To the boy who hurt me

I will always think of you as a montage of small vignettes. The kind that start timid, then happy, and end up being painful to watch. Some may say that I should stop fixating on you, but it’s been a month and I can’t stop. Every good thing you did and every nice thing you said is repeated in my head over and over. Your face is constantly sketched into my memory, like a grease stain that will never come off. That one profile I haven’t blocked you from is constantly being viewed, in case you write that you miss me. To which I would say, “If you miss me, why did you hurt me?” Which I would feel required to say, but deep down I would think it’s sweet that you even care.

You were the person I turned to when I had something funny or witty to say. Or if my day was going horribly and I needed someone to vent to. We were almost polar opposites, but I tried hard to make it work. Even when I passionately disagreed or got so mad I almost unfriended you from the start, I wanted to make it work. Like all love sick puppies, I didn’t see what your true colors were, until things went sour.

I’d go by the places we visited, hear some of our favorite songs, and I would think of you. I’d think of your smile whenever I told a silly joke. Or that small frown you’d have whenever you talked about your past. Small things would remind me of the time you took my hand at the beach and told me that you liked me. Like that time we listened to Green Day on the way home and we disagreed on whether the new stuff was worth listening to. (It is by the way.)

These images are the things I think about when I think of you.

I guess things were too good to be true. When I see your picture pop up on social media, I have a mixture of happy and sad memories. What you did will never be forgotten. I will always carry this with me. I will always wonder if the next guy is going to screw me over one day.

We had some happy memories, but what happened between us was too much for me to handle. I will always miss the boy who made me smile. But that part of my life is done and I have to move on.

***

I’m thinking of publishing some stand alone scenes from some of the different characters I’m working on. This one is a little personal, but I thought I’d start off with myself as one of my characters. I can easily work on scene writing, which is one of my favorite things to write. I will be posting more of my writing later on.

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Pardon the lack of posts

If you truly knew me, you would know that I have been suffering from depression. Typically, I would want to hide it and tell the world that I am perfectly normal. Unfortunately for me, that is not the case. Within the last few years, I have struggled with trying to allow these feelings to be noticeable to my close friends. Plus, if you know me, I only have a very select group of “close friends.” For me, it all started with the “Always Keep Fighting” campaign that has been supported by Jared Padaleki and the Supernatural family. With each passing campaign, I got more inspired to speak out about my mental illness.

There is no rhyme or reason to depression. It comes and goes. It’s like the waves of the ocean, if I can use the most cliched imagery in the book. You could’ve had the best childhood known to man. And you still could be plagued with thoughts of depression. I’m going to quote myself in this example.

The best way to describe depression is the feeling of nothingness. Or maybe free falling is best suited. Imagine you’re falling through a black pit, where the sun and everything happy is right above you. You try and try, but you can’t seem to get to the sunshine. And don’t forget the invisible hands pulling you down further into the pit of darkness.

Probably not the most poetic example, but you get the gist.

I’ve wanted to keep my blogs up this year. I wanted the world to see how I could write and get people engaged. However, because of my resubmission, and some hickups in my own life, I have made a snail’s progress in this regard.

On a kind of side note, I do have to make note about how sometimes the form you write on can be a huge motivator. I recently got a new MacBook and all I want to do is write on it.

There was a good month or so last year where I was giving motivational speeches to my best friend because she was dealing with a lot of depression. I have found that I am the biggest hypocrite ever. I’ve let the attention of guys and others to control how I feel about my self worth. I constantly apologize for things I feel that I have done wrong. When in reality, it wasn’t my issue to apologize for.

What I want people to get out of this post is that depression sucks, but there are people out there who can help you. I’ve become such an expert on motivational speeches, I feel like I should get a job as a therapist. Or a motivational speaker who basically talks out of their ass.

I will continue to post more, because that is what I like doing. I want to discuss more literary devices and different forms of characters in my next post, so get ready for that. Thanks for reading and I hope that if you’re going through depression, please reach out to someone. I’m sure someone can either relate, or is willing to listen. Also remember that it is a two way street.

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Happiness is….

You don’t know what happy is like until you’ve gone from one extreme to the other. As many of my readers know, I came back from a year abroad in Wales. Being back means living with my mom, working at the same company I did before I left, and no friends who can just head to the pub at the flip of a coin. The difference in the night life in America and in the U.K. are staggering. There is genuinely more happy and friendly people in the United Kingdom than in the United States.

Which brings me back to the point I wanted to somehow make in the beginning of this post. “You look so happy,” and “I’ve never seen you as happy as you are right now” were regular statements heard from family and friends while I was away. I kept thinking, “was I that unhappy before? I mean, I smiled and laughed, just as I was here.”

But then it hit me. I wasn’t happy. And here is why.

Giving an explanation to any action is terrifying. If I want to go out, just to go out, I couldn’t here at home. Most of my older relatives or friends would say it’s because I didn’t have any responsibility. To me, it was because I didn’t have to conform to someone else’s idea of clean, or what’s proper. I could just be me.

That’s the glorious part about going abroad and being alone. You really get to know who you are. These things you learn abroad might not stick with you when you’re back, but you will always have that memory of being away and free.

The worst part about being home after a year abroad are the pictures. The pictures your friends post at the clubs or on campus. You imagine yourself there, as if it won’t cost you about four months of work to even get back to the place you love. You can imagine that club scene like you were there with them. Pre drinks at your place, Gassy Jacks right before the main event, and then all hell breaks loose. You might find yourself at Live Lounge at the end of the night, where you will most definitely NOT be carded because the bouncer recognizes you. Or maybe just perusing down the City Center, where you will inevitably stop off at McDonalds for some overpriced McNuggets.

