blossom and bloom

bloom

A lot has been floating through my mind lately.  From seizures to medical procedures to just…a lot of weird stuff, it’s been a rough past year – but I’ve learned so much about myself already.  That I’m capable of becoming what I want, that I can chase and catch up to my dreams, and that putting positivity out in the universe means it will come back around to you.

My therapist said he can tell I’m so much more confident than I used to be.  I’m finally getting used to my body and loving that despite all my medical flaws, but I’m finally here.  Years of dysphoria from ballet have lessened, and I have a very healthy attitude of “This is me and I’m not apologizing for it anymore.”

The last 4-5 months have been a roller coaster.  Someone I never expected to come along did despite my strong desire to stay single/not even get into the dating scene.  Ever since, I’ve been on a roller coaster that seems like it never ends with him.  I’m about to rent a house, and getting utilities established in my name is a daunting task.  I’ve been through so much back-and-forth this week that I’m exhausted.  I need a nap daily.  But what gets me through is that the house is one I’ll be proud of, one I’m ready to come home to and to be happy, to be relaxed.  I’ll even have a craft room.

Speaking of crafts, I’m starting up my home crafting business again soon.  For a while back in 2009-2010, I created and sold crocheted goods at Kami-con (back then, held in Tuscaloosa).  I undercharged by a lot, according to the calculator websites I’ve been using, but it was a good learning experience.  When the festival up in Steele, AL – Cukorakko – starts, we’re hoping to rent out a booth or table to sell stuff.  Anything to help with rent and still being able to live life.  I love handcrafted goods.  Everything is unique, and everything has a piece of the maker’s heart in it.  (That’s why it’s so easy to want to keep things…)  I’m also getting back into painting.

So many times I’ve thought, “am I ready for this?” And the answer is: of course.  I’m 27.  I am grateful for my mother letting me stay in our house as long as I needed, but it’s time.  To walk into the living (ha) room and see the spot where my father died and his mother before him is painful.  In the back of my mind, I can never separate that from the way the room is now.  His final expression still haunts me.

He would be thrilled for me, for my future.  When I think about how he would have thought about my life path, I feel nothing but warmth.  His high school graduation card to me read something to the effect of, “keep being just the way you are and you’ll be able to accomplish anything in life.”

I’m not perfect by any means, but I have drive.  I have ambition and a tender heart and a pretty good sense of humor (unless I’m in a bad mood).

Every day I’m working on blooming from within.  I can only see myself blossoming more from here.  With every test life throws my way, I learn something new about myself.  And there’s nowhere to go but up.

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“a thing that doesn’t change with time is a memory of younger days…”

I woke up at an extremely unusual time for me today–12–and haven’t been back to sleep.  I played Pokémon, won me a gym badge, and then got online and, as per usual, went straight to tumblr to catch up to today’s picture spams.  Then, as per usual during a day I’m home, I started thinking.

“It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live,” Albus Dumbledore so wisely said once.  Well, I have been dwelling on dreams for a while now, I don’t think to the point of forgetting to live, but definitely dwelling.  Creepy dreams of my dad alive once again with me knowing he would die again, dreams of him hugging me, dreams of my grandmother, and as is the norm with me, weird dreams that don’t make an ounce of sense.  But what about dwelling on memories?  Couldn’t that be worse than dwelling on dreams?

Lately, I’ve been increasingly more nostalgic.  I remember the good things, not the infuriatingly frustrating things about a person (my dad included).  Isn’t that the way it always is?  Remember the good times, shut out the bad things, the things that made you want to get away and to separate yourself and the growing apart…or, if it’s a death, the good things they did, the funny moments, the wonderful qualities, but hardly the temper while working on a car, the burning of meat because of falling asleep while barbecuing 99% of the time, the griping because we turned off a NASCAR race while the subject was asleep on the couch and not watching it anyway.  I’ve done well in not sanctifying my father, I think.  Mom and I laugh sometimes about his irrational moods and the double standard he set while griping at us for taking a long time to get ready, but by the time we were ready, he wasn’t ready.  We laugh about them, but more importantly, we acknowledge them.

