CNF: Blades

With a small pink razor, stolen from another foster kid, I shave at the sporadic hair on my legs. I hear her voice, my adoptive mother’s, in my head with each down sweep of the blades, ‘if you shave your legs the hair will grow back thicker. Then you’ll have to keep shaving and shaving. Forever.”

I don’t care. I want to be like everyone else, baby smooth skin that’s soft to touch. The way it used to be. I want to wear dresses and shorts without feeling the prickly spikes of embarrassment move against flowy material. I curve my hand slightly but it’s just enough for the blade to nick my adolescent skin.

Sucking in a quick breath at the sharp sting, I watch as a bead of blood wells to the surface. It slips down and taints my skin. I watch it still and I get an idea. It blooms in me like a rose. It’s petals vibrant. I push on the nick and pause to watch more blood follow the path of the razor, down toward my ankle where it pools in the divot near my heel. I know what to do. I’ve heard about it from one of the girls that slept in the basement rooms. She talked about a friend who found a way out. Of pain. Of fear. Of abandonment. Because, even at eight years old, I know exactly what that word means.

I know what the word feels like. The way it wraps around your throat, each letter like fingers tightening as they mold to the contours of your flesh. I know what it sounds like. Rain pattering against window panes as you’re left behind. Watching the cars drive by, wondering if you’ll be remembered or if they will go on with ‘family’ day without you. I know what it looks like. The way it swirls in the air, red in the color of betrayal.

So, I want what she had. The slow release as you feel the Everything fade away. I want to end it all.

***

I’m back in the bathroom and I’m ready. I’ve set myself up by announcing that I haven’t yet showered. My mother tells me she knows, without looking up from whatever is more important. She says that she can smell the Fonk on me. “You’re the first one to notice your own stink,” she’s told me so many times. This time, I wonder if it’s just another lie she tells.

I look in the mirror, a reflection that I can see only by standing on the toilet, and I nod. Then I’m smiling like a loon. Here we go. Climbing down, I grab the razor from the lip of the sink and dig my tiny fingers between the plastic sides. With much force, it cracks, but the part with the blades held fixed.

“I can’t even get this right,” I say in a low whisper. The hot tears come fast, welling and falling before I can blink them away. I’m grabbing and pulling and the sharp edge is slicing at the pads of my fingers. I feel the pain but am determined. I might even like the pain. The way with each slice brings up a paper thin flap of flesh.

Sitting on the toilet lid, I pull up my knees and yank until finally the blades are free. They are wet with sticky blood and I almost yell triumphantly. Dropping the rest of the razor to the floor, I bite the fleshy inside of my cheek, sit two blades on the windowsill and take the third in between my fingers. It’s a precious jewel that I cradle fondly, for a few seconds.

Then I’m cutting. Down and down, until I break through the skin and the lean meat of my small wrist. It’s hot, the area of incision, and I wait for the blood. It slips over my skin and drips onto my knee. It’s fascinating and I sit transfixed under the spell.

Next to the first line I make another, pushing until the skin is broken and then I’m frowning. It doesn’t hurt as bad. The initial shock – gone. Switching to my non-dominant hand, I slice into my right wrist and there the adrenaline is again. It fills me and I close my eyes. I roll back my shoulders and stand a little straighter. I’m in control. This is my body. No one can tell me what to do with my own flesh. They can’t take my limbs from me and I will do whatever I want with them. I am defiant, as everyone always tells me, and I’ve taken it in stride.

With the second cut I go deeper, longer than the other three, and I feel a jolt in my hand. A tingle that spears through each finger, then circles up to my elbow and round my shoulder. The shock of it sparks fear and I drop the blade to my feet, where it narrowly misses the bathroom carpet. I sigh in relief as it settles against the tile with barely a sound. A whimper escapes as the pain grows and I’m watching the blood fall quicker from this fourth cut. I scramble to gather toilet paper to the wrist, and it spins off the roll, spilling in white sheets onto the floor. My left wrist has caught up. It’s dripping profusely and I jump up to stand over the sink.

I didn’t want to end it today, I think. I just wanted to practice. I just wanted to see if I could. If it was easy. My chest is tightening, breaths a quick staccato against the silence of the bathroom. ‘She had a panic attack and…’ I remember one of my teachers saying, after I nearly passed out a few months ago, and I stand up straight. I hold my breath, hoping to stop the rising sense of relinquishment. Then I’m counting; One, Two, Three, Four. The blood has slowed, I see. I flick on the faucet and run both stained wrists under the cool water. It stings and I’m sucking in another breath.

I hear someone calling my name. Dinner! I’d completely forgotten. I’m turning the water on full blast now, hoping to wash away my sins. The water irritates the cuts and blood flows again. A vicious cycle. I feel stupid. Useless. Like the waste of space that I am. We have dinner every night. How could I forget that?

