Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Carissa Lynn

Carissa Lynn always called me on my birthday. Usually around 6:00 pm. If she didn't call me, it was because she was with me. Every year starting on my 15th birthday she would call. It was tradition.

When I turned 16 she came to my sweet sixteen party. She had just gotten her hair done and wore a pastel pink dress. I remember because it was like a red one another girl wore. She came and brought me a gift card and danced with us. I think she spent the night.

When I turned 17 she gave me the shoes I had wanted since I saw them in the window at Payless and a card talking about how much of an adult I was becoming and how she was proud to be my sister.

On my 18th birthday she called me while I was packing to go to college. She stopped by a few hours later with a big hug and told me to go be the smarty pants I knew I was. She promised to visit.

19. I hadn't seen her all summer. She called me while I was getting ready to go out to dinner with my friends. I told her what I was doing that and she told me to be safe and not to drink. I laughed. My sister the party hard told me not to drink. She told me she loved me and that I better come home and see her soon. I didn't come home until December.

On my 20th birthday I waited for her to call. I waited all day. The night before she had promised to come to my birthday the next weekend. She never called.

She'll never call again.

It has been eight months since my sister died in a car accident the day after my birthday. I will never hear her laugh again. I will never watch her pout because something isn't going her way. I'll never sit in a room uncomfortably and text her when she's sitting two feet away again. We won't take anymore goofy selfies, we won't talk about boy problems, we won't go shopping or go on road trips or talk about how hard work is. She can't drag me along on her adventures anymore. She can't go pub crawling with me on my 21st birthday like she always wanted to. She will never know that the day she said she would come to my birthday party I hung a picture of her on the wall in my bedroom so she could see how much I cared about her. She will never know how much I miss her every single day and how unfair it is that she left me here without her. She will never see how good I'm getting at photography. I know she would have enjoyed that last bit because she always had to have pictures of herself wherever she went. She needed her own personal photographer, honestly.

And sometimes I think I'm over it. Sometimes I feel like I've adjusted to life without her. But then I hear a joke or see someone or hear some gossip and think "I have to tell Carissa". Sometimes I start to text her that I miss her and that she should come over soon only to realize that she isn't staying away because life has occupied her. Sometimes I see pictures of her on Facebook and I cry just because I remember those days and those pictures and how she was when they were taken and she was so alive and there was a guarantee that she would be there the next day hanging out and now she isn't there, and she isn't alive and I know I am selfish for thinking about all the reasons her life benefited mine,  but that's why we miss people and don't even argue this point with me. We miss people because we miss what they add to our lives. Carissa added a lot to mine, whether or not I liked all of it is a different story for a different time, but I miss her. I miss my Smalls.

She hated it when I called her that. But to me, she will always be Smalls. And to me, she will always be my sister, even if its only in our hearts. I miss my sister.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

The B Word and Women Who Live Up To It.

The other day I was explaining to someone that above anything else, I hate being called stupid. "You can call me a bitch, I don't care, but don't call me stupid" was the phrase that came out of my mouth, actually. And this person gave me the strangest look. I could tell they didn't understand why the word bitch doesn't offend me. I can understand why it is supposed to be offensive, I guess. But the word bitch is such a petty word, and people like to sling at me when I'm working to achieve a goal, or I'm trying to get a group of people to do something, or attempting to be productive and do things with my life.

If I were a man, no one would call me a bitch for attempting to get ahead in life. They would call me driven, motivated, a natural born leader. I would have a good head on my shoulders and other such cliches. If I were a man and got called a bitch, someone would be attempting to make me send feminine because I wouldn't ask a girl on a date or something. Bitch is a word used against women we are trying to accomplish things and act like men, but then used against men when they act like women.

But if getting shit done and going somewhere in life means I'm a bitch, then hell yeah. I'm definitely a bitch and I will own that. And yeah, sometimes people call me a bitch because I tell the truth and don't normally filter myself, but why live life tiptoeing around people and trying to sugar everything up? It is easier to be blunt and honest and live truthfully than to just dance around a topic and hold everything in until it explodes in your face.

You know who else is a bitch? Hillary Clinton. A lot of people don't like her and say she is bitchy and rude, and bossy and just awful. You know what else Hillary Clinton is? More powerful than you. That Pants-suit aficionado can be bitchy as much as she wants, when you're the ex-secretary of state and were so good that people are pushing for you to run for President because you're (in this blogger's opinion) that amazing, you can be as bitchy as you like. If Hillary was a man, people would just say she was good at her job, that she was a good politician, that they would be upset if she for some reason didn't run for President in 2016. But no, poor Hillary has to be a woman and get called a bitch for being a damn good politician and then get questioned on whether or not she would be a good President because she's a new grandmother. OHMYGOD.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the second woman ever to be appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court, and an advocate for gender equality has been being called a bitch since she was in law school, before she was sworn in during the Clinton Administration.

