I have to share, too

I have to share these posts, the first by a colleague of mine and the second by his friend Justin (whom I have never met).

ANDREW:

I have to share this post by my good friend Justin. He sums up very eloquently the plight of harassment that is still very real for gay people (tempted to emphasize ‘gay men,’ although some may disagree with me) and even people simply assumed to be gay. Read this if you want to know what it feels like, if you want to understand why myself and many others are still so outspoken about creating an accepting world for gay people to live in. It’s not just about rights; it’s about about respecting difference on all fronts, and it’s about bringing a moderate-to-high level of understanding and empathy to your interactions with your friends, and, yes, even strangers. We all have demons and prejudices that were transplanted to us at a young age. At this point, it is our moral and civic duty to try to obliterate these prejudices…to see people for the good that radiates from them rather than judging them for the aspects of their person that you cannot understand. Read below.

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JUSTIN:
“I feel the need to write something VERY important and I hope all of you will read this and consider it. I don’t want to proselytize here, but this is something different anyway, a personal issue.

Last night, walking in downtown Boston from the subway to the museum, I was harassed by a small group of (white, male) thugs. It was dark but very early in the evening, and somehow I was the only one on the street. Had I needed to call for help, I’m not sure from where it would have come. I tend to pay no attention to people on the street and have only rarely had issues of this kind, but this group of men proceeded to provoke me from across the street with homophobic slurs (“faggot”, “Clay Aiken” – never heard that one! – among other things too explicit to write here; to my brothers and anyone else who thinks “faggot” is funny, *this* is how it is used and what it feels like). I didn’t acknowledge them, and they proceeded to cross the street, follow me, and continue to harass me. One of them laid an aggressive hand on me. I naturally walk quickly, and somehow was able to get away with only a little more attention from them. I said nothing throughout the whole exchange – an exchange of their demeaning idea of fun (or “civil duty”, for all I know) for my sense of security.

(It’s worth mentioning that I was dressed normally, like any New Englander in deep winter: heavy coat, hoodie, scarf, boots. That I was immediately assumed to be gay, however accurate, was not obvious. That merits a different discussion.)

I do not often fear for my safety on the street in general, and I am loath to think that I should have to as a gay man. However, this is not the first time I have been accosted in public for being a “fag”. As for last night, I am over it, in as much as that is possible. However, it leaves a myriad of questions to be addressed. Questions which range from: “What the fuck kind of society is this?” to “How is a verbal and physical violence of this kind any different from the non-support so many LGBT people receive, from people they know, from their country and society at large?” I can’t answer the first question. But about the second: “It’s not different.” The effect – be it psychological or physical – of not feeling as though you matter, to a single individual or to a society, is an silent and destructive form of abuse. I in no way mean to trivialize the troubles of those who have suffered abuses far greater than I have; and I should mention that in many areas of my life, I feel supported and cared for. But not in all, and incidents like these remind you of those colossal gaps. For the record, my sexuality (like gender, like skin color) is on the table for precisely no one to discuss, for no one else to have a say in. The ways in which one can be violated are many, but all they feel the same at the end of the day.

I consider myself lucky to have gotten off so easily this one time, in a situation in which my privacy, my personal space, my sexual safety, and possibly even my life is at stake. You never know, and everything hangs in a tenuous balance. There is no excuse for sitting idly by. To say nothing IS a lack of support. To say nothing is to do nothing, while abuse ten times greater than this is happening all the time. People need to know EXPLICITLY that you are backing them, that you care about what they are feeling, and that they are valued; and it is not enough to be “mostly valued” or “pretty much supported, but not totally”. Nothing – literally nothing – will happen on a societal level without this kind of attention on a personal level.

I don’t mean to be sappy or dramatic, but I feel like, this once, I deserve to say whatever the hell I want. Because it’s huge, but it is so, so fixable.”

I felt the need to repost these thoughts once I read them via a facebook post of Andrew’s. I thought that this would be a way of giving the matter attention on a personal level, as Justin calls for. 

There are a couple things I wanted to call attention to, and to discuss a little. First the “gay thing.” As a girl who’s grown up on the outskirts of a small town, and a smaller community, I was privy to the typical village-y small-minded stubbornness and old-fashioned thinking. Remarks like “that’s so gay” were common in my public middle and high school days and toward the end of high school “faggot” was a frequently heard term, especially from the athletic, “I’m really hot, cool, etc” boys (both white and Native) who thought that they could continue to reaffirm their manhood by supposedly undercutting their peers’.

