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Ridesharing: an Uber-terrifying experience

I want to preface this post by saying that nothing bad actually happened to me.

With that, we now return to our regularly scheduled programming.

Recently, with the support of my parents, I took part in a rite of passage for 21st-century teens: I rode in a Lyft by myself for the first time. (I lied, I’ve actually done it 4 or 5 times now. But still. I took my first Lyft on my own about a week or two ago). I could hypothetically learn how to drive myself, but there are several factors that get in the way of my doing so:

  1. Driving terrifies me. I could mow someone over by accident!
  2. The requirements for getting a driver’s license where I live are really stringent. To my knowledge, kids have to take a driver’s ed class that takes up several days a week, do several hours of observation, and do several hours of private driving lessons. The amount of homework I get on an average night would prevent me from being able to make this commitment.
  3. The driving school in my town is terrible. According to almost every single one of my classmates and friends who have done driver’s ed with my town’s driving school, the instructors bark out commands and yell at students a lot and have absolutely zero patience for mistakes. Not an ideal environment to learn how to drive.
  4. Learning how to drive is EXPENSIVE. I calculated the cost of the whole process a while back and it can easily run upwards of $700. Plus, I won’t even have a car in college or probably for a while after that because cars cost a lot of money that I most certainly will not have.
  5. I live near a city that has a relatively okay public transportation system, so if I can’t walk somewhere, I can most likely get there on the subway.

That being said, sometimes I need to go somewhere that requires a car, and my parents can’t always drop everything to shepherd me all over God’s creation. So, on a particularly cold day when my parents were busy and the usually mediocre public transportation system in my city suddenly stopped, I had to take a Lyft.

Luckily, nothing awful has happened to me as of yet. Taking Lyft or Uber is just slightly frightening because it involves getting in a car with a stranger and thereby entrusting your life to said stranger. I have an app in my phone that lets my parents track me wherever I am, but my phone could die and I could not have a charger, or the tracking app could crash, or the GPS in my phone could stop working. You just never know who the person driving your car is.

Another issue I have had with taking Lyfts is that I don’t particularly love talking to strangers. I wouldn’t describe myself as shy, but I’m not the most outgoing person on Earth either. If my parents or relatives or friends introduce me to new people, I’ll talk to them, but I don’t love striking up conversations with strangers in random situations. When I take a Lyft alone, the whole ride is an awkward silence unless the driver plays music, in which case it’s an awkward silence with a soundtrack. Taking a Lyft with my mom is different because she is perhaps the most talkative person on the planet and would probably count conversing with strangers as one of her favorite pastimes. She pretty much gets Lyft drivers to tell their life stories, which, for whatever reason, are always fascinating. We’ve never had a Lyft driver with a boring life story.

I am far less terrified when I’m taking a Lyft by myself and I have a female driver because there is statistically a smaller chance of me getting hurt by a woman driver. I had to take a Lyft home by myself recently and it was dark out, so I was quite nervous. When I saw on the Lyft app that my driver was a woman, my shoulders immediately melted away from my ears and I let out a breath that I had apparently been holding for several minutes. I even felt safe enough to chat with the driver a bit.

My fear of taking Lyfts by myself speaks to the importance of the #MeToo movement because most men do not share that same fear. White cisgender men should not be the only ones who are free to explore the world around them without fear. I shouldn’t have to have a tracker on my phone so my parents can make sure I’m okay. And this issue is not just a women’s issue; non-binary and trans people are also at an elevated risk for getting harmed in public, and Black boys and men have to live in a world where the very people who are supposed to protect them can hurt or kill them without punishment. The work of the #MeToo movement has the potential to make sure that everyone can exist in public spaces without worrying about the worst possible outcomes.

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Maisie’s Protips for the College Process

Hello dear readers! My sincerest apologies for not posting anything for quite some time. The time I would normally spend writing on here has been overtaken by the evil monstrosity known as the college process. However, I recently sent in all of my college applications, and all that I have to do is wait to see where I got accepted. As I have said in recent posts, I will not say where I applied or where I am going because the Internet is full of creeps who like stalking teenagers.

