Dealing With Death

I’ve come to the realization that I tend to deal with death by practicing avoidance and apathy. Now, don’t get me wrong, death upsets me; I’m the person who was near to crying when I thought these two cats were left at a rest stop and waiting for someone but I couldn’t take them with me. (Turns out they are strays, live in some ventilation-thing, and have since had kittens from when I first saw them to the second time. Makes me feel better they know how to take care of themselves.) All that and I do not even count myself as a cat person. But when it comes to death…I sort of close off. The first death I dealt with was my Grandma’s, and, while that was good because it kept me from having to go to a Catholic school/having to hide my religion from a family member I adore, it was heartbreaking. Granted, I was little, about five, so I didn’t fully grasp the concept, didn’t understand the memorial at our church. I also didn’t go to the funeral. I think that may be because my parents thought I was too young yet to go to such a thing. When I did finally understand what this meant, what her ‘having a cut in her head’ meant (I only later figured that was explain-to-a-child speak for brain hemorrhage), I cried. I prayed. I believed fully she was watching over me, and I still do, only in a different manner than guardian angel and heaven. And I cried for years later, still trying to cope with that I lost the only grandparent I knew, someone who I really cared about.

The second time I had to deal with death was with a neighbor. She was elderly, her daughter staying to help take care of her, and I would go to the house often when the daughter’s niece and nephew would come over to play. She was nice, the older lady, though neither is/was young. I got used to her. She started to forget more, move less, and then she ended up dying. I think I may have seen my Grandma’s body, though I’m not sure, but I do know I saw the neighbor’s body at a viewing. I did not go to that funeral either, just viewing. I was ten, and still prayed. I even left a card in her casket. I didn’t really cry, since I had recently started thinking tears were bad and a sign of weakness basically, but I was rather sad. I still am, but I didn’t show it. I thought about it a bit, though.

Then my dog died. That was sad, too. I had her since I was maybe seven or so. I didn’t cry. I felt like it. But I didn’t. Instead I…more or less pushed it aside, choosing to ignore it once she was buried. I missed her, still do, but I ignored it. And most recently my chorus teacher from middle school died. He was absolutely fantastic, if strict. He always made sure we went on the trips each year to whichever state. He cared. He made my middle school life a bit more bearable. And now…I feel these sad feelings trying to come up, but part of me keeps them at bay. And every time I see a classmate who I haven’t spoken to since, well, maybe middle school or early high school, post something on Facebook about it, about the upcoming memorial and funeral and all, I…ignore it. I scroll on past, choosing to pretend I didn’t see it. It’s not that I don’t care, it’s just I don’t think letting myself fully feel these things is to be helpful.

I know my current furry baby has maybe seven years left, if I go off his mother’s guessed age, and I know my parents are getting older. I know people I love dearly are going to die at some point, and even writing this hurts, but at the same time I can feel this part pushing back against the tide of emotion. I know I learned apathy from being made fun of in elementary school, but the ignoring of death? I guess it ties in to that in some ways. Certain things are not fun to process. The funny thing is, I more or less accept death as an aspect of life, but I ignore it. I don’t know how those two go hand in hand, but they seem to. I don’t know why I’m writing this, maybe the mounting feeling of dread deep in my stomach, or maybe it simply is from my forever-ago chorus teacher’s death. I don’t know. I just know that maybe I should work on how I cope with this sort of thing. Apathy and ignoring probably isn’t the best way to go in this case. Saying ‘nope, didn’t happen, forget it’ just doesn’t sound quite right.

All I can hope for, at the moment at least, is that no one I care about dies any time soon. I still remember the near panic I was in when a friend told me about a car accident she was in, that could have ten times worse than it was. I don’t like that feeling. And I don’t like losing people dear to me. I have this sense that my ‘wall’ against death can only take so many hits before it comes crumbling down and the floodgates open.

I just have to hope for now, hope for all to go well for a long time yet.

