Musings

Odd Child

I was an odd child. Ever since I was very young, I have wrestled with existential issues.

Birthdays have always been torture. Parties would often both begin and end with me crying in my bedroom, trying to forget that everyone there was focusing on me, so eventually I didn’t have them anymore. It bothered me to get older, even when I was small. I was aware of the “normal”achievements of a child valuemy age and it bothered me that I was behind. I’m six years old and I can’t read. I’ve done nothing with my life. Great, another year and no progress. Why are we celebrating my survival of another trip around the sun? It’s not that big of a deal.

But I’ve decided I’m not doing that this year. This has been the hardest year of my life. I’ve been depressed for most of it. I’ve changed more than I ever thought I could. There have been so many times when I just wanted to give up. When I felt nothing and the numbness was overwhelmingly cold and the only hope was that of an afterlife. There have been times when I felt far too much, but the emotions didn’t feel real until I gave them a physical manifestation; a physical pain to mirror and validate the emotional pain. There have been times when I was terrified for no discernible reason. I started having panic attacks. Dots connected that painted a heartbreaking picture and all I wanted to do was forget. But I survived.

I’ve learned more about myself and my tastes. I’ve had crushes for the first time in my life. I’ve been incredibly confused about said crushes. I’ve grown as a writer and a person. I’ve gotten to act and sing. I’ve been published. I’ve connected with people. I’ve learned some things I need to do to take care of myself.

I’m not over my depression or self harm. It’s a constant fight. I’m not done by any means, but I’m learning to accept my feelings as valid without needing a reason or explanation.

For now, I’m going to celebrate surviving another year.

Books and Movies, Musings, Pictures, Poet Among Other Things

Hello, It’s Mz. Hyde

Better be scared, better be afraid,
Now that the beast is out of her cage

It’s not clean. They aren’t family friendly in the least. Most of the songs are about sex, whether explicitly or implicitly. The lyrics are full of obscenities. But there’s more to it than that. Sometimes you have to look past the obvious to see the true meaning of art.

One of my current favorite bands is Halestorm. I discovered and promptly fell in love with Lzzy Hale’s voice last year when she sang Lindsey Stirling’s Shatter Me. She has this powerful, gravely, but somehow still smooth voice that I haven’t found anywhere else. The band’s lyrics bothered me for a while. Stuff like, “I miss the bad things, the way you hate me, I miss the screaming, the way that you blame me.” This isn’t a healthy relationship. That song, and others, talk about rough break up sex and other “questionable activities”. But there’s an underlying theme, even in the most sexually charged songs.

But I won’t run
I’m not afraid
I’ll look em in the eye
Gonna hear me say
It’s
My life
My love
My sex
My drug
My lust
My god it ain’t no sin
Can I get it
Can I get an Amen
My grace
My church
My pain
My tears
My hurt
My god, I’ll say it again
Can I get it
Can I get an Amen

Much of Halestorm’s music is about accepting yourself and not giving a damn what others think of you. Having grown up in an environment where even my body wasn’t my own, this is something I’m having to learn in my 20s. I’m learning to own my identity, my beliefs, and my past. “I Miss the Misery,” mentioned above, is about getting out of an abusive relationship, and the twisted reality of missing the pain. While I’ve never been in a romantic relationship, I still strongly relate to the notion of missing abuse. Life is much simpler as a robot without a soul. There are times when all I want is to be back in the culture where I was manipulated, controlled and brainwashed. I’m free now. And I’m working on freeing my mind. I’m making new friends who are more diverse and accepting. I’ve learned a lot from them; like the fact that it’s ok to have very different styles from day to day.

CAM01920[1]Hello it’s Mz. Hyde!CAM01913[1]

I can be the bitch,
I can play the whore,
Or your fairytale princess, who could ask for more?

