27: or, the Wildest Ride Ever

bride’s bouquet, volume 1

Love and marriage

My 27th year continues to be the biggest and most significant yet. A little over seven months from meeting him, I married the love of my life. I can’t believe the whirlwind we’ve survived, and certainly never thought the friend’s boyfriend’s cousin I met at a hippie festival would end up becoming my husband when we started on this journey. 

I never thought I’d be one of Those People, the “when you know, you know” people, but I’ve certainly learned you can’t judge someone else’s relationship on time. The minister who performed the courthouse wedding asked how long we’d been together; when we replied, he said he and his husband married after eight months…and that was four years ago.

When you know, you know. 

Trials and hardships truly forged the relationship in fire, and we’ve learned volumes about each other in a matter of months – and in some cases, weeks. The official proposal was no photographed event by some professional photographer, was no on-one-knee occasion – but it was absolutely and 100% perfect. And now, I’m so proud to call this man my husband. 

So much seems it was “meant to be,” that the events of our respective lives were leading us to this crash into each other’s existence, unavoidable and scary – but welcome. 

I didn’t realize how much I’d given up on romance and love until all this happened and I was forced to reevaluate my beliefs. I’ve never been so glad to be proven wrong. 

Medical fun

March 30, I suffered the most serious seizure I’ve had to date. It opened my eyes enough to finally take seriously the Alabama law that forbids driving for six months after a seizure, and I’m now 3.5 months into that period, seizure-free. This has undoubtedly been one of the most challenging times of my life in a city as devoid of good, readily available public transit in Birmingham, but the help and support of friends, my mom, and my husband have all made it that much easier. 

Just two and a half more months to go…

More importantly, it forced me to reevaluate life. I still get depressed and anxious, still fight through the darker urges and desires to be out of this mind of mine, but overall I’ve come to appreciate everything I have and the fact that I’m still alive after such a terrifying experience. 

Lessons well learned

I’ll certainly never forget the significance of being 27 and all it brought to me. Most of it still feels surreal. Signing or writing my new last name is still so awesomely new and awesomely bizarre. I’ve grown so much, experienced so much, been through more than I ever imagined for myself at this age. 

I wouldn’t trade it for the world. 

Here’s to you, 28 (on July 27). Let’s see what you got. 

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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.

the universe unfolding as it should

(Both. Both is good. But this is essential. You only get one life with yourself.)

Lemme be real: I’m probably gonna blog the same stuff a lot and that’s because I’m honestly too lazy to go back and check. Y’know, this ain’t an essay.

Good memories. I just wanna say that I’m glad the parts of the brain responsible for memory and smell are close together. The other day I needed something I thought might be in my dad’s top toolbox so I opened it, and out came rushing how he used to smell — sawdust, traces of old varnish…that sort of thing, being a patternmaker/woodworker. It was comforting, like he was there again after 9 years, just somewhere in the house. It made him feel tangible again.

Career (in)adequacy. I make a difference, sure, but I always feel like I could be doing more. There’s nothing more I love about my job than seeing genuine smiles on people’s faces when they leave satisfied, and I need to hang onto that when I’m stressed at work. 

We had a patron, a guy just a few years younger, ask me for help on his job application one day because the wording was really weird in one section of questions. I tried to help him reason it out, but felt bad because I had no idea either. About a week later he returned with a huge smile on his face, and told me he got the job. That was one of the moments that made me remember part of why I’m a librarian.

One thing I’ve learned over the last few weeks is how much I need to put myself into more training, to really throw myself on the librarian track instead of being so passive. I signed up for an online seminar available through work and am going to seek out some of those certificates you can receive online for learning different coding skills, etc. Anything to get myself serious about being the best version of me at work too.

Personal life. I’d quote The Big Lebowski and say “new shit has come to light,” but this isn’t new, it’s just been thrown into stark (yo who else can’t wait for GoT?) lighting lately. The way I communicate with people I care about can use a lot of work but as I said, this isn’t new. I just need to finally get my shit together about it. Keeping it real is fine, but a cooler head would be nice. A more diplomatic way of expressing things has been my goal. I’m strong and have inner patience I know I just have to tap into, and I try to give myself time before I answer something I might get volatile about real fast now.

