Saturday, July 19, 2014

Rambling Thoughts Of A Tired RM

Once upon a time on my mission, I went through a brief phase where I would write a new quote every week on a whiteboard over my desk. I'm not sure why I did this, except that it just seemed cool to see a new quote there every so often, like I was actually thinking about something outside of my mission and the people I was teaching and so on (don't get me wrong, that was all good as well).

 I usually got all my quotes from a little book I had had since I was.....what, 12? It was a pretty little notebook my older sister Cailtin brought home from her mission in Taiwan, and she had instructed me to write at least one sentence in it every day. While I haven't been so diligent about that over the past few years, I have been unusually faithful in keeping it updated at least on a monthly basis. I decided that, since I usually didn't have anything to say about myself, I would just "collect" quotes and put them in there. I love quotes. I don't really know why - part of it may come from the feeling that quotes are basically advice, sometimes poetry, given to me, or anyone else who wants to hear it. Like, the human race is a community, and these are people passing on their wisdom to us. I don't know, it's weird. I've never been very good with words.

Anyway. Quote on my whiteboard. One week, during some downtime, I was browsing through my little quote book, trying to find something that stuck out to me so that I could put it on my wall. I came across a quote I had written in there not too long ago, maybe a few months before I left on my mission:

Not all those who wander are lost. 

This was apparently said by J.R.R. Tolkien, the person whom everyone knows wrote the Lord of the Rings series, not to mention a few other lesser-known but still very good books (Farmer Giles of Ham, etc.) I immediately decided, for reasons I could not discern right then, that this would be my wall quote that week. I erased the past one - don't even remember what it was now - and wrote JRR Tolkien's words in its place. As I stood there, reading those words on my wall, I suddenly felt something very strong. I can't really describe it in words, but suffice it to say that right then, I felt this overpowering connection to that quote. I don't know why I felt that connection so strongly then, as opposed to when I first read it and wrote it down in my book or prepared to write it on the wall. I just felt it then. And it was....well, I'd never felt quite that way before, about anything.

I guess, right then, it applied to me more than anything else.

I've always been a bit of a 'wanderer' - my parents can tell you a ton of stories about me as a little kid who liked to unlock the front door and go wandering outside, who liked to climb on top of things and get into things she generally wasn't supposed to. As I grew up, I became more 'tame', and spent more and more of my time inside, reading or drawing or playing games on the computer. I was a quiet, shy kid, and as I approached adolescence and then forced my way through it, I became more isolated and withdrawn. The world had changed, or at least my view of it had. It was a considerably more frightening place. Social anxiety and an extreme lack of confidence kept me in a safe little 'shell' that I was content to stay in. I had some friends, people I trusted and had fun with, who pulled me out occasionally, and my family always managed to get me to poke my head out, but for the most part I was by myself, safely armored and oblivious to what was going on 'outside'. At least that was what I told myself. Anyway.

Wow, I am good at getting myself off track, aren't I? I guess this all ties in somehow, though. Let's see....

I grew up a little more. I graduated from high school (a HUGE load off my mind) and determined that it was time for me to fight my social anxiety, rather than embrace it. So I decided to go on the other side of the world and teach English in Russia for 4 months, not knowing a word of Russian and not knowing anyone who came on the trip with me.

Hey, it was an awesome idea at the time.

That's kind of where it started. Making that decision to challenge myself right off the bat, rather than continue to live in my little shell.

It makes me feel so sad sometimes, how hard I try and how it sometimes doesn't work. I am very good at feeling sorry for myself, I have discovered. And I like making other people feel sorry for me, too. It's disturbing, but I guess we all have our faults. That's just one of mine. Other people have worse. Some have better. How do you determine that a fault is 'better' or 'worse'? Eh, who knows. I won't bother myself about it.

Let's skip forward in time so that I can actually get back to what I was talking about.

After coming back from Russia, I went to college outside of my home state, building myself up bit by bit. It was great, having independence. I realized that I had more control over myself than I thought. It's a very liberating thing, you know? Anxiety has the effect of making you feel very powerless. It often goes hand-in-hand with depression because of that. But I was beginning to see that I didn't have to let my feelings decide me. I decide me.


Skip forward: 2012. Thomas S. Monson, President of the LDS Church, makes the announcement that boys can now serve missions at age 18 rather than 19, and girls can serve at 19 rather than 21. We are all very excited and very conflicted. I think about it, and see a chance to build myself up a bit more. Maybe kick this whole anxiety thing once and for all.

