Sunday, February 24, 2008

Uhhh...Welcome to Baltimore?

There is something to be said about people who live in a city. And by that I mean, car-less, street walking, metro-taking individuals who brave the dark alleyways each and every night to get to where they've got to go. These are people I call: urban dwellers.

Urban Dwellers take no crap. They are schooled in "Street Smarts 101": they know when to be on guard, when to relax a bit, what metro stop you just don't stop at unless you're with a big group of people or you have two cans of Mase in your messenger bag. They know that to live in a city of any size it becomes a love-hate relationship. And it's definitely not for everyone.

I don't claim to be a full-on urban dweller because I grew up calling home a suburban neighborhood in Towson. But even so, I'm not a stranger to the streets of Baltimore, and more recently not a stranger to the streets of DC either. I'm not saying that Baltimore is my favorite place to be, in fact I have devoted myself quite humbly to the task of leaving Baltimore within the next few years, God willing. But in the same breath, I can tell you that Baltimore is not always a live episode of The Wire either.

Unless...okay, well unless you're not from here. Which is exactly what happened to the new guy at work.

I had been noticing that the corner office as you first walk into our department had been empty for the past week or two. This was extremely unusual, and yet not something completely startling mainly because the person who occupies that office had started just three weeks before.

With all my usual deadlines and goings-on throughout the day, it would slip my mind to ask someone about what had happened to the guy in the corner office. He seemed to have been doing pretty well with his department, and I hadn't heard any bad things about him through the office gossip and occasional "watercooler conversations". So where was he?

It wasn't until maybe well into the second week that I walked into my boss' office and stepped right into the conversation she was having with another one of my coworkers.

"Well, it's just so sad, you know?" she said softly, leaning her head towards my coworker who was sitting in a chair in front of her desk.

"Yes, it's unfortunate," replied my coworker.

"What's so sad?" I asked, after be silent for a whole milli-second, which is long enough, in my opinion, to wait before jumping into a frivolous office gossip conversation.

"You didn't hear?" my boss exclaimed, pushing back into her seat as if this was the biggest news since slice bread and how could no one have told me?

"About what?" I said, nudging her to tell me more as it was obvious she was now bursting at the seams with this unsolicited information.

"About (his name will now be...) Gary. About what happened to him last weekend," she started, and then let her voice drop a whole ten octaves as she pushed herself forward, "He got jumped and mugged in the city and had to go to the hospital."

Now the idea of being jumped in Baltimore is pretty damn plausible. The probability of it happening to anyone in any city is decidedly high. But the fact that it happened to this poor man after only living in Maryland for five whole weeks? Well, that just plain sucked ass.

"I can't get over that," I replied.

"Well, I've heard that he had some broken ribs, a broken arm and they broke his nose and he had to have some reconstructive surgery on his face," she went on.

Chills came over me when I heard that. When late last year we had found out that Kuya had gotten mugged in DC, we were all pretty scared. But he hadn't gotten seriously hurt. He just had his wallet and money taken away. This sounded brutal.

I suddenly felt the urge to apologetic to Gary at my first sight of him whenever he returned. Baltimore is a place I go my hometown, I am not particularly proud of it or anything, but seriously, I felt terrible that this happened to someone who had only been living here for a little over one month.

"That really is horrible," my coworker chimed in, "It sucks that he got so banged up before his health insurance kicked in!"

As horrible as that statement was, it was the truth. And I can't imagine having to have such extensive surgeries in a place that you just moved to, in a hospital you're not familiar with, with no family or friends around, and on top of that, have no way of paying the medical bills.

Once I had learned of Gary's mishap, I thought back on his first few days here and what our first conversation had entailed.

I remember introducing myself, and being excited to know that there'd be another "young person" working here. Gary is only 27 years old, and that makes him only 5 years my senior. In this banking business, that is pretty young.

Gary talked about growing up in some small town in Maine. He knew everyone's name and they knew his. His neighbors were his parents' best friends and life long pals type of deal. He just came from a truly rural/suburban area that was real home town grown.

And then...moved to Baltimore.

