Saturday, October 29, 2016

We could be the greatest team that the world has ever seen.

Might as well fit in one more blog post before the end of the month.

Last Saturday, I got to go to Campbell for a soccer game and to see my boys!!

It was the one big event I'd been counting down to since I moved back here, so I was so, so relieved that Mom held up her promise and got me to the game. It was the last Saturday home game of the season, so she knew it really was the last chance, and how important it was to me.

The game was a heartbreaking last-second loss, and those sweet boys actually said they were sorry they couldn't "get the win for [me]." I told them that I was there for them, that the game was completely secondary. Really, if I just wanted to watch soccer, I could stay home with my computer. They're what is important.

I only got to see them for a short time because Mom and I had a late drive home and they were exhausted, but that was sweet enough. I got hugs and pictures (which they well know is enough to make me giddy happy), and I gave a few sister pep talks, and when I left and got to the car, Mom looked at me and said, "You're really happy, aren't you?"

And I was. So very happy. Those boys are my home; they're where I feel safest. It's funny, even Seth and Josh, whom I only met last year, are included in that. I can't explain it. All I know is that the bond I have with them is about as close to perfect as I could ask for.

Seth, me, Matt, Pepe

Josh, me, Matt

I'd go to the ends of the earth for these boys, so a two hour drive was nothing.

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Saturday, October 15, 2016

This is the point where I start smacking my head.

Yesterday marked two months seizure free.

How do I celebrate?

By getting another 72-hour ambulatory EEG. Ha! At least this one is at my house.

Heck, even the guy who did the hookup came to my house, which was pretty sweet.

So he came yesterday afternoon at 1:00, and will be back Monday at 1:00.

I mean, in general, this is fine. There's only two annoying things about it.

One: I can't shower for three days. Gross.

Two: The itchiness rom the glue reaches an unbearable level within the first 48 hours.

Right now, the only part that really itches is my forehead. There are three leads stuck to my forehead with gel adhesive and tape. Obviously, I can't scratch at them or they can dislodge (one of them came off in my sleep last night) so my only option to attempt to alleviate the itching is by hitting where it itches.

So I sit here in my recliner, smacking my head. Repeatedly.

The video camera (because oh yeah, I have a video camera in my room for the weekend to watch me) is going to give off a very bizarre impression come Monday.

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Monday, October 10, 2016

Here's a story about a girl.

There are a million things I could say about the "Trump Tapes," but anything I could say about how disgusting it is has already been said a million times, usually by people much more eloquent than me. It's hard for me to get my words out clearly when I'm kind of blinded with pain and anger.

So instead, I'm gonna tell you a story. A story I haven't told to anyone before this weekend.

Every fall, my town hosts a weekend-long event downtown called the Mullet Festival (mullet as in the fish, not the haircut, just to be clear). I haven't been in years due to being at Campbell and then in New York, but when I was younger, we'd go pretty much every year.

On Saturday night of the festival, there was a series of performances by various bands, some local, some the town has gotten to come specifically for the weekend. It was usually a pretty crowded, fun time. And in this town, by the time we were pre-teens, my mom would kind of let us wander around the main area, as long as we knew when and where to meet her. You don't really have to worry about things going wrong in this town; it's kind of the stereotypical small town in that bad things rarely happen, and people tend to watch out for each other.

Well, one of these weekends, I was either 10 or 11 (I don't remember exactly), I was wandering through the crowd of people, when I ran into a group of four Marines. (My town is about 20 minutes from the largest Marine Corps base on the east coast, so plenty of Marines live in this town or on the outskirts and come to the festival to hang out.) I've always looked much older in age than I really am, so I didn't look like a pre-teen, and these Marines immediately latched on to me. Despite my limited experience with seeing people drinking alcohol, I could pretty much immediately tell they were drunk, so I knew I needed to get out of there.

But it was far too crowded for me to just run, and as I tried to maneuver my way through the crowd, they followed me.

"Baby, where are you going?"

"Pretty girl, come back."

"We just want to talk to you, beautiful."

They were right at my back, pretty much, shouting these things over the music and grabbing onto my shoulders and arms, attempting to wrap their arms around my chest, anything they could get their hands on. Luckily for me, it was crowded enough, they were drunk enough, and I was strong enough that they couldn't get a real grasp on me. I'm still not sure how I managed to get away when they started trying to pull me backwards, other than sheer force of will. I didn't know anything about sex, but even at that age, I knew that guys take advantage of girls, especially when they're in groups.

By some miracle, after they followed me all through the crowd, I spotted my sister, who is 4.5 years older than me right at the same time as these much older and more attractive girls grabbed the Marines' attention. I'm still not sure if they were just trying to look out for me and get them off of me, or if they were just girls who thought guys in uniform were super attractive, but I didn't care. I took the opportunity and bolted. I didn't tell my sister, or my mom, or anyone what happened, but I sure didn't leave their sides for the rest of the night.

