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Happiness

Sunday, December 14th, 2008

On nights like tonight it often suddenly hits me: I’m happy. I like life. I have a future. It’s still a little scary – when isn’t it – but it’s exciting too. And I can handle it.

It seems like such a simple revelation. But for me, it’s still an amazing event. To finally have a handle on things after so long, it still seems somewhat unreal.

I guess knowing that so many people were worried about my happiness for so long – and with good reason – makes me feel like I should write this now. To thank everyone, for continuing to care, for continuing to worry, even when it seemed like I was way too busy digging myself into a deep dark hole to be listening. I may not have been acknowledging, but I was listening. And hearing people ask me if I was happy, hearing people tell me I could be happier, hearing people repeatedly say they were worried about me, and that they wanted me to be happy – it forced me to keep, even if just for a moment, picturing the brief possibility that what they were saying could be true – before I bowed my head and continued digging.

I really couldn’t see the light. And that’s because I was digging. When you dig down, there is no light – you’re not in a tunnel. Going in the same direction – ‘working through it’ – isn’t going to fix anything. You’ve got to turn around, and look the other way – then you’ll see the light. Then you’ve got to start clawing your way out along the steep, crumbling sides.

And lord knows it wasn’t easy. I kept digging for a very long time. At first I thought there was a light, and then I resigned myself to the fact that there wasn’t a light in front of me, but there never was one behind me either, and so I might as well just keep heading this direction.

First, I lost the past. Then, I found myself. Then I found hope. Then I found Sean. Then I found my tutoring job. Then I found willpower and discipline in school. Then I found a dream, a passion. Then I found a good job. Then I was headed to making better grades than I have in years. Then I found a future.

It’s slow. It was painful, so painful. But it also was so amazing. I know it may seem shallow to put Sean on that list, at least to some, but it’s not. That we have a wonderful relationship now is a dream, but it was through getting to know him that I made some amazing steps. I finally accepted that someone could actually be attracted to me. That I was date-able. And through watching him take so much pleasure from getting to know the quirks of Emma, I remembered something I’d forgotten long ago: that I liked me too.

It’s been a long road. And I’m still on it. I still have those reactions, where I’m taken back. If I’m sitting with my legs up and Sean tries to kiss my knee, I still jerk back. In my mind, I’m afraid he’s going to bite me so long and so hard that I scream for him to stop and the bruises last for weeks, but I’m not strong enough to pull away. Sean’s never done that, of course, but my mind is still conditioned from the past.

But I hardly even care, because look how far I’ve come. I’m content and I’m happy. I’m doing unbelievably well in school. I’m climbing back onto a better road, in all meanings.

I know you already know this, those of you who stood by me so long, because I’ve heard it from so many voices so many times: “Emma, you look so well.” “Emma, you seem so happy.” “Emma, it’s so good to see you like this.” So, I really don’t need to say it, but I will: I’m happy. And all of you who gave me your words and your care and your love, you’re all part of this happiness.

So thank you.

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Ad Songs & Me Rambling On

Monday, April 7th, 2008

Well, I really should be working on my nutrition brochure that I just got assigned (I knew today would end my wonderful break!), but I’m a little pissed off. See, we’re supposed to be writing it to be at an 8th grade reading level (Word apparently can show you this – I didn’t know that!). Unfortunately, using the words “protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals” pushes my brochure’s reading level from 7.3 to 8.6 – 1.3 grades! How I am supposed to write a nutritional brochure without using “protein,” “fiber,” “vitamins,” or “minerals” is beyond me. I’ve emailed Dr.Hill about it – we’ll see what she says.

Anyway, in the meantime, I thought I’d be completely unproductive and write about music. I was talking to a friend the other day and realised that many of the songs I’ve purchased recently over iTunes (using up a $30 gift certificate, yey!) are songs from ads. And, according to the ‘popularity rating’ of the songs when I find them on iTunes, I’m not the only one doing this. I wonder when this trend began? I’m absolutely positive it’s due to the advent of being able to purchase one song immediately – I’d have maybe one of these songs if I had to go drive to a store and buy the album. Whether the song’s popularity has affected the effectiveness of the ad, I don’t know. I can’t say that I’ve purchased any of the products featured on these song’s ads since the ad’s premiere, but I do, for the most part, remember the product attached to each song.

