Friday, February 27, 2015

Week 7: A Tough Situation at a Young Age Made Me Stronger

Nothing in life is easy and I have learned that in my 21 years of living so far. As a child, I experienced something that changed my life forever but for the better. I was born December 15, 1993 in Florida and a little bit after my birth parents got divorced and after my mother did not want anything to do with my brother and I afterwards. I was only about one when this happened in my life. I lived with my grandmother for while and my father and brother moved away to Michigan. Once my grandma got sick and could no longer take care of me she informed my father to come get me or she would just call Social Services. My dad sold his car and came to met us in Texas to come get me. I look back on these days like I was actually that young going through all this? I mean of course at the time I did not understand but when I finally did, I was just did not know really what to say.  Ever since I turned 4 years old, I have been living in Michigan. I always wondered why me? How can you give birth to two children and not care to contact them? There would be times I cried myself to sleep and tried figuring out did I do something wrong. There is not much harm me and my brother could have did to make her act this way. No calls or letters ever came. As a child, you wish for things to constantly happen but as I got older I came to the realization everything happens for a reason. The story gets so much deeper but my point of telling that specific part of that situation is because it had the most impact on me. As you get older, your mentality and way of thinking changes. Situations are looked at different when you begin to mature throughout life. I could sit around all day and cry about this situation but it is not going to change nothing that has already happened. Life goes on. The situation turned for the better though.

In first grade I remember my father meeting an amazing woman that always has cared for me and my brother as her own since day one. She is my mother in my eyes and nobody can tell me different. I have learned to accept my situation as time went it because it is a tough situation. It feels like she toke all the pain away because at a time I thought about what happened all the time and now it is rare. I cannot erase what has happened in the past but I can make it better.

The moral of the story is that everything happens for a reason and never get stuck on the past. I feel like you may not understand what is happening at the exact moment but eventually you will. It toke 16 years before I found out this was for the better. The beginning of my memoir might have some confused because I just tell what happened to me in small details but there is a lesson behind it. I once was told the greatest lessons are learned through pain.  I have an amazing father and mother whom I love dearly. I honor my parents because without them I would not be where I am today. I allowed what happened to motivate me in a positive way. The only thing I could really say is I forgive but never forget. I could never hold a grudge because life is too short. She never has to apologize to me but I already accept and forgave a long time ago. You can turn a negative situation into positivity with the right mindset.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Week Seven - Memoir: My Major Move

My mother, sister, and I moved here from California when I was eight years old. When she left my father she was forced to raise two children her own. When we first moved to Detroit we lived with several different family members until my mother was finally able to get on her feet. During this time seeing my mother struggle to support us it was slowly conditioning how I viewed society without my knowledge.
Growing up female by a single parent mom I saw how often times women take on the roles of men. By my father not being in my life I had to rely on my mother or other women in my family to take place in his absence. I have always had strong women in my life that have raised me. Not having a father or any male role model in my life for that matter impacted me negatively and positively as a young girl. Often times it was hard for me to build relationships with men. Even though there was a not huge presence of males in my life there were women who taught me things I needed to know, and to be a strong woman.
Seeing a single mother work to raise us without a father it began to shape my idea of males as a whole. Whenever I would see a family on television it was always the father, mother, and children. As a young girl this would make me feel sad. I felt that I was missing out on valuable moments with my father. Knowing that my family was not what society would consider the norm made me feel different. By my father not being in my life it manifested in my life in more ways than one.
I was always a quiet child. I didn't make many friends and I often stayed to myself. By my father choosing not to be a part of my life for whatever personal reason he had made it hard for me to  feel whole. As a young girl I did not know many men that were positive.  This shaped my thinking as a got older. Until this day I still find it hard to let a man to do things for me because my mother always showed me that I could do them on my own.
Even though I was only eight year’s old I remember the day I moved to Detroit vividly. I remember that morning waking up and heading to the airport in my father’s van. At first I thought that we were all going to take a family vacation like we did many times before. I thought in a week or so I would be right back to my normal life. I remember going to the gate to get on the plane. The plan ride seemed short because I slept the whole time. When we got off the plane I my mother, sister, and I were greeted by my aunt that had come to pick us up.
I remember after we arrived we lived with my aunt for a while, it hard at first going from having my own room to sharing with my mom and sister. For a while we lived with different relatives until my mom was able to get her own house. I remember the day we moved I was so excited because I was going to get my own room. I recall we painted the room pink because that was my favorite color. I was able to decorated the room anyway I wanted to because it was all mine.

