Saturday, December 28, 2013

10 years: Death, where is your sting?!

Today marks the 10 year anniversary of the death of my mother, brother, and grandmother.  Many people who know me, may vaguely know what happened, but I don't talk about it often, if ever, because it makes people sad and uncomfortable.  But since it's 10 years to the day, I'm gonna tell the story.

It was Winter Break 2003 and my Daddy's side of the family (minus my uncle and his children) decided to take a family vacation to Edisto Island in South Carolina.  Grandma, my two aunts and their children (two girl cousins and two boy cousins), as well as this random guy one of my aunts was boarding arrived at my family's house Christmas day.  We exchanged gifts, packed up a rented 15 passenger van and Grandma's car and we all headed down to the beach.  It was probably one of the most perfect Christmases I remember having; there was such happiness in the air.  And the week before we had gone to Grandma's house and taken family pictures for the first time in years.  All was right for the first time in a while.

We, 14 of us including me, were staying in a large timeshare house and basically walked to the beach every day, ate, played games, talked, and watched movies.  I imagine this is what normal family's do when vacationing together.  One night we decided to go into Charleston and have some fun.  But people were a little cranky and so we just ended up buying some fresh fish to take back to the house and eat.  I was in the very back row of the 15 passenger van with my two girl cousins on either side of me.  I don't really remember where everyone else was sitting aside from my dad driving and my grandma in the front passenger seat.  Some people were chatting, others were sleeping, others were staring out the window, I was dozing off listening to music holding my treasured CD collection and portable CD player.  It was a nothing-special-ride.

A dog walked into the highway, and my dad swerved to miss it.  What a lot of people don't know is that 15 passenger vans are not, in fact made for passengers.  They are too long and too top heavy, they aren't proportioned for safety, they are proportioned to carry tools and such in the back.  Because the van is top heavy it wasn't able to recover from such an abrupt maneuver, so it toppled over and turned over into the highway median six times (we later learned that even if my dad hadn't swerved and had just hit the dog straight on, the van would have still done something similar because of its dis-proportionality).  This, of course, woke me up in confusion and pain, but as it was happening I quickly realized it wasn't a dream and thought about my younger (six years younger) cousin sitting next to me and how scared she might be so I grabbed her and held her tightly.

Once the van stopped, right side up, strangers rushed to help us out the van because someone thought it might explode.  It didn't.  I was helped to climb out the back through the trunk by a panicky stranger and sat down.  It was awful, it was chaos.  We were trying to find everyone.  I found one of my three brothers, who was eight at the time, and sat him between my legs, I had to lay back a little because my hips were bruised from the seat belt.  As I looked around I was checking off my family members.  I had seen Grandma hunched over in the front passenger seat, my older female cousin was a few feet away telling people to stop touching her and to basically go find someone else.  My dad was pacing, crying, and yelling for different people.  I don't remember much else of people's whereabouts, but I remember my eyes landing on my mom.  She was lying on her back sprawled out with her shirt open, I think there was blood on her head.  I stood up and screamed as I watched people try to wake her up.  My dad tried, strangers tried.  I remembered that my brother was still sitting there, so I sat back down and held him.  We couldn't find my brother Aaron, he was six, and had been tossed the furthest from the van.  The brother I was holding caught wind that we couldn't find his best friend, Aaron, and starting crying begging for him.  I made him a promise that Aaron wouldn't die, that he would be found, but that promise wasn't kept.  I never saw Aaron again, I don't even know where they found him.

It took the emergency vehicles a thousand years to get to us and they had to send so many ambulances because there was so many of us.  I was put in an ambulance with with my male cousin who's three months younger than me and was living with us at the time.  We held hands and I shivered and prayed.  The medic was switching between us asking us questions.  He asked me if I knew this guy (my cousin), if I am or could be pregnant, I laughed and said no possible way; he couldn't put the IV in, I was okay with that.  My cousin and I were put in the same room and we lightly chatted.  People came in and out of our rooms asking questions, looking at us and stuff.  They tried giving me some ibuprofen, but it was 700mg so I asked for something smaller.  This creepy lady came and just hovered in my and my cousin's hospital room, she made me feel uneasy, but I was trying to be optimistic.  I heard my dad from another room give a loud cry.  I was lead to his room, he told me my grandma was dead, I cried, he told me my brother, Aaron, was dead, I cried louder, and he told me my momma was dead, I imploded.  I made it back to my and Cousin's hospital room and told him.  He said something comforting to me, I don't remember what.  Suddenly, the creepy lady's purpose was clear, she was a grief counselor.  She said something, it doesn't matter what, unhelpful.  I felt violated that she was there; I just found out that three people from my family died and she has the audacity to try to say something?! No!  Let me have my reaction and feelings, let me process without a stranger creeping.

Everything else after that was a blur.  We were pretty close to a couple of my mom's sisters so they showed up, we (eight year old brother, 10 month old brother, and me) stayed at one of their houses for some days, or maybe not, time doesn't work properly in these incidents.  People were in the hospital and there were a number of physical injuries from the people who were in the accident.  It was terrible, to say the least.

There's more to the story, but I can't coherently tell it.  But I can say that death has a sting for those who live through it.  Even now, I may feel fully healed from the horrendous event, I feel no grief, I am not mourning, but I will never forget how Death can rip apart your insides and make you think you will never stop bleeding.

But you will.  I have stopped bleeding.  Death does have a strong sting, but it won't always be there; there'll come a time when the swelling has gone down and the poison has drained and all that's left is a tiny puncture scar.  Call it a battle wound.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Victim, I Was One

Today I watched the movie Lovelace; it's based on a true story of a woman who was coerced into pornography by her abusive husband and who became a pioneer of pornography.  The story of this woman, Linda Lovelace, was difficult to watch, yet very eye opening.  It shows the struggle that some people who are victims of domestic violence go through in their relationships; why she stayed, how he got away with it, the cycle of abuse.  And just like that, it hit me: I was a victim of sexual assault.

People (and up until tonight that included me) associate rape, and only rape, with sexual assault, but The United States' Department of Justice's Office on Violence Against Women defines sexual assault as "any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient. Falling under the definition of sexual assault are sexual activities as forced sexual intercourse, forcible sodomy, child molestation, incest, fondling, and attempted rape."  Well, what happened to me is listed in that definition, so that makes me a victim of sexual assault.

It's been around seven years since I was in a relationship with the young man who was my assailant, yet it's taken me all these years to realize what was really going on.  While in the relationship, I thought that since he said he loved me that he did, in fact love me.  Our friends (who might be reading this and if you are please do not reveal his identity) thought we were a cute couple and I just felt lucky to finally be the girl who got the guy.  When he broke up with me I soon realized how unhealthy our relationship was: we spent more time on our physical relationship than we did on our emotional/social relationship.  I also realized that he never really expressed/showed any interest in who I was; he never seemed interested in what I was thinking or what I was feeling.  And I never felt comfortable sharing my thoughts and emotions with him; if I tried to engage in 'deep' discussion with him, I would get shutdown with misogynistic comments about how silly my female brain was and how I was just nice to look at, but apparently not great to talk to.  

