Flights of Fancy

When I was little and things got rough, I used my imagination as a means of escape. That’s why I fell in love with reading in the first place. I could escape the real world and go with someone on a wonderful adventure, full of fun and laughter. If there was drama I knew it would be resolved by the end, unlike the drama I so often faced. Eventually, though, I needed to escape from the real world when I was really upset, and I couldn’t focus on a book. I had to act out my imaginings. So, I played pretend, like most children do. I used my imaginary adventures as a way to resolve conflicts or fill holes that I had in my life. If I was feeling bored, I’d invent a new world to explore. If I was scared, I’d invent some monster and make myself the hero who would defeat it. If I was lonely, I’d go on wonderful new adventures with a bunch of friends. If I felt powerless, I’d pretend I had powerful magic.

I never really stopped playing pretend. It’s a wonderful coping mechanism, really. I went through a phase where I’d write poems to deal with my life, or I’d write countless scripts or short stories. Sometimes all I had to do was write down the idea for a book and I could spend an hour imagining how the rest of it would go. It was a great distraction.

As I grew older, though, I needed my imaginings to become even more specific, and the fanciful ones weren’t cutting it any more. I needed something realistic in my life. I had to imagine that life was different than it really was. If my parents were fighting, I’d imagine instead that we were all off on a family vacation. If I felt lonely, I’d imagine that all of my good friends came to see me from across the country. If I was scared, I’d imagine either that I stepped up to the challenge and succeeded, or that someone would come and save me.

I still go off on flights of fancy, even today, when I’m supposed to be a mature adult. I often catch myself daydreaming: that I am living this wonderful, put-together life in a cute apartment with a great job, or that I am out with friends instead of stuck in my room doing homework or trying to find something new to watch on Netflix, or that the people I really want to pay attention to me give me the time of day.

It’s harmless, I suppose. Where would ambition come from, if not from dreams?  The main problem, though, is when you have to land. They always say that landing is the hardest part of flying, and I can agree. You have to somehow ground yourself again after imagining that your most fervent wishes had come true. It’s hard to come back down to Earth when you’ve been up in the clouds. Earth seems so hopeless, harsh, and unwelcoming.

So it’s important to watch how often you daydream, I suppose. Make sure you aren’t putting yourself through too many rough landings. Don’t go back out until you’ve put some plan in motion to achieve your dreams. Start looking for that dream apartment and the job that will pay for it. Make plans with friends so that you aren’t left alone. Work hard at always being your most fabulous self so that if someone looks at you, they can’t look away.

Use your dreams to guide your reality.

Waiting, Wishing, Hoping

Two quotes come to mind when I think of this topic: “A dream is a wish the heart makes,” and “Don’t wish, don’t start. Wishing only wounds the heart.” Both are true.

I’ve been wishing for years: on falling stars, on birthday candles, on 11:11 and on clasps that fall to the front. All this time I’ve spent wishing I’ve just been building up my hopes, making myself think that life can be different than how it already is with just one well-timed (and specifically phrased) wish.

I’m a good story-teller, you see. I have a very active imagination. I can dream up some amazing things. I think of them in such detail that it’s almost like they’ve come to life. When I was little, playing “pretend” was my favorite pastime. I became a sort of expert at it, and called upon those skills to help me deal with any of the awful, upsetting things that I came across. Today, I use this as a way to explain what happens. I come up with five different possible plots for why bad things happen to the people that I love, and myself. I can rewrite people as heroes or as villains, and (most of the time) it will seem plausible. Then, I’ll wish and hope that it was true so that I can make sense of the world.

I’ve always done this. Honestly, I’ve always had a problem believing that anyone besides Hitler and Umbridge were truly evil. So, whenever someone does something particularly awful to me, I rewrite the story. I explain why they did it. I come up with a tragic reason why they might have done something so awful, and I find a way to forgive them.

That’s where I get into trouble. I explain this alternate motivation so well that it becomes hard to snap back into reality. I have amazingly wonderful dreams where everything is sunshine, rainbows, chocolate that helps you lose weight and singing animals straight from Disney. Then, I wake up, and life is normal.