I don’t pretend to have never spoken the word (although I do not use it now, and haven’t for what feels like a very long time) and I don’t pretend to have held the same views I do now in high school. But the beauty of humanity is in change, and accepting the faults in one’s own character and learning from them, addressing them. And in trying to fix them.

But even in the adult world I’d experienced problems, stemming from lack of consideration, respect and education.

I’ve worked for Cattaraugus County in western New York for two summers now, and I like my job, for all it doesn’t challenge me a great deal. It’s physically demanding, and the hours are long and usually not air-conditioned or filled with empty time. I’m either working extremely hard (physically) or I’m sitting around, extremely bored. But 98% of the time I am accompanied by at least one white male over the age of 20.

None of these men are gay. Most of them are outspoken. And nearly all of them refer to one another in a playful, down-putting but affectionate sense as “homo” or some variation of “faggot” (I’ve heard “gay boy,” too) at least a handful of times a week.

One of these men was my supervisor. I can’t tell you how depressing this became. I made every effort to ask him to stop (not in front of his work buddies, so as to not upset him). We had many conversations about homosexuality, not because I really wanted to, but because he liked to hear himself talk. We also discussed gay marriage, but to my surprise, on this he ended up agreeing with me– in that everyone has a right to marry someone they love, no matter the gender. After that small victory I began to think there was a little hope for the manly-man men at the county.

My hopes were dashed when one of my other supervisors, a devoutly religious guy, decided to bring up the topic of gay marriage and lecture me on it one day in the truck on the way to a job site. He asked me what I thought, and I told him, assuming he’d agree, too. He’d seemed like an easy-going, open-minded guy.

He puffed right up like a bantam rooster. “it’s wrong, it’s immoral, the Bible says, blah blah blah.” I’m embarrassed now because I kind of just let him ramble on. But this summer I called him a bigot to his face, in front of a few coworkers. I might have been considered insubordinate or what have you, but he went on a rant in front of everyone about “the gays” and I let him have it. He wasn’t expecting me to say anything, but I made it clear that I found his remarks offensive and he never brought up the subject again. He had obviously been raised with a specific set of values and adhered to them– that in itself is admirable. But he refused to reconsider, to self-reflect, or to admit that there might be something in the world he had a limited understanding of.

And honestly, the biggest fault in a small town,small county setting is the sheer lack of awareness. Half of those people haven’t met an Asian, let alone a homosexual, and wouldn’t know what the hell to do if they did. They base their judgment and mindset on the media and what their children come home talking about (that is, if they pay attention to their children in the first place), and of course, the stories their friends tell them. And that’s really all. Until some fresh wave of insight arrives to deconstruct the ignorance, there will continue to be huge numbers of people (small-towners particularly)

who do not realize the sheer injustice and prejudice in the views they hold. It’s just miserable that so little is being done to bring about the awareness and the acceptance that gay people (among other minority groups, as well) so desperately need.  What’s America doing to remind everyone of our little motto– oh wait, it’s actually a pledge, right? “…With liberty and justice for all.” …RIGHT?

– – – And now… a New Ramble! Get excited, kids. If you’ve stuck with me this far, that is.

The second thing I wanted to dwell on is street harassment. There were some really good comments below Andrew’s post that talked about this. I won’t post them here because, well, I’m going to talk about it (and also this isn’t facebook).

There’s been an escalation in street crime in my area. I live in the artsy-fartsy district of Rochester (East End) and we’re all music people, in some form or another, living one on top of the other in our own little corner of the city. It’s unlikely to walk to class or down the road or across the street without saying hello to someone you know.

That said, we’re smushed up against kind of a seedier neighborhood. Not that seedy neighborhoods as a whole are filled with creepy, lecherous middle-aged men with a hard-on for engaging in street harassment, but the likelihood increases that there might be a handful of people you pass on the sidewalk that are, frankly, unsavory.

I mean, no biggie. You just pass on the street and go about your separate lives. Right?

(Photo by Vivienne Gucwa.)

Well, or not. We’ve had two muggings in the past week. One of them happened outside of an apartment where some of my good friends live. I know that at least two of them heard the victim yelling for help and called the police, then ran down to him as his attackers were scuttling off with his cell phone and wallet. This occurred in a well-lit, highly populated little section of our corner of the city. This happened right down the road from my building. This took place shortly after the school closed for the night (eleven pm) and the person who was attacked and robbed was walking home from practicing.

