TRAP Laws, and Why You Should Care About Them

TRAP” (Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers) laws single out the medical practices of doctors who provide abortions and impose on them requirements that are different and more burdensome than those imposed on other medical practices. (http://www.reproductiverights.org/project/targeted-regulation-of-abortion-providers-trap)

So now that you know what they are, why does it matter? Why should you care? 

I’ll tell you why.

Because in several states across the US, most notably Texas, this type of legislation is trying to get passed, which will force clinics medical professionals who offer abortion services to have to adapt to these harsh laws, or they will be severely punished. This can result in these places closing, with those in need having nowhere else to turn. 

By having these TRAP laws put in place, having a safe place or a less expensive option for those in need will no longer be available, putting the people in different, even life-threatening situations. 

For many, clinics such as Planned Parenthood are the only medical care that some are able to receive. 

The proponents of these laws insist that they are “trying to protect women’s health.” 

But would you feel safe if the one place you could go to wasn’t able to help you because of these laws?  

I know I wouldn’t.

#‎StopTheSham‬

Advertisement

Writing In The Prison: First Experience

This past Thursday, I had got my first opportunity to go visit the correctional facility in which I am conducting my independent study. I won’t begin teaching until after I am back from Spring Break, but here are some of the things that I learned and noticed while on a tour of the facility.

  • Street clothes instead of uniforms

The inmates in the correctional facility are allowed to wear their regular clothes, as compared to jumpsuits. I found this particularly interesting, as it makes the facility feel less like a permanent place for the inmates, as their stay time is usually 18 months maximum. It also helps to add a sense of personal expression and identity, whereas in a larger prison, individuality is often taken away.

  • Lesser Crimes

As this is a correctional facility, not a prison, many of the inmates are there for smaller offenses, usually drug or alcohol related issues or crimes (i.e., DUI, DWI, drug possession, petty larceny) However, for some of the male prisoners, they may also have domestic offenses. If that is the case, they will not be placed with the female inmates in most programs or classes. At the present moment, there are about 200 people (excluding personnel) in the facility, with roughly 45 of them being women. I will be predominately teaching some of the female inmates during my time there.

  • More freedom than heavier security prisons

Many of the prisoners are part of a work track, meaning that they are able to leave the facility in order to attend job interviews or their outside jobs. They will also keep these jobs once they are released from the correctional facility.

There is also a variety of programs and classes that the inmates can attend, from alcohol and drug counseling, to GED preparation. The creative writing class that I am teaching with is also part of the list of programs, in which the inmates can either be placed in, or volunteer to attend.

However, there are still some restrictions. All food and items that are brought in must be checked by the guards for contraband, there are cameras in almost every hall or room (including the bathroom), visitors are required to sign in, and the guards are armed. While the inmates do have more freedoms as compared to the larger prison, the facility is still a secure place, and there are rules that must be followed.

Overall, my first time going in the correctional facility can be best explained by the facility’s program coordinator.

“When they leave here, we want them to be better off than when they first arrived here.”

And with that, I cannot wait to start teaching soon, and I can’t wait to tell you all about my experiences with the writing group, and in the facility in general. Until next time.

To Connect Or Disconnect, That Is The Question

Recently, I’ve been inspired to disconnect from electronics. For a little while at least. 

This past weekend alone, I spent over 12 hours staring at various screens,and it was draining. No matter how much I tried to relax and take a break, the screens were always there to lure me back in. 

Even now, I’m using my phone to write this very post. 

The first thing I do in the morning? Check my phone.

Going to bed? Check my phone.

Free time? Usually on my phone or computer. 

It feels like we as a society are glued to our screens, without realizing the repercussions. Instead of going to a library to look something up, we quickly type it into a search engine to avoid making any effort to try.

Human interaction? Why do we need that when we have the Internet to occupy our time?

Now I know this all sounds harsh, but when you really think about it, maybe harsh is the wake-up call we need to get away from our electronics and self-reflect. 

But before I disconnect, let me just Google ” best ways to self-reflect”. 

Prisons And Children 

As you know, I am in an independent study this semester entitled Writing In The Prisons. During this time, I will be visiting a local correction facility and teach creative nonfiction writing.

In order to prepare for this all I had to do was register my course online so  I get credit, and once I begin, I have to sign in, and potentially have my bag searched unless I leave it in the car. All I have to do is look nice and professional while I’m there.

I am also doing other volunteer work this semester with children, where I go to a local school to teach creative writing.

To prepare for this, I had to sign a volunteer sheet stating that I have never been convicted of a crime against a child, a form stating I cannot take pictures of the children, a formal background check, another form stating that I have never been convicted of child abuse, fingerprints, and I also needed to get a tuberculosis shot. There is also a strict dress code that I need to abide by. 

Do you see the difference in how I have to prepare for both of these? Because I sure do.

Why is it that I had to go through all these processes to work with children but minimal processes at best to work with inmates who are already incarcerated, and in the process of rehabilitation?

