Tagged with kaitlin marie

My CompliKAITed Life: 2 Must-Read Resources for the Fledgling Adult

Hey Kates (and lovely friends-of-Kates)! I know I spend a lot of time writing about my life and it’s many trials and tribulations, but today I want to take a step back from all of that. Today, I’d like to pay homage to two incredibly awesome, helpful books that have made quite an impression on me.

Books are awesome in general, IMHO, but one thing you’ll learn during college is that seriously NONE of your class books will be able to teach you how to be a functional adult. None of them will detail how to handle a horrible break up, or how to get your utilities started when you move to a new place. And unless you’re majoring in finance, they won’t teach you how to manage your money either. That’s where these two books come in:

1. Adulting

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Adulting, by Kelly Williams Brown, is seriously adorable, beautifully written, and exceedingly helpful in it’s quest to make you a better adult. The chapters deal with multiple facets of adult life, such as what kitchen supplies to buy, how to be professional at your job, and how, at a certain point in your life, it’s necessary to have some sort of couch or chair in your apartment, so visitors can…y’know…sit.

Written with wisdom and open honesty, Kelly interweaves her own adult misadventures into the book, waxing poetic on her lack of cleaning skills and her tendency to buy ridiculous earrings made out of plants. She’s also refreshingly real when it comes to handling professional relationships, sexual encounters, and horrible break-ups.

So you need to be buy and read this book. Right now!

Also, for those cheapskates (or Brokey McPoorpants), Kelly Williams Brown also has a blog, on which the book was based, and you can read that for free!

2. I Will Teach You To Be Rich

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Let me preface this by saying that I suck at math and numbers, so any book that can not only help me organize my finances, but automate them to near-perfect precision is a straight-up MIRACLE. I Will Teach You To Be Rich, by Ramit Sethi is a no-nonsense guide to getting your monetary sh*t together, whether you’re just starting your first job or you’re 55 and have been employed for YEARS.

Ideally, though, the book is geared towards college kids and post-grads, in order to help them build savings and create healthy financial habits that will carry them through the rest of their lives. I absolutely love this book. Ramit writes with an easy, humorous flair that’s both geeky and charming, so the book never gets too dry (despite it being all about finances).

Additionally, he breaks everything down for you. Buying a car? Negotiating a raise at work? Paying off credit card debit? Figuring out your budget? It’s all in there! And the best part is, it’s all extremely PRACTICAL. Ramit would be the last person to recommend you quit your expensive coffee-buying habit–he’s much more concerned with helping you grow your savings account and negotiate a raise at work–so you can keep buying whatever coffee you want.

If you read this column on a frequent enough basis, you might remember my little write up concerning how I manage my own finances. I gave a shout out to I Will Teach You To Be Rich then as well, since the majority of my financial tricks come from that book.

Like any good author, Ramit also has a blog you can visit. In addition to financial advice, Ramit Sethi is interested in improving people’s lives in general. If you join his mailing list, you’ll be privy to ALL KINDS of information on starting your own business, earning money on the side, tricks to help you save, and resources to help you find your dream job.

I can’t recommend either of these books enough–especially for someone just starting out their adult life!

Cheers!

My CompliKAITed Life is a column by Kaitlin Marie running on Kate-book.com every other Wednesday at noon. You can read all about Kaitlin’s Zombie Apocalypse plans and geektastic lifestyle on her blog Zombies4breakfast.com. Oh, and follow her on Twitter here or on Pinterest here. She pins obsessively.

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My CompliKAITed Life: Updates on the Bicycle Front

Parked at the office--LIKE A BOSS!

Parked at the office–LIKE A BOSS!

By: Kaitlin Marie

Remember a few weeks ago when I said I was planning on biking to work?

Well, I’ve actually made good on this goal. I’ve got a couple of pictures and a nice little breakdown on how I’ve been spending my mornings.

