Why You Need To Vote Every Year, Not Just in a Presidential Year

The year 2017 is not a special one when it comes to elections. Wait. What do I mean by special? Special meaning that it’s not a presidential one. In the state of CT, it’s the municipal one.

However, that doesn’t mean that it’s not an unworthy election.

In my one of my journalism classes back in college, my professor told us that the turnout during those off elections is extremely low. I remember seeing a turnout in the teens.

But, it shouldn’t be.

If you’ve met me personally, you’ve heard me talk about all of the work that I’ve done as a journalist in my hometown of Hamden, Connecticut. My work put me in the front lines with some great people in town. Meeting those great people have helped me realize the importance of getting involved in the town, and is the source of my inspiration in doing so.

Why?

Because it truly makes a difference.

Government at both the national and state level is, well let’s face it, a mess. However, with that being said, chances are the things that affect you the most are things that could be changed when you raise your voice to your mayor or first selectman.

I’m talking about potholes. I’m talking about stepping up police patrols. I’m talking about improving parks.

Sure, things are important at the national level. But, they are important at home too.

This is why I am asking you to do me a favor. And, that is on Nov. 7, to get out there and vote.

Since registering to vote in 2012 (ironically during a presidential election), I have made it a point to head out to the polls each and every year. For a couple of years it was hard, considering that I didn’t have a license and had to get my grandmother to take me to polls by bribing her with a cookie.  The only exception was one year when I had a crippling migraine and couldn’t really do much.

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My first ‘I Voted’ sticker! Picture was taken with an iPod touch, how 2012 of me.

Last year, we saw a record turnout for the polls. And, that’s awesome. I am so happy to see the passion that our country had when it came to supporting their candidate of choice.

But, we need to continue that passion when it comes to all elections. We need to elect our mayors and be aware of the issues. Otherwise, by not coming to the polls, your forfeit the right to complain about something, because you could have gotten out there to vote. But, you didn’t.

I’m a journalist, and part of my job is to remain impartial to political parties. However, I am passionate about one thing. And, that is the importance of voting. I will never tell you who to support and vote for. But, I will tell you to vote until I am blue in the face.

So, on Nov. 7, let’s head to the polls once again. You may not be voting for the next president. But you’re going to be voting for the people who control your taxes, the people that control the quality of your roads, and the education that your children receive.

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You Don’t Get It

Why aren’t you getting back out there?

Why can’t you just get over it?

It’s not a big deal — just go on a date.

Do you still love him?

 

Everyone seems to have an opinion —

it is something they insert in when not wanted.

But, they didn’t know. . .

 

They didn’t know what it was like —

to have lie about why he couldn’t go there,

to have someone think that they are entitled to your body,

or to have to explain why you’re not ready.

They didn’t see you throw up as he forced your hand.

They didn’t hear you cry as he gave you that ultimatum.

 

You see, no one understands that.

 

Maybe it’s my fault.

Maybe I should have opened my mouth.

Maybe I should have told someone.

 

But, what if they didn’t believe me?

What if I was the weird one, and he was normal?

 

You see why I carried my secret on my back.

 

Years later, I’ve turned into a beast —

locked up in my tower of isolation,

waiting for someone to touch my rose.

 

Despite my longing for light,

I still felt like it would happen —

my body a currency to keep the relationship afloat.

His words still repeating,

why can’t we just have sex,

again and again until I can’t take it anymore.

When I cover my ears,

I can still see those moments in high definition.

I can never escape.

 

Not that I had to explain it to you,

but that’s why I am not going out on dates.

If it were you, you would do the same.

 

Coming Forward and Speaking Out

The Harvey Weinstein scandal caused many women – from actresses to screen writers – to come forward and accuse him of misconduct. As I write this, I am watching CNN, and listening to audio between Weinstein and one of these victims. The audio, just to sum it up, is of a woman stating that she was uncomfortable. Weinstein’s response? ‘Don’t embarrass me, honey.’

Hearing this audio sickens me. Hearing about how many women he did this to sickens me. And, hearing their stories sends chills up my spine.

It is sad that we live in a world where men feel it is okay to grab whomever and whatever they please, and not feel like they did anything wrong. That sense of entitlement further ensures that men could get away with it, as boys will be boys, and women have to deal with that. That mentality is destructive, and leads all involved down a dangerous and lethal path. And, it really needs to end. 

One can never understand the effects that this can have on a victim, that is until you become one. There is still a mentality that women ‘ask’ for it by the clothes they were and the way that they present themselves. That mentality is comical. I mean, do women ask for a man to come up and grab them, just because they are wearing a short skirt? Is an outfit like that basically an open invitation for that?

No.

The only way that it is okay is if a woman had said yes. Anything else? Then it is certainly not okay.