Again, not to say this is a bad city in its entirety, but if you look at it in contexts with the comparison to a Maine township, it is a pretty extreme jump.

Gary literally came here with no new friends, and a totally clean slate. And I feel really bad for the guy that his first months here turned out as crappy as they did.

But he has since seemed adjusted, and I keep encouraging him that the whole city of Baltimore isn't that bad, but you just have to pick out the good parts. Just like any other city.

Hopefully he'll take up my offer, and I can take him somewhere we can grab a few drinks and be surrounded by people that will actually give him a better handle on what Baltimore, geesh, what Maryland as a state, has to offer him.

-=EDIT=- Sorry guys I originally started to write this on Feb 11th, and so you can see what a delay that I have in my posts. Free time is definitely hard to come by these days.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

ReCoGnIzE! (My Day in DC)

Last week sometime, I was talking with my new female-writer confidant (LP2 is what I'll nickname her, since I already know 1 LP already.) and we had decided quite brilliantly that since we both worked for "governmental jobs" (hers more than mine, to be honest) that allowed us to celebrate the birth of Abraham AND George so luxuriously, it might be fun to check out the new Hip-Hop-infused art exhibit at the National Portrait Gallery in DC. (Seriously, what better way to celebrate the birth of two Presidents than to go back to their political stomping ground?)

I was really looking forward to hanging out with LP2 for several reasons:

1. LP2 has to be one of the most amazing writers I've ever read. Anything she writes about, I just have to read. It's ridiculous, honestly. To be completely embarrassing, I have to admit that I will scroll through the comment sections of Racialicious just to read her comments. Why? Because this woman has the ability to speak her mind in intelligent and graceful ways I can't even imagine. In short, I am LP2's biggest fan. (oh yes, LP2, it's totally true.)

2. Something about becoming closer to LP2 as a person rather than a writer, helped me open myself up as a writer again, surprisingly. Talking with her through emails back and forth and such, really reminded me of how much I miss writing and expressing myself. And how much I've been using so many other forms of communication that haven't been as faithful or as effective as writing has been for me in the past. I am just so excited to finally have a tie into writing community again. I felt like I had been pushed out, mainly voluntarily...okay, mostly voluntarily. By pushed out, I guess I mean, me - slowly over time - pulling away from writing because I felt it kept me from the doing of life. But now after all this doing, I'm starting to feel the only way for me to truly own it, and love it, is to reflect and write. And it's just great to be surrounded by people who get the same satisfaction, like LP2.

3. We were going to see a fricken' art exhibit, for chrissakes! How awesome/fantastical/amazing/brilliant/spectaculicious is that?! I hadn't been to a true art exhibit in years, unless you count that one time that that guy who was really into this scathingly bad art forced me to go to this tattoo-parlor-turned-art-studio with lots of men and women dressed in fancy clothes, drinking cheap champagne out of plastic wine glasses while walking around staring at photos of girls in their underwear with gag balls in their mouths and said "How extraordinary and deep! I'll buy FIVE!" I hadn't really been to an art exhibit at all... in a LONG time.

4. This would ultimately be my (Count it!) 2nd time driving to DC by myself, in the daylight. You know, that little thing called sunshine where you're able to see your hand in front of your face without squinting really hard beyond the laser lights and the darkness and whatever trippy lighting effects you can think of? It was fantastic to be driving, especially on a random day where the weather was perfect 60 degrees outside! I literally rolled my windows down as soon as I hit 295, and turned the air conditioning on because the sun was so warm and delicious. I was excited to finally be getting out of the house, and driving to DC for a quick adventure. Not that I haven't been out of the house at all in the past few months (if you've been reading this and other blogs, you'll notice I have!) but this was just a little different. No familiar faces, no particular event that I was time-constrained to. I just knew eventually LP2 and I would go to the National Portrait and eventually we'd get so annoyed with the growling of our stomachs that we would succumb and gobble food to tell it to shut up.

Once I got into DC off New York Ave, I recognized where I was completely - it seems like anywhere and everywhere that I have spent oodles and oodles of my time has been off of New York Ave. The only thing about heading that way was worrying about the traffic, which wasn't as bad as I had expected it to be - possibly because I kept forgetting that it was a government holiday, and literally everything, save for the galleries and exhibits, on Pennsylvania Avenue was shut down for the day.

