Monday, February 12, 2018

this is what happened

With tweets and messages and texts and rumors already circulating about me and what I said about one of my college peers, I think it's finally time that I talk about everything that has been happening to me since 2015. I kept this quiet for too long, and I regret that now. Being strong and silent about being terrorized isn't powerful, it's cowardly and harmful. I don't want to be prescriptive here because I don't know the nuances of every different situation, but in my case ignoring the person who was tormenting me only gave him the power and permission to continue to torment me. So that's over. The days of me gritting my teeth and bearing it are done.

The blog post I keep referencing in this post can be found HERE. I guess there's a chance he might delete it — which is what I wanted for almost a year — but deleting it now will only prove me right.

I want to address a few things. A couple days ago I tweeted about some guy making a short film about blowing me up. It was a sequel to another short film he made where he had previously said this in a blog post:

"That night, I write my feelings down in my journal... a long depressing entry, fueled by feelings of perceived worthlessness and helpless ness, all related to, at least in part, this girl that I like.

She even makes her way into a film I make based on that journal entry, in the form of a large fiery planet with a ring of intimidating storm clouds.

And no one is any the wiser."

He explicitly outlines the facts that 1) I am in the movie in the form of a symbolic planet, 2) that the film was based on a journal entry, 3) the journal entry was about me. So when a big, fiery planet gets violently eviscerated in part 2 of the movie everyone saw ME getting blown up. His friends are telling me "it's not about you; it has nothing to do with you." That may very well be true. But true or not, he still wrote this overwrought blog post explaining what the first half of the movie was inspired by (me) and basically instructed everyone to look out for a planet symbolizing me, and then he blew up that symbol in the sequel. It doesn't matter if it was a different planet or not. It doesn't matter what he decided that the planet symbolized in the second half of the movie. Because everyone who had read that blog post was already conditioned to see it as him obliterating me because of what he'd carefully written and published on the internet for everyone to see. He created his own dominant reading of the film by writing that post. His friends are telling me, "You're being self-centered to think it was about you, it's clearly not about you, no one else thinks it was about you" but literally multiple people who were at the screening reached out to see if I was okay, because they all saw the same thing that I did. It's as simple as that. Whether he meant the film to me about me or X or Y or Z (or all of the above) is a moot point; I am literally not arguing for or against what he actually meant when he made it. The fact is: he went out of his way to ensure that anyone in the audience who read the blog post would view the film this way. Period. 

Now let me talk about the guy who made the short film, because the short film is literally the smallest and least significant part in this. 

He went to film school with me and was obsessed with me — he stalked me relentlessly and harassed me constantly. He would stalk me across campus from 20 feet back, stand silently behind me when I was talking to my friends, openly leer at me in class, track me through the halls, try to weasel his way into situations where I would be even if he was uninvited and unwanted. He literally hid behind pillars and spied on me like a cartoon villain. My mom thought he was going to murder me and ordered my older brother to walk me home from school if I didn't have any friends to walk with. He was delusional about the state of our relationship, thinking that we were friends or "making progress in our relationship" when I was literally always trying to avoid him, trying to make myself a smaller target, trying to get his attention off me. He was unpredictable and unnerving: silent yet menacing, I was never sure what he would do if he somehow got me alone with him. There were times when I ducked into the Wilk because it was crowded and bright and felt safer when he was following me in the dark. There were times when my best friend literally put her arm around me and RAN to our next class to try and get rid of him. Whenever he was around, I felt uncomfortable and gross, like I needed to hide. I tried to ignore him, I avoided eye contact and sat far away from him in class, tried not to speak to him directly. I made it clear that I liked someone else. In general, I didn't hang out in social settings if I knew he'd be there. I checked over my shoulder when I was walking around campus to make sure he wasn't following me. I carried pepper spray. I hoped that if I didn't engage and if I became smaller and quieter and more forgettable he would tire of pursuing me and move on. 

Then he published a 5000 word blog post about me called "The Year of the Witch." 