What does it say about our society as a whole when we’re willing to do everything to protect our children, but provide minimal effort to protect those who are behind bars? 

And before this gets too political, I need to clarify that I take both of these opportunities very seriously, and I look forward to working with both groups immensely. 

I just find it a bit odd that we as an overall society are less caring about those willing to change, but overprotective of future generations. Shouldn’t we care about both equally? In my case, both are receiving similar opportunities to learn creative writing. They will be taught similar concepts (although the maturity will differ), and it is supposed to be an interesting learning experience for all of us.

So why is it that when I tell people about my independent study (which I waited 2 years to take), the response I get is that it will not be safe, and that I shouldn’t go?

Yet when I tell people I am working with children, they are overwhelmingly happy for me, and  are excited to see what I am teaching them.

I am so excited and honored to have both of these opportunities, but I feel that both groups must be treated with the same respect and honesty before I can feel I am doing the best job possible, and that they are all receiving something in return.

Because in my eyes, everyone has a chance to gain something from this. Including me. 

The 5 Stages of Binge-Watching

1. Denial: For days now, you’ve been denying to others just how much you’ve been watching. You deny that there’s anything wrong with how much you’re watching.

Examples may include:

“I’ve only watched 3 or 4 episodes of Breaking Bad!”

(In reality, it’s more like 3 or 4 seasons that you’ve watched. Time is an illusion to you.)

“I can stop anytime I want!” (Who are you kidding? Netflix has stopped asking you if you want to continue, because it knows that you’re in it for the long haul)

2. Anger: You become angry about how much you have to watch. You may also become angry at others for questioning your binge-watching habits.

Examples: “How DARE Netflix ask me if I want to continue watching?! Don’t they know I’m in the middle of the 8th season?!”

“I don’t have a problem! Now shut up and let me watch Gossip Girl in peace. And pass me the chips.”

“WHY SHONDA RHIMES, WHY WOULD YOU DO THIS TO ME.”

3. Bargaining: You would do anything to continue watching, or to have more episodes/seasons of your favorite show.

Ex: ” I’ll never complain about being in pain again if Derek Shepherd lives after being shot by the gunman.”

“I’ll trade my soul if it means that Jess and Rory will end up together.”

“I’ll give up junk food and exercise more if it means there’s another episode/season of Lie To Me.

4. Depression: This usually occurs after the death of a favorite character, or the series finale of your show.

“Why did (insert character) have to die? She/He/They were so good.”

“I can’t believe it’s over forever.”

Note: This stage may include making the couch your permanent grieving space, a mountain of tissues filled with your tears, as well as eating copious amount of comfort food.”

5. Acceptance: The final stage. With this stage comes the acceptance that your season/show has finally ended, and you currently have nothing to watch. You’ve gotten off of your couch, finally removed your sweats, cracked open your blinds, and are staring blearily at the sun.

And now at last, it’s time to begin again. (Which means you need to find a new show to watch. May I recommend Teen Wolf, Game of Thrones or Criminal Minds?)

 

 

Writing In The Prison 

Hello readers!

I am writing this post to inform you all that this semester, I will be teaching a creative non-fiction course at a local prison. 

As part of my independent study, I was also asked to write a weekly review of my experiences while teaching, and to share it with all of you. 

Please note that names will be changed in order to protect and give anonymity to the inmates and the staff. 

I am unbelievably excited to take on this opportunity, and I look forward to sharing my weekly experiences with you! 

You can look forward to my first installment later this week. 

Why You Shouldn’t Procrastinate (But You Will Anyway).

Because the more you procrastinate, the less you’ll get done. That’s just a fact. 

This post took me over two months to write, and the only reason that I’m writing it now is because I’m procrastinating on the work I’m actually supposed to be doing. Instead of killing two birds with one stone, I’m killing no birds, with no stones.

When you actually feel motivated to do your work (or whatever you need to focus on), you’ll have nothing to do. Trust me. 

There’s always more work to be done when you don’t want to do it, and then there’s no work to be done when you actually want to get it completed. It’s karma at it’s finest.

If you avoid working on important things (like job applications and blog posts), people will be concerned about you. 

More than once, I have been asked by family and friends if I’m sick or in trouble, solely because I avoided my responsibilities. This is often accompanied by a lame excuse on my part.

Examples:

“I totally meant to write today…it’s just that (insert show here) was finally added/updated on Netflix, and I needed to watch it.”

“I was going to do my homework…but then I thought it would be a good idea to bake cookies instead.”

or my personal favorite (and most used):

“I meant to do (insert task here), but I got distracted by (insert stupid distraction here)”.

In my case, it’s usually pictures of cute animals and/or random YouTube videos.

The more you avoid something, the more it comes back to haunt you later.

Waking up in a panic at 3 AM because you totally forgot to complete an assignment that’s due that day is a real pain in the ass. Especially because you know you’re not going to get it done. You think you will, but trust me, you won’t.

You have a list of excuses that you use everytime you procrastinate. But no one is buying them.

“I was going to but..”

