i am not bored, please don’t break up with your girlfriend

Three things:

1. Why is it that Ariana Grande and Billie Eilish and the likes always put their song titles in lowercase? This was also a trend on Fanfiction.net in 2006 for writer wannabes who wanted to fool readers into thinking they were reading quality.

2. Why do we think that being dismissive with our emotions rather than embracing them is the cool thing to do? If you’re bored, then why does that entail and subsequently justify encouraging cheating? Feminism seems to now put pressure on us to deny our emotions. Yet we need more pop songs like “The Louvre” by Lorde where the singer, in an interview, openly proclaimed how cool it is to wear your heart on your sleeve. I prefer Ari in “thank you, next” where she fully confesses her past attachments but also implies that she embraces it by wholeheartedly loving herself.

3. On that note, I am ready to admit that when I am interested in someone, I get attached way too easily. But right now, I am 100% not interested in anyone, and I have never felt better about being alone by myself. Yet why do I find myself caught in not one but TWO separate crossfires?? I am friends with two males both obviously on the verge of breakups who seem to be relying on me for emotional support and proclaiming things to me they almost certainly shouldn’t. Is it because modern pop culture like via the titular song is painting harmful pictures of us women to men? Is it implying that women are becoming more flippant and willing to engage in adulterous behavior?

I feel especially disappointed because these two individuals helped me pick myself back up when I was down because of a lingering attachment. They were the ones who helped me reflect more on who I am, and through that, I’ve set my priorities straight. Yet I fear they are doing exactly the opposite – using me as a proxy to cushion their fall when the breakups occur. Thinking that I am available as a single woman to pillow them, re-channeling whatever emotional attachments with their girlfriends they had into me. I only want friendship, and for me, friendship entails emotional support and positive affirmation. That should never be mistaken for romantic or sexual intent.

I am far from bored, and even if I were, I would not form a disingenuous relation of any kind on the basis of my ennui and would certainly not condone breaking up with your girlfriend for entertainment, selfishness, or otherwise. If you are suffering, then you need to find ways that are healthy to individualize yourself again. Someone else loving you can only fool you into thinking you love yourself for so long.

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Changing the Road Signs: Adulthood, Women’s Roles, and Resilience in “You’re Aging Well”

Listen to this song on Youtube.

When I was a little girl, my mother used to always keep a batch of CD albums in the glove compartment of her Honda minivan. She’d play them on repeat whenever she drove us to playdates or appointments. Nearly every day, I’d hear “You’re Aging Well” by Dar Williams. At 7 years old, I didn’t quite grasp the meaning behind the lyrics. At 20 going on 21, I can now start to appreciate its message.

First released on her album The Honesty Room in 1993, this song deals with the process of maturing, especially for women, in a contradictory modern world. It also celebrates her relationship with mentor Joan Baez, who served as a primary source of encouragement in both her professional and personal life. The two recorded a duet version as well.

The song begins with a lament: “Why is that as we grow older and stronger the road signs point us adrift?” She declares that she will repaint the road signs, defying the paths society ushers us down if they are to leave us continually doubting – “You never can win. Watch your back. Where’s your husband?”

These lines encapsulate some of the contradictory issues that women face. We should be feminist, but can’t be too feminist for the sake of a relationship. Our friends might stab us in the back. We should have significant others, but we need to keep an eye on them. And if only our “lower calf, upper arm were half what they are.” Yet still we are tempted believe that these will lead to a “road of enchantment.”

These kinds of narratives rampant in our culture leave us “with a collection of sticks,” with which to “fight back the hundreds of voices.” We become cynical, absurd – well aware we can only eat “the poisonous apple… not a story we are meant to survive.”

But Williams offers us not just hope, but the promise of companionship in a world that seems indifferent. The refrain of the song is “I’m so glad you finally made it here. You thought nobody cared, but we did, we could tell.” With age, we discover that with suffering comes empathy and understanding. Above all, while hardships can seem abnormal in a world where everyone is walking the road of enchantment, in fact, making it through to where we are today is a sign that we are maturing just as we should be.

It is the the final verses that I feel the most keenly. Sometimes, the “language that keeps us alive” that we’ve been searching for on this endless, misguided roadmap is given to us by someone unexpected or found in unexpected places. And when we’re lost, we’re frustrated. But some things can only be achieved through simply living life as it is, and the fact that we’re right where we are now is a sign that we are, indeed, aging well.

I’m so glad that you finally made it here

With the things you know now, that only time could tell

Looking back, seeing far, landing right where we are

And oh, you’re aging, and I am aging.

Oh, aren’t we aging well?

