Childhood Christmas

I've mentioned in the past being kind of bitter about family holidays. It's a more recent thing that I'll move past when I have a reason to be excited about them again, but I'm not down or anything like that right now, I'm kind of just reminiscing about what Christmas was like when I was a kid, and the things I learned about the 'behind the scenes' as I got older. 

I spent almost every childhood Christmas I can remember with my mom's family in New York. It was her parents, her sisters, our cousins then extended family sometimes, and family friends stopping by. But most often my grandparents, aunts and cousins. We'd leave out of Reston as soon as we could after the I got out of school on the last day before the holidays. Being younger than my brothers, we would have to wait for the end of elementary school or middle school depending. We'd stop by CVS to grab snacks and drinks before the drive. Trips to New York were always nice because we got to have snacks or candy we were't normally allowed to have. 

So, piled back into the car with presents around or on us, we'd say a prayer for safety as we'd get out on the sometimes snowy roads as our mom made the drive to New York. If it were still light enough, I'd read and try to listen to my own music instead of the Ten Sleepless Knights, Luther Vandross, or whatever MoTown tape my mom was playing. My brothers most often slept in the car, i'd sometimes sleep, but car sleep isn't that satisfying to me. 

As a kid the distance between Reston and Baltimore seemed to be forever. As an adult i can verify that it is friggin' forever to get to Baltimore. I knew we were in New Jersey because it smelled bad, and I often slept through Delaware. I loved being away on the GW, and but I can't remember which level I preferred to ride on, it was the opposite to the one my mom wanted to drive on into New York. We'd skirt the city and drive past the Bronx Zoo as we left whatever highway we were on to get to my grandparent's. It's now whatever o'clock, it's dark and we have to unload the car and not look into any of the numerous bags we were carrying because some of it was out own unwrapped Christmas gifts. 

We sit down to a dinner of White Castle or whatever food our grandmother had prepared. Shrimps and rice was a perennial favorite that I need to learn how to make... Mmm, shrimps and rice. It was always 'shrimps' and not 'shrimp'. it's how we spoke, but that's neither here nor there. Our mother would lay out on the floor or go upstairs and sleep, because she was an adult and did regular parent-adult things before having to drive 4+ hours through traffic and often weather with maybe coffee and a short nap break on the Jersey Turnpike. 

Let's say it's the 23rd when we got in. We'd watch cartoons or some weird movie with our grandfather after greeting whoever else was in the house and eventually we'd shuffle off to bed because sleeping in the car makes you tired. 

The next day there'd be a family breakfast, sausage and eggs, English muffins, or cereal, nothing too special, but easy enough to feed 8 people. It'd be more watching movies and stuff and looking at the tree. We'd judge the already wrapped gifts looking for ours and wondering who the other people were - most often work friends and like. My mom and my Aunt Cheryl would be cooped up in the master bedroom wrapping gifts. They'd call us up to take wrapped presents back downstairs throughout the day and help us wrap our gifts for each other. We'd also be used to wrap gifts for out grandparents and sometimes carried down gifts 'from Santa' in the middle of the evening on Christmas Eve. That's a thing we all did and laughed about it. 

We'd be forced to go to bed and my mom and aunt would stay up half the night wrapping gifts. Seriously, they'd be up until 4 wrapping gifts for about 20 different family members, godparents, aunts, uncles, family friends, neighbors. It went on. The thing about them wrapping gifts in a one day marathon like this, and i guess it started in the early evening not during the day - is that they'd forget who gifts were for, and they'd end up unwrapping gifts to see what it was and who it was for, before wrapping it again. They did this many, many times, which I now find hilarious.  They worked so hard though.

We kids would wake up around 7 and go downstairs and look at the presents. Then we'd turn on the TV because we knew certain death would happen if we tried to wake the old folks up to open gifts at 7am. And we'd wait. Our grandmother was one of the first adults to wake up after my brothers and I were up. Eventually my mom and aunt would stagger downstairs, beat and tired but pleasant and cheerful. We'd be waiting on our grandfather who seemed to never get downstairs until 11 to open gifts and we'd start opening toys, clothes, books, candy, trinkets, jewelry and whatever else was given to us. We'd clean up and start opening things while breakfast was made. It was often pancakes, or Mickey Mouse pancakes which were always more special. 

In the afternoon my other aunt would show up with her daughter and granddaughter and we'd do Christmas again with them, before dinner. Dinner was always like Thanksgiving dinner, or maybe Thanksgiving Lite. But homemade honey-baked ham is delicious, so is turkey and everything else so there were no complaints. 

For the rest of the trip we'd see other cousins and great aunts and people twice removed and whatever. Once we saw the Rockette's Christmas show, i don't remember it too well, I was young. I do remember it ending with them snowing in the theater. One of my first experiences with dry ice, so that's cool. 

