Tuesday, July 27, 2010


I couldn't come up with anything more clever to call this post.  And thats really how I've felt, happy, for virtually the entire week.  I've seen family, gotten exciting news, become sure I can go back to school this fall, and had a great weekend.  Of course, being me, I've also been semi-holding my breath, waiting for the proverbial other shoe to drop. . .

                                                                                                . . . 'cause for those of you who know me, let's face it.  The other shoe does indeed usually drop! but for now, here are the good things to share!  All the good things from the past week or so  - I'm so grateful for everything.

❇ I got to see my Aunt A, my cousin, my Uncle T, and my Nana!  Sister drove me, the Kid and Boyfriend all the way to Mass!  It was her first time driving from ME, through NH, and all the way to MA!  Her face looked kinda like this when we got there:
 Obviously, with mmmmuuuccccccchhhhh more hair!

❇While we were there, (after Aunt A decided she probably could stop being married, as she learned how to handle the propane on the grill all by herself) we had burgers, and chicken burgers, hot dogs, potato salad, rice pilaf, cheesecake, cookies, macaroons (with cranberries) and italian ice.  How could I not be happy?!?

❇One magical, beautiful, perfect word.  Trampoline.  Trampoline trampoline trampoline trrraaaaammmpppoooollliiiinnnnnnnee!  I thought a trampoline couldn't be any better than this spring (the first time I'd ever  played on one) with my cousin.  I was wrong.  Bouncing around in the summer sun, with family all around me and Boyfriend being a ham (yes it happens. . . and it's hysterical) was the best feeling.  I wish everyone that just-missed-a-step-tummy, the sun on their limbs, the sound of laughter and giddy squeals making the air electric with joy.  I think my favorite part was "Dancing" on the trampoline. . .

❇ Aunt A and Uncle T had tickets for Bon Jovi's concert at Gillette Stadium/Patriots Place which they weren't going to use.  Aunt A offered them to us: Sister had to work, the Kid had made commitments to the Church, and Mum had to stay with the Kid.  Boyfriend and I were free, which meant we were going to see Bon Jovi: the Circle Tour.

"You didn't pay me to tell bad jokes, you paid me to sing and shake my butt!"

❇Me and Boyfriend had two extra tickets, and decided to invite a friend of his (who I'd met once) and said friend's girlfriend.  It was a great time, with excellent conversation and laughter all the way down (and an emergency pit stop. . . I almost didn't make it!).  I don't think I'll refer to them as Boyfriend's friends anymore ; ) Plus, the concert was great and the only unhappy part of the day was that it had to end.

I CAN OFFICIALLY AFFORD SCHOOL THIS WHOLE YEAR!  Did I scream that loud enough to make the stars explode?  'Cause that was the intent.  Mum was approved for a loan for the remainder of my bill. . . which is good news for me and not great news for her.  But it's the only loan in her name, and if things go according to plan, it should be the only one. . . 

❇I'm going to Trinidad for Carnival for a few days of Spring Break.  I'm so excited!  A perfect storm lined up, with the rest of my tuition being covered this year (Thank you Lord and Mum, in that order), some ingenuity pulling together a few odd jobs this summer and through the school year, and payments for the troupe, tickets, and passport being stacked.

❇I started a new job today!  I can keep it year round and work from my laptop!  Yeah!

More details on things to come!  Sorry it has been so long since I posted anything. . . I promise to be right back on track as of right now, so expect another post this week.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Last Night, I Cried.

. . .  and if you had watched my evening up until that point, you'd never have suspected it was coming.  My  Boyfriend came to see me.  We met friends at the theater, and saw an early-evening showing of Inception (which was a brilliant movie, by the way).  Then the two of us went to Friendly's, and as ever there was more food than I could handle.  We laughed.  We talked.  I was happy as a clam.  We went to the car, and he said something funny.  I laughed, buckled up.  He started to drive.

And then our conversation took it's natural course. . . the turns and new directions conversations are wont to take.  And as the road curved, serenely, in front of us, the conversation bent with it.  

