A Letter to My Sister

April 5, 2013 § Leave a comment

Kathryn Elizabeth Steib is the moon of my life, and my sun and stars. Our relationship is truly the only thing in my life that I have ever experienced that I can call true love. Not that I don’t love my parents. I do. My parents are amazing people and I hope to experience what they share some day, their partnership, teamwork, and love is mind-blowing. I am wildly blessed with my family (if there is a deity who can actually bless humans, I haven’t decided yet), but Katie is the greatest person in the world, and she’s the only person I love truly, madly, deeply.

My sister is the epitome of generosity, kindness, and compassion. She loves effortlessly, something that I have struggled with. My sister’s sharing knows no bounds – whether it is her emotions, her empathy, her love. She’s got it all together. Not only that, but she’s wildly beautiful, and also really talented. I mean, look at her! (Sorry I cloud this post with my ratchet hair and awkward squint. She’s much cuter than me.)

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All I can do in life is hope to teach Katie a few lessons. My father’s God put me on earth as her big sister, and I have a responsibility  to her to teach her all the lessons someone should have taught me.

1. Choose who let into your heart wisely.

Everyone knows about my heartbreak. I publicized it widely, I talk about it honestly if people ask me, and I’m not afraid of feeling pain. I was with a boy and he hurt me really bad. That being said, the buck didn’t stop there. I have chosen to let people (b0yz) in since then, and those choices were also catastrophes. Don’t care about boys that are the wrong fit for you. They won’t stick around and they’ll make you feel awful about yourself, when they shouldn’t, because they just can’t give you what you need. They’re a bad idea, Katie, but you won’t be able to resist them! The chances are they’ll be great kissers. BEWARE. Don’t sleep at their houses, don’t let them make you dinner, don’t talk to them about your problems. IT’S A TRAP.

2. Call things as you see them.

When something feels wrong, it’s wrong. Especially if your older and wiser friends agree.

3. GET A MOLLY. GET A KIM.

See previous item. Life is better when you have an older friend to help you learn from their mistakes. I guess I could be your Molly or your Kim, but we are so far apart in age, the chances are when you’re 20 years old, I’ll be 26 and I’ll hopefully have a real job far away, and I won’t be able to hold you when you are sad. Get an older friend. She’ll dry your tears when you’re sobbing in the middle of Park Street, terrified you’ll die alone. She’ll tell you it’s all gonna be okay.

4. The bad boys are the most fun. They also hurt the most.

Anyone who takes you out of your comfort zone will rock your world. The world is big and crazy and full of experiences and you should have them, but you shouldn’t have them because a boy is showing you the way. They’ll make you feel like you’re on fire and then it’ll burn out and you’ll feel really dumb. Experience all the fun in the world on your own terms, in your own way, on your own time. It’ll be so much more validating, and you’ll be doing it for yourself. You’re a badass, Katie. Embrace it.

5. No one can decide how you behave but you.

No matter what happens, no matter who hurts you, no matter how angry you get, no matter how rash you want to act, THINK ABOUT WHAT YOU DO. Think about what you say. Think about what you put on social media. I don’t always, and the consequences have been grave. I have regretted a lot of things I put out on the internet that I couldn’t take back. So call a friend and scream. Actually, call ME and scream. Just don’t write it down, like your stupid big sister.

6. You really don’t need 50 pairs of shoes.

I can speak from experience. You’ll wear the same 10 pairs. Spend your money wisely.

 7. Kiss a lot of boys. Don’t go home with any of them.

Please do not make me repeat myself.

8. Surround yourself with people who make you better, not who make you doubt yourself.

Your sister is bad at this, at least when it comes to boyzzz. You know this, you know what I’ve told you, you know what a quality man is. He makes you feel really pretty, he tells really funny stories, he thinks intelligence is beautiful, he lets you be yourself, and he eats whatever you cook and bake him without complaining (we’re lucky, we have Pam blood in us and we are great cooks anyway). If he doesn’t, SHUT IT DOWN.