Even though I had to move and uproot my life at only 8 years old I was still able to adjust. While I've had some rough patches, having to readjust from moving from Los Angles to Detroit my experiences have made me who I am today. I understand that it’s not the things that don’t happen for us that define us, yet the things that we go through that make us stronger.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Week Seven: Understanding Alone

When I was in ninth grade, I got called out of my third period geometry class during a test. Hall pass in hand, I was supposed to go to the guidance counselor's office. They didn't tell me why. Absolutely confused, I didn't expect to meet one of my best friends in the hallway. Anne was on her way to the guidance counselor's office, too. Together, we walked the rest of the way to our destination. When we got there, the third part of our best friend trio was seated at the counselor's desk, eyes red from crying. Elizabeth looked up at the two of us and said, "I'm sorry."

I didn't know it then, but that day set the course of my life for a tailspin. I had thought that things were fine-- good even. But, they weren't. They were far from fine.

That day, the counselor threw around words like depression and anxiety. That day, my best friend threw around words like I tried to kill myself and more than once.

I was fourteen. I couldn't grasp at what any of it meant. I didn't understand what Elizabeth was feeling. I was mad at her. I didn't understand.

I'm twenty-one now. This past summer, I lost someone close to me. I got to say good-bye but that didn't make it any different. For weeks I felt something that I couldn't put my feelings to words. Then I could.

Empty. I felt completely empty inside.

Sad. But it was more than sadness. It was deep. Resonating.

Fear. What would come next?

Depression. There it was again. Seven years after hearing it from the counselor.

Anxiety. The feeling seeping into my life and taking over.

It was in those months over the summer that I found myself thinking about Elizabeth more and more. We had stayed friends, but we were never as close as we had been before that day in ninth grade. I wondered if she had felt as isolated as I was feeling. I wondered if she has felt as incomplete, as wrong, as sick, or as deeply hopeless as I was.

Thinking about Elizabeth back in ninth grade was like a wake-up call. It was a huge, neon, flashing sign. I would never know the extent of Elizabeth's pain and her depression, but I could understand it. I could finally understand.

I felt euphoric and remorseful at the same time. I was not alone. But, Elizabeth had been. Other people went through depression and the slew of emotions that I had also gone through. But, I had let Elizabeth go through it alone when we were fourteen.

Sometimes, people go through hard times. It's not their fault. It's never their fault. Sometimes, people ask for help. And sometimes they don't. But, they still need help. We, as humans, put up barriers to block out the bad, to prevent the hurt that can happen in life. We need to remember, though, that there are ways to break those barriers.

When Elizabeth finally told Anne and I-- and the rest of the people in her life-- what she had been going through, I couldn't grasp at why she was sad or why she had felt low enough as to attempt to end her life. Seven years later, I had a different perspective. I felt the low, the sad, but I also felt a helping hand guiding me out of the darkness. And the helping hand came from Elizabeth, even if she wasn't aware of it.

I wasn't alone.

A few months after my realization, I met up with Elizabeth for lunch. Every so often it was something that we would do, so it wasn't out of the norm for her. For me, though? I was going into it with an entirely different perspective than I'd had the last time we met.

When I saw Elizabeth sitting in the booth at the restaurant, I wanted to run up to her, to spill my heart out, to tell her, "I'm sorry. But, I understand now."

I didn't, though. I didn't want to bring up her past, her struggles. I wanted to be able to move on. So, instead, I just smiled, said hello, and hugged her extra tight.

Week 7: Community Blog Post #4: My Memoir: A Vacation to Panama City Beach, Florida

            My vacation to Panama City Beach, Florida ended up being a very rewarding and enriching life experience for me.  This past October, I traveled there by car, with my boyfriend and his parents.  I remember talking to my mother about the trip shortly before we left.  “I can’t wait to spend some time in the warm, Florida weather,” I told her with excitement in my voice.  “You will have a great time and probably feel relaxed and refreshed afterwards,” I remember my mother responding.  My mother was very much correct as I came away from this vacation journey with having learned very valuable life lessons regarding the importance of taking time out to relax and unwind so that I am able to decrease the effects of the daily stresses of life.

              Moreover, I now fully understand how meaningful it is to try new things and push myself to get out of my comfort zone so that I can add diverse experiences to my background.  Being able to see all the beauty that this world has to offer is one of the most valuable benefits associated with traveling.  I feel very grateful and fulfilled to be able to express how much I have learned from my trip to Florida, but most importantly, to have come away with a breadth of new experiences that I was fortunate enough to take part in.

