Short angry paragraph that changes absolutely nothing, and a happy birthday wish

It’s not fair. It’s not fair that someone so full of life and promise should be reduced to lying on a hospital bed generating bedsores and infections with a traumatic brain injury at nineteen. It’s not fair that a mother should have to yearn and hope and pray and grieve for her child all at the same time– isn’t just plain grief enough? Isn’t it horrible and wrenching and downright heartbreaking enough without the hope? Without the constant pull that maybe, maybe someday her baby will be back the way he was? Or even maybe say “Mom, I love you” one more time. It just isn’t right. It isn’t fair.

Every day I think about you and your family, and mentally send the best positivity, strength, peace, and luck your way. Every day. You deserve to get better. You have so much to live for and in order to do that you need to heal. I know that takes time and patience but honestly you’re a strong guy and your family needs you. You’ve come a long way and we all support you. We all love you and miss you so fucking much. I wish I could go visit you with everyone else today. Happy birthday, Dakota.

Advertisements

Tear down the house

I decided to go with a new theme tonight because

a.) I can’t sleep– I have too much on my mind, AND I’m going home tomorrow, so I’m really excited

b.) It’s time for a little change, and

c.) I’ve been neglecting this outlet for too long.

I know, it’s been busy, and blah blah freakin’ blah. So what? So I don’t have five or ten or fifteen minutes– or thirty seconds– to write? Seriously, it helped my mental and emotional health SO MUCH this summer when I was journaling on paper. To think it wouldn’t help to write my thoughts on my blog is just silly.

So here I am again, with a new theme and a little pizzazz and even less sleep.

I felt guilty not blogging on my birthday (the 30th), but to be honest I was a little emotional during the day, and that night was an absolute wreck. Definitely did not feel like writing after that. I felt like shit, in almost every way possible.

But I suppose it’s time to talk about that a little bit. So I did six extra or so too many birthday shots. My normal limit is four– five if I’m feeling crazy. Blame it on peer pressure and one– I repeat, ONE– night of reckless decision-making. That’s all it takes for me to learn a lesson, I promise. I’m not stupid or careless. But I was missing my family and excited to be with my friends, and I’ll confess to having a natural inclination toward vodka.

So I was a little reckless. Not one of my friends took care of me until I was back in my room– and even then, I barely remember getting there. It was actually repulsive. I ended up with a boy in my room that I didn’t want there and a choice to have sex or not have sex. I say that bluntly because that was the decision. I can honestly admit that I was so drunk I don’t remember how I phrased things or how loud I was– but I can clearly recall telling this boy before we had even left the party that I was Not Having Sex With Him. Period, no question. It’s highly probably that other people heard me telling him this. I wanted there to Be No Question.

Well, when he found his way into my bedroom, he told me he’d thought I was kidding.

I tried to explain that I was waiting for love. I tried to explain that I had not had the greatest experiences before with boys in general and that type of pressure. I tried to explain that all I wanted to do now was cuddle and sleep off the vodka.

After spending I-don’t-even-know-how-long trying to explain, I gave up and left him in my room, and, frustrated with myself and with the evening (and with the fact that there was a boy in my room who was demanding sex and wouldn’t leave), I went over to Katie and John’s. They returned with me as amused reinforcements, but I was really upset, simply because I HAVE been pressured in that way before, and it’s humiliating and degrading. And unacceptable, whether you’re drunk or sober or scared or experienced. No means no, and should always mean no. Every time.

Finally with a little peer pressure, the boy left and I retired to my room with Katie. There I basically wept away the early hours of the morning after my nineteenth birthday. I couldn’t help myself: everything is more emotional when you’re drunk, anyway. And in all seriousness, if I wasn’t stronger than the boy I’d had in my room, I might have been raped. Like I said, it only takes one experience for me to learn. My previous experience led me to refuse this boy at any cost, even my pride. This most recent awful night taught me how dangerous birthday shots can be… and all joking aside, it taught me to know just how much I can trust my friends to get me out of certain situations. To get me home safely without making bad decisions: not one bit. To keep me safe once I am home and support me in my own choices: rather a lot. It’s interesting, anyway.