I just had to find parking. Ugh. If there is one thing that I have to say that I hate about having a car is getting to the place and then having to roam around for an hour to find parking. Because every one knows that all the cool places; ie: the only places that you and your friends want to go, are located in areas where there is NO PARKING and you have to find parking on some back alley or do "creative" parking - like parking just past the sign that is marked "No Parking ---> This Way Between 4-7 pm" claiming later when you get the ticket, "Well, half of my car was in the safe parking zone, doesn't that count?"

So I drove around. And around. I finally called Oppa out of desperation.

"Oppa, I am on Pennsylvania Avenue and I can't find parking anywhere."

"Uh? It's a holiday, EJ - you should be able to find parking easily. I suggest you try to park around the mall," my brother said over the phone, "How long are you here for? Will you call to have dinner with me and Esther later?"

"I'll try, I don't know how long I'll be here. I am checking out that new art exhibit at the National Portrait Gallery. I'll call you later regardless, though."

After driving around several times in a square-shaped circle, and finding absolutely no free parking spaces, I finally gave in and turned into the nearest "Parking Garage Here" sign I saw. Thankfully it was at the International Trade Center, where they are equipped to deal with idiots like me who for the life of me even though the parking lot probably has fifty-seven signs showing me that I parked on C-2, when I finally go to get back to my car, I walk around aimlessly for fifty minutes, going on every single level and not having a damned clue where I parked.

But this parking lot was awesome. Instead of numbers, it had countries to designate what floor you parked on. How could I forget that I parked on Floor Russia? I could easily forget something arbitrary like C-3 or D-4, but Russia? Hell no. I'll remember that sucker.

I finally met up with LP2 after walking to the wrong damned gallery and having to turn around. There was some kind of mad-hatter accident or something, and halfway along my walk they had to detour across three more blocks just to get to a block I was originally only a few steps away from. Bah.

But ReCoGnIzE! was awesome. One of the most amazing things were the paintings by Kehinde Wiley. Absolutely off-the-CHAIN! Take a portrait of Napoleon, add a little Ice-T to the mix, and Boom! What a masterpiece. The depth of the colors and the shadows, and just the entire composition was breath-taking, and something that I can't wait to go back to and check out again (I am going again in March if anyone is interested).

LP2 and I had a great time, overall. We perused the gift shop, and gave in to temptation by purchasing the photo booklet of the exhibit (It was only $10!!! C'mon!!) and then headed towards Chinatown to pick up some grub.

That was around the time that it started to rain. And LP2, being the street-stepper and "urban-dweller" that she is, came prepared with an umbrella. My stupid ass, had not.

So after grabbing some grub and some MUCH NEEDED intelligent conversation (LP2, you astound me with your little book of what you have to do's and whatnots, you go girl!) we escaped over to Urban Outfitters so I could buy a hat to shield me from the rain.)

While there, we started talking about music. Mainly because when we first walked into the store, LP2 remarked that the singer they had playing in the background sounded like Rachel Yamagata. Which is exactly what I thought to. And then we started to say, I can't believe you know that person, and oh my gosh, yes, I have my MP3 player right here with me, let's stand in front of the aisle and play music for each other despite people walking all around us!!!

Good times, I tell you.

Alas, the day had to come to a close, and LP2 gave me a big hug and off I went to go and try to find the International Trade Center. Remember how I mentioned that I would not forget what floor I parked on? Well, I didn't, I wouldn't have lied to you. But what I did manage to forget, or rather, lose somehow was my parking ticket. And with that, my ability to find my sense of direction as to where I had come from in the first place. Fantastic. I spent an hour just walking in the rain, asking mothers ushering their children under big umbrellas, "Which way to 13th St?" and men who were jogging with their visors on to catch the raindrops, "Do you know how far it is to Pennsylvania Ave from here?" Thank God people in DC tend to be pretty friendly.

Thanks for making my day off an exciting one, LP2, and we'll definitely have to do this again, real soon.