It's horrific. Repulsive and psychopathic. It's threatening and aggressive and completely objectifying, saying he thought of me as a "Game," calling me a witch and an evil queen, comparing his obsession with me to cancer and to "slavery," a play on my name. He says he wants "control" and "domination" the same way I supposedly "controlled" him. It's chilling. Beyond hostile and disturbing, it's humiliating. He says his fanatical pursuance of me "isn't about love or friendship. It's about victory." He makes all these gross claims and assumptions about me; he treats me like I played a part in his obsession, like I was actively feeding his fixation and punishing him and embarrassing him. He twists my own words from this very blog and uses them against me. He says he was in love with me, but he never knew me or knew anything about me. "Everything I do," he says, "every decision I make, every way I express myself or carry myself or think about myself, from the way I walk, to the way I talk, to the things I watch, to the things I read, to the things I eat, to the things I spend time with, or the things I think are important, or the things I do when no one else is around" is controlled by me and getting my attention; he claims he loses his job and his grades fall because he's too obsessed with me. 

In reality, I was just trying to get away from him. The whole blog post reads as if I'm an animal that he's trying to lure into a trap and keep. It's demeaning and dehumanizing; it made me feel small and dirty and afraid of what he might do next. 

Moreover, he didn't just write this sprawling manifesto about me in his journal. He didn't even publish it on a blog that I would never see. He PURPOSEFULLY texted me, "I wrote a 5000 blog post about you" to make sure I would read it. That's kind of the worst part: that he wanted me to read it, this sickening thing he wrote to degrade me. And then he posted it on Facebook, so that all my friends and everyone I went to school with would read it and make all these mortifying assumptions about me. 

What I regret is choosing to treat the whole situation like it was a funny creepy joke instead addressing it head-on and getting the help I needed. "Oh that's just my stalker, he's going to kill me and wear my skin, ha ha ha!" I wanted to be strong and unaffected by his behavior. I am a vocal feminist and a capable woman, I believe in fighting my own battles, and I didn't want to seem weak or whiny or pathetic. I was nervous about telling the faculty members in our program because I didn't want them to think I was a tattletale or that I couldn't handle things on my own. I was also nervous about what everyone would think. I'm loud and opinionated and don't take crap, I have a good support system, I seem to be doing fine and my life seems pretty good. On the other hand, the guy in question is painfully shy and awkward, never speaking up in class or doing anything divisive. Everyone assumes he's so harmless and nice just because he's quiet and shrimpy and kind of a pushover. No one would ever think he could cause so much fear and shame and menace. 

I didn't want my peers and professors to think I was just being a baby; I didn't want to have to deal with the fact that reporting him would likely be met with a lot of questioning and interrogations. I just wanted to ignore it, ignore him, and hope that it all went away. 

And then I saw that movie. Maybe it has nothing to do with me. But it was front-loaded with not only ample evidence to lead me/everyone else to view it in a way that depicted me in a violent way, but also all the stalking and harassment and objectification that I had endured in real life and online.

So I'm sorry if the guy that YOU know is a nice, quiet guy. I'm sorry if the blog post wasn't appalling and disgusting and shocking and violating enough for you. I'm sorry if it just seems like he had a "crush" on me. I'm sorry if he didn't do anything to YOU. I'm sorry that I'm being "hurtful" to the scary, threatening, misogynistic guy who made my life a hellscape because I'm finally coming forward to tell everyone about what he did and how I felt, and yes I probably should have done it earlier, but I literally couldn't care less if he gets a negative reputation or gets his feelings hurt or whatever. 

Some men I've been "friends" with for 3+ years have sent me messages saying that I'm being "hurtful" and "self-centered" and "mean" by posting about this guy. One said it would "mean a lot" to him if I would delete the tweet. Seriously? They want me to delete my 140-character tweet? Well why didn't THEY ever message HIM to tell him to delete his disgusting 5000-word opus about me? Why didn't they ever tell him that stalking me and terrorizing me and treating me like a disgusting little piece of meat was pretty "hurtful"? Huh?

