Hello World, I’m Still Here…

Perhaps the most difficult part of growing up is letting go of the person who we thought we were and were going to be. For me, anyways, that has been the hardest. I may have picked up some very valuable lessons from many hardships and transitions, but I can’t deny that I did like the person I was a year ago. I was in school, I was happy in love and careless, and to my knowledge I was healthy. Being sick has weighed so heavy on me that I hardly recognize who I once was in the mirror. I think that’s the part about growing up that makes things hard. Sometimes life throws this huge curveball at you and the only thing you can do after being pushed down is to let go.

I’m still getting pushed down. I’m still trying to let go.

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Story “Human” Complete edited First Chapter. “Waiting For Eternity”

Chapter 1 “Waiting for Eternity”

He told me I died.

That I was buried underneath the watery debris of the fallen dam I had been walking on moments before, causing my lungs to burst…and I died. It’s amazing how quick a life can be taken away. In one moment you’re there, and the next you’re just gone.

I was still working past the initial shock. What came after death wasn’t at all what I thought it would be. There was no bright light, no silver lining, no out of body experience.

In movies I had seen they always show the person crossing over to embrace a deceased loved one. I had been half-expecting Grandma Marie to be waiting for me and holding a pile of cookies. I wasn’t expecting a sullen skinny man named Gilbert.

The room I was currently in—well if I can even call it that—was white, just an endless chain of sanitary nothing.

“Where am I?” I asked.

             “You died” he had said, plain and simple. As if there was nothing complicated about it. I knew that voice he used, my father had used it often. ‘It is what it is, and there’s nothing you can do about it now’. It was how he had reasoned with everything. My father and I were so different. I saw things with meaning and affection and, well, he didn’t.

              “My name is Gilbert. I’ve been assigned to be your guide through this decision process. Tell me Alexandria, do you remember how you got here?”

              I could hardly forget it. I was still coughing up water, could still feel my throat burning and my fear of not being able to breathe—drowning was a very unpleasant feeling.

              He continued to stare at me through cold stony eyes. He looked human. He had sandy blonde hair and blue eyes, but there was no depth to him. He had no lines showing that he had ever fallen in love, been disappointed, or ever been afraid. He was just empty.

              “The difference between you and I is that you still have your humanity. This is the place where you are cleansed before taken up to what is beyond.” He said coolly.  “Your death was very unexpected so you have a choice to stay here or to go back to earth and continue a human life for one more year. There you will be permitted to deal with any unfinished business you may have.”

              My thoughts seemed to get lost from the time Gilbert talked to me to the point where I had been ushered away like cattle to another room. Although the things he had told me were slowly starting to seep back into my consciences I was far to absorbed in the idea of getting the chance to go home to really listen to them.

              Of course with any offer that was usually too good to be true there were some repercussions. He said as long as I had my humanity I would be easily perceptible to demons and seduction. If seduced I myself would become a demon and would carry out the job to seduce other potential crossovers.  However I had already made up my mind on a impulse long before he could tell me about how dangerous it was.

              He had me stand in one of two lines with a bunch of offhanded people in my soaked squashy shoes and dripping wet hair. As far as I could tell all of the people who had died suddenly were in my line and the others who died old or with a long term illness, who had prepared themselves for death, were in the other.

The white sanitary (well, whatever this place was) was filled with people, all dressed in a wide variety of outfits—whatever you were wearing when you died, that was what you were stuck with until you made the cross over. So if you died naked in a bath tub, that was it, stark naked for everyone to see. Everyone was very calm though, very still—not at all what you would expect a large crowd to look like.

Even I felt the strange sereneness from this place. I only had my thoughts to keep me company.

There were several pillars spread out through the wide room, but they blended in well with the rest of the white placements. There were four desks at the top of the lines where people who were as voided of their humanity as Gilbert were waiting. The marble floor looked ancient and new at the same time. Like it was made out of something you would see in Greek mythology, but it was so polished that it didn’t look aged.

              I thought about how I ran away from home. I wasn’t sure how long ago it was now. Based on the medieval outfits and wide circus tent dresses I got the feeling that time wasn’t linear here. It had been pouring buckets of rain, but in my stubborn state I couldn’t see the danger in that scenario. My mother was yelling at me and I was yelling for reasons I can’t even remember…I knew my father would just take her side so I packed my backpack and snuck out my window. I thought I could just drop out of school and join a band or something awesome like that.

There was a dam that separated my house from the town, from my escape, and I tried to climb over it. Half way there the flood swallowed the sticks and pulled me down with it. I wondered if my family even knew I was gone. Would they care? Would it even make a difference?