(Anxiety doesn't work that way, just so you know. But that wasn't going to stop me from trying.)

So I send my papers in, get my call, and go on my mission. Arizona, Tucson. It's nothing like anywhere I've been - California, Nevada, Utah, Idaho, Russia. Nothing like it at all. Tucson is HOT, and full of cactus and questionable plants and animals that look like they're the result of some wacked out science experiment. (Which, considering the reputation of Arizona's neighbor New Mexico, is not so surprising.) I feel like I'm on an alien planet and it SUCKS for the first few months. But then I get used to it. I grow up a bit more. Learn a few things about myself, and other people. It's the hardest thing I've ever done. But it's probably best thing I could have done. Whether or not I was a great benefit to the mission is up for debate, but I genuinely feel that the mission was at least a great benefit to me.

And then it all ends, and now I'm here, sitting in my chair, remembering the time I wrote a quote on the wall. Wait. I should be talking about that. Wups.

So I read that quote on my computer screen now, and really think about why I felt such a connection to it. Right then, I definitely was 'wandering'. I still am. I think I kind of always will. I like it that way. But I'm not lost.

Okay, maybe I'm a little lost. But that doesn't bother me too much.

I like not knowing what's around the next corner. I mean, I like trying to plan a head a little, but I'm not too unhappy if something else comes along that's better. Even if I don't see that it's better at the time. In my religion, we firmly believe that God has a plan for everyone. Sometimes, we have to let go of our plan and follow His. Even if it sucks. Even it's hard, and scary. Because He knows what's best for you. You just have to let Him take over and lead you along to where you need to go.

Right now, I'm recovering from a deep hurt that I got on my mission. It's horrible, not going to lie. But it's opening my eyes. I see more of myself than I ever did before. I see what I can do, if I let myself. I'm not grateful for what happened, for having such a huge trial, but I am grateful for what I got out of it. The good things, anyway. Sooner or later, maybe that's all I'll be able to see, and the hurt will be gone. Maybe not. We'll see.

Looking at the quote, remembering how I felt about it then and how I feel about it now, I feel like life is a great map that we're wandering around. It's huge, difficult, and intimidating. But it's also good, and wonderful, and amazing. And best of all, unexpected. That's my favorite part. Life would be so boring without it.

I was just now listening to a favorite song of mine, by Florence and the Machine. I'm going to test your knowledge here and leave out the title. See if you can guess with song it is.

It's from the point of view of someone in the dark. They can't see light or anything ahead, but they hear their companion's heartbeat, and they know that they're not alone. So they go ahead, still in the dark but knowing that they're not alone. I like that. It may not be the precisely correct interpretation, but that's how I see it.

I don't feel lost. And even if I did, that's not a bad thing. At least, every once in a while.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

In Which I Talk About Things I Probably Don't Really Understand

So, I had a rather disturbing experience at the park today.

See, sometimes I like to go to the park and swing on the swings for a bit, when there aren't a lot of kids around. It's a sort of calming, meditative activity for me. Today, since it was warm and sunny out, there were more kids than usual, so I was being a bit more careful as the littler ones sometimes run into my swinging trajectory, and I need to be ready to perform evasive maneuvers in case that happens. Of course, about 99% of the time their parents are watching and they grab them before anything terrible happens. Either way, I have never, ever hit a kid, and have taken great care to maintain that record.

Today, though, as I was swinging, this little boy (about 7 years old, I'd guess) came and stood RIGHT next to my swing. Just to be careful, I slowed down and sort of drifted back and forth, ready to stop. He just stared at me for a few more seconds and then left. A few minutes later, I was swinging full-force (there weren't a lot of kids around at this point) when his little boy suddenly appears again, and this time he stands right in front of me. I'm caught off guard and frantically start dragging my feet through the woodchips, which has the desired effect and slows me down. As I slow down, he steps forward bit by bit, getting closer to me. My foot nearly hits him a couple times, but he doesn't move. When I finally stop, he halts, and then walks past me.

