A Strange Thing About Death

I’m sorry I missed my post last week, I don’t write because my grandmother had died so I decided to take people’s advice and rest to process all that was going on.

I’m really happy that I did, it gave me time to really sit and think about the relationships in our lives and how the dynamics will change with the loss of our families matriarch and give me a much-needed respite from the stress of my everyday life.

Now, I had been fortunate up to this point in my life not to have lost anyone close me, some family but not a grandparent. This though meant that I really didn’t know how exactly this news would hit me. It had be several weeks preparing for the what would become the “inevitable”. The waiting I think was the worst part, knowing it was going to happen but never knowing when. The conclusion I came to after all of this is that death, quite frankly, is…strange.

It’s not a gradual thing, even when it process happens over the course of a lifetime. Despite the metaphor of being ‘half dead’ there is no halfway with death, it’s one moment that you are living, and the next you are gone. Even when death comes with a slow weakening it only at the moment when the body finally shuts down when living gives way that death comes.

Death to me is just a fact, though one that sends ripples through the family and friends centered around it. To know that death has come is weird, because it doesn’t hit you all at once, at least not for me. It just is, or was when it happened. Life has to carry on for the rest of us still here but this new fact carries a cloud that follows overhead.

It makes you ruminate on memory, reminisces of the times with that person but like with the end of many relationships you think about all the missed opportunities the future will never bring. That there are things you did with that person that you never knew would be the last time you did them. An unfulfilled see you later or next time hold this weight make you wonder of how many of these we have in our lives.

Ultimately our relationships will change as the pillar that we derive some of these relationships from is now gone. The stings the bind us to each other become lax waiting to be pulled taught. Some of these relationships will fade away, others will strengthen but there is no doubt in my mind that they will change. Without that person, they will have to learn to carry on, without that person, we will have to learn to do it on our own.

What I thought of last is legacy, when someone dies their ability to manipulate the world personally falls away and so those around them must become the arbiters of their will. Even outside of the thoughts of heaven comes a true death, at least in this world. It is when someone is forgotten, their name uttered for the final time, or when the will becomes waves and then ripples and then still. She lives within me because I carry a part of her within and I am much stronger for it.

What is left is what is what I will carry with me, the words that she always spoke and resounded in my heart of hearts.

“Remember you are loved”

Thank you for the memories, the lessons and the love, both of you.

Animated Change

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It was the 1980’s, a time of great change in music, movies, and media. You see, up to that point, this small art style coming out of Japan was starting to make headway with western audiences.  An older generation appreciating the art from the 50’s and 60’s huddled together at small expos and cons to collect as much of this foreign delicacy as they could. What they didn’t know is that a few short years this would all change, and change quickly.

The first change came fast, a new popular show called Sailor moon came out with a roar, bringing young girls flocking for more from animators across the sea. It was such a hit that the transition period between the old and the new felt more like a crash than a movement. Gradually as the 90’s pressed on Americans were introduced to a variety of styles, artists, genres, and stories never seen on home TVs.  These pieces of Anime as is was called presented new ideas and spun the idea of exactly what show could be like. Shows that weren’t afraid to tell a story where the hero dies at the end, where the send-off is bittersweet, and you’re forced to think about yourself and the world around you a little bit differently. Masters of their craft illuminate the halls of an art form that continues to shift and changes with each passing year. New stories are being told, new artforms being discovered, and new people finding this glorious cacophony of beautiful minutes shared across millions around the world.

Why am I telling you all this?

I discovered Anime a little over 12 years ago.  One night, sitting quietly in a room watching a marathon of a show I have never seen before got me hooked.  A show about a soul reaper and a boy with the power to see the dead.  It was easy enough to pick up, even read, and that’s saying something from a boy who never read.  It consumed me and held me it’s magical embrace, so when the opportunity arose I went to my first convention and I hadn’t looked back since. It has a staple of my early July, more regular than my schooling and in some way connects me to the craft I grew to love.

