Blogging 101, Day Four: Identify Your Audience

Today’s Assignment: publish a post you’d like your ideal audience member to read, and include a new-to-you element in it.

Today I’d like to talk about someone that I care about a lot– my sister Carly.

Me and my sister Carly (left).

Carly is 17 years old. She’s three years younger than me (I’m 20). She is beautiful, talented, and works really hard at her job as an ice cream scooper and in school. She has a lot of friends, gets along with mostly everyone, and is an amazing singer. She knows how to do winged eyeliner (which to me is pretty impressive considering how little I know about makeup), how to access her bank account and how to do a K turn while driving. Carly’s also almost done with her junior year of high school (tomorrow’s actually her last day).

She’s just entered the period of her life where all anyone ever talks about is college (I’m still in that period, and I can confirm that it’s the worst). Right now, the only questions that people are asking her are along the lines of:

  • Are you done with the SATs?
  • Have you visited any colleges yet?
  • Where are you thinking about applying?
  • What colleges are you interested in?
  • What do you want to study at school?
  • What do you want to do with the rest of your life?
  • !?!? college !??! your future !??! LIFE !?!?

Which are all pretty terrifying questions for a 17 year old, if you ask me. How are you supposed to know what to do with the rest of your life when you don’t know all that it has to offer? I went through the same thing when I was 17, except I didn’t have an older sibling to walk me through it all.

Carly texted me last week and asked me about preparing to apply for college. I’d made the mistake of assuming that she knew what she was doing, which is what I think a lot of parents do who aren’t Type A and on top of things (even though I am Type A and usually on top of things). I just have to say this– no 17 year old knows what they’re doing, especially when it comes to this stuff. Carly and I made a list of what she needs to do before the end of summer and what I can help her with, which includes registering for SAT2s, writing her college essay, finishing up the common app, and coming up with a list of five colleges she’s planning on applying to.

Working on all of this stuff with her made me realize that she’s grown up a lot. Before I moved out of my mom’s house and went away to school, we weren’t all that close. I mean, we were close, but not as close as we are now. I love her so much and every day I find new reasons to be proud of her. But we used to fight all the time about stupid things like clothes and friends and responsibility. My senior year of high school she was in the ninth grade, so I would see her literally all the time.  I tend to be a bit overemotional and excessively needy, so I was afraid that I would embarrass her or something in front of her friends.

Me going away to school has made us a lot closer. We text most days and video chat all of the time when I’m away. When I’m home, we make a point to see each other, whether I pick her up after school or visit her at work on the weekends. She is my best friend, and I love her. She’s just in a scary and tentative period in her life right now, and she still has a lot of growing up to do.

This is tough stuff, people! Have any of you had similar struggles with the college application process?


For today’s Blogging 101 post, I chose to write  about my sister and how she’s dealing with having to prepare for college because it’s an example of the type of thing that I usually try and write about on here. I wanted to show you guys that this is who I am and this is how I write, if you haven’t read through my posts and seen that already.

Yes, of course I’m going to write about books and movies and pop culture, as promised. But I’m in the middle of reading a book so I can’t write about it yet, and the last movie I saw was Love and Mercy a couple of days ago and I feel like I still need the time to process it before I write anything about it, if I decide to write anything about it at all. 🙂

I kind of cheated with my new-to-you element– I added a photo to my post, which I’ve done before. But I did add a caption to it which I’ve never done, so that’s new I suppose.

I hope everyone’s having a fab day.

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Amanda’s Library

When I moved out of my mom’s house two years ago, I had to pick and choose which books I wanted to keep and take with me to my dad’s. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do, so I kind of just tried to grab everything I could (which turned out to be a lot, and mostly everything).

One of the things that I left (that I completely regret leaving) was my entire Nancy Drew collection. It was made up of Nancy Drew books that I’d bought at Barnes & Noble and at garage sales and at library book sales. I read them mostly in the 2nd grade, along with a lot of books by Andrew Clements (Frindle, anyone?). I didn’t own the entire series. It was the most rag tag collection of a series I owned, but it was mine.

