Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Inner Child

You know how wise man have often talked about the child inside of all of us?  That happy, adventurous, joyful and free spirit who keeps us youthful?  Creative?  Inspired?  How important it is to let the inner child out?  Well, I've always had a hard time with that idea.  I agree there is an inner child inside of all of us. . .

But in my case - and I think maybe in the case of many other abuse victims - the inner child is not as joyful, as free, as at peace as the grownup version of myself.  I can still picture her, my inner, younger self.  Sometimes - often in the still of the night, or when I am somewhere peaceful like by the water or in a silent stage/rehearsal space - she reappears.  I can close my eyes and see her there, like I'm looking in a mirror.

She is short for her age.  Her hair is long and brown, hanging well below her shoulders.  Her brown eyes are big in her small face.  There is intelligence there, and passion.  But it's already curtained, hidden by little traces of fear.  You can still see the questions, though.  Always, always, always a question.  Who? And Why? And when?

I wish when I touched my inner child, I felt the urge to cartwheel.  Or to dance.  But usually, I just end up feeling sort of sad.

Her nose is too big for her face, just like her hands and feet are too big for her limbs.  She's a thin girl - very thin.  All skin and bone, hands and feet, and brown eyes.  Sometimes she is holding a book. Almost always she's holding a worn, well loved doll.  Even when she was a toddler, the only thing this little girl ever wanted was a story, her dolly, and enough room to dance. 

Sometimes it isn't at all like looking in a mirror.  It's like I've become the little girl again.  Confidently answering questions, talking too fast and too much and never far from a book.  Carefully listening beyond my own chatter, for any sound of instability.  Any hint of a threat.  The sounds of breaking things: plates, knick knacks, fingers, hearts.  They each shatter under different amounts of pressure, each cracking at a different volume.  If you keep your insides very still, you can actually feel the vibrations.  Way down deep in your core, like the echo of a plucked guitar string.  While I've never been very good at keeping still I'm very good at staying still.  I'm always in motion, doing something.  Even as a kid - but my spirit is still.  Calm.  Listening for the vibrations.

Tonight was one of those nights, when all I could see in front of me was the little girl I used to be.

There are already circles under her eyes, even though she's barely even ten years old.  They're faint and thin, delicate lilac rings, more a suggestion of sleeplessness than a statement of it.  If you know what to look for though, you see it.  The telltale badges of someone who imagines worlds past the stars instead of sleeping beneath them. 

I feel myself sliding back into that old self, who loved the worlds books and ballets brought her to as much as she feared the one she lived in. I feel little and nervous again, as I imagine making decisions others might judge me for.  As I think about changing my appearance, embracing the person I'm becoming, so different from who I was, I feel my little self peer around the corner, asking if it's ok.  Ok to be someone new?  Is it. . . safe?

She always wanted a big brother.  Someone tougher and cooler and smarter than her.  To show her the ropes.  To worry when the shouting happened that she might get woken up.  To make fun of her - to notice her. She wants someone talk to, instead of only getting to listen all the time.  As much as she talks, she's a good listener - it's her "hidden talent" like the ones beauty queens have.

When I ask a question now, it's with my in-between voice.  The one that sounds like me, 21 and self-assured, but comes from me, 9 and a half and without any confidence at all.  I ask my big brother questions - oh yes, I have a big brother now.  As soon as I became a teenager - all awkwardness and nervousness and strange ideas - God decided to send me someone who'd adopt me as his little sister, maybe because our strange baggage sort of. . . coordinates.  And now I reach out to him, asking about how it feels to get a tattoo and what I'm afraid of when I think of moving to a big city alone.  And somehow my little voice takes over and I'm talking too about where my fears came from.  He's telling me now to be brave - tattoos hurt and moving is lonely.  But it's worth it to sacrifice for things you love and believe in.  Right?


And I suddenly wish I could summon my elementary school self here, and answer some of her questions.

Does the shouting ever stop?  Why do some people get best friends and some people no friends?  Did you know ballet terminology is actually a mixture of three different languages (if you don't count English?)

