Tag Archives: life

“Justice”

It’s been twenty years and I can still feel his hands on me. My skin burns – I am a patchwork quilt of scalding handprints. My arms. My neck. My legs. My face. Places you aren’t supposed to mention in polite company – but how could I ever be considered good or polite now? I am sure that at any moment, I will fly apart into a thousand tiny pieces of ash. I can still feel his hands on me.

Growing up, I thought that I should feel lucky. When I spoke up, someone listened. The police were called, charges were filed, and a sentence imposed. Twenty six years – a triple departure from the ‘standard’ ninety-six months due to the severity of the abuse. Justice was served. But I know the truth now – there is no justice for the victim.

The memories are overwhelming and thankfully broken – skipping around like an episode of TV on the DVR. When they surface so does a ringing in my ears. I cannot move. I cannot breathe. I am numb and raw simultaneously.

I am assured that given enough time and therapy that the panic attacks will subside. I will be able to remember without reliving – but how can that be enough? He is still there. In the back of my mind. Touching everything that I’ve fought so hard to make my own: my body, my mind, my sexuality, my consent. There will always be questions that I can’t ignore and can’t answer.

Do I love my husband’s curly hair because it is a part of the man I love, or because I was conditioned to? Do I enjoy that intimate act for the pleasure it brings my partner or because He taught me (at the age of four) how? Will I ever be able to pleasure myself without feeling guilty? I will never be free of this. I will never be free of him.

But today he will be released for a second time. When he came up for parole last year, I was unconcerned. Surely they wouldn’t see ‘good behavior’ in a man who while maintaining he had done nothing wrong blamed a child for being “too seductive”. Surely they wouldn’t ignore the fact that in his four appeals of his conviction and sentencing he argued that the type of abuse that he inflicted was “typical enough” to not warrant the triple departure. Or that the State of Minnesota lacked the subject jurisdiction. Or that he tried to sue the Attorney General for USING HIS NAME IN COURT DOCUMENTS. But they didn’t. They released him.

In February I got the phone call that I knew would eventually come. He had been arrested for violating his parole. He was found with two laptops full of child pornography and a further forensic sweep revealed conversations with underage girls he was trying to meet up with. Could I please write a victim impact statement to help with proper sentencing?

Two days of torturous reflection and stress eating later, I sent my letter. I had been conflicted about writing – with the parole violations and the newly acquired child pornography would they even need my letter? Was it worth the pain of facing these still smoldering wounds? His case worker promised to call me as soon as sentencing was over and when he did I wanted to crawl into the ground and die.

They gave him 90 days. They didn’t even make him finish his original sentence. There have been no new charges filed.

He will be free.

I will never be.

It’s been twenty years and I can still feel his hands on my skin. I wonder who he will burn next.

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Danger, Will Robinson

When you are chronically ill, hope is a dangerous thing.

At first you do. You hope. You hope fiercely. It’s what gets you through so many doctor appointments and awkward procedures and pain-filled days. Hope is what gets you through. But eventually, that hope fades.

After going to get the ninth second opinion, your hope is beaten down. After the third surprise rectal exam, you need more than hope. And so your hope becomes steel. Steel that laces itself through your spine and your soul. It helps you stand up straight when you’ve gotten embarrassingly ill at a dinner party. It helps you keep your chin up when your latest doctor tells you that they found nothing new in the latest round of tests.

Last night I had an MRI. I was pretty annoyed going in. While I was sore and worn down, I wasn’t full on sick and therefore, getting imaging work done seemed like a waste of time and insurance money. The problem with scheduling imaging of just about any kind is that those procedures have to be set up usually at least a week in advance and my abdominal troubles have no interest in observing any sort of rational calendar. It’s like shooting at a target from on top of a moving train. It’s hard to get data, and this problem can’t be solved without data. It’s immensely frustrating.

So, last night I went to Weill Cornell Imaging and settled in for three disgusting rounds of contrast and half an hour in a giant magnet. And I got sick. I’m not sure if it was the contrast that distends your stomach or stress from pretty much anything, but by the time that they put me in for imaging I had already needed to take to pain killers and spent a while laying on the cool tile of the bathroom holding myself in the fetal position. It was the best thing that could ever possibly happened. I got sick right when I needed to be.

