Hey America, Stop Disrespecting Our Nation’s Youth

 

In the aftermath of this election, there have been mass amounts of youth walkouts in protest. I’m so proud of America’s children for that. My current novel was partially inspired by how I was treated in response to an act of protest my friends and I did in high school, so I know I’d be doing the exact same if I was still in school.

There has also been a lot of mockery by the media and other adults of these teen protests. While I admit, hundreds of middle schoolers chanting “Racist Cheeto! Racist Cheeto!” outside the white house is hilarious, it is not exactly the most mature expression of frustration. However, many, in fact most of the youth protests make some pretty valid points and I’m not going to stay silent while you mock or dismiss them.

It has been noted, repeatedly, and often with disdain or mockery, that Teen Vogue is doing a better job of covering politics than most mainstream media sources. Most of the compliments given to Teen Vogue were backhanded at best, and thinly veiled insults at worst.

“2016 must really be a dumpster fire when the best politics coverage comes from a teen fashion magazine.”

Excuse me?!

We’re talking about the same teenagers obsessed with a musical about the birth of American politics, right?

As a young adult author, I realize I may be biased in my defense of teenagers, but a lot of the complaints lobbed against them are ridiculous. I saw a parent saying she would ground her child if they walked out in protest, that she’d talked to them and promised to punish them if they went through with it. And I’ve heard from both media and parents alike that these protests don’t even matter because “they can’t even vote.”

Which is insulting on multiple levels. The first being that they DID vote. Every presidential election, for I believe nearly a 100 years now, Scholastic has sponsored a nationwide School Vote, where children of all ages vote on their choice for president. Its had only been wrong twice in its history before this election, accurately predicting every other president weeks before the official election. And our nation’s children chose Clinton in a landslide victory, crushing Trump 52% to 32%, even after including third party votes.

And testing showed that if only millennials had voted, the nation would be so blue we’d be living in the arctic.

So they did vote. They chose who they thought would be best and we, the adults, the ones expected to make smart decisions, failed them.

Let’s not pretend they’re uneducated on the issues. It’s not the 1950s, as much as you might like to believe. We live in a digital age, education only a click away. And we’ve been taught to fact check. Growing up in a time when a viral video can lead to a guest appearance on Ellen, American youth learned long ago to find several external sources before believing anything we read online.

You should be proud. You raised us not to give away personal details or trust strangers on the internet and yet you want us to believe Hillary Clinton founded ISIS because you heard it on Facebook?

We’re going to be the ones living in this nation the longest, so I find it pretty selfish that you don’t think our opinion is important enough to consider.

You don’t get to complain about how millennials are killing the soap industry or wonder what the magic secret is to marketing for them when the answer is young people respect and frequent businesses and publications that don’t pander to them or treat them like the entitled, spoiled trophy brats you think they are but instead like intelligent, decent human beings who have a right to care about themselves and the future of their country.

Teen Vogue was one of the first publications to publish an article on the serious concerns in appointing Steve Bannon as chief strategist to the White House.

Teen Vogue continues to provide top notch political coverage, because that’s what it’s lipstick wearing, selfie-obsessed readers want.

Please and thank you, respecting your elders, your neighbors, the golden rule. Have you forgotten? Treat others as you would like to be treated. Why is it suddenly a bad thing to care about the rights of others? We’re taught not to bully, but it’s now okay to tell people to start envisioning their slave numbers or to tell children you hope their parents are deported?

Does anyone else see the irony in the fact the “me me me” generation is the one fighting for equality of all citizens?

Why do you want us to respect a presidency built on insulting people from all walks of life? How are little girls supposed to trust a man who boasts about selfishly grabbing them for himself like a toddler without any manners? How we are supposed to deal with the human version of a youtube comment conducting foreign policy?

Our nation was literally built on fighting back. This nation was founded on the idea that everyone should be equal, and time and time again we have fought to make that as true as we can. Slavery, suffrage, civil rights, equality. Time and time again, we have fought to better ourselves.

It’s not childish to care about your fellow man.

Here’s the thing, it’s very cool to mock younger generations. It has been since the dawn of time. But the youth of our nation is sick and tired of being blamed for your lack of innovation, for your resistance to change. You triple tuition and cost of living but refuse to raise minimum wage and then blame us for declining sales and write think pieces wondering why why we aren’t saving money. It’s not our fault you refuse to adapt.

We know how hard people have fought for the rights we enjoy. We know—we’ve seen people die fighting for basic rights and you know what? We do feel entitled. We know what it cost to get there and it’s not fair that we now have to spend our youth protecting rights we already had instead of implementing even better ones.

We’re done being blamed for your mistakes and we’re making it clear now: We didn’t want this. We fought. When it all starts to fall apart, we’re not going to let you turn the blame around on us. 2020 will the first time all millennials can vote in a presidential election, so get ready.