This year demarks my tenth year of going to Anime Expo, and something is different this time.  Year after year, as I’ve gotten older a little less comes with me each time enter those grand halls.
Sometimes it’s friends, I’ve seen my fair share move forward and on from the con.
Sometimes it shows, I’ll feel a little more out of touch with what people are excited about.
Recently it’s been the focus,  what everyone seems to want and buy there doesn’t interest me as much anymore.  It could be from the familiarity from many years attending but it all feels repetitive, distant.

It’s a combination of all these things that makes going back a little bit harder each year. This by no means is it a bad convention. It’s a great convention, with some growing pains but people still get excited about all the new and wonderful things they are experiencing. It’s just me, I’m changing, and my relationship to the fandom is different now.  Like an old man coming back to a schoolyard years after he graduated, it’s more reminiscent of times past than times present.  Things have changed, people have changed, places have changed as they should. It has to adapt to the people it’s still serving, long after we make use of it.  But is it my time to graduate, to move forward onto something new? It’s this conflict that weighs heavy in my heart. When I leave, it may not be forever, but if I ever return it will be different, for different reasons and a different me.

This fight with my personal obsolescence hits me because this con is part of me, my childhood and adolescence.  Giving it up means part of me has changed, that young kid inside though always with me is pushing me forward beyond him.  He’s telling me to let go and find my next adventure.  Let go and choose a new path beyond, whatever it may be. Live life with these memories as wings on my back, not as a tether around my neck.

It’s hard to give up and put away these things.  Truthfully, I will always read manga, and watch anime as its part of who I am now. But I have to pursue my next adventure.

Thank you Anime Expo, for all that you are. You helped introduce me to the heroes who showed me how to give it all I got, no matter the odds.

 

Transcend​.

I find myself here often now, this place of mounting frustration for the limitations of myself. I know, I can’t be everything,  I am trying so hard to be something, something more than I ever thought possible.

This all leads back to a belief I have, the belief that anyone is capable of anything.  That the legacy of humanity is founded on the word “can”.  Generations built on the idea that we can push farther and further than the generation before creating scaffolding for those who will come after.  It is up to us to build our lives in the way we see fit.

I find trouble though, in this belief as it causes me pain.  I find myself in pain when my hands have stopped moving, my eyes begin to close and fade, when everything winds down to a still. My mind reminds me of the people who keep going, who push through, and are continuing to walk along the path ahead of me.  It’s then I have the fight within my head, between the two voices that cry out from within. One yelling “Go! Do! There is still much to be done!” and the other crying “Stay! Wait! We need a second for air!”. My life feels like the result of the battle of these two forces trying to out-compete the other.
I want to keep going, I know I have to if I want to accomplish all I want to do during the short period of my life.  Diligence and discipline are required.  As with all things, I feel though I come up short of my goal, of my potential still. I keep grabbing at my future but never reaching the bar to know I have got there.  At times I feel as if I could only set aside myself, drive my being to its limits, to really push the boundaries of my existence, then perhaps I could be satisfied.
The thought pops into my head, a small analogy that takes presents itself as a colder truth.  To strive is to bleed, to bleed out of yourself, to suffer for your dreams, to push past the pain of these long nights and lonely hours.  It’s in some sick way what I want, to feel like I am finally putting my heart and soul into something.  The feeling of giving up everything I am and becoming if not for a moment 100% of something. A being of directed madness and constructive obsession. Maybe then I can say that I’m not making excuses for anything, that I can look in the mirror and see the sacrifice etched upon my face. Maybe then, I can finally rest.

I’m tired, my body is tired, my mind is tired and all I want is rest. I keep going, keep pushing, because I know if I do a little bit more than I might be able to grasp the thing I seek. I find peace within my heart but drive within my head.
I sit there in the quiet moments as my body ache and my mind fogs, I feel a mounting frustration as I reach the limitations of my body. There, I say to myself, one more, just do one more thing, push yourself farther than you’ve ever been before.

Just one more.

Transcend.

