Archive for the ‘ Coping ’ Category

Homesickness…

So the power did eventually come back on in the wee hours of the morning. I’m not sure what time exactly because between daylight savings and me frantically pouring through the final chapters of Divergent, I had lost all sense of time and passed out as soon as it was done. The fact that I actually managed to finish an entire novel in a day without internet or power is probably pretty telling? But I’m going to chalk it up to it being a) really good, b) a young adult novel and therefore a pretty easy (BUT STILL GREAT) read, and c) it had been a long time since I’ve sat and been absorbed in a book. People compare it to Hunger Games, cause it’s definitely another dystopian future where a teenage girl protagonist is the key to you know, disturbing the disturbing dystopian “peace”, but outside of that it was different enough that I still really enjoyed it. And I liked Tris better than Katniss although they’re both more stone-cold than your average teenage girl main character. That had me questioning Katniss’s character (not as a good character but moreso as someone relatable), but it didn’t so much with Tris. Both characters acknowledge and question their unfeeling choices and I appreciate that, and certainly don’t need my protags to be touchy-feely. I am though, so it does affect the way I personally relate and see them in the story, as those traits will with any character from any book for me. Either way, I find it interesting if/when people pick apart insensitive (female) protagonists, as they’re so used to being able to relate to the person that when one is kind of a jerk, or cold, or ferocious, or unfeeling, there’s this instinct to recoil from the story as a whole. I know some people who have that problem with the main character in Orange is the New Black. I think it makes going through the journey with them less comfortable, but when you’re talking about dystopia, (or a prison, in OitNB) that’s kind of the idea? So I try to embrace it. And with Divergent, it was easy, I think overall Tris struck a bit better balance for me than Katniss ever did. Though we’ll have to see about the next couple books.

Uh, okay, there are many people who actually study this stuff that can word it all way better than I can, so I’ll leave it at that.

In other news, I Skype my parents tomorrow. Like I begun to say in my first entry of the month, it’s so bizarre being homesick. Not for the place, but for my parents. I’m not used to it. I never understood the people who went home every weekend for months my Freshman year of college. My mom said they used to call those people the “suitcases” back when she was at school out east, and that she, like I did, ended up forming my friendships with the people that stuck around instead, many out-of-staters, but some just people who didn’t feel it necessary to drive home even if it was only a couple hours away rather than a flight cross-country like mine was.

I remember, my first time away from home without my immediate family was a trip to Florida, to my grandparents, but I went with my cousins’ family instead of my own. I was having a great time, Granny and Grandpa had a pool and Florida was still an amazing utopia of beaches, sun, palm trees, and dolphins to me at the time, but I remember one night I had decided that I was Sad. I must have been crying or something, because my aunt sat down next to me and held my hand and was appropriately sympathetic-looking. She asked me if I was homesick. “Do you miss your mom?” Sniffle. Yeaaah. “Do you miss your dad?” Yeeeah. Big frown. “Do you miss your dog?” Yeeah. Because my aunt understood how dogs were equal parts of the family. And finally: “Do you miss your brother?” And that got me to laugh through my tears and I said “No!” Because brothers were annoying, especially little ones, and we were never ever supposed to admit that we loved them because gross, brothers, and he was supposed to do the same because gross, big sisters.

And then I was okay. And I have never remembered being homesick once in my life after that. Not at school patrol camp where we did actual camping things and were outdoorsy and I apparently had a blast even though when my mom came to pick me up I had a raging case of pink eye. I wasn’t when I went to any of my out-of-state music and band camps like the proud nerd that I was. I wasn’t when I went to Mexico with my grandmother and spent my days watching whales and snorkeling and feeling like I was in heaven. I spent a great deal of time at friend’s houses with no problem, and then when I moved to college, calling my parents was usually due to some sort of upset, or I avoided it because I knew that mom would just give me a list of things to do that I had either likely forgotten to do or knew I hadn’t touched yet so I didn’t want to be scolded about.