And now I have hope. And now I am terrified. Because what if the tests don’t show anything? What if this doctor gives up just like the last one? The last one was lucky and when I saw her the first time I hadn’t eaten anything in several days so she could go in immediately. She did a colonoscopy and found ulcers and though she had a diagnosis. But a year and a half later after blood tests proving her wrong, she threw in the towel. If this test shows something, will it be enough? I want to hope. I want to be better. But every time I get my hopes up, my spirit gets shattered when nothing comes of it. How many times can you get a punch to the gut like this before you give up? How do you find the balance between pursuing a cure that may never come and finding a way to live your life as it is so it doesn’t pass you by. I don’t know. Finding the answer so far has been terribly painful and I’m not sure I want to keep looking.

Retrospect

I feel a bit guilty about not writing more about 2014. There is a non-trivial part of me that feels I should have shared more about my adventures in the moment.

There is absolutely no arguing that 2014 was an EPIC year for me. It was my first year of marriage. I traveled the world, met more amazing people and lived in Japan. I admit that I’m a bit impressed that I was able to pull it all off. There were a number of times when I thought it was all going to fall apart.

As amazing as last year was, it was also hard. Impossibly hard. And impossibly hard to describe because it was impossibly hard to do. Hard in ways I couldn’t have even imagined before the fact. Hard physically – on average I got on a plane every four days. I only slept in my own bed for three or four months of the entire year. I have a chronic illness that requires  It was emotionally draining – when I was in Japan the only person I could really walk to was Will (who is great, but can’t and shouldn’t be my everything). When I wanted and needed to see friends and family I had to do so in giant tours that I was so exhausted by only a few stops in that I couldn’t really enjoy my time with them fully. I never felt like I really had a home. I couldn’t quite get comfortable in Japan – I was away too much and even if I had, I would have had to just given it up shortly anyways. And that would have been for the second time in two years.

2014 was amazing and utterly exhausting.

Talking about it while it was all happening, without some perspective would have been terrible and I’m glad I didn’t though I did take endless notes so I could later. And it’s starting to be later. It’s still too soon to talk about some things though there are things about last year that I could go on about for ages. For instance, the joys of the Japanese rail system. I’m not much of a train fan, but even I could see the beauty of that system’s precision.

Having an introduction to the blogging of my last year seems impossibly dramatic, even for me – but the truth is, I need to take this slowly. I need to process this with time – which is exactly what I couldn’t do last year.

A New Normal

You know what’s weird to lack? A daily routine.

Most people have some variant of get up, go to work, come home, sleep with a bunch of little personal details. What they eat for breakfast, if they eat breakfast, do they eat with a spouse or on the way to work and etc. That sort of thing. We have routines from a young age starting with school and moving to work of some sort. They say that it’s good to break a routine every once in a while and it’s true. Too much of a thing, even if it’s a good thing, can be a bad thing. Change is good.

But not having a routine is a strange thing. You grasp for one that might not be there in an attempt to right yourself because not having one feels a little bit like a ship tipping over. Life last year didn’t allow for much of a routine. Now, truth is, I did that to myself. Nobody forced me to get on all those planes and to live in airport lounges, but I would have been desperately lonely had I not. Pro-tip: don’t spend the first year of your marriage in a country where you can only speak to your husband. We made it, but I’m not entirely certain how we did. In the end, disrupting my routine to the point that my routine was chaos was worth it, but it wasn’t easy and now I’m trying to remember how to build one again.

I don’t have work to go to, I don’t have school to go to yet, but I can’t exactly spend the day in bed. So what do you do when you have nothing to do? Let me tell you that while there is a small urge to clean everything in the very beginning it is small enough that I don’t actually get to clean everything and eventually I just end up bored. Being bored is no fucking fun. Having nothing to do is crazy-making. Remember that the next time when you’re talking to someone who is unemployed.

Turns out that building your own routine isn’t easy. I have no reminders or guidelines, I have no structure outside of Will leaving and coming home from work. I have email that I need to get to, but surely I can get to it later, right? I’m a procrastinator by nature. You don’t make a procrastinator their own boss for a good reason. Except now I am.