            The stunning beach, coastline, and waters of the Gulf of Mexico, which were right outside of our hotel, were some of the most beautiful and picturesque places I had ever seen.  The beach outside of our hotel was crowded with people sunbathing, relaxing under large beach umbrellas, and building sand castles on this hot Florida day.  Everyone seemed to be enjoying the nice, warm weather and taking full advantage of the beach.  The water was a brilliant, bright blue-green shade and looked gorgeous as it sparkled like diamonds in the glow of the sun.  At first, I relaxed with my boyfriend on the long chaise lounge chairs with beach umbrellas.  The feel of the hot sand as I stuck my feet in it, and the warm sensation of the glowing sun on my shoulders and arms, made me marvel even more at the remarkable scenery I was in the midst of. 

            Even though I am not used to, or completely comfortable with, swimming in the ocean, I decided that since I was on vacation I would give it a full chance.  I wanted to try something exciting, so despite being unsure about how treacherous the waves would be, or how high the tide may be, I went out on the beach and swam with my boyfriend in the ocean.  “The tide is low and the ocean is safe to swim in as long as we don’t go out past the buoys,” my boyfriend said.  “Don’t worry I will keep you close to me while we swim.”  

            Putting all my fear aside and trusting my boyfriend, I slowly waded into the ocean, and as I got familiar with the water, I began jumping over the waves as they rolled in and having a great time.  I could see sailboats on the horizon, where the ocean appears to meet the sky, and jet skis roared past further out in the distance.  Looking out at the beach and the view of our hotel from the water, I felt remarkably content and happy at being in the water and taking in all this beauty and splendor.  There were little fish below us, and they seemed to bite at our toes as we swam and moved around amongst the tossing waves.  It was great being out there and being at one with nature, the ocean, and its creatures.  

            After swimming out there in the ocean, I ultimately realized the amazingly positive things that can happen when you push yourself to try new things and really live life to the fullest.  I was able to experience an array of new things while out there in the beautiful water.  Jumping over the oncoming and tossing waves, looking at the view of the crowded beach as well as the ocean ahead, and swimming along with the little fish, all showed me just how much this world has to offer.  

            There is so much to see and do, and a tremendous amount of experiences to take advantage of while we have time on this earth.  Had I chosen not to get outside of my comfort zone and really engage myself in the full experience of swimming in the ocean, I would not have come away with the same feelings of satisfaction and enjoyment from having built an even greater appreciation for nature and all the glory and brilliance that it provides.    

            Another leg of our journey in Florida included the day when I went out on a pontoon boat with my boyfriend and his parents.  Traveling along the Intracoastal Waterway along the Gulf coast, we explored the waters and enjoyed the spray of the water against our skin as the boat coasted along.  At one point, I was able to drive the boat, navigating us further out to where we eventually stopped at Shell Island and got out to search for seashells along the beach there.  The roar of the boat’s motor, the splashing of the water, and the excitement of the prospect of finding seashells, kept me focused as I forged ahead and drove us safely to our destination.  Once there, I found many colorful shades of seashells: ivory, coral, and pale pink, to name a few.  I even found a portion of what looked to be a crab claw that had washed up and was buried underneath the sand.  

            Once back on the boat, we all decided to relax awhile longer and enjoy more of the scenery of the Intracoastal Waterway.  My boyfriend had several small fish come right up to him, and he then gave them some food right out of his hand.  As he was doing this, I fed some potato chips to seagulls that had flocked to the section where we had docked our boat.  I had such a blast being at one with nature and its animals, once again.  The squawking of the cute birds as they happily ate their food, the soft blowing breeze as our boat swayed gently in the water, and the view of the tall grass and reeds with the sandy beach beyond them, contributed to the overall feeling of delight that I had.  All was right with the world, and as we drove away on the boat, back to its original docking place, I remember being even more grateful that I had the opportunity to see another beach and ride along a section of waterway to view more of the coast.

            Late one night for dinner, I went to a local seafood restaurant and bar with my boyfriend and his parents.  The bar area was packed; we finally sat at a section of the restaurant that had seats, with open views, looking out on the ocean.  At sunset, the restaurant staff would fire off a cannon blast out on the beach.  “Get ready for the cannon blast,” my boyfriend said.  “But we might need to cover our ears since it will be very loud.”  Sure enough as I covered my ears, what felt like a huge boom shook the earth with a deafening blow.  The crowd of patrons in the restaurant cheered and clapped as the cannon blast went off, everyone enjoyed the loud cannon show and the glorious sunset view as that evening’s nightlife got underway.  The firing off of the cannon is a unique show that this restaurant is known for putting on, and it was exciting to be able to experience it.  It was also great to see the gorgeous pinkish-purple of the night sky at sunset as the sky appeared to meet the vast ocean along the horizon.  

