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Author Archives: Miranda Kramer

Don’t Threaten Me With A Good Time

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Last night was the Fourth of July.

I can’t even begin to describe how I felt about the celebration. Walking out of the little restaurant by the Veterans’ Memorial Bridge in Lewiston, I was in complete awe of the number of people that had gathered. Hundreds and hundreds of them filled the streets, all there to watch as vibrant color exploded across the sky.

Believe in a New Day

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Recently, I was given an assignment for which I had to write about what I believed in. Being honest, it took me a while to really pinpoint what that was. My life is centered around my pursuit of happiness, but I wanted to go deeper. So, rather than tell about the road to self content on which I’m travelling, I wrote about the very beginning, and what gives me the courage every day to continue with the journey.

It’s Not Your Fault

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Disclaimer: The entries in this post are fictional.

Dear Diary,

I had to call in sick today for the second time this week. I don’t think my concealer will hide the newest bruises that now adorn my neck. It’s my fault, really. I know better than to leave dishes in the sink. Last night had been the worst by far; I’d never seen Roger so enraged before, if you could even call it that. The way he clenched that knife had me questioning how far he’d really go.

Of course, I know that Roger would never hurt me on purpose. He just shows his love for me differently than what people are used to. At least, that’s what I told my sister when she saw my black eye last month. She didn’t understand; but that’s only because she doesn’t know Roger like I do. He really is a loving man, one I’ve been head over heels for ever since we met that day in the coffee shop. It was like something you’d read in a fairytale, with the subtle glances from across the room and the way time seemed to stop when we locked eyes. He made me feel like a princess. But lately, it’s like our dream romance is beginning to feel like a nightmare.

This is the diary entry of a normal woman. Let’s call her Margaret. Margaret is your average romantic. She enjoys long walks on the beach and kissing in the rain. When she met her Roger, it was a dream come true. He was so sweet to her, always buying her chocolates and bringing home flowers. They were in love, the kind of love that makes you blind to the world around you. Margaret and Roger were the happiest a couple could be. However, that feeling didn’t last too long.

The first abuse had been a couple of months after their honeymoon had ended, and they’d been together for almost a year. Their love was still going strong, but the happiness had started to fade. It all started one Tuesday night. Margaret was home cooking dinner, when Roger came slamming through the front door, rattling the whole house. He’d had the most awful day at work. Roger was infuriated, swearing the world was out to get him. So when Margaret accidentally burnt his chicken dinner, his fuse went off. He slammed his hands down on the dining table, cursing at his wife, telling her that she was incompetent and stupid. Margaret had never seen him like this before and tried to comfort him, saying she was sorry and that she would make him a new dinner. This only angered him further. He saw her as weak, cringing every time he let another curse fly from his tongue. When Margaret tried again to soothe her enraged husband, like a whip, his hand struck out, hitting her cheek in a flash of pain. She drew back, completely startled, holding her own palm to her throbbing face. That’s when the first tear dropped. That’s when the pain began. That’s when she became a victim of domestic violence.

If this were a book, when Roger came through the door would’ve been the moment that the readers started screaming for Margaret to run. Or, when he started cursing her out. Or, when he hit her. All of these moments would have been perfect for her to leave. These are all strong warning signs of domestic abuse. According to domesticviolence.org, domestic abuse, or violence, is an intentional act that one person uses in a relationship to control the other. This abuse does not have to be physical; it can be emotional, sexual, or psychological. Anyone can be a victim of domestic abuse, and anyone can be an abuser. Like Margaret and Roger, the relationship can be perfect at the beginning, a fairytale, but then suddenly change for the worst. I’m not saying that you should give up trying to find “the one”, but just be cautious if your significant other starts acting a little strange and showing the above mentioned warning signs.

It is also important to know that if you are a victim of domestic violence, you are not to blame. It is never the victim’s fault, although it’s common for the abuser to make them think so. Domestic violence is not an accident, so don’t make excuses for the abuse. They might say that they’re doing it out of love, but trust me, if that were really true, they would be giving you kisses instead of bruises.

