Wednesday, May 16, 2018

climbing

Today I crossed the first item off my bucket list. I went rock climbing with a friend. It was fun, thrilling, terrifying, and exhausting. When we first got there we had to sign all sorts of waivers so we couldn't sue if anything bad happened. That's kind of scary too, but I knew I couldn't chicken out after I'd already come all this way.
We had to put harnesses on and then the girl there showed us how to hook up to the elastic rope and to be careful not to let go because it would go all the way up to the ceiling. Finally, it was time to climb. The one she demonstrated on was the first one we climbed, and the hardest. I tried to climb this wall three times and only made it halfway up each time.
In this picture  I am just a few feet off the ground on the difficult wall.
Here I am further up on an easier wall.

I did manage to scale three other, easier walls though. There was a square box at the top that signaled the climb was over. The first time I reached it just barely. The second time I got far enough that it was shoulder level on me.
Some of the handles were oddly shaped. One looked like it had been made out of a doll's head. There were also skulls and other things. They were all brightly colored and the smaller ones seemed impossible to grip or keep footing on. The lady who showed us the ropes had told us that we could freestyle climb (without the rope) up to 12 feet. Destiny tried that, but I was too scared. While I was climbing, it felt like I was safe as long as I stayed close to the wall and had my hands and feet on something.
When I got to the top once I looked down and I regretted it instantly. Suddenly my gut clenched up and I felt that old fear rush back in. The place had several balconies, which my friend learned housed gym equipment along with tables. She suggested we go up there to eat and I immediately felt afraid. I could climb to the top of the rock wall, but I was still afraid to climb the stairs to eat on the balcony. This rock climbing is a good exercise in overcoming my fear of heights, but I do not think it alone is enough. Just like my fear remains after having been on several rollercoasters. It is something I will have to work hard to overcome I think.
My friend and I took pictures of each other climbing but I am not sure she'd be comfortable with me sharing her photo on here. 
***I finally got around to updating this post. The past couple days I have not done much other than work. Thursday I did nothing all day but vegged out and let my laziness take over. Today I watched a video about time wasting. It wasn't something I agreed with completely, but it did make an important point which is relevant to my goal of completing my bucket list. That point was, no matter how healthily I live, I will die some day and if I keep putting off the things I want to do, I will regret not having done them when my time comes. My wants right now must come after my responsibilities, but there's no reason I cannot complete at least some of what I wish to do.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Dinner and a Movie

After finishing my finals today I decided to treat myself to celebrate. I ate dinner at Pastafina, I had a very delicious dish called Ribeye Marsala or something. Anyway it was very good. I wish I had taken a picture because if I had remembered to get a picture I could have used this to scratch off be spontaneous on my bucket list. I will write about the movie I saw in a few minutes.

First, I wanted to say that I am almost decided to finish reading one of my Isabel Allende books for my bucket list item this month. I already have them on hand, I will be done with school, and its something I can do from home so I don't have to worry about having to plan out a trip or take off work to do it. Granted, I am also considering visiting Gorman Falls since it is very close. I may decide to do more than one this month and each month of the summer simply because it is more possible to find the time when I do not have to worry about classes, even if I still have to worry about being a responsible parent.

Okay, now for the meat of this post. For the movie I saw "I Feel Pretty" with Amy Schumer. The premise of the movie is that a woman who lacks confidence bumps her head and thinks she looks completely different even though she hasn't changed at all. The successes she attains then are based in who she is which ultimately is more important than how she looks. Once she has confidence she becomes uninhibited and ends up meeting her love interest in a dry-cleaner line when she wrongly assumes he was trying to pick her up. After she bumps her head again and she sees what everyone else sees again, she loses her confidence. It is only after she realizes that the make-up company she works for (which is trying to market an affordable line to sell in places like Target) needs to use average models and not drop dead gorgeous ones, that she is forced to face the fact that her outward appearance never changed. The only thing that changed all along was how she perceived herself.

I liked the fact that they didn't show what Renee saw looking into the mirror when she thought she was model perfect. It left more to the imagination. The audience only knows that she thinks she has rock hard abs for instance, because she turns to the woman beside her and says "feel that, rock hard" while touching her stomach. The movie suggests that, while the opinions of the outside world do matter some, and you cannot be completely oblivious to them, in the end it is your own opinion of yourself that matters most and often even shapes the opinions of others more than your outward appearance.

