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Magic

Thursday, June 28th, 2012

When I was very very very young, I was introduced to oldies music.  This was because my parents were older than the average pair, so I grew up on music that was most popular in the fifties and sixties.  This isn’t to say my father didn’t like the eighties, because I definitely grew up on a huge chunk of that decade as well, but oldies were dominant.  Oldies and good ol’ John Denver.  THANKS MOM.

For whatever reason, I became very attached to the The Monkees as a whole.  I don’t remember which channel, it may have been MTV at the time, ran reruns of the Monkees sitcom.  I was probably four or five around this time.  I probably had no fucking idea what the episodes were about, but what did I care?  I had pigtails, mac and cheese, and not a care in the world while I got to watch four zany characters run around, and sing painfully catchy bubblegum pop music.   I was a happy child.

It’s funny how children have no perception of time.  When I was young, I never knew how old other people were, and I never knew that time had passed from when my favorite shows aired, or what had happened to the characters in them.  Ignorance truly is bliss.  So, being that happy-go-lucky, bubbly, and oblivious child, I decided to write The Monkees a letter!  Man, that show must have been completely realistic, because I seriously thought they all lived together in a beach house in California somewhere.  I even thought they played their own instruments!!  (BA-ZING) …I’mjustkiddingTheMonkeeswerealltalentedandcouldplaymusicsopleasehumormethanks.

I sat down and composed the most brilliant letter with my prodigal wordsmithing skills.

Dear Monkees,

I really love you!  You are funny.  I laugh when I see your show.  Your music is good.  Please please please write back.

-Sarah

My Dad worked for the post office, which was pretty brilliant because he could “mail” my letter for me.  My dad the hero!  Of course, he didn’t mail the letter because my idea of an address was “The Monkees house.”  He kept the letter, and told me he had mailed it the first thing in the morning when he got to work.  Since I had no perception of time, I did not question the fact that I had received a reply letter the very next day.  As far as I knew, this was completely normal, and my 5 year old brain was squeeing with delight.

My Dad had written me a letter back as The Monkees, saying how much they appreciated my letter and hope I keep watching their show. This letter came in a huge manila envelope, because it also contained two sleeves of Monkees trading cards.  My father was a prolific card collector, and he had EVERY genre of trading card available, so I am sure these were cards he had gotten as a kid.  This was the first instance of magic I can recall experiencing.

I was SO excited about my new Monkees trading cards, but the sleeves they were in?  Pfffft.  I couldn’t go through them one by one.  Goddamnit, it’s IMPORTANT that I can sort these ONE BY ONE IN A STACK.  So my Dad helped me take out each card, and helped me put them in their own individual plastic sleeve, so I could hold them as a stack.  After all, it looked like I had more cards when I held them in a stack!  I was so proud, even though I was probably irritating the shit out of my Dad by wanting them all in their own sleeve.  But, he humored me.

“LOOK AT MY CARDS, DAD.  DAD!  LOOK AT THIS ONE.  MICKY IS ON THIS ONE!  LOOK AT THIS ONE, IT’S FUNNY.”

I still have my Monkees trading cards, and I never took them out of their individual sleeves.  They have been in those sleeves for over twenty years.  I still like to think they really were from The Monkees, because it instills a sense of fantasy in me, and allows me to remember the magical feeling of reading the letter, and feeling special.  Reality can be a pretty boring, cruel, and unforgiving place, but as long as I have this memory, which has always been strong, then I still believe in magic.

 

Resilience and Asshole EMTs

Tuesday, June 19th, 2012

When I was 15, I had a near death experience that entailed me passing out in my basement and getting carted to the ER. Honestly, I don’t remember much about the whole incident, being unconscious for the following day or so. I only remember feeling sick, hobbling up the stairs to grab my mom, then somehow hobbling back DOWN the stairs to the basement, where I proceeded to fall, thwack my head on a chair, and go completely unconscious. Story goes, my sister had to give me CPR to keep me breathing until the paramedics came. I remember waking up none too pleased at being in the hospital. As an angst driven teenager who thought ball chain’s were the best thing in fashion, I didn’t quite understand the severity of the situation. My family sat in chairs, watching me try to catch a nap in the uncomfortable bed cot with faces of pure devastation. I really just wanted out of the hospital so I could go back to business as usual.

