Monday, September 26, 2011

So Much To Say

So much has happened in my life since the last time I wrote.  There are so many things I should update you on: words I should be putting on the page, instead of keeping sort of locked away in my head.  But I don't have time now - I barely have a moment to breathe between classes.  The most important things are these two:

I feel confident that I am living up to my little button on the left of the page.  The one that says "Survivor, Never Victim."  I am not a victim.  You cannot make me a victim.  I can take a beating and give one back.  I can stand in a storm and survive.  I will always survive.

I have seen some of the worst in man: in his vices, his habits, his designs.  And I have seen some of the best.  I will spend the rest of my life thanking God that so much of the best exists in the friends and family that surround me so that I have the strength to survive the rest.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Scars and Damsels.

I had Tech Lab today.  I suppose those words are probably gibberish to most of my readers, so I'll explain.  I am taking a class about building, designing, and maintaining sets for theatrical performances.  There is a lab portion a few days a week, and today was my lab day.  Because we do a lot of painting and playing with power tools, we're supposed to wear clothes we don't mind wrecking, so I wore a t shirt with the collar cut off.  It's comfortable and fashionless, the perfect thing to splatter with paint and saw dust.  I spent most of the day with it falling a bit off of my shoulder. Off of my left shoulder.  Because I make sure it stays high and over my right side always.

There are scars under there, scars I still don't want anyone seeing.  I know this is foolish of me - they are three small lines, hardly massive damage.  But they represent massive damage on the inside.  And no matter how many times Boyfriend kisses them, or how often I have to see them around the straps of my leotard, I hate them.

As soon as I can, I cover them up.  Thats the funny thing about being a woman, isn't it?  We're asked to be delicate, almost frail - yet we're not allowed to have scars.  We're like porcelain: valuable because of our form and frailty, useless as soon as we chip or crack or break.  How am I supposed to be a damsel in distress if I can't rumple my dress?  Yet I follow the rules and dutifully hide these small markers of my strength behind a careful cloth covering.

After all, no one wants to see a woman with scars.  No matter how small  they maybe, they're generally hiding something bigger on the inside.  Ironically, as I covered my tiny physical marks today, I lay bare - only for a few moments - the longer, deeper, more virulent scars on my heart.  We were in class and discussing how something had made us feel. . . and my hand was up.  And my mouth fell open, and I felt so strange spilling out words, trying to describe a feeling you can't understand unless you've had it.  I focused tightly on the teacher, willing myself not to blink, not to sigh, not to break.  Not to acknowledge any other faces or voices in the room, not the kind eyes or the gentle expressions.  Not the bored person a few chairs over, or the one next to me who already knew some of the story.  Then it was done, and my story half-told hung in the air like the ashy remains of a fire, wafted away on the breeze and only ever half contained.  I blinked, and the spell was broken.  Tight throat and tingling palms, I tried to draw that invisible veil between these scars and this self, but wasn't quicker than a classmate's hand.  He reached out and grabbed mine tightly in his, without a word, and suddenly the tears - which had already made a bid for freedom today - were much closer to the surface. 

I shifted slightly, making sure my three.  tiny.  straight.  tidy. unimportant.  shoulder scars were covered.  The tears were forgotten as I realized my own foolishness.  I could leave heavy words hanging in the air, revealing to people I hardly knew a little dark in the bottom of my heart, but I couldn't let a friend know I had surgery scars?

I am not a sighing damsel, crying out from her ivory tower.  I have paths sliced in my flesh and in my heart that could take a hundred years to heal - and I refuse to fear them anymore.  Next time, perhaps I'll let those tears fall, instead of snatching back my hand.  Perhaps I'll even wear a tank top without a blouse carefully arranged, covering my shoulder.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

I'm Supposed To Be Doing Homework

I really am.  But I just can't settle into it this evening, and I really don't know why.  So many different thoughts are buzzing in my head.  So many different feelings are competing in my chest.  I can't direct my thoughts in a practical, steady way.  They're mercurial and slippery, changing from here to there far too smoothly to focus on the construction of Proscenium Theaters or the correct way to build a flat.

Too visceral to analyze my pirouettes.  Too quick moving to select an outfit for mock auditions.  Too . . . much.  And many.  And varied.  Swirling in my head and my heart, until it is as though just my face and chest are under water.  It is peaceful and oppressive under here, all at the same time.