But so. Yeah. That was my horrendous October 1st. I was extremely sick when I woke up, and for most of the day. I guess it might look like the average weekend of your every day college student to some? Maybe. But for me, it just wasn’t a good fit. I like to share a bottle of wine with friends, and a couple of beers at a party are just fine. And normally, shots are my favorite when it comes to drinking. But this was too much, and it led to really unpleasant things. I disappointed myself.

But it could have been so, so much worse. I could have had drunken unprotected sex with a boy I barely know (and a really short, kind of scrawny one at that). Bad decision. I could have compromised myself in a way that I vowed I wouldn’t, not yet.

And I closed a certain circle, in a way… I took back what had been taken from me. I knew what I wanted– or rather, didn’t want– and I didn’t let guilt or obligation or shock or even flattery rampage over that. The fact that I was flat-out wasted and able to maintain the willpower not to have meaningless drunk sex has to stand for something, I figure. And it might make me a prude or a tease but it’s my body. I’d said from the very beginning that I didn’t want it– I was honest. And that’s all you can ask for. Although I respect everyone and tend to feel bad if I hurt people, I’m sure this boy feels nothing but a bruised ego, and I can’t be sorry for that. Also, Katie informed me later that day that he’d said he “forgave me.” Then I made the decision to forget about him completely and allow him to go fuck himself if he chose. That clinched my original choice not to give a damn or to feel bad.

This past year, I’ve discovered that it is vital to love and respect yourself. The decisions I make are mine, for my own reasons, and I answer to no one but myself and my maker– whether that be God or the Creator, or some Great Spirit that’s the best and the brightest. I can’t help but be satisfied that the person I’ve become has enough strength to know her mind and her heart even while seriously inebriated. That might seem a little strange, but since I never plan on being that drunk again, that means that I’m stronger than even I realize. And that’s reassuring, considering life is only going to get harder as the years go on.

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.

Final-ly (blog for 407T)

Well, I’m done! For the summer, for the semester. Until August, I’m done with school!

Not really, but the thought’s a nice one.

I don’t have to go to school for grades, now, though. And that’s where I get giddy. I can be self-motivated and study and learn because now I have the materials and the tools. I can learn things because I want to learn them and because they make me happy.

I guess I won’t comment in depth about how much I’ve changed. I’m really glad I made a new blog, a new chapter, for this part of my life, because you can see from the very, very beginning of my summer (last summer) how different things have gotten. I feel like my mind’s been stretched and warped in so many new and interesting ways– not all of them good, but then again, whose mind is all good? I figure those parts will iron themselves out as things continue to shift and change.

I did a lot of thinking last night as I laid in my bed in 407T for the very last time. It’s strange to think that I’ll never spend another night in this room. I remember thinking that about my room at home last summer (but of course I’m headed back there and have been there since last August). Still, the nostalgia is kind of the same. And it makes me a little melancholy to dwell on how many hours I’ve spent in here, thinking and ranting to Lucy, doing work, tapping out aural skillz rhythm patterns… good times. And bad times: the vicious homesickness, angsting over problems with people I thought were my friends, learning who was really going to be there for me– like the invaluable support system Professor Cowdrick spoke of– and who I’d be there for.

So much that has contributed to my personal growth and change has happened here. While I was sitting in this uncomfortable, ugly chair at this cluttered little desk.

I know it’s just a room, and I won’t linger sentimentally over it once I’m out of it. But for this moment, I’m going to sit here thinking about the year I’ve spent here, in 407T.

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.

In the first spinning place

I’m sick today.

But it’s okay, because it’s just a head cold. Praise Jesus. Although granted it feels like a hippopotamus is sitting inside my brain, chillin’. But it’s okay! I only have two exams to freak out for this week, and I’m singing in studio tomorrow with Orlando accompanying me and no Joong-Han and crappy Italian and OH I feel like crap.

But it’s okay. I get to sit out of Women’s Choir tonight, by order of my Professor (who basically runs my life, and it’s great). I’ll go to River Campus and get some food and do some work and take Robitussin and decongestants.

So biutiful

So I just got back from seeing a movie with Nicole. We walked to the Little Theatre and saw Iñárritu’s “Biutiful.”

