And when they ask you what you’re living for, say love

I wrote a song earlier (it’s not that uncommon for me, nowadays) that questioned, really, why we’re here. It referenced the grieving process, and the endless cycle of life, and death, and life again. It’s bizarre to know that my heart just ached when I wrote it. And now? It still aches, some, but I have my answer.

Funny how those things work out. It’s also funny, and by funny I mean bizarre, and sometimes annoying/frustrating, that sometimes, the more you think you can handle how you feel about something, the more it gets away from you. That happened to me tonight at the vigil: I was silent and respectful during the ceremony that consisted mostly of hushed speakers and a pathetic microphone and the wind in the courtyard, mirroring our breathing. I wrote my message to Victor, maintaining that respect and composure.

Then I saw David swoop right in to hug Katie and for some reason that embrace, one of friendship, support, and communal grief and understanding without words, took me right back. I thought I’d grown from my experiences with the fucking brutal unfairness of life. I thought I had grown from my experiences losing those I hardly knew, and those I knew well.

Well, I didn’t. I got back to my room and absolutely lost it for a little while. I didn’t bother to turn on the lights. I don’t feel bad admitting it here, but I’m a really ugly and disgusting sobber– I was a wreck and it would have been humiliating to be below with my classmates. So I cried alone. I cried, selfishly, because I was here and Victor wasn’t. I cried, still selfishly, because like Dan, Victor was only nineteen when he lost his life, with so much potential in front of him. I cried because I knew his family was coming in from China for the memorial service this Saturday. I cried because I know that those who loved him– and perhaps, even some who barely knew him at all– will be forever changed in one of the most painful ways.

I cried some for Dakota, even though he’s improved so much, because he’s lost a lot of time and a great deal of opportunities. I cried because his situation is truly heartbreaking, even though there is hope for him to recover even more than he already has.

And I cried a little bit for myself, because there is still so much life to experience, and I haven’t yet. And, stupidly, because I had pretended not to need a hug. My own stupid fault, but I couldn’t cry there. Seriously.

I realized afterward, after I’d written some lyrics and established a melody both haunting and pretty, that the communities I live in– both at home, and here at Eastman– are so strong and reseliant. People are there for each other. Like just a little while ago, when the sad knotted ache under my heart wouldn’t leave, and I had to talk to someone for just a few minutes. People here listen. People here care.

When Saturday rolls around, I cannot imagine the overwhelming situation Victor’s parents will be facing– having to say goodbye to their son. But I do know that this community will do all in its power to ensure that they have the strength, support, respect, understanding, and love they need to make it through.

That’s why we’re here. It’s not because we’re some science experiment, it’s not so we can make money and rot into the ground. It’s not for material gain or networking or technological advancement or to see if there’s life on Mars.

We’re here to love: whether in jubilation or darkest misery. We are here to accept it, to revel in it. And most especially, to give it.

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When I lose my direction, I look up to the sky

Because I feel the need to talk about it, here it is.

Last night at approximately 3 am a nineteen year old freshman student was found lying dead on the ground in front of the Eastman Living Center. That is, my dorm building. It was reported he fell from a twelfth story window.

I can’t begin to comprehend this. I didn’t know him, but slowly we as a collective residential and student body are putting together a picture of who he was, and what happened. Everyone has their own theory, but only time will tell the truth. Did he jump, did he fall? Was he incapacitated in some fashion, or was he clear-headed?

I feel the worst for his family, and for his friends here. We are all waiting for his relatives to be contacted so his name can be released officially. I can only imagine what his roommate is going through– classes haven’t even started yet. I can’t fathom what it must have been like to look out the window for whatever reason at three in the morning to see a slick red pool of blood and flashing lights.

But, as our Executive Associate Dean, Jamal Rossi said in the first of a slew of emails about the tragedy: “One of the hallmarks of Eastman is a tremendous sense of community.  At difficult times like this, it is important to for us to draw together to support one another.” I suppose it’s going to take our tightly knit little school’s tendency to pull together and push onward and lift each other up in order to carry on.

More information (basically the only information out there) can be found here.

