Monthly Archives: December 2012

New Year’s Resolution

Daily Writing Challenge

Let’s see. The top 3 things I want to change this year? I want to learn every song I earmarked in the alto sax solos book Tom gave me for Christmas. I also want to finish Anna Karenina. Finally, I want to have a set-in-stone plan for 2014.

I told Tom once that if I got a book of alto sax solos, I’d play more often. I’d pick up my saxophone and learn the music. So far, it’s proven to be true. It’s been a terrible struggle because my jaw can no longer hold the position it is supposed to. My lung capacity has decreased significantly. My sight-reading skills have disappeared. I was playing a size 4 reed in high school and now I’m struggling with a 2.5. Thankfully, however, the book contains the song “Colors of the Wind” from Pocahontas (the Disney movie, not the Colin Farrell one. Obviously.) And I had an alarm clock when I was little that played that song every morning at a volume that would shock a corpse back to life. Suffice it to say, I know how it goes. Playing that reminded me how to manuever my fingers, how to tongue a note, and improved my sight-reading a good bit. I can also play “Moon River”, “She Will Be Loved”, “My Heart Will Go On”, and another or two that I really don’t remember off the top of my head. I want to continue to do this until I can play every song I picked out.

I want to finish Anna Karenina. I bought it at the SeaTac airport when Tom and I were on our honeymoon. It’s a BIG book, as I’m sure most of you know. I know Russian literature, and in particular this book, is near and dear to the heart of a good friend. I have read about 200 pages of it. I find the way Tolstoy wrote it is so in-depth and rich. He takes you into the mind of each character. You understand them, feel them, the way you would understand and feel your own thoughts and emotions. You can figuratively jump into their skin and walk around in them, encountering everything as they do. And the imagery is so rich, you can feel the blades of grass, the cold mud, the damp air. And while it takes him some 800 pages to tell the story, it doesn’t drag. I respect Tolkien, as I’ve mentioned before. But his story, as exciting as it is, tends to drag on and on. 50 pages of conversation, etc. In contrast, Tolstoy tells you every detail and puts you into every character without slowing down the story. It’s a romance, so it doesn’t have dwarves and elves and dragons. One would think it would be more boring, even if it does read so smoothly. But it’s not! It’s a psychological maze, a map into the human heart, and a mirror into the soul. I want to finish it.

Finally, I want Tom and I to set our plans in stone. Where will he go to school? When will we have our children? Where will we live? Where will I work? I know I am already in my life. I’m already living it. And yet, that next step still evades me. Every time I climb toward a goal, I hardly stop to take a breath when I reach it. I live my life with my head up, staring at the next goal above me. I worry about what happens if I don’t have anymore goals to reach. This will most likely never happen. But I am not someone who is able to sit still and be content. I finish everything as quickly as possible and realize I didn’t stop to savor the experience. And so, on to the next. And yes, even though I am aware of this fact, potentially a fault, I still want to know what is going to happen next. And I’m truly looking forward to it.

Happy New Year, all!

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We are Human

I’ve been avoiding talking about this subject the entire time since the Connecticut tragedy. Everyone is focusing so much on the political aspects of it, it takes attention away from the horror of the situation. And that’s why I’ve been silent about the issues. Until now.

I read an article yesterday called “I am Adam Lanza’s Mother”. My heart broke for the author while reading her story. I thought “this is wonderful. This is the kind of thing America should be reading right now.” And then I looked at some of the comments. People were grandstanding about their own issues. But what pissed me off, REALLY pissed me off, was that someone replied “Do you love your other children? If you do,” you have to get your son locked up. You have to give up on him. You have to treat him like a second-class citizen if you’re a “good” mom. You have to ignore your instincts, your love for that child, and the fact that he needs HELP if you love your other children. Meds don’t work, therapy is crap, just lock him away where he can’t hurt anyone.

I have never been this angry at a comment in my whole post-invention-of-facebook life.

I have Bipolar Disorder type 2. I have never once withheld that information. I mean, at first I felt special and unique. I was practically like “Hi, I’m Alicia and I’m Bipolar.” Then I realized that it kind of sucks. I will be on meds for the rest of my life. I don’t withhold it now, either. I have never personally encountered any kind of stigma from it. I live in a very progressive state and I have never felt uncomfortable talking about it. In fact, it made me a lightning rod for everyone who thought they might be ill themselves.

