2015- A Year in Review

Yes, there's a gif of Tom Hardy saying Happy New Year. The internet is great.

Yes, there's a gif of Tom Hardy saying Happy New Year. The internet is great.

            2015 was a roller coaster of emotions for me. Let’s break it down into categories: family, friends, myself, and writing.

Family:

            My family is large on my mother’s side. I’ve watched my Mom lose a lot of family members but this year was an especially difficult one. My mom lost her cousin, Mary Catherine but Mary wasn’t JUST my mom’s cousin. She was my mom’s best friend and second sister. I’m in awe of my mother the majority of the time. I went with her to the hospital to see Mary several times, I watched this woman who I’ve known my entire life, deteriorate in front of me. The last time I watched something like this I was 13 going on 14 and it was my Grandpop. I hope I don’t have to see it again for a very long time. Mom stayed strong, as she always does. If I have one ounce of her strength, I’ll be eternally grateful.

            My padre gave me a great gift this year. He paid the adoption fee for my kitten, River, after I found out I had to shell out $600 for a security deposit to my apartment complex just to have her. I’m so appreciative for what he did because coming home to River every day is the highlight of my life.

            My big brother. Four and a half years apart and it shows most of the time. I don’t think he really knows how much I admire his life. Although, we don’t’ talk often, I know he’s always there if I need him and vice versa. He proved that this year when I called him out of the blue, hysterically crying and begging him to promise me something. He did promise me. He’s a great big brother.

Friends:

            Oh my friends. They’re the best. I always loved the saying “friends are the family you create for yourself” or however it goes. My friends are all super different from one another but equally odd and I think that’s why we fit together. One of my best friends moved home this year and we’re all so happy to have him back in Philly. My friends have spent a lot of time trying to figure their lives out and I think they all made significant progress this year. While none of us are completely put together (far from it), and we’re not all on the same path or going the same speed, we’re all heading in the right direction.

Myself:

            Hmmm, what to say here…well 2015, I can’t say I’m sorry to see you go. I dealt with death this year which always hits me hard. I think about death more than I think the average person does. I think about it at the most random times and for long periods of time. I try to move past it with humor and sarcasm and I do a pretty good job most of the time.

            Love life. Oh my love life, or lack thereof. Actually that’s not true. I fell in and out of love this year. Slowly, quietly and without anyone really knowing. ß My favorite way of doing anything and everything.

            I moved into my new apartment this year which I love. I bought my very first set of living room furniture and I’m slowly getting rid of all my hand-me-downs. Next, I’ll be purchasing my own kitchen set then possibly a new bedroom set until my entire apartment finally feels like me.

           My River came into my life. When I adopted River, so many people said to me, “I didn’t know you were a cat person” but it wasn’t about being a cat or dog or bird or turtle person. It was about a feeling I had when River was placed into my arms. I wanted her to stay there forever. It’s been two months (tomorrow) of living with her and I love her more and more every day.

            I lost almost 20 pounds this year and gained severe happiness. Partly because of the weight loss and partly because I’m becoming older and more comfortable in my life as a whole. I’m okay with the fact that when I talk about Doctor Who most people don’t care or understand. I’m okay with the fact that I’m never going to be super thin; my body just isn’t built for it. I’m okay with the fact that I’m always going to hate my arms. I’m still going to work on losing weight because it makes me happy to see a smaller number on the scale but I’m not going to let myself become obsessed with it or consumed by it. I’m going to enjoy my life while slowly (and it is a slow process) trying to regain control of my body.

            Being in an embarrassing situation is one of my least favorite aspects of life. I try to avoid being embarrassed at all costs. Even in school, I wouldn’t answer a question unless I was 100% sure of the answer because I didn’t want to be wrong and look stupid. To this day, I avoid guessing at anything because I don’t want to be wrong then be ridiculed. Whether people ridicule me or not, I always feel like they are (whole other issue). In 2015, I was embarrassed a LOT. Sometimes I couldn’t take it. Sometimes I tried to laugh it off and calm down the redness I knew was covering my already rosy cheeks. I tried really hard to not let the embarrassing situations ruin my night. In 2016, I’ll try a little harder.

            My writing. I made major progress this year with my writing. This website is one huge step forward. I don’t update it as much as I should which I’ll try to do more of in the future. I sent my writing to two of my previous teachers who are published authors (Eric Smith and Liz Moore- check out their books). They both gave me helpful and positive feedback on my work which is greatly appreciated and made me keep going instead of losing all hope in this difficult part of my life. I’m only making one new year’s resolution this year. Just one. Any others I think of will just be things to keep in mind as I go through the year.

            This year, my new year’s resolution is to finish a piece of writing. I tend to start things, get halfway through or more than halfway through then I get distracted or I have another idea and I start on something else. I’m the worst with finishing something I write. However, I’m always better when I have a deadline. 2016 is my deadline to finish something I’ve been working on sporadically for a while now.