Year Two’s End

 

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Its been two years from when I started this blog, and here I find myself in a very different place than where I started. I feel as almost my life completely changes in this increment of two years.
Two years ago, I was staring down a path left unilluminated by the confusion and turmoil of transitioning from college. Left bare and in need of change, what came about was was a need, a need to change. So this blog, devoted to cataloging and compelling progress within my life, became the bastion of that change. It has been a soundboard for my frustrations and the safe haven of for my thoughts as I move along the path toward a future that was all too uncertain.
As things changed, so have I, learning and growing from all the new memories I have made along the way.  Two years, though it feels like a world away to me, I know that I am still only at the beginning.  There is a long way to go, much more to do, and many more lessons to learn but I am ready and willing to step out on the path, one foot in front of the other, and find my way home.

So what has happened in these two years?
Love and loss. A lot failure and measured success. A realization that the life I had been living was not as full as it should be.  The understanding the problems I had left unresolved needed facing before I could move forward. These two years have felt like a lifetime, and I’m sure the next two years will feel the same.

What has changed though, between this year and the one before?
I’m back at school which has been a godsend, I am around people who are like-mindedly moving forward to a future.  I’m excited to learn, and I feel like the place I am at is where I am meant to be.  There are still I have yet to fully resolve and am still learning every day, but I feel like I am more receptive to this change now,

I feel alive, more so than I had been.  It’s like waking up from a slumber, realizing you have the whole day ahead of you and all the energy in the world. I had a friend who had been struggling for a long time come out of the haze of that struggle and start to see the world in as vivid and beautiful.  Like the veil being removed from your eyes, to see the world again.  I know this is a bit wax-poetic, but it gets to the point. I am happy, struggling out there in the world, making mistakes at every turn but happy to be alive which is the best thing I could ask for.  Things have changed and will continue to evolve on this journey of mine, all the feelings I have put to the page have been an adventure. If you would, indulge me in another year of words because my journey is not yet done.

Thank you for reading.

-End of Year Two-

Memory Flash

It feels like it flows from my fingertips
The expression of memory and intimacy
Flashes of feeling and memory
A vividness that captures my attention
They are escaping me
Like as memory
Each time remembered becomes softer
More Distorted

If feels like the flash is the memories life
The feeling trying to resurface and live
Gasping for air, one last stand before being left behind
It’s too late now
I can’t go back to relive the memories
Can’t go back to make any more
So sit motionless waiting for them to pass
Hoping to capture those last moments

There they go.
Bittersweet.
Sorrowful.
Happy.

Reoccurant

I keep having dreams of her
A being from my past life
With each time I close my eyes
I feel a bittersweet sorrow

They are all vivid
These visions of mine
Spurred on by a combination
of a small conversation
and the remnants of a connection that remains tangled

These dreams ask me to reach
To reach out and speak to her
To fulfill these feelings that have come welling up
Not of love
But to something else, I don’t understand

Is it connection lost
A comfort missed
A fear placated
Or some secret desire of my heart
I don’t understand and I don’t like not understanding

I’ve asked others for council
But there is not enough there
Only stabs in the dark
Not intention just guesses to the question
Why?

So I remain frozen here
Waiting for a sign
To clear up these unknowns
These feeling and actions are different than who I am
But then again these are all feelings from a past life
One where I knew her and didn’t need dreams to see.

The Project

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Over 400 hours at this point, over the last 2 years.  400 hours of research that I have been doing since I got back from my trip after my graduation.  Every week, once a week going out to the lab and sitting down in front of a computer to do some sort of work towards my project.  Over 10,000 miles driven to and from home to Lab, adding up to hundreds of hours in the car.  I’ve never really questioned why I was doing it, I just knew I had to for both myself and my future. Hours now for a better life later.

It started as a project in my senior year of college, having gotten a fellowship I was allotted money to help fund my endeavors. Truth be told, it was more of a validation than a necessity to get the project off the ground.  That year flew by as I worked 12 hours a week to get it done and I did finish the preliminary project.