This movie was especially important for me to see because I have struggled with confidence for a long time. I am not going to say this movie has changed the way I feel about myself and that I am going to wake up tomorrow dancing with confidence, but it did make me think. The problem is, that the confidence issues I have do not center around my looks. Rather, I see myself as pretty when I have more confidence, and not pretty when I have less. My confidence issues, rather are connected to whether I consider myself as being worthy. After many years of experiencing bullying from several different sources, especially sources that have a great influence in my early life (like family members), and with the inner voice that tends to echo only the negative things I am told about myself and dismember the positive things, I find it difficult to come to a place where I have 100% confidence in who I am as a person. It feels as if I am not worthy. If someone tells me I am a good artist, for instance, I can immediately dismiss that by pointing to every artist who does better than me. The only skill I acknowledge being good at is writing, but I can also find people much more accomplished even within the Anthology collection where I was published last year. If my writing were that good, I would have a full-fledged blog readership. If I were worth of publication, I would have at least been runner up in one of the contest in which I've entered.

In truth, I fear rejection most of all. I fear rejection of who I am and because of that fear and self-loathing I push people away. It's nice to fantasize about a world where no one is judged, and you can just be yourself, but that world doesn't exist. Even when I have confidence, it isn't unshakable. It is, in fact, very unstable. It falls at the slightest suggestion that I am not good enough. It is even more dangerous for me to feel confident for a short time because if I put myself out there and I am rejected, it is devastating.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Gallery

Sorry to disappoint, but this isn't the blog post about my bucket list. Actually, I thought of putting this on my bucket list, but since it was already in the works I decided that would be cheating. Today, one of my drawings was exhibited as part of a gallery of work that my classmate put together for her final project (she's an art student).

She did a presentation, which I was thankfully able to attend by flexing my usual work schedule. I was unable to attend the follow-up reception that was tonight at six, because I had to work. In fact, I did have to leave her showing a little early. After the presentation, and walking us through the pieces, she was going to have a Q&A. I had to leave before she finished that. I was a little relieved because I was somewhat afraid that someone might have a question or comment about my drawing. However, I was also afraid that no one would have a question or comment about my work. You see, the only thing worse than having the spotlight on you is being ignored for people who are more interesting.

There were a lot of people there, so I got some serious exposure. I just hope my drawing left a little bit of an impression, even if it was a small one. There were lots of works that were far better than mine. In fact, probably all of them were better in some way. There was this shoe that represented this girl's father. It was decorated with tons of pins with glass beads. The detail on that piece was amazing. I was tied between which ones I liked the most. There was one which was a woman in water, kind of blurry, kind of out of focus. It made me think of depression, but Annalea (my classmate) got something totally different out of it. When she talked about that piece she said it made her think of giving birth. It's interesting when two people see the same piece but have different takes on it. I think that's the mark of a true artist. My other favorite was the 3-D piece which was kind of a doll. Annalea said the hair that made the pony tales was locks from a few different people and the piece was made by her best friend. When I saw the piece, what struck me first was that the place where the face would be was kind of a mirror. It was like the doll was supposed to make the audience self-reflect. It reminded me of a ballerina, with the small waste and a kind of wide hip area which seemed like a tutu. Another interesting one was the picture of a boy's baseball card with a tack stuck right through his face. That piece seemed a little dark to me, but I like a little bit of darkness in my art.

The piece that I drew was of a family. The parents are fighting on their front porch, a fly buzzing around the lightbulb which hangs from the roof and two children are in the picture. In the foreground there is a girl playing with blocks and smiling, but the blocks spell out the word "stop". In the background there is a girl sitting, knees in front of her with her hands covering her ears and her eyes closed. I named it "Family Matters". I was sorry to hear that the cheap dollar store frame I bought for it caused Annalea problems with hanging it. She said that, even though it was the lightest piece, it was the most difficult to hang.

Her display was well done and you could tell, even before she gave her presentation, that she'd put a lot of effort into making it perfect. I was glad I could see it before it came down and hear her presentation.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Bucket List Challenge

I was thinking that I need a way to motivate myself to do things from my bucket list. After all, I'm already almost 35. Some people live to be in their 90's (like my maternal grandparents), but other people pass away much younger (like my paternal grandparents who both died in their 50's or 60's, forgive me for not knowing their exact ages, I was never close to my dad's side of the family).

