Friday, February 27, 2015

Spec-tacular


Harvard Square Eye Care in Boston is a small hip shop with a diverse selection of frames. After perusing the city for eyeglasses with no luck, I decided to try this place. I turned off of the busy square onto a quaint side street, and a ways down, there it was. A female clerk was super helpful and friendly, and I managed to find the perfect professional-looking metal pair.

Two years later, I am kinda feeling all the cool larger frames out there (à la Frannerd :). What do you think, dear reader? Do you own two pairs, one formal, the other more casual?

(Photo by Pete Prodoehl)

Thursday, February 26, 2015

How to Avoid Being in an Abusive Relationship














This recent PSA from NoMore.org got me thinking about my own experience in an abusive relationship, and how difficult it can be to get help. A simple phone call can become so troublesome with a demanding partner controlling your every move.

Every abusive relationship is different from the next. Levels of abuse vary and it's quite complicated to wrap your head around. If you'd like to learn more about domestic violence, there are so many great resources (see my recommendations here). Domestic violence can lead to physical and mental harm, so it's important to be able to recognize not only physical but emotional and verbal abuse as well.

I was naive when I fell prey to my abuser. It was my first relationship I'd ever been in; I thought domestic abuse was only physical; and I had no idea what emotional abuse was. Hence, I believe knowing what is unhealthy and taking healthy steps to avoid an unhealthy relationship are key.

This is by no means an extensive preventative list, but rather my own personal tips that I think are worth sharing.

1. Be friends first. Take things slow. I think this goes for any relationship, really. Take time to really get to know someone. Do a variety of activities together so you can get a feel for how they act in different environments. Are you comfortable with them, or do you feel uncomfortable at times? I have the three-strike rule: If I feel uncomfortable with someone on three separate occasions, for any reason, I end the relationship. If I'm uncomfortable with someone that much, then it's likely a bad match. It can get ridiculous with giving people second, third, fourth chances (guilty!) so at some point you have to draw the line.

2. Talk often about the relationship with someone you trust. They say love is blind, and in a relationship you can sometimes get caught up in the whirlwind of the romance. Talking to someone you trust can enlighten you about what's going on in your relationship. They may confirm that something is off, so talking regularly with them is a deterrent for abusers. It's ideal to analyze and reflect on a relationship at all stages, but it's especially important during the beginning stage. The abuser may be extra-nice as they reel you in, but eventually they can't help but trip up and show their controlling side.

3. Don't ditch your friends/family. Another deterrent for abusers is actually spending time with others. Chances are people who know and love you will recognize changes in your behavior characteristic of abuse victims, such as low self-esteem, sadness, or fear. In addition, your schedule shouldn't change dramatically to your partner's benefit and your loss; keep socializing, taking "me time," and being active outside of your relationship.

4. Take note of red flags. It's imperative to recognize the red flagssigns of abuseright away. The power and control wheel is a good source to study. When I was in love with my abuser, I was driven more so by my emotions than objective reason. Be sure to take red flags very seriously.

(Photo by Carissa Gallo)

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

He Broke Up with Me


I woke up at 4am just as I did every day for my job. I got myself ready for my two-hour commute to work. I checked Facebook and my boyfriend's profile. He listed himself suddenly as Single.

I managed to get myself to work, despite devastation in my chest, in my heart. I felt sick. Sick with sadness. How could he do this and not tell me? Why didn't he call me? I don't exactly remember that day, but it involved crying after work. I remember I was "really sad" because I wrote that to him in a Facebook message a week or so later. Still no word from him, still silent.

Then a few weeks after this one-sided break-up, he sent me a Facebook message in letter form. "Elizabeth," it started. He knew I hated when people addressed me like that in a message. He put quotation marks around a ton of words about me, to convey that I was fake. He basically said I was a bad person and, of course, he put a ridiculous religious spin on it. I read the letter and was utterly confused. None of it made sense. I had my dad read it. He agreed. Ok, so I'm not crazy.

After receiving the meanest message in my life, I cut off all contact with my ex. Depression ensued. Physical pain pursued. Life was over, I thought. What happened? What did I do wrong?