I had an obsession with collecting books when I was younger, which I still have now despite a lack of space to keep them.

I think it’s because I like owning books. I like buying books, having my own to dog-ear and wear out and flip through and take notes in and just be mine. That doesn’t mean I don’t love libraries. I love libraries, or at least the concept of libraries. I like places with books that people have read, that have their own memories and have been worn by others. But there’s something I love more about keeping and having books that are my own and making memories with because they’re mine.

Anyway, I dumped all of the books that I had at my dad’s and that I’d taken from my mom’s in this little back room in my dad’s house that my sister and I kind of used as a playroom, and put off organizing them until now.

These pictures are the final product, post organization!

They’re not organized in any particular way– I literally just stacked them so they weren’t all over the place and they wouldn’t fall down. I don’t have a bookshelf, so it was kind of difficult to place them. Maybe one day, if I ever move and buy a bookshelf, I’ll organize them in alphabetical order or something to make it easier to find things.

Many of the books that I took to school with me were my all time favorites, or books that I was planning on reading. (For example: I took my copy of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and The Princess Bride, which are my all time favorites, and then The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer which I’ve been planning on reading forever and am reading right now.) I still haven’t completely unpacked my car yet (oops), so all of my books that I took from school are still sitting in the backseat and have yet to be placed in my library.
Going through all of my books that I hadn’t looked at in literally years was a nostalgic experience for me. I got to go through all of the books that I’d read as a tween/teen/little kid. I found the TTYL series by Lauren Myracle, and all of my old Julia Alvarez books. Julia Alvarez used to be one of my favorite authors. I loved how she wrote historical fiction, and wrote about strong, female characters.

I found my Cat Who series books by Lilian Jackson Braun. I read those all throughout the 7th and 8th grade, and they were a little bit too violent for me, but exciting to read. I also found that I owned an excessive amount of joke books, as well as creative writing help books and Audrey Hepburn biographies.

I found I had a lot of really classic young adult/middle grade books, like The Book Thief  and John Green books. I found books from the Charlie Bones series by Jenny Nimmo, and my old Hebrew School prayer books, and Once Upon a Marigold  by Jean Ferris (which I LOVED). I went through a phase where I exclusively read cheesy teen romance novels, like everything by Emma Harrison, and discovered all of my old copies of those which was pretty cool.

Surprisingly, I wasn’t a Sarah Dessen fan.

I think that my favorite thing about organizing my library was remembering where I was and who I was and how old I was and what I liked when I had read these books. It makes for a nice collection of memories. It’s very telling of my childhood and growing up.

I’m wondering– if you have your own library or collection of books, what do you think it says about you? Let me know in the comments!

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Blogging 101, Day One: Introduce Yourself to the World

Today’s assignment: write and publish a “who I am and why I’m here” post on your blog.

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Hi WordPress community!

My name is Amanda.

I am 20 years old and live/go to college in New York. I am a writer–  I always have been and always will be. I love people. I love to read and watch movies. I love to learn. I use a lot of parenthesis.

Right now, I am trying to figure myself out– as in, I’m trying to figure out who I am as a person and where I fit in the world. I think that life is one big learning experience, and I am going to take what I experience and use it to shape myself as a person. Expressing myself through writing is something that helps me understand that and who I am in that way. That’s why my blog is called Amanda Under Construction— I am Amanda, I am under construction, and I am working to make myself better and learn new things every day.

On this blog, I’ve started to write about my own personal experiences and how they relate to the rest of the world. I do a lot of creative writing. I also write about college, movies, and television shows that I watch, as well as books that I read that inspire me, and pop culture.

I’d love to connect with fellow writers and pop culture fanatics, as well as personal bloggers! If you’d like to come on this journey with me, feel free to follow me or comment on my page. If you do, I’ll check out your blog too and respond!