Keeping my mental illnesses in check has been the ongoing struggle it’s been especially since I was 10. I’ve been making baby steps though, ever since Friday. So far, things have been okay. Learning how to adult is a frakkin’ rollercoaster.

Everyday, I try to tell myself: 

Whether or not it is clear to you, the universe is unfolding as it should.

And…

I will change the things I cannot accept.

everywhere life is full of heroism

everywhere life is full of heroism

This will absolutely be a long, winding blog because I haven’t made enough time to get my thoughts together more, and also because it’s 2am and work in the A.M. is a thing unfortunately… 

But I have been through Some Things in 2016 that I needed to put down for later blogs.

This year has been very mentally challenging (and physically – stitches in my tongue! Story for another time, worth it). I’ve been on meds after meds as they adjust everything, but I’ve had close calls with my own mental darkness.

And I haven’t wanted to admit or even acknowledge this for a long time to anyone but my mom and therapist, but it’s time to continue the conversation when it’s finally being even somewhat discussed.

There were so many times this year when the only thing keeping me from attempting suicide was the thought, “but I’m worth too much money in tattoos.” Ridiculous, right? But it worked almost every time. What kind of weird mental illness response…?!

I know I’m worth more than ink. “You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees & the stars; you have a right to be here.” (Max Ehrman)

It’s been a year of great things, too. I’m working every day on building up my self-esteem and self-worth. I’ve learned lessons about not being so reactive, to chill as best as I can, and don’t stress about things that might happen or that have in the past. 

“Do not stress yourself with imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.” (Ehrman) This is most especially what I need to work on. Insecurity is getting a punch anytime I feel the slightest inkling.

Be the best you that you can be – that’s what I’m striving for. As a friend quoted to me from Oprah, “When you know better, you do better.”

The only thing I ask in companionship, whether platonic or not, is to be patient with me while I work through this and I will do the same with you for any of your changes.

I’m starting off 2017 early. Who needs an arbitrary revolution around the sun to start a new year anyway?

writing? what writing? definitely not here

It’s been a long time since I’ve written, both privately in my journal and here (but especially here).  I’ve only recently begun writing fiction again (hallelujah) after a months-long dry spell.  Said spell had been driven by the anxiety that constantly described my state of being–thank you, prescribed meds, for finally getting me to feel like a human again (which is why all the ~BIG PHARMA~ people are full of it).

I’m currently going through the routine of getting-medical-stuff-finally-checked-out-and-as-a-result-get-on-tons-of-meds, which is about as much fun as it sounds.  Going from three, at most, pills a day to at least six–unless I have a headache, and then it’s eight–sucks, but I guess it’s worth it for feeling better, for not dying sooner because of these disorders at least, and for Getting My Life Together.

2014 was an eye-opener of a year.  I did a lot of things I thought I’d either never get to do, and/or never be able to do, and I did some things that weren’t really all that great and looking back even less so, but I learned from all of them.  The best thing was absolutely Ireland back in March.  I thought it’d be decades before I got to travel out-of-country unless expenses were paid, but thanks, student loans.  I got an invaluable experience, met some awesome new pals, and had to adjust from jet lag for, like, two months after I got back.  I really should’ve read some of those ‘recover from jet lag’ books….

I learned my limits, as far as my own mental and psychological health, and feel like I’m only just now healing from things in the last few years.  I learned morality is often made gray, no matter how much you think you’ve decided on stance or a principle.  I learned that anyone who makes you feel anxious, worried, and constantly self-critical is probably not good for body or spirit.

I’m proud of the fact that I’ve learned how to dip out of situations that make me uncomfortable or no longer happy.  People’s feelings have become less of a concern of mine and nurturing of my own person has risen in priorities.  I don’t mean that in an “I don’t care about how you feel” way, but rather an, “I’m doing me and you do you and as long as you’re cool I’m cool” way.  The growing-up way.  I’m proud of being able to write again and that it doesn’t feel like a chore; I thought I’d permanently broken something inside and it was killing me.  I think it was just one of those recharging phases most writers and artists and creators go through–something about experiencing life in order to have something about which to write.

My “new” (since July) job downtown is so, so much busier and productive than the library I worked at before.  That was a great library to start at but I was ready to move on.  I usually have at least one project to work on, and get along well with everyone in my department.  This is definitely the biggest place I’ve worked as far as employees, patrons/customers, and building space goes, but I think I’ve done well with the adjustment.