            When it came time to order, not knowing what type of food was good to eat, but still wanting to continue my quest and resolution to try new things, I decided to order the lobster macaroni and cheese.  Macaroni and cheese is one of my favorite meals, however, I had never tried lobster before.  After trying it, I found out that the lobster mixed very well with the macaroni and is a very appetizing dish.  I feel that trying new things applies to food as well; and I have now experienced, and found, a new food that I like and this just goes to show that trying new cuisines can help to expand your tastes and diversify your experiences even further.

            Overall, my vacation to Panama City Beach, Florida was one of the most fulfilling and rewarding experiences of my life.  Swimming in the ocean, driving a pontoon boat, and trying new food, all got me thinking about how much this world has to offer and how I would like to see more of it.  I walked away with an array of new experiences to my credit, that I feel contribute to making me more well-rounded, cultured, and worldly.  It is so important to take a break from the daily grind to regroup and recharge, and it just may lead you to discover more opportunities that teach you a lot about yourself and what you want out of life.  One of the best times I have had by a long-shot, my vacation to Florida has led me to realize the importance of living and letting go of fears, and pushing past doubt, to fully be open to the amazing things the world has waiting for us to discover.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Work Hard, Play Later : Memoir

“Will you please shut up?” My sister screamed. Annoyed and tired of hearing me sing every song that played through the radio. I was the baby child of the three children my mom birth. Getting on my siblings nerves with my loud singing was the norm. Did I care that I was annoying them, not one bit because I knew eventually they would grow to love my voice and that I was destined to be a star. They did not see my potential and they could care less to think of the possibilities I possessed as a young girl. I remembered how it all began when I just seven years old singing with the choir. There I stood little ole me front and center, singing my little heart out with the rest of the youth choir, holding a huge smile on my face. I remember that moment best of all because it is when I recognized my true calling. Over the years I continued to master my craft so that I could be great. I knew that one day I would be given the opportunity to sing in front of many people and not just friends and family.

I had greater dreams and knew that with hard work and dedication it will all pay off. As the great Steven King wrote in his memoir “Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.” I truly believe in that statement because I practiced daily as if my life depended upon it. I would listen to tunes on the radio and make up my own versions to them. When I entered into High School I was blessed to meet Mrs. Greenwood my choir teacher who was no joke, she was firm with her teachings and very meticulous. Mrs. Greenwood brought out the best in me and pushed me even more to perfect my craft. Since I knew getting a solo in her class was a huge deal I didn‘t hesitate to raise my hand when she asked “Does anybody want to do the solo of the school anthem at the senior pinning ceremony?” About three or four of us raised our hands. The school anthem needed two soloists, a girl and boy. I raised my hand figuring that after all this time of practicing and rehearsing it was time to put my hard work to the test. Mrs. Greenwood looked over at me cautiously with her eye partially squinted, wondering if choosing me would be a great idea, then she asked me to sing the song in front of the class.

Instantly I became nervous as I looked around at the other students, then I slowly stepped forward, took a deep breath, and walked in front of the class. Looking straight ahead, at what I can‘t recall, all that I know is that I was not looking at the other students. I started to sing the school anthem and my choir teacher ushered for everyone else to join in making me get even more into it. I assume I did well because the solo was given to me and this guy in my class name Anthony. On the day of the senior pinning I was a nervous wreck, all that I remember on that day is standing center stage with the microphone in my hand, getting ready to sing my part. Looking into the crowd, I suddenly forgot all the words to the song. I stood there embarrass and in shock. The choir continued to go on without me and well… I just stood there shaking my head, wanting to cry so badly. I had practiced that song repeatedly, how could I forget the lyrics. I was in total awe and respectfully ashamed of myself. I was disappointed and afraid to face my choir teacher the next day. Surprisingly, she had chosen to give me another shot at making it right, when she entered me into a solo assembly competition which happen to be one of the biggest competitions for choirs.

