Thursday, February 28, 2013

Healing through Writing

Everyone heals differently and in different ways. Apparently, there's no way to mourn correctly as long as it's mourning in a way that is healthy. Which is fine. My sister retreats; my grandpa eats his candy; my dad turns to the TV; I write. I've always written. That's especially helpful when I need a way of releasing the toxic emotions that would burst inside of me just to let it out. When I'm sad and need a distraction or an outlet, I write. 

Writing is a form of expression. By writing done everything, I admit it. Once I admit it, I'm able to comprehend and analyze the problem at hand. Or sometimes I just need to take that edge of the emotions and sometimes that's just a step to help me keep going. And just going is healing enough. Releasing the toxins and letting myself just feel is healing. Writing allows me to do that in the best and truest forms. In writing, I don't have to lie and I don't have to restrict myself like I have to do in real life. I can gather my thoughts and my feelings and deal with them in a way that isn't totally threatening.

It also serves as an escape. Sometimes, I can't deal with reality. I don't want to deal with my emotions and dealing with my emotions more would only hurt me more. And so I use writing to escape from everything. It works for a little bit sometimes but it's usually not as effective as I want it to be. So I don't rely on it fully.

I can't rely on writing fully to help me out right now, though. That's not entirely healthy. Introspection, I suppose, can take me so far. Plus, it can make me a bit of a hermit if I start relying on it too much. If I identify the problem and do nothing about it, then that won't do anything to fully help me out and I won't be getting to the root of the problem. I admit that while writing solves many of my needs, it doesn't solve all of them. I need human interaction and other things to help me also and I have to remember not to undervalue those things.

My mom and my sister think that I was given my writing to help me out in life and to help out other people. That it serves a greater purpose. I don't know if that's true, but I guess it doesn't matter. Writing might not have done anything but it's done so much. 

Writing has helped me through so many things. They help me take the extra steps just to keep going, going, going. And so it will help me now. It's not about some long-term goal but it's more about a short-term one. 

I can heal through writing. I will. 

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

My Grandmother

My grandmother died today. My mom woke me up and told me and then let me decide whether or not I wanted to go to school or not (I didn't). So I've sat at home and let myself cry and reflect. It was just the day that I needed to heal. I don't want to focus on the sadness, though, because I've had enough of that. I want to focus on the good.

My grandmother has been there for me my entire life. Since my parents both worked, she, along with my other grandmother, took my sister and I in after school and during the summer when we didn't have camp. She was the only one who I let brush my hair as a child. The garden she tended in the back of her house was like a paradise for me and I loved to play in it; when she moved into our house, it was sad to see that garden go. She spoiled us and she worried about us but in a quieter way than our other grandmother did; she only had to smile and pull out something out of her wallet or say it softly for us to know that she was going to indulge us and she only had to check up on my grandfather when we were out for lunch (or other occupants of the house) for us to know that she was worrying (though her pride would never allow her to say it outright). When my other grandmother was too overbearing, she would intervene in that subtle way of hers and my other grandmother would back down (or at least compromise). She never critiqued me even though I certainly have told her the most outrageous things; she only had to raise her brow and set her mouth just so that I knew she was displeased. When she moved in with us, I would go watch Jeopardy! with her and eat candy. Eventually, I stopped being as enthused with the show and only went down there to keep her company and then life got busy and I stopped coming altogether. She said she understood. She always understood too and, with that taciturn way of hers and that listening ear, she was so great to go to advice to.