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Another Writing Prompt because Writing

This one was actually in a picture, so I’ll just describe it: a gravestone with ‘In Memory of the GIRL IN BLUE Killed By Train DECEMBER 24, 1933 “UNKNOWN BUT NOT FORGOTTEN” ‘ written on it. So..here we go…

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It was winter, cold and snowy with an eerie beauty. The girl looked up to the sky, white flakes falling down onto her curly black hair, the lashes framing her brown eyes. She wore a tattered blue peacoat over a simple black dress. She didn’t have much money, and even less now that she had left home. But she had needed to get away from her old home, where she ahd to deal with abuse both verbal and physical.

She was only thirteen, but she hoped to find her estranged aunt and uncle. She hadn’t seen them since she was very little, when her parents were still kind and loving. The girl lightly touched her fingertips under her left eye, which was slightly swollen due the black eye she had gained. It was in this moment she was a bit glad for her mixed skin tone which made it slightly more difficult to tell there was a bruise. But that was also why her mother tended to beating her and calling her names, blaming her because of her father. She tried, but she couldn’t any more. She needed to be free.

All these thoughts swirled in her head as she clutched a little piece of paper and stared at the apartment in front of her. Room 103. Third floor. Maybe there was a wreath on the door. Candles in the window. All the things welcoming Christmas. Maybe she could spend Christmas happily once more. It had been so long since…

A smile broke out on her face and she went inside, started upstairs. But…she never made it to the door that called out freedom to her… No, she heard a voice that had her running back down the stairs. Her mother had gotten here first. She was crying, saying she didn’t know why her daughter would run off. Her aunt and uncle didn’t know that she was abusive to her. The girl had planned to explain…but… Another train then. She would go to her father’s mother. Her legs carried her as fast as they could to the train station. But when she got there, it was quiet, empty.

They all have off for Christmas… she realized. How could she go elsewhere if there was no train running? How could she get anywhere when she very much needed to? She was trapped. Again. No. No, she wasn’t. She would just…wait. She would wait until it was open again. It was cold and dark by now, but she didn’t have much of a choice.

So into the station she went, curling up on a bench and closing her eyes.

“There you are,” a relieved and angry voice breathed out. Her eyes snapped open, her mother’s pale face coming into focus. The girl bit back a scream and leaped off the bench, running before her wrist was caught.

“Let me go!,” she shouted, wriggling and pulling on her arm, but her mother was stronger than her frail body would have one believe. She knew the look in her eyes, the one that said she would hurt her again. But she wouldn’t hear her words, she didn’t want that anymore. So the teen bit into her mother’s hand, causing her to scream and let go. The girl turned ad took off again, but only made it a few steps before dropping onto the train tracks, not realizing how close she had been. She grimaced, having landed so that her ankle twisted beneath her, but pushed herself up and started down the tracks.

No trains were coming, she could do this.

But she heard her mother’s shouts. She knew she was running alongside the track after her. The girl only had to get to where the tracks went along the ground and weren’t surrounded by concrete, then she could hurry elsewhere. But…someone else was on the tracks. A boy. A boy with blonde hair. He was frozen in one spot, eyes wide. The girl looked behind her, her own eyes suddenly widening.

There were no trains scheduled for then.

Only her mother and she were there.

But she was dead on the tracks, hit by a train.

People see her, reaching out for help on Christmas Eve.

Taking her hand can only mean a train will come. Even if none are scheduled.

Holidays

I’ll admit to being lazy in most parts of my life, but there is one part that I absolutely loathe the idea of being lazy in. And that one area is religion. When I was little and called myself Catholic, I didn’t want to be idle, I wanted the God I believe in to know that I believed. Of course as time went on and I lsot that connection, I wavered, became a bit lazy since I wasn’t sure what I believed in, but then I found paganism. Now there’s this conflict inside me that’s saying I should do something…but most of my information is instinct, inference, and the internet. Do I know people I could ask? Oh, definitely. Have I gleaned some information from the nature-based religion group at my college? Yes, a bit. I finally figured out what exactly is up with the Yule log.