Fa La La Family

Miranda Kramer No Comments

Although the radios have been playing those classic Christmas tunes since Thanksgiving, I wasn’t prepared this year for the festivities to begin. Usually, this time of year is my favorite, but this year I just wasn’t feeling the holiday spirit. Maybe it was the inevitable gloom that always hangs in the air when it’s nearing the day when the year is scheduled to end. Maybe the fact that I had none of my Christmas shopping done was the reason I wasn’t in the holiday mood. Anyways, now that the ever-loved day has come and passed, I have finally realized why I wasn’t so cheery this year. I didn’t fully understand the meaning of Christmas until I realized it was so much more than receiving gifts.

When I was younger, Christmas meant presents and excitement. The whole month of December was about preparing for the morning in which my brother would run across the hall to my bedroom and wake me up. From there, we’d rush downstairs, careful not to peek in the living room where our unopened gifts awaited, and spend the next ten minutes trying to get our parents on their feet. Then came the agonizing period of time where my brother and I, barely able to contain ourselves, would complain about the rule that said my parents had to have their coffee before the fun began. When we were finally allowed to explore under the tree, there was no hesitation in my brother and I as we tore through all of the wrapping. Once all of the toys were opened and A Christmas Story had played at least three times, it was then that waters began to calm. We would all go off in our separate directions, eager to play with our new treasures. That was my Christmas back then. Of course I won’t forget to mention the other traditions such as putting our fake tree together, struggling to reach the top for placing the angel, and secretly sneaking downstairs in the middle of the night to steal some of Santa’s cookies. All of these memories hold a very special place in my heart. These were the few days in the year where all of the drama faded away, and the light of seasons’ greetings took place.

However, as time has passed, I’ve come to appreciate these holidays for something more. No longer do I dwell on receiving more gifts. The anticipation of material items has been replaced with the joy of spending time with the ones I hold dearest. I’ve also learned that one’s family doesn’t always mean blood. While my brother was off in Colorado, exploring his newfound adulthood, I had begun to think it would be an uneventful Christmas, spent with only my parents. This was not the case. Instead of a lonely holiday with my parents, we spent the day with our closest friends, some that have started to become more of a second family. The fact that we did not share blood with the people we were celebrating this sacred holiday with did not matter. There were so many laughs shared around the table as we ate our hearts out, telling stories from past memories. There was dancing and singing; you could feel the love in the air. It was a beautiful sight, family and friends combined, everyone enjoying themselves as the evening faded and the Christmas festivities came to an end. When I got home that night, I couldn’t stop smiling, replaying the fun from the past couple of hours. This, I thought to myself, this is what family feels like. This is what the holidays are all about.

Little Do You Know About Autism

Miranda Kramer No Comments

Catlaina Vrana is the name of a girl I met at my high school.

When I first met her, Cat had a very unusual bracelet on her wrist.

I asked her where she got it, purely out of curiosity.

Turns out, that bracelet was for autism identification.

Imagine my surprise.

It hadn’t even crossed my mind that this stranger in front of me might be autistic. However, I believe that to be a good thing. I didn’t judge a book by its cover and with that, bloomed an opportunity to make a new friend. Plus, Catlaina, or Cat, agreed to let me interview her for this piece, as over the following weeks, we became close schoolmates.

Catlaina Vrana is a 17 year old senior from a small town in Kansas. She was born with autistic disorder, or classic autism. Cat begins by telling me that autism is different for everyone because the spectrum is very wide. One of the biggest side effects of autism disorder is having sensory issues. For example, when Cat goes into a crowded place such as Walmart, because her brain doesn’t know how to separate everything, it can be very overwhelming. She can see all the lights flickering and hear everyone talking all at once. To help control all of this chaos, Cat has her own pair of noise cancelling headphones. Recently, she decorated them with rainbow colors and sparkly star stickers. See, Cat is very creative. She told me that every autistic person has a “special interest”, something they’ve been studying for a very long time. For her, it’s art. Let me be the first of many to tell you that Cat is very talented when it comes to drawing and capturing beauty with her various mediums. In fact, she gave me the chance to see her illustrations for her new book.

