The voice of Amanda

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La La Land

Movies are meant to catch you in the feels. I watched La La Land last night, and it did that and more. It rang with the nostalgia of the bygone glory days of jazz and musicals, two things I’m immediately all about. It also reminded me of my streak of dating musicians based out of Los Angeles. 

Ever watch something and it’s almost not enjoyable because it’s too true? The element of escapism vanishes because you’re just watching scenes from your own life? Thankfully the beautiful musical numbers saved me from that, but the conversations could have been taken verbatim from my past. “You’re touring? For how long?” 

The conversations between Sebastian and Mia echoed those I had with a former flame, an incredibly talented jazz musician who prompted me to move to Los Angeles in the first place. His career was growing and I didn’t know where I fit. I was happy for his success but left feeling forgotten and a bit jealous as an artist, too. Was I surprised to see his name roll on the credits of the movie? Not completely. It seemed fitting. The ending of the movie seemed fitting. My ex has had a great career. I saw he did numerous performances with Michael Buble and has toured internationally. He is living his dream. 

And do you know what? I am so happy for him, but thankful we were not together for it. I am glad I have forged my own path and done some incredible things in my career that I know I would have ignored had I been focused on our separation while he toured. I’m far from perfect, and so was he, but in the end I’m proud of his achievements and proud of myself for mine. 

I cried hard during the credits because it all resonated. It wasn’t a sad cry. Plus the girls next to me lightened the mood after I exclaimed “of course my ex worked on this movie!” And they replied “fuck him!” I’m not angry, nor sad, or anything negative. Perhaps wistful is the word. We always wonder what could have been, but I know I made the right choice in leaving. 

I sent him a text to let him know I saw the movie and his name, I hope he is happy and well, etc. To me, it was the smile at the end of the film. It was acknowledging what was and is, and allowing a brief montage of the “if” before we both continue our true existence. 

The ending is only sad if you let it be. 


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10 years

Ten years have now gone by, ten long years since my body and my trust were violated. Ten years of rebuilding my self-confidence, my body image, my perception of sexuality. The letter written to Stanford rapist Brock Allen Turner by his victim brought on a wave of emotion- sadness, anger, frustration. I need to say a few things, too. 

This woman deserved her moment of truth. Her words were eloquent, heartbreaking, honest and raw. She sounds like she could be anyone’s friend, sister, daughter. Her attacker was caught in the moment, her rape was obvious from the moment it happened. And STILL she was tormented during a trial, having to defend herself as if she was guilty until proven innocent enough for the world to care. Despite all this, her attacker only got six months. Six fucking months for forever damaging her. How is this justice? 

The country has surprisingly supported this woman and outrage has been flooding social media regarding the rapist’s light sentence. This story isn’t new. We can’t possibly be surprised that an affluent white athlete was given a pass. Are we suddenly outraged because this victim is the one we needed? The circumstances left nothing for us to judge about her? And even with this ideal victim a rapist gets a slap on the wrist. 

This. This is why I held my tongue ten years ago. Society had already trained me to question how I had brought about my own rape. Did I fight hard enough? I knew my rapist and he was a friend of mine. Maybe I sent mixed signals (even after pushing him off me, crying out “no,” maybe I wore something slutty?). I had been drinking a lot. What was I doing at a club drinking if it wasn’t to “hook up?” Maybe he only did it because he liked me and I shouldn’t be so offended. With these thoughts swirling in my head, I’m not surprised I tried to kill myself shortly after it happened. 

I didn’t want to admit it was rape. I didn’t want to be one of those people who had been raped. The way I would explain it in my head was “I am really confused why he was inside me when I didn’t want that.” It wasn’t until after I tried killing myself and saw a psychiatrist that the word rape was even brought up. At that point, legally speaking, it would be my word against his. And clearly I was crazy, I had just tried to kill myself! Who would believe me? What was the point of pressing charges? 

Years later I found out my rapist had done the same thing to two other women I know, though they were in high school when it happened. From what I understand they also didn’t feel anyone would believe them and kept quiet, allowing him to continuously prey on new women. Our silence was a heavy burden within our own selves and a dangerous pact that guaranteed more to join us. But the legal system and societal norms continue this tragic pattern. We do not believe victims. We judge them. Even when the truth of what happened is right in front of us-witnesses, physical evidence-our legal system does not stand with them. 

I wish I had been able to address my rapist in a courtroom, see the fear in his eyes as he realized the consequences of his actions. I was not someone to strip down and dehumanize, I was not a “passing bit of fun,” I was not your power trip. I didn’t get that moment of reckoning, but I hope this outrage against Brock Allen Turner helps another woman get hers. I hope this outrage creates a backlash against our rape culture, our victim shaming/blaming, our rapist apologists. 

Rapists be warned- you will not be able to hide behind a cloak of alcohol, the guise of athleticism, the blanket of wealth. We are seeing the monster underneath and will plaster your face on every social media outlet until you feel as exposed and vulnerable as the ones you have tried to victimize. Your days are numbered. 