Suddenly, the old tightness was in my chest.  If you've never experienced it, it feels like this: the muscles all across your chest have pulled so tight, they're pressing on your heart and it can barely beat.  Every thud radiates through your body when it finally does, until your ears ring vaguely.  You can't breath, because you can't expand your lungs enough.  Every breath is a half breath, and there isn't enough air to force your tightened chest to expand, or to loosen your seizing, lump like heart.  You know if you're pulled any tighter, or if someone startles you, or if anything at all changes, your going to split right down your sternum.  Your muscles are that strained.  And I said it appeared "suddenly."  Thats only because I didn't expect it.  The tightness is creeping, like a monster stalking the edge of your vision.  It sets in slowly, like a fog that rolls in and pulls a curtain across the day.  It settles in, like a creeping chill.  And it presses your heart and it pulls at your lungs and it's tight, oh my god it's so tight and if you didn't expect it, it's as sudden as lightning.

 The funny part is, the tightness doesn't register on your face.  That stays totally calm and normal.  You may even be able to laugh, laugh pleasantly as you wonder if this is what a heart attack feels like?  Really?  Before I'm even 25?  You converse normally with people, trying to keep your eyes from darting around, looking for an emergency exit.

The problem is, there is no emergency exit from your body. 

So my chest tightens (I'm sorry to be so repetitive.  I'm out of ways to describe it, out of words to transmit the feel of it to you).  And Boyfriend can tell the conversation has gone into sensitive areas.  But he can't steer it - not the conversation, not my heart, not the thoughts, not the memories that pulse in the back of my mind, waiting for a crack to slip through - like he can steer the car.  I am in the curve of conversation now, and there is no going back.

And then it happens, like a flash.  The way they show you memories in movies - a little white light, a snip it of far away sound, the feel of the cold metal in my hands.  And for a few seconds, my stomach drops and my heart is free falling and I am maybe seven or eight years old, crouched in the playroom under the table.  The cold metal in my hands is it's round central leg.  My sister is two years younger than me, and crying.  We were kicked out of the kitchen, and she left her banana behind.  I know she doesn't actually want the banana.  I know why she's really crying.  She can hear the swears, and the screams, and the threats.  Oh my god, he's going to hit her again. Sister wants her banana.  I don't know where Brother is. Or do I just not remember?  He was little, a year or two old, no more.  He must've been napping.  Can he sleep through this?  Sister wants her banana.  He's going to hit Her again, and I'm not supposed to see. . . so I move quickly, and I run into the kitchen.  Screams.  I think they're at me to get out.  They are.  They're also at my mother - you stupid cunt, you're making me look like a monster. 

I grab a banana, and I refuse to look anywhere but at the counter, and I leave again, and he demands to know what my mother thinks she's doing, making him look like the fucking monster?  What the fuck was I doing?  He throws the bananas.  I'm small.  I'm quick, and he didn't mean to hit me, he was just throwing them.  I hustle. And just as I slip from the room, a plate smashes.  I hope it didn't hit Her first.  

I hand my sister the banana, the stupid, stupid, stupid banana.  I hate bananas, they taste like mush.  I hate her crying.  She's crying like mom and I hate that sound and won't she just stop it?!? Why did I have to be so dumb and go and get it for her?  I made it worse.  I made it worse.  He's going to hit Her again. 

My sister calms as she eats the stupid yellow thing.  The noise in the other room doesn't.  Is the baby still asleep? What am I going to do with the peel?  I can't go into the kitchen.  I'm scared of how loud it is, and I know I'm not supposed to see.  I end up throwing the thing away in the trash barrel next to us, the one that is only for paper and wrappers and never ever for things that "decompose" which means get smelly and make mom have to wash out the barrel. 

Now the barrel is going to stink.  And mom is going to be mad.  And the noises will never ever ever stop. . .

And I'm back in Boyfriends car.  I was only gone for a second.  I cry and we talk and he asks me questions, and I answer them.  My face is hot with tears that run down my cheeks like shame, cutting into the facade.  It's been awhile since I cried about this.  I tell him things I remember, and things I forgot I knew.  All the while, the noises are back in my head.  The shouting, for hours and sometimes days.  The breaking of bowls and plates and tipping of chairs and the dull, resonate, impossible-to-duplicate sound of punches finding their mark.  And screams, of pain and of fear.  And whimpers - mine, my siblings', the dogs.  Screams.  Of rage and terror and pain.  Personal thoughts, fears of my "badness" being discovered, my fighting over math and arguing with my sister and did I remember to give the dog his can of food?  I'm 20 years old. I am not a child.  I am not bad.  I am 20 years old. . .  My chest tightens further, so tight now I'm amazed I can breathe.  And I'm not sobbing, not hysterical - my voice is shaking and the tears are pouring down my face, but the monster that squeezes my chest won't let me sob.  Not now, not as a child - the tears run and Boyfriend squeezes my hand and brings me home as quick as he can.  

