This blog is a collection of a young woman's random thoughts, many tangents, and occasional
short stories and novel excerpts. Stay tuned for plenty of bull and brief moments of brilliance.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Books, My Old Friends, You Never Fail Me

Just as the title says, I was reminded today (not that it takes much reminding) how much I love reading. This morning I woke up and drove over to the mall to go to Barnes and Noble. I tend to treat Barnes and Noble like a library, sitting there for hours a day in the big comfy chairs on the second floor by the bay window. I'll stroll over to the fiction section, peruse the new fiction collection, grab a couple books, and find a seat.

Today, sitting in one of those chairs and opening the cover of a book about a couple's deadly skiing trip, I felt my heart soar. The book wasn't that great in the end, but the words were enough for me. I have Picture of Dorian Gray, Heart of Darkness, and Age of Innocence in my purse right now, but as much fun as it is to sit in my bed and read through the sunshine hours, there's something magical about a bookstore.

Whenever I'm reading, that's one of the moments I all of a sudden want to write. Some days previous summers I've found myself running--no, sprinting--back home to my computer or an ample supply of paper on which to scribble the reel in my brain. This time today though, I simply soaked up the moment and let myself feel a couple minutes of...whatever the fuck it is. I would say happiness, but I'm not quite at that place yet post-Irish travels. Perhaps content? Naw, I hate that word, it's empty. At peace? Nope, sounds like I'm about to die. Don't know what it is, but I like it. So when I said I was going to spend my summer writing and at bookstores, it was no joke. Maybe I'll write tomorrow but come Thursday, I'll be curled up in one of those chairs, sighing out that window with a sly smile on my face.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Back in the States!

First post from back in America, specifically Wisconsin. I've been away from Cork for five days now, back home for four. You know that feeling you get when you're back from a vacation and it feels like you never left? Nope, don't feel that at all. I was showing my parents and siblings photos/videos from my semester abroad and my dad said, "Wow! Can you believe you did and saw so much?" "Honestly, dad," I responded, "I can't."

It doesn't feel real, being home that is, and it makes sense in a way when I look at how much has happened to me over the course of five months. I've been away from this place for a long time, sure, but it feels like years. Inside jokes have been made about celebrity mishaps, I'm totally out of the loop on local politics, and even the feel of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel or New York Times feels foreign in my hands. When I first got into Atlanta (before my flight was delayed, delayed, delayed, canceled, and I switched to a different airline and left the next morning) and walked through the terminal, I was on sensory overload. Seeing all the newspapers, magazines, TV's blasting CNN and MSNBC, even the candy bars was overwhelming.

It didn't really hit me that I was back until I landed in Milwaukee. Literally, my heart skipped a beat when I felt the plane wheels touch the runway. Could it really be? Was I really back here already? It may have felt like I had been gone for ages, but it felt like just yesterday that I was driving off to O'Hare to fly into Dublin.

Walking through the tiny Milwaukee airport, I was surprised at how familiar it felt, comforting and unsettling at the same time. My eyes were watering, but I could still make out my sister's face at the end of the long hallway. I heard her yell, "Ah! Your face! I see your face!" and I started sprinting, sobbing as I nearly tackled her and my dad to the ground. Climbing in the family van was strange, driving on I-94 and seeing our exit was strange, driving through our suburb was strange, seeing my street was strange. I walked into the house and was struck by the smell, probably because I'd become so accustomed to the nastiness that was my shit-hole-of-an-apartment in Cork City. My dog, Lucy started running (and sliding on the hardwood floors) and it took her a second to realize I wasn't just some person visiting; it was me, Molly.

I was really home.

Unfortunately, it didn't take long for me to cry, and cry I have for the past couple days, though I haven't at all today so that's probably a good sign (I must say though, crying in an airport is one of the most awkward moments ever, and this is coming from a very awkward person to begin with). This past weekend, there were some unexpected and expected tears.

I cried because my sister was graduating high school.
I cried because I was exhausted and hadn't slept a wink in two days.
I cried because jet lag was killing me.
I cried because I didn't have an (American) cent to my name.
I cried because I wished I was in Iowa City for the summer.
I cried because I missed my roommates.
I cried because I missed my Irish friends...one in particular.
I cried because I felt like a fucking idiot for crying.
And so on.