Grad school is still grad school.  Ready for it to be over but also enjoying it.  I’ve changed ideas of what I want to do so much, but at this point in my life feel like a Ph.D. might be…uh, “fun” is one way to put it.  Masochistic, maybe, but I like writing.  And the niches I’ve burrowed myself into with library science have awakened my love for research all over again.  The topics I’ve enjoyed and could see myself writing extensively about are LGBTQ archives as well as the diversity not-so-inherent within the field.  I think either would be viable for a dissertation but I’ve got time to decide all that.

And I’ve really reached the limit of what I want to post about my life today.  It’s been a busy year personally, professionally, and academically.  I’m looking forward to what the next 10 months will bring.

“The clear water’s surface reflects growth.”

“We evolve beyond the person that we were a minute before.  Little by little we advance with each turn!”

“The one path you choose for yourself, that is the truth of your universe.”

Well, it’s been a long two years since I graduated fully out of the school world and into the working world and I’ve come a long, long way from that girl in May of 2011.  Lately I’ve been thinking about how, sometimes, I don’t even recognize that person, or especially the girl of the years before.  In the core of my personality, I’m the same of course, but the extremes are very different these days (for instance, I’m lucky if I can stay up past 11 or 12, and wake up sometimes at 8 of my own volition (like today).

I feel like the ink of experience has colored the canvas of my life a little more, growing more and more complete.  I finally feel like I am allowed to grow into the woman I’ve been striving to become, one baby step at a time but nonetheless moving forward, though the road ahead is still long (I hope).  

There have been many things that have made the first three years of my twenties some of the most event-filled and roller-coaster-y of my life.  I guess that’s the way it’s supposed to be, because this is the time of discovering ourselves, or whatever, supposedly.  And I guess that’s pretty true.  I like to think even in the last almost-nine months, since I got the job at the library, I’ve grown even from the person I was then.  Since February, even more, and in the last two months, some more then too.  I knew getting it would allow me to finally grow, and it didn’t disappoint.

I owe part of my gratitude to my coworkers, for seeing in me the things others who have mentored and helped me have seen and pushed for me to nurture and grow.  Of course, I don’t discount my family and friends for keeping me in check and encouraging me too.  They were there from the start, so many have “known me before” and hopefully they have seen the positive changes I have made too, even from that girl six months or a year and six months ago.

Of course, I have made many bad decisions.  I have lived with the consequences of those decisions and been grateful they weren’t worse.  They could have been much worse.  But humans have an incredible knack for adaptation and self-improvement.  The point is taking all our experiences and learning something from them.

It may be a truth you don’t want to face – I’ve faced those a lot in the last few months, especially – but it is one nonetheless.  And I felt better once I admitted to myself some things I’d come to learn – it helped me move on.  I was able to say, “Well, now I know that wouldn’t work,” and the road goes ever on and on. Some people live their whole lives not learning the lessons their experiences have taught them, but right now I am trying my best to do that in the way I know how.

I don’t pretend to know anything about life other than what I’ve observed and experienced.  I can share my experiences with you and hope you can relate on some level, find in the sand some grain of my truth that matches a grain of your truth.  But I can say with certainty that I’ve changed and grown in ways I can’t begin to recount in the years between my walking across that stage and now.

As a teenager you might resist “the real world” talk, but it’s true that it IS a different world once you’re out of school, no matter how old you are when you leave whatever institution.  And I know I barely know everything.  I don’t know what it’s like to have to pay rent officially, or live altogether on my own or have only my income to rely on, but that’s because I’m unable to be at this point.  What’s wrong with living at home if you’re saving up so that when you do live on your own, you are able to, at least as comfortably as possible?  That was always my plan growing up anyway, and things just worked out.

You know that occasional feeling either that people have discussed or you’ve experienced, of every decision of your life coming together to lead up to this moment?  That’s how the whole last couple of months have been.  I’m not necessarily saying that’s fate or destiny, just an observation of your life and all the choices and the paths you see yourself taking, and how everything makes sense.  “Everything is as it should be,” because you make your own reality.

