Monday, March 10, 2014

Coming Clean

So, several people have told me lately that they wanted me to start blogging again.  And I'm honestly not so sure if I want to or not.  Because while I like a lot of what I wrote, it didn't necessarily go all that deep.  But I'm going to give it a try.  And though I doubt anyone will even read this.  I'm going to start with why I stopped blogging in the first place: because I didn't like my life.  Not much at all.
See, over that first summer I could blog about all of these things that I loved and the passion that I had, but the problem was....all that passion went away.
And it was replaced by something else.  Debilitating panic attacks, haunting thoughts, and increasingly isolationist and self-centered behavior.  Life just hurt.  And books and movies would seem to suggest that the people around you will support you and care for you during times like these.  They forget to mention that it doesn't really happen like that.
And that is not in any way to accuse anyone around me.  Because everyone tried to help.  I wouldn't let them.  Because the really sick thing about mental illness is that once you're deep in the middle of the pain, you don't reach out for anyone's hand.  Because it starts to feel safe.  It was as if I was in a pool of quicksand and the hands were outstretched but I wouldn't take them because at least I could understand the quicksand.
And what scared me the most is that I dragged a lot of relationships down into the quicksand with me.  Friends could not understand why I avoided spending time with them.  Or why I didn't tell them what was going on.  It's a pretty simple answer.  I was scared.  I still am.  Panic attacks, depression, destructive and obsessive thought patterns aren't pretty.  They aren't nice to watch.  And once someone wanted to help, I had to get better and I didn't think that I could succeed at getting better.  So, I avoided anyone who might push me towards a solution.
Because even though what I was feeling was unhealthy and dangerous, it became familiar.  It became dependable.  And I hate admitting this to you reading this, to anyone.  Now, I'm not saying that I could control it.  Of course I could not control it.  But in some sick way, I welcomed it, and allowed it to stay.  Because maybe, maybe if I hurt bad enough, I would deserved love.  Maybe if I was really broken, people would want to put me back together.  And if things were really bad, if I was broken to the nth degree and everyone knew that I was a mess, then maybe I was allowed to act in stupid ways.  To make mistakes and fall apart and even to be selfish.  And it turned into this cycle of pain and then wanting more pain so that I could be allowed to feel the pain and then despising every selfish action that I took and yet thinking that maybe if I fell deeper into this disease my selfishness would be excusable.
But that's not how life works.  You don't get allocated your certain amount of pain and then people suddenly care about you.  Instead people just sometimes feel pain.  They have mental illnesses, bad things happen in their past.  And they still need to be decent people.  And people will help you, but you can't ignore hands reaching out to stop you from drowning because you aren't sure you can stand on the shore when they pull you out.  At least, I can't do that anymore.
I will in no way pretend to have pulled myself out.  I haven't.  I have been supported countless times by an incredibly loving boyfriend and friends who have supported me, even when I have isolated them.  And I have been getting other help from a counselor, with the support of my family.  I cannot credit this to me.  But I am trying to take the hands around me.  And I am trying to stop with the excuses and I am trying to stop seeking only what is safe and familiar.
And I don't know if I am at all succeeding.  Because at the core there is still that person who doesn't want to face up to the reality of my mental illness and to a lot of the memories that tend to trap me.  And  inside, I still am, in a lot of ways dependent on those around me to do more saving then they should ever have to do.  And I am sorry for that.  I will keep trying.
There's my explanation.  There's last year, last summer.  I know this isn't what I used to write.  I'm still compelled to end them hopefully though, so if it's any comfort to the reader, not all of the hope is because I can't end my posts negatively.  Enough of it is real.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Frustrations about Religion and Atheism

So I really have other things that I should be doing right now, but I can't really get this thought out of my head.  I figured if I could put it here, than maybe I could let my brain work through it and then get back to what I'm actually supposed to be doing.

Now, I would really and truly like to make it clear that this is NOT an attack on anyone, or what anyone believes.  This is more of just a question, for everyone.  Please, I am asking you to comment on this.  Tell me that I'm wrong.  I would appreciate that.  I would kinda like some form of reasoning, instead of just a general "your wrong and everything you believe is wrong" but hey, I guess I've opened myself up for that too if you feel so led.

So what I've been trying to figure out, pretty much since this past summer, when I decided not to be a minister, although there were hints of this all last year, is what I really believe.  I was raised in a Christian home and believed these things for all of my life.  However, since I am now old enough to realize that there are significant majorities of people who do not believe this and that I would never believe could be condemned to Hell as I was taught; I kind of needed to re-evaluate some things.  

And I haven't quite defined it exactly.  I do know that I believe in something.  A God, a higher power, whatever you wish to call it, this is a personal choice based upon things that I have seen and what I feel.  And I believe that, in a lot of respects, Christianity is the best way for me express this belief.  But, I refuse to believe that anyone could be condemned for believing otherwise.