As a senior, Catlaina had to decide what she wanted to do for her final project; it had to be something that would captivate her audience and showcase purpose, education, and of course, her talent with a pencil. She choose her project subject to be writing and illustrating her own book called Ella Autie, about a young girl with autism. Cat thought this was a great idea because a while ago when she went to the Auburn Library to check out books about autism or autism spectrum disorders, she couldn’t find any proper stories.. “They were not very good,” remarked Cat. “The part that really bothered me is the part about our representation. [First of all], the majority of the books were written by non-autistic people, or neurotypicals. [Second], the autistic character was [almost always] a boy, which is [reasonable because] boys are more likely to have autism than girls, but that meant there wasn’t much ‘Girl Power’ being showcased. [Third of all], the behaviors [of the autistic characters] were never explained. Yes, we see that Johnny flaps his hands, but nowhere in the story does it say why Johnny flaps his hands.” (Side note: Actions such as flapping of the hands and rocking back and forth are called stimming. According to Wikipedia, stimming is the repetition of physical movements, sounds, or repetitive movement of objects common in individuals with developmental disabilities, but most prevalent in people with autistic spectrum disorders.) Now, because of Cat, there is a book about autism out there, written by an autistic person; and Ella, the main character, actually explains everything, especially stimming, throughout the story. Although, Ella isn’t alone. A friend, Sarah, joins in on the adventure by learning about autism and exploring it alongside Ella. This is what makes the story so realistic. Sarah doesn’t bully Ella, she just doesn’t understand autism.

When I asked Cat about bullying and how people treat her because she’s autistic, she told me that as she got into high school, sarcasm and silly metaphors became more widespread, and as she got older, the more she realized that she needed a sense of humor in order to make friends. Fortunately, Cat is a very light-hearted, fun-loving person and has come to be a very good friend of mine since I first met her. I’ve also learned a lot since I first met her. For example, the difference between saying “has autism” and “is autistic”. When you’re talking about someone and you say “So and So has autism”, it sounds as if that person has a disease. Cat was telling about how often autism is compared to certain diseases such as cancer, diabetes, AIDS, etc. It’s not a disease. Cat was born autistic. It’s in her genetics. It’s a whole different thing. It’s so perverted to think that you could cure her of something that IS her, as if autism were some kind of sickness. Cat says “it’s like ripping apart [a piece] of your soul”.

Lyrics Soothe the Soul

Miranda Kramer No Comments

“Do you ever feel like a plastic bag,

drifting through the wind, wanting to start again?

Do you ever feel, feel so paper thin

like a house of cards, one blow from caving in?”

Firework by Katy Perry has always been one of my favorites. I could never stop myself from jamming out to the kicking beat when it came on the radio. Yet, only recently have I really dug deep into the heart of the song, passed all of the rhythms and melodies, to where the true meaning lies.

Simply glancing at Katy Perry’s Firework makes the listener think of parties or a good time. The beat makes you want to try out all of your new moves, rock along with the sound, but a second look brings you to a whole new perspective. The pop song Firework is about being proud of who you are and screaming it out loud for the whole world to hear. Life can be very difficult at times, with stereotypes and status quo pressuring us to be someone we’re not; but this particular song urges the listener to forget about all of it: the social status, popularity, others’ judgement, etc.

“Cause, baby, you’re a firework

Come on, show ’em what you’re worth

Baby, you’re a firework

Come on, let your colours burst

You don’t have to feel like a wasted space

You’re original, cannot be replaced”

As you can see, Katy Perry’s lyrics are meant to be much more than a good dance beat. Like many other songwriters/singers, Katy wrote this song with a message for all of the listeners, something for us to think about, something that would hopefully inspire the audience. Lyrics are important because they give a song its purpose, its meaning. Although, sometimes the meaning can not be found in the individual words, but the overall story.