I promise to have more posts up soon, particularly two involving a special person's birthday, and a "terrible schmelting accident".

Thursday, February 14, 2008

The Closest Thing

Today is Valentine's Day - or what I like to call - "Hallmark Holiday" Day. You know what I'm talking about, all the guilt of "not loving your lover enough" starts to sink in and you're programmed through subliminal commercials on TV and radio to feel that the only way to rectify your horrible relationship is by thrusting your checkbook into the hands of luring retail owners for large quantities of chocolates, red roses and whatever else is red, overly sweet and disgustingly adorable.

Sounds like fun to me, too. (Sarcasm Alert!)

But alas, I figured I would write about something recent that is the closest thing to the theme of Valentine's Day. (As I speak, I have about three posts sitting in my queue, begging to be finished. Soon, soon, soon my dear half-written darlings.)

On Sunday night, I spent the first half of the evening at Blue Ryder's, being sucked into the vortex that is PS3 all weekend long. Mostly because, when the need to rock is screaming your name, you basically have no choice but to answer the call. So I did what any other bitchin' ass rocker would do - I rocked the fuck out. (Thanks again, guys! ;-))

The only slight problem was that I had promised a date with my brother and sister the same day. I hadn't seen them in months, which is highly unusual, but the main reason for that is I no longer hang out the same way that they do. It has been really difficult for me juggling the feelings that I have had inside for the past two months. I really love my brother and my sister tremendously, but I really cannot stand to be in the club atmosphere for more than two hours at a time anymore. Yet the only time that my brother and sister go out is ...well, at night. Underneath flourescent lighting and laser beams. So I've been torn.

I had been putting the date off each hour, every hour that I felt engrossed in my moonlighting career as a rockstar. That is, until I realized it was almost 6 o' clock at night. And with a slight bittersweetness, I left Blue Ryder's house to head to the DC/VA area for dinner.

As much as halfway there I began to feel the heaviness of my eyelids, I was really quite thrilled. One, because it's a Sunday, and that is my brother and sister's rest day, meaning, they just rest up from their prior engagement (club-going) the night before. Two, because our plan was to go out to dinner and eat. You know, no flourescent lighting. No laser beams. No DnB music plummeling nails into my brain. Just me, my oppa, my unni, a table and food. YAY!

Once I got there, I climbed into the back of Oppa's car and we headed out to Momo Sushi & Cafe in Old Towne Alexandria. Okay, so originally we had plans to head somewhere else for sushi, but they were closed...and boy am I glad!

Mostly because I hadn't ever heard of Momo before, but Oppa insisted that it was by far, the best sushi he had ever tasted and I should really try it out.

I have to say, it was the most amazing sushi that I have ever had. EVER. The taste was so fresh, and so quenching that I couldn't get enough. I am not a particular fan of sashimi but this stuff was sooo good that I tried every type of sushi that we chose off the menu. And their volcano rolls were out of this world!

I really do think that great food correllates with great conversation and also goes along with great company. Momo is quite small, but apparently Oppa and Unni have eaten there a THOUSAND times, because the owner came up to us directly, and said she would give us a table as soon as one opened up while we sat at the sushi bar.

We ate miso soup, and a salad with this bombastic dressing, I have no idea what was in that but it was amazing, whatever it was. And then shrimp tempura before the sushi. All the while we just kept talking and eating, and eating and talking. I really miss being able to do that with them as often.

Unni kept saying all night long how it was great to finally see me as opposed to squinting through the darkness of a club to talk to my silouette.

I told her it was great to finally see them, too. And it was.

It is such a great feeling to be around people where the puzzle pieces finally just fit. Blue Ryder, Oppa, Unni, and everyone else in my life have totally caught me in a place where everything just fits so nicely. Even if my puzzle piece is misshapen sometimes.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

What Does My Birth Date Mean?

Really now, I am not all into these damned surveys about trying to figure out what this means and that means - unless I am at work with nothing to do (heh, heh, heh)...on my lunch break! (See how I recovered that?)

I was on Facebook reading my friend Eva's reviews on food when I saw that I had like fifty invitations to try this quiz to find out what my birth date means. Now for those of you with Facebook, you'll understand what I mean by fifty invitations. I really do mean fifty. Fifty-seven to be exact.

