In The Congregation
by Beth Elderkin
I am surprising myself
and the party of ghouls that follow me,
leaving breadcrumbs on my carpet.
I had set to become one, and now have become two.
Your wings carry you, flightless birds
soaring over tea shops and winding rivers.
I wait behind, as I have never done
counting the moments
as they have never passed.
What is this beat that stirs inside me?
It tingles, tickles, flutters.
I’ve seen looks I cannot stare down,
words I cannot silence.
My mind pulses with memory;
shocked as I take the icy plunge.
Too fast. Too slow. Too much.
You wait beside the winding river. I soar, warm and swift.
I’ve had a strong dislike for the whole ‘Twilight’ universe ever since the first book came out. I called Bella a bland stock character who engulfs herself in the life of one man and is only happy when she discards everything she is and, basically, becomes her man.
But here’s the thing: I hadn’t read or seen any of it. These opinions were derived from secondary sources like Wikipedia articles or reviews, and not actually from the source material. So I decided to give Twilight an honest chance by reading the first book — couldn’t get past 30 pages of dull writing, so I instead watched the movie.
So how do I feel now? Exactly the same. In fact, I feel worse about the series as a whole and what it stands for with the modern young woman. I have two main reasons why.
Reason 1: Bella is a terrible role model
I know Bella’s character is originally designed to be bland and unnoticeable so girls everywhere can insert themselves in her place and imagine they’re the object of Edward’s undying (pun intended) affections, but this isn’t entirely what happens — especially in the film.
Despite the fact that Bella has as much personality as a sofa, she is the main character. As a result, Bella is not merely a “fill in the blank,” she’s the person who young girls are supposed to strive to be. Why? Because she gets her happy ending. She’s, essentially, their role model. And why wouldn’t she be? Pretty much every attractive boy at the school is in love with her, including Edward the boy wonder.
So for girls who want their own Edward to notice them, all they need to do is follow Bella’s cute but clumsy example: Become a woman with no positive characteristics — only self-deprecating ones — and continually accept the terrible actions of your boyfriend.
I know the pitchforks may come out for this one, but the fact remains that Edward is an abuser. So many things this man, or vampire, does to this poor girl qualify as abusive characteristics.
First, Edward singles Bella out with his obsessive stares, knowing she is unremarkable except for this one quality that brings out the “animal” in him. Then he spends a good portion of the movie insulting, humiliating and ignoring her.
Once Bella’s become sufficiently interested with this boy who’s treated her poorly, he starts upping the stakes. He stalks her, watches her sleep and feels this need to “protect” her despite the fact that he’s constantly one moment away from literally killing her. He keeps telling her how dangerous he is and how she should avoid him, but he makes no effort to stop her obsession. In fact, he encourages it.
If you were to replace Edward’s status as a vampire with just that of a human male, every character in the book/movie would be telling her to run as far away as she could. Nothing he does can be considered gentle, kind or romantic in itself — only in comparison to the other monstrous acts he commits or thinks of committing.
We all have our animal urges and instincts — in fact, they’re why we have vampire and werewolf lore in the first place. But we don’t act on them because we’re better than that. Edward should not be admired for his constant temptations to kill his girlfriend — he should be condemned.
This movie was bad, and the book was even worse. I have no intention of continuing the series and anyone thinking of starting it up should plunge their heads in cold water.
“Twilight” is not love. It is, in the end, a century-old man preying on a 17-year-old girl who doesn’t try to know any better. He hurts her, she takes it and asks for more.
The author and director have created a disgusting world filled with two terrible characters who don’t deserve to become the symbol of true love for millions of young women everywhere.
I need to go lie down.
Taking another, Climbing under
By Beth Elderkin
I was not meant to be alone
And yet, here I am
Blinking morse with my shadow
While stars crease my skin
I had a line
So what am I this time:
An apron and heels in the kitchen?
The clock about to chatter?
I refuse, yet embrace my role
Of catching flies
A whimper echoes beside me
The shadow speaks
That which is not me tells more than I ever could
If there’s one thing I can’t stand hearing around election time, it’s this: “I’m not going to vote.” The reasons why are numerous — I don’t have the time, my vote doesn’t count, I’m disenfranchised by the system, etc.
However, instead of yelling in ALL CAPS why not voting in our presidential elections is an ignorant, narcissistic complaint from ignorant, narcissistic people, I’m going to be nice and give you, the nonvoter, seven reasons why you should vote.
Beth’s 7 reasons why you should vote
1. It’s how our country functions: There is a reason why the United States of America is one of the most powerful, influential and inspiring countries in the world. It’s not because we’re large, scary or heavily populated — it’s because we can vote.
Why else do you think the European Union happened? The Arab Spring? American Idol? Because voting is a powerful tool that thousands of our ancestors fought and died for. Voting is a way of honoring our country’s history and keeping it from becoming whatever we’re afraid it will become. More corrupted? Socialist? Caste system? All possible if you don’t vote.
2. You likely have a legally protected reason to ditch work for an hour: Many U.S. states have guaranteed protection for employees needing to leave work for a little while to go vote. In fact, a few states mark it as a holiday. However, before you ditch work to go vote, be sure to look up your own state’s rights and protections. If you can’t leave work, there are plenty of early voting opportunities available.
