Tuesday, April 16, 2013

New Blog

To all seven of my faithful readers, I wanted to let you know that I have created a new blog over at Wordpress. I always felt anxiety writing on this site, because I felt every essay and vignette had to be perfectly polished and ready to be sent off for publishing before I could post it for anyone to read. Hence why I rarely updated this site; I effectively crushed my creativity through immense anxiety and fear.

This new blog is strictly a creative writing project, and less of a "finished essay" site. A "stream of consciousness" if you will, that I lightly edit after writing for a minimum of 10-15 minutes. Sometimes I produce something wonderful. Other times, it's complete drivel.

On the days that I am not writing essays for school, heavily editing/polishing my previous blog entries for possible publishing, or penning a poem to perform for a Spoken Word event...I post there for ideas. My goal is to write every single day.

So hop on over if you're interested: http://selizabethlane.wordpress.com/ Just understand it's a collection of thoughts. Due to possible plagiarism, I will unlikely be posting up finished, edited essays, unless they are already published or I have performed the piece in the Las Vegas community.

Thanks for being part of this blog for 5 years. :-)

Sunday, November 04, 2012

The Number 14

Half my life I've lived a lie. That’s fourteen years.

Master of disguise. Perfecter of the smile. Expert at shifting the conversation away. Masquerader of interest in life. Force the laughter, crinkle the eyes, flash the teeth, and make sure the dimples show.

It became instinctual, but these actions have lacked authenticity.

Is it getting better? Or have I only improved my ability to repeatedly shove the darkness to the back of my mind?

Fourteen years. Fourteen is far too many.

Take the candy and swallow it down. Wait for it...

Forgive me, Lord, for I have sinned. But I don’t want to be saved.


"Tragedy," they'll say.

"No," the winds whisper, "Only release."

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Cherry Blossom Tree

I am concealed, habitually secretive in nature, appearing austere and utterly forgettable. But once a year, I resolve to bloom: Spectacular whitish pink flowers burgeoning all over my fragile, yet sturdy branches. Flowers as smooth as silk and cream as you run your face across my delicate petals. An intoxicating fragrance saturates the early spring air, as you reach into the sunrise to pluck an aromatic blossom from one of my strong wooden limbs.

But I never last. Blink once and I vanish. I cannot sustain life for long, as it is simply not my nature. My flowers fade and wilt as they slowly drift to the ground and litter the grass around me. My branches turn brittle and weak; a harsh wind will cause them to sway wildly in the wind. I am at peace with this, because the untrained eye refuses to see how strong my trunk is and how deep my roots run. I am anything but weak.

I stand stoic and barren, stubbornly unable to be coaxed back to vivacity. You cannot nurture me, as I am not dead. Rather, I am on my own time, serenely waiting for the right moment to once more display my magnificence. Only I know what is inside of me, and I am steadfast in my refusal to let others see so easily into the essence of my being. Allow me to disappear just as quickly as I arrived, and maintain the conviction that I will come around again.

Patience, patience, patience.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Alligator Grin: A Story of Philly and Brooklyn

In the summer of 2001 when I was freshly 17, it was deemed that I needed more cultural experience - in addition to meeting the family of my stepdad. To the East Coast it was! I was sent to South Jersey, the Armpit of America I later deemed it.

If South Jersey was all that I had seen that summer, I would not be writing this haphazardly put-together blog.

I went to stay with my step uncle, his wife, and their 14 year old son. I was absolutely dreading this vacation. They had a log cabin style home in the middle of the woods. All I could think about were the humidity,  that one tiny bathroom shared between four people, ticks in the forest - and subsequently - lyme disease.

This vacation was going to blow, I thought sullenly. These two weeks were going to last eons. I don't care if I act like a brat. I'm going to stay in this stupid spare bedroom and fend off the gigantic moths that desperately wanted to eat holes through all of my clothing.

I guess I thought a lot about tineid moths, too. And home - I desperately missed Gig Harbor.


The third day of my vacation, at 6 in the morning (3am PST), my step aunt burst into the spare bedroom and announced that in an hour, we were leaving for Phily for the day.

"Are there ticks in Philly?" I asked, muffled, facedown in the pillow.

She sighed - that extremely heavy sigh adults expell when dealing with 17 year old asshole brats.

"What about the damn moths?" I wasn't moving.

"Get up NOW and be ready by SEVEN, or I am leaving you locked outside the house to deal with all the ticks and moths you could ever fear."

I got my ass in gear. There's nothing like a Jersey woman's attitude to scare the everlasting shit out of you.

We were on the Amtrak less than two hours later. Because they lived in the very southern part of New Jersey, the Amtrak went through Delaware before heading north to Philadelphia. I remember passing over the Atlantic ocean on the way to Dover, and it was insanely beautiful. I also remember it was the first time I had smiled since my plane had  left Seattle.


When we arrived, I stepped off the Amtrak with my purse and marched out of the station. Philadelphia's Amtrak station is RIGHT in the heart of South Philly. I looked around, standing there in the middle of this city, in my jean jacket, terry cloth mini skirt, bedazzled sunglasses in tow...and that's when I realized "Holy shit. I belong here." Not fashion-wise, I mean jesus, my fashion style was a horrible beacon of light respresenting the West Coast...but in my heart, I just knew right away that I was East Coast to the core.

We did all the touristy stuff: Look at Independence Hall. Go inside Betsy Ross' house. Bang the Liberty Bell until security waves you off. See Benjamin Franklin's grave at the Christ Church Cemetery. All the historical crap, yes it was necessary, but I was itching to get out in the streets and really mingle with the locals and get the feel of the city.

But soon it was time to catch the train back to Jersey. I remember begging my aunt to let me buy some food from the street vendor (I was dying for some cultural experience, not just history lessons). She insisted I would catch a disease, and after ten minutes of arguing, she compromised by letting me buy a bag of chips and a can of soda.

"Youse guys don't want anything else, huh?" The sweaty, burly vendor asked the other three in my party.

"Youse??" I asked. My aunt hit me in the arm.

"Yah. Youse. What's it to you?"

I felt a grin coming out in full force: Completely toothy, happy, yet somewhat devilish.

He grinned back at me.

"What the HELL is YOUSE GUYS?!" I asked him.

"It means 'you guys' now shut up and come along!" my aunt said in a hushed tone and literally started dragging me down the sidewalk. Not a hard feat, as I literally weighed less than 110 lbs at the time.

"But there’s only one of me! Ouch goddammit, let go of my arm right now…I'll see YOUSE GUYS later!" I called back at the man, continuing to grin this new smile of mine.