Anyway, here is my list of ‘ad-songs’:

‘Remind Me (Radio Edit)’ by Royksopp – Featured in the ‘airport caveman’ Geico commercial. When he’s on the sidewalk. I like this ad so much I recorded it on my camera. More on that later.
‘Le Disko’ by Shiny Toy Guns – Featured on the ‘knife-fight on the subway’ Razr ad. I like how the phone stuck in the wall when it was thrown.
’1234′ by Feist – You all know this one – featured on the new iPod Nano commercial by Apple.
‘Never the Same’ by Supreme Beings of Leisure – Featured in a Christmas-time Johnny Walker Black Label ad. I was fond of this ad, as the whole screen was black except the outline of the label and the whiskey itself. Very artsy.
‘New Soul’ by Yael Naim – Another one you all know. Featured in the MacBook Air commercials.
‘I Melt With You’ by Modern English – Featured in the Taco Bell ‘cheesy beefy melt’ commerical.
‘Can’t Get It Right Today’ by Joe Purdy – This is the one exact product I don’t remember (I remember the ad but not the brand)… *goes to look it up.* Ah, featured in the Kia Spectra ad – where everyone’s pulling into the gas station and doesn’t remember which side the gas tank is on.
‘Sweet Pea’ by Amos Lee – Featured in the AT&T; ‘business trip dad/pictures of the monkey everywhere’ ad. Fond of this ad too – touching! I liked this song enough that I did end up going out and buying the whole album, which I’m glad I did.

So! The Royksopp song. I think it’s the song/ad combination that touches me so powerfully. The ad, if you don’t remember, is the caveman standing on a moving pavement in the airport and going past those lit-up wall-billboards, carrying bags, checking his ticket, obviously headed to the gate. The camera angle changes once at the end, where you can see that on the opposite wall there’s a window overlooking gangways and planes pulled up to gates. As simplistic as the scene is, it hits me with profound meaning. So much of my life is embodied right there – moving sidewalks in airports around the world, checking the ticket, looking for the gate. Heading to wherever it is I need to be, whatever family has it’s ‘turn’. I can’t really explain it, and don’t really expect anyone else to understand.

The song itself is meaningful as well. In the commercial, the only lyrics you hear are, ‘And everywhere I go, there’s always something to remind me, of another place and time’. I can relate to that, for sure. Maybe everyone can. Not a day go goes by, either here or in the UK, that I don’t think of something or someone in the other location and, even if for a fleeting second, wish I was there instead. That’s especially true when I think of Kenneth, Alice, and Heather. Or just climbing up to the top of the hill outside the cottage and standing in the cold, bracing wind until I forget whatever strains are on my mind. Obviously no matter which country I’m in I have that experience, so I don’t sit and pine (ok, well, maybe occasionally!), but it’s something I’ve dealt with for a long time.

In the radio edit of the song, the opening lyrics are:
“It’s only been a week,
The rush of being home in rapid fading.
Prevailing to recall
What I was missing, all that time in England

Has sent me aimlessly,
On foot or by the help of transportation,
To knock on windows where
A friend no longer lives, I had forgotten.”
Obviously, I often feel that’s fairly accurate. No matter where I am, I’m glaringly aware of what I’m missing out on wherever I’m not. And whenever I arrive, I have to catch up on whatever’s changed. I’ll have to interject at this point that I realise this is just the deal whenever you travel, or even if you’re doing something like going to college far from your home. It’s not like I sit around being miserable because I’m not in the US/UK, but I guess it might seem strange that it bothers me more than average Joe college student who rarely goes home. Perhaps just because I don’t know much else – from age 5 I’ve had that feeling. Or maybe that’s just part of Emma being Emma – who knows. I have more thoughts on that, but I’m probably starting to sound whiny and I’m running out of time before class. I’m just trying to share some lyrics that hit me, not depress you all – I swear! : )

So I’ll leave you with some last words from the Royksopp song:
“Brave men tell the truth,
A wise man’s tools are analogies and puzzles,
A woman holds her tongue,
Knowing silence will speak for her. “
; D

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Those Old Questionnaires

Thursday, February 21st, 2008

While Google-ing myself (oh, come-on, you all do it too!) I came across one of those old question things everyone used to post on blogs. You know the ones, where they had like 80 questions and you had to answer pointless weird questions about yourself.

