Friday, May 30, 2014

I Remember a Time When I Didn't Like Hummus

The other day as I was grabbing the hummus from my fridge it struck me that my liking for hummus is a relatively recent development. While this in itself is not noteworthy at all, it marks the actually noteworthy fact that I've changed a lot in the past two years (well, 23 months...). Whenever I get a chance to reflect on how my life has been since I graduated high school and moved away from Italy, I actually get a bit of a head rush. Physically, I'm pretty close to the way I was but, in almost every other aspect of me, I would have a hard time recognizing 18 year old me as me if I ran into her on the street. (We don't have to debate the unlikeliness of that occurrence, I'm just saying.)
Senior Prom
I am proud to say that I like myself a lot better now than I did in high school. I've always been on my own side; even when I got self destructive, I was trying to help myself. I'm aware of how twisted that sounds, trust me. But it's true; I didn't self harm because I didn't like myself or because I wanted the attention. I did it because I can deal with physical pain better than emotional or mental stress, and I wanted to stop burdening those close to me with my problems. I wanted to be able to deal with them on my own. Yes, it has been pointed out to me that my logic for the situation is not exactly sound but it's how I rationalize. On this front, the important thing is that I am cultivating healthier coping mechanisms. I am getting more effective at dealing with stress when it comes along, beginning to understand having a lot of things to deal with is just part of being an adult, and coming to know that I will be able to deal with the things that come up in life.
Five ish minutes ago
Another piece of the pie is that I'm far more confident in myself now. Many of my high school friends told me that I'm too nice (and some probably still would) but I get this comment much less often from my college friends. I don't think this means that I'm not nice anymore. I think it means that I've finally learned the difference between being mean to someone and standing up for myself. Took me almost 20 years but I got it. Another thing that took me way too long is being comfortable in my own skin. This one is still a bit tentative (I do have days when I feel unattractive) but, more often than not, I feel pretty. (cue West Side Story music but subtract the boy inspiration that Maria feels). I know that I'm not the skinniest girl in town and that my eating/exercising habits aren't what they should be but I am an attractive almost 20 year old female. I admit, I think that you'd be hard pressed to find an unattractive almost 20 year old female. And that brings me to my next point.
I feel a lot more interested in being a woman now than I was in high school. This is perhaps an odd statement. But I've learned a lot in college about discrimination and injustices towards minorities and I identify most strongly with injustices towards women. I truly want to change the world and make society a friendlier place for the next generation of women. Females are taught so early on that being a mother and a housewife is what they are meant to do. Don't believe me? Go take a walk through the toy section of any store you like. I'm willing to bet that there is a "pink" aisle and that it is filled primarily with dolls and their accessories. It's getting a little better with toys geared towards little girls who like to build things, but it still needs work. Lots of work. In high school, my stance was something like: "I'm a girl. You're a boy. Big whoop." I am much more informed now and realize that, on a whole, women are still valued less than men. I could soap box about this for a very long time but the point is that I don't like being told where my place is and will refuse to be put down. Women can anything they want to be and society should stop telling us otherwise.
I am the girl on fire
This is going to be obvious but living in Sicily is very different than in western Washington; living on a college campus is different than a military base; and being (semi) responsible for myself is different than being a complete dependent on my parents. All of that said, I am having much different experiences in college than I had in high school. With new experiences comes new growth. These past two years have been loaded with new things for me to deal with. From living with people that aren't my family to navigating the great world of figuring out what to major in to learning how to work through unhappy points in relationships, my first two years of college have been somewhat of a whirlwind. Figuring out how to survive said whirlwind has led to a lot of personal growth. I feel much stronger in myself and know a lot more about what I need/want in life than I did two years ago. Sadly, a bit of cynicism has come with all of this. But with each good day comes more smiles and a belief that tomorrow can be a good day.
The challenge to face now is making sure that as many days as possible are good days. Tougher than you might think...
I have a suspicion that not all of the friends I've made at college have changed in a super drastic way since high school but I do know that most would say they've changed--"grown" would probably be a more appropriate word.
This means we're growing up.
We're becoming grown up.
It's reality now, guys.