Finally, I cut the water (to the faucet and the shower) and I’m wrapping my wrists in wads of toilet paper. I quickly grab the blades from the sill and the one from the floor and wrap them too. I stick them in the small pocket of my jeans and the towel that is in the color assigned to me. Wrapping my wrists, doubly now, I make a quick exit into the adjacent bedroom. My name is called again and I yell that I’m putting my clothes on.
In my room, I change and put on a cropped jean jacket. It’s long sleeved and the material snags on the wadded toilet paper on my wrists. I slide the buttons closed and look at myself in the mirror. My eyes are wide and I know I look feral. There’s a thin line of wayward blood across my check and I’m wiping. Wiping, and wiping and scrubbing it away. I’m scrubbing and then I’m hitting. I’m smacking a small hand against my check for being so stupid. Then I know I must end it. Just not today.

***

At the dinner table, I sit with my hands in my lap, mock respect. My adoptive mother is going on about how it’s ‘just so rude’ for me to make everyone else wait while I lollygag. I do this so often, so late, all the time. Maybe another punishment is in order. Why does she always have to punish me? How I can’t be more important than everyone else. “That’s not how the world works,” she says.

I get it, at least, I think I do. I’m not important and shouldn’t make myself out to be. “You can’t be something you’re not’ was another of her admonishments. I nod and she corrects me ‘use your words’. I look up and she’s staring right at me. Everyone is. Can they see what I’ve done? I shove my hands further into my lap and depress the urge to wince as the cuts in my wrists grind against the now sticky toilet paper.

“Hello?” she says to me, sarcastically drawing out the O, and I’m looking around. My brother is smirking at me from across the table and I jump. He’s holding a plate of warm garlic rolls in my direction. I can see butter melting in the slits topping each one. Gingerly I lift my arm to take the plate, and a roll, before passing it on. She has a screwed look, the one where her lips go to one side and her eyes narrow. I can see it from the corner of my eye and I think any minute. Any minute now and she’ll ask what’s wrong and that’ll be the worst.

I’m a horrible liar, I know. I fidget in my seat and then dig into my food that she’s already plated due to my tardiness. It satisfies her and she begins her rounds of the table, everyone having their turn in the spotlight. “How was your day? What did you do? Did you learn anything?”

I take a deep breath around a bite of thick mashed potatoes and relax. ‘One day but not today,’ I think. I sit and listen as everyone tries to find something interesting to say and pretend they did. When it comes around to me I think of my wrists. I think of something I might say.

“I slit my wrists today. I didn’t want to kill myself, only see if it would be easy – should I want to. It hurt. It hurt so bad that it felt good. I still want to kill myself, one day. But for now I just want to revel in the pain that sears through my body. It makes me think of everything that has ever been done to me, will ever be done to me, and how this is different. It’s me, saying what goes. Saying WHEN,” I pretend to say. Instead, I shrug.

“I finished reading my new book,” I say.

“I thought you just got that book yesterday,” she says between bites of fried chicken.

“I did. And I finished it. It was fantastic. It was about…”

“So that’s what you were doing in your room. Didn’t I tell you not to spend all day up there reading? Those people aren’t real. How will you ever learn anything about making a human connection, about god’s creatures, about the true meaning of life, if you just have your nose stuck in a book? All…” I stopped listening. This is what she did.

I feel that I know what she is trying to do. I know she is trying to make me ‘likeable’. One day she will say I’m too blunt, straight forward. Others say I’m tactful but I’m not a liar (usually) and so people can depend on me to give unbiased opinions on whatever their problems are. And, after taking my advice, they thank me. One day they’ll say I have a light that radiates from me. People feel happier around me because I am luminous. At eight, this wasn’t me. I was selfish, embarrassed, angry, reserved, I liked books over people. Hell, I liked bacon over people. But it wasn’t until that day, sitting there listening to her explain how books will never make me happy, that I realize books can make me happy.

Books can make me positive, optimistic, and light. They can teach me about the human connection, about god’s creatures, about the true meaning of life. They can show me a full way to live. And I don’t want to kill myself anymore. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve tasted the touch of the blades and – while feeling the rush of power when hiding them at the dining table – I want to keep that power. But I also want to keep my life. I want to try. So I vow, as she drones on about the downfall of antisocial behaviors, I won’t try to kill myself until I’m at least 18 and if life hasn’t gotten better by them – I’m gone.

So, I have to do anything and everything I can to live a better life. No more tantrums, no more fights, no more angry words flowing through my brain. And hopefully, instead of dead I’ll one day be luminous.

10 Years Late to University: I don’t Belong Here But I Belong Here

 
My first semester at UCF I cried on my way to campus.

It was 7:30am, the road was clear – as it always is at dawn – and so the drive from West Orlando was quick. I was so excited, the night before, that I couldn’t sleep. I barely ate, barely hydrated, and spent most of the day with the jitters. I’d always loved school, loved learning, loved brainstorming with my fellow students, and this was my time.

But I was also terrified. It had been 10 years, then a brief stint at Valencia College – via the Direct Connect program – since I had been at University. Before, I didn’t think I’d ever be able to go back to school, to do what I loved. It was finally here. There was so much fear surrounding the ideal of being an older college student. At nearly 28, it might not seem like I am so removed from the fresh-out-of-high school teens that are enrolling now but I am. We are in two completely different generations.

