Friday, February 26, 2016

"Spring Awakening" Is Really Important, Here's Why

I have a special kind of affinity for rock musicals. I found true love in life doing American Idiot, appreciated movie musicals with Rent, and my favorite musical of all time comes in the angst ridden form of Spring Awakening. And in only a few days, my next adventure will begin as I play the German teenager Ilse in it (a dream I've had for about, say, three to four years).

Spring Awakening, in its simplest terms, is about puberty and mostly, sex. The beauty of it, the fear of it and the downright technicality of it. And it's about teenagers. Teenagers having sex, really. It doesn't sound like much, in fact, it sounds crude and not at all fit to be presented in such a "classy" art form as theatre (in fact, its original material, a play written in the 1800's, was banned from Germany). But it's so much more than that. Let's break it down.

Germany. 1800's Germany, to be more exact, is where we find a bunch of teenagers on the brink of or in the midst of puberty. However, talk of sex is taboo and the kids around town are nearly all clueless. Among them is Wendla, naive and sweet, but curious for answers and getting nothing but false ones from her scared parents. Moritz, exhausted and haunted by nocturnal emission and his looming puberty, turns to his friend Melchior. Melchior is the only one in town with any idea of what is going on to them. A radical atheist and critic of society and authority, Melchior has made it his own business to discover about himself and the world around him. He seems to be the only one. On the other hand, a few girls have had too early and terrifying an experience with sexual abuse from their fathers, and in such a push and pull society, these poor teens are caught in the middle of it. And how does it end for them? Spoiler alert.

God awfully.

There's more to it, but you get the idea: there is so much fear of the unknown and yet, not a single person in power, someone who could help these poor children, decided to do anything about it.

Spring Awakening is important because it is timeless in a terrifying way. What related to a group of German teenagers in the 1800's is just as relevant today, to teens all over the world. Parents continue to be blind to their suffering children, and while sex education is much better than it used to be, the topic remains taboo and results in embarrassed teenagers entering hormone driven worlds blind or being forced to find it online, in less than pleasant ways. A lack of education and a fear of growing up results in teen pregnancy, STDs, and even sexual assault (which seems to happen more and more and get reported less and less). In this case, it truly is better to be safe than sorry. There is nothing wrong with educating your child early on so they can understand the importance and the dangers of love in life. Kids, teens, they are smarter than you may believe. They have seen and wondered more than you could possibly believe, and chances are, they are too scared to ask questions. As educators and parents or just people in authority, it's your job to provide them with answers before mistakes are made.

And while on the subject of authority, it is almost a rite of passage to question it, or even challenge it as a teenager. It can be quite the nuisance for a teacher or a parent but letting it happen seems to be the best way to deal with it. Why? Because like what was aforementioned, teens are smarter than what people think. Yes, even today with their video games and their selfies and social media, in fact, even more so. The more they are exposed to, the more they are inclined to question it and wonder. Usually questions arise in them that can't be answered directly, and lashing out at the people who are meant to provide answers happens, and that's normal and incredibly stimulating. A recurring problem in Spring Awakening is kids having questions and challenging the norm, yet being denied their own growth, which was devastating then and is devastating today.

Spring Awakening is important in another way because it provides representation to teenagers. To see stories unfold much like your own is quite comforting. To know you are not alone, and were never alone to begin with, is the best news. To see that your struggles may be universal is to see that there are other people to turn to for answers and help. It gives a stage to their angst, which can feel so damn singular as a teenager. And, especially in a time where teens are relentlessly mocked, Spring Awakening is a show that takes them and their confusion seriously, rather than making their naivety and rebellion the butt of a joke. Also, there are plenty of adults who will see faults in their own parenting/teaching or the people around them. While there is no way to correctly raise children, I believe it starts with being honest and serious with your children when they begin to struggle with life's new situations.