It doesn’t matter whether he was gay or straight or a fucking Martian. He was victimized and it happened very close to home. That is unacceptable. It’s unacceptable anywhere.

I feel that, as a student population, we have been (for the most part) walking to class and our friends’ apartments and home from the gym and to the library and the café and our jobs with more than just a small slice of fear tagging along. When I walk home, I walk fast, and I keep my cell phone in my bag (although that’s just being safety conscious in general) and my coat zipped all the way. I don’t wear heels unless it’s to studio class and I keep my bag across my chest so no one can grab it easily. It might be paranoia, but I’m not that tall and against two bigger guys I might not stand a great chance at keeping my valuables (or potentially even my physical safety) unless I could clear a knee to a set of balls. You know?

On top of that, last Tuesday a friend and I were harassed– verbally– by a set of four or five guys, clearly inebriated, pushing a bicycle (yes, between the four or five of them) up the street. They were coming from the seedier part of town. My friend and I hurriedly crossed in front of them… I’m an impatient person and they were taking forever to meander their way up the sidewalk. We kept our heads down and simply walked across the street toward our building, but one (and then two, and then three and the rest) of them called after us. “Kelly, hey Kelly!” At first it was an invitation, a cajoling, “Hey Kelly, hey blondie, where ya going?” Then they started to warm up to the game, and the catcalls became threatening. “Kelly! Hey, fuck you Kelly! Why don’t you come back here, Kelly? We’ll fuck you, we’ll fuck you up!” And so on.

There were others on the street. It was well lit. It was right in front of Eastman. We didn’t report it– we didn’t think to, we were just happy we were across the street, and after that we tried to ignore them, and they continued on their merry way in the other direction. We’re lucky they didn’t follow us, I guess, now that I’m thinking back on it. I’ll admit it, I was a little shaken… mostly pissed off, but nervy and jumpy as well. It just sucked.

And I can’t say that an alleged increased police presence has helped a great deal. They increased the police after the first mugging. And oh look, then there was a second one.

I guess I just don’t know where a desire to commit a crime, or to waste so much energy on violence or hatred comes from. Yeah, there are times when I want to give an annoying classmate, a difficult colleague, or a creepy guy leering at me in the gym a healthy punch in the head. But that negativity spawns from frustration, at myself or at a situation or admittedly, often at a person– even then there’s no real inclination to actually physically or emotionally harm someone. And, to be honest, as someone who’s experienced a form of emotional abuse, that shit’s no joke either. You’re left feeling just as vulnerable, just as wrenchingly insecure, and you hate yourself and resent the rest just as much.

And I mean, let’s be serious, all violence is horrific in real life. But there’s something about randomly mugging someone on the street– or following them, harassing them– or calling names to a random passerby– that’s chilling. It could happen to anyone. And as Justin pointed out, you really never know. The situation he (or I, or the guy outside my friends’ apartment) found himself in could have escalated and become much, much worse. You just never know. What happened to Justin is terrifying, and I think it’s made worse by the fact that his antagonizers– bullies with nothing better to do– used homophobia as a mask for their own cowardice (as evidenced by the Pack Attack) and general jackassery. 

All in all, I felt it was important (for me, anyway) to add my own thoughts about harassment to Justin’s and to Andrew’s. The more ideas that can be pooled and discussed and thought about, the more consciousness can be raised around these very real problems in our society. Because you really never know. That’s why I wanted to talk about it: so more people might know, and maybe think about it and talk about it with their mother or their roommate or their elderly neighbor with fifteen cats. And then maybe someone somewhere might, instead of watching How I Met Your Mother, walk their elderly cat lady to the post office on the day a group of Hey Kelly-ers might have considered her easy pickings. You just never know.

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This is just a picture of a crazy cat. Not a cat lady. Sorry…

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Stream of nagging consciousness

So for most of today I’ve experienced simple, so-happy-I’m-stupid bliss raging blood-spattering war against a persistent nagging feeling that there’s no real reason for me to be so happy. Read that single-comma-ed run on one more time in a single breath and then you have my day in a nutshell.