9. Don’t ever love anyone who doesn’t love you.

You are beautiful, you are funny, you are smart, and you are worth it. Wait until someone loves you before you share yourself and love them. They are the person worth being with. Nobody else. You are perfect, and I love you so fucking much.

10. Never, ever, ever doubt how much I love you. There is no one in the world who I can find that is better than you. You are the best thing in my life, and I am here the second you need me. You call me, and I’ll come home, I’ll drive to Texas, I’ll fly to Greece, I’ll swim to Australia. Just tell me when and where and I will find a way.

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A Reflection On ‘Spring Breakers’ featuring Kimberly Millies

March 27, 2013 § Leave a comment

 I insisted my two best friends and I see Spring Breakers tonight, mostly because I love James Franco. Everything he does is weird and amazing and I can never look away from it. Plus, Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens are trainwrecks and I really wanted to watch them make asses of themselves on camera. 

I got more than I bargained for.

You could even say my life has been changed. Forever.

I really don’t want to spoil this movie for you, because nothing should ruin seeing this first hand. There aren’t words. It’s not good, it’s not bad, it’s Spring Breakers.

But for your reading enjoyment, here are some post-viewing reflections from myself and my heterosexual platonic life partner Kimberly Millies.

It was as if MTV Spring break paired up with ‘The Sopranos’ for a teen melodrama that was aired on PaperView, but the group of friends this movie centralizes around makes no sense. Three crazy drugged out sluts and one youth group Christian, played woodenly by Selena Gomez? To counteract this confusion in the plot, they intersperse shots of the girls hugging a little too closely to be ‘just friends’ approximately every five minutes. Whatever ‘hell’ these girls are living in must be terrible, considering they ‘have to get out of here,’ aka campus, before their world ends, aka they smoke more weed in bikinis at home as opposed to the beach. It’s not surprising at all that they have no problem saddling up to a wannabe rapper/part time drug dealer/full time douchebag, played by Lord Franco, when you see them rob a Chicken Shack with hammers and a water gun to afford this seven day Florida salvation.

Spring Breakers was directed and written by Harmony Korine, the ‘genius’ who brought us Kids in 1995 and then not much else. To prove that it’s not titillating exploitation softcore starring mildly famous people, there’s lots of weird monologues about ‘how beautiful’ life is, when really these dumb skanks are just on spring break in a place that confusingly is not Panama City Beach. You want to pretend you get the artsy undertones, the mood lighting, the repetitive dialogue, but it’s really hard to look for them when you are watching James Franco trying to deep throat two guns that Vanessa Hudgens and Ashley Benson are using as strap-ons.

If you’ve been to LA or New York and thought the guy pushing his ‘fresh mixtape’ on the corner was hard to listen to, you’ll wish you were deaf when Franco starts rapping/modernizing the ‘3 Little Pigs’ to the ‘4 Little Chicks,’ but your longing for a life without hearing will reach new heights when he performs ‘Everytime’ by Britney Spears on the piano as the three girls left dance a gun ballet in monokinis and ski masks around him.

After one of the girls is shot in the arm and departs Florida, like a normal human being concerned with survival, Benson and Hudgens are determined to remain and continue with their useless crime spree, in an attempt to give their life meaning. It’s here that you are treated to the only artful scene in the entire movie. That’s right, a menage-a-trois between Franco, Hudgens, and Benson where you see a lot of legs and thankfully no peen or Hudgens tits. Don’t worry, though, Hudgens successfully fakes a few squealing orgasms from rubbing her feet against Franco in a pool while sucking on his cornrows.