Well, oh God. I’m miserable right now. As I was telling a friend just now via text, “life sucks/I am so lucky. I don’t like to feel like shit about stuff like that, that I can’t change.”

“Biutiful” is about a father in urban, impoverished Spain who has to deal with a bipolar drug addict “massage therapist” wife, shady dealings with migrant workers, and seeing dead people. That’s basically it in a nutshell because I’m tired, but he’s also been diagnosed with terminal prostate cancer that has spread to his bones and liver. He has two children and a shithead brother and he’s too busy taking care of other people and surviving– too prideful, maybe– to ask for help. Or to tell his family.

It was biutiful.

His ten year old daughter eventually found out and by that time I was a mess. He not only reminded me of my mother– who suffers silently and gives selflessly all the damn time– but his love for his family was a tangible force the entire time. I could tell that he did almost nothing with a thought for himself. And he still suffered immeasurably.

It makes me feel likes someone’s grabbing my guts and twisting, squeezing for a reaction. I guess that means it was a good movie, but I’d like to think that it meant more than that. “Good movies” generally do.

It was another of those reminders (this time, a rather sickening instead of uplifting or bittersweet one) that life is so short. Any second might be that last, and what the hell do we do? We squander away time instead of spending it with those we love. We think of ourselves constantly– even right now I’m pondering how this movie made me feel– and there is so much more to do in order to improve the quality of life for others.

As for me, I don’t know where to start. Getting my education and studying like a crazy ass seems a fairly good place to start, but what about after that? What about during that? What can I do in the next three years?

More than I have previously in this lifetime, that’s for sure.

Perfection (a reflection)

To be honest, I never usually have so many ideas I can articulate in one day. Occasionally they’ll hit me, quickly and suddenly, and I’ll have to get them down somewhere, somehow immediately or lose them forever. Others drift as remnants, half-formed and vague, until later. Or until never.

But today is just a good day for thinking and writing, I guess. It’s also strange that I’m blogging now because generally by 11:06 pm on any given evening (weekends excepted) I am either sleeping or wishing to God I was sleeping, so hey. This is cool.*

But back to my stream of consciousness at the moment, why don’t we?

I think a lot about perfection.

We all try to be perfect. We all want the 100 on our theory homework or the A in ed psych. Obviously we all want to perfect our skills, especially at Eastman (like, DUH, hello). And there are other ways in which people strive to perfect themselves: religiously/spiritually, physically, emotionally. Still others strive to behave perfectly or respond perfectly in social situations, perfecting their image.

I have tried to perfect myself in all of these ways. Possibly more, I guess. But over the course of the past few years, and especially here, I have put myself at a level with other, more “normal” human beings– and by that, I mean the kids who don’t try as hard, or the kids who aren’t at an advantage socioeconomically, or even the adult working class. I think working at Tim Horton’s all summer and this winter break reinforced my relationship and tie to the everyday average person. And while I refuse to lower my sights or adjust my previously-set goals, it’s humbling and enlightening at the same time to have a glimpse into the real world. It was also a learning experience– an incredibly motivating and meaningful one.

I guess it gave me a glimpse into a life not filled so much with lofty aspirations of a perfect fellowship with Christ and the church, or a toned and physically disciplined body, or straight As.

I mean I’m not going to alter my own goals– I have a shady outline of what I’m here to do, and I plan on filling it in. But there are manners that some adopt that make having goals seem like something pretentious and disgusting. Like, “I’ve got these plans and nothing is going to get in my way.”

It sounds okay, but in my opinion there need to be some priorities. Right? Like, family? Friends? Relationships with people, meaningful interactions with others, your teachers, your peers? What about living life? I don’t mean getting drunk (although hey, sometimes it’s a perk) but enjoying yourself and taking time to reflect on the happiness in your life. Little things, like having a ridiculous discussion with my roommate about Barbie and Ken, or talking to my grandmother about Criminal Minds, or savoring Starbucks because I don’t have it at home– or even staring into the sun and feeling it touch your face because it’s the middle of winter– those things are valuable to me. They are, in a way, much much MUCH more important than behaviors I’ve noticed, such as…

Biblical facebook statuses: I mean I guess people quote meaningful song lyrics and that’s similar, but please, do you really need to shove your faith in everyone’s face? I mean, I can say I love Jesus because, well, I do. But in my opinion and experience, it’s better to show your love for him through your actions. It’s really not how often you talk about your prayers or your youth group or “how you can spread the Woooord.” How about, you just go show it? Loving people without judgment is going to have more of an effect than a club at college where all you do is chat about how to add more people to your club. It feels exclusive. And it feels like bragging, and an exaggerated attempt to make oneself into someone others should seek out or respect.