I'm in the happiest, saddest place in the world right now.  Today marks the end of any illusions of comfort, of safety, as the last legal barrier between the old dark and the new life for my family slips away.  The barrier for myself - the no trespass order at my school - stays the same.  But what is the use of being safe if you have no confidence in the security of those you love?  It's also natural, I suppose, for my mind to wander off into territory I generally try to avoid, like the dark thicket just off the safe trail you usually walk.  This tints me with melancholy.

On the other hand, today was a serene fall day.  I went to a later Mass than I typically attend, with a group of friends.  There are no words in my limited vocabulary to describe the glow in my heart as I reached out my hands during the Our Father and found the warm, secure, tight grip of kind people on either side.  The way my soul sighed as our voices joined the rest of the congregations, giving strength to my wavering will.

There were so many times I thought I'd just drift away with the golden leaves today, carried in the ice cold riptide barraging my spirit.  Then a friend caught my eye from across the room, or brushed my hand with theirs.  A hand has fallen on my shoulder, and like a rock dropped in a pond, it has settled right down to the bottom of me.  And I realize I have a bottom.  I am solid, and physical, and real.  I can't drift away.  There are hands to hold and songs to sing, and I must follow this trail of warm human contact so I don't loose myself behind my own eyes.

I'm so very outside myself tonight; I feel like when I lift my eyes to the moon, I could drift off and touch it with the tips of my fingers.  Hold it in the palm of my hand.

I'm so deeply inside myself today, I fear when my roommate walks by me, she won't raise her eyes.  Because there is nothing there to see: I've swallowed myself up, into the rattling in my chest and the whispering behind my eyes.

I am melancholy and peaceful tonight, and I fear very little homework will be done.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

What I Remeber of A Day We'll Never Forget.

My mom woke me up that morning, at about 9:00.  My sister and I were usually up much earlier than that, but we had guests that weekend and had gone to bed late.  Being homeschooled, we were taking advantage of the chance to sleep in. 

I remember rolling over in my bed as mom pushed open the door, and wondering what time it is.  Her face was very pale and her tone was harsher than usual as she said "Don't turn on the news at breakfast.  And Mia?  No radio."  I started to ask why and she simply said "No TV."

In retrospect I know this is because she hadn't talked to my dad yet.  I was 11 at the time, but my sister was only 9 and my brother just a few years old.  She didn't want to make any decisions until they had spoken.

I didn't think much of her stern instructions.  I was far more concerned with my mother's tension all day. I remember thinking she was more up tight then I'd ever seen her, excepting the days her and my dad would fight. 

 The next thing that happened I am not proud of.  I have only willfully been disobedient three times in my entire life: this occasion, one day when I left my dance studio to cross the street for food after 16 hrs. without eating, and my senior year of high school on a performance trip when I climbed out a window and up a fire escape to sit in a thunderstorm.  On this occasion, I snuck into the living room while mom was in the bathroom and pressed the button on our TV.  I will never forget that moment, though the specific images now escape me.  I honestly think they were lost in the crushing weight of all the film, images, sound, etc. that bombarded us all in those next few days and weeks.  What remains imprinted firmly in my mind is the sickening lurch that hit my stomach, as though I'd missed a stair and fallen into a blackhole.  I remember choking back some sort of gasp in fear that my mother would hear me, and I would be in very big trouble.  I wasn't sure where this was, or what was happening, or why, but by the time I raised my finger to the power button, thousands of terrified screams were echoing in my ears, and a lump the size of Chicago had formed in my throat.

I was a very well behaved girl that day. Silent and attentive to my schoolwork, I moved through the day in a vague blur, doing whatever my mother asked.  Later my parents called us into the living room, and my dad explained gravely that "Some very bad people had flown airplanes into two buildings this morning."  The morning's news broadcast flew in front of my mind's eye: Someone had done this on purpose.  This wasn't an accident.  On purpose . . .

My mom added: "More of the same people crashed them into - into a big building in Washington, and they were trying to crash another plane too."  I don't remember anyone else's reaction, just how weak and shaky my legs were.  I remember putting one hand over my mouth - still trying to catch that illicit gasp - and putting the other hand up to my throat, were my cross from Nana was draper around my neck.  I sank onto the floor, a thousand questions fighting to be heard in my head.

Why?  Who were these people?  What buildings?  Were they done?  Were they going to attack anywhere else?  Were there more planes tearing through buildings right now?  Did they steal the planes?  Did they fly their own? What does it mean - why are we being attacked? 