But what this film really is is a PSA about spring break for the next generation, disguised as an attempt to be creative that ends up misleading us from reality. What lessons does Harmony Korine have for us? One: don’t rob anyone to pay for your shitty spring break in St. Pete’s where no one spring breaks anyway, and where you will not see any topless bitches because this isn’t Mexico. Two: Don’t be one of the topless bitches having beer poured into your mouth in a stance that looks like some guy is pissing it into you unless you’re dating R. Kelly. Three: Don’t do blow off anyone’s tits. It doesn’t make it feel any better and who knows how much semen those puppies have seen since exiting the plane or bus. Four: Don’t let anyone bail you out of jail you don’t know. They will want to fuck you and you WON’T want to fuck them, even if they are James Franco, because they probably have a dollar sign tattoo in an exposed place. Five: Don’t kill anyone. No matter what these bitches say, the fact that two scrawny white sluts in bikinis took out seven gangsters in 30 seconds is wildly unbelievable and would never happen, especially in FLORIDA. Six: Always touch up your roots. Exposed roots are so trashy.

You will laugh. You will laugh more. You won’t cry because honestly, these girls are morons, and you won’t feel bad for them at all. Maybe Spring Breakers was a scathing social commentary on declining morality combined with an action comedy, but I thought it was about four annoying girls whining on a beach while James Franco performed the world’s most bizarre stand-up comedy routine. You couldn’t afford to go on spring break? Neither could I, but instead of robbing a chicken restaurant and doing blow off of AK-47s, I stayed home and spent $10 on this shitty movie and then wrote a blog about it.

Despite everything about this movie we will still see it again, and probably purchase it on DVD. The only thing we will regret about this entire experience is not getting to watch Vanessa Hudgens die.

7 Reasons Why Real Life Should Be More Like Game of Thrones

March 19, 2013 § 2 Comments

1. That gold arbor wine sounds amaaaazing.
As everyone knows, I love consuming malted and mulled beverages. Every time Tyrion, Bron, the late King Robert, or even Cersei shouts “MORE WINE!” I’m like, “get it shorty. Do yo thang.” Soldiers return from battle and pass up water, instead quenching their thirst with the liquid of the vine. If that isn’t badass, I don’t know what is. Whenever I’m watching, all I can do is think about how fun it would be to go to the Plaza with these people. Or how much fun it would be if it was socially acceptable to drink brown ale with every meal. Ah, to live in Westeros.

2. Dragons. Duh.
Oh, you wanna kill the competition? Grab a dragon. Done.

3. The shape shifting possibilities are endless.
At the end of season 2, Jaqen H’ghar says goodbye to Arya and turns around, then turns back to deliver a sassy one-liner and he has a DIFFERENT FACE. Whaaaaat?! Can you imagine what you could do if you had a bunch of different faces? Say goodbye to having to avoid your ex-boyfriend in public. Say goodbye to lengthy make-up application. You’re ugly? It don’t matter. GRAB A NEW FACE.

4. The fear of smoke monster babies would be motivation for better contraception use in teenage mothers.
Don’t wanna give birth to a murderous cloud of smoke that slaughters people who attempt to claim the throne? Wrap it, divas.

5. Everyone is honest with their feelings, sexual exploration is rampant, and people do whatever (and whoever) the fuck they want.
You don’t want to marry the Frey girl? Fuck the bridge, who needs the bridge! Marry the slutty other one. You do you, Robb. Follow your heart. You want to love a prostitute? Go for it, Tyrion. Fuck da haters. Shae is a bad bitch, anyway. (The obvious exception is the whole ‘secretly gay’ thing Renly’s got going on. That’s not so cool.)

6. Oaths and alliances are the basis of society.
Everyone is honest and honorable. And if they aren’t they’re beheaded. Badass. I know it seems cheesy, but I love the idea of a world where our words are worth more than money, our pride worth more than possessions. That sounds truly magnificent. Especially since we’re encouraged to hide how we feel and not confront our feelings directly. Honesty, bravery, honor, all that stuff is sexy. And it’s rampant in GoT. Let’s bring it to our real lives.

7. The women never wear pants.
But let’s face it, I don’t either. So I guess my life already is like Game of Thrones.

Remembering Annie

March 12, 2013 § Leave a comment

I was named for a very special woman, someone who my family buried today. I admired her greatly, but I wasn’t able to be at her funeral. I had to work today and turn in a paper. It seems so silly when I write it down. I should have been there.