So I went on, and tried the application. It was pretty damn interesting and really on point. I have absolutely no idea how it works or how it generates the answers. All you do is plug in your birthdate and all this information pops up. Here's what it had to say:

Independent and free-willed, you tend to be the alpha dog in most situations. Its your confidence which pulls you through the difficult times and take you ultimately to the time. You are not born to carry out life's mundane tasks, you are meant for the bigger things in life. You are creative. Sometimes people dont understand you, but you take that in your stride.
Your greatest strength is: your ability to gain respect.
Your greatest weakness is: caring too much what others think.
Your lucky color is: orange-red.
I don't know about my greatest strength being able to gain respect. I think that's pretty subjective depending on who you talk to. But in terms of the About Me section it is pretty on point. I don't really like to carry out mundane tasks and I try to be creative. I know a lot people tend to not be able to understand me, but that is totally okay. I don't really take offense to it - unless they say something hurtful or disrespectful.
My FAVORITE colors are orange and green. That's pretty awesome that it is my lucky color. And as for the greatest weakness that is DEFINITELY on point, Jesus. Anyone who knows me knows that I think way too much about what other people think, particularly my family. Which is funny...I guess being able to not be understood and then worrying about what people think are quite an oxymoronic (is that a word? is now!) pair when you put them together. But then again, that's just me: one big ass oxymoron.

I Rock'd The Vote!!!

At the butt crack of dawn (3:30 AM, on the dot), I woke up this morning feeling rather sleepy. After a quick yawn and a poke of my head over the covers to see the time on my cell, I made the executive decision to go back to sleep and skip the usual workout (*gasp!* I know).

Before I knew it, I was back in la-la-la land and within two hours, I woke up again to the sounds of my TV, the newscasters reporting from some middle school in downtown Baltimore. Something

Oh yeah! I thought, today is ELECTION PRIMARIES!!!!!!

I know that sounds super gooberish but that's exactly how it was. I jumped out of bed, slipped into the shower, pulled on my thickest pair of leggings to wear under my pants (because not only had the newscasters reminded me to vote, but they also announced that it was fuh-reeeezing out) and a sweater and off I went.

Why was I so excited to vote this year? Because this is technically my first year voting. I know, I know... I am 22. I should have a solid 5 years of voting under my belt. But sadly, no. I just got the new voter card for when I moved to Dundalk last year, and beyond that, one really caught my voting attention.

Last election, I didn't want John Kerry. I most certainly didn't want George Bush. I just wasn't feeling that "Get Out and Vote!" kinda vibe.

But this year was different. Maybe it was the fact that I hit my twenties that I suddenly took on a more proactive responsibility towards my politic standpoints. Or maybe I was just curious. Whatever it was, I started investigating all the candidates, and all of the past candidates, and how I compared with their views. Throughout all the readings, the surveys, the endless hours searching the Web, I found that my views point more to a Democrat point-of-view.

So that's when I registered. Last June.

And today was my first real day of actually voting. Placing my little voters card into the machine and going to town.

And you know what? I felt really good after I had. I think it's ridiculous to say that your one vote won't make a difference, because it certainly will. It might just turn out to be the one vote that could change this election completely, you never know.

My name is The Brave - and I Rock'd The Vote today! Have you?

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Thirteen Going On 13-Months

Today, I found out that no matter how many times I kept rubbing my eyes and blinking them open (oh, how those movies lie!) my sister hadn't remained the same kid she was just 12 years before. In fact, to my unpleasant surprise (yes, I kept thinking that if I kept blinking like a neurotic imbisile that it might just actually work) my sister hadn't even remained the same pre-teen that she was the day before. This is to you, my dear sister, on the most transforming day/part/chapter of your life that has catapulted you into a whole new journey of becoming a young woman : your thirteenth birthday.

I can remember the first day that you arrived from China like the back of my hand. I even remember what I was wearing, how I had spent pain-staking hour by hour the night before, choosing the right outfit to welcome my new baby sister into our family. (Apparently, my outfit of choice was a Calvin Klein jean dress and a red bandana colored headband. What can I say, sis, I wasn't as fashion forward as we'd all like to admit 12 years ago.)