Like the way an alligator would grin.

The man laughed so hard, his face turned red, and he slapped his knee. "I'll make a Philly girl out of youse next time, huh!" He hollered back at me.

"When we get home, I am going to kill you and then tell your parents that the Ukranian district of Philly kidnapped you and turned you into a stew," my aunt threatened.

A Ukranian gang? Youse guys??

Oh my god, I had to get back to this wonderful city. It was in my blood now.


A week into my vacation, which was originally set to be just two weeks, my stepdad's brother and his wife were probably sick of hearing me beg to go back to Philly, so they finally arranged it where I would stay with some of their friends who owned a rowhouse in the Historical District of Center City for the remainder of my trip (I don't blame them - I would've re-homed me too). I packed up my things, threw away a shirt the moths had gotten to, and breathed a sigh of relief as I stepped onto the Amtrak again. I was going back to Philly.

Before this trip, I has always been extremely shy and timid, afraid to try new things, and I didn't like going anywhere alone. I am not joking that by the age of 17, it was the running joke in my family that I had never even gone to the grocery store or post office alone. And here I was, by myself on a train, going to a city I had only spent hours in, to live with people I had never even met, for an entire week.

The delicious irony of it all killed me. I grinned out the window and watched the Atlantic Ocean pass under me again.


The friends of family that I lived with in Philly were a 17 year old's wet dream. They worked all the time in Manhattan, so they left before dawn every morning and were home late at night, so I had total fucking freedom to do whatever I wanted. All they asked was that I be relatively safe and in by dark. I complied the best I could, especially because they gave me a generous amount of spending money as well. I had brought a little bit of money from home with me for food and souvenirs, but the transportation costs were killing me.

I combed over that city all week. I was at the Italian Market on 20th Street every single day for hours, bartering especially with this particular Sicilian man who owned a delicious meat shop and bakery. I bartered so hard to the point where we would both get very heated, scream in Italian at each other...and then eventually end up slapping and kissing each other's cheeks and sipping Turkish coffee in the backroom of his shop.
Each night I stayed with this couple, I made them delicious southern Italian delicacies my new friend had provided the recipes and ingredients to, under the strict condition that I would never share them with anyone (and to this day, no one knows how to make my secret 8 hour red sauce). Because this couple was so generous to me, both in room and money, I would also clean their home when I got in just before dusk. I think they enjoyed the homecooked food and tidied  home so much after their 12-14 hour commute/workday, that they ended up extending the offer to have me stay with them the whole summer. How could I resist?


A week later, I met up with some kids that had friends who pop n locked and would breakdance on the corners and in the alleys of Brooklyn. They invited me to take the train with them for the weekend so I could enjoy the music and dancing. I remember telling them I couldn't dance, much less breakdance, and they assured me I could just watch and enjoy myself. The couple I stayed with agreed, as long as I stayed with their friends who rented an apartment in Manhattan just right off of Times Square.

Times Square?! Once again, how could I say no?

"Just return again by Monday...we've grown attached to your spaghetti," they laughed.


I went with my friends on the train to Manhattan, checked in with the friends of friends, and soon I was on a subway headed for the heart of Brooklyn. They knew exactly where they were going, as we swiftly walked through the city, weaving in and out of crowds and street alleys.

When we finally arrived, I felt like I was straight in the middle of an early 90s music video. There was a huge cardboard box, flattened out, and taped together to other flattened cardboard boxes, creating a dance floor. People of all colors were bumping gigantic boomboxes on their shoulders, as others performed the most incredible dancing I had ever seen live. I was clapping and two-stepping along to the music when the 'leader' of this particular group of kids finally saw me, questioned me down, and then motioned for me to show everyone else, and I quote, "what [I] got".

"I got nothing!" I laughed and shook my head, continuing to clap and two-step to the music.

"Well, get up there and we'll show you!"

I felt clever. I pointed at my skirt. "Can't dance in a mini!" Crisis adverted, I thought. No reason to act a fool in front of everyone.

"Aisha!" the guy pointed at another girl, who was tying her shoelaces. "Get this girl some digs from your house."

I froze in terror.

"Then we'll see what you got." He grinned at me.

"I already told you, I got nothing," I grinned back, that alligator grin of mine.

"Like I said, we'll see."


Later that day, they all agreed unanimously. I had nothing. But over the course of two days, hours upon hours, they taught me some simple pop n lock moves that anyone could do with enough practice.

"Come back tomorrow!" the guy told me late that Sunday. I was set to get on the Amtrak in an hour.

"I...um..." I was recalling the deal I had made with the friends of my aunt and uncle. But...surely I could catch the train again early that next morning, after they had left the house, and be home again before they arrived. I'd be breaking the 'in-home by dusk' rule they imposed, but my 17 year old mind assured me rules were meant to be broken.

Alligator grin.

"Okay. I'll show you what I got!" I said confidently.

The guy shook his head and laughed. "Girl, you ain't got shit yet."


And this was how I spent my summer. On Friday mornings, I boarded the train to Manhattan, kissed the friends of friends hello, got on the subway to Brooklyn, and danced amongst my new friends. We would dance for hours, only breaking occasionally to buy Snickers ice cream bars and bottled water for the group. Sunday evening, I would board the train again to come back to Philly. Throughout the week, I would either be running wild through Philly, or I would secretly be on the train again to NYC for the day to dance some more. I remember I even got special dance clothes. Ever see the girl the guy is dancing for at the end of Dirty Vegas' Days Go By music video? That's what I looked like. Solid white Reeboks, knee high socks, little shorts, tank-top, hat just off to the side of my head, and big goddamn hoop earrings. And I was truly learning how to truly pop n lock, something I never thought I was ever capable of learning, much less doing. And I was getting really good at it.

People actually gave us money on a regular basis. I guess they figured we were homeless and orphaned kids, and lived off of dancing for a buck or two. My friends were offended at first, but I quickly shushed them and insisted that if we started saving this money, minus the costs of Snickers ice cream bars, they could get on a train and come see me and dance in Philly. So we put out a small box, danced our asses off, and each night it was filled to the brim with paper. We never lied nor solicited the money, and people never asked - they just gave it to us. People gave us so much money, that at the end of each week, there was enough money for six or seven of them to pay roundtrip train fare, and then come visit me in Philly and dance.

It was the life.