I’m a Millennial. For some reason, older people forget just how old Millennials actually are. They forget that we played outside as children, most of us didn’t have the internet when we were kids, and we got dirty. They forget that we, too, had catalogues where we picked out our favorite toys hoping our parents would order them for us. They forget that we had CD players and Walkman. They forget that most of us didn’t have these fancy smartphones or our necks breaking to watch TV on iPads all day. We didn’t get those cheapie pay-as-you-go Nokia’s until we were sophomores in high school (barely). Even then you had to get a job because your mom wasn’t going to pay for the by-text fees and waiting until after 9pm, when everything was free, was too long to make plans with your friends. We weren’t using Instagram, or Facebook or spending all day on Twitter. I had Myspace and only when I snuck to get on when my mother wasn’t looking.

So, it’s different. I’m late. I’m behind the curve. I have aspirations but am quickly realizing that there are 20-year olds going for these internships I would be applying for at 30. I’m a part of a writing group with a recent UCF MFA alum, who is in her early 20s, who currently living my life – had I gone straight through like I was “supposed” to.

I want to be strong. I want to feel like I’m not too late but I’m a Millennial. I’m a part of the “graduate high school, straight to college, graduate in 4 years and into a good job by 21 then a family, and a house,” group. We are pressured to do everything so quickly. No traveling, no taking years off, no breathers, no doing “what you love”. If our lives don’t fit into that timeline we’re stuck.

That’s how I ended up here. I was pressured, by my family, into going for a degree I didn’t want because “writers don’t make any money” and “don’t you want to get a real job” or even “is that even a career”? That didn’t work out – does it ever? So here I am. 10 years later. On the cusp of 30 and crying in my car in my first week at UCF. Wiping my tears with Chik-Fil-A napkins from yesterday’s excited-to-be-on-track run. Picking myself back up. Building my confidence as a writer. Gleaning as much as I can before this opportunity is over, in case it doesn’t work out. Again.

I’m also crying because I’m a full-time student and at the same time I’m a new mother.

These first days at UCF will be the first time I am away from my four-month-old daughter, Naomi, for more than four hours. I’m terrified to be so far from her. If anything happens, I’m on the East side of town and must rush through highways, construction, and rush hour to get to her. Can I get there in time? Am I a good mother?

I’ve been told that I’m supposed to forget about myself. Lose myself. I am a Mother now. That’s how they say it. A Mother with a capital M and in bold. Mother. Does me being on campus – finally shedding the pressures of a toxic adoptive family, putting aside stereotypes about strong black women who endure it all and multitasking relationship, baby, writing, and keeping my house in order – mean that I’m not giving my daughter the attention that she deserves? Should I even be doing this? I grip the steering wheel tight and hesitate before I turn off the car. Maybe I should just go home right now. She probably needs me. Even though her father is absolutely amazing, supportive, loving, kind, and spent the last four months learning about parenting just as I have – I’m sure he’ll need help.

I turn off the car. No. I’m here for a reason. I have to do this. I made a commitment to myself and to my guy. He supports me while I am in school. Supports my dreams and my end goal. I made a commitment to the Universe. It deserves my writing. It deserves my voice. I made a commitment to the young, black foster kids who are abused and unloved. They deserve to know it’s possible to survive through it all and come out loving your life. I also made a commitment to my daughter. I want to show her that it’s never too late to do what you love. Because it’s not. Right?

No seriously, I’m asking.

I check my face in my rear-view mirror and dissolve into more tears. I look a mess. My makeup is all over the place. I never wear makeup but today I must. I’m a college student. University student with pious eyes. Everyone is young, pretty, with tight bodies – that didn’t just have babies – and long luscious hair – that isn’t falling out because of postpartum shedding. They move across campus on trim legs in droves, scattering like roaches the moment the clock marks the hour. I watch them from my swinging hammock strung up on Memory Mall, because I get to campus early, and stay very late, to avoid rush hour. Their laughter is a joyous noise unbroken by the ups and downs of life and the monotony of an unsatisfying day job. They cut through the foot traffic on their tiny skateboards (one of which I have but haven’t used because my unfit body can’t figure out how to turn corners). I sit and watch them as they shove their mouths with campus food because they’re not watching their weight as tight as they are watching their budget.

So I don’t belong here but I do. I pay my fees in late nights of homework. I hand make journals for handwritten notes in classes where I sit in the front row. After the baby is down for the night, I stay up late to write, like I am now at 2:30am, to make sure my priorities are in check. To make sure that I said I wanted to be a writer and therefore I am.

While pumping breast milk, I scratch out feedback for in-class workshops and shake my wrists to deal with the lasting effects of carpal tunnel from my pregnancy. While the food is cooking on the stove, I get in a few pages of the many required reading texts and yell “Hey! Don’t eat that” to Naomi who’s found a way to knock a rented textbook off the table and is using the spine to soothe her teething. I pick it up and put it on the counter and then later have to pay the difference because I accidentally burn a page or two.

