a post of conflicting stuff

Right now I’m not sure what to say.  Yesterday one of my best friends delivered her first child, a healthy baby girl. Since my friend is not even 5 feet tall and has cerebral palsy she had to have a Caesarean section so it is especially nice that her daughter is doing well.  On that same day my uncle called to tell us that my youngest cousin’s fiancé and the father of her almost 1 year old son had passed away in a traffic accident about 15 minutes before.Emotional confusion abounds.  Add to that stress because of mom’s recent diagnosis and it is a complete mess, and that’s the shortest possible version.

John Lennon was right

breast_cancer_ribbonI think it was John Lennon who wrote”life is what happens while your busy making other plans.”  A truer word was never written or sung. We found out this Friday that my mom has breast cancer. Actually two different kinds on the same side. Yes it can be treated and it’s by no means a death warrant but it is mom and I can’t help but worry  Anybody who knows me well knows that I hate having my hands tied.  My natural instinct is to try to fix things.  I can’t fix it no matter how much I want to.  It is a waking nightmare that I can’t escape from There has been a voice in my head which constantly repeats the bases just a bad dream and that I will wake up and everything will be normal again but I know better.  even after all this is over and done with nothing will ever be quite the same again.  I started this entry two days ago and I’m just now able to finish it.  Part of me wants to yell that it’s not fair but then I remember the comment that the gobln king from the movie  said when the heroine said “it’s not fair for about the 15th time in the movie, “you say that so often, I wonder what your basis for comparison is?”  I try to remember to be grateful that life isn’t fair because would have to be an awful person if life only gave out what was deserved. One foot in front of the other right?

chess and Shotokan

shotokan-symbolBllack knightYes I am quite aware that those two words only sound slightly better in that same sentence as Shakespeare and tattoos but is before it will make sense shortly. I used to play chess very well, I still play chess but now very badly. In fact the only reason I play now is to spend time with one particular person, and guess what? I’m still terrible , he cleans the floor with me but that is beside the point. Most of the time the game isn’t even finished because I surrender due to the fact that within the first half-hour I’ve been put in check at least three times. He is hands-down my best friend,although “friend”doesn’t begin to explain things.

I don’t know what to say to start with about my other friend except to say that the word friend doesn’t exactly seem to fit him either. He works as a mechanic during the day but I think his heart lies in teaching Shotokan.. Being a teacher suits him, he is exceedingly patient and unfailingly kind

Both of these men go out of their way to look after me despite the miles between us. One lives almost 600 from me, and other is several thousand miles away. I’m not sure how far exactly but he lives in England so it’s quite a bit.Both guys have told me on more than one occasion that I am one of the bravest and toughest people they know. What they don’t fully grasp is that they help to make me that way. they are they the rocks I lean on when the ground under me shifts, the hands that pick me up off the ground if I trip and fall, the first people I want to tell about important things, good bad, or silly. Both say they are nothing special, but I disagree. The strength they see in me is in large part a mirror image of their own. The strength to speak with patience no matter how many times you have repeated yourself, to admit to human frailty, to listen even when it’s just screaming and tears, the ability to laugh at silly stuff and not care what people think. I love them both very much.

a worry, a dream, a story

800px-EnvelopI should never have opened those shoe boxes. Three of them filled with stacks of letters, five or six to each stack each group held together by a rubber band.They say curiosity will kill you, sometimes though it just makes you wish you were dead. Sometimes it punctures the heart as surely as the sharpest blade ever could but leaves you still able to perform the basic tasks necessary to survive. I became convinced in the days, weeks, months and years, ( or was that only minutes?) since I read the Post-it note written in smeared ink on the top of the lid of the first box. “To be distributed later”, that Pandora’s box had originally been a shoe box.These had come from Nate and I had a sinking feeling I knew when later was. Fortunately the envelope it was attached to had my name written across the front so I was not in danger of committing a federal offense by reading at least the first one.

“Rachel,
Knowing you, you will probably find this much earlier than I intended and certainly much earlier than most people who will see a letter similar to this as your mom is the one who is supposed to make sure that the rest of these get to everyone else. I promise you will get a hug the next time you’re here. The Shakespeare book is yours but I bet you knew that since you’ve had it on semi permanent loan for years now.

I’ve told you before and I’ll tell you again. You are very special to me, always have been, always will be. Hang in there and remember, just because people think you’re stupid , doesn’t make you stupid, it’s make them stupid.
Your friend always,
Nate”
The envelope underneath mine had “Morgan” written across it, and I was sure the one underneath it was one with my mom’s name on it. As I folded the letter back up and put it away and slid the tops of the shoe boxes back in place, my vision blurred. I sat cross-legged in the middle of my deserted living room, with a shoe box in my lap and cried. If this had been a movie,the main camera would’ve slowly panned backwards away from me and the screen would fade to black.

I should never have opened those damn things.