April again

It’s so wild. Wild that almost a year has gone by since I wrote this post about my cousin Daniel’s death. I didn’t know him, but my mother and his were best friends when they were my age. My other cousins on my mother’s side knew him much more than I did.

A week after his death was my junior prom. I remember riding with my mother in the car to the hair place, heartsick to know what grief was doing to members of his (and my) family. I know I felt stupid because I was upset: after all, I’d barely known of him, let alone knew him personally. I was just aware of the situation. A nineteen year old junior in college fell down a flight of stairs and broke his neck. I could only imagine the sheer injustice of it, the pain his mother must have been experiencing. And his siblings. His father. Oh God.

But I felt like an idiot because it didn’t seem like my grief to bear. For someone who’d so rarely come into contact with death, I was confused and wondered if maybe grief should be rightfully expressed by those whose lives Daniel had changed, and not by me. I guess I thought that maybe the family or friends would be angry to see a stranger, barely related, mourning someone so dear to them. I don’t know. Like I said, I was confused. The confusion did nothing to lessen the echo of pain I felt for them.

When I tried to express this convoluted jumble of emotion and thought, my mother reasoned it out for me. She told me that it wasn’t an insult to grieve over a stranger. She also pointed out, “Sometimes someone’s death can change a lot of lives.”

I guess I’m a living tribute to that statement. Here I’d never known Daniel, probably spoken to him once, maybe twice, but I’ve blogged about him, wondered about him, and drawn courage from his story more times that I can count.

According to his family, his friends, and complete strangers, he was a gent who lived out his life to the fullest. He was going to graduate a year early, a history major at Brockport. He was kind, funny, and genuinely liked people (more than can be said for most of humanity). He smoked Newports and wore a red bandana all the time.

He lived his life without fear and with a laugh. The final quote on his facebook wall is the one I have posted in the left sidebar (by Anberlin): “Life for today, we’ll dream tomorrow; we’ve got big plans in sight.”

He changed my life. It’s because of his life, and the way he lived it, that I make an effort, every day, to live for the moment, to plan, dream, and take every breath like it’s both gift and blessing. It doesn’t matter that I never knew him; if in some unknown, nebulous afterlife I encounter him, he’ll be one of the first I thank.

“I can’t lose you too”

I have needed to blog for a very long time.

There are so many things I feel like I need to say: about life, about family, about romance and love and sex and other things. I think constantly, about concepts that are bigger than I am, and when I go to put them into words, they become about as easy to catch as vapor.

About life
I guess I’ve come to terms with the fact that it doesn’t do to be terrified of dying all the time. I think about dying: how one dies, the possibilities, probabilities, likelihoods. Serial killing’s the most colorful, but there’re random acts of violence, gunshots, stabbings, poisoning, and anthrax. And sheer accidents. But it really doesn’t do much for peace of mind or happiness to dwell on these things. If it happens, it happens, and I guess I’d just have to hope that my family would celebrate my life instead of mourning my death. I guess I’d want them to do everything they could to live to the fullest and enjoy themselves because there’s no way to tell what could happen.

But I feel like a moron saying that because here I am, not living life to the fullest BECAUSE there’s no way to tell. On a level with something happening to me is if something happened to them. That’s the most horrible thing I can think of in my own limited sphere of terrors on a personal scale. I say it would be on a level with me being gone because if something happened to me I know that my immediate family, anyway, would be heartsick. I know them too well and it would be painful and awful and sad. I would feel like shit and be responsible for their pain. That guilt and responsibility is paralleled by something happening to them. They just need to be safe. Healthy. Happy.

That’s another thing. I feel guilty being happy a lot. Some things are too important for me to be happy all the time. But the repressed happy is making me sad. If that makes sense. All of this worrying is pointless because it’s out of my control. But whose control is it in?

I needed to ask that. I’m not saying that I’ve suddenly turned agnostic or whatever. But I feel like there comes a time in everyone’s life where it needs to be asked, and answered on one’s own terms. I’m asking, and I’m going to have to get an answer for myself, instead of just flopping around searching for some kind of response and taking it from others’ thoughts and ideas.

