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Who Am I?

24 Apr

For my publishing class we had to write at least 500 words answering the question “Who Am I?”. I reacted to this assignment like any other 20-something-year-old girl would, “…F***! Who the f*** am I?!” But after finishing this assignment, I realized why my professor was making us write this. Read on…

My name is Ashley Kervabon, and I am one half of the indie rock duo that calls themselves “Pretty in Blue”.

Music is and always has been my passion. For a while I gave up on it because many people discouraged me by saying it was not a “stable” career choice, whatever that means. It wasn’t until recently that another girl and I began to exchange song lyrics and rough demos of what we had written in the past when it occurred to us that we should partner up and see what comes of this team. This is how Pretty in Blue was started.

We have been working on original songs and covers since November, and thankfully we’ve been doing pretty well. We have about 14 originals and 4 covers ready to go. Pretty in Blue did their first open mic in January at Paddy Reilly’s Music Bar and has been asked to return almost every weekend since . After the first month of just playing at Paddy’s, I realized we should probably start booking our own shows, and so my PR experience (with some added charm) was able to book us gigs at places like The Bitter End (which is next Tuesday, the 30th at 7:30pm).

While I would love to tell myself that I could settle for a PR job with a decent salary, I don’t think that’s quite the case for me. As crazy and shady as the music business is, I want to be a part of it. I often daydream about hosting SNL with my bandmate and signing autographs. I sometimes plan out my answers to questions I think that Ellen would ask me if I were ever to be on her show. And last but not least, I also recently made a list of what I would name our line of “Pretty in Blue” fragrances.

At this point in my life, I’m just doing what I have to to get by. I’m in school, not because I want to be a doctor, or a lawyer, but because I need a degree so that I don’t end up waiting tables for the rest of my life like so many other aspiring artists out there.

Truthfully, I’d like to think of myself as a lot of things; a lover, a friend, a writer, a rockstar. But who am I really? A 21-year-old girl with a shit ton of dreams (and absolutely no money).

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The New Dove Campaign Video #RealBeauty

16 Apr

Watch the video below. What’s the first thing that comes to mind?

Being honest, the first thing I said to myself was “I wonder what my sketches would look like.”
And as I was watching the video I said “Oh…yeah…my face is also rounder and fat…I don’t really have a nice thin chin though…”
But I’m okay with that. At this risk of sounding cliché, I’ve learned to love my body, how chubby my cheeks are, etc. And I do agree with what they say in the video…Whether you embrace your natural beauty or not, shows in your personality. When you walk into a room, people feel that kind of energy – “it is critical to your happiness”.
I’d like to say that I am an extremely confident woman. I’m not conceited, I just know what I can and cannot do well. I don’t spend time dwelling over the things I don’t like about myself and instead embrace the qualities I do like. And I’d like to think that that’s why people are attracted to me. By that I don’t just mean sexually, but in every way, whether it comes to jobs, friends or family.
So I guess I know what my sketches would look like. They’d be identical because I think I see myself the way everyone else sees me. I don’t put on a “happy mask’ for people. But as this video shows, that isn’t the case for everyone.
While this video was empowering for some, it just made me sad. It worries me that more and more women don’t realize the power of their natural beauty or how important it is to know who you are and along with knowing who you are, being happy with who you are.
Hopefully by watching this video other people with realize the importance of this too.
Dove just got a shit ton of brownie points in my book. #realbeauty

Guns and Children Should Never Be in the Same Sentence

16 Dec

As soon as I read about the CT shooting, I told myself I should hold myself back from commenting because although I love to start controversy, when it comes to guns and children, I happen to be very sensitive.

What changed my mind?  This article.

A story about a woman, Liza Long, who has a child with a mental illness who often threatens to kill her and himself.  One day he pulls a knife, the next day he threatens to jump out of  a moving car, and when she’s lucky, he only resorts to calling her a “stupid bitch”.

I try not to say anything on topics I don’t know much about. In this case, America’s gun policy. Which is why I am not writing about why guns are bad, or if we should be able to carry them because honestly I do not know. What I do know is that what we should be talking about is mental health. Especially the mental health of children and teens.

I have read too many comments about taking away guns and not enough about taking care of our children. And though I may not have children yet, I can only imagine what mothers like Liza Long are going through. How awful it must be to call the cops on your preteen son because you have no other option. How awful it must be to hear him say the words “I hate you” when you are just trying to help.