              “Alexandria Watson” a woman spoke softly motioning with her long stiff neck for me to take a seat in the chair across from her desk.

The lady sitting across from me—Petunia Plattwood, she said was her name—was oblivious to my inner struggle. She just sat there behind her desk, patiently as if nothing affected her. This seemed to be a pattern here. I suppose I couldn’t expect to see a friendly face when everyone had been drained of humanity.

              I exhaled deeply and plopped down. She already had my file in front of her. I wondered if it was like a longer version of Santa’s Nice and Naughty list. I got the feeling that I would never know.

              “Are you sure that this is what you want?” she asked slowly, turning through the pages of my file. There was a certain aristocracy in her high-pitched voice, as if there was more than just a glass desk standing between us. She was dressed in a polished pink jacket and a matching pin skirt and tiny top hat. It was almost comical that even in death people cared what they looked like. Her manicured hands clasped in front of her on the desk as she waited patiently for my answer.

I slumped back in my chair, but after a pointed look from her I straightened myself and nodded.

“I am,” I said, grinding my teeth together. This was another thing that I thought would pass after I had died. I had ground my teeth down so much that I had been forced to wear a retainer at night for protection. I couldn’t say I was going to miss that thing.

I knew what she probably thought of me. Soggy converse shoes, skinny jeans and a large oversized Guns N’ Roses t-shirt. I hadn’t fit in much in life so why would I expect any different in death? I had inherited my mother’s face—her blue eyes, plump lips and ebony hair, but that was about as far as anyone would go in calling me beautiful. I despised my lean form and my dainty little feet. To top it off I was stuck at 17.

More than anything else that defined the received condescending look from her eyes. I was a teenager, therefore I knew absolutely nothing.

My parents were always giving me this look—and that’s why I did it, ran off I mean…to show them that I could take care of myself. Perhaps if I had listened to them I wouldn’t be in this position at all. I would be home, warm and tucked under my blankets while my mom made me dinner. If I was less stubborn it would be easier to acknowledge, but I didn’t want to feel guilty. My own selfishness was the only thing that kept me from falling apart at the news of my own demise.

              “This decision should not be taken lightly Alexandria” Petunia said calmly. “Going back to earth is dangerous no matter what the circumstances are. You haven’t been fully cleansed of your humanity so you are an easy target of seduction.”

              I smiled slightly, but thought it would be inappropriate to laugh.

              “Look when I got here—my guide, Gilly”

              “Gilbert” she corrected.

              “Gilbert, he already gave me the whole run down on everything”

              I could recall all of the ominous warnings he had given me. I’m sure he meant to sound intimidating, but I was too excited as such a prospect to care.

              Gilbert had told me the basics…everyone had a guide when they died, to explain things and to let it sink in before sending you on your way to deal with people like Petunia. Death was a very complicated process.

              He explained how the choice was able to make now had been made after the incident with the fallen angels. He said that they now wanted to take precautions to make sure the ones who went to heaven were going to stay there.

              “When a soul is put back on earth they are up for grabs for both sides. It’s up to you to prove your worth and to stay out of harm’s way. Manipulation on your new vulnerability is one of the key components that the demons use to turn you. It’s a very dangerous game.” He told me.

              Petunia straightened and then paused briefly.

              “Alexandria, you are still very much tormented with humanity, and you died very young so you will be a more perceptible target. Demons are not what you would expect them to be. They look like ordinary people, the mailman, a cute boy in your math class, a librarian…. And they will say or do anything to possess your soul.”

              “I understand” I said, “I do, really”

              She took a deep breath and then nodded once.

              “As you wish, you will be given one human year to get it together and then you will be taken up here to get cleansed, assuming that in that year a demon doesn’t conquer you first, which in that case I am afraid there isn’t anything we can do.  Rules; one, no one from your previous life will be able to see you, so in order to keep a low profile you must make sure that the other mortals do not realize this. Two, you are no longer human even if you do have a presence on earth so you will not ever be hungry or tired…but all of your human instincts will be heightened. It’s important that you try to stay away from emotions of anger or jealousy or greed which will draw you out to a demon.”

              She opened a clear box and pressed a big button that made the chair I was sitting in sink into the ground. It all passed in a flash. I could feel my hair go up into the air and my hands clenched down on the seat I was sitting on for fear of falling off of it, but in an instant it was over. The chair was gone, as was the white room and Petunia. I was at my hometown sitting in a pew of a church. I should’ve known I’d end up here. It felt strange to feel the smooth russet wood under my white fingertips. I had never been to this church before, but something about it made me feel at ease. There were worn bibles along the back of the pew in front of me and the carpet was emerald green. The sun shone through the stainless glass windows and broke out in a rainbow of colors. It was refreshing to see color that wasn’t white.