He didn't wait until we were settled in our relationship for the assault to happen; in the beginning he would try forcing me to kiss him knowing that I hadn't kissed anyone before and wanted to do so when I felt safe and ready (which I didn't).  One night, I was leaving for the weekend, and us having only ever kissed on the lips before, he forced his tongue in my mouth and later when I tried to talk to him about it, he lied and said that I had done the forcing, I doubted myself 'was he right, did I do the forcing?'.  Once we had progressed to making out horizontally the fondling began.  I can't tell you how many times I moved hands from squeezing my body.  But I thought that since he loved me and I kinda loved him, that I owed him more and more of my body.  You show love with your body; if that's what he wants, then I should show him I love him by giving myself to him.  I remember one night we were making-out on my bed, I was under him and he (without my consent) pinned me down.  I tried unpinning myself, but my strength against this 6'1" man was no match.  I felt confused and unsafe.  Something was unfamiliar and a little scary in his eyes.  This seemed like something he had seen in the porn he lied about watching.  Our relationship became more about just making out and me letting him touch me than anything else.  We barely talked, but the expectation was there that I would lay down and he would almost choke me with his nasty tongue and feel me up.  No one else knew; from the outside we seemed like a good little Christian interracial couple.  I mean, we even went to church together.  The last straw of our relationship was an epiphany for him (he realized that I wasn't going to give him sex) and for me (I realized that this relationship had gotten out of hand, but I didn't know why).  One night we were making-out and the normal heavy petting of me was going on when his strong hands went for my crotch.  I tried multiple times to move his hands, but he pushed back all while looking me dead in the eye: This is going to happen. I should just let him, it doesn't feel that terrible.  I wanted to say stop, and I tried (like I had all throughout the relationship) many times, but it never came out.  I was scared, I had had no voice in this relationship, why would it come now?  After he left I felt guilty and violated and ashamed and physically sore.  I called my best friend at the time and she offered some unhelpful, unhealthy advice.  A week or so after he broke up with me because I want something different from a relationship and I've changed so much.  I was able to breathe a sigh of relief, even though I felt hurt that I would let him use and abuse me and then he would dump me.

Several years later I have a name for what happened, sexual assault.  I now see the pattern my emotions take when I love people: in an effort to love them unconditionally, I doormat my emotions.  I repress them, I hide them, I lock them up, I mask them.  I let myself get hurt continually by people, familiar and strange, and I never tell them because I want them to feel good about themselves and don't want them to feel bad for having hurt me.  This self-door-matting is something I do e.v.e.r.y. single day and is something that's hard to stop because essentially no one feels like a safe person.  If you're reading this and know me as blunt and are trying to understand how this is possible, know that I will share my thoughts on something, but not my emotions/feelings on something.  My thoughts and feelings aren't as connected as others' are.

I've learned a lot today and I am still processing how I feel about this newly realized part of my life, but I will tell you how I don't feel.  I am not angry, I am not ashamed, I feel no less valuable, I am not dirty, I am not guilty.  Something Linda Lovelace said at the end of the movie was that she wants people to know that they can walk out of these (abusive, hurtful) situations a whole person.  And I feel whole.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

on becoming

'Becoming' is the name of the women's ministry at my church.  I thought the name was lame and therefore the ministry was lame.  I assumed the name, becoming, meant that women would be learning how to become better mothers and wives, and mainly sweet, submissive, demure women; my having grown up in the South and in the church lead me to believe that women's ministries were about making their women into the Stepford wives our patriarchal society drools over.  It occurs to me now what a stupid assumption that was considering 1) while (some of) the women at my church are wives and mothers, all of them are unique powerhouses of splendor, wisdom, and worth (they are not objects composed of a sexist society) and 2) the woman who started the ministry is one of my favorite people on the planet because she is so real, intelligent, graceful, and a delightful feminist.  While I was realizing the above about my ASSumptions concerning the women's ministry, the name, Becoming, came alive to me.  While I don't know exactly what the original story was behind the name, it's taken on a meaning for me, so I'm going to take a stab it.

This year has been remarkable.  I have been in deep, deep holes of despair and I have been on the mountain top.  This year has been different from any other year I have ever lived.  For the first time in almost ten years I feel like I have something to live for.  While I have never entertained suicidal thoughts, my mind would often go to the thought of no longer existing.  I used to think about how if I died right then and there it wouldn't be so bad.  But not anymore!  Now I want to see and live the future, my future.  It feels good.

Chalk it up to a quarter of life crisis, but I've learned so much about myself and have become more comfortable with the natural changes that come with adulthood (personality-wise, not puberty, been there done that).  Here are somethings I've learned about myself and how I function this last year.

1) I'm not as extroverted as I used to be.  I used to need people, like feel-deeply-unloved-if-I-wasn't-always-connecting-with-people need people.  I know some people would call that needy, but I really don't think it is.  Extroverted people tend to get their batteries charged by socializing with other people, that's just how it is and there's nothing wrong with it.  Now, I enjoy being alone.  While I still love spending time with others, I now enjoy being by myself and doing things by myself, like going to the movies or going out to lunch.  I now make it a point to spend time with just me throughout each week.  I like keeping myself company, I'm pretty interesting.

2) My brain isn't normal, but that's okay.  Through meeting with a mentoresque person, I have learned that my brain is busier than most.  At any given time I am thinking multiple thoughts about completely unrelated subjects.  I ask and try to answer a lot of questions all while imagining a different world in which to live.  It can be crippling, and at times embarrassing when I've been daydreaming and someone unknowingly snaps me back to the here and now.  But I've always been this way and have come to accept that I have an often unspoken of ADHD.  (Quick soapbox/PSA: People often think of ADHD in terms of the kid who won't shut up or quit moving who is often disheveled and disorganized, but there's the other type in which their brain is running all over the place, like mine, but they have the physical appearance of being attentive and composed, at most a little spacey.)  I have learned how to 'harness' by brain (although most often I try to entertain all of my thoughts because I think they all deserve attention and I may forget about them later), calming my thoughts and focusing on just a few thoughts instead of the multitude pushing their way to the forefront.  It's both strange and a relief to know how my brain is.

3) I view situations in terms of love.  I was expressing my frustration and disappointment with people, and how hurt I often feel by them, when my mentoresque person hit the nail right on the head: I don't think there's enough love exchanged between fellow beings.  I think we have a love deficiency.  When someone is riding your tail in traffic and then speeds by you with their middle finger pointed at you, it's not just because they're an asshole, it's because they've failed to remember that you are a person and that you may be going that speed for a very real reason, you likely weren't trying to anger them.  They forgot to love you even in the midst of frustration.  When someone says something that hurts you, they may not be trying to do so, they might just have forgotten to speak with truth AND love (or perhaps they're like me and very blunt and forget that people like to be buttered up before you drop some truth on them).  Although this epiphany has not stopped me from getting hurt, it has reminded me of how frail we are and how clumsy we can be when we're interacting with others, strange or familiar.  Humans are so selfish, so it's hard for us to love; we have to remember to think of others' needs and even wants before we think of ours.  I try my very hardest and am often met with selfishness on their part, but as much as it hurts I will continue to love.