Thank ghod for Japan’s obsession with stationary. You couldn’t turn a corner in the town we lived in without running into a stationary store that had incredibly adorable pre-printed To-Do Lists. I have travel themed lists, cat themed lists, penguin themed lists and even book themed lists. And those lists are how I get things done around here. I had to bribe myself at first. Every time I got something done, I allowed myself to open a piece of mail from a friend or one of the Cards Against Humanity Bullshit items. But now I don’t need the bribes. The simple act of crossing through the list and getting to flip another page is enough motivation. I push myself to get my To-Do list done as soon as I can.

The real trick for me was to know what was reasonable to put on the list. If I put a bunch of small items on the list, it can seem like my list is longer than the Wall of China. If I put too massive of a job on my list, it feels like a boulder that I’ll never be able to work through. Learning to break up your tasks into manageable chunks is something you quickly learn in the real working world, but I’m not sure if I’ll ever get back to that world. Working through a list consisting of ‘Write letter to Brigid’ and ‘Call doctor’ can be annoying sometimes. It feels like I shouldn’t need a list to do those things. But when you’re sick, little things add up and become big things. While I’d rather my routine be filled with big things, right now I’ll settle for getting something done at all.

Doctor, Doctor

Turns out I do not, in fact, have a bad case of loving you. I have a bad case of nobody knows what the fuck is up with my body.

On the bright side, there is in fact medical terminology for what’s up with my body: Isolated, Idiopathic Colonic Ischemia. Basically the blood stops flowing to a certain area of my colon and it starts to ulcerate and die. And then for some reason, it stops and puts it self back together again. I chose to believe that this is further evidence that I am in fact, a Time Lord.

The down side of this is that while my doctor knows what my body is doing, she doesn’t know why. And that is unfortunately what we need to know. While it’s good to know the name of what is happening to me, it’s the name of a symptom and not a treatable disease. My doctor has run out of options for tests for me that will show anything new. She threw the book at me and nothing took. This is heartbreaking and crazy-making but a little unsurprising. She’s come further than any other doctor. She was the first one to look at Crohn’s and autoimmunes. Hell, she was the first doctor to tell me that my pain was real and that I should be taking pain killers which she then gave me.

Today we talked about a surgical option. During a colonoscopy she’d mark the area in my colon that has the most problems and then a surgeon (at a later date) would cut that section of my colon out. Sounds fun right? You know what’s more fun? They’re not sure exactly what would happen if they did that. They hope it would be gone and never come back, but they have no hard numbers to give me. It’s just as likely that it would come back in some other place or stronger than it is now as it is that it would be completely fine. They have no sureties for me, they just have hope. And that’s cool, I like hope. But you know what I like more? Solid evidence before you cut into my body.

So I’m going to get a second opinion. And I don’t know what is scarier, the idea that it is my best option or that it isn’t. Hope becomes a dangerous thing when you’re sick. I’ve gotten used to being sick. I’ve changed my life. I’ve found a way to be happier with a simpler life that doesn’t involve me working heavily. I’d just decided to go to art school. So what do I do if this fixes everything and I can go back? I know playing What if.. is crazy making, but when you’re chronically ill, playing What if is your entire life.

I think it’s time for a drink.

Two Weeks Notice

Today marks living in Japan for two weeks. If I had it my way, Will and I would probably never leave. 

I don’t like change. Or maybe it’s just that I’ve has so much of it in the last year. Either way, I dragged my feet quite deeply about moving here. I was scared. I was scared of moving to another new place. I was scared of not being able to speak the language. I was scared of missing my family even more than I normally did. I was so silly. 

I love our neighborhood. It’s perfect. And I do mean perfect. If you had ever asked me to describe my dream place to live, Mikage is what I would have told you about. It’s quiet, but still urban enough for my tastes. There are flowers and trees everywhere, with a train a block away that takes me swiftly to the heart of Osaka. Our apartment is a dream. Hard wood floors, floor to ceiling windows, and a soaking tub that I can actually cover myself with water in. Even if I hated Japan, I could hide in this little slice of heaven forever. 