For a long time, I just blew it off as "oh, drunk guys do stupid things when they're drunk," but as I got into high school and learned more about sex, sexuality, and guys, I realized just how wrong it was. I know it's nothing compared to the assault and rape that a lot of women have to survive, but it was still traumatizing enough to me to think about what could have happened. I know now that if there hadn't been a crowd of people around, there would have been no way I could have gotten away from them.

This is why what Donald Trump said matters. I don't care if you want to say it was "just words." It is a microcosm of the prevalent American culture in which men believe that they are entitled to women's time, attention, and bodies. These Marines, without knowing anything about me, including my age, believed that they had the right to force me to stay and talk to them, and do God knows what else that they wanted. They didn't take my instant response of leaving as soon as they came toward me as a sign I didn't want to talk to them; they saw it as a sign they needed to follow me until I gave them what they wanted.

When a man kisses, or gropes, or grabs, or follows a woman without her consent, he removes her autonomy. He takes away her right to make decisions about what she wants and with whom she wants to interact. He reverts back to previous centuries when a woman was nothing more than property for him to own, not an equal, beautiful image-bearer of God. He distorts the idea of God-given rights and removes the humanity from a person standing right in front of him.

And when a man boasts about doing those things to women, he perpetuates the culture to other men around him, particularly the younger men, that doing it is not only okay, it's a sign of masculinity and power. Women become conquests, games, trophies, as though he who wins the most wins the game of life. And it isn't until men boldly stand up and show others around them that women are meant to be more than that that this culture will change.

Donald Trump has immense influence right now. He has millions of people who are not only following his every move, but who are supporting him wholeheartedly. And when stories like this comes out, and his idea of an apology is to include an attack on someone else, he is telling millions of men and boys who are watching him that his actions are okay and something to model their own actions after. Not only that, he's reminding women and girls everywhere, especially the millions who have been raped, assaulted, or molested, that their wants and desires don't matter. To willingly perpetuate rape culture and the reality of toxic masculinity on the largest political stage in the world is not only hurtful to so many, it's dangerous. It's dangerous not just for this generation, but for the generations to come who will learn from us.

To Mr. Trump, I refuse to buy into your reality. I refuse to believe that it's normal or okay for men to talk the way that you do/did. (I know plenty of men, and athletes who practically live in locker rooms - none of them would talk like that.) I refuse to accept the idea that I am less than you because of my gender. I refuse to relinquish my dignity, needs, and desires, to those of men and boys who have been taught they have the right to have me whenever they want. I refuse to sit back and allow this culture to continue without saying something. And it's by sharing my story and writing this post that I hope I might offer one more story and example of why what you said really isn't "just words." We are more than just objects for the taking, Mr. Trump. I hope one day you will understand that, or at the very least, that your sons will.

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Saturday, October 8, 2016

I'll take the human ones any day.

Well, Hurricane Matthew has officially arrived. Surprisingly, the center of the state seems to have gotten it worse than we have down here on the coast, but it's still not exactly pleasant here. Downtown is getting beaten because it is right on sea level.

So I've been passing time with a lot of music, TV, and sports. There have been a couple good games that make me very happy.

First, the Campbell boys beat UNC Asheville, the conference leaders who were on a 3-0 conference streak, 2-1. UNCA came very close to tying the game on a penalty kick, but Matt, my little brother, made a gorgeous dive and saved it. The whole team was just on point. The offense was fierce as hell in the first half, and aside from the one goal, the defense was not letting UNCA get away with anything. It was beautiful. But hands down, the most amazing part of the game for me was Matt saving that PK. If you know anything about soccer, you know that it is very, very hard to block a PK. Besides that, he made several great stops on all of the other attempts that UNCA had to tie the game. I'm so proud of him. I call him Triple Time because he is just so good.

Then, today, the Wolfpack hosted Notre Dame. In a monsoon. Not joking. It was like a 100-yard game of slip and slide for 3 hours. So statistics were totally screwed for both teams, but the Wolfpack won out 10-3 after we blocked a punt and returned it for a touchdown. It was kind of funny, though, watching it on TV. You could see the guys just flying around. They'd fall and make splashes taller than they were. The balls were so hard for anyone to hold on to, even for our QB who had amazing stats coming into this game (he's from Phoenix, poor guy, this must be a shock to his system). But ahhh, then there's Matt Dayes. This dude must have the strongest thighs in the world. He's a running back and he can often get several extra yards even after he has two or three defenders hanging on to him trying to bring him down. He is easily my favorite Wolfpack offensive player. (Jack Tocho is my favorite defensive man, but that's for a whole different post.) Get this: Notre Dame had 113 yards of total offense for the game. Matt? Had 140. One guy had 27 more yards of offense than an entire team.  His goal is to get 1,000 yards rushing this season; he's already at 563 five games into a twelve-game season. I really really hope he doesn't get injured like he did last year; otherwise, he probably would have hit it last year.

These two boys are their own kind of hurricanes, and the only damage they cause is to their opponents. Yeah, I'll go with them. Mark, Luke, and John can come take care of the other one.