I hold my daughter across my lap, the bottle of milk I just pumped clutched in her tiny hands, while I type out the answers to busy-work weekly discussion posts. I definitely paid after I was double-fisting open bottles of breast milk, had a squirming baby on my lap, and she kicked them and the spilled milk destroyed my MAC. I paid in the way my shins hurt going from bedrest while pregnant to walking miles everyday either on campus or on the treadmill to get my stamina back. I pay in the way I clean up my apartment every night, picking up toys and textbooks, sticky yogurt melts stuck to the carpet and highlighters, baby socks and post-it notes.

While on campus I utilize the “Nursing Room” in the Student Union in between classes so I can make sure my milk supply doesn’t dwindle. I spend the first month of school pouring the milk down the drain before the fog of mommy-brain lifts and I remember that I can bring a cooler bag with ice packs to keep the milk fresh.

I do a lap of the fitness center with my backpack, my pump bag, and my cooler before realizing that I don’t belong in this place of young energy and sickening innocence. I get a gym membership at a 24 Hour Fitness near my home because – while I belong on campus – I don’t belong in the campus gym. I feel that my insecurities won’t die there, in the presence of adults my age, only thrive.

So; I love that word – So. It leads from one thing to another. I say it so often. And, hilariously, there it is again.

So, I don’t belong here but I do. And I’m here to stay. Well, at least, until graduation. Then I’m done. My dreams are being achieved; I’m hitting my goals with every turned-in homework assignment that’s accompanied by baby puff snack stains. I’m not letting anyone tell me no, or make me go home. Even myself. I have made a commitment and although there have been many days weeping, arguing, and baby bouncing, I am happy to call myself a Knight.

 

Goodbye February 2020! 7 Books Read!

Heya!

I wanted to share my February reads with you! These are the books I was able to finish. It’s been a busy month. I haven’t been able to get through some that I wanted to, I also was able to finish others in less than a day. You know how it goes, sometimes you choose a book because you think it will be beneficial to your writing or your business, or personal growth, but once you actually start reading it you wonder if you just aren’t ready for it at that time (which happens) or if the book really is…EH.

That was a lot in one sentence but you know exactly what I mean. I didn’t have a specific GOAL in mind, numbers or lists wise, but I knew that I wanted to make sure I made reading a priority. Despite all that’s happening with school, my little baby, my guy, and trying to eat and cook healthier meals that cross cultural bounds. Sounds cool but really…I just want to make some new shit because I’m tired of the stuff I always make.

This is great for Overdrive though, because I can listen to audio books while I cook – if I’m not watching cooking shows, and that helps me get into the narrative more. Anyway, here are the books that I finished!

 

Here are the books that I either was unable to get to this month or that I found a bit EH starting off. As you can see I’ve added three books by African American authors, in the spirit of Black History Month, and yet I wasn’t able to get to them. I still have them though – the physical copy, EBook, or audio book – and I do plan to get to them this month (March)!


If you have any books you would like to suggest or have read any of these let me know in the comments! I’d love to chat with you about them. Be on the look out for new reviews!

This makes 20/120 books read for 2020 from January and February!

 

 

Good Readdance,
Jade

CNF: The Making of a Home

When I was seven I had a hard time keeping my markers to myself.

Everything about this new foster home was different than the other places I’d been. When you step out of the car, you are met with the arch admired only by weddings and those who want to show their best clamoring vines. It stretches over the main path and allows only the skinniest to get by without a scratch. Up the cement walkway and knocking on a bright red door came next. It opens and a fork in the layout shows an immaculate living room to the left. 

It’s a blue room, a color for royals and steamed throw pillows, that elongates the house with a mediocre fireplace and small shining figurines lining a brick mantel. A small den sits in the corner of the room. To the right, a dining room holds a large wooden table, a minimum of five chairs and a large china cabinet. Yes, filled with china no foster kid wants to break. Be wary of this room, it gets even the most obedient children in trouble. It’s dressed in a swirling rug of red, browns, and yellows. Splitting the rooms, a steep skyward staircase leads to three rooms, a master bed and bath, and two smaller bedrooms with a connecting bathroom to the right. 

Back at the fork, going through the dining room will lead you to a small ranch style kitchen with it’s small window sink, fridge equipped with lock to keep out wandering hands, and a sun room (built five years in the future) that leads to the back yard. Going halfway through the kitchen, you could turn left and meet the rest of the house. A living room, where the foster kids can gingerly play video games and a out-of-tune piano, a small half bathroom, and a set of stairs leading down, down, down, to two more bedrooms, a living room for the older kids, a large pantry and laundry room, and home of the spikets. You know, those spiders that look like crickets that jump as high as your waist if you startle them. 

It was too perfect. Too together. Everything needed to be dusted and cleaned and vacuumed and I, not a clean or dusted or vacuumed tiny person, knew I wouldn’t fit there. So I did what every foster kid wants to do.

I made a place for myself.

I took my markers and I drew on the walls. I drew on the pillows. I drew on the pristine glass tables and the thick windows. I drew on the stairs and I drew on the railings. I drew on the ceiling, above my bunk bed, and I drew on the floor by the bottom bunk. I drew in the bathroom and I drew in the kitchen. I drew on the wall outside by that thorny rose bush. I drew on the stones that go round to the backyard. I drew on the wooden fence that falls apart every few years. I drew on the base of a bush near the corner of the yard and a big tree that took up the front. I drew on the leaves of the flowers near the window sills. I drew on the linoleum of the kitchen floor and the tile that lined the back-splash. I drew on the curtains and I drew on the carpet. I drew on a plate that I hid in the china cabinet for four years. I drew on the mail in the mail drawer and the metal where the mail dropped. I drew on it all.