Now I can’t wait to Skype them tomorrow, just to tell them how Halloween was this week. I lived at home with them for two years after college and thought my dad or I was going to snap and strangle the other, but being at home for the majority of the time since Ross died has been okay. My friends have been amazing at staying in touch via WoW and Skype and IM, but when my parents told our grief counselor that it would be odd getting used to me being gone when I went to work 2 hours away all summer, I was a little baffled, because it wasn’t like we spent all our time together. They were at work for most of the day, I was up late chatting with my friends with a headset on for the evenings. But it was nice. I’m not saying I would want to live with them again, and that road trip still pushed us to want to strangle each other on occasion, but that’s family for me. It’s nice being so much closer to them. Sometimes I feel like I abandoned them, moving so far away only a year after we lost Ross, but they have never once made me feel like I should feel bad for not being someone who gets homesick. They couldn’t wait for Ross or I to go abroad, like they did. They supported my Seattle plans from day 1, even if they also expressed their concerns. Half my dad’s tribute to Ross at the service was about how he was so glad that Ross got to see different countries and experience things that were new and exciting, and I remember that whenever I worry that I should feel worse for leaving them. I know part of my mom’s excitement about it is a show for my sake. She doesn’t realise that I’ve been able to recognise her ‘let’s be excited for the kids (or the customers)’ voice for years now, but I appreciate it, nonetheless. The dedication in Divergent was to Veronica Roth’s mother, saying “To my mother, who gave me the moment when Beatrice realizes how strong her mother is and wonders how she missed it for so long.” I feel like I’ve had a hundred of those revelations since October last year and it really hits you sometimes. Maybe that’s what I miss most lately. Or maybe there’s the part of me that just hated seeing my dad wonder if Ross knew how much he loved him and hoping that he’ll never have to wonder that again.

NaBloPoMo + New digs

ImageSo, in an effort to resurrect this blog from where it’s fallen quiet due to a whole slew of things, I’ve joined NaBloPoMo which I’ve done once in the past and it was really fun. Plus I should have plenty to write about now, right? It’s strange looking at my last entry, wherein I’d just returned from visiting Seattle. Now I’m there, officially moved in for the better part of two months.

I came out at the end of August to attend PAX Prime 2013, as well as stay with a friend and begin my job/apartment hunt. It was pretty fun, although being three hours behind the East Coast took some getting used to. The weather’s been fantastic for as much as everyone immediately raises their eyebrows and goes “Oooh, Washington. Rainy.” as if they are giving me the inside scoop on a place I must know nothing about to want to live there. Well, that, or it’s just the only thing everyone knows about Washington and therefore is the default response. Smalltalk 101 stuff. But it’s been beautiful, and only just now as we head into November am I really seeing a rainy sort of trend. Even so, I don’t mind. My mom was worried the grey skies and drizzly weather would make it hard for me to shake off depression when it gets ahold of me. She’s been very pro-sunlight ever since I went on anti-depressants back in college, reminding me how much being indoors all the time can scientifically make you feel worse. I’m sure there’s truth to it, but the way my mom reminds me of it like she reminds me to make my bed or something kind of makes me laugh.

At the end of September, I hadn’t found a job (and still haven’t) but I did manage to grab a cozy 2-bedroom with my friend Chris over in Redmond. It’s on the “East Side” – that is, of Seattle, and of Lake Washington, and it’s much more suburbany than living in the city, but it’s 2 minutes from where Chris works and I like not HAVING to go into the city for everything. Traffic out here is ridiculous (and don’t even get me started on their street signage). So I flew home, spent 2 weeks saying  couple goodbyes and packing up the stuff from my old apartment to ship it out west. Then, Mom, Dad and I piled into the Prius that belonged to my grandfather, then my brother, and now me, to make the 3 day road trip.

That road trip could encompass a fair few entries all on its own, and I don’t feel like rehashing it at the moment, but despite a rocky start and a satisfying conclusion, I’ll say this: I’ve never actually cried when saying goodbye to my parents before. I’ve never been homesick. I’ve gone across the country to college for four years, not batted an eye missing the occasional holiday, not really cared if my parents and just happen not to chat for a month at a time. But there were some tears this time. I signed a lease. We know I’m out here for a year, if not (hopefully) longer, and that would have never THAT big a deal until we lost Ross.

I’d hoped to write more tonight, but Chris and I ended up FINALLY going grocery shopping to stock the fridge and cupboards after being in our place for a month and mostly just grabbing snacks and eating out, and then we watched the first couple episodes of Sleepy Hollow, but since I was out until midnight last night for Halloween, as per usual didn’t actually fall asleep until early this morning, and woke up at a decent hour thanks to a friend I hadn’t chatted with in awhile texting me (not being sarcastic, btw, seriously, so glad they texted) – I am exhausted. And being exhausted at 11pm for the first time since being on the road for 10 hours a day with my parents feels great. It was a year since we lost Ross on October 8th, and I did not want to go through this month again. But at least by the end I had a reason to smile about what was previously one of my favorite times of year

Now let’s hope I remember to write again tomorrow.