With you, I’ve been harsher to myself.  I think, with disgust, often about my unrealistic expectations and my histrionic and melodramatic tendencies and find a kind of kinship in Asuka Langley Soryu from Evangelion, who really kind of is a braver version of my fourteen-year-old self…well, without the piloting an Eva kinda thing.  Actually, she’s kind of like me all throughout high school.  The point is, I can hardly see positive things about myself, and that sucks.  I’d like to think I’m a better person than I paint myself to be in my memories, but I don’t know, because I only know what I think I was, and god, ever since I was 11, I never could really distinguish the depression and the anger I felt from how I should act.  And work, if nothing else, has taught me that No Matter What, you must act stoic and cheerful and be A Great Cashier by separating how you feel from how you act.  But I don’t think being dishonest with someone who’s much closer than a customer is the way to go.  So how do I balance these unrealistic expectations with how I act upon them?  I still don’t know.

I take after my dad in a lot of ways.  I get easily pissed off if I’m working on fixing something, though it usually ends in tears for me rather than bitching at someone (such as when I tried to put childproof lever things on our kitchen cabinets and ended up just sitting in the floor and crying because I felt like a failure — over childproof locks, how stupid is that??).  But, unlike me who cries at everything from commercials to not putting on locks, I only saw my dad cry once, at his sister’s memorial service/funeral.  I’m like a more crying version of my mother in this way.  I feel so many things and I don’t know how to handle them so I just stuff them away until one day I have a breakdown and then things are fine again after that, rinse, repeat.

But I’ve been having a hard time with memories lately.  I don’t know how I went off on a tangent like that, but it does relate, so I suppose it’s not much of a tangent (however, this sentence is).  Anyway, I’ve been nostalgic for a time that I’m sure is much more golden in my head than it was at the time.  But I know that with some things, with most things, it’s not.  It was wonderful just the way I’m remembering it.  And I miss that.

I wonder if you ever think of me, of us.  Lately, I do.

The flow of time is always cruel…
Its speed seems different for each person but no one can change it…
A thing that doesn’t change with time is a memory of younger days…
-Sheik, Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

if you haven’t, you can’t possibly imagine it–

In the past not-even-a-year, four friends of mine have either gone through losing a parent to cancer, or are going through a parent with cancer.  Seriously?  I mean, really, cancer?  Could you not touch my friends and my friends’ families?  That would be fantastic.

I don’t mean this in a crass way, but I love talking to and helping people who are going through dealing with such things – though I would never, ever wish this on anyone.  At the time of my dad’s decline because of his liver-and-lymph cancer(s), I was pretty much alone.  I don’t mean in the sense of not having friends or family for support, but in the sense that nobody close to me had ever gone through this at my age or around my age before.  The last half of my senior year of high school was wrought with tears and a horrible sense of loneliness that I couldn’t shake, no matter how much I cried on Joseph about it, no matter how much I tried to not think about it and tried to have fun.  All of my cousins have their healthy parents – and I wish no less for them, of course! – and my sister was going through this with my mom and I, and she has a family of her own, too, so it wasn’t like I was going through this with someone my age.

And honestly, I’m glad I don’t have siblings my age.  I don’t think I would have handled it well with them, and that’s just me, personally.  I don’t want to imply it would be the same for all siblings close in age.

And so, when I talk to those who have gone through similar things, it makes me feel good that they can come to me for support from someone who has been through it.  Even if I don’t know what to say (and believe me, I don’t – I’m so socially awkward, even if I come across as not sometimes; I’m just a mistress of disguise, I guess), I can share my experience with them and talk about it with them.  I found a quote on tumblr the other day that was “If you have ever lost someone very important to you, then you already know how it feels; and if you haven’t, you cannot possibly imagine it,” and god, that’s so true.  I think you can hypothesize about how it would feel if you were in that position, and I think you can have sympathy of course, but it’s such a profound thing that it really almost forms a bond between two people who have gone through it.

I was talking to one of my former professors, whose mother recently died of pancreatic cancer (and who had been diagnosed the semester I took her class) and we talked about how, when people say they’re sorry, they mean well but it’s just not what we want to hear; that’s not why we tell our story.  She went on to grasp my hand and say, “We’re sisters in this.”  Tying in with the quote above, I really think she’s right – it’s not a club you want to be in, or anything cool, but it’s something that links those of us who have experienced such soul-wrenching loss.

The other night I had a breakdown, which you can experience if you wish here, and I think the combination of me not having cried that deeply about him recently, stress of school and the milestone of graduation approaching, and just life in general brought it on.  I really thought I wouldn’t be able to stop crying.  It gets easier, sure, but I think I’ve just grown numb to it instead of letting it truly affect me, and all the emotions I’d shoved aside in favor of “being stoic” (which is stupid, in my opinion – just cry if you want) came to the surface and boiled over, and I cried for an indeterminable amount of time before I fell into an uneasy and not-long-enough sleep.

