Thursday, May 19, 2011

Youth vs. Adulthood: Which One Wins?

There's that famous saying that goes: "Youth is wasted on the young." Generally, this is said by a crotchety old man as he observes care-free young people who are probably speeding past him on the road or running amok in the aisles of department stores.

To me, this saying gets me thinking about happiness - are young people happier than adults and just don't realize it? Is that whole "ignorance is bliss" saying true?

I was pondering this today while in the bathroom (yes, I philosophize while on the john). It got me thinking about my childhood and happiness (two of the topics that frequently cross my mind). Was I happier as a child than I am now?

My guess is that it all depends on what "happiness" means. Happiness could be making a living. That would mean my adult life is happier. Happiness could also mean having little responsibility. That would mean childhood wins.

In true, Type-A personality fashion, I'll just make a couple lists.

Childhood Happiness
  • I could read two books at a time and finish within a few days. Now, I get automated phone calls telling me my library books are overdue, and I've barely gotten through the first half of a great novel.
  • My key responsibilities included 6 hours of school and maybe an hour of homework on average, depending on what grade I was in. Without having to cook, clean or tend to my iPhone, I could spend hours doing whatever I wanted - playing in my playhouse my dad built, riding bikes, watching copious amounts of "Full House." Come 3 p.m., the world was my oyster.
  • Meeting new people didn't require me to put on my game face and act interested in conversation. As a kid, you're generally ignored by adults, so you can go on with your own business and the things that matter to you. You're allowed to be quiet and self-absorbed. As an adult, this makes you an asshole.
  • The whole world was ahead of me. I could make outlandish statements about how I was going to be an actress on "Dawson's Creek" and write for Rolling Stone. Nowadays, your goals have to be concrete. Attainable. Realistic. Otherwise, you just make Charlie Sheen sound normal.
  • I could eat the hell out of a Happy Meal and later run around our backyard in my two-piece swimsuit, feeling nothing but glee. I had yet to be introduced to bad food reactions requiring Pepto Bismal, acid reflux, the slowing of my metabolism and negative body issues.
Adult Happiness
  • One of my main concerns as a kid was having a boyfriend. That was all I thought about, day and night. I would kiss my Cabbage Patch doll (it was a boy doll, Dad. No worries) and pretend it was my future husband. Thank God I can now focus my attention on other things. And thank God I can actually kiss real boys now.
  • Sure I almost hyperventilate when my rent is due because I'm so sad to see such a huge chunk of my hard-earned money going away at the click of a button - but at the same time, I always feel some amount of pride when I successfully pay a bill. I'm doing it - living life on my own in my own apartment, just as I told my dad I would at 8 years old.
  • I begged my mom incessantly to buy me a life-sized version of the dress my American Girls doll wore (it was a floral, 1770s gown with petticoats - the ultimate attire for a 5th grader). I remember telling her, "It's only $80, and you make so much money, Mommy!" My mom calmly explained to me that just because she makes money, doesn't mean she doesn't have other things to pay for that are more important than a dress - electricity bills, a mortgage, Dad's Dreyer's ice cream habit. Nowadays, I can buy myself any colonial garb I please! It's my money, and I'm lucky that I'm able to buy fun things for myself every once in awhile.
  • Not that I'm a wild woman, but I do feel a sort of satisfaction when I stay out on a Friday night until 2 a.m. and come home guilt-free. It's not so much that I love to party - more that I'm so incredibly lucky to be independent.
So, when it comes to it, I'd say it's a draw. I was happy as a kid, and I'm happy now as an adult. Sure, life gets tougher as you get older, but I'm excited for all of life's stages. I sure don't ever want any youth to be wasted on this youngin.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

On Call, On Edge

Last night was my first 12-hour shift of being on call as a sexual assault response advocate. It started at 6 p.m. and lasted until 6 a.m. Thankfully, I'm not expected to stay awake that whole time (just keep my phone by my side). I didn't get called out (whew!) but it wasn't the most restful of sleeps.