I would conclude this by saying that I’m not going to dream again. That I’ll never think up different explanations (besides the obvious), and that I’ll stop hoping for the best. After all, Camus once implied that hope is our worst enemy. Hoping for a situation that’s different than the one we’re in is the best way to upset ourselves.

Well, thing is, I’m a hopeless romantic. So, whether Camus is right or not, until I go through that magical transformation that turns me from a romantic to a cynic (because I’m pretty sure that most cynics are disappointed, tired romantics) I’ll keep hoping and dreaming. I guess I’m like Anne of Green Gables that way.

I will, however, attempt to change my behavior. Maybe, instead of hoping that things will come to me, I’ll go to them. I’m not exactly sure how to track ethereal things like love, happiness, stability and trust, but I’ll learn. That way, I’ll wish with action, and maybe that will give me some more control over my life.

 

I’ll keep you updated. Sweet dreams, everyone.

Another Beginning

So, I’m sitting here thinking about what I want to write. I know that I need to write, though.

It’s amazing how this need has come back so randomly. I came back this semester, and I just had to write. So, naturally, I started using my Twitter account, blowing up my Facebook, and even posting on Instagram in this desperate attempt to satisfy my need to communicate. It didn’t really work, though. Hence me resorting to more than 150 characters so I can force my thoughts on an unsuspecting “public.” I’ve started blogging again. I say again, because I’ve definitely used this blog before. I used it mostly to vent my nonsensical (and often childish) thoughts about life. Don’t worry, I recently deleted the most embarrassing posts.  I also started writing a play. It’s not a happy play, and if I ever finish it and let anyone else read it, I will do so only under a pseudonym (until it wins a Tony. I’ll be accepting that in person).

I guess my point is, I have a lot of thoughts running through my head right now. Some of them are silly and school-girlish, some of them are literally all feelings, and some of them are really deep.  I can’t keep them in, so I’m going to lay them out here for you to peruse.

I can’t promise that they’ll be expressed eloquently. Despite my lifelong desire to be a great author, I have never managed to captivate people with my words. I’ve only recently found a way to tell a story in person in an efficient yet entertaining manner. I also can’t promise that my thoughts will always be meaningful, inspirational, or wonderful (or even grammatically correct).  The only thing I can promise you is that they will be passionate and genuine, because that’s how I’m trying to live my life now. I’m tired of always hiding what I think and feel. I’m tired of people (myself included) beating around the bush. It’s time to stop playing games. Trust me, I know that’s a process and not a single action. So this is me, processing.

Those Special Moments

So, I recently saw the movie Her, and I fell in love. Not only is the writing amazing, but the acting is superb, the story is compelling and fresh, and it is beautifully captured.

However, that’s not really what this post is about.

I noticed, while forcing my friends to discuss the movie with me (because, apparently, I’m the only one in that friend group that adores analyzing movies), that this movie is different in more than one way. Not only does it depict a non-traditional relationship, but it also focuses more on the relationship itself than the beginnings of the relationship. This movie shows some beautiful post-courting events. Those events, or rather, moments, that occur when you’re truly comfortable with someone. Those moments that aren’t contrived, aren’t planned, and are 100% naturally you.

That made me remember some moments in my life that I love. Those moments when you feel completely comfortable with someone and are able to revel in that fact. When you find out that on some of the most trivial levels, you are with someone who is like you. You’re spending time with someone who gets you (which for me, is a very, very rare occasion).

That’s one of the things I crave most. Yes, yes, sexual things are fun (if they weren’t there wouldn’t be nearly as many humans as there are today). Romance is fun too. The wooing, the hand-holding, the long, romantic, longing gazes… But friendship is better.

So, this movie shows some of those times when friendship meets romance–when you get to have utterly silly, meaningless, wonderful moments with someone you love. Those moments when you are completely in sync, and you both understand and wonder at the complexities of the individual near you.