But today was Yule. I didn’t do anything active.

While I say that, I did do something. That something was spend time with those I care about, though I make a point to do that daily. So can that really count? I’m not entirely certain. I don’t know. It’s been a good while since I’ve been able to tell people (only a handful, since there’s some people who are better off not knowing. Unless I feel like upsetting them…but, well, harm none and all that…), but I still am flailing a bit, trying to figure out how to make this work with my limitations. This happens with every ‘big’ ritual time, but that’s partly why I call myself a pagan and not any certain sect.

I am what I am, though, So what do I do? I simply open myself a bit more to the energies, even if that comes naturally to me on certain days. I let myself mull over what is fitting for the holiday and all. I might be lazy, but, at the same time, I think that these sorts of things are just things I would do even without a push. Around certain days, I simply feel…something…and I give in to it, do what I feel is natural. I’m slowly starting to feel like I may be more inline with a kitchen witch, but we’ll see. Either way, I don’t feel guilt with not doing something.

What I’m trying to get at is that, whatever religion you are, you shouldn’t feel a need to go to church, rituals, whatever else (unless it’s specifically outlined, like praying five times a day, I think, if you’re Muslim, and even then only if you’ve time, which I think is mentioned in the Koran as well. But don’t quote me on that.). Having that need is a great thing, but if the pressure is from the outside or simply because you believe it is something you ‘have’ to do. Whoever you believe in, if they exist, they know. I’m sure the god(s)/goddess(es) you want to give praise to, aren’t going to reject you for not doing something. Just living within whatever the belief system is (and all are basically ‘be nice, don’t be an ass’) will appease whoever.

So, with all these holidays going on this time of year, all you have to do is accept their true meaning. And all tend to follow the same lines, as far as I am aware, and that is family and love and peace, or some variant. So spend time with your family, tell those you love that you love them (even if it’s implied, hearing or even reading the words as a text will make that person smile, I’m sure). Just do something, and it’ll be well worth it. Your deity will be glad you just do something good and loving.

Take a Leap

So, my last post I mentioned I’m generally happier. Don’t get me wrong, I am, but there is at least one thing at this point that has all these possibilities spinning in my head and making me, yes, cry a bit and feel mildly depressed. But, strangely enough, tonight I went from doing just that to thinking about some things other people are going through to deciding to take a shower and… The thing about showers is, my thoughts get really deep when I’m in there. I don’t know why, they just do. Deep or random, and this time it was a bit of both, I suppose.

I made a decision, and I’m going to put it here so that I absolutely cannot reneg. Maybe not next summer, but the one after that, I am going to Germany. I decided that I need to take risks at least once in my life since, well, I should be allowed to. I always play it safe, and I’m not going to this time. I’m going to do something that I desperately want, even if everything wants to scream out that it isn’t practical, that it’s impossible and stupid and…everything else. I’m going to ignore that smart, safe voice in my head.

The safe voice has kept me from…rather much. It kept me from telling people how I’ve felt, one of which I sorely regret even four or five years later. (Well, mostly. I may or may not have been bored and looked on Facebook one night and that may or may not have made me feel a bit better…) It’s the voice that keeps me refraining from ever wanting to drink too much, since the idea of being drunk is a scary thought to me. I think I’m one of those liable to wander with my attention span. It’s the voice that has me not go places, not do things, go to bed at a decent hour when I have classes. It’s what makes me be the responsible one, the one who was the little ten year old that was already grown-up. I owe this to myself.

I’m going to look up ticket prices, even though I know those will probably increase come two years in the future. I’m going to fill out more job applications than ever so that I can get a job this coming summer. I’m not going to do what I usually do with money; tell myself I’ll not spend anything, but end up using some form of abstract logic to justify buying something when I do have money. I’m going to save. I’m going to look up hotel prices. I’m going to see if those estranged cousins want to do some bonding, since that could help me 1) not be too horribly tourist-looking and 2) help me not have to spend money on a hotel. I’m going to find out the exchange rate, watch it, and save for the fact I’ll have to eat. Give myself some fun spending money, too.

