glamorized, stigmatized

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On Friday, December 14th the citizens of Newtown, Connecticut faced a tragedy and many have been left to face grief that I would never wish upon another person. Since Friday, I have had a lot of thoughts about grief, mortality, guns and weapons, and the stigma in this country about obtaining the care needed for mental illness.

Before that, let me just say that my thoughts and prayers go out to those affected by this tragedy.

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This is absolutely a tragedy

Where can I begin? I have a therapist. Therapy doesn’t control my life, I don’t suffer from mental illness, and nothing fantastically traumatic has happened to me. I don’t begin every sentence I speak with “but my therapist said…,” and I am lucky enough to be in at a place in my life where I have access to these mental health services. Whenever I say this to people they get wide-eyed and look closely at me, “But what’s wrong?!” they ask, astonished.

Nothing is wrong. Nothing is wrong with me, or with anyone who seeks medical care for their mental illness. A person with cancer, or diabetes, or lupus wouldn’t be looked at that way for going to their doctor. So then, why, I must ask, do we stigmatize mental illness to the point that people that need medical attention are criminalized?

I am in no way pardoning what happened last Friday. I’m not. It was a terrible, monumental tragedy, and I hope that we can begin to move toward preventing this from happening.

Prevention comes from two things: 1) Moving away from the notion that mental healthcare is a privilage in this country and 2) regulating guns. I don’t know a lot about gun control because I don’t have a gun, I don’t want a gun, and for the love of all things good in this world can someone explain to me why any civilian in America needs a weapon that can fire 100 rounds of ammo at rapid speed?

I don’t know guns, but I do know the value in mental healthcare. And we must begin to stop glamorizing killing and violence and weapons and guns, and we must stop stigmatizing mental illness. We must. Or events like Newtown will continue to happen, and we will continue to be grief stricken by the loss of human life.

All of this hurts my heart, but the thing that causes me the greatest grief is seeing this posted on the internet.

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Who on earth would create something like this? Why? First of all, “pretends to cry”? Why would a father of two pretend to cry over the loss of children who never had the chance to grow up, get married, fall in love, buy a car, have a family, see the world, experience life? It was apparent to me that whoever made this isn’t a parent, because no parent could lash out in anger when their children were safe after last Friday?

Yes, there are wars happening in the world, there are terrible things happening in other places in the world. Yes, America has some influence on that. But to discredit that the president, who is, after all, a father, a husband, and a human being before he is the president, is truly moved and upset by the events in Newtown is just disappointing.

We, as a country, need to come together and grieve the loss of the human life, and open the discussion about gun control and mental illness, and we need to move toward changing things at home.

Pointing fingers, blaming, and being angry about international affairs isn’t a way to cope with this tragedy.

I sincerely hope that this begins a discussion about de-stigmatizing mental illness and mental healthcare and leads people to question the gun laws that are currently in place. If we don’t, this will continue to happen, and children and adults alike will continue to be killed in malicious acts of violence.

Tonight I will be lighting 27 candles for the lives of the children and adults who were lost to this tragedy

Tonight I will be lighting 27 candles for the lives of the children and adults who were lost to this tragedy

Hug your loved ones, and for those of you who are suffering from mental illness or know someone that is: please, please know that help is out there. Violence is not the answer.

Love, B

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a year in review

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The semester is over, and as such I feel like I’m just a hop, skip, and a jump from 2013. I’m so excited to be spending my new year with some of my favourite people — vacation can’t come soon enough!

I’ve had a hell of a year. I realized this when I mentioned it to someone a couple of days ago: I have been waiting for the year 2012 since about elementary school. My idealistic 9-year old self mathematically figured out that I’d be done with college in 2012 and that that would be the greatest accomplishment of my life (no, my 9-year old self didn’t even have an inkling of the notion of grad school).

So I decided, why not take a look at the last year (mostly in pictures) and relish in what an amazing roller coaster of a year this has been?

Join me?

The year got off to a great start. In January I got back to school, auditioned for grad school, danced in a flash mob, baked like crazy, and had some rough times that the best friends I’ve ever known got me through. The year continued on this fantastic path with February and my birthday being perfect (dancing, Twyla, sangria). This month I rode in my first ambulance, which was terrifying and traumatic, but I can look back on the awkward medic who showed me and Emily his mouth tattoo fondly. Also, doing downward dog in the ER.

My foxy lady sisters received their rings in February. It doesn’t matter how many other red classes or blue classes there are, you guys will always be first in my heart

JanFeb

March rolled around and spring break was an adventure in Atlanta, with making pizza, exploring the city, and doing photo shoots in the park. The last weekend of March, Studio Dance Theatre travelled to the illustrious city of Albany, Georgia for some good ole dancing and horse metaphors. (Sugar cubes, anyone?)

In April I celebrated Bertha’s birthday with some furious scrap booking and I performed in my last ever concert at my undergrad. It was bittersweet. I was so privileged and blessed to have had four years of performing with such dedicated and artistically vital people. This month FLEW by.

MarchApril

May was probably one of the hardest months for me. Not only did I get myself into ridiculous situations that I should have had better sense than to have done, but I graduated from the place I’d known as home for four years.