And above all else, a question I'm sure echoed through America that day and in the days that followed:

What happens now?

Ten years later, we have seen some of the answer.  War has ravage a continent and claimed thousands of lives.  Biological Warfare was introduced to the vocabularies of children.  The mail became suspicious.  Traveling is a hastle, nerve wracking, frightening.  Soldiers have spent more than half of these ten years away from their families, resulting in a second round of fatherless children deprived that day.  The Patriot Act was passed, tearing away many civil liberties and doing little to ensure our safety.  People have become embittered, suspicious, withdrawn: others have become more compassionate and brave.  An entire generation has grown up in a nation at war.  Like Japanese Americans in WWII, an entire group has become suspect in our society.  So much has happened since that day: my hope - my prayer - is that change continues to happen over the next ten years.  That in ten years from now, the world will be a better place than it is today.

And that those who lost their lives are never forgotten.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Brunch In April

Hello All!

I'm so sorry I haven't written much this week: it's been a helluva first week back to school.  I've been up at seven and in bed at two am everyday so far, rehearsing for three different shows, and already done 200 pages of reading.  Since Tuesday.

In lieu of a new post about the craziness of the first week (it is coming soon though I promise!) here is a brand spanking new post at my friend Alivia's blog Brunch In April.  She sweetly opened up her much-larger-than-mine-blog to some small guest bloggers over the past month, and today was my turn!  I wrote a post that turned out to be the finale to her month of guest bloggers.  If you're interested in giving it a read, here it is.

'Till next time!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Today Is My First Day

Of Junior Year.  I have Honors Colloquium, Ballet, Dance Composition III, and Musical Theater Ensemble which will fill my day from 11:30 - 6:10.  Thank goodness for late starts!  My latest start ever!  Which of course means my roommate and I were up far too late attempting to unpack/decorate our lovely new space. . .

I promise I'll write again soon (hopefully tonight) to let you know how this first day went and to post pictures of this amazingly beautiful/awesome space. 

Wish me luck!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Weekly Gratitude 9/2

It's Friday already!  The last Friday of my summer, in fact.  On one hand it feels like forever since I've been on campus or in class.  Surely it's been a hundred years since I was last in a rehearsal?  On the other hand, I can't believe my summer has disappeared already.  Where did it go?  Either way the first Friday of September is here, and it's time to reflect on the blessings of not only the week, but of my whole summer.

I'm so grateful for my awesome roommate.  Talking about everything we're going to do for our little condo and planning out the school year has made me really excited to head back!

Thank you for my summer job, where I had the chance to make good money as I helped kids.  There is nothing like being armed with crayoned pictures and oodles of hugs on your last day at home! 

I'm grateful for that moment when I collected my last paycheck for the summer.  Knowing I had only a few more things left to purchase, and would still have a bit of money left in the bank.  Knowing it was money I had earned myself, was making progress towards fully supporting myself.

Thank you for Boyfriend's awesome family.  His baby brother saw me after his first day of preschool and ran across the yard shouting "Lala I yuv you!  Lala!  Lala I yuv you!"  as his sister gave me a giant hug.  It's nice to feel at home with people who are so important to both of us.

I'm grateful for my own resilient little family.  We're like the Weebles - we "wobble but we don't fall down."  Through a thousand road blocks, false starts, unfair turns of fate, and frustrating circumstances we manage to find a way.  Each member of the family is strong and self-sufficient, managing to forge a future for themselves despite a weighty past and difficult present.

Thank you for a new crop of Professor's at my school.  As upset as I am to have lost several faculty I really admired and learned well from, I'm excited for new opportunities and challenges.

I'm really grateful for how cheaply I was able to purchase books this semester!  A little patience and a few hours online yielded my best results ever.

Thank you for rewarding work waiting for me.  I'm excited for Junior year to begin!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Did You Hear the One About the Linebackers

. . . the old man in a back brace, the military woman, and the burning truck?  No?  Well here's the full story from Yahoo!

*Note: there is a research issue with this article - the author states the boys are from two different states which both have towns of the same name.  However, it is still worth a read.*

In short, these three young men saw a horrible accident involving a flaming pick up truck and a small family.  Through swift thinking, courage, and strength, they managed to save the father, three year old daughter, and pregnant mother.  They were aided by an older gentleman in a back brace, and a woman in the military.  These kinds of stories are a big part of why it's worth it to read/watch/listen to the news everyday.  Amidst all the tragedy and mess, there are occasional stories of hope and brotherly love.