Then there are those I know who are painfully aware that the stigma is still out there. They don’t want anyone to know that they’re ill. I always kind of scoffed at that, thinking “it’s not nearly as bad as it used to be.” I mean, look at me. I’m out, I’m doing fine. It is with anger that I admit that my friends are right. Not angry that I was wrong, but that there are people out there in the world who make my friends right.

There is hope for people, even with the worst and most advanced mental illnesses. The research on them isn’t as well-funded as for cancer, but to say that the only solution is to shun the mentally ill from society is to dehumanize and devalue them. They are people too. Victims of their circumstances. There are many reasons for mental illness: thousands of types of trauma, chemical imbalances in the brain, genetic factors, etc. Some research suggests that perhaps Schizophrenia and Bipolar are caused by infections to which a fetus is exposed while in utero. Instead of shunning the mentally ill, we should be looking for cures. We should be finding new meds with fewer side effects. We should be encouraging counseling and developing new therapeutic techniques.

The author’s son could maybe benefit from Behavioral Therapy. He should find out what his triggers are and learn how to deal with them. He should find the right cocktail of medications to help him. We should be supporting him and his mother in their quest to find a treatment, not insulting his mother’s parenting. Not giving up on the 13-year old boy. Not condemning him or anyone like him. Not devolving into a society who put our “undesirables” away just because of the way they were born. Now, I don’t mean this following statement in such a way as to imply homosexuality and mental illness are the same. But it would be unspeakable to throw gay people into institutions because they’re gay. We find it abhorrent that the Nazis put Jewish people into concentration camps. True, mental institutions aren’t concentration camps. But if we keep locking up mentally ill people in institutions and prisons, how long will it take for those institutions to become like concentration camps? The mental health system is underfunded and overpopulated. The prison systems are overcrowded and dangerous.

I talked about this with Tom yesterday. He made a valid point that I would like to share. He said that throwing a 13-year old boy, or any mentally ill person, into the penal system would prevent them from getting better. Not because the care is so poor, but because prison is incredibly dangerous. Violence is everywhere. And the mentally ill would only learn more violence and criminal behavior. They would have to in order to survive in the system. Clearly, this is heading in the opposite direction. Institutions and prisons should be a last resort, not a solution.

So, instead of stigmatizing this boy and insulting his strong, brave, and loving mother, we should support them and stand by them. We should send good thoughts and/or prayers their way. We should stand up for what is right. And stigma and giving up are not what is right.

I have entitled my post intentionally with the word “we”. WE, the mentally ill, are humans. We are your doctors, lawyers, artists, politicians, actors, singers, legal assistants, bankers, waiters, clerks, cooks, truckers, family, and friends. WE deserve as much respect and care as would be given to any one of these people without mental illness.


Coming Soon! (To a Blog Post Near You!)

I’m not going to be doing any further guest posts on Moose. (Don’t worry, no one had a fight or falling out. The reason is the writers’ business and theirs alone.) BUT I got all these amazing clothes and wore some pretty cool outfits. Well, cool in my opinion. And this weekend I plan to do a giant LOOK AT WHAT I WORE post. So far, there’s four outfits. Two pictures for each. I have one I want to do today and I’m going to fancy-up my intended outfit for tomorrow. And as of tomorrow, I will have worn absolutely every new item of clothing (non-pj clothing) that I received for Christmas. I got several sets of pjs. The one my mom gave me is my definite favorite. And she’s going to love to see the outfits I put together using the clothing she gave me. In exciting and unexpected ways, I bet. That’s right. I paired some stuff that wasn’t purchased with the intention that they go together. MWAHAHAHA

Stay tuned!


Firsts and Realizations

This year we received a lovely Christmas card from some dear friends which talked about how it is their first Christmas together. Also, of course, it wished us a Merry Christmas. Absolutely adorable. It got me to thinking a little more about mine and Tom’s firsts. Christmas together, naturally. And we will get to see both sets of parents’ faces when they open the gifts we got them for the first time. Trying to get Tom to wait for the 25th to open his presents is one of the most difficult and exhausting enterprises I’ve ever had to take on. But I think it is worth it because he will get to open presents with the rest of the family.