And then I was settled. Nothing was perfect and neither was I. 

 

Book Review: The More of Less by Joshua Becker

To be clear, this book is [NOT] a memoir about my own journey in minimalism. Although I share some of my own story along the way to illustrate what I am saying and hopefully provide inspiration, the book isn’t about me. It’s about you. It’s about the joys of owning less. It’s about how to implement minimalism in a way that transforms your life for the better.

Heya,

When I first started this adventure into Minimalism, I knew one of the first things I would do is read books about the topic. I wanted to get first hand accounts from others who have become hoarders, or semi-hoarders, like me. Joshua Becker is one of the authors that I discovered while doing research.

less

I really liked The More of Less. It chronicles the time when Becker first discovered minimalism, via a neighbor, and the almost immediate change it made in his life. He goes on to give great advice on how to become a minimalist, inspiration from his own experiences, and ways to let minimalism set you free from the confines of clutter. Sounds woowoo, but he does it in a very tasteful way.

minimalismempty

“Minimalism…it may conjure up images of sterility, of asceticism, of bare white walls, of grim frugality, or of someone sitting on the floor because he doesn’t have any furniture. How boring and colorless! Who would want that?”

In one chapter, he lists all the misconceptions of minimalism, and what normal people – who haven’t done the research – decide what living with less means. A Cult. A Fad. A misguided attempt to feel sorry for all the things they bought on their over-extended credit cards. He talks about the different ways to combat these thoughts and how to discover for yourself what it truly means.

There’s a humorous tone to the novel that allowed me to feel that this whole ‘minimalism’ thing doesn’t need to be stuffy or stuck up or serious or devoid of emotion and color. (One chapter’s title is The Battle of the Jell-O Molds) It can be jovial and exciting and tiring but yet exhilarating. That last one I felt, myself, when I went through my first de-cluttering session. I’d taken all the boxes of books out, for donation, and my table was completely clear. I could see the white! There’s was a feeling of euphoria as I noticed that it looked so together. So…adult-ish.

Finding the Life You Want Under Everything You Own

At the end of the book, Joshua Becker includes his chapter notes on minimalism. From there you can get the names of authors, books, articles, and bible versus that have inspired him in his journey.

 

I would definitely recommend this to all newbie minimalists who are looking for guidance on starting out. If you’ve already read this book and want to discuss it, leave a comment below. I’m always down to chat with you guys!

 

Joshua Becker Creator of BecomingMinimalist.com

 

 

Good Readdance,
Jade

P.S. Yes, I hope to start writing book reviews again! Follow the blog to get more updates.

You’re an Adult. JUST SAY NO!

Heya,

One of the hardest things I’ve had to learn as an adult is to Just Say No. I’m no push over but I often find myself saying yes to things I don’t want to do.

Things Asked To Do:

  • Go out on the town/Club
  • Babysit
  • Meet for coffee/Hang out
  • Listen to solicitor’s spiel- At&t comes knocking, the Dish guy at that table in Walmart, the person who waves a pamphlet at you on the street
  • Sex – your partner wants to or you’ve set a date (yes, people schedule sex…don’t judge!), you go out to dinner with a new beau
  • Specialized Parties: Baby shower, birthday, weddings, etc.
  • Adding coworkers to social media sites…just say NO lol
  • Drugs….say no. And no MEANS no

I forget and end up saying yes to so many things. Then I’m standing there, listening to whatever it is they’re pushing, and wondering how long I need to fake smile. As an introvert, I am drained after a long day of “peopling”, as I call it. I love to hang out and go places with friends but I also love to do things on my own with no pressure.

ALONE NOT LONELY

When I say yes to things, I always have to make sure I drive myself. No carpooling for me! I like to be able to leave when I want and say no to the ‘after party’ if I choose to. I didn’t know to do this my first round in college and spent so much time wishing I could go home or feeling like people would be angry with me. Also, I spent a lot of time as the ‘designated driver’ when I didn’t want to be. NOT because I wanted to drink but because I didn’t want to have to stay. It was a mess. Now I know better. I always tell people that I love to be Alone, Not Lonely. I want to have a best friend who I can go out with but I also want to curl up with a book for 10 hours. Without being interrupted.

I also need to learn to say NO to solicitors. I don’t know why I always felt obligated to listen. I think another part of it is that I get so embarrassed when people ask me things. I’ll be shopping peacefully and someone will step into my space and say ‘do you have internet service?’ and I would stick around long enough to hear a few lines and struggle to wiggle my way out. Now, I just say “no, thank you,” or “I already have internet.”

I’m also working on keeping “I’m sorry” out of my vocabulary when it’s unnecessary. The not too distant me might’ve said “I’m really sorry but I have internet and…”. Ain’t nobody got time for that. I shouldn’t feel sorry for taking time for myself. I shouldn’t be apologetic because I don’t want ads pushed on me. I shouldn’t feel obligated when people want to invite me to things I don’t feel comfortable doing.

