Commentary #9: “15 Women Who Would Like To Remind Everyone That Cosplay Is Not Consent”

This all started with a Buzzfeed article titled “15 Women Who Would Like To Remind Everyone That Cosplay Is Not Consent.”

When Al and I were preparing for Tidewater Comicon in May, I remember asking Al one specific question:

“Do you think I should wear my black leggings with my Ghostbusters costume?”

Tidewater Comicon, May 2015.

Tidewater Comicon, May 2015.

Image Credit: Al Vardaro

Image Credit: Al Vardaro

You see, the reason I asked Al that question is because the Ghostbusters costume I have is “sexy.”

The costume dress is low-cut and the hem stops around my knees.

In answering my question, Al said that I should wear the leggings, to be safe.


When I first read the Buzzfeed article, I was horrified. I’m glad I was sitting down, otherwise I would have fallen down. These women had hear and experience terrible, unwarranted, blatant harassment from men, all at San Diego Comic Con. I felt disgusted. I felt violated for them.

It made me think back to Tidewater CC in May. I’m glad I wore the black leggings. I’m glad Al was with me the entire weekend.

More so, I’m glad that my first cosplay/comicon experience was a positive one.

I recall everyone who wanted to take a picture of me – And there were a few, it was so flattering – ASKED me first. That’s key. I never mind, and I always tried to thank the person for asking. It’s so important.


I put out a call on Facebook for pictures and stories and opinions on this issue. I received several responses! I’ll start with Kristi, one of my friends since childhood:

Bento - Katsucon 2014 Image Credit: Kristi Rae Britt

Bento – Katsucon 2014
Image Credit: Kristi Rae Britt

Pinkie Pie - Animazement 2012 Image Credit: Kristi Rae Britt

Pinkie Pie – Animazement 2012
Image Credit: Kristi Rae Britt

Pinkie Pie - Nekocon 2013 Image Credit: Kristi Rae Britt

Pinkie Pie – Nekocon 2013
Image Credit: Kristi Rae Britt

Vanellope - Possibly Otakon 2014 Image Credit: Kristi Rae Britt

Vanellope – Possibly Otakon 2014
Image Credit: Kristi Rae Britt

Kristi had this to say about cosplay:

“As for the topic, cosplay is an art form that can be enjoyed in many ways. Some people like to create exact replicas of costumes, some more inspiration-based. For me, I like to take characters and really mold them to fit my body type. I like to be creative in what I create and still have the essence of that character visible. Cosplay is for everyone, though there have been times I had to step away because of ridicule. I’ve always struggled with my weight and there were some who flat out told me I had no business dressing up because I was fat and unattractive. Even though I consider myself strong, those comments will cut into someone’s soul and even an art form they once loved would get tossed by the wayside. However, I still dabble from time to time and get a rush from creating something amazing.”

And her thoughts on consent:

“Being part of cosplay since my high school days, I have witnessed much at conventions especially through the years. People will snap a shot without permission and though some would consider that an innocent act it can turn into a hellfire. I’ve seen people appear on slander sites, their picture passed around with horrible strands of ridicule thrown about targeted at them. I’ve seen photos become a tool for sexual harassment and worse. And it’s not just photographs you have to worry about.

There were times where people would touch me and my friends inappropriately without consent and even with a push to tell others about the violations, it would be played off as just something that happens at conventions. From recent conventions I’ve gone to, the community seems to better handle such cases but all-in-all I don’t think we are where we need to be. I don’t care if they are in an outfit showing off a lot of skin. I don’t care if they are fully clothed. Man or woman, I do not care. Consent, in a convention setting and a setting in the world beyond, is key. If you have no consent, don’t do it. Don’t keep pressing buttons, don’t try and sneak it in later, just don’t do it. It only takes one time for someone to toss away something they love for fear of what could happen. Just be accepting, have some respect for everyone, and let’s all be geeks and nerds together without fear.”

Knowing Kristi for many years, reading that she has been harassed because of her struggles with weight made me fucking pissed. I get angry when people around me make snide, unwarranted comments about people who are heavy. I have several friends who continue to struggle with their weight, and it hurts me deeply. Ain’t nobody got time for that!


Our friend Justin has been to many conventions in the last several years, his favorite being Katsucon.