I knew it would be emotional coming back, though not this hard. My friends here know what a basket-case I can be, but I didn't really show that side to my friends back in Ireland because, for the most part, I was happy almost every day. Never before had I experienced such happiness, a combo of no school stress, unlimited free time, amazing travels, parties whenever we felt like it, almost complete freedom, and fantastic friends. I've had parts of this before (specifically the party stuff and friends) but it was the perfect storm of all these elements coming together that made the whole experience unforgettable.

It's Memorial Day which means, beyond honoring those who served my country, family BBQ. I can hear my family now running around downstairs, back from the grocery store, getting ready for the prep work. I should probably get down there and help get the food going...

Anyways, I don't mean to say I'm not happy to be back; it's not a matter of being happy or unhappy. I'm used to moving and saying goodbye (in big ways and small) by now and this is just a different type of one of which I have not yet encountered, but I know I'll be okay in a couple weeks once I get settled in. This summer will be for hanging out with my amazing DSHA friends, writingwritingwriting, loitering around the mall and specifically Barnes and Noble, and spending time with my sister. As much as I love them, I can't spend the whole summer with my family again or I'll go crazy! Crazy as they are, I love them all to bits and cherish every second I get to hug my siblings obnoxiously and laugh with my parents. My sister, God love her, will be my rock this summer as usual.

There will be drama in our house, I'll get bored, (hopefully) find a job that I'll love/hate, get sunburned a couple times, and finally finish Autumn Leaves.

Well summer? Bring. It. On.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Down to Counting on One Hand

Four days to go, four days...(feels like three though since I leave at 6am on Thursday morning) it feels unreal. For the past month or so, I've been looking to this week with a mixture of dread and excitement, uncontrolled glee and uncontrollable sobbing. Which is greater though, the happiness or sadness? It's 50/50, right down the middle. For the past couple weeks when I should have been studying, I've been catching up on all the TV shows I missed over April, reading NY Times, eating too many an ice cream bar, and most importantly: writing.

What? WHAT?! It's taken me this fucking long to want to write, right when I should be concentrating on more important things? But...are they more important things? Crazy thing, I know, to be hearing from a perfectionist, school-loving girl, but my random bursts of unhelpful or useless writing have turned out to be just the opposite. Maybe, just maybe, I can finish what I began four years ago this upcoming summer? Autumn's story can finally be finished and I can have the joy of working on something else?

You get to this awkward point at the end of a story where you are writing out of need rather than creative want. There's no more mystery to the journey any longer, the characters have told you how their story will end and they are developed to the point that any more manipulation of their actions will seem ingenuous. This is why I love daydreaming about The Mystieks; Isabelle is in the beginning stages of development and I am still very much in charge of her path. As a control-freak of sorts, losing that control over your characters is both freeing and draining. I miss that feeling though and perhaps I have to start thinking not about Autumn being fully-formed but of the plot still being somewhat under my control even if it's mostly been sorted out.

Anyways, the random writings continue as the studying for my two English finals this week dwindle. It's annoying because I know I could rock these exams if I gave a shit at this point and that I'll do a respectable job not trying at all. If it were any other subject, I'd be fucked, but I'm good at English; I get it. Analyzing paragraphs, looking at historical context, descriptive writing that drips off the tongue like honey, symbolism up the wazoo, these are the things for which I live.

I'm at a weird place right now though, mentally and emotionally. I have one foot still in Cork City and amongst my mountaineering friends here that I've come to love (and tolerate) like a family, and one foot back in Milwaukee/Iowa City with all I've loved for years. I feel the weight of leaving this place pressing down on my shoulders when I wander around Cork City at 3am, sleep refusing to relieve me. Going through the motions of the days, I wait until I can see or hang out with friends or have another shitty idea about which I can write to give me a purpose. Yes, I'm being melodramatic; hell, it's what I do! In all seriousness though, I do miss home like there's no tomorrow and miss Cork already even though I'm still residing here.

