Finding the Creative Inside: Finding Freedom

 

These first few years of adulthood have been rough.  They’ve taken a toll on me spiritually, physically, and creatively.  It’s this last aspect of my life that I mourn the most.  Almost every minute of my waking hour was dedicated to creative pursuits when I was in high school.  I was in orchestra, band, saxophone quartet, jazz band, marching band, choir, chorale, every theatrical production, musical theatre, creative writing, literature.  And when I was at home I spent so much time drawing, coloring, painting.

When I went to college, these creative pursuits were sacrificed in order to guarantee more time studying and making myself marketable.  My only musical outlet was choir.  I went to a religious college and all we sang was religious music–in my four years we frequently repeated songs to my lament.  I am not religious and I found the music tedious and I hated nearly every second I was forced to be there (I had a hefty scholarship that required me to sing in a choir at the school for four years).

But I would be lying if I said all creativity was sacrificed.  I instead transferred my soul into my writing.  I could turn essays about this or that into a magnum opus.  One word could spark 15 pages of writing without stopping or needing to quote material.  I had so many ideas and words–their sounds, shapes, percussion–could be blended to sound symphonic.  I could make ideas translate into music that bestowed knowledge and beauty.

Then I graduated.  I had lost my last refuge of creativity.  I started working full-time.  The job was monotonous.  The bosses were petty.  The atmosphere was oppressive and draining.  My mind stopped flexing, dancing, taking pleasure in mental acrobatics.  I lost my unique perspective.  I was depressed.  I still am.  It’s different than the sadness I felt as a child–sadness that spurred art and beauty.  This is a total lack of emotion.  A total lack of color or thought.  It’s a zombification of everything that I am and hope to be.  The horizon is far and bleak.  But all the while, everything in me struggled and chafed at these limitations being forced on me.  And that struggle against death made me even more depressed and comatose.

Having recently escaped my marching orders to conformity and oppression, I’m trying to find that space again and I am failing utterly.  The expectations of what used to be, of who I used to be, hang over me and block out the sun of creativity I’m trying to grow in.  I’m desperate to reclaim this person before I start school again.  I want to be the person I want to be so that I can shine again–so I can find my tribe again and feel safe and belong.  I’m terrified I won’t make it in time.  That I’ll still be mentally bleached beige.  I’m scared they’ll see I’m just pretending and the happy person I used to be–that it’ll be impossible to get back there again.

I don’t know how to go about reclaiming that person.  I find I’m going about it in every wrong way–attempting to create a hollow shell of appearance instead of substance.  I have all the materials, I have the space but it isn’t coming back. I’m growing more desperate and terrified that it’s gone and I am that person I fear: emotionless, senseless, insulated from experiencing joy, pain, freedom.

I just want to be free again. I want to have hope again.

Why I Want to Stay Single

2014 will undoubtably go down as one of the toughest years of my life–of which will become subjects to write about later on. But the apex of everything that was horrible about this year is that my seven and a half year relationship ended.

He was my first real boyfriend, we were both seniors in high school when we started talking–this was all long distance, he was in New York City and I was in Nebraska.  Over the years, we spoke every day becoming each others’ best friends, becoming so comfortable with each other that when we finally did meet, three years after first speaking, being together was the most natural thing on earth.

For reasons that will become obvious later, we broke up.  And now that I’m going off into the world all lonesome, here are the reasons why I’m going to face the challenges of my life alone for now.

I am used up.

I literally do not have any more love to give anyone right now.  I barely have enough to give myself.  I spent seven and a half years trying to move heaven and earth to accommodate him and our relationship.  I have loved enough for two people, loved enough for when my effort was all that was keeping things going.  It wouldn’t be fair to put someone in the position I was in, forcing someone else to push me along in love.

I am at my absoslute lowest.

I have been tamed and stunted by life.  Since 2010 I’ve been tossed around quite a bit and 2014 was the worst of it.  The way I feel right now must be pretty similar to how Samson felt after his hair was cut and he was captured.  Or like a forest after a wildfire has razed it.  How could anyone love me when I’m at this point, so far away from who I used to be and who I could become?