48 hours later…things that go through your mind after ink

It’s been 48 hours since I put blue ink under my skin. Yes I did it, shock and amazement.  Surprisingly it didn’t hurt.  Instead it got me to thinking about the important things in life and how we make sure we don’t forget them.  Some people choose to mark passages in their life in photographs, some people make things to remind themselves or another person of  a specific day or relationship, some people draw pictures, and some people (myself included) ask other people to draw pictures on them.  Why?  Tattoos are permanent.  Once embedded into the skin it takes drastic measures to have it removed I think that on a subconscious level tattoos are so popular with people because it serves as a reminder that even beautiful things must come with a price. I said that my tattoo wasn’t painful but that doesn’t mean that I didn’t feel it, I was well aware that I was being poked with something sharp, in the end it was worth it a physical representation of a friendship that has forever changed my life for the better.  Trust me it was a lot more satisfying than all the times I have had to been stuck with an IV.  Tattoos are used largely to reflect a tattoo that has already been put indelibly into the heart, way before an artist puts a drop of ink under the skin.  Some  people view them as little more than graffiti on of a building, but what about murals on buildings?  I don’t think it is something to be taken lightly at the same time it bothers me that those people who choose to commemorate an event or a person with ink after some thought should be thought less of because of it.

my tatoo

spiral-bound journals and sepia toned photographs, when tomorrow becomes yesterday and travel without going much of anywhere

sepia tone Eiffel TowerI was looking at the journal I bought as a present for my friend and I started thinking.  The journal itself is spiral-bound navy blue with faux suede leather covering the spine and a sepia tone photograph of the Eiffel Tower on the front. The Eiffel Tower was never meant to be a permanent part of the French skyline.  It would actually built as a structure commemorating the century after the French Revolution and unveiled at the 1889 World’s Fair in Paris as a temporary structure.  it’s still there.Something that was supposed to last  less than a month still has people visiting it 200 years later.  The World’s Fair is known for causing people to wonder what tomorrow will bring.  For the young tomorrow is always more promising than today and for the older generations tomorrow has become yesterday too fast

Scattered throughout the journal are quotes about travel.  Even if you never step foot out of the county you were born in I still say you have traveled farther then you’d think.  Are you the exact same person  today that you were 15 years ago?  No, because even if your life is fairly uneventful things have happened.  Maybe somebody moved away, maybe you changed jobs or made a new friend.  Maybe all you did was read a book that caused you to think in a way you never had before, guess what you are no longer the same person you were five minutes before.  You have moved forward on the road of your life and left behind a memory of the person you had been to mark your passage.  You may not even have to leave your house.  When the Tower was first conceived people laughed, now it is one of the world’s most recognizable landmarks. Dreams which seem folly today may change the world tomorrow.  I bet most people at some point in their lives have had their own Eiffel Tower.  The one dream that seems so unreachable and unlikely that it seems almost impossible.  If memory leaves behind an impressive of the person you were, like a heat wave mirage off asphalt dreams cast shadows of the person you may be just around the corner if you have the courage to continue the journey.  Maybe that dream wasn’t so crazy after all.  Maybe just maybe it will change how one person sees things and you, because of one crazy idea have helped to change the world.

the consequences of being raised in the military

608 matteMy mother served in the military for four years from shortly before I turned five till I was almost ten years old. At that time we had a 22 gauge rifle a 410 shotgun and my mom’s two cylinder Ruger revolver besides her government issue firearm.By the time I was eight I had claimed right of inheritance to mom’s revolver because I thought it was the coolest thing the world.  Unfortunately she had to sell it when she left the Army because we’ve were going through a particularly lean period of time and had to move off base.  I was heartbroken.  Add to that but we have always done historical reenactment and I bet you wouldn’t be surprised to know that I’m a blade “junkie” as well.  I have several knives and two short swords.  I don’t have firearms yet but I will eventually I know that.  The picture in the corner is not a Ruger.  I spent the last hour trying to find a  photographic example of my mother’s weapon to no avail. The picture is actually a picture of a Taurus 608 357 caliber eight shot revolver like the one a friend of mine owns.  No it’s not  his personal one.  I took the specifications he gave me and looked up a picture. At least I’m fairly certain it is, I’ve never actually seen his  Most people are completely baffled at the idea of a disabled person even appreciating much less wanting swords or guns either one. In this case I think the fact that I’m a girl is not even a part of the equation.

I remember when I first got a sword and was practicing with it outside somebody happened to walk past me and asked me what I thought I was doing.  I told her sword practice.  Her response was: your parents allow you to have a sword?I politely explained to her that I was 16 and that my parents had helped me buy it, thinking that it was my age that she was having trouble with.  Nope.  “They bought a sword for a disabled child!”  I thought she was going to faint  in the middle of the road! She had ceased speaking to me but I laid the blade across my knees because I think the fact that I was holding it made her nervous and kindly as I could manage informed her that I had been handling knives since I was 12.  That didn’t help either.  She wandered off in a daze muttering things under her breath probably about how dare my parents give such a dangerous thing me etc. .