I guess I see what people believe as a choice.  And it is a choice that comes down, not to a spectrum of right and wrong, but a choice of how they wish to understand and frame the world.  Which if you think about it, kind of has to differ widely depending on the person.  But what is important with this choice is how you let that choice make you act.

This is the main problem that made me so confused in the first place, and honestly almost made me abandon faith (until I realized that it was a much more widespread problem).  It is something that frustrates me to no end.  What I think that it comes down to is the difference between choosing to believe something in order to be a better person, or believing that your beliefs make you better than other people.

And this problem is on both sides of the issue.  The thought of a "holier than thou" attitude doesn't come out of nowhere.  A lot of people in religion believe that they are better people just because they call themselves Christians, Catholics, Mormons, Jews, Muslims, insert other religious sects here.  And I've seen this in my life.  A lot of churches that I have been to believe that only people of their faith will enter heaven and all others will go to hell.  This creates this superiority that is frustrating.

But it is not just religious people.  In my experience, I have met several atheists that have the belief that anyone who believes in God is stupid.  They ridicule religion and give off the impression that they are smarter because they do not believe in a higher power.

(Yes I am aware that I am stereotyping both groups; I promise I know not everyone is like that)

Maybe you don't believe me.  Let me give you this example, on any given day I can scroll through my newsfeed on Facebook and see two equally offensive pictures on both sides.

So, why is this?  Why do both sides think that it is ok to belittle each other.  To tell each other that they are stupid for believing something?  I don't care which side you are on, I think that you can see that both sides show equal hatred.  One side says that all religious people are murderers and terrorists, while another says all atheists are rapists and pedophiles.  For two sides that claim to be so different, they are using the exact same tools.

I don't want to tell people what to believe.  I barely know what I believe.  I'm just saying that I think both sides need to honestly evaluate some of the tools and attitudes that they are using.  I think a person's belief systems should make their lives better and hopefully make them better people.  Not make them cruel.  

Friday, October 12, 2012

Something to be Proud of: My Monologue of Death

Hi guys, obviously it's been quite a while since I have posted anything.  In my defense, my schedule currently allows me about 4 hours of free time during which I tend to try to eat meals, do homework and usually collapse a bit because I'm super tired.  Whining about my overachieving tendencies aside, I wouldn't change any of it for the world.  I'm way more organized when I am busy anyway.  The thing that has been consuming most of my time lately is also the thing I want to write about here.  It is something that I am really proud of.

I am a part of our fall play!

[Insert gasps of shocks and amazement here]

I still cannot believe that I managed to get up the courage to even try out.  Because, see, if you haven't guessed this already, the idea of speaking, acting and generally being pretty crazy in front of people terrifies me.  I'm the kind of person who will wander the same building in numerous circles because I am afraid to talk to the person behind the help desk.  Generally, that's not exactly the quality looked for in an actor.

But, for some reason, I decided to audition.  And by decided to audition, I mean someone asked me if I was going to audition and I went back and forth between the answers "yeah, I think I will try" and "hell no!"  repeatedly up until I was actually in the audition room.  Then I still wanted to bolt, but it would have been rude at that point.

To audition, we had to have a one minute monologue memorized.  This was the first issue for me.  I had obviously had no experience with monologues.  I didn't know how to pick one, how to deliver one.  I looked through a bunch online and some in the library and I just couldn't find one that I could relate to.  I just felt like I would look silly trying to do any of them.  That almost caused me to not audition.  Eventually,  I decided to audition with the introduction to one of my favorite books: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.  Now, if you have never read it, you should know that the introduction is from the perspective of death.  Death tells the story of carrying away the souls of the dead.  It's written beautifully and it's sort of funny and creepy at the same time.  Now out of everything I looked at, I have no idea why death was the character I could relate to. Maybe it was just the comfort of doing something I was familiar with (the book, not death).  And, I'm not going to lie, part of it was the shock value.

See, the people who knew me were probably expecting some cute little monologue about love or happiness or something.  So, part of me wanted the amusement that would come when I said the line, "Here's a small fact: You are going to die,"  I figured this monologue was probably the one that I could do because I enjoyed it enough that maybe I wouldn't notice everyone watching me.

So, I made up my mind to audition, kind of.  I'm not going to lie, as I ran through my monologue for the final time in my room I was in complete panic.  "I can't do this Jess!"  I said to my roommate, full panic mode starting.  Luckily, instead of smacking me for changing my mind for the millionth time like I deserved, she sat me down and gave me the most inspirational speech, that we both ended up laughing hysterically through.