That experience didn’t affect me as much as it should have. As a teenager, I developed an uncanny sense of apathy and had a very impressive talent for pushing emotions off to the side. I recovered physically, and proceeded to have a very chaotic, very troublesome life up until my early twenties.

At the time, college wasn’t a big concern for me. My teen angst kind of seeped into my early twenties, which made me, forgive my language, a complete and utter bitch.

Then, when I turned 22, I had become incredibly ill once again. On my Mom’s birthday, I was woken up by my own vomiting. My mind was fully awake, but at the time, I couldn’t move any part of my body, only my head. I couldn’t open my eyes, I couldn’t speak, and I couldn’t move, but I could hear everything, and process what was going on. The only reason I didn’t die that morning is because my vomiting was loud enough to alert my mother. My mother was screaming in a panic when she found me, which makes me wish I was unconscious at the time so I couldn’t hear her. Even as I write this, I can feel tears in my eyes because I remember her fear and devastation, but I couldn’t do anything to answer her. It was messy. Messy is the perfect word for this situation. All I could do was sit there and listen to her wail into the phone and wait for the paramedics to come. I write this now, and the realization of how lucky I am is very intense. If my mom hadn’t heard me, and went to work instead of checking on me in my room, I would not be writing this blog. I can’t even fathom not being here, not having a life, and it’s amazingly lucky that it turned out for the better.

The paramedics came, and I remember this part so clear in my mind. The hoisted me into a cot, I guess. I couldn’t see what it was, so I assumed it had to be a stretcher. Some of the guys were swearing, as though they thought I wouldn’t make it to the ER. But here’s the thing I remember the most.

Paramedic: “So, how much do you think she weighs?”
Other paramedic: “Hrm, I’d guess 180 pounds.”

And my mind raged. I never wanted to respond to something so badly in my life. My brain is telling this guy, “You little FUCK.  I’m 150 pounds you piece of shit.  Do I look 180 pounds to YOU?   If I could swing my arms I would sock you in the mother-fucking face you asswad.”

God, what an asswad.

I don’t remember getting to the emergency room.  At some point, I had passed out.  I eventually woke up, exhausted, and still peeved at that one paramedic who thought I was 30 pounds heavier than I actually was.  Man, I’m STILL not over that.

Recovery took a long time, and there was a lot of frustration and hard times that lead up to now.  I got tattoos to mark the times I was going through (Much to the dismay of my rather conservative family) so I wouldn’t forget.  I got back to normal through school, and teaching, and drawing, and a very passionate interest in body modification.

The first experience left me with angst, but the second experience left me with a new outlook on just about everything.  I try to not take anything, or anybody, for granted.  I’ve become one of those people who won’t let people out of my life, unless they have wronged me in such an evil way, that I don’t have a choice.  (But you’d have to do something pretty dang stupid.  You know.  Like get my weight COMPLETELY WRONG.)  I’d rather build bridges than burn them.  I’d rather let arguments go, and understand where people are coming from.  I’ve been programmed to always talk to people and communicate clearly, even when sometimes, not everyone wants to hear what I have to say.   Recently, I’ve had some of the most fulfilling relationships and friendships I’ve ever had because I’ve learned how to talk to people, instead of bottling up my thoughts and tossing them to the side.  Instead of being angsty and cynical about life, like I was in my late teens, I learned to appreciate it, for both it’s hard times and good times.  Even when I feel sad or depressed about something that has happened, I always strive to get passed that, because there is always something in life worth doing.  Don’t sweat the petty things.