The road straightens a little (it's a winding back road in Maine.  Sometimes it can feel like you're stuck on a corkscrew) and there is a stop sign.  Boyfriend flicks on the lights, gives me a tissue, kisses my hand.  I take a deep breath, and the tightness is gone again, for a little while.

Who knows when I'll cry again?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

As I Walked Up Rte 160

I went on a walk today.  It was actually sort of a jog-walk, as I'm allowed to slowly start building up to the arm motions required in real jogging or running.  And on my walk:

I nearly got hit by a State Police Officer, who was speeding and drinking coffee while trying to maneuver the hills and turns of my road. 

I discovered the longest snakeskin I have ever seen in my life.  Now, I live in Maine so I suppose in the grand scheme of snake-y things, that isn't saying much.  But I'm terrified of snakes, and lemmetellyou, I hightailed it out of there.  Jog interlude!  No more walking!

I did my best to be fully conscious of my body - the way my modern teacher back at school would want me to be.  I tried to imagine Nailah's voice in my head, telling me to just "feel my body," and be "present" and listen to "every muscle," and as I took inventory I tried to hold my stomach the way a dancer should, with my abs pulled tight like a corset (another dance metaphor, this one from my ballet teacher).  I focused on not rolling in onto my big toes, and letting my weight settle evenly on my feet.  Instead of ignoring the persistent pain in my right leg, I let myself feel and acknowledge it - an old injury that has turned to scar tissue.  I'm doing my best to do now what I should've done when it happened - ice and stretching and caring for it.  But in that moment, I tried to just feel it, let the warm pain (can pain be warm?  My pain was warm and almost pulsating.  Maybe I'm a weirdo.)  envelope me and be acknowledge.  It is mine. The moment was mine.  Own it.  The burning leg, the slow increase of my pulse, the tightening of my core, the pace of my breathing.  "Feel your whole body, dancer."

I saw two dead frogs.  I stepped on neither, to my relief.

I was reminded how breathtakingly beautiful New England can be on a gray summer morning.  

It rained lightly.  It was heavenly.

I realized how hard I'm going to have to work to be at a level of athleticism I like to be.  It has been a rough summer.

My mother and sister drove by me in the opposite direction.

I collected two soda bottles to recycle and a half-full pack of cigarettes for the trash.

I carried a butterfly on my hand for the last mile and a half.  It had been semi-pinned under one of the soda bottles.  This disgusts me.

I can't wait to walk again tomorrow.

Monday, July 12, 2010


Or Why I Think It's Lady Gaga's Worst Video
Thats right, I said it - and it isn't because I'm homophobic, anti-Gaga, or anything else.  So before you close this window, please read what I have to say. . . these are my Reasons For Not Liking "Alejandro,"

1.) I don't find it original.  The whole time I was watching this I kept thinking "Hasn't this ground been tread?  Yes, religion is evil.  And by "religion" you mean "Christianity," and more specifically, you're going to reference Catholicism (even if, in all your worldliness, you don't mean to.  which Gaga probably did, since she's a parochial school graduate).  Yes, we're bad people. . . didn't you learn anything from Madonna?"  And then I thought "I'm shocked, you're wearing almost no clothing.  And do you mean to tell me that homosexuals all wear high heels?  And that whenever there is a bad guy, they should probably look straight from the USSSR?"  I mean, common now, Gaga.  You're creative - why did you choose to make a video that was more a homage to cliches than an expression of your ideas or a tribute to those you supposedly are advocating for?

2.)  About that religion thing.  First of all, I find no shock value in attacking religion. . . darling, it's right there in the blueprint.  Must be blasphemous.  Must wear leather.  Must stick out tongue and scrunch up nose at camera, like you're angrily licking it.  Must wear little clothing. Etc. Etc. Etc.