I’m an adult. I CAN SAY NO without fear. So can you.

Good Readdance,
Jade

P.S. YES, you CAN say no to family. Especially if the situation will hurt you or trigger you. Don’t go. Don’t feel obligate.d Take care of you.

Indecision and Finding an MFA Program for US!

Heya,

In January my guy reminded me, which he often does, that it’s about time to figure out where I want to go for graduate school. He tells me that he loves me, he supports my dreams, and that he’s willing to go wherever I want to go.

This is NOT helpful.

Don’t be fooled; this is not the first time we’ve had this discussion. There’s usually some give and take. I want to make sure he is ok with moving somewhere far, as in across the country even, with a completely different lifestyle. He reiterates how much he’s open and he can get a job wherever we go. “Don’t worry about it!” he says. I want to make sure the place is Kid and family friendly. He says that we already make Naomi feel loved and she’ll flourish wherever we are.

It’s a broken record.

This isn’t a problem, you might say. You might even be giving me some side-eye right now. Let me explain. I’m the type of person that’s very, very indecisive when my decisions will literally change someone else’s life. I mean, I mull over changes in my life. Weighing the pros and cons until there’s a clear-cut path for me to choose. Then I take it with no regrets.

That’s how it was when I first moved to Florida. My lease was up and I had the choice to renew for another year or make a change. I talked with my coworkers (a group of older women who had been ‘stuck’ in the same job for 20+ years) and they practically begged me to leave. “You’re young!” they said. “You don’t have any children and you aren’t married or in a relationship. This is the perfect time to start over. Girl, take your dreams and go.” So, I took that advice and ran with it. I packed only what I could fit in my car (hey, even old me wanted to become a minimalist!) and drove the 19 hours with a friend in the passenger seat. See, I’ve only had to make decisions for myself, before Tony and Naomi, and so it’s scary do otherwise.

So it’s seriously a big deal to me.

It’s not just about the school and what kind of education I will get. I know all about the risks of going into academia. I know, I know, I know, I know. People never let me forget. “It’s so hard to find teaching jobs now,” or “I don’t think you know how tough it is to break into that world,” or “Why don’t you just write as a side job?” I get it. But this is my dream. I will go all in. However, I’m also aware that – WHATEVER I end up doing – finding something straight out of a school, EVEN with a Master’s, is slim. We will most likely live wherever I go to school for years after I graduate. There’s also that fear that I join a program and something happens, like failure, and I end up having to leave school. Then we’ll definitely be stuck in that city, I’ll be emotionally distraught (Obvi), and who knows when we’ll be able to move again. It’s a HUGE decision.

When I choose an MFA program, I am choosing where Naomi will spend the next 5+ years of her life, at least. I’ll also be completely uprooting Tony from his job and a city that he loves. He dreamed of moving to Florida all his life and now I’m asking him to leave. Yes, he says he’s fine with it and it’s time for a new journey (he’s been here 8 years. It’s been 6 years for me) but it’s still a hang up for me. I want to make the right decision for my family. I want to make sure that whatever happens we feel happy about where we live and feel safe in our home.

That’s a lot of pressure when I’m also worrying about ‘am I going to get in?’ I also think ‘what if I choose the wrong school?’ and that’s a big one. What if I DO get accepted to several places and I don’t go with the best offer for me, my education, AND my family? I get chills just thinking about it. Whew.

Thank you for listening to my rant and yes, I know. It’s a little far off. Buuuut….not really. Applications are usually due by December 1st.

I still need 3 recommendation letters, to take the GRE, write my 30 pages of creative nonfiction, complete the classes I’m already taking so I can graduate on time, raise Naomi, foster my skills as a writer, be an attentive and honest woman for my guy, and handle my small business. It’s a lot. I have less than 10 months to do it all. So thank you to those who choose to follow me on this journey to MFA.

Good Readdance,
Jade

Goodbye January 2020! 13 Books Read!

I’ve read 13 out of 120 books for 2020 so far!

Heya!

It is officially the second month of the new decade! How are you feeling? How was your January? Did you read any books that you loved in January? Did you create a Reading Goal for this year?

I have a goal of 120 books for the year 2020.

I wanted to keep my goal realistic as I have a tiny human, a small business, am a full time student while prepping my grad school applications, and I’m also focusing on my own writing. One goal that I made was to take time to read every day. That way no matter what life does to me I am still doing something I love consistently.

Curling up with a great book is almost always the answer!

I’ve split between audio books and physical books. Sometimes I have to do so many things around the apartment, or I’m commuting, and I can’t hold a book in my hand. I’m chasing Naomi, feeding Naomi, changing Naomi, doing homework or cooking, etc, etc, etc, etc, I could go on. Audio books and a pair of blue tooth headphones are essential for a new mom!

(As I type this Naomi has given up playing with her toys. She stood fussing at the side of my chair until I picked her up. So now I’m typing this one handed. Perfect example of when an audio book would be useful!)

us

This is a busy life!