As you can imagine, I am very shaken by this and decide to call it a day. As I walk back, I (with my overactive imagination) can't stop thinking about the little boy. He had purposefully stepped in my path, and I couldn't decide if he was playing a game of chicken (not likely - he didn't even move when I almost hit him) or if he was curious to see if I wouldn't hit him or if he wanted me to hit him or what. I mean, looking at it from this perspective (sitting safely in my living room), it seems like a pretty typical little-boy thing to do, but it still bothers me. And as usual, I'm overthinking it. But I think there's some importance in this, so I'll just keep rolling. I apologize in advance.

Anyways, that happened. And now I am overcome with feelings of potential guilt and (most of all) incredulity. I mean, what if I had hit him? Where were his parents? Did it matter if his parents were there or not? Would someone have yelled at me if I had hit him? Would he have deserved it (which sounds cold and awful, I know), or would I be the one at fault? Was I being stupid for even being on the swings in the first place, while there were little kids around?

Probably. Who knows? I imagine there are many opinions on the subject, which I would love to hear. I am not a parent and have had limited contact with little kids (apart from Russia), and so it would be nice to get a more informed opinion.

At any rate, this got me thinking about other things - like, say, what happens in car accidents. I was nearly hit by a car a few weeks ago, and the experience (of course) really shook me. Much like this recent experience with the swing, it made me re-think what my place was in the world and how important or unimportant I was to other people, what my life/comfort was worth and how small and fragile my life really is. Although the swing experience wasn't quite as potentially fatal as nearly being hit by a car, it still made me think of those same things (albeit within a different sort of context).

The car that nearly hit me was driven by a guy my own age, maybe a few years older. The car was really nice, one of the nicest I've seen around Rexburg. And as anyone who has ever driven a car knows, it's usually the people with the nicest cars that are the most likely to show off their speed and generally act like idiots on the road. I had encountered this in my own driving experiences, but it hadn't really affected me all that much - primarily because I was driving a car and thus felt protected and isolated from my surroundings. In this most recent case, however, I wasn't in a car. I was on my own, out in the open. While I might have stood a chance had I been in a car, I would probably have died in this particular case.

Thinking about this, I think the guy driving the nice car had the same level of understanding and awareness as that little boy did - he could see me clearly in front of him, could see how close I was going to be, probably knew his chances of hitting me, and yet he drove on anyway. Why? Well, he wanted to get somewhere quickly, and he was confident enough in his abilities and in his car that the potential result didn't seem all that likely or important. I don't think he was trying to hit me - the experience would probably have been just as horrible for him, if not more so, since it would have been his fault. For his sake, as well as my own, I am glad that he didn't hit me.

The point is, on some level, he didn't understand what he was doing. And once you think about that, it's kind of terrifying.

I mean, when do we achieve that awareness? I know that it took me a long time to really understand how to relate to people and understand how I affected them, even on the smallest level. And for others, it takes hitting someone with a car or getting hurt themselves to achieve this understanding. I don't know why this is, and I'm not accusing anyone of being neglectful of this part of themselves or, heck, neglecting to teach this to their own kids. It's just fascinating, in a way, what it might take for us to become aware of other people and how our actions might affect them. Empathy is something that we aren't exactly born with (I mean, as cute as they are, babies aren't really capable of comprehending other peoples' needs and feelings), as I have stated, but when should we develop it? Preferably before we hurt anyone else, right?

Then again, how do you teach empathy?

In my own experience, it's not a matter of teaching but of wanting - and deciding - to learn. I didn't really start learning about empathy until I was about twelve or thirteen, having just undergone a few horrible experiences in my life and coming out of an emotional phase where I was moody and short-tempered all the time. By that point, I was well aware of how miserable I could make other people if I chose, and I found that  doing that just made me miserable, too. This was a conscious decision on my part, and it took me a while to really live up to it. Heck, I'm still struggling to live up to it.

But that's the thing - you can do your best to teach someone to be aware of the people around them and consider their needs, but in the end it's up to them to decide whether or not they're going to listen. That little boy I nearly hit is young enough that it's understandable for him not to have learned about that yet, but that young man in the fancy car was around my own age and had control of a heavy motorized hunk of metal. If he hasn't learned it already, he'd better learn it soon. Otherwise, the consequences could be tragic.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

A Few Remarks About Valentine's Day

So, it's Valentine's Day tomorrow. Also, this is the first post I have written in a few months, but whatever. I am talking about other things.

