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Category Archives: teens

Breaking out is hard to do

I am in an abusive relationship, and I need it to stop.

We’ve been together for a long time. It showed up when I was about twelve, all excited about life and ready to start my teenagerdom, which I would, without a doubt, totally win. I was very much looking forward to this new adventure, which, I was sure, would bring a boyfriend, and the ability to fill out a tank top like no one’s business, and a new cutting-edge teenage attitude.

However, I woke up one morning with a huge red swelling to the right of my mouth. I’m not talking about some cute little blemish. No, sir! Not me! Everything about me has always been very go-big-or-go-home. So I’m talking about – well, have you seen those photoshopped photos, the “before” photos in the late-night acne product commercials? I mean, you can tell they’re photoshopped. The eyes always look like they’re on the wrong level, and the acne looks cartoonish. Well, I looked like one of the cartoonish acne before-photos on late-night television.

I have my doubts about Proactiv. I think if you need to market on television at 3 am, you probably aren't very good.

I have my doubts about Proactiv. I think if you need to market on television at 3 am, you probably aren’t very good.

Mom and Dad were all “uh-oh, sorry for the genetics, kiddo” because there are very few photos of them from high school, but the ones there are show a couple of pretty miserable teenagers with really rocky complexions.

Well! This was not acne’s only appearance. Oh, no! It decided once it arrived, it’d set up shop. It was like those disgusting phlegm-monsters in that cough medicine commercial that makes me disgusted. It packed little greasy suitcases and moved on in. My face was its resort town, and it decided to live it on up. No part of my face was exempt, either! Forehead and nose and chin and cheeks! Once, close enough to my lip so it swelled up as if I’d been stung by a bee! Sometimes, right on TOP of each other, like it was living in little apartment buildings! Sometimes? In my ears, so my ears would swell up like a boxer’s! And sometimes it’d take little vacations and move onto my back or chest! And it HURT. Imagine huge swellings on your face and back and chest, sometimes more than one in the same place, as if you’ve been stung by a number of angry wasps. OUCH.

Ugh, seriously, I hate these commercials. STOP MAKING MUCUS TALK.

Ugh, seriously, I hate these commercials. STOP MAKING MUCUS TALK.

It got so bad at one point, someone stopped me in the hallway at school and asked me what had happened. “With what?” I asked. “Were you in a fire?” he asked, in a hushed tone. In a fire! Well. Isn’t that nice! YOU MADE ME LOOK LIKE A THIRD-DEGREE BURN VICTIM, ACNE. What the hell did I ever do to you?

Thanks for the reminder, helpful sign!

Thanks for the reminder, helpful sign!

My parents, who’d suffered through the same thing, finally were grossed out enough that they brought me to a dermatologist, who visibly recoiled when I walked through the door. Nothing ups the self-esteem like having a doctor who DEALS with such things for a LIVING recoil as if you’re Frankenstein’s MONSTER.

BACK! BACK I SAY CHILD OF SATAN! Oh, it's my next patient, come on in, then.

BACK! BACK I SAY CHILD OF SATAN! Oh, it’s my next patient, come on in, then.

Back in the late 80s, if you had terrible skin, they prescribed you Retin-A. I don’t know if they still do such a thing. (Apparently they do, but don’t have babies while using it, or their skulls will be too soft, and I assume babies with Play-Doh skulls are bad. Also don’t get waxed, or it will PULL YOUR TOP LAYER OF SKIN OFF. Good grief.) I also got this…I don’t know, alcohol solution I had to dab onto my face. These things had to happen every morning and every night after I washed my face. Also, I wasn’t allowed to go out in the sun, or if I HAD to go out in the sun, I had to wear like SPF 1,000 sunscreen. (Retin-A thins the top layer of your skin. Somehow this stops your acne. I am not a doctor. I don’t know how that works. But this skin-thinning thing also makes you burn in the sun, and you can’t get waxed, and your face gets really, really red when you first start using it.)

Good grief, it still looks the same 20 years later. Who's your PR person, Retin-A? Time for a packaging overhaul!

Good grief, it still looks the same 20 years later. Who’s your PR person, Retin-A? Time for a packaging overhaul!

I was somewhat skeptical, but at that point, I would pretty much try anything.

Well! Come to find out, RETIN-A WAS MADE OF MAGIC. I don’t remember how long it took, but one day I woke up and although my face was a little red (and I had to hide in the shadows like a vampire-person) I HAD NO ACNE. All the acne had taken off for sunnier climes. I LOOKED LIKE A HUMAN AGAIN. At one point, I even got a – GASP! – BOYFRIEND. (A few of them, actually. Well, not at the same TIME, I wasn’t a teenage WHORE. They were nothing to write home about, in retrospect, but at the time I felt like this was the BEST THING EVER.) One of my mom’s friends, when she and my mom were talking about my skin problems one day, said, “Amy has skin problems? You’d never know! I was just saying to my husband the other day she has just the most beautiful complexion!”

I HAD WON! I HAD BEATEN ACNE!

Yes, I looked JUST LIKE THIS! Oh, wait, no, Retin-A doesn't turn you into a model. Sorry. Sorry.

Yes, I looked JUST LIKE THIS! Oh, wait, no, Retin-A doesn’t turn you into a model. Sorry. Sorry.

I stopped using the medication in college – my doctor didn’t think I needed it anymore, and it was very expensive on our prescription plan – and all was well for quite some time.

Until probably four or five years ago.

Acne! YOU TRICKED ME! What IS this shit?

Apparently, what this shit is, is ADULT acne. It is ACNE that appears when you are an ADULT. It is the ghost of terrible complexions past COMING BACK TO HAUNT YOU.

Oh, stop. I had to.

Oh, stop. I had to.