My grandmother was a very strong person, having weathered so many storms in her life. Growing up under the care of a strict German father, she had inherited many of his mannerisms, his stern and brisk ways. Under her tough veneer, she had a soft heart. She wasn't the emotional type but she made sure to show that she loved me. She was simple often to the point of being spartan, never extravagant. She never wasted a word, not even to say "goodbye" on the telephone. Today, if she could have talked to me, she probably would have told me to stop being a slob and go to school because she wouldn't be the excuse that kept me out. Being a part of "the Greatest Generation", she grew up in the Great Depression and transitioned from girlhood to womanhood during World War II. Growing up in a family of eight children, she also knew how to make sacrifices. The war had taught her gratefulness and what really mattered: she watched each of her brothers go off to war, unsure if they would ever return and she learned to make do with drinking black coffee (because the rationed sugar and milk was needed for other things) and she learned how to decorate the Christmas tree when her parents were too disheartened to do so. Her childhood taught her even more: she watched that very German father beat her mother under the influence of alcohol and then she watched many of her brothers also become abusive alcoholics to their wives and she learned what it meant to be a woman in the forties and fifties and she learned what it meant to work so hard her fingers developed calluses. She grew up to marry a man who she made sure was not like her father (he's not. He's one of the kindest, gentlest souls I've ever met) be a nurse who wasn't paid nearly as much as male counterparts who did the same tasks under a different job title; in the emergency room, she saw death and blood and bodily fluids daily. She had six children, one who died shortly after birth and the other who suffered from cystic fibrosis for all of his too-short life (although he did die in his forties, which was and still is unheard of, that didn't take the pain away from burying her own child).

Proud and stubborn and independent, her decline killed her soul. She was always somewhat harsh in demeanor but became more so as she lost more of her independence. She had lived a long and fulfilling life but she was not happy when she died. It is better that she's not suffering anymore even if she leaves the rest of us behind in the process.

I love you and I'll miss you, Grandma. Rest in peace.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Not Giving Them What They Want

Most people remember their high school experiences with disgust. They most certainly mention the less-than-savory experiences with certain less-than-savory individuals. And such is my present state. My trip to the Keys allowed me to forget reality for a little bit but now it has officially slapped me in the face. Sometimes, I wonder if it would be easier just to shut up and lie low because people will like me more. I was certainly thinking that today.

But I realized something. I realized that was what they want since the beginning of time. I will not let them have power over me anymore. I will be my own person. Those kids want to quell my power, make me less than I am so they can become more powerful. They want me to be quiet and conformist so I can be more predictable, because my lack of conformity scares them. That's what all of the people who have hurt me in my life wanted. But I won't give it to them.

I guess that's the whole point of fighting: you're not going to give the enemy what they want. Sure, you need to pick your battles but the right to be true to yourself is something that you do need to fight for.
I've been fighting all my life with it to be quite honest and my battle has resulted in various phases in my life. I've wondered why I was even fighting in the first place, wondering if it was even worth it.

Wondering if these people were really my enemies after all and if I was the one who had done something wrong. With each subtle (or not-so-subtle depending on the person) jab, I retreated into myself and tried so hard to be what they wanted to be. I grovelled for acceptance like a dog scouting for crumbs on the floor. I believed that if everyone thought that I was so terrible, then I surely was and at the same time, my emotional well-being at this made me ashamed. And that's what they wanted. They wanted me (and everyone around them) to play the same game they did, to feel the same terrible way they did because they that gave them more power.

The "they" is not society as a whole or some vague stupid term like that. "They" is any person who has not accepted (or tolerated) me being who I am, who has tried to make me feel less than, who has tried to pressure me into someone and something else, who has tried to take my power away from me and take it as theirs. And it's also the "they" who continually do the same to other people.

Conformists don't start revolutions. They are the anonymous masses in society who sit around and do nothing. I will not be stopped from creating my revolution. I will not give them conformity.

I will not sacrifice myself so they can feel better about themselves. I will not give them what they want.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Back Home

Paradise is always a distant dream and so it was. I have just spent five days on vacation. Now I'm home and I've never yearned for escape more than I am now.

Home sucks. I know this of course, and yet usually vacation tires me so much that I'm glad to be back and practically want to make out with the signs. Usually, I cannot stand to be a stranger in a strange land. But that is not now.

The Keys is a great selection of sites. So is the hotel we stayed at. The vacation was simple yet not too simple. We relaxed half the time and toured the other half. We ate food that was out of this world and savored it. We laughed so hard our sides almost burst; we were a family. We felt more at ease than we did in a long time. Best of all, school and schoolwork were distant dreams. But alas that is no more. I had achieved respite from a world that put chains around me but now that very world is yanking me back.