So maybe I will have to push myself to be happy, but at least now I have a goal of where I want my life to be like.

With that being said, I would love to go back to the UK. At the time it felt like it was such a long time, but in reality, it flew by like a gust of wind.

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Hwyl fawr Wales!

Croeso readers! (That’s welcome in Welsh)

I haven’t posted in two weeks and I am ASHAMED!!!

*edit: it’s been three.

** edit: It’s been about a month since I started this post.

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So what’s been happening in my life, you ask? Well, tons of things. I will try and plan it out for you guys.

PACKING!!!! 

I’ve started packing and it’s making me a little teary eyed just thinking about it. I’ve spent the past year in Wales and to go home will be bittersweet. I’ve had to purchase two boxes to ship back home and I’m still struggling to get everything in my suitcase. I have one giant suitcase that I will be checking in to the plane, and a carry on suitcase that is currently filled with most of my wardrobe. I swear, I came to Cardiff with the carry on holding all of my clothes and now I have to divide it all up.

TWO MORE WEEKS TILL I GO HOME!!!

(actually, it’s really only five days. Cause I forgot to post this.)

I can’t believe it’s almost time! My life has changed so much throughout this trip. I’ve figured out a lot about myself as a person and I wouldn’t change a thing. I’ve had so much fun getting to know new people and see new things.

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I’ve been the worst blogger ever! I forgot to post this update for the longest time. So instead of having a countdown like I wanted, you basically get a post of random stuff to look at. I can’t decide whether I’m nauseous or hungry. Come on stomach! Work with me here! Anyways, I’m currently waiting for the bus to the airport. It’s been a long journey to today. Packing was a pain and lugging a whole year’s worth of clothes and memories around is taking its toll on my back already.

The worst part of travelling is the constant waiting around. You get to places early, hoping to make sure you don’t miss your bus. No, plot twist! You don’t miss the bus. You actually are a half an hour early. Now you’re faced with the inevitable waiting around. Because not all places have outlets and you don’t want to walk around with two suitcases to a place that does, you have to limit your time on your phone. You brought two books, but who has the energy to stare at a book? Yeah, I’m that exhausted. Not to mention that by the time I get on the plane, I’ll have been awake for a good 24 hours, with maybe one or two hours of nap time in between.

***

I did it again! I forgot to post this!! Okay so I’m back in the States. I can’t believe a year has already gone by! I miss everything about Cardiff at the moment. From the clubs to the annoying seagulls screeching at five in the morning. I have to keep reminding myself that it’s over. There are so many memories that I’ve had that I would not change for the life of me. Some of them are grand memories and others are just small memories. Like the time I went to McDonalds at one in the morning with my friend Sanja.

I think this whole experience has changed me and I’m loving it.

There is so much I want to talk about, but honestly? I can really only sum it up by saying that it was the best time of my life. I’m so grateful to all of the friends I made along the way. Definitely made the trip worth while. Every moment was spent enjoying a new land.

When you study abroad, you get to see the day to day things that travellers rarely get to see. I got familiar with a lot of the streets of Cardiff and have some basic knowledge of where to go when you want to party. Favourite place to go is definitely Live Lounge. Well, at least for a good dance off.

In the beginning of the year, there were so many things I hadn’t done in college. I didn’t have the experience of bar hopping (or pub crawling) with friends and spending time with friends was something a little new to me. When you get accustomed to being the loner and the one who isn’t invited to most of the parties, you tend to be very skeptical when people start hanging around you for a longer period of time. So I think I’ve learned a lot more social queues than my four years in college.

I will end this post saying that this was only the start of my journey. I have so much more to offer the world and I hope to see more of it.

Memoir writing: a rant

Memoir writing is something new I’ve been tackling for the past year. And I am happy to say that it all stemmed from writing this blog. What got me into memoir writing was the piece I wrote for my grandma. I looked at it and thought, “what if I could use this for my portfolio?” So I started turning pieces of it in to my workshops for class. I did a fairly good job at keeping my classmates interested in what I was writing. After that, it’s all I’ve been focusing on, except for the few times I write my novel.

I really don’t like non-fiction novels. I would much rather read something fictional. However, through discussions with my supervisor, I think I have my own story to tell. I thought that maybe because I am only in my 20’s that a memoir wouldn’t be appropriate, but it fits me better. I haven’t read many memoirs and so this whole subject is new to me.

For memoir writing, I feel like the story is there, I just have to dig deeper to find it. It’s a different technique than writing fiction. At least for me. There are truths that I want to put down, and there are truths that I DON’T want to put down. So getting those ones I don’t want to put down is very hard. I can write two paragraphs and not feel like writing for a week because it was hard to put those words on paper. Or the screen.

This is a new area for me and I feel like it can either go well for me, or it could very badly. I will take this to wherever it may lead me.

I know I haven’t been blogging that much lately and I apologize. I truly want to keep up with this blog, so I will post an update every Wednesday about my life, reading and other bookish things.

Macau Trip: that was one year ago!!!

What have I learned this past year since my Macau trip?

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Well, fellow readers, I’ve learned many things. When I first set off on my trip to Macau, I thought I could handle it. I did a fairly okay job being the leader of my casa and making sure everything went well when we were in Macau. But what I didn’t anticipate how I was ill prepared to venture out alone when I was going to Hong Kong. I think now that I’ve had some more experience going alone to places such as Bath or even Barry Island, I am not as scared as I was a year ago.