It’s not as bad as it was when I was younger – oh, thank goodness – but it’s very hard to be almost 40 years old and have the occasional breakouts of a teenage face. It’s very embarrassing. I mean, yes. Odds are good that people aren’t going to make fun of you now (what kind of asshole mocks you for breakouts when you’re an adult? we know better now) and you know (hopefully, at least, if you’re female, although I’m sure men can use cover stick if they want to) tricks with makeup to downplay the fact you’ve got a gigantic blemish on your chin or your cheek or whatever.

And NOW, adult acne, you complete wanker, you have decided to pop up OVER ONE OF MY EYES and I’m waking up with ONE EYE SWOLLEN SHUT EVERY MORNING BECAUSE OF YOU and it takes like TWO HOURS for that swelling to go down and I LOOK LIKE SOMEONE BEAT ME UP or maybe THE ELEPHANT MAN. Dude, I have to go out in PUBLIC like this. SOMEONE IS GOING TO ASK ME WHAT IS WRONG. “Oh, just a gigantic pimple above my eye, like normal almost-middle-aged women get all the time,” is a thing I will not love to say at all.

I look a little like Rick from the Walking Dead after he got all beat up, which is nice, right? Very classy.

I look a little like Rick from the Walking Dead after he got all beat up, which is nice, right? Very classy.

My mother’s still getting you adult acne. SHE IS IN HER 60s. THIS IS NOT RIGHT. Somehow, my dad avoided this and his torment ended when he was in his late teens, but me and my mom? We’re still sporting the skin of teens. Sad, sad teens who don’t get asked to the prom.

Acne, you’re going to have to take a hike. I think I’m too old for Retin-A (and at this point in my life, if I don’t get waxed, I’d have a whole other problem to deal with, called My Eyebrows Have a Mind of Their Own and Would Make Me Look Like a Yeti) but there must be another solution. And I’m calling a dermatologist. Tomorrow.

You don’t get to win, bub. I have an excellent prescription plan this time, and I’m a lot angrier than I was when I was a teenager. If you’re not going to leave, I’m going to kick you out. I’m changing the damn LOCKS this time, acne! I am not going to my grave with you still in my life!

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go figure out the best eyeshadow to go with one normal eye, and one eye swollen 3/4 of the way shut. I’m thinking a kicky bejeweled eyepatch. Arr, matey. Walk the plank.

Pretty sure everyone would just think it was a fashion statement and not ask me what was going on, right? Right.

Pretty sure everyone would just think it was a fashion statement and not ask me what was going on, right? Right.

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When truth is replaced by silence, the silence is a lie.

Dad yells at me all the time about this.

“THAT BLOG IS SUCKING UP YOUR LIFE!” he says. “YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT’S GOING ON IN THE WORLD AROUND YOU!”

Mostly he’s yelling because I don’t know what’s happening on Fox News, but he has a point. I don’t usually know what’s up in the world. I mean, if it’s something HUGE, I do. Because it gets posted on Facebook or something. Or someone is talking about it at work. Or Dad yells at me about not knowing about it when I call him. (Listen, though, a lot of what he yells about are things like “DON’T YOU KNOW THAT IF YOU HAVE A LIBRARY CARD THE GOVERNMENT TRACKS YOUR EVERY MOVE?” This explains, in Dad’s mind, why he doesn’t have a library card. I said, “Dad, you don’t read books, I think this explains why you don’t have a library card, not the government thing…” and he was all “NO NO GOVERNMENT TRACKERS!!!” so I dropped it.)

Oh, look at the old-fashioned card! I like this. I would like a hundred of these. I'd make them into wallpaper. Think of the history!

Oh, look at the old-fashioned card! I like this. I would like a hundred of these. I’d make them into wallpaper. Think of the history!

So we get to thank Mom for telling me about the news story I’m talking about today. Thank you, Mom, for understanding I don’t have time to watch the news. Well, I suppose I COULD watch the news. But it’s kind of depressing and if I do watch the news, I watch the local news. I like to know what’s happening around me, I guess. I used to keep up with the news on Twitter. I should probably get back into that someday. I miss you, Twitter, I’m sorry I’ve been ghosty. I’ll come back someday. I’ll put on a pretty dress and everything. Witty repartee. Sarcastic asides. It’ll be great.

Today, Mom said, “Did you hear someone got kicked out of school for poetry?” and NO, I had not heard that. (It was like a week ago. Probably you all know about this. I guess it was on the Today Show or something. Who watches the Today Show? People who work different shifts than I do. People who don’t work. I don’t know, I don’t watch the Today Show.)

So I looked it up on the internet. Which was kind of a difficult task because Mom was all, “It was a student from Vermont and it happened yesterday” and it was actually a student from California and it happened two days after Christmas…but it’s Mom, she has kind of a strange sense of reality at times. I don’t get it from the neighbors, you know.

So for those of you who aren’t in the world, like me, here’s the scoop.

A seventeen-year-old student in San Francisco wrote a poem about the school shooting in Connecticut. It wasn’t for an assignment. According to what I’ve read online, one of her teachers “found” it – I have no idea what that means, did she drop it? Leave it somewhere? Throw it away and the teacher pulled it out of the trash? I find this whole thing suspect – and was SO SHOCKED by the content she brought it to the administration. The student was promptly suspended, and it will be decided when school starts on Monday if she’s expelled or not.

What did she say, in this poem that wasn’t even turned in as part of an assignment?

“I understand the killings in Connecticut. I know why he pulled the trigger.”

The school said they have a “zero tolerance approach to violence, the threat of violence” and a “violation of any one of these rules can result in dismissal from school.”

They are also called the Life Learning Academy, so already I’m sure they’re some sort of crunchy granola hippie school, yo. They are also somewhere called “Treasure Island.” I feel like this is not a real school.

"We are often tossed, but we never sink." I feel like this is a euphemism for something.

“We are often tossed, but we never sink.” I feel like this is a euphemism for something.

OK, now, I’ve rambled a little bit. What thoughts have you got in your mind about this girl’s poem, hmm?

I don’t especially want to talk about the tragedy in Connecticut. I’ve avoided it up until now, for the most part.