When broken down, lyrics of a song are simply poetry, and according to Merriam Webster Dictionary, the word “lyric” is defined as: “a poem that expresses deep personal feelings in a way that is like a song”. A songwriter/singer will pour out their heart and soul in their words when telling a story via music. Love, pain, grief, happiness, and everything in between can contribute to the power behind the song’s meaning. They want the listener to hear them, and understand the message. The writer tells a story with the hopes that we will be able to relate to it. We might portray the meaning as something else, but regardless, we connect.

For example, one of my most favorite songs is Reason by Hoobastank and although it’s mostly about love, I don’t always make that connection. I might be having trouble with school or friends, and I will listen to this song and instantly feel better. It’s true, the words don’t relate to what I’m dealing with, but the feelings I get from the singer’s story is what really helps me.

Music is like medicine for me. Whenever I’m having problems with my friends, school, or just having a bad day in general, I always turn to my music. It’s a great outlet for me, and it really helps me calm my stress. Reality can become too much to bare sometimes and when I need a break, I find the sweet sound of another’s story is a great distraction. Plus, connecting with a song and meaning can be very soothing. When I need to think things over in my life, I listen to serious, slow music; and when I need cheering up, I jam out to my party playlist, with songs such as Firework. All in all, I think if it weren’t for music and their lyrics being there for me when times get tough, I might have gone crazy.

And Next Comes Life

Miranda Kramer No Comments

High School. It’s either the best four years of your life or the worst. Either way, your attendance is definitely important. The way you act in high school truly determines where your future is headed. It’s where you figure out your what you’re going to do when it all ends.

We’ve all questioned why we continue to put in the effort every day for what we like to think of as torture. We all ask ourselves, why does any of it matter? When I’m old and in a nursing home, who’s going to care if I know the square root of 47, or if I can name all the parts of a human cell? The answer is, nobody; not even the kind lady that delivers my pudding. So, if nobody cares, what’s the point of high school? I’m no expert, because as a freshman, I just got here, but I know that high school is the first step into discovering who you are and what your purpose here on Earth is.

For the most part, I have a good idea of where I’m headed after my four years. I know that college is in my future, and that English will be my major. My dream job is to be an author or editor; but, that all could change. I could look further into my love for animals and decide that I want to become a Veterinarian.  Or, I could put aside my disdain for running and join the military, Who knows? The world is a wonderful place, full of so many opportunities, and believe it or not, but high school offers a lot of good ones that will play a big part in how we figure out our “plan”.  The plan is our career, our family, our college, our service. It’s what we choose to do with ourselves after high school; that’s one of the main reasons we attend. It might be hard remembering that when you’re staying up all night cramming for a test, and then having to wake up 5 hours later to do it all again, but in the end, it’s all worth it. High school is vital to your future because it prepares you for the adult world. You might think that there’s no point, but in modern day, it’s next to impossible to get a decent job, with good income, without a high school diploma. When you’re working as a CEO at a big company, compared to some fast food restaurant, you’ll be thankful for all those years of Algebra you choked down.

I know that the majority of high school students aren’t interested in a career that involves senior math or AP English, and you might not need any of it in your field of choice, but apart from all the homework and evaluations, high school is supposed to be the best time of your life. It’s the place where you look back and laugh and cry and remember all the good times. You think back to all the pressure and stress that you had to suffer through, and you still can’t believe that you survived. Would you go back? Probably not. But, you can’t help admitting that there were some memorable moments, involving some great friends, some wild parties, some crazy romances, and some things that you wish could last forever. It’s true, I think you’re all happy to be out, but there is no way that you’ll ever forget those amazing four year; and in the end, the point to high school is to make your own adventure, and seeing as that adventure soon turns into life, I would start taking notes.

Maybe It’s Me

Miranda Kramer No Comments

(This is a work of fiction.  Kind of a vent-story thing.  Hope you enjoy it!)

