A look back

February 10, 2014 § Leave a comment

I started writing this blog in July 2012.

I’m done now.

The past year and a half has been peculiar. I feel like I’ve lived and died a few times, like I’ve become a different person over and over again. I spent July 2013 on a boys-and-booze bender. I spent last winter hibernating. Sometimes I was fiercely independent, other times I was desperate and needy. These memories all feel like different people.

I started this blog because I was mad at a boy, and I had a view of, at the time, what I thought really wanted in a relationship. I hadn’t been alone in years and was very overwhelmed by the idea of taking care of myself. I decided I was ‘Searching for Peter Parker,’ and started exploring that theme. I eventually just ended up writing about what mattered to me.

Today, it no longer feels like the right fit, especially because I’ve realized that I never really wanted a partner. I wanted to be happy, which is something I’ve found in this city and in my travels the past year and a half. It’s something I’ve found in my writing. It’s something I’ve found in my friends. It’s something I’ve found in me. It definitely isn’t something I found in a man, Peter Parker or otherwise.

Part of the fun of getting older (and I know my family will read this and scold me, saying I’m not even that old) is that you get to look back and laugh at the stupid things you’ve said and done and take pleasure in knowing that you now know better. I feel like I can say that today, as I’m reminded of the things I’ve been catty or stupid enough to write down.

I also know that I’ll be saying these things again in another 18 months–it’ll just be about the Ann Marie I was when I was about to graduate from college and didn’t really know what I was going to do. Maybe I’ll be embarrassed about whatever project I’ve finished by then. That’s fine. I’m going to hope, however, that I’ll be thinking those thoughts in New York, or maybe Australia? Maybe a gutter. Who cares.

I’ve always wanted to strive to be the best that I can be everyday, and while I think this is the best chapter of my life so far, I think the next one is going to be even better. I can feel it in my bones.

I don’t know what’s next, but I’m excited about the possibilities.

Thanks for reading me and supporting me on my silly and somewhat inconsistent journeys. I’ve laughed a lot, which is all I’ve ever wanted to do.

Here’s to growing up. Hear, hear.

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Hookstead is irrelevant, so we need to stop caring

November 5, 2013 § 1 Comment

The Badger Herald website was awash with comments, many angry, over their publishing of “The Creator’s” most recent op-ed in which his majesty tells his fellow college-educated peers that “bad people exist.” He then proceeds to ramble about how rape isn’t bad, but it is, but smoking weed is bad too but no one cares, and women rape too. His structure is abysmal and his argument could easily be shredded, but I am not here to fight with David. (I’ve tried before. He blocked me on Twitter.)
I am here to defend the Herald. The anger at the editorial board many readers have expressed is misplaced. No matter how we feel about rape culture or Hookstead’s views, we must applaud Katherine Krueger and her team for choosing to publish something so controversial. As journalists, their job is to “write, collect and distribute news and other information.” (Thanks, Wikipedia.) They have done this for us. It is our job as readers to then vet the ideas we are given.
David has spoken about women’s issues in the past, often quite candidly. Instead of paraphrasing, I prefer to let his own tweets speak for themselves:
“I’ve noticed that the women that rag on me aren’t very good looking, and the ones that enjoy me are beautiful. Coincidence? I think not.”
“All these feminist women need to stop harassing me. Society doesn’t owe you anything or need to change for you. Read a history book.”
But my personal favorite?
“Worst/funniest pick up line I’ve ever heard: “How do I know we’re having sex later tonight? I’m stronger than you.””
David Hookstead has made a name for himself on this campus by creating UW Confessions, a once-beloved social media phenomenon that has now grown tired. He subsequently used it as a platform to tweet his personal ideology, all while claiming to be a representative of the culture of the university. He has the right to his own opinions, and the right to share them. We also have a right to our own opinions – and the right to disregard his.
Quite frankly, it doesn’t matter what David Hookstead thinks about rape culture. His previous comments have shown us that not only is he sexist, tacky and cruel, he is someone who makes a mockery of rape, and is therefore a proponent of rape culture. It doesn’t matter what Hookstead thinks about rape culture, because he doesn’t know what rape culture is.
It’s time to stop getting so angry about the ludicrous things David is saying and start ignoring them. His attention-seeking rants have long overstayed their welcome. When he makes a legitimate contribution to campus, then we can start listening.
Ann Marie Steib is a senior studying journalism and political science. She works for the Division of Student Life. If you’d like to read her previous piece about David Hookstead, go here: https://searchingforpeter.wordpress.com/2013/07/17/an-open-letter-to-david-hookstead/

An Agnostic Manifesto: Why I Accepted My Lutheranism And What It Means To Me

September 30, 2013 § 3 Comments

I went to a Lutheran high school. This is a foreign concept to a lot of people here at UW. It’s even hard for me to reconcile. After all, I identify as a feminist, socially radical, and most importantly, a thinker. I love science, and I’m not afraid of evolution. I also love learning about other religions. I am not a practicing Buddhist (I shop too much), but I am a regular meditator. I am fascinated by Jewish culture and when invited to events at Hillel or Chabad by my friends, I go. I am pro-choice, progressive, and am not bound by society’s expectations for my body. I have three tattoos and a lot of piercings and I don’t feel that bad about it. I don’t think my gay friends are going to hell and I don’t think Jesus doesn’t love me because I think everybody should have health care. I have never believed a lot of the stuff I heard in church growing up.