              I got up, my legs shaky and I moved out to the aisle. At the front of the aisle a priest stood. He looked ancient. He had wrinkled turtle skin, white ashy hair and glasses. He was reading out of the bible marking passages with a pen. When he heard me get up his head lifted to mine. He winked when he saw me and I gulped surprised that he knew who I was.

              “Alexandria?” he said. I nodded and walked over to him. “I was expecting you. You’ll find what you need in that box over there.” He continued, pointing to a box at the end of the room. He continued to mark passages not phased by me.

              I walked over to the wooden box. It reminded me of one those things they use in sermons that you pull bread out of. There was a simple cross engraved on the top and a small latch to open in the front. I wasn’t sure if I’d even be able to touch it. In all of the movies I had seen, when a dead person tried to touch something there hand would shoot right through it. I placed my hand on it carefully, and at the feel of smooth wood I opened it and grimaced. There were clothes—very preppy, expensive looking clothes, an I.D.—on it was a picture of me, and a changed last name…Alexandria Watson had now become Alexandria Angel. I rolled my eyes at the irony.

              I had absolutely no idea where to start or what exactly I was supposed to learn from all of this. Part of me was still hoping that it would all turn out to be a bad dream.  All I cared about was getting my life back. The rest would follow.

              Little did I know the smell of my arrival had already struck a loud chord through the damned. The taloned hand of the devil scraped through the earth, pointing in my direction…letting the demonic wasteland know that another injured bird had landed. The hand had already started to close…like a fly trap, waiting for the inevitable.

              I should’ve stayed home.

A penny for my thoughts.

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In times when life touches us with chaos and things that are completely out of our control, I find that gratitude is the best weapon against this natural force from consuming our emotions and our mind.

If you have something to be grateful for it can stand against the weight of any misfortune or circumstance.

I am grateful for my family. I am grateful for my siblings. I am grateful for my nephews. I am grateful for my parents. I am grateful for my family to be. I am grateful for my fiancé; my compass, my love, my best friend and my hero. I am grateful for our two cats, who bring life and joy into the apartment. I am grateful for my true friends who have stood by me for better or for worse and the friends who were temporary, but who made me smile while they were still present in my life. I am grateful to all of the professors and teachers who have supported me inside the classroom and outside. I am grateful for the gifts of talent I have been given; my singing voice, my writing skills and my imagination. I am grateful for my own appreciation and for my love of the things that I am good at. I am grateful for the education I have had and for the ability to have an intelligent mind that will allow me to continue in the future if I permit it. I am grateful for the strength and understanding God has bestowed upon me to help me get through things that I do not understand. I am grateful to live in a country where my health is taken care of. I am grateful that as a woman and as a disabled I do, at least in comparison to other places, have it pretty well and have opportunities that others may not have. I am grateful to be able to write and voice whatever I please without fear of consequence to my safety. I am grateful for the past I have lived and the mistakes and misfortunes I have grown from. I am grateful for my present, for the enormous support from a great list of different people (they know who they are). I am grateful for the future that I may still have, without expectations because I realize that there are things out of my control, just acceptance…and of course gratitude, for the ability to have gone through so much and to be able to handle it with acceptance and grace for that of which I have no control over.

I believe full heartedly that when handled with a list of things we are grateful for we can rise up stronger for the beautiful chaos in the thing that we call life.

Scene from my Young Adult Novel called, “Human”.

“Are you sure that this is what you want?” she asked slowly. There was a certain aristocracy in her high-pitched voice, as if there was more than just a glass desk standing between us. She was dressed in a polished pink jacket and a matching pin skirt and a tiny top hat. It was almost comical that even in death people cared what they looked like. Her manicured hands clasped in front of her on the desk as she waited patiently for my answer.

             I slumped back in my chair, but after a pointed look from her I straightened myself and nodded.

             I knew what she probably thought of me. Soggy converse shoes, skinny jeans and a large oversized guns and roses t-shirt. I hadn’t fit in much in life so why would I expect any different in death? I had inherited my mother’s face—her blue eyes, plump lips and ebony hair, but that was about as far as anyone would go in calling me beautiful. I despised my lean form and my dainty little feet. To top it off I was stuck dead at 17.

             More than anything else I knew that was what really defined the condescending look in her eyes. I was a teenager, therefore I knew absolutely nothing.

             I had gotten used to this stare from my life. My parents were always giving me this look—and that’s why I did it…to show them that I could take care of myself. Perhaps if I had listened to them I wouldn’t be in this position at all. I would be home, warm and tucked under my blankets while my mom made me dinner. If I was less stubborn it would be easier to acknowledge, but I didn’t want to feel guilty. My own selfishness was the only thing that kept me from falling apart at the news of my own demise.