Silver linings feel pretty transparent…

So, Tuesday afternoon I returned from spending six days in Seattle, Washington. The place I’m looking to move to next fall. Being there and looking at the different areas with my friend Chris, who I’ll be getting a place with, really helped it sink in. We looked at a fair few apartment complexes, some way out of our price range, some more affordable. The leasing offices all suggested we call them in Mid-July to see what will be opening up, Chris and I discussed what we did and didn’t like about what we were seeing inside the apartments we were looking at, and I even applied for a job, cause it was one I was qualified for and the due date was Monday so why not.

It finally feels real. And for the most part that’s great. Really, really great. There are so many things I could blab on and on about that are so great and the idea of them makes me feel happy. But some apprehensions reared their heads while I was there too, that I don’t think I really knew how to put into words until I got home and went to counseling yesterday.

I’m scared to do something that I feel like will change my life for the better so much, something that may not have happened for an extremely long time if at all, if Ross hadn’t died. Right now, I’d give anything to have my brother back, I’d gladly stay miserable and in school for years if it meant that Ross hadn’t died and I therefore hadn’t had the epiphany that I was so unhappy there, or because we were all too raw and too scared of not being honest with one another that I confessed to my parents that I hadn’t paid fall’s tuition yet in the hopes that I’d find a way to withdraw before I did. And that I had withdrawn at the last minute the semester before and essentially spent all spring wasting their money.

I hadn’t ever planned to tell my parents yet. If Ross hadn’t died, I don’t know that I would have.

I guess I’m scared of moving to Seattle and being happier and moving on with my life because I don’t want to ever get to the point where I look back and say that I wouldn’t change anything. I’d be unhappy my whole life if it meant I had Ross back and he could live his. And maybe I was seriously considering withdrawing and working for a year in River Falls and then moving out to Seattle anyway. In fact, I logged back on to Care.com to update my profile and saw that the last I’d logged was October 8th. That is literally what I was doing when I got my mom’s text: looking for jobs that would let me take time off school. But then I think about stuff like meeting someone I want to marry, or getting a dream job – stuff that is supposed to be so good that you wouldn’t change your life at risk of not getting to that point, and I just don’t want it.

I think that’s why I have trouble when people still try to talk about the good that’s come from it. It’s nothing against the good that I’ve found amongst all of it – it’s still precious to me and I’m more grateful than I can ever say for the way my friends have supported me and I’ve felt closer to all of them than I have in a long time. I’ve made some new friends, I’ve gotten closer to my parents, I’ve started to turn my life in a direction I feel like I’m okay with…

But I just can’t quite look at it that way yet. I’m not offended when anyone suggests thinking of the good things, but… it feels hypocritical for me to turn around and tell others the same, so I don’t. Like the boy who lost his brother last week, or the people who lost loved ones on Monday. They deserve their time to be so bitter and so angry and so hurt…

Maybe I’ll get there eventually. And the bitterness has ebbed a lot, for the most part, for which I’m glad. Problem is I’m just as scared of actually reaching to that point of ‘acceptance’ as I am of forever feeling so awful every day.

6 Months…

And another Monday the 8th, too. 6 months exactly.

I woke up naturally at 10am for the first time in weeks this morning, because I got no sleep Saturday night and managed to crash immediately after Game of Thrones last night. I think my parents suspected I needed it, because they left me there on our huge couch, only nudging me once to tell me they were going up to bed, whenever that was.

I just got back from the Bradshaw funeral home. Because the universe is fucking ridiculous like that, one of Ross’s high school friends lost his twin brother last Friday after a motorcycle accident. I didn’t know this friend before Ross’s own death, but he came to the service and had so many nice things to say about my brother, both there and on Facebook – in fact, he wrote on Ross’s wall just a couple weeks ago. I sent him a note, offering to talk if he ever needed it. I doubt he’ll take me up on it, since we don’t know one another, and that’s okay. I was there. I know the offer is enough a lot of the time, and that there’s no way in hell you can or will actually take everyone up on them, because there’s too many, it’s too much, and it’s just too hard.