At the end of summer, I tried to convince my mom to let me stay in Philly and finish school there, and she demanded I come home and we would "discuss it further". I kicked. I screamed. I told her that she would have to let me stay, or else I would just run away. But eventually, I boarded a plane on September 9th. Two days later, the Twin Towers fell, not more than a few blocks from where that Manhattan couple lived. Amongst all the shock, sadness, and horror, I realized I wasn't going to be able to go back and live there; I realized things never stay the same. I wondered about the friends I had made there as well. In the days before cell phones and Facebook, you just didn't stay in touch. Plus, I had assured them all that I would be back. No real goodbyes necessary. And now...it was a done deal.


Before Josh and I moved to Vegas, I was sitting on the floor of our living room making crucial decisions on what to take with us, what to donate, and what to store at my mom’s house. I opened up a scrapbook I had made of my time in Philly and Brooklyn. I looked over the photos of me at the beginning of the summer, my hair smoothed straight, standing so prim and proper, a shy terrified smile tight across my face, and my purse clutched tightly across my jean jacket. Towards the end of the scrapbook, the last photo of myself is a stark contrast to the first. I am doing the 'baby freeze' (an introductory breakdance move). My legs are in thigh-high socks and are stick-straight in the air, my head is almost touching the ground, and my arms are in a pushup stance supporting my body. My hoop earrings and braids are touching the ground, my hat has fallen off and is on the floor next to me, my eyes are tightly shut, and I am laughing while flashing that signature alligator grin.

I stared at this last photo for a few moments, transfixed. At the time, I was 25 and couldn't believe I was staring at myself. I had never forgotten my experience in Philly and Brooklyn, but I had never realized that the way I felt was so visually perceptible. I looked so happy, so confident, so fearless, so...freaking East Coast. It was my coming of age experience. It had only been 8 years, but at that point, it seemed like a lifetime ago.

I stared at that photo, and couldn't believe I was once so young.

I put the scrapbook in a box, along with other memories, and left it in my mother's garage in Oregon - where it remains to this day. That sort of nostalgia is such a deliciously heart-wrenching bittersweet experience. Maybe once it's been another 8 years, I'll dig it out again. And reminisce some more.


This Saturday, I leave for Philly again. I don't expect the same experience. How could I? I am only going for five days, I am no longer 17, my body can no longer sustain a 'baby freeze' or even freaking do the most simple pop n lock move, and neither couple lives in Philly or Manhattan anymore. Besides, I couldn’t imagine anything worse than a 28 year old trying to get into a dancing group with a bunch of teenagers. Do they even have kids that dance in corners and alleys anymore there? I don’t know, but I sure hope so.

This time around, I am going for the experience of visiting a city I fell in love with upon first sight. I'm going so I can show Josh a little bit of history. I'm going so I can savor a true Philly cheesesteak after 11 years of substandard recreations. I’m going in the hopes that perhaps that old Sicilian man is still maintaining his bakery/meat shop…and I can say hello once again.

I'm also going in hopes that I can recapture a little bit of that fearlessness I once possessed. And perhaps to see if I still have that alligator grin inside of me.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Highway Rest Stops and the Dreams of a Special Five Year Old Girl

Before my parents separated, I was what people would consider an "Air Force Brat". I was born into and grew up on a military controlled base where everything was extremely regimented. It's tough to explain how tightly every aspect of your life is controlled, unless you're directly employed by them, are a spouse of a military member, or are a kid born into the system. But the fierce domination definitely exists, especially when you live on base, as we did when I was extremely young.

I have no idea what the process was for regular kids entering kindergarten in the 1980s. But I do know what it was like for a five year old residing at Fairchild Air Force Base in Washington State. Fairchild is a base that is primarily used for preparing soldiers for Combat Search and Rescue and has numerous instruction fields with rope climbing walls, man-made lakes to swim through, simulated landmine exercises (and how to avoid stepping on one), and dedicated areas where men could practice jumping out of airplanes and perfect their pararescue methods. The process to qualify and train for combat rescue is intricate, extensive, and incredibly arduous. A lot of soldiers can't hack it and end up entering other military occupations.

So it should come as no surprise that on a base that prides itself in training the toughest beasts in the Air Force would have the most severe battery of physical and mental tests to qualify a five year old to enter kindergarten.

It's been 22 years, so I don't remember the exact details leading up to that day. I think my mom probably tricked me into cooperation by saying I was going to get to play a lot of games that afternoon. I was extremely gullible, as is any typical five year old. I was also easily persuaded by these French imported petit fours my mother always seemed to have on hand. All she had to do was give me one of those tiny little cakes, and I would happily do whatever was asked of me.

Big mistake that day.

I stared around the school gymnasium and was wholly terrified at the amount of sheer young children and adults. Several booths were setup and these adults were grilling children and asking questions like "If I take away two pennies, how many pennies are left in this pile?" or "Point to which block is BLUE" or "Put on these headphones and raise your hand every time you hear a beep."

It looked brutal. By then, my terror had given way to resentment. These were not games; they were tests. I rebelled. My mother patiently explained that by doing well on these tests, I would get to start school with all the other kids.

So I agreed to cooperate.

Kind of.

I ended up failing every single test presented to me. I didn't count the pennies correctly, I pointed to the block that was yellow, and I didn't raise my hand when the headphones instructed me to do so. I fell down when they asked me to walk down the yellow taped line on the floor, and I didn't appear to know the difference between a cat and a dog.

I ended up in Remedial Kindergarten as a result. This was the technical term for the class, but every adult referred to it as special. We were special children, unlike those other regular kids. Therefore, we got to be in the special class with the special teacher.

I remember when my mom got the news. I was in the living room, which was only a few steps away from the kitchen where our house phone remained.

"My child is special? Special?! So really, you're telling me my kid is retarded???" my mom blurted out.

"We don't like to use that word," the woman on the other end told my mother.

So the word that was used was special. It was always special when it came to my classroom and the kids that were in it.

But no one really told me I was special. It kind of came as a surprise. And not like a "Oh hey! It's your birthday and we threw you a party!" kind of surprise or a "Congrats on getting married! We're sending you on a cruise!" No. It was the kind of surprise where you go to use a public bathroom stall and realize the person before you didn't flush, and you really have to use the bathroom, but the mess they left behind will definitely NOT FLUSH, and there aren't any other stalls available, and a line of angry people are staring at you and waiting for you to hurry up and go pee so they too, can go pee.

I remember my first day of kindergarten perfectly, as if it were yesterday. I had picked out a matching two piece blue/black striped shirt and skirt combo with black Mary-Janes. I remember holding my brand new lunchbox with my brand new little backpack stuffed full of paper, pencils, crayons, a ruler, and a compass that would never ever be used (probably because we were special children). My mom took me to school, and I tightly held her hand as we walked through the long corridors to the classroom. My classroom. My special classroom. My mom took me inside, helped me put away my backpack and lunchbox, kissed me goodbye, and left.