This deeply bothers a lot people. When you present your self in different ways every day, it confuses them. “I had you pinned as a nerd! What are you doing wearing Birkenstocks and a flower chain? How do I fix your obvious lack of connection to reality when you are dancing barefoot through the forest?” They don’t like to have to think about who you are more than once: the first time they meet you and make a snap judgement. After that, they like to be able to worry about correcting what they saw wrong with you.

When I first wore a black leather vest to school several people asked why I was dressed like a biker. I told them I was dressed like me, how I felt that day. I love this outfit. The tight leather vest, single dangling earring, and black ankle boots make me feel confident and daring. Some days I feel like visually representing the dragon part of me.

But there’s a lot more to me than black clothes and leather, and sometimes I feel like visually representing that side of me. I love my pink stripey tank top, knee high star socks and light grey converse. People are usually amused by this outfit. There are several colors and patterns going on at once. It makes me feel fun and quirky. I wear that on pegasus days.

Bands have songs. Good bands have lots of different songs. One may be about feeling good about yourself and another may be about having the worst day ever, but it’s the same band. People are like that too. They may look and act one way some days and be very different others, but they’re the same person. If you pay attention and get to know them you’ll probably find that those differences are actually kind of similar. My two outfits for instance. One is a dragon and the other is a pegasus. One has skin and scales and the other has fur and feathers, but both creatures have wings. Both are me. I’m also me when I just wear a t-shirt and jeans. Some day I may find another creature that suits me also, and I may eventually not identify with any of them. I’m learning to love and accept this about myself and my new friends. Maybe that makes us freaks, but we’re in good company, and I bet we’re happier than you.

So shout if you’re a freak like me,
You were born to burn,
This is no disease you don’t need a cure!
It’s our time now to come out!

If you’re a freak like me
Are you a freak like me?

Musings

We’re Not Out of the Woods

Maybe it’s some hereditary pathological optimism thing from my Mom. Maybe I’m just naive like Little Red Riding Hood from Into the Woods, and I can’t get past my “The woods are just trees. The trees are just wood. I have no fear, nor anyone should.” attitude. Maybe it’s because I spent so much of my childhood in the woods and it feels more, well, natural. Whatever the reason, the phrase “out of the woods” bugs me.

“Out of the woods” means out of danger. Throughout folklore the forest is considered a place of darkness and evil. That’s where the witch’s sweets house was in Hansel and Gretel. It’s where the wolf always lives. But I take issue with this. The first problem is calling the woods bad in the first place. Found on Pinterest, original artist unknownThe forest is a place of wonder. Yes, it’s where the villain often lurks, but without it there would be no story. A place itself isn’t good or bad. I think we have a habit of labeling things we don’t understand or identify with as “bad.” Bad things happen everywhere. Some areas of the city are more crime prone, but that isn’t the buildings fault. Let’s stop blaming our surroundings for our problems.

When someone is “out of the woods,” they relax. Since the struggle is over, they stop paying close attention to their surroundings. While enjoying life is a wonderful thing, and I think it’s how we are meant to live, you can’t let your guard down. You’re in the clear. You can see everything plainly, so you don’t have to try as hard. But I know from experience that there are still dangers in a clearing. You don’t pay attention to your footing, and it’s easy to step in a hole. This isn’t to say that I don’t think you should relax. Quite the opposite, in fact.

Instead of fighting and struggling during those times when you are “in the woods,” look around. Enjoy the life surrounding you. Look for the good in all of your circumstances. Be careful of the thorns and snakes, but don’t live your life paranoid about something you may never run into. Enjoy the wildflowers and the big open sky of the meadow, but just as you kept lookout for dangers in the forest, don’t let your guard down once you step into the clearing. There are still snakes and thorns; They just look different here. They are sneakier.

In life you run into many situations. If you don’t allow yourself to find the joys and the “happy thoughts” in all places, it will be harder to enjoy them in the obvious ones.