Family. I’ve referred to him as family for such awhile now. But it really never sunk in until the holiday season rolled around. My parents have been referring to him, more or less, as their son-in-law since we got engaged. His mom has referred to me as her other daughter for about the same amount of time. It’s just so weird to think about that: some guy (and not just some guy) I met almost four years ago, just four years, has become so much a part of me and my family. He’s become an integral part of our lives. And they’re hoping for grandchildren soon. Both sides have told us they are so ready to be grandparents. In my experience, my grandparents didn’t like to be called “grandparents” because it made them feel old. But we are so accepted, so loved, that our families are excited to partake in the lives of our future children. My brother and sister-in-law often talk about how they’ll be as uncle and aunt. Mostly with humor, which only emphasizes their support. If they weren’t excited for us, I don’t think they’d mention it at all. Humor, in my dynamics with friends and family, has always been a form of sincerity. Teasing, poking at each other, wearing on the nerves. That’s what love is to me. And now to us.

It’s also the first time we’ve had close friends committing their lives to each other. And I believe that they will spend the rest of those lives together. Happy. With struggles, like any relationship, albeit unique in nature. But truly, sincerely, passionately in love. The fact that it’s happening so close to the time that Tom and I legally and religiously bound ourselves together proves something I’ve not really thought about before: we’re grown-ups. Officially. I’ve been called a grown-up or an adult before and always scoffed. “We live in a rental house, we have a kitten, we have starter jobs. We can’t possibly be adults.” But no, it’s the truth. We’re young adults. And it’s not as bad as I thought it would be. I’m no more mature today than I was when we got married. I thought marriage would be so much more serious. A different kind of fun. But I still wake Tom up and force him out of bed by tickling him or pinching or biting or spanking him. (Sorry, a little PG here, I think.) It comes as such a relief. I watch our friends together, binding their lives legally and spiritually, and they are also the same people they were before. Playing video games, the occasional party, etc. And they’re working, too.

Growing up, I’ve realized, is not the abandonment of one’s personality to suit this paradigm of maturity. There is still a need to find a balance, of course. One can’t drink heavily on nights before one has to go to work. One can’t skip work as one may have skipped class. But one can take days off to enjoy youth. One can come home at night and play video games, watch kid movies, even write blogs. One can work on doing things one always wanted to do before getting to be “too old.” I have not given up on the premise of this blog. In fact, I believe more in it now than I ever have before.

Thank you, friends, for helping me to realize that life doesn’t end at adulthood. 🙂


Relationships – The Good, the Bad, and the Bizarre (Part 3 of 3)

Now, for the exciting conclusion of (see above title) blog posts!

You’ve read about how I got good/bad relationships with pretty much everyone. Well, there are a few relationships in my life that make absolutely no sense from the outside. Remember when I said I had nothing in common with Marci, Victoria, and Alex? That’s what makes the relationships bizarre. Few similar interests, few areas of commonality, and yet it just works. It also results in strange interactions.

With Marci, especially living so far away from each other, 99.9% of our interaction is via text or facebook. Once we actually spoke on the phone. It was kind of a big deal. But when we’re together, usually there’s an air of pretend snobbiness (to mask the real snobbiness at times), wine/music/video games/movies/tv shows are involved, and the conversation is kind of like this tennis match. It’s hard for our guys to get words in between us. And there’s these random periods of “Oh my God!” and excitement. Usually over something like clothes or something stupid someone else did. And when the conversation is serious, there’s a lot of nodding and “mm-hmms,” like a normal relationship. But the serious conversations are odd all on their own. Top secret, too, so don’t ask! (Yay for vague-blogging!)

Victoria and I have always gotten along. We’ve had bitter political arguments and stayed perfectly calm and loved each other at the end of it. Usually I get annoyed with people while arguing with them. But Victoria does it in such a calm way, it’s impossible to react negatively. She gets me the strangest gifts that I love. Pirate flag, purple rubber ducky with devil horns, a purse that says “F*** you!,” a knock off Dolce and Gabbana purse… just to name a few. This Christmas she sent me the most delicious caramels I have ever tasted. Different. But appreciated. Our interactions are also 99.9% digital due to (you guessed it) massive distance between us.

And Alex, with whom (prepare for a noticeable pattern) 99.9% of communication… you get the idea. We both wanted to be journalists… sort of. I wanted to be a photographer and because Art Major was SOOOO not my bag, I decided to try Photojournalism. I took only one journalism class and I HATED it. Never never never again, I said. But Alex and I met sort of/kind of through that class. There was this guy named Joe. We met in Philosophy class. One that was joined with a particular journalism class we were both taking. Joe and I liked each other but I was in a relationship. I went to visit my parents one weekend and when I came back, he had a girlfriend! Alex. One day she got to Philosophy a little late and couldn’t sit next to Joe. I was relatively close because the bastard (whom I love and adore today) sat close-ish to me. So Alex sat near me. And I was like “get to know the enemy!” And the weird thing was, I liked her. A lot. Alex makes a lot of weird sounds and has weird interests. So being around her at all is a bizarre experience.