Here’s the thing. Do you think everyone that writes not only believes everything they write, they act on everything they write? And do the school administrators believe that?

Even the seventeen-year-old girl was all, "It's like Stephen King. He doesn't act on everything HE writes." EVEN THE KID GETS THIS. COME ON, PEOPLE.

Even the seventeen-year-old girl was all, “It’s like Stephen King. He doesn’t act on everything HE writes.” EVEN THE KID GETS THIS. COME ON, PEOPLE.

The girl’s poem went on to talk about how we live in a society that causes such things to happen. It didn’t lionize a mentally-ill man who walked into a school and murdered people. It was a piece of creative writing. One, I think it is important to note (again), that she wrote for herself, not for a class assignment.

I write a lot of things I don’t publish. Things that aren’t for anyone’s eyes but mine. A lot of this stuff is so I can work out the twisty place that is my head. Some of it’s poetry, some of it’s diary-type stuff, some of it’s rambly shit, but it’s mine. And if anyone read it, I would ALSO probably be suspended. FROM ALL THE PLACES. And possibly LIFE.

Was she trying to work out in her mind how such a thing could have happened? Maybe.

Also, the girl was seventeen. The tortured poetry that came out of me when I was seventeen…well, I don’t know if anyone wants to talk about that. For the love of Pete, you all remember seventeen, right? EVERYTHING is doom and gloom and you push EVERYTHING to the edge and ALL THE THINGS SEEM SO SO SERIOUS AND DIRE. Seventeen! I wouldn’t go back there for all the money in the world. Or a date with Ewan McGregor, even.

"Not even for ME, Amy?" "No, not even you, my beloved Ewan. Not even you."

“Not even for ME, Amy?” “No, not even you, my beloved Ewan. Not even you.”

I don’t think she was saying she understood how someone could walk into a school and start shooting children. I think she was saying she understood how things could get to that point.

And I don’t think that’s any different from how hard it is for me, all these years later, to think or talk about what happened at Columbine, because as bad as I feel for everyone who died (and I do, oh, how I do, please don’t think I don’t) I feel bad for the two boys who were pushed far enough that one day they decided that the only way to make that stop was to take guns to school.

Because I’ve been pushed that far. I spend eight years of my life being pushed that far. I never brought a gun to school, but I’m not going to tell you I didn’t have some severely violent fantasies. You get pushed, you know? You just get pushed and pushed and pushed and you can’t do anything about it and you can’t get out of the situation and you start thinking thoughts that aren’t even your own. Crazy thoughts. Thoughts about self-harm and thoughts about harming others. And some people do that, and some don’t, and I’m not passing judgement on those of us who made it through that and those of us who didn’t. And the people that find it so easy to vilify bullied students who handle it in a violent way – well, I have to assume they’ve never been in that situation.

So could I have written a similar poem about Columbine? Yes. Absolutely.

Should this kid be kicked out of school for this? No. She should not. She didn’t walk around inciting violence. She had no history of violence. She wrote a poem. For (from what I can tell from these articles, although it’s strange and vague) herself. And now she’s facing expulsion.

Where do we draw the line? What are we teaching our kids with things like this? That censorship is ok? That they should keep things all bottled up inside? That certain things are ok and certain things are art and certain things aren’t? Not to create? Not to have feelings? That some feelings are valid and some are wrong?

Let's let her decide big questions like this for herself in college, ok? That's where big questions belong.

Let’s let her decide big questions like this for herself in college, ok? That’s where big questions belong.

I don’t know. I don’t know what to even say about this. She didn’t say people deserved to die; she didn’t celebrate death. She simply empathized. She said she understood how such things could happen in our society.

And in certain situations, I understand it as well. I think anyone who was bullied can’t help but put themselves in this situation.

She seems to be handling it well. She’s a self-possessed kiddo. Good for her. At seventeen, I would have been curled up in a little ball of weepery on the floor. (Or shouting at someone in charge. I randomly had rabble-rouser moments in my teens. Once I staged a huge sit-in because I thought something was unfair. Looking back, it was a ridiculous thing – they cancelled our class trip because of the misbehavior of the class before us, and I thought that was unfair to us, because WE weren’t the ones that misbehaved – but I was very good at leading people, apparently. Or people just wanted to not go to class. Or when I’m on a tear, I’m all kinds of charismatic. Because almost the entire class participated in that. And I was totally the one who got in trouble for organizing it. I’m still kind of proud of that.)

There was a lot of grown-up Amy hiding out in wee-Amy, waiting to get out and play. I like to think back on that and smile.

There was a lot of grown-up Amy hiding out in wee-Amy, waiting to get out and play. I like to think back on that and smile.

There are a lot of things wrong here in this country. We’re broken in a lot of ways. Let’s not compound that by stifling our artists, ok? Let’s not kill the dreamers and the thinkers and the creators. Let’s not do that. Because if we do that, if we take that step, we’re lost. If we  stifle all that is beautiful in the world, what’s left? A world I don’t want to live in. A world with nothing left to look forward to. A world with no hope left in it, like Pandora’s box if she didn’t close it quickly enough.

Let’s close the box before the hope gets out. We don’t have much left, we need to hang onto something.

(Title is a quote by Russian poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko. Thought we should have a poet for the title today.)


Poor decision-making: a retrospective

YAY YAY BIRTHDAY YAY!

As I’m writing this ahead of time, I have no idea how day-with-Mom-and-Dad went. Just talked to them and they’ll be here tomorrow at 11. So we can have lunch at 11:30 like proper old people. Then go shopping and then they have to hit the road because it takes my dad a billion years to get home. He drives very slowly, you see. If you go anywhere with Dad, bring snacks and a beverage and CDs and possibly some reading material because WHOO SO SLOW. But if you say anything like “hey! Dad! You know, I think you can get a ticket for driving too slow, too, you know” he gets ALL UP IN ARMS and he says things like “I AM JUST BEING CAUTIOUS” and “YOU ARE THE ONE WHO DRIVES TOO FAST” and then I say things under my breath like “the speed limit is not TOO FAST DAD.”