Wake up time: 5:30am

I pack my bag with my work clothes the night before, so all I need to do in the morning is toss on my biking clothes and slap on some makeup. I’ve been wearing my hair in side braid, which keeps it out of my way, doesn’t interfere with my helmet, and usually looks decent at work.

Leave house: 6:00am

 

Rocking some sexy helmet hair after my bike ride yesterday

Rocking some sexy helmet hair after my bike ride yesterday

Arrive at work: 6:15(ish)am

Once I get to work, I chain up my bike and stash my backpack in the office bathroom. The office is empty and dark (since I’m the one who unlocks everything and turns on lights), and I sneak out the front entrance. I usually walk a couple blocks and grab myself an iced coffee from McDonald’s (Don’t judge me! It’s my only vice!) before heading back to the office and changing.

Once I’ve transformed from bike-riding super heroine to mild-mannered secretary, I make some instant oatmeal, sip my iced coffee, and get to work!

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Simple enough, right?

Despite having to force myself to get up at the ass-crack of dawn, I’m really loving my new commuting method. I’m saving money, burning calories, and I feel more energized and alert.

I’m hoping to turn this into a long term habit!

My CompliKAITed Life is a column by Kaitlin Marie running on Kate-book.com every other Wednesday at noon. You can read all about Kaitlin’s Zombie Apocalypse plans and geektastic lifestyle on her blog Zombies4breakfast.com. Oh, and follow her on Twitter here or on Pinterest here. She pins obsessively.

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My CompliKAITed Life: Fitness & the Office

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By: Kaitlin Marie

Hi there, Kate-bookers!!! Sorry for my temporary hiatus. I’ve been experiencing some biiiig changes in my little corner of the world, the biggest being my boyfriend officially moving in with me! Exciting, right?

But that’s not what I’m writing about today. Today I’m writing about the difficulties in balancing work and fitness, and my SUPER AWESOME PLAN** to combat these issues.

For those of you who follow this column (aka the sexiest and smartest folks I know), you might remember that I’ve been bitching about my weight for many, many moons.

Unfortunately for me, I’m still grappling with my weight gain, despite regular yoga sessions and semi-regular runs. However, now that the weather has truly become pleasant out here in the Midwest, I’ve got my sights set on some other ways to get fit.

Getting my @$$–and bike!–in gear

I have this amazing, foolproof plan where I’ll bike to work each morning (weather permitting, of course) until AT LEAST September. I know this is kind of a lofty goal, but I’ve already done some of the prep work for it. For starters, I know that it will only take me 15 minutes to bike from my apartment to the office. I even used the Google maps bicycle directions feature (it’s still in beta, but it worked great for me) to find the optimal biking route.

Things I have yet to do are:

  • Take my bike in for a tune-up
  • Steal my mom’s old bike helmet, wash it off with the hose (it’s been in the garage for YEARS), and see if it fits me
  • Find the perfect hairstyle to combat helmet hair (I’m thinking low ponies…)
  • Figure out if I can bike in my flats
  • Buy a bike lock

I’ve already bought an adorable backpack to stash my work clothes in while I bike to the office, and I’m planning on leaving a pair of nude-colored heels in one of my desk drawers, so I’ll always have matching shoes ready to go.

I wasn't lying--this bag is adorbs!

I wasn’t lying–this bag is adorbs!

The plan, in action, looks like this:

-I rise at 5:30am, eat a quick breakfast, slap on some makeup, squeeze into my “work appropriate” spandex and lace up my sneakers

-I’m out the door by 6:10am at the latest

-Woooo! Biking! Wind in my hair!!!

Biking feels like this, right?

Biking feels like this, right?

-I arrive at work around 6:25 or 6:30, lock up my bike, clock in, and change

-I have the doors to the office open by 7am, as per usual

-#Winning #Likeaboss #Tigerblood #F*ckYeahImAwesome #CommunicatingIdeasViaHashtags #Allthatjazz

This plan is FOOLPROOF, I tell you! And if all the pieces fall together the way that they should, I’ll be sneaking in an extra 30 minutes of exercise each day, as well as saving dolla-dolla-dolla bills on gas. I’ve even purchased some tupperware to bring my lunches in.