I was talking with my aunt about how little sleep she gets and she brought up what Christmas used to be like. Having to buy so much stuff for so many kids and the wrapping marathon and mistakes. They're good memories, and i'm glad I was able to spend Christmas so many years like that. I'm enjoying the stripped down Christmas that I've spent these past few years with my brothers, but in a way, I also look forward to being involved in a big family Christmas where new and weird traditions start. I look forward to really being engaged in the holidays. Today feels much like any other day in my life, I woke up, read some comics, looked at tumblr and made breakfast. it'd be different if I were on a vacation from work, or if I worked in general. It'd also be different if it were cold and snowed. I guess 38 is cold, but it's still not the same, and I'm someone who hates snow. 

i dunno. Hug somebody, enjoy the people around you. Something something compassion and words. i don't know how I want to end this, you think of something heartfelt. I'm going to go back to reading comics.

End of Formal Education: A Lazy Walk Through My Scholarly Life

It has been a long 19 years I the making but I’m finally reaching the end of my formal, school education.

I started school at the delightful age of 5, a bit before my 6th birthday I entered kindergarten at Terraset Elementary School in Reston, Virginia. A school designed by hippies that had partitions for rooms the school was divided into circular pods for the classroom areas of the school and the library. The front end was fairly normal shaped. I guess the most interesting design aspect of Terraset was that it was inside of a hill. They built it and then covered the back end of the building with enough soil that they were able to plant some might fine trees, honeysuckle and other plants on the roof of the building. The things you consider normal.

I don’t remember being traumatized or stressed from my first day of school. I had gone to daycare, a place called PALS, I don’t know what that stands for. I remember one of the teachers used to tease me and I didn’t like him because of that. You know the book Hot Zone, my daycare was right next to where that happened, I learned that when I actively met people who weren’t from Reston, so around middle school? I still haven’t read that book. What else about PALS, I distinctly remember a bike day once, we rode in circles around a small parking lot. My mom got a flat tire from a nail in a tire so I was late to daycare and she was late to work, I don’t remember what I did that day. I also know I was at PALS for 2 years. With my November birthday, the Fairfax County school system made me wait one more year before I joined the ranks of real school, so kindergarten.

I was in morning kindergarten,(what what, half days) with Mrs Sybert, I believe. I don’t remember much, from then. I was in SACC (School Aged Child Care) after that, I remember never wanting to take a nap (something I think is insane now, I take naps many days) I also remember one day we went on a walking field trip to Lake Audobon (I think) nothing special happened.

Blah blah blah, elementary school. I got put into the Gifted and Talented class, which was cool, in second grade they pulled us from the classroom, put us in a different room and taught us other stuff. I felt special, I was told I was smarter than other people which lead to my education downfall. I know I don’t try as hard when I’m aware that the class isn’t a challenge. So when I got into classes I needed to study for, I was shit at it.

 I just remembered, my school was trying out split classes, first/second split, so forth. The idea was you’d have the same teacher for 2 years and half of each class would be each grade. You’d have more time to be friends with the people in your class at least and some other stuff. I don’t remember all of the theories around having a split grade class, and I only just thought to look into the findings from it. I think I will.

For third grade I went to Sunrise Valley Elementary school. It sounds all sparkly and nice. No. I didn’t like it at all. They had a GT program so my entire educational existence was advanced thinking. That’s cool except it was not a warm school. Terraset felt very homey, always warm, inviting and friendly. Sunrise Valley was cold by comparison, not just the GT class. People there were cool enough, we all knew why we were there, but the school didn’t seem as inviting of a place to be. I did have some interested experiences. We raised baby chickens all spring long. Our teacher had a student teacher shadowing her and we were all infatuated with the idea that she had a boyfriend. Thinking about it now, we were 8-9 and the other girls were super into this idea. I didn’t care all that much, but I did talk about Ed (oooH! So exotic?) with the others in the class. We went to DC, that happened a lot in elementary school, but this year someone in my class had a parent who worked in Congress (I don’t know what they did) so we got a slightly different tour and they let us ride on the tram between Congress and the House. We were told about some bloody stairs where someone hot hurt (shot?) and the blood stained the marble. That’s what I remember, the morose shit. I remember being bad at long division, so third grade was the start of my math problems, at least having problems with how they wanted me to show and do my work. I was also a part of some event with the 1996/7 oldest living woman, the school celebrated her birthday I think.

Around now, I think, I was in a pageant hosted by the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority. I won for Little Miss AKA, I think I was told you won based on selling tickets or something, and maybe how well you did. I don’t know. I remember scolding my mother for styling my hair big, like Oprah’s and making her change it before I went on stage. I performed some ridiculous monologue/poem/play. I have it on vhs and haven’t watched it since I was in it. I learned etiquette for this and I actually follow when I’m in a formal dining situation. I’m not always aware of it but I guess it’s for the best? Hmm. I was taught a waltz and foxtrot and danced with my brother, so incredibly embarrassing. Other stuff happened, it was all afternoon that day.