You looked so incredibly frightened and yet so incredibly strong all at the same time as I watched Dad walk off the plane. I had never seen so much sorrow, pain, darkness and fear trapped within the lines of a soft cherub face. Your skin was so pale, speckled with red dots of scabies that made your cheeks appear to have a permanent flush. It wasn't until we got you home, after hours of intense screaming on your part, (quite understandably out of fear from being in a foreign country, in a foreign house, around foreign people speaking a foreign tongue) while giving you your first real bath that we saw the scabies were all over your distended stomach and your little legs and arms.

But in that night, although you seemed so incredibly frail and scared, I could see in you an amazing strength and light deep in your eyes. I just felt it when I held you. You and I became true sisters that night. It might have been sparked by the fact that you would not let anyone else but me near you for the next three months, but eventually it transformed into this bonding relationship and learning experience that I thank you so much for. I thank you for choosing me to be your rock, your comfort and your closeness for those first months.

Even though I struggled to hold your 13-month old frame in my arms, being only 9 years older than you myself, I would rock you back and forth shifting the weight from my left side to the right side all the while keeping my arms wrapped tightly around your body. You refused to let me sit down in the rocking chair in your nursery as long as your eyes were wide awake, which was almost always until 3 am, when my arms had long since started tingling from numbness and my legs and knees ached with the weight. Every so often I would sneak closer to the crib bar, leaning my body against it ever so slightly, tilting my head to the side to see if your head was really beginning to droop against my shoulder. As soon as I'd feel the deadweight of your head lying against my shoulder in deep slumber, it would be right then that I'd try to find a clear window of freedom to lay you gently into your crib. This could prove to be one of two things: extremely successful or an incredibly horrible attempt gone crazywild wrong. It usually was the second one.

As time went on, you felt more comfortable allowing people into your "zone": the area that you played in, the area that you ate in, the person who held you while you drank your bottle, the person you let get close enough to you to give you a your stay with us grew longer and longer, you no longer felt the need to hold me as a security blanket in all your activities. Except when you became extremely sick and dehydrated. Mom had tried to feed you Pedialyte in your baby bottle, hoping to get some electrolytes into your system to calm your tears and your fevers, but you would have none of this. Much like you have grown to be now, you were incredibly stubborn, and very quiet about it as well. You would just push the bottle away from your lips, even if you looked as if you really wanted it - unless it was me holding the bottle, of course.

Soon, you learned that Mom could just as easily, if not more efficiently, calm your fears, feed you, change you, and be there as much as I was. It seemed that everything was gradually following a new routine, and that you were now beginning to form the bond with Mom that she had desperately wanted to have with you from the start.

Until the blanket of darkness that came with the night.

It was the first night that Mom and I had decided to let her put you to bed. I had coached her the entire day with all of the little quirks that you had taught me in helping me put you to bed. To hold one arm under your butt and rub your back in circular motions, and how every once in a while you loved to feel the tips of my fingers gently rub along your adorable little toes as they curled and I could feel your chest heave a deep and relaxing sigh. How you only liked one tape of lullabies called "Sleep Sound in Jesus". You would make me play it over and over again - immediately starting right after your bath when I would press my face into your sweet fresh smelling skin to make you giggle. Eventually, I would let the tape side run out and just continue singing the songs that you and I both knew by heart, lying you into your crib and rubbing my hand along your back and against your cheek.

This one was your favorite lullaby, I explained to Mom:

Sleep sound in Jesus, my baby, my dear
We're keeping watch, so there's nothing to fear
As I lay you down in your bed tonight
Sleep sound in Jesus till morning is light.

So that night, as I uncharacteristically climbed the stairs to my bedroom at an actual decent hour, instead of crawling into the comfort of my own bed with exhaustion, I stopped at the top of the stairs and closed my eyes. I waited as I heard Mom's voice cooing with you outside of the bathroom. I listened intently to make sure that she turned on your lullaby music just as you liked it. And then I went through our night ritual in my mind, hoping that Mom had paid attention to the instructions I had given her. Hoping that you wouldn't cry for her.