It’s me from now on. I am sick of saying that my own life and happiness is second to other, bigger issues that I cannot effect. Such as the concern over death. It will happen eventually and I’d be really dumb if I continued to let it loom ominously behind me with it’s ugly, outdated scythe at my neck. I need to let it go, or push it aside. I worry about doing those things to certain aspects of my personality because I don’t want to risk losing my sense of self. But seriously, what self will be left if I spend all of my time stupidly, silently crying over events that haven’t happened yet?

This is going to be lame, but it reminds me of Roy Mustang and Riza Hawkeye in the series Full Metal Alchemist. They love each other, but she protects him and he has goals that they are both incredibly determined to see through. They never act on their love– they’ve known each other since childhood– because they think they’re never in a position to do so. I think that’s nonsense. If you have something so beautiful and tangible and powerful in front of you, how dare you let it go without a fight?

Riza dies, so that’s the sad ending to that story and also the moral.

I have something so beautiful and tangible and powerful in front of me. If I delude myself into thinking I’m incapable of taking it and making it mine, then I’ve wasted just as much as the characters I adore.

Irrationality

I hate this. The not knowing.

But I refuse to go back to that scared and vulnerable, trembling little place where I was after Daniel died. That paranoia? That doesn’t make any sense.

Life doesn’t make any sense, I know. And neither do feelings, do emotions. The only thing that makes sense is the concept of irrationality.

But I can’t shake the notion that anything could happen. That frightens me. I don’t want to return to that cobwebby muddled corner with the nervousness and the hunched-up shoulders. I shouldn’t have to go back there.

Death could be outside my fruit roll-up clogged peephole and I wouldn’t have a clue. It’s anywhere; it’s everywhere. It seeps into our very pores and sets us up ticking, counting down until the second we go boom and BAM we’re no more. And the rest are left to sweep up the remains and keep on truckin’.

I don’t want to have to think about this shit. But I do. I do think about it and I do want to think about it. The macabre.

Isn’t it better to know? Isn’t it always better to know, to be aware? Even if it lends us that little sickly sharp edge of paranoid, isn’t it better to think ahead, to wonder? Keeps the imagination pumping red as the blood that still gallops with every flutter of the heart. And someday may prevent it’s untimely halt.

Blogs from home

A series of little bloggettes from my first time back home since college started.

12:17 AM 09 Oct 2010

This is so, so so so strange. It’s like, I’m home! Finally.

But so why do I want to cry? It’s like everything’s the same, and nothing’s the same. In a way, it reminds me of the dream I had around a year ago, where I was killed and came back as a ghost. Only to see that life had gone on without me, but I’d left a hole. That’s kind of what coming home has done to me: shown me the hole where I fit. The empty space I left behind that was sort-of filled but that had been waiting for me to come back to it.

It’s so overwhelming. The love is too much for me. I’m so lucky and so blessed. And I’m not ashamed to say I’m crying while I’m typing this because I’m so full of happy and– and– I don’t know if the word is unworthiness? Insignificance? Overwhelmed, overflowing. The love my family has for me is so huge. I was wrenched by time out of their lives and now I’m back and it’s like nothing ever changed. I just get to hug my mother for a few minutes longer. That’s the only difference.

But evidence of my absence is everywhere. My room, with only one pillow and no little pink lamp, shows that I haven’t been here. My laundry wasn’t in the wash, my dishes weren’t in the sink. None of my chaotic piles of makeup were dumped in their usual spot by the bathroom mirror, no brightly-colored, half-consumed coffee cups littered the counter. The computer desk was neat.

I just feel sad that I had to go. It’s like someone ripped off my arm, or something… and pretended that it was going to be gone forever, but for a few days they stick it back on and say, “enjoy, until we tear it off again.” I remember adjusting to college life being fairly difficult. Now I’m accustomed to the routine and the rhythm, but when I first got there I was just heartbroken. I don’t want that to happen a second time.

Saturday 09 October 2010 6:49 pm

“It’s not where I am, it’s you I’m with.”