Ellis from Left 4 Dead 2 Image Credit: Justin Hunter Clatterbuck

Ellis from Left 4 Dead 2 (right).
Image Credit: Justin Hunter Clatterbuck

Hunter from Left 4 Dead 2, with L4D2 Boomer cosplayer. This was Justin's first-ever cosplay. Image Credit: Justin Hunter Clatterbuck

Hunter from Left 4 Dead 2 (left), with L4D2 Boomer cosplayer.
This was Justin’s first-ever cosplay.
Image Credit: Justin Hunter Clatterbuck

Maliwan Vault Hunter from Borderlands 2, Katsucon 2015. Image Credit: Justin Hunter Clatterbuck

Maliwan Vault Hunter from Borderlands 2, Katsucon 2015.
Image Credit: Justin Hunter Clatterbuck

His thoughts on cosplay and consent:

“Cosplay is something that should be enjoyed by everyone, and there are people who ruin that by trying to get their pics in when they are not allowed. Apparently no one told them ‘no’ or they don’t think it applies to them. I can’t stand people who try to sneak a pic in of a cosplayer, especially their crotch, chest, or butt, without their consent just because they want it. It’s rude, disrespectful, and just wrong. Cosplayers don’t mind if you want a picture. Just ask and be polite. Hell I’ve had people take many pics of me and they were all polite and asked me first. I try to extend the courtesy to them as well. No one wants to see their friend/spouse/girlfriend or boyfriend get harassed and then lose all spirit in cosplaying. It affects more than just that person, it can affect a group of others. When one person gets harassed, their friends may not want to come back to the convention either. We all have each others back, and people need to learn that. It’s 2015, you are all human beings, act civil, dammit.” 

Justin recently told me the story of what happened at Katsucon 2013. The convention center was hosting two conventions that weekend – Katsucon, and a religious leadership convention for young adults.

The kids attending the leadership convention were in absolute awe of Katsucon and all the activity, especially everyone in cosplay.

However, the adults were far less kind. These adults, put there that weekend to guide and lead these kids in the ways of their religion and better themselves, unfortunately started behaving badly. The adults violated multiple people of their privacy and made astounding comments to the cosplayers, many times in front of the children they were leading. Justin was horrified. When he told me, being a Christian woman, I was astounded.


“If you don’t wanna be stared at, stop dressing the way you do at conventions.”

That’s a quote that’s been seen many times, at different conventions.

Justin said, with complete sarcasm, “You know, it’s totally your fault that guys will come up and snap pics of your boobs and ass without your consent.”

FUCK NO!

Unfortunately, no matter how shitty that statement is true, some do think it’s true.


Here’s some other articles that are publicizing this fight:

All of these articles were either published in 2013 or 2014. This has been a problem for a long time, and I, for one, am very happy to see this fight.

Harassment is ILLEGAL.

Moreover, it’s WRONG.


Despite this negativity, I’m holding my head high. I loved going to Tidewater in May. I cannot wait for the next one. I plan to cosplay as Stargirl (Courtney Whitmore) next year.

I’m happy people are standing up and trying to fight harassment. Unfortunately, people will continue to say their thoughts and opinions, without a filter, and usually without using their brain.

However, I’m a geek and a nerd. I love conventions. I love cosplay. And no brainless, spineless comment will deter me.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Advertisements

Hot Topic #8: Slaves to Technology

Image Credit: bizgovsoc6.wordpress.com

Image Credit: bizgovsoc6.wordpress.com

“Pretty much 100% of people are texting while driving and they’re killing everyone with their cars. People are willing to risk taking a life and ruining their own because they don’t want to be alone for 5 seconds.”

~Louis C.K.


Technology is an integral part of our lives. At times, it seems like we’re constantly surrounded by it – and it’s hard to get away from it.

I’m completely guilty of this. But I’m trying to be better.

Case in point: I realized, after the fact, of course, of how rude it was to have my laptop while we had company over during the 4th of July weekend. I was listening to the conversation, but I felt terrible afterwards. I also noticed that I wasn’t the only one. The phones were put away, for the most part.


What boggles my mind, is people who don’t communicate by way of conversation anymore.

A few examples:

  • Al and I had lunch at a Mexican restaurant back in June. While we were there, having a wonderful face-to-face conversation, five guys came in and sat a booth across from us. The only time any one of them looked up from their phones was when a server came to address them. They all sat there, staring at their phones, the entire time. I couldn’t stop staring.
  • Our friends Justin and Drew were at a restaurant in Richmond a while back. Two guys sat at the table next to them, diagonal from each other. As soon as their waiter left, these guys pulled out their phones, not making any spoken conversation, no eye contact, nothing. When they were leaving, Justin turned to Drew and said, “Do you know what I saw in there? Slaves to Technology.”

I’ve heard other stories – Some more horrifying than people sitting in a restaurant, not making conversation. I’m talking about texting while driving, and other distractions.


When I Googled “slaves to technology” – This is what I found:

Granted, both of these articles were published in 2013. However, in those two short years, people all around you, day after day, have proved that this is still true!

I couldn’t find the link, but I remember reading an article a week or two ago, a first-hand account of a mom and her husband. The mom, who is a blogger, discovered that her iPad was having a problem one night. Instead of picking up the phone and dialing Apple’s customer support, she and her husband found themselves scrambling, looking for the closest Genius Bar in the closest Apple store to their house. They used all their tech in the house, desperate for a quick solution. Finally, if I remember correctly, after hours of panic, the iPad problem was actually fixable in less than five minutes, with a simple command.