These moments are amazing, and yet they are often ignored. People take them for granted, until they’re single again, or until they are away from those people that really understand you.

This is going to sound weird, but these moments don’t always happen with your romantic significant others. These moments can happen with any “other” who is significant. People will probably judge me hard core for this, but I totally believe you can have a crush on your best friends.  I know I do. I am completely in love with my best friends. No, that doesn’t mean I’m homosexual. It means that I love every aspect of some of my friends. I love how we work together. I love how we interact. I love the crazy moments we have together. When I’m crushing on them, I crave them more than usual. I miss them. I spam their Facebook walls with funny inside jokes (which is ok, because they love me). I randomly text/snapchat them messages proclaiming my love for them–and they send them back.

The English language has a very narrow concept of love. The word, “love” is used to describe hundreds of different emotions. “I love this pizza,” and “I love you” are both statements that use the same word to describe two very different emotions (unless you’re romantically in love with your pizza. In which case… you do you?). We also use “love” to describe friendship love. I remember the first time I told my best friend that I loved her. I was saying goodbye to her the night before I was leaving California to move to Texas. I was terrified, sad, and angry. I literally felt like I was being ripped in two. When we hugged each other we cried and told each other that we loved each other, and we were both so shy about it. As though telling each other we loved each other was taboo, because we were both girls, but we weren’t lesbians. We didn’t want to make it weird.

Well, it wasn’t, and we were both so incredibly happy about that. And guess what? It’s totally OK for best friends to love each other.

Valentine’s Day is another day that I totally fight the love stereotype. In America, it is a day for lovers. If you don’t have a lover, then you’re supposed to either sit at home and feel sorry for yourself (probably with some sort of alcohol and chocolate), go out and try to find a temporary lover, or make fun of all of the “stupid couples” who are buying into a capitalist scheme. Well, I learning in my Spanish class that not all countries see it that way. In Mexico, they have a “Dia de la Amistad” which means Friendship Day (basically). This is a day when you celebrate those you love, but not romantically. Ok, so it’s probably another holiday made up by Hallmark to boost their sales, but it’s a great idea. Why do I have to be limited by the narrow conception of love on Valentine’s Day? So, like the freak I am, I give all of my friends a little gift on Valentine’s Day, because I love them. I also try to remind myself that, although I’m #foreveralone, I’m not really alone, because I have other people in my life that I love who love me back.

So, to get back on topic, here is a (totally incomplete) list of those moments of romandship (romance+friendship) that really show true love and caring to me. Some of these might only happen in romantic relationships, some of these might be friend-zone things, but all of them are moments that I cherish (or really, really, really want to happen).  All of these are moments when you are being 100% yourself with someone, and it isn’t weird at all.

  • When you wake up and are facing the person in bed next to you. Even though you probably look like crap and have awful breath, you both smile, because you’re happy they are the first person you see.
  • When you stay to watch the credits without having to ask, because that’s just what you do.
  • When you do the above, and you take turns reading off the weird sounding names (because why wouldn’t you?)
  • When you both end up looking at each other randomly across the room and either a) raise your eyebrows and smirk knowingly at each other, b) smile cutely and look down, or c) make random and rather terrifying faces at each other because you can.
  • When you say something completely random and weird during a conversation, and instead of recognizing how awkward/weird that was, the other person just goes with it, and you have a weird, sarcastic, and hilarious conversation about it (which probably leads to an inside joke)
  • When you say the same thing at the exact same time as your “other,” and you just laugh because it’s creepy but cool
  • When you can catch each other up on your lives in 30 seconds, and they somehow understand everything that you said
  • When you have an entire conversation just by looking at each other
  • When you know they’ve entered the room without even seeing them, and you immediately feel happier
  • When you text each other at the exact same time (and you weren’t in the middle of a conversation)
  • When they somehow sense that you need comfort, and know how to help you (even if they just touch your arm briefly)
  • When you look at each other and know you’re thinking the exact same thing (either sexual or not…)
  • When you can just sit in silence, or walk in silence, and it isn’t awkward at all
  • Those conversations that are utter sarcastic nonsense but make you incredibly happy all the same.
  • When you teach each other how to do things, and it doesn’t seem condescending or judgmental. You just enjoy helping the other person grow.

