Throwback Thursday: The Game I Feared The Most

Welcome to the first post of 2020, guys! Today, since people are still probably busy with the new year rush, I’m going to make this another short but sweet post. Today, I bring you an anecdote from my teenage years: an anecdote of coincidence, anxiety, and…. Video games!?

See, I’ve always loved video games. I’ve been playing them since I was five at minimum, often joined by my male friends in my basement playing Sega back in the day. However, as mobile games for things like GBA and other such things became more prominent, I too spent long hours with a mini console in my hand. And one day, the game I’d put into that mini console gave me the fright of my life.

It was a DS game that promised to be an interesting series of puzzles. Its name? Trace Memory. But what scared me wasn’t the ghost hero- it was the very human heroine. Let me tell you why.

It started off as a fluke to me. The heroine, Ashley Robbins, had the same first name as me (in case you forgot, Jaluna is my pen name!). Big whoop- Ashley was the most popular name for girls in the year I was born. There were plenty of girls named Ashley, right?

Then, we found out Ashley’s birthdate. It was the same as mine! Looking back, I know it was just reading the data off my DS, but for the longest time I almost felt like I was being stalked. Especially when the story began to unfold.

The story starts with Ashley going to look for her father on a mostly deserted island with her aunt J. She was under the impression for a long time that he was dead. It just so happens that, for my 14th birthday, I was living with my own aunt J. And, my dad was in and out of comas when I moved there- I had no idea if he was going to survive or not, and it scared me. So, the aunt’s name and my dad’s health made me feel more and more like this game was not about just any Ashley- it was making a mint off of me.

To be fair, I do have schizoaffective disorder, which as my doctor explained, means I have a mood disorder while having notable schizophrenic tendencies. That includes paranoia (well, that and my generalized anxiety disorder). Mixing together my anxiety and paranoia, I began to struggle to play the game. It was enthralling, so it was hard to stop- but every fiber of my being was terrified I’d find more personal information in it.

Eventually, I stopped playing it. I regret that decision now, as its always haunted me- both the game’s effect on me, and the fact that I never found out the ending. But now that I lack the game (I lost it like I do sometimes)… Well, I miss it, and wish I’d just been a trooper and stuck to it.

Have you ever felt like a game was similar to your life? Or maybe a book? Share in the comments your spooky tales of something hitting too close to home! I don’t want to think I’m alone in this… I’m not, right?

Topical Tuesday: Year in Review

Before I get into this likely to be short and sweet post, I’d like to apologize again for not being steady with my posts. I intend to adjust my posting themes/schedule for the next year, though I’m still brainstorming right now. If you have any ideas for daily themes, please share them with me in the comments so I can use them as reference. Topics in general are also well appreciated. 🙂

Anyhow… Hello, my friends! Can you believe today is the last day of 2019? On my youtube channel, I do a week in review each Sunday… But today, I’d like to do a year in review here. I admit, I can’t remember a lot of things, but there were a number of memorable moments that touched to my very core.

For starters, I won NaNoWriMo for my second or third time in a decade! That’s a pretty amazing feat if you ask me. Considering I was totally burnt out early in the year, it shocks me how much I got done on various projects since November started. I think focusing on world building may really be a huge aid to me, so I’m doing more of that now.

A memory from before NaNoWriMo would be my trip to Arizona in August. It was my second time there staying at my boyfriend’s place, and my first chance to be there for his birthday. It’s honestly a miracle I was able to afford it, but the biggest miracle, to me, was how sweet his family was towards me. I mean, they were nice last time too, but this time was different:

We were all watching Scare Tactics while eating dinner, and I was a little (okay, a lot) scared. I told him never to do that to me, and one of his family members said, “If he does, just tell one of us and we’ll beat him up for you.” I’m not a fan of violence, but it was the thought that counted, right?

I’ve had a number of other small events happen over the course of the year. I entered (and lost) my first short story contest. I just recently also entered my first pay-to-enter poetry contest with a notable cash prize of $500. It wasn’t insanely expensive- well, it sort of was. If you were just entering one poem, you had to pay $4.50, but if you donated $5.00 or more, you got three free entries. So, naturally, I paid the extra fifty cents to get myself three entrees, which were fun and difficult to choose/write. I don’t actually know when the winner is to be announced, but I’m feeling at least a little confident in my work, so that’s a good thing, isn’t it?

A problematic thing that happened, however, is my weight: I gained enough to reach over 200lbs. However, dad and I got really into Pokemon Go together this year, so we’ve been taking more walks. I hope to take even more next year! But that’s not the point of this post. Tomorrow, I’ll be doing a video about my goals and resolutions for the year on my youtube channel. I plan to link it here, so please come back when the time comes! 🙂

Other notable things: I changed the layout, as you can clearly see. Hopefully this one has comments working better. I wanted a fresh look for the new year. I might adjust the colors some more, but I liked the dark mode look. This is just one of many changes I’m hoping to make. I intend to make new banners for my posts, and I’m also in the midst of looking at huge lists of prompts for blog posts and videos so I can help avoid my recent tendency to have no idea what to write and skip days at a time.

So, how was 2019 for you? I hope there were some good memories to be had, and I hope you’ll share them with me in the comments! Look forward to the future changes- I promise to do my best to make this blog even better in 2020… Because I know it can be!

Soulful Saturday: Daddy Dearest

Hey guys. Welcome to another Soulful Saturday! Today, I thought it’d be really good to talk about my relationship with my father in a bit more detail.

Most people know me as being very close with my dad- we tell each other everything, and we get told we’re a lot like a sitcom family by people that meet us and see us together. We make fun of each other a lot, but it’s all in good fun. In fact, my dad encourages it. But, before I talk about how close we are, I feel I should talk about a time where we weren’t so close… Which would be the time when I was a small child.

See, my dad used to yell a lot, especially at my mom. With my hyper acuity syndrome (that makes me hear up to ten times louder than normal), I could hear it through the walls and make out words being said. I didn’t understand many of them, mind you, but… It wasn’t just yelling I heard. I heard thuds like someone falling.