So it appears I am back to reality. I have to eat food that is quite average; I have to go to school tomorrow; I have to deal with earthly concerns again. The cold wind outside alone is a slap in the face. I'm avoiding the scale because the number there would be another.

It appears there are no palm trees around here. No beautiful turquoise seas. Not nearly as many restaurants. Boring cookie cutter homes. Not one trace of Spanish in the air or lilting Cuban accent. Reality is clearer now than it's ever been before. I'll have to do my math homework soon enough because I missed a day of school; I have no idea if I have missed other homework but I guess I can care about that later (I don't want to accept all of reality yet and it would be so much for me).

I miss my dog and my hamster. That's the one positive of being home. But that's about it. I'm yearning for the Keys again as if they are my home. I feel like it's been a vacation cut short, as if there was so much still that I could have done and yet didn't.

I'm sure school will be even harder to adjust to than it usually is and that will suck. But I don't want to think about that or the thought will drown me again.

Home sweet home never seemed so bitter before. Is there another flight to Miami?

Tuesday, February 12, 2013


Love sucks. I'm sure that's cliche but it's true nonetheless. Put love into a high school setting and you're really bound for trouble. If you take a walk around a local high school, you will see plenty of couples in the midst of passionate making out or even just simply walking and holding hands. It's even common to see crying girls. With Valentine's Day just around the corner it has become all too obvious.
This fact is especially hard for those who want to be with someone but... can't. In other words, those suffering Unrequited Feelings.

Yes, I have a crush. When I see him, I get the usual symptoms: the jitters, the palpitating heartbeat, the frozen feeling, the tension and, of course, the magnet that tugs me closer to him.

It's a hopeless sort of crush too because this guy has a girlfriend. So I'm screwed. I met him in my social studies class. I thought that he was flirting with me (heck, maybe he was) and I got excited. His Facebook status even said "single". But then I found out some things through some friends... and then I saw him kissing his girlfriend a few days ago. Apparently, according to said investigative friends, they're keeping it a secret to hide it from her parents or something.

I guess "love" is a bit of a stretch. I think he's attractive and he's funny and he's smart. So, yes, I find that really appealing. I admit I don't know a whole lot about his personal life except for what he's told me and I imagine that knowing a person is necessary to loving them. But still, it sucks. It especially sucks when these feelings Just. Won't . Go. Away and crop up at the worst moments. But I'm trying to swallow the jealousy and pride and physical attraction to just make things how they were. It's more disappointment than anything else, I guess, but still.                                                          

My track record sucks. My previous crush was on a boy who turned out to be gay. Yep, gay (although, to be fair, I found this out much later). I really should have known, but I didn't. He was cute and he seemed to have it all together and... He was smart! He could understand me! I was in sixth grade and new to the whole liking people thing. I wasn't as able to put up my guard then and I wasn't as able to hold back my dreamer tendencies. I gave it 100% and got 100% rejected. Let's just say he wasn't too mature about the whole thing and let's just say that it ended up with me crying over a milkshake (courtesy of my mom, who took pity on me).

The problem with crushes is that you're putting yourself on the line. The worst part about that is that you can't even control that. It creeps up slowly and snatches you. There's no way to truly be invulnerable. And so you end up getting your heart broken in the end or at least somewhat bruised. You hope and you take a risk. Often, you're left with a terrible decision: to tell or not to tell. There's everything to gain and everything to lose, at least for a while.

The second worst part? It takes its time going away. A long, long time. As much as I tell myself that I don't like him... I do. I still find myself taken aback by him: that little slither of a smile when he thinks he's clever, the way he gets so caught up in his homework, his freckles. I wish I could rip those thoughts right out of my mind but I can't.