I think people are the most important thing we have in our lives.  Material things are fine and all, and I’d be lying if I said I could get along just fine without my computer, but the relationships we have with people have the most impact.   I guess it’s also safe to say that we wouldn’t have material possessions and the things we are lucky to have today without the brilliant minds of other people.

It’s not easy to share these particular types of stories, because they are painful to write and can sometimes be exhausting to take in.  However, I think sharing stories like these can help and inspire other people, so I encourage people to share them.  Life completely sucks sometimes, but there is always someone to empathize with, and with the miracles of the INTERNET, we can communicate with just about anyone we’d want to.  When I was 15, I never thought I’d have friends in different states, let alone different countries, that I can talk to for free on a near daily basis.  It’s incredible.

There isn’t a moral to this story, just a sentiment of be kind to others, and be kind to yourself.  Nobody likes a bitch, and nobody likes an asshole.  It’s cliche (REALLY CLICHE), but life really is too short.  So do everything you want to do, befriend everyone you want to befriend, and when you’re alone in your bed at 2am snacking on Honey Bunches of (Hall and) Oates, secretly plot to find that jerkwad paramedic who called you fat so you can find him and smack the shit out of him with a blunt instrument;  it’s the little things in life that count.

 

Break-Up

Thursday, March 15th, 2012

Several years ago, I was in a very long term relationship with a guy I had been with for nearly 5 years. Somewhere around the 3 and half year mark, I began questioning why we were dating. The guy I was involved with was one of the sweetest guys one could possibly find, but as time went on, I began realizing how very little we had in common, and learned that if we stayed together, we wouldn’t grow as people. First relationships always seem to end that way. It begins with infatuation, then warmth, then the realization that the relationship was starting to feel complacent. Adequate. We became friends, not lovers. So I cautiously ended the relationship, fearing I may not find anyone for a long while, but satisfied with my choice.

Right off the bat, I met someone I adored. And I mean, adored. I felt like I had an epiphany of what I wanted in a guy. Oddly, I wasn’t in pursual mode when I met this guy. He took it upon himself to initiate any kind of flirtation, which I found even more attractive. Being a rather unpopular, ugly duckling type in high school, I quickly gave into this new found attention.

This relationship was fast and furious. I probably should have interpreted the speed of which the relationship was hurling as a red flag, but like most fresh relationships, I was way too blinded by my own enamored feelings. God, I was goofy. I felt like I was hopped up on sugar whenever we were together. I also felt really annoying pangs of desperation, like I needed to try really hard to keep him interested. I would do anything just to make him happy.

Soon enough, problems started to crawl out of the woodwork. He was never really sure if he wanted to be with me, even in the beginning stages where passion was at its peak. It became a really frequent problem, and lasted for about a year. Even through the issues, I wanted to stay with him. I put him on a pretty tall pedestal, and concluded that I would never meet anyone like him. He was unique.

The break up was harsh. When I reflect on it though, I scold myself and call myself a whipped puppy for not handling it better. But at the time, my world was CRUSHED. And when someone feels their world is crushed, it tends to affect him or her in unpleasant ways. Being absurdly persistent, I decided the best way to deal with this is to try EVERYTHING to win his affections back. This resulted in me exhibiting minor psychotic ex-girlfriend behavior. I think a lot of us have been there. The shock of the break up sometimes hurts so much, that your brain short circuits and you quickly turn into a goddamn nutbar.

To make a long story short (too late): It didn’t work. It didn’t work because I was one sorry ass of a human being. You might as well have murdered my entire family right in front of me. I just didn’t know how to deal. Being comfortable in a very long relationship that I had terminated left me without any kind of break up coping mechanism. Friendship didn’t seem to be an option. I wanted more, he didn’t. Conflict.

Someone once told me the best way to get over someone, is to get someone else under you. Har har, IT’S A SEX REFERENCE. Very clever. After some major emo brooding in the form of surfing the internet for LOLcats, I decided to go on a few dates.

It failed.

It failed hardcore.