I know it’s sexist to assume the man is beating the woman, but that’s all I saw in the media at the time, so that’s what I wondered. It made me fear him, both from how my head and ears hurt from overhearing things to fearing the thuds were my mom being harmed. I also had androphobia after around the age of 6 caused by nightmares I had- all of which were about being assaulted by men sexually. I’d never had it happen to me, but somehow I saw it clearly when I was in my sleep… And it terrified me. So yeah, I had a lot of things on my plate that made my dad seem like a monster to me.

I forget when I found out, but dad finally told me that, while the thud was my mother, he was just trying to push her away from him because she was hitting him! She attacked dad verbally and physically, even if she was fairly weak. My mom wasn’t in perfect health by any means, and she also was very inactive. She constantly used her medicine as a drug rather than what it was intended for, lied about quitting smoking constantly, and just generally wasn’t a great role model. She was my main role model at the time though- dad worked insanely long hours on and off based on the job he was consulting with, and there were times I didn’t see him at all because he’d go to work before I woke up and come home after I was already asleep. So, my neglectful mother was what I knew best. And sometimes, in some ways, I’m a lot like her. Just saying that makes me detest myself, but let’s get back to dad.

While we weren’t super close, we did grow closer after my mom left. Dad was my rock, always taking care of me during my crying fits, and reminding me my mom, who had supposedly just left to go to rehab in Florida, was doing a good thing by going there.

Then, 9/11 happened. I was in… third or fourth grade at the time. Dad saw it on the news and immediately took me out of school just before the school went into lockdown mode. I was really confused at the time, because dad just took me home out of nowhere. Then, he sat with me to watch the news of what happened. He wanted to be there for me when I learned about it- so, he took me home to see it in a safe environment where he could relax me more easily.

I cried a lot that day. I didn’t know anyone personally that was there, but something about it just terrified me to the core, likely the visuals of explosions, which with my hearing and pyrophobia scared me shitless. Hell, they still scare me shitless half the time. Watching Mythbusters, I always had to alter the volume or cover my ears to handle them remotely. I digress again though. Let me return to the story at hand.

My dad became disabled when I was in 4th grade. We were in a number of car accidents when I was a kid, and the lingering spinal/nerve damage he had from a previous accident was emphasized by the most recent one at the time, and he had to get surgery to use things together. Dad couldn’t work for a while because of it, and with his pending divorce, he wasn’t going to be able to keep our condo or car. He also wasn’t allowed to drive since he had to wear a neck brace, so we moved in with his parents for me to go to middle school in a stable environment. Not that it was stable at all.

The house was chaos. There was constant arguing and shouting. Then, dad got sick. He just started having trouble staying awake, and slowly but surely, he started going in and out of comatose states. I was scared he was going to die, honestly. By then, my fear of him had dwindled down, so I spent a lot of time in his room at the back of my grandma’s house, wanting to be with my father. But slowly, as his health deteriorated and he was constantly bedridden, I found it too hard to watch. So, when my aunt offered to take me in to live in California for a while, I agreed.

The transition wasn’t smooth and my time with my aunt was a mixed blessing that I won’t get into today. Point blank, after my last year of middle school ended there, I was sent home to my grandparents house. My dad’s health had turned around after he got a special blood test: it turned out his blood ammonia was the highest ever seen in our county hospital! They called him saying he had to be in a coma while he happened to be awake. It was insane! This happened while I wasn’t around, of course- but when I got home, my dad being better than he was was a godsend.

We moved out of my grandparents house since dad was doing better and my grandmother didn’t want to have to take care of us anymore (I’m just assuming that’s why she demanded we move). We had to stay in town due to custody issues, but we had our own apartment and it was just the two of us again, meaning less yelling by a longshot. I had a rough time throughout high school and even now am still struggling as an adult… But my dad has always been and always will be by my side, cheering me on, giving me advice when I need it, and just generally be there for me.

With all that’s happened in our lives, I still worry dad will get seriously ill again. He’s had MRSA twice now, has psoriatic arthritis, and a laundry list of other issues and conditions. He takes more medications in a day than I take in half a week most likely. However, while he has his off days, he does his best on the days he’s well to be with me and work through things together. He may be disabled, but he doesn’t define himself that way… And I’m grateful to be able to have him by my side.

To me, he’s everything: my father, my mother, a good friend… Everything.

How do you guys get along with your parents? I’d love to hear how different people have different relationships with their fathers and mothers. What have you guys been through together with them? Leave me a comment so we can learn from each other!

Throwback Thursday: Learning and Me

Good morning, friends! Today, I’d like to talk to you about a subject that’s always been a bumpy ride for me: Education. I’m not proud to say it, but I’m a high school drop out. I’ve always had issues with absenteeism in my life, because I get sick easily, have chronic migraines, and a number of other issues. I’m not actually intending to talk much about that, however: what I want to talk about is the fact I wasn’t always a bright student. In fact… I was pretty bad at being a student in my early years.

Throughout elementary school, I was a lot slower than my classmates, physically and mentally. I couldn’t seem to write well no matter how hard my teachers tried to, well, teach me. I was always clumsy and struggled with my physical education from regular falls and lack of muscle compared to my heavyset physique. It got to a point where it was decided I needed both physical therapy and occupational therapy while I was in school.

This was an issue that continued through part of middle school. My two therapists came to see me and would pull me out of classes to get my work with them done. While occupational therapy involved all sorts of things, including simple movements like lunges and wall facing push-ups, occupational therapy focused mostly on my reading and handwriting skill. To this day, my handwriting remains notably messy, but at least I recognize the letters now, which I struggled with in my early years.

I have a learning disability or two. I’m dyslexic with a side of dyscalcula. Words and numbers always felt they were moving around on the pages in my text books, so I always ended up making notably errors, even if it made sense if they looked at my work. I also just have a bad memory. In high school, I was given a number of tests- IQ tests, memory tests, things like that. It was noted to me afterwards that I had a low(ish) score on information retention, which honestly didn’t surprise me. I don’t know why that is, but it was already fairly obvious to me- in middle school, I had to ask my friend every hour what day of the week it was.