See you soon.

A Tumor On My Neck! | Neurofibroma Health Update

 

Unexpected Health Update, but before we start, I just wanted to mention that a kind friend set up a GoFundMe for our family. We’ve been homeless for almost three months now and costs are really adding up. You don’t have to donate, and please don’t feel guilty if you can’t, but if you wouldn’t mind sharing the link it would mean a lot to me. Thanks.

Anyway, back to the topic at hand.

This month I’ve been feeling worse than I normally do. I’ve actually been trending downward steadily since we first became homeless in October, but I’ve dismissed a lot of that on the things I don’t really have the luxury of at the moment like a reliable diet, good sleep, low stress, etc.

However, my back and neck have been causing me a lot of pain this month in particular. I’ve been a little wary of that, because during the summer I noticed a growth on the back of my neck. I thought it was a pimple at first, but when it didn’t go away I came to the conclusion it was probably a neurofibroma.

I feel like I’ve mentioned neurofibromas in other videos, but to summarize: my genetic condition, nuerofibromitosis, causes chronic migraines and tumor growth. These tumors grow on nerves, hence the neuro part of the name, and they are called neurofibromas.

They’re typically not cancerous, but they can grow on places that could endanger other parts of the body, like the spine, and because they grow directly on a nerve itself, they can be difficult to remove.

I didn’t really do anything then for several reasons. It was the middle of the summer and I was still in college. I had just gotten back from Leviosa and was trying to edit videos and foster the connections I had made there. And finally, we were still trying to find a new place before we lost our home, so I had lots of other things on my mind.

I was able to meet with my neurologist in September and I told her about it then, but she decided that we’d just keep an eye on it and see what happens. We weren’t positive it was was a neurofibroma. It wasn’t causing any symptoms at that point.

The past few weeks I’ve been feeling increasingly terrible though. My neck and back have been hurting a lot. And then the other day my shoulder started vibrating, just shaking for no reason. I wasn’t even doing anything. I was just laying down!

The next day I woke up and could barely lift my head because my neck hurt so much. I thought, “You know, probably a good time to go to the doctor about this.” The only reason I hadn’t already set up an appointment was because I had one scheduled for the 28th. I set it up back in September after my last appointment, three months ahead. But when I called to see if they could maybe move that up earlier, they said I didn’t have anything scheduled and couldn’t fit me in until 2017.

I would have called in mid-November had I known my appointment this month had mysteriously disappeared.

We ultimately decided to go to the hospital, because I was in serious pain and while I might have been able to last a few days to a new appointment, there was no way I could live through two and a half weeks.

So, this is where it starts getting a little funny. When you go to the emergency room and you look like you’re sixteen years old and you say “I think I have a tumor in my neck that’s compressing my nerves and causing me massive pain and loss of cognitive and motor function,” people are going to think two things:

One, they’re going to think you are a hypochondriac and have no idea what you’re talking about.

Two, they’re going to think you googled your symptoms and picked the worst possible option Web MD gave you.

Either way, they aren’t going to take you seriously.

So they had my mom and I sit in the waiting room for like an hour and a half.

When they finally pulled us back, the doctor came in and said it was probably a zit or abscess. He did an ultrasound on my neck and said he was pretty sure it was a zit. My mom asked him how sure and he said he’d only ever seen a handful of neurofibromas, but he’d dealt with hundreds of abscessed zits. So he was pretty sure.

This whole time I’m just thinking, “Wow, I am making a lot of fuss over a zit.”

He said he could send me home with a hot compress to lure it to the surface and pop, or he could cut it open and lance it. Waiting around with a hot, wet pad on neck sounded like zero fun, so we decided to cut it open.

Then they moved me to an actual treatment room and he went off to get supplies to pop the supposed zit. He came back with numbing fluid and gauze. Now, while we were waiting for him to get the supplies, I googled what he was about to do. The internet said that an cutting into an abscess should almost immediately relieve the pain and pressure, because the fluid inside would start to drain. So I knew what to expect.

So I was laying there, face down. I couldn’t feel him cut because of the numbing shots, but I felt a little pull and something liquid slid down my neck and I thought “Okay, that’s it. I should start feeling better now.” But nothing really happened. I’m aware I can be a little impatient at times, so I gave it a couple more minutes, but nothing changed.

This entire time he was still cutting and pulling at my neck, so I opened my eyes and realized there was a LOT of bloody gauze on the tray. And he just says, all casually, “Turns out it is a neurofibroma.”

And I’m like, “Really?”

And he says, “Yeah. I’m just surprised because they don’t happen often and they’re usually not all wrapped up like this.”

My first thought was relief, because I’d already told everyone on twitter that it was a tumor and I was not looking forward to explaining it was just a zit. Second, I was proud of myself for being right and asserting myself. Third, I was suddenly very nervous because this guy had told us before he’d only ever handled a couple of neurofibromas before and he was much more of a trauma and cardio doctor than a nerve specialist. Now he was cutting a tumor out of my neck.