I want to have the time and space to grow into the person I want to become.

I have been with someone, with the same person, since I was seventeen years old.  I have never had the opportunity to grow alone, uninfluenced.  I want to meet myself and I don’t want someone else telling me how I should feel about myself or who I should be.  I need to recover and I can’t do that in a relationship; it’s inevitable that the person I’m with would influence me. I want to come back at full strength and even improved.  I want to explore the depths of myself that I suppress because of another person’s acceptance or not or rules of society.

I need to find someone who can handle me.

I am an unbridled force of nature.  I am chaos, creation, destruction, freedom, control, power, ambition, sex, and violence.  I am what carried my ancestors into battle–I am fearless, daring, and brave.  I am hellfire and passion.  I am absolutely bursting at the seams to be unleashed and reach my potential.

It’s going to be a long year but I know I have within me what it takes to get out of this and come out better for it.

Keeping it weird in Austin: dreams and simultaneous, cross-country coffee debacles

I had a very odd dream last night and I’m still trying to figure out exactly what it meant.

Dream interpretations can be pretty obvious if you’re aware of where you’re at mentally.  I have a few ideas, but who knows.  These days leading up to the LSAT are going to get pretty weird.  After this dream, the day had some other odd surprises for me.

I dreamed that I was me (24 year old) raising myself (5-6?? year old) in my recently deceased grandmother’s house–shag carpet included.  Not much happened in the dream.  I debated including this because I want to make it very clear, I never did this as a child.  In the dream my younger self threw feces at my older self laughing the entire time and my boyfriend (who was also raising younger me as our daughter) told me not to discipline her.  So in the dream I bathed her, put her in the nighty I always used to wear, and tucked her in.  At that point she calmed down and hugged me and I’m not sure what she said to me.  But that was it.

Odd…I have no idea what it means.  I would appreciate an interpretation because I don’t get why my younger self wanted to assault me with feces.

When I got to work in the morning a friend wanted to go to Fivebucks (aka Starbucks).  I got a mocha cookie crumble frapp and a vanilla scone.  My total was $6.66.  The barrista and I joked “Oooooo, better watch out.”  As we were walking out I proceeded to trip and spill said mocha cookie crumble frapp all over my light blue shirt.  Of course, I laughed and was able to wash out the offending stain and enjoyed my frapp.  I text the story to my dad and he said he had also spilled coffee all over himself that morning…WITHIN 5 MINUTES OF WHEN I HAD!

Strange happenings folks.

White privilege or confidence and ambition?

I know this subject is sore for a lot of people and seems to be getting only more sore a topic.  It has caused me, someone who usually pauses and thinks about something objectively before responding or forming an opinion, to have knee jerk reactions and emotions get involved.  All sides of the conversation are guilty of defensiveness and I want to be able to have a candid and open discussion about something I encountered yesterday that I’m struggling with.  No name calling, no assumptions, nothing.  Any ignorance I may display is not intentional and I would gladly be educated if done in a respectful manner.  Trigger warning over.  It makes me so sad that I would even have to put a trigger warning instead of just being able to be open and discuss thoughtfully.  Man things have really degraded in society…

Anyway…

Yesterday I was speaking with a coworker who is an older African American lady and we were talking about how she recently graduated with her bachelor’s.  The conversation kept going and I expressed how excited I was to go back to school and I was looking forward to the challenge of law school and trying to do some good in this world.  She then brought up that she has a daughter working on her undergraduate in Criminal Justice at a community college and she will transfer to a four year university soon.  She plans to go to law school once she graduates as well.  She continued talking about how her daughter has really set herself up well for law school; she currently works as a security guard while going to school, her aunt is a Constable here in Texas and has offered her an internship, her uncle is a Yale law school graduate with his own firm in Dallas.  So I naturally asked, where is she looking at for law school.  She goes on to mention some very small, 2 or 3 tier schools and starts laughing when she says her daughter dreams of Howard or Harvard for law school but knows there’s no way she could ever get in and is just trying to get into one school in a 2 or 3 tier school.