The language barrier isn’t as high as it was when I got here, and it’s getting shorter every day. I admit, I’ve lost a little bit of momentum in my learning, but that’s due to how much of the day I spend exploring the area. It’s a trade off I can happily live with. I’m starting to track words that I see out and about. Even if I have no idea what anything means, I can still sound words out and that gives me a certain amount of pride. Most things can be communicated through hand gestures and pointing, and enough people around here know key phrases in English than we can have a short conversation. 

With the exception of the first day here when I was fighting hard against jet lag and total culture shock, I haven’t ever felt alone. I miss my family, sure, but not any more than I usually would. And the constant stream of traveling I have planned (off to England on Thursday) will help keep any feelings of isolation at bay. It’s hard to mope about missing family when you’re planning a trip to the Great Wall of China with your brother and then a week in London with your mother in the same month. 

The only thing I wish was different here was that I had more time to write. I’ve been keeping a paper journal with me so that I can write down what I’m doing with each day, but I always run out of time at the end to transfer all of those thoughts online. I want to share all of my experiences with all of my friends right as they happen! Instagram is helping with that, but I really need to find a way to get everything online. Will has gotten the hang of it over on G+, we’ll see if he has any tips for me. 

Tonight more adventure are in store. I’m about to catch a train so I can meet Will in Kobe. We’re going to a ramen shop that he’s been trying to drag me to since I landed. There will also be some furniture scouting (our place is still a little bit bare) and most likely another pilgrimage to Lush for more bath bombs. The daily soaks here are really eating into my stash. What a hard life. There will be pictures of our evening, promise. 

Japan – First Blush

For the first time in my life, I am a morning person. 

To be clear, I don’t think this will last, but waking up and being cheerful an hour before Will is a very odd experience. It was nice to watch the day break in our neighborhood and start cataloguing all of the differences between here and the other places I have lived. I watched the fog burn off of the mountains (which are much closer than I thought) behind our building. The range arches around behind us and around the train station (only a block away) so that we can see both ends of it from our two balconies. 

This may be a function of the neighborhood we live in, but I was very surprised by how much space we have and how far apart the buildings are here. Our apartment has three extra rooms we’re not entirely sure what to do with yet other than stuffing friends and family inside when they visit. I also spent an hour rearranging things in the main room (living room/ dinning room/ office) because Will has many skills, but furniture layout is not one of them. Also, the trees, grass, and bushes are all very expertly manicured around here which is very different from the forests surrounding the airport in Tokyo. From the air, Japan doesn’t look drastically different from any other place that I’ve flown to (except that NOWHERE is as green as the UK), but as we got closer to the ground I noticed just how full the forests looked. The trees seem to grow right on top of each other. I plan on doing some hiking of the mountains behind us, so I’ll find out just how real of a thing that is. 

The buildings in the neighborhood look like they’ve been thrown together with very little thought to the general aesthetic, which I really, really like. There are no standard buildings, each one is a different design (there are few – countable on my hand- repeats) and different color. It gives the area a personality that I’ve never seen anywhere else. The streets are wide, and oddly empty. I’ve got a wide balcony next to my desk that allows me to look easily at the street. I only see a few people every couple of minutes, and there didn’t appear to be any sort of morning rush. 

That’s all I’ve really had time to discover, but a representative from Panasonic is coming to meet us in a few hours and I’m sure I’ll learn and see more then. I can’t promise pictures (If I do, I’ll be sure to not do them) but I can promise to try and remember. 

Pretending To Be An Adult

Thank You, BuzzFeed
Thank You, BuzzFeed

Packing, no, sorting goes well. My closet has been divided into three piles. Required during travel, shipping to Will, or Goodwill. This was a lot easier than I thought it would be. Champagne and girl friends were not required.

Which is good, because I don’t have both of those things here, anyways. Guess who cleaned out the neverending stock of unused alcohol that we had this morning? I am more than slightly pleased with myself about this and allowed myself a short celebration at Chipotle. Of course, I can’t actually eat the burritos anymore, but their guac is fair game, and what a wonderful game it is.