Books and Movies, Musings, Poet Among Other Things

Saying “No” Isn’t Weak

Volumes of Rows is the only story I’ve ever finished, and I only finished it because it had to get out of my head. I came up with it as I was shelving in the library one day. Have you ever compressed a stack of paper and then let it go really fast? It makes this ominous creak that almost sounds like breathing. Now, our library isn’t all that large, so I knew I was nearly always in sight of the circulation desk, were something to happen. But what if I was alone? What if that creak actually was the books coming to life, but since someone can always see them, they can’t move? I came home that day and wrote down what played out in my head. The next week I had a gut check when I noticed that someone had left the large quilt book out.

After I finished trying to trip my sister, Meg, as she was learning to walk, I decided to torture her by other means. I attempted to convince her that aliens were going to come in our nearly two story high window, turn her brains to oatmeal and eat them with a straw. Now Meg, being very level headed and logical, had no reason to believe in aliens. I, on the other hand… have always had a very vivid imagination. I convinced myself of what I failed to convince my sister.

LimitsFor the past two years I have spent the weekends of October working at a corn maze. If you’ve ever been to a corn maze, you probably realise that there is a lot more to the attraction than a maze of maize. This particular maze features several rides and playthings, including a fairly tall zip-line. This year I worked the top of the line. I will admit, I wouldn’t have ridden this thing when I was little. I’ve never liked heights. As you can probably imagine, there were a lot of kids who would take one look and opt for the much shorter version. Most of the time the parents would suggest that they try the big line anyway. I loved it when a child who was scared at first grew to love the ride. You enjoy something so much more when you work for it. Seeing children overcoming obstacles is one of my favorite things. There’s a nearly visible shine on their faces.

Then there were the Shamers. The parents who would say some variation of “Don’t be a baby,” “He’s braver than you are,” or “Don’t be a sissy.” Some of these kids would eventually give in to their parents jeering. But some didn’t, and I applaud them all. The ones who did try because they faced their fears and the ones who didn’t because they took a stand. They didn’t give into name calling and pressuring. They ruled themselves and made their own decisions, even when those decisions weren’t popular. They set limits they were comfortable with. They had the strength to say “no.” Of course, they may later regret not riding. But, that’s part of growing up and making choices. You can allow yourself to be haunted by the Might’aves and the Should’aves, or you can learn from the experience.

My mind can be an eerie place. Because of this I have to be careful about reading or watching paranormal sci-fi or horror. If I give it the wrong encouragement, my imagination will run rampant and I can quickly lose control. There are times when I prefer movies to books, simply because my mind isn’t confined to a screen like a film is. I miss out on some things because I don’t enjoy certain types of entertainment. But I’m ok with that. To live a healthy life, you have to recognise your limits.

Actions in Activities, Musings

Stage Addict

You know how sometimes people joke about various methods of getting high? Sometimes I’ll respond with a joke about my physical intolerance for drugs. I had my wisdom teeth out several years ago, and the doctor removed not only my extra molars, but any curiosity about drugs I ever had. Like after most surgeries, they prescribed hydrocodone for the pain. I took what they gave me at the office, of course, and then the prescribed amount for maybe a day, before the sedation fully wore off. But once I woke up, I was done. No-thank-you-sir. The pain of a bruised jawbone, four open wounds and precarious stitches was nothing compared to the mental impairment from the drugs. I have a high pain tolerance and a low drug tolerance. If ibuprofen couldn’t kick it, I’d just deal with the pain. I don’t want anything clouding my mind. And taking drugs when you aren’t in pain? My imagination is vivid enough, I don’t need any help getting distracted or compromised.4198e81a1d650f717a831dd4e53ee8ba

Sometimes you can’t avoid a high. A surge of endorphins. Adrenaline is my drug of choice. Roller coasters. Ice skating. Oh, ice skating. Not just your quaint little families-on-a-pond ice skating. I mean flying. I mean taking your life into your own hands– er, feet, because if you crash you could slice your leg open and die from arterial bleeding. Or at least, that’s the objective (though, not the dying part). I’m not actually that fast of a skater, and if I crash, the worst that would happen is that I’d blow my knee out (which I’ve done several times, and survived). But adrenaline isn’t only found in high octane, low drag activities.