             “I am” I said, grinding my teeth together. This was another thing that I thought would pass after I had died. I had ground my teeth down so much that I had been forced to wear a retainer at night for protection. I couldn’t say I was going to miss that thing.

             The lady sitting across from me—Petunia Plattwood, printed in big shiny letters on the gold plate in front of her—was oblivious of my inner struggle. She just sat there behind her desk, patiently as if nothing affected her. This seemed to be a pattern here. The white sanitary (well, whatever this place was) was filled with people, all dressed in a wide variety of outfits—whatever you were wearing when you died, that was what you were stuck with until you made the cross over. So if you died naked in a bathtub, that was it. Your birthday suit on display for everyone to see. Everyone was very calm though, very still—not at all what you would expect a large crowd to look like.

             Even I felt the strange sereneness from this place. I only had my thought to keep me company.

             “This decision should not be taken lightly Alexandria” Petunia said calmly. “Going back to earth is dangerous no matter what the circumstances are. You haven’t been fully cleansed of your humanity so you are an easy target of seduction.”

             I smiled slightly, but thought it would be inappropriate to laugh.

             “Look when I got here—my guide, Gilly”

             “Gilbert” she corrected.

             “Gilbert, he already gave me the whole run down on everything”

             Gilbert had been the man who had told me the basics…everyone has a guide when they die, to explain things and to let it sink in before sending on your way to deal with people like Petunia. Death was a very complicated process.

             I remembered when I first got here. I was still coughing up water, could still feel my throat burning and my fear of not being able to breathe—drowning was a very unpleasant feeling. Then I woke up here. The white room was empty when I got here, and only Gilbert was there to comfort me—though there wasn’t very much of that. The people in charge around here weren’t very affectionate, but I suppose without humanity they wouldn’t be expected to be.

             “You died” he had said, plain and simple. As if there was nothing complicated about it. I knew that voice he used, my father had used it often. ‘It is what is, and there’s nothing you can do about it now’. It was how he had reasoned with everything. My father and I were so different. I saw things with meaning and affection and well, he didn’t.

             Gilbert had also explained the choice that I would be able to make now—to go straight to heaven where my humanity would be cleansed or go back to earth and finish out unfinished business, but be easily perceptible to demons and seduction.

             I have to confess that I wasn’t really listening to his long lecture about demons. I only heard the part about where I would be allowed to go back to earth.

             Petunia straightened and then paused briefly.

             “Alexandria, you are still very much tormented with humanity, and you died very young so you will be a more perceptible target. Demons are not what you would expect them to be. They look like ordinary people and will say or do anything to possess your soul.”

             “I understand” I said, “I do, really, But I also know that I won’t be at rest until I figure out what it is that needs to be done on earth.”

             She took a deep breath and then nodded once.

             “As you wish, you will be given one human year to get it together and then you will be taken up here to get cleansed, assuming that in that year a demon doesn’t conquer you first, which in that case I am afraid there isn’t anything we can do.  Rules; one, no one from your previous life will be able to see you, so in order to keep a low profile you must make sure that the other mortals do not realize this. Two, you are no longer human even if you do have a presence on earth so you will not ever be hungry or tired…but all of your human instinct will be heightened. It’s important  that you try to stay away from emotions of anger or jealousy or greed which will draw you out to a demon…And lastly, but most important of all…you can never fall in love with a mortal.”

             I laughed.

“No problems there boss.” I smiled. Falling in love really wasn’t my thing.

“Alright then Alexandria, good luck”

             She opened a clear box and pressed a big button that made the chair I was sitting in sink into the ground. It all passed in a flash. I could feel my hair go up into the air and my hands clenched down on the seat I was sitting on for fear of falling off of it, but in an instant it was over. The chair was gone, as was the white room and Petunia. I was at my hometown sitting in a pew of a church. I should’ve known I’d end up here. I got up, my legs shaky and I moved out to the aisle. At the front of the aisle a priest stood. He winked when he saw me and I gulped surprised that he knew who I was.

             “Alexandria?” he said. I nodded and walked over to him. “You’ll find what you need in that box over there.” He continued, pointing to a box at the end of the room.

             I walked over to it. I wasn’t sure if I’d even be able to touch it. In all of the movies I had seen, when a dead person tried to touch something there hand would shoot right through it. Then again I suppose if this was from Petunia and those other souls, then I would be able to touch it. I placed my hand on it carefully, and at the feel of smooth wood I opened it and grimaced. There were clothes—very preppy, expensive looking clothes, an I.D.—a picture of someone I didn’t recognize. There on the picture was a girl with ivory skin, big brown eyes and light caramel colored brown hair. I had yet to see my own reflection, but I was pretty sure that I didn’t want to. My last name was also changed…Alexandria  Watson had now become Alexandria Angel.