For once in my life, and probably for the last time (unless my plans to finish up my degree over in Germany pan out), I’m going to jump off a very, very high cliff and…hope. I don’t have anyone to help me, even if I’d love it if I did, but that’s okay. I can do this on my own. And I will. In two years time, I’ll have spent at least a day in some city in Germany.

Small addition: Maybe not two years. I’ll give myself three after looking at the ticket prices, but still aiming for two if luck is on my side. It’s going to happen, no discouragement this time.

Memoirs of a College First Year #3

I finished my first semester of a live-on-campus type of college, managing all As except for one B in the class that bored me and I didn’t want to be in anyway. Surprise, surprise, I didn’t get a C in Spanish. *insert cheers here* I’m also currently at home for the break before Jan-term (30 days to write a book, here I come), trying to figure out if my flan is the right consistency for flipping or if it needs to be in the fridge for a bit longer, wondering how my dog manages to have the perfect ‘love me now, I’m so sad’ face, and…in general just staying up later than I should since I want to do some shopping tomorrow.

I’m not sure what I’m meaning to have come across with this other than, I guess, that I survived. I’ve yet to be challenged, though I’m sure that’ll come sooner or later, but I managed to get through with good grades at what last I checked was counted as the top 50 something or other for Forbes. It was a good thing, that much I am sure of. Even with just one semester of college having passed, I know I’ve changed at least a bit. I’m not sure how, but people have this habit of saying that I’m different. They mean it in a good way, but they can’t quite put their finger on how I’m different.

I’d like to think, in general, I’m happier. I’m off someplace I’ve wanted to be since a long while. I have good, new friends and all the inside jokes that come with it. I more or less live on my own since my roommate is barely in the room, and I like that. I prefer being on my own. I’m not in a place that makes me feel a bit depressed for a variety of reasons. I don’t even think I’ve had any semi-depressed thoughts since a long while. That last one is a revelation that makes me feel even happier. I had been used to thoughts of ‘things won’t get better’ ‘life sucks’ and there may have been a time a handful of years ago where I contemplated some things with a sort of detachment that actually worries me now that I think back on it. I know why I was in that place then, but I’m glad to be far from it now.

Side note: Never seriously contemplated anything, just idle passing thoughts. Not that that is better, but it could’ve been worse. If you seriously contemplate anything ever, talk to someone, call the suicide hotline whose number I do not have on hand presently but will look up in the morning. Cliche sounding, but, seriously, talk to someone. Your life matters to someone.

While college has been known to break some people, especially if it’s the first time leaving home and all that, I’m one of those people who has found their niche, so to speak. I’e always been someone who has been able to leave home and be okay. Chorus trips to other states. A sleepover at a friend’s in another state. Dreams of getting over to England, and then Ireland, and now Germany. I guess, on the whole, I’m happier because I’ve been able to finally, finally, stretch my wings a little bit and not think ‘God, why can’t we move yet?’ or ‘I need a job. And a car. And to get far away as possible.’ or ‘I should just give up. Would be easier.’ and other not so happy thoughts.

So I’m a bird who’s wings are getting the exercise they so desperately need, and that should keep me content until I can get onto a plane and go elsewhere. Some day. And to all those other birds who are 20-something, 30-something, or, hell, 40 plus, and haven’t been able to leave to anywhere ever: your time will come. You’ll be free to move someday, I promise.

The F-Word

I am a firm believer of equal rights across the board.

I am a a feminist.

