it’s kind of a funny story

hi friends! it’s national teen suicide prevention week! a lil warning: there are a good bunch of triggering mentions of death n suicide ahead. so, if you’re not up for this, visit the lovely dora @ for the goldfinches or this post from matt @ the lil engine that couldn’t that always makes me cringe laugh in support.

In 2014, I did the best school project I ever have done – I got to create an anthology on whatever I wanted for English. I could talk about anything. I had to write a really big essay as the preface and talk about all of the pieces I’d be using, and I could write about anything. It’s still the most I’ve ever enjoyed an academic project.

The title of my anthology was “life, interrupted” and IT focused on mental illness in young people. It was a crazy experience because most all of the works I included came down to choices rather than first time reading. There’re only so many books, in my experience, that captured what I felt to a point where I could rest in the fact that I wasn’t alone if someone could write about it. I chose Susanna Kaysen’s Girl, Interrupted and Ned Vizzini’s It’s Kind of a Funny Story. Today, I’d like to talk about the latter, and it’s author.

IKOAFS is the kind of book that I had to stop reading after the first three chapters because it was too personal. It was too real, and too accurate, and Ned Vizzini was looking into my head and would tell people how messed up I was because they would know exactly what and how I was thinking. Because I was Craig, and I was Craig right down to the standing on the bridge and feeling free and wanting to jump a year later.

It’s Kind of a Funny Story is about Craig, a smart kid with some douchey friends (some (one) of which are okay) who finds himself depressed, and then suicidal. He checks himself into a psychiatric hospital because he wants to get better. He learns a lot & works through a lot. He realises he’s not into the girl he thought he was into. He meets people who help him to work it out. He starts taking his medication again. He chooses to live.

Ski. Sled. Play basketball. Jog. Run. Run. Run. Run home. Run home and enjoy. Enjoy. Take these verbs and enjoy them. They’re yours, Craig. You deserve them because you chose them. You could have left them all behind but you chose to stay here. So now live for real, Craig. Live. Live. Live. Live.
Live.

It’s Kind of a Funny Story, Ned Vizzini

This story is hard. It’s hard because it fits, because it’s mine, because it’s Ned Vizzini’s, and because Ned Vizzini didn’t live.

I’ve always hated the phrase, “commit suicide”. Since I was nine, I’ve hated it. If you commit something, it’s a sin. If you end your life, if you commit suicide, are you a sinner? Are you a sinner for feeling too much? Are you a sinner because it is unbearable to hold up a universe of suffering on a daily basis?  Are you a sinner for wanting it to stop? Am I a sinner because I wanted to?

(The answer is no. This is a topic for another day.)

Ned Vizzini died by suicide on December 19th, 2013. He lived, he inspired, he loved, he wrote, he tried,  he won, he became a beacon for depressed teenagers, he pulled me from the edge, and he died. It was said best here: “the great, unspeakable tragedy of The Bell Jar is now the tragedy of Funny Story.”

Everybody dies. The personalities of Ned Vizzini & Craig, the protagonist, line up really nicely. He captured Craig’s spirit because it was his own and showed Craig’s victory because it was his own. The whole book is based on wanting to kill yourself, and then not. Craig & Ned didn’t line up there.

It’s not as though it’s as simple as stating that Craig lived on and Ned didn’t. Ned could have ended things when he was 23, before he admitted himself to that psychiatric hospital. He didn’t. He could have not written IKOAFS. He did. He could have been so brilliant by doing so much less, but he did more and more and more than enough people will ever be able to thank him to. Ned was strong, and brave, and honest. He was talented. He was – he is – life changing and influential.

Life can be a lot sometimes.

This is Ned’s legacy: he tossed a bright, orange-and-white ring to us drowning kids and pleaded with us to stay afloat. And we read his words, and we understood, and we eventually made our way to shore.

If there’s something to take from this, from Funny Story, it’s what’s kept me around. It’s what keeps me around.  If you feel like you’re going to kill yourself, or if you feel like you want to, it’s a medical emergency. Call a hotline. Walk into a hospital. Call a friend who can look after you, if you have one. Don’t wait until you think you’re bad enough to be hospitalised. Suicidal ideation is a medical emergency.

Nothing would be better off if you weren’t around. I say that to myself every day. I have to do my best to believe it. I think you should, too.

South African National Teen Suicide Prevention Week runs from the 18th of Feb til the 24th. Take care of yourselves, and of your friends.