I have one more health issue that doubles for causing me issues in classes. I have a form of OCD mixed with ADD. For me, I’m quick to change what I’m thinking about at any given time, under one condition: there’s no spelling or grammatical errors on the papers or the blackboard I’m looking at. I had a lot of teachers who’d make mistakes, and when I caught it, I could no longer concentrate on anything- I was fixated, praying I could alter it with telekinetic powers or something. It did and still does drive me crazy! I can’t finish paperwork if I don’t edit the fields that have typos- that goes for doctor’s offices and government documents I’ve had to fill out n the past, too.

So you see, I had a lot of issues with learning. From my inability to focus after noticing and error or just not really soaking in information very quickly, school wasn’t easy for me… but I loved it. I’ve always loved learning, and I still do. I have plenty of things that set me back, but I make an effort to learn something new each day.

What was school like for you guys? Did you have issues with learning in general, or just certain subjects? What were things that helped you to learn more easily? I’d love to hear all about your experiences! Whether you’re currently in school, graduated, or dropped out like me… I want to hear your story. I’ve already shared mine- now it’s your turn!

Have a great day, guys! See you on Saturday!

Throwback Thursday: The Characters Who Raised Me

Hey there everyone! How are you doing today? The week’s almost over, can you believe it? I got a request from one of my loyal readers recently: a post about fictional characters, whether mine or someone elses, and how they’ve helped me grow into who I am now. Honestly, I find this topic super interesting, and the fact I can use any number of characters is pretty awesome. So, shall we jump right in?

When I was young, Cardcaptor Sakura was a big part of my life. It inspired me to let my imagination go wild, sure, but that’s not why I’m noting it here. No, I’m here to note a specific line I always heard Syaoran Li say: Expect the Unexpected.

This quote has lived in my heart for over a decade. I try my best to prepare for all situations, and am never as shocked when something goes awry as others might be. I’m certainly not patient, but I did learn to take a look at the bigger picture to see what things are unlikely, but could happen. To Syaoran, I send my thanks. This was a really good life lesson.

Another character that really inspired me was a game character- namely Linear Cannon from Evolution Worlds. Her gentility and gentle mannerisms intrigued me greatly, but what it really boosted was my love for music. See, Linear’s got two primary skill sets- one with a frying pan she can hit you with, the other being her ocarina. The music from her ocarina was always beautiful, and it even made me want my own. I do have one, but I can’t play. Still, Linear warmed my heart- and she opened me up to just how music can affect the world in different ways.

Those are just characters that affected me early in my life, however. There’s some that in recent years have helped teach me a variety of lessons and inspired me in a variety of ways. I’d like to give them some time in the spotlight too!

First, Natsume Yuujinchou’s title character, Natsume Takashi. To me, Natsume’s usually soft tone and gentle demeanor are quite nice- but what I really like about him is that he’s learned to balance life dealing with yokai and dealing with people. It takes time for him to adjust to this lifestyle- but that he’s always trying to help people and yokai alike is really moving, and the fact that he can balance those two worlds he lives in is remarkable. It makes me want to work hard to balance my life too. God knows I need it!

Another character that inspired me is Uru from Shiawase Kissa Sanchoume. Uru, the heroine, is a very strong girl- physically and mentally. She causes a lot of ruckus in life, but she tries hard to be helpful to anyone she can. I consider Uru a great role model- she’s creative, she sees the best in people (which I try to, and try harder now that I’ve seen Uru in action)… And she always makes up for her blunders, which I still need to learn to do more.

The fifth character from other fiction that’s helped me grow as a person is Hades-sensei from Hokenshitsu no Shinigami. What lesson did I learn from someone named after a death god, you might be asking. The answer is quite simple: Hades-sensei is an amazingly hard worker, and will do his best to take care of people even if they’ve harmed him, physically or mentally, or just in general are rude. He’s patient and hard working, things I most certainly am not. He knows his face is a bit scary, but he tries his best to ignore that factor, because it’s all just superficial anyway. To me, this is all a great lesson in personal growth. His determination is truly admirable.

I’ve talked about five characters from fiction of others- but now, I think it’d be fun to tell you about the lessons my own characters have given me over time. So who’s going to be first? To my surprise, it’s Alien Irony’s Lily Hawkins!

Lily has taught me more about the beauty of being honest than anything or anyone else in the world. She’s a lesbian, and she doesn’t hide it, nor does she try to hide who she likes. No matter how many times Sakura rejects her, Lily continues to cling on and believe in a future together. I find her determination and ability to be as bold as she is quite admirable, and want to better learn how to be a bit bolder.

Another character of mine from Alien Irony that really speaks to me and teaches me things is none-other than the head of covert operations, Walter Graile. Walter is an interesting person. He goes with the flow and acts as if he doesn’t think things through, when really he’s calculating any information remotely related to what he’s working on at a given time. In a way, he reminds me of that old line to ‘expect the unexpected’, but the way he does it and the way it’s worked out for him is remarkable. He found a place to belong even if he didn’t get into acting quite the way he wanted. He reminds me to be less laser-focused, and to accept alternatives.

Next up is Kana Carina, an old roleplay character I had for a while that turned into the heroine of one of my WIPs, Luna Blue. Kana is a strong-willed girl wit her priorities pretty straight in her head. She’s not weak against change, and in fact thrives in it- something I am still learning to do. She may have a few bad habits, but what shines through the most when I write her is her devotion to those around her, as well as her need to keep promises even if they were made only to herself. I think it’s really admirable, and I think I’d like to be half the woman she is considering those traits. Maybe not her tendency to work until she collapses, though.