Graduation always seemed like this elusive far-off dream until it actually happened. I couldn’t have been more joyed than to spend this day with my family, friends, and Agnes Community. The morning of graduation someone told me they’d light some fireworks in my honor, I couldn’t have been happier.

May

The whole summer was a whirlwind of travelling and exploring the world and figuring out who I am! I wrote about this last month I think so I don’t really need to indulge you anymore on that. I made some mistakes, I did some awesome things, I grew up. (Even though there’s still a lot of that to be done…) If you missed it, check it out in my thanksgiving post!

JuneJuly

The final leg of my summer was August — the month to challenge all months. I was in four different time zones, and six different airports over the course of the month. My sisterbear got engaged, I visited Seattle, I bought a car, and I started graduate school. Seriously, I don’t remember being still for more than a few hours over the course of this whole month, and I absolutely loved it.

Lucky for me, September was a month of recuperating and readjusting to the workload of grad school. I spent most of my free time in the library.

AugustSeptember

October and November blend together in my brain. I was in Atlanta, I was in Orlando, I was at school, and I was at J’s apartment.

I got to see both of my sisterbears this month and  Sandy ruined the family reunion that was meant to happen. I voted for the second time in November and had severe anxiety the entire week before the election, and I was moved and proud of all of the people that got out there and rocked the vote. It was a beautiful display of nationalism for the democracy in which we live.

In Atlanta I was graced with beautiful dancing, in Orlando I was checking out wedding venues for my sisterbear! In any other time I had free I was writing papers and doing all the research in the world. (and hanging out with my BFF Evie)

UseNovemberOctober

And now we’re here. December. We’re twelve days in and every day is a new adventure. I’m growing to love the bhum-thai that I am becoming, and I am learning more and more about dance, about the world, about politics, and about the connectedness of human beings.

This blog is a means to connect to human beings. Of course it doesn’t make up for getting out there and talking to people (which, let’s be real, if I get started, I never stop) but it’s a means to share and communicate with those around us (geographically, or on the internet).

DECEMBER

Thank you, all: the ones who are here, the ones who have gone, the ones I’ve just met, and the ones that have stuck by my side through everything.

You all have made this year beautiful, and amazing, and sometimes heartbreaking, and most of the time absolutely joyous.

I’m looking forward to the next year of adventuring and seeing the world!

Love, B

after

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After the party is the after party. Thank any and all higher beings that that logic doesn’t follow with finals. After the finals there is a PARTY, not the after finals.

Finals will end today with the click of a little button in my email labeled “Send.” Just one completed paper to turn in and then I’m done! I can’t wait until I press that tiny button and begin the singing and dancing and flash mobbing anywhere and everywhere.

(Side note: I’m listening to pop-song mashups right now and I can’t even focus on what this blog is supposed to be about)

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hmmmmm….what was I thinking

 It may or may not be lost for good, but for anyone taking finals — good luck!

Hopefully I’ll give ya a real post later this week!

Love, B

flash.

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As a scholar of dance, I often must recognize the changing way that dance is being presented to our society. In my American Dance History 3 class (1950-tomorrow) we have studied a variety of venues and styles of dance and how they shape the perception of dance to Americans.  Not only do we look at concert dance (Cunningham, Balanchine, King, Taylor, etc) but we’ve also looked at dance in social settings such as Woodstock, Disco, and The Twist. This is the class in which I researched body language, movement analysis, and the recent presidential election — you see, we’re learning how to see movement everywhere.

For our final, I’m currently researching Flash Mobs (which MLE knows I love so so much). It wasn’t until today that I realized that not everyone feels as strongly as I do about flash mobs.

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I was having lunch in my office today with some of the other grads and I mentioned that I had spent an hour last night laying in bed, watching flash mobs, and every time got just a little bit teary eyed at them. J and V seemed very taken aback by my statement. “Why were you crying?” they asked me.

Why was I crying? Some of it has to do with the fact that my solution to not getting any sleep because of finals is crying, but it’s not just that.

It’s not just that at all.

Flash mobs are an amazing display of a group of people who are very different, lead different lifestyles, and sometimes don’t even know each other coming together briefly for a common, shared, positive purpose. They’re coming together through movement. How beautiful is that?

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It doesn’t matter who you are, what your gender, sex, orientation, race, ethnicity, body type is, or what you’ve done in your life. All of these people come together for one thing — a type of celebration. The Fox show Mobbed features flash mobs celebrating relatives who were once estranged reuniting, young and old couples in love, people getting jobs, and all kinds of celebratory news.

How could that not make you just a little bit teary?

Behind every flash mob there is a sincere kindness and generosity to share in joy with other people. It’s about human connections and how we form them through dance and movement, which is this thing that is simple and complicated. It’s the first thing we ever learn to do: before we know words, we know movement. We learn about the world around us through movement.

Maybe I’m a total sap, but flash mobs will always, always make me the slightest bit weepy — they’re beautiful. It’s easy to feel like the world is filled with hate, and war, and sadness, but when you look closely, as one of my favourite movies reminds us, love actually is all around.

love, B