How Far We’ve Come

Today I was talking to one of my housemates and she told me that last night she pulled a me. Immediately I thought she did something regretful, slutty, or downright embarrassing as is the usually Carrie way. But her story shocked me.

She was getting ripped on by one of our friends when her boyfriend came to visit – they all stayed on campus for the summer – and he was joking about how she had liked one of our other friends before her boyfriend. It had been a very messy situation and Katie is still a little sore about it to this day. Katie kept defending herself and finally her boyfriend just walked away. Katie followed after him and was ready to keep explaining herself, find every way she could to assure him that that was a dumb mistake. But then she thought, what would Carrie do? 

She took a breath, swallowed all of the excuses she wanted to make, and pressed her boyfriend against a wall and told him “I am with you now, you are the only person I want to be with, so B can suck a dick because this is all that matters.”

Well hot diggity damn look who found some confidence! Katie has always been a rambler, soft spoken, doesn’t want to force anyone in anyway and now she was just flat out saying it how it is. And to think that confidence boost came from me? Its just so strange for me to hear because all of my life I have never been the confident one. I’ve always been the mute standing in the background nodding my head politely to the conversation around me. To be known as the confident one? The strong one? It makes me feel proud of myself. After all I had to overcome to know that what everyone sees is the person I have always hoped to be, its a pretty good feeling. There are so many things that I have always wanted to better about myself, but I think this is the solid foundation that I get to start building upon my rock bottom. Honestly the attitude that I have now is humble, but strong. I do not admire cockiness, I do not admire the obnoxious, I admire the confident and bold and from the things I have been hearing from all of the new friends that I have made, that is who I am. 

For anyone who thinks you personality is set from birth, you’re wrong, you can change it, with a little remodeling of how you view the world.

“Your problem is not the problem, your problem is your attitude about the problem.”               -Jack Sparrow

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Education

I’m sitting in a library, where there are dozens of children sitting with tutors, working hard to learn the material that is being thrust upon them in the classroom. Two retired teachers that are tutoring students at a table near by began talking about how happy are that they retired, that they got out at the right time, that most people in the field that they know are miserable. One even recounted how she talked her granddaughter out of becoming a teacher.

As an education major myself, I feel a horrid ache in my stomach and in my heart. How sad? I always believed teaching was one of the few fields that had more rewards on a daily basis than many other jobs. But to hear that the negatives are beginning to outweigh the positives so much that people are happy to retire?

But it cannot be the job itself, or else they would not be here tutoring. The job is getting to be so bad because of so many outside factors that teachers themselves have no control over. What makes it worse is there there really is no direction to point the accusing finger at. 

Alzheimer’s

It’s a horrible disease that inflicts pain, discomfort, and a whole slew of side effects upon not only the sick individual, but everyone who has ever cared for them.

I realized my grandmother was gone the day she turned to me in a public place and screamed “SHUT UP” in my face. My grandmother was the kindest soul I had ever known, and before that day I don’t think I had ever heard her say shut up to anyone, including my over talkative highly opinionated grandfather. I always aspired to be like her: compassionate, affectionate, the perfect hostess. Before the Alzheimer’s, I could not think of a single bad memory of her.

Now I look at my cousins, even my sister, everyone who was too young, or lived too far away to get to know my grandmother the way that I did. No one else had a nickname, I was the only Sunshine. No one else got to miss school when they were sick and go to grandma’s house for the day, and had her make them cinnamon toast or sit on the couch with her while she ate her apple and said her rosary. What they saw was the old woman who would yell if they got too close. The old woman who never stopped pacing the floor and mumbled nonsensical words. The old body of a once great woman that sits awkwardly, propped up in a chair with pillows and blankets, a sad exhibit for everyone to see.

But because of this version of this woman, they also got to see a very different grandfather. Granted he is still the same old stubborn, ill-humored man who I always knew but they will never see the same joking grandfather that once picked me up from one room and carried me across the house to tickle me in the living room, because he is always exhausted from caring my grandmother who can no longer stand on her own from the bedroom to the living room to the bathroom to the kitchen to the bedroom, repeat.

