Wondering

college, illness, life

I very often wonder about people…I wonder about the kind of life they live. I wonder if they have people they love and that love them. And sometimes I wonder what the hell happened to them to make them so damn awful.

Today, I wondered about the latter… It was earlier this afternoon. I was shopping with my–very hip–grandmother, when it hit me: A bathroom emergency (for all of my Crohns and Colitis friends, you know what I mean). I promptly left the store to find a restroom. Without going into too much detail, because let’s be honest no one wants details, I was accosted by a bathroom attendant who not only saw it fit to shame me in my current unfortunate circumstance, but also thought it was necessary to inform the rest of the bathroom patrons as to what was going on….

I’m not a violent person. Aside from very understandable road rage, I rarely raise my voice or yell at people. I’ve never cussed someone out (to their face), I’ve never hit anyone. I honestly just try to be kind, even to the assholes. I was that way today, even in the midst of her berating me, I tried my best to keep my peace and my composure, because, I wondered to myself, “Maybe something really bad happened to her to make her respond this way to me.”

I quickly left the bathroom thoroughly traumatized, and just ready to leave the mall entirely. When I recounted this interaction to my mother, she was obviously outraged (I’m just glad she wasn’t with me, pretty sure mall security would have been called…) but more than that she wanted me to understand something: I have nothing to be ashamed of, and moreover, I should stand up for myself more.

Not a novel idea, no, but one to me. I like to keep quiet. I don’t yell, I don’t scream, but I can speak. And I should’ve spoken to that women today. Hell I wish I had spoken to all the people who have shamed, embarrassed, and discriminated against me because of this illness I have. And there have been many.

I wish this woman was just a one off event, but she’s not. She’s quite honestly the norm. What people don’t understand they tend to be hateful towards (please do not turn this into a political post, it’s not). No this post is about me. And my illness. It’s not fun to talk about, it’s not sexy, and unlike what Hollywood would like you to believe, I do not have an Augustus Waters waiting for me at the end of the day. And yet I’m still sick.

I don’t want to be, I don’t want to think of myself as disabled, but according to the government, I am. I hate not being free to do everything people my age should be able to do. I’ve never liked the word no. And still, here I am.

Sure, it could be worse. I could have a potentially fatal, incurable disease that takes over my life at the most inopportune of times. Oh wait…

So, what should you take away from all of this, truthfully? I don’t know. Maybe I just wanted to rant. Maybe it’s for someone who should be kinder to the people they don’t understand. And maybe no one will even read this, but it’s here. And just like my disease, it’s real.

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Why Father’s Day Isn’t Just For Fathers

college, family, life

A very long time ago, I lost my father to ALS. It was a couple of months before my third birthday– he had gotten sick just before my first. I was so young that I really don’t have any memories of him. Some would say it’s easier since I don’t know what I’m missing, but that’s not true. I’m very aware of what I’ve missed, but also what I’ve gained.

When I was in kindergarten we had a Father’s Day breakfast. As all of my friends’ dads showed up I started to finally get it: My dad wasn’t coming. I wasn’t going to show him my picture I drew or take him to my favorite slide on the playground. I became aware of my father’s absence that day. But even though I didn’t have my dad there to share pancakes with, I wasn’t alone. My amazing mom showed up to be with me. She was the only mom there, but that didn’t faze her, nothing really does.

After that day I had some pretty hard years. I knew there was nothing to miss of a man I couldn’t remember, and yet I missed everything. I wanted him at my recitals, and to teach me how to fish or play golf (his favorite sport). I wanted us to watch football together on Sundays, and for him to be the rock I sought out on my worst days. I didn’t even know what he sounded like. Even though I had many people to tell me how much he loved me and how proud he would be of me, it wasn’t him saying those things.

It cut pretty deep for a while, and led me to look for father figures in some not good places. But then one day I looked around me and saw all the men and women I had been blessed with.