I’m in the car typing this right now, and reflecting on life. It sounds really deep, but it’s not.

We get a little wild during car rides...

I think about life a great deal. But as the Avetts croon about love and existence and the car glides toward the sunset, I’m launched into a mindset that sends thoughts of home and belonging swirling through my brain.

 

Where’s my home now? I’m coming back from eating la comida italia with my family and wondering, now that my life’s been thrust into its own orbit, where I’m allowed to call home. There’s a sense of rightness and belonging about Eastman for me, and in Rochester. But in the same breath I feel that way about Buffalo and my home. Can I have two? Is that allowed? What about when I get my own apartment? Or move out of Rochester? Is it possible to make a life elsewhere, to have multiple homes that feel comfortable, wonderfully happy, and right?

Then the Avett Brothers chime in with “St. Joseph’s” and remind me. “It’s not where I’m am, it’s you I’m with.” As long as I’m with those I love and who love me in return– whether it’s familial or friendship or both– I am already home.

Sunday 10 October 2010 8:38 pm

I just got out of my third shower since I’ve been home. It’s an exercise in indulgence: I take a shower that would have been normal for me here, but at school is extravagant. At Eastman, we have the minute yellow bathroom stalls with mangy floors and flip flops involved. Non-adjustable spray with squeaky nozzles and an atmosphere of tension in case (gasp) some strange girl flounces in mid-exit and sees me in all of my toweled-up, drippy-makeuped glory. All in all I rush to perfect personal hygiene and it’s simply a mandatory procedure.

Here, I take time. Take those precious few moments to take off all of my makeup, to savor the clean white, steamy air. To stand with bare feet in a clean shower. The perfume of my home billowing around me, swirling with the sweet citrus of body wash and lotion and shampoo, is the scent that irons out the stress of a long day and a nervily-anticipated trip back to school.

Even the simple actions that I completely (typically) took for granted are purely divine now. Like, toweling off in a space that’s not two square feet. Having a well-lit and enormous bathroom with a halfway-recognizable color scheme. Not having to dig through a caddy to find the right item.

It’s so great. Except, I realized tonight that I’m already missing home. And I haven’t even left it again.

Sunday October 10, 2010 11:27 pm

I knew it would happen. I knew I’d love home so much and never want to go away and always want to stay here safe in this warm and cozy house with the people I adore and the sunshine and the comfort.

I know in my mind that I’d go insane. If I had to stay here all the time. And I’ve really just been trying to enjoy every second spent here and with my family. Playing Sims with my sister, watching the Sabres win (then lose), Criminal Minds marathons, and selling Harley tickets in Ellicottville. All of it is part of being home and coaxing every drop of happy from it that I can.

I miss Eastman too, but in an academic sense. I wish Eastman was right next door so I could step into my family’s life whenever. I’m so freaking happy to be with them right now it’s stupid, because when I get back I’ll be happy too and that will be a betrayal of sorts. But also I just don’t want to leave them. Their lives will roll on and so will mine and even though this visit was like no time passed, I know that won’t continue. Life goes on.

Damn it, life goes on whether I’m there or not. Something– anything, really– could happen at any second. I could get hit by a bus or get slashed in the parking garage or sweet Jesus God forbid fall from a stairwell and break my neck. And writing that makes me want to vomit but it’s the truth, and then what? And then what? Life would still go on.

I can’t wrap my head around it and I am so miserable trying to try. It’s so hard. It’s so hard to have two places I want– need– to be, with so many desires and hopes and fears tearing me in so many directions. Expectations and longings and worries and stresses. And I’m depended on to deal with them all, to handle it. I can. I mean, I can. And will.

Life goes on. But I’m still here and sad, this moment.

To ghost along the border of spiritualism: my first visit to Lily Dale

Get ready for one long, in-depth analysis


So my visit to the mediums of Lily Dale was a learning experience, to say the least. I’m a lot calmer about the whole idea now, knowing what can be expected there.

I learned a LOT. It helped that, the entire time, I was thinking of it sort of like a field trip, like a class. Milk all you can from it and remember it, that sort of thing.

