Friday, April 25, 2014

Memories of Childhood

My creative writing class has turned on the switch that made my creative juices flow again, a feeling that I haven't felt in a long time. Now that my first year of college is almost over, I've been thinking of some childhood memories and how I wish I could go back to those simpler times. So here are a few things that readers might find entertaining. But be warned, the order in which I write these events does not guarantee that it actually happened in that order.

One: I had a pretty vivid dream once. I still remember it to this very day. Now that I think about it, it should make me laugh but in all honesty, it freaks me out now just as it did back then. I was asleep in my own bed (where else would I be?) and instead of having a dream that occurred in some obscure land that only a sleeping brain can create, it happened in my very bedroom. In the dream I had rolled over and noticed a freaky looking fish swimming through my bookcase. I vaguely remember what happened after I was woken up by my mom but she told me that I was crying in my sleep and that she found me soaked with sweat. And I mean soaked. My pj's were disgustingly wet and so were the sheets. I suppose I went back to sleep but I can't remember. If I ever see that fish again it'll be too soon.

Two: I knocked myself unconscious in first or second grade. Me and my friend were on the playground at school one day and I wanted to see if I could jump to the first ring from the wooden platform that we were standing on. The rings that we had on the playground were sort of like the monkey bars but they could move. My friend could jump and I wanted to as well. So I did. And my god it was one of the worst mistakes I could've ever made! I missed the ring completely and I hit my low back on the platform that I was just standing on! I became hunched over and the distance between my face and the bark was growing both closer and blacker. I fainted. If some random kid hadn't of shaken my shoulder, I don't know how long I would've been laying there. And now because of my stupid mistake, it hurts every time I bend over to pick something up.

Three: I had the shingles. It's a relative of chicken pox. I had already gotten CP earlier and so I thought that getting its relative would've been a similar experience. I was dead wrong. It was itchy beyond anything that I've ever felt before. When I tried to sleep at night I couldn't because I didn't want any thing touching my bare skin. No sheets or covers or any other part of my body. I went to school anyway, although I probably wasn't supposed to, and I was exempt from recess the entire time. Having shingles as a second grader in grade school was such a horrible experience. Now doctors are saying that the elderly are at risk for getting shingles, and should get the vaccine. And every time I see those commercials I think try being seven!

Four: I split my lip. I was in swim lessons when it happened. You know how there are the things called 'bobs', where you grip the side of the pool and dunk your head in the water multiple times? Well on my way down I hung my head too far over the edge I was gripping and smack! My lower lip hit the edge and split wide open. All I could do was cry and my instructor lady got impatient and told me to "keep bobbing!" Jeez. My mom ran over and helped me to the lifeguards office. He was nervous as much as I was scared. I don't think he'd seen that before, because all throughout the info gathering he kept calling me "buddy". I went to school the next day with a new fashion trend I'm sure. I even have a scar.

There are many more memories for sure, but these four are the ones that stick out the most in my mind. And I also thought I'd post some photos. The first one is me when I was 3, the second when I turned 5, the third is my senior photo I put in the yearbook, and the fourth is of my high school graduation.

Monday, April 21, 2014

The Hunger Games: Not the Story that You Think

Remember how I said that I was going to write more food pieces because of my creative writing class? Well here's another one:

This is not the type of game where the government forced me to battle other kids to the death, as depicted in the books and their movie counterparts. No, it was a battle between my stomach and brain. A battle of "mind over matter".

It was in elementary school when it happened. My family and I had been eating a delicious dinner at The Ol' Spagetti Factory in the city where we live. In the restaurant they had an old train car fitted to have booths for diners. My parents and I were in that old train car eating dinner when it started to get really stuffy and hot. I ate too much food and combining a full stomach with an old stuffy train car did not have a good outcome.

I felt a twinge coming up my throat, my heart started beating wildly as if I'd just finished a marathon, and I ran to the bathroom thinking I'd be sick. As it turned out, that little episode was a panic attack. I'd had them before but I never knew what they were actually called. A week or so passed and nothing out of the ordinary happened.

Then I had another panic attack. I don't remember what caused it, but it was probably food related. After that second occurrence, I found that I couldn't eat anything for fear of another one. This went on for months on end; nearly lasted the whole school year. It got so bad that my mom had to buy me those Carnation Instant Breakfast drinks because I wouldn't eat a single thing.

My stomach was calling for food believe me, but I was too scared to oblige. I couldn't even eat the food at school and that prompted a concerned friends mom to call the school, who informed my mom my lack of eating.

I knew I should've tried, if not for me, then at least for my friend. But I couldn't. Then one day my mom told me it had gone on for long enough. She put a plate in front of me that contained a single buttered waffle and a small bowl of applesauce. And I ate it. Slowly but surely I ate it. After that moment I started eating again.

That span of time will forever be engrained in my mind. As much as I hate it, it's a part of me. So now whenever I don't feel good and don't eat lunch some day, people ask me if I'm anorexic. Really? You see not eat lunch for one day and you say I'm anorexic?

It doesn't matter. I'm my own person. Now that I'm older I think about that moment every once in awhile. And it caused me to have an aha! moment, an epiphany: I was afraid of the fear, not the food.