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(The other day I was talking my friend Sabina over at Victim to Charm ((she was the one who inspired me to start using WordPress and actually blog, so that’s cool)) and I asked her how she got people to actually read what she wrote and continue to be interested in what she was writing.  I’ve kind of stopped sharing my posts on Facebook, my viewership has been low, my writing has gotten a bit more personal, and I want people to be interested in what I write because it’s good and they find it compelling, not because they know me and they feel obligated to read it. Sabina told me that she took a WordPress class called Blogging 201 ((Sorry Sabine)) when she first started, so I decided to take Blogging 101 just to kind of warm myself up, meet other bloggers, blog more consistently, and motivate myself to write.

So, here I am!

This is the first post I’m making for Blogging 101, so I’m just going to follow the instructions and see where it takes me.)

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Why It’s Important to Use Correct Names/Pronouns

In light of Caitlyn Jenner presenting herself to the world, I’d like to talk about the importance of using the correct names/pronouns in regards to people in the transgender community.

In high school, I became friends with a completely different group of people. These people were the drama kids, the theater people– the kids who were slightly cast out from the rest of my grade but were happy enough on their own not to care.

They didn’t care what people thought about them at all. They performed at open mics, danced in the hallways, laughed at silly jokes, hung out with each other after school in the auditorium, and were generally very open and accepting. It was a wonderful group to be a part of.

One of my friends in that group, who I wasn’t that close with, had struggled with their identity for a really long time. They discovered their true identity as a transgender/genderfluid person in the middle of high school, and has had a really hard time both figuring themselves out and getting people to accept them.

They changed their name to a masculine one, including both their legal name and their new name on their Facebook profile. They started to dress differently, too, sometimes dressing to look more traditionally masculine and sometimes dressing traditionally feminine. They went to senior prom in a suit dress, much to the shock of the rest of my high school class.

They asked us all to call them by their new name and use they/them/their pronouns, and I am ashamed to say that, at the time, I didn’t really try. I didn’t understand it, and I didn’t understand what had happened or why they were acting differently, and that made me unwilling to listen and open my mind to who they were. I didn’t really think it was fair for them to expect me to call them by a different name, and I didn’t see why it was important for me to accept their new identity. They had been who they were the entire time I’d known them up until now, and it didn’t seem fair for me to have to change for their sake.

Some of my other friends felt the same way as I did. They scoffed at their new name, calling them “she” and “her” and by their given name in front of them and when talking about them. They didn’t understand it either, and we were all pretty mean about it.

Eventually, a bunch of my friends and other people began to take their new identity seriously. They used the pronouns they preferred, called them by their new name, and were defensive when anyone did anything different. “That’s their name,” my friends said. “That’s who they are now, even if they weren’t before.”

My friend ended up going to a school a moderate distance away from my town.  At college, they identified solely with their new name, and people called them that because that’s who they were to them. When they brought a friend from school back to my town during a break, he called them by their new name. When their friends at school interacted with them publicly on the Internet (like on Facebook and Tumblr) they used their new name and pronouns. I think that that’s when I began to see them for who they really are– because other people called them this name and used these pronouns, it was easier for me to accept it too.

I understand that it makes me seem close-minded and selfish– I mean, I didn’t accept them until other people did. Before other people understood and I saw that other people understood, I put my needs before theirs. I disrespected them, hurt them, dehumanized them by disregarding their identity, and for that I am sorry.

I am writing this post to emphasize how important it is to try and understand. It’s important to educate ourselves and to learn, rather than to reject and blatantly ignoring another person and their needs.

And to be honest, it wasn’t until college that I really understood how important it was to identify them as who they wanted to be and who they truly are. At school, I took a Women & Gender Studies class. I read about and saw on TV and in the media people like Janet Mock, Carmen Carrera, and Laverne Cox, who advocate for transgender and LGBT rights. These women really put a face to the trans movement just by existing, and help make people more aware of the struggles transgender people face. Making people more aware, educating them, and putting these issues out there lends hope to the future that transgender people will one day be accepted and not have to be afraid to be themselves.

I know that my friend still struggles with this stuff every day. But it helps by recognizing who they really are as a person.

In the wise words of Ezra Koenig:

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Hello Ignorant People of the Internet!