For me, the most annoying part about the college process is that maybe one or two people ever gave me straight answers to my questions. The college process is so unnecessarily shrouded in mystery and confusion, and getting different pieces of advice from every single adult in my life, all of which directly contradicted each other, only made it harder for me. Now that I am more or less on the other side of things, I have decided to write an official, foolproof guide to the college process so that kids like me will no longer have to suffer through the college process more than they need to. A lot of this stuff is stuff I wish I had known going into this process but didn’t know. So, without further ado, Maisie’s Protips for the College Process!

Step 1: Brainstorm a list of qualities you would want in your ideal school.

  • Do you want to go far away from home or stay close by?
  • Do you want a small liberal arts college or a larger university?
  • Do you want to go to a school in an urban, suburban, or rural area?
  • Does the school offer majors in subjects you’re interested in?
  • Do you want to go to a commuter school or a residential school?
  • Do you want to go to a sporty school or a school where people don’t care about sports?
  • Do you want to go to a school with Greek life?
  • Do you want to go to a party school or a non-party school?
  • Does the school offer clubs and activities you’re interested in?
  • Is the religious affiliation of a school important to you? Would you rather go to a religiously affiliated school or a secular school?

This is not an exhaustive list of every single factor that could be important to you in your college search. Your ideal qualities might change as you go through high school, and that’s okay! Mine definitely did, and visiting schools helps to determine what qualities are most important to you (more on that in a later step).

Step 2: Take the PSAT, the Pre-ACT, or a combination SAT/ACT test to see which test you want to take.

My friends, I’m sorry to say that schools still look at the elitist BS that is standardized testing. This is one of the suckiest parts of the college process, and I wish that kids would not have to go through it. If worst comes to worst, some schools are test-optional, but taking a test is the best way to keep your options open. My school offered a free combination SAT/ACT test, and it was super helpful because it showed me which test I did better on, which ended up being the SAT.

In general, the ACT has easier questions, but very little time per question, whereas the SAT’s questions are more challenging, but you get more time to answer each question. If you can do things at a super fast pace without thinking much, the ACT might be better for you. If you need more time to work through a problem, the SAT is probably the way to go.

Step 3: Visit schools you’re interested in!

If you can, visit the schools you want to apply to. Sometimes, you end up visiting a school you thought you’d love, but you just don’t feel right on that campus. That’s okay! That’s how you learn what you want in a school! I visited several schools that I just did not feel were good fits for me, but it helped me to narrow my search to schools that I liked better.

Step 4: Take an SAT or ACT prep class before taking the test.

You can also get private tutoring if your family can afford it, but prep classes are far less expensive and prepare you for the test for a fraction of the cost of private tutoring. Oftentimes, schools or adult education programs in your town will offer relatively affordable SAT or ACT classes. I tried to prepare on my own, but that takes an amount of willpower I did not have, so having a teacher who gave me nightly homework assignments to prepare helped me a great deal. While they may not be the most fun way to spend your time, prep classes are well worth it as they give your scores a big boost.

Step 5: In the SUMMER BEFORE YOUR SENIOR YEAR, do your Common App, Common App essay and supplemental essays for schools.

I cannot possibly stress this enough! The Common App opens in July every year, so get it done! A lot of people gave me this advice, but I was a naive almost-senior and put it off until the beginning of the school year. Biggest mistake of my life. Procrastinating on the college process just made the beginning of senior year absolute hell. If I had finished everything before school started, senior year would have started off a lot smoother.

Protips for the Common App essay:

  • Get the book Crushing the Common App Essay: A Foolproof Guide to Getting into Your Top College, by Julie Ferber Frank. This book saved my butt while I was writing my Common App essay.
  • Get ONE PERSON to read it. Let me repeat this: GET ONE PERSON, AND ONE PERSON ONLY, TO READ YOUR FREAKING ESSAY. Contradicting advice makes the most important essay you’ve ever written approximately 5 million times more difficult. This person should be a college counselor or someone else who has actually helped people get into college and knows what colleges want. I was lucky enough for my family to be able to get me a private college counselor, but I’m pretty sure Boys and Girls Clubs and YMCAs offer college counseling to kids who can’t afford it otherwise.

