Life Hands You Lemons

Never apologize for burning too brightly or collapsing into yourself every night. That is how galaxies are made.-Tyler Kent White

I promised myself that one thing would happen when I went to law school: that I would become comfortable with the idea of being uncomfortable. Here’s my reflection so far.

One of the first things a person learns after a bout of depression, or a suicide recovery is that waking up each day often requires a constant choice. I’m not talking about “I will live today”. I’m talking about “I will get out of this bed and keep fighting, even though I’m exhausted and I really would rather just go back to sleep.” And it’s hard. At first, it’s like listening to the most grating sound on repeat inside your head. “I will get out of this bed…I will get out of this bed…I will get out of this bed…” And you have to keep updating it as the day goes on. Getting out of bed soon becomes “I will make myself look professional and keep fighting…” which in turn becomes “I will keep fighting.”

Then one day, you don’t have to scream those words at yourself so loudly. It becomes less of a command and more of a mantra. “I will keep fighting.”

So too it is, as I found out, with my current life choices. I chose to go to law school, and suddenly I found myself in a world I didn’t seem fit for. I feel like an outsider, like everything is designed to keep me out. And each day I woke up with my mind screaming at me “I will get out of this bed and keep fighting, even though this is really hard, I’m exhausted and I really need more sleep.” Each day felt a little bit more like a battle and a little less like an academic exercise. Until it didn’t.

I woke up this morning and sat in silence for a moment. I had spent the past two weeks drowning out the fear that I felt bubble up from the moment I woke up. And I stopped and listened to it. Why was I afraid? Why was I struggling?

The quote at the top of today’s blog comes from a poem (which I heard about from one of my favorite celebrities). Fear and shame are some pretty powerful things when it comes to the human condition. They will trick you out of opportunities to change the world by simply making the world uninviting to you.

But here’s the thing.

The world isn’t unwelcoming to you. The world is everything you are willing to be uncomfortable enough to do. And trust me, it will be uncomfortable. But it will always be worth it.

 

Waiting on Superman

I really adore superhero(ine) movies. I enjoy the comics, I enjoy the messaging, I enjoy it as a fan who simply wants to be transported to a different place for a little while. I love that the hero(ine)s have dark pasts, tragic events and things that make them relatable. I also happen to enjoy Disney Villains (especially Maleficent and Ursula) and I do quite like Star Wars and Star Trek with equal measure. I belong to as many fandoms as I can (although none so much as Supernatural, Sherlock, iZombie, Charmed and Buffy the Vampire Slayer). And do you know what? All of this has one simple thing in common.

Almost none of the protagonists believed they were “the chosen one”.

So, before we get into this, no-I’m not in the middle of a serious delusion. Seriously. Let me tell you the story.

When I was asked the first time what I wanted to be when I grew up, I said mortician. I was told that was improper for a lady (by the teacher). When asked again, I said doctor. No one ever asked past that-until I asked myself. And when doctor just didn’t fit, I toyed around with a LOT of other ideas. Nurse. Wedding Planner. Phlebotomist. Social Worker. And then I found anthropology. And I LOVED it! But I had no idea what I wanted to do with it. I was stuck in the “swamp” for a while-where you just want to do all of the types of anthropology. Then I leaned cultural. I wanted to study religions and the occult and spirituality. But could I get a job in that? So I shifted to religious intolerance and hate crimes and religious terrorism. Surely that would be a useful career! But I wasn’t quite set on it. It just didn’t “fit”. And so I kept looking for the thing. It was quite like finding an academic soul mate. And then I fell upon law and rape prosecution.

I’ve applied to law schools. I’m trying to make my life. And it’s hard and scary-and I haven’t even heard from my schools yet. But you know what I keep thinking?

Am I even cut out for this?

I read cases pretty regularly. I think the cookies in my browser history just knows I’m going to want to follow cases and it finds them for me. And I read them with integrity. I read them, I research them and then I cry. I ugly cry, scream into my pillow and mourn the loss of humanity. It breaks me so much. I fall asleep with puffy eyes and wake up exhausted. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve talked it over with my husband. And now, I shall trust you all with my secret.