The real journey began after I graduated.  Expanding the project was a hassle, multiplying the work from 3 participants to 56 was no small thing.  I got help though, got to share the burden of this project with others as I both learned and fooled around with the numbers.  I didn’t realize how much of a novice I was until I was sitting in front of a computer, looking at a bunch of figures I didn’t know what to do with with a bunch of results that didn’t make sense except that I knew that I had to do them.

Wrapping my mind around these things, doing all this work outside of school, I’ve never really thought about what I would be doing instead of research.  I just knew I had to do it and so I did. I learned to ask for help. To admit when I was stuck and to bounce ideas off of others.  To stay positive even when things look bleak.

There has been a lot of self-learning, growing in ways along with frustration from lack of understanding.  Delving into areas unknown. I know that I have learned a lot from just being there, and it’s kept me going forward towards my dream.

I am nearing the end soon, the end of my time in this lab.  4 years in totality, 3 on my own project.  It will feel weird when I have gone and left, it been such a staple in my life. I’ve gone through a whole breadth of emotions there, kept coming even through depression because it was something I knew I had to do.  It will be strange when it was gone, and it feels weird now that I am reaching the finale.  I hope I leave on a high note, but at the very least I want to leave knowing that I at least did something.

My last day I imagine will be a quiet one, nothing big going on, with groups of Research Assistants working quietly in the lab.  They won’t know a thing about who I am, my generation has passed, and I will simply walk out that door, walk to my car, and drive away and maybe be remembered for what I did there one day.

I don’t know what the future holds, I just know not to waste it.

Chasing Dreams Before They Die

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I think all of us deep down inside have a part of ourselves that calls out to us, calls out to follow down the path we have honestly hoped we were destined for.  A part of ourselves that leaves us deeply unsettled by the continued nature of reality that doesn’t align itself with where our heart truly lies.

I constantly wonder, does the path we travel down require us to sacrifice part of our soul to keep afloat or is it a test to see if we are willing to devote ourselves to our dreams properly.  I regularly ask the question whether I am sacrificing enough or is there more I can give.  Can we strip ourselves down to such a fundamental level that we can devote ourselves so singularly to a cause that it becomes apparent that we no longer are a person but the living manifestation to a singular purpose or ideology?

I find that within these thoughts, in some way contains greatness.  It is the ability to focus on the one thing in front of you that it becomes your entire being for the time being that you exist within it focus until you have accomplished whatever you initially set out to do.  

That’s what I need, that laser focus, something I have never really fostered through my life. Instead, I let my mind wander endlessly from place to place stringing thoughts together like party decorations.  Though I might get to the destination, and it might bring me from place to place by the time I get there I will have all but run out of string.  It’s about using what I have wisely. Picking and choosing all that I do so that at the end of it all I have something that I can look back to and say I have built.

I am though greedy, I want to experience everything so choosing one seems almost unfathomable even though in my heart I know it’s not enough. Variety may be the spice of life, but I can’t sustain myself on spices alone, I need substance.  Where to cut and prune is the question, what to give up and slough off the tree of life so the branches can grow tall instead of being forced down by the weight of barren tree that never go anywhere.

Aside from that, I think what we spend most of our time on actually dictates how we feel.  In that, for us, it becomes then our jobs, a place where we spend most of our days that rule over our existence.  It has the greatest effect and even though in some ways we take every opportunity to spend the time we are freed from our time at work decompressing. In those moments we end up not really ever doing anything at all.

So it is up to us to make the life we want, the life we will sustain.  Our life is what we do and accept having done to us.  My biggest fear is becoming used to these feelings of my soul asking me to change and never doing anything about them. Slowly letting my dream die and dying along with them. Living a life that will never really feel satisfying because in the back of my mind I know that there could have been something more for me to do.  I want to chase the dream, but maybe it would be better to also be reminded that it can die and with it so would my soul.

Live life, and if your not, change it.  In the same way that the world will keep spinning if you are not around, we have no excuse not to at least try to make something new.

A Square Peg In A Square Hole

How do you keep yourself outside of the box? How do you keep these thoughts flowing like a stream in the spring? Can I foster this type of non-unilateral thinking?