I’d done some research before leaving, so I knew that spiritualism was a religion. Upon arriving I had so many questions: they just weren’t written down. I legitimately had no idea what to be prepared for.

It turns out we were to wait in line for two hours before being admitted to Circles. I met Sarah’s grandparents: her grandmother is a medium, and apparently so was her great-grandmother. I also met two ladies staying with Sarah’s grandma; one was from Britain and the other from Rochester. Apparently they frequent Lily Dale as visitors over the summer.

My first impression of Lily Dale as a place was that it’s beautiful. Quaint little houses, brilliant greens of the trees. A kind of innate stillness and picturesque quality underscored by an air of mystery, of presence. It was just really pretty.

While waiting, I asked questions. At first it was tough to get going because hey, I’m not a journalist– I don’t really have an excuse to pry, and as silly as it may sound, I didn’t want to offend anyone. They take spirits and things very seriously there. But I am an obsessed academic and eventually found a manner in which to ask, without sounding like a putzkie.

Here’s a brief summary of some facts I garnered from a few who know a great deal about the facets of spiritualism. Bear in mind they’re just knowledge I’ve gathered, I don’t necessarily put stock in all of them. More on what I do put stock in will come later.

– Firstly, spiritualism is: a religion, a philosophy, and a science.
– Spiritualists worship one deity, one creator God, but acknowledge the existence of many spirits, floating around in the ether.
– Spiritualists believe that, just as in life, spirits can change for good or for bad on the other side as well.
– Ouija boards are a NO-NO: they let whatever’s chillin’ over there come visit, with no boundaries to keep the creepers back.
– According to spiritualists, we each have a group, a “band,” of spirit guides that accompany us as we grow. They can change depending on how we change or how we come to need them, but they are there to protect us from things like anxiety, imbalance, health problems, and, of course, evil.

And naturally there are other things, too, but those are the most prominent tidbits of insight I scrounged up.

Now for details on my own ten minutes with a medium:

We got into Circles the first round (there was a massive line). There were at least twenty mediums set up on the floor of the auditorium. Seating varied: some had four chairs around them, some five, and others six. We were taken to a medium named Bonnie White, an older lady with pale hair and grey eyes, dressed in black. She handed me a watch and said, say when it’s been seven minutes, then you get three minutes to ask questions. So I was the timer.

This is Bonnie White, the medium we met


She started with a prayer. We held hands and she asked the great spirit to bring a white light down around us, to protect us and bring us only good spirits.

I will say this, when I first entered and sat down I felt a great deal of energy, not my own. Around me, a warmth touching my skin, the right side of my neck. It was pleasant, not unnerving or weird. Just different. But it was something.

It turned cooler as the sitting went on.

She started with Sandy, Sarah’s mom. Spent a few seconds touching her hands, “connecting with her individually.” Then Ms. White proceeded to tell Sandy things that a stranger wouldn’t know.

It was hit and miss, with Sandy and with Sarah. She did “sense” that they were mother and daughter. She hit upon Sarah’s boundless energy and constant activity, as well as her interest in athletics and music. It seemed as though she faltered a bit, though: if she stumbled upon something correct, she would blather about it for a little before continuing on: to fill the time, is my guess.

When it was my turn, Sarah took the clock. Apparently she’s better at reading cell phones than hand-clocks, because she gave me twelve minutes instead of ten (love that girl).

It was weird, to say the least. Maybe I just use weird as a filler word because I don’t know what should really go there to describe it.

I was skeptical, but then I’m always skeptical. I tried to keep an open mind, though, for the sake of… I don’t know. For the sake of academia.

She didn’t connect me with anyone from the other side, though. I guess no grandfathers felt like chatting with me (don’t know how I feel about that). Potter must not have wanted to, either, but if she’s in spirit form she’d be bounding off and eating something instead of waiting for me to hold hands with some bad psychic.

Instead Ms. White told me I was artistic. This is when Sandy, Sarah, and I exchanged glances because she told me I had a “good” singing voice, but art and drawing and fashion design were where I was really suited. Fact: I only ever finger paint. I suck at drawing. Blatantly pathetic.