This would be Dad’s favorite speed limit sign. Slow like a turtle, he is!

So, on my birthday I do a lot of soul-searching and look back on my year and get all reflecty and sometimes that is happy and sometimes that is sad. This year it seems to be an equal amount of both. In an effort to not bring us all DOWN DOWN DOWN, I will not go into detail. Let’s suffice it to say that I’m reflecting, and doing a lot of thinking and mulling and such. And people that have come into my life in the past year, and have become very dear to me: thank you, and welcome, and where have you been? I should have known you before now. Look at all the time we wasted! And I love you. And, thank you. For everything you’ve done to make this year wonderful. (And to my old friends: thanks for sticking around. Love you, too. So much. More than I can ever, ever express.) There have been good things and bad things and super-highs and low low lows and it’s been kind of a weird year, but I think the good outweighed the bad, and what more can we ask for in a year, really?

Aw, no. I LOVE YOU GUYS. This just made me snort-laugh.

I have the day off to do all the things and relax and hang with Dumbcat and be all reflecty and that will be nice. I have some special happy birthday plans for myself. Because I am the best birthday celebrator! It will be a most excellent day of sleeping in and doing things I want to do and not going to work and such.

Anyway! In honor of my birthday, I am giving YOU a present. Well, maybe it’s a present for SOME of you. I promised this to Jim a while back, and then again to sj a few weeks ago, and then mentioned it to Ken just a few days ago and thought, what better day than the day you were BORN, all unexpected-like and weeks and weeks early, all tiny and incubatored for days, to look back on HORRIFIC AND EMBARRASSING MEMORIES? (And a couple that are kind of fine and even a little adorable, I’ll be honest.)

OK. So! You mostly all know what I look like now, right? You’ve seen my photo on Twitter or whatever. And whenever I comment. I look like a LADY with GLASSES. Oh, wait, here, I’ll show you, FINE.

TA DA! Me. Sort of unruly-haired, And I look smirky. But, here’s me now.

When I was home last time (July, I suppose?) I was looking for the mysterious missing photos my Europe trip. I do this EVERY TIME I GO HOME. I refuse to believe they’re gone. Someday I’m going to find them under the couch cushions or something.

But but BUT! This time I was home, I found a photo album I was not aware I even HAD. And in it? SO MANY THINGS.

So! In honor of birthday celebration, I bring you scenes from a very unfortunate childhood. (Some of these are terrible. My scanner’s not being so scanny at the moment.)

This is wee Amy. I’m thinking…first grade? Maybe? LOOK HOW EFFING ADORABLE! I approve highly of this photo. Well, not the wrinkle. The wrinkle in this photo is annoying. I should take better care of my things. Anyway, this little turtleneck-and-jumper combo is delightful, and my glasses are not yet eating my face, and I look so cheerful! I enjoy this photo a great deal. WIN.

I don’t know, a year later? Two? The glasses have started getting huger, though, which is worrisome. Also, I think this blouse is entertaining. It looks like I’m a server in a buffet-style restaurant. But I like that smile. THAT IS ONE HUGE SMILE YO. That cameraman told me smile and I DID WHAT I WAS TOLD. I still think this is pretty damn adorable. Also, you can see my fancy widow’s peak, which I think Ken said meant I was a killer. I do not think that’s the case. I think it means I am AWESOME.

Around the same time. What’s best about this photo is that necklace. It was a huge Strawberry Shortcake. Apparently I felt strongly enough about Strawberry Shortcake that I felt the need to memorialize that love in a class photo. Otherwise, this is blah. WEE AMY! This photo needed some FLAIR! I am disappointed in you, lady. (Also, I think this wee Amy looks sad. I don’t like this wee Amy as much.)

Now things start to get…um…strange.

I didn’t have any junior-high photos in this album. I have ’em somewhere. Let’s just say I had a bowl cut. And for a couple of very classy years, a rat-tail. Which I would BRAID. I know. I KNOW. Try to contain your passion for junior-high Amy, it is unseemly.

But then high school happened. I think maybe the bowl-cut and the rat-tail might have been better looks for me, honestly.

Oh, first, I’m in this photo somewhere (I have no idea where) but I just thought it was funny that I went to CAMP OVERLOOK. Come play with us, Danny! All camping and no play makes Jack a dull boy! Also, the camp director is looking out from right over the sign all creepy-uncle like, and it’s off-putting. (This was 4-H camp. You were forced to work. You had to clean the toilets and make your own food and shit. It was TERRIBLE. It was supposed to build character, I guess. Really what it built was a healthy dislike of camping and work and forced group activities.)

HIGH SCHOOL!

Um. I look stoned, and that is TERRIBLE hair, and I remember those glasses and they were so, so heavy and made of GLASS and always falling down. I look MISERABLE. And like a DEER frozen in HEADLIGHTS. That hair was a perm I was growing out. I don’t know what’s up with the bangs. I was ultra-proud of that shirt. It was like a men’s rugby shirt. I would wear it with black stirrup-pants and kicky hightop sneakers. I thought I was SO STYLISH.

This is my least-favorite photo of me in the history of ever. Of course, this means my mom had it displayed on the living room wall until about three years ago. I am not even kidding.  I look like I have some sort of weird neck-crick. And this was a failed hairspray incident. See how it’s all poky on one side? And that huge bangs-gap? That’s because my hair doesn’t accept hairspray and it all starts to go very, very wrong after about an hour and photo-day was at the end of the day. Oh, also, I wasn’t allowed to wear makeup until junior year of high school so I look all washed out. Why? Because it was the path to the devil, of course. Don’t be absurd.

This has to be at least junior year, but before I was allowed to wear makeup, but after I got my contacts. There were a lot of weird rules and regulations to growing up in the Lucy’s Football household. LOOK AT THAT SWEATER. It has a lot of heart. HA HA. Also, again, it was the early 90s, please don’t judge the hair. We were just weaning ourselves off the Aquanet.