It's so stupid, this high school crush/ love waiting thing. It adds so much angst to the situation and makes it so much more dramatic than it is. Somehow being within the confines of a classroom adds even more angst to the situation. It adds a pressure that makes me feel like I'm a slow-cooking pot. Everywhere I go, I see love and I am constantly reminded of the fact.

This whole thing has changed the way I see myself. Actually, crushes always change me. Now that I know I don't have a change with him, I have allowed myself to keep going on my journey to rid myself of my body image and weight shame now that I don't have to worry about terrible consequences. Now, I make myself pretty for me. But still, he did make me work harder each day: he motivated me to put on a spritz of perfume each day, to put a little extra mascara, to make sure that my outfit was especially pleasing. But that's ridiculous.

And that's another thing about crushes. It does change you. It does make you obsessed and consumed by the crush, in a way. The hope gives you an edge that you wouldn't have otherwise had before. It's something magnetic, almost palpable.

I suppose that deeper, healthier forms of love are different. But that's just not me and that's just not now. I'm in high school (this toxic environment), a teenager and somewhat screwed-up in this department.

Luckily, I will be on vacation for a few days and away from him on Valentine's Day so I won't be hurt too hard. I will be able to get it all off my mind. But still... A part of me wishes I was his.

Damn love or whatever this is.

Monday, February 11, 2013

A Struggle with Food (and Subsequent​ly Weight)

Food and I have a love/ hate relationship. I'm sure most people say that but I actually mean it. I have been in a lifelong battle with food for my entire life and, in many ways, it has controlled much of me: my weight, my self esteem, my overall happiness. But no more.

When I was younger, I didn't make the connection. How could I? I was only a little kid. But alas, I teased for my weight nonetheless. And so it began.

I don't eat that much. Really, I don't. I eat a bit of junk food in between but it's not nearly as much as my mother thinks it is. It has to be only a bit over 1000 calories or at least, my meals do. Since that's probably not enough, my stomach protests at night. My hunger has always been erratic (my diet too) but never like this. And so is my complicated relationship with food.

This has never happened before but it's happening now. Sometimes my stomach even wakes me up in the middle of my sleep. My conversation with my stomach goes something like this:
STOMACH: Feed me!
ME: Shut up. I need to go to bed.
STOMACH: Pleeeeasseeee *cries*
ME: _Shut up._ Now. It's midnight.
STOMACH: I don't care. I'm hunnngggrrryyyy.
ME: Well, I don't feel like getting up.
STOMACH: But I'm huunngggryyy.
ME: You'll make me fat.
*STOMACH wails and throws temper tantrum for next half hour as I try to sleep*
ME: Fine.
*I make march downstairs and get veggie chips which I eat along the way.
STOMACH (sighing): Thanks.
*I finally go to sleep*

I used to force myself to sleep through the hunger out of fear of losing weight. I've skipped meals during the day to accomplish the same goal, after all, I lived. And when I did indulge, I would feel guilty. The problem? Hunger is seriously distracting. What seemed manageable during the day was becoming unbearable at night. So I decided to give up and give in, which I do every night now.

I imagine that this, along with my muscle gain from exercising and crunches, has been the culprit behind my weight gain. My food, ranging from yogurt to veggie chips to peanut butter, is usually healthy but I feel guilty nonetheless. I feel guilty when I eat anything besides my meals, chastising myself along the way.

But a radical thought has occurred to me. What if I didn't care about my weight? What if I ate and just purely felt joy instead of deep-seated shame?

Of course, I won't totally go crazy. But by letting myself eat guilt-free, I didn't feel the need to binge after pretty much restricting myself forever. This way seems easier. After all, eating is normal and a part of health. Losing weight is not worth going hungry and thus, losing sleep.

So when my anxiety over weight flares up, telling me that eating that cookie or peanut butter will start me on a terrible pattern to gaining weight and therefore becoming ugly, I'll tell it to shut up. I'll continue with exercising like I do (and maybe exercise more) and eating healthy and that will be enough. Food will be my enemy no more.