She reflected on that night with horror and disdain – She and her husband were so focused on clamoring for a solution to fix their tech problem, that they forgot about the simple things. They could have left the iPad alone for the night and decided to wait until the next morning to fix it. But, she said that this insistence on fixing this instrument RIGHT THEN was further proof of their addiction to technology.


I found the Louis C.K. quote in one of the articles I mentioned earlier. It’s so true. We are afraid of being alone.

Granted, I am guilty of having sent texts in the car before. But now, I have my phones either in my purse in my backseat, or in my passenger seat where they’re out of my reach. I don’t text anymore, unless I’m at a complete stop at a stoplight, and that’s only when I respond to someone else’s text. I try really hard not to pick it up AT ALL while driving. The only people I will normally answer a call from in the car is Al, either one of my parents, or if my bosses are calling. My dad takes it a step further, he always asks me if I’m eating, drinking something, or driving. If I answer “yes” to any of those three, he’ll always say to call back when I’m safe.

I actually like the solitude of being alone in my car. Sure, traffic can be terrible on my drives to and from work, but that’s what the radio and CDs are for. I’ve learned so much from listening to NPR more frequently, for example. I’ve relished in hearing brand-new songs on the radio stations more than once. I’m also one of those people that drum on the steering wheel and bob my head when I hear a favorite song, while belting it out at the top of my lungs. Knowing that Al and I are getting married in less than four months (!!) and we do plan on having children down the road (no pun intended), I know that my days of solitude in my Camry are numbered.


For me, I try not to be bound to technology. Part of it is because I work on a computer for my job – It is a constant in my career. Sure, I enjoy having an iPhone. Sure, I enjoy having a laptop. I have a Nook tablet as well.

There are days where I leave work and go to Al’s, and I just do not want to stare at another fucking screen. We normally eat dinner in front of the TV, and there are times where I just look at my food or want to talk to Al, more than looking at another damn screen.

I do have diagnosed eye strain – It’s why I can’t wear my contact lenses to work anymore, I have to use my glasses. And when I do wear my contact lenses, I have to be very careful with my screen time. My eyes do actually go into overload mode when I look at too many screens, and subsequently, my brain gets overloaded too.

But, beyond the eye strain, I think my brain craves non-tech things, like writing and reading. I love that Al gave me the tablet for my birthday several years ago, but I can’t read books on it. I use it for games and fashion magazines mostly, plus having a really convenient, lightweight way to access Wi-Fi, rather than lugging my laptop around. However, books will always be ink and paper for me, always. And as much as I like typing and writing on the computer, I enjoy writing in cursive, and do that every chance I can get.

I love disconnecting from the world too. Last summer, I went on a mission trip to North Carolina with my church. I left my iPhone at home and went seven hours west to towns that had minimal cell service. For a full seven days! It was WONDERFUL!

And I plan to do that again when I’m on my honeymoon in November – And I can’t wait!


I leave you with an article, aptly titled How To Not Be A Slave To Technology.

As for me, this weekend, I plan to disconnect again. I plan to turn off my iPhone and leave it at home, and head up to Doswell to thoroughly enjoy Kings Dominion with Al and amazing friends Katie, Brian, Mike, Justin, and Heaven. SO FUCKING STOKED!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Getting Personal #14: Words

Image Credit: thedeconstruction.org

Image Credit: thedeconstruction.org

I’m on the team that runs the computer booth at my church. On Sundays, we run the computers and projectors, putting the order of worship, the scriptures, and the songs and hymns on a screen and the walls, big and bright and huge.

We have two services: an 8:30 service that is more modern and contemporary, and an 11:00 service which is more traditional.

I grew up going to Sunday School and the 11:00 service.

As a young adult, however, I feel more of a connection with the 8:30 service, especially the music.


On a recent Sunday when I was in the booth, the worship band at 8:30 played this one song, titled “Words” from the band Hawk Nelson.

Here’s an excerpt of the lyrics:

They’ve made me feel like a prisoner
They’ve made me feel set free
They’ve made me feel like a criminal
Made me feel like a king

They’ve lifted my heart
To places I’d never been
And they’ve dragged me down
Back to where I began

Words can build you up
Words can break you down
Start a fire in your heart or
Put it out

Let my words be life
Let my words be truth
I don’t wanna say a word
Unless it points the world back to You

You can heal the heartache
Speak over the fear
(Speak over the fear)
God, Your voice is the only thing
We need to hear
(We need to hear)

Let the words I say
(Let the words I say)
Be the sound of Your grace
(Sound like Your grace)
I don’t wanna say a word
Unless it points the world back to You

I wanna speak Your love
Not just another noise
Oh, I wanna be Your light
I wanna be Your voice

I don’t wanna say a word
Unless it points the world back to You


I realize the intended message is for us to speak God’s word, be his voice, etc.

For me, though, it’s more than that.

This song is empowering. It shows me that we should be a voice, not just for God, but for ourselves, for those around us. We shouldn’t be afraid to use the voice that God gave us!