3. You won’t love everything about your candidate, and that’s OK: Just because your preferred candidate did or said things you don’t like doesn’t mean you shouldn’t vote for them. No single candidate is going to stand for everything you stand for — after all, they’re tasked with representing at least 100 million people.
If you stand behind your candidate 100 percent without taking offense at any of their actions or thoughts, you’re not doing your job as a citizen of this country.There’s a few things I don’t like about my candidate, but there’s plenty more I don’t like about the opposing one.
4. The opposing side is hoping you don’t vote: Remember Mitt Romney’s 47 percent? Yeah, he’s hoping they don’t go out and vote for Pres. Barack Obama. Remember Pres. Obama’s wealthy elite and Wall Street execs? He’s hoping they don’t go out and vote for Romney. The candidate you don’t like is praying you don’t go out and vote, because that’s one less majority vote for him.
5. You get to wear one of those really cool stickers: It’s one of the season’s hottest accessories.
6. Your vote counts: Why do you think Pres. Obama beat John McCain in 2008? It’s because that election brought out millions of young voters who hadn’t previously been a part of the electoral process. Those votes changed everything, and this year is no different. Why else do you think both candidates are reaching out to women and Hispanic voters so fervently this election? Because those demographics can really change where the election goes.
If you want your opinions in the majority, vote for your candidate. Want third party candidates to be more prominent in 2016? Vote! If third party candidates take enough of the vote, the next election will have no choice but to better include them.
7. If you don’t vote, someone else will: And that person could stand for everything you’re against. They could be a pro-choice hippie who wants to ban all nuclear weapons, or a wealthy elitist who wants to make English our official language and prohibit gays from marrying. One of the main ways America tells its politicians what we want is by voting — and if you’re not telling your politicians what you want, someone else is going to do it for you.
This is the rule I like to live by: If everyone who said their vote didn’t make a difference went out and voted, it would make a difference.
Twitter was on fire during last night’s debate after Republican candidate Mitt Romney told a young woman his administration’s strategy for employing women was getting “binders full of women” to choose from for cabinet positions they had not originally applied for. In a matter of moments, #bindersfullofwomen was everywhere: Twitter accounts, Tumblrs and President Obama’s campaign already has released a video about it.
Romney’s speech about women in the workplace upset me greatly, but here’s the thing: It wasn’t because of #bindersfullofwomen, it was what he said after:
I recognized that if you’re going to have women in the workforce, that sometimes they need to be more flexible. My chief of staff, for instance, had two kids that were still in school. She said, I can’t be here until 7:00 or 8:00 at night. I need to be able to get home at 5:00 so I can be there for — making dinner for my kids and being with them when they get home from school. So we said, fine, let’s have a flexible schedule so you can have hours that work for you.
Romney failed in addressing women’s issues in the workplace because he automatically associated working women with motherhood. Let me make this clear: Not all working women are working mothers.
Take me, for example. I am a professional working woman who is unmarried and has no children. I have put marriage and family aside so I can focus on my career. The fact that Romney followed his #bindersfullofwomen statement with the fact that women need more flexible schedules for their families insulted me as a working professional. This means Romney doesn’t really understand women as individuals and what they want out of life.
Right now, I am focused on making a difference in the world through my choice of profession. I want to punch the daily clock, earn an honest wage and contribute to society. By combining my needs as a working professional with the needs of motherhood, Romney disregards all I have worked for and continue to work for.
It reinforces the stereotype that all women want is to get married and have babies. For many women this is not true, and it’s one of our biggest societal hurdles to overcome.
President Obama said women sometimes need advocacy for equal pay “because women are increasingly the breadwinners in the family.” While the fact that he mentioned “family,” again, insults me as a single professional woman, President Obama’s acknowledgment of women being the “breadwinners” was encouraging. I may not have a family, but I am my own breadwinner — and proud of it.
I am extremely impressed by working mothers and the struggles they go through to balance work and family, and applaud efforts to assist them in any way possible. But I do not support politicians who insult all working women by lumping them in the same category of needs. It’s bad for both working women and working mothers.
I don’t need a politician telling me he’ll make sure I have flexible hours for the kids I don’t have. I need a politician who will support my professional choices and give me the chance to fight for a fair wage, should the need ever arise.
What we can do to help young women and women of all ages is to have a strong economy, so strong that employers are looking to find good employees and bringing them into their workforce and adapting to a — a flexible work schedule that gives women the opportunities that — that they would otherwise not be able to — to afford. — Romney
I am a woman, not a baby maker. Don’t put me in the motherhood binder.
A couple of years ago, I got to cross something very important off my bucket list:
Star in a musical as an adult. Thanks to the wonderful people at Monterey Peninsula College, in 2010, I had the honor of playing Maureen in the 2010 debut performance of RENT.
by Beth Elderkin
There are no stages of grief.
Now, it is a circle. Rings of light.
Within the confines of space,
— the space you taught me —
I call out to my previous self
who already knows what I am going to say.
Don’t do it. (Love is not worth an expiration date)
I do not listen;
Have not listened;
Will not listen.
My mind is a repeated set of images
of you collapsing,
again and again and again and again.
I do not stop this. You do not let me.
I run with you. All of you.
Passing by as my feet lose strength.
The circlet I tattooed around my finger
now comes off with water
and is no longer tax deductible.
I am a silence making too much noise.