Sunday, February 10, 2013


It is from the mind that all else springs forth. The mind is certainly where genius comes from. Brainstorming literally means a storm of the mind, a sudden zap. And that includes, I suppose, story ideas and characters and all else. Brainstorming is such a crucial when it comes to birthing a new story; it’s needed in the planning of the plot, character development, the title, and so much more. I must admit that sometimes coming up with certain things in my book is even a group collaboration for me.
This weekend I’ve been working my butt off on that story even if it’s been only recently. The idea is intriguing but some things about the characters and plot have been murky. The title, to my surprise, was the easiest part and the rest was somewhat difficult. The title was approved by family right away as a not-totally-lame title. The plot and characters, however, needed a bit of tweaking.

It’s really interesting what you do when you put your mind to it. Determination brings about everything else.

When it comes to brainstorming, first comes the spark. The “inspiration”, so to speak, or “the muse”. But, as most writers know, that usually isn’t good enough. Usually, writers need to work hard to get to know the characters and the story and to stay true to what they are. And, like getting to know a real-life person, that takes a lot of work. So, then after the spark, comes the work and then the release and then the actual product. But that certainly takes a while to deal with for sure.

That’s how it’s been for this story. The characters were a bit murky, especially the main character (who is more of an antihero than someone actually sympathetic). It was hard to make sure that each character was human and that the story wasn’t sappy or overly dramatic but something more than a soap opera. And so this weekend, I got to working on how to make that happen. And it took a while.
I realized that, as a writer, I do need the input of would-be readers and there’s nothing wrong with asking for their help. There usually aren’t wrong ways to do things in writing, after all, just better ones and I want to make my writing and my stories done the best that I could have done so. And, in order for that to be done, I had to do things for the full potential. I needed other people’s spark too because sometimes my mind needs a little help. And that’s where collaboration comes into place and when cooperation becomes necessary in order to get things done more quickly than I would have.

Nothing really gets the mind working quite like brainstorming does. It can be hard and distracting but it really does get the mind working. At any point, I just could have said “Oh, that’s good” and settled but I knew that wasn’t good enough. I wanted the best possible thing for each story.

Brainstorming is the real work of writers. Every step, almost, is brainstorming and tweaking. You have to think up the words, after all. Writing isn’t just having the words glide on a page, easily pressed, but it’s work. It might be easy to just give up but that isn’t quite the right thing to do.

And so, as a writer, I will keep working and keep brainstorming until my characters and the plot are the best they can be. 

Thursday, February 7, 2013


So many people define it differently. Accomplishment. What so many view through such different lenses. And what really is it? Who is really right? I've still been trying to work out the answer about that one and I still can’t find a decent explanation for the whole thing, though that doesn't seem to matter.

Last week, I won the Gold Key Award for my poetry collection at Scholastic Art and Writing awards as well as Silver Key for a short story and an Honorable Mention for a play. A few days before, I placed a few awards for my photography pieces too (a Silver Key and an Honorable Mention). Obviously, that’s considered a pretty big achievement for a writer (and amateur photographer). And yet, for many people, that is not much of an achievement at all because they have either done bigger or better things in the world of art or they simply do not value art and writing at all. That got me thinking about what accomplishment truly means and if my definition of accomplishment is correct.

I realize that it's not a matter of correct or incorrect but that it's all a matter of perspective and what makes a person happy. Of course, whenever a great feat is done, it's okay for you to be proud of yourself. However, a great feat is different than a true accomplishment. A true accomplishment is an act that brings happiness and an honest sense of fulfillment and meaning to someone's (including yours) life.
For example of the above statement, consider a CEO to someone else who might be called a "loser" who is making minimum wage because he didn't graduate high school. Now, based off of income alone, one might assume that the CEO is more accomplished. But what if the "loser" loves what he does while the CEO hates it? What if the "loser" is far more happier. Wouldn't that make him more accomplished? Some would still say no. On the other hand "accomplishments" for one person may be nothing for another; does that lesson the greatness of that task?
Whatever one might consider an accomplishment to be, it is certainly the perfect self-esteem and energy booster. People enjoy it because it makes them proud and has satisfied their cravings of success and competence. Of course, too many or too little can cause negative results but overall it is positive
I suppose accomplishments are whatever you might make of them; like beauty, it is subjective. People have different needs and values and circumstances; thus, they  have different things that would be considered accomplishment. Accomplishments can be the little things as well as the great ones. I suppose they are whatever we consider them to be and whatever brings us that much closer to fulfillment.
I don't care what some people might say; I consider awards for my arts to be my greatest accomplishment. 

