Four Weeks and Counting

"No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear." --C.S. Lewis 

A few hours after the medical examiner wheeled my dad's body out of his apartment, I was talking to my sister on the phone and she asked me if I had cried yet. "No," I answered. "Why not?," she replied. "Because I was prepared for this moment." After my dad was diagnosed with cancer almost a year ago, I started mentally readying myself for the day I'd have to say "goodbye." After the ME's van pulled away, we went into full funeral planning mode. The stress of planning an entire funeral service seemed to have caused the reality of the situation to not fully register. Now, the funeral is over. The apartment has been cleaned out. And as today marks four weeks since I received the call that changed my life, I'm starting to realize that I may not have been as prepared as I thought I was.

At almost 30-years-old, I've been through so much that even the worse news can't bring me to tears.  When I broke the news to my mom, I tried to cry, but for some reason it just couldn't come out. I even had to fake a crackle in my voice. As my sister and I watched the body bag be loaded in the van, she sobbed openly and stared blankly into the sky. I just stood there. At the funeral, tears flowed from my siblings eyes, meanwhile, I spent my time trying to keep them calm. At the luncheon afterwards, my mom asked me if I was ok and I said I was. She asked again to be sure. At this point I was so annoyed with everyone questioning me on my mental state, I just wanted to lock myself in a room to avoid it.

As the days and the weeks went by, I continued thinking I was handling the grief well. I wasn't feeling depressed; I was going to class; I wasn't isolating myself from the world, etc. My mom pointed out things that said otherwise: starting my days with rum mixed with lemonade, for instance. The fact that I'd ballooned 10 pounds in the span of two weeks was another sign. As the weeks have ticked by, I can't help but wonder if dealing with the grief will continue to get harder instead of easier.

I never really thought of grief feeling like fear until I read the quote from C.S. Lewis. Is it a fear of having to accept the reality that a person I love is gone? Is it a fear of knowing that at some point I'll have lost both my parents? Is it a fear of coming to terms with my own mortality? It could take years before I have answers to these questions. In the meantime, I have to learn to adjust to life without my dad.

Four weeks and counting.......

My dad and I


Unwritten 2.0

When I started this blog back in 2006, my inspiration came from a very popular Natasha Bedingfield song called "Unwritten." I was just getting ready to start my freshman year at BYU and a lot of things in my life had changed up to that point. In fact, my first blog post reflected a lot of what was going on at the time. Fast forward almost six years and I'm no longer the 22-year-old girl preparing for her first airplane ride as she gets ready to move across country. I'm now a 28-year-old college graduate preparing for the next chapter in my life.

It's been six years since I started college. Eight months since I graduated. In the eight months since graduation I've spent three months being counted amongst the unemployed, four months working for the New York Mets,  I lived in two states and an entirely different continent. That's the funny thing about time: a lot of stuff you never planned on happening can happen in such a short amount of it. That's why I decided to re-launch the blog.

In the midst of break-ups and breakdowns, highs and lows, I've had a lot of time to think and reflect on my life and what it means to start to come into my own. Anyone who knows me knows I tell it like it is, regardless of how it might seem to those around me and this blog will do just that. It will be brutally honest reflections on life, work, relationships, religion, sex, sports, you name it.

Today is where the latest chapter of my book begins....
The rest is still unwritten.....


...And Then There Were None

This past weekend marked a rather important milestone in my tenure as a member of the church. The last of the missionaries to introduce me to the church said "goodbye" to full-time missionary work and "hello" to the post-mission experience. Their going home leaves them -as well as myself-at a interesting crossroads. To me they are more than missionaries, they are my friends and now life here in the city without them seems unimaginable.