But I am Lutheran.

Maybe it’s because whenever I listen to this version of In Christ Alone, I tear up. Maybe it’s because when I go to church I feel like my grandma’s sitting there with me, even though she died six years ago. Maybe it’s because when I tell my sister and father I’d like to go to church with them, my father is unable to hide his grin and my sister breathes a sigh of relief, like maybe I’ll be saved after all. Maybe it’s because my teachers from when I was in kindergarten still remember me, still ask my parents what I’m gonna be when I grow up. Maybe it’s all of these things, maybe it’s none of them. But I don’t care. I love being Lutheran, and I’m not even sure if I believe in God.

I’m sure my statements may be blasphemous to many in the faith, especially those in my community. I do not mean to insult what you hold near and dear. I think that worship and belief in a god is a fundamental part of many human experiences. I have seen the wonderful things faith does for people. I do not believe my grandmother could have fought her cancer so bravely if she had not been secure in her belief that she was bound for something greater in her afterlife. I do not know if my father could have survived losing her without the comfort that he feels believing she’s in a better place. Many of you might say, “Well, that’s fine. They are Lutheran, they are Christians, they are believers in God our Father and Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. You are not.”

I would beg to differ.

I don’t think that I worship the ‘right’ way, at least in what would be defined as as ‘correct’ by any Lutheran. My faith is an intense and personal one, and it often deviates from scripture. Like my father, I do not believe in the Devil. To be clear, I do not believe that anyone is bound for ‘Hell.’ I do not believe that a supreme being could send anyone he loves to eternal damnation. I also don’t know if I believe that Jesus was actually the Son of God. But I do know that I believe that he definitely thought he was, and when he died, he definitely thought he was dying for me, and all of humankind. I don’t believe that the Catholic Church was doing the right things when Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to their door, but I also don’t believe that Luther is one to be revered. (The guy was a raging anti-Semite, for crying out loud.)

For me, I believe in ‘God’ (and subsequently worship him) because when I am at church I feel more at peace than I do any other place. It’s because of the immense community being part of a religion brings that I truly feel relief, not because I believe that I am going to go to ‘Heaven’ when I die. Yet I recite the Apostles’ Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, my Catechism, etc., even when I step back and realize how silly it might look to the untrained eye. It’s not silly. It is familiar. Because it makes me happy. Not because of a fear that if I don’t do it enough, my faith will not be ‘strong enough’ to get me into heaven. Not because I really believe it that a cosmic Jewish zombie was raised from the dead three days after he died on a wooden cross because he really loved me THAT MUCH. Maybe he did. I don’t know if I’m ready to accept that yet. If I get there, I’ll get there. If not? Fine.

Maybe this is selfish.  And yet, “For I am his, and he is mine.” My relationship with whoever we might be worshipping has been one I’ve had my entire life, and even though it is still confusing for me, it is mine and no one else’s to define. Sure, it has been cultivated by the numerous friends I made after 13 years of private Lutheran schooling, 9 years of Sunday School, a church community that still sends me care packages three years after I moved away. Yet it is still mine to do with it as I see fit. If this is really the case, I am Lutheran.

I am Lutheran because I am Midwestern nice. I am Lutheran because I am a casserole connoisseur, worshipper of German beers, and have been to Fort Wayne, Indiana more times than I can count. I am Lutheran because I love being at church surrounded by people I love. I am Lutheran because I am loved by so many people who share this belief. I am saved by the love these people have for me, because I know that few things on earth are better than a community that forgives you anything, even though I know none of them will understand why I believe these things. But most importantly, I am Lutheran because loving all the people around you, regardless of what they’ve done, where they’ve gone, or what lies ahead is something I want to be a part of. And that, in itself, is enough for me.

It’s kind of a funny story.

July 31, 2013 § Leave a comment

My summer, for lack of a better term, has been a coming-of-age movie waiting to happen. I got new two jobs and made a bunch of new friends. I have learned to  support myself financially for the first time in my life. I’m moving onto a new living situation, and I’ve been exploring different people instead of running away from them. For someone that used to let other people fix her problems for her, whether they be financial or emotional, these are pretty big steps. I’m happy with my progress, but I still need more work.