That's when I started looking around the class.

All around me were twenty or so kids, but that's where our similarities ended. Most kids were spaced out. Some were drooling. A few were crying. One kid was in the corner of the room, rocking back and forth. Another kid was banging his head rhythmically into the wall. Furthermore, no one I said hi to, said hi back. They seemed confused and terrified by my interaction. But to the teacher and her assistant, they appeared to accept this as all perfectly normal.

But even I knew it wasn't normal.

I remember heaving a very sophisticated five year old sigh and plopping myself down at the desk that was clearly marked with my name on it. No, I didn't quite know how to read at that point, but my parents had taught me how to write my own name. Therefore, I could recognize it. I remember the teacher, Mrs. Beetle, giving me an over-enthusiastic high-five and a sticker for finding the desk that belonged to me.

Over the next several weeks, I felt more and more like I wasn't quite in the right class. I continued to receive unwarranted and zealous praise for doing the most simplest of tasks: Like remembering to pull up my pants after using the restroom. Or sneezing and using a tissue, instead of wiping my hand all over the wall. Obviously, I didn't know I was in remedial kindergarten. All I knew was that we got a special recess time and the kids in my class sucked at playing jump rope. They just stood there, gazing off into the distance as the rope hit their stationery feet. Every. Single. Time.

You would think that the head teacher would have caught on almost right away that I wasn't meant to be in remedial kindergarten. Unfortunately, I confirmed to the school authorities that I probably did belong in remedial kindergarten on several unfortunate and sadly serendipitous occasions.

There was the day that the school abruptly replaced the beautifully soft and exquisite black sand in the playground with smelly rough beauty bark. And when I saw the change, I bawled my eyes out and refused to come out of the classroom, despite the coaxing of my teacher that it would be okay.

"Sometime it's hard for special children to accept changes in life," she calmly said.

"I WANT MY SAND BACK!" I blubbered and hid under one of the desks. For the rest of the year, I adamantly rejected the concept of participating in recess.

Confirmation number one.

Then there was the three-foot tall plastic red shoe with the huge white laces that was supposed to teach us kids how to tie our shoes correctly. I don't know why, but that shoe terrified the beejezus out of me. We would have to stand in line and were given one minute each to tie the laces together properly. And every single time that it was my turn, I would start bawling and would hide under one of the desks.

Confirmation number two.

Then came the granddaddy day of them all. As part of teaching us communication, critical thinking, imagination (and other bullshit ideals that elementary school pumps us kids with), each week we had show and tell. Sometimes there was a theme, and I remember one week the theme was the colloquial "So what do you want to be when you grow up?"

Kids suck at this answer. They always have, and they always will. If you talk to a group of kids, you will quickly realize that in their world, only four or five occupations exist. Total.

Doctor. Lawyer. Teacher. Astronaut. Princess. And the last one doesn't even count. Stupid kids.

I remember that I was the last one to go that day, according to the order of the circle we sat in. I thought long and hard about what I wanted to be while each kid went their turn. When it came my turn, I felt confident in my answer. Mrs. Beetle pointed at me. I bravely stood up (not a requirement of show and tell), looked around the room, smiled at my fellow classmates, teacher, and her assistant, and I confidently said:

"I want to be the person that sells cookies and coffee at rest stops along the highway."

You see, I admired those people who had those little stands at the rest stops. It appeared they had their own business. They got to pick whatever kind of cookie and coffee they wanted to sell. Heck, sometimes they even baked them themselves! These people got to sit out in the sun and talk to different people every single day. Their booths were always so busy and the people selling the cookies and coffee were always friendly and smiling. Plus everyone likes eating cookies and drinking coffee, so it seemed these people got to make other people happy.

As a five year old, I didn't realize these were generally charities. I saw it as a complete business - and one that could be outdoors as well! I liked nature. I also liked talking to different people, so my career choice on this show-and-tell day seemed perfectly appropriate, fitting, and very smart.

I looked around the room for affirmation.

Instead, I got silence. Total fucking silence.

Final confirmation. Strike three: You're out. Call the parents and tell them that their child is no longer special; she's just flat out retarded at this point.

But as we all know, this is not how the story ends. Although I finished remedial kindergarten, I did not enter remedial first grade. In fact, I never had another special class ever again. Despite my transgressions, penchant for crying and hiding under desks, and wishing to work at locations primarily dealing with portable toilets, Mrs. Beetle managed to realize that the people who conducted the entry-level kindergarten tests had made a mistake. A big freaking huge non-special mistake. My mother said it had something to do with eventually teaching myself to read and then trying to get the other kids to learn how to read as well.

"Your child should have never been in this class. In fact, I'd suggest skipping first grade for her and having her enter second grade." Mrs. Beetle told my mother over the phone.

My grandmother was visiting at the time. My mother shared the news with her, and they both rejoiced. My mother would tell me of the conversation she had with my grandmother years later: "I knew Sarah wasn't handicapped all along. I knew they had made a mistake. I knew she was incredibly intelligent."

I do remember that my grandmother pulled me aside that day and had me sit on her lap in our living room. "Sarah," she softly asked in her perfect North-Londoner clip, "Why did you fail all those entry tests to get into kindergarten, if you were so smart all along?"

I looked back at her with my big honey-colored eyes and told her the truth: "I thought if I failed those tests, then they would say I couldn't go to school. And I could stay home with mummy everyday and watch soaps and play games with her."

My grandmother was speechless. She stared at my mother. My mother doubled over and starting laughing in a manner I had never seen her do before.

"Oh, those poor people that tested her" she said gasping for breath, "Oh my God...if only they had known they had been played by a five year old girl!"

Saturday, August 13, 2011

My Ouroboros

I am standing on our balcony watching the sunset fade into the distance of our Las Vegan residence. The air is hot, sticky, and stagnant. It reminds me of Louisiana. The normal evening clamor is tranquil for once, and it gives me the peace I need to contemplate.

I don't bother asking "Why me?" anymore, because that question doesn't make sense. If not me, then it's someone else. And that doesn't make me feel any better; it offers no relief - only regret.

I also know I don't suffer alone. Some have easier problems, some have worse problems, and some have problems that are simply just different from mine. But in the end, we all suffer - in one way or another.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: I am a fatalist, yet I also accept the power of free will. I believe that certain events in our life are predetermined and destined to happen, no matter what. However, I accept the notion that we are empowered to influence the outcome of these events. This is the philosophical concept of compatibilism.