We'll start at the very beginning. I met Elder's Marshall and Bailey almost a year ago and I credit them with actually getting me to church. I didn't get to know them well because 5 days after I met them they were transferred. Then entered the sister missionaries; Sister's Beames and Lafollette. I credit them with actually getting me to the baptismal font, but beyond that they became my best friends and my sisters. After a few months Sister Lafollette went back to Temple Square, Utah to continue serving her mission. Who would take her spot? None other than the amazing Sister Drennan, and from the start we also had a strong bond. Before I go further something happened between the time the first set of elders left and the sisters arrived. With the arrival of the sisters, another companionship of elders entered the fold and Elder Bromley was one-half of it. We also had a strong bond from the start.

And that's how it would be for months, and it was great. But eventually all good things must come to an end. After Sister Lafollete, Elder Bromley was the next to get transferred, then the time would come for Sister Beames to leave, followed by Sister Drennan. But those were just transfers, they were still in the same mission area and there would be times where I would still see some of them and interact with others via postal mail. Essentially, it was like they never left. Then it became time for them to go home. The first with that honor was Sister Lafollete, then in the last 2 weeks Sister's Beames and Drennan followed by Elder Bromley, all made their way back to Utah.

When missionaries go home it's the end of an era. They remain the same person, but they change literally overnight. They don't have to be in missionary dress anymore, they can go to school or work, they can even begin dating with the prospect of marriage. I don't have to call them elder or sister anymore, instead I can call them Becky or Sydney or Amy or Cody. But all this change makes me uneasy. I want them to remain missionaries, I miss the spiritual high I felt everytime I was in their presence, I miss going to teach with them or going to teach them, even. Gone are the days of "Hey, you wanna come with us to teach....?", instead they've been replaced with "Hey, you wanna come with us to the movies?"

Why does this bother me so? I know they say that the post-mission experience is weird for the missionaries, but does it also apply to the recent convert? Will their impressions of me change now that the name tag is off? Of course not, mission or no-mission, I love them and they love me. I guess I'm afraid that now that they have "normal" lives, I might become a distant memory. We've all promised one another that we would remain friends no matter what, so I shouldn't worry.

Knowing that in a few weeks I'll be reunited with most of them in Utah does provide some solace. I have to remember that I can do so much more with them now that they aren't on missions anymore, but will we do the same things we used to do when they were on missions? Only time will tell, but the days until I get to Utah seem to only grow longer knowing that then there were none.


That's What Friends Are For

As I awoke to the dawn of a new day, I did the usual. I stood in front of my closet in search of an outfit to wear. My closet is my sanctuary, it's chock full of familiar friends (Banana, Abercrombie, Dolce, just to name a few), and like the good friends they are, they offer me comfort when I'm feeling self-conscious, they give me advice on what accessories would look best with that dress, and most importantly they've been there with me through the good times and the bad. Never judging me or turning away from me in time of need. My outfits have been with me through some of the most important moments in my life. For example, my black-and-white graphic print dress from Banana Republic, carried me from working on the salesfloor there to the baptismal font on my birthday. And all it took was the difference between a cardigan and a sweater over it to take it from work-time preppie to spiritually-chic, in no time.

Clothes tell a story, and mine are no exception. I communicate how I'm feeling on any given day just by what type of skirt I'm wearing. Pencil skirt means I'm feeling powerful and ready to take charge. Circle skirt means I'm feeling feminine and flirty. Forget the vocal/aural means of communicating, give me a sassy skirt with a pair of heels and I'll give you something to talk about. It reminds me of when I was working at Best Buy and I was stuck in that blue shirt and khaki pant uniform every day. One Saturday I had the day off and decided to get dressed and stop by the store. Get dressed in something other than "Best Buy Blues." I threw on an Atlanta Braves Jersey and a white miniskirt with a pair of white-on-white Air Force Ones and next thing you know I was the talk of the store...for 3 months. It even landed me a date with one of my co-workers.

I stand in front of my closet and begin to take inventory of what I have (which is easy to do considering how insanely organized it is), short-sleeved tees, long-sleeved tees, short-sleeved polos in possibly every color of the rainbow, followed by 3/4 sleeved polos also in possibly every color of the rainbow, down all the way to cardigans to sweaters to track jackets to blazers (I won't even get started on the section with the pants and skirts). It's being guarded on the bottom by my 15+ pairs of shoes and on the top by my collection of handbags. Each and every one of these pieces says something about me and where I've been and where I'm headed.