Mrs. Greenwood worked with me every day until the big day. I was told I could bring one person along with me to the competition so I decided to bring my mom. Unfortunately, my mom had to work so my sister Toya agreed to accompany me. Yeah the one who got on my nerves constantly about my singing. As I prepped in the back room to go out and performed, my choir teacher approached me with some words of encouragement by telling me “Don’t worry you’ll do great, I believe in you.” I looked into her eyes and knew that she was being sincere, I owed it to her to excel but importantly I owed it to myself. I took the stage and looked at my audience, then at my sister and finally at my choir teacher then begin to sing. After performing my two selected songs one in Latin and the other in opera, I looked over to Mrs. Greenwood and her face told it all. What made me smile more was the look on my sister Toya face. I could tell that I had gained her belief in me and that meant so much to me. I ran up to my teacher and she told me how proud she was of me, then I went up to my sister and she smiled shyly then said, “You did so good baby” and gave me the biggest hug ever. Finally, I was becoming and growing in the very thing I loved most. I didn’t win the competition that day but it inspired me to keep working hard.

After I graduated High school I continued my singing career and my brother Shedrick took on the responsibility of becoming my manager. Over the years, my brother Shedrick got me many gigs performing at various venues as well as doing radio interviews. In September of 2010, I was given information about an upcoming show for an old school music group called the Dramatics and was told how I could audition. I auditioned for Mr. Willie Ford and he loved me! I was at that point given the opportunity I had be waiting for and that was to sing in front of hundreds of people on a big stage. Well bigger than the stages I was use to performing on. I believe at that very moment I was born again. I was confident, fearless and ready to give my all to the music industry. Every skill I learned from my high school choir teacher, as well as all the practicing to be great would all be worth it.

I found my self auditioning dancers and paying for dance lessons for myself and mapped out what I would do for my portion of the show. I bought performance gear for me and the two dancers I selected and rehearse day in and day out until November 13, 2010 which was show day. When I entered through the back door where the performers were to enter it all became so surreal to me. As we prepared backstage I remember being in the presence of so many amazing performers. I even saw Judge Greg Mathis talking to one of the Dramatics. When it was my turn to take the stage I looked at my now husband, took a deep breath and entered the stage from the left of the Music hall. Standing on that stage in my all black short dress that sparkled, in my open toe shoes, with my curly black big hair, glossed up lips, brown Chinese looking eyes, and a smile that told it all. I opened my mouth and started with my cover song which was Etta James “I’ll Rather Go Blind,“ then right after went into a song I wrote called “The EshaRay Anthem.”

Hearing the audience appalled me for my performance enlightened my heart in a way like no other. I knew my job was not complete and that I had more to do if I wanted to keep excelling but it was my start and my breakthrough moment. No more of me having to deal with questioning myself about my future and rather hard work paid off. My performance and standing ovation was the answer to that question. My future is and will always be me entertaining the world, broadcasting the many gifts God has given me. When you work hard in whatever it is you want out of life, the pay off will be incredible. I looked back at my two dancers and I couldn’t help but smile because I knew they saw how much my hard work paid off. I took a bow, exited stage left, and headed backstage to join the rest of the performers. Practice makes perfect and I will continue to live by that saying knowing as Steven King said, “if God gives you something you can do, why in God’s name wouldn’t you do it?” That’s a question I feel is worth asking, along with knowing that when you have talent it behooves you to not perfect it.

Memoir: The Suicide Prevention Hotline

Everything is temporary is a phrase that gets me through the rougher days of my weeks. In the face of problems and uncertainty I’d like to think that there is good to come: light at the end of the tunnel, a rainbow after the storm. When I am nothing but happy I am constantly reminding myself that trouble is ahead, enjoy the moment and soak up the sun while it’s out.
            Everything happens for a reason, things happen because they are supposed to. Or at least I like to think that. If the reason is absent then we neglect the idea of a purpose. I want to have a purpose. I want to add something positive to someone’s life. I want to influence the voice in someone’s head that that tells them to keep going even when they desperately want to quit. And for these intentions, I believe that there are reasons.

It was in my moment of what seemed like eternal uncertainty that I discovered how fragile my mind really is. How I dealt with conflict and the way I invited negativity into my mind proved the power and influence of positive thought.

Since then, upon discovery of self-betterment, my newly pragmatic attitude has allowed me to become by loose definition –a better and more accepting human being.

They say that who we are is how we act when nobody is looking. I’d like to hope that this isn’t true in its entirety, however I cannot argue the rationality of such a statement. When nobody is looking we often become vulnerable, moments of weakness become almost comforting in that we know there is no eye to place judgment on us–we are able to let go. Personal experience has proven this to be true in many senses, but also false in many others.

 I didn’t want to believe that I wasn’t good enough –even though I felt that way. Not good enough. Three words that crushed every motivation I had to try to be better. Though these words were not said, they might as well have been.
            “We regret to inform you that you have not been chosen for admission at Michigan State University.” But what I saw was: We regret to inform you that you did not do enough, that you are not good enough.