These are men who I was friends with. Who I made movies with and hung out with and even went on dates with. These are men who have spoken up in class discussions about equality and feminism, who have joined the #MeToo movement. Lo and behold, they're just as disappointing and cowardly as any other run-of-the-mill internet troll. 

Overwhelmingly, women have been kind and supportive and amazing. They have tweeted at me and texted me and DMed me to tell me they believe me, that they're sorry this happened, that they're here for me. They haven't said "I believe you... BUT." 

I want to stress that the Believe Women movement does not only apply to rape/sexual assault — it also applies to stalking and harassment and manipulation and intimidation. That said, after facing down multiple men who've tried to bully me and guilt me and tear me down over this whole situation and after feeling gigantically betrayed and shocked and devastated by these men I called my "friends," I cannot even begin to fathom the hugeness of the pain and anguish that survivors of real sexual violence must deal with. Believe Women.

After years of keeping quiet, these things need to be said. I'm not going to name the guy who harassed me because the people who know him will already know who he is, and that's all that matters. 

Finally, I want to make one thing explicitly, glaringly clear: this is NOT about whether some guy's boring Lego short film is or isn't about me. And after all this, if that's still the thing matters to you: back off. 

"In a dream you saw a way to survive and you were full of joy." (Jenny Holzer)

Friday, February 24, 2017

against 'good enough'

I've been thinking a lot about the different ways people settle in relationships. It seems like hardly anyone is dating/married to the person they originally wanted to be dating/married to, but that they've made so many compromises and adjustments just to be with SOMEONE that they've contented themselves with settling. 

I was kind of halfheartedly doing some research and discovered an article by Lori Gottlieb in the March 2008 issue of The Atlantic called "Marry Him!: the case for settling for Mr. Good Enough." Essentially Gottlieb is like, "Bleh! You women are too fussy! It's too hard to find someone you really want to be with! JUST SETTLE FOR SOMEONE WHO SEEMS OKAY." This line of thinking makes me want to die one million times. Maybe I'm a little snobby about the whole idea of settling because Not Settling Ever has worked for me every time. I can think of every guy who tried to date me who I dumped and I still feel really confident about all of my choices. I have good instincts about who I like and who makes me happy and who I want to spend time with -- and I think everyone has these same good instincts -- so trying to force myself into situations with people who fall short of my standards never really works; I'm always left bored or annoyed or apathetic and ultimately unhappy

Gottlieb says, "My advice is this: Settle! That’s right. Don’t worry about passion or intense connection. Don’t nix a guy based on his annoying habit of yelling 'Bravo!' in movie theaters. Overlook his halitosis or abysmal sense of aesthetics. Because if you want to have the infrastructure in place to have a family, settling is the way to go. Based on my observations, in fact, settling will probably make you happier in the long run, since many of those who marry with great expectations become more disillusioned with each passing year. (It’s hard to maintain that level of zing when the conversation morphs into discussions about who’s changing the diapers or balancing the checkbook.)" Like, sorry? I think Gottlieb is underestimating every single woman by assuming that women are incapable of recognizing when someone is or isn't actually making them happy. 

I've been noticing, like, an onslaught of settling recently. I have friends who are dating guys because "it's better to have someone to go cuddle than nobody" and friends who are dating guys because of family pressure. I know someone who is dating a guy to get over another guy. Moreover, I'd definitely include jumping into serious relationships too quickly as settling, because it's 100% settling for the Honeymoon Phase or settling for not-bothering-to-get-to-really-know-somebody. It's settling for a fantasy rather than reality. 
Someone I love is getting engaged after two and a half months of knowing her boyfriend -- as in, less than ninety days; as in, less than a semester -- because "she just knows." I see fear and desperation and loneliness, but I don't see any self-care or confidence or self-love. Everybody deserves to be in a relationship that is both exciting and sustainable, a relationship that they actually want to be in that doesn't feel like an afterthought or self-preservation against a lonely future. 