I woke up every couple hours, checking the clock. 1:12 a.m. 3:37 a.m. 5:15 a.m. Finally I looked up and saw it was 6:50. No calls! Now was my time to relax, but I was already awake, so I figured I'd get up and start my day. Being on call sure made my heart race - I had a heightened awareness and was going over every scenario in my head.

It reminded me of when we had to take home the electronic "Baby Think It Over" in 9th grade. My friend Christina and I thought it was kind of cool because we got first pick of which babies we wanted (she opted for the white girl. Me? The Asian. I promptly named her Buttercup). Clearly this was not supposed to be fun - we were supposed to learn a valuable lesson about having a baby as a teenager. The little creepy dolls would cry randomly and you were supposed to tend to their needs - diaper change, feeding, rocking, etc. It had a chip in it to keep track if you neglected it or even abused it. So - my point - I barely slept that night because I was so worried about Buttercup going off. She did, just once. Not very realistic if you ask me, but that heightened sense of worry is a good lesson in itself. I'm sure once you're a parent, that never fully goes away.

Anyhoo, I'm rambling. Back to being on call. This is a volunteer endeavor for me, and I'm really excited about it. Basically, if you get called out, you meet the victim/survivor at the hospital and help him/her through the police questioning and evidentiary exam. It's a 4-6 hour process, and it's our job as advocates to make sure the client is being treated fairly, is as comfortable as possible, knows about counseling and victim witness services offered, and see to it that they aren't more traumatized than they already are. It's a pretty daunting task, but from what other volunteers have told me, it's also incredibly rewarding. I'm on call the next couple Fridays, so we'll see if I get called out.

In other news, this weekend is Mother's Day! We're having a big get-together at my grandma's, so I'm looking forward to that. I've already gotten a lot done this weekend, and it's not even noon. I went to the gym this morning to a class that kicks my ass every time. But it's my way of making up for all of the eating I'll be doing this weekend! My parents and sister are coming to town tonight - whoop whoop! Always a good time with those fools.

Other than that, not much is going on. I'm looking forward to a relaxing weekend with the people I love - it doesn't get much better than that.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

It's Osama's Death, and I'll Celebrate If I Want To

I’m not a violent person by any means. I’ve never been one for revenge either – that whole “eye for an eye” thing is just not how I roll. I don’t believe in the death penalty for that reason – injecting someone and killing them quickly and painlessly is not justice to me. It’s the easy way out.

That said, I’m still a little perturbed that celebrating the death of Osama bin Laden is being frowned upon by some people – that it somehow means we are stooping to the level of terrorists in rejoicing in violence and death.

But here is the vast difference between anti-American terrorists and us: we are relieved and overjoyed that an enemy is dead, not civilians. And it’s my belief that his death itself is not the core reason of our joy – it’s the symbolism behind it. Bin Laden represented pure hatred and evil, and killing him is a key climactic event in the tragedy this country (and the whole world) experienced on September 11, 2001.

I wasn’t alive back in the World War II days, but I’m pretty sure we weren’t afraid to celebrate the death of Hitler. And while Osama bin Laden never had the destructive reach of that psycho, he’s still the devil in human form just as Hitler was, in my eyes.

So for these reasons, I celebrate bin Laden’s death. I rejoice in his demise. I am happy he is no longer here, and I most definitely relish the fact that he’s burning in hell right now. I’m proud of our troops and what they’ve been fighting toward for the past 10 years. I’m proud to be an American, so damn it, I’m going to shout “USA! USA!” at that bastard’s death all I want!

On that same token, people are also calling into question the decency of his burial – that it somehow was offensive to give the cowardly asshole an Islamic burial at sea. I may celebrate his death, but I’m not against disposing of him in a respectful-to-his-culture manner. Not doing so is an affront to the Muslim community, not him.

And how else would we have gotten rid of him? Burned him to pieces? Desecrated his body? Umm, does no one remember Abu Gharib? What a shameful time in our military’s history. We are better than that, and we got rid of the remains of bin Laden – the evil soul of the guy was already dead and gone.

Just my 2 cents!