Every major event in my life was/is meant to happen, yet I have the power to choose how I react to each and every occurrence. I also have the ability to influence the outcome. My beliefs are best explained in the classic joke, in which a person prays to the Lord and asks him to help him win the lottery:

Sam was in dire trouble. His business had gone bust and he was in serious financial trouble. He was so desperate he decided to pray for help. He began, "God, please help me. I've lost my business and if I don't get some money, I'm going to lose my house as well. Please let me win the lottery." Lottery night came and Sam didn’t win. Again Sam prays, "God, please let me win the lottery! I've lost my business, my house and I'm going to lose my car as well." Lotto night comes and Sam still has no luck. Once again, he prays, "My God, why have you forsaken me? I've lost my business, my house, and my car. My wife and children are starving. I don't often ask you for help and I have always been a good servant to you. PLEASE just let me win the lottery this one time so I can get my life back in order." Suddenly there is a blinding flash of light as the heavens open. Sam is confronted by the voice of God Himself: "Sam," says God, "Meet Me halfway on this. Buy a bloody ticket!!!" [http://www.playlotteryonline.co.uk/Jokes.htm]

I have always been a good person. Not a great person, not a bad person, but simply a good person. I could be better - naturally, I am no Mother Theresa. But I can honestly say I have never killed someone or something (beyond the occasional ant in my house or the tragic accident involving a pet gerbil in the sixth grade). I have not committed adultery. I have never stolen a single thing past the age of seven years old.

[It was a pack of $1 fabric "friendship" rings. I dragged my poor cousin Em along for the ride, gave one to my mother, and got in serious trouble with her. I had to pay for the rings out of my miniscule birthday money, got a dramatic talking to from the store manager about going to jail next time, and I didn't even get to keep the darn things. I effectively learned my lesson.]

My life has been turned upside down for several years now, battling various illnesses and ailments, all of them somewhat interrelated. And these diseases and conditions are always exotic and generally rare (side note: I am tired of being interesting to doctors). But this last bit of news has taken me, and everyone close to me, for a complete whirlwind rollercoaster. And I have never liked carnival rides.

But as I stand on our balcony, the sky now faded to black and sparsely showering fat raindrops, I realize that perhaps this is my second chance at life. If I get through surgery and come out okay (minus several tumors and cysts, and perhaps an organ or three missing), that maybe this is God telling me to do things differently this time around. Not everyone gets the opportunity for a fresh start, but perhaps this is His gift to me.

I wonder what I will do differently if given that chance. Most of them are cliche. Some of them are more drastic. But they all involve self-reflexivity and giving back more than what I ask for myself. I have spent the last five years in a strange limbo of being focused on myself and my health...and it is borderline pathetic and toxic to one's soul to be that self-absorbed.

If given a second chance, I will not squander it. This is my ouroboros, the recreation of myself without giving death to the old. I still want to be me, just a better version of me. I can't wait to have the energy and lack of pain so I can volunteer more in my community, be more active in my relationships with my family, possess the vigor and clarity of mind to write vignettes again, be a better worker, a better friend, a better servant to the Lord, and a better wife to a loving husband who has put up with countless days where I am too weak to rise up from the blankets of our bed. I have failed on several accounts. Not only do I deserve more, but others warrant more than I have been able to give.

I am not saying that I won't be scared or have moments where I break down and weep out of pure fear. But I refuse to cry victim. I will no longer claim it is unfair. Everyone has a path to follow, and this is the path chosen for me. Now it is up to me on how I will handle it. It is time for me to make the decision on how I handle all of this.

I am making the choice to be wise. To be humble. To be gracious. And most importantly, I am making the choice to be strong and resilient.

I choose to be the serpent who bites her own tail in order to be reborn into something more.

I am ready.

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Thursday, August 11, 2011

Moving Backwards

For the first time in my life regarding writing, I don't know where to begin.

I write humor blogs. I try to make people laugh. I will do whatever it takes to coax a smile out of someone. A snort is an extra 10 points.

I cannot be that person right now. And I am sorry. I am also sorry this blog will be boring.

I first want to thank everyone for allowing my parents, my husband, and myself the privacy I needed. I wasn't trying to shut anyone out, as one of my friends feared. I simply didn't know how process the information and figure out my feelings. I still don't know how. But I will try. Because if you are reading this, you obviously care about me. And I care about you. So excuse the rambling, the massive typos, the digressions, major swear words (I can't be a lady right now), and the terrible writing.

As I write, my tears blur the screen. I am not a fucking crier when it comes to myself, so this is the worst. I feel weak, and angry that I feel weak.

If you've been my friend for eons, and pretty much know my medical history from age 22 up till today, you can skip to the asteriks paragraph break. If not, read on.

I have suffered from severe pelvic pain since I was 22, shortly after I got married. It was one of those gradual transitions...I never used to know when my period was coming, because I had no pain. Then I began to have some pain, but it was easily controlled with a Tylenol or two. No biggie. Somewhere around age 23, I began to have incredible, mind-blowing pain: Some months, I would literally blackout from the pain. But at the time, I didn't have a job that offered insurance, so I could never fully get checked out. I remember a particular Urgent Care visit where I bawled my eyes out, trying to explain to the doctor that I felt like my intestines were being ripped out. She looked me square in the eye, and told me I was being ridiculous. "Being a woman involves being in pain around your period. Grow up." She snapped. And just like that, I was dismissed.

I tried to grow up. I tried to be "a woman". Maybe this was normal.

At age 24, I finally was on decent medical insurance through Josh's work and decided it was time to stop going to Planned Parenthood for the usual Pap Smears. By then, the pain had reached levels that I was unaware was even humanly possible. Literally the kind of pain where if you had the choice to press a button and end your life, you would take it. So I finally made an appointment to see a real gynecologist. He revealed through an ultrasound that it was apparent I had endometriosis, but that a laparoscopy was necessary for a proper diagnosis, as well as treatment for the issue (removal of cysts and cauterization of any that could not be reached). I agreed to the surgery, which proved to be a simple procedure with a one week recovery. The doctor assured me my monthly pain would be alleviated. When it was not, we tried hormone therapy - the pain continued to rage on. I begged my doctor for further options and advice, and I was dismissed as a patient. To this day, my medical records strongly imply that I was an addict looking to score prescription pain meds for recreational use. The only pain meds I had ever asked for were the ones involved in my surgery.