Speaking of Joe, that is my most bizarre relationship of all. You’ve read the Alex story, and I’ve mentioned the history with Joe before. But as a refresher, we kissed, we decided we didn’t want to date, we became friends. Good friends. With no awkward at all. Not even the slightest attraction left over. And Joe himself is just the weirdest person I’ve ever known. Prone to random dancing and spaz attacks, to doing ridiculous impressions, saying really embarrassing things at the top of his lungs, moving to Washington from Hawaii, and being an English-Philosophy major. There ya go. He also has a blog called “The Bad Brew Review.” (Hi, Joe! Love ya!) Check him out!

Now Tom. I wouldn’t say our relationship was typical, but I wouldn’t say it was bizarre, either. We have a LOT in common, live in the same house, and almost never have strange conversations. Stupid ones, yes. Conversations we wouldn’t want the politically correct or religious or intelligent people to hear. Conversations that warrant the “we’re so going to Hell” exchange. We both dress normally, speak well, have decent enough grammar and spelling skills, and like to eat/sleep/drink/play with kittens. We got married at 22 and 23 and we both want kids. I guess that in itself is strange.

But all in all, most of my relationships are pretty normal.


Relationships – The Good, the Bad, and the Bizarre (Part 2 of 3)

Now, for a non-scathing post about the Bad relationships.

My mom and I have a good relationship. However, we’ve had our bumps in the road. Naturally! I’m not going into details, but my mid-teenage years were a little rough. It was also difficult to overcome the changes in our relationship when I went off to university. But she’s my mother. We love each other and we’ve worked through it. Our relationship has changed. But I wouldn’t give up any relationship with my mother for anything. I’m excited to see what she’ll be like as a grandmother.

My dad and I have had some pretty bitter fights. Especially in my teen years. I was a good teenager: no drugs, no alcohol, no breaking curfew, no real promiscuity, I got good grades and I was relatively honest. But I got in a serious relationship and wasn’t Daddy’s Little Angel anymore. I was still his little girl, and he still loved me, but it took some time and some really nasty arguments to get over the hurdle. We’re just as close as we’ve ever been. And he’ll be such a cute grandfather.

My husband and I have had some pretty rough times. Duh. We’ve been together for almost 4 years. We worked through it so well that we wound up married. And we’re going to have more fights and more problems. But I’m excited to live our lives together.

Friends in general: I have lost a lot on the way. I’ve thought I lost them and only resolved the problems we had. Every friendship at some point has been pretty crappy. But I’m so blessed that I have the friends I do now. The friends whom I permenately lost along the way were unsupportive, hurt my self-confidence, took advantage of me, or just brought too much drama into my life. I once was friends with a girl who told me (direct quote) “Alicia, I think every girl has one really beautiful thing about her. Yours is your hair.” This same girl also told me I was a slut because I wore a skirt with knee-high boots. Her boyfriend didn’t want her wearing skirts. She also said she didn’t understand why I didn’t like my car until her mommy and daddy bought her a brand new one. When I was thinking about asking her to be a bridesmaid, she kept talking about this guy she hooked up with whose name she couldn’t even remember. I’m not saying the whole thing had to be about me, but I was hoping she’d be happy for me. She couldn’t take two minutes to listen to me talk about the wedding, even to ask her to be a part of it. I let that one fall by the wayside. (Telling the story about that girl kind of feels like writing an article for Cosmo.)

Ex boyfriends? Yeah. They were bad relationships. Abusive and rough and emotionally damaging. But I can’t blame the guys. I gave as good as I got. I’m not saying I deserved it. No one deserves to be abused. I’m just saying that I didn’t fall over and take it. I fought back and I contributed to the badness of the bad relationships. One of them? We became friends afterwards. We had to move past a lot, and we’re not exactly very close, but we’re in a good place. A place of forgiveness and happiness for each other.

So, yes, there are times when we have bad relationships with the people we love most. And we have bad relationships with people who don’t belong in our lives. But we move on and we keep those who mean the most to us. We fight and argue, but always find a way to come back to the ones who are true friends, true family, true loved ones.


