Thursday, December 5, 2013

I don't have any answers.

A few weeks ago I had one of the worst days I'd had in a long time at work. Maybe the worst day. One of my (now former) co-workers had failed to show up, leaving me with by myself with 20 kids that included a group of girls who were being incredibly difficult. They refused to behave and would not settle down. I was frustrated and spent the rest of the evening feeling incredibly simpatico with Mama Fratelli from "The Goonies."

"Kids suck."

Part of the trouble that day was that I had the my kids outside because the gym was not available to us. Being outside meant that we had to put up with any stragglers on campus. There was a child out there who was not a part of my group, but egging on her misbehaving friends who were with me. She was rude and disrespectful and a complete hindrance to my cause.

I've since learned her name and some choice information, and to say that she is anything short of a delinquent nightmare would be a gross understatement. I don't think I could find accurate or appropriate words to describe her. The mere mention of her name caused another adult to utter a disgusted sigh and roll her eyes, and for two of my students who never speak poorly of others to express immediate grievances.

She's decided that I am the enemy because I dared to discipline her friends when they were out of line, and have gotten after her for breaking school rules at the end of the day. She has also decided that because she is not in my program she doesn't need to respect me, and takes every moment possible to express that to be so. Of course, I've seen her act the same way with other adults, so maybe it's worse than I thought.

She is obstinate and flippant and frustrating, and most likely...broken.

And that gets me. Every time.

I absolutely hate disrespect for authority. It bothers me that she continues to act the way she does without correction. And I know exactly how to fix the situation. I know exactly who to speak to for results. I can have a simple conversation with her dance instructor and it would be taken care of.

But I keep stopping myself. Because I just don't know if I should.

I haven't completely figured this girl out. I don't know if my ignoring her tantrums is empowering or frustrating to her. I don't know if she's ever felt remorse or guilt in her life or cares what anyone thinks of her.

I know she's a bully. When I first attempted to learn her name from some of my students they told me that straightaway. I know she thinks it's funny when she misbehaves, and that she's entitled to act however she pleases. That's nothing new from her particular class. I don't know if she's the kind of person who acts out for attention or to make herself feel better. Maybe her parents ignore her. Maybe she's got a tough home life. Who knows?

I'm not excusing her behavior. That doesn't make it okay. Maybe that's harsh, but I don't hand out free passes. I know people from rough backgrounds who never made a fuss a day in their lives. Tough times never stopped them from being decent human beings.

It could very well be that her life is perfect but she's just a mean-spirited little girl who really doesn't care and another reason to worry about the future of our world. I just can't kick the feeling that I need to be praying for her instead of hoping that she'll suddenly be responsive to any sort of discipline. And I don't really think that it's my place to try and fix anything about her, but I've toyed with the idea of talking to one of our counselors about her. She and I have struck up a friendly rapport as of late. She's young and out to change the world - and asking for recommendations for group counseling sessions for girls. Maybe that's been the answer all along.

Of course I don't pretend to have any answers. And I don't pretend to be above this, because as much as I hate to admit it she knows exactly how to push my buttons.

So I'm going to do the only thing you can do when there's nothing you can do and pray about it. For guidance. For some kind of change. For something to get better wherever something needs to get better. And for a softened heart - maybe for both of us.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

a little better and a little sooner

I'm a big fan of the idea that everything that's meant to be will be. The right pieces will always fall into place, and the right things will always happen when they're supposed to happen. But you can't stay miserable while you're waiting for the end result. And you can't stay stagnant, but you can't just go through the motions. You can't live your life clinging so tightly to one hope that you forget to really live. It's no good. It's too hard. It's just wrong.

Sometimes you just have to trust God, and trust life, and trust yourself.

I learned those things a while ago, but I didn't realize how strongly I felt about them until today. I didn't know how very much I was taking them to heart. It's like it suddenly made more sense to me when I was sharing that insight with someone else who needed it.

Funny how trying to help other people sometimes turns the lens on ourselves. I've found that to be true as of late. I find myself handing out advice to others that I hope will keep them from going down the same rocky roads I traveled. Because maybe it doesn't have to be so hard for everyone.

So here's to learning to listen to ourselves a little better and a little sooner, so that maybe life can be a little easier. Because who couldn't use that?

Friday, October 18, 2013

Tales From Middle School: We Laugh Because We Must

Ah, the middle school experience.

I thought I was done with it. I was pretty sure I'd done my time. Those two years at WAMS should have been the end of my sentence.

Rite of Passage: check.

Then I took a job working with an afterschool program at the local middle school. And I find myself in a position to watch other kids go through that right of passage.

I've only mentioned the job once, but it actually makes up a large part of my day-to-day. It's definitely an experience. I get to see kids at the beginnings of their selves. I get to watch them make decisions about the people they want to be. I get to see them think things through and grow in maturity. And I also get to see them in the moments where what's left of their innocence shines through in some of great ways.

Of course, it's not always great. Some days they make me crazy. Some days the behavior can be overwhelming and confusing. Some days we have to laugh because it's the only way to deal. You'll hear about those, trust me. Because even if I have to change names, I plan to document some of my experiences here. Because some of my stories are absolute gems of the "you can't make this stuff up" variety.

So I'm starting that today. But instead of jumping into the challenging stuff, I'm gonna talk about the good from today. There were a few hiccups with the kids, but the good was stronger than the bad, and I laughed more than I sighed.

Today I found myself really impressed by one of the boys.

We went outside so the kids could play soccer. One team was arguing over who was going to play goalie because no one wanted to. Finally I asked the other teacher to think of a number between 1 and 6 (the number of players we had on the team) and I counted off the kids. The kid whose number matched the one the other teacher was thinking of did not want to be goalie. He complained about not wanting to "just stand there."

Then I heard another kid say, "Hey Matt, I'll be goalie. It's cool." I was skeptical. Some of the kids get lazy and don't like to participate. I asked him, "Why? Because you want to "just stand there"?

And he said, "No, because Matt's mom wants to watch him play."

I was taken aback in the best way. I had forgotten that Matt's mother was standing nearby to watch the game, but Juan saw that she was there. He understood how much it would mean not only for Matt's mom to get to watch her son play, but also for Matt to play for his mom.

I hate to say it, but I don't always see that kind of thing. That kind of consideration and caring, and yes, self-sacrifice, because that's kind of a big deal for a bunch of kids who had just spent 5 minutes arguing about who was going to play that position. It made me happy. It was one of those things that makes you forget all of the bad stuff. And since then I've been bragging about him to anyone who would listen.

And just as a bonus, a cute interaction:

Jose: Ow. My head hurts.
Me: Did you hit the soccer ball with your head?
Jose: Yes.
Me: Dennis did that earlier, he didn't hurt his head. Does Dennis have a harder head than you?
Jose: I don't know.
Me: Hey Dennis, do you have a harder head than Jose?
Dennis (who has a really cute, Spanish accent that makes "yes" sound more like "jes"): Um, yes, it got stronger because my mom dropped me twice.

I don't know if that's very cute to you, but I think it's absolutely adorable. I dunno, maybe I'm just a little bias and a little attached. Some of these kids I just can't help but like.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Phobias and Superstitions (aka hang-ups)

I learned a long time ago that we are only born with two fears: the fear of falling from high places, and the fear of loud noises. Every other fear we have is learned.

I'm not afraid of those two things. In fact, while I'm sure I did fear those things at one point in time, I have no recollection of it. I did, however, pick up some phobias somewhere along the way.

I use the term "phobia" because by definition, it suits my issues best.

pho·bi·a  n.
1. A persistent, abnormal, and irrational fear of a specific thing or situation that compels one to avoid it, despite the awareness and reassurance that it is not dangerous.

Key words higlighted.
I know better! I really do. I know how stupid some of my fears are, but I'm inclined to believe that there are some childhood scares you never fully get over. Years later and the memory alone of a few particular episodes of "Are You Afraid of the Dark?" can give me the heebie jeebies. Seriously, chills run up my spine. And I know I can't be the only one!
So you have these childhood fears you can never quite shake and they follow you into adulthood to mix with a special batch of inhibitions developed a little later on in life. This usually leaves you with a decent amount of irrationalities. Nothing crippling, nothing you actually couldn't beat, just stuff that sneaks up on you every now and then.

Which would be an okay place to be. And is where I imagine most people are. And it's pretty much where I am. Except that I also have this nice little collection of superstitious beliefs that I observe that are either rooted in or exacerbated by my obsessive compulsive tendencies. I think that might make things worse.

I don't take them seriously, but I definitely observe them. Isn't that weird? To "observe" fears? Honestly, I more so feel that I just have a bunch of neurosis. By defintion, I have phobias, but that word tends to carry a lot more weight. I like to call them "hang-ups."

I thought I'd share.