Speaking of Luna Blue, I can’t help thinking Kieran fits the topic of characters that teach me. Kieran is from a species similar but not akin to humans- and, for the most part, his kind hate humans! Kieran, however, tries to find the good in them, and lives among them to make an educated decision about how he thinks of them. His optimism and idealism rival my own in a way I can’t explain- but the fact that he works so hard to come up with his own decisions is quite nice. It’s a skill I have a lot of work to do with!

And finally, the fifth of my own characters that raised me sends us back to Alien Irony. Should I be worried only two series of mine got included in this post? Anyway, the fifth character to inspire me, raise me, and motivate me is Sayaku. Sayaku is an alien that’s come to my version of Earth to be near his sister, who moved there due to health reasons. Sayaku has been hurt many times by women he loved (and by hurt I mean beaten up)… But he never once blamed them for his wounds, and he still tried to be there for them even if the love went stale from the pain. Sayaku teaches me the importance of family, but his biggest lesson for me is to move on from painful things. To be honest, I never really realized until now that Sayaku did this for me. I always say it’s my dad’s phrase, “this too shall pass”… But I think Sayaku growing past the blame game and trying to show empathy to the people who’ve hurt him… It’s amazingly beautiful, and I want to be able to do that someday.

Well, that’s a wrap for today, guys! I really hope you enjoyed reading this, because I enjoyed writing it quite a bit! Tell me, though: what characters have been role models for you throughout your life. Are any ones you made yourself? This topic is of peak interest to me- I might have to write more on this subject another time. I’m sure I’m missing a thousand characters or two! I already know some of them, but that’s not until next time. Take care, guys!

Soulful Saturday: Family Frenzy

Hihi! How’s it going guys? Today, I want to talk about something very serious- after all, it’s Soulful Saturday! So, with a confident boosting ally, I have decided to talk about something very difficult for me to deal with… My family.

For those of you not in the know, my mother left me when I was about eight years old. Before she left, though, my relationship with my father was kind of rocky. If you look at us now, you’d never believe it- but, I was actually scared of my dad when I was a kid.

Why would I be scared of my father, you might ask? Well, for starters, he yelled a lot. When you have overly sensitive ears, loud people aren’t exactly people you want to be close to. It was 99% of the time towards my mother, as well. And that wasn’t the only thing I heard in their bedroom.

I heard fights. Physical fights. Because I grew up in an age where it was always assumed the woman was in danger of the man, I assumed my father was hurting my mother. Now, my mother did hurt me quite a bit as a child- mentally. She was never really emotionally available, and she neglected me quite a bit. But still, she was the one who was regularly home. My father had to work some hard hours depending on the job he was consulting on. So, the idea that my dad was hitting my mom stuck in my mind and scared me.

Here’s the catch, though. Dad never laid a hand on my mom. It was the opposite way around. My mother was the one attacking my dad. And this was just the first female role model I had that turned out to be messed up in this god forsaken family of mine.

If you read my Thursday post, you know I spent some time living with my grandparents due to my father needing neck surgery. By that time, my mother had been out of my life for a few years- and I’d gotten to actually know my father, and we became fairly close once I realized he wasn’t the scary monster I envisioned. But my grandparents were also pieces of work. My grandfather taught me where dad’s yelling came from. My grandmother yelled a fair bit too, usually at one of the men in the house. Grandma’s idea of boundaries was virtually non-existent. She’d walk in my room without knocking, keep the door open when she was on the toilet, etc. But that’s not why she bothers me.

My grandmother was a social worker. Her office was across from my bedroom- but the important part is she was a social worker, after retiring from nursing for a state-run hospital. She knew all sorts of stuff about medical and mental health issues. Her problem was accepting anyone in our family wasn’t perfectly healthy. Whenever it came up that I had mental health issues, as were diagnosed by my doctors, my grandmother would deny it being possible and say I had bad doctors. In some cases, I did have bad doctors- but it wasn’t because of diagnosing me. That’s not here or there, though.

My grandmother has always had this idea that she’s perfect and everyone around her has to think the same way she does. She’s always been narcissistic, especially in the aspect she treated anything that made me different like it didn’t matter or exist. She didn’t think it anything interesting that I talked to the trees- she just assumed I was lonely, not psychotic. Everything had a way simpler, wrong answer. And that’s just the beginning of my issues with her since she got Alzheimer’s (and refuses to accept it, obviously). But I wanted you to get a glimpse into how I was raised.

Now, to do this right, I need to tell you about a few more people that have come in and out of my life family-wise. My dad’s youngest sister, AKA my youngest aunt, took me in for six months during middle school. It was while my father was in and out of comas from blood ammonia he didn’t know he had to worry about, exacerbated by his new allergy to corn. When it was decided by myself and my aunt we’d go through with the idea of living together for a while, my grandma and aunt both told me they’d take care of talking to my dad about it. Know when he found out? The day of the court hearing to adjust custody so that my aunt could legally be my guardian when I moved in with her in California.

Now, a few things about my aunt: She had an eating disorder when she was young, became a doctor, and had a knack for schedules. Her idea for me was that she’d set me up with a full schedule so that I’d just be a little adult doing all I had to do and that was it. She didn’t understand I was an early teen, who needed attention and time to herself alike. She took my phone away so I couldn’t talk to my dad, who worried like hell because of it. She wanted me fully immersed in my new, busy life. And I appreciate her efforts, and some of it was really fun!

But really, she wasn’t someone who knew how to take care of a mentally ill teenager. The ‘therapist’ she brought me to should’ve been helpful, but instead my aunt turned it into family therapy where she just told the psychiatrist all the things I needed to change and he just told me to do them without listening to me at all.

After I hit my rebellious phase and my aunt realized she had bitten off more than she could chew, I was sent back to New Jersey… and within a couple years of my dad and I moving out of my grandma’s place, things with his older sister got a little out of hand.

In middle school, I’d been in a group for kids with divorced parents. I continued it in High School. I found it really helpful and so, when we were asked people we think it could help, I mentioned my cousin, whose mother was getting divorced just recently. (By the way, the ex-husband is the uncle that sexually harassed me to the point I won’t go to grandma’s if he’s possibly there).