Fourth grade I was back at Terraset, not in a split class. I made my first good friend with someone my own age because she got kicked out of the ‘popular’ circle. I do remember one insult she said to someone else, she told me about this some time in high school. She called some other girl a wavy line, as in she wasn’t straight.  Harsh. She’s a really nice person now, but all kids are dicks (she also likes all people so it seems out of place. Or she was describing herself, I don’t remember, I just remember the phrase and I think I want to use it in something). She also told me my favorite story about myself. I was sitting on the side of the school reading. She comes up or had been there, I don’t know and notices I wasn’t actually reading the book, I wasn’t turning the pages. I responded “If I look out at everyone someone will bother me and ask what am I staring at. Same if I look at the ground. If I look at a book they leave me alone.” I still think that the 10 year old me who said this was a genius. I think it also shows how much I live in my head that at a young age I wanted to be left to my own thoughts. It’s things like this that make me think I’m in introvert. I started orchestra this year, I played the violin and it played assist to my love of classical music. It made it better because I now got to PLAY classical music.

Fifth grade happened, nothing special. Sixth grade they tried making it like middle school with a home room and we all changed class rooms for different things. One teacher taught history, another English, another math. Science and art happened somewhere. I was still in the GT classes but now I also left class for orchestra and to be a mentor to a pre-k kid. I liked that I got to leave class for three hours every week to do something else. I don’t remember the name my pre-k girl had but I remember not liking her very much. She was mean and didn’t like playing with me, which was fine. I got to miss class for an hour every Friday and play dress up and do stupid shit with a bunch of 4 year olds. I did try to engage my kid but she ignored me no matter how much I tried, so I ended up mostly playing with a friend and their kid. I miss school one day; I’m surprised I don’t remember why. My mom never let me miss school (I was also never sick, luckily I really was never sick but I never got pretend sick days either. As an adult I realized she couldn’t take off to take care of her kid. She was a single mother) I think were might have gone up to New York to visit my grandparents, I think my grandfather had been sick, I really don’t remember. I do remember the following week after talking with the teacher that my kid had actually been upset that I wasn’t there to play with her. She apparently liked ignoring me? I don’t know. She was a bit nicer to me after that. It was weird. I think this is the first time I noticed that I had an effect on people even if I didn’t notice it. I still don’t know or notice whatever affect I have on people. I do remember being told this was my kid I was also told I was being given a more difficult and less engaging kid because I had a calm demeanor. They figured I’d be a good match and I’d be able to put up with her better and help more. Maybe I did. I don’t remember the point of the program I just remember I got to leave class and every week and not do anything.

Seventh grade, I went to Langston Hughes Middle School, most of the middle schools in Fairfax County are named after poets. Herndon is one of the few that isn’t because everything in Herndon is named after (Lord?) Herndon. Langston Hughes is an oval, I’m in the GT group of the seventh grade classes, I’m in orchestra. I’m newly into manga having been into anime when Dragon Ball Z and Sailor Moon started years earlier. The first manga I ever bought was a Sailor Moon Super Stars, book 3. I had read books 1 and 2 in the Barnes and Nobel and I wanted to finish it, so I bought that first $10 crack book, starting a ten year (give or take) addiction to manga in addition to liking anime. I made a bunch of friends in from other elementary schools. My grandfather died that spring, it was my first funeral, I was nervous and laughed out of being nervous which my family misinterpreted. This winter was the first time I got depressed, I think. It was a shitty winter, I didn’t know how to handle it. I did so poorly in school.

Eight grade 9/11 happened which was weird. All of a sudden, after one class, students were disappearing, their parents having picked them up. The rumor I first heard was that “They” were targeting school. No one said who ‘they’ was (how often do we know who ‘they is?). I learned what had happened when I got home and watched the news with my brother, not knowing it would be the only news that month, or just about the next month and on. A bit later, my brother’s godmother got re-married, which led to my favorite picture of my with my mother, we’re both wearing claret dresses, I had just gotten my make up lightly done and there were still a few hours until the ceremony. My brothers were just off camera. It’s one of the last good photos of her taken. There were others but that one was special.

I moved on to South Lakes High School, following the same schools my brothers had both graduated from. I was now in International Baccalaureate (IB) classes (It’s advanced thinking, I’ve always called it the same as AP and I still think is pretty much is – I guess a major difference is that the county pays for everyone in an IB class to take the IB exams as opposed to other places where the students have to pay for them. That, and my school wasn’t just one focus IB, it was everything. Science, math, English, the arts, history – we gave out IB diplomas) they were fun, I got to read banned books. I hung out with my first gay friend a lot more now, I had never known he was gay and now more often than not I don’t think about his sexuality. He makes it such a non-issue that instead of being my gay friend, he’s a friend who happens to be gay. This is a good dude. He’s also one of the few friends who would hit me back, which just lead to me hitting him harder, I was angry and a dick. I’ve (mostly) stopped hitting people (they were always love taps anyway).