4) Singleness is fun, I kinda don't want it to end.  A lot of people my age either are in a serious relationship (dating, engaged, married) or want to be.  I have a friend who wants to be married and already have kids by the time they're 30, they turn 26 next month.  So the pressure is on.  I can honestly say that I don't have a deep desire for marriage and family life.  It's in the forefront of my mind, not because I want it, but because everyone won't shut-up about it!  Everyone, just calm the hell down, life can be fulfilling without a partner/spouse.  I used to do the whole pray for my future husband thing and try to 'train' for being the perfect wife for my impending mate, but then I realized how ridiculous it is to tie up your whole reason for self-growth and self-worth in the un-promised hope of a spouse/partner.  Sure it's great to become better, but isn't it better to be better for more than one person?  Say an oppressed or marginalized people group?  My desire for marriage has never been real, it's always been something I thought was inevitable.  It's certainly the norm, but it's not a requirement.  And most definitely not a requirement for a 100% fulfilling life.

So becoming...we are always doing it and it'll likely be challenging.  But, I think, if we're doing it correctly it'll be liberating.  Liberating to know oneself and to not just accept oneself, but to love oneself.

Friday, November 22, 2013

If I Was a Rich Girl

I'm not rich by US standards, and the likelihood of me ever being rich is pretty slim; but sometimes I get displeased with something and decide that if I'm ever rich I'll remedy what displeases me by using my money.  Here are some things I'd remedy if I was ever rich.

1) Pants. I went to Target today just for some mouthwash and swung by the clothes section (a constant mistake of mine) to check out the jeans.  Currently, I have about 4 pairs of jeans and 2-3 are getting pretty worn looking and/don't fit properly because they've been worn so often, so I've decided to replace them.  I found my "fit" jeans and tried on my size, too small.  I figure the next size up should do it, too small and too large.  What?!  The sad thing is, this isn't unusual.  Pants will fit in the legs-butt-hips but will be entirely (and noticeably) too big in the waist.  Or some other combination.  So I've decided (dreamed) that when (which is never) I'm rich, I will have pants made for me.  I will no longer have to compromise on fit: too long, too short, too tight, fits weird.



2) Shoes. I love'em but my feet were not made with shoes in mind.  I have a tiny heel, so my feet are pretty triangular (thanks Daddy).  All of my shoes, no matter what type, my heel slips out of.  It makes wearing high heel shoes difficult because I'm always slipping out of them and this causes me to stumble.  I would have freaking fashionable shoes that didn't pinch or slip off if only I had the resources.


3) Charity.  There are a number of organizations/causes/charities I want to monetarily contribute to, I just don't have the means to.  I don't believe money is simply for oneself, I think that whatever money/resources we have, we should use to help others.  Not just ourselves.

(get it?)

4) Fitness.  There are a ton of group fitness/well-being classes I would be all over if 1)my gym offered them and 2)costs less money (like around $0).  Yoga (all of them), Pilates, bar classes.  I'd eat that stuff up.


5) Travel.  If you know me at all, you know this is a no brainer.  Not that here isn't great, but there's a there to be explored.  I've had such a wanderlust since I knew there were other places in the world who live differently.  If I had the means I would be a blissful globetrotter.

(get it?)

What would you do/have if you had the monetary means?


Saturday, October 19, 2013

Shows that Ended too Soon

I might have an affinity for television shows that don't make it very far.  Some make it just one season and others two, but they never have as much success as others out there.  Here are some shows that need to come back...for me.

1) Bomb Girls.  This show, I discovered on Netflix a couple weeks ago, takes place in the 1940's in Ontario, Canada.  It's centered around the lives of (mostly) women workers at a bomb factory.  This was a time in history when women were beginning to work outside the house, during the Second World War, in more areas than just teaching and administrative tasks.  This show is wonderful because it shows feminism in the baby stages of realization.  Watching this show makes me quite grateful that I didn't live in the '40's, even in Canada where racism wasn't built into the government.  The shit women had to put up with from men was endless and absurd.  Unfortunately, the show only lasted two seasons, but I'm pretty sure I'll be watching them again.



2) Pushing Daisies.  I can't tell you how many times I've watched the two seasons.  This charming story is about a pie maker who has a special, and dangerous, gift of bringing things back from the dead.  He uses this gift to solve murders by bringing the victim back from the dead to ask who killed them.  He brings his childhood sweetheart back and they have to live life together while never touching because she'll go back to being dead again.  It's a fast talking, sweet show.


3) Happy Endings.  I took this hysterical show for granted when it was on the air.  It was described as 'It's like Friends only with a black guy!', or something like that.  They lied, it's nothing like friends, it's actually funny.  Happy Endings was a great show because they made each friend out of the six share the spotlight equally.  Each character was well developed.  Most comic sitcoms that have the 'token black guy' give him an underdeveloped role, he often provides the comic relief by saying something outrageous or doing something silly that helps with a main character (See: every episode of New Girl, Ben and Kate, Friends With Benefits ever).  But this show has Damon Wayans Jr.'s character with his own emotions and story that integrates fully into the other characters' lives.  If his character, Brad Williams, was to leave the show, he would not be easily replaced.  I would really like for this show to be given a second chance, also I want it to be on Netflix.  Please and Thank you.



4) Ben & Kate.  I'm not even sure if this show made it a full season, but it was unique.  A young, single mother whose older, irresponsible brother moves in isn't (that I know of) a show that's been done before.  The show chronicles the dating and work life of the mom and the misadventures of her brother with his trusty 'token black guy' friend while being funny and unconventional.



5) Up All Night.  As described in the imdb paragraph it irreverently looks at raising a human child.  It had great casting, with hysterical Maya Rudolph (one of the funniest women alive), multi-talented Christina Applegate, always funny Will Arnett.  The show made it just two seasons, but it could have really gone on for 18 more years, until that baby went to college.



6) Flight of the Conchords.  This is another show I have watched its two seasons countless times.  It seamlessly incorporates dry humor and great music and that is a dream!  Two New Zealander (I think that's right) men are in NY trying to become big name musicians all while learning how to live in this strange place.  It is in my top five favorite shows ever and I reference one of their songs on a daily basis.



What shows do you want to make a comeback, perhaps like the amazing show Arrested Development?

