Quick note to self

Whether a man would have died tomorrow or the day after or eventually… it doesn’t matter. Because… this life… every second of it… is all we have (Rice 238, Interview with the Vampire).”

It’s not worth being angry over mistakes that were made  a long time ago.

It’s not worth not going all out to accomplish something.

It’s not worth it to hold back.

It’s not worth your energy to hold grudges.

It’s not worth your time to wonder what might have been.

It’s not worth your heart or compassion to forgive and laugh. Not this time, or back then. Summertime may make you think of those “special” boys, but really? They used you, and they didn’t respect you. So now, you keep your backbone, and you keep your head up. You deserve better than all of them.

They’re not worth giving up any small speck of happiness you’ve gathered.

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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.

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.

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.