Bonus Round

In addition to this awesomeness, I have a secondary plan. If I’m feeling like a crazy overachiever (which is rare, but it does happen occasionally), I can utilize my lunch break for some extra  fitness points. Since I’ll already have my exercise clothes with me, I can change back into them and go for a power walk! I’ll even bring my ipod to make the walk more pleasant, and then eat at my desk after my break is over.

Soooooooooooooo yep. Them’s the plans. We’ll see if I can actually stick to them or not.  The forecast this week is all thunderstorms, but I have my bike tune-up scheduled for next week. If there’s progress, I’ll keep you updated.

Ciao for now, Kates!

 

**I’d like to point out that my plans are pretty much always SUPER AWESOME

My CompliKAITed Life is a column by Kaitlin Marie running on Kate-book.com every other Wednesday at noon. You can read all about Kaitlin’s Zombie Apocalypse plans and geektastic lifestyle on her blog Zombies4breakfast.com. Oh, and follow her on Twitter here or on Pinterest here. She pins obsessively.

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My CompliKAITed Life: Cold Front on the Job Front

Young woman and man dancing in the rain under umbrella

Spring has officially sprung, ladies (and Kates)! The sun is shining, when the rain’s not falling, and the flowers are starting to bloom. It’s time to deep clean your house and purge all that winter clutter. It’s also time for me to re-double my job-hunting efforts. It’s hard to believe that this time last year I was hunting for jobs, and even posting about my failure to acquire said jobs, and here I am again. Still at square 1. Still secretary-ing my heart out in the daytime hours, and hunting for gainful employment more geared to my degree (and personal aspirations) by night.

This is what my never-ending job hunt feels like

This is what my never-ending job hunt feels like

In the last two weeks I’ve been recovering from my dasterdly bowling injury, and I’ve also been assisting on a contract project (thanks to a hook up from my best friend) for a prominent PR firm in Chicago that might generate some job leads for me.  Fingers crossed, of course. I’ve also spent some time tidying up my LinkedIn profile, adding content to my online portfolio, and trying to expand my professional wardrobe with a few cute professional dresses–all in time for Spring. I’ve even been channeling huge amounts of time and energy into my personal blog with the hopes that some company, somewhere, will stumble across it and become wholly twitterpated with my writing style. (I often day dream about some benevolent, old lady-millionaire discovering my blog and deciding that I deserve a 1 million dollar donation–because that’s totally plausible, right?)

Despite all my work, the forecast on the job front is still quite frosty.

Continue reading

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My CompliKAITed Life: When Life Gives You the Boot

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By: Kaitlin Marie

Well, guys. This last week and half has really been a bitch. I’m not usually one to complain about flashy footware, but this boot isn’t really up my alley.

So, what happened?

Y’know, I’m not entirely sure. I ran 3 miles after a 2 month running hiatus. I didn’t feel any ankle pain, but sometimes my body has a bit of a delayed reaction time. A few days after my run, I went bowling and I felt my ankle twinge a bit. The next day it was quite sore, and that soreness continued for a few days. Then I had the bright idea to go to yoga and really put a lot of stress on my ankle (because that ALWAYS works, right?).  The pain I felt after my yoga class sent me limping over to my dad, who is a Podiatrist (foot and ankle specialist), and he gave me the boot to wear for at least the following week.

