Walking in the Woods With My Brother

It was early August and we were covered to wrists and ankles when we walked out the sliding back door, leaving cool and dry air conditioning. We were immediately enveloped in the blanket of air that clings to the body and soaks up your clothes. It was the heaviness that comes right before a storm.

The path to the back gate was difficult to find, heavily laden with leaves, ivy, and thorn bushes penetrating the mom-made passageway to the secret world of our childhood. The wood of the gate was mossy and worn, like cardboard when it’s wet; it no longer felt sturdy and durable. With four hands, we forced the gate open over mounds of dirt and twigs put there purposefully to stop the once young and wild puppy from fleeing the backyard and entering the woodsy abyss.

Just beyond the gate was a mound of earth standing ten feet wide and five feet high. What we once so reverently referred to as the “Christmas tree graveyard,” where bits of pine peaked out of old dirty brown dead leaves. Past this mound lay overgrown tundra of green as far as the eyes could see. What had been so clear and easy to trek through as a kid now seemed like an impossible feat, but we were determined.

We wandered our way through thorn bushes, around sinkholes, over fallen logs, and we made it to the clearing. There is a farm that is behind my house, behind the mess of the woods, secluded and alone. It is the only farmland left in our little suburb. As a kid, this was a whole new world. A feeling of danger at every turn, of coming out of the thickness of the woods behind us and exposing ourselves to the elements openly. We were afraid, but we pretended to be brave. This day, however, we gazed across the land, and it was just another field. It was not the new world once imagined, but it took us to places we held so dear in our memories.

We continued on.

Up steep slippery hills we trekked. The same hills that we had once glided down on sleds before meeting our fates at the bottom, becoming one with trees as the bruises formed on our bodies. We didn’t care. Life was dangerous and exciting, a literal twist at every turn.

We reached where the woods and the main road collide, a few blocks from my house. Through the lens of our young eyes, this was the breach between the unknown world and civilization. Reaching this was reaching the other side, the long haul. It was the feeling of mobility.

We stood on the edge of the last hill, the thick green trees ahead of us almost covered the cars passing by like rain on a windshield; we could only see patches of life.

“Maybe some things are better left for memory.”



“Stop making excuses and start taking care of your legs!”

A simple critique of a Spotify advertisement and the greater implications that this example has on our culture.

I was listening to Spotify the other day when an advertisement came on. Having a freshly made sandwich in my hands, the extent of my attention to Spotify was only slightly irked that my playlist was interrupted. However, it was the last line of the ad that drew my attention back:

“Stop making excuses and start taking care of your legs!”

I know you’ve had a tough day at work. I know you just wanna jump in to the shower to rinse off the sweat, then collapse into your soft feathery bed after your twelve hour shift today–

But you have a job to do.

I know that the cat kept you up most of the night using your thigh as it’s own personal scratching post–

But it is your responsibility to keep that ish together.

I know that the rope is broken and Sally is trapped in the well–

But she’ll want to stay down there when she sees you, you mangy, flea-infested yeti.

While advertisements geared towards women have certainly changed throughout the years, (it just works with the changing in culture) there is still an agenda. It is hard to put the blame on either side, the consumer or the advertiser, since one wouldn’t exist without the other, but the agenda is definitely present. There are societal guidelines that are expected to be followed. So while ads are no longer warning you that your husband will find another woman if you can’t properly wash a dish, they are still sending out a message, and it is important to recognize it.The advertisements geared towards women then and now do not exist on a spectrum of worse to better. This is an important distinction to make because if we maintain the mindset that advertisements are no longer pushing gender roles, expectations, and feelings of responsibility onto us, then we will cease to notice the effect that it has on us as individuals and as a population.

If I had heard this five years ago, I may have not been offended. I probably wouldn’t have thought twice about it at all. Now granted, I’m not speaking out against all advertisements that are geared to certain sexes/genders. I do not believe these are inherently wrong or right, it’s just the way we as humans organize things. I get it. However, I would like to stress the necessity of teaching our young kids, (and everyone, for that matter) what it means to think critically. The key in understanding and developing our own opinions of the world that we live in is through careful notice of the world around us. It’s as simple as considering the audience of an advertisement and noticing how it impacts your life.

Notice because otherwise you accept it as truth without question. It takes a simple shift in a societal mindset of a population to completely rewire the fabrics of advertisements, and even further, gender roles in our society.

There is a power in thinking critically.


Here is the advertisement, in case you were curious.