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My cousin texted me the other day with screenshots of these posts from people on Instagram in response to Caitlyn Jenner coming out  (I blocked out people’s names to protect their privacy). I’ve been seeing posts like these all over Facebook too, and it makes me upset to see how close minded people are.

So I thought I would respond with a blog post.

First of all, bravery is not an exclusive term. Yes, people in the armed forces, firefighters, policeman, and people who perform a service to our country are brave. Caitlyn Jenner coming out and being who she is after 65 years of not being able to do so, after being afraid of what other people would think and what the media would say is brave, too. It’s not a competition, and there are a lot of different ways you can be brave.

Second of all, Caitlyn Jenner represented a hyper masculine, all-American, guys guy for a very long time. It was/is shocking to most Americans to see her as something that is the opposite of that. However, that does not make it right to judge, criticize or slander her transition and her identity as a female.

Third of all, think about why it took so long for Caitlyn to show us who she really is. Heteronormativity has been forced on her her whole life. Actually, heteronormativity is forced on everyone from birth, and because of this any time anyone deviates from a normalized/accepted gender role they are made to feel ashamed of who they are. These posts are examples of that. You say that Caitlyn Jenner is being shoved down our throats? She’s really not, and that’s really not the problem. The problem is that we are trained not to accept it and see it as normal. The more representation of transgender people there are, the more normal and accepted it will become and there will be fewer people who are afraid to be themselves, which is why this is so important.

Fourth of all, Caitlyn Jenner coming out has been getting a lot of press, because of the fame Jenner generated from the 1976 Olympics and because of the Kardashian family. There are also (obviously) a lot of important topics out there that the news doesn’t cover, but that’s the fault of the media nowadays. They are biased and don’t always do the right thing. However, that doesn’t make LGBT issues any less important, and because Caitlyn Jenner is so famous and because the media covers her and her family’s life anyway, it brings to light a lot of these issues, whether or not that was her intention. I think that her coming out wasn’t an act of selfishness, but an act of self acceptance.

If I’m at all politically incorrect in my explanation/response, please let me know! I don’t want to be offensive in any way with the terms I used.

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The Cottingley Fairies

In another episode of Amanda Gets Distracted by the Internet…

I was on Tumblr and I found this post about the Cottingley Fairies that really interested me. I can’t find the post anymore, it was from a while ago actually, so I Google searched the fairies for the purpose of this post, found the Wikipedia page on them, and then proceeded to get sucked into the abyss of Wikipedia for an hour or two before I remembered that I was actually supposed to be doing something.

So before I get distracted (again), I want to write about these fairies and the girls that captured them in pictures, and then I’ll write about why I’m writing about them.

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Basically there were these two young cousins in the early 1900s named Frances (age 10) and Elsie (age 13) who borrowed Elsie’s father’s camera to take photographs of fairies. When Elsie’s father developed the pictures, there were, in fact, fairies in them. He kind of thought it was some sort of trick the girls were playing on him and thought nothing of it, just letting Frances and Elsie have their fun.

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Elsie’s mom, on the other hand, believed in fairies and the supernatural, so she took the photos to Edward Gardner who was a prominent leader of Theosophy (a type of Mysticism and Spiritualism, from what I understand) at the time, who showed them to his friend Harold Snelling, who was a practiced photographer, who declared that the photos were legitimate.

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They eventually got around to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who everybody knows as the guy who wrote the Sherlock Holmes detective series. He was super excited about them, and advocated for their legitimacy too, and wrote articles and gave speeches declaring that they were real. Since he was so well known, the photographs became pretty popular, as did Spiritualism.

In 1981, 60 years later, Elsie was interviewed in a magazine about these photographs, which people were  making a big hullabaloo about, and she said that the photographs weren’t real— that she and Frances had just posed a certain way and then pasted cut outs from a children’s book onto the photographs.

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What I found to be so interesting about this whole ordeal (when I first discovered it on Tumblr and after researching it a little bit online) is how easily everyone just believed that these pictures were real. I think that it’s because most of the people who were analyzing the pictures, like Elsie’s mother and Edward Gardner and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, were all Spiritualists, and believed in stuff like fairies anyway. So when something that was so aligned with their beliefs showed up, they looked for reasons for the photographs to be real rather than for reasons for them not to be.