Valentine's Day. I never really enjoyed it all that much. I can't really think of anyone who has who isn't in a relationship. When I think of this holiday, most of my memories consist of sickly-sweet fruit candies I'd get in my valentines box at school. Man, I hated those candies. Also, being something of an unapologetic tomboy, I found the copious amounts of pink and roses and hearts and general frilly, glittery things that seemed to be vomited up everywhere around this time of year pretty repulsive. And of course, the custom of handing out valentines to your classmates in elementary was never really all that big a deal - there wasn't any drama involved because everyone had to give everyone one else one valentine, and the only ones we really paid any attention to anyway were the ones that had candy attached to them. And then, I only ate the chocolates.

Within my family, we were never that much into the holiday. We weren't really into anything beyond the standard Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter, and even then in our own, quiet sort of way. We preferred celebrating things privately with our family to throwing big parties and strewing decorations everywhere. Which is exactly why we never gave Val's Day much thought. (Yes, I called it Val's Day. Because I am tired of writing the whole thing.) My dad would bring my mom flowers, they'd exchange some small gifts, and then they'd go out to dinner, and that was it. There was one particularly exciting Val's Day where someone (can't remember if it was Mom or Dad) brought home a chocolate, heart-shaped cake, which my parents allowed me and my little sister to eat while they went out to dinner. It was pretty much the most exciting Valentine's Day I'd ever had. And have had since, come to think of it.

Anyways, my point is, since then Valentine's Day has come to represent all that I find annoying about the stereotypical aspects of my gender. For girls in relationships, it's a Big Deal. For girls not in relationships, it is also a Big Deal, but in a very different way. Like, in the way of taking the opportunity to moan about how alone they are and how they will never find love and they might as well just go live in a cave and so on and so forth. (not to say that everyone who has this problem is like this. But you know what I mean.)

Okay, so I do recognize the struggle these girls (and guys) are having. I do understand how frustrating and sad it can be when everyone around you is getting chocolates. flowers. jewelry, romantic dinners and so on you aren't. It can make one feel very isolated and lonely. It can make you like there's something wrong with you because you aren't in a relationship. And the way some girls act certainly doesn't help - I remember in high school, some of the clubs would sell carnations on Valentine's Day, and the carnations (while a sweet gesture, don't get me wrong) were often viewed as sort of status symbols. Girls who got carnations obviously had boyfriends, or at least boys who were interested in them. And even beyond high school, this sort of thing is often held up as a kind of status symbol. I won't say that the girls who had carnations shoved it in everyone's face or anything, but it was definitely important. That's the thing in our society: unless you're in a relationship, you're not quite as interesting.

Half of what girls talk about (at least in high school) is guys. Heck, in most movies, any girl that appears is guaranteed to either acquire a love interest at some point in the movie (if they're the protagonist) or be the love interest to the protagonist (if they aren't) or at least to one of the supporting cast. I'm not saying the same doesn't go for guys, but....let's face it. Guys are valued more for their characters when it comes to movies, or books, or really any form of popular media. Girls aren't so much. It's just a fact. A girl is given a bit more flack for their appearance if, say, they're overweight, or have a big nose, or whatever. Put an "ugly" girl in a movie, and I can promise that they will have a makeover by the end that will make them stunning and the guy stares at her in rapture and yeah. Again, not saying guys don't have the same problem, buuuut....yeah, guys don't get a lot of makeover movies. The only movies I can think of that brings up this problem is Real Women Have Curves (duh) and Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. Obviously, these are just the movies I have seen, so if you have any others you can think of, throw them at me. I will gladly watch them.

Anyways, my point is, when you're single on Valentine's Day, you are morally obligated to be depressed. That just seems to be the messages that the grocery stores and TV shows seem to be throwing at me. And you know what? That's pretty darn stupid.

Here's a Personal Fact about me: I am 20 years old, and I have been on exactly 1 date. 1. And you know what? It doesn't bother me. I have never really felt 'attracted' to a guy, at least not one that wasn't fictional (I am such a nerd :3), and this rarely serves to make me feel bad. I mean, yeah, I have moments where I feel insecure and lonely, but who doesn't? The thing is, I have never really wanted to have a boyfriend. I never really saw it as a big deal. I'm not saying it isn't, I'm just saying you shouldn't feel like you're more important because you're in a relationship. You, girls AND guys, shouldn't hold yourself to that standard. Some people don't find a companion until much later in life. Some don't find one at all. It's not unnatural. While finding a companion is a precious and important thing, you shouldn't make yourself feel bad because you haven't found him/her yet. You are important because you are YOU, and while it is a good thing to find a companion, it isn't everything.