I rolled my eyes at their serious lack of creativity. Stuffed all of the stuff from the box into a backpack and left the church, ready to enjoy the heck out of last year I had on this earth.

                 

Gratitude

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One  thing I’ve come to realize is that life is not fair, and it’s stressful and it’s hard. This is why it is so important to have gratitude. Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. I read that “it turns what we have into enough and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into clarity, problems into gifts, failures into success, the unexpected into perfect timing and mistakes into important events. Gratitude makes sense of our past…brings peace for today and creates vision for tomorrow.”

The start of my day, meaning at one in the morning, didn’t start how I would’ve wanted it to, but I still find things to be grateful for and I do believe that it is a very important practice not just for those who have suffered, but for everyone because everyone suffers a little at some point. I like the statement so, i’ll repeat it again, gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.

What are you thankful for today?

The Endless Captivity of an Anxious Mind

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It’s 1am right now and my mind is busy fighting a dragon of anxieties and demons with a broken sword to let me get any sleep. So I, as per usual, attempt to vent it out through writing.

The anxiety is the worst at night. I wonder if that is how it is for all people who are hold under its endless captivity.

An anxiety disorder is the most common mental illness, but is often taken less seriously than any other clinical illness. Coming from someone who is actually dealing with this sickness I wish it was taken more seriously.

It’s not exactly curable. When seeking out help you will get a couple dozen of pills thrown at you for a trial and error period and a few coping skills before they throw you back in the real world.

I can’t speak for others, but I don’t find that helpful. The medicine helps me function, but at night I can feel my thoughts racing through my head so quickly that i’m unable to focus on any one in particular. As you might imagine, it’s hard to sleep when your brain is having a marathon.

I think the worst part is never knowing when or why I get anxious. When it’s chronic it can really be triggered by anything, even happiness.

The medication that is prescribed to “treat” it is meant to sedate you and your emotions. I’m personally not a fan of being apart of the walking dead, but the anxiety interrupts my daily functions like driving, going to school, getting out of bed. So, I swallow down the numbing pills and I step through life, occasionally feeling the fleeting emotion of selfness and freedom.

I know true physical illness. I know loss and I know suffering and yet I do not hold those above my mental health.

I think anxiety disorders are hard for people to understand because logically there is supposed to be a cause of the stress and when the conflict is resolved the stress is meant to go away.

I think the most frustrating question I get is, “why are you so anxious” because rarely does my maze like mind allow me to fathom one.

These might be questions that I will never have answers too, but perhaps if I continue to use writing as an outlet I could one day aim for a pulitzer.

My sword might be broken, but I have nothing, but respect for those who share my struggles because even broken we still find ways to keep fighting. Reborn every time with chains around our necks. We may not be the lucky ones, but we are the strong, the brave, the understanding and the survivors in this world.

The Last Day Before Everything Changed

Author Note, please read first: Everything in this journal entry is factual. I wrote it down the day that it happened and the picture that you will read about it posted at the bottom. It was summer 2011 and it is now 2016. I am okay now. My family is okay, but this entry still remains as vivid as if I were still standing there in the sand. There are moments in life that time seems to stop for just a second and although the world continues on the moment is stuck in your brain for life. I am not posting this because I want pity or because I want judgement. I simply think that I was brave enough to write all of this back and then and just find it tonight should be posted.*

A Broken Paradise-based on true events (written summer of 2011)

By Kayla McCurdy

I remember. The sunset that day was a series of colors; vibrant oranges, pearly pinks and soft purples. I had seen a sunset before, but never in my life had I seen something that moved me so much as that one did. It was fading and with the sun, marked not only the end of another day but, the life I knew and the possibility of the future I thought was coming with it. It was our last day at Camp Penelton and I had been dreading that moment for the whole week. It hadn’t been a happy week for me, but I felt peace as I watched that sun go down. I was trying to cherish the moment for as long as I could. Take a mental picture of all of my surroundings so that I could reflect later when things got hard and have an escape.

You know that fantasy people have about leaving their realities to lounge in a hammock on a deserted beach somewhere where the only thing you can hear are waves crashing on a sandy shore—while drinking out of a coconut with a little umbrella on the side? It felt a lot like that. Only the hammock had been substituted with a lounge chair and the coconut was replaced with a soda, but it was the same desired effect. The waves, the solitude, the heavy desire to never leave. It was paradise. For that brief moment in time my own reality didn’t exist. I knew it’d be there next week waiting for me…but for now this was all I needed.