I’ve learned some interesting social skills and find myself wishing I could go back and be a nicer person. I’m not saying that I was a horrible person on the trip, but I could have been less annoying and more willing to accept some things. I tried really hard to be liked and I think that may have come across in the wrong way. Looking back, I think that I was a tad bit more immature than I am now. Although I’m sure a few people didn’t see it that way.

I’m sure travelling Europe is different than Asia, but I think I was just not in the right place to be able to handle myself alone. Now that I know a few tricks to how to feel comfortable in a new place and the effect of research, I definitely would try to go travelling by myself again. This time I will do my research in to what hotel would suit me and which part has more activity to do at night. I definitely will not book a hostel that is in the middle of nowhere on a hill that I’d never hike up.

Although I don’t speak to the people I met on the trip on a daily basis, I do enjoy seeing what they’re doing through Facebook. I think Facebook tends to filter out what news you see on your page. I would happily meet up with anyone for coffee (or tea) that I met on the trip. Well, most people.

Looking back on what happened on my last day in Macau, I realise that I handled it pretty well for someone in my situation. Some people would blame themselves, but what could I have done? I had no clue of the pressures that girl was being put on to accompany me. If so, I would have been understanding and told her it was fine. But to not have heard from her at all that day felt bad. But that’s in the past. I don’t hold it against her and I’m moving past it. After all, I was originally just going alone anyways.

I’ve written a lot about my Macau trip and I even have it on my main page under “Macau Trip.” I’m eternally grateful for that opportunity and I can’t believe it’s been a year!

Here’s me now:

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Definitely a big change! I’ve learned so much and I can’t wait to see what the rest of the year brings me!!!

Christina Grimmie and the Pulse victims are in our thoughts RIP

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I know that my blog is mainly for book reviews and writing, but I thought I’d take some time to write about the recent events in Orlando. I am very devastated by what happened and cannot begin to fathom the horror families of the deceased are experiencing right now.

Let me begin with a small shooting, not 24 hours before the massive shoot out. Christina Grimmie. Only 22 and a former competitor on “The Voice.” She started off on Youtube, having been signed on to Selena Gomez’s parents’ record company. I started following her after this video:

 

I loosely followed her when she was in “The Voice” and had forgotten about her for a little bit. Every time I saw her videos I was inspired. She had this energy that you just couldn’t miss. She put her heart into the songs and didn’t seem ashamed to leave it on the stage.

She had so much going for her and the fact that this man singled her out really gets to me. Was this some kind of personal vendetta against her? Or maybe it was something else. But for whatever reason, this person decided to take an innocent life. I can see, maybe, wanting to kill someone like Trump or even just someone who did something so wrong. But to kill a performer like that? I may not have known Christina personally, but this devastates me more than I thought it even could.

That’s not to say that I wasn’t horrified by the Pulse shooting. In no way am I saying that I care more about this singer’s death than the 50 deaths that happened at Pulse. I will get to that in a moment. My heart breaks from all of this senseless violence. I saw this video that Sam Tsui posted as a tribute to Christina. It’s horrifyingly beautiful and I hope everyone thinks so.

As soon as I hit the link I couldn’t help crying. It feels like a dream that this is even happening. I hope Christina is looking down and seeing all the love we all have for her.

I want to write a letter to Christina, if you guys are willing to let me.

Dear Christina,

I haven’t met you, but you were a big part of my growth. I saw your videos and wished I was as talented as you. I was very happy to hear that you got into the Voice and how each judge turned their seat. What an accomplishment! You have inspired several people by doing what you love and I could tell by all of your videos that you loved doing what you did. I wanted to be like you, where I was happy to be doing what I love. No one can tell exactly why you were killed, but just know that you died too young. I firmly believe that if you’ve changed someone’s life, your life won’t have had no meaning. You’ve inspired tons of people and left a big footprint in this world. You will not be forgotten. The Heavens just got a talented and beautiful angel.

Yours forever,

Jillian.

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Sean Astin (Sam from Lord of the Rings) posted this amazing quote from “Two Towers” that really broke my heart in two, in regards to the shooting:

FRODO: I can’t do this, Sam.
SAM: I know. It’s all wrong. By rights we shouldn’t even be here. But we are. It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy. How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened.
But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something. Even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back only they didn’t. Because they were holding on to something.
FRODO: What are we holding on to, Sam?
SAM: That there’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo. And it’s worth fighting for.

I think in times of crisis, we tend to walk around like chickens with our heads cut off. We don’t know what to do or how to act. I certainly didn’t know what to do when I heard of Christina’s death and the shooting at Pulse. I felt bad for not being able to do anything and even more upset when I was enjoying my day. Things like this should never be a norm.

I also want to bring up that hate is not a mental illness. If it was, I could claim to hate Trump and it’d be sort of ok to kill him. I mean I dislike Trump, but it’d be totally wrong to kill him. By saying that I was mentally unstable because of my hatred isn’t correct. Cause you do know that our society will lessen your sentence if you have a disability. So if you claim hatred such as racism or homophobia for why you murder someone, it could change the outcome of your sentence. Which is not fair. And plenty of people will remark “where on your birth certificate does it say life has to be fair?” Yeah, I’ve heard that one before.