Eventually, it was time to audition.  I was terrified, but I had made up my mind to do this.  I didn't even know if I wanted a part.  Mostly, I just knew that I wanted to prove to myself that I could do something I was scared of.

Eventually, I got up on stage, dressed might I add as the girly death that probably ever existed, and delivered my monologue.  And it actually went well.  See, I told myself beforehand, "You have one thing going that others don't.  No one is expecting you to be death.  So you might as well have fun with it."  And it was fun.  It was entertaining to be creepy, and I think I actually did a pretty good job.  I got into the play at least.

Fast-forward, and opening night is in a week.  The thought is still terrifying.  And I definitely do not deny that this whole acting thing still terrifies me.  There were times that I considered quitting because I was so intimidated by the other, more experienced actors.  But, now I'm a little bit excited.  I think it will be fun.  And I know that when this is over, I will be able to be proud.  Because I did something that even I didn't expect that I could do.

I'll still probably panic come this Friday.


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

I Need Telepathic Powers

So, I mentioned in my last post that I haven't posted because I've been busy working at RadioShack.  However, I finished my last day there on Monday because come later today, provided I get some sleep at some point, I will be living 45 mins away.  That's a bit of a commute for someone without a car.  While I did enjoy it, and I was obviously grateful to have a job, I'm kind of glad to be done.  The store I worked at was not exactly overflowing with customers, and there was a lot of time spent doing, well, nothing.  However, even in my boredom, I learned a few things:
  1. If a large wall of batteries comes falling towards you it is probably smarter to catch it with your free hands instead of your ankle.  The resulting bruise is not worth the mental style points.  
  2. Some people just enjoy being unpleasant, while others can be really sweet.  I regularly had people tell me that I didn't know what I was talking about because we didn't carry a certain product, or it wasn't in stock.  Now, I admit, I do not have the brain power necessary to telepathically summon computer parts,  but that wasn't really in the job description.  I also had a person tell me that they knew someone with the same name as me that was probably a lot brighter than me.  But that guy was just rude.  On the bright side, some people are also just extremely pleasant.  I had several people get really excited just because I put batteries in their garage door openers.  So, I can't really complain about the customers.
  3. I do not have the power to telepathically summon customers just because I am bored.  Although not for lack of trying.
  4. It is really hard to act professional if a customer just caught you playing with the princess piano that's in the toy section. 
  5. On that same note, it is possible to play a passable version of Mika's Happy Ending on that same princess piano.  This is especially amusing if the keys are set to sound like bubbles instead of normal piano sounds.  
  6. Even if it feels like you know nothing about technology you can still help customers with a little pretend confidence.  
  7. If you can't reach a product you should really just get the ladder, because your much taller coworkers will laugh at you trying to jump for it.
  8. If a coworker tells you, "You can try to move the shelf if you want, but it's probably too heavy for you" The look on their face will be hilarious when you move it without a problem.  
  9. If you notice both managers watching you go to the back with evil smiles, it's probably because they installed a new door alarm and haven't told you.
I also learned lots of stuff I didn't know about technology.  Anyway, that's all.  I'm going to try to get some sleep.

Sophomore Year

So, tomorrow I am moving into Hiram College for my sophomore year of college.  I'm really excited and I think it's going to be a great year.  There's a lot of things that I am looking forward to, and a lot of goals that I have for the coming year.

First of all, I am super excited because of the dorm I am moving into.  Last year, my dorm was....interesting. Let's just say, I lived with pretty much the entire football team.  It was loud.  And not just normal, people are talking in the hallways kind of loud.  No, I'm talking people playing cornhole for four hours straight right in front of my doorway so that I couldn't go to the shower without risking a bean bag concussion.  Or, there would be screaming in the hallways at two am about some football article.  It was a little ridiculous.  Not to mention the fact that no one could understand why me and my roommate didn't want to come scream with them at 2 am.  So, they resorted to either harassing us in the hallways or talking loudly about us in front of our door.  Annoying.  But this year, I am moving into a much better dorm!  I know most of the people on our floor and I am rooming with one of my best friends!  Plus, my room is on the second floor, so I shouldn't have to worry about someone coming in my window while I'm asleep.  Oh, and Ryan, if you are reading this, you actually do what you are threatening and I will kill you.  

In addition, when I get back to campus I need to officially declare my major.  This will be my first semester of education classes and I am a little nervous.  I feel like to some extent this is going to be the test as to whether or not I made the right choice.  I also am super excited about getting the chance to train to be a writing assistant.  I love to write and I have always helped my friends with papers, but now I am going to learn how to really help people.  

I think it's going to be a really good year.  Hopefully, once everything is settled I will be able to keep this blog more updated.  I know it's been a while and I'm sorry about the lack of updates.  My life has basically consisted of packing and working at RadioShack so I just haven't had a lot to write about.  But that should change.  Anyway, that's it for now.  More posts should come soon!