I did manage to go on a few dates, and I’m sure some guys were actually interested (poor souls), but the pedestal I put my ex on completely over towered everyone else. I probably looked and acted like a zoned out wreck on most of these dates. I was pretty much just going through the motions.

Months passed by, and I finally just got tired of being so pathetic. So one day, I decided to get involved with an online community forum in hopes of creating a website and online content. I don’t know why this sounded like a good idea, but if it would get me out of my funk, then why the hell not. I put on my game face and started coding like no other girl has coded before.

One day, I met some local friends in Chicago to hang out, and the person I made plans with decided to bring one of her friends. For the first time in a long time, I thought, “Hey. He’s cute.” My subconscious finally started sawing away at the giant ex boyfriend pedestal. He wasn’t my ex boyfriend. But he was also unique, and I found myself interested in someone. Genuinely interested. So interested, that we scheduled a date for the next night and spent all hours of the night talking. This time was different. Oh, yes. This time, I was BOLD.

I wasn’t perfect right away. There was still some sadness, but the more I spent time with this guy, the more I realized that there is always another person in the world right for you, and I beat myself up for even DWELLING over a guy who wasn’t even sure if he wanted me in the first place. Someone once told me, “There is always someone 100 times better suited for you.” I don’t really know if that is true, because I always believed there to be some kind of ending point. But in this case, it held true. When you have someone new and exciting in your life, it’s incredibly hard to think about lovers past. I do wonder how my ex is doing from time to time, and try not to harbor those painfully bitter feelings that most ex’s seem to hold.

And that is how I got over my break up, while learning to code at the same time.

A Visit from Sadness

Tuesday, March 6th, 2012

Every now and then I look at my website, and think to myself, “Hey!  Didn’t I pay for this random space on the internet?  Maybe I should use it.  I could upload some art.  Or write a new article.  Or I could be REALLY productive and actually upload my videos.  Alright!  Motivation!  I’ll do it ALL… after I take a bath.”

And then the motivation eludes me.  Somewhere between the bathtub being halfway full, and the beginning phases of my fingers starting to wrinkle from sitting in the water, this happens:

“I don’t want to update.  I’m too lazy.  I’m tired.  I hate everything.  I’m going to sit here in this way too small for me bathtub until I prune.  I hate it when I prune.  Fucking gross.”

I then neglect my website, and all of my other duties for the day, due to extreme hatred for myself.  Sometimes the sadness is completely unjustified, and sometimes there are legitimate reasons, but it all boils down to the same outcome; extreme bouts of depression.

I’d like to think I am a fairly strong woman.  I’ve definitely had a life of hardships, but the hardships helped me to grow a couple of extra skins.  I was that girl in high school who seriously didn’t give a fuck.  I’m not sure if that apathy was depression spawned, or if I was just lazy.  Don’t like me?  Well I fucking hate you.  Homework?  Fuck it.  Give me a D.  Oh, what’s this?  A guy is potentially interested in dating me?  WELL FUCK HIM.  AAAAAAAAAAAAAAGNST.

I feel like I could have gave Courtney Love a run for her money in the “bitchy, self loathing” category.  However, even through all the negativity, there is this weird happy-go-lucky side of me that often likes to take possession:

Oh, what’s this?  A guy is potentially interested in dating me?  WELL FUCK HIM! …….. (secret squeeing and bubbly giggles.)

People who see me on the outside most often experience the happy-go-lucky goofball side.  After I am done exhausting myself from radiating goofiness to the outside world, I sometimes shut down and decide that brooding is totally the way to go.  Brooding is dramatic.  It’s deep.  Look at how stoic I am as I brood.  It’s a fucking art form.  

On brooding days, I find it nearly impossible to get anything done.  My laundry can be piled to the ceiling, but I cannot let that get in the way of my goddamn brooding.  Dishes can get moldy.  I could get hungry.  Doesn’t matter.  I’m busy.