There is a dream I have that I would be one of those people who comes up with this novel way of looking at the world. A type of perspective that widens the world of those around me.  That dream turns into a nightmare when I realize that I might not be cut out for this dream.

I look at forks in the road of how life can go, and in some ways, it’s easy to follow the set path before me, it has been well worn in. So many before I have walked these steps and gotten to where they wanted to go. Then there are paths I see which are less worn but still recognizable. Those paths may be different, and the road might be harder to follow, but from the perspective of I stand, the footprints are still warm from the person before.

The problem is taking the last path, the path that has never been taken before. Where there are no roads ahead and feet, have never tread. In a system where I like to know the laws and parameters to work within it’s those who bend and break those rules in the right way that seems to be able to push past the boundaries of what we consider doable.

In some parts I am afraid of that path, I have been taught this road can lead you to nowhere, to dead ends, and to danger. Ironically it’s that path I have to take if I want to accomplish my dream. Life has no clear way to feeling you where to go, it has many suggestions but no real stake in which direction you take. Each life we live will always be different the one of the next, and yet we feel this force that draws us together to have this type of unifying experience with each other. A way to be able to relate with one another. And maybe that is my hesitation, as it is I feel that few know me and even fewer understand me and if I keep moving away from people onto my own path I will lose that connection I have worked so hard to create. That It will no longer be understandable as to what I am trying to accomplish. I like to know things and to be taught, but I have no guide, no way to know if I am moving in the right direction. With no sense as to what direction to take, do I just step out and hope for the best?

Even now as I am typing this, it seems silly to put so much weight upon this fear, the fear to not know where which way to turn. I know the world is full of people and that there are people are like-minded all over the place, but having been without them before there is a fear just the same.
I know in the future I want to step out and act in my own way. Follow the path my feet set out for me. I will likely live differently than most people, and I will place along the road I was meant for. This is something I have and will be working on for the rest of my life.

Hey Chicago Girl

I saw you in my dreams, and it felt like you were almost real to touch, I wish I didn’t have to wake up.

We met in Chicago, a city that I haven’t been in. I just remember all the buildings looking down and in on us, slopped at the top as if they were sinking slowly into the ground.

I can’t remember how we met, might have been on the train, a plane, or maybe in a room. I just remember having to go up to you, wanting to talk and get to know you.

You were much shorter than I was, dark hair and pale skin but kind of verve in your brown eyes that lightened my spirit, no wonder after I was awoken by my cat I decided to go back to sleep to hang out with you.

Oh Chicago girl, you showed me around your neck of the woods, showed me the city you grew up in as we talked and talked, smiled and laughed, getting to know each other.  You had a cool job, and you seemed to have everything together as you moved through the world with a energy and joy. Even though it seemed like moving through a city normally, it felt like an adventure with you.

I didn’t want to leave but I knew I had to, I had the feeling as if I had a plane to catch to go back home.  I got a nagging feeling that I would regret if didn’t at least get to know her name or some way to contact her.  I decided to ignore this call to leave for back home, to spend more time with you in Chicago, squeeze out every last drop.

The night began to decend and we spent more time together. We went through a scary maze with monsters and hung out in the upstairs of a house were we both got comfortable just living life as people came and went.  I got the chance to really look at you and it made me happy, made me feel at ease.

We talked about where I’m from and you were so excited to listen, made me feel somehow exotic.  We swapped stories and ideas, when sitting across from each other.

This is when the my dream broke, and I couldn’t hang onto it much longer. I was sitting across from you but in reality the morning was calling me to awake.  You just sat there at looking at me as I was torn away from my dreams, not knowing what was happening or that I was fighting to stay.

Every moment that pass a little of you crumples away like most dreams, this one sticking with me a bit longer.  I am forgetting the features of your face, the topics of conversation, the building around us and what we were doing. I’m am holding on for as long as I can, this feeling that we shared in a dream.

Maybe I am hopeless but if your out there in the world Chicago Girl, if you are real, I would be love to share a dream with you again.