I'd also like to point out that the opposite of settling isn't just finding the hottest boyfriend with rock-solid abs and a billion dollars and a Mazarati.
Another friend of mine is supposed to get married in March and recently texted me that she's having major doubts. She isn't happy. Her fiance has "all the right things": a temple recommend, a high GPA, a future in some money-making field, a Herschel backpack, a fixed-gear bike, a bunch of nice friends, a big welcoming family, a Tumblr blog. But despite everything that my friend isn't settling for, her fiance has never been interesting enough or smart enough or strong enough or brave enough. Just because a person looks right for the part doesn't mean that you're compatible on a really basic, primitive level. You can settle for all the minutia of a personality that doesn't impress you mentally/emotionally, and that's still heartbreaking and unfair and serious.
Another thing I've been feeling baffled by is Twitter re: relationships. Provo Twitter is a weirdly bleak and desolate place for a lot of single/dating/engaged people because the pressure for young Mormons to find literally anyone to get married to is amplified by the echo-chamber of similarly frustrated and/or lonely voices. I love Twitter and all the friends I've made there, but some of the relationships I've seen form between "mutual followers" are alarming and, like, super super super embarrassing. I'm not really an insider in the local community of Instagram or Snapchat or whatever, but I kind of imagine that it's vaguely the same situation. The problem is that a lot of these relationships are forming on a base of nothing -- mostly just one lonely voice calling out *into the void* or whatever and a similar lonely voice answering -- so these relationships become toxic and flimsy because they're ungrounded and phony and insubstantial. I truly believe that a relationship cannot be founded simply on mutual loneliness, or mutual wanting-a-significant-other-very-badly-because-all-their-friends-and-all-their-siblings-are-married-and-their-bishop-has-been-pressuring-them-and-it-sucks-to-sit-at-the-kids-table-with-the-rest-of-the-unmarried-cousins-and-their-ex-started-dating-again-and-it-would-be-a-lot-easier-if-they-could-just-settle-down-with-someone. It's settling. It's settling for a relationship that isn't rooted in truth or reality.

I guess this is kind of an unfair thing to post about so critically because I'm the kind of person who would rather not be dating anyone at all than be dating someone who has an annoying Twitter presence or talks about football too much or doesn't read or whatever -- especially because my dating track record is kind of this barren landscape of romantic casualties: I'm famous for not giving anyone the benefit of the doubt, for being "picky," for having impossible standards,
for being brutal, for being unimpressable and undateable. Maybe I'm not the right authority to be like, "Everyone Is Settling!!" because I'm unusually hard on guys and might be the outlier here. Maybe everyone is having a good time settling and I'm just being a crabby goblin about it. Maybe my crazy high standards are just that: CRAZY, and maybe everyone else would be unhappy being as fastidious and particular about the people they spend time with as I am.

But then again, my pickiness and bonkers high standards led to Hunter Phillips: the smartest, silliest, most interesting boy of all the boys. Loving Hunter has never been settling because I wanted smart and he's the smartest. I wanted kind and he's the kindest. I wanted funny and he's the funniest. I wanted weird and he's the weirdest. I wanted talented and he's the most talented. I never had to go through some weird phase where I thought he was kind of gross or cheesy or dumb or narrow-minded. I never had to come around to the idea of loving him. I never had to teach myself how to love him. Hunter is easy, even obvious, to love. Everybody is in love with Hunter.

I don't want this blog post to seem gloat-y or smug or like I'm against compromise. I don't want it to seem like I'm not aware that "perfect" doesn't really exist and that finding someone who is really, really, really good is HARD. Even your ~soul mate~ or whatever is going to have some weird habits and annoying opinions, blah blah blah blah. I don't want to have to baby everyone by doing some big dumb disclaimer about something we all technically understand about how relationships work. The bottomline is this: you don't have to settle for someone who has flaws, opinions, habits, etc. that you don't want to settle for. 

