All I want for my birthday is you . . . to vote!

Hey everyone,

I am getting older.

Now before you instantly click out of this blog post, hear me out. Or read me out.

Okay, still with me?

My birthday is November 1st and I will be turning a whopping 23 years old.

And for some reason this one has got its claws in me because 23 comes with expectations . . . like that I stop buying SpongeBob Kraft Mac & Cheese from the supermarket. To be fair, 22 also came with its fair share of expectations and I managed to ignore most of them quite effectively.

But I digress.

Usually around my birthday I think about all the things I meant to accomplish and didn’t. Y’know, stuff like, write a novel in three weeks.

Because how cool would that be!

(For all you NaNoWriMo-ers out there . . . it’s not going to happen for me. Just . . . no)

And then I start thinking about all the causes I believe in and should have done more to support. Planned Parenthood. The Trevor Project. Marriage Equality.

That’s when a nice layer of guilt settles in.

So I’ve decided to try something new: I’m asking all of you to grant me a very simple birthday wish.

Vote.

Please, please vote.

Pretty please? With a cherry on top? And then some whipped cream because that sounds delicious.

I don’t even care who you vote for–okay, maybe that’s not entirely true. I care because I spend a large percentage of my time worrying about equality in this country. Or y’know, the lack of equality. Then again seeing how women still don’t have equal pay I don’t understand how people can afford to be apathetic. Oh, and when a certain group of politicians believe they know what is best for my body and are taking steps to eliminate my choices…

But even though I disagree fundamentally with Romney/Ryan, I hope you vote.

And if you’re not old enough to vote yet . . . please bug people.

I mean it.

You have my full permission to say: sorry, Marni Bates told me to annoy you about this!

Go talk to your parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, older siblings, friends, classmates . . .  and ask them what issues matter most to them.

Ask them to consider your future.

I’ve noticed that with family members puppy dog eyes can go a long way.

And here’s the truth: some people don’t want to think about what it is at stake for our country. It’s easier not to care when the problems feel so big.

But I will never forget the way my older brother laughed at me in elementary school when I told him I wanted to be a marine biologist. He said that female marine biologists didn’t earn nearly as much as their male counterparts. I remember glaring at him and calling him a jerk and a liar. I said that we lived in America!

Then I looked it up . . . and I was heartbroken. I was absolutely crushed. I felt betrayed by my own country. And I felt so achingly powerless. I never did become a marine biologist, but that was the day I became a feminist. That day I decided that I was going to be part of the fight for equal pay for equal work.

My brother still calls me naive, but I do believe in this country. And I think it can be better.

Voting is the way to make that happen.

Fun fact: these people think so too.

So if you don’t want to think about it–tough luck. Because I don’t believe any of us really have that luxury. Not when equality and basic human rights are at stake.

Not when a portion of the government wants to legislate on love. Not when politicians are trying to tell women who have been raped that if it wasn’t forcibly done . . . well, it just wasn’t legitimate then.

That’s when I don’t care if you don’t like the choices for president. That’s when I don’t want to hear a lame excuse about how one vote doesn’t matter.

This is your chance to be heard. It’s a chance to make other people hear you.

A way to stand up for something that you believe in.

So if you want to give me the very best kind of birthday present, please encourage people to exercise their hard-fought right to vote.

I also wouldn’t say no to a Starbucks gift card. Or maybe a new pair of headphones.

*Waves to mom as she reads this blog entry*

Phew, okay. I’m feeling a little bit better about turning 23 now.

Sincerely,

Marni

P.S. Logan wants me to tell you that he thinks voting is sexy. So there you have it.

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Birthday-ish Blog!

Hey everyone!

I am officially 22!!!!!

I had an absolutely fantastic birthday! Actually, I got the whole Birthday Celebration kicked off early with a visit from my mom. I showed her around Portland, which translates to the two of us wandering around looking at art and drinking copious amounts of Starbucks. My definition of a perfect day.

 

My lovely mom. Without her support, I wouldn’t have my writing career. Or, you know…life.

Then on my actual birthday I went out for dinner with some friends, which inevitably led us to Powells. And then when my friend Laura asked me to introduce her to the world of romance novels…well, things got a little crazy.

See, when I’m excited my Italian genes kick in and I can’t stop making sweeping hand gestures. Which is how I nearly smacked my friend Emily in the face.

To be fair: I was telling them about Tessa Dare’s latest, A Night to Surrender, which was unbelievably good. So when I was explaining about the sheep bombing, I might have gotten a bit overenthusiastic.