I applaud all of the women that are coming forward to say hey, I’m a victim. Hey, he did this to me. Some of these women include Angelina Jolie, Gwyneth Paltrow and Rosanna Arquette. When having this happen to you, women should scream on the top of their damn lungs. Instead, their voices are silenced. 

By those women stepping forward it is a positive step in the right direction to justice. Men like Weinstein deserve their plate of karma for all of his wrongdoings towards all of those women. And, by this scandal making headlines and all of those women coming forward, it helps victims of this feel confident enough to get the justice that they rightfully deserve.

With that being said, coming forward is one step further in getting awareness in regards to assault and rape. Having that in your back pocket will be one step closer to having men like Weinstein punished. We may never live in a world with out assault or rape. But, we will one day live in a world (hopefully) where all who were affected by this wrongdoing will be able to step forward and get justice. I know so — I feel it pulsing through my veins. 

Note: If you are a victim, please raise your voice. Tell someone so they could connect you to all the resources you rightfully need — police, doctors, hospital, etc. 

In Loving Memory

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Today, marks the sixth anniversary of my grandfather’s death. For those who don’t know, my grandfather served as my father figure for my childhood. So, on every anniversary and every birthday, I want to take a moment to talk about the profound influence that he had on me.

My grandfather passed away on Oct. 12, 2011 after a five year battle of Alzheimer’s. If I could take away anything about his fight was his continuous strength. I have no memory of him complaining, nor do I remember him not being happy. This actually was fitting — his name was Sonny.

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My grandfather was one of the most beautiful human beings that I ever had the privilege of knowing. A tribute fitting for him would span the length of novels, but I hope that this suffices.

I’d like to think that I get my sense of humor from my grandfather. I don’t have a single memory of him being grumpy or bitter — he was always laughing and smiling. He made everyone laugh. He always looked to the bright side to things, no matter how dismal they were. He would always say these one liners. “Take it from a dummy” was one of them.

With that being said, my relationship with my grandfather was one of the most special ones that I will have in my entire life. Sorry future husband. I grew up without a father, but I never felt the weight of that absence because of my grandfather. He treated me like I was his own child, spoiling me with anything I could have wanted materialistically and always giving me his undivided attention. He took me everywhere — from the Essex Steam Train and to the Arcade in Mohegan Sun. I never once doubted that I was loved, because he was there for me in ways my own father would not be.

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My grandfather’s generosity spanned to his entire family — my mother, my uncle, my cousins and my grandmother. When he loved, he loved wholeheartedly. He was a devoted husband, father and grandfather, and was always there for loved ones during both highs and lows.

I remember him being at every school concert that he could attend, and when I had both of my childhood surgeries, he was there to take care of me. I remember once when I was seven, and I had fainted. My mom had to rush me to the emergency room with the help of both of my grandparents who stayed with her throughout the night.

Saying goodbye to my grandfather was single handedly one of the hardest things that I had to do. For months, it felt like there was something that was missing in my life. My grandfather died when I was a senior in high school, and I kept on feeling the weight of his absence during the big events such as prom and graduation. Even nowadays as I do things, I still feel it as I wonder what would this event be like if my grandfather were here?

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As I progress and grow through life, my grandfather continues to my inspiration. He is the reason why I devote a thousand percent into everything I do, and to continuously work hard. He is a source of my optimism as I remember his fight with Alzheimer’s, and his never waning jokes. Even as I write this now, I could picture him sitting on his chair, and smiling.

My grandfather’s absence is a heavy weight that takes its toll on my family. I miss him every day. Moving forward, I continue to wonder what things would be like if he were here today. I wonder if he was proud of me as I graduated college and took the oath of office as Arts Commissioner yesterday. I wonder what Christmas would be like if he were still here. I wonder what he would have done when I got my car — I personally think that he would have yelled at me for never keeping it clean.

As I remember my grandfather (and his legacy), I want him to know that I love him and he will always and forever serve as my inspiration. Thank you Grandpa for your existence. I’ll never stop aiming to make you proud. I love you.

It’s Not THAT Bad To Be Single

“Why are you still single?”

Oh, how I hate that question.

It goes along with being told “one day you’ll find someone.”

I have to bite my tongue

to avoid saying “shut the hell up.”

I’m glad to know your only accomplishment in life

is just being in a relationship.

That’s great,

but I have better things to do with my time

like meeting the band Kansas,

or working at the copy desk at the Hamden Journal.

 

It’s not that I am choosing to be single.

It’s just how it happened.

Sure, I can download Tinder.

Or, I can go on OKCupid.

But how do I know that the guy is actually worthy?

You don’t get that much information before you swipe.

Or, better yet, how do I know he’s not going to kill me?