Physical perfection: I understand that gyms are awesome. I have a membership. But those that get carried away, and do a freakout if they miss half a warmup or a stretch or something stupid? That’s ridiculous. The world is not going to end if you miss Pilates, dude.

Academics are overrated. Isn’t it enough that we kill ourselves to achieve proficiency at our art? The added pressure of grades just screams “give me migraines.” Some overwork themselves to the point where learning the material is secondary and the letter grade is most important. Isn’t the acquisition of knowledge the goal? Not the skill with which one takes tests.

Or, maybe I’m just overthinking this, and it’s the attitude with which one seeks perfection that is the really irksome thing. Maybe I just place too much value on not being an obsessive lunatic. Maybe I have a thing against acting like an overeager or scarily-driven know it all. Hopefully, though, I’m capable of pursuing my own goals with a passion for life and an enthusiasm that’s contagious and considerate, not obnoxious.

But that’s all I know for tonight.

Also, Lucy and I were just having a discussion while I wrote this… for her benefit I’m supposed to mention that Zulu thatchers were hired to thatch the roofs of all the gift shops in Disney World so that they would look legit.

 

* I mean, undoubtably this also has something to do with the fact that, YES I’M GOING HOME TOMORROW.

Real, and well this is my life right now

So I found this quote on Ivy’s blog and nearly started crying. It’s silly, I know.

“May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you’re wonderful, and don’t forget to make some art — write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. May your coming year be a wonderful thing, in which you dream both dangerously and outrageously. I hope you’ll make something that didn’t exist before you made it, that you will be loved and you will be liked, and that you will have people to love and to like in return. And, most importantly (because I think there should be more kindness and more wisdom in the world right now), I hope that you will, when you need to be, be wise, and that you will always be kind. And I hope that somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself.”

-Neil Gaiman, “A New Year’s Benediction”

But it’s just that I think I’m experiencing a period of self-hatred right now. I know that is probably silly, too. There’s all this crap about loving yourself floating around and being shoved down everyone’s throats, and up until recently I believed it. I wasn’t truly deeply happy, although seeing my family always inspires a serious dose of love. Upon reflection I think it’s that I hate myself. I love everyone around me. I love them so much it hurts and would never want to leave them (that’s why going back to Eastman generally just makes me sick). But me?

I feel stupid. I feel undereducated and barely literate. I know of few ways to rectify this and in any case my schedule this coming semester absolutely would not allow it. Those “fine books”? Yeah, right. Because I can read for fun. And if I could, where would I get the books? Rush Rhees? Because I have that much time.

I feel ugly. And I know it’s not what you look like that matters. That’s what I tell myself every day. I tell myself that just because I’ve gained a little weight I am by no means fat. I’m curvier, and that’s supposed to be attractive. Right?
I can’t even fall back on cleaning horse stalls to tone up. It’s winter and the tractor is clogging the barn. My dad cleans them every few days because he uses the tractor and if I tried messing with that whacked-out setup I’d break the barn. And if I make an effort to work out it will be like confirming I’m a mess and need to fix myself. I’m just scared to make a change, and for that I despise the insecure and procrastinating parts of myself that slap and tug, each in opposite directions.

The idea that I will kiss someone wonderful this year is unlikely at the very best. I need to not focus on boys or relationships. Boys terrify me. I hate writing that and I hate that it’s true. I hate that I’m too much of an insecure coward to take steps to get to know anyone like that. I hate that the only boy who would kiss me has two other girls he’s also propositioning and I hate that I would even consider that offer. I won’t take it. I know that he won’t care and we’ll move on and stay friends. Chemistry means nothing, the physicality of it all means nothing unless there’s love. And that’s just not in the game plan. I won’t waste my time when there are so many more important things to be doing.