So, on this Valentine's Day, take advantage of the discount on chocolate if you are so inclined (as I am), but otherwise, remember that this is a silly holiday that means absolutely nothing in the grand scheme of things, and if you looked at its roots in history you would find that it actually isn't all that meaningful to begin with.

(Seriously, it isn't.)

(Look it up.)

So enjoy the cheap chocolate and go on with your day. Happy Valentine's!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Dr. Who, Etc.

So I'm sitting here, watching Dr. Who.

I've been catching up on the classic series (should take me a couple years or so....yay!) and currently, I am on Season 6, in the Second Doctor's era.

As I'm sitting here, watching Patrick Troughton hop about avoiding explosions through the streets of Cyberman-infested London, I am suddenly struck by how much I've come to love this strange, yet undeniably unique British show that I had not too long ago stumbled into. It gave me cause to reflect on how I came to love it, and the factors leading up to it, which I am now going to submit you to, whether you like it or not, because this is my blog and I'll write whatever I want so HA.


British television isn't exactly an anomaly in my household. We pretty much grew up with BBC, watching Mr. Bean and Blackadder and Are You Being Served? and Keeping Up Appearances and the like. I remember watching an episode of Keeping Up Appearances as a little kid and thinking that it was about these crazy people whose steering wheels were on the wrong side of the car (I literally thought that was supposed to be part of the joke. Literally.) and who talked really funny and kept running away from this jolly old grandma lady for some reason. Also, steering wheels.

It's actually kind of strange that I didn't encounter Dr. Who until I was in my teens. Actually, no, that's a lie: when I was in my tweens (yes, I said 'tweens'. Bring on the groans.) or somewhere thereabouts, we bought three DVDS: Dr. Who and the Daleks, Dr. Who: Invasion Earth, 2150 AD, and some documentary thing about the Daleks (it wasn't all that interesting, sadly.) I think we watched those movies maybe once, and I had pretty much no knowledge of the series going into them. All I knew is that Dr. Who was this classic sci-fi show that was classic and amazing and stuff. So, total newbie.

Now, strictly speaking, I think that this was actually a pretty fun way of being introduced to the series, even if I didn't actually like the movies. Well, okay, I sort of liked the first movie, with the Daleks. I had no idea why these things were supposed to be scary. They looked like giant salt shakers. With toilet plungers for arms. But I liked the idea of them being this race of aliens stuck in these metal robotic shells. And I also liked the character of the Doctor (whose name was literally Dr. Who in these movies, if I recall correctly), this sort of jolly grandpa who had a time machine and did awesome things like being Peter Cushing. I only ever watched the movies once, but I still remember him quite fondly.

Apart from that, though, I wasn't impressed. As far as I could tell, it was standard 1960s science fiction stuff, with the weird robots and goofy-looking gizmos and ridiculous outfits. (I have always wondered what those people all the way back in those funky times would have thought of the world in 2012. I think they would be disappointed by the lack of spaceships and aliens. I know I am.) The reason I say it's a fun way to be introduced to the series, however, is because encountering the series itself afterwards is one of the weirdest and most awesome things ever.

I remember totally forgetting about Dr. Who until a few years later, when I think I saw the first episode of Dr. Who on YouTube (An Unearthly Child). Seeing the little icon that preceded the video, I was a little confused. Wasn't Dr. Who that 1960's sci-fi movie with the guy with the mustache and the time machine and the salt shaker aliens? This didn't look anything like the movie - a black and white TV episode with this old guy who was definitely NOT Peter Cushing as the Doctor. As I continued to watch, I grew more and more confused. Wait, wasn't Susan supposed to be a little girl? Wasn't Barbara the Doctor's granddaughter or something? Where were the Daleks? Why did the Tardis look like that?

I decided to do a little research, and was even more confused. Primarily by the fact that there was more than one freaking Doctor. I had no idea what to make of it. I didn't know anything about the whole regeneration thing back then, and the idea of this guy actually being 10 guys (at the time) made my brain hurt a little. What kind weird show was this? It was certainly nothing like the movies I'd seen. Or anything I'd seen, for that matter. Say what you will about Dr. Who, you cannot deny how unique it is. At least, in terms of universe and setting. Sort of. Point is, this was a really weird show. And weird things freak me out. So I moved on to other things and forgot all about it.