I’m not suspicious,

but my best friend is always on the app,

and she manages to find people that look

like they are a sex offender

or belong in a prison line up.

Since online dating isn’t my thing,

one may suggest going out to meet new people.

Bars involve wearing clothes that are a bit too tight

and even then, you don’t know what they are thinking.

They may like you,

or they may want you to be their next one night stand.

Or, they just might want you to go away.

After a long day, a bar’s the last place that I want to be.

I wish I can find my future husband watching Netflix.

I don’t plan on being the crazy cat lady,

or the woman that’s obsessed with the career.

Maybe it’s fear that’s keeping me from talking to the cute guy in class,

because he may not actually have a crush on me

or he may just be gay.

Well, that might be awkward if I asked him out,

like that time when I asked Gabriel for his phone number,

later learning that he was in fact gay.

Why can’t he just ask me?

Romantic comedies lie.

But you see,

relationships are all just a game.

The winners are those couples,

you know the ones who constantly post selfies on social media,

or have someone to cuddle with on a Saturday night.

But, my day will come,

where I’ll meet someone to post selfies with to annoy everyone

and I’ll have someone to cuddle with who doesn’t have four legs

and floppy ears.

Remembering 9/11

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New York, April 2016

I was only seven years old when the planes crashed into the Twin Towers 16 years ago. At seven, I didn’t comprehend what exactly happened. I remember it being a typical school day. I remember my grandparents were on their way to some bus trip, leaving the job of picking me up to a neighbor. I remember that it was my Uncle Joe’s birthday.

However, I knew something was wrong when my mom was there to pick me up that day. I remember asking her why? And, then she had told me what happened that day — two planes had hit the Twin Towers and the Pentagon. I remember going home and she never left the television set.

At seven, I didn’t know how horrific the events of the attacks were. At 23, after watching the footage and hearing the stories of those who lost loved ones in those attack, I definitely do.

9/11 was without a doubt a tragedy. It brings tears to my eyes when I hear the stories of people who lost loved ones: parents, spouses, children. 9/11 will forever be cemented in our lives as something that changed our country forever, and this is why it should be never forgotten.

Today, I remember that day, and how oblivious I was to what had occurred. Today, I honor those who risked their lives just to save others — the New York City Fire Department, civilians, etc. Today, I pay tribute to my country, and proclaim that I am proud to an American.

Even though I didn’t comprehend it much at the time, I vow to #neverforget 9/11. I vow to #neverforget the tragedy, the loss, and the families who lost a loved one.  I vow #neverforget the bravery the NY fire and police department.

#neverforget 9/11.

Opinions on Opinions 

We all can agree that everyone on this earth is born with one thing — an opinion. That opinion is formed by several things including: experiences, education, surroundings, beliefs, religious affiliations, and your likes and dislikes. This is why each and every one of us on this planet have a different thing. 

And I think that it is excellent. It should be something that we all should rejoice and celebrate. Instead, in my recent experiences, it has now become a catalyst for an ugly debate — one that ends up turning into an exchange of “you’re wrongs” and other brutal words. 

What is even more upsetting is that I know people who are scared to voice their opinions because they are afraid of the backlash. 

I think that’s the worst thing ever. 

Nowadays, there is an abundance of diverse opinions that are floating around. This is especially true with the increased usage of social media, as you can log online and see someone’s opinion right on your newsfeed. Sometimes, it can be like going into opinion overload, as you can read over 10 different opinions before having your morning coffee. 

Yikes. 

With that being said, there’s also another pitfall of social media — the ability to comment. With every post, there’s always a list of comments. For example, I recently wrote an article on CTBoom about Why There Shouldn’t Be Another Season of Gilmore Girls. I belong to a Gilmore Girls group on Facebook, and posted it to help generate more views, in addition to conversation. Half of the comments were statements that I was wrong. The other half were people trying to tear me down because of my writing. 

Well then. 

I wasn’t asking for them to agree. I just was interested in what they had to say. It truly bothered me that it resulted in insulted. And, of course, I wanted people to read my writing. 

And it was brought on by people who shared a different opinion than myself! 

When that happened, it really got me thinking. Do we live in a society that results in insult when we don’t agree? Whatever happened to be in a coexisting melting pot? 

My ideal society is one that allows everyone to vocalize their opinions without the fear of being hounded. This includes: political affiliation, religious beliefs, and about whether or not they like a certain song/tv show/movie. It bothers me to no end when a Hillary supporter yells at a Trump one because they don’t agree. Instead of yelling, let’s listen. Let’s have a discussion to learn why they feel that way. And, most importantly, let’s respect the different opinions that come on our newsfeeds. 

Maybe that’s an unrealistic utopian society. However, one can dream.