I will never claim to be politically aware. It’s hard to filter through what most people say into what is the truth and what is opinion. What I do know is this. This was a terrible situation, yes. But, if we let fear and anger control us, we may end up repeating history. Germany “feared” the Jews and they put them in internment camps. America feared the Japanese and put them into internment camps. Whenever there is fear from any other country, the solution always seems to be segregation and internment.

This idea that Trump has to build a wall is foolishness. And the fact that he’s blaming an entire religion, Muslim, for all the terrorist attacks, is just foolish. Sure, some terrorist attacks are from Muslim EXTREMISTS!!! But there are a ton of terrorist attacks from white guys. Oh, but they aren’t “terrorists” if they aren’t dark skinned. So far there have been 133 mass shootings in the USA in 2016 alone and we are only halfway through the year! And I bet most of them are from white kids/adults.

To conclude before I go on this rant, I am devastated to hear about these shootings. We need to do more than just pray for Orlando. We need to better our society so that this isn’t happening as often.

Wales, John Barrowman, drunken nights, and Shadowhunters!

I haven’t written about my time in Wales for a while! I’ve wanted to write something about it in here for a few months but haven’t had the motivation to write it. Now with four months of time to work on my portfolio and nothing else to do, I think I will talk about Wales. Since the last time I talked about Wales in a blog post was back in 2015, I should include such events as fracturing my ankle, joining an accappella group and being drunkenly driven around in a shopping cart. Oh and some of the educational stuff too, like teaching my own class and the whole portfolio process.

Okay, where to begin??? I fractured my foot AND I DON’T REMEMBER HOW!

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It was at this event that one of my friends was having for her society. You know how it is. You start off saying you’re only going to have a few drinks and then somehow they turn into five… or was that six? Either way, the night ended where my foot hurt and I then waking up to the pain thinking, “Man, that wasn’t a dream!” So I stumbled into a taxi and went to the A&E (the ER for those American friends who don’t know what that is)… with a hangover. Boy do I regret not just falling asleep and going to the emergency room when my hangover wore off. Four hours of waiting, by myself (cause my sleep deprived and hungover self completely just had one thing on her mind which was to go to the ER . Totally forgetting to tell any of her flatmates or friends where she was going) in the A&E while massively hungover is not something I thought I’d ever have to do.

When I was finally seen and looked at, it turned out that part of my ankle was fractured. No, I did not look at it. Got a little squeamish about seeing what the insides of my body look like. So in the end I had to be in a cast for a total of six weeks. The first week I was in a white cast (plaster as they say over here) and then they changed it for this purple one. Oh yeah, it was my right foot by the way.

There was plenty of things I couldn’t do for a while, like going out with friends to clubs and even just walking to class. Taking taxis was the only way I could get around, since Cardiff is made for walking. Seriously, I have to walk around 20 minutes to get to the City Center. I’m sure my thighs are thanking me though. My bank account got really low and I kept having to ask for more money each week. Taxis are super expensive. Well, a lot of things are here and especially since I have to convert to American dollars it’s taxing.

Also, the elevator wasn’t working for a while and I lived on the first floor (that’s the second floor to Americans by the way.) So getting up and down the stairs was a pain. Which is why I mostly got delivery when it came to groceries and food.

So besides that, I had some other great memories so far.

I joined an ACCAPELLA group! 

As most of you guys know, I love singing. Whether that is musical theatre or just singing in the shower. Performing is something I like doing, even if I get really nervous doing it. So with some encouragement from my course mate Mared (really, all she said was that there were auditions at such and such time and I just did it…no real convincing on her part) I auditioned. Got in and was really happy I did.

Because I literally hurt myself the day I auditioned, I was in crutches for most of our rehearsal time. I literally got noticed because of that silly purple cast. But hey, I rocked it better than some people. Just kidding. (or am I? ;)) I think that without the cast, I still probably would have been the loudest newcomer there. I’m just awesome like that.

Everyone in InterChorus were amazing to me and I wouldn’t change a thing. Regardless of my cast, I pushed myself to do well. I even got a small solo in the S Club medley. Seriously, I was very pleased with that.

You know how sometimes when you join a group that’s already been established and the inside jokes can make you feel alienated from the rest of the group, even though you try to fit in as best you can? Well these people made it okay to be a newcomer and still feel like I fit in. You guys were fab! (I just really like that word!)

I feel like a whole different person

I don’t think I’ve made it a secret that I suffer from depression. Personally we shouldn’t put it in a corner, never to be noticed. If we can get people to be aware of it, then maybe we can start changing each other’s lives. I never had great social skills. I can come off a bit stand offish and maybe sort of immature. It bugged me so much that I seriously contemplated just not following my dreams and just get an apartment, get a job at McDonalds and never accomplish anything in life.

But that isn’t going to happen. I may have trouble achieving my goals, but I know I’m a few steps closer to what I want. Just by getting my Masters degree I’m showing that I am dedicated to this thing that I love. Life of a Creative Writing major is a bumpy road, but it’s the life I choose.

I used to like doing nothing and just lazing around in my room. But I’ve gotten more motivated and need to find something to fill my time that doesn’t include spending a fortune or destroying my body.

Seriously though, I’ve grown socially and I’m proud to say that I’m not as embarrassed to go out with anyone.

Since I mentioned it earlier, yes, I once got drunk and got carried in a trolley to my place. Not that big of a story, but everyone in the building was looking at me. A story to tell my grandkids.

Writing that portfolio, cause that’s what I’m here for right??