There are so many things that can be said about the rock musical. In the past it has been critically acclaimed for being so true and unafraid of controversy, while the controversy alone has sparked debate against it. It's language and themes has kept it far out of drama clubs in high schools all over. But for what reason? It is strange that Spring Awakening is acclaimed for being so out there and dangerous, but in reality, it is just portraying real life. It is not being edgy, and it's not being controversial. It really is just right. (However, recently, there seems to be a rise of "controversial" musicals that do nothing but really just portray real life. Perhaps because theatre for years has been seen as a place to go to escape real life, there is fear in experiencing it all over again as you sit in the audience.) But in the end, whether you enjoy the show or not, it can strike up riveting conversation between a parent and their teen. If it takes a musical to spur some change, then so be it. And no better a musical than Spring Awakening.

So please, if you have the chance to see it (*cough* there is a national tour launching in the next year or so with the Deaf West company *cough*), take yourself and maybe even a young loved one out for a treat. There will be discomfort in the air as words are said and things are seen, words and things you may have never wanted to share with each other, but it needed to be done. You may experience an awkward car ride on the way home, but you may lay awake and night thinking to yourself, "I need to learn" or "I need to teach". Either way, Spring Awakening has the ability to launch a revolution for the young, hormonal confused teen and may put an end to dangerous ignorance. Ignorance is only bliss until it is not. Educate, by whatever means. And love.

- Mia

Sunday, February 21, 2016

The Body Modification Stigma (or, the "I Have Purple Hair and Am Still Me" Post)

A couple hundred dollars were not spent on my hair just so people would think differently of me. I never meant to turn people off, not ever get a job or be judged. In fact, all I really wanted was purple hair. I wanted to have fun and I wanted to express myself in a safe, maybe even cool way. Unfortunately, that's not what came across to everyone. It's not like I expected it to, but where did the stigma come from? The idea that, if your hair is purple and you've got piercings and (God forbid) a tattoo, that you are rough around the edges and not to be trusted. I'll ask again: Where did the stigma come from? And what can we do to make it go away?

I have never had plans to be a doctor nor a lawyer, and maybe it is a stereotype that people with body modifications never really do, but why should that stop me, should I decide to pursue those careers? What makes me, as someone about to operate or defend, any less qualified than the brunette who is also up for the job? Did the hole I poked in my nose make me any dumber, or any meaner?

(The obvious answer here is no, but you would be surprised at how many may be convinced otherwise.)

So I did some research. I read up on the history of body piercings, from ear piercings to genital piercings, and a lot of them stem from non-white cultures, and as of late, instances of racism have been so common I personally wouldn't surprised if it had any effect here, too. The same goes for tattoos. Also, for the record, both piercings and tattoos have been around for thousands of years, and plenty of people in power have had them.

More research showed that people have tried to get body modifications protected by the human rights code, saying that as long as there is no health or safety risk, the only thing that should go into choosing a new worker is their qualifications. And while I agree with this, many people do not. Let me share a few comments I found on the internet about people who were pierced, had colored hair, or had some sweet ink:

On her daughter: "She HAS had to live with hurtful customer comments; the worst, a suggestion by an elderly grandmother, that because of the way she looks, she has shamed her family and is unworthy of our love."

"I have seen first hand customers not only walk out of an establishment, but worse, not even go into the establishment because the employee was covered in tattoos and piercings and it made them very uncomfortable, so it most certainly can affect the business."

Many more went on to argue their discomfort with body modification and were using their discomfort as a reason to deny people jobs and general kindness. There was an argument as well too about how if your company values "conservative" traditions and ideas, then not hiring tattooed and pierced workers would just be a part of their image. And I agree, I guess. If you don't want a bad image, then don't hire people that society deems as bad. Understandable. But for God's sake: where did the idea that tattoos, hair colors and piercings are bad at all?

The world will never know. But let me say this. I walked into a hair salon and sat in a chair for five hours for some pretty purple hair, and as someone who was ecstatic to see it in the mirror when I was done, to hear snickers about it is truly devastating. Especially from people who once respected you! I walked into the hair salon with a kind attitude, a drive to work hard and a love for people and theatre and other things. I can personally affirm you that leaving that salon, I still had those traits and loved those things. I also recently got my nose pierced, and let me tell you, that as soon as that metal was part of me... I was a different girl. All of a sudden I wanted to punch people in the face and throw things. Oh, wait, no I didn't. Because that's not what happens. 