NOW! The best Amy-photo ever. I’m thinking freshman or junior year. The look on my face here is really what makes this photo amazing. I obviously want to murder the cameraman. See, I was on the yearbook staff, and no one ever wanted their photos taken, so the staff would take photos of each other. I’m pretty sure the woman running the yearbook staff took this photo.

This was at a basketball game, which I used to go to because I had a crush on one or another basketball player at any given time. I don’t know, either. I outgrew it. No judging.

Ready? Ready for the best thing?

This is a very early “fuck off and die” Amy face, which is why I love it so. (PS: I still make that face. You see that face nowadays? RUN AWAY! RUN AWAY! It’s my “oh, what you’re saying/doing are SO INTERESTING, I’m really imagining murdering you in my brain, though” look.) Look at the PERM! And the GIGANTIC GLASSES! And there’s some guy behind me, I don’t know who that is. But I’m so into that face. That is such an awesome face, I can’t even. LEAVE ME ALONE I AM GOING THROUGH AN AWKWARD PHASE SOMEDAY I WILL HAVE A BLOG THAT LITERALLY TENS OF PEOPLE READ! TENS!!!

There we have it, jellybeans. Here’s the thing. You know how you never like yourself? (Well, girls, anyway. I suppose some guys, but most guys are pretty non-judgey of themselves, which I envy.) Like, whatever age you are, however you look, you bitch and moan and complain and whatnot? Like, when I was a kiddo, I thought I was so, so fat. LOOK HOW SKINNY LITTLE AMY WAS. MY STARS. And I used to spend HOURS in the mirror ON PURPOSE to make my hair look like that hairsprayed monstrosity. You’re always your own worst critic.

You know which Amy I like best? The top one. She’s got it going on, top-Amy. Happy birthday, top-Amy.

(But also, keep on keeping on, bottom eat-shit-and-die Amy, because I like your style, babe.)

Happy Mondays, all! I give you all pieces of virtual birthday cake. You and you and YES, today, even YOU, Ding Dong Joe! Today, even you get cake. Thanks, minions. Thanks for being the best part of my past year. Here’s to the next one: best of them all, right? Right. Most definitely.


“‘You want to grow up to be a lady, don’t you?’ I said not particularly.”

It’s Banned Books Week! The THIRTIETH ANNIVERSARY of Banned Books Week! We here at Lucy’s Football can not let this pass without mentioning this oh-so-important week. By we, I of course mean me. And I suppose Dumbcat. He’s kind of hitched his wagon to my star. I’ll let him. He’s my fella. But Dumbcat doesn’t care so much about Banned Books Week, to be honest. Mostly books are things that Dumbcat likes to sleep on, or things that I read that take time away from me being able to pet him. (If a book is good, I get all wrapped up in it and forget the pettings. Much to his dismay.)

Yes, books are still getting banned left and right (and, well, I guess up and down, and sideways, or whatever.) Yes, we live in 2012. In good news, it’s easier for people to get their hands on banned books now than it used to be. There’s this thing called the interwebs? And many places you can purchase ALL the books on said interwebs? So it’s not like back in the day when if a book was banned and you were shit out of luck, so sorry, Charlie. But that’s kind of beside the point. Books are still getting banned, and for the same old stupid reasons.

Let’s talk about the top ten banned books of 2011 (the top ten books of 2012 aren’t compiled yet – or, if they are, I can only find them in one place, and that website ANNOYED me, and had a VIDEO I COULD NOT TURN OFF, so we’re talking about the books of 2011.) This is fine, last year we talked about the top books of 2010 so it’s like a thing, I guess.

Out of the top ten banned books of the year, yours truly has read two. That is because a lot of these look…well, unlike something I would enjoy. Sorry. I don’t think they should be BANNED, no no no, I just think – hey, kids, there are better books out there for you, is my thought about this situation.

According to the ALA, the top ten banned books of 2011 were:

  1. ttyl; ttfn; l8r, g8r (series), by Lauren Myracle (Reasons: offensive language; religious viewpoint; sexually explicit; unsuited to age group)
  2. The Color of Earth (series), by Kim Dong Hwa (Reasons: nudity; sex education; sexually explicit; unsuited to age group)
  3. The Hunger Games trilogy, by Suzanne Collins (Reasons: anti-ethnic; anti-family; insensitivity; offensive language; occult/satanic; violence)
  4. My Mom’s Having A Baby! A Kid’s Month-by-Month Guide to Pregnancy, by Dori Hillestad Butler (Reasons: nudity; sex education; sexually explicit; unsuited to age group)
  5. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie (Reasons: offensive language; racism; religious viewpoint; sexually explicit; unsuited to age group)
  6. Alice (series), by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor (Reasons: nudity; offensive language; religious viewpoint)
  7. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley (Reasons: insensitivity; nudity; racism; religious viewpoint; sexually explicit)
  8. What My Mother Doesn’t Know, by Sonya Sones (Reasons: nudity; offensive language; sexually explicit)
  9. Gossip Girl (series), by Cecily Von Ziegesar (Reasons: drugs; offensive language; sexually explicit)
  10. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee (Reasons: offensive language; racism)

Those ttyl books look silly to me. They’re the “Internet Girls” series and apparently they’re all written as a series of IMs and texts and such but they’re also DIRTY. But, you know what? If I was 16, I would probably want to be reading these. I liked titillating stuff back then. And if I was 16 now, I’d be all into the internettin’ so they’d probably speak to me, you know?

Hey, book banners. I’m going to give you a tip. If you BAN A BOOK? It makes people WANT IT MORE. It’s like reverse psychology. Tell someone they can’t have something and it makes them WANT that thing. It works with people – isn’t the forbidden fruit always the sweetest? Tell me you haven’t ever had a crush on someone who’s taken and I’ll call you a flat-out liar – and it works with things like consumer goods (people ALWAYS want things that are limited-run and limited-release) and it works with books. Tell kids they’re not supposed to be reading this and tell them why – IT IS TOO SCANDALOUS! – and they’re going to be on this like white on rice. Like…like teens on the interweb. Like bad decisions on the Romney/Ryan campaign.