It's ok.  The shouting stops - though the vibrations never do.  You'll always feel them, behind your closed eyes, in between your heartbeats. . . in the pause in other's stories.  Don't worry about friends: I promise there will be good and loyal and true and courageous people in your future.  You'll keep learning ballet terminology for as long as I've seen of your life.  And whenever you're really angry, or truly ready to cry, or bad dreams creep back in, you will recite it in your head - every step you know, every movement you love, lovingly repeated. You get a big brother.  And a big surgery.  And a very kind and sweet man will kiss you, right before you leave for college.

It's ok to cry, little one.  There is a lot of time left for cartwheels. . .

Geek Girl Swag

It's 2:45 am.  On a Monday night, no less - well, actually it's technically a Tuesday Morning.  I have to work tomorrow.  My temperature is currently nestled comfortably at 100 degrees, the same place it's been since Friday night at about 9:30.  I should be sleeping.

Nestled into a big, warm, comfy bed with a bottle of water and a thermometer sharing nightstand space with my nook.  But I'm not.  I'm tired, yes - that very special kind of tired you only get when you are or have been ill.  The thing is, I can't stand the thought of staying totally still anymore.  It's been days now.  Days of the most exercise I'm able to being some light stretching and taking the stairs to and from the kitchen.  No outside, no walking around just to burn off some of my constant excess energy.  No adventures.  No dance or Yoga (and I've been wanting to start yoga for ages now!).

For someone who majors in dance and has been an athlete their whole lives, this is quite the change of pace.  Some of it has been nice, of course - I've actually done some reading.  Of something other than a textbook or script!  I've started playing around with the formatting and image of A Space for Inspiration again (I apologize for it's messy, half-done state).  I even started watching Doctor Who, something I've wanted to do for ages and not had the time.  I also spent a few minutes on Boyfriend's computer, playing a new multiplayer video game called Star Wars: The Old Republic.  The combination of this (totally awesome, by the way) video game and beginning Doctor Who have made me realize I something.

I'm a geek.

No really, I am.  I've said it before, joked that I am a "geek girl," or have "geek girl swag," with one of my friends from school.  I use awkward hashtags like that on Twitter all the time, in fact.  But I really realized it today, just how much of a geek I am.  And not nerdy girl chic, like Zoey Deschanel on the New Girl.  Not sexy geeky, the kind where you know just enough about "lame" topics like Star Wars to be able to contribute to a conversation about them while playing with your cute hipster glasses.  Oh no boys - this girl is all geek.  Observe:

* I will gladly duel you with Light Sabers.  My character on SWTOR is a Miralan Jedi Counselor.

*I first read the Lord of the Rings when I was 11 years old.  From the age of 11 until about 15, one of my best friends (and pen pal!) could write her name in Elvish.  I was basically convinced this was the coolest trick ever, slash the most important lifeskill one could wish for.

*I'm a total and unashamed Potterhead.  I'm in Ravenclaw, in case you were wondering!  I think my Boyfriend might be a Gryffindor though. . .

*In an attempt to recapture some of the magic and escapist joy both The Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter brought me as a kid, I went through a phase of reading Dragonlance books.  I was 12 or 13.  If you don't know what those are, it may be because you're a socially well adjusted adult. . .

*I like classic Disney movies, particularly of the Princess variety (and well yes, I know she is the very first Disney Princess I cannot stand Snow White.  Blech!).

*I've begun watching Doctor Who, am an avid fan of both Grimm and Once Upon A Time, and have every intention of adding Sherlock and Game Of Thrones to my geek tv viewing pleasure.

*Comic.  Books.

There are lots of other examples of my geekiness that I could point too. . . but I'm a little worried I may have scared you away by now.  The funny thing is, people are always surprised by this part of me, as though only awkward high schoolers and overweight dudes who work at Newbury Comics are allowed to have moments of super fandom.  It's a silly stereotype, no?  I'm a mature, emotionally stable adult.  I'm neither sun deprived nor Dorritos indulged.  I don't wear primarily black.  I've never dyed my hair a color only found in a crayola crayon box, my ears don't have gauges, and I'm not socially inept.

What other silly stereotypes are there out there, that bother you?  Any in particular that apply to you?  I think I might like to devote an entire post to some of the things I should be, based on stereotypes, and I'd love to hear what mold you don't quite fit in!