1. I don't like having my feet exposed to whatever may be lurking under the bed even though I know there's nothing there. If I have to turn off all the lights before I'm in bed, I have a very small window of time to cross the room before slight panic and the adrenaline that enables me to harness all the power of an Olympic jumper kicks in. Oh, and my feet can't hang over the bed in the dark, either.

2. I knock on wood. ALL THE TIME. Whether I say something that I don't want to happen, or just think it. I feel the need to fix it by knocking on wood. This helps to keep all kinds of bad things from happening. Like if someone says, "Is so-and-so still alive?" and they are, you KNOCK ON WOOD. It will save their life. Then you yell at whoever just tried to kill them for being so insensitive.

3. I don't step on cracks in the sidewalk for fear or affecting my mother's back. And I've never been quite sure whether that applies to just the cracks that form in the sidewalk over time, or also the cracks that separate one cement block from the next, so I avoid both. And if I accidentally step on one, I knock on wood.

4. I don't look at mirrors in the dark. In fact, I hurry out of rooms with large mirrors (like the bathroom) as quickly as I can as soon as I turn off the light. Bloody Mary? No, thanks. I also don't keep exposed mirrors in my bedroom and always make sure my hand mirror is turned down before I sleep. There's a lot of lore that comes with mirrors that I don't really believe in, but am still aware of. Seriously, a while back I stayed with my friend's in-laws for about a minute and there was a HUGE mirror in the room. Very pretty in the day, I'm sure, but I needed a nap. I chose to ignore it. I was really tired.

5. I always throw salt over my left shoulder if I spill the salt. Even if I'm picking up the shaker because someone else knocked it over and neglected to pick it up. Because there's a chance that I could have spilled some of the salt while picking it up. Then I'm pretty sure that would be on me.

6. Hollywood ghost children scare me. I love scary movies and I would even love someday to go on a ghost tour in the South, but ghost children in movies and shows freak me out. I love "Doctor Who", but there's a two-part episode that I have a love/hate relationship with simply because it has a scary ghost child. One of those AYAOTD? episodes that freaks me out? Ghost child. 'Nuff said.

So those are my hang ups. I mean, I still don't walk under ladders or open umbrellas in the house, and I'm not saying I've never felt uneasy in certain real-world situations, but those are the only "big" phobias and superstitions I'm really aware of and observe.

The funny thing is that I'm actually one of those people who tends to think that nothing bad can happen to them. It's not the best way to be, but I always feel kind of stubbornly secure. I'll do certain things and go certain places and take certain risks without thinking twice. But even as I'm typing this now, I have this urge to knock on wood and I will knock on wood because I feel like I'm tempting fate or God or something even though I know that's not the way things work.

I just have these things that stop me up for a minute.

We all have them, even if ours aren't the same. And if you can't relate to mine, then you could at least laugh at mine. And then imagine that maybe someone could laugh at yours. And if you have a fear that's laughable, then that's not really something you need to worry about, is it?

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Ants/Sycorax - Tomato/Tamahto

I went on an ant killing spree a little while ago. They invaded my home. To those I let live, I give [almost] the same warning The Doctor gave the Sycorax on Christmas Day.

"By the ancient rights of combat, I forbid you to scavenge here for the rest of time. And when you go back to the stars (outdoors) and tell others of this planet (house), when you tell them of its riches, its people, its potential, when you talk of the Earth (my residence), then make sure that you tell them this... is defended!"

[Note: No, I don't think I got too carried away with this. They were biting me, y'all.]

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

School was not out forever. Alice Cooper lied.

I don't ever really talk about my job on here. I may have mentioned the kids I work with once or twice - maybe, but that's about it. I think the few times that I've tried to the words just didn't string together properly so I just gave up.

I wonder if that says something about me.


Basically, I work for an after school program at our local middle school. That means that I not only get a summer, but also the end of summer blues (happening just a tiny bit now). But with a new year and new kids come all kinds of new possibilities that I've got to admit I'm at least a little bit excited about. Our program is geared towards 6th, 7th, and 8th graders and free to anyone who wants in. It can be tough at times, but has it's rewarding moments. We put together activities that have something of an educational basis (even if we have to stretch that a bit), play sports, offer tutoring and homework help, give the kids a snack, and try to make a difference in the lives of the kids who need it.

Middle school has got to be the hardest age group to work with ever. Not only did I know that going in, but nearly everyone I met felt the need to tell me so. Apparently middle school burns people out quick, and our particular group of kids does nothing to help diminish that fact. Even without the overwhelming sense of entitlement and almost full-blown apathy we have to deal with most of the time, 11, 12, and 13 are very much crossroad ages. These guys don't really know if they're coming or going. They're torn between being a kid and becoming teenagers. They don't know where they stand. They battle tons of negative outside influences every day, they've got all these hormones running around, and peer pressure has probably never been so terrible. I know it because I've seen it. Kids who are just absolute delights on their own can turn into terrors caught in the pack mentality that is middle school. Toss into the mix the learning difficulties and home issues some of these kids have and life can be a pretty scary place.

My heart constantly goes out to them, yet at the same time I often find myself wondering when I've ever been so frustrated. These kids test me on a daily basis. Before this, I never knew that I could be the disciplinarian, but now I will never doubt that ability again. I'm tough when I have to be because I know they need it, but despite my efforts and those of the educators around me, there are some I still have a hard time imagining a bright future for without some huge and probably terrible life event forcing them down the straight and narrow.

But I still hope, and I still try. For the chance to help however and whenever and wherever I can. Sometimes the smallest and strangest things can have a positive influence on someone, so you never know. You just gotta hang on for your moment. With these kids you have to keep an open mind and an open heart; know when to stand your ground, and when to be flexible and adapt. You have hope that things go your way, but be willing to blast some Chumbawamba and try again if they don't. And with tomorrow being my first day back that's exactly what I intend to do, and I'm excited.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Baby Love

My friend Ashley and I used to talk about me having to keep her from getting pregnant after she got married. Admittedly a weird job to have, it was a task half jokingly set before me and I believe a few others in order to help support this semblance of a plan that my very futuristic thinker friend had in mind. I was just supposed to remind her of the reasons [she thought] she wanted X-amount of time post-wedding before starting a family.

Almost a year ago during a weekend visit, as we sat on the couch having one of the do-nothing days we're famous for, that "responsibility" came up. Somewhere between the trash tv sessions and catch up conversation we just happened to stumble upon that subject matter. I made the usual quip about my duties, but instead of laughter, it was met with a slight hesitation. There had been a change of plans.

Take in my inexplicable elation and fast forward to Christmastime 2012. Everything we had been hoping and praying for was coming true. There was a little Long baby on the way. I held my tongue until I could spread the word that this happiness was upon us, which luckily, was not too long a time to wait. I don't have a hard time keeping secrets, I just wanted to share the joy. I remember telling my family the news and then pretty much anyone who would listen. I was on an absolute baby high.

Suddenly so much of life seemed to be about this baby. I reveled in every pregnancy update. Talks of baby names, parenting decisions, sonograms and growing baby belly pictures made my day. Perusing her baby registry became a guilty pleasure, and the weekly fruit comparisons and details of how she was cooking kept me going. I remember when Ashley told me what she felt about the gender of her baby, and I remember when those feelings were confirmed - when we found out that a beautiful baby girl would be making her way into our lives.

By some strange phenomenon the months flew by until I found myself at her baby shower at the beginning of August. Closing in on her due date. Taking in the little pink explosions that had shown up around her house. It was a full and fast weekend, and while there I just could not get over how round she was - how perfectly pregnant. And then was the first time I felt the baby move. I didn't think I would, but I found myself crying before I realized I was doing it. It was such an indescribable joy. I never before knew that there could be such varying degrees of reality before that moment. Because it had always been real, but suddenly it was more than that. And my heart was so happy.

The weeks after that found me anxiously awaiting the arrival of this little blessing. Soon with the news of a likely early arrival, my habits changed. I was trying to go to sleep earlier and napping more often to be well rested for the drive. My car was gassed up and a bag was packed. I researched the hospital and looked up directions, and I made plans to stay with another friend's parents. I told my boss that I wouldn't be coming in to work if Ashley went into labor, and my family knew that as soon as I got the baby call I'd be on the road. 

Radio silence from my friend and her husband made me nervous at times, but with the way the pregnancy was going, we did have some indication of when go-time could be. A little after noon on Thursday I got the news that we wouldn't for sure be getting baby by means of induction, but there was still a chance she would come on her own. A few hours later it was time. A "most likely" verdict was enough for me. I threw my bags in the trunk and topped off the gas in the car before heading out. Three plus hours later, despite some awful detours that did not aid my barely average sense of direction, I arrived at the hospital.