“I’m working on it now…” (You’re watching Netflix in your pajamas eating Nutella out of the jar with a spoon. Don’t kid yourself)

“I was too tired/hungry…” (One of my most popular excuses)

“I went out last night…” (Just because you’re hungover, doesn’t mean you can’t get work done.)

These may sound like great excuses, but your friends/family/etc. have heard them before, and know what you’re up to. So don’t bullshit them, or yourself.

And finally…

Procrastination on important things won’t help you in the long run

Sure, it’s great to kick back and relax, but running around like a crazy person later on is not worth all of the trouble. You’re trying to get 5 months of work done in 5 days, and let me tell you, all of the to-do lists in the world won’t help you now.

Just do what you need to do, and then you’ll actually have the free time later to chill out and not worry about everything you’re supposed to be doing. Simple as that.

Tell me, what are you procrastinating on right now? Let me know in the comments, and I’ll happily procrastinate completing my work to respond back.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve Never Seen Star Wars & That’s Okay

Hi, I’m 21 years old, and I’ve never seen the Star Wars movies. And frankly, I don’t know if I ever want to.

If you haven’t stopped reading after this (or passed out from pure shock), let me explain why.

As a kid, it was never really a topic of discussion among my family and friends. My parents haven’t seen all of the movies, and they were alive when the first movie came out (sorry for aging you Mom & Dad!). My sister was only a baby by the time the prequel trilogy was completed, and my friends weren’t really interested in watching that sort of stuff.

Sure, I liked fantasy and science-fiction. But growing up, the first three movies had already been released, which left me with the prequels. By the time the last movie came out (Episode III: Revenge of the Sith), I was only  10 years old.

As a 10 year old, going to watch a movie about space didn’t quite capture my attention. I had other things to do, like watch television , read, and listen to my CD player. And by the time it came out at Blockbuster, I had moved on to other interests, namely camp and tennis

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m a pretty big nerd. I can quote parts of the Harry Potter series, I know the smallest Doctor Who details (classic and current). I’ve attended Comic-Con for the past four years in cosplay.

But Star Wars has never appealed to me.

That, and all of the movies have been spoiled for me in some way.

Not on purpose of course, but still. Even the original movies have been in some way spoiled for me, and there’s really nothing I can do about it.

And before you blame technology and social media, I’ve had friends and well-intentioned strangers ruin plot points for me. In their excitement to explain the importance of watching Star Wars, they have shared key character relationships and events.

So I figured, why watch what has already been spoiled? I am happy to live in complete and utter ignorance.

And for the record, I’ve never seen the Lord of the Rings movies either.

But that’s another story, in a galaxy far far away.

 

 

 

Tips For When You Need To Get Out Of Bed

  • Don’t.
  • If you absolutely have to, make a fort out of the blankets on your bed and hide from reality.
  • If this does not work, ask a friend or family member to help you get up.
  • Warning: Depending on your relationship with those people, they may use devious tactics. I’m talking about loud music, ice-water, screaming and/or singing off-key. All of these have happened to me, so be careful about who you ask.
  • If you shower in the morning, you run the risk of falling asleep while in there. I recommend starting your day with an ice-cold shock. ‘
  • While getting dressed, make sure your clothes aren’t inside out/backwards. This goes for undergarments and socks as well.
  • As you stumble into the kitchen, caffeine in any form is an excellent choice. How much you choose to consume is up to you.
  • Make you sure you put on matching shoes. Not only will you be more comfortable, you won’t run the risk of injuring yourself
  • Finally, as you make it outside, realize that what you can put off for today may be done tomorrow, and go back to bed. Sweet dreams!

 

What To Do When It’s The Holidays

10. Make sure to avoid malls, Times Square, or any major place, unless you like large crowds.

9. If possible, celebrate with friends and family. No matter what holiday you celebrate, being with people you care about is always a nice time.

8. Be prepared for lots of holiday greetings (i.e., “Happy Holidays”, “Merry Christmas”, etc.)

7. Similarly to number eight, expect holiday cards from almost everyone you know. Even your odd second cousin or old family friend that you haven’t talked to in years.

6. Wear comfortable clothes (if possible). I personally have never understood why people dressed up if they are only hanging out in their own home. You’re home, wear pajamas and be comfortable.

5. Do good for others. Volunteer at your local soup kitchen, donate clothes and toys, the options are endless.

However, this should in no way be limited to the holiday season. Try to help others who are less fortunate all year round if you can.

4. Remember, the holidays aren’t really supposed to be about how much money you spent, or how many gifts you received. It’s supposed to be about celebrating your holiday (whatever it may be) with others.

3. If you can’t be with family or friends this holiday season, try to celebrate as best as you can. Even if your home life isn’t the best, know that someone cares for you. I care for you.

2. If you have leftovers, try to donate to your local shelter. They’ll definitely appreciate it. Or donate it to someone you know would benefit from it. OR share them with family and friends!

  1.  Have a safe, healthy, and happy holiday season!