Time to reflect. Time to remember.

For most people the summer after high school graduation is supposed to be a time of a celebration for four years of hard work and the beginning of a transition into a much anticipated college lifestyle. This is what’s expected as we turn in our last final and walk down that line in our big white and blue caps and gowns to get our diploma. It’s what I had been anticipating/dreading in the long months leading up to it, but it wasn’t what I got. For me the most significant part of that summer was my parents breaking up. I’ll always remember why and how I was the first one who knew it was going to happen.

I remember someone once asked me in high school what the most important thing in my life was and why. I told them it was my family, because I could count on all of them for anything. Because we were a team. Because I knew it would always be that way. I’ve learned the hard way since then that there is no such thing as always. There is no such thing as permanent and life isn’t set in stone. Mom and Dad had a hard time facing things they didn’t want to see. When there was conflict we all stuck our heads in the sand and pretended it wasn’t there. It somehow made everyone feel better to think that there wasn’t an issue or that it would pass in time on its own. I remember feeling like I should’ve done something to make them see before it was too late to fix it. I remember staying up all night just going over all of my memories and trying to pinpoint the exact moment when everything went wrong. I know now, that there was nothing I could’ve done. The pristine facade of a perfect family was shattered that summer and everything that I held most dearly was ripped away from me.

I remember when I still lived at home I often sat in the windowsill attached to my room or on the roof that was about three feet below it. Nobody ever really noticed me there, but I liked that. It was the spot I’d go to escape—my own way of sticking my head in the sand I suppose. It was peaceful and secluded in that little spot. During the afternoons the sun would shine through the trees so I could sunbathe there, read a book, feel the breeze and write.  I had been sitting there when I heard my dad arguing with my mom over the phone. He had gone outside to keep it hidden from us kids, but I had overheard it on accident.

“I know about Martin.” He said calmly into the phone. I felt like someone had punched me in the stomach. I couldn’t breathe and my head spun in a slow sickening movement. It was as if I couldn’t understand the words I had just heard. I wanted nothing more then to take them out of my head, out of memory…but it was too late for that. At seventeen I had a pretty naive viewpoint of the world. I was a natural born optimist, I believed good things came to good people and that the realm of possibilities was possible. It was the classic story that breaks up a marriage. Infidelity. There was obviously a lot more to is. My father never being around, always yelling at her…broken trust. I suppose I’m not old enough to understand all of the reasons that went into her choice to do something like that. I just remember how it felt to become aware of it.

I wasn’t so unobservant to know that my parents weren’t having problems. I remember things got really bad right after graduation. In the beginning it was easy to shrug off. Ignorance is bliss after all. Mom kept leaving in the early morning to go to her friend’s house and wouldn’t come home until late at night. She also didn’t want much to do with any of us. It was hurtful behavior, but Dad blamed it on a midlife crisis. He lied. A midlife crisis would’ve been easier. At least that way things would’ve gotten better eventually.

I remember falling off that windowsill in shock. I shrank back into a corner in my room, curled myself into a ball and cried. It hurt so badly. I didn’t understand the pain that I was feeling. The gut wrenching, heart stampeded on emotion was not one that I was accustomed to. I just wanted it to all go away. I wanted to stick my head in the sand and pretend that it wasn’t there. There wasn’t an escape. My father’s pain rushed into my heart like open flood gates. My whole body drowned under the heavy weight of the water.

Every time my mom left after that it hurt ten times worse. I wanted to be in denial, but I skipped that step and went straight to fury. I was so mad at her for being so selfish. I was mad at her for not being stronger and making it work. I was mad at her for leaving. I was mad at her for breaking me. When I eventually told my Dad what I had I heard on the windowsill in a moment of tearful weakness he made me promise not to say anything to my brothers and sisters or my mother. We were going to Camp Penelton as a family in a week and he wanted everyone to stay in the dark about it until we got back. He wanted me to pretend and to lie. The intentions were there, but it was the hardest thing I ever had to do.

I did what I was told. At Camp Penelton I plastered a smile on my face and ignored the battle going on inside of me. The hot sun beat down on my skin and I lounged around in the sand and put my focus on tanning. My skin had always been a ghostly white color and I always fell victim of a sunburn as opposed to that nice brownish color I tried to achieve. I thought of my little sister. She was the youngest, only twelve years old at the time. Despite our age difference she was my best friend. I always laughed the hardest with her and spent many nights sleeping in the same bed staying up all night and sharing secrets. I needed to protect her.