I'll probably save packing until the last possible moment to avoid the sadness. At least I have my sister and friends back home to comfort me and remind be why I love Wisconsin so much, and my Iowa and sorority sisters back at U of I to make me feel welcome in the fall at my home-away-from-home. Counting down the days, trying not to let it get to me and attempt to give a shit about my last days as an underclassman. Soon, I'll be flying into O'Hare with a lump in my throat and butterflies in my stomach. With tears in my eyes, I'll run off that plane to hug my family and drive back home to good 'ole Milwaukee. I can both wait and barely wait.

Monday, May 16, 2011

This Chapter is Drawing to a Close.

And as quickly as it began it's coming to an end; less than two weeks til I leave good 'ole Irishland and head back to WiscAnsin. I've mentioned it before in previous posts, but this semester has been an amazing learning experience and all the rest of that "study-abroad-and-find-yourself" bullshit. It's true though, so much so that hurts thinking about leaving the country I've come to know and love.

The friends here I've made will always be with me. They've been there for many a house-party and youtube watching nights. We've eaten so many biscuits and drank so much tea (and some of us a few too many bottles of wine...), cheap and fancy. We've traveled parts of the world I had only ever seen before behind my eyes in my dreams. I had true guy friends for the first time in my life and fell in love with the pub culture.

Now, before I get too sappy/sentimental, here are some of the things I've learned over these past five months:

I love to travel for a week at most (the point where my mind turns to mush).

After years of others telling me what a confident person I am, it's finally starting to become true.

I'm smarter than I give myself credit for, school-wise and beyond.

I'm a shitty, unimaginative cook.

I'm a decent photographer, but better with people than landscapes.

I have a broader fashion sense than I display on a daily basis and need to start taking more risks.

Though I don't need a man to validate or "complete me," the right one can help me grow more confident in myself physically and emotionally (and he did).

I need to have a 24hr store nearby for late-night ice cream runs.

I eat far too much cheese, even for a Wisconsinite.

I can down a bottle of wine in under an hour.

I have the uncanny ability to sit in front of my computer and write random crap for an entire day and realize all I've eaten in the past eight hours was an apple.

I'm a good friend, generous and loyal.

I look fucking stupid when I walk in heels.

My dreams are not crazy or silly, they are what keep me going and waking up ever day.

There are skeletons in my closet that may need airing out...someday.

I can never go five months again without seeing my sister/best friend.

I love the University of Iowa; it's one of the best decisions I've made the past couple years.

I AM mature even if I do have bursts of child-like glee.

I know who I am and where I stand; I just need to trust who that person is.

I need to be challenged in order to concentrate in classes...or force myself to study (so NOT right now).

I'm worth it and don't have to settle for just anyone.

When I do settle down, it must be in Wisconsin; I love that state.

Though they can be long-winded, I am a good storyteller.

I'm a fucking good writer. If I don't believe it, who the hell will?

Ireland will always have a special place in my heart.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Affect Effect

To what extent *Alexia has affected me, I don’t think I’ll ever fully know. Friendships are easily formed and I can relate to others relatively well, so for the longest time I thought that while it still affects my self-esteem to a certain extent, it largely didn’t hinder my current life. Perhaps, though, this was wishful thinking?

Memory
Upon reflection, I realize most of the stories I recall about Alexia I place at the age of eight or thirteen. I can remember third grade, second, first, K-5 and K-4 about as well as the next person, but parts of fourth, fifth, and sixth? A complete blur. It’s hard to accept that such a thing is possible, chucks of memory gone or, more likely, buried deep in the subconscious. Not many people have vivid, concrete memories from the age of four or three and instead remember stories after they’ve been reminded of them by family friends or their parents, but the fact that there is a significant shift in recollection between those two ages makes the diagnosis of PTSD that I received that much more realistic. The diagnosis was given upon me telling of flashbacks and after questioning, being able to only recall tidbits of my time with Alexia. It wasn’t until a year or two ago that I started trying to date these memories and thought, “Damn, a lot of stuff happened when I was eight!” Or did it? Is this the age that Alexia’s influence and hold on me grew from the one she had from three to seven?

It’s not that I don’t have memories of Alexia before I was eight that are disturbing and signs of emotional abuse, but the more “potent” ones are placed later in our friendship. This makes sense since it would be frightening if Alexia really had achieved that high a level of manipulation at the age of, say, six; eight seems slightly more plausible.