Hi, my name is Annie. [an overly enthusiastic, but curbed “Hi Annie!”] It’s been one week since I set foot on a stage…

The morning after we closed I thought to myself,”I imagine this is what it feels like to be hungover.” My body hurt. My brain hurt. I was emotional. I just wanted to forget about last night. Forget that I wasn’t going back to the theater that day. That I was no longer Mrs. Elizabeth Martin. And yet, I didn’t want to forget a second of it. After the last show I had to go back on stage and collect a prop that was mine. Most of the furniture was gone. All that was left was a couple of tables, baskets, and our lovely yellow walls. I picked up my plates, looked around the empty room and ran out. Try as I might, smearing my makeup was unavoidable. Thank God for waterproof eyeliner, or it would have been worse. Someone jokingly asked the director why she was making her actors cry and we all laughed because Kittie is just about the sweetest person ever. But it bugged me. Why was I crying? It wasn’t because I was put on stage and made to feel special. It wasn’t because the show was so fantastic. It wasn’t because I was exhausted and relieved to be out of that itchy sweater. Those are all true, and valid reasons to assume, but they weren’t the real reason for my tears. Then on the way to the cast party I figured it out between sobs.

I have never felt that chosen and accepted before. I was cast, without knowing a solitary person in the theater department, without a single show on my resume, and having been in the same room as the director and stage manager only once. I wasn’t cast because someone put in a good word for me or because I had any kind of reputation. All they had was me. It didn’t take long for the other cast members to realize that I’m pretty naive about a lot of subjects. I was, in all honesty, a sheltered homeschooler. I would say things that, evidently, don’t mean what they did when the books I read were written. They would laugh because they knew I didn’t mean it that way and inform me of the current word usage. But they didn’t dismiss me as too weird. A subject would come up and they wouldn’t treat me as dumb for knowing nothing about it. It was mentioned that we should play “Never Have I Ever.” When I stated that I’d win in 5 turns, another game was chosen. I don’t have any scandalous stories (unless pulling your brother and sister from a frozen pond or riding in the back of a passenger van with a three week old calf is scandalous). Most of the time, I’d just sit there and listen. But for the first time, being myself, holding nothing back, not only wasn’t an automatic rejection slip, it was why I was there.

People are insane, ya know? Either we act; We develop multiple-personality-disorder and put ourselves out on a stage for the world to see, raw, exposed, intimate. Or we don’t act; We live our lives as only one person and keep our clothes and bandages on, never fully immersing ourselves in our imaginings. I don’t know which lunacy is worse, but I know that after tasting both, there is only one for me.

The Bald Soprano. It doesn’t make any sense. Think about it too hard and you’ll only give yourself an aneurysm. People asked me “Who played the Bald Soprano?” There is no Bald Soprano. The phrase is mentioned once in the entire show. Don’t try to understand the jokes. Just laugh and move on. It’s insanity on a stage. But it was mine, and it’s gone.

This has to be what it feels like to be in withdrawal. I find myself reading scripts for upcoming shows that have only just been announced. Looking for my next high, but knowing I won’t be able to find it for months.

Poet Among Other Things

C’est La Vie

“I wish it were socially acceptable for adults to climb trees.” I just laughed and picked another burr off my backpack. “Last time I called Annie she almost fell out of her tree.”