I can’t think of anything spectacular from ninth or tenth grade. I did orchestra just for 9th grade, which is well enough, after that the teacher left to go do other things and there were rotating teacher/conductors who varied in skill. I started at the school newspaper and was in the anime club which introduced me to yaoi and hentai, things that I think have played into me not caring about other people’s sexualities, I don’t know. I almost moved out of Virginia to go to South Carolina but I argued that I had just made friends in middle school so we stayed, which I think made other things better. I loved my 9th grade English teacher, Mrs Lynch. She retired after my tenth grade year but was a blast. We read like, 14 books that year, she had us read Night by Eli Weisel (I hated it) and then Maus by Art Spigelman (which I loved! I had never been able to read comics for school, I was excited, even with the holocaust being the point of the book). Across Five Aprils, which we covered with a student teacher, the student teacher gave us the dumbest assignments, something I almost told her to her face. I really didn’t like her. We read Dickens, Great Expectations,  which was the first book I had to read for school that I didn’t finish. Yellow Raft on Blue Water still stands out, that was during the banned book (specifically banned books) session, one third read Catcher in the Rye, one third read Tuesdays with Morrie, and my group Yellow Raft, I’ve been meaning to buy and re-read it, it was a discussion on each generation affects the next starting with the narrator as a teen then her interactions with her mother and grandmother. It made me think about families and now it’s making me think about my relationship with my grandmother. I need to re-read this book. We read a few others, that’s not 14 books. Mrs. Lynch also let me borrow some books, off the record, that I never returned, including the Invisible Man by  , I’ve been meaning to give it a real try, I didn’t understand it too well when I tried reading it before.  ((Thinking about it, I think my brother’s godmother got married when I was in 9th grade, I need the year…)

Tenth grade I was mad that my English teacher had been a clerk or something and that he didn’t teach us anything off the  IB curriculum. I spent a lot of time drawing in his class, with my colored pencils on my desk. I was that bold. This was also the only year in high school I didn’t have history at the end of my day, it was all wrong.

Eleventh grade I met the two people who effectively became my first pair of best friends and were instrumental in my transition to being an adult, in a way.. It was a special summer program for IB students where I met one who had an obsession with England and the Kaiser Chiefs. She introduced me to Shaun of the Dead in I tried watched Doctor Who then on Sci Fi (back when it was spelled in a logical fashion) I brought her into my swarming mob of friends and was vulgar, relishing in making her blush. My other best friend is male, years later I named him Ficus and I had a crush on him for so long which thankfully has broken and left us as really good friends. He introduced me to Game of Thrones by giving me the first 2 or 3 for my birthday and I promptly read them, falling in love with Westeros, being fascinated by dragons, loving the insult ‘brotherfucker’ and having to put them down and read crap for school.

While my friendship romances were happening my mother was diagnosed with Lymphoma and started getting her affairs in order. I worked a job at Target and was able to buy my first laptop, a little HP that had issues (probably viruses) from the start. School was a thing, I went to class but it wasn’t that important. I started teaching myself photoshop during the newspaper class and I drew comics for my high school paper! I remember some of these. One was about fitting in and this one kid who didn’t dress like everyone else being mobbed to ‘be unique’ like everyone else (EMOs! Am I right?); the school being a hellish maze to get from your locker to your first class, it was an impossible maze, we actually had to print a retraction explaining that. They forgot I did comics not draw mazes; I did some rock star singing ‘eep opp ork ah-ah’ for Valentine’s Day and one about poor temperature control in the school. I remember I wrote articles about the school plays and because I had so many techie friends I made sure to highlight the crew, because no one remember how important they are to a final production.  That spring I joined track, to hang out with 2 of my friends more really, I was okay at throwing shot put and discus (wherein I start my short lived love affair with weird sports). I dropped out of IB physics with our OCD teacher (who was proud of his being OCD) and took regular physics, which I barely passed.

Twelfth grade happened. I dropped out of IB bio and took psychology I was writing for the paper still and I think I took an art class, I don’t remember too well. This was my best and worst year of high school, I was finally “done” with school and worked to apply myself places. It ended up being the worst year because that’s when my mother died. I was pretty much prepared for it but that doesn’t mean it didn’t suck. I took my IB exams and was a part of my school’s Model UN that spring. I graduated a month after she died and I still think that I got more applause than I would have had she been alive and fine. Everyone knew,  what had happened and I’m sure they called me “brave” for finishing school, but come the fuck on, I know I wasn’t straight, I know I was fucked up but I had to finish school, take those exams and move on with my life.

Not too long ago I called myself a shark to a friend of mine, I need to keep moving and progressing or else I’ll go insane. I also can’t go back to where I’ve been and I know I’m not where I need to be to spend the rest of my life. Norfolk has been a good ‘training ground’ for me and my young adulthood but I have always known I was not meant to live here forever.

