Praying for Miracles

24 Feb

After my Grandma died, I felt close to God. I never went to church; my parents were not uber religious, although both had been raised Catholic and I had been baptized. They let me go to church with friends but never made me go myself. My mom started driving my Grandpa to church, and sometimes I went with them. I learned the prayers, and when to stand, and when to sing.

My other Grandma, my dad’s mom, was very religious. When she babysat us she made us pray before going to bed. She gave me an ‘adventure bible’ once; it had all of the fun stories. I remember there was one about a woman who could not stop bleeding. Jesus was walking, and she stepped out of the crowd to touch his robes, and when she did she was healed. I liked stories like that.

I talked about them with Joel, a boy in my class. He was, I think, a Jehovah’s witness, or maybe he was mormon. He was nice and thoughtful, and we talked about grown up things for our age. In third grade we promised that we would never let growing up make us ornery and wicked (even when the hormones hit, though we didn’t know what hormones were).

We had a classmate who was sick, Chris. He had cancer, and was diagnosed in the first grade. A nurse came to explain the operations that came, and told us why he would come back with no hair. We saw a cabbage patch doll with a scar sewn on. We thought we understood.

One of his friends was Kalani, a boy who was neighbors with my best friend. My best friend and Kalani would often play together; they were like siblings. Kalani was on the same baseball team as Chris. This was important because he knew about what was happening more than us.

We did not want Chris to feel left out, and so we wrote him letters. We got a big, giant stuffed ape to sit in his seat when he was home sick, and we gave the ape his letters. A friend of Chris’s would take the ape home, then deliver it to him at the hospital.

I had the same kids in my class growing up. First grade turned into second, and Chris was still sick. He had gone into remission twice, but the cancer came back. In second grade, we got the speech again about what cancer was, and how they would fight it. And, when Chris was hospitalized for something big, we would get told about it. “Is he gonna die?” a girl once asked. I don’t remember how my teacher answered that one. 

We wouldn’t just mail letters. We wanted to fix him, to make him healthy again. The best way to do that, the adults said, was to raise money to find a cure for cancer. When you are a kid, you take this literally. You think that if you raise a thousand dollars, the money will be turned into medicine and a cure will come up. We didn’t yet know about research, trials, test groups. We thought that once we raised enough money, Chris would be okay and he could come back to class.

Because of this, we fought like hell. We had fund raisers all the time, selling cookies and donating spare change. We won a few awards for our efforts, and we got media coverage. Our parents banded together over this; a group of a dozen parents were there to support Chris’s parents, to help them get through it. They bonded together over this. This is important; today they are still friends, and they still meet to talk. I find it curious that my mother never bonded with my brother’s friend’s parents. Sickness brings people together.

Besides raising money, I also prayed. I prayed every night, and told God I would give up all sorts of things if he just made Chris better. I said I would never talk again. I said I would give up my pinkie finger. I said I would go through horrible pain, if only he let Chris live. I did not know how exactly praying worked, as I never went to church regularly, but I knew that talking to God and being noble was supposed to make good things happen. 

The television crews came to our school. That day, Kalani asked to trade seats with me for an art project. The TV crews went to him that day and interviewed him; I was sure that had I been sitting in my proper seat, they would have picked me. At first I was jealous, but when that night I saw him on television he said all of the right things. He sounded mature, and worldly. He sounded like he knew what would happen. He said that we were doing all we could, and that he hoped Chris came back soon. It was that moment that I felt connected to Kalani. It was that moment I developed the largest crush I have ever had.

This crush, it should be noted, was solidified when we got sibling dogs. He got the boy, I got the girl. With our pets we were connected.

As for Chris, Kalani gave me hope. I prayed harder. My mom wanted him to live; I got the notion that he deserved to live, that it was unfair for him, specifically, to not make it.

And, as I thought about what ‘not making it’ was, I realized that it meant that he would die.

I knew what death was, because my Grandma had passed away. The third grade, when Chris was held back because he had to miss so much class, I knew what the stakes were. I prayed harder. I wrote more prayers on my bedroom sheets. I told God that I would give up my own life if only he could live. I cried and asked God to let him live because no one would be able to take his death. Everyone loved him so much; everyone was trying so hard. It would be extra terrible to let everyone down, as Chris was a revered person.

In our city there was a ceremony every year. Certificates are given to good citizens, and they have a round for children. There are different categories, like over coming adversity and doing good in your community. Chris and I were both nominated in the first (or was it second?) grade, for different things. I ended up winning ‘giving back to your community’ because I had put on a food drive. Chris did not win. My mom said this was unfair; that Chris put up with a lot of stuff. I took this to mean that I should not have won an award, that he deserved it more than me. We were in different categories and were not competing; it didn’t matter.

I felt like Chris deserved to live more than I did. I would punch the wall and silently ask God if I hurt myself enough, if he would take Chris’s hurt away. I bruised myself, and called it praying. I read the bible every night, even though I didn’t understand what it was saying. I felt like I did everything correctly.