I did learn to fish and play golf and I did have someone to come to my recitals and watch football with. I also had someone who taught me how to cook. Who made sure I had everything I wanted on my Christmas list. Who picked me up when I fell down, and taught me how much worth I have in this world. I had someone who was proud of me, and never let me forget it. I had many “someones” and they all stepped up to give me the daddy I so desperately desired.

I’ve come a long way since kindergarten. It still hits me sometimes though. That he didn’t get to see me graduate high school or torment my first boyfriend, that he won’t walk me down the aisle or cry when he holds his grandchild. But in those moments I remember who will be there and who has been there for me, and I am grateful.

Oh and I did finally find some old home movies. Everyone was right, he really did love me and would be very proud.

The Feeling

college, life, love

There’s a special kind of pain. It’s the kind of pain where you can feel every pulse of your heartbeat, and with every breath that draws your chest upward, it’s like a thousand knifes bearing deeper into your soul.

All your nerve endings are on fire; searing, burning, screaming fire.

Then the tears come. Fast and hard. They fall from your face like fat goblets of truth. They burn your eyes as they leave them, further validating the pain you feel.

Then the screaming comes. Gut-wrenching, breath-stealing, ear-ringing screaming.

Finally, you’re so exhausted that all you can muster is a pitiful “please.” You silently plead with God, asking Him for them not to be gone.

But you know it’s for naught. And as you lay with your spent body in pieces the screaming will cease, the tears will dry up, your nerve endings will relax, and the pain will dull.

Because now it comes in moments, and you know that all you have to do is make it through.

The Truth Hurts

college, life, love

You’re not who you thought you’d be.

He’s not who he said he was.

They didn’t care as much as you wanted them to.

Life is harder than you were prepared for.

Dreams die quicker than they should.

Sleep is way too fleeting.

Rest is almost impossible.

And somewhere along the way you just gave up.

But maybe you are who you’re supposed to be?

Yeah he sucked, but maybe the next guy won’t?

They weren’t your real friends and you knew it.

Disney is bullshit.

Dreams only die if you let them.

I mean, basically, you still won’t sleep.

Make time for rest. Demand it.

Giving up is not an option. Pour some coffee, turn on some music, put on some red lipstick and get your ass out there.

Living

college, life, love

Sometimes life really likes to try and get you down. You start to feel as if that next fake smile might be the one to finally shatter your soul, and unleash the flood of emotions you’ve been holding back.

It’s like we’re all walking down one long New York City street. Where everyone is walking the same way, fast, and with a purpose. No one looks up or around; they just keep walking. But then something happens. Loss, a break up, a failure, and you’re forced to stop. You look around at where you are and realize it’s not at all where you thought you’d be. Everyone is still walking around you and you’re just standing, taking inventory. It’s scary and lonely, but oh so necessary.

You see, some people never look up. They let the flow of people pull them in the direction they think is forward. They forgot to treasure life because they’re always just trying to get to the next block. When your little bubble of false security is burst, you have a rare opportunity to choose the direction you want to go.

It’s terrifying realizing just how fragile and short life is. We have no control over that, only God knows. You may even feel paralyzed because of your new found knowledge, but you can’t let it bring you down. It’s meant to lift you up! To elevate you to new heights that you never even imagined before.

This is when my only knowledge of Lost comes in: Allow yourself to be scared for five seconds. And then get out there and live your life.

One…Two…Three…Four…Five…

Remembering

college, life, love

I remember that day like it was happening right now.

It’s forever seared into my memory, gripping my mind so tight, I feel as if it might choke it.

It went along like any other day.

I thought there would be some feeling, almost a warning. That I would know.

But I didn’t.

I didn’t know anything.

I was blissfully ignorant.

Everyone else knew, but no one wanted to tell me.

They just couldn’t spoil my day; until they had to.

I remember looking into her eyes.

That’s when I knew.

There was no warning.

Only a tsunami of feelings.