Words are incredibly powerful.

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names/words will never harm me.”

WRONG!

As someone who was taunted and teased, particularly in elementary school, words can and do hurt.

Why do you think we have such a fucking terrible epidemic of bullying and bullying-related suicides?

I know the old saying is “Actions speak louder than words.”

Normally, typically, that is the case.

However, words are also significant.

What you say, sometimes, can make more of a difference.


I’m gonna put my foot in my mouth for a second. Remember, earlier, I said, “We shouldn’t be afraid to use the voice that God gave us!”

Well, that was me. For the longest time, in college especially, I felt afraid to use my voice. I was afraid to speak up and make myself known, particularly to John, who was exerting powerful control over me with his own words and actions.

I was afraid that I wouldn’t be heard, wouldn’t have listeners.

But, I think it goes back farther than college. I was raised to be respectful, to let others speak (a.k.a., “Laura Beth, be quiet so that someone else can have a turn to speak…” I can hear my mother’s voice constantly.)

Because of that, I felt embarrassed. I remember turning red on many occasions when Mom (and sometimes Dad) brought that up. Yes, I know I’m a Chatty Cathy. But using my voice was (is) a way to express myself.

I realize now that, even though my parents said that I could always come and talk to them, about anything, at any time, I didn’t do it a lot. Unless I was desperate or had a problem or was in trouble (and even then, it was absolutely terrifying to open my mouth and say something), I didn’t always feel comfortable talking to them.

I don’t want to raise my future children that way. Words are powerful, and they need to be expressed, and they need to be heard.


To me, the written word is just as powerful, if not more so, than the spoken word.

Because of a lot of encouragement and support, I’m blogging a lot more, more than I ever have. And I fucking love it. I get a bit of a rush, a bit of a high, whenever I get an idea – Whether it be something for a blog post, or a story idea, or maybe something that I could mold into a novel.

Journaling is also helping me with my journey through counseling and anxiety. It’s a release. I like to talk things out, but writing things down also helps, so much.


As I reflect on right now, on this Thursday, preparing for the end of this work week and for an amazing weekend getaway (More on that next week!), I’m so happy that I discovered a love for words at a very early age.

I still have the blue binder, covered in random stickers, that contains the short stories that I wrote from fifth grade up through high school. I want to eventually re-visit those and expand them, as I want to do with my fiction pieces from my college workshop and more current NaNoWriMo novels, but for now, I really enjoy re-reading them, and reflecting on how I got those ideas. How I spent hours at my desk, in the car, and even on the school bus, writing until either my left hand cramped up from holding the pen or I literally ran out of paper.

I’ll keep writing. I’ll keep blogging. I’ll keep journaling.

But, most of all, I’ll keep on keeping on, knowing that I have a powerful voice that should be heard.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Writing Wednesdays #22

Image Credit: The Writer's Circle Facebook Page

Image Credit: The Writer’s Circle Facebook Page

Happy Wednesday!


Anabelle sighed. She covered his hand with her right hand. “Bill, I’m sorry. It hurts me to see you upset. I’m just overwhelmed. I know you want to help, but I’m just not sure how you can help me.”

Bill looked at her. “Sweetheart, you can talk to me. I will literally help you in any way that I can. I can’t do your schoolwork for you, but I’ll keep you accountable. I’ll help you with a schedule. Besides, I want to help with this whole wedding thing of ours.”

He smiled, trying to meet her eyes. “After all, we’re marrying each other. It’s only fair that we plan it together, right?”

Anabelle nodded, lifting her head and finally looking him in the eyes. “You’re right, sweetie. I think I’ve been closing myself inward, ever since you proposed. I just thought I could do all of this by myself. But, now I know that I can’t do it all alone. I don’t want to do this alone. I want you by my side, every step of the way …”

Anabelle didn’t say anymore because Bill’s lips were on hers. She sank to the couch and they feverishly made out for a few minutes.

Once the last kiss ended, they couldn’t stop looking at each other. Bill secretly hoped that she would stay the night before heading back to Dolphin Resort – He just wanted to hold her all night long and tell her that everything would be okay.

After Thanksgiving, Christmas was well on its way. The six of them had agreed months earlier that they didn’t want to exchange the traditional gifts as they had in years past. This year was the beginning of Europe, and everyone wanted to squirrel away as much money as possible.

The one main money saver was everyone was living at home with their parents already, except for Lizzy – But that would change as soon as she left LT.

By the beginning of December, though, everyone was restless. Thanksgiving had not gone very smoothly across the board, mainly due to stress. Everyone was stressed about money, primarily, but there were other factors as well. Anabelle and Bill had their wedding, Bethany was worried about her future engagement ring and wedding, Will was agonizing over how to propose to Bethany, and Lizzy and Hunter were figuring out how to deal with Lizzy’s impending final exams.

But, just days earlier, a relief mission had begun to take shape.