I just saw a picture of a guy I know on facebook. He had a laughing, pretty girl (much shorter and more petite than I, with a little more charm in her laughing face… let’s face it, who has a charming laughing face?!) on his arm, and a smile that read “I’m getting some.” This guy I know, well, he and I may or may not have entertained the idea of entertaining one another. To some extent we did, for one hot endless summer night.

We talked a little after that but it was obvious that nothing would come of it. But for some reason I allowed myself to build castles in the air around him for a little while, and it took a few weeks for them to gently collapse back to dust in my brain. But the time we had was nice, as he was nice. We were compatible and there was some serious chemistry. And then there was no contact so the chemistry faded softly away, as did the niceness and the friendship.

So why is it a blow to see him with someone else? Why, when I Have Someone now? Maybe it’s the heartsore “what could have been” coming back to nudge me. Maybe it’s the memory of that warm night and his mouth on mine, persistent and electrifying. Maybe it’s the absence of a new and shiny friendship that fell off into nothingness, or maybe it’s simply a bittersweet melancholy that whines at inopportune moments.

I don’t know, exactly. Maybe it’s a combination of them all. But what pisses me off the most is that I let it interfere, for even one moment, with the happiness I have right now. The pleasant fizz under the skin at the thought of moments that might arrive, the ever present maybe of thrills that may or may not ever be realized. The challenge, the adrenaline of discovery… I have that now, or at least a taste of it. I don’t want to ruin it by worrying myself into a paranoia that complicates it all just because something made me sad and that prods me into thinking I might not be justifiably happy.

Trying to understand, a little (a mini patriotic rant) 

A facebook friend of mine whom I went to high school with recently posted this status:

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First off all, yes, my facebook is in German. So sue me.

Secondly, I have to say, I really don’t know how to feel about it. I don’t understand. What’s the point of expressing you apathy in this kind of situation? Let’s review. 9/11 was a tragedy that shook the world. An unprecedented slaughter of nearly 3000 (yes, three THOUSAND) people, many of whom were trying to save the lives of others even as they died.

I understand that, yes, the world has seen its share of tragedies. And I also understand that many of them are not memorialized. Well, people die every day… shouldn’t all of them be remembered in some fashion? Thousands died on 9/11, all in the same fell swoop. Shouldn’t they be remembered, and the heroes honored? 9/11 gets some publicity yearly. What’s the big deal? I don’t get it.

Is she upset that horrors elsewhere are not being publicized? Stop bitching on facebook and write to your local news station. Or start a blog to talk about issues that motivate you– like Melody has.

Or maybe, it’s the fact that 9/11 is STILL memorialized eleven years after the fact. Is that the problem?

Personally, I don’t see much wrong with recognizing the deaths of thousands of people, remembering that they have families and friends still here, and thinking of them as the day passes. I remember my relatives who have passed on when their birthdays roll around, or a specific thing occurs that reminds me of them.

I think of the victims of 9/11 every time I catch the time on the clock.

I may have only been in third grade in 2001, and I may or may not have only understood that I couldn’t watch TV when I got home from school because the news was on and that’s all my parents wanted to see. But I came to realize in short order exactly how terrible a tragedy it was.

And now, to see something so dismissive, so bland and unfeeling, about an event that changed this country, changed the world, and changed the lives of millions by ripping from them their loved ones… it’s disheartening, at least. “There have been worse tragedies?” That’s like saying, “Let’s not celebrate Memorial Day, because we don’t give a shit and people die every day.” “Let’s not recognize that the Holocaust happened, because they’re already dead and currently no one’s showing a growing desire for gas chambers.”

I just don’t understand. One day out of the year to remember isn’t such a great sacrifice, for me at least, when I think about those who sacrificed their lives nearly eleven years ago. A few moments to pause and think about the victims of an unspeakable tragedy aren’t a huge waste. A life taken is a life taken. And I guess that’s how I feel about it.

Reflections on stars and the moon

I’ll preface this by saying, I don’t really know why I’ve thought about these things lately. If I had to hazard a guess, I’d probably figure that it’s part of some larger circle that needs to return and resolve. But anyway.

At some point within the past three years, I’ve realized that the boy I gave most of my innocence to wasn’t the person I thought he was. He never pretended to be someone else: no, he didn’t pretend. But I did. I saw the hurt and the sadness in him and I wanted to fix it. I saw the scars she had inflicted and the wounds he didn’t want to admit his parents had left him with. I saw a sharp mind and an experienced, worldly soul and I wanted to help him grow. I wanted him to be the man I’d always read about: the one who swoops in to sweep the strong, independent, outspoken and vibrant woman off of her feet.