This isn’t an extensive list. Honestly, some of these may only apply to me. Maybe this doesn’t make any sense. All I know is that a real relationship has these moments, and many more. They seem like second nature, but that’s what’s so special with them. It’s a sign that you really are sharing your life with someone, or at least you’re beginning to do so.

 

Eh, who knows. I’ll probably end up with cats.

Here it is. Listen–by Leigh

My friend Leigh wrote this blog. The link to it won’t work, so I copy and pasted it.  It’s important. You should read it. EVERYONE.

 

Here It Is: Listen.

by leighkgb02

Okay. I am sick. And tired. I am completely overwhelmed by the world and the on-going war on body images. I am a part of this war. But I seem to be one of a very, VERY small community of people who actually promote being healthy and accepting of who you are. And really, how SICK is that?

Here’s my story (as short as I can possibly tell it):

I am “skinny”. I have been small my whole life. That is the way I am built: short and thin. For awhile it was almost dangerous. It seemed that my body burned off calories and carbs faster than was healthy; the number of times my doctor gave my family and me instructions to give me Pediasure or the like so I could hopefully gain weight was astounding. There were occasional threats of hospitalization if I couldn’t gain the necessary weight. When I was 12 I finally reached 98 pounds. I didn’t gain a single pound until I was 16 and reached 100.

Does that sound like complaining? Are some of you about to jump on me and scream foul? Please, go on and tell me just how LUCKY I was to nearly be forced into the hospital. How girls would KILL (HAVE killed) to have my so-called “problems”. I dare you.

If you just accepted that dare, you aren’t the first. Oh no. You’re at the bottom of a long list of strangers, acquaintances, friends, enemies, family, teachers, and co-workers who decided to ostracize me for my struggle with who I am. Can I let you in on a little secret? You’re all a part of the problem I mentioned in the first paragraph. Please, don’t get offended! Keep reading! I promise this story gets better.

When I was very young, I didn’t know there was a problem with looking the way I did. I gathered that children my own age didn’t really like me because I was weird. I liked to read, I was loud, I talked a lot, and I had a vivid imagination. Okay. I understood that. I still managed to make friends because I was outgoing, friendly, and despite my weirdness, accessible. I would listen to other people’s problems and points of view and not judge them for what they liked and were interested in. That endeared me to quite a few people, despite their distaste for the things I enjoyed doing.

But sooner, rather than later, I started hearing about how “lucky” I was to be so skinny. How many of the girls wished they looked like me. How boys preferred the way I looked to the way they looked (which I thought was insane, considering boys did not give me the time of day except to tease me). When I say this all started happening “sooner” I mean it: I was 5 the first time a girl on the playground said this to me. Five. Years. Old.

Some of you didn’t even bat an eyelash, did you? Because saying things like this to girls, teens, and women like me is commonplace. It’s acceptable. Who cares if it’s a five year old saying it to another five year old? Does it matter? YES. Yes it does.

Because it didn’t stop there. I started hearing more and more often the older I got. From more than just my classmates. In the fifth grade I distinctly remember the day I was told by my teacher: “I remember when I looked the way you did, so small and petite. You’re so lucky. It’s no wonder girls are jealous of you.” In front of the class. I cried at recess that day because one of the boys in my class kept calling me “petite” like it was a dirty swear word. And to me, it was.

Because now I was being treated so much differently those days than I had been when I was 5. I had more “friends” it was true, but I was constantly told how “perfect” I was, only to be told later all of my flaws (none of which they had, or so they said). Later in life, watching some sorority movie or other I saw some of the hazing that the pledges went through and was immediately flashed back to my childhood. That’s what it felt like. Hazing. Like they were stripping me down, writing all my flaws on my body and telling me what I terrible person I was for making them hate themselves.