Monday, January 9, 2012

You'll Notice

. . . that the face of this blog is under construction.  I know the buttons that lead to pages on the left hand side, for instance, don't currently match up.  It will probably be a day or two before I can fix that, and finish much of my revamping.  I do hope you accept my apologies for the mess in the meantime!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

In Retrospect. . . Wow.

I started 2011 with an open heart and the sincere hope of being friends.  I'm not sure if 2011 and I ended as friends. . . to be honest I'm not yet sure how I feel about this past year.  Part of me is mildly shocked that it is in fact a "past" year.   Where did it go?  On the other hand, I feel very different from the rather hopeful voice that is clear in the above post.  Thats not to say this past year was all bad, or even mostly bad.  It was mostly unexpected and full of totally new experiences.  Let's just take a look back, shall we?*

I started the new year looking forward to the adventures I knew it had in store, the blessings I hoped would come, and the trials I could anticipate so early on.  I went back to school to start the second semester of my sophomore year, which was the busiest I'd ever encountered.  I began adding pages to and experimenting with the layout of my blog.  I had one of the most amazing experiences of my life in the form of KCACTF (Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival), a solid week of master classes, workshops, performances, auditions, exploring theater, and parties.  I grappled with some of my insecurities.

I had volunteered to do crew work for our spring plays The Odd Couple and The Female Odd Couple and found myself thrown in as Props Designer and Props Manager. . . and then also running the backstage crew!  It turned out to be a little bit much for me (coupled with a very heavy class load, rehearsals for another show, and lots of homework) and the weekend of Valentines Day/my 18 month anniversary with Boyfriend I ended up heading home with a pretty bad concussion.  And a cold.  Bad luck runs in threes, yes?  My luck ran out (thankfully) in time for a heartfelt wedding of two deserving people.

I found myself forced to move out of my childhood home for good. . . and it was nothing like I expected.  I turned 21 and had the best birthday I've ever had, complete with a mini celebration, a yummy cake, my first time in a bar (and my first drink, which I couldn't finish), a beautiful present from Boyfriend, and lots of laughter.  I was Assistant Stage Manager for our spring Musical, which was amazing.  And I experienced my most life-changing adventure thus far: flying to the Caribbean for spring break with two of my dearest friends, to experience Trinidad & Tobago in all of it's glory, culture, and rawness during Carnival, the biggest part of the year.  I saw how people on a different part of the globe experienced our shared religion, breathed in air that smelled of flowers and spices I'd never known, tasted entirely new flavors, saw the sunset over new mountains, started learning another language, wrestled (and eventually gave into) wild tropical waves, and bonded with girls I will love for the rest of my life.  I grieved with the world for Japan, and ached for my friends there and whose families were trapped in the rubbles.  I learned through these last two things that life is so worth living - and that each breath is a true blessing.

I got to take some awesome pictures with my incredibly talented photographer friend, and played around with my roommate's camera after a saturday morning rehearsal.  I was inspired by a classroom exercise to give this blog a new name.  I celebrated the differences that make my relationship work.  I did my best to survive the end of the semester. . . 

I started finals with a lovely breakthrough.  My little sister turned 19.  I settled into my new home, including starting a garden and finding a rhythm for my exercise regime.  I reflected on a year post surgery.  I started trying to navigate my work schedule in a new place.

I tried to find a way to help my friend Alivia, and reached out to the blogging community.  I alphabetized myself.  I started working for the summer, teaching dance and martial arts and being a camp counselor at a kids fitness & fun day camp.

I continued with my Weekly Gratitude participation, and was really excited that one of my favorite bloggers reading and commenting on one of my posts.  I got to cross one of the things I was looking forward to back in January off of my list - Shauna & Jake's wedding.  It was a glorious mountaintop, castle affair, complete with a sparkling white dress, dashing marines, glowing tealights, free flowing tears, live music, and dancing in a circle of friends I've had since I was two years old.  


I started my junior year of college.  I wrote about the strange moods that sometimes grip me on the day the restraining order expired.  It was one of my better posts, I think, not because of the subject matter (which is somewhat sad and a little strange) but because I felt as though I partially captured the emotions I was feeling.  I contemplated what it means to have scars.  I served as Assistant Stage Manager for our fall musical (Chicago).  Walking home from a Chicago rehearsal, I was assaulted.  Thrown into a wall, with my shirt ripped open.  I fought for my life, and I won.