Monday, July 30, 2012

Sparring Styles

So, I've been talking to my boyfriend a lot lately about different fighting styles.  Which has gotten me to think about my strategy when I spar.  Now, I'm not trying to imply that I have some expert strategy, in fact, I don't even have much of a strategy to speak of.  I do, however, have a couple of tricks and moves that I favor because they work for me.  So, here's my general strategy:

  1. Control: I value keeping myself calm and controlled over anything else.  The thought of losing control, or causing pain where it is not necessary is a concept that really bothers me.  So it is very important to me to stay calm so that I don't get flustered.  This also helps me avoid mistakes.  In general, I try to mirror the intensity of whomever I am sparring.  This makes sure that I don't allow myself to be easily beaten, but I avoid being too intense and possibly hurting someone.  Part of this comes from the fact that I learned to spar in class with people of varying ages and skill levels.  Because of my smaller size I generally ended up partnered with the 10 or 12 year olds.  This meant that in some cases I needed to make sure that I had good control so that I wouldn't hurt someone.  Now granted, some of them were extremely skilled and did not require me to hold back at all, I'm just generalizing.  So, I keep controlled and calm which makes sparring a lot easier for me.
  2. Using your opponents force against them: My Sensei from my Issynryu class was also a black belt in Tai Chi, which means that he often emphasized using your opponents momentum against them.  The cool thing about this strategy is that you don't need a lot of strength, you simply re-direct their force and use it against them.  This is something that I am still working on, but it is something that I always try to incorporate. 
  3. Kicks: Anyone who has sparred me before generally prepares to be nailed with a lot of kicks.  It's something that I really rely on.  I started doing this after my first belt test.  After I finished the test one of the other students mentioned "You have long legs and you're pretty fast, you should use more kicks."  After that I tried incorporating them more and it worked very well.  I can kick pretty fast and my kicks are a lot stronger than my strikes so it just makes sense for me to use them a lot.  
  4. Block then strike: When I first started to spar I had a very hard time incorporating attacks into my sparring.  I would block all day, but I had a really hard time forcing myself to attack.  So, the Sensei's who worked with me told me that every time I blocked I had to strike immediately afterwards.  This broke me of the hesitation to strike and taught me to flow quickly between defense and offense.  I still have a hard time with outright attacks, but now I can generally settle into a pattern of blocking and striking that is fairly successful.  
  5. Circling: My instinct, probably from watching people fight on tv was to circle my opponent.  Luckily this turned out to be how I was taught to spar.  I generally try to keep up a fairly steady circling motion so that I am never a direct target.  
  6. Lefty fighting: So, I have not completely perfected this yet, but being as I am ambidextrous I figure that I can surprise my opponent and make things difficult for them by fighting left-handed.  If I take a left-handed stance it forces my opponent to do the same making them fight with their non-dominant side.
So, that's pretty much it.  My fighting style, or at least the closest thing I have to one.


Thursday, July 26, 2012

No Meat for Me

I have been a vegetarian since the beginning of my freshman year of high school.  Now, a lot of people generally ask me why I decided that, or how I can live without eating meat.  So, here's the best explanation I can give for my thoughts about being a vegetarian.  

So, to start, I can say that I have always had a problem with eating meat.  I remember pretty clearly bursting out into tears in the middle of the grocery store because I realized that lamb meant actual baby sheep.  I always wondered why something had to die just so I could eat.  

Then during the summer before my freshman year I was talking to my parents at dinner one day and I mentioned that I planned on being a vegetarian when I was cooking for myself.  My dad said that as long as I  made sure to still eat healthy there was no problem with me being a vegetarian now.  And so from that point on I haven't really eaten meat.  I'm not perfect with it, but in general I try not to eat any meat/fish.  Generally my family eats normal meals, with meat and I just eat everything else, or occasionally cook something else.  We generally eat a couple of completely vegetarian meals pretty regularly.  

My logic is pretty simple really.  I just am not comfortable with eating something that was killed for my benefit.  Now, I'm not saying that I think everyone should be a vegetarian.  I understand that as human beings we have a biological compulsion to eat meat.  I know that I cannot force anyone else to adopt the same lifestyle and that's really not my goal.  It's none of my business.  However, I just feel like there is no reason that I need to live a life that causes other beings to die for my comfort.  And so its pretty much as simple as that. 

A lot of people ask me about gray areas.  Where I would draw the line.  Would I kill an animal if it was attacking me, would I eat meat if I was starving, do I kill bugs.  And the answer is, there is not always a perfect line.  I just try the best I can to live a life that does not cause harm to others.  Yes I would do what was necessary if the situation called for it, but for my day to day life I can survive pretty well without eating meat.  

And thanks guys! Over a thousand views!