That’s the one that stuck with me most. All of the people who told me that I was the reason that they hated themselves. That they wanted (or WERE) anorexic, bulimic, or suicidal. And no matter how public an announcement it was that I was at fault for their own views on themselves, I was told I was silly to cry. They only said those things because of how they felt about themselves. Suck. It. Up.

My one question has always been: DON’T YOU THINK I KNOW THAT?! I know that what they’re saying is directly influenced by how they feel about themselves. And it hit hard every time. It felt like a knife, cutting into my heart, because what could I do?

Please, don’t forget, it wasn’t just classmates. I was hearing things like this from my mother now, too. I don’t want ANYONE to misconstrue me: my mother is an amazing women who has had her own fair share of tragedy and pain. I love her more than anything, and I don’t blame her for some of the things she’s said to me. And don’t you dare do it either– because chances are, most of you have said something like it in passing to your children, friends, family, or even random strangers. What makes it different?

My mother, my friends, my teachers, my classmates, people who didn’t like me, grocery store cashiers, parents at the pool, aunts, friend’s parents, even men. Honestly, it’s probably easier to give you a list of people who haven’t said anything to me in my life. Most of them are probably heterosexual men.

By 9 years old (that’s the 4th grade for those of you who want the connection) it was terrible. I honestly like to think of myself as a people person. Someone who only wants the best for others. Who tries their best to make the people in their life happy. Can you imagine how hurt and broken I would feel when some of those things were said to me? Following an illogical train of logical thought: people I love (ignoring those I don’t) are unhappy with themselves. They say they are unhappy because of me. I make them unhappy because of the way I look (aka thin). I am naturally thin, no matter how much I eat or don’t eat: it’s just the way I am. The way I exist. My existence makes people I love unhappy. If I want them to be happy, I can’t exist.

People are probably now freaking out about how that doesn’t make sense, etc. etc. But doesn’t it? I know that maybe it’s a warped perception of reality, but honestly, it does follow a logical train of thought. And believe me, I followed it. I followed it to my bedroom one Saturday afternoon in September. I let it lead me to a pink sparkly belt in my dresser wrapped around my neck and tied up in my closet. Because I honestly couldn’t think of any possible way to relieve everyone of their hatred of themselves. I couldn’t find a way to relieve myself of my own deep, fathomless self loathing. And it would have worked.

But I was scared. It hurt. Suffocation does not get easier until you pass out, and that doesn’t happen nearly fast enough. By some miracle I’d put my art supplies where they were supposed to go: on the shelf in the closet (so that my baby sister couldn’t make a mess of the walls or carpet). Right above me head. I groped desperately for the scissors and managed to cut myself down. When I fell, I passed out.

The following months were horrible. No one knew. I forced myself to wear turtlenecks to hide the red lines on my throat. I couldn’t wear necklaces. I hated sweatshirts and zipping my jackets and coats up all the way. Scarves were my worst enemy. It took me a long time to be able to wear those things normally again. I still fidget with my necklines.

I don’t want you to feel sorry for me. I am here and alive, and so much happier than I was. That’s what matters. But I saved myself. No one knew. No one found out. I used books to give me the real friends I needed. The support and belief that I was perfect the way I was. Harry Potter played a major role in that. Don’t laugh or scoff, you have no idea what magic in an ordinary place can do for a girl so depressed she tried to commit suicide. It brings light to a dark world.

So I got better. Yay. But honestly, why was I there in the first place? Environment. I do not think it unfair to say that if we did not breed an environment where it is not only acceptable but expected to RAGE against girls, teens, and women who are skinny, depression and suicide rates would decrease. Every day I bear witness to one of the worst double standards I have heard: anyone can comment freely on how thin people look, what they eat, how the exercise, diet, and what they SHOULD be doing. I’ve been called anorexic and bulimic by society simply because I’m small. What if I was? You think announcing it will help? And let’s face it, you’re not REALLY making yourself feel any better by talking about how you’re a “REAL” woman, are you? If I tried to point this out, if I tried to comment on a curvy woman’s appearance, weight, eating habits, exercise routine, etc., I would fall under fire. And not only verbally, but potentially from social media, perhaps even from my school administration.