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No good deed…

No good deed goes unpunished, right? I got a taste of that after volunteering at a church I was invited to. I’ve never been hugely into institutionalized religion. I’ve done my stint. Not really something that feels comfortable to me. However, I like helping and volunteering and churches provide those opportunities.

So I work all the freaking time. Like 12 hour days, six days a week. I had just come off a day sort of like that and happened to have $115 in cash, an oddity for my wallet. My gas tank called out to me before making it to the church, so I stopped and pulled out $20 in cash, leaving the remaining $95 safely in my zipped wallet.

I went to the church. I sang. I wrapped gifts for underprivileged kids. It was fun and rewarding, if not slightly awkward with the forced merriment and back patting. After a few hours of this, I drove to Target to pick up a few things I needed. It was at that point I noticed the money missing from my wallet.

Now, despite my crazy working hours, I am not rich by any stretch of the imagination. This missing money made me first feel a bit numb and shocked, then confused, but as I pieced together the day I became sad. I know without a doubt that someone at the church stole it. It’s the only thing that fits in the timeline.

This violation of my private property and the theft of something I desperately need right now caused me a lot of worry. I contacted the pastor to see if I could reach out to the group and make a plea for it to be returned, no questions asked. Imagine my surprise as his call turned ever more condescending and accusatory toward me. I was the other in this situation and his flock would never perpetrate such a “high level of criminal activity.” Let me be clear. I have a pretty decent idea of who stole my money. A 12 year old girl had been sitting almost on top of my bag the whole time. My wallet was easily reached in my bag. I don’t feel like it was stolen with malice, just a bit of greed. The pastor then went on to insinuate that I was trying to leach money from him. Of course that was not my intent- I just wanted to give the person who stole my money the chance to return it.

This experience has reminded me some things in life. I’ve met “criminals” who are good people. I’ve met “God fearing Christians” who are some of the douchiest self righteous sinners. Morals and religion are not the same thing. They can exist quite separately from each other. Guess it’s time to find a nice group of atheists who want to do good deeds simply to be good.


Darren Wilson should be on trial

I sat in my car, patiently waiting to hear the announcement whether Darren Wilson would go to trial for the murder of Michael Brown. My body almost vibrated in anticipation, hoping that there was some chance of justice prevailing in what seemed a pretty clear case of excessive force. As the steady voice droned through my speakers, his words sunk in and I realized we hadn’t turned that corner. It is still okay for cops to gun down unarmed people of color.

Darren Wilson clearly has no remorse for what he has done, evidenced by his television appearance. Even in self defense, shouldn’t you have a modicum of feeling for ending someone else’s life? He also has the benefit of time to rehearse how he tells his story, to fine tune his wording to insist he felt imminent threat on his own life. That’s the trouble. All we have are his verbal statements, but we cannot get into his state of mind. We have to take his word on it. And if he was afraid, was his fear racially motivated? Did his own bigoted ideas influence his decision to act with his weapon? That’s not justification.

As for Wilson’s assertion that Brown beat him severely, evidence photos showed he had no bruising and just a slight pinkness to his cheek. He also said Brown tried to grab his gun. If Brown was so physically assuming and powerful, why didn’t he get the gun?

So what about the forensics. Michael Brown had one close wound in his hand. Everything else was from a distance because he was running away. How is it okay to shoot him to death when he is running away? Where is your imminent fear for your own life in that moment, Darren? Wilson claims Brown turned and started charging him, claiming Brown looked like a “demon.” Brown’s family insists that is ludicrous. Who would charge at the person shooting?

I know not to expect a guilty verdict, but I was hoping to at least see this case go to trial. There must be some consequence of killing an unarmed teenager. If Wilson was afraid of an unarmed 18 year old, maybe he never should have been a cop in the first place. If his natural reaction was to shoot, maybe he never should have been a cop in the first place. Police are meant to serve and protect their communities, not gun down its residents. With all the evidence that has come out, the only thing that seems to make it justified is Wilson saying he feared for his life. How do we disprove his claim? The forensics don’t paint a picture of imminent threat, but the grand jury felt inclined to believe the four hours of testimony from Wilson. Too bad dead boys don’t talk.

There are too many loose ends for this to be considered a closed book. My hope is that a civil case will take the money given to Wilson by the KKK. He is not the person who lost something that day and he certainly doesn’t deserve to profit from his deadly action.

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My love-hate relationship with Facebook

I have a confession to make. I might have had a bit of a Facebook addiction. Don’t worry, its users are slowly helping wean me away from my obsessive habitual timeline checking by doing what online users do best- being assholes.

The faint moment of happiness for the random girl in my 2004 sophomore English class getting a really great Starbucks latte has a way of disappearing when I see people I’ve spent time with posting racist garbage. Maybe our personal encounters were on the light side; a joke here, a beer there. Facebook has opened up the dark part of their character that also happens to dislike anyone who is dark…skinned.