Looking back, things could have been worse. Terrible things happen to good people all the time. And if this was my big set back, my disappointment, then my life is nothing that warrants complaining. I know that there are people in the world, that can’t afford an education. There are people with little opportunity, with life threatening problems that mommy and daddy can’t fix. I know this. But that doesn’t mean there is no bruise. Maybe I didn’t try my hardest, maybe it was my fault, I didn’t care enough in high school. But I care now, probably too much, and these three words are what remind me every day to find meaning in everything I do, every person I talk to, every place I go.

It was an unfortunate cold and snowy day in December when I decided I had enough. I was at my bubbies; she threw my cousin Levi a birthday party for his 7th birthday. According to Levi, I’m his favorite, which is what made me feel even guiltier about my mindset from that day. He was trying to sit on my lap and play with my hair when I snapped at him to stop. I wanted to be left alone. I didn’t want to be there, I never wanted to be anywhere but in the comfort of my own bed, where I didn’t have anybody to ask me my plans for college. I didn’t know, and quite frankly, it was pretty fucking annoying being asked what seemed like every five seconds.
“I’m not sure yet,” I’d say. Or I’d make a joke about how I had no idea; I desperately tried to laugh it off, in efforts to convince myself that if I believed it wasn’t bothering me, eventually it wouldn’t. But it was this day in particular that made it all feel worse. I held the gaze of my entire family this time when it was asked. “So have you heard from Michigan State? Do you know when you will? Do you have a back up plan?” My face was beet red. I think I was actually glistening with sweat, not out of nervousness, but I was trying to keep my cool and act like it hadn’t even phased me, like I hadn’t even given a thought about my so uncertain future.
Luckily, my mom jumped in, “We’ll let you know when she knows.” Case closed. The jury had spoken and it was time for everyone to shut the fuck up about it. But not only was it being verbally discussed within earshot of every place I seemed to be, everywhere I looked on social media I read, So excited to say that I’m officially a Michigan Wolverine! Or OFFICIALLY A SPARTAN! GO GREEN GO WHITE! Because when you grow up in the Jewish community of West Bloomfield, Michigan, if you don’t go to the University of Michigan or Michigan State University, you basically don’t go to college. I felt the pressure to do what everyone else was doing though this was what I actually wanted, and in many ways I still do.
The cake was coming out when my aunt Annette started singing Happy Birthday and soon everyone joined in but myself. It was a feeling I had never felt before. Be happy, sing, this is such a happy time when we are altogether. But I felt so miserable, so irrelevant to my own life. I had tears in my eyes but played it off as my contacts bothering me. I excused myself and went to the bathroom and looked in the mirror and I did not recognize myself. I had to get out of there.
Luckily I drove separately from my family. I said I didn’t feel well and the second I closed that car door there were tears rolling down my face like never before. I didn’t even know why. Everything was so bottled up and senior year was sucking and I just wanted to be able to know where I was going to be a year from that very moment. I couldn’t handle not knowing, being asked and not having an answer, crumbling inside with every “I’m not sure yet,” that I had to respond with.
How I managed to drive myself home mid-temper tantrum I do not know. But the second I got home I ran up to my room, dismissed all of my unopened text messages and went to Google.

suicide hotline

I just wanted somebody to talk to, somebody who wasn’t going to ask me what my plans were or when I’d hear back. I wanted to talk to somebody who cared about me, not where I would be getting my education. Somebody who cared about my well being and whether or not I had genuinely smiled yet that day. I needed somebody to ask me if I was ok and be able to take the answer I wasn’t prepared to give. No, I wasn’t ok, and I wasn’t sure why I wasn’t ok, because in hindsight it really wasn’t a huge deal. But in that moment nothing else mattered but feeling ok, or close to it.

A woman answered. I was far too emotional to recall the exact conversation. But I know that she asked me to take a deep breath, to try to calm down because she couldn’t understand me. I didn’t even recognize myself, the sounds I was making, I had a weird ringing noise in my ears. I didn’t want to spell it all out for her but I knew I had to, I needed her to understand that I couldn’t get a hold of my life.

My eyes and cheeks were sore from wiping them so much, there was a sea of used tissues all over my bedroom floor. She cared, and she understood. She told me she could relate, we’ve all been through times where things are out of control, and she told me that I did have some control, I just didn’t recognize it at the time –though I wasn’t practicing it, I did have control over my emotions, over how I reacted to the entire situation. She eventually convinced me to sit down my parents and explain everything to them.