I was ushered into Ashley's hospital room sometime before the epidural for a short visit and then back to the waiting room conquered in the names of Galloway and Long to grab a quick bite to eat. Somewhere in between my two chicken strips a decision was made to go out for a drink, so before I knew it, two of Ashley's siblings and two more best friends piled in my car and we found our way to a lovely little dive bar across the street. Three margaritas, a vodka something, and six now very memorable fireball whiskey shots later (none of which were mine), we were on our way back to the hospital to wait with only one quick stop at a convenience store to load up on essentials, i.e., water, Dr. Pepper, and junk food.

We stopped back into the room to deliver sustenance to the dad-to-be and visit again with both. I felt the need to pray with them and did so before returning to our 10-man set up to wait for baby. Time with those families is always something wonderful, and our all-nighter was easily filled with laughter and quick wit. Eventually, around 4 or so, we were given the okay from mom-to-be to head home for a shower and a nap. We were told we had time, and it was much needed, so we went with it. Of course, a short hour later we were called back for the real go time. Admittedly, those last hours were the toughest as fatigue, grumpiness, hunger, and for me, slight delirium from total lack of sleep, set in. We were just so ready to have some news. We were so ready to meet that baby.

Then we finally heard from the proud new parents. Mom and daughter were doing well. Daddy, too. Elayne Ruth, born at 6:43 in the morning, 5 pounds 15 ounces, and 19 inches long. She was perfect. And we waited for a glimpse of proud parents and precious child. Anything or anyone coming down the hall was obviously the new family. We kept craning our necks to see if the approaching noises were for us, and food carts, trash bins, and empty bassinets had never before been regarded with such disappointment and disdain. When I looked over to finally see her coming, I had to do a double take before a something of a strangled "hey" escaped my lips. In the instant before I made a noise, by brain quickly wondered if she wasn't just a hospital mirage and worried about sounding a false alarm.

After a most agonizing 10 minutes more in which parents and baby were settled into the recovery room, we were finally allowed in to see everyone. Momma was sitting comfortably in bed, and baby was nestled snugly in Daddy's arms. It was a beautiful thing to see. And even though she was offered to us, no one wanted to take her from him, and no one did. The picture was just too perfect. I think we just wanted proof that she existed. We wanted to see her little self. We wanted to see who this person was who had kept us guessing and already had us wrapped around her little finger.

It wasn't until later, after nourishing breakfasts and refreshing naps, that any of us held her in our arms. When I arrived back at the hospital, Ashley's family and a few friends were there. And because everyone else had already had a turn and some were heading out to dinner, I got to keep her the longest. And in holding her, the tears seemed to find their way back to me. It was another moment of increased reality. She was so much more tangible, and it was overwhelming in the most beautiful and amazing way. And I held her to me, just loving the weight of her in my arms, and that I could look down to see her cute little nose and her pretty little lips.

I could have stayed there forever.

Since then I thought that what I was feeling was a kind of baby high, but I've realized that it's more than that. What I feel is about this baby. It's about Elayne. Not just any baby could cause this much happiness. Not just any baby could inspire so much love. It's about how perfect she is and where she comes from. She is a part of people I love more than I could ever accurately express. I can't wait to be a part of her life for a very long time, and I am so beyond blessed for the opportunity. I may not know what my future holds, but this beautiful blessing of a person has for me become a fixed point on my timeline. Immovable and unchanging.

I think about that task Ashley and I used to occasionally joke about. If keeping her from having kids at this point had been a serious endeavor or anything I could have actually had a say in, I'd have been glad to fail. Because this baby is a gift from God. In his time. On his terms. I don't know what tomorrow holds, but I know that Elayne was meant to be. She is something beautiful in just every aspect of the word, and she'll be changing our lives for the better for a long time to come. I just know it.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

These Dreams

I've been having the weirdest dreams lately with the strangest cast of characters. I guess if I think about, I understand their presence. All it takes is one post on my newsfeed, or one little hint of a memory and suddenly they're lodged in my subconscious and come to life in my dreams.

Last night Taylor was in my dream. I was walking through the quad with some people when we saw each other. He hugged me and he was so excited as he told me how happy he was to have Wednesday evenings free so he could attend some kind of meeting with me. And he was beautiful and happy and smiling and I kept hugging him and I held his face and cried, but he didn't notice. He didn't notice that I was crying and I didn't want him to. And I tried to smile and I kept telling him over and over how great that was, because dream me seemed to know something that he didn't. Dream me seemed to know the moment wasn't real and he wasn't real. But I remember still feeling so grateful that I could be with him in that moment, and so desperate to take advantage of every second even though I knew it wasn't really him. I would take whatever I could get.

It wasn't the same as a dream I had about Tony last week. He was in my dream and it felt normal. In the dream I had no idea that it wasn't real. I woke up feeling great, and I was so happy to see him. But I don't feel so great today. I'm just upset. Because all I have now that Taylor is gone are dreams and memories and my dream was ruined. Because I knew.

In these dreams my brain seems to know when something is wrong. Because they're too weird. And I like them less because they tip off my subconscious that some things just don't belong and I have a harder time believing when the elements don't add up.

Days like these I know that ignorance is bliss.

Monday, August 12, 2013

It's all so very Savage Garden, except I can't start singing quite yet.

With the better condition of my heart as of the past week or so, I found myself thinking about a very short and very obscure conversation that happened between my old friend Alfred and I right before lunch at the end of 4th period film studies class junior year of high school. (Because, yes, you did need that much detail about the when.)

Oh, by the way, about the link, yes, that is Alfred. You actually didn't need to see that for any understanding whatsoever, but I thought it was fun. I had nothing to do with the party that was filmed at, but it appeared on my facebook newsfeed one day because sometimes it's not so bad being from a small town where everybody knows everybody.

Now on this particular day, Alfred, who I haven't seen in about 3 years, but have known for about 12 (another important detail that isn't really important), decided to ask me what kind of guy I was looking for. He wasn't hitting on me and it wasn't awkward, Alfred just has a curious mind. If I recall, he asked a couple of other girls in the class for their perspective, too.

I took maybe a second to gather my thoughts and, thinking about how much I love to laugh, started off with telling him that I wanted someone who was funny. At which point Alfred cut me off to complain about my response even though he hadn't heard all of it. Alfred, bless his heart, was moreso looking for an opportunity to rant than a heart-to-heart and my response was obviously his tipping point. So he rambled on and when the bell rang I left for lunch leaving him to complain to whoever would listen.

And as simple and small as that conversation was I've never forgotten it. Partly because of my wierd memory and partly because before then and up til now I have never been asked that question. It's been walked around or answered indirectly somewhat in a few small details, but no one has ever asked me flat out.

And maybe that's a good thing because I've never been entirely sure what I'm looking for. Which probably shouldn't surprise me too much since I'm like that with just about everything. I usually know what I like only when I see it and only feel certain about what I don't want or don't like. Granted, even that has been tested before and I've been somewhat proven wrong.

To this day I honestly don't know how I was going to finish answering Alfred when he asked me what he did. Of course, what we want at 16 and what we want at 24 are probably two very different things, but I kind of wish he had let me finish so I'd have a better clue. But even with all my uncertainty and the oh-so-healthy doses of second-guessing and overthinking that I am prone to, there are times I think I might know. I think I have this much figured out.

I want someone who will sit with me and do Sporcle quizzes. Who will watch random movies on Netflix with me, and help me find out which scary movies are actually scary. Who fits in with my family and is willing to take part in even the strangest and simplest family events. Who can keep a conversation going with my dad and who will kindly laugh at my mother's wacky ways. Who will get in the kitchen with me even if he doesn't think he can cook. Who will watch sports with me and be okay with the fact that I'm more emotionally involved than I am technically aware sometimes. Who loves and maybe even shares some of my endless oddities, quirks, and sentimentalities, and has some fun ones of his own. Who can deal with my neuroses and hangups. Who can be silly and playful, but also passionate. Who shares my faith and talks with me about it. Who will help me be brave and believe in myself a little more than I do sometimes. Who will let me help and take care of him, and who will take care of me. Who loves my friends, and not just because I do, but also because he can recognize and appreciate what makes them so special for me to want them in my life.

I'm sure there are a million things that I'm not thinking of and a million things that people would deem important and a million things that whoever I find will possess that I could have never even dreamed of wanting. But someone who can be those things for me would be wonderful.

I know better than to walk around with a check-list. I wouldn't and I don't. And maybe that's part of my reason for never trying to figure out what it is that I'm looking for. Like somewhere in the back of my head, I've been trying to protect myself from being disappointed or boxing myself in. But I think anyone who really loves me and who I can really love will fit those criteria. I don't think I'm asking for too much.

I don't know where he is, and I don't know who he is, and I don't know when the timing is going to be right for us to be together, but I know that I miss him already. It's all so very Savage Garden, except I can't start singing quite yet. That part comes after he gets here, and I'll be ready when they cue the music.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Reasons why Songza's "Exuberance!" playlist may or may not be a good choice for childbirth

I happen to be a fan of Songza. If you don't care to click on the link, know that it's basically a music website full of playlists put together by DJ's, musicologists, and a bunch of other people who just plain know music. You can select playlists by genre, time of day, or even mood! It's kind of awesome and now you totally want to click on the link if you didn't. A friend of mine introduced me to the site, and since trying it out I have not looked back.