This is what you turn people into when you ban books. Veruca Salt. Is this what you want? A whole generation of Veruca Salts? I can’t possibly imagine it is.

The Color of Earth looks interesting. It’s about life in rural Korea. And apparently there’s sex. And GIRLS learning about their BODIES ZOMG. I’d read this book. I’d read it when I was a teen and I’d read it now. But HEAVENS FORFEND we let GIRLS KNOW ABOUT HOW THEIR BODIES WORK! That is SEKRIT INFORMASHUNS.

The Hunger Games trilogy! I’ve READ this one! And I’d be totally comfortable with my teen reading it. Or my intelligent pre-teen (as long as I could have a discussion with him or her afterward – but let’s be clear, were I a parent, we’d be discussing most of their reads together. I think one of the best parts of a read is the post-read discussion, and I’d want any child of mine to be able to discuss anything that came up with me. I have a billion reasons NOT to become a mom; missing out on seeing a kid of mine’s face after reading Fahrenheit 451 or Lord of the Flies for the first time, that kind of kills my soul a little. I’m not going to lie.) I think it opens up some good discussions about government and entertainment and reality television and friendship and cruelty. All things that would be good discussions to have with a kid, no? (Also, there was Satanism in The Hunger Games? What’d I miss?)

My Mom’s Having a Baby. I don’t even…seriously? THIS IS A GUIDE SO KIDS UNDERSTAND CHILDBIRTH. Why are we so scared about kids understanding how human bodies work? They’re already having babies. Maybe if they UNDERSTOOD better how bodies worked, they wouldn’t be HAVING so many babies? The banning of this makes me embarrassed for the human race.

“It makes the man and woman want to get even closer to each other.” OK, yeah, let’s ban this, it made me giggle. (SIDE NOTE DON’T REALLY BAN THIS. I’m just a 5-year-old child with the inappropriate giggling, is all.)

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is supposed to be fantastic. I haven’t read it but intelligent people I know say it’s brilliant. I take their word for it. I assume this “racism” of which they speak is that it shows how poorly Native Americans are treated. OH NO NO NO we don’t want people seeing THAT! A lot of books, just a tip, are banned because they are TRUE. People are scared by true things. We don’t want our children knowing the truth! It is TOO TOO SCARY! (Psst, it’s not that scary. I grew up reading pretty much whatever the hell I wanted, including SCARY BANNED BOOKS, and I’m fine. SHUT UP I TOTALLY AM.)

I researched the Alice series and from what I can tell, there are a billion books about a girl named Alice and her life as she grows up. UGH. Let girls have something to READ that is about REAL GIRLS. We were all sneaking Judy Blume books when I was a kid with their shocking masturbation scenes and you know what? WE DIDN’T END UP BROKEN, WORLD.

Brave New World is a sci-fi novel from the 30s. We’re still banning this? HOW SHOCKING CAN THIS EVEN BE? It’s like you people aren’t even trying hard enough. A., how many kids are still reading this, and B., I’m sure that whatever Huxley wrote almost 100 years ago isn’t as bad as you think it is. I think Gramma Bookbanner told you this was naughty and you just assumed it was. Have you even read this? Seriously?

What My Mother Doesn’t Know sounds like something that would make me commit hara-kiri but that teen girls would like. It’s a teen girl and there is dating and all the sex and such. DON’T LET OUR KIDS READ ABOUT THE SEX! (Side note: my wonderful friend R. said she heard someone on TV say “the sex” the other day and she thought, “AMY SAYS THAT!” and I couldn’t be more pleased. I HAVE A LEGACY!)

I’m sure the Gossip Girl books are terrible. The television show isn’t great. I keep watching it, though. I LIKE THE CLOTHES SHUT UP. And Chuck. I like Chuck. But teen girls like these things. Has anyone but me noticed that we’re banning all the books for teen girls, but no books for teen boys? What does THAT mean, I wonder?

Sigh. YES I know he’s young enough to be my kid. I like broody, leave me be.

And, of course, I’d be disappointed if it wasn’t included: To Kill a Mockingbird. Because we wouldn’t want our children learning about right and wrong and racism and the best male role model in the history of the world, Mr. Atticus Finch. Can any of you who’ve read the book even say that name without a little thrill? “Jean Louise, stand up. Your father’s passin’.” I have tears just WRITING that line. Or how about “Thank you for my children, Arthur.” TEARS. One of the best books of my life; a book that taught me important things about life; a book that taught me important things about writing. Yes. Yes, please. Let’s ban that. Let’s ban the shit out of that. Wouldn’t want our kids reading THAT.

And side note, seriously, I kind of want to marry Atticus Finch. I think maybe I haven’t found my Atticus Finch yet. I’m pretty sure he’s out there, though. I know a lot of people grew up wanting to marry rockstars or movie stars or whatever, but I wanted (and still want) to marry Atticus Finch. That’s not asking too much, right? So, if there’s an Atticus Finch out there (who doesn’t necessarily have to be a lawyer, of course – it’s not the lawyer I want, it’s the calm, and the deep, enduring sense of knowing what’s right, and the conviction to follow through with it, even when it’s the hardest possible road you can take; it’s a man who will say “The one thing that doesn’t abide by majority rule is a person’s conscience,” and mean it, you know?) you give me a call.

Happy Banned Books Week, my little licorice nibs. Read something scandalous, will you? If for no other reason than IT MAKES THE SMALL-MINDED ASSHOLES FURIOUS.

(The title is from my beloved To Kill a Mockingbird. If you haven’t read it in a while, check out the Goodreads quote page. I’ve been re-reading the quotes for twenty minutes and BAWLING. Yeah. Ban this book. Because something this powerful – you wouldn’t want that in the hands of our children, now would you?)