Hatred. Regret. Fear. Denial. Anger. Sadness.

I couldn’t even hear the words coming out of her mouth.

I remember them, I just can’t remember hearing them.

The only thing I could hear was this internal scream, bubbling up from the depths of my soul, but not able to escape my mouth.

I saw the words she was saying. And that’s when I ran.

I ran.

Only to the edge of the water.

But I ran.

I ran to you. From you. Around you.

And then I collapsed.

I collapsed in the sand yes, but also into every emotion that was pulling me down.

I collapsed into myself.

I hated you. I couldn’t believe you would leave me.

You. Who was my biggest cheerleader and my best friend.

You left without me, to a place I couldn’t follow you to.

Oh I tried didn’t I?

But I still couldn’t come.

I regretted, and still do, all the time I didn’t spend with you.

I was afraid of this brave new world without you.

While I was only a fraction of your life, you were the entirety of mine.

I didn’t believe it, and sometimes still don’t.

My anger drove me to places, and left me there for dead.

But my sadness, it likes to sweep in and out of my life.

It takes my breath in its cold hands and locks it up tight.

It presses on my eyes until I’m forced to relieved the pressure with tears.

It drills a neat, little hole in the center of my heart. Just enough to hurt, but not enough to kill.

You see, I remember that day like I was living it right now, and today, I am.

 

Timing…

college

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They say that timing is everything, and if you think about it, those people are right. From baking cookies, to falling for someone, timing can mean the difference between yummy deliciousness, and burnt horribleness (like my adjectives?).

The most common story of timing gone wrong, is the one where the boy falls for the girl, but the girl does not reciprocate (That can go the other way you know…). But what about the story where both parties involved have made known their affections for one another, but for whatever reason they still can’t be together. Maybe it’s because of family concerns, maybe it’s because of distance, or maybe–as in popular Shakespeare fashion–death comes in between the two love-birds.

I’m a firm believer in divine appointments, and seasons. Sometimes, those two things converge into a person. They’re the person whom you met in the most random way, or don’t even remember how you met at all. They’re the person who comes sweeping into your nice, comfortable life and turns everything upside-down. And they’re the person who you thought would never leave you, but as quickly as they appeared, sometimes they disappear even faster.

Some would say that the timing was off, that if you had just met at another point in time, in another place, etc, things would/could be different. But what if those people are wrong? What if, for some crazy reason, that person wasn’t meant to stay in your life forever? I call these people “seasonal”, because they come for a season–whether if to teach us something, or for us to teach them something, or even for just a few fond memories–and when that season is over, they start to wander away.

I’m finally starting to not only understand, but accept this as just “how the story goes” sometimes… Think of it this way, if you take the cookies out of the oven too early, they won’t be done, they’ll just be a gooey, hot mess (which depending on how you like your cookies isn’t a bad thing, but rabbit trail). However, if you leave them in the oven too long, they’ll burn (and I’m pretty sure no one likes burnt cookies; if you do, then ok, I guess). Same with people, take them out of your life too soon, and you could end up a gooey, hot mess, but leave them in your life after their time is up, and you both could end up getting burned…

Timing is everything, and unfortunately, sometimes we just don’t know who’s going to stay, and who has to go.

To Have Loved and Lost…

college

They say it’s better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all; my battered heart begs to differ sometimes… Love. It’s such a wonderfully terrible necessity of life. Before we begin, I want to announce now that this is not a ranty post about how sucky love is (false) or the stupidity of boys (true), but in its truest form, this post is just me talking to someone I loved dearly. Someone who not only impacted my life, but who has shaped who I have become…

Two days ago, you would’ve been 89…

Two weeks ago, the family would’ve called one another frantically to talk about what to do for you, or what to get you. They would’ve bickered constantly about the time, place, and especially about what food to cook. Arguments would’ve inevitably sprung up, and eventually you would be called in to bring the peace, like you did so many times before.