Now same said friend (that phrase just made me think of Right Said Fred...ha) also happens to be pregnant. This is why I have baby on the brain. Not all the time, and not in a scary "I-need-to-be-pregnant-now-my-biological-clock-is-ticking-so-loud-it-keeps-me-up-at-night" kind of way, thank goodness! No, I'm just very aware of her pregnancy, so the closer we get to her due date the more I think about it. (And yes, "we" because the child is obviously a community baby. We, the community, will be there for the fun stuff.)

So anywho! This morning when I read a Huffington Post article about five playlists that will get you through anything, I thought about her current situation and events to come. Because "anything" includes childbirth. That's a big promise Huffington Post lady! I didn't listen to all five, but the "Exuberance!" one caught my eye. I imagined how it might work for what comes after the baby finally makes her first appearance.

I listened to the entire playlist and jotted down the first thing that came to mind as I heard them subsequently researched each one in-depth so as to understand the true meaning behind it and how it might apply to the emotions and events experienced by parents and child postpartum.

So without further ado, the 11 songs of the Exuberance! playlist:

What A Feeling! by Irene Cara: This song is all about running around with baby high over your head. Maybe kind of switching to an under the armpit football tuck because you kind of feel like you need a free arm to do a Rocky pose wherein you shove your fist into the air triumphantly. This song will let the world know that you are super excited that you really "can have it all." Interpretive dance is also another great way to go with it.

Boogie Shoes by KC & The Sunshine Band: And suddenly the moment has become the thing of one of JD's fantasies on an episode of Scrubs. Momma is rocking those hospital socks and the baby puts on some tiny little boogie shoes and does the moonwalk. Because everyone is born with the ability to do a moonwalk. We just forget because we don't practice. Tut, tut. Also, I'm pretty sure there's a disco ball in the background. And if you're having a girl, the first line, "Girl, to be with you is my favorite thing" just killed it. Also appropriate line Daddy to Mommy. So if you can imagine the emotions after birth being something like this, the playlist is definitely looking up for you.

Celebration by Kool & the Gang: Baloons falling from the ceiling. A soul train line through the hospital. You decide that Kool with a "K" is actually a really good baby name. I mean, it could be the drugs, but you're willing to take a gamble and get the birth certificate people in the room. Stat.

Joyride by Roxette: To play when you're getting ready to take the baby home. Even better if you have a baby girl. Who cares if you can't get that car seat in the right way? They'll let you go just because they can tell that you plan to have an awesome time on that ride home. Trust me, you blast "Highway to Hell" and they're not letting you get behind that wheel. Save it for when you're out of earshot.

Stompa by Serena Ryder: I think this works for ignoring the fact that you just bore this super expensive thing into being. She says something about having too many bills to pay. Though I am partial to the idea that it could really be about getting over postpartum pain in some kind of holistic new age fashion wherein you clap your hands and stomp your feet to get past it. Quote: "All that pain you feel. I can prove it's not real." If you end up having a C-section, I would not recommend this method, but if not, hey, why not give it a go?

1999 by Prince: Because people won't believe that you're really happy unless you equate your celebratory level to that of a party that's happening at the end of the world. Now, this could backfire on you if it leads the baby care people to believe that you're going to party so hard that it leads to playing fast and loose with your kid's life. "I'm gonna raise this kid like it's the end of the world" is not a good message. Because that either spells out neglect or full-on post-apocalyptic warrior child. Yikes.

ABC by Jackson 5: This is a way to let your doctors and nurses know that you're dedicated to education. It expresses that you know your ABC's and 123's, so they know that you're qualified to teach. You can even use the song to go as far as to mention that these things are "easy." Plus, it says that you're going to teach her "how to sing about it", so you care about the arts and extra-curricular activities. This song is a promise to try and raise a well-rounded child.

Little Bird by Annie Lenox: Yeah, not the best song for a joyous event. This one is actually pretty depressing. You probably don't care to purposely equate your new child to a burden and talk about wanting to fly away. I mean, I get it as a "I'm gonna find my strength and get better" thing, but not really feeling the "exuberance." So, no.

We Built This City by Starship: Lends itself to the idea that you may or may not be planning to use your child to rebuild civilization on a foundation of rock and roll. This baby was born to be wild and you're not afraid to let the world know. You'll be entering said baby into politics on a rock-and-roll platform. Also may cause the nursing staff to question whether or not you understand exactly what it was that got you in this situation wherein you are now the brand new owner of your very own human. (Owner in a very non-slave way. That stuff's illegal, people.)

Go Your Own Way by Fleetwood Mac: Now I love me some Fleetwood Mac, but this may not be the way to go. Because you'd rather the medical staff not think that you're telling your baby or significant other that loving them is not the right thing to do. It's a break-up song. So, great music, just uh, ignore the words if you choose it for this particular event.

We're Here For A Good Time (Not a Long Time) by Trooper: This one is obviously the best for talking about the hospital visit. You're saying, "Hey, you or our insurance carriers are gonna kick us out of this hospital after a day or so, so let's party it up! Raise a glass, and spill some out for my homies." This may not go over so well with hospital staff, so be ready for some raised eyebrows above those face masks. But as long as you give them an invite to join the party, things should be cool.

Walking On Sunshine by Katrina & the Waves: All is right with the world! You've just witnessed the miracle of life. You can't go wrong with this song as a way to express joy. It's just not possible. You hear that intro and you have to start bopping your head and dancing around. Congratulations! If this song isn't about those highest of highs in life like becoming a parent for the first time, then I don't know what it's for.

So that's what I got. Just my feelings. Maybe you completely agree with me. That's awesome. Maybe you think I have no idea what I'm talking about and we're in complete opposition. It's cool, you're the one creating a human being. Unless you're like me and just take interest in whatever train one of your best friends happens to be hopping on. Then you're wrong, you're just wrong. So just go ahead and sit there in your wrongness and be wrong.

Now if you decide to listen to the playlist but then realize that you don't want one, that's okay, because there's a lovely little "skip" option that you can use a couple of times before Songza says, "No! You will enjoy my music. I chose it and I am all knowing."

Because Songza is kind of a music genius. And that's the problem with any kind of genius. They get all kinds of huffy when you disagree. Petulant because they don't get their way. So if you do use this playlist for childbirth and happen to end up raising a genius child, just make sure that they become better a better tempered genius than Songza.

But if all else fails, then you could send the kid to work for Songza where they can create the perfect playlist for childbirth that no one will ever question so they never have to be sullen and snarky. That could work.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

This is my soapbox. There are many like it, but this one is mine.

This is my race/ethnicity/culture/gender soapbox.

If you don't like the looks of it feel free to leave now. No judgment. No hard feelings. I'm not trying to step on anyone's toes. I'm not looking for anyone's opinion. I'm just frustrated and need to get it out. And I have every right to do that because this is my blog and nobody is being forced to read it.

So here it goes.

I am a lot of things. And I am those things for a multitude of reasons. Over the course of my 24 years I have known, felt, and experienced events and phenomena that have molded me into the person I am. I have known love. I have known loss. I have felt heartache, loneliness, and hurt, but also amazing happiness, friendship, and healing. I am a representation of lessons learned. I am a variety of values that have adhered to my soul, and I am a struggle to become a better person. I am bad decisions and dumb luck. I am failure and success.

I love my heritage. I love that my great-grandfather was a personal servant to Pancho Villa. I love that one of my great-grandmothers came over from Spain, while another was of the Chichimeca peoples. I love that I am a mix of those cultures. I love stories that have been passed down and the history that runs through my veins. I love that I live in a bi-lingual household. I love that a weekly dinner menu pretty much always includes things like tacos and carne guisada. I love that I can tan easily!

But while my culture is a part of my identity, my identity is not my culture. Those words are not synonymous. I am not fully defined by my genetic make-up, nor am I completely defined by the struggle or successes of my ancestors. It is not amazing that I can do something because I am a Hispanic woman. Along the same frame of thought, I do not do anything in spite of the fact that I am a Hispanic woman.

What I do is about me. The person that I was raised to be. The person that I have decided to be. What I do and who I am is the result of moments of worry and struggle; the consequence of newfound courage and the acknowledgement of comfort. I am a product of circumstance. I am a network of an infinite number of miniscule decisions and huge life-changing stances. I am split-second determinations and agonizing debate. I am saved by grace and redeemed by love. I am caring and quirky. I am generous and silly, but also selfish and straitlaced. I'm empathic and positive, and I'm stubborn and insecure. I get scared and I get sad. I'm emotional and care to a fault, but I'm good with people and believe I may be stronger than I know. I yearn for adventure, and I err on the side of caution. I am so much more than I think I am, both good and bad. I'm a work in progress.