Everybody is allowed to be super, super, super in love and not to feel distantly sad about it, like maybe you're better than this. Like maybe you could be happier with someone else. Like maybe you're settling after all.

-Avery Jalaine

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

november anthology

november anthology: beloved objects and wonders
(numerals are links)

i. Dark Things by Novica Tadić, translated from Serbian by Charles Simic
ii. Teens of Denial by Car Seat Headrest (especially the song "Fill in the Blank")
iii. "Goodtime Jesus" by James Tate
iv. Long Winter Farm perfume oil in "Porridge"
v. "David Lynch Keeps His Head" by David Foster Wallace
vi. Margaret Atwood's "Songs of the Transformed," particularly "Pig Song"
vii. Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
viii. Misery (1990)
ix. A Hat That Says Movies On It
x. Action: A Book About Sex by Amy Rose Spiegel
xi. "The Female Body" by Margaret Atwood
xii. Malcolm in the Middle season one
xiii. Boscia Black Cleanser
xiv. Charlie Rose's 2001 interview with Jonathan Franzen about The Corrections
xv. Warm Buttered Bread scented candle by Village Candle
xvi. Film Theory and Criticism: Introductory Readings by Leo Braudy and Marshall Cohen
xvii. The Roches by The Roches
xviii. "Gettin' Fat" by Margot & The Nuclear So And So's
xix. The Handmaiden (2016)
xx. "A Story about the Body" by Robert Haas
xxi. D&C 6:34
xxii. Hamlet on the Holodeck: The Future of Narrative in Cyberspace by Janet H. Murray
xxiii. "Diving into the Faery Handbag: On Fabulism" by Melissa Goodrich
xxiv. Consider the Lobster and Other Essays by David Foster Wallace
xxv. "Hey, Ho Nobody Home" (traditional)
xxvi. Black Mirror season 3 episode 1 "Nosedive"
xxvii. Adventureland (2009)
xxviii. "Low Impact Fat Burning Workout" by Adam Fitzgerald
xxix. Rifle Paper Co. 2017 Scarlett Birch 17-month planner
xxx. "Inhospitable" by Emily Perez

Ad nauseam!
-Avery Jalaine

Sunday, October 23, 2016

i can't do this but i'm doing it anyway!

You're allowed to watch anime.

You're allowed to take long showers and shave up to the knee. You're allowed to take months and months to re-read Infinite Jest. You're allowed to eat trash and junk and carbs and sugar. You're allowed to stop eating meat and be stubborn and sanctimonious about it. You're allowed to hate salad. You're allowed to read and read and read and read and read, read voraciously and chaotically, read urban gothic and haptic poetry and cyberpunk and New Weird and cosmic horror and occult detective and American realism and magical realism and hysterical realism. You're allowed to tweet selfies. You're allowed to go to Slab Pizza alone. You're allowed to put Joni Mitchell and Ariana Grande and The Kinks and XTC on the same playlist. You're allowed to be unreasonable. You're allowed to be difficult. You're allowed to be ambitious. You're allowed to be demanding. You're allowed to be hard to impress.

You're allowed to be bored of people who are boring. You're allowed to be picky. You're allowed to have high standards and be a little bit ruthless. You're allowed to develop a gang of artists and thinkers and beauties and prodigies and you're allowed to be hysterical with them. You're allowed to be friends with people who are hugely, massively, terribly intelligent and talented and interesting and funny and kind and weird and good. Smarter than you. More talented and more interesting than you. Funnier and kinder and weirder and better than you. You're allowed to be friends with truly terrifying wonders; geniuses; freaks; anyone who is wonderful and no one is who isn't. You're allowed to choose people who feel like they're maybe a little bit magic, like they are capable of everything, like they're practically not human, like they are so so so good that you almost can't possibly stand it.

