Monday, January 29, 2018
There was that time when it was her special day and everyone came to celebrate her, or so she thought. The hall was big, the caterers paid on credit, the dances choreographed and rehearsed to perfection. For only the second time in her life she splurged to have her hair done professionally. Or at least semi professionally at the local beauty college as the actual salon would have just been too much. And the dress. She absolutely loved the dress. For the very first time the whole day was going to be all for her and they'd finally find reason to praise her.
Everyone has their flaws. She knew that. More importantly she knew hers all to well as they had been made abundantly clear since the day she could comprehend language. Stop letting her eat so much they'd say. Tell her to stop reading and start running. Has she watched that exercise video we got her? She could be so pretty, if only.
But not this day. She'd basically starved herself for weeks. When her mother shouted at her for not eating any rice she just shrugged it off with an excuse for not feeling well. She knew she looked the best she ever had, if only.
It was not enough. It would never be enough.
Wednesday, February 15, 2017
Thursday, August 19, 2010
So here goes, I think this whole year of committment is going to be seriously life changing. I have been thoroughly impressed by the people within the community, and I cannot wait to meet the students we will be interacting with on a daily basis. But anyway, we'll reflect on the "awesome-ness" of the team some other time. What I really wanted to jot down is something that we did in an activity today. We did an activity called "Idealist Journey." They talk a lot about putting idealism to work, and applying the practicalities of optimism to real life. Basically, we're all tired of everyone talking about the issues, and feeling bad about other peoples' situations, and we just want to start doing. So they asked us a question today to have us reflect on it. They asked us why we were there, and why we serve. And of course, once I get a few minutes to myself, a sheet of lined paper, and pen, well I just start going. And then once it was sharing time a lot of people had emotional stories, and I got really emotional as well, but anyway...here is what I wrote:
Three years ago if you would've told me I was going to be working with kids and on the path to becoming a teacher by choice, I would've called you crazy. But three years ago I took a work study job at the request of my financial aid counselor and began tutoring kids in the Mar Vista area three times a week. At first it was awkward, I did not want to really get into it at all, and I tried nearly every excuse not to get close to the kids. But somehow those kids made me feel like I had no choice. They made me feel like I had purpose, that I was wanted there, and more importantly needed. It is always nice to feel needed. It was at this site that I knew I was definitely not made to be a corporate attorney, and that I was never meant to have a six figure salary. I was meant to be goofy, run around, play with crayons, and write on white or black boards. These kids showed me what I was meant to do with my life: I was meant to teach.
It was with this realization and this knowing that I finished my undergraduate college career at UCLA, and took a series of jobs tutoring, baby-sitting, and nanny-ing. Basically whatever I could do to gain more experience working with children of all ages. But it was one of my tutoring jobs in particular that really opened my eyes to the near failure if not complete failure of the public education system for my tutees. I was ordered to tutor them for no more and no less than thirty-four hours over three to four months maximum. Additionally I was only allowed to tutor them on the three California Standards that they did the most poorly in, not their homework or anything else. And to be honest, the money was pretty good, but definitely not at all worth it. Because not only was this whole system completely ineffective it was even taking away from things my tutees should have been doing such as homework or extra-curriculur activities. These children received my services because they were in the No Child Left Behind program, and yet they were being left behind AND costing the government tax payers millions! I quickly left that job and began looking for something that I could do to actually help children in LAUSD catch up, and to really be successful both in their school work and attitude.
The first time I visited the office for my first interview I knew that City Year would be the right choice for me. Gabby, one of our recruiters, was the first person to interview, but definitely not the first person to greet me. I was a little nervous and didn't know what to expect, but I was welcomed by so many smiling faces, people offering water or a chair, and just a genuinely comfortable and kind environment. I don't think I have ever seen a group of people more just genuinely kind than that City Year office. So it was after my first interview that I began to pray to please, please, please, let me be a part of this organization. About week after I was called for a second interview, and a month after that, I received a very energetic call from a Senior Corps Member congratulating me on my acceptance.