        “I personally think that if you are as attractive as Andy Sixx, you should have to be President.  Just an opinion.”  My best friend Jake stated.  I laughed.

     “I suppose you’re right; He is gorgeous.”  I shifted my heavy bag from one shoulder to the other.  I hated not having a car.  Walking home seriously sucked.  

    “Here.  Give me your bag.  I know your shoulder is still screwed up.”  Jake said.  I grimaced.  My dad and I had gotten into a fight the night before. Well, he’d fought.  I had just tried not to die.  He knocked me into the wall and bruised my shoulder really bad.

   “Nah, Jake, I’m good.  Don’t sweat it.”  He stopped directly in front of me.  I tried going around him, but he moved right back in front of me again.  

   “Jinxx.  I’m serious.”  He held out his hand expectantly.  I knew he wouldn’t move until I gave in.  I sighed and handed him my bag.  He slung it over his shoulder.

   “Holy crap, Jinxx.  What’s in here, bricks?  No wonder you couldn’t carry it.”  I rolled my eyes and made a grab for it back.  A spasm of pain shot through my shoulder and I gasped.  Jake dropped both our bags.  “Dude, are you ok?”  He helped me sit down on the sidewalk.        

  “I’m good.  It’s nothing.  Just a little bit sore.”  I brushed my hair out of my eyes.  I kept it long and dyed black, which was one of the many reasons my dad beat on me.  He said it made me “look gay” and I quote, “No son of mine will be gay.  If I ever catch you with a boy, you better say your motherfuckin’ prayers, bitch.  Now get the fuck out of my sight.”  All this was said sober, so you can imagine the amount of joy he brings when he’s drunk.

  “ Here, come to my house.  It’s closer and Mom can check out your shoulder.”  Jake’s mom is a doctor.  “Don’t worry,”  He said when he saw my face.  “We’ll tell her you fell skateboarding, dude.”  I breathed a sigh of relief.  I got up and followed Jake down the road.   

      When we got to Jake’s house, my shoulder was aching and I knew Jake was getting tired of carrying both of our bags.  I helped him haul them through the door.  His dog Meenie started barking like crazy.  Meenie’s the tiniest dog I’ve ever seen, but she’s convinced she’s nearly deadly.  Hence the name.  

     “Jake, hon?  Did you get the mail?  And is that Jinxx?”  Leila called from the kitchen.  Jake’s house is pretty freaking huge.  

    “Nah, Mom, I forgot the mail.  And I was too busy hauling TWO bags in because SOMEONE fell of his skateboard.”  Leila came out of the kitchen, wiping her hands on a dishtowel.  Jake’s dad Hal followed, sipping a cup of coffee.  Hal worked the nightshift at the hospital while Leila worked days at a pediatric clinic.

    “Really?  How’d that happen?  I thought you boys were champs on the ‘board.”  Hal smiled.  Jake rolled his eyes.  

    “We all fall off, Dad.”  He turned toward his mom.  “Ma, can you check it out for him?  Please?”

Leila smiled at me and glared at Jake.

      “I am not ‘Ma’.  You know better.  I gave birth to you.  Or have you forgotten?”  Jake and Hal laughed.  I smiled sadly.  I wished my family was happy like this.  I mean, I know the Harpers’ are not a perfect family, but at least they don’t hit each other or scream all the frigging time.  Leila turned back to me.  “Come on, Jinxx.  We’ll get you all checked out.”  She led me to the kitchen and gestured for me to sit down at the island.  I did and she lifted the back of my shirt.

    “Oh my.  Hal, come here.  Take a look at this.”  I bit my lip nervously.  Hal set down his coffee and joined Leila behind me.  

    “Son, are you sure you got that falling down?  That’s a very serious bruise.  You need to get it checked out at the doctor’s or the hospital.  It could be bone deep.”  I stared at Jake in panic.  He mouthed “sorry” back.