But, of course, more change is coming.  I begin grad school at the U of A and I know that’s an adventure all on its own.  Although I’m not living down there but doing mostly online/commuting once a week or however frequently, it’s still a new experience.  It’s the path to my MLS, and that opens to the doors to even bigger possibilities.  I know I can’t do it alone, but if the last few years have been any indication, I think I’ll be just fine.

You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

some days, they last longer than others

(from “With Arms Outstretched” by Rilo Kiley)

Well, here it is.  The almost-end of 2012.  And…I’m not really sure how to feel about the past year.  Maybe by the end of this post, I will.

Lately I’ve been thinking about how I would remember 2012 in the years to come, what memories would come to mind, you know, that sort of thing.  I’ve been thinking about splitting it up into two categories: in the first, “everything before August 1,” and in the second, “the more awesome part of 2012, aka everything else.”  But this isn’t really fair.  Though the first half of 2012 was undeniably less enjoyable than the rest of the time (you know, that whole ‘getting rejected from grad school’ thing left a bad taste in my mouth for much of the rest of the year, though it was my fault for putting all my eggs in one basket, as I am wont to do), it had its ups, too.  Just as everything post-July 31 has had its downs, too.  But when you start your new year off by looking at your bank account and discovering somebody in China had stolen $70+ through fraudulent “iTunes charges,” it might set you off on the wrong foot.  It just took me until August to consistently feel like I was worth something.  (Yes, I did get that money back.  Still, that was a pretty crappy thing to wake up to on January 1.)

If anything, 2012 has been a year of learning how to deal with rejection.  From grad school to job interviews that went nowhere, I felt like my good luck and hard work of the past eight years (since going to JCIB really was a lot of hard work) was all for nothing.  Well, you probably read my “I hit rock bottom” post a while back, so you know (July 2, by the way).  Even my birthday kinda sucked this year – not that the whole day sucked, but that was the overall feeling I took away from it.  So, yeah, things could have been a lot better, but I did have a lot of good experiences in the first seven months of the year, as well as experiences that would lead to later experiences that would make August-onward awesome, and I don’t want to discount those by focusing on the negatives.  And I always try to think of it this way: every experience, whether good or bad, has shaped me to become the person I am now.  And experiences are necessary for any sort of personal growth to happen, and so in retrospect, I welcome these challenges that came my way.  Progress doesn’t come from being granted admission into grad school just because I had excellent grades and worked my academic butt off for years; it doesn’t come from getting the first job I applied to in my intended professional career.  Actually, all of this rejection has led to even better opportunities, so I can’t say I’d change any of it, even if it sucked to go through at the time.

I guess the more I think about 2012, the more I feel like this is the year that I’ve changed the most since my father died.  I’d like to say it’s the new library job that made me more confrontational and willing to stand up for myself – a skill I really could have used many times for the first half of the year – but really, I think it was that AND the realization that saying I don’t care what people think of me and living it are two different things.  Maybe all those inspirational posters finally kicked in or something.  Friends who stand up for themselves and call people on their bluffs inspired me to find the inner strength to do that for myself.  I read an email the other day I’d sent to a friend in high school, and it was an instant-message conversation between another friend and I, who were fighting at the time.  And I couldn’t believe the Christina I found.  Even if I went about things the wrong way often in high school (and who doesn’t?), I stood up for myself.  I was unafraid to say what I thought of a situation that made me uncomfortable or angry.  And though I like my more tactful self compared to the raging mess I was in high school, I think I’m finally getting back in touch with the Christina who isn’t afraid to say what the inner Christina wishes she would say, or what I say to somebody else in hopes they’ll handle it.

Took me long enough.

And look at all I had to go through to get here.  I guess I’d say it was worth it.  Overall this has been a tumultuous year, and I have no idea for any sorts of New Year’s resolutions because they’re all no-brainers I would aspire to anyway.  Move up in my job, get into grad school, lose weight, manage money better (though just making more money to be able to even manage has already helped with that, which is partially the reason for #1), you know, the same ol’ generic rigmarole.

Though the last half of 2012 has been markedly better than the first half, I wouldn’t change it.  I feel like I’m happier with who I am now than who I was at the beginning of the year.  But I’ll also welcome 2013 happily and look forward to the next year of my life.

So long in twenty-seven days, 2012, and thanks for all the…tears?