I serve because I wabt every child to know and feel that they are special. I serve because I know, from personal experience, that no matter what difficulty a child has at home, if someone at school makes them feel special it can become a safe haven. I serve because I want to be that safe haven for them. I want them to believe in their own potential, because I believe in their potential, so that they can exceed even the highest expectations that no one else ever though possible. I serve because I know that any and every child is capable of the greatest succes given the opportunity, support, and genuine belief that they can.
Thursday, April 1, 2010
I used to adore you, you were my hero, the greatest man I thought I'd ever know. I thought that the chemical imbalances in your brain were just parts of you, and that underneath the glazed over look you gave me when you were too medicated or too stoned to love me, you were an amazing man. A man who could do anything, be anything, and go anywhere, but simply chose to be a father to me.
I took your side in everything for the longest time. I nearly destroyed the relationship I had with my mother taking your side. I defended you and your actions whether they made sense to me or not. I maintained the perfect picture of you in my mind for nearly two decades, refusing to believe you were anything less than amazing. But as time goes on, more and more promises are broken, more and more things happened that made me question you, more and more things both material and not were taken from me and others I thought you loved, and more and more I began to question whether or not you were really capable of loving me.
So I'm sorry I got so tired of everything, and couldn't deal with everything that came with loving you so intensely. I'm sorry I'm not as strong as you thought I was. I'm sorry that I can't pretend and turn a blind eye to everything anymore. I'm sorry that the older I got, the hazier the memories of your good days got, and the clearer the reality of who you are became.
I'm sure that you are still a good man. And that you mean to be a good father, and you try in your way to be as such. But until you realize that being a good father means supporting your children and being there for them, and not the other way around, I cannot bring myself to be around you. I am deeply sorry it has come to this, believe me, but I think it has definitely been a long time coming. I hope that you find happiness through whatever means you need to. And I hope that I may be a part of that happiness, but if not, please know that I have never and will never stop loving you. You are my father. I simply cannot allow you to be a part of my life until you earn a right to.
I love you Papa. Good luck with everything. Have a great life.
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
It’s important to be grateful.
I’ve never had much of anything in my life, but what I have never lacked was friends. I began my life with fourteen people in a tiny three bedroom one bathroom home. Surrounded by my family, I learned that I needed to be with people, that being alone was probably the scariest thing in the world, and that being amongst people that love you can provide one of the best feelings in the world.
That being said, for some reason when so much shit hit the fan, so to speak, over and over again it was always my friends that were there for me, that kept me going. When I was a child and my family fell apart, my friends were my escape from a home full of emptiness. In high school it was my friends who got me through fights with parents, feeling lost, college applications, and countless other bullshit that comes with being young. And in college my friends, beyond a shadow of a doubt, became my family.
I don’t think I have really deserved any of it. Probably because of the countless mistakes I have made along the way. For a long time my friends were what kept me alive. They were the only reason I still existed at all. And for a long time while I had grown and had tried my very best to be a good friend and return the favor, it was always as if I was lacking. And to be completely honest, as cheesy at it comes across, I didn’t care about myself enough to care about other people. It caused me to be incredibly self-destructive, so much so that I don’t think I even ever realized the extent of it. While I knew that I had friends that I loved so very much, and who I knew cared about me, I didn’t believe it. I didn’t think myself worthy of any of it. So at the very least I tried to entertain everyone. I tried to be the ridiculous clown that everyone wanted to be around to have a good time. And at the end of the day, what I wanted more than anything else was to crawl into bed, hide underneath my sheets, and never wake up.
I was drowning in what I had always wrote as “this incessant sorrow.” It was eating me alive. And that’s why I left. Because I knew if I stayed I wasn’t going to make it out.