My parents never told me I would have to try harder because of the color of my skin. I was never taught that being a woman made life more difficult. I was never told that people would treat me differently because I happen to have a permanent tan. And I think I'm the better for it. I'm thankful for that. For not having those fears engrained in me. I am better for not believing that something I cannot change is an automatic obstacle in my life. 

I absolutely detest when people blame one of those outside forces as the cause of their every injustice. I don't care which race/ethnicity/gender you are, it's annoying and stupid. Yes, sometimes those things are a factor, but guess what? That's sometimes. Not all the time. You don't get to use it as a scapegoat for every problem in your life. I know that discrimination and racism exist, but if I allowed that truth to rule my decision-making processes or the opinion I hold of my personal being, I couldn't respect myself. And when other people do that it makes me respect them less.

Look at yourself first! I'm willing to bet that most things that happen to you are more a product of your own actions than the color of your skin. So the bad things happen because of what you look like, but the good things happen because of who you are? Flawed thinking. And if you think good things happen because of your race or ethnicity, gender or culture? Well, that might be worse. Have a little pride. Stop making excuses, because it's pathetic.

If I don't land some job, it'll be because my skills weren't strong enough. It'll be because I didn't interview well. It will be because someone else was a better fit due to their skills and strengths, or because it just wasn't meant to be. It won't be because my skin is brown and my last name hard to pronounce. If someone doesn't like me, let me take another look at the situation to see what happened. Let me examine my attitude and behavior, or their personal circumstance before blaming any animosity on something as trivial as an outside feature.

What's amazing to me is that the people who I so often see putting focus on blaming gender or race are the same people I see asking others to look past their physical attributes to see the person inside. If you want that from others, why can't you do it for yourself?

I'm a Hispanic woman, but if you were to ask me how I identify myself those two things would not be the first items named. They are important, yes, and they are high on the list. I am happy that I am both of those things because they are wonderful parts of my life. They are very much a part of me and I wouldn't change them for the world. But I don't have any control over those things, and I am able to take more pride in the identity that I have carved out for myself alongside those genetic truths. And I get to be everything that I am because I don't limit myself to them.

Love everything about yourself. Appreciate and respect and pay homage to your roots and the people that came before you. Embrace your gender identity. But don't let one thing define you. And don't let it become a crutch in your life -- because you should be better than that.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Emergency Temporal Shift...of the creative variety.

Most days I have a tab open on my computer for this blog. There's a nice, fresh, empty post waiting here for me just in case lightning strikes and I suddenly have an idea.

It doesn't usually happen.

I don't know where my motivation went.

Well, I have an idea, but I don't want to get into that. Partly because even though I don't think it's too big a problem anymore, whenever I try to write about it things get all confusing and I get overwhelmed and can't handle it and who are you to judge me??


But I have another theory that I'm undergoing some kind of emergency temporal shift wherein the time I devote to certain creative efforts has shifted into another realm. Yeah? Yeah? Yep. Made that work. Except the emergency thing. Unless the emergency part stems from my slightly crippling inability to write about my current state of emotional duress.

Yeah, that works.

But I do know that it's not an emergency temporal shift because I'm a Dalek who is scared of The Doctor. Because well, I'm not a Dalek, and also trust me, I am not scared of The Doctor. How could I be? He's adorable. And even when he's scary it's much more of a turn-on than anything else.

(Did I just share too much? I just shared too much. I don't care.)

Exhibits A, B, and C...

(And yes, 10 is MY doctor. I really liked 9, I've grown to really appreciate 11, and I'm going back to decipher my feelings regarding 1-8, but I fell in love with 10.)

But no, my creativity was temporarily funneled into pretending that I know how to paint.

Exhibits D, E, F, G, and H...

And I have been told that these are better than I think, so when I say "pretending" know that it's more of a product of low self-esteem than anything else. I'm not fishing, I just have a (probably) unhealthy amount of self-doubt in regards to some things. I don't take physical compliments well either for that matter. I would get all kinds of weird when that guy I dated whose name I never tell you used the descriptive "hot."

But that's another story. And probably a bit of insight. But that's for another day...that may never come.

Anywho! I'm going to go with the idea that all of my creative energy has been thrown into my newfound "art" and I simply don't have it in me to write like I should. Though I can still spin an excuse like a mother.

Once upon a time I was kind of funny, but now I'm merely artistic. It's a totally different experience. My brilliance really is a burden, y'all. I believe my brain is protecting me from an overload by switching my focus and channeling my energies for me. It's all very scientific. Trust me, I'm in no way science-minded or a doctor.

But congratulations to me! I just pretty much wrote a post about how I have nothing to post about. I deserve a medal. Or a trophy. Maybe from these people, because they're awesome.

Friday, July 12, 2013

relatable tv truths

JD: I don't think people are meant to be by themselves...Nothing sucks more than feeling all alone no matter how many people are around.    - Scrubs
Charlotte: The thing is...there are some things people don't admit because
they just don't like the way it sounds...
Carrie: I'm lonely. I am. The loneliness is palpable.   - Sex and the City

I can't seem to put my thoughts together, so I'll let JD and Carrie do it for me.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Wishing for a Wishlist

I have a million draft posts. Maybe even a million and one.

Okay, maybe not that many, but there are a lot.

The number is probably closer to nine-hundred ninety-nine thousand, nine hundred and ninety-nine.

What happens is that I'll start writing and then stop.

There's always something that stops me.

I'll get distracted, I'll over-analyze, I'll get tired, I'll get over-emotional, I'll do something to decide that it's too deep, or too shallow, or too boring, or too personal, and sometimes, too honest.

I'm a GREAT avoider.

But that's not what this is about.

Scrolling through my drafts, I caught sight of a post that I had entitled, "My Wishlist For Me."

It's a post I started writing about all the things that I've been meaning/wanting to get for myself but I always manage to talk myself out of.

Not the most interesting thing in the world, I know. Maybe that's why I stopped.


Also not the point.

You see, the thing is, I had to click on the post to remember what was in there. But before I did that, I had this tiny fleeting hope about what it might be.

I was hoping that it was a list I had created about things that I wanted for myself as a person. And I was kind of disappointed when it wasn't.

Now, I know that I've never written anything like that, so why did I think that's what it was?

I'm thinking that maybe, somewhere in the corners of my mind, I wish I did have a wishlist.

I think it would make me feel more emotionally well-adjusted.

That's where my focus is these days. Juggling my heart and mind and emotions; what I know and what I think I know, what I want and what I need. Lots of up-in-the-air type stuff.

Every now and then I'll find this "definitive" place and I'll feel good and like I have it all figured out. I think I've come to a good place and get excited about a newfound clarity.

Then I waiver. I lose faith in myself. I change my mind.

So I think I kind of wish I really knew what I wanted. Or what I need. At least in the emotional head-space kind of way.

That kind of wishlist.

Because having a list to remind myself that I want to buy all the Sex and the City DVDs and a few pieces of jewelery probably isn't nearly as fulfilling.

(Of course, they couldn't hurt.)

Friday, June 7, 2013

Nobody likes you when you're 23, but what about 24??

Today, I am the big 2-4. It's not one of the traditional "big" age numbers. It's just fun to say "the big-- (whatever)."

Honestly, 23 was a bigger deal.

And that was probably only because Blink-182 had been telling me for over half my life that no one would like me at that age.

I'm inclined to believe (from experience) that they were wrong.

In a majority rules kind of way at least.

Now I don't know that I'm terribly introspective or reflective (Exception: late-night-low-blood-sugar-me), but I figured birthdays are probably a good time to be a little pensive. I mean, they're mainly to celebrate, but they're for reflection, too.

I'm saying that because I am older and wiser now. You'll understand when you're twenty-four.

Trust me.

So here it is, me being reflective.

In the year of me 23...

I met someone great.
I really connected with and had a lot of fun with said someone.
I pushed said great someone away.
I punished myself probably too much over it.
I realized that I'm not sure it's over.
I came to understand that I'm not fully over it.
I decided I'm not sure if I want to be.
I opened up about my feelings.
I learned that I still struggle in dealing with loss and sharing my burdens.
I was reminded of how smart my friends are, and how good they are for me.
I landed in a better place.

I started exploring a possible career avenue.
I was hired for a new job.
I learned that I am more capable than I realized.
I advanced my position (and pay!) in said new job in less than six months.
I discovered that I can be tough, and have strength in ways I didn't know.
I realized that bullying is very much a hot button issue with me.
I found peace in a temporary place.

I married off a childhood friend.
I moved another friend and her hubby into their new home.
I got a chance to celebrate the news of a dear friend's pregnancy.
I expanded a friendship base and began to feel closer to people I hardly know.
I watched friends grow in their relationships.
I celebrated the wonderful people my friends are.
I realized that my friends have been busy bees.
I delighted in the happiness and success of those I love.

