Where We Should Be

“Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.” -Dr. Seuss

It was a cold January night in 2013, the 18th to be exact. I was at The Firebird in downtown St. Louis with my best friend Jordan. The smell of icy air and cigarette smoke is still burned into my nostrils. We were waiting out side, her in jeans and a t-shirt and me in a sweatshirt with shorts, in 30 degree weather waiting for a band that she hated. She still thought I hated them too. She hadn’t felt what I felt in there, the magical spark that ignited inside me when I watched them play. It was then that I knew Equal Squeeze was brought into my life to show me how to be happy.

It was three months earlier, October 18th, 2012, when we’d seen them for the first time. Although we weren’t at that particular concert to see them, Equal Squeeze was opening up for two much bigger bands, The Maine and Mayday Parade. After their set, we quickly dismissed them and got excited for the headliners. We didn’t give Equal Squeeze a second thought, until after the concert when, as usual, Jordan’s mom was running late. We were sitting by the exit and hoping to see a member of one of the headliners. We met John, Kennedy, and Pat from the Maine and Jake and Derek from Mayday Parade! Still, her mom wasn’t there. I saw a few guys coming our way, I didn’t quite recognize them but I overheard them talking to a girl and say they were in Equal Squeeze.

“We should take a picture with them!” I whispered to Jordan.

“Why? Who are they?” She said, the disinterest evident in her voice.

“They’re the guys from Equal Squeeze and because you never know, they could get really big!”I replied.

“You can. My feet hurt, I’m not moving.”

As she whispered this, I noticed their conversation die down with the girls across from us and they started walking towards a mysterious door that we simple concert goers were not allowed to enter.

“Hey, you guys are from Equal Squeeze right?” I said getting up and making them stop in their tracks.

“Yeah!” Joe replied.

“Can I get a picture with you guys?” I asked.

“Of course!” Trey replied.

After Jordan took our picture, I said, “You guys were so good tonight!” That was a lie. I didn’t remember what their set was. I still don’t, but for some reason I said it anyway.

“Thank you so much!” Stephen said.

“Of course! Do you guys have any shows coming up? I definitely want to see you play again!” I said. It was another lie. I couldn’t remember what they sounded like, so how could I want to go to a show? What was I doing? Why was I saying these things? I could see Jordan looking at me like I was crazy, but for some reason I genuinely wanted to go to the next show, whatever the date may be.

“December second!” Trey said.

“There’s a link on Facebook for it!” Stephen said.

“Awesome! I’ll be there.” I said with a smile.

When I got home that night, I went crazy cyber-stalking this band. I found them on Facebook and Twitter. I found all of their songs, bought them on iTunes immediately and played them on repeat for days, until I knew all the words.

December 2nd 2012, my parents wouldn’t let me go to the concert. I felt like my life was over. I cried and begged my parents to go but I wasn’t old enough to stay out that late on school nights yet. I thought nothing about that night could be good until 9pm when I got a text from Jordan. She’d gone to the concert that night, not to see Equal Squeeze, but to see another band. She’d asked Joe and Trey if they’d record a video for me because I couldn’t make it.

“What’s up Lizzy? ‘Hey Lizzy’ Sorry you couldn’t make it…uh…but we’ll play again and hopefully you can make it out to that one. ‘Exactly.'”

They did play again January 18, 2013.

I wasn’t excited to go to that concert. All I wanted to do was stay home. I wasn’t feeling like myself. I was sad and tired. I felt either nothing or everything. I was self-harming. I had planned on skipping the concert that night, I had other plans for myself, until I felt something, for the first time in days. The feeling in my gut made me remember that I had made a commitment, to them, to see another show. I knew that I had to keep that commitment, so I sucked it up, called Jordan and we made our way to The Firebird.

I don’t remember getting there, or the bands before them, but when Equal Squeeze came on there were maybe seven people in the crowd, two of them may have been staff. I stood front and center. I nodded long to each song, sang to the ones I knew, and it was all a blur. It seemed to only take them about 10 seconds to get to “Where We Should Be,” my favorite song from their EP. That transition, that moment in time, felt like an eternity for me. My heart started beating faster. All of a sudden I was the only person in the crowd. I saw Joey smiling at the drums, a lion with a grin ready to attack the beat. I saw Hosto on guitar, stoic in his features but if you looked in his eyes, you could see there was no place he’d rather be than up on that stage. Stephen on bass had the smile of a child who had just been told “go crazy kid” at Toys R Us. Matt on guitar, as well, had his head bowed towards the guitar preparing himself for the song to come. Trey, the lead singer, broke me out of my trance by caressing my cheek and singing “I woke you up with a kiss on the cheek and said oh oh oh this is how it should be.” He resembled a movie star from the 60s and as he took his hand away from my face a fire erupted in my soul. The only thing I felt was pure happiness. It’s all I felt for the rest of the night. Happiness was a feeling that I’d thought I lost. All I had felt for the past year was happy AND angry or happy AND sad. I had forgotten that happiness was a feeling that could be felt alone.