College happened. I started as a bio major because that’s what my mother wanted. I hated my freshman year roommate with such a blood lust that I know I have never really hated anything, not before or since. Thinking about her makes me aggravated, and puts me on edge. I can honestly say I wanted to grind her face into the cinderblocks that made up my room. Any time I was around her. I decided she wasn’t worth going to jail for and my RA was useless in making anything better. I started fencing (hey, remember that sport thing. Yeah, there we go, weird sports!) and made me next best friend pair, one was the grad student who started fencing club and the other was a freshman and I don’t remember how we met. We never had classes together, let’s chalk it up to that’s just how my life works. I spent parts of almost every-single-day  around these two. They kept me sane, I wonder if they know how important to me they were, are to be honest. The grad student friend insisted a group of us go and see Iron Man which introduced me to Western comics and started me on my current life path. I also spent my summer volunteering at the US Botanic Garden in DC, that was cool.

I have college things documented on my old blog and around online. I don’t feel as much the need to write everything I can in some slipshod order.

My second year I lived with the worst roommates and I never had the Hollywood experience of making friends with my roommates, and having lifelong adult pals! I hated them all so much, if you read my earlier post about them you’ll understand why. I was diagnosed with Hidradenistis Suppurativa and smoked my first cigarette this year. The smoking has helped nothing and anytime I get stressed and anxious I go back to smoking knowing it makes everything worse. I’m a big dummy. I also got really depressed this year and it lasted longer than any other and was kind of worse than any other. I had my first surgery to excise my diseased skin which went really well. I had been losing mobility, I limped quite horribly and I could barely move. I loved the pain killers, I’ll be honest here, I never abused them. I first got into podcasts with Kevin Smith’s SModcast. I remember the first Monday after my Spring Break surgery it took me an entire hour to slowly shuffle across campus, a direct distance of a bit less than a mile. I would normally make that was in fifteen minutes.

That summer I moved into my first off campus housing, taking a sublet room in a tiny duplex. I also decided, after doing a week long wetlands conference that I wasn’t right as a biology major and that fall I transferred to being an art major. I made a bunch of friends in who live in Ghent and are a part of the local music and arts scene. I started going to Borjo more and made friends there. I spent that fall taking classes I didn’t really need, I didn’t know that until way later. I moved into the apartment I current live in that fall and my roommate was a girl who was a senior my freshman year of high school who was in the orchestra with me.

I progressed as an art major, going to more local art things. I did my first 100 Days journal comic the following summer, 2010. I created Lawrence and co that fall in a creative writing class. Even though I got depressed I was overall a lot happier than I had been any year previous. My following years progress with me spending most of my time in Norfolk with a rent, friends and social life down here. Even now, I feel I miss on things when I’m not down here for a holiday. A party happens that I wish I had gone to, a show, an event, or I even just miss being in my own bed.

It has been a long climb, I have changed as a person but I can also see some important aspects of me now reflected in who I was when I was younger. I made sure to say I was done with my formal education because I will always be learning and seeking out new information. I spent a few hours today watching Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s StarTalk YouTube show. I’m done with my formal, in class, in school education with as far as I’ve planned it out. I’m excited to try new things, to travel and move and meet more people. As shy as I am, I want to meet the people I know online. I want to be known for my comics and I’m ready to feel like I’m really getting a grasp on my life. I look at other comic artists only a few years older than I am, and I feel like I’m ages behind. I feel like I’ve wasted my time and it’s too late for anyone to know who I am. And then I remember I’m only 24 and I (should) have many years ahead of me to live and experience the things that I have been flirting with in my imagination. I have time to meet more internet friends, I have the time to have some great romance to be heartbroken. I have the time to wake up in an unknown place, cramped from sleeping in my car and hung over. I have the time to freak out when I meet idol and the time to act on that first rush of a lust and a crush with that scruffy haired dude I just met. I have the time to do things I sometimes write off, feeling like I’ve been forgotten. I’m unknown, not forgotten and I have the time to make a name for myself and to figure out how to market myself as a comic artist who writes crazy essays, generally about herself, but also questioning life and those around her.

Selective Memory and My Worst School Year

I’ve always known I’ve intentionally forgotten stuff I didn’t want or need to remember. Once I decide something isn’t important enough to warrant I remember it I let it go as soon as possible. I think that’s why I’m bad at names, I don’t know if this person I’ve just met will be important to me or if I’ll ever see them again so why take the energy to commit them to memory if I’m going to interact with fifteen new people tomorrow? Facebook has both helped and hurt this. I’ll add someone then I’m going through my friends wondering who the fuck someone is and it’s someone I met at a house party 8 months earlier but their name is a reference to something else and their profile picture isn’t them. I sometimes delete these people unless I think they might be a part of a future social circle then they get to stay until the next time I purge my friends list.