You're allowed to be friends with girls who are shy and freckled, who are reading Atwood and listening to Beck, who have been bright and loyal and levelheaded for as long as you can remember. Girls who are campy and cuddly and uproarious and unfailing, who have BAD TASTE IN MUSIC (*cabaret) and a weird kink for building furniture. Girls who, inexplicably, love the Mets and are taking over print journalism and politics and yoga and the rest of the world. Girls who are tall and red-haired and stylin' and silly, girls who wear blue lipstick and read palms, girls who are generous and watch the same trashy tv shows that you watch, girls who gaff, girls you've been friends with since junior high, girls who mom you, marathon-running girls, Twitter girls, girls you didn't speak to for two years because you were proud and bitter and venomous, party-throwing girls with boundless energy and 1,000,000 vintage coats and platform shoes. You're allowed to be friends with pretentious Japanese film snobs who've got a big ol' boner for Buffy the Vampire Slayer. You're allowed to be friends with boys with slow, gravelly laughs and long rock-climbing arms who are brave and sincere and devoted and unflinchingly, terrifyingly honest. Boys who want to talk about zombie theory. Boys who are easy laughers, boys who rattle off film trivia like it's the weather, boys with sprawling D&D campaigns, boys who want to talk to you about Vonnegut, boys who majored in economics and got rich, boys who loved you and then realized you were too feckless and unruly, boys you work with, vegan boys, boys in bands.

You're allowed to be whip-smart and hilarious, a holy terror, precious, charming, a tiny bit mean in a playful way. You're allowed to enter rooms like a hand grenade detonating, all sparkle and body and growly laughter. You're allowed to be the center of attention sometimes because when you're on you're really on; you're allowed to tell long stories and gesture with your hands and be hammy and gracious and ungodly.

You're allowed to snarl.

You're allowed to write essays about The Terminator and Kick-Ass and Moon. You're allowed to take two more upper-division poetry classes even though you honestly just need to graduate. You're allowed to argue with boys in class about Evan McMullin.

You're not allowed to become a scholastic mess: abandoning your homework, rolling into class an hour late, refusing help. You're not allowed to read Geek Love during Film Theory or Consider the Lobster during History of the Moving Image or Perdido Street Station during Doctrine & Covenants. You're not allowed to fail. You're not allowed to lie about failing.

You're allowed to be no fun at parties. You're allowed to say "no" to dates. You're allowed to say "no" to hangouts and dinners and opening socials and watching Tron: Legacy at your friend's brother's apartment. You're allowed to stay in on Friday nights with your bad skin and ratty leggings, and you're allowed to watch Grey's Anatomy in the dark.

You're allowed to be mean and ugly and sullen during your period, crying weirdly and miserably and for the hell of it into the night. You're allowed to wear Hunter's big flannel shirt to school three days in a row. You're allowed to bleed through your jeans. You're allowed to wallow. You're allowed to bitch.

You're allowed to wear fishnet tights and steel-toed Dr. Martens to church and everybody else is allowed to deal with it. You're allowed to skip Relief Society a lot of the time; trust me, it's fine. You're allowed to say long, strange prayers and neurotically read the Book of Job. You're certainly, completely, 100% allowed to watch rated R movies despite what your mother thinks. You're allowed to be full of doubt and angst and moral vinegar. You're allowed to believe whatever you want.

You're allowed to prowl up to those you love and put your body on their body. You're allowed to wear tight jeans and push-up bras and let your hair fall loose and yellow all the way down your back. You're allowed to undress a little. You're allowed to move your hips. You're allowed to flirt. You're allowed to let people feel exactly how soft your skin is -- practically excruciatingly soft -- and you're allowed to be devastating.