It gives others glimpses into my personality, it helped me define my personality even more. It helps draw other people to me, it also helps others stay their distance. Does it make me stuck-up? No. Does it make me think I'm better than everyone else? No. Does it make me feel bad I spend so much money on "frivolous things?" No. So what does it do? Above anything else it makes me feel good about myself. And that's what friends are for.


How Much Does a Father-Figure Figure?

In the past month, a lot of questions have come up regarding my background. Almost always the topic manages to make it's way to my parents, and how they raised me. To be completely honest, my "parents" never really raised me. In fact during my teenage years I referred to my mom as "my egg donor" and my dad as "my sperm donor", because it seemingly was the only real contribution they made in my life. I'm grateful I didn't wind up in a napkin somewhere, but at the same time someone needs to take accountability when it comes to raising a child.

Although my mom had her issues, and still does, she was around for the most part. My father on the other hand was a totally different story. I don't have many memories with my dad because we hardly spent time together. By the time I was born, he and my mother had broke up and he pretty much left us to fend for ourselves. My mom couldn't get child support because he didn't hold a job and whatever earnings he did make had to be divided up to his first four kids, leaving me- the baby of the bunch- without much. He tried to have contact with me off and on as I got older, but I was mostly left with disappointment.

He wasn't there for some of the most important and maybe not so important moments of my life. He was never there when I fell down and skinned my knees, never there to soothe my insecurities. Where was he the first time a boy broke my heart? I know where. He would be two avenues away on Broadway, washing cars to try to make ends meet. Which in essence means washing cars to support his drug habit.

Over the summer, I spent the most time with him than I ever had in the previous 21 years. He is currently living with his mother in The Bronx and I stayed with them for about a month. I realized that we have similar personalities, similar attitudes, similar characteristics when it comes to acting silly, you name it. At that point, I remembered a song by Fefe Dobson called "Unforgiven." It's about a strained relationship with her own father. At one point during the chorus, there's a line that always strikes a chord with me when I hear it. It goes "...Sorry is a word you like to say. Sorry won't erase the things you did yesterday."

He's trying now to build foundations that should've been in the development stages from the moment I was born. Does he realize, or better yet, will he ever realize that those years are gone and he can't get them back? Those were years when I needed him the most. I needed that "father-figure" influence in my life, but instead of finding it at home, I tried to find it in other places. The only influences I gained from that were negative ones. Luckily, I somewhat managed to make it. But there are plenty of others who don't.

The importance of a father has diminished over time. A lot of women think they can handle raising a child fine without the aid of a man. Sure you might be able to, but will the child be able to be raised just as well without that "father-figure?" Men need to realize that the ties that bind them to their children will never fray. So how much does a "father-figure" figure? I'd have to say a whole lot.


The Trouble With Love Is...

...It can make your heart believe a lie.

I've been in love 3 times- maybe twice because the last one is questionable- and each time I discovered something. You meet someone and you hit it off with them. First the two of you are hanging out all the time and then when you're not together, you're on the phone with him/her for hours at a time. Eventually, they become your boyfriend/girlfriend. You think to yourself, "this is great...it can't get any better than this." Then it does. Your significant other says those 3 magic words. "I love you." You begin to imagine your dream wedding, and a house in the suburbs and the perfect summer home in Cape Cod. The kids will all be wearing Ralph Lauren and your sheets will be 500-count Egyptian Cotton. Then the unthinkable happens. You find out your boyfriend has gotten another girl pregnant, or, you discover your boyfriend is extremely jealous and has tendency to become violent. Those are my 2 scenarios, but you can insert your own at any time. The point is it can really make your heart believe a lie because who knows for how long the signs were right there in front of your face. You couldn't see their lies because your love for them clouded your judgment and you couldn't see anything other than the love you felt for them, until it was too late.

...It can tear you up inside.