So that was my Hunger Games. And wow. I've only told a few people over the years and now here I am telling a secret to the world. It was one of the darkest parts of my life but now I can use it as a bright light for my future. And honestly, I'm glad to have gotten this story out there.

Friday, April 18, 2014

What is Family?: Opinion Piece Part 5

A dictionary definition of Family talks about social units with kids and it's called a group. And then we had the nuclear family. Father went out to work at his job. Mother stayed home and did the laundry, dishes, and blah blah blah. Son and Daughter might've been pesky, or perfect little angles.

Well that's an old-fashioned, and honestly, a real shitty definition of Family. That is not Family. To me, Family doesn't depend on how many people are in your little unit or what their names are. It depends on the amount of love, caring, trust, and responsibility is in that unit. If you live with your grandparents for whatever reason, that's your Family. If you have better relationship and feel safer with your friends rather than adults, that's your Family.

Watching Long Island Medium on TLC and seeing all these people connect with their loved ones through Theresa Caputo has gotten me thinking about family lately and what it means to me. And this is what I've learned:

I have a small family. That is something I've always known. Me, my parents, two half-brothers, a sister-in-law, a fiancĂ©, two pairs of aunts/uncles, and a gramma all live in the same state. That is my Family and I wouldn't change a thing about it.

But when I think of all the long long dead ancestors that I have, especially the Italian ones on my dad's side, I realize that I don't really know how big my family is after all. They are the ones I want to know about.

Just because I want to know about them doesn't mean they're a huge part of my Family. No. They're a small part, a very small part. Not because they are dead, but because learning about them and who they were wouldn't add to what I am today. Because who and what I am today was shaped by the people actually living in my life right now.

So to answer the title's question...this is Family.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Things that Don't get Finished

You know how there are types of people that work on several projects at a time and none of them ever get finished? There are crafting people, people that work in the garage for their projects so I'm assuming it's a dude with his cars and/or motorcycles, or the people that have random tinkerings that they call their 'inventions' laying around in various parts of the house.

For me it can be crafting things, sometimes, a very small sometimes. Mostly it's stories though. I have a story that is multiple pages long but I haven't worked on it in ages. There's another story that I only have an introduction to and I haven't added anything new to it since December. And finally I have another story that's just an idea. The idea is written down but anything that consists of a plot and defining characters is missing.

The longer story I can come back to anytime because it's not as important as the one with only an introduction. That one is a fan fiction. It's a type of fiction writing where fans of TV shows, movies, and video games make up their own story while using characters from those different media avenues. Or something like that. I'd never done a fan fiction before so I wanted to try it out. I knew the show that I wanted to write on, BBC's Doctor Who. But I've been lacking inspiration since I've written the intro and that was four months ago.

I'm afraid that it's going to end up in my pile of Things that Don't get Finished. Many items have landed there over the years and it's a bit sad sometimes. But I will post the intro...

Doctor Who Fan Fic Intro:

I spent the first twenty years of my life wondering if there was more out there in the world, in the universe; wondering if the human race wasn't alone; wondering because all I'd known in my first twenty years of living was the small coastal Oregon town that I lived in. It had a post office, a bank, shops and hotels for tourists, delicious restaurants, and a drugstore. If you wanted to go shopping at a regular store, you'd be driving awhile. I loved that town more than anything because it was my home but I had been getting restless. Some days I felt like leaving forever whereas on other days I knew I could never leave. But on my twenty first birthday, everything changed. My life was turned upside down and I learned so many things about love, loss, friendship, and courage. All because I met a man.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

No Lunch is Ever Free

For Spring quarter at my college one of my classes is Creative Writing. One of our free write activities one day was to write about food, but school lunches in particular. So I wrote about an embarrassing time in middle school. Then I realized I had more food stories to tell, so those will come later in this blog. Here is my first one:

I remember hearing in my Economics class senior year of high school that there was "no such thing as a free lunch". It was meant to explain that a lot of things had to go through production to make just one meal and production cost money.

Well, that's how I view my lunch experience growing up. For public school each year your parents fill out a sheet for your lunch to see how much it'll cost you. It was all based on your parent's income. So from first grade to seventh, I had free lunch.

Then one day in seventh grade, or the beginning of eighth (I don't remember), I went through the lunch line like normal and expected my lunch to be free. The lady in charge of the line asked if I had 40 cents. I got a very panicky deer-in-the-headlights look and finally said that I didn't have any. Apparently my family's income changed just enough so that I needed to start paying for lunch everyday. But since I was not informed ahead of time, the lady took my lunch away! In front of the whole line and other portions of the cafeteria!

My replacement was a pack of crackers that came with fake spreadable cheese and a plastic red stick to spread that fake cheese. That is a snack. Not lunch. I barely made it to the table before I started crying. After that embarrassing day I continued to pay for lunch everyday. When I got to my high school I still had to pay but it had a better selection of food so it was worth it.

And because I lived right across the street from my high school and we had open campus, I was able to go home every once in awhile to eat there.

I will never forget that day in middle school, mostly because it was mortifying, but also because I learned that even my free costing lunch wasn't free of cost.