Think of a powerful woman. Chances are, she has been called a bitch. Because in this society, people cannot handle women having more control or power than men. But, as the wonderful Tina Fey and Amy Poehler put it, "Bitches get stuff done!". So go ahead, call me a bitch, I'll see when you're washing my car.

Actually, stop using that word in a negative way because young women are afraid to pursue careers in politics, or law, or any field where they could be called a bitch, or bossy, or cold, or aggressive. Reporters will call a woman a micromanager and in the next sentence, regale a man for working tirelessly to make small improvements. Women "complain", men "address tough issues and seek solutions". Women are bitches, men are leaders. Women are bitches, men are assertive. Women are bitches and therefore unfit to be hired for high ranking positions, yet men have anger issues and are seen as hard-asses who will get the job done.

I guess the point I'm trying to make here is no, calling me a bitch will not offend me. Because to me, and because of the way that society has twisted that word, it means that you are just afraid that I am going to be more powerful than you someday. Which is probably true. Call me when I'm the tyrant of a small island. But the word bitch is actually harmful to young women who maybe are more fragile. So stop calling girls bitches because they are doing better than you and just start trying harder.

Alexis Olmstead is a 20something living in Okanogan County who frequently stays up too late and writes barely understandable blog posts. Mostly because of the fact that it is 1 in the morning and at this point she is just doing a stream of consciousness thing. Which is really hard when you're half asleep. For more nonsensical ramblings about hot topics, check back often. 

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Getting To Know Me

I've gone through a lot of phases in my life, and sadly, most of them have been in an attempt to fit in with people. Because for a long time all I cared about was being included. I know I preach a lot of individuality proverbs, but it is because I took a long time to figure that out for myself. Sometimes I think it was easier to be in 7th grade with a solid group of four friends so I didn't have to try to fit in with so many people in so many circles.

I've always told people that I pride myself on staying true to me, but that hasn't always been the case. I've been an extreme socialite, I've been the class flirt, I've been the teachers pet, I've been the funny girl, the mean girl, the extrovert. And while I may be some of these things to a certain degree, telling the world that I am absolutely any of these things isn't exactly true.

It is time I became fully aware of my true self. And while I may be a far way off from fully developing as a complete being and adult (come on guys, I'm only 20), I can aid in the process so as not to delay it any longer.

Who am I?

I am someone who sits alone in their room and crochets coffee cozies while binge watching Netflix because it seems like more fun than putting effort into small talk with an acquaintance. I hate small talk. It terrifies me. Because I hate small talk I am often awkward. There is nothing wrong with being awkward or not liking small talk. It is a sign of the introvert. Also, in case anyone was confused, I am actually an introvert. I am REALLY bad at flirting. I used to pretend I was good at it, but no, let's face it. I'm awful at it. I told a guy the other day that when I was famous he could be my butler. I was so embarrassed I escaped as soon as possible. I practice jokes in the mirror so I don't stutter when I deliver them. I constantly fear that people won't like me because I'm kind of weird. I love to write. I love words. I love that words can be made into something beautiful, and don't think it is fair that not everyone is good at writing. I believe that writing is the most amazing form of self expression there is. I love reading. I used to read three books a week. I used to try to read three books at a time, even. I stopped reading three books a week because someone made fun of me in middle school for being a book worm. You don't think words have lasting effects? Tell that to 13 year old me. I cry really easily, especially in stressful situations. I stress out really easily. I mean, REALLY easily. I get over things pretty quickly, but I'll stress about them for at least five minutes first. I am a survivor of child abuse and hate to see children hurting in any way. I don't like to be touched unless I initiate the contact. I'm not really that mean, I'm just too witty for my own good and I hate to be called stupid. Seriously. For some reason that is what people attack first. They never go after the way I look or how I talk or how I dress, they jump to how dumb I am, and I am so proud of my intelligence and my capabilities in the world of education that I get insulted super easily. In fact, most of the reasons I tell people off is because they have called me stupid or talked down to me. I refuse to let people talk badly about my friends or family. I have a big vocabulary and I am not afraid to fight with words in order to protect their honor. I'm the baby of the family, I'm a grandma's girl, and sometimes I get really lonely and sad. I want all the attention all of the time but also I really want to be left alone. It is a tough predicament. I love the smell of rain and the way grass smells after it has been cut and the sound of my friends laughing. I like giving gifts and I hate opening things in front of people because I don't know how to react. I am afraid that I will let people down and they will give up on me. I am afraid I will end up like my mother. I know I won't, but it is still a fear that I have. Sometimes I am so angry about the way I am treated because I am a woman that I literally cry. I think Femi-Nazi should be a dirty word. People used to tell me that I reminded them of my missing father so much that I tried to become him. I am not my father. I'm just his daughter. I can usually find humour in most situations, because if we don't laugh at ourselves how will we survive? I started a clothing donation project purely because I saw a girl at a choir concert look embarrassed in her sweat pants and I went home that night, knowing exactly how she felt and cried, then vowed to make a difference. I am happy, most of the time. I may have a somewhat bitchy looking face, but I love laughing, and being joyful, and enjoying life. I might be a little crazy, and I might be a little weird, and I might be an introvert, but I am a wonderful person.