I remained polite and the conversation moved on from there but I was troubled by her daughter’s lack of confidence in herself in her choices of law school.  Her daughter has a decent GPA.  Yes, she is at a community college, but she has really started taking her studies seriously and her GPA has gone up drastically and she will transfer to a four year school soon and will, undoubtedly, do just as well as she has been.  She seems like a very determined, hard working young woman; she both works and goes to school–this is no easy feat.  She has done everything right to set herself up for a law career and has already started studying for the LSATS.  From this description of her, I see absolutely no reason why she couldn’t get into a tier 1 school.

Then it made me think about myself in relation to this.  I went to an academically rigorous, yet small school in the Midwest that no one has heard of.  I had a decently high GPA of 3.68 and pushed myself in extracurriculars and even worked as well, though I was fortunate enough to have had enough in scholarships I didn’t need to worry about student loans and my parents were able to support me.  Unlike this young lady, I wasn’t planning on law school from my undergraduate (lack of confidence and naivete pushed me into dreams of a more academic career) and didn’t properly prepare myself like she has.  I didn’t take on internships…I worked during the summer so I could pay for next years’ expenses and I lived in the middle of nowhere.  I didn’t want to burden my parents with having to support me financially while I trotted around the globe (my dad was paralyzed in an accident in the middle of my schooling and times got rough for us).  Then I moved to Austin and I just started working.  Besides from a major in Government/International Affairs, minors in History (with an emphasis on human right’s in Latin America) and Philosophy, I have no experience with law.  I have no connections.  Nothing that will set me apart.  But that does not stop me from believing that I will only get into a tier 1 law school.  It has never occurred to me that I may fail.  I just have this faith that everything will work out right.

What is my reason for this confidence?  Is it a belief in myself that is unshakeable?  That I know what I’m capable of if given the right opportunity?  Or is this an example of white privilege?  My heart doesn’t want to believe this other theory.  I know I’m intelligent.  I know my skills.  But that comfort I have…that I know everything will work out…does this come from the advantage of privilege?  It makes me feel unworthy of any opportunity that may come my way.  As if I stole it from someone more deserving.  As if my hard work was nothing, that I was already given a head start and extra help along the way that negates my effort.

I’ve been wrestling with it ever since I had that conversation yesterday.  And I honestly don’t understand it.  I haven’t brought this up with my black, though not African American, boyfriend.  I know he would say that it is confidence in myself.  Blacks from other countries don’t seem to have strains of the same thoughts as their counterparts who have been born and raised in the United States, descending from a line of people who came here enslaved (this is an anecdotal experience based on the many interactions I have had with black, non-African Americans).  I have no one to ask about this and I want to sort out these thoughts and have an open discussion.  I doubt I will get that since I have chosen to remain anonymous on here and have a very minimal following (mostly spam people).  But please.  If you are reading this and have something thoughtful to add to this.  Please do.  I would love to speak with you and appreciate your respectful, thoughtful responses.

Grandma

Image

It’s taken me a while to say something about this.  And this is hardly a tribute worthy of her.  I will try again once I feel like I have the words to describe her.

My grandmother passed away Thursday, April 3rd during the night.  She had been suffering for years from cirrhosis of the liver–presumably caused by Hepatitis C that she contracted while volunteering at a hospital in her youth (safety and sanitation was not as rigorous as it is now).  Her body began shutting down years ago and she was finally able to find peace from all her pain.

I have to write a true essay to describe the kind of woman she was–this short summary won’t suffice.  At the most basic, she dedicated her life to serving others.  She volunteered countless hours feeding the poor through Care Corps; comforting those who had lost loved ones by organizing and cooking for funerals; clothed the poor through a mission to provide for a reservation in Nebraska; volunteering as a nurse assistant at the local hospital and nursing home; served as a role model for young women (including her own daughters and grand-daughters) through being a leader with the Girl Scouts; was the backbone of our church; served with the American Red Cross Blood Drive for 24 years.  Her contributions are endless.

I had always known what a strong leader she was but I didn’t grasp it until her funeral–between the visitation and funeral over 300 people came to pay their respects to her.  Going through memorabilia, photos, and other keepsakes–we found letters, hundreds of letters thanking her for this or that favor, her volunteer work, her friendship.