Well anyway, I started reading through it, and began thinking it was a really interesting way of seeing how life had changed. It was from July 2004, which was when I was fresh out of high school and before I’d officially started at Southwestern. Oh, life since then!

So I re-posted the questions with my ‘modern day’ answers below the originals, in blue font. Take a look if you want, but maybe it was just mostly for me. Maybe in another 4 years I’ll go back and do it again : )

See it HERE

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I Serve You a Platter of Crapfuckshit (technical term)

Wednesday, November 8th, 2006

This is what is going on in the ‘family’ sector of my life right now. There are other sectors that are also largely onerous and emma-crushing, but ‘family’ is what this post is about, so that’s what you’ll find out about.

Feel free to skip over the parts you don’t find interesting or already know. I put an arrow (–>) by most recent developments so you can find it.

First and foremost, let me just mention once that my dad, throughout this little timeline of events, is going nuts, tearing his hair, cursing everyone, and generally being insane, as per his normal reaction to… well… anything. Then I don’t have to say it over and over.

I also must add a preface for those of you who haven’t known me too long or never heard my family’s intricate history or just forgot (I understand my family’s history probably does not take a high position in your overworked mind). Second semester of my senior year (spring 2004), probably around March, my sister tried to kill herself. She’d been struggling with anorexia, bulimia, and depression for a while, and for some reason on that day, decided that taking a whole bottle of Tylenol would be a good idea. It was the day before our 3D AP calculus projects were due, if anyone wants to take that and extrapolate a date.

So she went to hospital and they made her take charcoal drinks and N-acetylcysteine (NAC), which stops the liver from converting the acetaminophen (paracetamol – UK) into a toxin which kills the liver. (Smart liver, eh?) Then she spent a week or two in that mental place across the road from Arlington Memorial. Then of course, therapy and psychologists and psychiatrists and psych-whatever-ists, and drugs for depression.

From then to now it’s been up and down, back and forth. She got over anorexia and bulimia, and switched to more exciting things, like smoking, drugs, drinking, sneaking out, and stealing (from stores and family members). (Note: See bottom of post) This summer and fall semester, she seemed to be on the up, though our house was still sealed like Fort Knox every night, my mom still slept with her purse, and I was prohibited from bringing anything valuable or any medications home with me. (Yea, that’s ‘on the up’.)

However, a few weeks ago something happened and she started going downhill. My mom knows what it was, but my family finds it amusing to keep things like this from me, so I don’t. Anyway, the 20th of October, Elizabeth swallowed another bottle of Tylenol. Now, for anyone who’s contemplating suicide, holy fuck, don’t use Tylenol if you really want to die. Tylenol overdose doesn’t kill you directly. Tylenol overdose kills your liver. Then, you hang around for a few weeks in hospital feeling crappier and crappier, probably reaching the famous decision of suicidal people – ‘Hey, I don’t really want to die!’, and then you die. Good times.

So this time she didn’t tell anyone for about 8 hours after taking the pills, finally calling Josh (on-again-off-again boyfriend I don’t like) to take her to hospital. Docs were very worried she would suffer serious damage due to the amount of time, but later tests revealed that amazingly she’d gotten away practically unscathed.

On advice from her therapist they didn’t put her in the mental place again, which is the automatic thing they do, since my parents decided she needed to get into severe treatment. So she got taken out of school and was put under complete lockdown (except from work …?) while my parents tried to figure out what to do, and various people ran extensive psycho-exams on her.

My mom, LA, and Elizabeth were slowly all going insane, since Elizabeth couldn’t be left unattended and couldn’t be trusted. My mom even took to sleeping with her in bed so that she couldn’t sneak out. So the plan was to send her to the UK this last Monday (the 6th) so my dad could overwatch her for a while, and have her see some specialists in the UK.

–> Well, Saturday night my sister decided she didn’t want to go to the UK, so she tricked my mom into turning off the alarm early in the morning (by saying she was hungry and wanting to eat and feed Lady (dog)) (the motion detector in the living room stops you from going to the kitchen). And packed her stuff and left, leaving a note behind saying she was filing for emancipation and moving to live with a friend. (Though she said she’d ‘researched emancipation a lot’, I guess she missed the part where you have to be both financially stable and mentally stable, and, unless other circumstances call for a special review (ex: parental abuse), have your parent’s permission).