I congratulated my parents on 28 years of marriage.
I celebrated 50 years of marriage for my maternal grandparents.
I prepared for the wedding of my closest cousin.
I decided that I'd like our family to keep my little sister's boyfriend.
I developed a better relationship with my little sister.
I grew my love for my family more than I thought was possible.

I had a wonderful laptop gifted to me by my wonderful practically brother-in-law.
I experienced the loss of ipod number 2 that I have yet to replace.
I continued to hold onto my uneducated phone.
I expanded my movie base and watched some great movies.
I became addicted to a few new television shows.
I identified myself as a Whovian.

I started paying a little more attention to my health.
I found out that I am better at running than I thought.
I decided that I am still not a runner.
I stuck by my assertion that I never will be.
I stopped feeling intimidated by the weight room.
I became more confident in a gym setting.

I was sucked a little more into social media.
I started this blog and expressed myself.
I became something of a twitter fiend.
I occasionally used my Google+.
I was nudged into a love affair with Pinterest.
I realized that I have something of an addicting personality.

I experienced an empathy overload.
I was shocked by Aurora.
I prayed for Newtown.
I stayed up all night with Boston.
I cried for West.
I hurt for family friends who lost a young life.

I came to better terms with hurt I've been holding onto.
I worked to attain just a little more balance in my life.
I read the signs.
I dealt with some irrationalities.
I confronted some ghosts.
I struggled with belief in myself.
I found peace through the love of a faithful God.

I lived.
I laughed.
I loved.
I lost.
I learned.

And I loved some more.

So that's it. Life, love (a term used loosely and terrifyingly in some instances), family, friends, work, health, and various miscellany. I think we're good.

Of course, I have this nagging feeling like I'm forgetting something...

I don't really know if that list proves that I'm older and wiser, but it's what I have.

And I'm not sure what 24 has in store for me. My horoscope seems to have an idea, but that's pretty much never right.

I think I'm just going to take it day by day. Actually, I don't really have any other options.

And I'm okay with that.

So happy birthday to me! Here's hoping for an even better highlight reel in a year's time!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

sleep will not come easy tonight

I kind of don't know what to do with myself right now, so here it is.

I've gotten kind of complacent when bad things happen. Not so much when they happen to me, but when it comes to other people. Maybe complacent isn't even the right word, but it's all I can think of right now.

The thing is, when bad things happen to other people, I automatically and truthfully believe that it's going to get better. Everything you want, everything you need is going to happen for you because it has to. Because bad things shouldn't happen and only good things should happen and everyone I know and love is deserving of only good things in their life.

And already I see a flaw in my thinking.

Because bad things do happen. And they happen to good people. And sometimes bad things happen to make us appreciate the good things. And through God, beauty comes from ashes. He gives gladness for mourning, and peace for despair. He heals hearts. He comforts.

I know better.

But I've fallen into this place of believing that the people I love should somehow be protected. Safe inside this bubble. Capable of being appreciative and understanding and grateful and compassionate without ever having to experience pain, or loss, or suffering.

Tonight there is a 6-year-old boy in the hospital. On life support. He has swelling and fluid in his brain. A few days ago he was happy and healthy. He plays soccer. He's in first grade. He's ready for summer.

Earlier today his parents took him to the local hospital because he had a temperature of 104. The doctors kept him for a few hours and then released him. They said he had viral pneumonia. Shortly after, his parents rushed him to the children's hospital in a bigger town 45 minutes away with possible meningitis. Now the doctors have said they've done all they can. They've declared him brain dead. They've given him until morning. That's only a few short hours away, really.

What if he only has a few hours left of his already short little life?

The boy's father, Florencio, is an old friend from church. My dad is the one who married the child's parents. I've known Flo since I was eleven. The same can be said of the boy's grandmother, Molly, and Elisse, his aunt. Elisse and I used to be pretty close. Her son is his best friend. I know his great aunts and uncles, his great-grandparents, and so many of his cousins. I taught his older brother in my children's church class.

I met his uncle, Ruben, in an entirely different manner. Friends since 7th grade science class long before realizing our connection through his half-brother, Flo. He and I have been through a lot together these past 10+ years. My heart hurts for him. I've reached out to him. To let him know that I love him, and that I am here for him and praying. It's all I can do.

I know this family. It may have been awhile since we've seen each other, but that love is still there. I know that they are hurting, but I know that they are pulling together. I know they are praying. Praying for a miracle to come.

When I first heard he was going to the hospital, I honestly thought he would be okay. It took hearing that things had taken a turn for the worse to really wake me up. I feel so guilty about that. I feel like I live in some fantasy world half the time. Maybe it's more delusion than it is complacency.

I just can't help hoping. And I am still hoping, but my faith is shaken. Now it seems so much more real, and I'm scared. I know it's in God's hands and that whatever happens is his will, but I'm so aware of how much more pain could come from this. As much as I don't want to think of it, I can see the potential for the good should it go that way, but I know how much of the bad they will have to sift through first and I am scared.

Almost exactly 2 years ago, I had this same kind of news. My friend from high school, Tony, had been involved in a hit and run. Someone had hit him while he was riding his bike, and left him for dead. When he was found, there was a slim chance that the doctors could save him. So we hoped.

I cried and prayed and begged for prayer and I believed that he was going to pull through. Because he had to. Because bad things shouldn't happen to people I love. And the world needed him. And I'd always said I wanted to know him when he was old. I'd always said that.

But he didn't make it. It just wasn't the time for that kind of miracle.

We later found out that had they bothered to stop after hitting him, he could have lived. And as much as that truth hurts, and as much as the whole experience hurts, I know that good came out of all the pain. He was an organ donor. People lived because of him. He was getting ready to take the MCAT, but he didn't need medical school to save lives. And his death brought some of us closer together. Those who loved him healed together. We embraced each other through our mutual love for him and got through it.

I know better than to question God's plan. I don't do it. But I don't know what it's going to take for my heart to ever be able to handle loss. For me, for other people. I've never met this child, but I love his family. And I feel their pain. I'm carrying it with me now. I don't want this child to suffer. I don't want anyone to suffer.

So I'm just here. Trying to sort out my feelings. Praying. Hoping. Wishing for this family to feel the love I am sending them from four hours and many miles away. I don't know what will happen over the next few hours. No one does but God, I guess. As much as I want it, I know there's a chance that it may not be time for that kind of miracle. But I know that God is going to take care of things. What He decides will be right. And maybe believing in the best for the people I love means believing that everything will someday be better. Someday okay. But I don't want anyone to hurt. And right now my heart is so heavy. And sleep will not come easy tonight.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Never the same love twice

I have a trip planned to Frisco in less than two weeks. It's been much too long since I've seen a dear friend and her family and I need to fix that.

Also, the last time I was there, said friend, Ashley, was pregnant but we just didn't know it. Meaning, I completely ignored the sweet little girl she was already growing. Quite rude on my part.

So along with fixing my social faux pas aimed at dear little Elayne, I'm needing some face time with my friend. Because I miss her.

But tonight I decided that while I'm up there, I needed to put in a little time with another friend who I'm missing. I need to go see Taylor.

I don't always like talking about Taylor. It's been 2 years and a little over 4 months now since we lost him. The pain of losing him has lessened, but sometimes, like tonight, like just in this precise moment, it just punches me in the stomach. I've come to realize that I don't do well with loss. Maybe because I keep losing these amazing people. I don't know.

But while looking at the map and trying to figure some things out for my trip, I realized that with Ashley's recent move, she has ended up just a little bit closer to where he's buried. Not much closer, it actually wouldn't have made much of a difference to drive there from Argyle, but I guess it was enough to make me take notice of the map.

He was from Leonard, Texas. It's a small town. Just under 2,000 people. It's the kind of place that you poke fun at for being so small, but that helps produce some amazing people like my friend.

When he died, and we made that trip to Leonard, exactly 2 years and 4 months ago today, I couldn't handle it. I was a mess. The pain manifested in so many strange ways. The sight of each local establishment shot right through me. Places he grew up knowing. Places he had casually mentioned. Places he had poked fun of himself. I couldn't handle it. My anxiety was at an all time high. I had a hard time breathing and I thought my heart would beat right out of my chest.

It was miserable.

Somehow, through the comfort and strength of others who loved him, through the support of those who love me, and through the memory of him, I made it through that weekend. But some of those sites and memories still haunted me.

Once, on a trip to San Antonio, a friend and I drove through a strip of land that just resembled an area of my trip to Leonard and all those memories came rushing back. My friend offered to drive through it for me. I stayed behind the wheel, but had to force myself to breathe.