I’m afraid. I’m afraid that I will lose my cases and have to look my clients in their eyes and tell them I did my best without being able to give them justice. I’m afraid I will cry in the courtroom because I am so emotionally attached to my cause that it’s all personal for me. I’m afraid that I will wake up one day, after crying myself to sleep and realize that I can’t face any more clients or judges or courtrooms because hearing one more “Not Guilty” will do me in. I’m afraid that I won’t be good at it. 

But get this.

Every now and again, when I wake up after a particularly brutal article, I feel it. I feel the revolution. I feel the change in my brain that says “Hey. You don’t have to be perfect. But if no one stands up, nothing will ever change. What if the person we’re all waiting to stand up is you?” And I look at the fictional characters that I relate to most. Sam and Dean Winchester. General Organa. Buffy Summers. I see them given an impossibly frustrating task-one that they don’t feel qualified to handle and they feel overwhelmed and hopeless. I look at the characters who struggle with themselves. Liv Moore. Anna Marie (Rogue). Selina Kyle (Catwoman). Castiel. I see them fighting their own identities, trying to figure out why their lives are the way they are. I look at stories that split the line between misunderstood and wrongly judged. Maleficent. Prue Halliwell. Captain Janeway. I see people who had terrible things happen that forced them to react.

I wrote my personal statement for law school over heroes. As soon as I hear one way or another, I’ll post my Personal Statement here, because I’m actually kinda proud of it. It’s something I need to keep looking over. In it, I referenced Les Miserables, Supernatural and Daredevil. I spoke of Enjolras standing up for what was right, Dean Winchester’s redemption and Matt Murdock’s humanity. The story lines that spoke to me most about being brave, even when you’re afraid.

The great thing about superhero(ine) stories is that they apply to you whether you’re dealing with a bully, you’re fighting your own inner demons, you’re focused on saving the world. Uncle Ben’s words are still as true today as they were the first time they were printed: “With great privilege comes great responsibility.”

So no. I don’t feel like I can do this. I feel overwhelmed and terrified. I feel hopeless and insignificant. And that’s exactly why I have to keep trying.

Every Word’s The Same

I have to say

There seems to be a miscommunication

I thought secrets were for the living

But the only secrets are kept in death

If every second lasted just a second longer

Maybe the trust I thought I deserved 

Would shatter before my eyes

Instead of behind my back

My shoulder blades itch, 

Could you move the knife up and to the left?

Or should I just fall on my face

The beauty of the fall is my disgrace

Is that your heartbeat

Or is it just the echo of a chest that’s hollow

Because you’ve been a tin man your whole life

And I guess that makes me the one without courage.

It takes a tribe to raise a kid, but 

Maybe it was a village of idiots.

You thought you were so clever, so sweet

That I could save you from your own disasters 

You should have looked for a parachute

Because this plane’s about to go down.

I never thought it’d come down to this

A thief and a liar, oh but the twist,

We are the same, you and I

Connected by the handcuffed scars on our wrist.

  (Photo from Pinterest!) 

Thankfulness, Day 17

Where does the time go? We’re already almost done with the month, which means almost the end of the year (and the birthday of my husband and I). Today, I’m going ot come right out and say it: I’m thankful for stories.

I’m a sucker for a well-crafted story. I will stay up all night reading, I’ve been so in love with books that I’ll forget to eat, take them with me to use the rest room and all manner of devotions. But the thing I love about them most, is the way they stick with me.

Romeo and Juliet. Pride and Prejudice. Warm Bodies. Twilight. The Vampire Diaries. Sherlock. iZombie. Cinder. A Game of Thrones. Buffy the Vampire Slayer. F-R-I-E-N-D-S. 

I can tell you how each of these impacted my life, my outlook in some way or another and this is only the stuff I came up with in the first thirty seconds of thinking. Because I can come up with loads more. I promise.

A good story makes you remember what it’s like to be yourself while being someone else. A good story makes you forget yourself in order to be someone else. A good story makes you feel emotions that aren’t yours, recall details from the past which may or may not be “real” and makes you connect. But it is a great story that makes you do all those things while getting you to forget that all of that is found in the pages of a book.