C’est La Vie8a28535d4ee76de8d25a942a5daddfb8

Have you ever noticed
The smell of Autumn?
The scent of fallen leaves
Warmed by the sun
It’s warm, yet, is the smell of death
It’s sweet, yet,is the smell of mold
How sweet and warm is the start of death and cold

Have you ever realized
That leaves have never touched the dirt?
They grow from the earth
Yet if you catch them mid-flight
They will never meet it
It’s life begins in the canopy
Never greeting it’s true mother

Have you ever heard
The noise of a windless forest?
When the crickets and birds still sing
And the leaves still lose their grip
And the squirrels still skitter up bark
And the trees still whisper
And the shadows still dance

Have you ever sat perfectly still
Long enough for the wood to take you back?
The become a part of nature again
Feeling the pulsing of life
In the roaring quiet of the trees
Feeling the breath of a curious creature
Drawing power from a tree branch
A tree bearing weight at last
Pulling warm Joy from the Sun

This is Life
Gales of silence
Beautiful death
Forever changing
Nothing is as it seems

Books and Movies, Camp, Musings, Poet Among Other Things

Filling Journals

I’ve had journals since– I don’t remember not having journals. Sure, the entries were about 20 words long and illustrated because I couldn’t read for so long, but I had things to say, even when I couldn’t articulate, let alone spell them. I look back on some of those rudimentary scribblings and laugh. If they weren’t so old they’d be embarrassing. e678b832b693eac8bcb557b690cce3d8But even though I couldn’t write down how I really felt, and often didn’t actually know, I wrote enough to trigger memories. There’s one journal that Dad gave me around the time he was deployed overseas. It’s just about the ugliest shade of green, that one that is evidently the only dye color the military has, so I quickly took my crayons to it and made it mine. Our basement flooded a few years ago and it was barely saved. But on one of the pages, that has been threatening to fall out for years now, are a few words about how my day was ruined because Wendy’s messed up my baked potato, complete with a picture of how the spud should have looked. I remember that day. We had just been visiting one of mom’s friends and I was overwhelmed with the cares of being 9. It was the last straw. Either mom was pregnant with Adam or Dad had just left, but I was an emotional wreck and I couldn’t show it, I couldn’t write, I couldn’t draw, and now my lunch was a travesty.

I have another journal that my then best friend’s mom gave me. It has a picture of us in the front. Little, tiny, 7 year old us. This one is blue with vines, a picture window on the cover and a ribbon bookmark with a heart lock charm on the end. The one that I simply cannot remember not having is my Winnie the Pooh locking diary.

I used those two off and on the most, since the military surplus one was ruined, but I’ve yet to fill a journal. I’ve filled plenty of random notebooks with sketches of rooms and beginnings of stories, but I’ve never written my soul from cover to cover. That’s what a journal is. The soul on paper. Whether it means what it says or is just a symptom of the true condition is for the reader, usually your older self, to decide.

But that trend is about to change. 4980f05fdb74af85e118941df03bd15f

I have six pages left. I really don’t know what to do with myself. It feels as if my filling of that last page will end something in my life. I got this journal 2 years ago when I was a finalist in the library’s poetry contest. It was the year that Meg was also a finalist and Claire was the Honorable Mention. I didn’t win anything, but it was my last year of eligibility. I graduated high school right after that, and then started writing in the little book at Camp that summer. Only first few pages actually bare the thoughts of a baby counselor, as I quickly got too busy to write. Instead, it chronicles the heartache of a life turned rightside up. Learning to accept my PCOS, giving myself permission to live, embracing my gifts. It’s all in there. It hurts to go back and read who I thought I had to be. But the closer I get to the end, the less it hurts and the more it is beautiful. Most of my “poems” are actually journal entries, written as I’m falling asleep. They are raw Annie. What she sees with her eyes, but also with her heart. Moonshadows. Will-o-the-wisps. Dew laden blades of grass.

The closing of my little book coincides with the closing of my first semester of college. I never thought I’d go to school past what was required. I had no need to. I began the journal feeling broken and purposeless. I close it happier, more full of life, and whole. You don’t come through a chapter like that without scars. But scars fade. They remind you who you are.