Boo :(

Things that are awesome about the boot:

  • Not feeling guilty when you take the closest parking spots (but not the handicapped one–I’m not that much of an asshole)
  • People going super out of their way to hold doors for me
  • The nice dude at the grocery store who put my cart away for me
  • The oddly pitying looks people have given me while I hobble around in public (I promise, folks, I WILL WALK AGAIN!)
  • The fact that I have to wear a high heeled shoe to balance out the height difference of the boot
  • The hilarious worker at Michael’s that told me I was “working my boot look” because of the high heel I wore with it
  • The fact that I told the gossipy people at work that I injured myself by kicking Chuck Norris in the face

Things that suck about the boot:

  • It’s cumbersome as hell
  • My cat seems to be terrified of it, especially if the velcro straps are undone
  • Walking in it has bruised my shin
  • It makes me walk like Frankenstein
  • Wearing it while driving is EXTREMELY difficult (You’re either stopping or accelerating. There’s not much in between)
  • I can’t run, obviously, which makes me very sad
  • After a long day of walking around in it, my left knee is so sore
  • The weird dudes that tried to use the boot as a conversation starter in order to hit on me while I was walking around downtown

Thankfully, today is the first day I’m feeling well enough to walk around without the dang boot! This is me today:

ankle

 

I’m obviously starting up some serious fashion trends with all this fancy footware. I’ve never broken a bone before or experienced an injury that required anything more than a simple brace (like the one I’m wearing above), so wearing the boot for a week was a very interesting and frustrating experience. I can’t imagine having a cast or having to wear the boot for more than a month.

Ultimately, I feel lucky that I didn’t cause myself a more serious injury, although it’s embarassing to say that I hurt myself bowling. (BOWL SAFE, GUYS! BOWLING AWARENESS IS KEY).

Hopefully I’ll be back to walking and running and yoga-ing quite soon.

My CompliKAITed Life is a column by Kaitlin Marie running on Kate-book.com every other Wednesday at noon. You can read all about Kaitlin’s Zombie Apocalypse plans on her blog Zombies4breakfast.com. Oh, and follow her on Twitter here or on Pinterest here. She pins obsessively.

 

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My CompliKAITed Life: Budgeting Like a Badass

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By: Kaitlin Marie

If you’ve read my blog a few times, you might know that I work as a secretary. Not a corporate secretary or an executive assistant–nothing fancy like that. I’m just a plain, vanilla secretary (with an incendiary dash of peanutbutter cup tossed in, but that comes from my winning personality!).

As you might suspect, secretaries are not, on the whole, highly paid. I am fortunate in that I get an awesome, incredible benefits package from my job, and I also receive overtime pay. In any event, I thought I would put a breakdown on how I currently manage my finances, in case people were interested.

Things that are important in my personal budgeting manifesto:

  • I pay my credit card off in full EVERY MONTH. I have 0 credit card debt.
  • All of my monthly expenses (except rent) are paid automatically from my checking account
  • The small amount of money I put in savings each month is also taken out automatically
  • I actually pay $60 extra on my car loan each month, so I can have it paid down in 3 years, as opposed to 4
  • If you’re not 100% certain of an expense, always round UP
  • If you’re not 100% certain how much money you have, always round DOWN

Budget Breakdown

If I include my overtime pay, I make just shy of $2000 a month. However, for the sake of this budget plan (and any buget plan you might want to make) it’s best not to include overtime pay. I’m using my lowest pay stub from 2013, rounded down slightly. Just concentrate on the bare bones, and anything you have leftover at the end is yours to play with in whatever way you see fit.

My monthly take home pay (not including OT): 1750

Whenever you’re budgeting for anything, look first at your fixed expenses. These are the things that will be the same month after month, and will under no circumstances change in cost. I’ve rounded up on a few of them to make it simpler. Here are my fixed expenses:

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You might have noticed a few things on this list that are missing or extremely low. Continue reading

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My CompliKAITed Life: Sick of Snow

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This was me yesterday

I don’t know about you guys, but I’m officially sick of snow. I’m over it. Done. And I’m currently writing this in the aftermath of the year’s biggest blizzard.

I’m not sure if Mother Nature missed the memo, but it’s March now! Bring on the rain showers, galoshes, and flowers please!