Over the Thanksgiving meal, Will and Bethany had been passing a scrawled note on a napkin back and forth. They felt like kids, but no one else at the table knew anything about Europe, and it needed to stay that way.

Will started it off. “I think we need to consider a joint bank account.”

Bethany was confused, but excited. “Are you proposing to me?”

Will shook his head and feverishly wrote, “Not yet! Haha. What I meant was to set one up for the six of us, to save for Europe. It doesn’t do us any good to have six separate buckets for the same adventure, right?”

Bethany nodded. “Of course. Sorry that I jumped to conclusions! I think it’s a great idea. But, what will the group think?”

Will considered that before writing his response. “Not sure, honestly. I think the best way is to ask them. Let’s call another face-to-face meeting, after Lizzy’s exams. Deal?”

Bethany nodded, but this time with a smile. “I think that’s the perfect way to handle it. We’re all mondo stressed out right now, and I think that will help. You got it, dude!”

True to their word, the FlixenFlaxen lit up with Bethany and Will’s profile pictures after the big meal but before dessert.

Hey guys! Happy Thanksgiving – Although we’re pretty sure it wasn’t the happiest for everyone. We know it’s become much more stressful since last we met. We have an idea, but we want to meet face-to-face again before sharing. Lizzy, when’s your last final exam?

Lizzy’s phone buzzed in her pocket. She knew she shouldn’t look at it at the table, so she excused herself to the restroom.

The corners of her mouth turned upward as she read the most recent message. Seeing the words last final exam were exhilarating.

She could barely keep up with herself, her fingers were flying so fast on the keypad:

New ideas are great – I’m so in. I’ve been dreaming about Europe as a means of escape recently, and it’s really been helping alleviate the stress. My very last final exam, EVER, is scheduled for Thursday, December 11th. Is everyone available to meet up that weekend? I’ll be moving back home between Thursday and Friday, and I’ll need a break from that by Saturday. Let me know – Hopefully it will work out!

Lizzy crossed her fingers after tapping Send. The waiting game had begun.

Happy Thanksgiving! Bill and I had a slight disagreement earlier today, but we’re okay now. We definitely want to meet up again. As of right know, we’re good to meet on Saturday the 13th. Hoping everyone else can make it! Can’t wait to see y’all again soon.

Bethany and Will pulled out their phones and scrolled through the calendar. They both sighed with relief – Will’s company Christmas party was the first weekend in December.

Good news! Bethany and I can make it on the 13th. Woohoo! We’re excited to meet up again, and so soon. Enjoy the rest of the weekend – I’m sure we’ll talk again shortly.

Even though everyone was separated at that moment, the six of them all had smiles on their faces. Nothing could bring them down.

The next day, the FlixenFlaxen was buzzing again.

Uh, sorry guys. Bad news. This is Bill, by the way. Since I’ve requested off work so many Saturdays in the last few months, I’m required to work the 13th and 20th of December. I’m so bummed about this! Is there anything we can do?

Bethany frowned, tapping the corner of her phone against her teeth. Will looked at her quizzically, until Bethany showed him the message.

Will extended his hand, and Bethany gave him her iPhone. After a few moments of contemplation, he started to tap on the screen.

B&W here! Bummer, Bill. Sorry about that! No worries though. We can do a Sunday if need be. In fact, why don’t we turn it into another sleepover? Only this time it’s pushed back a little bit – Start it on Saturday night after you get off work and then go into most of Sunday. We have some vacation built up as well, so we can go into Monday if we want. Just let us know – We’re flexible.

Bill smiled. But Hunter frowned.

Hey, it’s Hunter. Saturday into Sunday works, but I have to work on Mondays. Sorry!

Will and Bethany sighed. This clearly wasn’t working. They could feel the anxiety rising. Could a compromise be reached?

Suddenly, Lizzy finally felt like she had the answer.

Lizzy here. I know everyone must be really frustrated by now. So – What if we do, like, a Skype session? I know it’s definitely not the same as everyone being together in one room, but at least we’re all communicating and seeing each other’s faces while doing so …

Everyone considered Lizzy’s proposition. They’d never tried Skype before. It worked for other people, all over the world. Heck, Will and Bethany had used it several times when they first started dating, when Bethany was still a student at LT. It wasn’t the same as being all together, but it sounded like a good idea, on paper.

Everyone mulled over it. It was different, and honestly, no one was too keen on it. But, if they couldn’t meet up face-to-face again until after New Year’s, something had to give. They needed another meeting to settle the period in between, and this suggestion may be their ticket.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Adventure Time: Hampton Roads, VA Edition (Lyndsey Visits)

Image Credit: amazingquot.blogspot.com

Image Credit: amazingquot.blogspot.com

Lyndsey came to visit this weekend. She and I talk on the phone regularly, we try to talk at least once a month; but we haven’t seen each other since May 2014.