Adam Lanza (CT gunman) was only reported to have autism, which is not a mental health disorder, it is a neurodevelopmental  disorder – it could be that he felt some sort of prejudice because of his learning disabilities. But who knows? And now we’ll never know after his life was lost along with so many innocent children.

Now more than ever, with 1 in 88 being diagnosed, children with autism may face more prejudice and understanding than ever because of the CT shooting.

It is sad that it takes such a tragedy to realize the problems in this country.  And while I’m not sure if guns are the problem, I am positive there is more that we can do to help children and teens with mental illnesses.

Bad Bitches and Ladies, by Vanessa Rene

21 Oct

Lupe Fiasco has, for a while now, been one of my favorite rappers. I’ve loved his impressive wordplay and his clever lyrics, his amazing storytelling and sick flow. And for a little bit, I considered myself a Lupe stan. He could do no wrong in my eyes. Food & Liquor is a masterpiece. The Cool is probably my favorite album of all time. I pretend that Lasers (an album that was released, ultimately to appease his record label…he distances himself from that record every chance he gets…) never happened. And I, like the rest of the Lupe stans out there, anxiously waited for the announcement of when he would be releasing his next album,Food & Liquor II: The Great American Rap Album.

I came across the lead single from the new release off his Facebook page.

The song, “Bitch Bad” is definitely a conversation starter: Lupe tells the story of how two young individuals define the phrase “bad bitch.” A young man heard his mother use it while rapping along to a song. He loves his mother; she takes care of him, and raises him well, so he associates “bad bitch” with women who are like his mother.

A young woman comes across the phrase while watching uncensored rap videos online without parental supervision. To her, being a “bad bitch” is to be like the women seen in those ‘raunchy’ rap music videos: they’re beautiful women who have caught the attention of powerful men in the music industry. She sees the video vixens as role models because of all they were able to achieve, and begins to call herself a “bad bitch,” in hopes of aspiring to their success.

The two eventually meet, and don’t particularly hit it off. They both have two different meanings of the phrase.

The chorus is where the cognitive dissonance starts for me. I can’t enjoy the song as much as I’d like to, nor can I hop onto the message that Lupe attempts to expose because he raps:

“ ‘Bitch’ bad, ‘woman’ good
‘Lady’ better, they misunderstood…”

And in the last verse, he even goes so far as to say, “…greatest: ‘motherhood’.”

While the discourse could be interesting (I can identify with his praise of motherhood, while still acknowledging how problematic it is to suggest that all women aspire to become mothers), especially considering the political climate with regards to Black womanhood, his assertion goes hand in hand with the larger “virgin-whore” dichotomy that is so pervasive in our society. Black women are particularly under such scrutiny.

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#PopStarsDoEat #ThatsOkay

23 Sep

It’s bad enough that we don’t leave Lindsey and Amanda alone, but now we’re shitting on Gaga? 

For real? 

So what if she put on a couple of pounds? It really isn’t anyone’s business except hers. First she was too skinny, and people would make remarks about her tweets “#PopStarsDontEat”. Now all we’re hearing is that she’s been eating too many cheeseburgers. 

According to an article on Jezebel, she said this about six months ago: 

“I used to throw up all the time in high school. So I’m not that confident,” said Gaga. “I wanted to be a skinny little ballerina but I was a voluptuous little Italian girl whose dad had meatballs on the table every night.”

She also admitted:

“Weight is still a struggle,” she said. “Every video I’m in, every magazine cover, they stretch you — they make you perfect. It’s not real life … I’m gonna say this about girls: The dieting wars have got to stop. Everyone just knock it off. Because at the end of the day, it’s affecting kids your age. And it’s making girls sick.”

I used to think she was a little crazy. I’m not going to lie about that but now I really feel bad for her. 

Especially since she is right. No celebrity or normal woman/teenage girl should have to go through that kind of pressure. And I’m really glad that another celebrity is taking a stand. 

He Went to Confession Every Time They Had Sex

23 Sep

Please read. Originally posted on The Cut by an anonymous writer. What would you do? 

The sex was great. That wasn’t the problem in my four-year relationship with Rob. He knew what I liked and how I liked it. The problem was the mandatory shower and praying afterwards. The hours we’d spend at church on Sundays. The talking about how we were going to hell.