Reading transforms you. You are no longer hunched in a chair, sipping on coffee. You aren’t even turning the pages. You’re witnessing heroic feats from the back of dragons, taking refreshment at an exclusive estate. You’re a willing participant in the greatest theater of all: your own mind. Because in the end, opening a great book is something that sticks with you. It makes you read just one more chapter even though you needed to get to sleep hours ago. 

And if I’m going on and on about books, why did I include TV shows and adaptations?

Because those have the possibility to alter your reality too. A great movie/TV show knows when to harbor secrets and when to pull out all the stops. A great movie/show will get you hooked with one liners and insider jokes. A great movie/show will cause you to forget that you have things to do, because you get to find out what happened to the characters at the end of the next episode (unless you’re waiting to find out what happened to Glenn, and then you’ll probably need to bathe and eat because it’s going to take a while). A great movie/ show will lead you to fall in love with that one character, and even though you know it’s a fictional character, if you ever met them in real life, they’d be your soul-mate, for sure. And just as you think you’ve seen it all, you watch that scene. You know, that scene and your world crashes down around you. You don’t understand how it is that anything will ever be the same and you think you might just have to give up watching it because it wouldn’t be right. But you come back anyway, because you just have to know what happens next.

And as the credits roll, the last paragraph on the last page comes to an end, it’s like saying goodbye. You know that you could alwyas go back to the beginning, but you know too much, you already know what’s going to happen. But you can’t live without the thrill of a good read/show/movie and you start over. You notice things that you didn’t before. Things that make you scream out SO THAT’S WHAT THAT WAS. And it’s like living the moments for the first time all over again.

It is those shows/books/movies that I refer to today. And I am fairly certain that without them, the world would be a much lonelier, boring place.

Chapter 5

So today, I’ve been madly noveling, and although I am glad to have a break from homework, it’s interesting that I never really escape it. Today’s thankfulness comes from being 1/6 of the way to where I was before. But the thing is, I’m writing an entirely new book, and so I think I’m really only about a tenth of the way there, which is even more exciting to me. Anyway, what I’m truly thankful for is inspiration. For me, it comes from life, coffee and great playlists. I think that’s really great, and there’s something quite amazing about taking a blank page, a nothing, and creating an idea, a something. So, in honor of that, I’m going to offer a small segment of my WIP (work in progress) and go back to work. I chose this because it’s one of those scenes I can’t descide how to rework. [This is part of Chapter FIVE, the main character Kat is reading from an old book called The Love of the Queen of Souls. It’s the scene I just finished, and it’s easily the flimsiest but it serves a purpose and well, PLOT TWIST.]

           There was once a summer princess who longed for the chill kiss of winter. She craved the balance and poetry of the cold and the warmth. Her heart was met each day by the warmth of the sun and she could take it no longer. On the evening of her twenty seventh year, she ran from her life and met a stranger in the woods. He was just the frost she’d waited for and she invited him to accompany her to back to her home and immediately fell in love with him.

           They were forbidden to be together, but the summer princess could not forbid her heart from feeling and she secretly married the stranger in the woods. They were very happy, each completing the other in ways they had never known before. They were warned about growing hostilities because of their love, but the summer princess had more news: she was with child. Still, their union did not make everyone happy and the forces of summer and winter, ever at odds, went to war.

           By the time the princess gave birth to not one child, but a pair of twins, the winter and summer courts were rapidly running through their supplies and soldiers and a truce could not be found. The summer princess and her stranger in the woods were betrayed by a most beloved friend and were forced to give up their children, a son and a daughter, in order to spare their lives. As the children were taken away, the summer princess sacrificed her life so that her children would have a chance. A great fire was set to their home and trapped within, the stranger in the woods and the summer princess became spirits, collecting the souls of the winter and summer folk who could not pass on. In a final act of desperation, the summer princess offered the sky people, who ruled the earth and all those within, her life forever in exchange for her babies, that they might be free.

           But the sky people were a vengeful sort, and did not suffer the summer princess lightly, as they blamed her for disrupting the harmony they had created. A curse was placed on her daughter, that she might never find happiness until the war between summer and winter was over. Her son was not cursed, but was stripped of his memories and destined to return to the winter, who would betray him. One of the sky people, a young mother herself, took pity on the children, knowing that all that had happened was because of love, and they were the product of good intentions. She knew that the curse of the daughter and the fate of the son would be what came to pass, but in the event that they found each other, a great alliance would be formed, one that would cause peace to regain control.