There have been many studies about memory and how memories are tied to experiences, locations, people and so forth. I’ve recently interacted with the two people who were my best friends my freshman and sophomore years of school, Glenn and Elizabeth. Glenn was a grad student so I assumed our friendship would drop off a bit when he graduated, which it did because he went off to influence and be disgusted by the future minds of America (he teaches middle school history). Elizabeth was in my year and I’d assumed we’d stay friends, that didn’t quite happen because of a shitty manipulative relationship she had that has recently ended. For the past 3 years I never got close with anyone so it’s been interesting to have someone texting me wanting to hang out and talk about nothing important, something I’ve craved and wanted, and I’ve been too busy trying to get my comics done to be able to do that these past few weeks. I feel bad I can’t be there for her right now and I can’t indulge in my need to be important to someone else*. I have this dumb self esteem thing that no one cares about me. Intellectually I know people do but without the proof it’s hard to believe that anyone will miss me when I move away.

A few weeks ago I mentioned how I went out to Virginia Beach with some old friends I may or may not have named, they were Glenn and Elizabeth. While out at dinner we were reminiscing while working toward filling in the lost years we’ve had and Glenn reminded me of something I forgot entirely. I intentionally forgot why I hated this one girl who was my roommate my sophomore year of college because I decided that was too much energy and I needed to move on and not think about shitty things like that. I need to forget negative shit because I will dwell on it and I’ll get into a funk about it so it’s an important aspect of self perseveration for me, I think.

The summer before my sophomore year of school I got a weird bump under my arm, it was painful, full of disgusting and I started getting fevers every day. I put it off all summer and went to the ER when I got back down to school and after a few months I learned I had hidridenitis suppurativa under my arms and around my groin. It was painful, smelled awful and made my life difficult. I think part of the problem with the odor was I’d get them opened and various changes that were happening under my skin weren’t done and with the doctor having cut them open so they’d drain they gave me comfort from the pressure which was the source of the pain, but what had to happen was now happening without a taut bubble of skin and gross over it keeping everything contained.

I was in and out of the hospital that September and October as the doctors tried to help me. My roommates had no compassion for my personal plight, none of the three of them. The girl I shared my room with, Amanda, decided to despise everything about me and became a hateful cunt. These three conspired to get me kicked out of the apartment because of my disease. It smelled bad but it is non-communicable. I had to get up about 2 -3 hours before my earliest class so I could hobble to the bathroom, gingerly clean out all of the weeping wounds and cover them all with gauze to protect them and my clothes (there were still many causalities to my shirts from this time).

So, every morning I rush to get into the shower before the other girls so I can make sure I have enough time to get clean before my class. I became intimate friends with 6am, it was bullshit. I learned how to not stay in bed, I didn’t have the time before my 9am class to waste.

In gathering some sort of evidence against me to get my kicked out of the apartment-dorm we lived in Amanda decided one morning to take photos of me naked trying to clean myself and get ready in the morning.

There is no world where that is appropriate.

I have always been fat so I first never really wanted people to see my naked but then I had this awful skin disease that was gross everywhere so that’s another notch against being naked around people. Then she was trying to take photos of me, to do what, I don’t know. Post them online? Embarrass me? The disease I have isn’t from a lack of cleanliness, I shower almost every single day, at least 350 days a year – almost EVERY SINGLE DAY. I can’t rush in the bathroom because I have to tape gauze to my skin, band-aids are not big enough. That year the best bandages I had were those big padded ones that the hospital uses after a surgery. The amount of disgusting that would leak from my skin then and how much I had to cover those were the best things. I still love ‘em and I don’t need anything that large now.  ( I still have the disease, all of the wounds are smaller and less disgusting for the most part but it’s not a walk in the park to have this shit)

I don’t know what Amanda wanted to do with those photos but I forgot that happened. We spoke with the RA about them wanting me kicked out because I was messy and gross I guess but I also never bothered them. That year was one of the shittiest years of my life. Mind you, this happened after the roller coaster year of graduating from high school and my mother dying. It also happened after my freshman year of school which is the only time in my life I’ve been truly angry, I was sick to my stomach from rage and so close to attempting to bash that girl’s face into a wall.

I had wanted to be Amanda’s roommate which made her betrayal as a friend that much more egregious to me.

Amanda, Midget Bitch (I honestly don’t remember her name, she was shorter than I am and a cunt) and Midget Bitch’s friend (she wasn’t really that vocal against me but she was aligned against me so…) ganged up against me to get me kicked out of our dorm. There was nowhere for me to go, I had to deal with their wanting to keep the dorm at 60fucking degrees in winter (I can’t be cold, I’m miserable, I’ve always been bad at being cold), I had to fight that each of us would clean the shower, their fucking 80 miles of hair clogged the goddamn drain and was everywhere. They wanted me to keep the shower that we all used clean because I spent more time in that bathroom but I fucking had to if I wanted to get any sort of privacy. I know there was other shit, maybe noise so I lived with headphones for the rest of the year.