One week ago, the final plans would be made. Feelings would be hurt, food and cooks would be selected, a place would be booked, and friends would be invited. Then I would call you, hear your gruff hello, say, “Hi Papou”, and you would say, “Hi baby!”. Then we would chat about school, and work, and the weather. I’d ask you what you wanted for your birthday, and you would most likely reply with, “I don’t know, just not shirts or socks!” After, I would apologize profusely for not being able to be home until Greek Easter, to which you’d say, “That’s ok baby, you’re doing good in your school, just focus on that and don’t stress too much.” Then we’d say I love you’s and goodbye’s and hang up.

One day ago, I’d be feeling guilty for not being there because how many birthdays do you have left? I’d hear all about the fights, food, gifts, and just plain gossip. I’d call to make sure you had a good day and that you got my gift. I’d try and get you to work FaceTime, but that would be a fail, and then we’d just give up and promise to talk again soon.

Today, I am sad. I’m sad because none of those things happened. There were no failed FaceTime attempts, no gifts lost in the mail, no food or fights, no planning or bickering, and you didn’t turn 89, at least not here with us. Not with me. No, we said our goodbyes 7 months ago… At least I know that our final words were, “I love you.”

So is it really better to have loved and lost? Most days I would say yes, because without those memories–without you–I wouldn’t be me. But some days, like today, I just miss you–and it hurts like hell.

Two days ago, you would’ve been 89…

Spring Retreat….

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Nature is good for the soul… I’m sure that’s some sort of famous quote or something. I normally don’t identify myself as nature inclined, but I have to say that after living in LA for six months, I was beyond excited to see some green, and some stars!

For those of you that don’t know, I’m a part of an A-mazing Christian organization here on USC’s campus called Cru (formerly, Campus Crusades). Every fall and spring, Cru puts together a retreat; nothing crazy, just some Jesus loving people out away from school and getting some great hipster pictures for Instagram.

This past weekend we had our spring retreat (for those of you currently living in the Arctic, sorry the “East Coast”, it’s pretty much spring here #sorrynotsorry). What does spring retreat entail, you ask? Well, basically, over 80 college students packed their Bibles (and cameras) and heading to Santa Barbara for some “glamping”*. We spent two bitterly cold nights learning more about not only Jesus, but each other…. One of the greatest tools of the enemy is isolation; he wants us to feel alone, or like we’re the only people dealing with certain things. When, in reality, so many of us are hurting in the same way, and if we could just take 5 seconds of courage and be vulnerable with one another, there would be so much healing.

So to say that God showed up and showed out is a complete understatement. So much was broken in me, that I came back feeling 10lbs lighter! My eyes were open, my heart was softened, and my soul was refreshed.

Another wonderful tidbit of information: I brought along a friend with me, who God has definitely placed in my life, and at the beginning of the weekend she was agnostic; she left on Sunday believing in God and starving for more of His truth. Being completely honest, I was in tears just watching the beauty of one of His lost sheep being returned to the fold, and the fact the God intrusted me to help in that mission. I have not felt like the best daughter lately, but it just goes to show that we are not the ones who qualify us, God qualifies us. We don’t determine if/when we are worthy, Jesus died and declared we are always worthy. And we can’t decide when we deserve love, God is love and He said that we deserve Him.

So if you’re feeling overwhelmed, or undeserving, or unlovable, or any of the other many lies Satan throws at us, maybe you need a little spring retreat of your own! And if you can’t get to nature (I mean, snow), then get out your Bible, pour some coffee (or tea I guess), turn off the phone, GET OFF FACEBOOK, and spend some time being kind to your soul. He will remind you of who and who’s you are, and that your life is justified because of Jeremiah 1:5–go read it. I love you, God loves you, and that’s all that matters!

*Glamping= Glamour camping; this may or may not entail queen size beds, heaters, and indoor plumbing…But there are still bugs! images-1