Vegetables and Fruits I Wish I Liked

I'm a vegetarian, a lacto-ovo vegetarian (I eat dairy: eggs, milk, yogurt, etc) to be exact, and I love it more and more each day.  I have very strong feelings about being vegetarian including what types of (typically processed) foods I will and won't eat; this means I read the ingredients for EVERYTHING I eat.  I'm that vegetarian who asks details about how the food is cooked and what ingredients were used to prepare this food.  Do you cook the eggs on the same surface that you cook the bacon/sausage?  Is there meat stock in these mashed potatoes/this soup/this rice/this whatever?  Do you use the same utensils for your meats and non-meats?  Is there meat in the vegetable soup?  (That, by far, is the most infuriating question to ask, but I've learned that people will call it vegetable soup and will leave off the beef part; let's be clear, that is BEEF soup with vegetables.  Dummies.)  People have these stereotypes about vegetarians' likes and dislikes that don't apply to many, including me.  I find that a lot of people assume I like all vegetables since I'm a vegetarian, this couldn't be further from the truth.  Here's a list of veggies and fruits I wish I liked, all of them I've tried liking my whole life to no avail:

1) Mango.  They, like most others, just don't taste good to me.  They look delicious to me, so juicy and bright, but every time I have ever tried a mango (even fresh from the tree) I haven't liked it.



3) Zucchini.  These are used a lot in vegetarian things and I'll go through to casserole and pick'em out or just forego eating it all together.  The texture weirds me out and the taste just isn't okay.



4) Pineapple.  This just seems like a cool fruit to eat, but between the texture and the too sweet (and strange) taste, I just can't.  When I was in Costa Rica the hostel we stayed in provided breakfast of pancakes and fresh pineapple every morning and I would always abstain from the pineapple because it teased my gag reflex.



5) Eggplant.  This, for a while, seemed like a staple for the vegetarian option when at banquets/wedding receptions.  I would only ever eat the noodles from the eggplant parmasen.  I liken eggplant to zucchini, unacceptable texture and taste.



6) Coconut.  Again, what a cool fruit.  I actually use the oil on my hair and have a lotion that's made of (fair trade) coconut oil and coconut water.  I am pro-coconut until I have to eat it.  I get a similar feeling when I eat coconut as I do with pineapple.



7) Mushroom.  I debated whether or not to put this on this list because I'm on the fence about them.  I'm not comfortable with everyone just letting this fungus be called a vegetable, I don't think we should let that slide.  The fungus part creeps me out and the under part where the spores come out creep me out, they look like fish gills.  Gross.  Also, people are always like 'oh it doesn't taste like anything' to which I think 'then why have them if they're not contributing?'  Also, I do taste them and I don't like the texture or taste.  But I would like to be open-minded about mushrooms, because they seem harmless and lonely as the only fungus eaten purposefully.



8) Orange. I don't completely dislike oranges, but I certainly don't like eating them, I'd much rather drink them.  It's the texture mostly.  Also, they seem like a dumb, over-glorified fruit.



9) Pumpkin.  The only reason I want to like it is because it opens up my food choices during Fall.  Because people, every Autumn, rediscover pumpkin and then EVERYTHING has it.  I really wish everyone would just calm the heck down and stop worshiping this dumb squash.  I don't like the looks of pumpkin, the smell makes me gag, and the taste is an assault to my mouth.  It's really overrated and it's one of the reasons I don't like Fall.



10) Plantain.  Gosh, I try so hard to like them, but they are not good to me unless they're in chip form with lime.  I've tried them cooked to be savory, I've tried them with sugar and cinnamon and every time I don't like them.  Plantains are a part of the typical Costa Rican meal and I tried them every time and every time I gave'em away.



What fruits and veggies do you with you liked?

Friday, October 11, 2013

One thing a friend should tell a friend before they become friends

I don't know if there is an exact moment when you know you're going to be friends with someone.  Surely, some friendships start off with certainty, but others just sneak up and surprise YOU'RE FRIENDS!  But wouldn't it be great if you knew some things about your relationship before you all invested in this person as your friend?!

I'm 25, so that means most people my age are either dating seriously/engaged/married, that's pretty normal.  I'm not in a relationship, and I really like it that way, but it doesn't mean that I'm not surrounded by romantic relationships.  It's unavoidable, really.  As a single person, but mostly just a person who has feelings, I would like to know some things about a person before I enter into a friendship with them.  I want to know how they're going to be when they are dating/engaged/married.

Something I've noticed about some, not all, people when they get married is that they become an island.  I actually had a friend tell me a week or so ago that when they're married, they won't need anyone else, they'll be good with just their husband.  Or the friend who had to get off the phone because her husband would be home soon, but she'd call be right, but never did.  They are suddenly incapable of existing/functioning without their spouse.  They can't go out to eat with friends because they are married.  They can't go to the beach with friends because they are married.  They can't do friend things because they are married.  I know that they're spouse trumps all, but they're going to spend the rest of their lives together, I don't think lunch apart will hurt anything.

I'd like to also know whether they will start acting with entitlement once in a relationship, so I can avoid them.  Suddenly, their opinion matters more.  Their stuff takes precedent over others' stuff.  Their time matters more than others'.  A person isn't better because they're in a relationship, they're just in a relationship.

I'm happy for people who are in healthy relationships because that's something a lot of people deeply desire.  I want people to have things they desire and I would hope people want that for me.  But if someone is going to go all 'entitled island' on me when they're in a relationship, then will they please let me know?!  I'd literally rather not even start a friendship, than to have you snatch up our friendship once you've found someone to pour your hopes and dreams into.  It hurts, it deeply hurts and baffles me.  Just because you expect your partner to fulfill all your needs and wants, doesn't mean I still don't have needs and wants that I'd like to share with you.  Just because your purpose has shifted to being this person's partner, doesn't mean that my purpose has shifted.  Just because the sun and moon rise and set because of this person, doesn't me that my world has really changed.  Just because you now need no one else but your partner (which, might I add, is a lot of pressure to put on one human being), doesn't mean that I don't need you.

So what am I saying?  I guess I'm saying that if I'm just a time filler for you while you wait for your partner to come along, then please don't befriend me.  That may seem harsh or drastic, but I really mean it.  What about those great times we had when we were both single, were those for naught?  To me, the single one, no, but to you, apparently yes.  I expect things to be different for us because you're in a relationship, but different doesn't mean disloyalty to our friendship.  All I'm asking is, in an effort to be a great partner/spouse, don't become a terrible friend.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

The Problem With Personality

I have a personality.  Well, everyone does; but each of us has their own cocktail of personality traits.  Some of the traits in my personality cocktail include, but are certainly not limited to: intense, blunt, self-aware, compassionate.  These are things about me that will never change, and that's okay.  I believe that each of us should come to terms with our cocktail.  Do I believe that people should always be growing and changing as a person?  ABSOLUTELY.  But I also believe that we shouldn't try to tamper too much with our personality cocktail.

There are some personality traits I have that I like about myself.  But there are others that can make it difficult or awkward when interacting with other people or myself.  I'm 25 and I still, most times, feel inept in proper interaction with people.  I feel like I speak too quickly, or my tone is harsh, or seem to have a bitchy undertone, I talk in circles, I say things I wish I could take back (I'm quite the external processor), I always feel misunderstood, in an effort to not hurt the other person's feelings I get all frantic in my head trying to censor what I say that I typically don't say what I want or truly feel.  It's really quite exhausting to be in my head.  Like, laying in bed at night trying to shut down my brain so I won't re-reanalyze everything that went down and was said and thought and felt from every part of the day (waken and sleeping, because I think a lot about my dreams, which are typically intense and not too happy) kind of exhausting.  Can you see how fun it would be to spend a day in my brain?!