Step 6: Submit EVERYTHING on or before November 1 or whatever your earliest deadline is.

There is nothing worse than having a million different deadlines swirling around in your head, so make it easy on yourself by just submitting every single one of your college apps on the day of your earliest deadline.

That concludes my protips on the college process. Let me know if I missed anything, and if you use any of my protips, let me know how it goes!


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Low-FODMAP products I can’t live without!

Disclaimer: I was not sponsored in any way, shape, or form by any company to endorse their products. I simply thought it would be helpful for my fellow FODMAPers to share a list of low-FODMAP products I personally enjoy.

Udi’s Gluten Free White Sandwich Bread

I decided to start off this list with something that everyone needs: a good, reliable brand of sandwich bread. When I went on the FODMAP diet, one of my biggest concerns was that I would have to completely overhaul the foods I ate on a day-to-day basis, but I found that all I had to do was find different versions of products I previously enjoyed. This bread from Udi’s is by far my favorite gluten-free bread because it’s soft, chewy, and *gasp* tastes like actual bread!

Rao’s Sensitive Marinara Sauce

One of the toughest parts of a low-FODMAP diet is giving up onion and garlic. Before going on the diet, I never realized how much food had onion and garlic in it! Almost every brand of tomato sauce has onion and/or garlic in it, but since the people at Rao’s are angels, they began making this marinara sauce that is free of both onion and garlic and still manages to be delicious! This sauce is so good that even the members of my family who do not follow a low-FODMAP diet enjoy it.

Jovial Gluten Free Penne Pasta

Finding a good low-FODMAP brand of pasta was a task that took some trial and error, but I knew my pasta quest was over as soon as I tasted Jovial’s gluten-free take on penne. Nobody believes me when I say this, but this pasta is just as tasty as regular pasta. My dad, who loves pasta, even admits this stuff is pretty good!

So Delicious Coconut Milk Yogurt (my favorite flavors are strawberry, blueberry, and raspberry)

The FODMAP diet isn’t technically a dairy-free diet, but avoiding dairy is a smart move for IBS sufferers nonetheless. I will admit that at first, I was skeptical about coconut milk products. I hate the taste of plain coconut products (like coconut shreds); they taste like lotion to me. However, flavored coconut milk yogurt is not bad. It does not taste like coconut very much at all, and it has a smooth, creamy texture reminiscent of dairy yogurt.

So Delicious Vanilla Ice Cream Bars

After trying this brand’s coconut milk yogurt, I figured I would give their coconut milk ice cream a try, and once again, So Delicious did not disappoint. This refreshing dairy-free take on an ice-cream truck classic is the perfect cool treat for a hot summer day.

Udi’s Blueberry Oat Muffin Tops

These delightful treats honestly taste more like soft cookies than muffin tops. I eat these almost every day for breakfast. Time and time again, Udi’s has proven to be the master of making gluten-free products that don’t taste like they’re gluten-free.

Annie’s Gluten Free Double Chocolate Chip Granola Bars

As a student with a busy life, grab-and-go snacks like these granola bars are a vital part of my diet. When I’m in a hurry in the morning, I can just snag one of these and eat it on the way to school for a boost of energy to start my day.


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My journey on the FODMAP diet, part 1

One thing that you readers may not know about me is that I have suffered from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) for much of my life, and it’s just about as much fun as it sounds. I have been on several medicines to try to help ease my symptoms, but they were not doing much. One day, my gastroenterologist told me about this diet called the FODMAP diet. The gist of it is that there are several sugars and starches, called FODMAPs (Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides, And Polyols) that ferment in the gut and cause IBS symptoms, like diarrhea, constipation, bloating, and gassiness, and avoiding those molecules will minimize negative symptoms. Sounds simple, right? It is, until you account for the fact that so many common foods have FODMAPs in them, including (but definitely not limited to) wheat, milk, onion, garlic, beans, legumes, and many different fruit juices that are used as sweeteners. Regular table sugar and cane sugar are fine, though, because both of those sugars are composed mainly of glucose, which does not cause gut problems when there is more of it than there is fructose in a food.