A couple days of extreme brooding will pass by, and I will burst back to life like nothing has ever happened.   I will attack my room mate with bubbliness and act happy as a clam.  My motivation for writing and artwork will fill my being, and I will get things done.   Optimism is my middle name.  I will stay in this state for quite a long time, until I decide to brood again.

I could speculate on reasons why I allow myself to fall victim to days of sadness.  Maybe it has to do with past events.  Maybe I have a chemical imbalance.  Maybe I am a nutbar.  I don’t know.   I’d like to think my happy self is just completely pissed off at my brooding self for being an emo bitch, so I cannot stay depressed.  I also have this gift[curse] of pushing away my sadness for other people who are feeling crappy.  I think it’s called “caring” or something.  Most people who suffer consistent periods of depression push away people who care about them, because all they really care about is their own pain.   I’ve definitely been there in the past.

Oh man.  John is IMing me.  He seems concerned.  I should answer his IM….

(Doesn’t answer for days at a time)

John is still IMing me.  I think he’s trying to cheer me up.  Maybe I could hold down a conversation this time.

…No.  I hate myself too much tonight.

 

These days, I can get past my own sadness and turn my attention to other people who may need help.  No matter how worthless I feel, if I see one of my friends in pain, I will metaphorically switch my emotions to zero and want to help them instead.

I don’t really see myself as a sad person.  Most often, I see myself as someone pretty darn happy, who likes to take a club to any kind of sad thought and bludgeon it to a bloody pulp.  If there is depression there somewhere, I am certainly not having any of it.  I’ll allow myself to brood, to get out whatever troubles I need to, prune until I’m a fucking raisin in the bathtub, but the sadness is not allowed to stay.  Besides, if I stay consistently upset, I will never get my laundry done, and my clothes will start to smell.

And I hate that.

People might read this post, and think that it’s sad or depressing.  But even as I wrote it, I didn’t feel that way at all.  This serves more of a reflection of things I’ve felt in the past, and sometimes things I feel recently, but for the most part, optimism will conquer it all.

 

Academia-Schmacademia

Thursday, January 26th, 2012

*ACHTUNG!  The following article has nothing to do with video games, The Monkees, or tape worms.  It is a speech I plan to give.  You may read it at your own risk.  Or you can go back to browsing the mature section of my art gallery for further amusement.

 

There is something to be said for being “the most improved student.”  When I was in Jr. High, there were awards given to students who achieved academic success.  “Most likely to succeed”, “Least amount of absences,” and the incredibly unappreciated “Most improved” award.  Many students do not realize how impressive the title really is.  “Most improved?  Doesn’t that mean you SUCKED at first?!”  And it does. It means you weren’t doing so hot in whatever classes you were taking.  But it also implies you stepped it up, and overcame those academic and life obstacles that may have initially kept you from success.

When I was 7, my family and I moved out of a small town and into a bigger city.  Being a quiet child, I found it difficult to make friends at my new school.  And thus began the 15 year downward spiral of despising school and everyone who went.  Up until 4th grade, I didn’t show any signs of being a troubled child.  And then 5th grade came along, and BAM.  GALLSTONES.  Yes, I was 10 and somehow had gallstones.  I went in for surgery to have the stones and affected organ removed, and when I went back to school, I found it extremely difficult get back into the routine.  Part of this was because I felt like I didn’t have many friends, and I feared the other kids were talking behind my back.  It seems quite silly at the time, but I was positive, in my neurotic, 11 year old mind, I was being ridiculed for having to have my gallbladder taken out.

Between the ages of eleven and fourteen, I longed to be popular.  It was almost an unhealthy obsession – I wanted nothing more to be apart of the popular crowd, but I was too shy, and I was labeled a loser.  As a child, it was impossible to foresee my future, not knowing that labels wouldn’t matter in college or beyond.  I became so depressed and self conscious about myself, that I didn’t care about learning, or making the best out of my education.  I was blinded by my own selfish thoughts and wants.  The longer I went to school, the more I hated myself.   So I did terribly.  Present me would absolutely hate past me.  I would kick my own ass if I knew myself back then.