Recently I was enjoying breakfast and conversation with a woman whom I admire deeply and look up to a great deal and she hit the nail right on the head.  Meta-cognition.  That word had been throbbing in my head the couple days before our date but it got trampled over by my other thoughts.  But she said that I think too much about my thinking.  Which is what meta-cognition is: thinking about one's thinking.  To some extent I knew that I engaged in meta-cognition probably more than what was healthy/normal, but I didn't take the time to think about it because I was too busy thinking.  Vicious cycle.  She said that I needed to find a way to let it all out.  Being an external processor who doesn't externally processes all the cognition and meta-cognition isn't healthy, or enjoyable.  And it's true.  I often don't enjoy my thoughts, not because they are bad, but because it can't just stop there.  I, almost compulsively, think about/analyze those thoughts.  I really don't know if I can stop, but it sure would be nice to know what it's like to completely clear one's mind.  Anyway, she invited me to journal, not the way I used to (to talk to God), but to journal as a means to process my thoughts.  All of them.  Stream of consciousness.  I tried it, and I didn't not like it, but I can only write with one hand and I'm not able to write down all the different thoughts I'm thinking at once, so it was a little frustrating because I had to force my brain to slow down and pick a stream.  It was hard.  But it has inspired me to find a proper outlet for my thoughts/creativity.  I don't know what it's going to be, I honestly don't feel that I'm good at a lot of things, so I don't know what my options are.  It's something that's a work in progress.  I'm someone who's a work in progress.

I really don't know where I'm going with this blog post.

I think I'm going here: we all have different, unchangeable things about ourselves, things we'll be stuck with for the rest of our existence in this life, but instead of letting them cripple you, embrace them and use them as a tool to make others' and your life better.  I'm still working on that.  I'm still thinking about that.


Monday, August 19, 2013

Losing My Religion

So, tonight, it's hit me hard: I'm truly struggling with my religion.  I haven't wanted to admit it, as if not looking it in the eye will make it not true.  But that doesn't work.  Last week was tough.  Last week I finally admitted that I'm angry with, disappointed in, and cynical of God.  I don't want to be any of those things, but I am.  But today at church I learned (more like, was reminded of) that it's okay to feel that way about God.  He can handle it.

I'm just tired.  And I'm tired of being tired.  I know God is real, that's not the struggle.  In fact, I know the exact struggle: why won't God be nice to me?  Exhibit A: I've wanted to be a music teacher and a missionary since I can remember, so when I finally committed to missions and tried to raise money (as missionaries do) and it didn't happen, I felt dumbfounded.  God says that the 'harvest is plenty but the workers are few' and here I am willing to throw myself in to being a 'worker', but you won't take me?!  To top it off, many people who never wanted to be a missionary had money thrown at them to go.  See my point here?  Not cool, God, not cool.  Exhibit B: So I'm here with my life and plans in shambles, like many of my peers, only they have these great, well put together families to fall back on and I have a family that is straight up struggling (although I still do love them).  7th Heaven's (yes I used to love that show) theme song has a line in their theme song: "Where can you go when the world don't treat you right?  The answer is home, that's the one place that you'll find!"  That song lies and I don't appreciate the deception.

God is good, right?  Why isn't he good to me?  Why, when I put my all and made huge sacrifices for Him and His Kingdom, would he treat me like that?  I don't want to believe in this God, this God who can give good gifts in abundance, but instead keeps proving Himself to be stingy and to play favorites.

Don't get me wrong, I've seen God do great things in my life and others'.  There have been times when I've felt/been intensely close with Him.  Times when I've felt deeply loved by Him (not just when things were going well for me).  I, theoretically, know God is good; but I want to know why He's stopped being good to me.

Yea, yea, I have food to eat, a place to live, people who love me, a (okay 3) job, and stuff...but I feel like those are cheap in comparison to the Father's love.  It's like He's giving me these things out of obligation and to shut me up.  Only I won't shut-up, I never shut up.

I'm not a different person now in comparison to when I was on cloud 9 chillin' with God, because we are always ourselves just different stages of ourselves.  Who I am now, is who I am.  But I would say that there are times when one wouldn't guess that I am a Christian (because no matter how much you disbelieve or how 'bad you sin', once a Christian always a Christian, even if your life shows no evidence of it).  I cuss, like, a lot.  I drink alcohol (which I did when I was homies with Jesus, but in more excess now, and for different reasons).  And there are times when I live my life atheistically, as if there is no God.  I can't say that I'm thrilled with the 'new' me, but it is what it is.  I guess I figure:  why bother living like I love/like God when God doesn't show me the same courtesy?  You first, God.

This whole post seems whiny, but it's how I feel.

So what do I do now?  I'm tired of all the clichés people try to feed me about joy coming in the morning, because it's been night for so long I'm starting to think it has no hope.  I'm tired of maintaining a facade of optimism.  I'm tired of trying to remember what His presence feels like.  I'm tired of people telling me to fake it 'til I make it.  I'm tired of bull shit.  I'm fucking tired.

I believe in God, but I've grown jaded and angry.  I don't want to be either of those things.  Knowing who God is and seeing who God is aren't lining up.  Cognitive dissonance, it sucks.  I guess, my biggest question now is 'how am I going to live my life?'  What are my options?


Saturday, July 20, 2013

Ain't Nobody Got Time fo Dat: Why I'm Not Waiting

I read this today from a friend's tweet, I didn't like it.  I've grown up with this 'waiting' talked about and preached to me and I've decided to disagree deeply with it.  The post I read today was about how (Christian women are) to wait for their husbands, like what they should be doing in the meantime and why, as well as what to wait for.  While I agree that one should not just be sitting stagnant, twiddling their thumbs as they sit pretty waiting for their 'Prince Charming', I don't like the idea, the sound, of waiting.  There are better things to do.

To me, waiting means there's a preoccupation from the present task, life, at hand.  Yes, the Productive Waiting Model (I just made that up) encourages the waiters to further themselves in their spiritual life and to make sure they have some type of concept of the man they're to marry one day, but that still doesn't feel right to me.  When I'm in the waiting room at the mechanic, I bring a book to read and keep me company, but the book (which would be my productivity) isn't why I'm there, it's not the main reason I'm sitting in that waiting room.  I'm putting things on hold, other great stuff I could be doing, but killing my time waiting by bringing a book-friend to distract.  When intentionally waiting for a mate, everything else seems like a distraction from the main objective, gettin' yoself a man!

I know I'm different from a lot of people; I didn't dream of marriage and kids and picket fences and domesticity, I dreamed of traveling the world, living among the marginalized to improve life for all.  I assumed that I would get married (and then divorced), because I thought that was simply what all adults did.  Like a requirement or a rite of passage.  So perhaps that Productive Waiting Model (Patent Pending) isn't made for people like me; my existence isn't dependent upon whether or not I get married.  My life dreams have nothing to do with a man/husband, but he's more than welcome to come along for the ride, that is if he exists.

