Geaux Vote

I want to walk you through my experience as a first time voter. I don’t want to persuade you to vote for any individual–rather, I want to talk to you about the voting process because I think my writing it out may be insightful for someone who may be anxious about voting or may not be sure if they plan to.

Registering to Vote

I registered to vote when I was 18. I did it on my phone, laying in bed, and the only time I moved was to ask my roommate to bring me my wallet.

To become a registered voter in my state you must: be a US citizen, be a resident of the state, be 18 by/on the date of the election, cannot be under an order of imprisonment, and cannot be under a judgment of full interdiction or limited interdiction. If you meet all those requirements but do not have a driver’s license or special ID card, you CAN still vote; you just have to print out your registration forms and mail them to the Registrar of Voters where you reside. You will also need your social security number–at LEAST the last four digits. If you do not have any of those three things, you STILL are eligible to vote; just include–when you mail your registration forms–a form of photo identification and any kind of government document which shows your name and place of residence (for example: a utility bill or a bank statement). Personally, I had a driver’s license and I knew my SSN, so I filled everything out online.

Now, when you register in my state, which political party you identify with is actually very important. Being an Independent–or, having no affiliated party–limits you as a citizen in terms of voting. For example, my roommate was unable to vote in the primaries because of her “No Party” identification. I don’t want to discourage you from picking whichever political party (or lack thereof) you feel is most applicable to you. I would, however, encourage you to look up the laws in your state surrounding how you can vote as an Independent.

Before I Voted

I don’t know if it’s common to have these, but there’s a nifty little app here that tells me everything. The home page of said app allows me to access:

  • polling locations (for early voting and election day voting)
  • a sample ballot
  • information about my district
  • current elected officials
  • ways to contact my registrar(s) of voters
  • my personal voter information
  • an option to receive reminders about early voting and election days
  • election results (by item being voted on AND location)

I used this app’s sample ballot to see what I would be voting on before I went in–for me, it included the Presidential election, a Senator, a U.S. Representative, and six constitutional amendments.

While I think voting on federal government elections is extremely important, I think what a lot of people forget is that “down ballot” voting–or, voting for local government officials/decisions–is extremely important as well, possibly even more so. I say that because what decisions my elected state officials will make are far more likely to affect me directly and, sometimes, immediately.

So instead of voting just for the presidential election, I voted for everything. And I didn’t go in blind, either. I used the sample ballot as a basis for who or what I did research on. Each position listed the candidates running for said position and their political affiliation; unless I already knew who I wanted to vote for, I looked for the people affiliated with the same party as me, and voted for whomever I thought was best for the position. I looked up breakdowns of each constitutional amendment from local news sources I trust, and made my decisions. I based some decisions off of how it would directly affect me; I based others off of how I thought it would affect the state as a whole.

Going Vote

I chose to early vote. The line was long. It was hot outside. It was 2PM and I had not eaten a single thing all day. I almost forgot my wallet in my car. Parking was awful. The first person I talked to when I got inside announced to the room that I was  First Time Voter. Considering I was wearing a “2015 High School graduate” t-shirt and patterned leggings, I don’t really know why he was surprised. But, I digress.

The woman who helped me was kind, checked on me twice, and walked me through every step. I didn’t feel judged, or unwelcome. I did my civic duty, grabbed a sticker, and walked out. And I didn’t expect to feel good about voting, but I did.

The process leading up to voting is daunting. It feels time consuming and like it’s not worth much. But it is worth something. Your vote does matter; to suggest otherwise is just an excuse for your laziness or unwillingness to educate yourself.

Some helpful resources when going through the voting process are How to Vote on YouTube and, hopefully, the website for the secretary of state in your state. Happy Voting, my dudes.

-Happy Halloween, Hurricane Hope

Death: A By-Product of Living

I got a lot of Dead People, is usually what I tell people.

Sometimes they let out a laugh of surprise. Sometimes they somber up. Sometimes they get super awkward super quick.

I don’t mean to be tactless about having Dead People. It’s just…I’m nineteen. I’ve got a dead stepmom, father, uncle, grandfather, aunt, and a few distant relatives. From the time that I was eleven until I was sixteen, someone died every year. That stopped until I was eighteen when my dad died. So, I’ve got a lot of Dead People.

I’m at a point where I can comfortably say that I understand Death as simply a by-product of Living. Which, I think, is probably a John Green quote or something.

What I’ve been trying to say is that I’m comfortable telling people that I’ve got Dead People. I’m comfortable answering questions, and I do so with 100% honesty. I treat it all as facts. Because they are.

The struggle isn’t telling people about my Dead People. The struggle is telling people about my Dead People before they were Dead.