This all happened days after my 20th birthday. I went from my favorite day of the year to having the shittiest life. I honestly do love my birthday like a child does. I don’t have to do anything on it, I just like knowing that I have a day to myself, I love other people’s birthdays because then I can laude them with attention and birthdays are a day to celebrate existence. I was at my absolute lowest after that, and I was stuck there until May.

I somehow dealt with it, I remember writing a lot that year, there are so many blog posts on blogger from the 2008-2009 school year. I threw myself into movies as escapism and I lived with my MP3 player that Amanda’s cunt of a friend stole from me on Inauguration  Day. I spent as much time out of the apartment every day just so I could have some sort of peace because ‘home’ was not peace for me that year.

I forgot that Amanda tried to take photos of me, I just remembered I hated here and she was a bitch to me along with the other two and I did nothing to harm them. Hell, the midget bitch stole my fucking food. It was always stupid shit but I was the last of us to leave the dorm and she came back once while I was gone at a summer class and ate a doughnut I had. I swear she used my fucking ketchup and I remember I had an empty boxy of poptarts on my shelf in the pantry, I came back one day and the box had been moved.

I’m like, really bitch? Really, you’re going to take my food? I went out of my way to stay out of their way because I had nothing to say to them. I wasn’t their friend.

Also, them bitches continued to use my TV and playstation that was in the living room as a DVD player.

:deep breath: I’ve gone through indifference and nostalgia from thinking about Elizabeth to crying from rage and depression from remembering how awful Amanda and those other two were to me. I in general keep to myself. This isn’t the first time people have tried to blame me for shit that wasn’t my fault. I don’t know if it’s because they were really racist cunts, if it was because I had a disability and disease that they couldn’t understand (surprisingly, I don’t think they ever took my pills and I had Percocet and vicodin for a while then) or something else.  I remember writing at some point that they hated me because they perceived my life to be easier or better than theirs? I decided they hated me because I didn’t study and I seemed to not be stressed out like they were.

I never study and I didn’t have much work that needed to be done, I don’t think. I really don’t know. I know I was really fucking depressed that year. I didn’t have Elizabeth because she had one boyfriend then the shitty one. Glenn was busy off doing his student teaching and being a grad student and shit. I don’t really maintain too many social contacts. I have a lot of acquaintances and few friends because I can’t be around people like that. I play my cards close. I may be gregarious and I may really like people and being social but I value and crave more than being around people to be alone. I prefer being close to one or two people, in high school that became Nora and Alex who are both still important to me. In college I made those people Glenn and Elizabeth and then for three years I had no one. I haven’t always been fine with that, but I found others along the way when I needed that shoulder.

This started off being about memory and it drifted to being about friendship?

I don’t curse Glenn or Elizabeth for doing when they did, we each had different lives and things to do. I got in with the art students and made friends within the local art/indie/freak community, which is something I needed.  Since Glenn reminded me of Amanda trying to take those photos of me I keep coming back to thinking about it. I learned that Amanda wasn’t someone to be trusted and I learned that I could not live in the hell that was the ODU on campus living situation. This skin disease, along with my unapologetic, bratty, brash, vulgar asshole personality are reasons why I need to live alone or have a roommate who can put up with me. I know no other existence but I also believe that my skin disease has affected how I interact with people.

*I wrote this originally in October when I was busy trying to get my comics finished.


old post: hating my roommates from that dorm. [1] - that's one of the few where I disgussed any of my hatred of them. I have some old posts where i went off talking about my skin disease but I'll leave those to be forgotten, in a way. 

Childhood Home

Like many people in America I went back to my childhood home for Thanksgiving. I don't like going home to Reston, it's never really an entirely pleasant experience, it's a complex thing but it's because it's not my childhood home anymore.

I spent the majority of my life in the same townhouse in Reston, it's a little 4 bedroom, 3 story piece of not bad. After my mother died, my brothers and I bought the house, I went off for college. Every time I return it's more and more bachelored up. My eldest brother monopolizes the majority of the house and the one TV I'd watch I don't even have consistent access to. I feel self-conscious if I watch trashy TV around my brothers. Hell, I feel self-conscious if I watch good TV around them because my interests are so not theirs I fear they're always judging me. Maybe it's because I judge them for not being more than what they are with the time they've had. I don't know. I just don't feel at home when I'm home. I end up just feeling really anxious and I get nothing done, especially in the house. It's not having Internet all the time that's the problem, it's being in that house. If I leave I can make myself comfortable somewhere else, generally Panera but I'm thinking I might coffee for a few hours at Cosi the next time I go home and see if I can get anything drawn or planned. I really try to limit my time in Reston, I don't go back often but when I do I pretty much need to plan on what I'm going to do outside of the house to not feel anxious and hateful the entire time I'm up there. 