But even so, I got into the car with my parents and quietly rode to the funeral home with them. I got out of the car, and suddenly I was looking down this long parking lot full of cars where I remember standing on a similarly gloomy afternoon with my five best friends surrounding me, asking me if I was okay as I tried to prepare myself to go to Jacob’s visitation the day before my own brother’s service at the same location. That day, I was able to do it, because that family and mine – we were in this together as much as any two families could be. And I’d steeled myself for that entire weekend, I was numb that whole week, I was able to take the calming breath and nod and grip all the strength I could muster in my fists and walk through those doors.

Not today. I wanted to, so badly. But I immediately felt my chin crumple, and the muscles that contort my mouth into something ugly whenever I cry began to ache because they’ve been worked to their limit and beyond for the past six months and my parents noticed, immediately asking me if this was too much and before I could figure it out for myself they were handing me the car keys and telling me it was okay, I could stay here, they’d tell Ross’s friend I sent my thoughts with them. “She didn’t want come,” I heard dad telling mom, and that wasn’t the truth, but he’d heard how long I hesitated earlier when he asked me if I’d been joining them. Wanting to, and being able to haven’t lined up with each other in my brain and body for a long time.

So I sat in the car and waited, cursing my phone for having a fairly defunct battery, and feeling like a tool for not being able to show the same courtesy to Ross’s friend that he had for us. I knew he’d probably understand, but it’s frustrating to feel this way.

6 months. Monday the 8th. And then I found out that they tore down the apartment today. I’d gotten word that it was going to happen a few weeks ago, I was upset, but I’d assumed it had already happened by now. No, apparently they just had to do it on the six month day exactly. So much of his stuff was there. We’ve gotten most salvageable things out of it – though that’s not a lot, it’s more than it could have been had his room not been in the back of the house. But still, it makes my stomach turn at it just all being gone. Practically erased. And for his friends still in Eau Claire, it’s got to feel even worse.

I felt bad telling my parents that when they got back in the car and we started driving home. It’s a short drive and all, but driving and crying don’t go together well. We’ve all found that out the hard way a lot. A lot.

Just another thing that makes it over when everything in me says it shouldn’t be.

I’m in the middle of another entry about LucasArts closing and what that means to me and why it’s hitting me hard but also all the fun memories I have involving those games and my brother, but I’ll finish it another time when my head’s not throbbing. It’s a more fun kind of entry anyway. And I’m going to Seattle on Wednesday – which I don’t think I’ll absorb until I’m literally packing Wednesday morning because traveling anywhere by myself seems so dauntingly impossible right now, but I know I’ll be so, so glad to spend some time with Kevin and Chris, even if half of it looks like it’ll be taken up by helping one or both of them work on moving in some fashion.

But for now I really just want to go back to sleep, which is sort of annoying on the day I finally managed to have a regular person’s sleep schedule.

Quotes Can Hit Hard…

I’ve been reblogging various quotes that have resonated with me for the past few months on my tumblr. Thought I’d share some. Some cut deep, some have comforted me, all feel like they took words from my gut and lay them out there, whether or not they originally applied to grief or not. Also included one of the songs I’ve been listening to on repeat a lot lately. Fittingly enough, it’s from a game soundtrack. I heard the song before playing the game, but even after I still find it therapeutic to listen to.

“Everyone who terrifies you is sixty percent water.
And everyone you love is made of stardust, and I know sometimes
you cannot even breathe deeply, and
the night sky is no home, and
you have cried yourself to sleep enough times
that you are down to your last two percent, but

nothing is infinite,
not even loss.

You are made of the sea and the stars, and one day
you will find yourself again.”

— F. Butler

“Eventually something you love is going to be taken away. And then you will fall to the floor crying. And then, however much later, it is finally happening to you: you’re falling to the floor crying thinking, “I am falling to the floor crying,” but there’s an element of the ridiculous to it — you knew it would happen and, even worse, while you’re on the floor crying you look at the place where the wall meets the floor and you realize you didn’t paint it very well.”

— Richard Siken

“Your absence has gone through me
Like thread through a needle,
Everything I do is stitched with its color.”