I am Alexis Marie Olmstead and I refuse to try to be anyone else any longer.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

I Am Not a Failure

I am going to warn you in advance I'm posting this from my phone, therefore the words and grammar and such may be wonky. I'll fix it later. 

Sometimes I feel like a complete failure. I look at my life and what I've accomplished so far and I feel awful about myself. I haven't gone back to college yet, I've never done anything astounding with any of my talents, and right now my goal in life is to pay the bills. I mean, I have dreams, but sometimes I think that everything I've ever wanted is just going to be a dream. I feel like I'm going to be a small town nobody. Because this is one of my biggest fears, I think about it constantly. 

But at times like these someone usually comes along and makes me feel better about the situation. But recently, I grew up (I know, right?). And I have discovered that sometimes you have to be your own best friend, your own shoulder to cry on, and your own inspiration. 

So whenever I start to feel like a failure I remember a laundry list of reasons why I'm the exact opposite. 

When I was 13, I reported my mother for child abuse and saved myself and my brothers from a life of terror. 
Until I was 13 I played mother to my two you get brothers and made sure they were on the bus everyday for school. I taught one of them to read. I did the cooking most nights. I did all the cleaning. I played parent to myself. I made sure that my homework and my brothers got done before we went to bed, I made up all homework that I missed from being forced to stay home and take care of my brothers.
A little girl told me once she wanted to grow up and be like me, and as much as that scares me, someone saw something in me that they wanted to emulate forever . 
I have never been turned down for a job. 
I make all my money and pay all my bills alone. I paid for the schooling I did receive and I pay for the student loans leftover from that year. 
I have beautiful eyes that light up when I smile and people tell me that my smile makes them want to smile, too. 
I'm a damn good writer. 

I feel that everyone needs to know that they are not a failure. Even if you're not where you want to be in life, you are amazing and even though we are taking the road less traveled to our dreams, we will make it. I swear. We are amazing, reader, and we are inspirational, even if we are only inspirational to ourselves. I inspire me to be a good person. 13 year old me did everything she could to be a successful human being, I refuse to let that little girl down. 

I am not a failure and in the dark nights where I sit and think I am, I'm going to look back on this post and remember that I am indeed an okay human with a future as bright as I want it to be. 

Alexis Olmstead is a full time diva and a part time waitress. She is currently starring in OVOC's "Wizard of Oz" as Dorothy while trying to get to the other side of her personal rainbow. 

Monday, May 5, 2014

Dissociating From My Gender

Everywhere I go, no matter what I'm doing or who I'm around I hear some variation of the phrase "I'm not like most girls". And most people don't think anything of it. But that phrase really bothers me. Like, REALLY bothers me.


To me saying "I'm not like most girls" is an attempt at separating oneself from the female gender as a whole in order to be looked at in a more positive light, as if being a woman is bad. I mean, there are many reasons why we could be led to believe that, but it is really hard to choose which example to go with here, considering women get paid less than men simply because they are women, rape victims are blamed for getting raped because there is this weird belief that a woman is an object of sexual pleasure not an actual human being, we are seen as weak, fussy, needy, high maintenance, and countless other negative things. So I can see the need to make a statement and say "hey, I'm not all those bad things you think women are". But repeating the tired "not like most" cliche statement isn't the way to do it. Because saying that phrase implies that you believe that those are negative traits that a woman has. And that isn't true. Also, saying you're not like most girls kind of makes you just like most girls, reader. You're defeating yourself.

If you want to prove that you truly are a special snowflake, prove it by the way you act, show that women aren't these negative things to be used and thrown away or disrespected. Prove that you're just as worthy as a man and unique and wonderful in your own special way. Because like it or not, you are a woman/girl, and to make yourself different you needn't do anything but be proud of your crooked smile and less than perfect hair. Be proud of you for being you. But don't throw the rest of our gender under the bus in an attempt to make yourself look cooler in front of guys and/or other girls.

Here's the thing reader: if you're a girl, chances are, you're probably like most girls. Sorry. Humans are humans are humans and there are things that are just part of the human condition. But there are things that you do and character traits that you have that make you unique. And so no, you don't have to confine yourself to the box members of the patriarchy would have you huddle in, but remember just because one person thinks it bad to be a female doesn't mean it actually is.

Alexis Olmstead is a 20something living in Okanogan County, WA. She is a part time waitress and a full time diva who is currently playing Dorothy in Okanogan Valley Orchastra and Chorus's production of Wizard of Oz. For more rants and reflections on life, check back often.