A major complicating factor in my FODMAP journey is that I have several food allergies: peanuts, tree nuts (not including coconut), sesame, lentils/legumes, and seafood. I also have oral allergy syndrome (OAS), a condition that makes it so that whenever I eat a raw fruit or vegetable (with the exception of blueberries or lettuce), my tongue, mouth, and throat get itchy. OAS has made it hard for me to eat healthily for my whole life, even before I was diagnosed with IBS because fresh fruits and veggies are the cornerstones of a balanced diet. Cooking fruits or veggies can change the proteins of the produce enough so that they do not cause an OAS reaction, but not all cooked fruits or vegetables taste great and cooking fruits and vegetables is a time-consuming process. Interestingly enough, I have not always had OAS, so when I was younger, I loved eating baby carrots, clementines, and cucumbers, and I would totally still snack on those fresh fruits and veggies if they didn’t make my mouth and throat feel super itchy and uncomfortable. When I found out I would probably have to avoid wheat, dairy, onions, garlic, and so many other foods I used to eat, my whole world came crashing down around me, so I put it off for as long as possible.

TO BE CONTINUED…


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My favorite songs from season 1 of “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend”

At the moment, one of my absolute favorite TV shows is Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, a musical comedy series on The CW. After finishing Jane the Virgin (an absolute treasure of a show that is required viewing for anyone with a soul), my mom and I struggled to find another show to binge until we settled upon this hilarious satire. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is about Rebecca Bunch, a Harvard and Yale grad and lawyer at a prestigious firm in New York City who, despite her success, is incredibly unhappy. One day, she runs into her ex-boyfriend from summer camp, Josh Chan, and decides to relocate to his sleepy hometown of West Covina, California. From there, many hijinks ensue. All of the characters on this show are delightfully wacky, and the music on the show is awesome, but a few songs from the first season stand out in my memory. Here are my top 5 favorite songs from season 1 of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.

 

  1. JAP Battle

Description: I know what you all are thinking: why would Maisie, who calls herself an intersectional feminist, use such a disgustingly racist slur on her blog? Aside from that meaning, JAP is also an acronym that stands for “Jewish American Princess.” And yes, I know that that meaning of the word is also an offensive term that stereotypes Jewish girls as rich and spoiled. However, I myself am Jewish and so is Rachel Bloom, the actress who plays Rebecca Bunch on the show and one of the show’s co-creators and writers. In writing this song, Bloom has reclaimed this term to craft a hilarious rap battle between Rebecca and her childhood nemesis, Audra Levine.

Favorite line from the song: “Sheket bevaka-shut the f*** up!” (“Sheket bevakasha” means “please be quiet” in Hebrew and is a phrase commonly used to get rowdy children to calm down during Hebrew School or at a Jewish summer camp)

 

  1. Heavy Boobs

Description: As many people with, erm, a large chest will tell you, this song is one of the most relatable songs of all time. It perfectly captures what life is like for people who were not blessed with the ability to wear spaghetti-strap dresses without being arrested for indecent exposure.

Favorite line from the song: Not b******’ ’bout my boobies, they look super fly in shirts/But if I swung them in your face, you’d be like/‘Oh my God, that hurts!’”

 

  1. The Sexy Getting-Ready Song

Description: A behind-the-scenes look at what really happens when women get ready for parties.

Favorite line from the song: “This is some—this horrifying, like some scary movie or somethin’, like some nasty ass, patriarchal bulls***. You know what? I got to go apologize to some b******. I’m forever changed after what I just seen.” (Spoken by the male rapper featured on the track when he walks in on Rebecca getting ready and what he sees is, well, not sexy.)

 

  1. Gettin’ Bi

Description: When Rebecca’s boss, Darryl, comes out as bi to his employees, he does it in the form of an 80’s rock song. Just watch the video, you’ll see why it’s hysterical.

Favorite line from the song: “It doesn’t take an intellectual to know that I’m bisexual.”

 

  1. Where’s The Bathroom?

Description: Rebecca’s overbearing Jewish mother visits her daughter in West Covina, only to be entirely dissatisfied with what she finds. I am halfway through season 2 of the show and this song remains my all-time favorite from the series.