I thought, why not challenge myself to complete at least one item from my bucket list every month and then blog about the experience. I might even share photos (if it's appropriate). This can help me exercise my writing muscle, and also motivate me to get started crossing items off my bucket list.

In order to do this, I am going to have to create a bucket list now and perhaps I will revise it as my goals change over time. I will begin this challenge in May, as the month of April is almost over.

So here we go:

Bucket List (this post was updated 5/2/2018)

Misc
Obtain U.S. Passport
Buy a House
Buy a not used or gently used car
Start savings for girl's college

Traveling within the U.S.
Visit Grand Canyon
Visit Redwood National Forest
Visit Hamilton Pool near Austin
Visit Rocky Mountain National Park
Visit Gorman Falls in Texas
Visit Carlsbad Cavern (NM)
Visit Yellowstone National Park
Visit Yosemite National Park
Visit the Statue of Liberty
See the Liberty Bell
Visit the National WWII Museum (LA)
Visit Hawaii
may add more later

Traveling Neighboring Countries
Visit the Agua Azul
Visit the Great Pyramid of Tenochtitlan
Visit the Frieda Kahlo museum
Visit the Pyramid of the Sun
Visit Quebrada de Cafayate, Argentina
Visit Prince Edward Island (Canada)
Visit Vancouver to see where x-files was filmed
Travel within Canada
Travel within Mexico
may update this at a later date or as I learn of more interesting places to visit

Traveling Worldwide
Visit the Louvre in Paris
Visit the Blue Danube
Visit the Swiss Alps
Travel within Greece
Travel within Italy
Travel within Germany
Travel within the U.K. (especially Scotland)
Travel within France
Travel within Spain
Travel within Japan
Visit the Great Pyramids
Visit the Taj Majal
Visit Hiroshima and Nagasaki ground zero
Visit Mt. Fuji
Visit Mt. Everest
Travel within Taiwan
Visit Tibet
Visit a Japanese onsen
Eat a dish native to each region you visit
will update later and add to the list as more comes to mind

Career Goals
Graduate college with a BA in English
Get paid for publishing a work of fiction
Sell a painting or drawing
Sell an article to a magazine
Write a novel
Obtain a job in the Journalism field
Draw a manga-type graphic novel
Storyboard a graphic novel
May add more later

Reading
Finish Invisible Man
Finish Their eyes were watching God
Finish Aristophanes four comedies
Finish Lord of the Rings series
Finish Hitchhiker's Guide series
Read War and Peace
Read Wuthering Heights
Read 1001 nights
Finish the Canterbury Tales
Read a book in Japanese
Read a book in Spanish
Read a book in French
suggestions on books I may want to add will be considered

Fun Stuff
Do something spontaneous
Get another tattoo
Go ballroom dancing
Do something impulsive
Conquer fear of heights
Go rock climbing
Go skinny dipping
Ride on a train
Go water-skiing
Master another language
Have a conversation in Japanese/Spanish/French with a native speaker (No English allowed)
Go to a concert
Go to a convention
will update as new ideas spring up

Well that's a pretty good start. It will definitely take a couple of years to complete the list as/is even doing one item a month.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Life

Song lyrics seem to speak to me sometimes.
"to be kicked, when you're down
to feel like you've been pushed around.
To be on the edge of breaking down
and no one's there to save you.
No, you don't know what it's like...
welcome to my life."
--Welcome to my life, written by Charles-Andre Comeau & Pierre Bouvier

I've had a lot of stress in my life recently. Some of it is my fault. Some of it is beyond my control. All of it is aging me prematurely. All of it is making me lose sleep at night. All of it is bad for me. I know I should be able to shake it off. I should be able to move past it. I should be able to accept that there are some things I cannot change and never will be able to.