So NO, I will not wait for the man of my dreams.  And I will not dream of the man of my dreams.  I will live my life to the best of my ability and not hold off on the good stuff until 'I have someone special to share it with.'  If a man comes into my life, sure let's do the damn thing, but I will not sit around waiting for him to get here, ain't nobody got time fo dat.  Life is too good to sit in a musky waiting room.

 (I just think this one is hilarious)



Thursday, July 4, 2013

Mediocre Patriotism, but mostly a list of places I never want to live

I'm not patriotic; in fact today (July 4th, 2013) I'm probably the most patriotic I've ever been because I'm wearing a blue shirt on purpose.  I usually intentionally wear NOT red/white/blue on this holiday so as not to be mistaken for a patriotic citizen.  With that being said, I've been thinking of different places in the USA I would never want to live.  Calm down, this isn't serious, so just read.

1) New York.  It's one of the most popular places in the USA/World.  Often it's iconic busy streets and it's towering buildings are one of the first images that come up when people from other parts of the world think about the US.  But I don't want to live there: I'm uncomfortable with the amount of villains who are bent on tearing up the place: Doc Oc, the Green Goblin, the Sandman, the Silver Surfer, and Victor Von Doom to name a few.  Now, granted, Spiderman, the Fantastic Four, and the Avengers do a great job of fighting them, I still don't want to be in a place that is always the target for such huge conflict.



2) Metropolis/Smallville. One of those places, Smallville, seems endlessly boring and the other is always the destination for such chaos.  While Superman always comes out on top, he's kinda the reason these cities are always in such distress.  I was talking about how I wouldn't want to live in Metropolis because there's always villains visiting with my roommate the other day and she commented (thusly enlightening me) that the villains aren't after the city, they're after Superman.  They come to Metropolis because they have a beef with Superman...or because they're Lex Luther and that's just where they live. I don't want to live in any place in which the citizens, or just one citizen, are going to attract such a mean crowd.



3) Gotham City.  I'm talking about the actual Gotham City, not the unfortunately nicknamed Fayetteville, NC.  I'd live in terror if I resided there.  Gotham City has the scariest, most sinister, most intelligently sick villains in both the Marvel and DC Comic universes in my opinion.  And these villains aren't really after Batman and Robin, they're always trying to destroy (and rebuild) the city to their liking. Okay, not always, Mr. Freeze was just a really sad man.  If I lived there, I'd be in constant fear of poison coming through the vents, of politicians going all Harvey Dent on us, or of going to a football game.  So stressful.



While there are tons of places where superheroes reside,  those are probably the most popular for villainous attacks.  I'd stay away if I were you.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

because I'm not the only one

I'm really scared to put this post out there.  And I'm not entirely certain that it will make it past being just a draft.  But I knew a few weeks ago that I would, at the least, write about it and consider actually posting it.  So I'm writing, because I'm not the only one.

A few Fridays ago, I woke up and felt low.  Lower than I've felt in a long, long time.  I felt terrible, not physically, aside from an aching heart.  I cried and cried some more, and then took a few breathes and then cried more.  I wanted to lay in bed for all eternity, or at least until I died.  I wanted to not exist (which is a feeling I am quite familiar with); but please note that I did not want to kill myself, I wasn't feeling suicidal.  I felt deeply unloved, unliked, and unwanted.  Out of (probably not) nowhere I was feeling this way.  I felt alone; I felt trapped; I felt hopeless; and most of all I felt unloved.

After wrestling with the notion of literally staying in bed all day, I finally convinced myself to get up and get something in my unhungry stomach.  I then forced myself to message a dear old friend of mine, despite not wanting to see anyone ever again, ever.  This woman is old enough to be my mother and has known me for 10 years, and she is a beautiful soul whom I value quite deeply.  We made arrangements to meet at Amelie's that afternoon, so now I had something to literally force me to see people.

I then forced myself to text a few best friends.  I literally copied and pasted the same message (because it took a lot of guts and sobbing to write it the first time): "Hey best friend, I need some advice: I want to change. Lately I've been more intensely feeling unloved.  I'm not the kind of person who gets invited to just hang out in a group or with just one person.  To me it feels like people don't want to be around me.  Today, I just don't want to exist.  I just wish I didn't exist.  I know that people will always disappoint and that I shouldn't depend on people to define who I am, but I still want to feel loved and liked.  I hear people say how great they think I am, but yet I don't get invited to just spend time with them.  What can I do/should I do to change this?  I feel like I don't belong anywhere.  I feel so alone.  Is there something I can say/do/be to change people's feelings towards me?"  That was the best I could do in terms of expressing how I felt.  I felt so weak, but I don't like feeling weak, so I figured trying to empower myself to change was the next best thing.  The responses I got from my friends who I sent this message to were beautiful and medicinal and perfect.  

They helped me know that I am not alone.

My friends' responses to my message all said they often feel this way.  I was wallowing in how lonely I felt, convinced that I was the only one, and they came and pointed out that they feel the same way I feel.  So we're not alone.  You're not alone.

They reminded me how deeply loved I am (at least by them), and how I was right in saying that I shouldn't let people define me or give me my worth, and how I sometimes have to just put myself out there and be the invite-or, not just wait to be invited.  One told me that I can be a bit of a pessimist (which I've seen myself transform from an optimist to a pessimist over the past few years, and I don't like that about myself) and encouraged me to look on the more positive side of things.  One friend called me and, almost frantically, spilled out how much they love me and reminded me over and over how much I'm loved by them while I was trying to hang up on them because I didn't want to cry in a public place.

Bottom line: I am loved and I am not alone.

For me, a lot of  times being an extrovert is tough; my own insecurities and being too self-aware at times makes me feel like I'm an unpleasantry to be around, which only increases the awkwardness.  Fun times, right?  Vicious cycle.  I love being around people, and need people, but I feel like people don't want to be around me.  My hyperactive imagination concocts different scenarios/reasons as to why people don't invite me (into their lives, homes, get togethers, etc), and then I go mad with this self-induced feeling of being unwanted.  It sucks.  Like, a lot.  But I can think of at least three people who often feel unwanted and probably take it personally when they're not invited to things they would enjoy with people they would enjoy (and one of those people is engaged, so it's not just a single person feeling, ha!).  You know what?  Knowing those three people often feel the same way I do/did, is enough for me.  I'm not glad that we all feel this way, but I'm glad to know that I not alone in feeling this way.  It's the little things that are the big things, and not feeling alone is a big thing.  

The day after, I felt exceedingly loved and wanted.  I no longer felt alone and I felt optimistic about life.  I am loved.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

6 Things I Will Never Find Funny

Friday night, into Saturday morning, a friend and I were talking about how upset we get when people joke about certain things.  We both agreed that we feel like we're perceived as bitches who don't know how to take a joke when we point out that it's not okay to joke about some things.  Here are the things that will never be funny or acceptable to joke about with me.