Favorite line from the song: “A bishop in Wisconsin said something anti-Semitic so the temple has decided to boycott cheddar cheese.”


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My first college visits!

I am thrilled to announce that I am beginning the process of looking at colleges! This is going to be an emotional whirlwind of a ride, and I want to chronicle it for you. I will not be saying which specific colleges I’m visiting, nor will I say which college I will end up attending because the Internet is full of creeps and I don’t want anyone to stalk me or anything like that. However, I haven’t posted in a while, and seeing as this is the biggest change in my life thus far, it seemed like an interesting topic to post about. Here goes nothing!

The first college I visited was one of those schools that doesn’t really have much of a defined campus. It is in the middle of a big city. When I was visiting this school, I got the invigorating feeling of being right in the thick of things. The student tour guides were super friendly and answered all of my questions about the school. One major pro of this particular school is that they offer a BFA program in creative writing, which is not offered at many schools, and if it isn’t obvious from reading literally anything on this blog, majoring in creative writing would be so awesome! I had known about the creative writing program at this school before I went on the tour, but what I didn’t know was that, according to one of the tour guides, a few undergrads get their work published every semester.

Yep, you read that right. If I were to attend this school, I COULD BE A PUBLISHED AUTHOR BEFORE GRADUATING FROM COLLEGE!!!!!!

However, I don’t know if I would be challenged enough academically at this school because it doesn’t have the reputation of being an academically rigorous school. One of the key factors I’m looking for in a school is that I want to be challenged academically, but I don’t want to spend four years in a place where I’m under so much academic pressure that I can’t be happy. That being said, the writing opportunities that this school has to offer make it a strong contender in my college search.

The second college I visited was the polar opposite of the first school in every way imaginable, aside from the fact that they were similar in size. This school had a sprawling campus and breathtaking architecture. On a sunny day in autumn or spring, I could see myself frolicking across the rolling green fields that make up this campus. By the end of the hour-long tour, my mother and I were both extremely winded. We ate lunch in the dining hall on campus, and the food was pretty good. They even had ice cream! All of the students we met, including our tour guide, were so welcoming to us and had nothing but the best to say about their school.

Unlike the first school I visited, this college is known in every corner of the globe for its academic rigor. The closest thing they have to a major in creative writing is an English major, and I don’t want to pay $60,000 per year to translate The Canterbury Tales by hand or labor over Shakespeare’s greatest hits. They do have a wonderful women’s studies program, which is a very close second to creative writing in terms of my ideal major. This school also has a lot of requirements for science and math, and I got the impression that this school encourages students to go in the STEM-y direction rather than the arts/humanities path I see myself on.

I had a great experience on both of my visits. The students at both schools I visited were incredibly kind and passionate about their schools, and touring the schools themselves was really interesting. Both schools have pros and cons. While one school celebrates the arts and humanities, the other school puts more of an emphasis on math and science. One school takes a more relaxed approach to academics, while the other school’s curriculum is world-renowned for its quality and rigor. Overall, I felt more comfortable at the first school I visited, but I definitely want to visit more schools. I want to keep my options as open as possible.


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Apology for potentially offensive comments

Hi friends,

One of my readers told me that the section of my Ferdinand/toxic masculinity post in which I mentioned “dumb jocks who only hang out with girls to check them out” was unfairly stereotyping athletic students. I reviewed that paragraph of my post and decided that it makes unfair, sweeping generalizations of groups of people, and because of that, I deleted that paragraph from my post. I would like to apologize to anyone who was offended by the comments I made in my most recent post and/or anyone who has been offended by anything else I have said in my writing. From now on, I will be much more careful not to stereotype groups of people.

I would also like to thank the person who gave me that feedback. The person did it in an extremely respectful manner, and because of this person’s feedback, I have reconsidered the way in which I write about people oftentimes and I will improve upon that in the future.

If anyone has any constructive feedback for me about my writing, do not hesitate to Facebook message me or email me at maisiethewriter@outlook.com. I will respond as quickly as possible and fix anything that hurts people’s feelings or unfairly judges people.

Thank you for being such loyal, amazing readers. I hope you will continue to follow my blog and reach out to me with any questions.

Sincerely,
Maisie