Sometimes I feel trapped. Like I will always be here. I will never be able to leave this country and realize my dream of seeing the world. I learn about people who have gone out and done what I long to do and I'm eaten up with envy. I feel like I will always be in this town, working at the same job. I will never be able to get out of debt. I will never be able to make something of my life. My life is partly the way it is because of my own choices, but there are things about my life that I had no part in. There are things that hold me back that are the result of being born to the wrong family. There are choices that I made which hurt me more than I thought they would. There are memories of things I would rather forget. There are people I love who are stuck in some endless loop of self-destruction which I cannot seem to save them from no matter how much I try.

Why? Why do I care? Why do I try? Am I really selfish? Other people see me more clearly than I see myself. Should I listen to their opinions of me? Should I care? Should I just live my life and not care what anyone else thinks? Surely there are some people whose opinion I need to care about. No person is an island. Everyone needs someone. No one can live completely alone without any type of human contact and remain sane. So whose opinion should matter? How do I grow as a person? How do I become a better person? Is it even possible for me to be good? Do I even want to be good? What is good anyway? How do I accomplish my goals? Is it possible to drag yourself up from the bottom?

Am I the same person I was five years ago? Am I better? worse? Every time I think I'm getting close to realizing some part of my dream, something happens to shoot holes in it. My life is full of hope and disappointment. I am happiest when I let go and am just myself, but I fear rejection and so I don't dare to be myself when other people are around. Every so often, I let go and allow myself to come out. Then something happens, someone speaks against me, or makes fun of me and I shrivel back up into my shell. I also fear being selfish. I have to take care of my responsibilities first. I have to make sure the people I love are taken care of, and I neglect myself. Then I grow resentful. The people I sacrifice for don't seem to care what I've sacrificed. They just take and take and take and keep demanding more.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

One Day Soon

This is the end of another semester and I grow closer to graduating with each passing class. This semester was a bit of a disappointment. I was unable to keep up with all my classes as well this semester and may have to settle with mostly Bs instead of mostly As this time. I am excited that I am now classified as a senior and hope to be finished with all my credits needed for graduation in two more semesters, although that may be optimistic.

There is almost a "what now" feeling that I am getting now that I near the end of my college journey. Obviously, the answer is to look for more gainful employment. It is going to be difficult to leave the job I have worked at for so many years, even if I find a better one (in terms of being more in line with my career choice and in terms of monetary gain). The people I have worked with for these past five years are like family to me. Of course, they are not all the same. There have been those who have worked there, left and come back, and those who only worked there for a time. There have been those who I have disliked, or those who have disliked me. This is true in any workplace or family. I will be sad to leave my work family when the time comes I think.

With the two finals today I will be done with school this semester. Then I am going to see my sister for Christmas. I am not worried about failing any of my classes this semester. The worst grade I can get in any of them is a B. I am trying for an A in all of them, as I always do. I am a little worried that some ungraded assignments will never get graded and that will cost me my A in the two classes where that's a problem. We are running down to the wire where professors have to turn in their grades and what if those professors just decide they're done with grading? I'm sure its an irrational fear. Maybe I'm just trying to find something to stress about.

Well, I have a morning final at 8 a.m. and I still have to drive there. Guess I'll check in with you guys later.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Life, Politics, and Eduction

There's been a lot of stuff going on and I want to spend a few minutes on each thing I want to talk about: First, in my life there has been a bit of upheaval over some co-parenting issues.

The first issue is that of bed-wetting. Now it's a little embarrassing to admit this over a blog where literally anyone can read it, but I wet the bed until my early teens where I just naturally grew out of it. My dad tried many things to cure me, and none of them worked. Him stressing the fact that I needed to stop only succeeded in making me ashamed of it. When I hadn't quit by 14 I thought there was something wrong with me. I couldn't wake up until after the fact. Many times I would wake up right after and become instantly distressed. Now the reason I'm bringing this topic up is that my daughter is a bed wetter as well. In fact all of them were to a point, although I think the older two have outgrown it. My youngest is still wetting the bed at seven and her father is extremely upset about it. He claims that she quit during the summer (when she spent the majority of nights at his house) but that she has started back up again since we've gone back to our regular schedule. Since I had the problem as a child I've never been too worried about it. Sure it's a bit of a hassle changing the bedding every night, but I have mattress protectors to keep any permanent mattress damage from happening and I know she'll eventually outgrow it. Since we disagree about how big an issue this is, it has caused some tension between my ex and I. I asked some of my work colleagues what I should do about the problem, thinking perhaps there might be a solution I didn't know. One of them suggested that I should take her to a doctor but I'm almost certain that would involve them prescribing her some kind of medication. Now, you might be thinking "what's wrong with that, if it helps the problem?" that's certainly what the work colleague thought. So I've been thinking about why I'm reticent to take her to a doctor and I think I've come up with an answer. Some of you might not understand this because you haven't had the same experiences as I have. Because my oldest went through what she did, had all that medication that she had to take (life or death) and there were medications she was taking that had serious side effects, because of all that I feel like prescription medication should only be used in cases of infection or severe pain or something serious like that. I just don't feel like bed-wetting is a serious problem. It's definitely an embarrassing one, it's definitely an irksome one, but it's not endangering her. I have been reading about bedwetting alarms and will probably try that and see how that works if it's not too expensive.