I couldn't bring myself to write.  Not a single word on the creamy off white pages of my journal, a present from my beloved roommate.  Not once did I hit "send," on a regular email to my extend family, updating them on my life.  Not one post appeared on my faithful blog, where my few and loyal followers could follow along.  The only place I did write was in my acting journal, because it was required that I write in it everyday.  Even there, the chronicles of the month are incomplete, as I didn't know how to express all of the things that went along with the traumas September had brought.  Sleepless nights, endless police interviews, a desperate attempt to reignite my own passion.  Crippling, blinding, terrifying pain in my hip, leg, and back.  Scary prognosis.  Ice packs.  Fear. Ace bandages wrapped around my newly broken body from the bottom of my breasts to the top of my knee.

 It also was a month full of friendship and love: a roommate who never said a word about the dishes I left in the sink, or the half finished laundry I left in the hamper, or when I'd sit in the bathroom and cry.  A never ending lineup of sweet male friends, each one determined I'd never walk home alone, or take the stairs unassisted.  Fencing with wooden spoons in the hallway and rude joke after rude joke until I had to smile.  Staying up until four in the morning, playing stupid games and listening to good music while I finally cried.  On top of all this, Chicago opened, and I went through the longest and most painful run of my life - though the show itself was brilliantly done.  Classes got more intense. I focused myself passionately on learning fencing for Musketeers, performing in the first dance show of the year (yes on my damaged hip) and exploring my tangled emotions through my Dance Composition and Acting classes.

I finally sat down and wrote about the actual assault.  And started to find my way back to myself - the person my friends and family loved enough to endure the sort of half-self I'd slipped into for 6 painful weeks.  It's not my best writing, and I've never truly written about what happened after, but it was an attempt.  Musketeers opened - one of the most amazing experiences I've ever been part of.  And then it closed, and for the first time I cried at a show ending, something no number of cast parties, closing nights, or last performances as ever managed to make me do before.  One of my two best friends came all the way from NYC, arriving just before the show, staying up talking all night, and leaving on the first train out, just to see me perform and show me love.  I celebrated Thanksgiving with my family and through the internet, with my dearest friends.  I did my best to let everyone I love know I loved them and what very special thing I was grateful for in them.  My piece was selected for a show at the end of the semester: in my advanced choreography class, we each had to create and audition pieces for a showcase, which would be my final.  Never in a million years did I think mine would be selected, but it was!  I started prepping for finals.  

December began with another sudden, gut-wrenching downward plunge.  One of my friends tried to take his own life, and was taken from our campus.  The hole this tore in our circle will never heal, and it will be for the rest of my life that I can close my eyes and imagine the pain in his roommate's the following days.  He is doing much better now - I'm hopeful for his future.  His roommate and all the boys in his suite are also doing well: after my own assault, I felt pain, but this (after the initial terrifying, swooping, fear) was an ache that filled my heart, my belly, and my head as I thought of the life he almost gave up, the sadness written in our friends, and the memories now colored by what-ifs.  Sometimes I think the ache and my own pain and the prickle of insecurities have blended together in a gentle throb that will sit behind my eyes and beneath my heart for the rest of my life.  It's what I wrote about in this post.  December also brought me my chance to perform that choreography that had been selected from my past, and I got to bring three choreographer's visions (including my own) to life.  I saw the utterly incredible guy I call big brother, and my amazing "sister" as well: they came from Philly and Chicago, respectively, to see me perform and visit with our circle of friends, and that best friend came from NYC again.  I celebrated Christmas with my family.  For a few sweet moments this winter break, I've been living the dream, an incredible and inspiring blessing.  

So that. . . that was my 2011.  The highest of highs in the form of incredible people blessing me with love, support, and friendship.  The lowest of lows, wrapped in fear and pain.  But I try to live a life of faith and I know, way down deep in my bones - deeper than the fear, deeper than the ache, and deeper by far than my doubts - God never gives us burdens heavier than we can bear, or blessings greater than we can manage.  

So I look with a tentative but open heart to this new year.

*I started writing this on December 27th.  It took me until about January 3rd to finish writing.  Only now have I decided I really am ready to share it with you, my beloved followers and anyone else who happes upon it in the interwebs!