           For their unwillingness to compromise, both the summer and winter were forced to live out their lives and fight their wars amongst the humans. They would never be allowed to return to the sky people and their homes, nor could they pass on to the land of souls until the princess and prince are reunited and the war is ended.

           
Katerina came to the end of the story and looked up. Natalia’s eyes were glassy with tears and she couldn’t look at Kat. At the end of the story was a page that looked like it had been added in, but Katerina couldn’t read it. It was in some sort of loopy lettering in some language that she’d never seen. 

Things, Excitement!

A little while ago I wrote about how my computer crashed and sent all my things-including the story I had been working on for over a year-to the abyss. I wrote about how I had an early edition on paper and that from the ashes I would rebuild. I’ve found that my scenario is the best thing that could ever happen to my creative license. 

As I look over the words that I wrote before, I can see what the editors and publishers saw. I can laugh about the mistakes I made in an eager attempt to get it done, the amateur manner in which my characters behaved. That was not the story I should have written. It was a mess.

So today, instead of fervishly trying to copy down the words that I had written to produce a terrible tragedy of a book, I scrapped the project for real. Not just starting over, but an entirely new story. Sure, the key points are still the same, and my ideas are really similar-but the presentation is completely different. I have new desires and so do my characters.

It will be darker, more believeable, more like the story I wanted to write but failed to before. What’s more, I will be able to say that I’m writing an entirely new story for this NaNoWriMo, because I will be. This time around, I won’t be hanging on to over-used lines and stereotypes but jumping into unknown territory with characters that feel as real to me as people I went to high school with. 

I think this is a great metaphor for my own life. I have a predetermined plan in my head, where I follow a plan that I made ages ago, saying the words that I have heard over and over before. I know that there are options out there, and that I have complete freedom to reach out and take hold of the new and the bold, but I’m so attached to the story I’ve already made. Believe me, I cried so hard when my manuscript disappeared. And I think that’s an entirely acceptable metaphor for life. I fight so hard to keep the outdated parts of me, just for the sake of saying “But see? I did this!” when what I really need to say is “But see? I’m making new paths!” I never like the change that is imposed upon me: graduating, moving, starting new jobs, making new friends, but in the end those changes are the exact reason I want to keep revising my chapters, my life.

So goodbye first draft, it’s been really nice getting to know you, but it’s time for a serious revision.

Hello new draft, I can’t wait to dig in and see where this story leads.

  

I’ll Never Be

I’ll never be good enough, will I?

Excessive demands around every turn,

Lies that we all tell 

But noone believes.

I’ll never live up to the bar, will I?

The one I set so very high

All starry eyed, 

Looking for that hint of perfection.

I’ll never be perfect, will I?

The way you thought I should be,

The way I should look, or behave, or think

But I don’t.

I’ll never be that girl, will I?

The one with her life together, 

Making strategic moves to get ahead,

Even at the cost of others.

I’ll never be so lifeless, will I?

That when all is said and done,

You’ve lost the me that I’d always bee,

That I always wanted to be.

I’ll never be far away, will I?

Just below the surface of the one

Who was forcefed all the bullshit excuses

About why I could never fit in.

I’ll never be the winner, will I?

Making my way across a size zero, plastic stage

With crimson grimaces in place of 

Raw emotion.

I’ll never be a work of art, will I?

The pristine capture of a timeless tragedy,

Wraught in crisp jackets and perfect makeup

Like a mannequin.

I’ll never be like them, will I?

The ones who think that the only thing that matters

Is the size and color of the skin I wear

Like a toy in a skeeball game.

I’ll never actually care about those things, will I?

I’d neer forgive myself for being a carbon copy

Of the unnecessary lies told by everyone else

When all the world ever needed was someone who told the truth.

But that’s never been my strong point.

So maybe you were wrong.

And the truth was something you murdered a long time ago.

I never gave up.

You did.

You gave up listening, seeing, believing in the truth.

You gave up unconditional love for the immitation.

You gave up looking at the heart inside, didn’t you?

But don’t worry, so did they.

And when they buried me in artificial waste, 

They didn’t know:

I was a seed.