Additionally, this is not to say that I don’t have any memory of the end of elementary school or the start of middle school. I remember the faux “court case” with Alexia in fifth grade and our bonding over another girl who we perceived to be a threat. I remember people saying our fifth grade teacher was going to be really mean, but I loved him. I remember September 11th, as almost all Americans do, and the slight emotional brake my mother experienced soon after. I remember getting my hair cut for a magazine and how horrible it turned out, how my brother told me I looked like an alien, and how Alexia laughed at me. I remember going to London with my family. I remember my first middle school social and the boy who laughed at me when I asked him to dance; I even remember the song: “This I Promise You” by N’SYNC. I remember waking up at 6am obsessively to make my mom curl my hair under so no hairs stuck out in the back. I remember how detached I started to feel about my friends and how school became an escape for me. Perfection was my one control over my life that was becoming increasingly out of control. But that’s about it.

It may seem like a lot to remember, but over the course of a few years, that isn’t much to go on. And a lot of those other things I only remember because people have reminded me of them, flashbacks not having to do with Alexia (of which there have been a few), pictures, and diary entries. But, how did I feel at this age? A weird thing to find strange not remembering, but I can remember pretty well what general feeling I felt at other ages. Diary entries have been an eye-opener to my mind at these semi-lost years. The entries are relatively void of emotion, or if there is emotion, it’s overpowering and sporadic, usually after I say anything negative. Mentions of Alexia are far and few in-between, only occasional frustrations I’m having with her, listing who my friends are, and apologies for becoming frustrated. The portrait of Alexia from my diaries is one of a person who I frequently misunderstand and is a devout, close, and caring best friend. My words are wise beyond my years, almost to the point of emotional-detachment.

I've only had one substantial flashback over the past couple years, so I am beginning to wonder if those memories will ever come back or if they even should. Maybe they are too intense, too emotional, too great for me to wrap my head around. My mind most likely is trying to protect me, and maybe this is a good thing for now.


Relationships
My luck with men has never been that great, though I feel like this statement carries a bit more validity at the age of twenty than it did when I would say it at fourteen. I’ve never been the type to have male friends other than the ones my girl friends are dating. Going to an all-girls high school and being involved with theater throughout those four years makes for a small dating pool, on top of my mother’s overprotective attitude toward me and boys. After my mom died, I was in no state to try and seek a boyfriend, nor again did I know anyone I would/could date. By my senior year I developed a crush, but he didn’t want to pursue anything since it was close to the end of senior year.

First year of college brought two consecutive failed relationships, though they failed for various reasons that have little to do with my past. The rest of my freshman year I again didn’t really know any guys except for those on Writer’s floor, but we were all too close in the Writer’s Living/Learning Community for any healthy hope of that. I turned to casual makeouts on dark dance floors in clubs; I never bothered to learn the names of the strangers I shared drunken hookups with, or remember their faces even. This didn’t affect me much; I found it easier to get out some of my pent up sexual frustration without the emotional baggage. This didn’t mean, however, that my desire for a real relationship was far from my grasp.

Sophomore year was more promising than freshman year, mainly because I had done a lot of growing up. Horny-drunk Molly though was still prevalent, but I actually had some guy friends. Ireland was supposed to be my opportunity to have wild-crazy sex with hot foreign guys without much of a reputation following me back home, but I soon realized the possibility of that happening was unlikely. I joined a club of mostly guys and had more guy friends than ever before.

While in Ireland, I decided, I needed something void of complication, simple, intoxicating, and controllable. By March I found someone who I cared about. I was giddy, confident, and content. He was hot, funny, kind, and hilariously awkward. Then it happened: I felt something. “Shit, shit, shit!” my brain told me. I really sucked at this whole no-strings-attached. Rather quickly I accepted that I just needed to breathe and let my mind relax without the pressures of labeling everything.

But…it scares me. This isn’t a story of the past, it’s the present, here and now, so current it’s unbelievable. It didn’t scare me because I was unable to keep emotion out of it or because it happened. It didn’t scare me because I thought it was a sign I could never have a true relationship. It didn’t scare me because it made me vulnerable and I could possibly be left confused and heartbroken. It scared me because of what it reminded me of that I knew all along, deep down.