Now, most of the Kate Book ladies are New York gals, and I know they’ve experienced their fair share of storms and snow in the last 6 months. I, however, am a mid western girl, born and bred and accustomed to massive blizzards and towering snow drifts.  But after a year spent in and around tropical rainforests, I’m less inclined to enjoy the winter wonderland I’m currently living in.  I miss constant warmth and sun. (Although a friend in Costa Rica informed me that they’re also having a cold snap of epic proportions in San Jose. 68 degrees! Can you imagine!?)

The sad thing is that the last few winters in my area have been enviably mild, so much so that my belly-aching doesn’t even feel warranted. That hasn’t stopped me from being sick of the weather, though. Winter does nothing for my figure; icy roads keep me from running and chilly temperatures have me craving warm comfort foods. Heaps of steaming hot mac n cheese and warm cookies fresh from the oven, anyone?

I daydream of sunny afternoons when my boyfriend and I can ride our bikes downtown and I don’t have to mummify myself in scarves before I leave the house. Still, the winter has afforded me the opportunity to dream and scheme up myriad summer projects. (Think spray painting and decoupaging.) I’ve also had a chance to work on my strength training (occasionally). And after several months of being cooped up, Cabin Fever got the best of me and I signed up for a yoga class, which I’m totally LOVING! (Which also happened to be canceled because of the blizzard. Arg!)

Soon to come will be Spring Cleaning, sunshine, and an intensive half marathon training schedule. As soon as the ice on the roads melts. Until then, I’ll just have to settle for blogging, baking, and vegging out on the couch with a new series on Netflix.

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My CompliKAITed Life: A Year in Review

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By Kaitlin Marie

This February has provided me with multiple milestones. On top of turning 25, February 1st marked the anniversary of my return home from Costa Rica, and today is my 1 year anniversary at my job. A lot can happen in a year, and a lot has happened to me. Failed job interviews, apartment-related hijinks, weight gain, moving out of my parents’ house, job frustration. I’ve documented a lot of my frustrations and misadventures here on Kate-Book, but one of the things I write about most is my job and the myriad disappointments and annoyances it has caused.

But I do really, truly want to say something: I don’t hate my job.

I work with some really wonderful people and the company I work for cares deeply about their employees. When I accepted this position, I honestly thought it would be a transition job and that I would be quitting to move on to something better in a matter of months. I had a lot of job angst, and I felt particularly over-qualified for my position (and I still do sometimes, and I probably am over-qualified. But that doesn’t mean this job is beneath me. I don’t believe there’s a job that exists that is “beneath me”)

It sounds strange, but this is the first job I’ve had where I worked full time for an entire year. I’ve had a number of part time jobs, summer jobs, and internships but I never worked a full year for any of them. And even in Costa Rica, I held 2 different positions, but only for about 6 months each. So like it or not, this job-iversary is a big deal for me.

In a way, it represents my continuing transition into adulthood. This is my “big kid job”. Continue reading

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My CompliKAITed Life: Apartment Therapy a la Pinterest

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By Kaitlin Marie

When you’re living the secretary lifestyle, you can’t decorate on a high-roller’s budget. I’ve always loved interior design, and I take pride in the way I represent my apartment–it’s my way of expressing myself. But when you’re low on funds, it’s tough to let your style shine through.

That’s when Pinterest comes in handy. If you’ve read the little bio underneath my other columns, you’d know I am OBSESSED with Pinterest. Unhealthily so. The home decor section is practically like porn for me. I literally drool over the massive kitchens, perfectly organized pantries, daintily decorated vanity tables. Unfortunately, the only way I’m going to get anything like that stuff is if I make it myself.

Still, a little inspiration goes a long way.  I was never a big do-it-yourselfer in the past. I wasn’t even that interested in crafts. But when you’re bound and determined to let your personal space shine, it’s amazing what you can create.

1. The “Hello” welcome mat

For starters, I fell in love with this “Hello” welcome mat. All I needed to to make something similar was yellow fabric, scissors, and a pencil. I freehand drew the lettering for my version below, and I took it in a different language direction, choosing “Hola” over “Hello.”