It’s not fair. The disease itself. It takes away an entire being, without taking the body with it. The person is there, you can see them, touch them, feel them. By definition of the word, they are alive. But it really makes you think about what it means to be alive, and to live. Does it mean that your body is functioning. Or does it mean that you are doing something, every day grabbing the world by the horns and taking all it has to offer.

My nerdy guilty pleasure is the show Supernatural. I started watching it when I found out Jared Pada-however you spell it was on it because I had always been a big Gilmore Girls fan, and Jensen Ackles isn’t exactly hard on the eyes. On the show, they talk a lot about souls, and it reminds me of a quote I once read “You don’t have a soul, you are a soul, you have a body”. So what if Alzheimer’s takes away our souls and just leaves us with empty bodies? The human body is incredible, it can function under some of the harshest circumstances, but what is a body without a soul? What is a body without the essence of being? And if there is no essence of the person that a body once housed, shouldn’t it be easier to let that body go? Or is it just a reminder of false hope that our loved ones will ever come back to us.

Family

Family is a funny thing. It has many definitions: blood, emotional bond. When we’re young, we have this one definition of family. They’re defined by labels like mom, dad, grandma, uncle, cousin, second cousin, grandma’s-sister’s-daughter’s-twice-removed-distant-second-cousin. It’s all based on labels. You never remember anyones name, or just how they’re related to you. If you’re lucky, you remember their faces enough to know that they are in fact related to you and its just slightly less awkward when they come up at family reunions, pinching your cheeks, and telling you just how much you’ve grown even though you feel exactly the same. 

But as I’ve grown, my definition of family has too. Family is a group of people, no matter if they’re related to you by blood, that will care about you no matter what. Despite the horrid things you’ve done, despite the mistakes you’ve made, and the weakness you sometimes show, they will always be there to pick you back up. When you get into those moods and you dance to no music, or feel the desperate need to go skipping down the street, or laugh incessantly after a bottle or two of wine, they join in with you rather than stare judgmentally (or maybe they will, but its usually not out of distaste but rather a reevaluation of their life choices). Family accepts you for everything that you are. 

I mean it makes sense right? You’re bound to these people by blood, so they should accept who you are. Well, this isn’t always the case, which is why more often than not in this day and age are turning to our friends as family. Why? Well you get to pick your friends. If a person changes for the worse, you’re allowed to walk away. But then they’re just a friend. Your family is the group of people that even when they try their hardest to push you away, you don’t give up on them. 

Ohana means family. Family means nobody gets left behind or forgotten. 

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Twenty!

Well yesterday did not go exactly as I planned. The race I was supposed to run got cancelled due to thunderstorms, so I ran some sprints on my treadmill instead – which is not nearly as cool or fun. Then I took out my frustration by blowing some steam off shoe shopping. Mama treated me well for an early birthday present, 4 new pairs of fabulous shoes from DSW and I’m a happy little camper.

My mom and I were talking about it in the car. We realized, when you tell people you’re turning 16, and 17, and 19, you get all the “oh my, you’re getting so old”s. But then you tell people you’re turning 20, and it’s a whole new ball park. When you tell adults you’ve known for most of your life that you’re turning 20, they start to feel old. When you tell little kids that you’re turning 20, they think that you’re old. When you tell yourself that you’re turning 20, you think, damn I can’t wait until next year so I can actually celebrate being old.

Tonight, I get to ring in my birthday with my 3 best friends. I cannot believe that I’m kissing 19 goodbye. It has been quite the whirlwind of a year. Looking back to myself at this point last year, I wouldn’t even recognize myself now. I’ve changed so much in just a year.