It must have been at least forty-five minutes that I was on the phone when I heard the garage door open. I thanked her endlessly; she saved me from the quicksand of depression that I was falling into.

When I talked to my parents I was surprised to learn that my dad could relate. He had a past I knew nothing about, and it was that day that I began to move forward despite the major disappointment I faced. We truly never know the interior of someone else’s life. I know it scared them that I called the hotline, but I couldn’t stress enough that I was not suicidal, I just felt a pain that wouldn’t go away. It was my parents who pushed me to gain a positive momentum and to reconstruct my lifestyle and response to disappointment.

 I read somewhere a pretty accurate description of depression; it’s like drowning, and the people who love you can see you struggling under the water, but your hands don’t reach, and there’s nothing they can do.

Since then I have been using working out as a stress reliever, I find things that I am able to take control of and use them to my advantage –my eating habits, my schoolwork and grades. I have found so much happiness in the sole ability to see the world out of a much brighter lens. I have learned not to let the things I am unable to control take control of me.

Learning how to take control of our lives in times where control is the only thing we cannot have is a testing experience. But, it seems to be most difficult lessons that teach us lessons of the highest value. I’ve learned more about myself in times of loneliness than any divisive moment could have taught me. I am human. I will fail, I will fall, and I will have many setbacks. There will be many more moments of uncertainty; there are so many things to look forward too, to be nervous about, to be happy. Live for now, live for the person you could't be yesterday and the person you want to be tomorrow. Don’t settle for things you didn’t want in the first place, work for what you want. But most importantly, don’t get too comfortable because it’s all temporary.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Community Post #4: Acetaminophen a curse dressed as hope: a memoir.