I started writing part of my portfolio last semester. This whole year, we’ve had workshops on Mondays and I started turning in the story last semester. It was this weird supernatural story about this girl whose parents die in a fire and something really creepy is lurking in the corner. It was untitled at first, but I ended up calling it “Cataclysmic.” Some of it is written on this blog.

Then when I came back from break, I read from a blog post I wrote about my grandma at this open mic. My advisor suggested I write more on the subject of my grandma, so I started writing the memoir, which I posted here too. It was a hard process, but I got through it.

Meeting John Barrowman aka Captain Jack Harkness!!!

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I just want to mention that I met him at Waterstones in Cardiff. I bought his book “Conjuror” which he wrote with his sister Carole. When I was waiting in line I saw him walk in the back door and he was saying how a school in Scotland banned his book. And when I finally got to see him, he was so amazing! When he handed me the book he played keep away with it. I love him so much!!!

I also met Cassandra Clare (again)!!!

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Seriously, I went to Birmingham (which was a two and a half bus ride from Cardiff but super worth it) and waited in line for five hours. I met some great people in line and I feel bad but I did kind of brag that I was from California and met a lot of celebrities and stuff. Sorry, I’ve never been really able to do that before. But when I finally got to see Cassandra Clare, I only got to tell her how much she rocks and she even asked me my favourite character. I said Julian cause he’s awesome and hey, people call me Julian anyways. I had plenty of time to kill before my bus back home, but since it was Sunday, everything was closing early. And it didn’t really seem like there was much else to see in that city so I got an earlier bus.

I went to two balls (you know, like dances)

They were so fun! They were literally back to back. The first one was the Accappella ball at the Student’s Union and then there was the ComSci (Computer Science) ball at the Marriot. For the Accappella ball, I was actually in the society. We performed a medley of Grease and did a lot of dancing. I love Grease and at that point I was a bit drunk and singing was so funny! We had a lot of fun though.

The second ball was fun… although I was still hungover from the night before so I was a bit out of it during the dinner. There was a photo booth so that was fun. I have three photos from that. At the end of the ball we went to this pub and then we went to this club. I don’t know if it’s cause I was a bit tired, but I didn’t enjoy the club as much as I should have. Maybe I’m getting a bit old???

I really despise essays… and teaching.

For this semester, I had to teach an undergraduate class. I have never wanted to be a teacher and sometimes presenting in class is very nerve racking for me. I taught a class on genre fiction, focusing on fantasy. I did enjoy that though, since I really love fantasy. Getting to talk about the subject I love was fun, and the class really enjoyed it. Could have put more lecture in my class, but that’s fine.

The essay for the teaching part was stressful. Luckily for me, that’s it for this month’s due dates. I just have a big portfolio due in September. So I have more time to mess around than most of my friends. It almost seems too good to be true. I’m glad that I’m done with it and I hope that I pass.

So overall, how is your time in Wales?

I’m doing great and I’m definitely going to miss this place. I feel grateful every day that I’m here and I have my parents to thank for this. Without their help I wouldn’t be here. Whatever the future holds, I will not regret what I did here.

Memoir to Nana

Here is the memoir I’ve been working on. This is the second to last draft and some things might change between today and tomorrow, but I felt like I needed to put this out there. I’ve been working on my portfolio for my Master’s degree. It’s important to me that I do well on this one, because it is my own words, come to life. I was only going to focus on fictional stories, but after reading one of my blog posts about Nana aloud at an open mic, my advisor said it might be beneficial to work on it. So some of the things said in here might be familiar.

I just want to point out that while most of the story is true, some things are embellished. This took me a while to write, simply because tensions are still kind of high in my family. I do not want to upset or cause any trauma for what I’m about to show you. It is simply how I feel about the situation. Maybe later on I will do another few more edits and put the bare truth out there. I don’t know if I’ve said this about writing before, but you have to think of your audience.

While my mom was very supportive of me writing this, I do feel like some “truths” might not want to be heard. There is always two sides to each coin. It is not my job, as a memoir writer, to put the blame on any one person. Or to villainize (I don’t think that’s really a word, but I’m sure some of my readers will know what I’m trying to convey) anyone. Everyone has their faults and I tried to tell the story of just me and my grandma. So I’m sorry if I didn’t characterize anyone else in the story that well.

So without further ado, here is my memoir to my grandma:

 

I remember the last time I saw my grandma healthy. It was Christmas day and we were going over to my aunt’s house, in the Marina District, for dinner. When we arrived at my grandma’s house, a tiny blue house in the Sunset District, she wasn’t ready. I remember being happy that I got to be the one to assist her. I was holding her small miniature Toy Poodle, Mara, when my grandma, Nana as I liked to call her, asked me to turn around. When I did, she said, “You remind me of myself so many years ago. All the boys would chase me around back in Macau. Your outfit suits you and you look like you’ve lost some of that chin fat.”

There were many times such as this one where I would wait on Nana, but one moment sticks out in particular. It was just a typical day, nothing special was going on. My mom had invited Nana over for dinner and I was the one to drive her to our house in Pacifica. I remember coming up the stairs, seeing the drawings of my mom and her siblings, and hearing Nana tell Mara to “pipe down.” Mara had somehow thought Nana wasn’t taking her. When I had reached the top of the stairs, I could see Nana in front of the bathroom door mirror. She was wearing her black, red and white striped shirt with black trousers. She was putting on her lipstick and making sure her hair was in place. She had just dyed her hair to a coppery red that week.  Nana had the habit of spinning around when she was fixing her hair. Because she was so tiny, it looked like a ballerina from a jewelry box.