Of course, that wasn't the end of it.

After I graduated from high school, I decided to be crazy and went to Russia for 4 months. While I was there, I talked a lot with my older brother via Skype. John had become a big fan of Dr. Who, and kept pestering me to try the episodes. By then, I understood about how the Doctor regenerates and becomes a new person every time he dies and how he's an alien who travels through time and stuff. I was still stubbornly unimpressed. And it was for a completely stupid reason: I really hated how the actors they got to play the Doctor were so young and handsome and pretty much (from what I surmised) like every other pretty-boy male protagonist in every other modern TV show I'd seen. I have a thing about characters: I like them to be different. I like them to stand out. Even if it means they're ugly as sin, I'll go for it. I'm weird like that.

The longer John kept poking me to try it, though, the more I kind of wanted to. I mean, it was supposed to be really amazing, right? And I had grown a strong love for weird things like Dr. Who since my first year of high school. Plus, I was homesick, and this felt like it could be a connection to my family back in the USA. John and I are the Gigantic Fantasy/Sci-Fi nerds of our family (not that everyone else isn't, of course. We're all just nerds in our own different ways.) and I missed having nerdy things to talk about, and nerdy people to talk about them to.

So I gave in, and watched my first official episode of Dr. Who.

(The Eleventh Hour, if you're curious.)

And thus, I spent the next week obsessively watching episode after episode, squeezing every little second of downtime I had for this series. I was caught up on the most recent season by Saturday, and spent the next week staring glumly at my wall, pondering the meaning of life without Dr. Who.

I fell in love with this show, guys. I became a bona fide Whovian after the first episode.

And now, here I am, laptop, going back to those old black and white episodes that so weirded me out all those years ago. And I think I'm in love all over again. Oh, dear.

We all grow into our hobbies, I suppose. I sort of stumbled and tripped over this one. And you know what? I'm GLAD I did. Because now I have so many lovely episodes to watch and so many Doctors to get to know. It's going to be AWESOME.

So that's the story of how I came to love Dr. Who. How about you? Is there a TV show, movie, book series, clothing line, whatever, that you didn't come to love until much later in life? And it was really weird but kind of awesome when you did?

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Saga of the Hair, Part 2

Saga of the Hair, Part 2

So....I did it.

I cut my hair.

It feels really weird. Like, my head is lighter. I don't have all that hair falling down my back. And my neck itches.

But....I.....actually.....really really really like it. 

It's like, I look in the mirror, and I have a double-take, because I don't even recognize the person there.
But in a good way. 

Of course, there's some sadness and bewilderment swimming around there, too. I miss my hair already. I miss having it just sprawled across my shoulders. I miss its weight. I'm going to miss braiding it, and running my fingers through it when I'm bored (yes, I did that. Shush.) I'm just....really going to miss.

Well, hair holds a strange sentimental value for us, I guess. From what I have seen, it is not uncommon for girls (and even guys...but we don't mention that) to cry when they get their hair cut. The longer you've had it, I guess, the more you're attached to it. Even when you don't think you are. Why is this, I wonder? Is it simply vanity? The feeling of leaving behind the person you used to be? 

Who knows. 

There's also the bewildering feeling of, "Um...okay, it's pretty now, but how do I keep it that way?" 

Well, that's easily remedied. You just practice and use what you are given. Learn as you go along. I am very optimistic about this. Excited, even. I've always wanted to do more with my hair. This is definitely one way to do it. 

When I was thinking about doing this, I had no idea what to expect. Well, I sort of did, but it was kind of negative. My sisters' experience cutting their hair didn't pan out so well. And my mother wasn't too keen on it, having had bad hair experiences of their own. I guess the females in my family just aren't inclined to look good with short hair. Which, considering our heritage, is no surprise. 

But, you know what? I think it came out looking pretty darn good. 

Feel the power. 

And I think it's a testament to a good haircut when you feel sad about cutting your hair, but you like the haircut so much that it overrides the sadness. 

From the outset, this didn't seem like a big deal. And it probably really isn't. But, man, I feel so incredibly giddy about this that I had to share it. Shallow girly feelings for the WIN! 

And now I am done talking about hair. 
Thank you for indulging me and listening. 

Saga of the Hair: Part 1


I have long hair.

More specifically, I have long, thick, wavy blonde hair that is an obvious inheritance from my hairy Viking ancestors. 