Now, my eldest aunt was someone I admired when I was young. She liked to say she was my second mother, and I was all for it since I saw my cousins, especially the one closest to my age, as siblings. I’d sometimes call him big brother, even! But that divorce was just the start of my aunt going a little crazy.

My aunt and cousin heard about the fact that I, in a confidential group, shared that the divorce was happening. I saw how it affected my cousin, who would come to my room crying and trying to understand the feelings inside- he knew I’d had them once before, so he knew I’d be able to be there for him with understanding. But the moment I mentioned him in that group, my aunt and cousin lost their minds. I don’t know who mentioned to him that I’d recommended it, but clearly confidentiality was blurred. But the chaos with this part of the family doesn’t end there.

One day, still during high school, I was at home having my in-home therapy session for the week. Then, all the sudden, I heard a ton of yelling from our front door. My dad had offered to give her a present of something like 400 bucks for home depot on a gift card- but she demanded, quite strongly, that he give her way more than that. She was broke, or so she claimed (we found out later she’d hit grandma up for way more money just before this!). She wouldn’t leave us alone until dad gave her another card. When she left, I had a panic attack… She was yelling a lot, and it scared me. After that happened, we started to distance ourselves from her- mostly because the moment she and my dad get in the same room now, sparks fly.

I’ve since seen my aunt, but to be honest, I don’t feel comfortable around her even when dad isn’t around. I went to her house earlier this year because, as I found out, my second oldest cousin who’d been living in Israel moved right down the street from my aunt, and their kids often were at my aunt’s house to play. I went there to see my brother-like cousin, who I’d since gotten through the hardships with, and to meet my cute second cousins. My aunt made me nervous, but she was fairly tame. Without my dad there, there was no arguments about the stealing that happened- I didn’t dare to mention it.

I have plenty of other stories about the craziness in my family, but I don’t want to numb your eyes or mind. Perhaps next week, I can continue to tell you these tales of my youth, of my family. If that’d interest you, let me know!

Normally I’d prompt you guys to comment your own stories, but today’s is pretty personal and I don’t want to push anyone on it. So today’s prompt is just what I said before. Should I continue to share about my family? I have plenty more material where this comes from! Well then, until next time!

Throwback Thursday: Puberty

Good afternoon, everyone! Well, as I’m writing this, it’s almost noon. See, I got an extra magical migraine yesterday, and spent 99% of the day sleeping through it. So for a change, this post is being written on the spot! And to help me, I got my good friend Sophie (also a loyal reader) to help me decide what today should be about. And, for whatever reason… The result is my history with puberty.

Puberty is no fun for anyone- but it’s especially not that great when your hormones start going out of whack and your mental health takes a dive. I started my first red river (aka my period) when I was eleven- but I’d already stopped growing at the tender age of ten years old. But the growth lacking isn’t really puberty related- it is, but it isn’t. For now, let’s focus on a fun story: my first period.

It was the middle of the night. I had woken up thinking I just needed to use the toilet, and so merrily made my way there from my bedroom (which wasn’t hard, since they were both at the end of that particular hallway). I pulled down my pants and such, as you do when you need to pee, but… What I saw in my underwear and my toilet wasn’t urine. It was blood- a hell of a lot of blood.

My dad and I were living with his parents at the time. This was because he had to get neck surgery and there were concerns about me getting to school and all that jazz with him not able to do all that much during the recovery time. Plus, we were losing our condo. So, his parents took us in.

Now let me give you a quick landscape of the house: it’s a big ranch house, that doubles as a mother/daughter. It’s one floor (technically there’s a basement, but that matters little), with three bedrooms in the main part of the house, one of which was being used as an office across from my room, and then a quasi ‘apartment’, which is where dad stayed. My grandma was very particular about separating us because of our codependence… Or at least I like to pretend that’s why.

Anyway! I ran across the house and into the apartment with more speed than I knew I could muster, managing not to drip the blood en route by awkwardly wearing my clothes again. I was in a panic as I knocked on my dad’s door, who immediately answered with worry. I told him what I believed was happening.

“Dad, dad! Something’s wrong- my butt’s bleeding!”

You heard that correctly guys. The granddaughter of a nurse and the daughter of people with plenty of health issues to spare automatically assumed the blood was coming from her behind. I was in middle school- it just wasn’t the year we took sex ed. So I basically knew absolutely nothing.

Luckily, my father knew right away what was likely going on. Unlike me, he grew up around a lot of women going through puberty- rather, he had three sisters go through it around him as a child, and his mother was always explaining this stuff to him as much as to the girls. She just decided not to bother me with the details until it was my time.

So, knowing his mother would be able to better help me deal with the issue, he carried me to his mother’s room, where we knocked on the door. He told her straight out I got my period, and the two worked together to calm me down. Following the discovery and my grandma giving me some pads to start with, I got a two hour lecture about how the female reproductive system works. Yep, two hours was all I needed. Mostly because, if I recall, it was a school night and she had me up until 1AM.

Of course, that’s not the end of my woes with my period- and not just because I kept having to get them. I think your teenage years count as well, so I’m going to share another period story- which will also tell you a shocking fact of why my grandmother kept my dad and I separated in reality.

I missed my period one month. I was a little confused, but I was told it was fairly normal to miss a period every so often. However, it wasn’t just one month I missed. I forget how old I was- 15, I think? I’m pretty sure it was actually after we left my grandparents’ house to live in an apartment in town. Anyway, not important. The important bit is I stopped getting my period for about 4-5 months. My grandma, concerned, took me to the OBGYN. She made me get a pregnancy test despite my regularly telling her I was still a virgin, as my grandmother apparently had this weird idea my dad was doing dirty things to me. It was concluded I wasn’t pregnant (since I had never had sex)…

Okay wait, no, those two situations were separate. I don’t know why I went to the OBGYN the first time to get a pregnancy test anymore. I just know that happened.

Anyway, I did go to the OBGYN after four months of missing my periods. I was eighteen, however. I remember it more clearly now. My therapist at the time joked I might be the next virgin mary. I didn’t take the joke well, because I was seriously scared shitless.