It was one of the smartest decisions I have every made. While I wanted nothing more than to run away, I realized that what I really needed to do was handle things that should’ve been handled years ago. I needed to make amends with my mother, be able to have a conversation with her without a bottle of wine first. I needed to get to know my nephews who I had always brushed off because “I just don’t get kids, kids are weird.” I needed to be with my sister, who had needed help for so long, and who I ignored because I thought I was so much more important. I needed to stop being a child and running away from my family, and I needed to grow the hell up and start owning up to everything I had done, was doing, and hoped to do.
And I think I did. I know that I’m not completely better, and I know coming back is going to have to take some getting used to again. But I think I’m ready. I think I can live simply and not give into the glitz and glamour of the city of angels again.
However I don’t think I would’ve ever been able to make it through this process on my own. And for that I am so grateful to have the most wonderful man I have ever known in my life. I was so blessed to have the most random beginning to the best relationship anyone could ever ask for. I know that he has been a huge part of saving my life, and I love him for it. amongst so many other reasons.
But most of all, I need to thank my friends. Those who have let me pass out at their places time and time again. Those who laugh at my jokes, or probably just at me for being ridiculous. Those who held my hair back when I was puking my face off. Those who compliment my outfits or my hair and brighten my day. Those who listen to my rants and complaints and constant profane language (which I’m working on by the way). Those who have listened to me cry. Those who have hugged me. Those who have never judged me no matter what mistakes I have made. Those who have given me advice, even though I might not have listened to it. Those who drank with me, gotten me booze, danced with me, stumbled with me, eaten with me, etc. Those who have put up with me, period. Those who have respected me, and loved me no matter what. Those who have always supported me whether or not they agreed with me.
I have had the great fortune of knowing some of the most amazing people on this planet, and I really mean that. I’m so sorry I wasn’t better. But I can promise I’ll get there. You have set a great example for me that I fully intend on following.
Thank you so incredibly much. Because if it weren’t for you all, I would have been gone a long time ago. You have changed my life. You give me hope for the world. You have opened my mind and my heart in ways I never imagined. You have taken this small town girl, and helped shape her into a woman of the world. So, thank you. Thank you very, very much.
Saturday, April 18, 2009
But this time, drowning was different. It wasn't physical. No one could see her flailing around, kicking, reaching, gasping for air. No one could hear her. No one could feel it, but her. It was within. Her life had somehow become an incessant cause of unfathomable sorrow. She didn't know what she wanted to be, what she wanted for herself, much less what she wanted for others, she didn't even know what to do in any situation. She was completely and seemingly irrevocably, lost. She tried everything she could to think of to save herself from drowning in it all. And then, like a beacon of light a voice had said to her, "You should leave. You need to let go. You need to help yourself before you help others." And with that it seemed so clear. What she had needed all along, was exactly what she had feared the most: leaving everything and everyone she had come to know and love. She decided to leave despite the fear and doubt.
And so, just as she had done with everything else in her life, she mentally and emotionally prepared herself for leaving. Almost beginning to shut herself down. Much like how her tiny body had begun to shut down the first time she nearly drowned so long ago. She was prepared to kick her last kick, close her eyes, gasp her last breath, and go.
But for some ridiculously strange reason, God somehow deemed her worthy of the best man she had ever known. Just when she thought that the next step she needed to take was to be prepared to be unhappy for the rest of her life, everything changed. She fell in love with a man, and for some explanation she would probably never understand, he loved her back. And for the very first time in as long as she could remember, she woke up happy. She was finally able to believe what people meant when they said everyday was a gift. Because while friends and family had been more than she could ever ask for in terms of love and support, respect and kindness, it was different. She was no longer lost as long as she was loved by him. She was given a purpose, a reason for living. She was in love.
Saturday, April 4, 2009
For the longest time, she could not remember what it meant to be happy. Nor could she associate any sort of happiness with any kind of sobriety. And then it was different. Because finally it was uncomplicated and clear. Finally someone had loved her as much as she loved him. It was so simple, and right, and good. And so she wanted to believe that it was all just too good to be true. That soon some kind of ball would drop and he would find out everything horrible about her and leave her for good. But it never did. Thus she was left to wonder what the hell she could've done to have such a wonderful, perfect man love her.