 I am very proud of my hair. It is one of the few things about myself that I consider to actually be pretty, and that I don’t mind showing off.  I think everyone has that – a sort of vanity that they can’t suppress. I think it’s healthy, to have something like that. As long as you don’t go overboard and brag about it to everyone you meet and hold parties in its honor, it’s healthy. Somewhat.

So, why am I now being a hypocrite and talking about my amazingly luscious and beautiful golden locks?

Well, there’s something a story to that. Not much of one, but still.

I recently witnessed two of my roommates dyeing purplish-red streaks into their hair. They tried to get me to do it, too, but I cheerfully declined. “I’m sorry,” I said, “But I kind of decided that I am never going to dye or cut my hair ever again.” With looks of astonishment, they said, “Seriously? You’re never cutting your hair again?”

“Um….Well, I mean, unless I suddenly develop dreadlocks or something, yeah,” I answered.
They looked thoughtful, and then continued with their hair dyeing.

And I suddenly started thinking about my hair.

Now, as much as I’ve bragged about it in this post, I really don’t think about or do much with my hair at all. The fanciest thing I ever did with it was get it braided in a fancy Celtic style at a booth at the Celtic Festival that my hometown holds every year (think ‘Renaissance Faire’, but with more claymores and kilts and bagpipes and dancing. It’s kind of the most awesome thing ever.) I think that’s actually the only time I felt comfortable being girly, with my big medieval-era dress and my hair all prettied up with braids and ribbons and little flower buds……

Yeah, I think it was then that I decided that that was how I wanted to look when I got married.

But that’s beside the point.

What I mean to say is, I didn’t really think about my hair until that moment. And it didn’t occur to me that I maybe I wanted to do something different with my hair until that moment. Like, you know how you tell your mom you like something, and only a little afterwards discover you don’t actually like it anymore? Well, something like that.

So, the long and short of it is……I have decided to get my hair cut.

Yeah, kind of sudden.

But quite honestly, I think it’s important.


Well, because I’ve looked almost the exact same way since I was 13.

And for an almost-20 year old….well, that’s kind of sobering.

And also because I need - NEED - to know how it looks short. Properly short. Actually styled and all. Just to see if I like it. See if it works. 

Also, up until I stopped having it cut, my mother took responsibility for all of the hair-cutting in our household. I think I went to a salon maybe once.

My mother takes our hair very seriously.

Okay, I will admit that my mother isn’t bad at cutting hair. Years of practice from cutting my dad’s and my siblings’ hair, she has a developed a brisk, practical sort of technique. For years and years, my mother stuck to the same haircut when she cut mine and my little sister’s hair: chin-length with bangs. It didn’t really matter to me when I was a little kid. So long as the hair was out of my face and didn’t hinder my tomboy activities, I was fine. It wasn’t until I was older and far more uncomfortably aware of myself that I looked in the mirror and thought, I hate this haircut. It was definitely time for something new, and I figured I was old enough to decide what my hair should look like.
Also, the bangs gave me horrible forehead acne, so I had a medical excuse.

So, my mother allowed me to grow out my hair, and I haven’t cut it ever since. And let me tell you, it’s kind of one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Seriously.

 The biggest change I have made to it since then was bleaching streaks into it that one time when my older brother was going through a bleach phase. BHe had extra. I said “Okay, let’s try it.” And there you go. It’s been about six years since then, and the streaks are now long gone. So….not really a big change at all, I guess.

Now, I feel the time has come for another change. But a big one, this time.

So….I am going to CUT MY HAIR. This Saturday. 
It's happening, man. 
I wonder how it'll all pan out.

It's probably already beginning to plot its revenge. 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Guilt, Regret, Pain and Forgiveness

This link goes to a video on It addresses forgiveness, in its most purest form. Even in the face of tragedy.

I have had many times in my life where forgiveness has been a hard, hard lesson for me to learn. Not just towards other people, but especially towards myself.

I have never done anything as awful as harm other people through my mistakes. At least, I hope I haven't. No, the person who was harmed the most was me.

You see, I once had a problem, a problem I still struggle with from time to time - a problem with viewing certain content on the Internet. Within the webcomics community, of which I am an active reader and hopeful member, such content is the norm, and encountering it is far too easy. What makes it worse is that when you stumble over it, you can rationalize that it's just a part of the story and you can easily flip through it quickly. You convince yourself it's not a big deal, that so long as you just went to the next page, you were okay.