He still died.

The First Time

24 Feb

My grandma’s death made me question how long everything would last. Change was sad, giving things up was sad. I thought of the clothes I had given to a younger girl, and suddenly wanted them back so that I could never forget the things that happened when I wore them. I didn’t want to give anything away, or change anything.

My grandma had given me a phone. It was pink, and it came with stickers. It had a clock on it with a radio. The clock’s lights were red and they glowed in the dark; it was a night light for a girl who thought she was too old for night lights. I could use it if I plugged it into the jack in my room, but we only had the one phone line so I did not plug the phone in often. The clock, though, I used all the time.

I remember crying one night, after I had been put to bed. I was sad that the clock on my wall would one day stop ticking. I don’t know why it made me sad, because I hated the noise and it kept me up. But that night, I wanted it to last forever and ever so that I would never have to figure out what to do with it when it broke. I took it down and turned it off, then put it next to me so that I could keep it close.

I must have been rubbing my eyes. They itched so bad, I remember. I don’t remember the first time I pulled, but I do remember staring at the eyelashes in the red of the clock. After that I pulled more, when I cried. I pulled the hairs out one by one, then stared at them in the red. I made a pile of eyelashes, and watched it grow. I had perhaps six that night.

Six eyelashes is not a lot to miss, in itself. I don’t think anyone knew. I’m not sure, I don’t remember the beginning. I just remember that pulling made me stop crying, and it distracted me, and oh, God, how it felt so good.

The First Death

24 Feb

My grandma died when I was 9. She was my mother’s mom, and the first grandparent to die. My mom took it hard; it was not an easy death. My grandma was hospitalized for several reasons; she smoked and drank for most of her life, and she was a diabetic. It was no surprise, but it was not easy to accept. My mother sat next to her in the hospital and signed the papers that pulled the plug. My mother watched her die.

My parents told my brother and I to sit on the couch, and they told us the news. It was the first death, other than a pet. It was my first time losing someone that I loved.

Grandma was the best. My mom never let us have sugar, so Grandma would keep her fridge stocked with pudding and her jars filled with candy. Mom would yell at her and say not to buy us things, then Grandma would argue that it was for her, then Mom would say Grandma was a liar because she was a diabetic and shouldn’t eat any of that, then Grandma would say it was for Grandpa.

Once time us girls went shopping. When Mom was in line, Grandma and I snuck off to the food court. She bought an ice cream and got two spoons, but she handed the bowl to me and told me to eat fast. By the time my mom had come, I had chocolate and vanilla all over my mouth. “I got it for myself! I just let her try some,” Grandma had said. 

“Oh, really? Then eat it,” my mom responded. Grandma took the bowl and grabbed the second spoon, which had only been there for show. She got a spoonful of ice cream, raised it to her mouth… and my mom snatched it up. “You’re DIABETIC. You can’t eat that stuff!” she said, but Grandma and I laughed while mom threw the rest of it away; I had gotten some, and we had broken the rules.

Grandma always listened to me. She took me to ladies night out at the retirement community restaurant. If ever I wanted something, she would do her best to get it for me. She gave me jewelry, because I was her princess. I thought it was strange that the jewelry was too big, but now it all fits me. The bracelet, the ring… they fit perfectly, as if she had known she wouldn’t be around when I was old enough to wear such nice things.

Her dying was hard on me. It was hard on everyone, but I think it was hardest on my mom and I. Grandma died in February, so I was just barely 9. I thought about it long and hard, thought about never seeing her again. I thought about my mom losing her mom, and I became afraid that I might lose my parents at any moment. I had not been expecting anyone to die; my grandma, old and filled with smoke as she was, had been immortal in my eyes. I would cry in the middle of class or while playing alone and suddenly want to see my parents to make sure they were still there.

My mom was torn up about it, too. I don’t remember everything, but I remember her being sad. I remember getting a girl in trouble, once, because she was playing with my things and I didn’t want her to. I told my mom that she was playing with the things my Grandma gave me, and the girl got in trouble. It was true, and I was very angry and upset and I really did love the things my Grandma gave me, but I had not meant to make my mom so upset.

After that, I knew what death was. I knew it meant you would never see someone you loved ever again. It meant the people around you would change, that their routines would change. It meant a body would go into the ground and would not move.

In the third grade we went on a field trip to Old Town. At the end, after the tour, they let us run loose in a park that had a cemetery. The tour guides wanted us to play a game, so they gave each of us a piece of paper with a name on it and a date. They told us to find the headstone, and the first one to find the name on their paper would win. I had a name and a date; I was good at math, and I knew this person was a child. A little girl. I handed it back and said I didn’t want to play, and they said… “Why not? Go run around!” as if they had asked me to find a hidden pumpkin on Halloween.