Live. Live. Live. Live.
Live.

love & light,
shalom xo

 

united divided states.

i’ve taken several deep breaths before starting this. my name is shalom. i am eighteen years old, and live in south africa. i am an american-south african dual citizen. i was born on the east coast of the usa. i voted for hillary clinton in the presidential election. the last sixty hours have been a mess – in my brain and in the world. here’s what we know:

  • donald trump won the us presidential election
  • mike pence will be the 45th vice president of the usa
  • mike pence believes that state funding should go into electrocuting and torturing lgbtq youth until they are heterosexual
  • donald trump, the man who wants to ban a religion, will be the 45th president of the usa
  • donald trump, the man who is on trial for child rape, will be the 45th president of the usa
  • donald trump, the bigoted, hateful man endorsed by the kkk will be the 45th president of the usa

now, if all of the above doesn’t bother you, your privilege is beyond belief.

when hillary clinton lost the election, so much more happened. i don’t care about how you feel about hillary clinton. i don’t care if you think she’s a scammer. i don’t care if you hate her for being a woman. i don’t care if you think obama was wrong for supporting her. i care that so many of us have now lost.

a win for donald trump  is terrifying, not only because of trump and pence, but because of what it means. what it means is that the people who stand against immigrants, literally built the country from the ground up, are free to act on their hatred. the people who agree that lgbtq youth need a good beating, electric shock treatment, or death to cure their queerness are backed by the president. the people who believe that america was great 200 years ago when black people could be stolen, bought, and sold are validated. hatred won. sexism and misogyny won. homophobia, radical racism, and white supremacy won. america; red, white, and blue. is black in there too?

so what now? what does the muslim family that has lived in a republican state do now that 48 hours after the announcement, and 69 days before he takes office, trump’s supporters have threatened them to the point where they cannot walk in public? what do the people with so many intersectionalities, like black, trans, disabled, woman, do? what is to become of this country that voted ethnic cleansing in, when it’s founding fathers were immigrants? what are marginalised minorities to do when white americans — who’s ancestors were ALL IMMIGRANTS — threaten every element of their safety? what is to become of the united divided states of america when the commander is chief is literally a demagogue flexing? he is history repeating. seriously.

 

america, we messed up. to the 17 000 people who wrote in harambe, and hennessey – is this still funny to you? lives are at stake, now more than ever. is this a joke? to the bernie sanders supporters who wrote him in after he asked you to vote hillary – you knew what would happen. i will not hold this against you, but you took action fully aware of the consequences. same thing for third party voters. you know what you did.

now, we rebuild. again.

we remember that the sun will rise tomorrow. we remember that the capacity for kindness that we all hold can never be taken away by someone in the white house. we cry. we drink. we listen to fourfiveseconds on repeat really loudly. we pray. we protest. we do all that we can to continue every day fighting the hardest that we ever have for all that we believe in. we unfriend and unfollow the trump voters because they do not care about us. we remember why we believe in this country. we listen to president obama. we practice gratefulness. we use our voices. we create. we listen to senator clinton. we do not grow weary. we continue to do as much as we can for as many as we can for as long as we can. we keep on. we rest in each other.

 

the world is broken, but hope is not crazy. the usa was built on immigrants like founding father alexander hamilton, who time and again, get the job done. the usa was built on my parents who came for education, and threw their hearts into a country that never loved them back. the usa will be rebuilt on the love of our generation and not the hatred of trump. commit to love.

only only only love & hope,
shalom xo

 

a note to student (employees)

listen to this while you read this:

 

Hi, fellow student.

I know, depending on your hemisphere, you’ve just started the new school year, or that you’re trying to crawl through the last three months of the university term. I know you’re busy, and I know you’re tired. I work a lot too – both in and out of school. My desk looks like that of the normal college student: messy, covered in loose sheets of paper and sticky notes and matches and medication. Under my ridiculously expensive textbooks, I have other textbooks, from 5th up until 12th grade. I’m a tutor, and I am a red-pen-stained-worksheet-making mess.

I work an easy 10 hours a week. Officially. Ten hours doesn’t seem like a lot, and it isn’t really. It’s doable. If I only worked those 10 hours, I’d be okay, but tutoring, like almost every other job, demands that it must eat into any and all time I thought I could mark as free time. I’m sure you can empathise. I know some of you work up to 25 hours a week, and I know that I can never feel the tired you feel, but I can feel proud of you – and I do.

I don’t think anyone’s better than anyone, but I do think that students who work while they study are extremely resilient. Yes, that’s most of us, but most of us are resilient. I think that the six hours you put in on a Saturday because you’re helping your parents pay your tuition, or because you’re paying your tuition yourself, or because you’re saving for a trip or a car, or because you just want some money, are six hours of phenomenal work. I think that you’re brave and powerful and strong. I think that you’re doing a great job.

Regardless of whether you work or not, drink a tall glass of water. Take three deep breaths, and remember that you’re doing okay. Don’t let the university monster eat you alive. I’m proud of you, and you’re doing great.