She’s not the only person to have had a reaction like that.  When I talk about my mom’s revolver most people look at me like  I must be joking.  When they realize I’m not I can see them look on their faces that they automatically assume that my parents will no doubt refuse to hear of such foolishness and that will be that.  What they don’t understand is that so long and I can figure out a way to safely hold a handgun or any other firearm that I chose to put money into she would help me pick it out, take me to the safety classes, teach me to clean it etc..  Why would I choose to take up something like that?  Because it’s a skill that not everyone is familiar with anymore and I don’t see a reason to lose it.There are frames that attach to a wheelchair so that a handler with limited dexterity can still shoot safely, I found some.

I do not wish to harm anybody but I’m sick  of people who don’t know me trying to tell me what I can and cannot do just because I’m disabled.  I am through listening.

empty journals and hand cramps, then and now, and how things are different

I bought an empty journal from the bookstore a few days ago.  160 lined pages. It will take me exactly 5 months and 10 days to fill it up if I write one page a day. I hate writing, not the creative process but the actual mechanical process of moving pencil or pen across a page.  On the rare occasions I do write my hand writing never looks the same twice and the longer I write the more my hand shakes which makes it even worse.  When I was in second grade the therapist tried to teach me to write cursive script but gave up on that idea relatively quickly. My Dad has attempted over the years to get me to put more effort into keeping my handwriting up.  Much to his dismay I did not put nearly the amount of time he would’ve liked into it.  I didn’t see the point of trying when 90% of people would not be able to read it and the only thing that would accomplish is to frustrate and annoy me. But now I have a blank journal.  Why?  It all started with the damn bet.  Last Christmas my friend told me he thought he could read my hand writing so I promised a letter.  Well, partly because I  got legitimately sidetracked and partially because I was trying to avoid embarrassment he didn’t get it until a few months ago.  Not only could he read it he had memorized it in short order.  I was and still am shocked.  He can still tell me exactly where the letter is because he kept it.  That should explain the journal.  Nobody, my folks included to the best of my knowledge, has kept any physical traces of my maladroit attempts at penmanship.  When I sent him that letter you would’ve thought I had sent him something truly priceless for as much fuss as he made over the fact that I had actually sent it.  Yes it will hurt,but the hand cramps and the swearing will be well worth seeing the smile on his face, even if I only see it in my head.  I guarantee it’s there whether I see it or not.

no tapping out allowed

I went to see a tattoo artist that a friend recommended and saw an interesting sign in the window.  Written on a piece of cardboard with magic marker were the words “no tapping out allowed” tapping out is a boxing reference referring to the fact that if a fighter is pinned down they can tap on the mat as a nonverbal signal of forfeit. In other words, once they get started you can’t back out.  It was meant to remind people that this is not something to be taken lightly.  You can’t walk out halfway through.  It’s going to hurt, I have no delusions that it won’t but I will get it done.I wonder how many people wouldn’t react differently to things that happened to them if they had a sign like that in plain sight if the option of running away is no longer an option the only thing left is courage…courage is being afraid of something and facing anyway,  nothing more or less.  I wonder how many lives would be different if they had taped up somewhere where they see it every day?Who knows?Something to think about from an unlikely source.  I had a flashback to Bruce Almighty and the guy carrying around a piece of cardboard and the phrase changes every time you see it… this phrase should have been included as well.

tattoos and Shakespeare

Yes I know those two words sound odd together but bear with me.  Shakespeare is responsible via Hamlet for the saying “to thine own self be true”, and that’s what I’ve been trying to do for a while now. I have for the most part accepted that not everyone is going to appreciate the decisions I make in my life and in the end the only person I can be sure of making happy is me.Here is where my family’s deal on body art comes into play.  My dad is needle phobic plus his opinion is that tattoos have become mostly a fad and that the only reason people get them is to look cool. My mom is an artist so she is of the opinion that if the artwork is going to be permanent it better be damn good.  I insist that not only that there were To be good it has to be unique.  My grandmother’s belief is that they are the physical equivalent  of graffiti on a building.  I’m planning on getting a tattoo within the next three months or so (in less something drastic happens which I don’t think it will).  It has been point that as I get older it will probably resemble a bruise and that may be true but I don’t care.  (you read this blog regularly and still don’t have a clue what I want to get as a tattoo you may be a little slow) Regardless of what happens or what it looks lik the symbolism will still be the same.  A pet name, that’s all it appears to be but in truth it is  the stoutest armor and strongest shield against self pity and got, one of the best defenses from the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune that I  have personally been given.  It is more than a nickname for me.  It is the basis of a constant thought on repeat in my head, right next to my mom’s silly song.  “I’m a unique addition to this world something they can’t be re-created and I can beat anything anybody throws at me because this world didn’t count  on anything as tough as me showing up  Nothing quite like me had ever been before and will never be again .  No matter what anyone else thinks, no matter how far the image blurs or the ink fades I will only have to look on my left arm and no matter what is actually there, I will remember the original image in my heart and in my head and my faltering faith in myself will stand on solid ground for a little while more.  I am someone you have never met and I guarantee you the world will never be the same again due to some small part to the fact that I was a part of it.