Equal Squeeze didn’t play “Where We Should Be” again until November 15th, 2014. They only played it because I made a petition and got 100 people to sign it. I have remained their fan and gone to every single show in the past 3 years with the exception of one where I was out of town. I have had a few conversations with the guys about that song since the 18th. They hadn’t played that song in a few months before they played it that night. Frankly they don’t really like that song. They don’t know why they played it. They just did. I don’t know who or what made them play it that night but I firmly believe it was fate. I used to think Equal Squeeze was put in my life to save it, but I now realize they were given to me to show me how to enjoy life, to show me how to be happy.

To Be Brave Is To Live

“Bravery is not a quality of the body. It is of the soul.” – Mahatma Gandhi

What do you think of when you hear the word brave? I’m sure an image of a soldier forging on in battle, or a hero rescuing a civilian from a peculiar situation, is what immediately comes to mind. No one ever thinks of the boy who sits in the back of the class and says nothing but still shows up every day, or the girl on the basketball team who is constantly berated by teammates and coaches but still finds the strength to come to each game. We all have the misconception that to be brave you must be saving someone else in some way, but to be brave is to get out of bed in the morning when all you want to do is lie there and forget the world, to interact with people when all you want to do is stay home, to continue living when all you want to do is die.

Almost everyone is tired in the morning. We would all just like to roll over and hit snooze about eight times before waking up. For some people, though, it’s much more than simply being tired in the morning. There are people who struggle every day with their own mental negativity (not by their own accord). At the end of each day they aren’t tired, they are exhausted, not “I just ran ten miles” exhausted, the mental exhaustion that comes from living everyday battling their own demons and the harsh realities of the world around them. When they wake up in the morning, they know that they are going to have to face all of these things again. Sleep is just a break from it all. It does not “recharge” them like it does for those not going through this, so when they wake up in the morning, they are still exhausted. Yet, everyday there they are smiling and laughing at school, or work, so you don’t suspect a thing. When tomorrow comes, they will wake up and do it all again, not because they want to but because they have no other choice, because to them giving up would be brave.

Sonder is the realization that every person you come into contact with has their own story. Each person is dealing with their own troubles and triumphs. The friends who are drowning in their own mental negativity (not by their own accord) and still take the time to talk out your problems with you and find solutions, the friends who don’t have the energy to do their own homework but will come over at 10pm to help you with Calculus, the friends who really want to stay home with Netflix, but instead accompany you to the mall because they know it’s your favorite place, they are the friends who would like nothing more than to stay home and avoid all social interaction. They are the friends who cringe at the idea of small talk and meeting new people, or even seeing old friends, but every single day go to school, or work, and live their “mundane” lives. They force a smile and nod their head during small talk, they laugh when they should and at the end of the day although they didn’t seem to exert much energy those few social interactions have drained them completely. These people believe that they must live this way, that they must grin and bear it, because they think they are cowards. To them it is cowardly to continue living.

Each person being dragged down by their own mental negativity (again not by their own accord) has themselves convinced that they are a bad person and they deserve what they are going through, but they don’t believe that anyone else deserves to go through the same thing. They do all they can to survive so they can help that “just one person” because maybe if they make a difference that will give their life some sort of meaning. They will smile and start a conversation with a stranger if they look sad. According to them “no one should ever be sad” though they constantly are. They are the people who will gladly save someone before they save themselves. While they have a hard time convincing it of themselves, they know that every life has inherent worth and dignity. They are the heroes that don’t ask for any recognition because to them they aren’t. They are just some sad kid on the street trying to help out, in search of some meaning for life.

The one thing all of these people have in common is their will to live struggling against their want to die. They each struggle every day to find it in them to want to live. They feel weak and ashamed because they pretend to be happy but all they truly want is to die. They feel like cowards because they “don’t have the courage” to kill themselves. What none of these people realize is that it is not cowardly to look death in the eye and say “NO!” because you are afraid. It is, in fact, one of the most courageous things a person can do.

We all think we know what it means to be brave, but what we don’t realize is that bravery is not limited to reckless acts of self endangerment. Bravery comes from living your everyday life and not letting the darkness overcome you. To be brave is not to save lives, to be brave is to live.