Here’s the rundown: I came home from my first year of college, became a workout-aholic, worked 3 days a week, had no life, went back to school, some how magically joined the greatest group of friends I think I’ve ever had, slept with Asshole, walk of shame on the first day of classes (whoops), thought I really liked Asshole, realized Asshole was really just an asshole, moved on to NerdBoy after a very very bad drunken night, walk of shame in the rain, quit skating – hardest decision of my life, lots of fighting among my group of friends, angry drunk night, NerdBoy part II, walk of shame past the entire marching band off to welcome Michelle Obama to campus (WOS #2), roommate gets into a very mushy lovey dovey relationship (i want to hurl), on visit to said boyfriend I make the mistake of hooking up with his best friend, Tiger (he was a nympho golfer, hence his nickname) I am promptly escorted home very awkwardly at midnight, make a stand to no longer be a mmhmm “hoe”, begin my cohort classes for my major, fall in love with teaching, life stops being a party and starts being a whole lot of work, get two jobs, awarded internship with art museum, realize I never want to leave college – like ever, head home to realize that that is the right idea, and now i’m just bored out of my mind all the time.

But today, I am officially 20. Two-zero. I’m out of fingers and toes to count on! How far I’ve come in the past year alone blows me away. Carrie Bradshaw once talked about people in their 20-somethings. She made 20 something out to be the most fabulous years of life. Everyone wants to be 20-something, now I officially am. So here’s to the next ten years, for more fabulous adventures, to the moments I’ll regret and the ones I’ll always want to remember. To the friends I have and the people I’ll meet, and to all of the places I’ll go from here!

Welcome to my roaring 20’s!

2 Days to Go

Its Friday night, I’m home from college, my 3 best friends have finally made their way back to the island, and I’m sitting in my room, reading a Chelsea Handler memoir and waiting for my pasta water to boil. It’s a glamorous life being 19. There’s not much that goes on when you’re swinging in limbo between kind of being an adult and you’re parents still ruling your life. 

But thats all about to end. In two days I will be 20 years old. I will have rocked this world for two decades, and the party is only getting started. I plan on entering my roaring twenties with a bang. I’m not pulling one of those, “when i turn twenty”, “starting on my birthday”, “beginning now”s. For the past 6 months I’ve been working really hard to start setting the trend for how I’d like my twenties to be. 

My teen years were rough. Really rough. Like the story of my life could be turned into a Lifetime Cinema presentation and you’d probably spend ours weeping over it. But 19 made me realize, I’m getting old enough to where I get to make my decisions myself. It’s no longer mommy and daddy’s world that I’m living in. Its mine!

So here’s the list of my personal goals as I exit my teenage years:

  1. Learn how to breathe. At the end of this past semester, I realized just how much time can pass you when you’re not paying attention, and how much time is wasted when you worry over things you really can’t control and ignore those things that are actually important.

  2. Get my fat ass back into shape. I had spent a summer working my butt off to look fantastic when I got back to school, then I stupidly let my old habits work their way back in and I’m back to square 1. I’ve gone from being a full time athlete to a full time college student, time to start making time for doing physical activity. 

  3. Maintain dignity and classiness at all times. Last year led to a few too many regretful moments that landed me on the bad side of the reputation totem pole. So new goal is to practice keeping it classy more often than not. We’re going for Marilyn Monroe here, not Lindsey Lohan. 

  4. Find out what it is I actually want to do with my life. We’re getting to the point here where I – scarily enough – actually have to start figuring this out. Remember when I was applying to colleges, had absolutely no idea what I wanted, and it was 100% acceptable? Well we’re reaching the cut off date here I kinda have to get a handle on my life. When did that happen!?!?

  5. Do more things that put me out of my comfort zone. Too quickly do we all fall into dangerous trends of normalcy and routine. While these things are sometimes good, they can also hinder us from actually living a day of our life. Trying something new, taking a different road, and pushing yourself a little further isn’t a bad thing. It’s actually very good (and healthy) for you!

So thats it. Thats the list. It should make for quite the adventure and I am all too eager to take it on. Where exactly it will take me, I’m not entirely sure yet. But I will promise you this, it will be anything but boring. 

C.G.