Second of all, who actually attacks "religion" anyway?  When was the last time someone swallowed a Star of David, or burned a Mosque, or committed acts considered unholy by Buddhists while dressed in the distinctive orange robes of a Buddhist monk?  And what was the most recent nod to Hinduism, other than scantily clad women surrounded by lotuses, belly dancing with a Bindi - or maybe a Tikka - on their foreheads?

PLEASE DON'T GET ME WRONG.  I in no way advocate making a mockery of other's religions and belief systems.  I have no desire to see Mosques burning or the Star of David become part of a wholesome diet. . . but I question the authenticity of a statement about the way "religion" represses that fails to represent any religion but one.  And p.s. - not all Christians, christian preachers, christian ministers, or christian-anything-else are Catholic.  I realize that particular denomination has the most symbols to attack, and a rich history of art and tradition, but do you realize that when you are only attacking nuns, cardinals, rosaries/rosary beads, most images of the the Virgin Mary, and many of the iconic cathedrals, you are attacking one denomination with in a single religion.

Not exactly far reaching artistic vision.

And where is your courage?  Your daring to push back against groups others have ignored, in favor of going for the stereotypical kill?

3.) Now, here is what really gets me.  Supposedly, "Alejandro," is Lady Gaga's tribute to the gay community.  My question is, how in the world did this help or support the gay community, aside from drawing media attention (always important for any cause).  Was it the part where you represented gay men as high-heel-and-fishnet-wearing-kink-junkies?  Or the part where you had homosexuals tear the clothes off of, grope, and ultimately (apparently) rape a woman (which makes so much sense if they're gay.  You know, the folks who don't like to have any relations with those of the opposite sex?).  Oh and it wasn't just any woman, it was a woman who appeared to represent christians organized religion.  Thats definitely going to help the cause - hey look, we want to rape religion!  Because that's not what all the people who are anti-homosexuality are afraid of or anything.  Nice.  I was saddened to see, once again, homosexuals portrayed in one light and one light only - sexbeasts with no morals, feelings, or clothing.  My personal beliefs about homosexuality and homosexuals doesn't matter - what matters is this person was supposed to be an advocate, and instead furthered every possible negative stereotype.  Last time I checked, Martin Luther King Jr. did not show images of lazy black people or spit watermelon seeds while delivering his soaring oratories.

Do you know what would really have shocked me?  A music video that showed the many facets of homosexual life.  Or any facet other than the gay-men-raping-women-facet. Personally, I think a way to REALLY make a statement (and again, my opinions on these things don't matter, it's all about the perspective she supposedly is coming from) how about a music video that showed members of the gay community as productive citizens, and practicing various religions.  Something powerful, artistically shot, moving, with heart - maybe feature gay individuals and homosexual partners going through their actual day to day activities, or engaged in their real prayer/meditation/etc.

You could even do the stereotypical thing and have it all happen with duct tape over their mouths - and it would still be more original, moving, and informative.

But I guess that would mean you couldn't put rifles on a bra and dance in it, huh?

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

And Here's What He Told Me

Some of Uncle Psycho's advice/ruminations/words of wisdom directed at me.

Gatorade is absolutely awful stuff for you, and should never be ingested unless absolutely necessary. . . a state that far fewer people reach that they think.  I had a pass to continue drinking my Gatorade, as I was pretty badly dehydrated and ill.

While in NYC pursuing (hopefully) my B.A. I should set aside plenty of time not in classes - what I should be doing is snapping myself up a smart young stockbroker.  I'm plenty good looking enough, and I could probably get a handsome one too!

If that plan doesn't work - and it has already been shelved, as I have a boyfriend and it would be improper to try and "catch" a stockbroker while romantically involved - I should become a doctor.  Brains like mine, why waist them on anything less?  I was deeply flattered by my characterization by this man I had just met as being both incredibly intelligent and stunningly attractive.  I think perhaps a touch less vodka would've made his assessments a bit more. . . realistic? logical? accurate?

If a truck driver comes across a horse in M.A. he must stop his truck- and if the horse remains skitish, he must kill the engine until the horse becomes calm.  Interesting tidbit, no?

My sister's brand new car - a Ford Escape! - was an excellent deal.

Accents are confusing things.

In Canada, you must compete eleven grades, not 12, to graduate high school.