Fun side-story: I tweeted about how much I loved this book and then Tessa Dare tweeted me back. And I freaked out. I reacted like a twelve year old Justin Bieber fan at a concert. Lots of squealing. And then I stared at my Twitter screen and repeated, “I am not worthy.”

Erm, so I need to work on that. Otherwise when I eventually meet these authors at the RWA conference, it’s just going to be embarrassing.

Anyhow, I had a fantastic night out with my friends and I spent my birthday in a little cocoon of happiness.

So it was hard to go Isaac’s memorial service the next day…but I’m glad that I did. The service was absolutely beautiful. There were chess pieces surrounding the chapel and  near the end of the service everyone replaced them with a lit candle. So now I have a pawn dangling off my backpack and the memory of being surrounded by the glow of all those candles.

Best of all, I got a real sense of closure from the service. So it’s pretty much back to life as usual for me. Thank goodness!

Now I can focus on important things…like erm, Twitter?

Sigh. Sadly I think the correct response to that is actually “my Henry James thesis paper.”

Then again, I’m discussing (at length) the phallic imagery in Henry James’s The Portrait of a Lady so I don’t think it’s going to be as boring as I once feared. Plus now I can discuss male genitalia in public while pretending to be classy. Of course, I think I lost classy points when I grabbed a friend from class in the cafeteria and began crowing, “It’s a penis! I get it now! IT ALL MAKES SENSE! How did I miss that keys are codes for penises throughout the whole freaking novel?”

I’ll be sure to post my thesis here once it’s finished so I can try to redeem myself with all of you classy people.

Wow, Henry James was way cuter than I expected!

Although, after going to see David Sedaris I’m not so worried about my class-o-meter. I feel like as long as I don’t discuss people pooping in their hands, I’m doing okay. I have to say, I really dislike it when people say the crudest things they can think of for a cheap laugh. I’m generally not laughing if that’s all you’ve got.

I prefer really sophisticated humor, like tripping and food-related accidents.

And on that note, I need to get some breakfast!

More Later!

~Marni

 

Life and Death Situation

Hey everyone!

(This is one of my darker blog posts but hang in there. I think it’s worth it.)

Two weeks ago I found out my friend Isaac was dead.

And I didn’t see it coming. Nobody expected it because it was a random accident that could happen to anyone at anytime. I still don’t know much beyond the fact that he was skateboarding in Portland and then…then he was in a hospital and he didn’t wake up.

Now you see him…now you don’t.

And when I was told via Facebook and clicked on his page and saw all those rest in peace messages, I didn’t believe it. I just stared at the screen and thought, wow, what a completely un-funny joke. 

Then I figured out it wasn’t a joke at all.

I didn’t know Isaac very long but he was an incredible human being. He tutored me every week for my Perspectives in Mathematics class last year. Well, that’s not entirely true. He had certain hours at the Math Skill Center and I memorized them because I knew Isaac would make even the most daunting of my assignments fun. Since I got an A- in the course, I can say with some confidence that Isaac worked miracles.

I think we became friends that first day when we played checkers on a torus. I oh-so-charmingly tried to psych him out and kept insisting that I was messing with his head.

Then I informed the professor that I was “kicking the T.A.’s ass!”

I miss Isaac.

I didn’t see him on a regular basis but I found it comforting to know that he was around. He was one of the good guys that redeemed his gender on the rare occasions when I felt bitter and cynical. So when I discovered my lovable safety net had been cut down, I didn’t know how to handle it.

Denial soon became a good friend of mine…until I moved into grief. Crying helped but it wasn’t enough. I needed a way to avoid the pain. That’s when I immersed myself in romance novels. Dozens of them.

Note to self: romance novels can’t actually raise the dead.

I’m doing better now, partly because I went to see one of the therapists on campus. I’m trying to be grateful that beyond the death of my grandpa this is the first loss I’ve ever experienced firsthand. What has helped me the most is my firm belief that Isaac now has the answers to all his questions about the universe. I keep repeating that to myself. And I think I’m handling the loss.

But it’s hard to get excited about my birthday when I know that his funeral will be the very next day.

I guess in a seriously messed up way, it’s a nice reminder that life and death are intimately connected. You know, if by “nice” I meant “terrifying, horrible, rip-your-heart-out nightmare” instead.

Still, I think it is important to live each day to the fullest.

So I’m trying to write again: something I’ve been struggling to do since he died. And I’m doing my very best to appreciate this extraordinary, precious, fragile existence of mine to the fullest extent.

I have a feeling Isaac would approve.

More later!

Marni