When I started dating Rob after my freshman year of college, I wanted to have sex, but he said he wasn’t ready for it because he was so religious. Rob was raised Protestant, but his closest friend had been really Catholic and told him that no one was mentally ready to have sex before they were married. He took it to heart. I chose to respect that, but I got so many mixed signals. Rob would escalate things, and we’d almost have sex, almost undress, and then he would stop and say we couldn’t go any further. There was a point, and he made the conscious decision to have sex — then a few weeks later, he felt really guilty and said we shouldn’t do it on a regular basis. It continued like that for the next four years, even when we lived together and slept in the same bed every night.

I would get him drunk, telling our friends to feed him shots. I’d lie around our apartment studying in a G-string. I had a few sets of lingerie that I knew would work when I was desperate. I would do almost anything to have sex with my boyfriend. Sometimes it would happen a few times a month, maybe a few times a week if I was lucky. Then he’d swear off sex for weeks, until he couldn’t take it anymore.

Even though the church bans the use of birth control, Rob was okay with using it. God forbid I get pregnant — abortion would never be an option.

Even though we shared an apartment, we technically kept separate bedrooms. His had a twin bed with a crucifix on the wall and a little desk where he studied. My room was the one with the big bed and the candles. He ended up every night in there with me.

We never missed church. We’d leave our friends or stop watching a game, drop everything to be there for mass on Sunday. A few times a month, we would stay after mass and confession and say the rosary. It would take an hour, 45 minutes if I did it quickly. I was a Catholic, I was raised in the church, but even this was a lot for me.

The guilt consumed him. He would try to convince himself that premarital sex was fine because he was going to marry me anyway. He was going to be with me forever, or so he justified it. But even that wasn’t the case. The fall after we graduated from college and moved into a new apartment with both our names on the lease, he cheated on me.

I found out through a friend of his. It destroyed me. This was the man I was going to marry, had spent four years with; I had put up with all his issues. And then he goes and sleeps with some girl from grad school.

He’s still with her, probably because he feels too guilty to leave her. They’re having sex, I know that. I think that is what broke him, crossing that one line he said he would never cross. As for me, I’m married to a wonderful man now, one who doesn’t make me feel like a temptress whenever I want to get laid.

Brains and Hearts and Feelings

16 Sep

I think the biggest fight I’ve ever gotten into has been with myself. The one between my head and my heart. I don’t know what it is but they’re mortal enemies. It’s almost like they fake liking each other and then one day, when the heart is feeling extra happy, the head just wants to make it miserable. Then when the head is feeling confident, the heart breaks it down like no tomorrow. It’s an awful feeling, really.

The worst is that in situations like these, most of the time, there’s no winning. If you side with your heart, you may feel like you’re letting yourself down. If you side with your heart, you start thinking about all of the “what-ifs”.This will go on for awhile until something else comes up that is worth thinking about and maybe even then you’re still going to be kicking your own ass about the decision you thought so much about taking. Like I said, no winning.

So what do we do when we’re faced with a heart/head debate? To be honest, I have no idea. But my guess is that flipping a coin will probably save you a lot of time and headaches.

Be Free or Break Free

15 Sep

I grew up hearing stories of children breaking free from their cage-like nests, thanks to Disney.  I always empathized with Princess Jasmine, who dreamt of abandoning her controlled palace life for adventures and the ability to marry whomever she chooses.     Though I’m not being forced into marriage anytime soon, I could relate to being locked up in the house for… well, the first eighteen years of my life, wondering what was out there and why the universe gave me a sheltering father whose fears could evidently become my own.

From an early age, I had to adapt to tossing little white lies towards my friends on why I had to miss birthday parties and sleepovers, feeling heavy inside knowing I wasn’t allowed to go to them.  I’d confess my desires to my mother: to just be a normal girl for one day to be trusted with myself without parental supervision 24/7.  Forced to only play the good cop, she’d pat my shoulder and tell me to just be patient until I was a little older.     As I bit my tongue throughout middle school, I’ll admit I was granted some rights.  Although my parents opened some windows for me, there were plenty of doors that I longed to unlock.  I walked through my high school days expecting the glorious day when the chains would finally fall from my ankles, and that I could begin to make my own decisions.  That day never came.     Now that I’m eighteen and out of school, its no longer frustrating that I still have ridiculous restrictions – its exasperating and iniquitous (or at least through my eyes, it is).  I recently viewed a Steve Harvey episode about overprotective and controlling parents, and I would chuckle bitterly to myself as I watched what resembled my own predicament radiate from the screen.