I went through two more gynecologists, who both determined that my pelvic pain was psychologically based, and that I would benefit more from therapy. I began to think that I was crazy, and all three of these doctors were right. I tried meditation methods; I tried to think through the pain. I tried herbal methods and peppermint tea. I sought advice and healing from the Lord.

Yet the pain raged on. And the pain began to last for longer intervals. At the beginning, I suffered one day of hell, prior to the beginning of my period. At age 27, I was suffering near daily pain with even more heightened pain for an entire week per month. Having lost faith in gynecologists, I went to see a pelvic pain specialist. His specialty was on the spine, but he said he worked with pelvic patients too.

My first appointment, he was disinterested, poked at my spine and determined my pelvic pain could be related to a dysfunction in the spine, especially since previous hormonal efforts to control my pain had not worked. He prescribed me some pain meds, scheduled me for a lumbar MRI, and scheduled a follow-up visit for August.

This is about where you all know the story. The head radiologist interpreter (or whatever their title may be) saw what appeared to be a teratoma bumping the spine. The doctor immediately called me and told me to schedule an emergency MRI ASAP. I was fit in the next day for my pelvic MRI. Anxious for the results, I went in for my second appointment at the pain clinic, and the doctor seemed positive. He said I did have teratomas, that they appeared to be benign, but that he didn't do that type of surgery and would need me to see another surgeon.

I didn't worry. It seemed simple enough. A basic laparoscopy appeared to be in order, just as it had back in August 2008. A small incision above the pelvic bone and around the belly button, scrape the bad stuff out, cauterize what can't be removed, and it's a done deal.

Josh was able to get me into an appointment two days following my last pain appointment. I was confident that the surgeon would read my medical records and MRI findings, set me up for a laparoscopy, and have me recover during the week I had already schedueld off. I was feeling good about it all.


Josh and I set off for the surgery consultation at 11am. It wouldn't take long. I probably wouldn't even be late to work (I joked with my boss that I might be 15 min late at the most, since I started at 1). In and out. I've done this before.

We sat forever in the doctor's office. Not the waiting room - but the actual office of the doctor/surgeon himself. We stared at his credentials from Purdue, Duke, and University of Nevada. Josh and I cracked jokes about the fancy furniture. I tried to laugh, but inside my nervous right leg twitch was hopping up and down on the plush carpeting. The doc was outside his office reviewing my records for what seemed like forever. Something was not right.

I liked the doctor immediately. We went over my history and I explained the laparoscopy procedure and its findings. I explained I was fully ready for another laparoscopy, and was not afraid to get the process started.

I saw pain briefly flash across the doctor's face, and a tremble went through my body.

He explained I didn't have just one teratoma. Two had attached themselves to my right ovary, completely encircling it. The approximate size of the two combined teratomas on the right ovary was the size of a baseball (for reference, an ovary is the size of a walnut). They were choking off my ovary slowly. I was going to lose the ovary, no matter what.

Throughout his explanation, I am bravely nodding and stated that I was aware that an oophorectomy was probably in my future. Then I ask when we could get the laparscopy going.

More brief sadness comes over the doctor's face. He explains that there is a third teratoma inside the left ovary, which had made the ovary swell to about the size of a golf-ball. Therefore, I stood a great chance of losing both ovaries

I asked if my uterus could stay, since it seemed perfectly healthy at this point in time, and the news was once again sour.

He explained that a uterus without ovaries caused severe problems, such as persistent random bleeding and unregulated hormonal release. Therefore, if both ovaries were to come out, so would the uterus.

I was speechless for words at this point. Nothing was coming out. Here I was, thinking I was going in for a simple 'scrape all this shit out' type of surgery, and now I was facing the strong prospect of entering medical menopause at age 27.

Menopause at 27 does not simply mean being unable to bear biological children. It means an increased risk of heart disease and bone loss. It means the possibility of a shortened lifespan, even due to hormone replacement therapy. It also means an incredibly painful open surgery, also known as a laparotomy - where basically a large incision is made into the abdomen, the walls are separated, and the surgeons dig around into between the sliced halves. It also means an incredibly long recovery time of 10-12 weeks.

Tears are sliding down my cheeks at this point, but my face remains stoic, and I keep asking questions. The surgeon is honest and understanding, but I want to scream and cry and kick. I am 27. This doesn't seem right. I felt like an idiot for preparing myself for what I viewed as a "simple" surgery, only to find out it was anything but.

The doctor asks if he can do a pap smear and a pelvic exam on me. I try and take myself to a different place in my head while he does so. He is gentle and the instruments have been warmed. He tries to steady my shaking as he taps the instruments against my cervix. I am not scared of the pap smear - I am terrified over the news and my body is rebelling. He presses along my pelvic wall, and I cry out in pain in key spots. The doctor is sympathetic, and the nurse holds my hand.

The doctor tells me to sit up, and I fold the paper around my legs. I want my underwear back on, but the doctor's mind is still thinking. He tells me there is one alternative: da Vinci surgery, which is a robotically assisted surgery that is much more invasive than a laparoscopy, but significally less invasive than a laparotomy (several 1-2 cm incisions all throughout the stomach and pelvis, as opposed to one or two 1/2 cm incisions in a laparscopy). There was no guarantee that it would save my left ovary, but it had least held some chance of hope over the laparotomy. The doctor stated he did not perform this type of surgery, but worked closely with a surgeon at another practice who is highly skilled in this method of surgery. The recovery time would be around 5 weeks, literally half the time the recovery the laparotomy would require.

Of course, there was always the risk that the da Vinci surgery would have to turn into an open surgery and I would have to have a total medical hysterectomy, but at least I had a fighting chance. But the decision was up to me. He told me he was okay if I wanted to take a few days to make a decision.

I looked back at Josh. I asked what he thought. Josh stared ahead, stoically.

I looked back at the doctor. "Would you be part of this da Vinci surgery? I like you."

"Yes, I would be assisting the doctor surgically. I would be the tactile part of the surgery, where the da Vinci method is not as effective."

I looked back at Josh again.

"You can take a few days to decide," the doctor said.

I shook my head. "If there's a chance I can keep one of my ovaries, let's go with that."

The doctor shook our hands, told us he would get his assistant to setup an appointment with the other surgeon for next week, where the exact procedure would be discussed and a possible jump on getting started with the whole scheduling of the actual surgery. He left the room.

I turn to Josh. My husband begins bawling.

I have never seen my husband cry. My husband had a few sobs escape him at our wedding rehearsal dinner when I presented him a scrapbook of memories of his father (who passed in 2000), but my husband has never actually cried. It broke...no...smashed my heart. I ran my fingers through his hair and whispered to him and asked what he was afraid of.