My sister got a tattoo and hid it for a while and how did she do that? Because it doesn't change a person. It's not a life or death situation. It's not a thing you keep away from your passionate and creative kids and it's not a thing you ditch your friends over. It's not a thing that should be the deciding factor during an interview and it's not a thing that will ruin your company. In fact, give those people a chance. You may hear some cool stories and meet some cool people. But again, everyone truly is different and no one deserves to put underneath an umbrella term.

Just ask my friends! I showed up to school after my hair was done and most people just said it was cool and got on with it. Some people said they didn't realize I was "that type of girl". What type of girl? The one with the capacity to make her own personal and expressive decisions? And my friends think my nose piercing is cute, just a little accessory. Just a new part of me, not a new me.

I know the stigma won't go away overnight, and perhaps it never will. But I think a bit of an effort can be made, truly. It's just like you getting a haircut or your nails painted, or even the way you dress. When you do these things, it never crosses your mind that you have become a new person, does it? It's just something fun, something meaningful to you no matter how much or how little. And that's exactly what it is to everyone else, too. So take a chance and compliment that waitress or cashier or teacher or doctor or lawyer or astronaut or musician or literally anyone on their awesome hair, piercing or tattoo. Get over the fear of motorcycle gangs that stop at your local diner, just because they "look scary". (Honestly, motorcycles are scarier than those guys). Life is too short to be afraid of something different.

Plus, the numbers of people with piercings and tattoos are rising every day and this generation has had the highest yet. It's not going away, and neither are they. I think the world it ready for that pink haired lawyer. Now can we please argue over something important?

- Mia

Saturday, February 13, 2016

The Best Ten (Totally Unbiased) Love Songs for Valentine's Day

Whether you're single, in a relationship, or it's complicated, you can find something great in a love song. It's considered the most passionate and powerful emotion to exist, and musicians love to channel exactly that. It's the reason for an exorbitant amount of love songs out there, and admittedly, some are better than others. But here are ten of my favorite love songs ever to play for your lover, yourself, your dog or just play it because it's so damn good.

1. "Church on Sunday" by Green Day

Easily one of the most underrated songs on an underrated album by these (pop) punk kings is Church On Sunday. And while it's not a song that puts love and relationships on a pedestal, it's about making sacrifices and working to make the one you love happy. It's about putting actual effort into a relationship. Plus, it's got a killer guitar solo that calls for a dance party with just about anyone. (Listen to it here.)

Notable Lyrics: "If you live with me, I'll die for you."

2. "First Day of my Life" by Bright Eyes

A much calmer song that is probably a bit better known. It's also a lot more conventional, exploring the thoughts and feelings and pure sensation of finding "the one", and how it can feel as if you've been reborn. It's also about taking love slow to enjoy it. A nice song to fall asleep to, and a nice song to wake up to. (Listen to it here.)

Notable Lyrics: "Yours is the first face that I saw, I think I was blind before I met you."

3. "To Kiss A Girl" by Lindenfelzer and Carey

There's no way I could make this list without including something from a song cycle or musical. This is from an underdeveloped musical called Run Far Away, however, the synopsis has no affect on core meaning of love and its power. The song is sung by a young boy, who acknowledges the fact that life is not perfect, he is not perfect, but to kiss a girl and be hers is truly perfect. See it sung absolutely beautifully here.

Notable Lyrics: "So kiss the girl, and hold her hand, and travel on."

4. "The End of All Things" by Panic! At the Disco

A strange era and time for the band, this song is a huge leap away from their usual pop-punk genre. It is pure piano-techno-bliss, with one of the most simple yet stirring refrains. The song has been considered as the frontman's public wedding vows to his wife, and it is plain to see why. It's a classic and tear jerking tune all about love enduring all. (Listen to it here.)

Notable Lyrics: "Lay us down, we're in love."
Compared to a few previous songs, this one is not nearly as intense or emotional, but just as lovely and more fun. This is a perfect song to grab your loved one's hands and spin them to. It's all about finding someone not only to live with, but to die with, too. It acknowledges your lover as a need instead of a want. An anthem for the carefree and young lovers. (Listen to it here.)