            All in all, 2015 wasn’t half bad. I’m happy with who and where I am in my life. Here’s to 2016 being even more exciting and productive J

HAPPY NEW YEAR, EVERYONE!

Love,

Veronica

Remember

            Inevitably, we all reach an age when the holiday season isn’t always the happiest occasion. Hearing this from me might be especially shocking because Christmas and the holiday season are my favorite parts of the year.

            Eventually, we start to lose people and Christmas songs bring tears to our eyes for different reasons. The first Christmas without someone you love is always the hardest. Sometimes it doesn’t get easier but sometimes enough time passes where the music reminds of you the good times again.

            I’ve experienced a fair amount of death in my life starting from the age of 13. Then I look at my parents and the amount of family and friends they’ve lost over the years. One after another, over and over again. Holidays are hard because it feels as if the sadness will consume you. You think to yourself, will I ever feel the kind of holiday cheer everyone else seems obsessed with?

            Here’s what I know from watching my family and my friends over the years having to deal with death and the holidays:

            Look to the children. Never in my life would I say children are the answer to any problem except this one. If you’re feeling sad, if you’re feeling lonely, if you’re depressed: go outside, go to a mall or to a Christmas Village and look at the smiles on all the kids’ faces. Look how incredibly thrilled they are with what’s happening. How excited, how unafraid, how free they are surrounded by holiday decorations and toys and Santa and snow. Their faces, their happiness, it’s contagious and you will be affected. Kids don’t know bitterness; kids don’t know the type of loneliness the rest of us can become accustomed to in life. All they know is how wonderful this time of year is to them. Trust me, they can remind you of what it feels like to be filled to the brink with joy.

            I’m twenty six years old and I still act as if I’m 7 when it comes to this time of year. I love snow. I love driving around the neighborhoods and looking at all the decorations. It’s my dream to one day go see the big Christmas tree in New York. I love shopping, wrapping, and giving gifts. Baking cookies with my mom is one of my favorite past times. Yes, I sometimes feel sad because I remember all the people I’ve lost, but luckily I still feel very childlike around this time of year and I can tap into those feelings and help pull myself out of any darkness.

            Never, ever forget all those we’ve lost around this time of year. Remember them fully, with love, and if you need to cry about it then by all means, let it out. All I’m suggesting is when you’re done, remind yourself as to why you used to love this time of year. Look at your kids, grandkids, nieces, nephews, friends’ kids, whoever and reconnect with the holiday spirit. When you’re pissed off you have to clean snow off your car, remember how happy you used to be when you were a kid and you had a snow day. When someone is rude to you in a store, remind yourself that maybe this time of year is especially hard for them and forgive them.

            This time of year is short, though it may not seem it sometimes, it is. And you never know if you and everyone you love will see this time of year again. So why not try to make it the best time of year for yourself and everyone around you?

            Be kind. Be childlike. Enjoy every second of the holiday season. And most importantly…

            If you’re having a hard time just do one thing: Remember.

            Remember those you’ve lost. Remember your past holidays with them. Remember how much you used to love it. Remember, you are not alone.

            Remember, this time of year is special, magical.

            Let the magic of it overwhelm you.

Have a great holiday season, everyone.

Love,

Veronica

Patiently Waiting*

            I think about death a lot. Probably way more than I should or way more than a normal person. I may have mentioned this briefly before but it happened again today so I figured I’d write about it. At night, maybe twice a month, I have these pretty horrific nightmares. Mostly they’re about people I love dying and then I’ll wake up and not be able to move because of petrifying fear about five to ten minutes. I hate them and I don’t know what triggers them. You would think that’s bad enough but it’s not. My brain during the day can manage to come up with much, much worse.

            My imagination has always been on steroids. As a child, I would sit in the bathtub forever and play with my toys. Have full on conversations with them and make them talk to each other. I loved my dollhouses and could spend hours playing with them and coming up with scenarios for my dolls. Sometimes life is very difficult for me. People don’t follow a script and it bothers me. I’ll imagine saying something to a person and then I’ll imagine every single thing that person could possibly say but the bottom line is, other people don’t follow my script. I think the only surprises in life should come in the form of Christmas presents. I like to know what’s coming. I like to control what is going to happen in my life. I could control my toys and my dolls, I could control their lives and circumstances with my imagination. As an adult, I control the characters I write because at least they follow my script…most of the time.