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Saturday, October 1, 2016

On friends who leave and the ones who stay.

How's this for weird? Go a month and a half without posting, and then have two posts in less than twelve hours. I'm an enigma.

I've been awake all night for numerous reasons, one of them being the unexplainable outrageous heartburn that will not leave me alone even when I'm laying in my recliner, and considering it's now early the next morning, let's just say that I've got a lot in my head.

For some bizarre reason, I've been thinking about the friends I've lost in the past couple of years. Or should I say "friends," because as Clayton says, friends who leave you were likely never real friends to begin with.

It's funny how when certain people are in your life, you can feel so certain that it's a good friendship, a solid friendship. You can feel confident that this is a person you can trust and that they will be in your life for a long time. You can believe 100% that you've found someone special, you can be so grateful and consider them and the friendship such blessings, and then boom.

You find out you're wrong.

So wrong.

So heartbreakingly wrong.

I can think of four people in just the past year and a half that this has happened with. I'm not gonna name names; that's not important. One of them, I know that I screwed up, but they promised me that they just needed space and we weren't done for good - nearly 8 months later, and I'm having a hard time still believing that.

The other three, though? Not a clue. No fight. No explanation. I just woke up one day and they...weren't there anymore. Each time, I've gone through the same process of wondering what I did to make it happen, what is so wrong with me that I made them leave, before remembering the beautiful truth that their decision to hurt me and leave without a word is on them, not me.  With the last person, I'm still working through that process. It's really recent.

I am a sensitive person. I feel things very intensely. I am full of second chances. I have a very hard time letting go, even when the other person already has. I know all of these things about myself, as well as the trouble these characteristics have gotten me into. But you know what? I'm not sorry for any of them. They make me the friend that I am to so many people who love and appreciate me just as I am.

The problem is, though, it's that last trait I listed that leads me to this blog post. It's been seventeen months, eleven months, and nearly eight months, (and six weeks,) and these people are still in my head. Instead of focusing on the friends that are here and have shown me so much love and support, my mind gets caught up in thinking about these people who didn't want to stick around. If there's anything I've learned in the past few years, really since I met my soccer boys, it's that I am worth more than needing to beg someone to stay and be my friend. I have found my dignity. And so it's not that I want to go and beg these people to come back so much as it is that I just want to know what happened. That's what drives me nuts. The question-filled silence echoes in my head like a monster waiting to attack as soon as my world quiets down.

But you know how I also said that I am full of second chances? What does it say about my view of my own dignity to know that if any one of these people were to come back, explain what happened, and ask for a second chance, I would welcome them back with open arms? I can tell you that now, even though the chances of any of them doing so are slim. I hate losing people, and memories, and I think it's because I hold on to the memories of when things were good with me and these four specific people that I want to get back to that. When things were good, they were really good, and I naively never expected to be smacked in the face with just how flawed they (and people in general) are.

I know it's possible, though. I know that it's possible to restore friendships that seem hopelessly lost. I know that because that happened this year, too. Things between me and another friend fell apart in an incredibly painful fashion, and when we stopped speaking, I really thought that was the end. A good while later, however, I did what I pretty much always do and reached out because I missed them and wanted to see if the bridge was completely burned...and they called me back. And we talked. And we came to a new understanding in our friendship. Now, several months after that, we both agree that while the three months that we weren't speaking were something neither of us would choose to relive, it made our friendship stronger, and reminded us of why we became friends in the first place. Yes, my guard is up more than usual. No, I haven't completely forgotten everything that happened. But at the end of the day, when we talk, I can feel the bond that we have, the bond that withstood the pain and fights and frustration, the bond we always said no one could break. And I'm so thankful to have my friend back, even if it is a new and slightly different chapter.

So yes, I know it's possible for any or all of those four people to come back into my life, but as I've gotten older I've learned the dangers of getting my hopes up when so little in this life is actually in my control. And other people's thoughts and actions are about as far out of my control as something can get.

So in the meantime, I hurt.

And I grieve.

And I question how long I'm going to keep grieving and whether or not I should still be grieving.

But I also remind myself of all the incredible friends I do have in my life. The ones who have prayed for and with me as I have faced health scares and surgeries. The ones who pick up the phone when I need them, even if it's just because I need to hear someone say they love me. The ones who take time out of their day to make me laugh when they know I need it, or to listen to me vent and cry when there's nothing else they can do. The ones who lift me up with their words of love, encouragement, and grace. The ones who are still here, who see me with all my flaws and know that I'm loving them the very best I know how.

But most importantly, I remember the love that I carry with me every second of every day that cannot be replaced - the love of my Father. The God who made me as I am on purpose and for a purpose. The One who sees me as nothing less than His princess, a masterpiece made in His image, clean, righteous, and beloved. The God whom I don't have to impress. The Father who will never love me more or less, no matter what. The One in whom I find rest from the heartache. The Father who promises that He works all things for my good. The God who promises that in Him, and in a relationship with Him, He makes me enough, no matter what anyone else says.

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