Now, the reason I even mention this is because I’ve been thinking much about this ‘label’ recently due to some reading I have done. Yes, it has negative connotations and negative subsets and extremists, but so does everything. It’s like saying I’m white, so I must be racist. Or that I’m part German so I must be part Nazi. No to both. A label defines to a degree, but not completely. A label is more or less what you make of it. I follow the definition of feminism, at east the more ‘modern’ version which has been expanded a bit from women’s rights. If equalist was a thing, I’d call myself that. But it’s not, so I’m a feminist.

First thing you have to understand is that there has been mention of how there is a divide between ‘first world feminism’ and else. (The term so coined by Maisie Williams, or better known by her character Arya Stark in Game of Thrones.) The reasoning behind this is sound: women elsewhere than Europe and the U.S., like the Middle East which has recently become it’s own subset, face different problems. There are women still being stoned to death and having way less rights than women in so-called ‘first world countries’. That is not to have it thought that ‘oh, I shouldn’t complain because it’s worse elsewhere’, but just to put things into perspective. If you say feminism isn’t needed, you are completely disregarding other parts of the world where it most DEFINITELY is needed.

But I’m going to focus on the first world bit simply because it is where I live, and covering elsewhere would be much longer. You only have to look to see what is going on elsewhere, again explained by stoning and, also, female circumcision for the sole purpose of keeping them from sex until marriage.

I am not planning to belittle the issues that men (going off the binary scale of gender for the moment) face, since there are issues. I recently tried to explain to my brother that saying you would judge a guy for driving a pink car is sexist. It didn’t work, so I gave up instead of causing issue with my own family. But that does not erase the fact that such stereotypes for what is ‘manly’ is trying to fit men into a certain mold. And just as putting women into a certain mold is sexist, so is the other way around. Yes, there are differences between the two, but both of these ends of the spectrum should have a choice without being scolded. Boys should be allowed to cry and play with dolls. Girls should be allowed to get dirty and be ‘rough’. Boys will be boys, and girls will be girls.

We can keep the ideas of what is masculine and what is feminine, but if a boy wants to follows more feminine ideas and still identify as a boy, let him. The same goes for girls. Personally, I am a female who is a woman who is feminine in most aspects. I prefer smooth legs, so I shave. I prefer medium-length hair because it doesn’t get in my way, so I cut my hair. I’m too lazy for makeup, so I only sometimes where it. I like glitter and fruity smelling things. I like fruity drinks because the taste of alcohol does not agree with my tongue. I want to have kids someday. I would be bored to tears if I ever somehow ended up as a stay at home mom. I want to help people, work with children. I like video games because sometimes I am just in a mood where I want to shoot something or crash into things.

My mold may lean a bit more towards feminine than anything else, but my mold is…me. Deidre is my mold. I am so grateful to have parents who didn’t try to push pink and princesses on me, but instead let me play with what I wanted. They did the same with my brother.

Like I am my own mold, it reminds me of something a friend of mine, K., says sometimes. She likes to wonder why she has to be a race or anything, why she can’t be simply a person or K. She’s proud of who and what she is, she just doesn’t want it to describe her, for any stereotype to be what people think of when they see her.

I know I may have seemed to go off on a tangent, but I’m really not sure how else to describe how both sexes are being pushed to fit certain ideals. Then there are all those that are none or in between and it gets even more complex. And then the molds are definitely broken. I like the idea of the only mold one should fit is you.

But this is why I call myself a feminist, because I want everyone to have a choice of what to do and be and dress as and so much more. A man shouldn’t be thought of as less because they want to be a stay at home dad, just as a woman shouldn’t be expected to stay at home with the children. If we want equality, as much as can be had with how humans are, then we need to address issues on both sides of the argument. Apparently some men have decided to give up on women and instead stick to one night stands or pleasuring themselves. Part of the argument I read has me think ‘okay, yes, not enough thought is given to men’s issues’ the other part had me think ‘…well, that’s sexism at it’s finest’. (The latter due to the mention that women aren’t being women anymore because of feminism and that they need to go back home and other such things that had me cringe.)