For basically 60 years people believed in these photographs because no one wanted to think that they weren’t real.

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When I first read about the Cottingley fairies, I saw the story of these two imaginative young girls in big picture terms. The reason I’m writing about them and their pictures is because I feel like what happened to them holds true for a lot of things. If people think a certain way or believe in something, then any type of evidence that supports what they think, legitimate or not, well researched or not, realistic or not, they’ll hold on to. Because being right/feeling right is always better than being wrong.

Although the Cottingley fairies are a rather benign example, I think that the point that I’m trying to make is that you have to look at all sides of something, pushing aside your own beliefs and holds and be unbiased, before you determine its validity and worth.

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Things I’ve Learned in College I: Reasons Not/To Make Out With Someone’s Face

I feel like college is one big learning experience.

I mean, you’re there in the first place to further your education and figure out your passions and what you really want to do when you become A REAL ADULT and go out in the world and do REAL THINGS (*exaggerated gasp* So scary!). So, if we’re being literal about this whole thing, you’re there to learn and to educate yourself.

But it’s also a big social learning experience. You learn how to grow up. You learn who you are outside your family, your friends from home, your hometown. You learn how to make friends based more on commonality, rather than convenience.

And hopefully and most importantly, you learn common sense.

What I’m talking about specifically, and something that I’ve gotten to dip my toes into at school a little bit is “hookup culture,” which can loosely be defined as (*Amanda does a quick Google search so she’s not politically incorrect about the definition*) the casual sexual encounter-y culture that college encourages. Part of the social experience at college can be being a part of “hookup culture,” but it can also not be. It depends on you.

What I’ve learned are plenty of reasons that you should not indulge in hooking up with someone, and also reasons that you should indulge in hooking up with someone. It’s really all about your college experience, common sense, growing up, and understanding who you are as a person and what you want.

I’ve written them down here. Enjoy!

Reasons Not to Make Out With Someone’s Face:

  1. You are lonely.
  2. Someone that you actually like just started dating someone and you suddenly feel that that void needs to be filled in your life.
  3. You are drunk and he/she is there. (This is an inside joke with my friends at school– it’s the #1 reason most of us have hooked up with someone.)
  4. You want to make someone else mad or jealous.
  5. Human contact makes you feel better about yourself, because this person wants you (even if it’s only in a physical way).
  6. You would have to lower your standards if you were to make out with this person.
  7. You’re not really feeling it, but eh, why not?
  8. You’re bored.
  9. He/she wants to but you don’t.
    1. This person doesn’t like you as much as you like this person (or in the ways that you like this person).
    2. You find this person repulsive.
    3. You’re not attracted to him/her.
  10. You feel like you would regret it later.

Reasons to Make Out With Someone’s Face:

  1. You like him/her.
  2. You want to.

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Posted in Things I've Learned in College | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Here, Have Some Clichéd Advice

It was 2011, it was the end of my 10th grade year, and my mother was trying to sign me up for an SAT prep course for the summer.

My weakest subject is math. Always has been, always will be. I hate that there’s only ever one answer to anything, and if you mess up solving a problem at the beginning you’re screwed. I’ve had maybe one or two good math teachers in my entire life (Ms. Fassacesia in 8th grade for Algebra I and Ms. Dudman in 10th grade for Algebra II/Trig), but all of the other ones have been crappy or just not at the level of understanding I needed them to be at. I have ONE math class I have to take in college — it’s next semester — and I never plan on taking another one ever again after that.

Anyway, (sorry, whenever I tell this story I go off on an “I hate math” rant and that’s not the point of this post) that summer my mom wanted me to take a class so that I could get a better score on the math section.

Be aware, I wasn’t going into this with a very good attitude. This is mainly because she wanted me to take a math class, she wanted me to take a math class over my summer vacation, and she wanted me to start prepping for the SAT before any of my other friends were prepping, and I wasn’t happy about any of that. It seemed pointless, and I didn’t want to do it, and why did I have to do it when my friends weren’t starting their prep classes until the fall?