This is your reminder.

love and light,
shalom xo

rebuild | orlando, islamophobia & unity

this is a response to today’s one word prompt


i don’t know how to write this, really.

i can’t adaqueately express the anger and sadness that i am feeling for the victims of tragic and senseless gun violence in the usa this past week, and for the victims of a tragic bombing in lebanon. i can’t imagine the pain and suffering brought about by the senseless loss, or the foolish backlash that the lgbtq+ & muslim community must be receiving.

i can be sorry, and i can pray that the god i believe in will have mercy, and i know that it isn’t enough. but i don’t know what else i can do.

fifty people were murdered at pulse nightclub in orlando, while almost fifty others were injured. fifty people had their lives taken for no reason apart from being in a space that promoted loving who you love. pulse is a beacon for so much of the lgbtq+ community in orlando, and because of a sensless act of cowardice, people have lost so much.

the entire lgbtq+ community has been shaken by the shooting. if queer people cannot be safe in a space for them, amongst other queer people, where can they be safe? a day after the shooting, a man carrying heavy explosives and weapons was apprehended. he was on his way to the l.a pride parade. he was headed to a space full of queer people with the sole intention to kill them.

what part of this doesn’t look like a hate crime? what part gives you the inclination that there was another reason, apart from rampant homophobia, for these attacks?

is it ignorance? is it trump? i hate to mention trump’s name. i believe that the guy from the apprentice is only in the posoition he is in because of the press we give to him. trump needs a mirror, but more so, he is a mirror.

the fact that so many of the senators tweeting their condolences and prayers voted against gun control, and can’t seem to realise that they need to answer the question, “how do these people get their weapons, and why is it so easy?” in order for us to make any progress is troubling.

the same people who called the lgbtq+ community animals are the ones offering their sincerest regards. those who claimed that the lgbtq+ community in bathrooms is a danger to public society are now looking at the slain members of the community, and finding something else to talk about. calling up islamophobia, and terrorism, ignoring the fact that crime after crime after crime like this can be so easily prevented if some fucking republicans would get their heads out of their asses.

what, then, do these muslim-hating republicans, have to say about the religions of the white perpetrators of the biggest mass shootings in us history? what do they say about the religion of the white people who shot children at sandy hook elementary school, who prayed with unarmed black people and then shot them? why are queer lives not valued enough for this to be seen as what it is – a crime against them?

i am beside myself. i feel selfish for being sad, when so many are directly affected. i feel helpless, because every time something like this happens, a ‘pray for’ hashtag is generated, and the president makes a speech, and some people cry and change their profile pictures and post things on instagram and nothing changes because it always happens again. america, it always happens again.

onion.png

in light of all of this pain, what is left? what is left but the countless souls who will mourn, who will bury the lost, who will have to continue with their fragmented lives – those who will rebuild. the lgbtq+ community will rebuild because it is what must be done when your entire existence is reduced to someone’s intolerance.

twitter is always wild when something like this happens. he-who-must-not-be-named with a nose and bad hair tweets something stupid and ignorant, someone makes a “joke” that’s hate speech, and so many of us spend hours fighting with people trying to stir up hate. i am christian, and my friend yasmin is muslim, and we spent three hours online yesterday trying to explain why islamophobia is (a) always senseless, (b) always unfounded, and (c) should always be avoided in every way. i got hate from several christians for advocating for lgbtq+ rights, as did yasmin from many muslims. i’d like to share a passage from the bible and the quran each with you:

There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you–who are you to judge your neighbour?

-James 4:12 (NIV)

Whosoever kills an innocent human being, it shall be as if he has killed all mankind, and whosoever saves the life of one, it shall be as if he had saved the life of all mankind.

-Qur’an 5:32

there is no place for hatred. there is no place for prejuciced christians who love selectively. there is love, and love wins. my god is a god of love, and love wins. as lin-manuel miranda said last night at the tony awards, “love is love is love is love is love is love, and cannot be killed or swept aside”. hate will never win.

“if anyone knows how to rebuild, it’s us.”  please watch this stunning & evocative piece by anna oakes-monger. to the entire lqbtq+ community: we are with you. i am with you. this is not and will never be okay, and we will fight with you. “if anyone can love through pain, it’s us.”

love and light,
shalom xo

SLUT|| the identity series

Recently, I’ve been thinking more about who I am,  why I am that person and what it means in terms of the way that I live. “Recently” is issue sensitive- some I’ve been pondering for a year, and others for closer to eight. Either way, this is what it culminates in: a series of posts concerning something vital to my being: identity.


Okay, so that title wasn’t what you were expecting.