And to think, I used to not like hummus.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Ode to the Nerds that I Hold Dear

"I am evil. Stop laughing!" 
Almost all of my crochet projects in 2014 have been creatures from various games. Veigar (shown left) was my sister's birthday present. He's one of her preferred champions on LoL. Hopefully his surroundings give him some scale because, truly, he was huge. Probably at least as tall as my torso-- I tried to find how tall the tiny master of evil is supposed to be; alas, I failed but am convinced that he might be almost life sized. Ya know, if Veigar existed outside Summoner's Rift.
Now, while I'm not what anyone would consider a "gamer", I do have a great affection for video games and gamers. My brothers played them all of my childhood (they were practically my Saturday morning cartoons), and lots of my friends through high school and college have been gamers. I don't always understand the lingo but I hear a lot of it. So much debate about Pokemon and FTL and which track of which version of MarioKart is the best. It has become a very comforting part of my world to be around those who play a lot of games and know a lot about said games.
Can you say Gengar?
Somehow, though, I've never picked up that same passion for them. Sure, I'll play sometimes but I often miss the familiarity of my N64 whenever I'm playing on a new console. Also, secretly, the idea of playing with a whole bunch of people who are really good is a prospect that I am scared of. Acknowledgement and acceptance are the first steps to healing, right?
While I don't have the passion, I have this great affection. I'm not sure I could explain it very well but it probably is something like: all of the gamers I have met and spent time with are pretty cool people. Inference, most other gamers are good people. Videos game have managed to be a part of my life for as long as I can remember and it feels weird to think about  not spending time with anyone who could talk at length about their favorite game--or maybe how their favorite game could be made better. 
Foongus: because mushrooms can be cute
Maybe not quite what I'm getting at but I like the sentiment that is there so it'll do for now.
Through all of this thought about my affections and passions, I'm apparently developing a knack for crocheting creatures from various games. The thing I've really enjoyed about making these is that (1) I hoped/guessed/knew the recipients were going to like them and (2) it's a challenge because I don't have patterns for these creations. So much trial and error but it's almost empowering to see that I can take computer renditions and make something extremely tangible. I have grown to enjoy combining these areas of my life into something new.
I predict that there is more to come.
"Tactical decision, summoner!" 
Though I'm not sure I'll ever be able to make Lux. (sorry, brother)

Thursday, May 22, 2014

My (Childish?) Love of Disney

On my practice drive yesterday (yes, almost twenty and no license--the less glamorous side of growing up in Italy), my driving teacher asked me what kind of music I like. For a second, I froze--imagine me at a loss for words...
When she gets to talking in our driver's ed class, she talks about shows that she used to play with her band, how her husband plays all the instruments cause he teaches music, and what the good music to listen to it.
Anyway, I decided to it wouldn't hurt anything to just be honest. I said, "I like instrumental stuff, blues music, and Disney." (For those who don't know, that isn't 'blues' the genre of music, it's 'blues' the music that I can blues fusion to).
And I was suddenly reminded why I keep my love of Disney a secret. Dear goodness, apparently I was really supposed to grow out of enjoying Disney music this much. My teacher got a big kick out of it.
I mean, I know a fair few people who love Disney a lot still. Though, I am meeting people who haven't seen them and I'm always thoroughly confused when that happens. But, sometimes, I feel like I'm holding on to something that I should've outgrown by now.

Then I have days like today--days that decide they would like to turn my world on its head. Days that just won't leave me alone, and I turn on one of my Disney playlists just to have some sense of reality. Some sense that things aren't completely broken. I like Disney at almost any point of any day, in any head space, in any mental state. It's good for dancing, singing, crying, sleeping, running, working, listening, ignoring, and practically everything else. I like it because it keeps me sane.

That seems dangerous...

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Visual Discrepency

I know that I don't always act like this but truly I'd rather be doing something. I learn by doing. Sitting in classrooms is becoming more tedious each and everyday that I do it. Even though, some days, my classroom and my bedroom are the same place (the beauty of online classes). While I do understand the reading textbooks and doing discussions with classmates can be a very valuable tool in learning how to do something, it seems like the only way to learn to do things is just to do them. (Provided that a lack of perfect knowledge isn't going to be harmful to anyone).
I am looking forward to what I will be able to do with my minor but getting to that point is going to be more of a challenge than I was originally expecting...