Anywho! Apparently it wasn’t the weirdest thing my doctor ever saw. She simply gave me a week of birth control to try to restart my reproductive system- which worked! I got my period right after! But then, I stopped getting it again… I think this was the five months. I was diagnosed with ‘secondary amenorrhea’, which basically meant I had no period as a symptom. I was put on regular birth control, and got my period under control again.

It’s been many years- almost a decade- since then. In that time I stopped all my meds from side effects that I couldn’t tie to one medicine, but the birth control apparently got my system in regular functioning order, because I got my period fairly regularly. I’ve since been put back on birth control to help deal with other issues regarding my hormones: primarily my PMDD (premenstrual dysphoric disorder) and migraines caused by hormones. I’m on the depo shot, which is a shot you get every three months. It has no estrogen in it, which is why my doctor chose it- apparently with my migraines and stuff, the last thing I want is extra estrogen. She told me I could get heavy periods for a while on it, but so far, I haven’t gotten my period since starting the shots. I also have less cramps during those times than I used to, so I count that as a win.

There’s more to puberty than just menstruating, though. Other things happened to my body: I stopped growing, started getting hair all over that I didn’t recognize, started sweating more, and my chest grew, which led to even more sweating. I thankfully got my grandmother’s breasts, over my mothers’, which my dad thinks mom is probably jealous of since she saw me once after they’d grown in. Mom had ‘droopy nipples’. She was otherwise flat as a board. Her self-consciousness over this is likely why I as raised entirely on formula as an infant.

The worst thing about puberty, I think, was the fact my mental health problems started around then. My brain chemicals went all nuts, and by the time I a teen, I was showing very clear signs of bipolar. I was often having spurts of sleeping 3 hours a night maximum, yet being productive all day long. Then I’d get depressed and need more hugs than usual. I think part of the reason my grandmother had those delusions about my dad and I is because as a teen, while he was bedridden, I still went to curl up in his bed next to him for comfort. You know, like a child afraid of the ghosts in the closet. If I was down or scared, I crawled into dad’s bed to feel safe. The fact that I would be in his bed was enough for my grandma to get those weird thoughts.

Anyway, I think that’s enough rambling at you for today. What about puberty hit you the hardest? For me it was clearly my period- but what about you guys? Share some of your tales in the comments, and maybe we can share our current woes together too! I promise you, puberty may be over, but it still effects me plenty. I’m sure plenty of us are affected long term by it, too!

Until next time!

Soulful Saturday: Colorful Memories

Good morning, everyone! I had a hard time thinking of what to write about today- I’ve been having issues with that a lot, haven’t I? Well, I was smart about it and turned to friends for help. And, when my friend recommended the influence of colors in my life, I was stunned. I’d never even thought about it!

I’m not the most visually acute person. I’m oblivious, in fact. I walk into all sorts of things throughout the day from not noticing where it was compared to my body. I have no ability to separate and name hues the way women are supposedly able (I think maroon is a brown color, dad says it’s red, and I still can’t see the two as separate!). I’ve paid very little attention, as such, to the colors around me as well.

Well, I say all that, but I have memories that relate to specific colors in a way… I mean, I don’t normally categorize my memories by color, but there are some that definitely fit the bill! So, I’m gonna tell you about the things different colors make me think about. Let’s have a good time exploring my psyche together, shall we?

Starting with red, I immediately think of blood. I’ve seen a lot of blood in my life- I’m a woman, so I have had my period before, but I’m also from a clumsy family that gets itself injured easily and regularly. I also think of freshly scrubbed psoriasis when I think of red, because I’ve seen my dad after a shower. Without the scales, the patches are bright red afterward. So basically… Red is a medical color in my head.

Orange makes me think of oranges as the fruit… But it also makes me think of ‘The Oranges’, a grouping of towns in central or southern New Jersey (I forget where exactly it is, but I’m thinking central). I also have a silly memory of how I got some of my nicknames from this color. My friend (we were friends at the time at least) was the daughter of one of the lunch aides. When I’d finish lunch, I’d go to the track… And then my friends would look for me. Her mom always described me like food based on my dressing- for example, Orange Pumpkin, as I was wearing an orange sweater, or Fluffy Green Marshmallow when I wore my green down jacket.

Yellow just gives me a headache to be honest. I think about the sun’s glare, which regularly harms my head because of migraines. I do prefer soft yellow light compared to white lights inside though. Another thing I think about with yellow is… urine. And that makes me remember this time a classmate brought their pet rat to school and it peed as soon as I held it. Right there in my hand. It was… lovely… not. This also makes me think of Cuervo Gold from my Thursday post. You’ll understand if you read it.

Green is my favorite color, and it makes me think of a lot of things- but first and foremost, it makes me think of trees and grass. Basically, I see green and think ‘nature’. I’ve always had a strong affinity with plants and such. I used to talk to what I believed were spirits in trees, but apparently it wasn’t? I dunno. They say it was psychosis, but… I like to think they were really there. Green also automatically makes me think of other things, like money. I always use green when color coding files that include financial stuff.

Blue is, of course, the sky, the sea- it’s a lot of things that are nature just like green is. However, what I really think of most when I think of blue is how jealous I used to be of my dad having blue eyes. I don’t know why- I guess it’s because they say blue eyes see clearer than green and brown. I have needed glasses since I was five, so I’ve never been fully content with my eyesight. Other things that blue makes me think of is meditation, as it’s a calming color… and fire. Water and fire- it’s a conundrum that both include blue to me. I can’t help but be in awe and yet terribly uneasy about that thought process as a pyrophobe.

Purple usually makes me think of fruits, especially grapes. I see purple as a royal color often times, so when I play sims I choose the room where you’d want that kind of feel and give it a purple theme- usually the dining room, as I’d seen in a magazine once. I also think of the band Hey Violet, as well as my character Flutter due to her favorite flower being lilacs.