And you didn't. In fact, as she walked into her bedroom, and I hung over the railing asking her repeatedly how it went, she said that you fell asleep like a little angel. And as much as I felt a sigh of relief that Mom was finally beginning to bond with you finally, there was a part of me that felt a little sad, knowing that soon, you wouldn't need me at all. I feared we wouldn't be as close ever again. I tried to wipe out my fears as I climbed into my bed and fell asleep.

At around 3 am, I began to toss and turn across my bed when I suddenly felt my foot hit something at the foot of the bed. I knew that I hadn't put any of my babydolls or my pillows there, so I couldn't imagine what I had hit. I immediately sat up in bed and blinked hard in the darkness, forcing my eyes to focus and adjust. That was when I saw you. Sleeping in the fetal position, at the foot of my bed.

My heart pounded with a bit of sadness and joy all at the same time. I crawled out of the sheets and grabbed your small frame from around your belly and pulled you underneath my covers with me - and you nestled your face into my pillow and pulled me closer to you as you slept.

We certainly don't sleep in the same bed anymore. We don't even talk as much as I'd like us to, mostly because you have found that girls your own age and our brother who is closer in age to you than me are better conversationalists when it comes to the latest manga of Naruto or who scored what goal in last Saturday's soccer game.

I had always envisioned that I would be all of the big sister to you as I had always wanted when I was your age. But I realize as you have hit age thirteen that we are total polar opposites with only common interests here and there. You must look at me as the embarrassing older sister who sits for hours on watching old 80's music videos and singing along at the top of my lungs versus me wanting to be the cool big sister that you look up to, and feel comfortable coming to about anything.

I hope that no matter what happens between us, even though we don't talk every day, that when I say "I love you" I really mean it from the deepest and most bottom-est part of my heart. And that when I hug you and kiss your cheek, that I still feel that same strength and light that I felt 12 years ago when I held you in the middle of the night to save you from the nightmares. There is no doubt in my mind that you will grow to be the most amazing, intelligent and perservering young woman and individual. Welcome to the rest of your life, my dear little sister. There will be highs as bright as the sunrising in the horizon on a beautiful summer day of endless possibilities and there will be lows as dark and rainy as a night filled with endless clasping thunderstorms, and loneliness sometimes that will nibble away so achingly at every last bit of your heart till you think you can't take it anymore. But I will always be here for you. To help you up when you make your biggest mistakes, and encourage you even further when you accomplish all of your goals.

Happy Birthday, Nate-Gate! I love you!

-your Big Sis, The Brave

Monday, February 4, 2008

My Love Note To Always Half-Asleep

This is my love note to the author of "Always Half-Asleep.

I know that I promised earlier that I would write further about the CDs that you sent me, and about how I'd been listening to each CD over and over again but I just hadn't gotten to it yet. Mainly because I haven't been able to really listen to all of them in their entireties yet.

And I still haven't.

I have only gone through maybe three or four of your mixes, but I just had to finally write something to you today.

Why? Because I love you, seriously. It's like we're kindred music spirits, or long-lost music Wonder Twins that just needed to finally come together. Okay, let me elaborate on my gooberness:

When you first sent me the said CDs, I was going through my hair loss and a lot of self-esteem changes. I was so excited to receive your package thinking I was only going to get two CDs of your music, when lo and behold, there were like ten or so! The first CD that I popped into my player was "Light of the Moon" I believe. And then came "Sunrise" and then "Dying". I listened to them, and initially gravitated towards the songs that at first listen, caught my attention. And I'd play them over and over again. I uploaded them into my iPod so I could keep listening to them over and over again at work.

There were songs on the first three or so CDs that made me cry, made me laugh, and made me feel whole again. I am not kidding. Your CDs in every way imaginable, all the music, it just moved me, got me feeling happier, wanting to keep listening to the song over and over again like an addict, hoping to keep getting the happy feeling each time I listened to it, and I did.