1) Rape.  I just don't understand what's so funny.  What do people find funny about it?  The physical and emotional and mental turmoil?  Is it that?  Or how about how unsafe people feel doing simple things like walking to their car by themselves.  Is it that?  Nope, I fail to see the humor in that and I'm okay with not having a disgusting sense of humor.

2) Dead Babies.  I started hearing dead baby jokes my senior year in high school and I was instantly disgusted and confused.  I thought: Is there an inside joke about dead babies that I'm not in on? and Maybe 'dead babies' is code for something less terrible.  But, alas, people actually thought/think the dead baby jokes are funny.  I just don't understand why death is funny to people.

3) Domestic Violence/Physical Dominance.  I think people, in general, don't realize how many people have had experience with 'mild' or major domestic violence.  Or how scary it is to know that this person could really damage you if they so choose.  A friend told me how she was sitting at a table with about 12 other ladies and one had bad bruises from some physical activity (like a Mud Run), when a familiar man walked up and joked about her being in a new relationship and her new boyfriend laying a harsh hand on her.  At that table there was at least one woman, that my friend knew of, who had been physically abused by a man, the women at the table didn't find it funny.  I remember being startled at the strength of my then boyfriend one day when we were making-out and he penned me down (without my permission) and held me down, just to see if he could.  It wasn't sexy, it was scary; he overpowered me and, at that moment, I could physically do nothing to escape it.  Domestic violence and people using their strength to dominate others isn't funny, and joking about it shows insensitivity and doesn't portray one as a safe person.

4) Retardation/Disabilities/Disorders.  When people call things/situations 'retarded' it makes me angry.  People have retardations (they are not retarded); a retardation is when someone has a delay in some way.  For instance, someone could have a cognitive retardation/delay.  That means this person may processes/learn things slower than people who have no delay.  Situations you don't like are NOT retarded.  And it's offensive that someone associates something they don't like or that they find to be negative with something someone has, like a retardation/delay or a disability someone has.  Or when someone calls another person 'schizo' (schizophrenia) when they think they're are acting neurotic.  People with delays, disabilities, and disorders are people who often are marginalized and the last thing they, or anyone, needs is to be made into a stigma simply because of something they have, not even something they are.

5) Discrimination/Inequality.  Racism, sexism, ageism, breedism, classism...any -ism I hate.  Jokes about why do women need drivers licenses when you don't need a car to navigate around the house.  Or when people make jokes about all Latinos having rough hands because all they do is manual labor.  Or how about the terrible assumption that all staffordshire terriers (pitbulls) are monsters because of the ones who fight.?  Yes there are women who choose to be stay-at-home moms/wives; yes there are Latinos who do manual labor; and yes there are dogs who are trained to be fighters...but just because there are examples of these stereotypes being perpetuated, does not mean that these instances are an accurate or fair depiction of these groups as a whole.  I've grown up with people who are racist, sexist, and ageist and growing up around it hasn't made me less sensitive to or less aware of how terrible discrimination is.  In fact, it's made me more of an advocate for equality.  I believe these discriminatory attitudes are what make people feel less loved than they truly are and the world certainly doesn't need less love.  We all, people, were each created with such care and purpose, and to say that one group of people is better than another based on features that makes us unique, not wrong, isn't how we should be living our lives.  We should be treating our fellow Earth dwellers, people-animal-plant, like the Beloveds they are.

6) Suffering.  It concerns me when people make jokes about the Holocaust, slavery (then and now), colonization, war, killing animals, or anything like that because suffering is possibly the worst form of existence on this planet.  Making light, or fun, of the suffering of others is concerning to me because encouraging/causing the suffering of others, or even oneself, is simply dehumanizing and laughing about it is furthering it.  Even if it's happened in the past.  Knowing that people are suffering everyday everywhere should be a call to action, not a casting call for jokes.

Well, I think that about covers it.  I think the more specific things can nicely be sorted into these different categories.  So when a 'joke' is being made about one of the above, please know that I am either about to speak up in protest or instantly want out of the conversation and possibly out of the group of people as a whole.

Friday, April 12, 2013

I Like Tumblrs

Tumblr is basically a picture sharing website.  You can create an account, much like you do a blog, and post things you find on the internet, pictures/videos you take, all sorts of stuff.  Here are my favorite tumblrs.

1) My Friends Are Married.  This blog is so funny and I can relate so stinkin' much with the different posts.  The older I get, the more people I know are getting married.  It's normal, I guess, but marriage isn't even in my foreseeable future, so this tumblr is perfect for me.

2) E is for Educator.  I am an educator and it's so nice to visit this site and feel understood and in good, fun, company of fellow educators.

3) The Bearded.  I love bearded men.  When I look at this site, I think "Praise the Lord!"  I don't know who these men are, but I enjoy their faces.  Way to go.


4) Reasons My Son is Crying.  This tumblr brings me to tears...of laughter.  These kids must be exhausted from all their meltdowns by the end of the day.  This is another reason I don't want kids, not a fan of crying.

5) Sports Balls Replaced With Cats.  I don't have any desire to have a cat as a pet, but this tumblr is too funny.  Sports are not interesting, but when they involve animals, I'll likely hop on board.

Well that's what I got, but I'm always open for more so suggest away.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Footprint

Lately, I've been feeling like what I do, teach general elementary music, doesn't matter.  It's not that I don't think music, Art, doesn't matter, and it's not that I don't think education doesn't matter.  I am a strong believer that music education does good for everyone...but I'm, somehow, not feeling like what I'm doing is really contributing well to the world.  That's a problem because all I've ever wanted to do is have a positive footprint on this world (so vague).  Last Sunday I was out to lunch with a couple friends and I asked them if they ever feel like what they do doesn't matter?  Like it's superfluous, maybe selfish.  They both said yes and that if I'm feeling that way at a job that I do find to be important, then I'm probably not at the right job.  Then she said something that her roommate had told her: make a list of the things I love and that are important to me, then find a job that incorporates that list.  So here's my list.  Here's my list of things that I'm passionate about, things that are important to me, things that I love. (in no particular order)

1) Art.  Hopefully you saw that one coming.  Art (music/visual art/dance/etc) has never not been a part humanity.  Art is essential to being human.  The different forms Art takes both intrigues me and inspires me; and I want everyone to let their inner artist out.

2) Animals.  The more I don't eat them, the more I love them.  They are excellent and bring such joy to this world.  I believe people should treat animals with more respect and dignity not only by not eating them, but by caring for them as cohabitants of this Earth, not just as a means to make money.



3) Hurting People.  Young and old, male and female, people are hurting.  This is such a broad list of people.  The brokenness of the world effects everyone, but some it hits extra hard, it seems.  I wish I could just fix everyone's problems, but I unfortunately feel completely paralyzed most of the time.  I want everyone to feel loved and known.

4) Stewardship.  I believe in being a good steward of everything given to me: body, mind, spirit, possessions, other living creatures, everything's been given to us.  There are some things I'm a struggling steward of and some things I don't even give a second glance or consideration of, but for the most part I try to be mindful of most things.  A behavior I see a lot of in the USA is wastefulness or maltreatment of our things and people that make up our life, major or minor roles.  I would love to see more conservation and consideration of our natural resources.  Or even small things on the home front like buying food and preparing it, then eating out so much the prepared food goes to waste; that's wasteful of both the food and the money.