My great aunt was raised on a farm outside of Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. She could have never left, like the rest of her family did, but she chose to travel the world, to read everything she could get her hands on, to be passionate about politics. She had a thirst for knowledge that rarely was quenched. When I was younger she would write to me every time she traveled, sharing with me what she saw. She’d send me trinkets from around the globe. I think I have jewelry from every major European city. She went so far as to leave me a rosary in her will – something I’m sure she saw as a last inside joke. She always thought it was hilarious that I wasn’t Catholic.

I have not had a real conversation with my aunt in many years, nor have I seen her. Her Alzheimer’s, aggravated with bi-polar disorder and depression, took her from me long before today. Her husband went as far to ask us not to visit, claiming she wouldn’t want us to visit. He was probably right, but when I got numerous calls and texts from my family asking where I was today, I was filled with shame. She loved me, and I should have been there.

What scares me about what happens when we’re far apart from people is what we forget about them, regardless of how much we love them or they loved us. I know what she looked like, but when I picture her her face is blurry. The exact sound of her voice escapes me. All I can remember is how she made me feel. How much she encouraged me, how beautiful she reminded me I was every time we talked. She always told me to write down everything that happened to me, and told me to read everything I could find. She was magnificent.

What scares me moving forward is all the things that I know now that I forget. Will I remember all the people I grew up with? How much fun we had together? Will I remember the way I felt about someone when I loved them, even if that is gone? Will I remember the way it felt to hug my mom when she’s gone someday?

It’s hard for me to trust new people, but the love I feel for my family is all-encompassing. I hate to be touched by most people, but when my grandfather hugs me it feels like home. When my sister tells me she loves me, I don’t run away in fear.

It is hard for me to be honest about the way that I’m feeling, especially lately, but I am so grateful that Annie showed me to be brave and to pursue new things. No matter how insecure I am about other things in my life, I’m still writing things down. In fact, writing’s become the only way I can be completely honest with myself. Annie, I am so proud to be named after you. Thank you for showing me ways to be brave. I really love you, and I hope you’re at peace, whatever that meant for you.

Geek is the New Chic: How Comic Book Movies Killed My Quirky Individuality

February 21, 2013 § Leave a comment

Geek culture is no longer subculture. It’s mainstream. If you’re anything like me, this should scare the shit out of you.

I identify as a nerd. I love comic books, cult TV, and in general things that most people don’t know about. As a daughter and niece of two avid comic book collectors and owners (my dad probably has about 40 grand worth of comics, at least, in his basement. I’m the only person, let alone girl, that I’ve ever met that has actually held an original #1 issue of the Fantastic Four), I’ve long found solace and satisfaction in ‘being a nerd.’ It felt like home. Buffy the Vampire Slayer was all about being an outsider, and it got me through middle school. I re-read Harry Potter so many times that instead of getting grounded, my mother would just take my books away. They’re covered in Go-Gurt stains to this day. I can’t even count how many times I’ve re-watched Arrested Development, and I think I’ve seen every episode of most Star Treks. I’m not sorry. Watching these TV shows and reading these books made me feel different and cool. I liked things other people didn’t like. I was devouring a section of pop culture largely ignored by my peers, especially at a point of change (puberty) in my life. I was special.

We can debate for hours the pros and cons of this selective, exclusive nerd community, but it won’t change the fact that it’s dead. The Avengers was the final nail in my kitschy coffin.

According to handy dandy Wikipedia, Joss Whedon’s Avengers made $1,511,757,91. That’s over a billion dollars. Divide that number by $10, the average cost of viewing a movie in an American theater, and that means a LOT of people saw it. (My calculator on my Mac read ‘error’ when I wanted to do the math. Woops, whatever I’m a journalism major.)