“She’s dead,” I said, handing it back. “I don’t want to find a dead girl.” I sat on a bench and watched everyone else run around, laughing and racing from headstone to headstone. I couldn’t understand why they thought this was a game. In my head I saw the coffins underneath; I heard the dulled echo of feet coming through the earth and the wood of the coffin. 

At my Grandma’s funeral we went to church. My parents told me what would happen before, so I took a little bible I had and read the parts that mattered. I memorized “Our Father, who art in Heaven” so that I could say it at the right time. And, afterwards, I wrote it on my bed sheets where my pillow was, so that I could sleep on the words every night and feel closer to God and to her. I felt her watching me from heaven, on a cloud, and felt a little better… but I had been changed.

A Need to Speak

24 Feb

There is so much I want to say, but all of it will make me seem crazy. At work I feel like I have friends; we don’t hang out after work, much, but in the entertainment industry work and hanging out is mixed all the time.We have work parties, and talk at lunch every day, and chat about our lives. And, when I cried because I knew I would put my dog down that night, they comforted me and made me promise to text them when I got home safe.

But you can’t tell people at work about the dark stuff. It is my job to smile and make problems go away, not to be a stormy gloomy person. The thing is I know that mentioning something that sets me off won’t help; there will only be more things that upset me, and if I complain about them all then I’ll seem absolutely bonkers… and I don’t want that. I’m not all dark, I’m just not all light all the time. Besides, they wouldn’t understand.

I know that saying “They wouldn’t understand!!” sounds like something an emo teen would say. I used to be an emo teen; I guess I never grew out of the stage. I’d like to tell you what I’m like now, but it’s probably better to start from the point I started to become this person. So I’ll do that, and maybe figure a few things out myself.

 

20 Feb

I feel ya.

Doctor Quack

When I turned twenty, I was under the impression that life was going to be a party for the next ten years. I was sorely mistaken. You see… I was warned about a couple things: my metabolism will decrease, I’ll get fatter, academic work will get harder, I’ll have to pay taxes; but there are a lot of things no one warned me about.

So I have written this list, projecting my personal experiences onto my fellow twenty-something friends and colleagues who are themselves possibly struggling with the same things I struggle with in this deeply confusing decade we call our twenties.

1. Twenties are the new teens.

People in their thirties often tell me that the thirties are the new twenties, so what does that make us? Well, unfortunately, as if we didn’t already suffer enough in the confusing and disorienting teenage years, we have to do it all…

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Stress

17 Feb

Work is stressful. I want to talk about it right after, but once I get home and get in bed I get so tired. It’ll only stress me out more later when I feel stressed in the morning.

We have a very big party at work this Saturday, and I’ve been planning it with a few others. It’s on top of my other job, though, and it’s a lot of work. I’m kinda like the guest relations person, so I’m fielding a lot of e-mails giving people directions, letting them know about when to come and what will happen, figuring out how many people need accomodations…

Watching Hulu shows now. Oh, I want to sleep all day.

Got a high school friend coming to the party. I think he will be good arm candy but I haven’t talked to him in years, and I never even knew him that well to begin with. It’s weird that I would rather bring this guy I don’t know well to a work event but not my ex boyfriend and not the guy-I-sometimes-see. Jay, the guy I sometimes see, is not enough of a go getter, and he doesn’t have his life together, and I gave him a job once (ok, does that count as taking him to work?) but he didn’t take it seriously. That’s why he’s the guy-I-sometimes-see instead of the guy I want to date. And my ex boyfriend? No balls. Didn’t get social situations.

This is not a smart idea.

I sometimes so suddenly want to have a boyfriend, and an apartment with decorations I picked out. A brightly colored wall in my bedroom, and a matching rug. Friends who come over to watch movies and just hang out. I want that now, while I watch Modern Family. I see the family, and I want it. It’s loneliness that manifests itself in different ways, and right now it makes me want a family that I made myself.

Gawd, I want to make a bunch of snacks for super bowl as the boy swatch the game. I want to cheer with them and make themed cupcakes. I want to have… oh, my, I don’t know.

16 Feb

Interesting.

Irresponsibility

I’m a little late to the Thylane Blondeau shock/horror party. Apologies. But now I’ve arrived, here’s my take. I don’t find the French Vogue photos of the 10-year-old model particularly outré. (Also, American media should back the fuck off until they get their Tantrums and Tiaras lovin’ house in order, but that’s another blog). People are getting their knickers in a twist for precisely the wrong reasons, viz. Feministing editor Chloe Angyal who says: “I never want to see a nine-year-old girl in high-heeled leopard print bedroom slippers ever again” because it’s “creepy and inappropriate.” Close, sister, but no cigar. Photos of Thylane are unsettling because they are so conventional and, quelle surprise, fashion photography is, in the main, creepy and inappropriate. What’s shocking is not that this specific example sexualises a child but that fashion photography as a genre sexualises dead-eyed passivity and feminine distress.

Here are just a…

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