That looks so dramatic and stupid and I’m sure that three years ago I’d’ve been scolded and told to stop being… oh shit what was it. “Emo?” Yeah, well… That was a long time ago and I know the psychology of my situation then back to front. I’ve put it aside.

But I’ve also thought through my life in terms of the big scheme and if I stumble across someone in the distant future who can value me as more than a good time, more than someone to manipulate, and more than a secret meeting, I’ll maybe reconsider. And to be honest I’m jealous of the normalcy, the innocence of my sister, because she has so many options and the good sense and sharp mind to tell all the jackasses and lost causes I seem to attract to go screw themselves.

So this is one step I can take. One thing I can and will firmly refuse. Without love, I won’t make myself vulnerable to anyone. It’s such a hopelessly romantic statement and looks like I’m a giant loser, but the drain that kind of attempt at loveless commitment can take would cost me too much, in terms of emotion, and time.

Most importantly time.

But I will sing. I will write and I may finger paint. If nothing else I will progress musically to the best of my ability, even if that ability happens to be less than everyone else there.

I keep returning to a thought: that I’ve been told I need confidence.

Well you know what? You get too confident and then life sucks when you find out you’re not even close to as good as you thought you were. You try your damnedest to mix humility with the confidence and hope you shine, hope to God it’s working because you crave to do what you love, and it hurts even more when it’s destroyed. You think you know something and you keep seeking that knowledge and you try and fall flat on your face. I’m in a place right now where if I take those kinds of chances and fall, I may not be able to get back up. Everyone knows everyone and they talk. They talk they talk and I keep thinking I don’t want to go back and spend as much time socializing because sleep is great, but apparently their opinions matter and I don’t quite know why. It’s only three and a half years more.

But these people will be around, connecting in the future, for the rest of my life. What do I do? I don’t know. I don’t know.

What do I want?

I want to dream. Dangerously, outrageously. I want to do, and do something useful to benefit people. I want to serve, I want to help. I want to give of myself to improve the life of someone else. I don’t want to dwell in this place where I’m sad and I’m stuck and miserable because I’m ashamed of myself.

I don’t just want, no– I don’t just want to.

I need to surprise myself.

Old

It’s really weird, isn’t it, to think that in fifty or sixty years, if I make it that far, my world will be so unfathomably different than it is right now.

I am sitting on my bed, in my dorm. A freshman in college with polka-dotted sheets and pink and orange, vibrant decor. A book on one side of me, my computer and phone on the other. So new to the world of real things. So new to living on her own, as her own.

In sixty years, where will I be? A stout little grandmother making my life with love and horses and big scary dogs in Wyoming or Montana? With a big, open house and plenty of kids around. And space to run and ride and work and learn.

Or will I be in the city somewhere, teaching master classes? Speaking and reading and developing new ways to think of music and education. Probably alone since that work is intense. I might have a decent apartment with plenty of books and a red coffeemaker.

Maybe I’ll be huddled near my sister in some suburb somewhere. A well-to-do, all-is-well, everything’s-the-same neighborhood. I can sit trapped in the house that’s identical to everyone else’s and write away while my sister’s grandchildren play nearby.

I don’t know. But I was just sitting here thinking, in fifty years, will I remember this exact moment? Will I recall that day when I sat and breathed and looked around, wondering if I’d remember? What will I think of my eighteen-year-old self? What would I tell her? What will I know then that is still a mystery to me right now?

What people will I have come across? What other lives that are strangers to me now will have brushed against mine? What lives will my family and I have lived?

Who will I be when I am old?

To the dog I will someday have

Dear puppy,

Although it may seem as though your sole purpose in life is to be scary-looking and protective, I have a few reassurances for you that will hopefully make your job seem less complicated.

Yes, you will be my “guard dog.” However, in addition to looking like a terrifying creature of destruction, sounding like an alarm system on steroids, and physically being capable of preventing any serious harm to, well, me? I will expect you to be house trained. Well-behaved. Pleasant in polite company (that of serial killers, rapists, vandals, etc. excluded. Obviously.) Your vicious appearance will be tempered by a heart of sincerity and devotion. Your strength shall be evened out by a passion for life and sly sense of humor.