This was around the time of my college graduation and Nana was curious as to what I was going to wear. I had already planned a simple pink dress for the occasion, so I was all prepared. Nana, however, had already thought things through. She told me to hold Mara while she went in her room to get something. She came out a few minutes later with a small jewelry box with a butterfly on the lid. When I opened the lid, there were an assortment of pink and red bracelets, exactly like the color of my dress. My eyes threatened to tear up so I gave Nana a huge hug and thanked her for her kindness. Nana was all about accessories. Sometimes she would show me some of her jewelry collection when I would watch her get ready to go out. Nana lived a life I hoped to emulate in the future. She was bold, something I felt, and still feel, I could never be, and her vibrant personality reflected that of her favorite red lipstick.

Nana was an amazing cook. There were times when I was little that I would try to replicate her scrambled eggs. To this day, I still believe she had some magic in her and just made the eggs with her special powers. Food was always something that brought my family together. There were even times when we would have our little inside jokes about food.

There was one time when we went over her house for dinner. This was back when we made it a priority to have dinner with Nana every other week. Nana had made spaghetti and meatballs. When I got upstairs, I kissed Nana on the cheek.  The dark brown cabinets and the yellow tiles my favorite part of the house, although my mom had always talked about renovating it for Nana. I looked at the stove, an old relic that was probably from the 50’s and saw the spaghetti cooking in the pot.

“Yay! I love spaghetti!”

“I’m so happy you enjoy it. Can you help me make the garlic bread?”

“Sure Nana.”

I washed my hands and grabbed the garlic powder from the fridge.

“Where’s your mom?” Nana asked.

“Oh, she’s parking the car.”

Nana stood next to me, opening a drawer. She pulled out the rice scooper.

“Nana, we’re having spaghetti. You don’t need the rice scooper for that.”

“Yes, well… Cruz needs his rice. So we have rice.”

The truth was that Nana needed the rice. It wouldn’t be a dinner without rice.

 

In high school, I asked to learn how to make Nana’s amazing Feijoada, a dish made up of cabbage, pig’s feet, beans, beef, and pork.

I was there when we tried to get things straight about the recipe. My aunt kept saying, “So you put in this amount of beans?” And then Nana said, “Yes. Wait, did you write that it needed two things of cabbage?”

“’Things’ of cabbage?”

“You know,” said Nana, “two balls or mugs or scoopfuls.”

“I wrote down one!” I said, while scratching out the amount of cabbage on the page.

“No, what I meant was two for one pot of Feijoada.”

“Okay, so two cabbages.”

When I would add half a bag of beans, she would throw in some more beans after. And the amount of salt she added was not exact to the recipe at hand. Nana had been making this dish for so long that the actual ingredients were just second nature to her.

“Oh and about the pig’s feet…”

It was always a treat to be able to work in the kitchen with Nana.  She was always lithe on her feet, so sometimes it would feel like every movement in the kitchen was a dance. Sometimes on a rare sunny day in San Francisco, light would seem to bounce off of her and the light would be reflected in the glass chandelier above the dining room table.

The best memories I have with Nana are all involving food. Even if she was not expecting my mom and I to come over, she would sometimes have enough food for us, with some left over. I used to wake up at the crack of dawn whenever I stayed over her house, just to make sure I laid the table for breakfast. It would always cheer me up just to make her a cup of coffee, because I knew it made her happy. The sounds of her slippered feet on the creaky hardwood floor would sometimes make me do a small dance of victory on the yellow linoleum floors of the kitchen. Plus, I just couldn’t wait to have some of her delicious Oatmeal.

There were hours in class where I would stare at the posters on the wall (most of the classes I had didn’t have windows) and wish I was spending the day with Nana. She always had her routine of breakfast, Tai-Chi, cleaning up the backyard, lunch and her soap operas. Sometimes when I would think about what a happy future would be, I would imagine my grandma sitting in the living room, watching her soap operas.

There’s this line from a musical that goes “Sometimes people leave you, halfway through the wood. Do not let it grieve you. No one leaves for good. You are not alone. No one is alone.” It may be sentimental, but I think this best represents my feelings towards my grandma’s passing. She’s probably here in spirit and we have to live our lives; go through the wood. I guess if you think that our spirit lives on, we will meet each other at the end of our lives.

I remember that call from my mom.

Nana had gone to the hospital a week prior to Christmas. It didn’t feel like a huge deal to me at the time, since I had this hope that everything would be okay. After all, it was only a cold. However, things took a turn for the worse when she responded badly to one of the drugs they were giving her. It was then that I sensed that things would never be the same. Nana had a strict DNR policy and when her heart started failing, we knew that we would eventually have to turn off the machines keeping her alive. It was a long night in the waiting room of the ICU.

Nana had five kids and each one had their own opinion of what they wanted to do. There were arguments that were fairly civil and others where their voices over ran each other’s. My sister and I clung to each other’s hand to avoid voicing our opinions over their arguments. What concerned me at the time was how my mom, the oldest, didn’t seem to be heard.

When we finally got to see Nana, all of my family was in tears. My mom, my sister Amy and I held on to each other and told Nana how much we loved her.

My uncle, standing to the right of Nana’s bed, looked at my sister and I and said, “These are your last words to Nana. This is your last chance to say what you want.”

I looked towards my sister. Both of us unsure of what we needed to say.