Oh, and I’m going to the Eastman School in a week, folks. I think they accept at most ten sopranos per freshman class?

Man, I hope they have an art program so I can switch my major (HA).

No, you do not 'bong' on this instrument... merde, some people.

She asked me if I played a stringed instrument (no way, Jose), then said she saw a piano-like thing, and what did I play? I told her the xylophone, and she replied, and I quote “Don’t you bong on those?”

Oh, geez. If I wasn’t so curious I would’ve put my head in my hands, a mercy, please gesture before she could say anything similarly silly.

Then, a little later, she spoke directly to me. Earlier, when speaking to Sarah and her mother, and at the start of my reading, she was kind of speaking in show to the group. Now she was entirely focused on me. She began to get agitated. Grey eyes under bristling pale brows tried to connect with mine, fervently almost.

And this is as close as I can remember, it could be a little out of order but this is the gist:

“You’re very sensitive, I’m getting an image of a heart. You know what people are thinking, you’re very intuitive. This is hard for you. You know what people think and you’re right, but it’s hard to know it.

You’re very accurate, perceptive. You arrive at conclusions before everyone else, you’re quite quick. It’s sometimes hard, awkward really, for you to be there, but they’ll catch up. You get there differently, but you’re right. You are also on– what do you call it? Like, on the right note, you’re good at that. In tune. You know when you’re in tune or not.

But… you’re sad– anxious. There’s a spirit guide around you who just wants to calm you down. Do you have a lot of stress, relating to making choices? It’s difficult for you to know you’re path. Did you have a lot of stress recently about college?

But you can follow your intuition. You’re right when you do. When you see a light around a decision, take it, you know it’s right.”

And then she became the most lively she’d been:

“I– I just get this sense– I just really want to comfort you. Don’t be sad, okay? No one wants you to be sad. It will all work out. Your life is just beginning now. It will be an entire change for you, but it’s just starting. Just don’t be sad. You’ll grow from it.”

Later as she said the closing prayer it was as if she was trying to talk straight to me. “Let us be comforted and feel safe and grow and learn from new beginnings, wherever they may be and wherever they may take us.”

That was the weird part for me, when she started talking about being sad. I never mention that to anyone. Ever. She told me that the spirits “wanted me to” march forward with my head up. You know, be confident and all that jazz. She made a cringing motion when she tried to illustrate what they didn’t want me to do. They didn’t want me to enter this new chapter of my life weak and scared. They want me to go kick ass, apparently.

In Sarah, her mother, and her grandmother’s opinions, this lady sucked. I’m not saying she was legit, because I gathered she made stuff up to fill time. I’m not a fool.

But the part about being sad? It’s cute, I guess, that there are floaty guys that want me to not be sad. No one else would know that. In fact I try my damnedest so no one does.

When I got home, I rehashed it all with my mother and sister. My mother’s not “into” it, per se, but she’s aware of the fact that we’re not without ectoplasmic friends.

My mother has had contact with a “spirit world” before, and I’ve talked to people who have had legitimate touches with the other side. In the case of my mom, she didn’t ask for it, didn’t want it. “I never liked spooks.”

But she’s had vivid dreams, in which dead relatives have been with her, spoken to her. She doesn’t normally dream at all. Yet, she’s done a walk-through of her grandparents’ home in her sleep, where she saw things she wouldn’t have drummed up in her subconscious by herself (her memory is awful). She’s ridden in the car with her uncle on the night he died, from her sleep. And she’s had a conversation with a member of my father’s family that she’d never met: when she woke and described her, it was exact.

She’s been to see a medium twice in her life. She said the first time was out of spite, when she was in college. Her father died in an accident when she was in her early teens, and this was a personal visit for her. She was angry with him, and with the medium, for reasons I won’t discuss.

The second time, she said the best part was the dog the lady owned.