Help save the youth of America; help save the youth of the world

Dear Youth of the World:

I just read a very disturbing article and I think we have to have a talk.

Now, before we start, I know. I am immediately to be distrusted. I am a grownup! Therefore, my heart must be dead, and I just don’t GET it, man! I don’t remember what it was like to be one of you, the disaffected youth, looking for that new cool thing, that next big rush, anything to kill the dead, dead places inside. I know. How could I possibly understand? Being an old, boring person and all?

Ugh, GROWNUPS.

Well, I might be old (ahem, I’m not THAT old) and I might be boring (debatable) but I remember being your age. I remember the teenage malaise and the depression and not knowing what to do next and being just SO DAMN ITCHY to do SOMETHING. My something, chickadees, was reading, though, so I guess that’s why this article I read was so distressing.

Apparently, you’ve all moved on from turning Robitussin into street drugs and morphing hand sanitizer into delicious cocktails and have all decided that you want to be movie stars, so you’ve decided to live the life of Jason Bourne or Tom Cruise in those terrible Mission Impossible movies. SO MANY TEETH UGH.

Dun, dun, dun-dun…TEETH!

Listen, I like movies as much as the next person, don’t get me wrong. But I don’t think I can DO the things that happen in movies. I don’t think my Harry is going to come find me on New Year’s Eve and tell me he wants the rest of his life with me to start RIGHT NOW and I don’t think I can drive while having a conversation and never look at the road and I don’t think I can go to bed with a whole face full of makeup and wake up looking as fresh as a daisy and I don’t think I can get six days of work done in the span of one kickass music montage. BECAUSE I AM RATIONAL.

Yes, wouldn’t this be nice? So would trees that grow money and pulling carrots out of the ground and finding they were really cookies. IT ISN’T GOING TO HAPPEN.

But you! Youth of the world! You seem to think that the people in movies are doing their own stunts. And that they aren’t really stunts! That they are REAL THINGS THAT PEOPLE DO!

Things that, according to this article, you kids are doing nowadays because they are BORED and they think they are INVINCIBLE:

  • “the choking game”
  • jumping off a moving vehicle
  • “salt and ice”
  • extreme fighting
  • “the cinnamon challenge”
  • hitting someone over the head with a folding chair
  • “train/car surfing”
  • huffing
  • “mumblety peg”
  • “Chubby Bunny”

Now, you, youth of America, I know you probably are WELL-AWARE of what all of these things are, but we, the fusty old-people of the world, are scratching our heads in puzzlement. So! In order to make us all better educated about what’s going on with the kiddos, please pardon me while I fill in the old people among us about these things you’re all doing.

The choking game: apparently this is just auto-erotic asphyxiation. Do you kids think you created this? Nah. We old people have known about this for years. We (well, most of us) are just too smart to do it. (And apparently, kids are doing this but WITHOUT THE SEX. They’re just doing it because it makes their heads swimmy. There have GOT to be better ways to make their heads swimmy.)

Kittens also disapprove of the choking game. DO NOT CHOKE YOUR KITTENS. (Not a euphemism.)

Jumping off a moving vehicle: Well, this is pretty self-explanatory. Except for…um…why? Why would you do this? Because people do it in movies or on television? You’ll get road-rash, kids. That is, if you’re not dead. Who thinks jumping off a moving vehicle is a good idea? Put your hands down. PUT THEM DOWN, I SAID.

I have no idea what’s happening here but I like the inclusion of a coffin because that’s what happens when you JUMP FROM A MOVING VEHICLE.

“Salt and ice”: ZOMG WTF. Apparently, this is a game. You put salt on a body part. Then you put ice over that salt. It starts to burn. Whoever can leave it on the longest is the “winner.” But guess what’s happening to your skin? YOU ARE GETTING CHILBLAINS. Chilblains! Like an arctic explorer! And if you leave it on long enough? FROSTBITE. According to this totally funny Wiki answers page: “According to the game, the winner is whoever can hold the ice long enough. However in reality, the person who opts to not attempt this challenge is the true winner and the one without a possible hospital bill and missing limbs.” Hee! Whoever wrote this is SCOLDY.

WHOA. Everyone’s totally scoldy about this, right? I’m not going to scold you. I’m just going to tell you, THIS IS STUPID STOP IT.

Extreme fighting/hitting someone over the head with a chair: THIS IS NOT WRESTLING. This is REAL LIFE. Those things are all STAGED. There are blood packets and they work that shit out beforehand and they REHEARSE. It is THEATER. You don’t HIT SOMEONE OVER THE HEAD WITH A CHAIR. That’s ASSAULT, brother. Who’s volunteering to get hit with a chair? I guess I can see the appeal of extreme fighting – boys are super-fighty, from what I remember of them, even The Nephew likes to head-butt people, including his beloved aunt Amy – but chair-hitting? Really? That seems super-ragey. I’m adding “because they might hit each other over the head with chairs” to my list of “reasons I am pleased I decided not to have children after all.”

Hee! Look at the woman’s shock-face back there. SHOCKED BY THIS CHAIR!

“The cinnamon challenge” – This is apparently swallowing a huge spoonful of cinnamon without taking a drink of water in 60 seconds. The cinnamon clumps up and gags you and then sometimes you inhale it and it gets in your lungs and nose and makes you throw up and sneeze. Fun, right? Listen, you’re all a bunch of pussies. Why don’t you go try the wasabi challenge or the black pepper challenge or the habanero challenge and get back to me?* (*Don’t do this.)

Thank you for this infographic. Very helpful, intertubes.