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Sorry for the terrible picture quality. I busted my camera recently, so I’ve been reduced to photographs taken via my crappy cell phone. The next piece of decoration is the one I’ve definitely used the most, and it’s also the biggest DIY I’ve attempted to date.

2. The pallet table

You can’t really see the plexiglass top on the table on the right, which is obviously my less polished representation.

pinterest-tables

Continue reading

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My CompliKAITed Life: My Uncles got MARRIED on New Years Eve!

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My original plan for this column was to write some pithy, tongue-in-cheek article about how no one really keeps New Year’s resoultions, blah blah blah, yaddah yaddah yaddah. (Besides, it’s already been done, and I have more fun stuff to write about!)  Instead of that, I’m going to write about my amazing Uncle Mike and his partner of 30 years, Cliff, who got married at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Day.

My uncles met on my birthday, four years before I was born, on February 4th, 1984, and have been together ever since. They’re more committed than plenty of other couples I’ve met throughout my life, and they’ve always been incredibly loving and patient with each other.

Having never really experienced a Christmas season or important family gathering without them both, I can say that growing up with Mike and Cliff in my life isn’t something I ever really thought of as “different” or “exceptional” until I grew older and other people described it as such.  To me, they were like all of the other Aunt-Uncle combinations in my family.

For years, Mike and Cliff said they would never get married. Perhaps this was because it wasn’t really a possibility, and perhaps it was because both of them are highly successful professionals in their respective fields, and in the past gay marriage wasn’t as acceptable as it is today.  Whatever their reasons were, they (fortunately!) changed their minds this year when the state of Maryland voted to legalize gay marriage. They sent out their wedding invitations not long after the election ended. Continue reading

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My CompliKAITed Life: Working at Christmas Time

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Sometimes I wonder about our country’s state of mind and attitude towards work. The US of A is a great country and a free country, but I think we have a really twisted way of looking at work. Sure, the whole “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” idea is fantastic, and there are a lot of people who are living proof that it’s possible. Still, what’s wrong with taking a break every once in awhile?

I say this because it’s December 26th and I’m at work. I was also at work on December 24th. In fact, last week I was pulling 9 hour days, waiting almost 7 hours for my lunch break, and then I worked half a day on Saturday the 22nd too. It totally sucks. I’ve sort of been telling myself, “I’m young. This is the time to work overtime, work holidays, etc. because I don’t have a husband or a family. I’ll take time off when I’m older.” However, I’m not even sure that taking time off work will be acceptable when I’m older.

This year Walmarts and McDonalds encouraged their stores to stay open on Christmas day. The sanctity of holidays like Christmas and Thanksgiving as absolutely unquestionable days off for pretty much everyone (unless you work in a hospital, healthcare, emergency response) is gone. When Black Friday now starts at 7pm on Thanksgiving Day, I think it’s time for our country to take a look at our priorities.

I spent 2011 living in Costa Rica, and one of the major things I noticed about that country is how often they stop and celebrate. They have WAY more national holidays than we do, and they really know how to throw a party. There are parades and fireworks and little festivals constantly throughout the year. The week leading up to Easter is called “Semana Santa”, Holy Week, and everyone goes to the beach and parties. Literally, EVERYONE. The public bus system in San Jose, the capital city, didn’t even run that week. Costa Rica is a third world country (even if they’d like to pretend that they aren’t), but there’s a reason they are one of the top 10 countries on the world’s “Happiness Index”.  They don’t live to work—they work to live.

I know that, right now, I’m just an entry-level secretary. I’m on the bottom of the totem pole, and I’ve used up pretty much all of my 10 alotted vacation days this year. Working more or less nonstop is the status quo for the working world now. I’m just wondering if it’s a healthy mindset to have.

I’m just feeling really burned out right now.

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Thoughts on the senseless tragedy in Connecticut from a girl who experienced an attack on her school

By Kaitlin Marie

Yesterday and today, as our entire nation follows the story of a senseless massacre in Connecticut, people are weighing in with their opinions. We don’t have all of the facts straight yet, but the media and government officials are already pointing fingers at each other, at the NRA, at violent video games, at “not allowing God in our schools”, and at a myriad other reasons. We’re all asking one question — a question for which we will most likely never have a full formed answer: why?