Notable Lyrics: "Honey don't you be afraid, if we've got nothing we've got us."

6. "I Will Follow You Into the Dark" by Death Cab for Cutie

This one is well known and loved by many, and for good reason. Another gentle, sleepy song with lyrics both heart warming and heart wrenching. To fall in love with someone is to be with them through it all, even death and darkness. This song is all about going through it all beside the one you know is right for you, and being ready to embark together on both scary and wonderful adventures in the future. See if you can keep yourself from crying. (Listen and cry here.)

Notable Lyrics: "If there's no one beside you when your soul embarks, then I'll follow you into the dark."

7.  "Lullaby" by Paradise Fears

The artist of some of the most powerful songs out there, this one is an ode to the long distance sweethearts. Being away from the one you love is tough, but you will always be there for each other, even if you can't physically, and this song may be the perfect one to let your love know that. This song is also about appreciating all the work long distance couples put into each other and how it is all worth it. Send them this link and send them some love. (Listen to it here.)

Notable Lyrics: "I'll stay up all night staring at the sky, you're somewhere on the other side."

8. "Your Guardian Angel" by The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus

Another well known tearjerking classic. There's a common theme in love songs about not letting someone go, but this seems to take it to a new level. So many people claim to be able to take a bullet for the ones that they love, but the situation never seems to arise. This song is all about loving so much that you'd die for it. It's beautiful, a great rock song, and is the perfect song for someone you are convinced is your lifelong love. (Listen to it here.)

Notable Lyrics: "I'll be there for you through it all, even if saving you sends me to Heaven."

9. "Young Kind of Love" by Joey Contreras

From the artist of one of the most heartbreaking breakup songs ever comes a stirring and jazzy tribute to young and stupid love. It's a song that is completely self aware of the silliness that is quick love, and how childish but freeing it is to find someone who gives you those giddy feelings again. In a world of hookups or serious relationships, it's refreshing to hear about fresh love growing. It's basically a song about that question in middle school: "Do you like me... or do you like-like me?" (Listen to it here.)

Notable Lyrics: "I'm like a little child, having my first crush, hearts in my notebook, stars in my eyes."

10. "Tear In My Heart" by twenty one pilots 

Finally, one of all time favorites from a recent breakthrough duo. A techno-alternative (or, schizopop, the genre created by this band) tune is a far cry from the rest of the dark album, and is a lighthearted jam about what the person you love does to you, positively and negatively. You may find yourself doing and saying things you never though you would--but you're okay with it, because you totally love it. Another song to dance and scream the lyrics to until your throat hurts. (Listen to it here.)

Notable Lyrics: "The songs on the radio are okay, but my taste in music is your face."


Here a few songs that were close to the list, and are totally worth a listen to, as well. Whatever music you decide to jam to this weekend, I hope you totally enjoy yourself and Happy Valentine's Day!

Go dance and kiss your faces off. 

- Mia 

Friday, February 12, 2016

My First Blog Post: Who Am I? (According to the Rest of the World)

For my first blog post, I wanted to introduce myself. It needed to be creative, and right, and me. I sat in front of a blank document for the duration of two whole Dashboard Confessional albums, walked away and ate dinner. And then I ate dessert. And then I took a shower, and I still had no idea how to tell the world who I was. So, instead, I'm going to let the rest of the world tell you who I am. So disregard the about me column on the right, because none of that is true. The mirror I look into is warped, but the person others see is not. So apparently, I am...

Mia Badalucco. Mimi. "Mia Elizabeth" yelled angrily from across the house. I'm called butthead, even past my playground days, and dweeb and that girl with the purple hair. I am a daughter who is a picky eater, and will not clean up her room. I am a daughter that talks back and is selfish. I'm a sister, an older one and a younger one, who can dance and sing, but also yell and scream. I'm the owner and cuddle buddy of three dogs, a cat, and a maybe dead fish (I am a sister who cannot take care of a fish). I'm a cousin and a niece who is distant, with her earbuds in and her head down. I am a granddaughter of grandparents both alive and late, but all of them loving and special. I am a granddaughter with "no meat on her bones" and a granddaughter who is... interesting.