White- ah white, such a lovely lack of colors. When I see white, I usually think of snow and paper- paper being something I’m oh so happy to think about anytime! I’m a bit of a stationary lover and even plain paper means a lot to me. White also makes me think of weddings, which I’ve never been to.

Black, the color that is all colors. Black actually gives me bad vibes most of the time, because it reminds me of the time I literally ran over a dead crow. I ran and jumped over it before realizing it was a corpse. It was honestly really freaky to me, just seeing a dead crow on the sidewalk… I still feel nervous seeing crows in the trees or on power lines, but it’s mostly because I don’t want to see one fall to their death or something in front of me, you know?

Brown makes me think of chocolate. I love chocolate! But it also makes me think of tree bark- which makes me happy, as long as I don’t try to eat it (no, I’ve never tasted tree bark). In all honesty, it only makes me think of chocolate and wood. And that just makes me stare at the nearby bookcase. Brown somehow… lacks any notoriety with me- besides avoiding brown bugs to be safe, that is.

Gray reminds me of my dad’s hair and just getting older in general. It also makes me think of stress, as I knew someone in middle school who was starting to go gray because of stress… And I’m talking a student! I also think of metal with gray, which is an awkward feeling on its own. I’m somewhat…averse to metals. I don’t like to touch things like silver and gold. I’m slowly growing out of it, but it takes a lot of shock therapy to get even close to finishing the fight. I can handle pens and eating utensils now… But still not coins. It makes me feel so wrong when I touch change, I end up rushing for the hand sanitizer.

And finally, we have pink. Pink is interesting to me. It makes me think of love, mostly because it’s my loved one’s favorite color. However, it makes me think of other things too- such as cherry blossoms, which used to bloom in my area before a ton of the trees got cut down. Also, for some reason, I immediately imagined a whoopee cushion. So apparently it’s a prankster too.

I think that’s all the colors I can think of, basically. What do you guys think of when you think of specific colors? Do you relate to my thoughts, or are your thoughts completely different? I’d love to hear the memories colors trigger for you! It’ll be fun to learn. 🙂 Until next time!

Throwback Thursday: Pet Stories

Howdy everyone, good to see you again! Today, I’m going to talk about some memories I have of pets that I’ve had throughout my life, or that I’ve known throughout my life. I have no pets at this time, as it’s too expensive in my apartment, but it’s not like I’ve never taken care of animals before.

When I was a toddler, we had a dog that came with our apartment named Cuervo. She was a collie/golden retriever mix, and wasn’t my greatest fan. She didn’t mind me, but she wasn’t exactly pleased I was always climbing on her back trying to ride her. I have very few memories of her in reality, but I saw a home video a while back. She would always run towards a wall to knock me off her- looking back, I almost feel a little guilty, even if I was a two year old with no understanding of what was going on.

I had a hamster once as well… But the only memory I have of it is a story my dad told me where I left the cage a crack open and it disappeared. I cried in hysterics, and my mother said we should’ve gotten another dog. I calmed down immediately at the idea of a dog, because I was six with no attention span.

On my 7th birthday, my parents brought home a two month old golden retriever puppy. He was already my size in length, and strong enough to knock me over regularly. I named him Cuervo Gold, after our first dog. Cuervo Gold, though, was very different than the collie mix we’d had. He was hyperactive and playful, and hysterically loyal in weird ways. Whenever I got home from school, he’d tackle me to the ground to give me kisses; when he came to the bus stop with my dad and I, he’d growl at the bullies to scare them away.

But, what I still find fascinating to this day is how differently he reacted when one of my family members gave him a command. If it was my father, he wouldn’t listen the first or second time- dad would have to yell to get him to listen many times. For me, he’d listen immediately- as a child, I was his favorite. But what’s funny is when my mom would command him. No matter what the command was, if it came from my mother’s mouth, he’d pee on the spot. Yes, it was a conditioned reaction- because frankly, he didn’t like my mom much. And nowadays, looking back, I don’t blame him.

A story that I wanted to share about Cuervo Gold is actually why I decided on this topic. Someone shared a gif of a squirrel with peanut butter, and it reminded me of something fairly silly. There was a time, you see, where we had his food in a bowl on the patio. One day, I noticed a couple of chipmunks come close to the sliding glass window that worked as our gate out of the house. To my amazement, the chipmunks were taking the food! It was something I’d never seen or thought of before. Chipmunks eating dog food? Apparently they’ll eat more than nuts, that’s for sure!

That also eventually led me to wondering if humans could eat dog food, and that curiosity led me to pushing my dad to eat a doggy treat. To this day, whenever I ask him how it was, he goes back and forth in regards to whether it was good or not, and I don’t know what to think of that. So, I try not to. Though because of it, I do sometimes think I’d like to try one for myself…

Anyway… We had to give up Cuervo Gold when I was ten and moving into my grandmother’s house with my dad. He’s since passed, but lived a long and happy life with my dad’s best friend, whom I call my uncle. In my grandmother’s house, we had new pets. There was a giant fish tank in the front hall, and a bird cage with two cockatiels in the living room. The fish didn’t have names that I knew of, but I did often help feed them. It was fun to watch them zip around the tank for food. What wasn’t so fun was when it was my turn to take the eggs out of the cockatiels’ cage. Those birds are quite possessive of their eggs, even if there’s no way they’ll hatch- after all, they were both female!

I unfortunately remember the death of one of the birds. Sparky, the younger cockatiel, died drowned in the water trough of sorts that was in the cage for her. It was after Tweety, the elder bird my grandmother called mine, had already passed. Sparky and I weren’t as close as I was with Tweety, but Sparky loved my dad….especially enjoying grooming him in his sleep, so that he’d wake up with bleeding cuticles. It made me sorta glad she wasn’t my fan- though it didn’t make it less difficult to see her dead body. I remember crying and clinging onto my dad. Sparky and I didn’t get along well, but I still saw her as family!