Tonight I realized I had made some academic fumbles–which, I’m sure, I’ll write about sooner or later. To cope with the kind of overwhelming academic stress that makes me want to cry, I bake. But I can’t bake in a dorm room, so I called my Big, who lives off campus, and made a quick Walmart trip. And I baked homemade cookies in her apartment.

While I was there I met her roommates for the first time. The stress of school overwhelmed me so much that I couldn’t even be nervous about meeting new people. We all fit in together perfectly. I was comfortable and happy.

My Big and I talked Frat stuff, and boy stuff, and school stuff. And then, somehow, we talked Family Stuff.

That’s great that you don’t drink, one of her roommates’d said. And I smiled but didn’t say more, because I really didn’t want to have that conversation.

A little later, it came up again.

Why don’t you drink? If you don’t mind me asking.

And I didn’t look at Taylor, but I think she expected me to be as tactless about it as I normally am. I can tell you, but it will make you uncomfortable.

Why? Is it something stupid like “Drunk People are Dumb”?”

Just tell her, my Big said.

So I did. My dad was an alcoholic who drank himself to death.

And her face froze up, and I watched her not know what to say. I laughed to hide my annoyance (Told ya.) and went back to moving cookies from pan to plate.

My grandfather died from the same thing, like he literally drank himself to death too.

I wish I could live in the minds of people right before they respond to my statement. Because the “I understand you” is absolutely the worst. Closely followed by, “I’m sorry.”

Her family is like really screwed up, my Big said about me.

And, yeah, it is. But she kept going, Her stepmom died when she was fifteen.

And, yeah, she did. One part of me itched that someone else was spilling those facts. Another was happy that I didn’t have to say them, for once.

The only person who ever got it right was Steven. A blimp of a person in my life, who wasn’t significant for very long but had a lasting impact.

When I told him that I had a lot of dead people, he said, Me too.

And he was a soldier, so I believed him.

When I told him that my dad was dead, he apologized.

Don’t be sorry, you didn’t kill him.

And when I told him my stepmom was dead, he didn’t say anything.

Sometimes people want their grief to be analyzed. Sometimes people want to be told–It’s okay, they forgive you, they’re at peace.

But me? I just want to talk about it on my terms. I want you to let me. Then I want to move on.

-HH

The Universe Doesn’t Owe You Anything

I decided to focus on my academics. Not even a day later, a cute guy from my German class was texting me, inviting me to lunch, inviting me on study hangouts, inviting me to his house. For a split second, I let myself get wrapped up in it all again. I thought the Universe was granting me a romantic interest for actually going to class and prioritizing.

Then I remembered my motto: the Universe doesn’t owe you anything.

I took a step back from our lunch date and thought about how it made me feel. I got a little bored. I didn’t feel listened to. I didn’t feel like I was talking to a genuine person; he bragged about his intelligence, told me stories about his personal growth in a condescending manner, made several sexual suggestions that I wasn’t comfortable with. Asked about hooking up with me despite the fact that I openly told him I was not going to hook up with him or fool around with him or do anything with him. But he’d made me laugh, and he’s the first guy to look at me romantically in months. So I went with it, until I got my head back on straight.

Now I’m ghosting him.

N.A.U.L. and I had a scarily genuine conversation about our relationship.

I hope things go well with the New Girl, I told him.

I don’t feel like you mean that, he responded.

Believe it or not, I really do. The back and forth has gotten old.  I deserve someone who will think I’m worth being with. It’s nothing against you, I just am happy being friends.–Is the condensed version of my response.

Good, I’m glad we’re on the same page.

I remember reading that and laughing. I was honest with him. We were always on that page. I just didn’t want us to be.

And I may have lied to him. And I’m also sure he knows. But I will not lie on here.

I’m not okay being friends. I do hope things go well with New Girl. I do deserve someone who thinks I’m worth being with. But he does think I’m worth it. That’s not the problem.

I had flashbacks to the festival I went to over Fall Break.

What does he say when you ask why he won’t be with you? His friend asked me.

He says he doesn’t want to lose me, I rolled my eyes.

That’s a pretty good reason, he responded. And then he looked a little apprehensive before he said, Maybe he thinks he’s not good enough for you.

And, yeah, I know that’s a reason. I know it’s the reason.

But I’m not Aching. I’m Boxing. And I’m video chatting with him while he tells me that he expects to be dumped by New Girl soon.

-HH

 

Fuck Forever

Here’s the thing. I read fanfiction. Like, often. It’s my stress relief, my drug of choice, my go-to procrastination method. My favorite fanfiction trope? Soulmates. Meant-to-be’s. “My name gets inscribed on your wrist when you turn 18 and vice versa” or “The first words I say to you are written on your body somewhere” or “I looked at you and knew that you were it for me for forever.” That’s it. Forever is my aesthetic.

Fuck Forever.