It took a while, but I managed to have a better outlook on life. I realized he was all wrong. He was my abuser. I didn't do anything wrong. I like to know and understand things. Not understanding things in the relationship has been a struggle for me to accept. My health is worse off than it was pre-break-up. Life isn't easy; the world is unfair. But I have to intend to matter. We all do.

(Photo of Emerson Fry)

Monday, February 23, 2015

Grammar and Style Online Course

























Writing effectively is a genuine interest of mine. To me, it's also a lifelong process and journey. I guess that's why I chose to major in English in college, and why, when I'm choosing which online courses to take in my free time, I prioritize the writing ones.

Week one of edX's English Grammar and Style course consists of the basics. The results of the first quiz reminded me that my writing flaws tend to revolve around the passive voice and the usage of me versus I. I especially liked the course's differentiations between grammar (the way sentences are constructed; underlying system of rules of a language) and syntax (arrangement and inter-relations among words in a sentence), and denotation (literal meaning of a word) and connotation (idea or feeling a word invokes in addition to its denotation). Le mot juste—the intensely right word—is particularly important to me; using the right word in the right moment and context is very rewarding.

Writing is like watercolor painting (another of my interests). Every stroke of the brush is a word or sentence. The paint is the tone of the piece. My writing is like my painting in that they're both straightforward, descriptive, accurate, and planned in advance. I usually paint from real images or things, and I usually only write nonfiction. Adding layers of paint to a watercolor painting adds depth to the art, while paragraphs build an argument or story. Professor D'Agostino emphasizes that grammar (related to the word glamour) is about style. Likewise, I find well-tailored writing as appealing as a beautiful painting.

Week one ends by asking us to submit our favorite word. Apparently serendipity and love are the most popular among the students. My favorite words are delight, smitten, altruism, and love.

What are your favorite words?

(Painting by Jarek Glod)

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Guillaume Flandre






















Guillaume Flandre's photographs are magnifique. He's a Paris-based photographer and most of the photos are taken in France.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Après le repas


Voici mon poème que j'écrit quand j'était étudiante à l'étranger en France.

Après le repas

À la fin du repas
Je bois un thé
Le goût est sympa
Et il me satisfait

J’assis dans ma chaise
Ma place à table toujours
Je bois le thé avec aise
Attendant le prochain jour.

Après le repas j’ai assez mange
Mais la boisson est la dernière étape
Qui me calme et me vraiment plaisait
Et quand je le finis, il me frappe

Que le moment est fini
Le silence est parti
Je bouge de ma chaise
Et mange une fraise.

(Image from DTTSP)

Help for Victims and Survivors of Domestic Abuse

Despite your best efforts, someday you may find yourself in an abusive relationship. If you've currently found yourself in such a circumstance, I want to give you a big hug and let you know that there is help for you. As a survivor of domestic abuse, I found the below resources incredibly helpful.

From all that I've learned on abuse, I have no tolerance for it. Abusers will not change unless they themselves want to and will take action to do so (namely by attending counseling classes and consistently working to change their abusive ways). Unless that happens, the abuse will continue, and will probably get worse and more traumatic over time. That's why if I could give any advice to a current victim, it would be to get out of the relationship now. Don't let money or love get in the way of your safety, health, and overall well-being. Don't stay. Don't be a martyr.

More so than any person or pamphlet, though, time has been the keenest healer for me. Since the end of my relationship, it's taken time for me to learn about abuse and determine what kind of a healthy relationship I want in the future. May we all find our way to healthy relationships! xoxo

The National Domestic Violence Hotline. I couldn't tell you how many times I called them. They can help you if you're in danger or have a simple question. If you need to get out of an abusive relationship, they'll help you strategize a safe exit plan (this is important for avoiding break-up violence). All calls are confidential and anonymous.

Loveisrespect.org. This is another great resource similar to the National Hotline. You can call them anytime for help. Also, the site describes emotional/verbal abuse and physical abuse in very clear terms.

Your local YWCA will likely have domestic violence counselors who will happily speak to you in person.

Are You in an Abusive Relationship?. This article pinpoints 12 important red flags or "warning signs" of abuse. Great read to get a more substantial picture of abuse.

Life Matters: Domestic Violence (PDF). Website version is here. The authora licensed psychologistbrings a little bit of the spiritual into the topic while also being in line with other resources.

(Photo by Carissa Gallo)