Anyway, I kind of digressed… but going through this helps me help people; yet, it’s a double-edged sword, because when I talk about my story and listen to people tell their story or vent or whatever, it takes me back to that time.  I’ve turned back into the scared 18-year-old I was before college and during the beginning of college, spending time away from home so I wouldn’t have to face it yet wanting to savor each conversation I had with my father and each night we spent watching the Food Network – of course, I am not this person anymore.  Time has made me a still-depressed but better-at-handling-it person, and a more confident young woman.  Grief closes up my throat and sometimes it’s hard for me to talk, but I will.  Anytime, I will be here, because having been through that ‘alone’ (again, because no friends of mine had been through that exactly, not for lack of bodies/people to sympathize) sucked.

It’s a loss which has affected me in ways I’ve felt and in ways I can’t even begin to imagine yet and while I don’t want it to necessarily define me, it’s something that defines my life as an adult.  Everything takes on a new meaning now.  But to those struggling with similar situations, you have a friend and an ear (or eyes, depending on your mode of contact) in me.  We’re all brothers and sisters in this, after all.

body art, and why jesus (probably) doesn’t care

Sometime during the spring semester, a friend, who is a devout Christian, mentioned her recent desire to get a tattoo after spotting my most visible one of my three tattoos (located on my right inner calf).  She told me she wanted to get a cross on her ankle, but she didn’t know if her “religion would allow it.”  I told her I’d ask my roommate, who’s the daughter of a pastor and knows more about the Bible than anyone I’ve met save for perhaps my father (who is no longer alive to be asked).  Friend and I quit talking, paid attention in class, and I travelled back to the dorm room to ask Charity’s opinion.

Charity said the predictable and true “every denomination interprets the Bible differently and some are more formal than others,” speech, but consulted the online Bible for confirmation of such a passage existing.  Of course, she looked up Leviticus first, because that’s where the majority of the “DON’T YOU DARE DO THIS” laws are, as well as extensive — and I do mean extensive — guidelines for preparing altar sacrifices and food consumption, at least ten chapters’ worth.  Of course, I assume these guidelines are what constitute kosher guidelines.  Anyway, to get back on topic, Charity did find a passage relating to body markings:

” ‘Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the LORD.” (Leviticus 19:28)

Okay, fair enough.  There is a line about that.  However, there is no mention of ‘tattoo’ in the New Testament, according to http://www.biblegateway.com, and so the general rule of thumb (according to Charity) is that it is still practiced or at least encouraged if not reinforced or debunked in the NT.

And then she brought up a good point: what about piercing?  And if tattoos and piercings are unacceptable, this law must still apply as well:

” ‘Do not cut the hair at the sides of your head or clip off the edges of your beard.” (Leviticus 19:27)

Of course, this is a practice few men follow in modern times.

Another point I thought up is the fact that this girl is a Christian, and I highly doubt Christ really cared about tattoos (and piercings).  For Christ’s sake, he touched lepers.  I think tattoos are fine.  There may  be a verse from the NT I’m missing for reinforcement of this thought, but Charity didn’t present any NT reinforcements/debunking.

Anyway, the point is that, spiritual leanings aside (spiritual leanings I can’t even settle on!), I think if you’re going to get a tattoo, especially one of a cross in the case of Christianity, or another symbol of your religion, it is only showing respect for such a thing and is no worse than wearing a rosary, or a crucifix necklace, or having cross earrings (or any symbol of your choice/beliefs).

Unless, of course, you’re getting the tattoo to strengthen your beliefs, in which case you may need to reexamine your sincerity.

For further reading from people who most likely have more gospel experience than I do, check out this–

http://www.gospel.com/blog/index.php/2009/11/05/do-old-testament-laws-and-restrictions-still-apply-to-us-today/

But think about it this way: instead of worrying about whether or not you’ll still get accepted into Heaven, all because of a tattoo, worry about doing what you read Jesus preached — like tending to the sick, helping the needy, or, you know, treating others as you’d want to be treated.

This is just a shot in the dark, but I bet Jesus doesn’t care about your tattoo one way or another.  On the other hand, I wonder if he ever laughs at some of the more ridiculous tattoos out there.

Inquiring minds…