So, I drove home on Tuesday night after class, so midnight. Best time to make a 3 hour drive :eyeroll: I don't like distance driving and in the middle of the night is even worse. And when I need coffee, like when driving, I think my body stores the caffeine and makes me really tired. I get so tired when I'm making the drive, seriously. 30 minutes after finishing the drink i want to curl up and sleep.

My drive was uneventful. I got in and promptly went to sleep only to wake up four hours later because my body's a dick. I moped around the house on Wednesday, I did go out to Trader Joe's because they have these amazing Belgian waffle cookies, cheaper and far tastier than the ones I can find down here. There is a Trader Joe's down here but it's not worth it to drive to Virginia Beach for some cookies. Maybe I'll find it. I also bought frozen falafel, I think I'd like to try the real deal now. Then I was in all day and on the Internet. 

Thursday I was snarky about the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade because why not. I mean, there was the Judge Dredd dance team, children who didn't look like they wanted to be there, children who were way too excited to be there and the people in the background who kept waving at the camera any chance they could. And the scariest thhing, partially inflated balloons, those really were kind of creepy. I remember Pikachu didn't have his ears inflated (Matt Lauer still can't pronounce pokemon right) and and Spongebob Squarepants's arms weren't inflated. i think a few others were off. The grey artist balloon was pretty sick, I need to look into that guy's work ( Pipe dream: get something I've drawn made into a parade balloon!). 

We went over to our father's for the holiday which is never as emotionally fulfilling as it should be. My brothers and I were the youngest there, and I didn't feel comfortable so I wasn't talking much unless I had a specific point, and even then I feel it was ignored. Thanksgiving at my father's feels like a dinner party, a really boring dinner party. It's the polar opposite to Thanksgiving when it was my mom, my brothers and me or the Thanksgiving of my childhood when we'd go to New York to my maternal grandparent's and it was all of that family and maybe a friend would stop by. I'd watch any help cook, we'd have the parade on during the day and then some ridiculous movie or football when I was a bit older. After dinner we'd all just layabout the house until we had homemade sweet potato pie that my grandmother made. We'd play Scrabble or Scatagories which would inevitably incite some fight and my brother would declare he'd never play a board game with the family again. i'd probably still be quiet, but I was younger then. I might still be quiet because I'm not really loud. I'm the weird one, I was always soft spoken, but I'd just sit there enjoying the conversation. If the great-aunts and great-uncles were there I'd awkwardly say hello to them, always forgetting who was who because they all looked the same to me and I only saw them once a year. 

That was the Thanksgiving of my childhood. It was also a cage of anger and criticism but that was fine because my mother would temper them and keep them picking on us too much. Black Friday would happen, when I was a kid and it started at 6am we'd go. After Macy's started their "Black Friday starts at midnight' bullshit we stopped really going out to shop, we'd go see whatever the big movie was. 

Or I'm making that up, my memory of my childhood is fuzzy, but we did see a lot of movies at that weird theater at New Roc City.

This year I stayed in on Black Friday. I actually went out for one thing and I almost got into an accident that would not have been my fault at the fucking pharmacy. Some bullshit. 

Saturday was the best day of my entire trip home, I went out with Alex. Alex is good people, there's no judgement and no fear around him, just comfort. We went to Great Eggspectation for brunch then saw Lincoln. (I wrote about Lincoln here) it was just a good day. It was good for me to get out of my bedroom and out of the house. My bedroom is the same as it always was. 

Sunday I had plans that fell through so I ended up just hanging out before driving home. The best thing from Sunday was I opened an old photo album and I looked at so many pictures from my childhood, people I've forgotten and family members from before I was born. I'm going to do another post about those photos and my family. My drive was a bit stop and go, a broken down truck a few miles from when I get on to 95 South then a few miles after that it was either another broken down vehicle or an accident. I don't know. 

I made it then crashed.

Today was a bit less than pleasant, which means that what I drew in Figure was fucking amazing. Better than usual, joy. My skin disease was far less than pleasant today which was fun and then as I was about to leave the building my foot hurt and there was a small sliver of glass in my foot. I just gave up on today and went to sleep.

I did have a cool dream where I got this sweet little Canon dSLR. It was a made up camera but whatevs. It was also part of a weird dream that seemed to take place in the Land of Oz, which is interesting given I've read none of those books.

I have plans for a little internet thing that I'm going to possibly test soon but I won't do in earnest until January, I'll let you know when that's up and a thing. Also, over on my sketch blog, I have my ask box open for suggestions and requests, if you'd like to see a suggested doodle, tell me, maybe I'll do it. 

So, that's that, until I share some old photos and show you how cute I was as a kid. I do have a few I threw onto instagram. Check out this one of me, I think I'm around 2. This is my mom. I think this is my 6th birthday, that's my cousin behind me.