Saturday, February 2, 2013


 Poetry is its own entity. While a story is a song, a poem is a statement. It is pretty much anything contained within lines (or even those contained outside of lines), its form varying in length and structure. Sometimes, it can be one part of a whole and other times it can be part of a story. It is a completely unique form of expression unlike any other and each poem ever written (even if about the same thing) is a snowflake, never the same as any other poem.

Unsurprisingly, this wild difference causes people to hate poetry. Prose, at least, has rules but poetry has none. Its meaning is often only extracted upon deep thought instead of via instant gratification. This scares many, even some word lovers. People hate what they don't understand and what doesn't meet conformity.

But I'm here to say that I absolutely adore poetry. I adore each little intricacy. The extremely structured poems dance to beautiful choreography while free form just jams to music only it hears. And both are such a pleasure to watch but, even more than that, to actually write some myself.

Poetry is expression. Poetry is raw human emotion even if it is human emotion carefully strung on iambic pentameter. And that is what makes me crave it like air. When I have so much emotion inside of me, poetry helps me release it. It says what I cannot speak myself. Sometimes, I just need to say things as they are and not beat around the bush. I need to acknowledge it. Whether I write it in a structured form to bolster the meaning or just spill it out in free form, it's all authentic.

Prose is so long, so obtuse. Sometimes, it's much too verbose. Poetry, on the other hand, is blunt and sparing. It says things as they are. It has an honesty that so many things don't have.

Poetry has been helping me out so much lately. I'm sure, that given the weight of my emotions, my poetry sucks. It probably sounds incredibly repetitive, dull and whiny. Nevertheless, it's all me. I spilled out the emotions that threatened to consume me and released them; I made the poetry my life raft, the words freeing me from my prison. Poetry has been my raw feeling; it's always raw feeling. It makes me a better human. The other poetry I read from other people is the same, I can tell.

Poetry is beautiful in this way. It might be conveyed in so many different forms but it all is an outlet of that pure, unbridled emotions. And boy is that a sight to behold!

Friday, February 1, 2013

We All Have Our Issues

We all have our issues. They separate us from each other and keep us apart. We pretend they aren't there but they are. I don't know why this is such a baffling thing for me to comprehend but it is. I thought I was a freak for all of my problems and reacting the way I do at things. But I'm not. Other people are just better at hiding it.

And it's funny. It's funny in the saddest way to hear people talk in hushed whispers about something going on, locking it up and keeping it a secret. Or, worst of all, when they don't say anything at all.

Of course I knew that other people had stories. I just never thought that they were as complicated and as fucked up as mine but that's not the case.

Sometimes, I almost feel that we should talk about these issues more. I almost feel like we should do so so that other people will know that they are not alone. But we can't because, unfortunately, other people will use it against us.

These things manifest in the strangest way. My mom talked about all of the idiosyncrasies of my sister's friend (that she had told my mom) and I laughed. I wasn't a freak, the only one who did weird things with a weird backstory behind them. Why didn't that occur to me before? I have no idea. I suppose I knew it but I forgot it, had thought it logically but never really had it hit me.

If there's someone out there who thinks the same way that I did previously or hasn't really gotten it, I hope you will. You're not weird and you don't have issues. We all have issues and no one is perfect. No matter how weird your issues are, someone else (at least one person) has the same one. You're not alone.

Oh and if someone says they don't have issues, they're lying. The ones who look the most okay and seem the most perfect are usually the ones who are anything but.

We all have our issues and we all need help in dealing with them. It's why we all need to be there for each other.