In the past ten years or so, lots of great comic book movies have been made. Some were true to source material. Some weren’t. But pretty soon, all of my Disney and Nickelodeon friends fell in line. Girls that liked iCarly also liked X-Men. It was horrifying. It was like someone took my little private world and mass-produced it and sold it. This is just one example – it’s everywhere. JJ Abrams remade Star Trek, he’s gonna direct the new Star Wars. Now everybody loves a good vampire story, and Kevin Smith is making movies that people actually are going to see (Zach and Miri Make a Porno, anyone?!).

Maybe it’s is stupid, but now that geek culture has become mainstream, it makes me feel wildly insignificant.  I’ve always been defined by art and entertainment other people had created. In my tiny Lutheran school, I was the ‘alternative’ girl. My Ramones t-shirt made me feel bad ass because I actually knew who the Ramones were. (Fuck you, Principal Amling. I don’t care how much you hated 13 year old liberal hippie me, I loved punk then, I love punk now, and I’ll love it til I die). Not only did the fact that I was ‘different’ make me feel safe, the fact that I was dreaming about superheros and characters that didn’t exist made it a lot harder for people to hurt me, boys or otherwise. All of that shit was my sanctuary. It made up for the fact that I was not the prettiest girl in the room. Now everybody loves it, and I’m just like everyone else. Still unoriginal, but not Megan Fox hot to make up for it.

I now have to challenge myself to be defined and protected by what I myself create. My cousin Joe, a libertarian writer, and some of my other libertarian friends (you know who you are!) are always touting the importance of the individual. While I don’t apply it to my life the way they want me to, it forces me to look inside myself as an artist. My writing is largely derivative, and that’s something I hope to change. I usually write about stuff other people have created. In fact, it’s what I’m doing now. My blog is named after someone else’s creation. How can I push myself past that threshold? When will I create something totally original?  And why do we feel the need to keep someone else’s creativity for ourselves and not share it to feel original? Whenever other people tell me they like Spider-Man, it makes me mad. Which is stupid. I’m not Stan Lee. So someone tell me what to do! Until then, I’m boring. I like pop culture and alcohol, just like all my other peers.

At least I’m the only girl my age I know that loves Iggy Pop. If anyone takes that away from me, I’ll probably kill myself.

She’s baaaaack, bitches.

February 15, 2013 § Leave a comment

I went out for Valentine’s Day with a bunch of my single friends last night, male and female. (Actually, I also went out Tuesday and Wednesday, since apparently I no longer do homework or contribute to society.) I had a lot of fun the first two nights, but I think I was either tired or just plain crabby last night. Anyway maybe it was all the shitty wine or the fact that everyone in Plaza was handsy and everyone at Hatters was in my space. (I know it’s a bar. I’m sure I was overreacting. Whatever.)

The point of this very boring, very long-winded explanation is that I left early with my friend Molly and we walked home, shoving Ian’s into our mouths while we complained. Molly is two years older than me, but we’re very similar creatures. I won’t go into classless details, but we are the queens of iffy decisions. Our decisions are usually very similar and happen at the same time. In my alcohol-fueled confessional state, I proceeded to give her a speech about why she was so amazing and why I valued her. (If you and I are somewhat close, you’ve gotten one of these speeches before.) Of course she teared up. Probably because it was Valentine’s, not because I’m an oratory genius, but I will pretend it is the latter. Anyway, Molly said something really profound and I can’t stop thinking about it even though it’s the morning after and I’m very sober.

“What I like best about you, Annie, is that you think you’re cynical, but you really believe that good things can happen to you. Everything has potential to make you happy. Every new person could make you fall in love, every new opportunity could be something amazing. You open up to everyone.”

I have never thought of myself this way before, but now I can’t stop thinking about it, because she’s right. Sometimes it comes out a little skewed, but I really see opportunities in everything. There’s nothing I won’t try. Yes, it’s true that the reason I usually do things is for the story, but I really love the fact that when you’re open to new people they can really surprise you.