She’s left behind a huge hole both in the community and in our family.  But I’m proud that her spirit of giving has manifested in all of her children and grandchildren.  I’m proud to dedicate my life to helping others knowing that she was the one who first taught me to give back–that charity and kindness, no matter how small, should guide every action.

It hasn’t hit me yet how much I’ve lost.  But I know she’s still there.  She lives on in the memories countless people have curated lovingly of her.

Metamorphosis

I’m trying to take control of my life.  Past attempts have been unsuccessful and I’m not sure why or if this time it’s different.

Moving to Austin last year shook me up and exposed the tentative solidity of my foundations, exposed all the weaknesses I had been able to cover up in my comfort zone.  There hasn’t been any refuge here and everything has worked towards making my base weaker.

You could say I’m starting from square one in this situation.

I’m taking control of my body and working towards being healthier.  I’ve always had this deep hate of my body–it’s never been good enough for me, for society.  Its ampleness has worked to make me unhappy and ashamed.  I’ve withdrawn, made myself smaller, where it cannot be smaller.  I’ve made myself so small, I’ve become invisible and I’m not sure who I am anymore.  I’m working out with a personal trainer twice a week and working hard to work out again on the weekend.  But, since I’ve ramped up my schedule and am working full time, this isn’t always possible.  I’m trying to get to the bottom of my health issues and address them.  I feel I’ve found a good link with my compound heterozygous MTHFR mutation that seems to be causing a lot of issues; I have ordered Metanx, a medical food, to help with my body’s deficiencies.  Curiously enough, the mutation seems to be linked to depression–something I have struggled with my whole life despite medication, therapy, and a hell-bent attitude towards happiness.

I’m also trying to socialize more.  Friendships have been hard here.  The deep, patience friendships from my childhood and from college don’t resemble what I’ve found here.  I have abandoned “friends” who don’t respect my time and effort in the relationship and don’t help me to live a happier, healthier life.  I’ve looked for friends who will contribute to a healthier state of mind.  I’m seeking to do new things with friends.  This weekend will be the first couples soccer match–an activity Cliford and I have designed to be part exercise, part socializing.  I’m planning my first party–a pool party this summer where I will barbeque, serve other foods, share my home with friends, play pool volleyball.  I’m going to attend a Bible study even though I am an atheist.  I will further work on my patience and tolerance by thoughtful conversation on the book of Mark and Jesus’ teachings (which can appeal to people of all faiths in its universal nature).  I’m going to begin volunteering for the Multicultural Refugee Coalition; I will be teaching English, computer skills, and help refugees find jobs here in Austin.

I’m also working towards my future.  I’ve been making time 2-3 times out of the week to study 2-3 hours for the LSAT.  I plan to take the June LSAT to get a good feel for it and take it again in October.  I’ve decided to be human and give myself more of a chance.  I will be including an addendum to explain the differences in my performance.  It’s been a very tough year (and even tougher beginning to the year) and I deserve some slack and recognition that, despite it all, I’m still working hard and dedicated to law school and my future.

The only problem is I’m not sure how to improve my relationship.  I hope that by improving myself, taking care of myself better, it’ll also make my relationship better.

I’m determined to make 2014 the turning point in my life and begin living the way I want to live instead of imprisoning myself.

It’s Been a While

It’s been a while since I’ve written last.  March has been a difficult month.  Plus, now that my boyfriend is only working one job–I don’t have time to write.  I decided to keep my blog a secret from him and all of my friends and family so I could have a private place (in public on the internet of course–oh the paradox of my generation) to sound out my thoughts and feelings without worrying about their thoughts, judgments, etc.

This past month I went through blood test after blood test, ultrasounds, and an embarrassing 24 hour urine collection only to find out that there is nothing wrong with me.  Of course my insulin levels are elevated but my A1C is normal.  My medical problems are because I’m overweight.  I was afraid that would be the answer because it means it’s all my fault and that all my efforts don’t work and I will most likely stay like this forever and never get better because I am an ambitious person and my life is going to be busy for the rest of my life and I doubt I’ll have the time and energy that it would require to get myself down to a healthy weight.