I had to go in for this practice SAT test so they could see how mediocre I really was at math, and then I had to meet with this lady and my mom so she could talk about what I wanted my score to be and my “SAT goals.”

So we sat down with this lady in her tiny corner office with no windows and several generic motivational posters, with barely enough room for two other chairs let alone hers, and she proceeded to tell me that my scores “could be better” and how important the SAT really is to some colleges and how their program could really help out a student like me. And then she asked me, “Amanda, what is it you want to do with the rest of your life?”

Take note that I am extremely practiced in answering this question. I am the QUEEN of answering this question. The era of actually having to care about college and my future had begun, so I’d been asked this question (and questions like it) multiple times by parents and teachers, just like I was being asked now.

But I’ve also known what I’ve wanted to do since I was seven-years-old, when I read The School Story by Andrew Clements, a middle-grade book about a girl whose mother is an editor at a book publishing company and who publishes a book right under her mother’s nose. I wanted to be in children’s book publishing, and I wanted to make books like that happen, and I wanted to be like the little girl in The School Story and go into it head-first. As an 11th grader, I’d published my own newsletter for middle school students, held an internship position at a fairly well-known magazine, organized and taught an English Language Arts tutorial program to students in my school district, helped edit my school’s literary magazine, and won an English award.

I wasn’t messing around.

As I relayed this information and practiced story to the SAT prep lady, she was unfazed. This concerned me a little bit– I’m not trying to sound pretentious, (of course by saying that I’m going to come off that way, oh well) but most adults aren’t used to hearing such specific ambitions from a 16 year old girl, and are usually surprised or impressed or something. But this woman didn’t really seem to care.

When I finished talking, she shuffled some papers around on her desk. “I see,” she said. I was staring at her, confused.

“You know, Amanda,” she said, leaning towards me and smiling wide. “I had similar plans for my future.” Now, this was something I’d never heard before. I’ve never heard anyone say that they wanted to be a children’s book editor, which was surprising. Like Voldemort didn’t like his real name “Tom” because it was common, I immediately started to dislike this lady because she’d had the same dream. She made me feel common and unimportant.

“I wanted to be in book publishing just like you,” she continued. “And then I realized that sometimes, we aren’t meant for what we want initially.” I was really starting to hate this lady. “It’s a very competitive field, if you weren’t aware. I’d look into other options before I reach for that.”

I sat there, in this woman’s tiny corner office, her motivational posters mocking me, silently fuming. How dare this woman tell me, because my SAT scores were not exemplary (there you go, there’s an SAT word, are ya happy now?) from my very first practice test other than the PSAT ever, that I was reaching for what I’ve wanted to do basically my whole life and should consider something else? She was insinuating that I couldn’t do it, she was basically telling me that I was like everyone else, that I was like her, and that I wasn’t going to be able to do it.

She and my mom chatted for a little bit about my SAT math program. I tuned them out until they were finished talking, shook the woman’s hand, thanked her, and left.

That happened four years ago and I still think about it. It is the one example I have of an outsider telling me that I can’t do what I want to do. And that one time, that sad little woman in her office at the SAT tutoring place telling me that I couldn’t be an editor, has motivated me to try even harder.

This is all clichéd advice, but it’s clichéd for a reason. Don’t let other people tell you what you can and can’t do. Don’t let others make you feel small and unimportant. Prove them wrong. If you want to do something, you do it– if you have a dream, if there’s a way you envision your life to be, I’m telling you, follow through with it and you do it.

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The Happiest Boy Laughs

I knew a boy once who laughed with his whole body.

I have never met anyone else whose laughter was so happy. He laughed like a larger man than he was would; his chuckle growing inside the cavity of his chest, always deep and loud, making his body shake. His eyes would crinkle at the corners, he would throw his head back, and laugh.

His laughter would roll off of him in waves, his hand clutching his stomach like he was trying to hold it all inside himself. He would shake and shake, his body palpitating, his guffaws spilling out in the air. It was probably the happiest thing I’ve ever seen or heard in my whole life.

It was beautiful.

