All my loving

I see my family in three days.

Technically I see them next Tuesday, but I have to get through Friday, Monday and Tuesday for that to happen. I’m leaving straight from studio class at 730 in the evening to load up the car and get the heck out of here.

I can’t say I’m unhappy here, because I really enjoy myself, normally. But I am so ready to go home, to breathe real air. To see stars. The one Sunday we went to the beach at night? Yeah. Amazing. Just that little teasing glimpse hooked itself into my heart and still tugs, tugs, until the breath comes short in my chest and I can almost picture the sky from my house. I can’t wait to see the horses, to run around with Molley and Grizz and maybe go for a run. Okay, so I don’t actually run, but a leisurely jog with the dogs or a wander in the woods is certainly an exciting possibility.

I can chill out with my sister when the parents are at work. We’ll play Sims and eat Real Food and insult each other. Probably fold some laundry and do the dishes and laze around and drink hot chocolate.

Then, Thanksgiving. Oh my God. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. Grandma’s house in Forestville jammed full of the Luders and maybe/hopefully Uncle Norm and Aunt Lena. Bursting with sounds and smells of football and Really Real Food. I’ll probably be chopping vegetables or making gravy or whatever while Uncle Dave struts around like the proud grandfather he is (regardless of the fact that baby Evan will be with Maria at Scott’s parents’) and Grandma runs around trying to make sure everything is amazing. She needn’t bother– it always is. There will be turkey and holy sweet baby Jesus mashed potatoes. And salad, and some weird casseroles that I probably won’t eat, but then. But then. Dessert. Pies and holy crap it doesn’t even matter what other goodness there is because there will be homemade freaking pie. More than one kind.

I’m going to faint just thinking about the phenomenal week that awaits me.

I just have to get through three days. And a weekend. I cannot wait to be home.

The view of the back of my house from a little ways into the backyard

Advertisements

Life’s not ebbing away that quickly

I feel like I start off with “Well, this is it” really frequently.

So, I think I’ll mix it up.

Well, this isn’t it.

It’s my eighteenth birthday tomorrow. I’ve decided I just have to look forward to it. I won’t be sad or apprehensive. I just worry because birthdays only come once a year and I’m kind of a little kid about it. I like the little happy birthdays I get, I like the idea that for one day it’s like Christmas, just for me. It’s silly and childish (and selfish) but I adore the thought of a pink cake with rainbow sprinkles waiting at home where there’s popcorn and my sister and Nora Roberts and my mother’s cooking (and my mother, duh) and Criminal Minds on TV. That’s what coming home next weekend will be. So that’s kind of propelling me into birthday excitement from afar.

But you know, I’m getting pizza tomorrow, after all. It should be a good day. I’m not a hermit, so others are going with me, and we’ll hit up Cam’s for an hour or two and gorge ourselves on what I’ve heard is fantastic food.

But still. It’s my eighteenth birthday tomorrow, and although it could be “it,” I refuse to let it be. It’s not an end to an age (although literally, okay, it is). It’s a continuation of what seems to be a crazy-good time at an insanely interesting place. Seventeen was really cool, and I don’t like the number eight quite as much as seven, but that’s all right. I can deal. Instead of the fresh taste of adult existence just slipping closer, it’s right here and in front of my face. The hard brightness of independence is officially arriving and nothing I could do will stop it. It’s easiest just to let it wash over me, like the crash of the surf in Mexico. It is whether or not I’ll let it knock me on my ass and drag me around in the sand that’s the important thing.

It won’t knock me down. Change is eternal, and change is a balancing act. Just like the tides, it will ebb and flow and keep my world from running crookedly. Eighteen is just a single swift ripple that seems huge when it’s approaching, but by the time it’s crested I think I’ll have a better perspective on it. It might not be as intimidating as it first implies. Or, perhaps instead of looking imposing, if I run straight towards it, and dive through it, it could be a lot of fun.

I don’t know. I just hope tomorrow will be a really good time and a promising, exciting, vibrant start to another year. If it’s anything like this T-Rex I edited earlier today, it will be a freakin’ sicknasty-great year.

Yeah, I whitened his teeth. Jealousy accepted, since we all want that dashing grin.