On Friday, Lyndsey arrived around 7:00. My mom made delicious pork kebabs with pineapple and peppers, yummy! We all shared stories and laughs for a good while, before Al, Lyndsey, and I left for Norfolk. Nick’s band, Without Lines, was headlining a show at Belmont House of Smoke.

Before heading to Norfolk, we dropped by Al’s house for him to get his camera and earplugs for Lyndsey. As we drove near the house, several neighbors were outside. There was a mama black bear and her three cubs, high up in a pine tree!

Bad Weather Birds played first – They were pretty good. All three of us had earplugs in, which was a good thing, considering we were sitting next to one of the speakers! Their cover of “Don’t You Forget About Me” was awesome!

Then, Without Lines took the stage and proceeded to rock out!

Check out the photos below:

Bad Weather Birds

Bad Weather Birds – Brent, John, Joe, and Padric.

Without Lines

Without Lines – Left to right: Dani, Nick, Dan, and John.

We didn’t get home until close to 1:30 a.m., but it was totally worth it.


On Saturday, we all slept in. It was wonderful!

Around noon, Lyndsey and I went to get lunch for the three of us at Zaxby’s. Yum!

At Al’s, we watched Penguins of Madagascar. It was cute 🙂

After lunch, we made a decision on seeing a movie. Earlier last week, Lyndsey had said she was interested in seeing either Spy or Ted 2.

It was such a funny movie! Melissa McCarthy was a great choice. It was a good story too. We all laughed our asses off! All three of us would highly recommend it.

After the movie, we headed back toward Al’s. We stopped at Gianna’s Pizzeria on the way and picked up a white pizza and garlic knots. My car still smells amazing!

We ate dinner, and then Al and I introduced Lyndsey to Munchkin. So much fun 🙂


On Sunday, I got up early and got ready for church. Lyndsey and I enjoyed breakfast, before heading off to church. Yesterday was our new senior pastor’s first official Sunday. The church was almost full, which was a very pleasant sight to see. Pastor Randy gave a great message on prayer.

After the service, there was a “Welcome Home” brunch for Pastor Randy and his family. Pastor Randy is married to Robin, and they have three sons, Robbie, Ricky, and Ryan.

The food was delicious, and there was lively piano music from one of our talented women. Then there was a short set of welcome to the Duncans. Then the whole Duncan family stood around the piano and serenaded everyone with a beautiful song, “He Touched Me.” They all have great voices!


Lyndsey, Laura Beth, and Al :)

Lyndsey, Laura Beth, and Al 🙂

Lyndsey and I went back to my house, where we proceeded to talk and reminisce for several more hours. Finally, after 5:00, I directed Lyndsey to BJ’s so she could get the cheapest gas possible, and then she left for home. She had a safe trip and texted me last night to say she had gotten home safe.

This was such an awesome weekend!

Definitely not waiting another year to get together.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Book Review #8: “Tornado Warning: A Memoir of Teen Dating Violence and Its Effect on a Woman’s Life”

“This book is dedicated to the countless individuals who have suffered at the hands of a loved one; may you find peace and healing in your journey and know that your life has meaning and purpose. Every human being and living creature deserves a life free from torment of any kind; there is no excuse for abuse.”

~Elin Stebbins Waldal


This is now the second time I’ve read this book.

This book was displayed on one of my local library’s shelves, several years ago. The title stuck out to me immediately. I felt compelled to pick it up and read it.

Then I remembered this book again a couple months ago. I remembered it was called “Tornado Warning” and I remembered there was a brightly-colored flower on the cover.

I decided, right then and there, to buy it.

When I received it in the mail, I was pleasantly surprised to learn my copy had been signed by the author.

“Love begins inside …”

Love (using a drawn heart), Elin


Today, July 17th, is the five-year anniversary of my freedom, my emancipation.

Like Elin, I was fortunate to get out of my abusive relationship, alive.

For me, it took four years, and 16 days.

Re-reading this book, several years apart, was striking for me. The book was published in 2011, so I’m fairly certain the first time I read it was either in 2011 or 2012.

No matter how much time passed, my feelings were exactly the same.


I drew so many comparisons between Elin and myself. I saw so many similarities between her abusive boyfriend, Derrick, and mine, John. We both met these guys when we were 17. (I turned 18 a month after John and I started dating.)

Even Elin’s writing style is similar to mine.

It’s a brief memoir, less than 200 pages, but those pages speak volumes. It envelopes you in Elin’s world, from age 17, to the present day with her husband Jimmy and her children, to her childhood, and back again. It’s a fascinating, yet frightening tale.

I’m a visual reader. I can tell I’m reading a good book when I can put the book down, or look up for a few moments, and see the scene I was just reading in front of me, like watching a movie.

The scenes she painted, they were absolutely horrific.

I could almost hear the yelling, the screaming.

I cried several times. I had to put the book down several times and reach for something comforting to hold for a while. If I read for a while before bed, I could close my eyes and visualize the last scene I had read, with a chill crossing my skin every time.