I jumped in the ocean and forced laughter out of my mouth as I splashed everyone in the water. I built a sand castle and let the forceful waves knock the hard work down. I thought of my youngest brother. He was more sensitive then the rest of us. He was shorter then my younger sister despite that he was year older then her. He was bright kid though. He could lighten any situation with a dumb joke and a cheesy smile. I needed to protect him.

I took out a towel and read a book. I wanted to get lost in its pages and convince myself that I was the protagonist, dealing with another life and another conflict. I hugged my mother and rest my head on her shoulder as we sat in the sand watching the waves brush against the surface line. I thought of my older brother. He was four years older then I was and I had always looked up to him and yet after he got his heart broken by his long time girlfriend who decided to get engaged five months after breaking up with him, I started to feel the need to look out for him. I needed to protect him.

I watched my father turn out all of the lights in the trailer to go to bed and ignored the fact that I knew my mother was going to spend another night sleeping in her friends trailer without us. I thought of my older sister. She was more vulnerable then the rest of us. Life had been hard on her and she decided to take those hardships and project them through a creative light. I needed to protect her from that light getting tainted with the damage that I knew was coming.

I waited until I was completely alone to go down to the water and cry. That was the only place that I could go where I could be sure the roughness of the waves would drown me out. I’d feel the cold air against my skin and I’d let all of the salt water tears fall into the sand. All the evidence that I had been there washed away with the shore.  I thought of my eldest sister. She had already had two near-death experiences and I had come so close to losing her so many times. I looked up to her and often dreamed of looking and being like her. She was such an amazing human being. I needed to protect her.

I was never very good at not wearing my emotions on my sleeve, but I was somehow able to make an exception when it came to them. They were more important to me then my own happiness or sanity. There was no reason why they should have to carry the same burden that I did. I respected my father for finding the same strength as me. I let him lean on me and took the weight of his heartbreak because I was the only one who could.

The week went by too fast. It felt weird waiting for the other shoe to drop like that. It was so out of character for me and yet it seemed to be the only appropriate response given everything that was happening. The last night we were there I could feel what was coming next. I could almost taste the bitterness in my mouth that the morning would bring as we went back to our old life and dealt with the millions of shattered pieces that was left of my family. I knew it was coming and yet scared as I was I found myself enjoying the last few seconds of the afternoon.

My parents stood side by side. Their hands swung limply next to each other. I wanted to run over to them and force their hands together with super glue. They watched my brothers play football in the sand. The boys were tumbling over each other and laughing. Genevieve was standing on the sidelines and cheered them on. I stood at a safe distance from it all and watched. There was nothing unfamiliar about the activity or how happy everyone seemed to look. I took a deep breath and stared out at the sun. It was almost one of those surreal moments that seem to last an eternity, but time never stops moving…not even for me. I snapped a quick picture of it before it disappeared completely. Then I turned and went back into the trailer, mentally preparing myself for what tomorrow would bring.

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Words Are Power- Night John

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Let me just say there were scenes in both the movie and the story that were hard to stomach, but it gave me so much more appreciation for the English Field I’m studying.

Words are power in this movie. Words bring education, it brings courage and insight. Words in this movie are forbidden because they could potentially unravel the order of slavery, but that doesn’t stop a few characters from learning them anyways.

It reminds you how powerful words still are today. I believe with education a man or a woman has the ability to change the world. It reminds you not to be scared and to have voice when people don’t allow you to have one.

It is a truly inspirational and moving movie and also an incredible book. It is said that the characters had no hope until they met Night John who taught them to be smarter.

*slight spoilers with sypnosis*

The movie is placed in the middle of the slave era on a southern plantation. The heroine is a curious little girl named Sarmy who’s mother was sold when she was a baby for talking back to the owner for his anger of not having a boy. There is a serious lack of empathy throughout this movie and the reason why I said it is hard to watch because it is an acute portrayal of what slaves went through. They are whipped, humiliated and not observed as humans and have no problem from their owners for having conversations in front of them like they are pieces of furniture, but I digress so I can get to the point of why this movie affected me.

Not all the white characters in this story are strictly evil, some have sympathy when the master does we called “Like training a dog…if you punish her later she wont even remember what for”However, there is only one

The Call and Response music in this movie was magical to see. For those who are familiar with musical history, Call and response singing is a traditional way of communication between the slaves. Often overlooked and a safe way for them to pass messages in the field. They can sing to each other if the master is coming or if they need to communicate.

The character Night John is brought into the story and the little girl is fascinated with his intelligence and demands to learn how to read and write. The other slaves who look out for her beg her not to because education is forbidden for them.

The take away is that education a gift that if known can’t be taken away. Priceless.