“Nana,” I choke out through the tears, “we’re here. I love you. I wish…”

I couldn’t go on. My mom put her arms around me and my sister. It was the first time in years that my sister has let me hug her without squirming.

My uncle said we should say something more, but there was nothing I wanted to say. There was nothing that could bring Nana back to us and I had nothing of importance to say besides “I love you.”

Eventually I took my sister and myself home at two in the morning. My sister ended up going to the beach with her friends while I insisted on going home. I spent an hour curled up on the couch watching TV with my cat and dog cocooned around me. Before I fell asleep, I felt my dog, Timba, rub his nose against my cheek. I awoke an hour later from a call from my mom. When I picked up the phone, all she said was, “It’s time.” The room instantly felt colder and I had to carry my cat around while I picked up my bag, my jacket, and the bracelet Nana had given me that Christmas to go out.

My two sisters, Amy and Marissa, did not want to go to the hospital. While I understood that they didn’t want to be there when they turned off the machines, I felt abandoned by the two people who understood me more than anyone in the world. By the time I got to the hospital, Nana had already passed and I found that I could not shed another tear more. After all the fighting and yelling in the ICU, it was my mother who was to be there at my grandma’s last breath.

I think I took her loss harder than I expected. I suddenly remembered how there was another Christmas or holiday when my grandma had gone to the hospital. After that time, I think I had maybe started to prepare myself for the inevitable. But, perhaps, not well enough. I wanted to be okay, but in the end, I wasn’t. I honestly could not see a life without Nana in it.

On some level, Nana’s passing helped spur me towards studying abroad. She was very proud that I graduated from college and that faith really meant a lot to me.

There was a day, back in April 2015, four months after, when I was really depressed about Nana’s passing. My mom and her siblings were fighting over the sale of Nana’s house and also about the inheritance. When I’m really sad, sometimes I like to go through my things and clean out some stuff. I found a lot of missing jewelry that had been given to me from relatives and other miscellaneous things such as a twenty-dollar bill. The most important thing that I found was the card Nana gave me for my college graduation. I remember clearly when she handed it to me. My mom had told me not to accept the money she gave me since Nana really needed the money. Although after her passing, we realized that she may not have been so strapped for cash. The card read, “To my dearest granddaughter Jillian. Hoping, wishing you a very bright future. Love you very much as always, Nana and Balbino Cruz.” On the front of the card was the picture of a hummingbird and some flowers. I’ve kept that card close to me ever since.

Growing up, I loved hearing anything about where my grandma came from. She was born in Mexico, but moved to Macau and then moved to the United States.  I always fantasized about what it would have been like for her to start life in another country.

In the summer of 2015, I went on a trip to Macau. I went with a group of people from all around the world who were also Macanese. The Macanese is anyone descended from those people living in Macau when it was under Portuguese rule. It was an eye opening experience to be in a country that Nana and my mother had lived in. There were plenty of places and experiences that made me think of Nana, but one moment in particular sticks in my memory. The second to last night of the trip, I had an experience that changed my entire perspective on death.

When I was packing for the trip, I had only known to bring one formal outfit. But while I was on the trip, I learned that we had to have two. I heard there was a Forever 21 store that was open till midnight near the Ruins of St. Paul, which is this front of a church that was burned down. After we came back from dinner, I set off. However, I had left my phone in my hotel room, as the battery had died.

The trek was calming. It was humid and I felt as if there was a blanket of water being pressed against me. The journey was all uphill and the cobbled streets were only faintly illuminated by the street lamps. Using mostly my memory, and the scattered street signs pointing the way, I was able to find the ruins. Nana always said that I had an impeccable sense of direction.

Halfway through the walk, I felt as if I was being watched. Every now and then I would see other people walking up or down the streets. I tried to look confident, so that no one would take me for a foreigner. As I neared the ruins, I felt that watchful eye increase its stare. When I reached the ruins, I took a second to make sure I was alone. The town square in front of the ruins were faintly lit up by street lamps. As I looked towards the ruins of the church, I felt it. The presence that I felt halfway through the walk. A light was shining in back of the church, making the ruin of the church stand out in the landscape of the city. While I know there is a logical explanation for the light, I believe that it was definitely Nana looking over me, making sure I was safe in this foreign land.

When Nana was young, her role model was her mom. Back then in Macau, in order to get water, people would have to walk to the local watering hole. It cost extra money to have a pipe come directly to one’s house. A local gang had monopolized on this habitual routine of ordinary life, having the women pay to get water. When Nana’s mom heard of this, she immediately went down to the watering hole, Nana in tow. Nana said she looked like “a fiery rage of a woman,” storming down to vanquish evil. Because Nana’s mom was part European, the gangs did not mess with her, out of fear of causing trouble for relations between the Portuguese and the Chinese, and immediately disbanded their monopoly on the watering hole. Nana was a fierce lady herself, having touched the lives of many people she came in contact with.

Our first Christmas without Nana didn’t feel like Christmas. Relationships were still strained by this time and with the second big holiday without Nana upon us, no one truly felt in the holiday spirit. Because I had been away in Wales for a few months and was only back for the break, most of the conversation was steered towards what it was like in another country and what my future plans were. Every now and then, however, the conversation would go towards what we would have done if Nana was still alive. The big thing, for me at least, was that we forgot to make rice.