It’s not applicable in real life, and I know that–I understand that the trope is a trope because it’s not a real life thing. I’ve never seen it work that way in real life. I had never met a married couple where both spouses had never been married before until I met my stepdad’s parents. And then, when I was eleven, his dad died. Forever is not a concept my life has ever shown me to be true.

So why am I so obsessed with it?

Today I went shopping with my sister, and out loud I told her, “Maybe I’m just not trying hard enough.”

“What?”

“To find a boyfriend.”

“Oh jeez,” and she said it kind of jokingly, but I knew it wasn’t a joke.

“Maybe I’m not putting myself out there,” is what I said.

Maybe I just haven’t met Forever yet, is what I didn’t say aloud.

I don’t hook up. I commit. Hard. I am the epitome of Romantic All or Nothing. I get invested. I love with every fiber of my being. What does that mean?

Means I don’t love that way often. Means I’m aggressively unwillingly to let myself get attached to people who haven’t proven themselves to me. Means I’m alone a lot.

I drove back to school not long after we roamed Marshalls for a bit. I thought about my junior year of high school. It was my best year, not that the sophomore year of college hasn’t been a close second. There’s still time.

Why was it the best? Well, I went into the school year attached to this mistake of a Not Relationship. It was over by September. And what did I do for the rest of that year? Threw myself into my academics. Played two sports. Joined clubs. Got a 30 on the ACT. Stayed single, stayed uninterested in romance, and read fanfiction.

I want to go back to that me. It’s been so hard for me to, but I want to. I miss my drive for school. I miss my drive for…everything. The only thing that makes me happy these days is being around my stupid (not actually) Unrequited Love and driving.

When I went home for the weekend, Not Actually Unrequited Love picked me up around 11 and we drove the three hours to the beach. It didn’t make me feel as good as I thought it would. You know what did?

Transcribing my notes for Astronomy–which I have a D in.

So I’m trying to find her, to find the girl that’s okay with Forever being  a fanfiction trope and reality being SchoolStress. I thrive under SchoolStress. I feel like I have a purpose under SchoolStress. For a long time it’s felt like the only defining thing about me is my intelligence–not that I was the most intelligent in any scenario, ever, but my love for learning and my ability to process knowledge was my  accelerant. Now I’m just burning. And I’ve always been the type to work alone, so now I have to figure out how to put myself out.

So Fuck Forever. Give me a book, instead.

(This post was written in a fit of frustration with myself and should not be judged for its eloquence.)

-HH

Aching

As aforementioned in my previous post, I just got off of Fall Break. It fell in line with an annual festival held in my hometown, so I got to go home and help my parents move out of my childhood home while simultaneously helping my sister and brother-in-law move into that same home, and then I got to spend the subsequent two days lounging along the levee, eating overpriced food, and listening to music. It was good; I needed the break from school.

I’ve been back at school for a few days now, and I’ve felt sideways ever since returning.

See, there’s a boy.

Of course there’s a boy, right? Anyway.

I’ve known him since I was twelve. We dated once, when I was fourteen, and didn’t talk for a year or two after that because of a bad breakup. But we’ve always been friends. All of my friends I’ve had to work with, for years, to understand how they work–and vice versa. He and I were never like that, even in our MySpace IM days. He’s my Soulmate. Sometimes, when we’re together, he says things that I’ve thought a thousand times but never said out loud.

I spent my entire summer with him. This summer truly solidified our relationship for  me, because we have never been closer. We have never spent so much time together. We have never spoken as much and as often as we do.

It began in January when he apologized for a fight we’d gotten into months prior, and then admitted to being diagnosed with depression, PTSD, and anxiety. And, suddenly, we were talking every day again.

It grew stronger in May when I came home from college. We restarted our, usually weekly, midnight IHOP runs. And then he took me for a late night drive. And that was my summer. Late night drives any and everywhere. I don’t sleep much, and neither does he, and we both love to be in the car.

I realized that I didn’t just like him in July, when he told me he’d put a gun in his mouth two months prior. I will never forget that night, or where we were, or what we did, or what I said. I will never forget walking on the beach thirty minutes before, nor will I forget the way he kept trying to create conversation for the thirty minutes after. We thought we saw a dead body that night. We followed a firetruck to a fire that night. That night I found out my best friend wanted to die.

I realized that I was in too deep at the beginning of last month, when it was 4AM, he’d drank an entire bottle of Jack Daniels by himself, and we’d been video chatting since 10PM. You’re the only person that’s kept me sane for the past nine months. I need you in my life. I need to talk to you every day. I’m not going to ruin this by dating you and hurting you, because I need you. If you weren’t in my life, I would be dead by now.

And I haven’t been the same since. I went home over Fall Break for four and a half days. I saw him three of those days. If you kill  my best friend, he told the girl I’d gone to the festival with (who’d been drinking very lightly), I’ll kill you. He’s never called me his best friend until now.

You two are exactly like how we were at y’all’s age, a married couple told us.