January Books: 

I was able to get in books on minimalism and meditation, a handful of romance novels, a nonfiction graphic novel, science fiction, and paranormal romance!

Also!! This crazy thing happened. The other day I was tired of trying to find a book to read, going through my endless TBR, so I randomly chose an audio book on my way to school. I didn’t read the synopsis or anything. The cover intrigued me so I clicked “Borrow”. It was The Oxford Inheritance by A. A. McDonald. I looooved it. It was fantastic. I really enjoyed listening while the story unfolded.

Then today I was at the $1 Store and I saw the book in person! It was a complete and utter surprise and I knew I had to buy it. I know, I know. “How are you keeping up with minimalism if you keep buying things?” you might ask. I loved this book. It sparked joy for me. And that’s all the criteria I’m using before I buy something and bring it into my home.

oxford2

In total I’ve read 13 out of 120 books.

Good Readdance,
Jade

The Book That Saved

As a child I was very reserved and even the thought of conversation with strangers would send me into sweating fits. My skin would get clammy and I would struggle to get out a ‘hi’ or ‘how are you?’ People didn’t make sense to me. Adults were liars or people who looked through me instead of ‘at’ me. Other kids were too young and immature for me. I could relate to no one. I had the bare minimum of the required social skills and that was the way I liked it.  

In this, I snuggled deeper. A Life of solitude so that no one could hurt me or let me down. I didn’t have to worry about fake friends or fake family. Even though, admittedly, a part of me wanted to belong to someone. Anyone. Then I found books. They enveloped me in their arms and I fell head first. Around the age of seven I discovered romance. The chemistry that could form between a man and a woman. I discovered fantasy, and all the things our imaginations could create. I also discovered thriller and mystery, and the questions and answers to human nature and what could bring the darkness.

In this new world of Worlds, I discovered The Golden Compass. 

I was adopted by a Christian family headed by die-hard pastors with no grey area. Black and White. Right and Wrong. Only god. Only Jesus. Books that were about things called ‘Daemons’ (the name was just entirely too close), animals that talked, a girl who would be the savior or the answer to everything, the layers of universes and the questioning of creation were not allowed. Part of me wondered if this was the initial reason I fell in love with the book. It wasn’t just one thing. I didn’t have to be this ‘perfect little girl’. Lyra wasn’t.

I hid the book among the sheets and pillowcases of my bed so that no one would find it. I read it over, and over, and over again. I pretended that I had my own Daemon, it was an Owl. What I then would call my spirit animal – before I had even heard of Native Americans or their claims to that ideal. I would pretend that outside my window I could hear one calling to me. “Hoot, hoot..hoot, hoot…Jaden” (as I’d taken to calling myself). 

This wise creature would answer my questions and help guide me through life. It would let me know when things were too bad. When I should fold into myself, when the bad things were happening. And when, at 9, I wanted to take my life it fluttered it’s wings and put them around me. I lay on the top bunk in the yellow bedroom I lived in and closed my eyes to the moonlight. I pretended that my Daemon hopped about the branches, causing them to scrape against the window. It told me to wait, to see if things got better, to think of better days when, like Lyra, I would be free to bound about free from the confines of the foster home.

Then I made the mistake. It’s bigger than that. I made “The Mistake”.

As a child, my brother and I would go to our adopted Aunt’s house for respite. We would stay there when my parents wanted a vacation, or to just be free of us (of me and all my behavioral issues). I loved my Aunt. She wasn’t as strict as my adopted mother. She was free and light and did things like: make gross homemade pizza under the guise of health (I loved that disgusting pizza), stroke her hand down my frizzy hair like she loved me, tell me that Jesus loved me no matter where I came from or who (like an evil biological mother). I loved her so much that I let my guard slip. I didn’t realize that she was just as religious as my mother. If not more – but just in a different way? I brought my book with me. I slipped it into my weekend luggage and, once I made sure my adopted parents were gone, I stowed it in the room I slept in during our stay. 

As the weekend went on, I felt more and more comfortable and I felt it was time. Just after dinner, I clamored up the stairs to my temporary room. I clutched The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman, with it’s embossed cover, to my chest and returned to the living room. I curled into a plush chair and opened the first page for what could’ve been the 20th time.

At first, she was curious. “What are you reading?” I responded excitedly, explaining how it was my favorite book. How I’d saved up my allowance ($1 for every day of the week, but some how my mother always found something wrong with everything I did, even when I tried my best. I never got a full $7 in the end) to buy this book. That I loved it with my whole heart. How it, and Lyra, was my whole heart.

She took my heart in her hands and read the back. She flipped through it, reading here and there. Her mouth set in a thin line and, with two hands that curled into claws, she gripped the book tight. Then she ripped. She tore. First a few pages, then more. The cover of the book hit the floor and scrapes of Lyra’s adventures followed. At first, I couldn’t cry. My mouth dropped open and, in a flutter of feathers, I could almost see my Owl pacing in anger. 

Then the tears fell. A deep guttural pain welled up and poured out through my mouth. I was ‘the wailing woman’ and I couldn’t stop it. She didn’t love me. She never did. She hated me and everything I stood for, I thought at the time. I didn’t listen as she spewed venom about how Christians didn’t read such filth. That it wasn’t god-like. In that moment I didn’t want to be god-like, or Jesus-like, or christian-like. I wanted to be Lyra. I wanted to be free and adventurous. In that moment, I knew it would never happen, just knew.