“Train/car surfing” – again, pretty self-explanatory. You’re not Michael J. Fox as Teen Wolf. Don’t do this. You will fall off and you will die. Moving vehicles are a recipe for death. Stop it stop it STOP IT. This isn’t cool or fun or a rush. This is a recipe for death and destruction and limb-missing-ness. Listen! Some kids were driving 110 miles per hour at 5pm (that’s rush hour, for those of us unemployed) down one of our local roads here recently because they thought it would be good-times, Charlie and a minivan pulled out and they hit him and they both died and he’s struggling for his life so wasn’t THAT funny? HA HA HA! No. Because I talked to his wife at work the other night and I can assure you, she wasn’t laughing. I was almost in tears when I got off the phone with her. You little jackasses. Stop risking others’ lives. If you kill someone I love, I’m coming for you. WITH KNIVES.

Only Michael J. Fox can do this. YOU CANNOT DO THIS.

“Huffing” – oh, for the love of…you dorks, we’ve been doing this longer than you’ve been BREATHING. No pun intended. I don’t even think I have to describe what huffing is, do I? It’s inhalants. It’s sucking down inhalants to get high. It’s the high-stakes version of Whipits. You can do it with spray paint like Ruth in Citizen Ruth (what? you haven’t seen Citizen Ruth? Watch that and see if you want to huff again) or with things like canned air. And it murders braincells like the Biblical Slaughter of the Innocents, babydolls. You’re gonna need those braincells. Well, someday you will. Promise.

Pretty, right? TOTALLY pretty.

“Mumblety peg” – really? You think stabbing at your fingers with a knife super super fast is funtimes? OK. I can’t see that going wrong at all AAAHHH YOU CUT OFF YOUR FINGER! Seriously, this only works in mobster movies. Don’t do this.

Good idea! Oh, wait, no, BAD idea, I meant to say BAD idea. Silly ol’ me.

“Chubby Bunny” – this is when you fill your mouth with marshmallows and say “chubby bunny!” until you can’t anymore and whoever can put the most marshmallows in their mouth and still be heard saying “chubby bunny” wins and whoever chokes to death on the marshmallows loses. You think I’m being facetious but people have DIED playing this game. Dead dead dead. Chubby bunny’s not for the faint-of-heart. Or people with brains. Also, marshmallows are DELICIOUS. Why are you wasting marshmallows, stupid? And didn’t your mom teach you not to speak with your mouth full? SIGH SIGH SIGH.

HA HA HA FUN! Choking to death on gooey dessert items is on my BUCKET LIST!

OK. So now that we’re all up to speed on your shenanigans, let’s discuss.

People are dying doing these things. I think you can see why. There are various ways that these things are leading to death:

Gross bodily injury, due to things like chair-beatery and car-jumpery and train-surfery and finger-cuttery and ice/salt-freezery

Choking to death, due to inhaling marshmallows, cinnamon, or choking yourself with a belt

Drug overdose, from huffing

I can’t imagine the “high” you get from any of these things being worth being DEAD from INHALING MARSHMALLOWS. Do you really want to be that girl? Do you want to be the girl who died inhaling marshmallows? You’re not going to get a page in the yearbook commemorating you, darlin’. You’re going to be a PUNCHLINE. People are going to be all “Chubby bunny GAHHHHH” and pretend to choke and gag and die and then they’re going to LAUGH AND LAUGH. Or do you want to walk around with nine fingers because you cut one off stabbing at your fingers with knives like you’re a street performer in Thailand? Good luck counting to ten at your future job at the counter at McDonald’s, Sonny Jim. And yes, I get that you want to be cool like Fox Mulder and die of autoerotic asphyxiation, but…wait, you don’t know who Fox Mulder is? Because you are FOURTEEN? Then why would you want to do that?

If you don’t get the reference, I’ll feed it to you with a spoon. Psychic Clyde Bruckman predicted Mulder’s death by autoerotic asphyxiation, and he was never wrong.

Kids, I get it. I do. I made some SPECTACULARLY stupid decisions when I was younger. Maybe not 14-young, but when I was a little older, I did not let my brain do the thinking. I cannot confirm or deny that I might have done some binge-drinking and made some terrible sexual decisions and got kicked out of a hotel and (look away, cops!) dabbled in substances that weren’t technically “legal.” I understand, kids. I do. Bad decisions and I have been bedfellows in the past. And I’m sure, somewhere down the line, we will crawl shamefully back into bed together again, because once you bed down with Bad Decision McGee, he comes back all, “Come on, baby, you know we had a good time before, I MISSED YOU” and if he shows up at just the right time you’re all “SIGH OK.” I get it.

But here’s the thing. You’re going to want to live to see your twenties. You really are. Your twenties are pretty awesome. And – top secret news no one tells you? – your thirties are EVEN BETTER. If things keep up at this pace, my forties are going to be AMAZING. And if I’d been car-surfing or whatever the hell, I wouldn’t have SEEN these years.

I know you’re bored. I know you’re looking for the next cool thing and whatever. I get it. But please don’t do things that will kill you. If you have to do dangerous things…how about you TAKE SOME CLASSES FOR COLLEGE CREDIT OOH? Or READ A BANNED BOOK AAH? Or WORK ON YOUR COLLEGE APPLICATIONS EEEE? No? Well, I don’t know what to tell you. Just don’t do the things I listed above. Or have inappropriate sex because you’ll get the herpes. I’m serious, you’re going to regret these bad decisions someday and *I* won’t be all “I told you so” because I don’t do that, but SOMEONE will, and I’ll be thinking it. I totally will.

BAD BAD DECISIONS.

Thanks for reading, kiddos. If you need further advice, I’ll be RIGHT HERE. Come talk to me. I promise. I’ll be kind and won’t even talk down to you and I’ll teach you new words like “douchecanoe” and I’ll tell you your skinny jeans look ridiculous but I will be SO SUPPORTIVE. I’m like the kickass aunt you always wanted, promise.

Be careful out there, kids. I’d like you to be around in your twenties and thirties, ok? They’re worth it. No, seriously. They so are.

Yours, with love, and also some serious concerns,

Amy.

(Here is a song to make you happy. This is for the GROWNUPS among us. I love you, too.)


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