Next up is healthcare. Because I don't have a job that provides healthcare and don't make enough to afford it, I have the kids on Medicaid. Of course, the state says that if they're on Medicaid or Chips someone has to be paying child support. The way we worked it out in our divorce, we have them equally and no one pays child support. The Medicaid office keeps filing for it though. I have tried to tell them what is going on. If only I could afford private insurance so I wouldn't have to deal with this, that would be ideal. There is a concern there as well. If we were to get private insurance, we could both pay into it, but our oldest has a pre-existing condition and with the uncertainty about how long the ACA will still be around, I'm worried that rates for her would go sky high as soon as it's repealed. So I've been worried about that. I got a call from the Attorney General (office of Child Support) the other day and I haven't returned it yet. I'm not sure what they wanted to talk about and if they are wanting to set up another appointment or not.

Besides all that stress, there's work and school. Work isn't so stressful most of the time. Only really stressful when it get super busy or I have to work super long shifts. School is a little more stressful this semester because I've got more reading than I have in the past. Also, my copy-editing class is a lot of work on grammar and punctuation, which I've never been really good at (I am trying to get better) and which I've never had a proper elementary education on. Mom did try, but her books were very outdated and she was never that good at teaching to begin with. So we're going super quick through stuff I've never properly learned (to brush up). It's frustrating to say the least. Then there's my cognitive psychology class, which is super interesting and I am learning a lot of things, but the tests are super difficult for me. The type of information I retain (what, why and how) and the type of information that is tested on (mainly who, when and where) are different. So I find myself staring at the screen dumbfounded. We can retake each chapter test as many times as we like until the mid-term which is sometime in Oct, but if I don't do well on the tests I know I'm going to fail her class and if not fail I'm certainly not going to be able to do as well as I'd like. I've retaken both of the chapter tests for the first two chapters upwards of 5 times and the best I can get is a B. History is also super interesting, but there is a lot of reading (several pages for every class) but the reading is interesting and I remember most of the stuff that she asks about on the quizzes as well. Spanish is getting more and more difficult. There are still vocab words from last semester that I have to look up and we're having to study vocab for this semester and expected to watch videos of people speaking in Spanish and read Spanish poems and stuff and answer questions about that. I feel like I'm just falling further and further behind. And the vocab tool that helped me learn what I did last semester isn't available for the intermediate Spanish class so I'm having to retype all the vocab words in quizlet just to study them properly (I could also make flashcards, but quizlet is easier and more fun).

Now for politics. Today I got asked what I thought about all the kneeling at the football games. Here's what I think: Every protest is going to illicit rebuke from someone who disagrees with the protest, how it was done, why it was done, who did it, you name it. At least these people found a way to protest that was effective, non-violent, and didn't inconvenience anyone else. These people who are so angry, why are they angry? Do they feel like some people don't have a right to protest? (They do, it's actually in the constitution.) They say their flag is being disrespected, but what is a flag but a symbol? To people who have been on the receiving end of persecution in this country for the better part of its existence, what does that symbol represent but their oppressors? People say, if you don't like it live somewhere else. (My favorite is when they say to live in a country with less freedom, as if that's the only other choice.) Let's investigate that. Does it cost money to move? Yes. Do they feel some love for the place where they were born (regardless of how they might be treated there)? Probably. Is it wrong to advocate for a better America? No. Then why ask them to move? All they're doing is trying to ask us to help them feel safe and at home where they are. Well that's my 2 cents anyway.