            My imagination can give me incredibly vivid scenarios and play them out in my head over and over again. It chooses to center around death a lot of the time. I don’t know when I started thinking about death so much. I think when I was a junior in high school, all of our summer reading had books with dead mothers: The Secret Lift of Bees, Out of the Dust, and The Elephant Man. Dead mothers galore. Then I started reading more and more young adult books with dead parental characters or suicidal characters. I think because not only did I love to read but I was also fascinated by psychology and I wanted to know why people feel the way they feel, why they do the things they do.

            Then a year later my mother was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and the whole possibility of a dead parent thing became a lot more real.

            This morning on my way to work, I started crying. I honestly don’t know what set me off. One second I’m just driving down the street passing by a big building I like to pretend is Wayne Manor and the next second, I’m picturing calling my best friend Chrissy and telling her my Mother is dead. And I’m screaming and crying and I can’t leave her bedside and Chrissy has to come and pry me away from her. Why did I think that? Why? Where did it come from? And why, oh jesus Christ, WHY can I see it so fucking clearly in my head? I can see everything about the hospital room, I can smell it, I can taste the tears on my lips. And all of a sudden, I’m crying softly and slowly in my car on the way to work. I have to tell myself over and over again, it’s okay, she’s alive. She’s at work. My Dad’s at work. David is at work. Everyone is fine, they’re fine. But it doesn’t feel fine; my imagination makes it feel very, very real. As if it’s already happened and I’m remembering a situation from the past. It’s not my past, I don’t even know if it’s my future and yet it’s my present in the car at that very moment and I can’t control it. I try, I try to stop the thoughts as they come hurdling to the fore front of my brain but it’s too difficult. They come and they burry themselves until I can’t do anything but play out the scene in my mind and wait for it to end. Wait for the script to run out. But this isn’t my script. This is an involuntary script being forced upon me by my own brain.

            There’s been a lot of death in my life, directly and indirectly. I’ve lost two Grandpops, one step Grandpop, I watched one of my best friends lose both his step-parents, I’ve watched people lose their grandparents, parents, friends. I’ve watched my Mom lose person after person, family member after family member, friend after friend. My Dad lost almost all of his friends and his father, shrinking his family to a very small size. I’ve been to a lot of funerals. Too many funerals. And there’s so many more to come. Maybe that’s why I think of these things so much? Because I know death is coming eventually and maybe if I know it’s coming, maybe if I can see it all in my head first it won’t be as horrifying when it actually happens. Wouldn’t that be nice? Of course, it’s not like that. I can think of 800 different ways I could lose someone I love and chances are not one of my predictions will be how it actually goes down.

            I love my imagination for so many reasons. It’s how I create characters, it’s how I enjoy movies and books and life in general. I rely heavily on it to get through a boring day. Then there are days like today, days when I wouldn’t wish this imagination on my worst enemy.

            Days when I picture my loved ones dying.

            Days when I picture their funerals in perfect detail.

            Days when I can picture the burial, the casket, the crying, the heart wrenching loneliness of losing them all.

            It’s hard to talk about these things with people. I’ve tried and I’ve been called “negative” or they look at me with this face, this face that says “What a weird morbid person you are”. No one wants to talk to me about the death of people who aren’t sick or dying. No one wants to see me cry over something that hasn’t happened and isn’t even close to happening.

            What people don’t understand, what I WANT people to understand is, I can’t control these thoughts. No more so than I can control the weather. I hate not being able to talk about this with people. I hate that I bury it away because it makes me feel like I’m in the wrong when I know I’m not. So here I am, talking about it. Even if I’m just talking about it to a website that maybe 3 people read. These are my thoughts and sometimes they’re scary and sad and involuntary and I hate them.

            There’s a bright side though (for all of you who think I’m so negative).

            The good thoughts always come back. It might take a day; it usually takes me writing out the horrible thoughts first. But they do always come back.

            The good thoughts always come back. I just have to wait.

*I'm horrible with coming up with titles so this one is courtesy of my friend Bonnie, also a writer. We were torn between Patiently Waiting and Patiently Morbid so I wanted to mention both. Thanks, Bonnie!

Dreaming in Reruns

                                                                                                                   Dumbledore always gets it.

                                                                                                                   Dumbledore always gets it.

Right before I go to sleep, I try to think about what I want to dream about that night. Whether it be about a guy or a funny memory or something I wish to happen that weekend. I do this because I suffer from pretty bad nightmares and sometimes this exercise helps keep them away. Last night, however, I had no such luck because right before I fell asleep my brain decided it wanted to think about every interaction I’ve ever had with another human being.

On nights like this, when I can’t sleep and my brain won’t stop going, I tend to let it run. I want to see what it comes up with and try to figure out why I’m thinking about this specific thing right now. When my brain decides it wants to stay up, it thinks about three major things: Death, Embarrassment, and Anger (sometimes all three of these things interconnect).