Apparently "Duckie" is a suitable name for my Aunt Diane.  I think I'll stick with some variation on the Diane theme for awhile. . .

Most ladies that called themselves dancers and were clearly drinkers were terrible, poorly paid ladies of ill repute.  My plan of not drinking is solid.

There were lots of other gems, but I think you may just have the picture.

So Today, I Met Uncle Psycho

Let me introduce you to Uncle Psycho the same way I was.
Me: "Hi Aunt Diane." 

Aunt Diane: "Hey Leilani - this is your Uncle Psycho.  This is Leilani." 

Uncle Psycho: "I didn't know Heather had THREE kids.  Oh wait, she's the one thats been sick?" 

Aunt Diane: (nods) "Pukin' all over the place"

Me: (blushes slightly)

Uncle Psycho: "Oh, stay away!" (while making his pointer fingers into a cross.)

The throwing up thing was sadly true - in 24 hours, I had ingested exactly one pancake and about two bottles of water.  The time I wasn't spending eating, I was throwing up and eventually passing out in a dehydration-fueled slumber on my little brother's floor (his room has A/C, due to his superior ability to read instruction manuals.)

Now, about Uncle Psycho.  He's a white-haired, front-toothless, genial, truck driver who also happens to be my Aunt's new boyfriend.  Today was the first time we'd ever met, him reaching across the table (and between his bottle of Sunny D and it's matching bottle of Vodka) to shake my hand jovially. I'm not completely sure where the handle "Uncle Psycho," comes from, but he was quickly introduced to our neighbor, my younger sister, and my best friend under that same alias (his real name I believe is Walt).

I don't think he's psychotic at all - as a matter of fact, he was one of the most rare and wonderful kind of people you can ever hope to meet.  He was, in a word, Genuine.  Yes, with a capital G.  He never acted as though he knew more than he knows, but he knew more than most people know he knows.  Does that make sense?  I hope so.  Conversation included everything from exchanging jokes to the latest discoveries about Neanderthals.  We discussed accents and the Baby Boomers' impact on America.  One of his favorite topics, though, was my speech - he himself has a heavy accent and declared my speech "Eloquent and elegant."  I think my mom was pleased with that, having homeschooled me from 1st grade on  - look, ma no accent!

To be honest, Uncle Psycho's praise of my speaking habits mostly just made me feel kinda bad about my one big vice - swearing.  There is nothing elegant about it, I admit.  And to have to use rude words to describe something is hardly the mark of an eloquent orator. I don't swear at work, at church, near children or the elderly, or at a teacher. . . but swearing anywhere and anytime at all is really rather low-brow behavior.

Look ma, I'll work on it.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Independence Day 2010

Hi to anybody reading,

So today is the 4th of July, in case you're on U.S.A. soil and managed to miss it.  Or are an American on foreign soil who has lost track of the date. . . amidst the fireworks and barbecues, cookouts, beach days, sparklers, parades, and cold beers, I just wanted to take a quick second to say thanks.

Thanks to the men who drafter, wrote, voted on, and ratified the Declaration of Independence, birth certificate, guiding document, and foundation of a whole nation.

Thanks to George Washington, who led our rebel army until it became the victorious army of a brave new world (and no, he isn't covered in the above thanks. . . contrary to popular belief, George Washington was too busy you know, fighting the red coats to stop by and sign the Declaration.  Strange, right?)

Thanks to the brave men, women (and boys, as so very many of our earliest soldiers were) who have sacrificed the lives they knew, their wealth, their health, their loves, and often their very last breath for this country.  We reap the benefits everyday, and your sacrifices are not forgotten.

Thanks to everyone who has ever been brave enough to march on Washington, face down hoses and billy clubs and bullets and alienation for what they believed in.  If we do not use our freedoms of assembly, free speech, and peaceful protest then it is useless to have them.  Additionally, some of the changes that have been effected through protest are astounding - for instance, the right to vote for all  American Citizens through the ending of suffrage and the civil rights movement.

Thanks to each and every individual who has helped make America a great nation - the scientists, artists, performers, writers, politicians, musicians and leaders that have contributed to not only our nation, but to our world.

Thanks to the men and women who are serving now, and to their families.  Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you.

And I thank God for letting me born here, in the power, safety, wealth, beauty, and freedom of the United States of America.