That's about as rational as saying that song lyrics from suggestive songs have no impact on you. In fact, it's even less rational, because it's through images. Images are much harder to tune out, and thus harder to ignore. You absorb it, whether you want to or not. The temptation comes bit by bit, and if you're not careful, you soon find yourself giving in. You don't know true, awful temptation until you have experienced this. It's so very easy to give in. It's so incredibly hard to resist.

What makes it all worse for me, personally, is that within my family we have had traumatic experiences as a result of pornography. I won't say that I am addicted to it - far from it. I struggle with temptation because of the websites I frequent - some of my favorite webcomics link to other, less savory websites that I've checked out, not knowing what they contained. I have seen things I literally can't un-see. You see now why my family's past experiences makes this so much more awful to deal with. I feel like such a traitor, a horrible person who learned nothing from past experience and just causes more pain for her loved ones. I feel like the most awful, most unforgivable, unlovable, undeserving person in existence. I disappoint myself to the point of physical illness. There are times where I was so ashamed that I almost didn't tell my parents. I couldn't bear the thought of disappointing them, have them think so much less of me. My family has often been all I have, the only people in the world I felt appreciated and loved me for who I am.

And then there's not just that, but then there's what happens afterwards. After I've gotten over my impulses, and I find that I didn't do the right thing and I can't get rid of the images in my head, I feel sick. Literally sick to my stomach. There is no satisfaction, no peace, no hope. You feel empty. And then you feel filthy. You can't look anyone in the eye. For me, my anxiety kicks into gear. It's always the worst anxiety attack I've had in a while. In my religion, we believe that the Holy Ghost is with us always - that is, if we keep the commandments and are clean. I think that emptiness, that anxiety, is the feeling of the absence of the Spirit. It's terrifying. It's lonely. It's the worst feeling the world, when you become aware of it. The fact that you know you made a mistake, and now you're facing the consequences, is the only thing that provides some relief.

I don't frequent those websites anymore. At least, I try not to. There are artists that I like, who have blogs and Tumblrs that I enjoy reading. And these artists sometimes work in erotic fiction. For the most part, they don't show anything 'unsafe' out in the open, but there are some that don't. These are the ones that I sometimes stumble over, that I walk right into. These are the ones I have to remember, and walk around.

As sad as it makes me, I need to stop reading these blogs. I need to avoid a place I usually enjoy being in, which usually offers encouragement and advice. It's sad, that a place that is usually so good could result in something so awful. But, no matter how good it is normally.....I don't want to have that feeling. I don't want to deal with that horrible, horrible guilt. It's not worth it.

I went to to read about forgiveness, to try and make myself feel better about my past actions. This video was the first thing I found. As I watched, I cried harder than I have in a long, long time.

This boy - hardly older than I am - did something far worse than I did. It was not something that could be kept secret. It was not something you could ignore, or gloss over. I can't even begin to imagine what sort of guilt he must feel, what horrible images he can't get rid of. That someone - and not just anyone, but someone who suffered as a result of his mistake - could forgive him, help him through it.....for me, it's almost incomprehensible.

It made me realize something: that if he can be forgiven, so can I. I need to forgive myself, for the sake of my own happiness. I think that's something all of us forget, not just me. When we do something wrong, really really wrong, the hardest part isn't earning other people's forgiveness. You don't feel like you deserve any happiness, that the only sentence you're worthy of is continual suffering. The shame and the guilt are overwhelming. It never really ends. But it can fade. You can let it fade. The feelings will remain, in a small way, to remind you of your mistakes. But that's so you can move on, and not make them again. That's the whole point of our humanity.

I don't know if I am going to post this to anyone - I will admit to being scared of what people might think. I have family members who read my blog, who have no idea that I've had this problem. I don't want them to think less of me.

But I guess that's a part of the repentance process - admitting you've done something wrong, regardless of what others might think of you. All I can say is, I'm sorry I wasn't a better person. I'm sorry for making mistakes. I wish I had never made them. I can only hope that someone will benefit from reading this. That is the reason I wrote this. If someone can read this and feel some measure of hope for themselves, then that is all I could ask for.

So....I hope you still love me, Family. :) But this is something I needed to get out.

(Note: No, this is no longer a great trial in my life. I have overcome it. Just to clarify.)