You're not allowed to date someone from Joke Twitter. I'm not kidding. You're not allowed to date someone who makes puns. You're not allowed to date someone who does that sulky smolder face in Instagram photos. You're not allowed to date someone who posts memes. You're not allowed to date someone who won't hang out with your friends or watch The Last 5 Years or go to Sodalicious even though they hate it. You're not allowed to date someone braggy. You're not allowed to date someone controlling or angry or who tells you what to wear. You're not allowed to date someone who doesn't know where your clitoris is, in theory or in practice. You're not allowed to date someone who throws tantrums online and has to disable Twitter for a little while. You're not allowed to date someone who flirts with other people right in front of you. You're not allowed to date a business major or an accountant or someone working in sales. You'rea not allowed to date someone who doesn't pick you up from school when it's rainy. You're not allowed to date someone who isn't, like, psychotic about you: crazy, insane, bonkers, batshit. 

You're only allowed to date someone brilliant. Someone who reads. Someone who watches the news, who knows every president of the United States by name, who is voting for Hillary Rodham Clinton, who understands foreign policy. You're allowed to date a former student body president, former debate star, former editor of the paper, former Captain von Trapp, former whatever. You're allowed to date someone who is almost supernaturally likable, who is funny and fey and winning. You're allowed to date someone who is nervy and heroic, everybody's Favorite Guy Ever, someone who believes in beauty and Sasquatch and America. Someone lanky and big-footed with dainty little bird wrists and the longest legs in the entire world. You're allowed to date someone who is damaged and messy and frustrating and overwhelmingly, bafflingly, gigantically good. Someone sharp and gifted and capable. Someone who wakes up before the sun. Someone who works hard, who likes working hard, who works too hard. Someone who sneezes quietly. Someone who hates Harambe memes and Comic Con. Someone who listens to Carly Rae Jepsen. Someone who tells good ghost stories. Someone who writes on his bedroom wall in Sharpie. A Spielberg-lover. An Idahoan. 

You're literally not allowed to marry someone you met six months ago. It's 100% forbidden. It's gross and dumb and regressive and boring. This is the 21st century and you can wait for a year or two like a real couple instead of some tedious Mormon stereotype.

You're allowed to wait. You're allowed to become a power couple. You're allowed to become expected, old news, unsurprising, nobody in your college program asking you out anymore because they all know who you're dating and how long it's been and how you sort of dress the same: hoodies, neutrals, plaid. You're allowed to hold hands in the car. You're allowed to get to know the scary, maggoty parts of each other's coyote-ish bad sides: I'm obsessive, stubborn, self-conscious, jealous, arrogant, irresponsible, selfish; he's unpredictable, hard-headed, unapologetic, self-deprecating, has high standards and a God complex. You're allowed to fight and fight and fight, you're allowed to fight about everybody's exes, you're allowed to fight about Pokemon Go!, you're allowed to get yelled at in the car coming home from Salt Lake City after seeing Don't Think Twice and eventually cry. You're allowed to get over it. You're allowed to be pushy and pigheaded about the kind of car they want; you're allowed to gloat when the Toyota Highlander is too big and too ugly, just like you said. You're allowed to start speaking a made-up language to one another, all "goo" and "hebbo" and "yee," none of it really making sense. You're allowed to take a very long time loving someone.

You're allowed to give people space. Even if it's excruciating for you. Even if it might just kill you. You're not allowed to hold grudges. You're not allowed to be petulant. You're not allowed to be jealous and suspicious, but honestly you're allowed to stalk people. A little bit. Judiciously. You're allowed to keep yourself sane. But you're not allowed to get stuck in holes of obsession, in vortexes of impulse and compulsion. You're not allowed to read too far into various Twitter feeds and Pinterest accounts and Spotify playlists and Venmo histories of boys and friends of boys and ex-girlfriends of boys. You're allowed to calm down.

You're allowed to be with the person you love. You're not allowed to settle. Even if it takes a year of seething and stalking and combatting Other Women. Even if you have to play a little dirty. You're allowed to play a little dirty. 

You're allowed to get what you want. You're NOT allowed to be cruel, to be self-serving, to be merciless, to be greedy, to be nasty. But you're allowed to take what is yours. You have to take what is yours. You're allowed to sleep soundly at night with no bad dreams. 

You're allowed to be happy. You get to be happy.

-Avery Jalaine