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.

Always free

Here is what I think college will be like. I think it is going to be a lot of work. I’m going to get migraines again (I already had one the other day for the first time since I think yearbook ended). I am going to stress endlessly and probably overdose on caffeine and most likely will stop blogging for a while because I’ll be so insanely busy.

But I am going to enjoy every second of it. The long hours, constantly pushing myself. The eventual improvement that will hopefully follow.

Heather said outright, “They’re going to take you down a few pegs.” She means emotionally, musically, and mentally. Not ego-wise, I don’t have a problem that way. But everything I’ve ever been taught or thought I was doing correctly or well enough? No, they’ll fix me. And that was my reply: “As long as they’re planning on bringing me back up and higher, I’m totally fine with that.”

I am ready for this massive change. Not too eager: I love life, simple as it is right now. But I’m prepared for something bigger, something on a more serious and intense scale. Something I’ve been waiting for all my life.

At five years old I wanted to be a country star with a hundred horses and side jobs as a firefighter and ballerina. But even then I knew that my existence couldn’t be a simple marriage, children, and steady nine-to-five job. Not that there’s anything wrong with that! I almost envy it now that I know I probably won’t have it. The simplicity and basic motions that lead to a challenging and extraordinarily life-filled time here.

But I have come to realize that those probably aren’t going to be mine. Marriage wouldn’t be so bad: I like the tradition of it. The family that comes from it and the life two people can build together. I’m too much of my own person to share it with someone like that, though, I think. I like to be in charge; I want to have control over what I’m doing, with my body, heart, and career. A husband would really screw with that. Besides, the only guys that would be willing to stand up to me (or stand with me) on a romantic plane are the toughy-toughs: but the guy who believes he has a chance at leading me around anywhere is smoking the good stuff. Or delusional. Wimpy boys aren’t any fun, and the regular guy (if there is such a thing) seems to find me intimidating. But maybe, who knows, if there was someone who didn’t mind my lifestyle and let me do what I want, without being a complete pushover… oh well. It bears thinking about when I’m older. As does the thought of kids: but seriously? With what I hope is my career during the kid-bearing ages? Yeah, right. I’ll let Meeshie have the children, and I’ll be the best damn aunt anyone could contemplate.

Speaking of careers, if all goes as planned I’ll be singing. Singing then teaching, or singing and teaching. But either way I’ll probably be traveling. Maybe I’ll take classical music to third world countries or something cool. Who knows? But from a very young age I was aware that there would be different things in store for me. Whenever I thought about staying in a small town and having kids, maybe running a little business (pizza-making? a bookstore? cafe?), it just felt awkward. Like something was telling me, good try bud, but not in this lifetime… at least, not until you’re very, very old.

All the same, I want it and I don’t want it. I see the beautiful home my parents have, I know of the happiness my mother found in the early years of her marriage (up until my sister and I entered the picture, anyway. ha ha) and I know that the job security and a pleasant home can be a wonderful thing. I just don’t know if they will be mine. Anyway, all this rambling comes to one conclusion: college will be the start of something big, something magnificent and bright and wonderful. A vibrant beginning to an adult life that will make me who and what I was meant to be. Sempre libera.

Where under the jacket

My sister just wanted to know, “You know how Harry’s always pulling his wand out from under this jacket? Where does he keep it?”

The truth is, I don’t know. Where under one’s jacket would there be a place to hold a wand? Is there a lined, inner pocket for that sort of thing? Specially made Muggle jackets for wizards, with little storage pockets? Or maybe he just shoves it in his jacket and hopes for the best.

I don’t know. And this was an entirely pointless little bloggity blog because I’m tired and want to write but don’t know what to write about.

That’s all for tonight folks. I work at 6:30 am sharp tomorrow morning and get off at three. Despite a nap when I got home from Tara’s I am exhausted and the last little dregs of a migraine are still nagging at the back of my skull. It’s freaking humid and disgusting out, but I plan to go and try to sleep in the soggy oven that is Western New York. Blercdhchgh. (That’s a revolted and nauseated noise, by the way.)

Anyway. To insomnia. Have a good one.