Race

For a long time I have been afraid to speak my mind about the racial issues happening around me. I’m sure that anyone who reads this and disagrees with me will blame my opinion on the fact that I am a privileged white female, but I’m sure they won’t take into consideration all the articles I’ve read and all the facts I have gathered, or that I’m not telling you that your opinions are wrong. I’m simply saying that this is what I believe and if you agree great and if you don’t I would love to hear more about why you don’t and what your opinions are.

Before I generalize I would like to talk about one specific situation. The situation where if you don’t think Officer Wilson was guilty than you’re a terrible a person and you may as well not bother talking. Yes, the shooting of Michael Brown.  His death was tragic, but justice is not putting Officer Wilson in prison. Justice is Officer Wilson not being indicted, justice is what happened. Everyone who wants to see something horrible happen to Officer Wilson does not realize that it already has. That mans life is destroyed. His face and name are permanently tied to this one situation where many view him as the bad guy, and in that majority there are some who, I have no doubt, would physically harm him if given the opportunity. I’m not saying that all who protest what happened that day are violent, because that would be like assuming everyone who thinks Officer Wilson is innocent is a racist asshole who thinks there is no such thing as dirty cop. A false assumption many have of those who support Officer Wilson. Am I saying he’s a great guy who has never made a single mistake? No, but he’s not a monster. Am I saying that all cops do the right thing and there are no such things as dirty cops? Of course not. In every profession there are people who are corrupt and do the wrong thing. Am I saying that there isn’t a problem with race and the police department? NO! There are tons of problems that need to be worked on. What I’m saying is that this particular situation is a bad example of corruption in police departments.

It’s time to add another whopper to my privileged whiteness, I was raised with a father who worked closely with the police so I grew up knowing many police officers personally. I can tell you that for every corrupt officer there are hundreds doing their job right and protecting us in the best ways they can. Now they are still human so yes they make mistakes but that doesn’t make them bad people. I take anti-police posts very personally, just as I’m sure many people take posts like mine personally. I don’t think it’s wrong to hate the police, we live in America you have the right to hate whatever you want. What I think is wrong is hating the police but then calling them to come help you when something goes wrong. People forget that you can hate the police and trash talk them all you want, but if you call them they will still come.

Now let’s talk about what’s wrong with my opinion of things. I associate the “Black Lives Matter” protest with people being anti-police. I know this is wrong because not all that are protesting are against the police. However I got that association because a majority of the posts I was seeing that had the hashtag BlackLivesMatter were very anti-police posts. It’s not okay for me to generalize everyone like this and recognize what I’m doing and I’m actively trying to change the way I view Black Lives Matter posts.

However, I’ll be honest here the slogan “Black Lives Matter” irks my soul. All. Lives. Matter. Yes I understand that this is an oppressed race and I am dancing on thin ice here but to me Black Lives Matter is like yeah duh! No life is more important than another. All lives are equally beautiful and have the same right to live. I understand the point they are trying to make and I understand that I will never fully know what it’s like to walk this earth as a person of color. What I do know is that the way to free yourself from oppression is not to treat your oppressors they way they treat you. It doesn’t work to scream and yell and vandalize, because frankly all that does is prove the point all those against you are trying to make. The way to freedom is to listen and have a clear voice. Listen to what the opposed have to say, then formulate your response in a way that is not aggressive and can create an open dialogue. If you have two sides screaming at each other with no one listening then nothing will ever change things will continue with unnecessary deaths and a country filled with resentment until one side begrudgingly gives up. Then they’ll sit back and wait a few generations for their time to rebel again and we will end up right back where we were years ago. I’m not saying that one side is doing things better than the other side. Both sides need to take a step back and listen to what the other is trying to say. Both parties are going about this the wrong way and both parties have valid and invalid points. Neither is perfect yet neither are wrong.

We are all guilty of not completely hearing both sides, but this isn’t our fault. Neither side has a clear leader being the voice for those who share their opinion. Neither side has realized that most of us are trying to achieve the same goals we are just too busy yelling and screaming and focusing on the opinions of specific situations to recognize that if we focus on what binds us instead of what separates us we could be a force so strong the world will have no choice but to change.

Growing

Nothing but love and positive vibes to all beings on this earth. We all want to change something but nothing will change with hate. Love those who spit on you, and love those who are too ignorant to understand. Never sink to their level. Love everyone despite their flaws, and for their flaws. Because we are human. Every aspect of us is beautiful, even those who appear ugly. Love everyone unconditionally, but  NEVER NEVER NEVER let anyone put you down or make you feel less than. You can put others in their place without being spiteful. Pity those who are nothing but negative, because what a sad life that must be. All the bile in this world is a reflection of the creator not the one rolling in it. We all have worth and the less you care about the theirs the more you realize your own.