But your flaws will be largely overlooked (assuming they don’t involve eating children, or my shoes), since, well, duh: I will love you and take care of you.

We’ll be a team, little dude. You’ll be the T to my Rex, the cream cheese to my bagel. That kind of thing. We’ll grow old together; or, more likely, you’ll grow old and I’ll grow middle-aged. It’ll probably just be me you’ll have to deal with, but who knows? Maybe other interesting characters will wander into the picture. Naturally I’ll trust your judgment when it comes to who I spend my personal time with.

Oh, and okay. So there’s one other little hitch I hope you’ll be okay with. That unconditional love bit? You’ll have to stretch it on your end for me, since I kind of crack the sound barrier with my voice on a daily basis. I can try to get you your own room, depending on what apartment we live in. You might have to just chill in the kitchen while I practice. Sorry bud.

Other than that, I think we will be the freakin’ dream team. A build in bff system. That’s us, you and me, me and you, us. I don’t know what your name will be, I don’t know where we’ll meet, or when, or how. I don’t know how I think I’m going to afford to share my life with you (the last part’s a joke. Kind-of.). But I promise that, when I am at a point where I am financially able, semi-paranoid/lonely, and living on my own, we will meet and our lives will mesh.

And there you have it. Just something to look forward to.

Sincerely waiting,

Kim

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.

Underneath the abject willow

This is the song that is stuck in my head. It’s really great. And it’s also why I can’t get to sleep.

I want to sing in all of these different, intriguing languages but it’s funny how out of nowhere a song in my own native English can pop up on the radar. And be really meaningful.

“Underneath the abject willow” is a Britten tune that speaks of love and rejection and coming back from all of it. Life’s too short to wait and wonder, and although it’s beautiful to pause and enjoy the scenery, without action, without loving someone, it’s all pointless.

It’s just the song to inspire a few pretty thoughts of what a puzzled girl could do if she wanted to. Could do with life, if she focused. “Underneath the abject willow, lover sulk no more; act from thought should quickly follow: what is thinking for?” (Britten 1). So gorgeous. ♥

All that lives may love; why longer bow to loss, with arms across? Strike, and you shall conquer.

In another life, maybe

So I realized upon waking up and reading what I wrote last night, I left a few important things out of my post.

First of all, I realize it’s a pretty personal subject. When I mentioned the vulnerability? It’s kind of weird leaving that last post up, just because it talks about crap I’ve tried my best to not even think about for a long time.

Because let’s be realistic. I sing opera. I have plans for my life, and they’re not all money-making or stabilizing. I’m ambitious and fairly smart and love to read, write, think, and work outside/shovel horse shit/run around with my dogs when it’s not snowy. I don’t fit the typical mold for a significant other and I’m aware of it. But that doesn’t stop me from thinking about it, or having a yen for it. Even if it doesn’t make sense.

And hey. This was a blog for my thoughts, first and foremost. So if I’m thinking about boys and the future, then that’s what I’m going to write about.

But upon further reflection, I almost feel as though I should resign it to fiction. Keep the thoughts of a future with some faceless, nameless gent within the pages of a word document. The idea of jeopardizing my future plans because of some unknown stranger is horrifying. It’s just not worth it.

So ignore my lists and forget the standards. It’s just a silly topic that happens to surface in my mind whenever I see my friends happy in that way. I’m glad for them, but in the more selfish section of my brain I do tend to wonder why I can’t have it, too.

Should-be-sleeping but oh, too alive poem.

There comes a time when

walking in a backwards wrongfooted flip flop

with braids undone and a

rose-tickled sunburn

a-singing with a loud unpretentious laugh-tone

in a solemn judged room with none of

that make-up on

crying so hard but it’s just because of chuckling at the

absurd-sauce and the glasses that

were so out of style

we’re not out of style but the funny doesn’t leave it since the

stern and frowning brows drawn low

claim our audacity

for us

But there’s no time when

laughing in a wrong-footed flip flop sunburned grins

are out of place since we just

live inside the moment

no thanks to what happens

if. we. wait.