Uffda**!

Growing up my parents were always working.  I had to cook for myself and my sister and all I could cook were things from a box, like pasta and other pre-made meals.  Me and my sister got pretty chunky under my watch.  She managed to get mono one year, dropped all her weight, and has been able to keep it off since.  Me on the other hand, I have been dedicated to eating a healthy diet and exercising as frequently as I can.  For example, I gave up eating red meat and pork and I truthfully stuck to it from when I was 13 to when I moved to Texas last year at 23.  Also, for the past 5 years I have maintained a daily calorie consumption around 1,500. I have only managed to gain more weight. Frustration doesn’t even begin to describe it.

I have been working hard to consume less calories, eat more vegetables, less carbs.  I don’t binge and, honestly, for a fat girl, I’m never hungry.  I don’t overeat.  It’s just not an issue for me.  I take the bus, walk a half mile to work, a mile from work to a bus.  I work out 3-4 times faithfully per week.  Not mindless treadmill running or ellipticals but cardio that gets my heart going wild and strength training.  I try to get 8 hours of sleep a night but it’s not the easiest when I have so many obligations and goals.  I have 75 pounds to lose and I’ve been working very hard for a month and have lost no weight at all.  But there’s nothing wrong with me.  I don’t know what I’m doing wrong.

But on the life front, I’ve been managing my free time better, now.  Instead of watching TV, I have personal training twice a week, work out independently once or twice a week and go to the library to study for the LSATs two to three times a week.  I’ve applied to volunteer for a program that will have me helping refugees become self-sufficient.  I will teach English, help them find jobs, help them learn how to use a computer, and also help them feel better living so far from home.  I really hope they will call me back and have me volunteer.  It’s something I wanted to do since I moved to Austin, but it’s only recently that I’ve managed to get out of this cavernous rut I’m in–now I’m only in a little one (baby steps, folks).  I’ve conned my sister into giving me her beautiful cello that she doesn’t play anymore (my shitty violin I played was sent to Costa Rica) and I will be trading in my alto saxophone and my sister’s french horn in order to purchase a tenor saxophone.  I’ve really missed music since leaving college and I’m hoping to spend more time with it.  Also, I’m hoping to start mediating with some regularity and also incorporate yoga into my life.  I fear that stress may be helping keep me overweight.  Hopefully adding meaningful activities will help with stress and make for an overall more happy existence.  Work–especially administrative work I have zero interest in and does not utilize my talents–and taking care of the house is not soul satisfying.

With the LSAT, I decided that I would wait until October to take it.  Working full time obviously prohibits me from dedicating more time to really studying.  I want to give myself the best chance I can for success and that means spending more time studying.  It will also give me the time to explore options and really know what I want before I dive in head first and make more mistakes like I am so prone to do–I love an adventure.  My boss has a friend who is a judge here in Austin and her husband is a professor of law at the University of Texas, Austin and I am going to speak with them and hopefully they’ll take me under their wings a little.  Law school is a big commitment.  I know it’s something I could make it through with flying colors–I’m too dedicated to do anything less–but it’s a life long commitment and I want to make sure I am ready and fully informed.

Slowly but surely, I’m going to get somewhere.  I’ve got a long ways to go but my feet are always moving.

 

**for non-Midwestern, Norwegian types–“Uffda” is the Norwegian equivalent of OMG, it’s what you say when you feel overwhelmed, are surprised.  It’s also kind of a curse word.  I guess it’s quite similar to “Oi vei.”

Woman

I hate being a woman.
I hate how being a woman means vulnerability.
I hate how eyes, undressing–judging–are always combing over my every flaw
there is no hiding in the open They force on me.
X-ray vision is only a metaphor.
Big Brother is always watching.

I hate vulnerability as a lifestyle
As a mindset
As the unavoidable conclusion.
A prophecy foretold.
A feeling always foreboding.

I hate how calculated wasting away is done for Their pleasure.
Premeditated, a concentrated effort to create vulnerability.
Oppression.
Because liberation is a threat to Them.
Liberation in a woman is sin. The original sin.