Relationships – The Good, the Bad, and the Bizarre (part 1 of 3)

Relationships must fall into at least one of the above-entitled categories. [In my opinion. Which is as good as fact.] That’s not to say a relationship cannot fit into two. Some even fit into all three at different points.

The Good:

I have good relationships with my whole family, actually.

My mom and I have an understanding of each other that few other people can relate to. We know each other’s sense of style, our bad habits, our taste in food/books/movies, and we know each other’s entire history. We have the same emotional problems. The way she and my dad met, fell in love, and got married is shockingly similar to how I met, fell in love with, and married Tom. It’s something that has amused both of us. We love and support each other in everything and through everything. My mom loves with all her heart, trusts easily, forgives easily, and feels deeply for the pain of others. She will go to any extreme to help someone who needs her. She makes sacrifices without hesitation. She prays for her enemies. She believes in God with all her heart and honestly hopes He will reach out and help the people she prays for. She holds no grudges. However, she would kill anyone who hurt me or my brother or my father.

My dad and I relate to each other pretty well. At least, when I’m stable. He’s a huge goofball. We have shared interests, similar taste in music, and the exact same sense of humor. He’s always made the effort to understand me, even if he didn’t exactly manage to accomplish it. But he never quits trying. And that’s huge. Most people would give up. He’s always willing to explain something to me. It may take him awhile, but you walk away with not just an answer to your question, but an understanding of why that answer is the answer. He has hilarious stories to tell from when he was at university and no shame in telling them. When he tells the stories, he gets really animated and it’s almost more fun to watch him than to listen.

My brother… see a previous post.

I have a good relationship with my husband, too. Everything just seems to work out. We click. We accept each other, even if we don’t always understand the other. We never run out of things to talk about. We can spend entire days just sitting around doing nothing and be content. We can sit in silence and still be happy. We have an undeniable chemistry. We laugh all the time. At least once a day every day, we laugh together. We play word games, break out into song and dance spontaneously, silently and randomly have staring competitions, and seem to agree that I don’t have to ever do any housework. And yet he still loves me. 😛 Like my father, he tries to understand me. Even when he can’t fully grasp it, he still tries and doesn’t give up. When he holds me, I feel warm and safe.

The first friend I think of is Marci. I think our relationship has gotten stronger emotionally as of late. We have one major thing in common and it’s incredibly helpful to have someone around who shares that aspect of one’s self. I know it’s been especially helpful to me. I would never presume to assign her feelings to it. We also share a few interests, like blogging and love of clothing. Our strongest shared characteristics are our values. We disagree on how to get there sometimes, but we believe in the same end goal. Also, we are both with the men we plan to spend the rest of our lives with and have major baby joneses. In so many ways, we are completely different. But there’s respect there. She is my most eccentric friend. She’s also the most creative one and the one I talk to most often.

Another friend is Victoria. Much like with Marci, she and I really don’t have a WHOLE lot in common, but we like the same movies, were in school together for 4 years, in Jazz Band for 3, and have stayed friends since graduating. I can say that about only one other person. She’s always been supportive of anything I wanted to do. She’s also fiercely loyal and loving. This girl would do almost anything for her loved ones. She is also fabulous at helping you build your self-confidence back.

Erin, like Victoria, is a high school friend. She and I had almost every class together. And we were in Jazz Band together. Senior year, I had photography while she had IB Art and I would sneak out of class, walk all the way across campus, and crash art class to hang out with her. She’s always been sweet and calm, the kind of person who keeps you grounded without your realizing it. She’s currently dating my husband’s best friend, Ryan. She listens without interrupting. She has no ulterior motives, ever. She has the most honest and trusting heart I have ever known.

And then there’s Alex. Alex is another fiercely loyal person with whom I have almost nothing in common. She’s an emotional rock for her friends. She’s stable and compassionate. I once said of her “When Alex loves you, nobody loves you more than she does.” She held me while I cried over a breakup freshman year of university. We’d known each other two months, tops. She will listen to you gripe for hours, offer helpful suggestions, and won’t judge you or anyone else you talk about when you complain. When I was depressed while we were living together, she’d slip notes under my door just to let me know she cared and was thinking about me.

My husband’s family are wonderful. His mother loves with an open heart, forgives, and accepts you. His sister is another fiercely loyal person. She is constantly working to better herself and loves to help others when they need her. His father is a goofball, just like my dad. Recognizing that in him made my getting to know the family a much easier undertaking.

Stay tuned for Part 2: The Bad. (Not nearly as scathing as you may think, I promise!)


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