“You have to allow your kids to be free,” Steve Harvey wagged his finger, “before they break free – because those are two very different things.”  As the audience cheered and clapped in consent, I allowed a familiar comfort in the back of my mind to resurface.  My friends, my boyfriend, even my own mother would try and encourage me to speak up for myself to seek the justice I long deserve.  For insecure reasons, I’d succumb to play the loyalty card by keeping my mouth shut.  But what Mr. Harvey said that day sparked something empowering inside me.  The real lawgiver that I suffered under – was really myself.

To break free, or to fantasize of being free: that is the question.

Please Don’t Tell Me I’m Beautiful – How I Feel

8 Sep

“I understand that we live in a culture where “beautiful” and “female” have a long and complicated relationship. I know that women want to comfort each other through the hurt of living in an air-brushed, surgically-enhanced, Top Model, Cover Girl society. I also know that the word “beautiful” can be used to describe the inner person and not just their looks. But I have to wonder if we’re really doing ourselves more harm than good when we insist on giving beauty such a dominant space in the sphere of women’s lives and conversations. Even in “acceptance” movements, beauty is a central theme.

Why is not okay to be un-beautiful? Why is it so painful to admit a lack of objective beauty where it may not, in any objective sense, exist?”  “

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“Why does the matriarchy feel so drawn to steeping itself in assurances of beauty? Not that I’m using men as a role model, but they don’t tip-toe around the subject of physical attractiveness, stopping to console each other that their beer bellies, balding heads and scarred faces are really, truly beautiful. They don’t insist on denying their realities or the realities of other men by promoting the concept that all men are “handsome” in their own way. Instead, they have come to take for granted a patriarchy where “handsome” may be a gift, but unattractiveness is really not that big of a deal.

I wish we’d get there. I suspect that when women quit focusing so much on beauty, theirs and other women’s — whether physical or in the broad sense of personality — that we will be able to change our real-world consequences. We will be more truthful, more realistic, more effective and therefore more tangibly helpful to one another.”

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“We’re never going to make it okay to not be physically beautiful if we don’t get off this beauty kick we’ve been on for so long. We’re not going to change our futures and those of other women as long as “beautiful” remains a priority. We’re not going to change the culture that places such an inordinately high premium on female attractiveness as long we keep promoting beauty myths through the lies we tell ourselves and each other.” 

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These are all quotes from Jane Devin’s Please Don’t Tell Me I’m Beautiful

Usually I am the first one to say that every woman is beautiful, even if society says they aren’t. Devin however, gives a different take on the situation. I don’t think she’s wrong at all. Maybe the American culture isn’t wrong, maybe it’s just us women who take it too seriously. 

It takes a strong woman to know what she is and what she isn’t. It takes a strong woman to know what she can and cannot do (because most of us think that we’re Superwoman). And lastly, it takes a strong woman to know what she deserves and when she deserves better whether it be in love, career, and just life in general. 

Maybe, we should start caring less about what our “culture” is, and start taking ourselves more seriously.

Thoughts? 

Why I Don’t Hate Demi Lovato

5 Sep

I’m not even going to lie. It took me a while to decide whether or not I was going to publish this post today. I was almost embarrassed to say that I actually like Demi Lovato and that I actually like her music. Not just one song, a ton of them. Like now I have a whole Pandora station dedicated to her. That’s a big deal these days. 

I know that most musical snobs (like myself) associate Disney stars that turn pop-sensations with bad music. And who can blame us, right? Auto-tune cannot cover up lack of expression and shitty lyrics as much as one can try to do so (ex: Selena Gomez, Miley Cyrus). And you know what, we can’t even blame poor Selena and Miley for these things because chances are, they probably like their own music, and they’re making millions so good for them. 

Demi Lovato impressed me with this last album though. Her split with the Jonas Brothers was probably the best thing that ever happened to her. She has this R&B thing going on and it actually gives me goosebumps. 

Demi Lovato also has real problems. She was treated for bulimia, bi-polar disorder…and she admitted her condition and she didn’t try to hide anything. It’s bad enough that she was battling with herself to take control over her own life, but when you have a million people following you whether it be virtually or literally, you have to be a whole lot stronger to get by. 

If I were 13, she’d be my role model. The music business is an ugly ugly world and it seems like she just took the devil by it’s horns and rode it like a carousel. 

You go girl.