So the relationship has gone sour. What are your means for recovery? For me there are several options. First, sobbing excessively until your tear ducts beg you to stop. Second, curling into a ball and imaging the horrors of being single again. Third, eating a whole package of raw cookie dough or an entire bag of tater tots. Finally, forgetting the bastard by putting Destiny's Child's "Independent Woman Part II" on repeat for about a week. My favorite line in the whole song is, "I am my number one priority, no falling in love, no commitment from me." Second favorite line, "Do them boys like they used to do you. If you pimp them, I congratulate you." I like to take this moment to thank Beyonce for her words of encouragement and for helping me through some tough times. What would we do without you? Anyway, breakups are hard, harder if you've been in love with the person. You experience all these emotions and then the "what if's" slowly start to creep up on you, and the next thing you know you're a complete basketcase. It really does tear you up inside and the recovery time can be lengthy.

...It's stronger than your pride.

Like I said before, I've been in love 3 times- I'm still questioning that last one but more on that later- and after all the disappointments you tell yourself that it will never happen to you again. Love becomes your new four-letter word. You try to avoid it like the plague. You go out again with the sole purpose of having fun with your friends. If you meet someone, cool, but nothing more than a few dates and maybe the occasional hook-up (for my friends in the church reading this, here's a disclaimer: this was my pre-baptism life I'm talking about. You can stop freaking out.), without any expectations at all. That is until you start repeating the actions noted in the first paragraph. Your pride tells you don't do it. Don't get caught in the trap. Just turn around and walk away. Keep walking. That's it, just keep walking, don't look back. But sometimes you make the mistake of looking back, and instead of turning into a pillar of salt, it happens. You're in love all over again. This leads me to my final point.

...You've got no say at all.

No matter what your mind is telling you to do, the heart always seems to win. Remember that 3rd person I might or might not be in love with? It's all because I've really got no say at all in the matter. My mind wants what it wants, and that is to not be in love with the guy. At the same time, my heart wants what it wants, and that is to be in love with this person. So what happens next? You try to find ways to not like them. You try to criticize them on the way they behave, which at times can be very immature. But then something happens where you get to see their mature side, and their ability to come through for you in a crisis. Or you try to criticize them for their tendency to make jokes at some of the worst moments. But then you realize that their humor is one of the things you love about them and somehow no matter how mad you can be around them, all it takes is one funny face to make you laugh again. You see their talents and their potentials and you see how underrated they make themselves appear to be, when in reality they don't realize the many impacts they have in numerous peoples lives. For every bad thing you try to make up, there's always a ton of good to counteract it. As much as the mind tries to work for you, the heart works against you. The realization that the other party doesn't feel the same hurts. The story always ends the same...me standing in the pouring rain. And no matter what I do, it tears my heart in two. I try various ways to mend it. Distancing myself from them, etc. But then you see how much a part of you they've become and all that's left is a void. So you try to move on and eventually you will.

So for now I'll say love isn't worth the pain but then, at some point, I'll hear it call my name.


Why Do I Feel So Sad?

Right now things don't seem all that bad. So why do I feel so sad? That was the question posed to me today by my therapist. In retrospect, things right now aren't all that bad. After a little over 2 weeks in the hospital, I'm out and somewhat about. I finally moved away from my family, which was a big source of drama and frustration in my life and on top of all that, I found out I got accepted to Brigham Young University. One would think I would be on cloud 9 right about now. I even thought I was. That is until my therapist decided to chime in with a thought. She says, "With all these seemingly exciting things happening right now, you still seem to be so sad. Why do you think that is?"

Apparently I can't hide the way I feel inside. My actions are speaking louder than words. This revelation is starting to bother me. Bother me because for a long time I kept whatever was bothering me or hurting me deep inside. Therefore on the exterior all you would think you were seeing is a upbeat, energetic, well-dressed woman. But beneath the pretty skirts and the sassy shoes, lied a "girl" who was very broken inside. By now I know that in time things must change- and I'm trying to change it-so it shouldn't be so bad. But why do I feel so sad?