While revisiting the memories my friend’s bad time, it reminded me of the responsibilities that come with friendship. Yes, it does take a lot of energy and effort but one cannot give up on another simply because they do not live the life you want them to live.
Walking around the neighborhood was our hobby during our high school days. It was the only chance we really had to leave our homes; and rid ourselves of the daily annoyances that come with living among the same people for so long.
            “Can I bum a square dude?” said Alex.
            “Of course man.” I replied. Somehow no one would question if we were old enough to smoke. Maybe they did not care perhaps it brought our neighbors relief that we were eradicating ourselves faster through this. Regardless, we continued to do the things that we do. This started during our sophomore year of high school, when we were both sixteen years old. The days came and went during our sophomore year the walks became longer and our lunges grew darker with each escapade.
            There was one particular walk though. It was during his drivers training and he noticed that there was about a million brown paper bags in his mom’s car. He thought that they were just for her lunches. That was far from the truth, whenever his mom would come home she brag about eating lunch with her boss and coworkers. It was then when the light bulb went off. Immediately we did a one eighty and made a b-line back to his house. When we walked up the driveway we saw his moms car, Alex’s eye was filled with fear over the thought of what we might find. It took no less than a minute before we found a bottle of booze that was half empty. Alex’s last sense of innocence was shattered that day. The thought of his mom being a drunk hit him hard and with it came rebellious anarchy.
            The aftermath of this brought a paradigm shift to his social life. During that summer of sophomore year his friends abandon him when he needed him most. Myself and few others stayed by his side during this traumatic experience. These other friends had connections though, connections to substance. When our friend Shane A.K.A. Big Dawg introduced us K-pin it was a terrific experience I remember just sitting in a room and just feeling good. I remember Alex looking over to me.
            “I feel okay about myself. I don’t feel like the little shit I see myself as every day.” He said. Even though K-pain puts you into a temporary state of nirvana I was still shocked. At that moment I could not think of anything to say to turn that around.
            The summer had passed and moved onto junior year of high school of high school. Alex and I began to grow apart. I did not have anything against him we just had our own schedule at the time. I was a little worried about him though; the new group of friends that he was with loved opiates and benzos more than anything else. There was one day though that still sticks out to me. It was moving into spring time and almost all of the snow had melted away, the trees were still bare, the sun had set, and I hear my phone ring out.
            “Davveee! I really want McDonalds come with me!” He said
            “Yeah dude I’m down for a bite.” I replied. I waited outside and all of sudden I see him speeding up to my house in that little red caviler. He slams on the breaks and I hop in.
            “Dude I just saw crystal castle. They were so good.” He said. It was obvious that his voice was slurred. His tone was deep and rhythm was off.
            “That’s cool man. What happened?” I replied.
            “We found some dude selling benzos. We bought about five pills each.”
            “How many did you take?”
            “All five.” He stares at me for a while driving down Hayes. Not caring about the traffic.
            “Oh yeah, how do you feel right now?”
            “There are so many lines on the road right now.”
            “You should let me drive dude. I’m sober.”
            “Naw I got this dude.”
            “Alright man… you got to promise me though that once we get our food we’re going to park and eat.”
            “Okay.” We get to the drive through of McDonalds and Alex spends a solid Ten Minutes just looking at the menu and another ten just seating at the talk box. He orders and we get our food. After we pull through the drive through he starts heading towards a parking spot, but suddenly switches gears and heads straight for the main road. I’m paranoid like no other just waiting to get pulled over for reckless driving. In all honestly he was driving pretty well for how blitzed he was. He continued to drive down Hayes and pulled a few turns until we were on 22 mile going back toward Hayes. He was starting to drift off road a little bit.
            “What are you doing dude!” I said.
            “Huh?” he replied. He gazed at me and he had the look of a zombie. No emotion no thought just a body with an empty mind. We were going head first into the point of the guard rail.
            “Fucking turn man! Fucking turn!” I said. He looked spaced, but had a quick snap back into reality and he jerked the wheel at the last second. “Pull the fuck over man! You’re going to kill us both!” He did not respond but he listened and pulled into the closest neighborhood. As he put his car in park and opened the door he puked all over some poor fellow’s lawn. Now that I was in the driver seat I began driving us home.
            “I’m sorry man.” He said.
            “It’s fine dude. Let’s just get you to bed.” I replied. When we arrived I helped him get inside. Luckily his mom was asleep and did not notice us coming in. It was weird though. I should have been mad and disappointed, but I wasn’t. Maybe I thought that by having his back and being there for him was the best thing for him rather than criticizing him. That’s what his parents did to him and it lead to this.  
         When senior year of High school came around so did Alex. He could not stand his ride to school anymore. He drove himself, and offered me a ride. It was great at the start; being reunited with my childhood friend just like old times. Now I got to see what his life had become first hand. I heard a lot of rumors about him and I finally got to know the truth behind them. While driving together I learned of all of his adventures and how he became more involves with the drug world. The weird thing about it was that I was not worried. If anything I was excited to be a part of these adventures. It could have been that I was in my young and dumb phase, but it was obvious that this was only going to end badly. Perhaps I just missed hanging out with him. Each day we tested our luck with in more daunting ways. We eventually reached the point where would walk around the park and do them in the open. After a while I noticed the effect the opiates were having on me and I did not want to be dependent on them. So I stop using for a while and Alex continued and he would indulge more and more each day. Oddly enough the year was not too bad for him, he seemed happy. The girl he was dating was definitely a keeper, he received a 40,000 dollar scholar ship CCS, and McDonalds wanted to promote him to manager.  It was right around winter when he started to disappear for most of day. He would not answer his phone; respond to texts, or anything. I discovered later on that he has just been snorting opiates; the worst part was that he did during class. If he had gotten caught it would have been the end for everything that he had worked for. It was hard to hear him tell his stories snorting opiates in class. Even though I knew this was hurting him I did not have the courage to try and stop him, it was affecting my life as much as his. I know his parents gave him a low self-esteem. His mom and dad, although divorced, still had great team work at criticizing him together. Finding new ways to knock him down a peg, I remember him telling me that his dad raised him on the quote. “I’m just preparing you. So when you fail you will not be surprised.” Hearing that from one’s own father would eliminate any kid’s self-worth. While he was under the influence though he felt okay with himself, it brought him some brief inner peace. 

Senior year was coming to an end and we were blowing off school as much as possible. It was around that last week of school when we went to our buddy Jake’s house to get wasted. There was a few of us and we all threw down to buy a half gallon of five o’clock vodka and some cheap whiskey. After we hit the half way point on the half gallon Rachel and I came to realize that we needed to give Alex an intervention. We convinced him to join us upstairs and when he met up with us Rachel and I unloaded all of the emotional turmoil that he has caused everyone. How he meant a lot to us and it kills us more and more each day to him deteriorating in front of our very eyes.  He dropped his head and tears started to poor down his face. He looked up and had sense of joy. It seemed that it finally clicked that he meant something to other people that if he died from the way he lived that it would permanently scar the ones who cared for him. That was the hardest thing I have ever had to do. I remember my heart pounding and coming to a cold sweat. Rachel was crying through most of the intervention but together we helped Alex get past his addiction.

Currently, Alex is living happily in Royal Oak. One the best students at CCS and has not touched opiates since high school. He is still dating Rachel.