Why?

You’re probably wondering why my thoughts on this question have any merit. I’m not a newscaster, a government official, someone linked to the tragedy or an expert on violence. Why should I have any say in the matter?

The only reason I can give you is that my high school suffered a violent attack — but one with incredibly different consequences. The difference between what I experienced and what happened yesterday raises important points in the ongoing discussion of what went wrong.

In 2004, when I was just 16 — a junior in high school – a young man smuggled a machete and a hacksaw into my school and attacked his unsuspecting Spanish class as they watched a movie. Our school was instantly put on lockdown, and while I, personally, was physically distant from the violence that took place, I remember quite clearly the panic and fear we all experienced when the principal hastily announced a “Code Red” and that “students and teachers were not to leave their classrooms under any circumstances.”

The attacker in question was 15-year-old James Lewerke, a freshman, and he was experiencing the onset of paranoid schitzophrenia at the time of the attack. He seriously injured 7 students that day.

But the cruel miracle is that not a single victim died that day.

I do not want to downplay the fact that people’s lives were changed forever. Everyone present that day will carry a piece of the trauma for the rest of their lives. Of the victims of the attack, several required reconstructive surgery. I distinctly remember one girl with a deep scar across her cheek — a daily reminder of that awful Spanish class.

But in my opinion, what I don’t remember far outweighs what I do recall about that day. I don’t remember the names of those injured because they didn’t die. They’re not just memories engraved on a memorial plaque. They’re out in the world living their lives.

Which brings me to the true point I’m trying to make: students in my high school were attacked with a machete and a saw, and not a single person died. I can’t reiterate that fact enough. Who knows what kind of carnage would have been wreaked if the attacker had brought a gun that day rather than a blade?

I believe that, in the wake of this life-shattering event, our country needs to reflect on a lot of important issues. Like gun control. Like how we identify, diagnose and treat mental illness.

Sometimes you can’t stop the violent outbursts of a person intent on hurting others, but if you can control what tools they use to inflict the damage, you can change the outcome entirely. Could someone have been killed in my high school that day? Yes, absolutely. But not 26 people.

It has been eight years since the attack on Valparaiso High School, and all the students who were there have since graduated and moved on with their lives. The students there today know very little about the actual event, and the “Valparaiso Slashing” has taken on an urban legend-like status. The “Valparaiso Slashing“, mind you. Not the ” Valparaiso Massacre.”

Even the attacker, James Lewerke, who is 23 now, was released on parole last year. His life is forever changed, but his mental illness is now treated. Even he gets a second chance.

There’s no way to change what happened in Connecticut yesterday. Our “shoulda coulda wouldas” are pointless to the people who lost friends and loved ones, the people who probably have wrapped presents under their Christmas trees that will never be opened. What our country needs now is to think long and hard about how we can prevent these things in the future. Instead of skirting the issues or worrying about isolating potential voters, we need to meet these issues head on.

GUN CONTROL. Let’s talk about it.

MENTAL ILLNESS TREATMENT, EVEN FOR THE UNINSURED. Let’s discuss this.

THE STIGMA OF MENTAL ILLNESS AS A KIND OF PERSONAL FAILURE OR WEAKNESS AND NOT A TRUE SICKNESS THAT REQUIRES DEFINITIVE TREATMENT. We need to talk about this.

This is not the time to lose faith in humanity. This is the time to rally together, to make lasting changes. And this is the time to hug your loved ones and tell them you love them. This is the time to offer your thoughts, prayers, comfort, and support to those people dealing with unimagineable loss.

Mom, Dad, Erin, Javi, my grandmas, cousins, aunts, uncles — I love you. I’m so lucky to have you.

Now let’s try to make sure this NEVER HAPPENS AGAIN.

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