I guess some things will just get to you that way. But I still feel a need to go there. I never went to the grave site. And writing this now I realize that I never told anyone that. I don't think I did. Honestly, as good a memory as I have, a lot of that pain has blurred together. The timeline is a little fuzzy. But I know we never went. After the funeral, Murch said he didn't feel comfortable going, so the six of us that were together didn't.

I would have gone, but those people, those boys especially, Murch and Shelby, got me though those days. And so many days before and after. They taught me that it was okay to laugh again. I needed to be with them. I would have done anything for them. I still feel that way.

And it was okay then, not to go. But I think now a part of me needs to see him. I don't know why. I don't expect answers or closure. I'm not even looking for answers or closure. I've never questioned his death. It's just always been a part of God's plan. I don't need to understand any more than that. And I know he's not in that place. I know he's in Heaven, probably wishing I wouldn't cry about his death and those days the way I am now. But I want to go. I think a part of me needs to go. It's weighing on me. Ever since I caught sight of that map. I can't explain it.

I'm kind of scared about it, but the idea is in my head. And what's a two-hour round trip detour? Not much. Certainly not for a friend such as him. Not for someone whom I loved and who loved me so much.

So I'm trying to figure it out. And of course, he would be buried in an even smaller town outside of Leonard where the only existing markers seem to be a church and a cemetery. It makes it a little hard to figure out directions, but for him I'll do it.

I loved him. I still love him. He was this beautiful picture of love and happiness and friendship, and I miss him. And I feel the need to see him. So I'll spend this trip visiting people that I still get to love tangibly, and finish it with a visit to one who I can't anymore.

At least not in that way. Not that I've ever loved anyone completely the same way to begin with.

"There are all kinds of love in this world, but never the same love twice."

F. Scott Fitzgerald said that.

He was right.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

I don't want to be the blog entry equivalent of Lisa Loeb's "Stay"

According to the May issue of Cosmo, my mantra this month, as a Gemini, is "Express Yourself."

I can dig it. It's very Madonna.

See, the Cosmo astrologer is urging me to "Write a thought-provoking blog post that captures a big idea."

Yeaaaaahhh, honestly, that sounds like something I'd be inclined to ignore.

Maybe it's because I don't ever really seek to write "thought provoking" blog posts when I decide to write. I'm just kind of throwing thought minutiae and brain clutter out into the corners of the internets.
So do I need to get all introspective and deep now?

Maybe controversial is the way to go.

My horoscope does go on to say that I shouldn't bother with getting distracted by other people's opinions. Because they don't see my master plan.


I mean, tbh, I don't see my whole master plan either, but there's no need to be critical.


But yeah, about that whole "Express yourself" thing...

You see, now I feel like I've been put on the spot. I can't think of any thought provoking things. I'm sure at some point, I've had some thought provoking ideas. But right now everything sounds lame.

Not too long ago I know for sure that I had something cooking up in my brain about Madonna. (She seems to be becoming a recurring theme here...) I dunno. I was just listening to one of her albums and felt like she was speaking to me. There was subject matter there, but I got distracted and yeah...

And then there are those moments when "Sex and the City" kick starts the deep thoughts in my head. I have like, half a blog post written dedicated to the season 4 episode about confronting your ghosts. I was all about that analyzing that episode with a box of tissues in tow. Carrie just gets me. True story.

Of course, now I realize that I start having thought provoking ideas when I feel that celebrity musicians and fictional character are speaking to me. Awesome.

That sounds great. If anyone ever wanted me committed, I've giving them all the evidence they need.

I just know there's something lodged in this head of mine. Maybe I'm putting too much pressure on myself for greatness. You can't force it. It's gotta come naturally. I don't want to be the blogging equivalent of Lisa Loeb's "Stay."

I don't really know what I mean by that, but it makes sense on some level.

I mean, yes, I love the song and I'm all about interpretive dance and singing it out like nobody's business when I hear it. And it was kind of a hit. Top of the charts 1994...

Just trust me, it totally makes sense in my head. Kinda. A little bit. Just go with it.

Okay, you know what, yes, my horoscope says that my creative juices are flowing and to focus on my imagination, BUT (just re-read this) it also says to commit to a project AFTER the 15th.

Check the date. Yeah...not there yet. 

If the thought-provoking post is my project, then there's still time. I can do this.

And yes, I know there aren't exactly consequences for not listening to this suggestion, but if my creative juices are really flowing, then it could be a missed opportunity. I hate those.

Ever read the Craigslist "Missed Connections"? Heartbreaking.

And that was a joke. Actually, so are just about all of the Craigslist missed connection entries.

But I don't want to squander any creative mojo so I'll give this another shot in a few days.

Of course, I can't help but wonder how things could have been different had the theme of my horoscope been defined by another Madonna song.

And yes, they totally went Madonna with this one, because Pisces, Taurus, and Capricorn were also urged to express themselves in some way or another.

But seriously, "Hung Up" or "Lucky Star" or "Vogue" would have been cool. "Material Girl", yeah, there's definitely something in that one.

"Ray of Light"?

"Like a Virgin"...??

SO many options! Don't you think "Express Yourself" is a little phoned in here?

Get it together, Cosmo. If my imaginary blog readers are disappointed I'm blaming you. You can deal with the angry mobs and hate mail.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Tell the hardest truth first.

I miss me.

I know that sounds just incredibly weird, but I think it's how I'm feeling.

I've opened up a page like this many, many times and nothing ever comes out. My words don't go together like they should. And nothing I write sounds...well, right.

So here's the current me. She's a lot more whiny, and doesn't feel nearly as positive. She rides waves of happiness that don't last nearly as long as they used to or give her quite the same thrill. She's still just as emotional as ever, but now finds herself struggling to bounce back as quickly. She's somewhat come to terms with the people who are in and out of her life and thinks she knows where her heart is at in some instances. But she's lonely.

I guess my one blessing in this is that I found myself writing, "current me." Not "new me." So I know that in some way, somehow, I will come back. So maybe there's more of me still shining through than it feels like sometimes.

Small mercies.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Once Cosas (That's Spanish, y'all. Read it as such - "Own-Say Co-Sahs" )

I must admit that in relation to the rest of the blogging world, I'm kind of a bad blogger. I never post giveaways for my imaginary blog readers, I only legitimately follow 2 blogs even though I consistently creep at least 3-4 others, and I pretty much never promote that I even have a blog. (It's not that I care whether people read it, I just can't help but feel like promoting my blog is a promise that what I say will be worth their while when I don't know that it is.)

That being said, I don't know many bloggers. At least, bloggers who I discuss blogging with bloggers. But in an attempt to promote blogger interconnectedness, I'm going to partake in this exercise that my dear real-life friend and blogger friend, Ashley, asked me to do.

It's a series of 11 things (or once cosas - Boom! Get it? You know Spanish now.*)

11 Random Things About Me:

1. I was voted "Most Polite" in high school alongside my oldest guy friend.
2. I don't think I could ever speak a language other than English or Spanish without feeling like I was sounding pretentious and people were judging me.
3. I keep my movies in alphabetical order and have them cataloged for tracking purposes.
4. I don't go a day without singing and movie quoting. If I do, it means something is really wrong.
5. I tell people that my favorite food is lasagna or carne guisada, but it actually might be pickles.
6. I have "tells" for when I'm upset or something is bothering me, but I didn't know them until college when a friend took it upon himself to point them out.
7. I've never had so much as a sip of alcohol and have never tried drugs, but I sometimes wonder what "Drunk and/or Druggie Tabitha" would be like. (Pretty sure she's like Low blood sugar Tabitha - that girl's cray)
8.The other night I had a dream that I bought a bunch of oranges and one of them was moldy. Since then, I've been questioning whether there's symbolism in that.
9. I'm pretty sure grapefruit is the devil.
10. I'm an almost high sensation seeker. From an assessment I once took where I fell right at the HSS line, it pretty much means I like thrills, risk, and being scared, but I don't drink like a fish or have random sex with strangers. 
11. I'm a sucker for conspiracy theories. I love them. And I still say they killed Marilyn. 

Ashley's 11 Questions:

1. What kitchen appliance could you not live without?
I'm not at all surprised that this is one of Ashley's first questions. And I hate to burst her bubble, but I've done without a lot of appliances for a long time, so I'm pretty sure I have a good chance for survival. But I have recently become quite attached to my Crock-Pot. There are certain recipes I will only make in that.

2. What is your favorite TV series of all time?
I love a lot of television shows. I go through spurts of addiction with shows like Psych, Supernatural, Sex and the City, HIMYM, Designing Women, and tons of others (we won't even get into cartoons!), but one constant is "The Golden Girls." I've seen every episode. I know pretty much every punchline and can quote a lot of the episodes verbatim.

3. What three wishes would you use if you had a magic genie?
I'm not above giving the "I wish for more wishes" thing a try. Not because I'm greedy, but because loopholes interest me. And I guess I would ask for some kind of monetary favor. I'd like to be able to financially take care of people I care about. And some kind of answer to world problems. I guess that's technically three.