I’m not overly sensitive, not now that I’m older at least, but a lot of things still have me think that this world has a long way to go. If you want to say men and women are equal, alright, fine, but I can point out a lot of instances, for both sides, that say otherwise. If you want to say that there are gender differences and they should be embraced; I’m not arguing, I’m just saying we all should have a choice of if we want to do one thing or another. And I mean a REAL choice, not one where we have a ‘choice’ but we’ll get odd looks and snide remarks if we choose what is not the norm. (Like not standing during the pledge, which is a legal right.) If you want to say feminism is not needed, look at other countries. If you want to say feminism is not needed in ‘first world’ countries, I circle back to I would be willing to point a few things out.

I’m a feminist. I am not angry. (Most of the time.) I do not burn my bras. (Even if I have a love-hate relationship with them.) I am not hairy. (Other than my head-hair.) And I do not want to be a man. (Really am fine with being a woman, that’s my gender-identity, thank you.) Even with all the negative connotations, I believe in fixing what the word and movement means instead of hiding and claiming to not be a feminist because of some extremists.

Surnames

While I should be sleeping as I plan to take one of my exams tomorrow, my mind is whirring because I rather stupidly decided to watch a few YouTube videos. What that led to was my watching a video on last names and how there’s this debate on if women should change their last names, at least in cultures that have women do that as a norm. Now, from when I was little, I never really thought about taking anyone else’s name. Whenever I’d have my little five or seven year old plans there was always a hyphen or, if I was feeling adventurous, my pretend-husband had my last name instead because why not? To this day I don’t know why I thought that way, I just know I did. I liked my name, my initials with how my middle and last name ones are the same. I liked it and didn’t plan to change it or, if I did, I would have a hyphen.

Now that I’m older, I’ve more or less come to the decision I will keep my name. Not because of what you might think, even. So, if the thought that I’d keep mine solely for the purpose of equality and all, it’s actually not. Partly it’s because my name is my identity, it connects me to the family that I love dearly. Partly because I like my name as is, especially with the ‘M.M.’ for my initials. And then a large chunk because I plan to become settled and have my career, where I will be ‘Dr. My Name’ before I marry. Granted things may happen before then, but even so… All my dreams are Dr. My Name, not Dr. Someone Else’s Name. Not to mention the paperwork. That sounds like too much work. It might be streamlined in this particular case, but still. My mail would have to be changed, and all my legal documents. I don’t want to become a new person in the eyes of the law; I want to stay me, with all my flaws. I do realize certain legal things may be more difficult because of my theoretical situation, but I’d rather be happy with my born-with name than changing to some other name I only knew for however many years.

Of course one of the questions in places such as the U.S. when a woman does not change, or hyphenates, their name is: what will your kids be called if you plan any? I’d like to have children, so this question does actually apply to me. In my happy scenario where I have a guy who doesn’t give a damn about my keeping my name, I see hyphenation for my theoretical children. The reasoning with that is simply because they are my kids and his, not one or the other, and it will keep a bit of unity.

For others they may choose else for some reason, but I think the whole name thing is generally a personal choice. Some are attached to their names, such as myself, others not so much. Some guys may want their wife’s last name. If a woman has a high-profile career, business cards, and else, then…it’s a lot of work to change your name. Authors, celebrities (you don’t see them changing their names that often), doctors, people with doctorates, and so on. It’s more hassle than it’s worth to simple go with what is seen as acceptable. With naming your children, the same rule applies: it’s your own choice. Yes, there are norms, but that doesn’t exactly mean they have to be followed. Normal is boring.

Of course I am only speaking in terms of heterosexual couples, as homosexual ones already have to make this decision name-wise. It’s a bit refreshing, too, to have the knowledge that not all cultures are for name-changing, but it’s still a wonder that people get side-eye, unless you are prominent in some field (including entertainment), if you hyphenate or change your name someplace where it’s the norm. But it’s a personal choice, as I’ve said, and it would be nice if people could just nod, smile, and accept that.