So everything went crazy, and everyone was on the phone with each other. Finally my dad called her and said if she wasn’t going to come to the UK, she’d at least have to go home. She agreed to this. However, she never showed up. Monday night my mom eventually had to go to her and… well, it wasn’t pretty. Again, nobody’ll give me any details, but apparently the whole ordeal was a huge mess of Elizabeth being crazy. Apparently she got her nose pierced sometime in her time away from home, but I know that didn’t last.

So yesterday morning she and my mom flew to Utah and my sister got put into Logan River Academy. It’s a place where they fix messed-up kids. My mom wouldn’t tell me how long she’ll be there when I asked. They seem to forget that I can read, and I have no qualms about quietly finding out as much as I can about what I want to know. So if you read their contracts you find out that termination of the contract before 180 days (roughly 6 months) means paying the rest of the 180 days anyway. So, she’ll be there about 6 months. I don’t know if they let people go home for Christmas. Don’t know when I’ll next see her. I’d have to go up to Utah, since she has to ‘earn’ overnight home visits, and the only visit home she’s going to be making is an overnight one with airfare these days.

So my mom went to Utah with her, and now she’s in Louisiana witnessing the pressure testing of some valves for oil. She’ll be back Friday or Saturday. She’ll probably be gone for two-three weeks at the beginning of December to Yemen for work. LA, sick of anyone who shares the an X-chromosome with my sister and I*, is going to go on a vacation in that same time period to Alaska. Elizabeth will be in Utah, of course.

But I’ll be here.

Note: I don’t care what your opinion is on high school drug/alcohol/tobacco use/abuse or sneaking out or stealing. Don’t even bother to tell me how you did it all and you’re fine, and all your friends did it and they’re fine. You are not Elizabeth, and you are not her family. DIAF.

* That would be my father, and his mother (and, technically, my two younger half-sisters), and my mother, (and, technically, either her mother or her father (and none, one or both of my two aunts, depending)).

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I Apologise in Advance

Monday, September 11th, 2006

Hello everybody. Long time no chat, eh? Sorry about that. Everything has been so hectic and crazy. Going to try and post more often now that things have settled down some.

So! 9-11 once again, eh? Unfortunately I didn’t have my blog back then, so I can’t look back and see what I wrote 5 years ago today. Too bad, because that would be interesting. If my memory serves me right, I started my blog just before we declared war on Iraq, though I can’t be bothered to look up a date for that. No posts about that, either, though. Hm. I should try more to post about current events, maybe, so I can look back and see my reactions of the past. Did I post on July 7th last year? Oh yes. I mentioned it briefly. I guess that I decided my posting was enough to confirm I was alive, though, despite getting lots of concern from people at the time.

Well anyway. I can’t help it. It’s the question of the day, isn’t it? It’s all over the papers, the internet, the forums. Where were you five years ago today? Well I know where I was. I was in a chemistry test! Yep. Sophomore chemistry with Mrs. Hill. Oh joy. I was probably failing badly. I remember looking at the clock and thinking ‘shit’ because I didn’t have much time yet, but since it was a test and Mrs. Hill had isolated us from the world, we were all oblivious. Until we exited the class, of course, when the halls were abuzz with all these rumours. Until lunch time I was — Whoa!
Ok. Backtrack. I’m wrong! My memory just flashed back! I was in dance class when I first heard about it, not chemistry. Then I went to chemistry. Since we didn’t have a tv or computer (we used to practice on the stage) only our teacher, Mrs Woods could offer a little info, which was, if I remember right, that a plane crashed into a building. Or, at least, that’s what came across in my head. I didn’t think much of it at the time. I didn’t know what the ‘World Trade Center’ was, being Emma, as usual, and didn’t know it was in New York city. When people said ‘plane’ I was thinking biplane, crop duster, personal plane, little jet. So some trade building has a small-plane sized hole. Well, that’s sad. Probably some people died. And on with the dancing.