To be honest, it wasn’t what I was expecting either. I had no clue I was going to write this post, until I scrolled down my own instagram profile. (Also, Shalom posting twice a week???? She definitely doesn’t have two serious exams in the next four days, like maths and physics!!! She’s so not procrastinating out of panic!!!!)

I was publically slut shamed for the first time twenty-two weeks ago.

Slut-shaming is a form of social stigma applied to people who are perceived to violate traditional expectations for sexual behaviors, commonly applied to women and girls. Some examples of circumstances where women are “slut-shamed” include violating accepted dress codes by dressing in perceived sexually provocative ways, requesting access to birth control,[1][2][3]having premarital, casual, or promiscuous sex, or being raped or otherwise sexually assaulted (which is known as victim blaming).

(thanks, Wikipedia.)

slut

this is taken directly from my instagram, and the caption was, ” ‘who are you getting cute for?’ MY DAMN SELF. Happy Friday, pals!”

Don’t get me wrong, it had happened before. Just never to this extent and to the point where I was affected enough to change something I did every week (i.e go to youth group) for five years.

I wore this outfit because I felt good in it. I liked the way my legs looked. I love that red sweater because it belongs to a gorgeous friend of mine (Sorry Shivs, you’ll never get that back, ily) and I think of her every time I wear it. I felt great, and I was going out to an event with a group of teenagers (13-19) and all was well.

Until I got told I was “asking for it”. That I was “distracting the younger boys” and “being irresponsible” with my body. Until I was informed that “you’re not supposed to dress like a slut at church”.

Yes, I went to church.

It’s safe to say that after that fateful Friday night, I didn’t return to Youth for weeks. “Matric is just so busy,” I’d tell everyone. It’s whatever. Onto the point of this post:

I was slut shamed because I was comfortable with myself for the first time in a long time and other people were not. I was slut shamed because I am a female and due to my gender I have been sexualised since my birth. I was slut shamed because my extreme “irresponsibility”, which was manifested in the exposure of probably 40 centimetres of leg and my stomach, is not appropriate around “the younger boys”. I was slut shamed for how I dressed and it is bullshit.

Here’s the thing about reclamation, people: once it happens, the people who once used the word in question negatively no longer have any functional power over it.

Screenshot (202) Screenshot (203)

The word slut is being reclaimed. It’s happening,and there is undeniable proof: slutwalks happen all over the world, and Tumblr is having none of anyone’s crap. There’s a thorough description of what slut shaming is and why it’s not okay here.

In brief? I’m the slut of the hour. And I’m 101% good with that.

love and light
shalom x

LET’S HAVE THIS TALK, PARENTS

Okay, look. I know my blog reaches people. I don’t know their ages, but I do know that I have a whole bunch of parents who are friends with me on Facebook and they should read this. Alright. Beginning.


Parents. Let’s talk about privacy.

There are some rules about having a teenager. First off, do not DO NOT DON’T invalidate their feelings. Don’t tell them that “everyone gets depressed” or retort with something you’re used to saying like, “clean your room” when they talk about wanting to die.

Secondly, respect their damn privacy. I’m speaking on behalf of teenagers, so when I say us, I mean your kids.

SNOOPING AROUND DOES NOT HELP. The facts are these: parents who think that combing through every possession of ours until they find something incriminating are not helpful. You guys create better liars. Seriously. Go through our journals one time and I swear to all that is holy, in the seven minutes that you were yelling about how we’re not allowed to profane or buy more CDs or talk about boys the way we do, we’ll have created at least four new lies and cover ups for the next time. Promise.

IT’S MY HOUSE is not an excuse. Yes, parents, I am calling you the hell out on this. It may be your house but the living space belongs to us and it is NOT your place to go through it. It is not your right nor automatic privilege to raise hell because we’re not fully functioning adults. One word: TEENAGER. We screw up. It’s what we do. We’re kids and there is nothing worse than a parent making you feel like your existence is a burden. Because this thing where parents expect us to be visions of Christ at seventeen is ridiculous.

STOP. GOING. THROUGH. OUR. STUFF. It will not make you closer to us, it will not give you a better picture of how “things : are, and it will sure ass hell NOT tell you what we are going through. It’ll make you think you’re doing the right thing, and that you’re on the right track, but you’ll really just be driving the wedge between you and your teenagers deeper, okay?

Lastly, threats are not okay. You can’t threaten us with everything we hold near to us and expect us to snap up and all of a sudden be the twenty four year old you wish you gave birth to. Don’t threaten us with our friends, music, diets, routines. NOT. OKAY.  Don’t terrorise your kids in an attempt to fix them for God’s sake BE CIVIL WITH US.

I am angry and this is important. Pay attention, mothers. Take note, fathers. Open your eyes, anyone who takes care of a teenager.

Shalom