My childhood in rural Idaho was quiet and comfortably white for its citizens (minus the steady gunshot deaths that somehow escaped everyone…but I’ve already spent time on that subject in prior posts). The demographic represented a color palate ranging from mildly pink to the blaring white of our annual snowfall. I somehow escaped the fear and hate of anything and anyone different, even without cable tv! I read a lot of books with varied characters, showing how humanity transcends beyond color or religion. That coupled with my parent’s laid-back approach to diversity allowed me to see someone new with curiosity and friendliness.

Moving to a densely populated city has only furthered my views. I’ve gotten to meet so many people, hear so many stories, eat so many great meals…it baffles my mind that people I grew up with wouldn’t want to enjoy this connection with the world, too.

Sometimes I groan in disgust and simply pass by the comments and pictures hell bent on destroying Muslims or trying to prove how Hispanics are ruining the economy. Sometimes I am so disgusted I can’t help but put in my two cents and point out what they are truly proving- how racist and isolated they are. How can these small town folks call for the eradication of an entire group of people whom they have zero experience with personally and not call it what it is? It sure as hell isn’t the patriotism they claim.

So here’s my challenge. You know that whole “see something, say something” deal? Let’s do that with racism. If you hear someone telling a racist joke, asks why it’s funny. If you see someone posting hateful comments about an entire ethnic or religious group, ask how many people from that group they know. If you see the illogical, take the time to be logical. It may seem pointless, but you never know what random person will hear you or see what you say and realize that they are all out of reasons for their racism.

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The Internet is flooded with opinions on Miley Cyrus’ performance at the 2013 VMAs. “Disgusting!” “Daring!” “She knew the attention she’d get, smart.” I think everyone can agree that it was weird.

I wish that the commentary revolved around her pitchy and sub-par singing, but her tongue and foam finger humping have won out. It’s pathetic to me that people can’t rely on their talent to make headlines and have to jump to tasteless antics. I have a fairly open mind about pushing the boundaries in the artistic world, but I really saw no artistic value to her sticking a foam finger between her legs with her tongue hanging out the entire time, while dancing with a man who sings the glorifying rape happy song “blurred lines.”

Some would say this is her winning because people are talking about it. No such thing as bad press, right? I didn’t have much respect for Miley Cyrus from the beginning, but now I just think she’s classless and doesn’t have any real talent to display. I doubt I’m the only one who feels that way, and I don’t see her picking up new fans from this stunt.

Is this what our entertainment has come to? One can become famous if you have a famous family member and you’re willing to show some skin and get freaky. One can get famous with a sex tape. One can get attention without focusing on their talents, but pushing the limits of eccentricity. This relates to more than just Miley’s VMA performance (meat dress, I’m looking at you).

Shit, I will hate if the foam finger thing becomes a “thing.”

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Paula Deen

Paula Deen has been all over the news. I see memes and comments from people in online forums about how she should be forgiven for something she said “30 years ago” (referencing her admitting to using the N word when robbed at gunpoint). As more and more surfaces about her, it’s clear her attitude towards race is not exactly up to date. Yes she was raised in a “different generation.” So were my parents. My dad is from the south. A bunch of my family still lives in the south. Are some of them racist? Unfortunately so. So what’s the big deal with Paula Deen?

This lady is all about her southern image and upbringing. She has worked up to a point of celebrity, a feat which surely wasn’t easy. I have to admit, I’ve watched her show and giggled, joking with my boyfriend about our dinner needing “more butter, y’all.” She isn’t just a chef. She’s a brand. Her brand depends on the support of big business who carries her show and products. Those big businesses (who also have their own flaws as many online discussions brought up) do not want to be associated with someone who appears to be racist. So there go some of her backers.

“But rappers use the N word all the time!” Okay. I’ve heard black people calling each other the N word, sometimes with good connotation, sometimes bad. Why is it allowed for them to call each other that word? Because they don’t have a history of enslaving another race and using the term to belittle and humiliate. As with other slurs, the word has been reappropriated to take the power from white society. Women have taken the C word and worked to turn the power away from men using it in a similar fashion. Do these words still hurt? I think so, but they are given as much power as one lets them. Not all black people get offended at the use of the N word. But some do, making it offensive as a whole to use that slur.

With Paula Deen, her attitude has not really conveyed much emotion beyond her own personal grief at losing so much. Even news anchors and experts talked about the lack of sincerity within her Today show appearance. She tried to justify her use of the word, but that means she doesn’t feel guilt about using it. Therein lies the problem. It also comes back to comments she has made more recently (see video above) that outline her dated view on race issues in America.

She can be seen as a role model because she is heavily in the public eye. I think it’s good that Americans are talking race issues in light of this whole debacle because it is something that isn’t resolved in our country. There are still people using racial slurs about our first black president. There are still far more minorities in prisons than whites. There are schools that only recently held racially integrated functions (

Paula Deen had a moment to make a stand against racism, but she chose to stand only for herself. I don’t feel sympathy for her or her crumbling brand.