Well, here I am, nearly four years older and a hell of a lot stronger. And more independent, and hopefully more vibrant; although I can’t comment for sure on the outspoken because I feel like I do an awful lot of listening these days. But I’m smarter, and I suppose that lately it’s struck me just how much stronger.

He was eighteen then; I was fifteen. I was precocious, sure, with quite a bit of educated reading under my belt and a pressure to be better, to learn about the world.
He had been cheated on and, I guess, manipulated. His parents were divorced and I’m sure he’d seen a little too much of the world.

Those aren’t excuses, for him or for me. I guess I could fall back on my old quantification: I never said I loved him; I never gave him everything; I never expected too much, especially toward the end.

But that’s not entirely right. I never said I loved him but I allowed him to manipulate me, to make me think I was less than I am. I allowed him to tell me things about myself that weren’t true. I let him steer me away from my family and my friends simply because he wasn’t that close to his and I wanted to be with him. I gave him my trust. I gave him my loyalty. I gave him my time, my being, little parts of my heart that I’m proud to say I reclaimed and then some.

Long story short, I think it’s really interesting to see how capable I really am of looking back on the only “real” relationship I’ve ever had to see the issues I’d viewed as such complexities then become clear as day, now.

Now I sit here in my room in the dorm building of a school that is leagues and leagues above and beyond what I’d even dreamed of attending four years ago. I’m going to be in debt for the rest of my life, but I charged headfirst into that with the full intention of making the most of myself in the time I’ve been given here. I’m doing something I love, and am going to continue to. I am capable of doing almost anything.

And I all I can think of right now is how much has changed, how much I’ve learned in a few short years. How much I’ve grown. How much my life could have been like the song “Stars and the Moon” from “Songs for a New World.”

And it never changed
And it never grew
And I never dreamed
And I woke one day
And I looked around
And I thought, “My God…
I’ll never have the moon.”

But I’m not. That’s not me, but it could have been. But I don’t think I need someone who can give me the moon, as romantic as that might seem. I’ve grown up surrounded by strong women who take the moon for themselves, and I intend to be one of them. I’ll have the stars and the moon for myself.

Little rant about Christianity today

There. I’ve said it. “I don’t even consider myself a Christian any more.”

Lucy and I have these discussions pretty frequently. About what we believe, about the Christian group at Eastman, and about modern belief systems. It made me think about Brendan, the only stable Jesus-loving presence in my life (besides, well, my grandma), and about his organic, true-to-love way of communicating about his faith. The kids here are NOT like that, and it drives me crazy. Okay, being judged is part of life. Fine. But as I actually know a few true, down-to-earth, Jesus-loving people (who love everyone regardless of who they are or what they’ve done), I think I’m on the right track by saying that being judged by a cliquey pack of self-proclaimed, over-churched snobs is not really in anyone’s plan for their day.

Is it really important to take others’ sex lives and drinking habits and potty mouths into consideration? Doesn’t it matter more how they feel about themselves and about others? Or maybe God really doesn’t want people who like alcohol or physical pleasure. I’m sure that whenever someone tells God to “Fuck off,” that he actually says “Okay” and puts their name on a list for hell. That’s what the Good Book says, after all. RIGHT?

Give me a fucking break.

I consider myself someone who loves people (including the kids I’m currently ranting about, weirdly) and loves the idea that there is something out there that’s taking care of us. That gives a shit, you know. But I’m not about to turn my nose up at my roommate, who doesn’t believe in anything. She’s one of the most accepting people I’ve ever met. But she still feels excluded from our local cross-wearers. Because she’s unaffiliated, she’s not welcome.

I have to say, I don’t really want a ton to do with a pretentious sect of people that struts around excluding everyone from their fun and games. Not that I actually consider sitting around bashing others’ beliefs and lifestyles fun. Or game-like.

The 2006 Jeremy Brock film “Driving Lessons” sums up my feelings on modern Christianity in a few sentences.