When I came home from break, one thing that I didn’t realize before I left was that one of my uncles kept some of the food from Nana’s freezer. Before Nana passed, I had begged her to make Feijoada. Every time I planned to make it with her, something always came up. Sometimes people have a bigger impact on your life than what you think. And you really can’t see it until it’s too late. I kept telling myself that there was more time, but in reality, we didn’t.  I wish I could have made it with her one more time, because I know she was looking forward to making it with me before the holidays started. The ingredients for Feijoada still lie in our refrigerator, waiting to be cooked.

That last time I saw my Nana, we smiled, we laughed, we hugged, we danced around the bedroom. “Soon,” she had said. “soon, we will make Feijoada together. Just you and me!”

***

I hoped you liked it. Feel free to comment below on your thoughts. I wanted to post a poem I wrote in class about Nana. I was going to add it to my memoir, but I don’t think it fits. So here it is. It is untitled as of yet.

Her red auburn hair

Matted in sweat

From years of taking

Care of 5 children.

The tubes connecting her

To life

Are only physical reincarnations

Of our love

Red fingernails

Once used to smooth

Unruly curls and fix dinner

Now cling to life.

She died before the heart monitor went off.

My mother clutching

Her weathered hand.

Hours of fighting

All come down to

This.

My mother goes home

To her three children

And teaches them

What it really

Means to be a

Family.

It’s been a year now

I’ve been busy working on my essay for school and so I hadn’t gotten to finishing my post for the year anniversary of my grandma’s passing. So here is what I have to say.

 

I remember the last time I saw my grandma healthy. It was Christmas day and we were going over my aunt’s house for dinner. When we arrived at my grandma’s house to pick her up, she wasn’t ready. I remember being happy that I got to be the one to assist her. We had a laugh about something that happened Christmas Eve and she complimented my clothing. I wasn’t in any rush to go and so I was happy to wait with her to get ready. I can remember times where I would watch her put on lipstick and wish I was as fancy as she was. There was just something about my grandma that made me happy. I used to spend days in school wondering how it was like to spend my days with my grandma. She always had her routine of breakfast, Tai-Chi, cleaning up the backyard, lunch and her soap operas. Sometimes when I would think about what a happy future would be, I would imagine my grandma sitting in the living room, watching her soap operas.

There’s this line from a musical that goes: “Sometimes people leave you, halfway through the wood. Do not let it grieve you. No one leaves for good. You are not alone. No one is alone.” I think this best represents my feelings towards my grandma’s passing. She’s here in spirit and we have to live our lives. I guess if you think of it this way, we all see each other in the end.

I’ve written several posts about my grandma and now it seems like the most important thing right now. It’s been an entire year and there has not been a day that has gone by that I haven’t thought of the impact she has had on our lives. I remember that call from my mom. I knew then that life would be a lot different. There are certain constants in your life that you can’t help mourning over. I think I took her loss harder than I expected. I remember there was another Christmas or holiday in which my grandma went to the hospital. I honestly could not see a life without her in it. After that time, I think I started to prepare myself for the inevitable. I wanted to be okay, but in the end, I wasn’t really okay.

I think on some level, my grandma’s passing helped spur me towards studying abroad. I know my grandma was very proud that I graduated from college and that faith really meant a lot to me. Growing up, I loved hearing anything about where my grandma came from. She was born in Mexico, but moved to Macau and then moved to the United States.  I always fantasized about what it would have been like for her to start life in another country. I don’t want to be stuck in one place my whole life. There is an entire world that I have yet to explore.

Sometimes people have a bigger impact on your life than what you think. And you really can’t see it until it’s too late. I’m happy at where I am in my life right now. Maybe I don’t have a steady boyfriend or even a well paying job, but I know that I’m in a good place right now.

I also want to put in the speech I read for her funeral. I posted it on here, I think, but here it is again.

I am not a cook. I’m sure whenever I get married I’ll depend mostly on already prepared meals from Safeway. However, Nana was an amazing cook. I remember times when I was little that I would try to replicate her scrambled eggs. (I never could make it like hers.) Years later, in high school, I asked to learn how to make Nana’s amazing Feijoada. Auntie Gabriela had sat Nana down to write the complete recipe for the dish a month or so beforehand. I was so excited. Not just because I was going to be making my favorite food, but also, to be able to learn something from Nana. It was always a treat to be able to work in the kitchen with her.  Feijoada, for those who don’t know, is a dish made up of cabbage, pig’s feet, beans, beef, and pork. When we actually started to make the dish, however, things started getting interesting. Nana would make changes to the recipe as we went along, almost making the original recipe she had given us seem obsolete. What was funny was the fact that Auntie Gabriela would say “I thought you said it was two tablespoons?” or something like that. Nana would then say something that went along the lines of, “I estimated how much.” Nana had been making this dish for so long that the actual ingredients were just second nature to her. I wish I could have made it with her one more time, because I know she was looking forward to making it with me before the holidays started.

After spending hours this week thinking about the best story I had with my grandma, I realized that the best stories I had with her, were all involving food. I used to wake up at the crack of dawn whenever I stayed over her house, just to make sure I made the table for breakfast. It would always cheer me up just to make her a cup of coffee, because I knew it made her happy. Plus I couldn’t wait to have some of her delicious Oatmeal. One of my favorite quotes goes, “Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened,” Written by Dr. Seuss. Today we not only mourn the loss of Nana, but we celebrate the life she led. It has been a gift to have Nana in all of our lives and we are dearly going to miss her.

****

I’ve been neglecting my blog lately. I will eventually get to my Lunar Chronicles review soon. I’m so happy that you guys read this. J