Then I popped in more. I can't even remember some of the names of the CDs that you labeled, but I would just pop them into my CD player in my car and listen to them as I drove. That's when my love for you and your freakin' amazing music taste really blossomed.

Whether I was driving to something happy, or driving from something incredibly sad, or just plain confused and driving to no particular place at all, somehow, the music just...said whatever I felt. How retarded it must sound now to admit that I would be on 95 at 3 AM in the morning, with tears in my eyes, singing along to a song that just said everything that I wasn't able to say and more.

Last night was no different. I was just headed over to my parents' place to cook them dinner (I have been in the practice of making some bomb-ass spring rolls) and listening to one of your CDs (I don't even know what the label was) and two songs came on during my drive that just hit me precisely where I was at this point, and how I felt.

I had tears in my eyes as I kept listening to those two songs over and over again to my ride there, and my ride back home later in the evening. And as much as the reason for them making me cry and what it reminded me of is sad, and somewhat depressing, being able to have something facilitate the tears and let them flow was an amazing release for me. The songs didn't make all the pain go away, or make all of the problems disappear, but they certainly helped therapeutically in letting me release a lot of emotions I didn't even realize I had pent up inside.

So here is to you, Always Half-Asleep, for helping me find a deeper love and appreciation for music again, and for encouraging me (even though you probably didn't mean to) to remember that it's totally healthy and okay to let go of some tears once in a while. XOXO

Friday, February 1, 2008

I'd like to thank the Pre-Med student who came up with the "red-eye" coffee...

I know, I know... I first off want to go ahead and apologize for not being as diligent with this blog as I used to be, or how I'd like to be - this being partly because A. I am slightly lazy whenever I am home and B. I am rarely ever home after doing school/work/homework/workout/craziness and when I am home, I'd like some peace and quiet, plop myself in front of the television and have guilt-free junk food snacking for hours on end. If I start to feel guilty about the horrible things I am shoving into my digestive system and by digestive system I mean my clogged arteries, I do Sudoku puzzles in order to fulfill what I think of as "brain enhancement exercises".

Life has been incredibly on-going in the past few weeks. I can't collectively say that I've been "stressed", possibly because all of it has been "good" stress, whatever the hell that is. I think that just means that even though you're pressured to do 9,999,999 million things in a millisecond and you're perspiring hotter than a 500 T man, the end of the day, you wouldn't have it any other way.

And right now, that's exactly where I am. Save for a few things here and there. Between work and school, I have little room for anything else, but I am super driven. And I love that that part of me has kicked in again. I always felt like I was able to accomplish a hell of a lot more as a high schooler because I was so completely driven by my future, but then I hit a few bumps in the road (Okay, who am I kidding? What I hit were more like gargantuan super-glaciers that had huge pointy icicles hanging off of them, all ironically aimed at me and artfully poised and ready for my demise.) and life began really really sucking.

I don't know what happened to tell you the truth. To this day, when I look back and I think about how I was, my thought process was, and then all the events that have happened between then and now, I have no particular one thing that I can look back at with a stern pointed finger and go: "AH HA! You ARE the WEAKEST LINK!" Because I think in the end, it all played a part, and it all made a difference in the successes and short-comings that have led me to the place that I am now.

But in the past few weeks, what with the new promotion at work (which I never saw coming) and school starting, my focus has been completely and utterly intent on actually succeeding in all the goals I was afraid of before (for whatever reasons). Does that mean I am not still afraid? Hell fucking no. I am readily prepared with plenty of adult diapers for the numerous times I feel the urgent need to pee myself out of sheer fear of all the choices, decisions and life paths I have to make. But what has changed is that I feel I am better equipped to just dry myself off, put on another adult diaper, and keep on trucking. I don't think I'll ever stop being scared shitless or be able to say I don't feel crappy every once in awhile, I am just better prepared for the aftermath that comes with it.

I am really getting down the nitty gritty this year. I'm not just trying to bullshit my way out of this one - I know my ass better work hard to get to where I need to go to be where I want to be. And I figure there have been so many amazing people that I have met in my (short) lifetime thus far that have seemed to have the confidence in me that I could accomplish whatever I set my mind to, so it's about damned time I have confidence in myself.