5) Education.  Education has always been a prominent part of my life.  Having aunts, uncles, and grandparents that play(ed) some type of role in the education system, has education in the forefront of my mind my whole life.  I've always loved school, except in 11th grade, and have always wanted to be in an educational environment.  I believe that education elevates and changes both the educators and the pupils.


6) Social Justice.  I would love to live in a society in which everyone is treated with love and respect. It's not always easy, but I believe it's important to treat someone with respect not because they've done anything to earn it, but because they are humans just like all of us.  I'd love to have everything equitable, no one needing anything (food, clothes, shelter) because the Haves willingly, without soliciting, step up and provide for their fellow humans.

Well, that's my list.  The above are things that I am really passionate about.  The things that make me get my soapbox out.  Perhaps I could hone in on somethings, but I don't want to exclude.  So now I need help.  What are some occupations that somehow incorporate all of the above.  I want my time on this Earth to matter, not so I can make a big name for myself, some flashy legacy, but so people's lives/animals' lives/Earth's life get better.  Help me out.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Reading is FUNdamental

So I technically work for a major book store chain.  The frozen yogurt shop at which I work is attached to said book store, so I'm considered an employee of the store.  One of the perks of being an employee of the book store is that I get a 20% discount, but this month is Employee Appreciation Month; this means, amongst other things, I now get a 30% discount on most things in the bookstore (instead of just getting 30% off on paydays).  This is pretty great, but I haven't been taking advantage of it, until yesterday.  Yesterday, I finally cashed in the $60 dollars worth of book store gift cards I've gotten from different things at work.  I ended up paying only $32 for $130 worth of books with my discount and gift cards.  It was glorious.  Here are the books I got and why I chose them.



1) A Thousand Splendid Suns.  I read Khaled Mosseni's first book, The Kite Runner, in University in some English class or something.  The Kite Runner really sobered and intrigued me because it told the story of a relationship I have never and will never experience.  Other places, other cultures, fascinate me and I know A Thousand Splendid Suns will likely do the same.

2) The Paris Wife.  I asked for recommendations and this one came up.  Apparently it's really popular: it was on a special table at the book store, the one for popular reads.  It seems slightly romancey and I'm not really into romance novels, but I think it's less about their, Ernest Hemingway and his wife Hadley, romance and more about the unraveling of it.  I have a fascination, okay, obsession, with the expat lifestyle and would like to see about this version of that lifestyle.

3) One Hundred Years of Solitude.  Well, I've heard of this book and one of my roommates loves this book, but to be honest, I'm just in love with the cover.  It's really beautiful.  I have a great interest in Latin America, culture and history, and this book is said to be an allegory for turning points in South American history.

4) A Long Way Gone.  I don't think I've ever heard of this book, but it caught my eye and I immediately put it in my pile.  It's an autobiography of a former child soldier from Sierra Leon.  The lives of the child soldiers rip my heart out.  They're the same kids I teach and have taught, they just were/are forced to kill to survive themselves.  I love peoples' stories, even when they're nightmares.

5) Don Quixote.  This book is SUPER old and is legendary.  I first fell in love with this story when I saw it reenacted on Wishbone and would love to actually read the story.  I bought the book with part one and two.  It's long, but I'm pretty sure it'll be great.

6) Bossypants.  I really like Tina Fey; I think she's talented and smart and pretty.  I thought this'd be a nice, light read.

7) Tattoos of the Heart.  My pastor has talked about this book a number of occasions and every time I've become more captivated with this story, this ministry.  Homeboy Industries is a phenomenal ministry that foster redemption and second chances.

8) The House of  the Spirits.  I actually have no idea what this book is about, but a friend recommended it and I have known about the author, Isabel Allende, since senior year in high school.  My Spanish teacher spoke of her fondly.  I have high hopes for this one.

9) Uncle Tom's Cabin.  This book has made some history and I want to read why.

Cheers to reading.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Can't Sleep, Real Nightmares

It's 3am.  I was asleep, but then I woke up as I usually do.  Since I don't have to get up early, I decided to peruse Twitter for a little bit and came across this little opinion piece that will serve as my weekly list post.  Sex trafficking isn't news to me, but it's presence in the USA was made known to me in college when I learned about it's large presence in Greensboro, where I went to school, and other places in North Carolina, when I attended some kind of informational meeting(s) or something.  Reading the piece made me sad so I tried to get my mind off of it by doing a little Facebooking.  But that didn't work because suddenly my mind was racing with nightmarish thoughts about all the evil and pain and sadness and fear and hate in the World.  Suddenly, I was back to being my 13-14 year old self crying myself in and out of sleep in the middle of the night, crying out to God, because I saw, I see, all this horror in the World and feel completely overwhelmed and paralyzed and ashamed.  I was gonna write a silly list post about things that make me cry (i.e. puppies, The Ellen Show), but then I decided to write an almost tribute to myself about what I like about me and turning 25.  I couldn't muster up much for both, I didn't feel like writing.  I feel like writing now.

Overwhelmed/paralyzed/ashamed.  In addition to the heartache I feel for people who are abused/marginalized/hated/used, I feel overwhelmed/paralyzed/ashamed.  Overwhelmed because there are so many people, more daily, who are victims, past-present-future.  Overwhelmed because there are so many ways people can be mistreated and it seems there are new ways created daily, it's hard to keep up.  Paralyzed because I wouldn't even know where to begin to help.  Paralyzed because I can't choose just one 'cause' to devote myself to because I hurt for all.  Paralyzed because I feel small and insignificant and dumb and ill-informed and incapable.  Ashamed because I do nothing.  Ashamed because I have such a great life for which I'm often ungrateful.  Ashamed because I think of all the slaves that made my clothes, electronics, furniture, my stuff.  Ashamed because I am so selfish, so self-absorbed at times.

Then I get to thinking about if what I do, teach music, matters.  And while, for the most part, I am firm and passionate advocate for education (NOT the education system), it often seems in vain when held up to the monster of human trafficking.  It makes me want to go all Bryan Mills and start kicking ass and taking names internationally and nationally.  It makes me want to go into every brothel, every concentration camp, every street corner, every factory, every field, every unsafe home, every cult compound, every sex temple, every trash dump, every ditch ,every guarded border, every refugee camp, every orphanage, every child soldier camp and say 'sorry' and cry and hug and rescue and fix.  But then I feel overwhelmed, then paralyzed, and, finally, ashamed.

So then what do I do?  What can I do?  How does one go (back) to sleep knowing that just down the road, just across the globe, there are real, living-breathing, nightmares happening now?  Perhaps I should feel empowered, but I don't; I can't shake this overwhelmed/paralyzed/ashamed feeling.  What sorry excuses to not help others.  If I wait until I feel 'ready' then I will never help.  So is this a call to action?