-equalthatsqueezedlizard

I haven’t posted in a while, because I’ve been really struggling with my own ideals of who I should be. I recently decided that I was going to become a better person. No more lying, no more talking negatively behind peoples backs, no more being mean to other people and so on. I’ve found that it’s the type of change that does not come over night, like my small teenage mind was expecting. I also find that I feel so much better about my self when I have nothing but good things to say. I can almost feel the positivity radiating from my soul and pushing out of my body. I’ve had to remind myself, every day, that I am human. I make mistakes, and that is okay. I was watching The Equalizer with my brother and one quote really struck me; “progress, not perfection.” Every day I have to tell myself that while I am no where near being Mother Theresa,  I am making progress. I am a much better version of me than I was three months ago. I’m willing to bet that in another three months I will be even better and I can’t wait to see who I am three years from now. I am growing. I have started loving everyone unconditionally. But more importantly I am starting to love myself unconditionally and that is all that matters.

“I Miss You”

This Australian short film, “I Miss You,” may be one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen.

I am a firm believer that feelings don’t change, only time and people do. You don’t stop or start liking someone because of your feelings, it’s because of who you are. Every second you are evolving and growing, and you NEVER stop. Couples who get divorced after 50 years are proof of that. It’s not a lack of love, it’s a result of two people who are just not the same. They still love each other but they’re no longer compatible souls.

Life is filled with all kinds of these tragically beautiful moments, but we should never be sad over love lost, because every experience is what sculpts you into the precious being you were born to be. Some of us are born to live, but all of us are born to die, where you fall is up to you.

Bullying

I know, among other things, bullying is a hot topic. Everyone has their opinions about ways to make a change. Stand up to the bullies! Bully them back! Turn the other cheek! I’ve heard it all, but the one thing you never hear is support the bully, help them. No, I’m not saying condone their behavior or assist them in their cruel acts. I’m saying instead of treating them like dirt and scum treat them like human beings. Find out what is wrong. I have been on both sides of bullying, and when I was the bully it had nothing to do with those around me. It was my mental stability crumbling before my eyes and I didn’t know any other way to help myself. Just because some one has it all doesn’t mean everything is okay. I’m not saying that every bully is hurting, but a majority of them are. The best way to deal with a bully is to be a friend. Get them the help that they’re too scared to ask for. Trust me when I say they aren’t expecting your kindness, it will help, and afterwards I’m willing to bet a majority of people will be very remorseful of the way they were treating those around them, I still am.

I’m just so frustrated with everyone’s approach to solving problems. The best way to see results is positivity. Do good things to others and expect nothing in return because the goodness will carry on forever. Every good deed anyone has ever done has lit a flame in others to do the same and so on and so forth but on that same note every bad thing that has ever happened has blown out that fire in twice as many people. What are we not understanding about being the change we want to see. I feel like all we do is sit around and complain but continue to do all the things we don’t like about our society. because we are all quick to blame society for the way things are, forgetting that WE are society.

As women, especially, we need to come together. Stop worrying about her “going to hell”, and stop caring that she goes to church every sunday. Life is all about being happy, but every person is different, so everyone’s happiness is different. I’m so sick of hearing women putting women down for being a stripper or a stay at home mom, for being a bigger girl and for being “too skinny”, for settling down or sleeping around. Who cares? Is there a smile on her face? Yes? Then shut up about it. Girl-on-girl crime makes me cringe. Talking behind someones back should be only good things. I’m not saying we have to like every woman, what I’m saying is that we don’t need to be spiteful towards others because of our own selfish reasons.

I believe that every human being is beautiful. Inside and out. Even the “bad” ones. Because humans are like books. Each of us has our own stories and sometimes we appear in others and sometimes we don’t, but every book tells a beautiful story no matter how tragic or evil the ending. The story as a whole is magic, and how can we be angry over such beautifully mysterious masterpieces?

Purgatory

PURGATORY
Wide open eyes,
tightly closed heart.
Ears that hear everything,
with a mouth that says nothing.
A body like a girls,
with a mind like a mans.
Hands that want to feel,
with feet that won’t budge.
Stuck in a standstill,
for eternity.

This is just a poem that I wrote, during my freshman year, and is currently in the process of being published in the upcoming book “Who’s Who in American Poetry” which is a collection of poems from a competition.

This poem is my personal favorite of all the things I’ve ever written and I hope anyone reading this enjoys it!