For death, my brain goes back over every death I’ve experienced starting with my Grandpop when I was 13, going through my friend’s parents, to great Aunts, and finally on my most recent one with my Mom’s cousin. Usually my brain likes to revisit the funerals, think about how people handle them, how people grieve compared to how I grieve. Not saying one or the other is better but really thinking about it for the sheer fascination of how everyone is different in this department.

The other part of death my brain likes to think about is future deaths. Sometimes when I can’t think of anything else to write, I write eulogies for people I know. Sounds morbid I know but when you have writer’s block and can’t think of anything creative to write about, you write about what you know. I know my people and I know why they’re amazing, so I write their eulogies…Christ, that sounds terrible but whatever it’s what I do. I probably think about death more so than most people, not really sure why. I read a lot of books involving death as a teenager, right after my Grandpop died, trying to understand it or trying to deal with it, who knows? I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that if I think about death a lot, if I picture the funerals of the people I love, if I can fully transport myself into that situation years before it ever happens, then maybe when it does happen I’ll be prepared to deal with it. I know that’s not logical or true but it’s how I try to justify it to myself. Think about it, analyze it, deal with it and I’ll be prepared for when it happens.

After running through all the death, my brain said, “Let’s have a marathon of all your most embarrassing moments!”

                                                                                                                                 Mulan- My favorite

                                                                                                                                 Mulan- My favorite

Oh goody, my favorite. For those of you who don’t know me, my embarrassment bar is set very low. If I say something even slightly stupid, I remember it YEARS later and it plays over again in these horrible brain montages of my life. If I DO something embarrassing, act moronically or somehow end up in a situation where I look stupid, I never forget it. My brain starts with something little like, the time I cut my own bangs in grade school. Then we move onto bigger things, the time I tripped and fell in front of a bunch of people…oh wait, that’s happened multiple times and my brain shows me each and every time.  But to me, the most embarrassing things to happen to me in my life are when I say something and immediately regret it. No one else may notice or think what I said is ridiculous or stupid but I do and it silently tortures me for so long. You would think for someone who considers every situation from every angle and stages conversations in her head constantly would be able to predict the outcome of anything she says. Incorrect. A lot of tossing and turning and slapping my hands over my face to try and force away the memories, my brain moved on to anger.

Anger is a tricky one.

Most people think if I start running my mouth, that’s when I’m really angry. Incorrect. When I’m running my mouth, I’m annoyed, I’m ticked, I’m a bit peeved. It’s when I become silent, it’s when you cannot get a word out of me, that’s when you should worry. That’s when my anger has reached a level so high I cannot verbally communicate it with someone. I have no problem saying how I feel, granted I prefer to write how I feel but if you want me to say it, I will. Very easily. So when my words stop, when my silence is the only sound filling the room, that’s when I’m done. Big fights, really big fights, I’ve only had with a few people over the years. And even those fights, only one or two have ended with me never speaking to the person again. Most people might reflect on those instances and regret cutting those people out, I truly do not. I know who is toxic to my life and who isn’t and I do not regret ending relationships with certain people, not even a little. Do I wish things could have turned out differently? Of course, everyone does but I wouldn’t go back and change what happened.

Death, embarrassment, and anger. Over and over. Round and round. Until next thing I know it’s 4 in the morning and I’m still awake. I know why I pick the worst reruns of my life to go over. I’ve felt weird all week. You know those weeks I’m talking about. The ones where every little thing someone says annoys you.  Little things just piss you off and then you think about all the little things that happened this week and it becomes one big pain in the ass so you’re just constantly saying over and over again, “I hate people”. Or is that just me? I think I uttered that phrase a hundred times this week. It happens when I spend too much time on TheDodo.com and find myself loving animals way more than I like humans.

It’s difficult to explain why I was like this all week. Sometimes I think my life is going really well and yet I feel nothing towards it. What the outside world considers having your life together, doesn’t always feel that way to the individual. Sometimes looking at what you have just reminds you of everything you may not have in your life. Don’t get me wrong, I am very grateful for everything I have and I work my ass off to have it. There are those one or two aspects of life though, they are always just out of reach and of course those are the ones we choose to dwell on. Not all the time, I’d be unbearable if I was like this all the time. But nights like last night, after weeks like this past week, it all catches up and I have to work through it in order to get back to being grateful and happy.

 I was in a funk and last night my brain wanted to go through every possible reason why. I’m not sure I figured it out completely. I think it was really just an excuse for me to write because I haven’t in a while. But I did pose a very important question to a few of my friends this week. I asked, “Do you think it’s impossible to be completely happy?” A buddy of mine gave me the best answer. Here it is:

“No way. I mean you’re never gonna be happy all the time. We’re not robots. I think life’s all about the feelings we get and all the stuff that makes us human. If happiness outweighs everything else then I think that’s technically complete happiness.”

And with that, I hope you all have a really great weekend.