— from W.S. Merwin, “Separation” Continue reading

Ends of March…

So today is Easter, and it’s been a long time since my last post. Things are… busy…ish? Like I’m still spending the majority of my daily hours in front of a computer screen, gaming or watching shows, but enough other stuff has been happening that the weeks seem to end much faster. It’s the last day of March, and I don’t know where the hell that month went.

Suddenly the counselors are chosen for the summer at camp, I go to Seattle to look at potential neighborhoods in about 10 days, I have an online First Responder course to get going on, and then I’m due up at my summer job on the 29th of April. Somewhere in there I’m supposed to appeal for tuition. Suddenly these things that I thought I had time for need to happen RIGHT NOW and some days that feels good, and some days it feels like I’m desperately wanting to press pause and tell the world WAIT wait wait – hold on – I’m still absorbing yesterday, I’m still absorbing this morning, I’m still dealing with 6 months ago stop stop STOP. I’m not ready! I’m okay with this having things to do every week but deadlines… christ, I was terrible with deadlines before, let alone now.

Still, it’s a bit different. The things that are happening are things I want. Things I’m motivated about: preparing for this summer’s camp season, preparing to move to Seattle, preparing for… some sort of fresh start. It’s much easier to reign in the panic when it’s things that will inevitably make me smile rather than the misery I was putting myself through with school, slogging through anxiety day after day, only to feel like a failure come finals and wanting to give everything up.

It has purpose. A degree technically would have had purpose too, but, well, I was too buried to see what it could possibly be at the time. I do better with something tangible, and while that’s near-sighted of me in the grand scheme of things, right now I need things to have direct results. I need to be able to do something, and see the difference I make – however minor – to give me more reasons to get up every morning and keep doing that thing.

You know, I thought this blog was going to have a lot more gaming nonsense on it than it has so far. I’ve got ideas for posts in my head but it’s hard to get myself to sit down and type. I used to have trouble because I always felt like as much as I wanted to journal, I wanted to talk to people or have fun or sleep (priorities, I has them) more. Now I know journaling is probably one of the more productive or healthy things I can do with my time – I mean, do I really need to watch the latest Project Runway right now? [If Michelle doesn’t win this season, I will curse Heidi Klum to break a stiletto.]

I want to talk about March, but it would be long involved so I will bullet-point the highlights: Continue reading

To trigger or not to trigger…

A warning to anyone reading: some things in this entry may be considered graphic, as I’m about to discuss things in media that have and haven’t been a trigger for me due to Ross’s death. If your sensitivity is different than mine, or you’re also personally close to the situation, it might be hard to read.

I called my dad last night because he was home alone for the weekend, and I wanted to check up on him. He admitted he was doing alright but nights are hard, like usual. We talked about lots of things, including Game of Thrones since he just finished book four, but there was a pause in conversation where I found myself blurting out a question I’d been wanting to ask since seeing last week’s Castle episode: Was it hard for you to watch? Because Castle’s daughter was abducted and while I love that show, I spent the majority of the episode sitting there and imagining my parents watching it – wondering if it it hurt to see someone act the part of the concerned parent, and knowing that the fictional child will be okay, when Ross wasn’t.

I had a lot of feelings like that immediately in the months after the fire. It was like a raw, open wound and anything having to do with anything close to it felt like someone poking at it. They didn’t cause me to suddenly break down so much as just ache or tear up until I could move on. Games were similar. So many games have to do with death, or avoiding death, it was hard to get back to it at first. In the first couple weeks I couldn’t handle touching any of it, though more because it reminded me of what Ross and I did together  than any triggery content involved, but once I started getting back into things, there would be moments that would just make feel a bit sick to my stomach.

It wasn’t long before I got over that though, and found that I was able to separate the two in my mind. I play a fire mage in WoW, always have, and I remember sitting there and staring at it for a minute when I reactivated my account. I acknowledged that it was strange. I acknowledged that I will never be able to hear “fire” the same way again…. and then I took a breath, started questing, and proceeded to shoot fireballs at my enemies. I think my brain, out of sheer survival instinct and desperation to return to normalcy, compartmentalized it for me. It wasn’t long before I didn’t think about it anymore. Then a friend asked me if I was okay playing a fire mage and I blinked and had to go… oh… yeah. Actually it’s okay. Then I wondered if I was supposed to be okay and that maybe this was insensitive, and maybe I should feel worse.

Continue reading