And I went back to school, and he had a girl in his bed last night.

Tonight I looked up at the moon, and I thought of him. I remembered the moon on our late night drives. I remembered the moon lighting our path when we went where there were no streetlights. I remembered looking up at it through binoculars he has from WWII in his driveway. I remembered the ache I can hide when I’m an hour and a half away from him. And I let myself ache.

After this post is done, I will box up the ache and study for my Women and Gender Studies exam, and I will paint small canvases for my Little. But for now I will ache. And hope that he calls me tonight.

-HH

The Weirdest Form of Writer’s Block

You know all the Oasis memes? “Anyway here’s Wonderwall,” he says as he tips his fedora.

My writing life may or may not be an Oasis meme. It’s just…there are many things that I would like to say [to you] but I don’t know how, you know?

I want to talk about grief. About forgiving someone who is not around to say, “Thank you.” About apologizing to someone who is not around to say, “I forgive you.”

I want to talk about addiction. About deciding when to say, “Hey, you have a problem and I cannot let you keep on this way.” About overcoming the fear of losing that person in order to make sure they get the help they need

I want to talk about suicide. About losing someone to suicide. About having someone tell you they want to kill themself. About having someone tell you that you’re the only reason they’re alive. About deciding when to stop being the only person who knows your best friend wants to die.

I want to talk about love. About knowing that your love for someone is unhealthy, but being unwilling to leave the relationship. About wanting someone and not being wanted in the same way. About being wanted in the same way that you want someone else, but neither of you is willing to risk a friendship that has finally stabilized after eight years of uncertainty.

I want to talk about desperation. About being desperate to have some sort of certainty in your life. About making sure that certainty isn’t another person. About being desperate to feel loved or liked or safe or sane or just okay in general.

Instead, I will say that my Fall Break was fantastic, and that I bought tickets to see Tool at the end of the month. So I’m excited for that.

-HH

Anxiety Sucks. Period.

Today started off bad.

Last night was great! I spent time with a lot of different people, but I didn’t feel overwhelmed by them. I cuddled a puppy, ate a cake ball, and I got to ride around and see new places. For several hours I got to escape the anxiety which has been overwhelming me all week. I got back to my dorm, ignored the mess I’ve let overcome my room, and got into bed.

Then I couldn’t ignore it anymore. I got up at 10, which is the norm for me on weekends, and I had breakfast. I came back to  my dorm, once again overwhelmed by the mess I’ve accumulated, and crawled into bed. I didn’t crawl out of bed until 3:30.

Saturdays have been great this year. I have breakfast, I get ready, and I tailgate. I don’t drink, but I get to hangout with people that I, usually, know don’t hate me and I can leave whenever I please and overall it’s a positive experience.

Today I didn’t tailgate. It took me two hours to de-clutter my desk and organize my groceries–and not because there was a lot to clean, but because every time I touched something I felt overwhelmed by its existence.

Anxiety isn’t fun. I decided to YouTube some self care videos, because they always help me calm down and make me feel less alone. I stumbled upon one which called anxiety “something that keeps me safe.” I don’t know why, exactly, but it made me angry.

I understand silver linings, I do. I’m at a point in my life where I work to find them in every situation. But there is no silver lining to anxiety.

There is no enjoying the constant feeling like every person I’ve met thinks I’m awful. There is no enjoying hating myself every time I open my mouth because I’m convinced that whatever I’ve said has made the people I’m with hate me. There is no enjoying being unable to leave my dorm room.

Last night I tried to explain it to a friend of mine–that I’m not joking when I say I think people hate me. That I say it as a joke because I can’t control it coming out of my mouth but I don’t want people to feel bad for me or, worse, think I’m weird or, worst, actually grow to hate me because of it. And he didn’t have much to say in response. He was distracted. I don’t fault him for that. We’re not that close.

I used to think I was feeling anxious for attention. That I wanted people to look at me so I pretended to feel overwhelmed. Which, in turn, made me hate myself more.

Why couldn’t I have just come out normal?

I think my anxiety confuses people with whom I try to discuss it. I’m introverted. I have social anxiety. But I’m also loud, and talkative. In the right settings, with the right people I seem completely normal. So when I try to say, “Hey, you know, I have to leave because there are more than ten people here now and it’s making me want to cry.” All I can actually say is, “I’m going to go, I got a headache.”

Because nobody says anything against a headache.

“It’s just us that’s there,” people in my frat say.

My anxiety doesn’t care about who you are to me, I want to scream.

My social anxiety has been almost impossible to talk about. I’m angry that I developed it in such a social and evolutionary part of my life. There is no positive spin on it. It sucks. Clean and simple.

It took me two hours but I cleaned up my room. Tonight I will recharge, because tomorrow I have to spend hours around people again.

Maybe tomorrow will be better.

-HH