"I don't want to lose you," he choked out. "This surgery...it was supposed to be so simple. And now it's become incredibly risky. And you may have to have a hysterectomy, despite everything."

And he continued to sob, and I cried too, and we clung to each other in the cold and clinincal examination room.


I know some of you may read this and be like, "Well, it's not cancer at least!" or "Hell, at least you can live without those organs!" I know I'm not capturing the feeling of what we are going through, or the exact risks that are involved in this particular surgery. Part of me is too tired. Part of me is too numb.

I'm terrified out of my mind. 'Minimally invasive', as the da Vinci website puts it, is still a hell of a lot riskier than a laparoscopic surgery. I also wasn't prepared to be out of work for 5 weeks. Now I have the added stress of trying to negotiate a leave of absence with my work, trying to negotiate for the possibility of short-term disability benefits through my work so I have some income coming in, having to cancel out all of Josh's fall semester classes in order to get back the $2K we paid (which will help since I won't be making any money during my five weeks of recovery), and basically forcing Josh to also take on a second serving job at a local tourist hot spot for breakfast (tips are hefty, so he's told).

It makes me feel like a burden. On my work, to my family, to my husband, to my friends, and I hate it. I love my body in the sense that this is what God gave me, but I'm also angry and pissed beyond belief that I have to suffer so much with it. I'm angry that I'm only 27 and facing the possibility of losing what makes me female.

The heartache is unbearable. The fear is overwhelming. For once in my life, I can't effectively convey my feelings into my writing.

This is not at all what I expected. I had prepared myself, and I had prepared myself incorrectly.

I don't want to be out of work for 5 weeks. How many reruns of Cheers can one human being possibly watch on Netflix before certifiably going insane?

Two weeks ago, my biggest concern was choosing between clear, honey, or green contacts at the Vision Center and trying to figure out how to pop them in under 20 minutes.

Now, my biggest concern is wondering how much of my life I'm going to have to battle for.

I'm going to cry again. I need to go. I haven't proofread this, so ignore the mistakes. As I said before, I can't see the screen anyway.

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Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Don't Be an "If-Only"

Unrelated to the person I was referring to in my last Facebook update, I just received news that a friend of Josh's and mine is sick. He is 27 - just a few months older than I am. He has a wife and two young kids. And he also has Stage 4 Hodgkin's Lymphoma. Although he has not yet lost the battle, the inevitable is not far off according to his doctors.

The worst part of it all for me is that we didn't even know he was sick; we haven't talked much since we moved out of Washington 2 years ago. Not out of anger or apathy - just general distance and moderate forgetfulness.

It makes my heart hurt. It makes me question what cannot be answered. I ache for his family, our friends, and for those two little boys who will only have dim memories of their father. They will have to rely on anecdotes from family and friends, and will have to finger through faded old photographs tucked away in family albums.

Despite my own issues of what I am going through, all I can think of is, "Can't I take on some of his problems, to relieve him of this? I don't have children depending on me...he does. Why was he picked? Why him and not me?"

I'm not expecting a response, because my questions have no obvious answers. I also don't want pity. What I do want may seem campy and trite, but please try.

If you're reading this (most likely those that have wandered from the link on my Facebook page), I love you and care about you. We may not talk daily, we may not have seen each other in years (literally), and in a handful of cases, we may never have formally met (because we are friends through friends). But my heart is with yours, and despite any distance, no one is ever completely out of my thoughts.

I ask that you cherish what you have with others. If you're on the outs with someone, attempt to mend it. Dote on your family and friends. And if you have kids, remember...there's no such thing as spoiling them with too much love.

The most heartbreaking phrase in the human language is not "what if" but rather "if only".

Don't wait until it's too late.

Don't be an "if only".

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Twigs and Berries: A Tale of Retaliation on the Elementary School Playground

It’s not easy being a vegan. There are a lot of misconceptions out there floating around. The first major misunderstanding is that people think I’m on a life-or-death mission to convert them to an animal free lifestyle. In my perfect world, it would be great if we all participated in veganism. However, I realize that this option is neither attractive nor even feasible for many people. For instance, people that suffer from diabetes or polycystic ovarian syndrome are advised to adopt a diet that is higher in protein and lower in total carbohydrates. So I’ve always held to the idea that people will choose the option that best fits their health and lifestyle needs. Far be it from me to try and influence anyone wrongly.

The second misunderstanding is that meat-eaters assume I don’t enjoy eating. Nothing could be further from the truth. I absolutely love to eat, and I strive to eat really good-tasting food. I’m not going to lie. There is a lot of absolutely terrible vegan food out there, mostly within prepackaged food. I remember the first vegan “meat patty” I got my hands on. I was in week two of my new eating lifestyle and was perusing the frozen food aisle at my local grocery store. I ended up buying two boxes of them, each containing six patties comprised of brown rice, pinto beans, and mushrooms. It sounded like a winner, but when I got home, the taste was something else. I remember staring down at the inedible hockey puck of mashed bean curd, with one neat bite taken out of it, and wondering if this was what veganism was all about.

“I will grow to love you,” I said mournfully to the patty on my plate.

Then comes the biggest misconception of all. I like to call it the Inevitable Question. I know what you’re thinking it could be, and you’re wrong. The question is never “So what do you eat?” This would be an appropriate question, one that deserves serious attention because it’s an opportunity to showcase just how diverse a vegan diet can be. But no, I do not get asked this.

The question always goes like this: “So…do you just eat twigs and berries then?”

Yes. I eat frickin twigs. Way to go, genius.

Wait. I take that back. I have eaten a twig. One time. And it wasn’t so much voluntary as it was retribution against an evil deed I had committed against an innocent.

Let me explain.

In fifth grade, there was this annoying kid who sat in the back of the classroom. His name was Jeremy. I only ever saw him do three things: Sniff his armpits, pick his nose, and flick boogers onto unsuspecting classmates’ backs. His biggest crime was that he talked incessantly, at top volume, about nonsense crap.

Looking back on it, he was your typical irritating ten year old. But none of us liked him.

One day at recess, a few of us came up with a plan. It was a plan I was not particularly proud of at the time (nor am I to this day), but the idea of it all was too hysterical to pass on up (and it still is). Our evil plan was based on the fact that all of the outside school restrooms were being renovated at the time, so several porta potties had been placed on the outskirts of the playground for temporary use. We just had to wait for the right moment to happen.