I’ve likely got other pet stories I can share, though most of them are of other people’s pets, not ones I had myself at any given time. Would those be interesting? And what about your pet stories? I’d love to hear some. Please feel free to share any or none- but if you do share, I will be extremely happy!

Until Saturday- bye bye, guys!

Topical Tuesday: Travel Tales

Hihi! How’s it going guys? Today, I was given a prompt by a friend who’s been helping me a lot lately when I get in a rut on what to write. I’ve been having some pretty bad signs of ADD showing recently, so my doctor intends to put me on new medication that should do the work of two I’m already on. That’s not what this post is about though- just wanted to update you.

No, today’s post is about travel. As many of you probably know, I went to Arizona back in mid-August to visit my boyfriend. This wasn’t my first time traveling there, or even traveling to Arizona- in fact, I’ve traveled a fair bit in the United States over my life. And today, I’m going to tell you some tips and tales from those times.

The first time I traveled to Arizona, I was twelve years old or so, with some of my extended family. This was a three part trip, starting in Arizona, leading to Nevada, and finishing in California. In Arizona, my most notable memory was melting in the harsh summer heat alongside my cousin. We got ice cream, but it was messy. We were too bored inside where the adults were dealing with selling one of my grandma’s properties, but it was too hot to handle the outdoors. It wasn’t fun, let’s leave it at that.

The more interesting part of the trip, Nevada, was mostly just something to laugh at. You see, in Las Vegas- where we went- kids aren’t allowed on the carpet of hotels because it’s considered part of the casino. As my cousin closer to my age and I were being told to get off, so was my fully adult cousin with her law degree and passed bars. Why? Because she’s shorter than I am, and I’m not all that tall to begin with. She’s so tiny that to this day she still has a kiddish air to her. I couldn’t help but giggle when that happened.

Finally, in California, I was helping my grandparents house-sit for my wealthy aunt and her family while they were on vacation elsewhere. You’d think that house-sitting would be boring, but in my case, I was also cat-sitting… and also learning minor Japanese. To practice cat and flower, as their cat’s name was Daisy, I started calling her Hananeko. After two weeks of that though… Well, it took some adjusting for my aunt and cousins, as she stopped reacting to Daisy altogether! I renamed their cat in my process of practice!

The next story comes from when I was moving in with my youngest aunt for my last year of middle school. Like many trips before, I flew- but it was the first time I was flying alone. During this trip, I learned a lot of things. One, kids can fly alone but have to have a flight attendant keeping an eye on them regularly. And secondly, sitting next to strangers can be not just scary, but annoying.

You see, I was dressed in a long skirt and shirt that day. I was flying from freezing New Jersey in the dead of December, so my normal clothes were usually sweatpants or long skirts or similar things. The guy who sat next to me thought it was a smart idea to ask a kid he’d have to sit next to for five or six hours, “Hey, you’re Jewish right? I can tell by the big nose and the way you’re dressed.”

What I hated was technically speaking, he had been right. I was born into Judaism, but I certainly didn’t practice it. I hardly believed a word of it! I didn’t want to be recognized as ‘Jewish’, because he was making it sound like only Jewish girls wear long skirts. I just like skirts! I find them cozy! What about that means I have to be Jewish!?

I hadn’t traveled much for a decade after that trip, aside from the trip when I moved back home to New Jersey that June. It wasn’t until last year that I took a plane again to visit Arizona- and I learned some interesting things from that trip, along with this year’s. For starter, I learned there are two kinds of ‘Economy’ seating, and different airlines treat ‘Basic Economy’ differently. United does not allow a carry-on for Basic, while American Airlines does- meaning I didn’t have to have a checked bag with them, potentially. I tried it the second trip, and it worked like a charm! Other things went wrong though:

For starters, I required a wheelchair going through the airport. My legs have been getting worse lately- both from lack of exercise and my nerve problems. I still need to get them x-rayed, actually, but that’s a story for another time. It wasn’t bad being brought on a wheelchair to the boarding area. In fact, it was kinda nice to have help getting there.

When I landed, though, I found myself baffled by the layout of Phoenix’s Sky Harbor airport. I ended up asking a person that worked at the airport to tell me how to get to where I needed, only to be sent in the wrong direction! I don’t blame them for not getting it right though. That place is a jungle in my opinion. A crowded jungle.

My return trip seemed a bit better. My wheelchair also got me staff members that would come check on me and offer me food, water, or to wheel me to the bathroom. They also were in charge of wheeling me onto the plane- but that’s where something went wrong. See, my plane wasn’t at the gate yet- a plane to Atlanta was. I’d been confused by the boarding display myself, but when I noticed it said Atlanta, I had to stop her.

The reason it bugged me, though, was because she had me show her my boarding pass. It says where I’m going, and I was clearly not going to Atlanta. And she was just happy to push me onto that Atlanta plane if I hadn’t stopped her. I got really lucky with my neighbor that flight though. He was a nice fellow, and helped bring my bags off the plane and out of the gate area for me while I as in my wheelchair! I was in awe.

By the way, both my flights this year were delayed by like an hour to an hour and a half: one because there was a group of 40 Israelis visiting the country as a special program, who were all very bad at the ‘sit down when the sign says to’ concept. The second was because of a bad storm in Newark, which I still felt the strength of when we got there- that rain was horrifying. I got lucky a limo driver offered me a good rate when he saw me struggling to get my bag on the escalator.

So, what did I learn through all of this? A few things:

  1. Sometimes airports are just as confusing to staff as they are to consumers.
  2. When traveling alone, it’s Russian roulette if you’ll get a decent seat neighbor or not.
  3. Sometimes you can believe the weird person who comes up and offers to drive you home.
  4. Don’t do the above without contacting someone that you know will keep an eye out for you in case it’s not a good person driving you home after all.
  5. Kids and disabled adults are treated similarly by staff.
  6. Airplane food has gotten way better.

That’s all I have to say today. Have you been on any trips recently? Do you have any wild or just general stories about your trips you’d like to share? Whether it’s advice for my next flight or a story from your own, I’d love to hear it! Thanks as always, guys!