   “No, Hal, Leila, it’s totally fine.  I’m fine.  I don’t want to bother my parents with this.  I mean, my dad’s really sick and Mom’s crazy busy.  I”ll be fine.  Thanks so much for checking it out.”  I quickly pulled my shirt back down and winced.  Hal and Leila exchanged a look.  

   “Anyway, I should probably get going.  Thanks so much, guys.”  I started to get up.

   “Jake, drive Jinxx home.  Then come straight back.  No little rendezvous.  Understood?”  Hal tossed Jake the keys.  Jake did a little victory dance, but was quickly shut down by a glare from Leila.

          I was pretty quiet on the ride back.  I couldn’t stop panicking and overthinking.  What if Leila called my parents?  What if they called the cops?  No, that was ridiculous;  they had no reason to suspect my dad.  Right?  Jake reached out and grabbed my hand.  I looked up.  In the near dark, his purple hair looked black.  He glanced at me out the corner of his eye and his mouth crooked up in the smile I loved.  He was the most beautiful human -inside and out- that I had ever met.  And I’d be lying if I said I didn’t love him.  Yeah, as my best friend, but also love love him.  You know that thing in middle school, where everyone was all, “I like like them”?  Well, that’s how it was.  Only bigger than middle school’s ‘like.’  And less lame.  I stared at him, finally acknowledging the facts that A) I was into a GUY, and B) That guy had been my best friend since sixth grade.  And now we were sophomores.  It took me five fricking years to figure this out????? FIVE??!!!

            “What, dude?  Is my hair a mess or something?”  Jake laughed and shook his hair out of his face.  It was down past his shoulders now.  I was suddenly overcome with the need to do something.  Before I could think, I was saying: “Hey, Jake, dude, can you pull over?  I need to do something.”  He shrugged and pulled over.

            “What?  Do you have to pee?  Because you probably shouldn’t do that here.  I mean, we’re kind of in publi-”  He didn’t get to finish his sentence because I leaned over and kissed him.  At first, I could feel his shock and I started to pull away.  He caught my hand and gently grabbed my chin, turning me back to him.  He kissed me.  I could feel him smiling as we moved our lips against each other.  Slowly we pulled back.  His smile lit up his face.  “You have no freaking clue how long I’ve wanted to do that.  Now, care to explain why exactly this joyous moment has been set forth?”  I smiled back.

            “I frigging love it when you talk like that, dude.  And I just realized that I like you.  Um, actually no.  I love you.  I’m in love with you.  And oh my lanta, it feels so good to say that.  So yeah.  I love you.  A lot.”  I was gasping because I had just rushed that all out in one breath.  

            “I love you, too.  I have since, like, seventh grade.  Glad we have come to this conclusion.  Now, as much as I would love to continue this beauteous moment, I have to be a responsible adult and get you home.  Before we have another episode of last night.  By the way, did you call your parents?”

           “Shit!”  I groaned.  Oh, well.  We were almost home anyway.

              When we pulled in, Jake kissed me goodnight and I ran up to the house as fast as possible.  I opened the door quietly.  It was dark.  I flipped on the light and saw my dad standing in front of me with a knife.  

         “Dad?  What’s going on?”  I said slowly.  “Please put down the knife.”  He took a staggered step toward me.  He was clearly very drunk.

       “I saw you.  With that boy.  I told you.  I warned you.  You are not gay.  If anyone found out, they’d say I was queer.  So, I’ll make sure that never happens, by pretending you never happened.”  With that he lunged.  

              I woke up in the hospital six days later.  Apparently, Jake had sensed something and called the cops while running into my house.  He was able to yank my father off me.  I guess my dad started sobbing on the floor and Jake did his best to stop the bleeding.  He saved my life.  And now, six years later, we have our own happy ending.  The end.

          Hi guys!  Kerriann here.  Just wanted to say that I hope you liked this.  I wrote it to bring about awareness to a very real, very scary issue.  A lot of people are abused, killed, or severely beaten emotionally and physically just for being who they are.  I just hope this story brings about realization that we can change this if we try.  Thank you!

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