I am also a friend. A good friend. A bad friend. A best friend. Almost a girlfriend. I am an internet friend across the country. I am the girl who stayed up until six in the morning to talk, and the girl who went to bed early to avoid talking. I am that girl you can barely remember and the friend that you'll never forget. I am a neighbor (next door and across the street), the one that lives in the house with the fireworks and the fun. The one with the "cool dad". I am a cast member, with that one solo and the "nice voice". I am the quirky girl. I am the other girl in the dance class, who stayed for a year or so and then left, even less flexible than before. I am an old friend, a new friend, and an enemy. I am the girl who told the bus driver about you picking on that other kid, and I am the person you picked on next. Then, with a sudden realization, you knew I was the girl who ignored you.

I am a headshot and resume on a desk, on a music stand, and on the floor. I am thrown in the trash or a name on a cast list. I'm the leading lady, and I'm the second girl in the women's ensemble, because my last name starts with a B. I am the girl who showed up to rehearsal first or last, and the one with the glasses sitting in the alto section. I was number 56 at an audition, and then I was nothing. I am Mia E. Badalucco, the ticket buyer of that Broadway show and the kid you signed an autograph for at the stagedoor. The thousandth kid to tell you how much I loved the show. I was the Extraordinary Girl from that Idiot rock show you saw with your son. I am the girl who got the part you wanted and the girl who wanted your part. I am the girl who told you I want to major in musical theatre, and I am a future waitress, deadbeat and starving artist.

I am a millennial, addicted to my self and my selfie. The magazines on the shelf in the grocery store and the articles online say I am ungrateful, and that I thrive on social media and political correctness. I am one part of the doomed generation. I am stupid and reckless and the reason why your faith in humanity is gone. I am a punk, a good for nothing teenager. I am a girl. I am weak and emotional. I am a girl with a pair of boobs that are too small and a butt too flat. My eyebrows are too thick and my teeth not white enough. I am crude. I am lame. I'm a prude. I'm a slut.

I'm a student. I'm a teacher's pet and a teacher's nuisance. The girl in the back row who has not said a word all year and the girl in the front, her hand in your face and paper with no name. I am a number on a computer, among thousands of others. I am a passing grade and a failing grade. I wrote that really great essay and drew that awful picture. I am the "artsy girl" in your global class who heard you talking about her in the library. I am the girl next to you who will not stop humming or chewing the end of her pen until it breaks (I am the girl who asked you for a new pen). I'm the girl you saw sitting alone at the lunch table on the first day of school and the one you invited to sit with you. I'm your new unlikely friend. I'm the girl who lets you copy her homework and I'm the girl who begged to copy yours. I am the one who came to school crying once, and the one who helped you stop when you did, too.

I am the owner of a million, specific music playlists. I am the girl who wore out the Fall Out Boy CD you lent her for a while, and the girl who learned one song on guitar and then stopped to let it collect dust. I am the girl you escorted into the pit at a concert once because so many people left, and I'm the girl who cried when you played her favorite song as she watched from the front row. I'm the girl who banged heads with you when we both danced, and the girl who waited until one in the morning after the show, eating popcorn on the curb with you. I'm the girl who left an empty bag of popcorn on the curb.

I am the saddest, meanest girl you will ever meet. I am the happiest, kindest girl you will ever meet. I am someone you may never meet.

There are so many things that I am and am not to you, to him, to her, and to them. So many things that it was so hard to even understand what I am to myself. I know what I'm not. I am not a writer, not really, because if I was I would've done the introducing myself. All I know is that I am fifteen years old, I'm confused, and I have no idea what I'm doing. It seems the rest of the world does, though. I am here not only to write and to share, but to figure myself out. From this blog post to the next, I hope to learn what is true and what is not. I hope one day I can tell you who I am without relying on others. This blog is for fun and this blog is serious. It's not for me but for the person I will be by the time I'm done with it. And I hope that you'll come along for the ride, too.

- Mia (the girl with the blog)