In chemistry, now I have to wonder to myself, did Mrs. Hill know or not? I don’t remember anybody saying anything, though people might have exchanged thoughts similar to mine… A complete underestimate of the situation. Nobody seemed worried. If Mrs Hill knew, I guess she didn’t want to say anything so that she wouldn’t have to reschedule the test. Man. I totally should have gone back and said that the trauma of the day made me do badly. Maybe I wouldn’t have done so miserably in that class. Anyway, if anyone was in that sophomore chem class (I guess it started around 9?) and remembers if Mrs Hill said something, I’d like to know.

Man, now I’m really confused, because I was definitely a sophomore in Sept 2001, but I could swear I took dance as a freshman. My memory is crap. But I could swear Mrs. Woods told me about the plane. Oh well. If anyone knows my schedule from soph year, I’d love to hear from you.

Well, one thing I know for sure is that it was at lunch that I started getting worried, because that’s when I met with my friends in Gym C (remember those old days??!) and they explained the real situation. That the planes (now there were 2) were big, and what the World Trade Center was. I remember Bryan and Cameron discussing the probability of DFW getting some kind of attack, and I remember Cameron saying that if there was an attack, he and his boy scout troop were going to volunteer to provide first-aid, which I immediately said I’d do, too. I remember feeling bad for a few days after that because though I didn’t want DFW to be hit, the idea of doing some crazy-rescue first-aid was pretty exciting.

Next thing I remember was that in orchestra Mrs. Todd gave us permission to go home (I guess this came from a higher authority) if we wanted to and our parents were available to pick us up. I remember suddenly remembering that my dad was flying London to Brazil that day and getting worried, since I didn’t know anything about these planes that’d run into the buildings. This was before I got a cell phone, so I got permission to use the phone in the orchestra office to call my mom, who assured me that they were AA planes on domestic flights, not BA on international. I think I remember Tina Sosa being very upset, but I don’t know why, or if I fabricated that.

Anyway, that’s my memories (and non-memories, and confusions) of 9-11 five years ago. I thought that some teacher made me write down about what I was doing at the time later on (you know, for therapy), but if I did, I don’t know what happened to it, which is a shame, because now I’m curious about when I took dance. OH! I guess it was sophomore year. Ok. Well, that clears that up.

One thing that always comes to mind is a thought I had that day. I remember remembering that in 3rd grade we an assignment to go home and ask our parents and our grandparents what they were doing when John F Kennedy was assassinated. On Sept 11, 2001 I wondered if one day, if I was living in America, my kids would come home to ask me what I was doing when the planes hit the buildings and America went crazy. Well, I guess they’ll get a jumbled mess of an answer, just like you got. ; )

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Top of the Pops

Sunday, July 30th, 2006

Today was the end of an era. Today the last episode of Top of the Pops was aired.

My dad watched this show when he was Kenneth’s age. I watched it even before I knew what it was – before my parents divorced, even. I can remember excitedly being told it was on (wasn’t quite old enough to keep track of the days of the week and know it came on on Thursdays) and dragging all the pots and pans out of the kitchen, along with a few wooden spoons, so I could ‘play along.’ Then, as I grew up, all summer long I’d rush in excitely on a Thursday night from playing outside on bikes, often with Melissa, Lewis, Alistair, Gavin, and Eugene, to see what this weeks number one was, and watch the singers perform. Oh the excitement. The fun. The countdown, and the final annoucement of who ruled the charts this week. Every summer. For over 14 years.

Every year. For 42 years. Top of the Pops has been the show to get on if you’re interested in making fame in the UK. Even the US artists know it. If you’re on Top of the Pops, you’ll make it. At least with this song. No guarantees about the rest of your career – that’s in your hands.

So tonight we sat gathered around the TV to watch the last ever Top of the Pops. Watching highlights of the last 42 years, including lots of the Nintys and (as they called it) Noughties (2000s) that I remember. Spice Girls first hit – Wannabe – brought back memories, as well as Robbie William’s first single hit, Let me Entertain you, and all those other people now well known. Britney Spears, Coldplay, Eminem, Destiny’s Child, All Saints. And the more recent of course, including the first ever British number 1 from downloads alone, some guy who sings a song called ‘Crazy’. He’s number one on my Now 64.

And finally, we watched the last ever ToTP top 10. The last number one ever on ToTP was announced. Quite a name to hold, really. It was (AJ will be happy here) Shakira, with Hips Don’t Lie.

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