“How is a person truly free, until they can think and act for themselves. If you say to me, ‘Am I a Christian?’ I say to you, if you strive to do good, then you’re a Christian. If you don’t seek to hurt or betray others, you’re a Christian. If you’re true to yourself, and treat others as you’d have them treat you, you’re a Christian. 
The more a person parades their Christianity for the benefit of others, the less I’m inclined to trust the Christianity they claim to bring. God tells us, ‘True faith is the freedom to choose truth.’
Now, how you express that: the way, the manner, the means at your disposal, these things are of no consequence be you Christian or atheist, unless in your heart you are true.”

I don’t think that making yourself out to be a member of God’s Special Club speaks of love for others. I don’t think that avoiding people who have sex and drink and cuss will have any effect on your so highly valued purity. I don’t think that pretending you’re not human and are all distant, fake smiles forever, even to the lowly un-religious (like myself), makes you a Christian. And I certainly don’t think that proclaiming your love for church and the Bible and other devout Christians puts you any closer to divine salvation, unless you can come down off your self-constructed throne and mingle as one of the masses. Rub elbows with the filthy and share with the downtrodden and the gleeful sinners. Not as an emissary of Christ, but as a fellow human being. Love is the dynamic force that will change this world. Not self righteousness.

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.

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.

More irrelevant thoughts

Today, my mind has dwelled upon the following:

 

– Will I pass my music ed exam? I basically have heart palpitations whenever I go to check my email.

– I need to study more for the aural midterm (project for tomorrow).

– I have a clarinet test tomorrow (second project for tomorrow).

– I can’t believe I already finished the dictation and listening module… but really, already. Whoa baby.

– I need to be healthier.

– I’m so tired.

– I dreamed I was in jail last night, and they wouldn’t let me see the sunlight. It was a horrible, horrible awful thing to dream.

– I haven’t had a hug in probably a few weeks. Since I was home, anyway. A real, full-out hug? I could probably use one.

Talk about thankful

So I have a friend right now who is severely injured right now and stranded in Zoar Valley. He has rescue workers with him, but he’s too badly hurt and they can’t move him until tomorrow. Everyone who knows him has been offering prayers and support, thoughts and well wishes.

What a horrifying situation. He was hunting, and must have fallen over a hundred feet down into a gorge. They found him in the water, and got him to a safer spot. But it turns out they just couldn’t move him. I obviously can’t do anything helpful from here except think of him, fret a little for him and his family, and pray.

On that note. It boggles my mind when people make a big deal about praying. If you don’t, that’s cool. But when the situation calls for strength of faith and well wishes, don’t make a statement about how you’re the different one, and you don’t pray, and how you hope that does the same thing.

Sure and it might. But to be brutally honest, when someone takes a tumble down a fucking cliff and is in serious condition in freezing weather… forgive me if I strongly feel that that deserves all of the attention and the focus. Not whether you’re God-fearing or whatever.

Honestly my whole heart goes to Drew and his family tonight. I can’t imagine how terrifying and stressful today must have been for them and you can bet I’ll be praying he makes a full, swift recovery.

http://www.wivb.com/video/videoplayer.swf?dppversion=6469

Hope it’s just a bug

It’s like nausea rising in my throat,

accompanied by that same sickening staccato of

foreboding

like, oh shit

a punch in the belly

the giddiness kicks right up

up and out and forward

It’s making me ill, I

feel so so sick to my stomach

this is not how I’m supposed to feel, I’m

supposed to be productive

Just like this poem was

supposed to make sense

But instead I’m just kind of chopping

up phrases since I

can’t think

in a straight line

Crap, man

I didn’t ask for this.

Thoughts on academia

I don’t know what I think of college yet.

Today is my first “official” day here, and I don’t know what I think.

On one hand, I am excited for classes to begin. I try to relish the independence when I can. Sometimes I get light-headed. No exaggeration.

But on the other, I’d seriously love to be sitting on the couch right now with a giant bowl of popcorn and Lord of the Rings or Criminal Minds in front of me. It’s lame, but (a) they are the only two things on TV I really adore and (b) although I told Lucy I’d introduce her to Criminal Minds (she doesn’t have cable at home), it just won’t be the same.

I miss having my own space. I miss having someone there physically all the time for me to rely on. Although I’ve waited and waited and yearned for this time of my life, now that it’s here I am still pumped but there’s a streak of sad in it. A swath of strong blue that’s sensitive to the touch. I think it’s my childhood. Yeah, that fits.