I keep men at arm’s-length because it means so much more than a friendship; it means accepting that I am desirable. More importantly, it means I could be worthy of that kind of affection. Alexia fucked me up, yes I know this to be true, but I always wanted to ignore the scars that no amount of therapy could heal: that feeling of not deserving. I am still sometimes that little girl that no one could love, no one wanted, and only Alexia would accept out of pity and duty. I love myself now better than I have before, but the idea of letting myself go is a reminder of that abuse. I will get past it eventually, I tell myself, but the process is long; it’s taken longer than any of my other setbacks that I’ve worked through over the past seven years. I can do it though, I tell myself, because I have to; it’s the final piece of the puzzle on my path to recovery.


(*name changed to protect privacy)

Monday, May 9, 2011

A Late Night/Early Morning Poem

Hello! I did continue to write in my journal, but feel it would be wise not to post all of my random writings. However, with exams fast approaching as well as my realization that I am completely unprepared for said exams, I felt rather melancholy and started writing a rather shitty poem. Then woke up this morning, feeling slightly less melodramatic, and finished what I started. I feel it's one of my better poems, but I suck at poetry to begin with so it won't be anything spectacular.

Home from traveling and feeling all this weight on my shoulders. Friends running around, trying to get their stuff done and still have enough time for each other is difficult at best without throwing the stress of finals into the mix. Roman Imperial History one tomorrow with Japanese Philosophy Wednesday, though I am far more concerned about Japanese Philosophy. I attended every lecture, took diligent notes, asked questions when need be, and read the documents required...and still have no idea what the hell is going on in the class. My essay for Japanese Philosophy wasn't too bad (especially in comparison to the Roman History one) and there's a participation grade that I should get full marks for, but the perfectionist in me rears its ugly head. That is, I want it to be perfect but keep sitting around waiting for others to entertain me instead of cracking down and getting done what must be. If I don't put my all into this (or at least a good fraction of it) I will never forgive myself. Roman Imperial History shouldn't be too hard and if I start looking at Japanese Philosophy as a series of bullet points instead of this abstract idea of which I cannot wrap my brain around, maybe I'll be okay.

Getting off track though, and speaking of which (I cannot remember if I mentioned this in my previous post): I was not accepted into the Creative Writing Track. I knew I was taking a risk with my piece and alas it didn't pay off as I hoped it would, but I may reapply in the Fall if I come up with something I feel worthy of submission. I've rearranged my schedule and added on a Theater Arts minor, which is something I truly love and can open me up to taking play writing classes and possibly performing said pieces, helping me on my career path and giving me an outlet for my creativity. Was I upset when I found out? Devastated? Sobbed hysterically in a McDonald's in Paris? Yes, yes, and sadly yes, but I'm okay now and who knows? Maybe this slap in the face was just to wake me up to a higher potential.

Anyways, here's the poem, take it or leave it as usual, but needed to express the confusion swirling inside me:

The Truth Is...
The truth is there is no truth
No one, correct answer
No perfect path for us to take
We're all stuck in this fucked up movie called "Life"
And are somehow surprised every time shit hits the fan
When the cameras turn off and the set clears
What are we left with?
Empty wallets
Notebooks filled with shitty writing
Fading memories
Broken hearts
Poetry that further breaks out hearts at just how shitty it is
Nothing to show for it all
All the hard work
Sleepless nights
Tears shed
Crumpled papers haphazardly thrown at the trash can
We look to our hands and they are empty
But why does this not just surprise us, but dampen our spirits?
It happens time and time again with similar results
Accepting the unacceptable
Taking that confusion, despair, and heartache
Rolling it all into one giant scream
And thrusting it upon the world!
Let them hear our cries
Focusing that energy into something beautiful
Though, deep down we know
That the beauty will soon be tainted and broken
Let a fake smile be forced across our faces
Until that day it becomes real
Someday, we will roll with the hiccups
And revel in their mystery and uncertainty
Beauty not in some perfection for which we all strive to attain
But in the shit we create.

Now, off to studying, must be productive! Thank God for this blog because it reminds me that even if I'm not in some Writing Track, I still have an outlet for my writing, regardless of who's reading it. It gives me something to do, to create my own shit free of perfection. (but one can dream, can't she?)