A girl, apparently from Connecticut, according to the address label affixed to the inside cover, highlighted several passages of the book.

One of Elin’s journal entries had this highlighted:

“… I know what he can be and is capable of so I almost always feel on guard. It’s hard to just relax and trust him. It’s all so weird.”

That was me, to a T.


John hit me twice in the week that I broke up with him, that fateful week in mid-July 2010. That was it.

For Elin, however, her physical abuse was far worse. I could see it. I could almost feel it, feel what Derrick was doing to her. I had goosebumps almost the entire time I read, and re-read, this book.

However, Elin and I both suffered immense emotional and mental abuse. It was absolutely chilling to read her story. I feel fortunate that I didn’t suffer as much physical abuse as Elin did, but, to be honest, the emotional and mental abuse was worse. The two hits that John delivered on that Monday and Wednesday just solidified my beliefs that I was not happy, that this was not right, and that I finally had enough courage to speak up, say something, and leave.


This book brought a lot of flashbacks to my abuse that I endured. John and I dated from July 1, 2006 through July 17, 2010. The first year, and part of the second year, were great. I would say they were almost perfect. John swept me off my feet. He romanced me. I thought he truly loved me.

From my experiences: College changes people. Usually, it changes for the better, but college can change people in the worst ways as well.

If you and your boyfriend/girlfriend from high school go to the same college together, take it from me, you’re taking a big risk.

And this doesn’t just apply to romantic relationships. Friendships are affected. Families change.

Abuse manifests itself in so many ugly, horrendous forms.

For me, it took years for me to see the light. Even though EVERYONE around me saw right through it, years before. I finally realized, at some point in 2010, that I was not the same Laura Beth. I wanted to change.

The key with abusive relationships is that YOU have recognize that you’re being abused. No one else can convince you otherwise.


The only complaint I had with Elin’s book is with the structure. Her intentions were good to intersperse her personal journal entries with the memoir, but it was difficult to follow at times. It got confusing. It felt a little forced. It felt out of place at certain points.

Other than that, I’m so grateful I bought this book. This book is symbolic of my experiences, the journey that I was on from 2006 through 2010.

This will sit on my bookshelf forever. I plan to share this book with my children, when the time is right. Elin has done that with her children, and I look forward to the days when I share my stories with my children, trying to help them understand that any kind of abuse is wrong.

I believe everyone should read this book.

5 out of 5 stars.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Writing Wednesdays #21

Image Credit: Facebook

Image Credit: Facebook

Welcome back! Happy Wednesday!


“What’s wrong, baby?”

Bethany looked up, startled. She softened as Will glanced at her, flecks of concern and worry in his beautiful brown eyes. She hated to see him worry, but she also wanted to be honest with him.

“I’m not quite sure, to be completely honest. I’m euphoric that this weekend went so well. I know we were so worried, and everything went as smoothly as it could be …”

Frustrated, she held the journal between her knees as she ran her fingers through her chest-length hair. The tangles from the blustery day didn’t help matters.

“Ouch! I need to find my brush …,” she muttered. She forgot about the journal and went for her purse. She thought that getting the tangles out would help.

“Baby, talk to me. I can tell something’s wrong – You can’t deny it. You were so happy all weekend long. Something’s changed since we got in the car, and I just want to help.”

Bethany stopped hacking at her hair long enough to process what Will had just said. She was so incredibly grateful for Will. It seemed like he always had the right thing to say, the words just floated to her ears and made things right with the world. Today, though, his words offered little comfort.

“I think I’m running the gambit of emotions, at least right now. I hate it whenever we have to part ways. I’m far less worried than I was – Everything is going great. But, I’m afraid that won’t long. Remember how you said that you had that feeling …”

In her peripheral vision, she saw him shake his head, and that cut her off. He knew that move irritated her to no end, but he also knew that gesture made her stop, think, and maybe even listen. Every single time.

“I didn’t mean to cut you off, first of all. But, B, that feeling I had last weekend was just that – A feeling. And it turned out to be needless. I think we just insert worry into our lives sometimes, and for the most part, it doesn’t do us a bit of good.”

Bethany sighed. “I know. But we’re supposed to trust our instincts, right?”

Will nodded. “Of course. That’s part of who we are. However, sometimes our feelings and our hearts take over. We’ve both seen that and felt it happen countless times. Like when I kissed you on the boardwalk on our first date – Was that instinct? A feeling? Well, it was both – Sort of.”

Bethany nodded, so Will continued, “Sometimes, we just need to cast aside the trusting part and just go with the flow. I know it’s hard – I struggle with it too, believe it or not. We all worry too much, it has its place in life in general. We’re all stressed out about multiple things, even if we don’t show it outright. Guys have an easier time masking their feelings, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t have them or show them.”

Will sighed and took a breath. There were a few moments of silence, but it wasn’t awkward or uncomfortable. Both of them were processing what had been said, and they were internally strategizing about what to say or do next.