I couldn’t help but laugh along with him, even if I didn’t find whatever it was he was laughing at particularly funny. When this kid laughed, you had to laugh too.

What made it all so interesting was that it was a type of laughter that seemed extremely out of character for him. He laughed at inappropriate drawings on school desks, he laughed when he or others made crude jokes, he laughed when his friends were disrespectful to me. It was almost hypocritical– what he found so funny didn’t deserve something so pure and happy as his laughter.

I loved how he laughed so much that those other things didn’t matter– and there was one other thing that I loved about this boy that he did.

He painted. He drew. He was an artist– and a really good one at that. I have never been an art person– whenever I look at a painting or a sculpture or something that is supposedly meaningful in that way I feel like I’m missing something– but you knew this boy had talent. I didn’t necessarily understand what he created, but it was better than anything I could do or have done.

This boy goes to art school now. He makes (what I understand to be) mixed media art– drawings and paintings and digital programming. Apparently he’s changed. He doesn’t find inappropriate drawings funny anymore, he doesn’t make crude jokes.

He loves the world, he loves himself. He still laughs like the happiest person in the world. And it’s beautiful.

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I started wearing makeup when I was nine.

I am 1/8 Filipino– but I know absolutely nothing about Filipino culture and my Filipino grandfather died when my mom was sixteen, so I’ve never met him. I look inherently more Caucasian than my mother or my sister Carly. I’m stuck with overt paleness and a long nose, like my dad. I’ve got a Jewish sort of look, which is predominantly what I am. On the other hand, my mother has slightly darker skin than I do, and Carly has a cute little button nose and a rounder face, as well as slightly slanted eyes.

When I was younger, I would watch my mom get ready to go out for the day and see her put on mascara and lipstick and cover up. She would cover her face with long, thick swipes of this compact foundation, hiding her slightly olive colored skin and making it even where it wasn’t. “I look so tired,” she would say, blotting out the skin under her eyes to make herself seem less so. “That’s better.”

I didn’t understand makeup when I was younger. I didn’t know why mama would want to cover up her skin, because I didn’t have to. I figured it was an adult thing to do (which it was).

And being a little kid, I wanted to be just like mama. I wanted to be grown up and beautiful like her. So I started wearing makeup when I was nine.

Taking my mom’s rejected compact foundations with remnants of makeup in them, I blotted out the skin under my eyes. It was the easiest of her makeup to use, because I didn’t have to put on mascara with a wobbly hand or unevenly outline my mouth with lipstick. It was easy.  “I look so tired,” I would say to myself, which wasn’t true at all, imitating my mother and painting my skin and making it look uniform with the foundation. “That’s better.”

But it wasn’t. Because my skin was obviously paler than my mother’s, her compact foundation made me look as if I had dark rings under my eyes. I didn’t look pretty like my mama– I looked like a tired racoon. So I tried covering my entire face with it. To me, it felt like I looked better. To others, I looked like an unevenly tan little girl.

Maybe I wasn’t as beautiful as my mama was when she put makeup on, but at least I could copy her and try to be. A big part of it was that I wanted to show her that I was grown up, and the way that I could do that was copying her makeup.

I had this odd obsession with the skin underneath my eyes– my eyes are kind of big, so when I was younger the skin under my eyes also looked a bit big, but because I hadn’t grown into myself yet and lost all my baby fat in my face it was more prominent. I thought I looked tired when I really didn’t, and my mom saying that she looked tired didn’t really help.

I’m not sure that my wearing makeup at nine had much to do with self image other than that.

When I was little, I would say that a big portion of my life was trying to act/be older than I was. Although I was a bit sheltered growing up– I was brought up to be extremely dependent on others– I still strived to be older and mature. I looked up to people like my mom or actresses that I saw on Disney Channel or my teachers or my friends who were allowed to be more independent, and I wanted to be like them. Wearing makeup was one way that I could do that. There was one other thing that I did to try and be more grown up– but I’ll tell that story another day.

I guess that nine is a young age to start wearing makeup. But all I wanted to do was feel like I was beautiful and grown up like my mom.

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