So he kept cutting and tugging and snipping things, and every few minutes I’d just wiggle my toes to make sure I still could. Eventually, he got it out and he showed it to me, it was really tiny, like the size of a pea or the head of an earring, but that turns out to be a lot when it’s inside you, pushing against a whole bunch of nerves and tissue.

He stitched me up and went to get a discharge nurse. I had my mom come over and take a picture for my normal neurologist and she really didn’t want to. Apparently, she didn’t hear him clarify that it was actually a tumor, so she thought he’d spent all that time stabbing a zit. When I told her she freaked out because she said she wouldn’t have let some random ER doc cut into my neck if she’d known it was a tumor. “He could of paralyzed you!” She said.

I was actually very happy. I knew exactly what was wrong with me and I was right. I was very proud of myself for being assertive and taking my symptoms seriously, but then a few hours later after the medicine wore off and I could actually feel the pain of having surgery on my neck I was less happy. I’m still very sore and my brother’s been calling me Frankenstein because I walk very stiffly and can’t move my neck that much.

I am a little freaked out by this because despite being so sure, I wasn’t positive myself until it was actually proven. I’m nervous because if you start getting neurofibromas with my condition, they tend to reoccur and grow elsewhere, so with the future of my health insurance so unsure I’m worried about monitoring my health long term. This caused me a lot of problems and I’d be in a lot of trouble if I got another one but couldn’t afford to have it removed.

Anyway, I felt like this was a good story to share to explain why I was absent a lot over the past week and why I might be a bit slow for the next few days. I also thought it was good to share my story to help others who might be suffering the same thing or who think they might not be taken seriously by their doc. It’s really frustrating when you’re well educated on your condition and people still dismiss you.

Thank you as always for watching/reading. A reminder if you wouldn’t mind, I’d really appreciate if you could share my family’s GoFundMe link. I’m sorry this video was so long. I’ll see you soon. Bye.

On Assumptions, Poverty, and “Breaking the Cycle”

Hello! First, I’d like to thank everyone who has shared, donated, and messaged me since I uploaded the video about our crisis. I am so honored and overwhelmed.

Please know that my entire family is so grateful for everything you’ve done so far. I am moved beyond words by your support.

Several people have told me their own stories of struggle, homelessness, and poverty. It is because of them as well as my own family, that I felt compelled to write a response to the comment below.

I'm curious. I may ask a few questions but I understand completely that it's your choice to answer or not. I respect your right of privacy and will not demand a reply. First let me say, I am a single mom of 4. There's only about 5% father involvement. I've been on and off WIC, Food Stamps, Welfare, borrowed from church, borrowed from military relief, was without health insurance for 11 years, have lived with relatives, frequented food pantries, etc. During that time I was, and still am, suffering from 3 chronic illnesses and raising a special needs child. Also during that time I was always job hunting and seeking a way out of government support and handouts. My illness and care of a young special needs child kept me on and off assistance. Some questions are: What keeps your family receiving Section 8, etc? Is anyone in your house working or capable of working? Are you old enough to work? How does your family contribute back to the system supporting them? Tax breaks are synonymous with government assistance so I would assume you don't pay IRS at the end of each year but they are refunding you. I'm also assuming the children in your family have attended or are attending public schools. Public schools are also funded by government. How does your family support those citizens that are supporting them? I watched some of your videos. I note that I never had a computer or laptop while receiving government assistance. I never had money for bold red lipstick (note* it looks wonderful on you). I didn't have internet. My bedroom wasn't decorated and displaying numerous pretties. More questions: Is other family keeping you in WA? Why live in WA? WA is listed in the Top Ten states with the highest rent rates. Rent in coastal states continue to be the highest in the nation! I moved from CA to TN for this very reason. It's my guess (but I could be wrong) that everyone in your family over 14 has use of a cellphone. Assistance sometimes comes with health insurance also. You present yourself as a intelligent, well educated, visually put together woman. Remember, cycles can be broken anywhere in the chain and at anytime. Government assistance was designed to be a tool to climb a ladder. It's function should be the 1st step not the last. It also is not designed to fund a person/family over years at a time. I now work full-time and am off assistance since 2007. Many will hate on my comments and that's understandable. I had things to say and questions to ask but you have the right to refuse them and I will think no less of you (and I have very high regards for you & your strengths). Yes, I will be donating no matter what or whether you reply. I hope all funds you receive are helpful in achieving family needs and dreams! Best of luck!

My reply:

I am replying to your questions because I want to, not because I feel the need to justify myself or my family. Also, I feel like you are trying to be genuinely sincere. I feel like I answered several of your questions in this video and also in other videos.