As Will came to a red light, they turned their heads to meet each other. They had this tradition of kissing at every red light that they could, and it usually helped transition into the next topic or point.

When the light turned green, they both opened their mouths to say something, but just as quickly closed them. Almost communicating via ESP, they just sat in silence for a long while, letting everything wash over them like the ocean waves. It was calming.

However, it was anything but calm with the other two pairs. The weekend had been better than expected, but once everyone had parted ways earlier in the afternoon, the positivity broke down quickly.

Anabelle and Bill were trying desperately to stay calm. This whole adventure thing, along with planning their wedding was immensely stressful. They took comfort in that the wedding was happening first and then the European adventure would follow later on down the road, but it didn’t help much. They were trying to be objective and realistic.

On top of everything else, they were super-tired of the long-distance relationship. They wanted nothing more than to move in together as soon as possible, but it just wasn’t practical at that moment. Bill knew he needed to save as much money as he could while still under his mom’s roof. And Anabelle knew she needed to find some sort of employment now, in order to earn a living. She hadn’t had any luck thus far in her search. She was a little jealous that Bill had gotten a cushy position in his field. She was happy for him, no doubt, but it wasn’t any less frustrating.

They were also stressed about where to live. Bill liked his job in Richland, especially since it was finally in his field that he studied. Anabelle knew that her job prospects would definitely improve after she received her online graduate degree, but she really needed to find some sort of job now, something that would ideally transfer her to Richland. She wasn’t picky about where she wanted to work – Even something part-time would help. But she too was trying to save as much money as possible. She was currently living with her mom, close to the Dolphin Resort district. She didn’t want to give that up just yet, but she also wanted to be closer to Bill. So, she secretly began applying to jobs in and around Dolphin Resort, as well as Richland. The money coming in would certainly improve their situation – Wouldn’t it?

Luckily, Hunter and Lisanna were calmer than Bill and Anabelle at the present moment. Things had settled down to minor anxiety attacks and slight waves of stress for Lizzy – For now, anyway. She was focusing on Hunter’s visits right now. She knew finals were bearing down on her, but she couldn’t think about that, or wanted to. She wanted to spend as much with Hunter as she could, which was a complete 180 from that Friday that she desperately wanted to be alone. Now, she couldn’t get enough of him, and they suited the both of them just fine.

Despite the instability of emotions and feelings among the three couples, the weekend at LT had done a world of good. A concrete plan was beginning to formulate. They had even started to discuss dates and a few travel arrangements and connections. Bethany’s family had extensive frequent flier miles that would help offset some of the cost of flying over to England. There was one big question that hung over everyone’s heads, however – Was this adventure just a temporary escape from reality, or would it become more permanent?

As Thanksgiving approached like a barreling freight train, the stress only increased. The tension between the couples was taught, threatening to snap into chaos at any given moment. Holidays were, by nature, stressful. So everyone tried their best to relax and be with their families. Unfortunately, no holiday gathering ever goes as smoothly as everyone hopes it will.

The first snap happened with Bill and Anabelle. For the first time in the history of their relationship, they were able to celebrate Thanksgiving together. It sounded great on paper, but both of them were secretly dreading it. The three workdays leading up to Thanksgiving were immensely slow at Bill’s work, so he was sent home early Monday through Wednesday. He wasn’t salaried yet, and wouldn’t be until after the New Year, so he lost a good chunk of wages. He was grumpy and not excited about being stuck with family, when he could be working to make up for the lost pay. He was thrilled to see Anabelle and actually spend a holiday with her for once, but she did not share the same sentiment.

Like Lisanna, Anabelle had basically hit a brick wall with her classes. She enjoyed the fact that the program was exclusively online, and all the materials she needed were the textbooks and her laptop. It was portable for her, which had allowed her to travel quite extensively to see her dad’s family and other relatives. However, she was losing faith that she would graduate on time, and the last thing she wanted was for school to hinder her job search, finding employment, and planning the wedding.

Anabelle and Drew rarely fought, but when an argument did simmer to the surface, it got ugly, and quickly. The Thanksgiving gathering at Bill’s house felt like a pressure cooker. Finally, just before the meal began, it all exploded.

“Look, I’m just super stressed out right now! And that’s all!”

Anabelle was struggling to keep her voice and emotions in check, and she was losing the battle.

“Honey, I just want to help you. I want to take it all away,” Bill pleaded with her. He was trying to get her to sit down. If she kept pacing, he was afraid she’d fall through the living room floor.

“Well, you can’t take it away. I wish I had a magic wand and was able to say ‘Poof!’ and everything would vanish into thin air.” Anabelle’s voice was reaching higher levels by the minute.

Bill finally got ahold of her left hand. He brushed his fingers over her engagement ring.

“Anabelle, I love you. I certainly don’t want to fight with you. Especially not now – It’s Thanksgiving, for crying out loud. We’re here together, for the first time in SEVEN YEARS! This is the one day where you can legitimately forget about the stress.”


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