a hug.”

Before I could dodge him, he had me wrapped tightly in his arms. I tried to push away and wiggle my way out of his grasp, but that just caused him to pull me in tighter. He was beginning to make me nervous, but I knew how to handle guys like him.

“Listen,” I said sweetly, “If you don’t let go of me, I’m not go to serve you any more alcohol or come and give you another round in four holes.”

He let go of me. “Spicy,” he said, winking, “I like that. Give me a vodka on the rocks, puhlease.”

I turned around and began to make his drink. Seconds later I felt something go down the back of my pants. I turned around quickly, shocked. He stood there smiling. I pulled the golf ball out of the back of my pants and threw it into the desert.

“Looks like you’ll need a new ball,” I said, handing him his drink.

He paid with a $20, leaving $14 as a tip. I remember thinking; this is why I deal with men like this.

This is my life as a woman.

As I reflect on these memories, I am beginning to realize how much these moments have defined me. Not only have they caused me to distrust most men in general, but they have also taught me that I have been choosing to ‘deal’ with objectification rather than stick up for myself.

I’m writing this blog to encourage all women to put their foot down. Above are only two stories of the million I could tell…of the million all women could tell. Whenever these memories reenter my thoughts, I always think about my little sister. If a man ever treated her the way I’ve been treated, I would kill him. So, then, why should I allow it for myself? The time has come for me to stand my ground; my passivity ends now.

Courtney M. Myers