Schnauzer (not necessarily the type of dog the medium owned)

She did tell me, very seriously, that psychics and whatever were for entertainment purposes only. And I get that completely, because if you don’t know who you are or where you are in life, it’s highly possible to be duped and tricked. Personally I know that if I spent time trying to puzzle out the mysteries of the ether, I’d go stark-raving. But I’d like to have a professional reading done, for the hell of it. Just because I’m curious. I feel that I’m like my mother: I’d be able to go and keep a level, cool, head. Without putting my faith where it shouldn’t go.

I’m not buying into spiritualist rituals and all of their theories. But I’m a firm believer that there are things out there– call them what you will– and that they come in shades of good and bad. Where some would touch their relatives or friends with love, others would seek to harm. Whether we become these things after death isn’t up to me to figure out. I’ll gladly pass that decision on.

In addition, I know there are, because I’ve felt them. This is what I asked Sarah’s mom, a practicing spiritualist, about. I know when I was younger, and even recently, I’d be praying alone, just trying to have a conversation with God, and feel a little niggling worry, an unease. A lurking, creeping fear. I used to feel it a lot when I was eleven, twelve. I would get scared and start praying hard. Just curl up in my bed, jostled from my thoughts, praying like the dickens for it to go away, for God to protect me.

Sarah’s mom’s take on what to do was similar to my actions. She acknowledged that there were spirits who might try to bust in while I’m praying; she said the spiritualist action would be to say “God bless you, but leave me alone in peace,” and to always ask for “the best and the highest” spirit when praying. And something about asking for a white light.

See, I always just start going when praying, you know? Just, “Hey, so God:” and go from there. But it’s interesting to think that when I’m talking to him, there are eavesdroppers… some benign and some not-so. At least I can tell them to hit the road because it’s a private convo and know I’m not being a neurotic paranoid.

Sarah’s mom also told me something else. Let me just say right now that at no point was she ever trying to sell me her religion. She was just informing me about it, which was cool, because I wanted to know.

The board outside a spiritualist church

She told me that spiritualism wasn’t a mainline religion and that she was raised with a Lutheran background so she’d have something steady, then made her own choice to become a spiritualist when she was old enough to learn about it on her own. A remarkable statement I recall, though, was: “At the end of the day, I don’t think it matters necessarily what we call the one we worship, because it’s probably the same guy anyway. Allah, God, the great spirit, the Creator– probably all the same. It’s what you do in this life that matters– whether you use your life for good or for evil, what you do with it. How you love.”

It reminded me a little of Brendan, and even of my own conclusions relating to religion and love. Just love with all you have and learn everything you can. Keep an open mind and an accepting heart and you’ll be okay.

And so yeah. I’ll wrap this summary up with what my mother told me after I got back home and recounted to her the events of the evening.

“You’ve been raised with a strong faith. You have a strong faith. Don’t waste your brilliant* brain cells trying to figure out things about spooks. Know that there’s good and bad in this world, around us all the time, and that there’s God. The rest you can come up with yourself, but always remember those basics. And now I’m going to smoke and go to bed.”

*Not saying I’m brilliant here. Just quoting my mother, who is probably obligated by law or something to say that.

Psychosis

Here’s the definition for it; it’s not just taking up space as the title of this blog entry. Psychosis (pl. psychoses): a severe mental disorder in which thought and emotions are so impaired that contact is lost with external reality.

It has nothing to do with what I’m about to talk about, except that the core of the word “psych” is also the core of the word psychic. “Psych” comes from the Greek psychikos, meaning “of the mind” or “mental.”

I’m going to see a psychic today.

I feel like both a skeptic and a wimp. Cool, man, cool (not)

I tried to think of other ways to phrase that, but the truth is? I’m feeling a little weird about it and don’t know what to expect. I’ve always had a tendency to research the paranormal, and in doing so have compiled the following facts that seem to be making me nervous.

01. My grandma is a pretty avid Christian and has mentioned to me before that seeking spiritual guidance of that nature is highly ill-advised. She basically conveyed the idea that reaching into the beyond without God was dangerous. Anything from tarot to Ouija to psychics– ex-nay.