4. What is the best part of a sunny day?
Getting a chance to spend it outside with someone you care about. Either swinging at the park, feeding ducks (especially feeding ducks!), or playing frisbee. Oh, and if the sunny day comes with a nice breeze?? Bonus!!

5. What is your favorite condiment?
I'm a ketchup girl. I'm not a fan of ranch. I only recently learned to slightly be okay with mustard, and mayonnaise is right for some foods, but throw me some Whataburger ketchup and I'm a happy lady.

6. What decade do you feel like you really should have been born in?
I don't know. I've managed pretty well in this time. I do love the dress and manners of certain days gone by, but then I remember that I'm Hispanic. That uh, wouldn't have gone over so well for me in some places...

7. What is your biggest vice or guilty pleasure?
It's probably staying up late and sleeping in. I'm terrible about that. I indulge in sleep when given the opportunity.

8. What do you love most about your current job?
Some days the kids I work with drive me nuts, but when they come up to me wanting to share about something going on in their lives, it makes my heart happy. They like to tell me about awards they get, how they do at their athletic meets and tournaments, when they do well on a test, about their weekend plans or activities with friends or family, and even when they've exhibited good judgement by not acting out in a negative manner (trust me, that's a biggie for some of them!). I like that they want to share with me. I also like when they get excited that I'm the one running a certain program (even if I sometimes feel it's a lesser of two evils excitement).

9. Given the opportunity, would you travel to space for a weekend vacation?
Heck yes! In a heart beat! I'd love to see the earth looking like a giant blueberry and go looking for that man on the moon.

10. What is your favorite dessert?
I gotta go with cheesecake. And not even like, rich, decadent, super expensive cheesecake, either. I mean, go to H-E-B and buy me the plain or strawberry cheesecake for $7 and I am a happy person. Very close second is apple pie, though. That's when I want a hot dessert.

11. If you could buy any single item in the world, regardless of price, what would you buy?
Maybe a smart house. I'd like to give living like the Jetsons a go!

This is where I'm supposed to tag people...

My 11 Questions Even Though I'm Not Tagging Anyone (Bad Blogger, Remember?) Maybe you could answer a few in the comments if you feel so inclined?

1. What's one thing the world could do without?
2. Water park or amusement park?
3. Do you have a favorite product that's been taken off the market and sent to wait for you in Heaven? What was it?
4. Do you have a personal mantra or motto?
5. What's the nicest thing someone has ever said to you?
6. Favorite childhood memory?
7. Do you have any secret talents or hobbies that you don't normally advertise?
8. Cooking or baking? Do you have a preference, or are all your ingredients at the restaurant?
9. Do you believe in regret?
10. What's your favorite holiday and why?
11. Have you ever had something you consider to be a defining moment?

*You don't really know Spanish now. You just know two words. Please don't list that you are bilingual on a resume based on this knowledge alone.

P.S. I feel like I've just filled out a myspace survey. Remember those?? Yeah, those were the days!! lol

Monday, March 18, 2013

The Things Real Friends Mean

This weekend I had an emotional break-through. I'll share details about that in another soon-to-come post, but I felt like what I'm about to say now is more important. It needs to come first.

I had a very cathartic experience and I have a very good friend to thank for it. A friend who listened and reacted and tried his best to help me. And did help me. And as I drove home from my visit with him, I thought about everything that happened. I thought about what he did for me and it was beautiful. But something made it more beautiful still, and it's this: He's not the only one who would have done it.

I have, in my life, some amazing people. Some amazing people who love me and want what is best for me. I've alluded to that before, but I rarely celebrate them here in a way in which they deserve.

The intricacies of my relationships with these wonderful individuals I call my best and dearest friends are many. I cannot begin to explain every lovable quirk, connection, and moment shared between us, and I could never fully express all the beautiful things they are. I can only hope that I am successful in demonstrating my gratitude for their love and all the love I have for them in return.

I was thinking about the things real friends mean. I came to more than one conclusion, but if I could share a few, I think I would start with these:

Your name is safe in their mouths.
They have open invitations for you to come into their homes.
They allow you to feel as comfortable in their homes as you do in your own.
With them, the "mundane" is paradise.
They trust you with their hearts and hopes and dreams.
They're willing to let you be a support and know that helping them helps you.
They'll sing with you loudly and obnoxiously when the right song comes on.
Still, with them, silence is comfortable.
They make your cheeks hurt on a regular basis from smiling and laughing.
They share their secrets with you.
They make you feel special at times when you feel far from it.
They know when you to push you, and when to hold fast.
They step outside their comfort zones to hold you when your heart is breaking, and don't let go until well after the tears have stopped.
They love you harder and better after a rough spot.
Your friendships are only stronger after they have been tested.
They experience your emotions with you. Happy, sad, excited, hurt, angry, and all others.
You can vent to them and be understood - either immediately or because they have strived to get there.
They allow you to express your emotions in whatever way they manifest.
They forgive you when you've been foolish.
They take you back after you've been wrong.
They know that you aren't perfect, but will pretend you are when you're feeling down.
They inspire you to be a better person.
They put up with your quirks and eccentricities, and even kind of love you for them.
They embrace the things you sometimes wish were not a part of you.
They notice when you've been missing, and more so miss you when you're not there.
You are so comfortable with them that you can be at your silliest without even noticing.
They are often silly with you.
They never judge you, but are more than willing to judge with you.
You can call on them anytime.
They try to find the right words when you're in need of them.
They offer continued support, and can discern whether it need be vocal or silent.
They understand that sometimes you need to be coddled, and sometimes you need a dose of reality.
They know that they don't need to impress you, but still strive to be a great host.
They make you feel like a part of their lives, even from what feels like a million miles away.
They know what you're thinking, and don't always make you say it.
They take charge when you're at a loss, but also know when you need to stand on your own two feet.
They offer to be a sounding board as well as devil's advocate.
They ask you to be a part of important celebrations and milestones in their lives.
They consider you to be an important celebration in their lives.
They know those little one word inside joke/memory triggers, like "oranges" or "railroad" that will always make you smile.
They never make you feel excluded from the goings-on of their lives because you're in a different place in yours, but rather invite you in to experience their reality with them.
They remind you everyday, by their existence alone, that God has blessed you beyond belief.

"There's a miracle of friendship that dwells within the heart.
You don't know how it happens, or where it gets its start.
But the happiness it brings you always gives a special lift,
And you realize that friendship is God's most perfect gift."

Friday, March 1, 2013

Lyrics alongside me

I had lyrics from three different songs pop into my head as I wrote my last blog, helping to express what was on my mind:

"2 AM and I'm still awake, writing a song.
If I get it all down on paper it's no longer inside of me,
Threatening the life it belongs to."
 - Breathe, Anna Nalick

"Can you help me I'm bent
I'm so scared that I'll never
Get put back together"
 - Bent, Matchbox 20

and so much of this song that I haven't listened to in a long time, and that I never wanted to feel like I could understand:

"Split Screen Sadness"

And I don't know where you went when you left me but
Says here in the water you must be gone by now
I can tell somehow
One hand on the trigger of a telephone
Wondering when the call comes
Where you say it's alright
You got your heart right

Maybe I'll sleep inside my coat
Wait on the porch 'til you come back home
Oh, right
I can't find a flight

We share the sadness
Split screen sadness

Two wrongs make it all alright tonight [4x]

"All you need is love" is a lie 'cause
We had enough but we still said goodbye
Now we're tired, battered fighters

And it stings when it's nobody's fault
'Cause there's nothing to blame at the drop of your name
It's only the air you took and the breath you left

Maybe I'll sleep inside my coat
Wait on the porch 'til you come back home
Oh, right
I can't find a flight
So I'll check the weather wherever you are
'Cause I wanna know if you can see the stars tonight
It might be my only right

We share the sadness
Split screen sadness
(Two wrongs make it all alright tonight)

I called because I just
Need to feel you on the line
Don't hang up this time
And I know it was me who called it over but
I still wish you'd fought me 'til your dying day
Don't let me get away

'Cause I can't wait to figure out what's wrong with me
So I can say this is the way that I used to be
There's no substitute for time
Or for the sadness
(Two wrongs make it all alright tonight)
Split screen sadness
(Two wrongs make it all alright tonight)
We share the sadness
(Two wrongs make it all alright tonight)
Split screen sadness
(Two wrongs make it all alright tonight)
Oh, and the sadness, it's so right, it's so right...
(Two wrongs make it all alright tonight)
Oh, and the sadness, it's so right, it's so right...
(Two wrongs make it all alright tonight)
Oh, and the sadness, it's so right...
(Two wrongs make it all alright tonight)
Oh, and the sadness, it's so right...
(Two wrongs make it all alright tonight)
- Split Screen Sadness, John Mayer