I don’t really have the time to reply right now, but I also feel like a lot of the assumptions you’ve made are damaging not just to me, but many other people who have struggled and shared their story here with me.

My mother is a disabled veteran. My brother has a learning disability. I, as I have said, have a genetic condition that causes daily intrusive migraines. This condition also cause tumors to grow on my nerves. It causes daily fatigue and pain. It’s called Neurofibromatosis, I’ve made several videos on it.

My family receives Section 8 because we need it to afford a home. We are monumentally lucky to be a part of the program, even though finding a place is difficult right now, because Section 8 is such a valuable, helpful, and NEEDED program that they have a lottery every five years just to be put on the waiting list to apply.

I am twenty two years old. My health has been a problem for me since I was a teenager. I had to leave high school in 10th grade because my public school would not honor the 504 plan that would help me complete my assignments on time. I aced my GED.

That same school was bailed out a few years later because it ranked in the bottom 5% of the entire state. I am glad it was, because now that school offers a better curriculum than many local community colleges for my baby brother, who is on the track to Pre-Med. But that school failed me and dramatically altered my options.

I have done everything I possibly can to “climb the ladder.” Since I was sixteen years old, I have worked despite my health problems. I have been a barista, a nanny, a secretary. Until March, I worked at a daycare at a local church until my health required me to quit.

I am a good worker. I bought my camera at a pawn shop after saving up for months. I bought this laptop with even more savings and help from my friends here.

I am an intelligent, well educated, visually put together woman because I strive to be. Am I supposed to accept limitations and not aim to improve myself? I know I am a talented person. I’m sorry for the lack of humility, but I know that I can do great things.

I know that poverty and never ending assistance isn’t and shouldn’t be the end of my story.

You talked a lot about the things you didn’t have that I do. You’ve been off assistance since 2007. It’s nearly 2017. It has been a decade. My family did not have cell phones, a nice computer, or reliable internet in 2007.

However, it is incredibly unrealistic for children over 14 not to have a cellphone nowadays and they are leagues more affordable now than they were ten years ago. We have internet, but we don’t have cable or even a landline. We don’t go out to eat, we very rarely buy clothes new and never name brand, we go to the movies once or twice a year if we’re lucky but most years we don’t go at all. We prioritize the internet over any other luxury.

You have a lot of assumptions and comparisons in your comment. You commented on my wall decorations.

The only “pretties” on my wall are things I have made myself. I painted the cork board in the background of my older videos. I designed and printed both of the prints on my wall. The only things on my wall that I didn’t make are the fairy lights. My mother even made the red shelves on my wall. I painted them.

For all you know, my pretty red lipstick could be a $3 tube from Walmart. It’s not. It’s the first nice, fancy piece of makeup I ever bought myself. I bought it as a present to myself for going back to school after spending a month in the hospital. It made me feel pretty and confident when I had no strength at all.

You didn’t mention it, but I am assuming you’ve also assumed about my Vegas trip.

I’ve volunteered online for Leviosa, the event I attended there in July, for the past two years. I was only able to go because I saved every penny from my previously mentioned daycare job and was generously gifted a ticket by a fellow volunteer for the convention who was no longer able to attend (she found out she was expecting and her baby was due the same weekend!).

Before my health got bad, I worked hard. I paid my taxes and if in a position to, I will happily pay them again. I love my country and my community and I will do all I can to support them.

I am incredibly grateful for the people and services that have helped me. I enjoy volunteer work. I enjoy helping others. I am a passionate advocate for at risk youth programs like those that have helped me better myself, and reading programs.

My god, I would love to break the chain of poverty. It’s all I’ve ever tried to do.

I know WA is one of the most expensive places to live; I’ve lived here my entire life. It has excellent assistance programs, but it does take a lot to pull yourself up by your bootstraps to pull out of them. Our rent rose $300 and our food assistance was discontinued when I got financial aid from my school, even though that money was specifically earmarked for tuition and supplies.

You have to make a lot of money to “break the cycle” even when you’re trying to better yourself (like going to school).

How am I supposed to afford a cross country move when I can’t even afford rent here? It would take thousands of dollars to move to a place where we have no friends or connections or any guarantee of sustainability.

We have no family here, but our extended family is not supportive or in any position to help. We do have friends here, like my 22 year old friend who just bought a house with her husband, who offered to let us park our camper in her driveway.

Don’t get me wrong. I am incredibly grateful for the luxuries I have. I am even luckier to have a family that supports and believes in my ambitions. I know there are many people with much worse.

I hope this move doesn’t take away the nice things we do have, but even if it does I will still be lucky and happy to have my family even if I have nothing else.

I have asked for help because I want to be in a position where I can help others. I am not looking for charity. I am looking for opportunity. I am asking people to trust me. I am trying to “break the chain” so I can help others do the same, but it’s a pretty durable chain and I’ve been shackled to it my entire life.

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