I was wrong. Thank god.

 


(I will add, I now how a beautiful copy of the His Dark Materials series as well as the short – Lyra’s Oxford)

 


Good Readdance,
Jade

I Ate Vanilla Zingers in the Parking Lot of the Gym

Heya,

I’m trying really hard to stay focused on my dream but I am not disillusioned by this new plan to lose weight. I know that just because I decide I no longer want to be fat, or have left over baby flub, it doesn’t mean that I will suddenly have all the will power in the world to do what needs to be done. I haven’t before now, it’s not a matter of ‘just do it’ as some say. You have to work toward that level of resistance (in my head this is with a french accent…why?)

Yes, I’m dancing my way around the fact that often times I have low self control. Very low. Oh man. Those who follow me on Twitter saw that, when my guy left for work the other day, I posted:

Today:
I will not eat Tony’s Oreos.
I will not eat Tony’s Oreos.
I will not eat them in a box.
I will not eat them with a fox.
I will not eat them with a mouse.
I will not eat them in a house.
I will not eat Tony’s Oreos, I say.
I will not eat them, I should pray.

 

I can’t believe he just left them on the table without any explicit instruction for me NOT to eat them. They stared at me ALL DAY. I ate one, then two and then I held off. I felt really proud of myself and the fact that I didn’t stuff my face the moment he left. But….then he got home. He didn’t eat them. Of course my first thought was “yes, now I can eat a few more”. I ate five more. The next morning I ate two more while packing my bag for campus and also my gym clothes. I was so happy, while crunching on Oreos, that I found my gym lock, not noticing the irony of it all. Then I left for school.

On my way home, I stopped by Dollar General. I meant to just buy some things for Naomi, for bath time, but what I ended up doing was getting Reese’s Cups to “pay” Tony back for eating his Oreos, a package of vanilla icing Zingers for me, a box of chewy LemonHeads (that are currently sitting opened on my desk as I write this) for me, and a bag of hot fries (still unopened) for me. I did get some rubber duckies for Naomi so it wasn’t a complete failure. I barely got into the car before I’d broken the small packet of Zingers open. I said I’d just eat one, I thought, there’s no need to eat all of them in one day: Three come in a pack. c1901804-909d-4ef4-a207-aa528c9b422b_1.813601c84ba0677a6a8527b1f21c61fa

So, the gym is only about 5 minutes away from where I was and only about 5 minutes from my house. I thought I had the self control to wait but nope…I ate the second one in the parking lot of the gym and as I ate it I felt guilty. I’d said ‘in this new year, I want to take my weight loss more serious than I ever have before’ but here I was, shoving unhealthy food down my throat. I only just noticed at a free personal training session, last week, that although I’ve been doing a good job in the gym I haven’t been working out nearly as hard as I should be. I haven’t been exerting enough energy or sweating nearly enough. I guess you could say I have forgotten how to work out?

Anyway, so I paused when I got out of the car because there was a guy in the car next to me. I’m not sure if he saw me stuffing my face but I felt really embarrassed. So much so that I snatched my bag out of the car, slammed the door and made a beeline to the front of the gym. I’d been caught by some guy who was probably a health nut, who never ate a Zingers before a work out, and I felt like I might cry. I said I would take this seriously!

I changed my clothes and got up to the machines. The moment I hit that treadmill, it was as if another me took over and I went hard. I added more weight than I had previously. I hit both legs and upper body, and I even got in some cardio. I ran a bit. Hit the cycling machine. I didn’t take long breaks between sets, keeping everything hot. I felt motivated to work out, if not for the fat – to just get the Zingers out.

yellow full

Does it make you feel some type of way to know that hours later I ate that last piece of Zingers? I’d worn this cute sweater to campus, that I got yesterday for $4 from a Ross sale, and I was feeling beautiful. Despite that set back, I had worked my ass off in the gym, sweated out all of the shame and self- pity (yes, honey. I’m the queen of pity parties). I was back on the high of life and before Tony could see me, I scarfed down that third Zingers and promised myself I wouldn’t eat the hot fries in the same day. I’d hold off. And I didn’t.

A part of this whole meditation and being in the moment thing is that I have to let all that ish go. Yes, I felt ashamed and embarrassed but that was then and this is now. I can’t dwell. I must move on. I know I will mess up again but I also know that tomorrow I will be back in the gym, moving toward my goal and that is what matters. That I don’t give up.

After a much needed 2.5 hour nap – my guy let me sleep a little long as I needed it more emotionally than physically, I cooked a health(ier) dinner for Tony and me. Fish and pasta. And Naomi had a bit as well. She’s now able to eat on her own and is learning to pick up foods (it’s so cute). I felt happy to see that even though I didn’t have the level of self control, yet, that I wanted, I was making sure Naomi was fed and trying different things. All in all, it’s been a roller coaster of a day.

But that’s the journey, right?

 

 

Good Readdance,
Jade