Please explain to me how you can sit there and think it doesn’t hurt to call someone so skinny that you want to hurt yourself because of it? Please. I’d love to hear it. Because, as previously stated: I am sick and tired of it. I worked on my own self image a long time ago. I stopped tearing other people down and looked at my own life. My choices. My mind. My emotions.

Now I look at other girls and offer them a hand. Because making that journey on your own is like traveling down to hell and deciding to take up residence there. And maybe, with a friend, you can shorten that stay. I promote loving yourself. Working on yourself. Leaving other girls out of it. Because just like bullying, off handed, “funny” or “joking” comments on another person’s weight or appearance can lead to disorders, and potentially even suicide.

It isn’t funny. It isn’t a joke. It isn’t acceptable. Ever.

And I won’t stop until people change the way they think about it.

I’m a survival story. But I am one. And thousands aren’t.

You think the dead we love ever truly leave us?”–Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

I feel like the older I get the more amazing people leave my life, almost as if I was born too late.  This isn’t to say that I don’t love all of the new people I have met, but I guess loss just affects me more than most.

However, I have lost a lot of great people during my lifetime.  This year alone I lost my great aunt (whom I never really knew, as she suffered from brain cancer and was never herself, according to those who knew her well), and now, a dear friend of the family. 

In the simplest of terms, Ana was my great-grandmother’s maid.  She came and attempted to clean around all of Gigi’s knick-knacks (I come by my packrat tendencies honestly), at least once a week. But that wasn’t all she did.  She was my Gigi’s friend.  She cooked for her, talked to her, cared for her animals, and brought her own pets (such as Roy, the squirrel, whom she nursed back to health) to visit.  She shared my great-grandmother’s love of animals and nature. 

The amazing thing was, Ana wasn’t well off, by any means.  She was also very old.  I remember being told, when I was very young, that Ana was in her late seventies. She continued to care for Gigi for as long as she could (until she was about 83, I think, and her arthritis hurt her too much). 

When my Gigi passed away, Ana came to the wake.  She was crying as much as any of us, but she also comforted everyone she could.  Even after she had stopped working for Gigi, and even after Gigi passed away, Ana sent my sister and me Christmas and birthday cards with a little gift every year.  She never forgot. 

She was one of the sweetest women I had ever known.  That just made the news that she had been diagnosed with cancer that much harder to hear.  We kept talking about how we had to go visit her, especially since we hadn’t seen her since Gigi’s wake years ago, but we were in the midst of planning my sister’s upcoming wedding, and I guess we just never “found the time.”  Thankfully, my mom had been calling her weekly.

This past Sunday, Ana passed away in her sleep.  Honestly, I’m happy that she was able to pass peacefully, in her home, before she started the brutal cancer treatments.  However, I wish I had put aside my own “important” schedule and seen her.

I have been lucky enough to know some caring, selfless, kind people in my life.  Sadly, a lot of them have passed.  It’s amazing how final death is, and how hard it is for those who are “left behind” so-to-speak. 

Ana was an inspiration.  So was my great-aunt Alicia, who fought the deterioration of her mind and still managed to express her love despite not being all there.  So was my Gigi, who held onto her youthful joy, love for music, and respect for animals her whole life.  So was my Great-Aunt Johnnie, who could bake love into anything and brighten any room with her smile.  So was my cousin Mike, who taught me how important it is to put in an honest day’s work, and relax at the end of it.  So was my Nana, who died when I was a baby, and was one of the classiest ladies in the world.  So was Grandpa Ted, who passed before I was born, and is still mentioned often because of his kind heart and his great love for Gigi. 

I only hope that I can affect people strongly enough that they still tell stories about me when I’m gone.  I hope they’re good stories.  The stories that inspire people to be better.  I also hope that I can always remember and be inspired by these wonderful people.  I owe it to them to emulate them and become a better person. 

God Bless.