This is like the coast we visited late this afternoon (Lake Ontario)

Anxiousitis

I’ve been distracting myself lately.

If I don’t, that deep cold clutch of fear in the belly gives a yank and tugs me under.

It woke me at five this morning, nauseating me. Rippled, acidly, through my nerves until I couldn’t breathe. Dizzy, I stumbled upstairs to drown in coffee. Necessary, but the caffeine just jittered an already faltering system.

I need distraction. Otherwise I just make myself sick.

I’m excited, right? I keep telling myself that. I need this change. It’s a vital step, a crucial part of my life.

But oh God, I’m so scared, so freaking SICK of waiting. The anxiety is wrecking my nerves. Just get me to school and living, already.

What did Brendan tell me? Oh yeah: “Kim, I feel like you’re searching”

*Just a quick note: I wrote this from my cell phone late at night (or, early in the morning) before this past Wednesday. I spent the day with this awesome German I know all day yesterday, so I did not get a chance to type it and post it. But, here it is, unedited and in honesty.  

Brendan texted me tonight, from Waynesburg. Told me about a book he feels I should read. He said, “Kim, I feel like you’re searching.”

  
I feel like I am, too. 

So here is how it is. Here is how I come to be typing– texting, really– forming a blog entry from my phone because I was dumb enough to leave my macbook upstairs, and it’s past midnight: my entire family’s sleeping.

Here is how it is: how I am sitting here sniffling and experiencing mild heartburn, feeling like a complete fool with a temperature.

Here is how it is. How I have come to abruptly halting my reading process and doing this, setting down (temporarily) Don Miller’s Searching for God Knows What.

Miller writes: “…I felt something missing inside myself, some bit of something that made me feel special or important or valued. This thing missing inside me… is something God would go to great length to explain in His Bible. …By trying to find an identity…

Don Miller also wrote Blue Like Jazz, also a good read

I was displaying some of the very ideas God would speak of in Scripture, some of the ideas about being separated from a relationship that gave me meaning, and now looking for a kind of endorsement from a jury of my peers” (Miller 42).

Isn’t that exactly what I have been doing since June, scrabbling frantically around to improve myself, to impress others or receive their attention, simply to feel accepted? To find an identity.

Here I was so worried about making the right impression at Eastman or at work or even on my adventure/excursion that I was completely and totally blind to the fact that I’m obsessed with my image or what people think. Haven’t I trusted God before and never had to worry about it at all? Hadn’t I felt a sense of peace, finally, and an invasive, infectious happiness, a sunshine?

I’ve been trying to find God again, and I think my dip into Spiritualist Central helped concrete my own beliefs and outlooks. It didn’t shake them as much as it could have.

It served to remind me that, without God once again as a fully recognized presence and driving force in my life, my worst and most horrifying fears will be realized and I will fail. God has been with me every step of the way thus far. I know He won’t “leave” me, but I am scared of the consequences. Scared of the thought of evangelism, of losing sight of things, and dumbly, of knowing God’s love as it was meant to be felt. But mostly I’m just ashamed.

I know as a Christian (is that what I am?) I would feel the need to reach others– and to be honest I feel as though that impulse has been with me my whole life. But I’m not good enough to do it, I’ve tried before, when my faith was really strong. Or I thought it was. Now I fall back under the excuse, I’m too flawed, even though I know that’s stupid. But time and again I’ve kind of tried and definitely failed to serve God because I didn’t want to give it everything and fall short, again.

I think I’d want to share news of God’s love. Of an nonjudgmental, unconditional, unrelenting love. I just doubt I’d be a decent spokesperson. Plus it doesn’t help that it feels like, as soon as you tag “Christianity,” all anyone ever seems to see is piety, when (at least in my case) they couldn’t be farther from the truth.

So… how do I go from being “in control” of my own actions to handing myself over to God?

The search is far from over, but I’ve found something at least. Here is how it is.

Pathetic, brimming with shame, and flawed, I figure it’s about time I stop moping around scared and wimpy and be an instrument for God to use. Or, I guess it’s more fitting… a voice for his love.

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.