02. My mother went with my aunt to see a psychic in Lilydale a few years ago. I remember them returning and detailing the visit for my grandma, cousin and I. Some pretty weird stuff was discussed: everything from the child Kathy must have miscarried to the possible future of Caitlin, to contact with my dead grandfather. Weird shit.

03. The Bible says that seeking mediums are not the way to go. The advice of a centuries-old book shouldn’t be discounted, should it? Granted it was mentioned in the Old Testament where there were hundreds of rules, but still. (Along with psychoanalysis and paranormal research, I’ve been interested in religion as well.)

04. Maybe I’m just a cynical skeptic when it comes to the whole “here let me tell you something about your life that I shouldn’t know at all, but I do” thing. That makes me feel vulnerable. Also, not in control.

05. Plus, I am pretty solidly in the “spirit world is real” camp. I realize that we’re blind to the actions of the ether, normally, but I think they’re there. Thankfully I’ve been blissfully unaware, mostly, thus far… can you imagine neurotic me, trying to live alongside ghosts and knowing it?

06. Also, to be brutally honest, I’m nervous. I’m nervous because even though I’m going with Sarah and her mother and they’ve done this before, who knows what I might learn. Apparently it’s this thing called “circles” where you pay ten dollars or so to sit in a circle with four or five other people. This psychic gives you (and here I’m quoting Sarah) “a mini reading.” I’ve never been to Lilydale and don’t know what to expect.

And here’s the kicker for me, I guess. I’ve never– never— been afraid of learning something. I’ve been afraid of many other things: death, sharks, deep water, slashers, stalkers, cannibals, fire, baby-killers and sadists. But never new knowledge.

I guess I’m just unnerved. What if I’m told I’ll suffer unspeakable tragedy soon? Or that my greatest worries will become reality? Or that on the way home some normal guy will suffer a psychotic break and steal Sarah and I for a fun couple years in his basement lined with human skin?

I just don’t know what I’ll be told, and I won’t have any control over it. I don’t like to be unaware of what I’ll face. So maybe I should be happy that whoever gives my “mini reading” might give me a heads-up… or maybe that five minutes will be the most terrifying five minutes of my life.

Thoughts while sipping the first mugfull

 

I had a dream that I was sad. That I was left behind. That I was about to die.

The truth is, I am all of these things, however much I press it back into my subconscious during waking hours.

I literally just dragged myself out of bed and have a sip (okay, gulp) and a half of caffeine in my system. I’m still under the last haze of dreaming. But as my mind starts its slow shift back to the waking world, I begin to realize that I’ve stopped analyzing myself lately. Usually I’ll use my blog and journal-like writing to accomplish that. But I haven’t been doing it. I’ve been working, and when I’m not, I’m practicing. (Or swimming… or anything else in a countless realm of things that do not include blogging.)

So I haven’t spent much time reflecting on my own personal balance (yes, Libra reference there). It screws with my anxiety levels when I’m not fully aware of my own mind and emotions.

But now (thanks, dreamland) I know: I’m sad. I’m worried about being forgotten and discarded. And I’m alarmed by the reality that I’m getting older– and even that doesn’t matter because, really, any second could be my last.

My older blog talked a great deal about death. I discussed in great detail how I felt about life and trying to exist and make the most of it. Circumstances that had nothing to do with me ended up having the greatest effect on my views regarding death. I still believe that living all-out is the way to be… the way to go.

But now that I spend most of my time employed, at a job that’s pretty great if you need a job, but not where I want to be for the rest of my life, I have been thinking. What about people that have sucky jobs, that pay like crap? How do they stay happy? Sacrifice time with their friends and family in order to make more?

I figure now that you have to pay for time. It costs money to take your friends out to eat; it costs money to go shopping with your mother; it costs money to go to college. Does it equal out: the happiness versus the time lost to make the happiness possible?

I don’t know yet. I imagine when my cup(s) of coffee has(have) been emptied I’ll say the pleasant times are worth giving up so many hours in order to provide them. This is yet another concrete reason why I know I need to end up with a job I love. A job I live and breathe.

But speaking of work, I have to stop doing this and start getting ready. So, thank you for choosing Tim Horton’s, and have a great day.