Because to be honest it feels like, without me knowing it, even though I prepared for it to happen… my childhood, my whole past at home? It’s gone, it’s done. Yeah, I was aware it would happen, but perhaps I just didn’t see it as something so emotional. Something so deeply rending it just kind of sits there on your heart, shaking a little and whimpering softly to itself.

Earlier today I talked to a sophomore transfer student named Narissa (I think that was it. If not, my bad and I’m sorry). She was extremely friendly and is dual majoring here and at the River Campus (for some brain science insane major I didn’t entirely catch because it was noisy and I was still digesting caffeine). She was enthusiastic about everything, we share a taste in books, and observations regarding awkward situations. She told me one of the most reassuring things I’ve heard: “I love school.”

I’m counting on that obsessive, nerdy academic in me to grab that, too. I’m treating this right now as an extended vacation where I’m learning a shitload. That’s my outlook right now. I don’t want to dwell on the theory that I don’t belong at my house anymore. I don’t want to think stupid things, like, “that’s no longer my home.”

Where the heck else would I go? I don’t live here permanently, despite the chaotically organized debris scattered tastefully around me. For God’s sake, I only have two books here!

I could have made this prettier, but it is what it is

Must be meaning something

So I think it’s bizarre that, out of nowhere, the urge can hit me to pick up a Bible again. I think it’s strange that my wandering mind will hit upon the inspiration to turn to Romans, land upon Romans 12.

I believe it is especially weird that that’s one particular passage that could give me hope about the future, and confidence in my own outlooks and beliefs about humanity.

More on this later sometime. I’m working early tomorrow and am pretty exhausted. But I do think that it’s unbelievable what can happen when the mind and heart are open and eager, waiting for something to speak to them.

Candy coated

This picture makes me almost as happy as the half butter pecan/half cookie dough candy coated medium cone I had earlier this evening at La Via :) I mean... LOOK AT IT!

Growing apart from the people you love is hard.

I read that on a blog tonight. I actually have been on a little adventure online: first from Brendan’s blog, then to two others. All in all I have thought a great deal about what those two talented writers had to say. The following conclusions are mine, but I am thinking. Wheels and clogs are turning. You know how it is. But yeah. Anyway.

Firstly, I need to come to terms with the fact that I Am Leaving. I am going away. It feels like I’m just moving on naturally but the truth is, I am starting a completely new chapter in my life. I need to face facts: my family will be, too. It’s not going to be “normal” anymore. Coming home will be a special occasion. Making plans with me will be one of the last things on my family’s collective mind; they have their own lives to lead. And I should let them. There’s no point in getting upset because they’re already starting to do things without me while I’m working. No point in being sad when they discuss what they’ll be doing or the fun they had. None whatsoever.

Secondly: it’s friend-losing time. Tonight I said goodbye to Brendan for what was probably the last time. I might see him again in two Saturdays, I think. But aside from that it’ll be pure chance if I meet up with him again. Until… until, I don’t know when. Well shit.

Thirdly. That dependent and homebody little piece of myself, that loves to laze around in the sun with a book and chocolately coffee? She’s got to go. At least until next summer. I can’t have her screwing up my intense schedule and workload that will be college or the pre-college theory studies I still have to slog through. And when she leaves, she can take the desperate, bored, miserable chunk of me that seems to weigh me down with every mistake I’ve ever made. If the blog-surfing tonight taught me nothing else, I’ve learned, been reassured, really, that the most horrifying circumstances can be forgiven.

I’m not alone in royally screwing myself up. I’m not alone in obsessing, or trying to distance myself from people so they don’t reject me for the self that I am. I’m not alone in trying to maintain a relationship with a god that no one else seems to openly talk about or really, seriously depend on and love.

You know, after a while, it’s hard to be positive if the tenuous strains of faith you had are still there. Reading about other struggles with faith (and the growth of such relationships with God) gives me a little boost. It’s nice to know others share similar plights, just as it’s nice to know that they pulled through just fine.

Anyway; that’s all I have for tonight. I should have been sleeping two hours ago, but… yeah, I went out for ice cream and it was awesome. Ice cream is another reassurance. It’s says, “No matter how crappy you might feel, I am delicious and pleasantly unhealthy. But I do have dairy (so look on the bright side), and sprinkles up the wazoo (oh yeah baby). Oh no oh no, I’m melting… better hurry up because whatever your problems are, I will be here. Until I’ve been completely devoured and made the day infinitely more wonderful for you.”