I definitely get hurt more than I feel safe, but I don’t really care. I have been secure before, and it was nice, but it didn’t work out. I’m still haunted by the people that have hurt me, but I have learned so many lessons. And it hasn’t made me different, at least in a negative way. I still get excited about every new boy that I meet, every new friend that I make. I know that even if it turns to shit, I’ve survived it before, so I can survive it again. I might complain all over social media about being single on Valentine’s Day, but in reality, it’s just the way it is. If I’m single – great. I will keep doing crazy things and learning from them, and that’s improvement. If I fall in love again, that’s fine too. Because that will make me happy in a different way. I don’t care what makes me feel good, as long as it’s productive and I’m better tomorrow than I was today.

After all, “I just wanna feel it all.”

It’s not just a scale conversation.

January 17, 2013 § Leave a comment

I’ve always struggled with my weight. I don’t have any qualms with saying that.

I think it’s unfortunate that 1/3 of Americans are overweight, yet we have these ridiculous expectations of beauty (thanks, Adobe Photoshop). We eat too much and yet think we need to be really thin. The worst part, though, is that nobody ever wants to talk about it, especially with the people they love. Being healthy is important, and we talk about it, but yet it’s not polite to comment on someone’s weight, even if it’s positive encouragement. For example, before I started actively trying to take responsibility for my health, my mother would talk to me about her concerns in terms of my eating habits, lack of exercise, etc. I would take it so offensively. Why is this the conversation? How can we rectify this?

I was a competitive swimmer in high school. I have never been ‘skinny’ (and I never will be) but I always exercised a lot and ate decently. I was (and looked) healthy. After my last swim season ended, in November 2009, I basically stopped exercising, besides walking my dog once in awhile. When I came home from my first year of college in June 2011 I could kind of tell that I had gained weight, but I didn’t really think about it. Before I left for my sophomore year I went to the doctor, and realized I had effectively gained 40 pounds since the middle of my senior year.

How in the hell had that happened? How did I not notice? Well, it’s obvious, I had barely exercised at school and ate garbage constantly. I had a boyfriend who showered me with affection and never commented on my weight. My mother wasn’t around. I also didn’t want to weigh myself because I was afraid of what the scale might say. I didn’t want to notice.

Since January 2012, I’ve lost 30 of those pounds. I was lucky to have my father to support me as he made a weight loss journey of his own (he’s lost at least 50 and looks amazing, seriously). I learned how to eat well. I trained for a 5K and ran it. I took control of my body.

Once my fall semester started I exercised less. I was able to maintain my weight, but I stopped losing. I was satisfied with this at first, until I went to my doctor in December and got on the scale. She was visibly impressed with my much lower number than the last time I had been in her office and congratulated me, told me to keep doing what I was doing. That was it. It was cool for a few minutes, and then after we moved down the chart I realized it wasn’t enough. I asked her to calculate my BMI. I was still 18 pounds over where I should be for my height. She wouldn’t have told me if I hadn’t asked, probably to spare my feelings.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my doctor. But SHE IS MY DOCTOR. Was she trying to spare my feelings? Maybe she figured that I knew I needed to lose more and didn’t need to tell me. But what if I didn’t? She wouldn’t spare my feelings if I had cancer, or an STD. But because I’m a little chubby she needs to spare my feelings. This is ridiculous. I’m lucky I’m smart and in control of my life. But what if I was genuinely oblivious about health and wellness? What if I had nobody to talk to me, not even my family, and apparently not my doctor? What would happen to me? Would I blimp up to 400 pounds and die at age 45 due to 12 clogged arteries? Why are we not having this conversation!?!

I am not afraid of what I weigh. That does not mean I’m satisfied with it, but I’m not afraid of the number. It’s mine. I can own it. I can make it lower if I want to. I need to lose 18 more pounds to be at the healthiest BMI. I will lose that weight. I just hope that everyone that’s in my situation has the tools, knowledge and support to take on these tasks themselves. This has never been about vanity. I was cute at my smallest, I was cute at my heaviest, and I’m still cute now. My life is at stake here. Maybe not today, maybe not ten years from now, maybe not even twenty. But whatever I die from, I want it to be something that was out of my control – not something I could have changed easily at age 20 by running a few times a week.