“It’s a hard truth when your heart”

It’s a hard truth when your heart is made of satin ribbons

to be wrapped around another like a present,

But do not keep your ear to the ground,

Because he isn’t calling your name across the shore

And certainly isn’t whispering that he loves you.

Don’t keep your eyes peeled either, because he’s not

In the crowds or standing on the mountains,

And you don’t have to wear contact lenses today

Or tomorrow or any day to see him,

Because even though he was right when he said you can see the stars in your irises

And you’re worth more than gold,

If only you could untangle your stretching heart from him,

Take a moment to see beyond

And remember that today’s gold standard is 1285.60 per ounce

And yesterday it was 1283.80 per ounce –

But that you are priceless everyday.

I know it’s hard to see when you’ve got the entire sky in your eyes,

But it’s just like in those cheesy campfire love songs from your 14th birthday party,

If only you could see what I can see, you’d understand that looking in a mirror

Doesn’t reflect just how beautiful you really are,

Because beauty is on the outside,

not inside your head or his head or anyone else’s –

It’s the way you walk, the octave of your laugh, and the nod of your head;

It’s your satin ribbon heart not wound tightly around another

But tied up in a rosette in the palms of your hands –

And you don’t need to wear contact lenses to see that.

Written January 9, 2019.

Parameters: Lyrical poem, fragment, theme of moving on

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“This winter night you become the ghost”

This winter night you become the ghost that seizes the bouquet

Of tulips and dreams I hold crossed against my chest

And drops it in the ocean, at least until May

When snow’s all melted and the doves awoken, but I don’t suggest

That I am Sleeping Beauty in her satin gown

For the waking kiss, for the truth is I’m dressed

All ready for the beach, and weighty things like love might drown

But I am light as a cloudless dawn and won’t let you halt

Me or any swimmer from plucking out the flower crowns

And wreaths of dreams from waters deep, and the salt

Of the stubborn, pounding shore when I walk along the quay

Will not stop me from loving the rolling cobalt sea I so exalt.

Besides – tonight too will pass with you away into the day,

And I never believed in ghosts all that much anyway.

Written January 5, 2019 (at 2:58am).

Parameters: terza rima, ocean themed

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UNFPA battles domestic violence with family planning and education

Article from earlier this summer containing an interview with Naomi Kitahara, UNFPA Representative of Mongolia. Original can be found here

Recently, the UNFPA released both its “Breaking the silence for equality: 2017 National Study on Gender-based Violence in Mongolia” and a statement on reproductive resource availability by Naomi Kitahara, UNFPA representative, at the National Consultative Meeting on Reproductive Health and Family Planning. In the following interview, Kitahara discusses the progress of Mongolia in the areas of family planning and reproductive health, as well as the responses, challenges, and future plans of the UNFPA in regards to gender-based violence and human rights.

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Implementing gender sensitivity in disaster relief

This article contains excerpts from my interview with Bjorn Andersson from the UNFPA Asia-Pacific region. It addresses disaster relief in the context of recent flooding in Mongolia. Link to original article is currently unavailable.

Following a few days of downpour this past week, several roads in the Bayanzurkh District of Ulaanbaatar have been severely damaged, raising safety concerns for residents amidst flooding. The capital authorities have issued several notices of evictions to unauthorized families and entities located in at-risk zones, but reportedly, they have refused to move.

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Foreigner’s perception of Naadam and women

Article written for the UB Post during Naadam, detailing my impressions as a foreign woman and addressing the progress of gender equality in the nation as well. Link to original currently unavailable. Picture credits to Sebastian Zusi.

For Naadam, the city bloomed with silk and color. Mongolians wore deels with bright hues and intricate patterns. By the National Stadium, people milled about on the grounds, drifting from tent to tent with khuushuur in their hands. And inside the Naadam grounds, on the field, there were four women. They all wore blue cotton deels and straw-colored hats, and they marched up to the line that marked their position. They raised their bows, pulled back the string, and then an arrow hurtled through the air. They were beautiful and graceful.

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Interviewing UNFPA Mongolia

While I haven’t uploaded any of my articles in a while, this past weekend has been filled with amazing opportunities for interviews and coverage of fascinating events. In particular, I had the chance to interview the regional director of the UNFPA Asia Pacific region and attend the launch of the #HeForShe campaign in Mongolia.

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Progress of family planning in Mongolia

Analysis of current access to reproductive health care resources and impact of lack of accessibility to rural populations especially. Original can be found here.

Family planning services are available in Mongolia, but recent research reveals room for improvement, especially for rural access, prevention of maternal deaths and domestic violence. The UNFPA, Marie Stopes International and several other NGOs are working with the government to provide better access to reproductive health resources.

Continue reading “Progress of family planning in Mongolia”