Night John does warn her that “Each time you make a letter you have to erase it.” White folks don’t want them to be educated. Knowledge is power. Huge way for slaves to show resistance.

I would say the girl in the story is a little reckless. She steals a bible in her growing urge to practice her letters and the youngest sons letter blocks.However, the more educated she becomes the easier it is for her to manipulate her owners.

In the movie it is shown that someone gets a thumb chopped off for being able to read, which just reiterates the fear of knowledge. Night John explains to Sarmy, “that learning to read is freedom because slavery is bounded by laws and deeds which the slaves cannot read.”

There is a scene when Night John takes the blame for the stolen bible and after he gets a finger cut off the master asks him if he has learned his lesson. He replies that he has and then begins to write the alphabet in the dirt. The letter he spells out is his name. He then tells Sarmy, “when one hand gets cut off, the other grows  back stronger.”

Sarmy is sold in the end, but because of John she has the ability to read and write. As the girl is joined to a line of other slaves, she asks if any of them have tobacco to trade. What has she to give in return? they want to know. And Sarny draws an A in the dirt. She sort fulfills the role in the end of teaching slaves how to read and write. Like Night John said “They have to read and write. We all have to read and write so we can write about this.”

 

P.S. if you have not yet seen the movie or read the book please do so. I do think this is a story that would benefit everyone. It’s packed full of lessons and history that shouldn’t be forgotten or ignored.

 

Caged Bird Sings

 

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There is a natural order to things. A natural flow, i’d say. Life has a way of pushing you in a direction, down a road and making pieces of a puzzle fit perfectly together so when it comes down to it you look at this thing that makes perfect sense and you think, “okay not bad, this could be good. Why should I do anything different”. This life could fit inside a frame and look amazing, but if you really look at these stills…what happens in between them? When it’s not the image of perfection what is it? It looks perfect on the outside and you feel like you’re saying all of the things like the universe handed you a script, highlighted words and said speak here and everything will be okay.

How long have I told myself “this is going to be good?” How long have a waited for a future that I somehow believe to know that is coming, but I am still unable to feel. Is it me? Am I supposed to continue to listen to the voice that tells me that I’m building something that will be worth it. That i’m going to be happy?

People call me brave, but the truth is I’ve never been a risk taker. I don’t jump for the feeling of love because love doesn’t come with security. I don’t really make the effort to study abroad because I’m scared to be alone. I let myself be taken care of because it’s easy, because it’s nice, because it’s secure.

However, I can’t say this is the person I want to be. Are the people we want to be different from the people we are?

For my the first part of this life, I have felt like a caged bird and now I want to break free, but I feel trapped in the hands of a life that I chose years ago.

 

 

There’s Still Hope

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The speech is annotated, borrowed from a motivational speaker, but I had to post, not only for myself and to say thank you for my own amazing support system; Alberto, my mother, my father, my siblings, my friends, but this is also for the people like me who hit the bottom and are trying to find a way back up. ❤

 

“I want you to close your eyes please. I want to ask you how are you? What heaviness are you carrying? What tears do you hold back? What pain, what fears, are kept inside?

The fear that we have is that we are going to be alone, because if they don’t like you then who will? If they don’t accept you then who will? And I started believing that I was not good enough. I started believing that I was a failure. That I would never be someone that people would like; that people would respect.

I want to ask you who are you going to believe in yourself? Are you going to believe every one else’s judgement of you? Are you going to believe when people say you’re a failure.

You don’t have to hold on to these fears. You just take one step at a time. not to say that these fears will completely disappear, but, can you forgive those who hurt you because that’s where healing starts. Every time someone puts you down, will you make the decision to bring someone else up?

Picture yourself in an open area where there are no bodies and no shelter and there is a storm above you. The storm represents the situations in your life. you don’t tell anybody what you’re going through because first of all they wouldn’t understand and second of all they can’t even help you anyways. You’re in this storm and you’re down on your knees, cold and you’re weak and you feel like this is the end.

What kind of purpose do we have to live? Are you just here to live to die? I mean is there not a purpose for me? Is there not a purpose in life?

Are you not still here?

There are some things in life that are out of your control, that you can’t change and you’ve got to live with. The choice that we have though is to either give up or keep on going.

And it’s not the end until you’ve given up.

You are still here. And just the fact that you’re here should persuade you that you have another chance to get back up.

You don’t have to do this alone. Hold on to that person who you think might help you. And imagine them right now saying that they can’t stop the storm right now, but they will hold you and keep you warm until the storm passes. Because when they hold you the storm is still there, but it’s okay because there with you all the way.

Don’t give up. There’s still hope.”