I spent the past year trying to keep my sexual and emotional relationships separate. Whenever I’ve tried to mix those two, I’ve ended up getting hurt. Becoming entangled with your friends is a stupid idea – it ruins things, so I’ve made sure to compartmentalize those aspects of my life. I’ve kept anyone I’m physically interested far away from my friends and even farther away from actually getting to know me. And then I met a boy.

To be fair, I met a lot of boys this summer. They were all good for different things, just like people in general. Every human has a story to tell and a lesson to teach, and I value that. But he was different.

It has been a really long time, like, a REALLY long time, since I have met someone I was so struck by instantly. In retrospect it sounds kind of crazy to write it out – I only met him once and I’ll probably never see him again. He wasn’t extraordinary, we just liked the same things, but that night I truly saw him as God’s gift. It’s gone now, but I don’t think that’s the point. It doesn’t matter what happened that night, it doesn’t matter who he is, or where we were, or the mess I made in my friend’s parents’ yard. It matters how he made me feel. And it matters that I not only needed to write about it, I’m still smiling at the memory.

There is something so beautiful about a memory that is fleeting, about meeting someone you’ll never really know but they made you feel ways you can’t describe. I’ve spent so long being so angry, and when he kissed me I didn’t feel love, or devotion, at least not to him. But I loved myself again for the first time in a long time. I let myself be totally vulnerable to a new experience. I wasn’t expecting him to judge me, I didn’t dread the idea that he might try to cuddle with me after, I wasn’t horrified by the idea of having to talk to him in the morning. And I wasn’t afraid for him to leave, and I wasn’t afraid of him hurting me. Because I can take care of myself now, and it’s no longer a negative thing I do to keep myself safe. I take care of myself because I want to, and it’s satisfying. But most importantly…

He made me laugh. Not a giggle while we were flirting, not a smirk, but my big, obnoxious, choking shriek that I only let people I trust hear me make. ‘Cause it’s hideous, but dammit, it’s my real laugh and if something’s funny, I’m going to do my thing. And the best part was, he made me laugh a lot.

I tell a lot of stories, and I’ve told this one before and I’m sure I’ll tell it again. But for now I’ll just be sparing with the details and hope this makes you think of something wonderful that happened to you – something you don’t want to share with the world, but something that makes you happy. And that happiness itself is what’s worth sharing.

An Open Letter to David Hookstead

July 17, 2013 § 1 Comment

Yo Hookstead – I strongly dislike you. And I have a list of reasons.

One, you’re an idiot:

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(Cool story, bro.)

And two, you’re disrespectful to women:

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(Ladies, seriously? Have any of you actually slept with this guy?)

But the biggest, and most important reason I dislike you is because you claim to speak for the UW community.

You speak falsely. And this is dangerous.

As an employee of the Division of Student Life who works as an ambassador to incoming freshmen and transfer students, I connect on a daily basis with people who are new to UW. They are excited to be a part of an inclusive, intelligent, open-minded, and passionate community. They want to be challenged by thought of others, share their own opinions, but most importantly, feel welcomed and safe regardless of their background, gender, hometown, political beliefs, or sexual preference. And the things you post (which you claim are not your own thoughts) are damaging. They are cruel. And most importantly, they’re moronic.

Case in point:

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Look, you have a right to believe whatever you want to believe. Your politics are your business and I believe wholeheartedly that if you want to buy every gun in America and believe Stand Your Ground is a good idea, go for it. You are within your rights to do so. But to thump your politics using the University of Wisconsin’s name, a name synonymous with open rhetoric, communication, and understanding, you are making a mockery of an institution we all love so much by claiming to speak for it all on your own. You are not UW. We are all UW.

I ran a quarter fucking marathon.

June 17, 2013 § 1 Comment

I have been smiling since approximately 8:30 am Saturday morning. I’m going to tell you why.

But first I should apologize for not writing for approximately two months. Ever since I started serving at Steenbock’s and my new internship started, I’ve been extremely busy and/or tired and/or training and haven’t been writing. And it’s not just here. I haven’t touched my manuscript or screenplay in like a month. Bad, bad Ann Marie. But I’m trying not to dwell on the negative, because I accomplished a major goal this weekend. I ran my first quarter marathon at the Rock’n’Sole race at Summerfest in Milwaukee.

I’ve spent the past four months freaking out about this race for a variety of reasons – what if I couldn’t finish it? What if I finished dead last? What if my ankle crapped out? What if I fell off the Hoan bridge to my death? (I wish I was kidding. I’m terrified of heights.) If all that self-doubt wasn’t enough, I also freaked out about what would happen after I finished it. Would people think it was lame that I cared that much about only 6.55 miles? Would they judge me because I’ve never done 13.1?