I started high school with the same morose thoughts leaking over.  I did not care to learn in my classes.  I just wanted out.  I fell into the awful category of people who go around spouting, “Why am I learning THIS?  I will never use this in real life!  Screw this garbage.”  To make matters worse, my father was suffering with cancer at the time.  When he died, my apathy for school turned into pure, irrational hatred.  I was kicked out of public school and put into an alternative school.  After my fathers passing, I dropped out.

It’d be easy to say that I dropped out due to my Father’s death, but it only played one factor in my decision.  My father’s death was tragic, and of course affected me a great deal, but wasn’t the main problem keeping me from fulfilling my academic goals.  It put a strain on things, but at that point, I still didn’t know what I was supposed to be doing with my education.

My mom pushed me to get my GED, and thank god she did.  I owe her one.  Even though I wasn’t very dedicated to going to my GED study courses, I passed, and it was enough to get me into college.

Without even thinking, I started college without any set plans as to what I should major in.  I figured, “Hey.  I can draw!  I’ll major in art!”

I loathed it.

Drawing on command?  Why would anyone want to do that?

I struggled with many majors between the ages of 18-23.  Over those 5 years, my motivation seemed to slowly climb, but because I was  so indecisive about what I was going to study, I never really got anywhere.  Fiction writing, psychology, illustration…christ, I almost went into phlebotomy!  And I’m not saying there is anything wrong with any of these subjects.  But they didn’t keep my interest long enough, and my enthusiasm seemed to dwindle.  My GPA was a 1.3.  I had flunked three courses.  Yeah, I was really going places.

It was not until I met a guy through some mutual friends, who was majoring in computer science, that I finally started to become passionate about learning.  Before I go any further, I must admit to you guys, I am a hardcore nerd.  Computers, video games, and anything technology related always fascinated me, but due to my ignorance, I never thought I could find a school concentration that allowed me to work with those things.  I fell madly in love with this guy, because he was passionate about computer science.  Always striving to be better.  I wanted to be like him.  He was now my hero.

So I followed in his footsteps, and with his help, I found a major that helped me learn more about computers and internet related technologies.  Which is a great thing, because I am pretty much putzing around on the internet all day anyway.  I suddenly felt like I belonged in school.  The ideas of being popular were gone.  Instead of my father’s death plaguing me, it inspired me.  I enjoyed being smart, and I enjoyed learning about something I truly loved.

After awhile, one of the school professors urged me to apply for a teacher aide/tech tutoring position at the school.  She probably noticed that while I was in her class, I was constantly helping the other students sitting around me.  So I applied, and got the job.  Teaching people has been a truly gratifying experience.  It’s a job that not only makes me happy, but makes others happy when they finally understand a concept they couldn’t grasp before.   My confidence was now boosted. I currently have a GPA of 4.0 in my core classes, and a 3.6 all around.   I still have two F’s on my school transcripts, but with my dedication to my concentration, I was able to combat the two F’s with a slew of A’s.  It was not easy, and it took a long time.  But good things are often difficult, and time consuming.

You will know when something truly clicks.  The moment you “get it”; the moment you finally understand that math equation, or that programming concept, is one of the most rewarding feelings you will ever experience.  And it is worth it.  Even if you think you are trapped in a class that you may not ever use, you owe it to yourself to make the best out of those classes, and get the grade you really want.   Pay attention to other people.  Pay attention to people who are passionate about what they do, and let that inspire you.

Someone once told me that a large part of intelligence is not your ability to *do* your work, but the ability to adapt to situations, and have an understanding of what you are doing.   I didn’t realize that when I first started my education.   I always wanted the “best grades” award right off the bat.  But I embrace my “most improved” status.   Never lose heart, even when you felt like you’ve lost it.  There are some things in life you can’t change;  some obstacles that seem impossible to move past.  But you can always go back and learn.