I have once again run out of water. Notable, because a month ago, I would have been thinking about the fact that I had run out of Coke. I have almost completely eliminated Coke from my daily diet. Not just Coke, but any soda. I still have one occasionally when Will and I go to a restaurant, but they are now a special occasion treat for me. So many of the things that I’ve been used to eating over the years have been cut from my diet due to all of the unknown crappiness that I’ve decided to make this one of the things that I can enjoy every once in a while. It’s been amazingly helpful in terms of weight loss. I haven’t been directly attempting to lose weight, but I can now fit into my skinny jeans (not that they are coming with my on my grand adventures) and that means a lot more to me than fluctuating numbers. I can move my body in ways that I haven’t been able to for longer than I’d like and that’s an incredibly freeing feeling.

I am endless thrilled with having Julie here for the week. She is unapologetically herself and that’s so wonderful to be around. It’s a hard balance to find. Am I being true to myself vs am I being politically correct enough for my environment. I don’t mean she’s a dick, because that’s never cool (and I imagine it’s not a happy self to have) , but she says what she thinks, wears what she wants and doesn’t hold back to make others feel better. Nor does she get hung up on things when others express their disapproval. She listens, decides if she’s going to do anything about it, and then moves on. I don’t know if it’s a me or everyone thing, but I find that balance hard to find and maintain. It’s nice to have someone around where I can let my hair down around that isn’t Will. Not that I don’t love and appreciate that side of our relationship, but it’s nicer to have multiple people around that I can do that with. There are a couple more on the list, but none of them are visiting me at the moment, though I’ll be seeing them in my travels soon.

Back to the neverending task of moving. My original plan was to see as many museums this week, but I’ve migrated to getting as much done on the apartment during the day and spending as little time online as possible. Quite a shift. Quite necessary.

VEDA Thougts

While I did recently take a bit of a break from VEDA do to real world priorities like homework, so far, I’ve really enjoyed the process. In fact, I’ve enjoyed it so much that I’ve joined the Vlogtastic Five and from now on, I’ll be doing two videos on Friday. You can find my regular daily videos here and my Vlogtastic Five videos here.

Doing the videos has been really fun, and I’ve found the upload and go style of updating to be  very freeing. No worrying about scripting things out, or making sure that you’ve left enough time in-between sentences for a ‘proper jump cut’ (sentence I never thought I’d say…) or remembering to change the direction your chin is pointing every once in a while for extra emphasis… it’s a lot. It becomes a job. I’ll be doing my Vlogtastic Five posts like that because I think the group is going for that look and I’m happy too, but it will certainly require some extra time and effort.

I’ve also found that vlogging is helpful emotionally. There is a great community out there beyond just my friends and family who are incredibly supportive. I used to have the giant block that kept me from writing, and initially from posting vlogs that were what about what I was actually thinking because I feared that someone would judge me from what I type or say. I’ve gotten more relaxed about what I say in the videos, and it’s gotten easier for me to blog, which is an unexpected benefit that I really appreciate.

That’s all for now. I need to jump on the homework pile before it attacks me.

Summer Internship

Since the interview and rejection process hasn’t started yet, I can’t really say that it’s hard to find a job. But after today, it’s going to be hard to decide what job I want. There is just so much to be passionate about. 

I am passionate about Media Planning. And Media Buying. And Event Marketing. And Account Management. And Social Media. God, do I love Social Media. I want to live forever so I can do it all! (Which, I realize sounds lame because not many people want to work forever.)

I went to Off Broadway today, which is a set of agency tours put together by my school’s ad club, AdInk, and I’ve come away absolutely certain that the advertising world is exactly where I should be. It’s my job version of the romantic “the one.” At each agency I was inspired by the work I saw and the people I talked to. 

I’ve got a million people telling me to slow down and take it easy. “You’ll regret rushing through these years. They’ll be the best days of your life,” they say. But I can’t help wanting to be out there, doing something. Filled with knowledge from experience and making ideas come to life. And not so secretly I wonder about those people who warn me. What kind of life must they have to want to go back? I’m sure the bills suck (I’m certainly not looking forward to them), but there’s got to be more to life than that. Right? There’s work to be passionate about. People to love. Life to live. Please don’t tell me if I’m wrong. I’m not sure my optimistic little heart could take it. 

Time to sign off. I’ve got to update my resume and start non-awkwardly stalking the amazing people today in hopes that one day they might help me get a job or even hire me. 

And oh yeah, I might have some homework, too.