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(Me before we left the house – wearing my Fellow Flower and using my number to hide my pure terror.)

When I got in that corral next to my mother, I was shaking. I was positive I was going to vomit all over her shoes. I’d barely been able to run 5 miles the week before, and that was as far as I had gone. I didn’t know if my feet could take it. And it was raining – I had NEVER run in the rain before. The fact that I had made an inspirational playlist and was wearing my ‘Courage’ Fellow Flower in my hair suddenly seemed very juvenile. I didn’t think it would be enough. I was going to crap out before mile 3. But then someone shot a gun and we started running.

I had my first panic attack at about .75 miles. I could see the Mile 1 sign in the distance and I felt like I was going to die already. Why was this so hard? I can comfortably run 3 miles a day, no problem. What was happening to my body? Why did my legs hurt so bad? Oh, you know, because I’d been running up hill the whole time and was too much of a moron to notice. No, seriously. I didn’t realize it until 1.5 when we started running DOWNhill. I think the people around me thought I was crazy when I burst out laughing at what appeared to be nothing. No one mind me, Oblivious Annie over here. Then I proceeded to glide until 2.75 miles, all downhill from here, right? Until we ran off the freeway, went up a block, and then had to run back up an ‘On’ entrance. I think I ran slower than I could have walked climbing that stupid thing.

At mile 4ish, my ankle started crapping out like I had feared it would. Except I realized that nothing bad was going to happen to me if I ran slower. It’s not like I’m getting graded, or I’ll get cut off if I don’t make it in a certain time. I just had to finish. So I ran painfully slow for about a mile until the pain went away. When I finally just had .5 miles left, ‘Danza Kuduro’ came on shuffle and I started to haul ass. And when I saw my mom cheering close to the finish line, I sprinted across that thing. I’m pretty sure some guy took a picture of me, which I have no interest in seeing – but I’m picturing that I look Phoebe running in that episode of Friends, with my teeth clenched like I haven’t pooped in approximately a month.

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(Post-finish line, pre-beer and breakfast. Grateful this photo does not reveal how red my face actually is.)

So what did I learn? That I was being a baby. Because not only can ANYBODY do it, there is truly nothing more satisfying than crossing that finish line. It doesn’t matter that I’m not skinny, or that I’m not that fast, or that I wasn’t going to win.I may or may not have cried. I think my mom did too a little bit. The tears weren’t only from happiness, but the fact that I couldn’t stop laughing that my 71 year old grandfather and I finished at about the same time. Not that it matters. I accomplished it, it is mine, and no one can take it away from me. I see a 13.1 in my future, but for now I just gotta get faster, or that man is going to outlive me.

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(The most unflattering angle I could find, apparently. But I will cherish my participation medal like I won a gold medal at the Olympics.)

PS – Seriously, check out “Fellow Flowers.” The mantras are amazing, the community is so inspiring, and the clothes are really, really fucking cute. Bloom, baby, bloom.

It’s the best and the worst day.

April 14, 2013 § Leave a comment

Today is April 14th, 2013. My grandma died six years ago today, but it’s also my best friend’s birthday. Bittersweet is an understatement.

I’ve wrestled with this for awhile because I want to celebrate my grandma’s life, regardless of the fact that it’s over. I have a tattoo I got in memory of her (see below) so I can carry her with me wherever I go, and that’s helped with the healing process. But I honestly think the best way I can remember her is the way I see her in other people. And I can’t think of a more fitting person than my friend Mindy, who turns 21 today.

Mindy and I have shared a life together, and it’s been amazing. The past year has been hard for us (which is mostly my fault) but her unfaltering love is really amazing. I know she’ll be here when I need her. No matter how angry we are with each other, no matter how much we’re screaming, no one hangs up the phone. We keep talking.

My grandmother always told me that family is for life, that no matter how angry we are with each other, we’re supposed to be there. That wasn’t always present in our family, and that killed my grandmother. It’s still not the case now, though it should be. (Yes, Bill, I’m talking about you.) But it’s the case with Mindy. She is the shining example of what unconditional love is. She is one of the best people in my life, and she’s the pinnacle of what my grandmother wanted me to keep around.

So here’s to you, Melinda Marie Rosen. Here’s to your infectious smile, your goose honk of a laugh, your talents, your generosity, and your big, big heart. You’ve taught me a lot about what being a family means and I am grateful to have found it with you and with yours. I know my grandmother when she saw us together, and I’m confident that that she’s smiling now, somewhere. Ti amo, bella ragazza. The happiest of birthdays, party as HARD as you can, and know that I love you very much.

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