When this poor kid briefly ducked into a porta potty one fine afternoon, we seized the day and locked him inside. We stuffed the lock and handle opening full with fistfuls of branches and twigs that we had been collecting over the past couple days in anticipation of this very opportunity. There was no way he was going to get out by himself.

But wait! Just like a bad infomercial, there’s more. We immediately forgot all about him and ran back to class when the recess bell rang five minutes later. We left him alone and defenseless in that disgusting porta potty. It wasn’t until the teacher started asking the whole class where Jeremy was that we remembered what we had done. Of course, none of us spoke up out of fear of getting into some serious deep shit, so we kept our mouths shut and our eyes guiltily glued to the tops of our desks.

Jeremy was eventually freed, three hours later, by a groundskeeper who was about to mow the soccer field when he heard the banging of small fists against hollow plastic walls. Jeremy was unharmed, a bit stinky, and aching for revenge. But he didn’t rat us out, even though he knew the six of us that did it. I immediately felt bad that he refused to give names, because I knew I deserved some kind of penalty for my poor behavior. On the other hand, I wasn’t about to turn myself in. So I approached Jeremy and asked what he thought would be an appropriate punishment for me.

He was quiet for a moment. “You should eat a twig,” he responded finally, “Because you used all those sticks to jam the lock of the porta potty.”

I was horrified. “A whole twig?” I asked, incredulously.

He conceded. “Well, maybe just a bite.”

How could I back out now? Grating as he was, no one deserves to be locked in one of those things and then forgotten about for several hours. But what was my other option? Let the guilt overcome me until I turned myself into the principle, who would then notify my mother, ending with me subsequently grounded until I was 47 years old?

I had no choice. I had to eat the twig.

It was the cruelest, toughest, most grimy lesson I’ve ever had to swallow. The ultimate message here being, “Don’t act like a shit, or you’ll be forced to eat a dirty twig.”

So no, my dear carnivores, contrary to popular belief, we vegans do not eat twigs. No one does, at least not willingly. Twigs are simply not fit for human consumption. Gastronomically, there is nothing redeeming about its rough, woody texture, nor the bits of grit that flake off from the exterior when you try and bite off a piece.

The flavor is absolutely terrible. It tastes of oversight. It tastes like little boy vengeance.

This I something I can personally attest to.

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Thursday, December 17, 2009

Lessons in Vegas for the White Bitch on the Block

I had a feeling that Vegas was not exactly what I was expecting when I first stepped out of the apartment to retrieve my mail and said hello to the elderly man two doors down who chain-smoked Camels while constantly barbequing bacon on his patio.

"Yo fuck you, white bitch!" He growled at me through a cloud of smoke and continued to furiously flip the bacon with his hot pink spatula.

I'm ashamed to admit that up until that point, I was practically skipping down the concrete with my newfound love for Vegas. But his response put an immediate end to that. I blinked a few times and actually stumbled backwards. My brain fired off rhetorical questions. What the hell? Who is this man? What's his problem? Hold on a minute! I'm so loveable! Everyone loves me! How could he not love me too?

This was the first of many lessons to come for me, here in Las Vegas.

For instance, the weather doesn't change here. Oh sure, the temperature can range anywhere from a boiling 115 degrees to a bone-chilling 16, but I guarantee you this: It will always be sunny and dry. Painfully, overbearingly, sunny and dry. When we first moved here, people told us it rained about ten days a year. I think it's more like three.

Lying bastards.

But I digress.

You learn to adjust here quickly. You have to, I think, in order to survive. Our first night here, Josh and I laid on our backs, eyes wide opened, hands firmly clenched with one another's while listening to constant screaming and crying, lawn furniture being thrown, and those ever present sirens wailing. We had unsucessfully barricaded the door with my boxes of books and the flimsy cat carrier. If anyone were to break in, and they certainly could've if they wanted to, we hoped the cat would be enough of a hostage.

Neither one of us wanted to admit to the other that we were terrified that night. Or that we wanted to turn around and go home immediately.


But times change, and so do attitudes. About a month ago, Josh and I were getting ready for bed, and I noticed ten cop cars had surrounded the apartment complex across the street.

I wasted no time. I flung the door open wide and pointed out at the action.

"Incident!" I yelled cheerfully at Josh, and we both scurried out onto the patio to watch. Diet cokes in one hand, Marlboro Menthols in the other.

Maybe I'm becoming too hard and bitter for my own good, I thought to myself as I took a drag and watched three cops drag their kicking and screaming suspect out to a car. Maybe I need to try a little harder to not let this city get the best of me. Maybe I need to be the better person here.

I looked over at my neighbor, still smoking while barbequing his bacon. It's one in the morning.

"Hello," I called out softly to him and smiled. I even waved.

"Shut up, white bitch!" he hissed back, without hesitation.

And maybe I'm not becoming cynical. Maybe I'm adjusting to my surroundings in the way that I'm supposed to. Perhaps we make a joke out of the latest drive-by shooting because the reality of the situation is much scarier.

Everyday, I strive to be better than the last day. I can feel myself becoming wiser. Stronger. Happier. I am one step closer to being the person that I want to be.

And then I go and deteriorate rapidly, usually within a restaurant. In a 24 hour town, there are far too many choices to be had at any given hour. It's no secret that I love to eat, and now I can get anything I want at any given time.

In a one word answer, it's overwhelming. Two college degrees by the age of twenty, ability to converse in three different languages, IQ of 143...yet I can't even make a single decision on what to order at 2:45 in the morning.

"So what'll it be, hon?" the weary waitress asks me for the fifth time.

I've learned that there is such a thing as too many fucking choices in life.

"I'm starving!" I cry back, while desperately flipping through the sixteen page glossy menu.

And that there is something to be said for the limited late night menu at Denny's.


My whole life, people have always told me that you cannot change others. Rather, you have the power to change how you react to them. And this is true.

But just recently, I've come to discover that you don't have to let people change who you are. If you do a good deed and it goes unthanked, does this mean you should stop doing those good deeds? If someone doesn't say hello back, do we become bitter, angry and misanthropic in nature? Why give others that control in life? Why let them influence your true nature for the worst?

As I left for work today, I looked over at my nemesis two doors down.

Ghandi once said, "Everything we do is futile. But we must do it anyway."

I closed my eyes and sharply inhaled. I sauntered over to him.

"Hello!" I called out to him.

The man turned to me. His expression softened. For the first time ever, he removed the dangling Camel Wide from his mouth.

My breath caught in my throat.

"Hey white bitch!" he said cheerfully and smiled before jamming the cigarette back into his mouth.

Progress, I thought.

And I started to laugh.