I hate how without One–you are not whole.
Hole.
To be filled. Incomplete.
Without One you are an outcast.
A social deviant.
Rejected. Defective.
A conversation piece at a party
The preoccupation of those that have been claimed
A predatory preoccupation of Them.
Vulnerability is alluring.
Vulnerability is one drink too much and being led away from a protective flock.

I hate how without One you do not feel safe.
I hate how sharing a sidewalk with Them makes me wish for Jim Crow
so I could have a reason other than fear to avoid.
They are the male family member required to accompany to protect against Them.
As if They are not One of Them and you are safer because you have One.
As if she who is with He is not thinking the same about Yours
But statistics shows it’s almost always One you know.

I hate the bravado, the sureness that overshadows my little, steady candle.
They are shadows, nameless shapes encroaching at the edges.
Hands on my neck.
Eyes on my flaws.
Whispers in the back of my mind.
That pause, that hesitation that causes me to miss a moment and become vulnerable.
Footsteps behind but ever quicker–approaching–until you are compromised.

I hate how being a woman means compromise.
Sacrifice.
You have something to be taken. Something that can never be returned.
I hate energy spent, energy diverted, to Them.
Like that worship is more worthy than the cast-aside altar of me. Only me.

 

I never have a gift for that altar.

Why I’m Bad At Small Talk (and other social activities)

For as long as I can remember I’ve been horrible at small talk.  When I meet new people I’m awkward, quiet, and very unapproachable.  This is something that is quite contrary to my true nature.  I’ll blame it on my permanently furled brow.  I’m constantly lost in thought–calculating the answers to world peace and the like.  No big deal.

It is the one thing I’m not good at, meeting new people.  For as confident as I am when speaking about something I’m passionate about–I become Samson in the presence of those I don’t know.  Rejection is a fear that plagues me; I want to make people happy–it’s what fulfills me.

Interactions with new people are also rare for me.  I’ll in part blame this characteristic on growing up in a very small, isolated town.  And even more rare is the time we are blessed to spend with others.  The moments we share with individuals are so fleeting.  So tenuous.  During that time I don’t want to talk about the weather or some trivial shared experience we had in the elevator.  I want to know your about your dreams and passions.  I want to know your fears and deepest regrets.  I want to give you respite.  I want to fortify you and offer you unexpected support.  I want to share a bond with you that let’s you know that you are visible.  I want to give you validation.

Even though I know this bond is short lived, each person I manage to capture in this spell lives within me.  It nourishes me and love and positivity goes with them.

I learn from each person I speak with.  Every person is a piece of the puzzle–a word in the answer to the deepest questions humanity strives century after century to answer.  Every person is potential.  Every person is the unexplainable and mystery at the center of our souls.  Every person is a reflection of us all; I can fin myself in you.  Every person is a question.  Every person is an answer.  This makes every person irresistible to me.

So, forgive me if we meet and I seem aloof.  Forgive me if I’m impatient with your comments about this recent weather phenomenon or that.  I’m here for you.  I want to know you and appreciate you.

As always, love.

Flying Over Nebraska When the Exile Is Over–Ode to My Home

“Rivers”

Thin, spidery veins–tributaries–snake across the land, now iron grey in the setting sun.
They stand in defiance against the settlers’ attempts to tame the land in a patchwork of square blocks and narrow strips of green forestry.
Source of life–Midwestern Star of David, guide human existence, give birth to the race on your shores.

“Sky”

Firm earth, meet infinity.
Kiss forever and quiver at its expansiveness, at your vulnerability/mortality.
Open wide your embrace O earth and surrender.
Lofty prayers reflected and answered in your promise of unending.

“Cities”

Tiny clusters of magnesium orange light break the monotony of endless darkness.
Lights wink and hint at the life sprawled across the prairie–
Macrocosms of the abundance undetectable at this height.

“Streets”

Cars move along single-file, like fluorescent ants on a path to sustenance.
This is how the veins of a nation of builders crawls along and moves the world.

Marin–12/28/13 flying over Omaha, NE after not having been home for over a year.  Written through tears of happiness and inspired by a bursting heart.