Tuesday, June 6, 2017

TUB

For most students and teachers, summer beings around this time. Summer began at the end of April for me––yeah, pretty early. But I was glad to get away from the school work for a while and focus on working to save up for next summer and also get some writing and reading done, finally. However, I've hit a rough patch, sorta. I know what I want to write, but I can't seem to write it right. So I decided to write a blog post instead.

I thought I might talk about TUB––The Ultimate Betrayal, a term I've borrowed from The Romantics by Leah Konen. In that story, TUB was Gael's girlfriend Anika and his best friend Mason hooking up while Anika was still with Gael. I can't tell you how many times I've heard such betrayals from fellow classmates and friends. You'd think that in real life maybe it wasn't so dramatic; maybe someone would cheat, but it would be with a complete stranger.

Wrong.

It seems that almost 9 times out of 10, it always happens with one of your friends. And that double sucks, because weren't you supposed to trust your friend, too? It a 2-in-1 betrayal, which I guess is why it's called TUB and not just B.
Although this is a great betrayal for most, if that ever happened to me, I would be a crossroads on what is considered TUB in my life. Can anything ever beat my father's betrayal (MFB)? I know I would be heartbroken if I ever experienced TUB, but somehow I find it hard to believe that TUB would be TUB for me personally.

It wouldn't make the betrayal hurt any less, though. Just because you've been shot, doesn't necessarily make you immune to the little pricks of a needle––those pricks still draw blood. And for those of you who have experienced such trauma (maybe you've actually been shot), remember that. Just because you lived through a bullet wound, doesn't mean you can't flinch away from a pinch or punch or whatever. It doesn't make you invisible. You're still human, and you're still breakable.

I'm not saying this to make you feel bad, or make myself feel bad. I'm saying this because sometimes I believe that I shouldn't be so sensitive after everything; I should be tougher, stronger. I shouldn't be afraid, because nothing could possibly hurt me as April 24, 2011.

But maybe that's the point.

I'm not supposed to feel that level of pain ever again, but that doesn't mean I'm never going to feel pain.

I'm not immune.

None of us are.

If you wanna cry over a failed test even though you've lost everything in the past, then freaking cry. Because the worst of the worst do not invalidate the pain of just the worst. (Does that even make sense?)

The Ultimate Betrayal..
I think everyone has a different idea of what theirs is. For Gael, it was his best friend and girlfriend hooking up. For me, it was April 24, 2011. For you, it might be your mother promising to stop drinking and then not. It might be your friend promising to be there for you, but then they're not.
One way or the other, betrayal results in abandonment of some sort; we are left to face a hollow hole of darkness alone.
And at that point, the only person that can get you out is you. You can choose when you want to get out. Take your time. But don't stay there forever, because there are people that need you. People that miss you. People that will not betray you. People that will love you. But you have to choose. No one is magically born strong. 
It's a choice.

Love,

Alena





Sunday, May 14, 2017

The First Day of Spring

I think I avoided writing a post in April. But I'm here now, writing about why.
The first day of Spring. The first day that T.S. Elliot marked as the day of horrid revelations: spring is not so beautiful. In fact, Winter is favorable, for the snow covers the death that killed Spring's once blooming joy.
Spring is the season I lost my family. It's the season I went to the hospital. It's also the season of my graduation. It's the season when, usually, I fall apart.
Not this time.

This time, I tripped and stumbled, but I did not let myself fall. Because I'm tired of that pain dominating how my life will feel during a certain season––we should never let pain have any power over us. Because in the end, we are stronger than pain ever was or ever will be.

I understand why some people are afraid to be alone; they're afraid to be alone with the thoughts and memories that haunt them. The thing is, those thoughts help us process the pain, our thoughts trigger the healing process of our wounds, and so if we never let ourselves think those thought or feel that pain, we will never start healing.

I try to remind myself of that whenever that immense weight crushes my rib cage to get to my heart and I think I might die. I try to remind myself of the impermanence of life's happenings, but in the moment sometimes all you can feel is what's in that moment and it seems like it will last forever.

People ask what it's like to love. What is real love? How do you know? And I tell them that you know it's real when you love them and you don't expect them to love you back but goddammit you love them anyway and would help them be with someone else it if made them happy. Real love is so silent it's deafening. Real love is a mother blaming herself as her child curses and beats against her while  she can't help but wonder what she did wrong because she's afraid that this child is unhappy because of her, and is hurting because of her. No, this is not the love where, as you may put it, people "stomp all over you." This love is when you do whatever it is you can to let that person know they are loved, even if they won't love you back. That does not mean you do not leave him when he hits you and slaps you around like you're nothing. This means that you leave him because it's what's better for him, and it's what's better for you. Yes, this love also applies to yourself. Because while you love others in this unconditional way, you must also love yourself. Too often, we forget that we are not God, we are not Jesus, we are not immortal. We forget that we're supposed to care for ourselves too.

You know that voice that tells you you are not good enough? Or the one that tells you that all this pain will never go away? Imagine that voice is coming from this little blue blob, and you tell that blue blob to shut the hell up, then kick it off your ankles. That creature is weighing you down and you don't need it in your life. And when it tries to come back, just keep walking. Keep going.

I finished my first year of college a couple of weeks ago, so I've been on summer break for a couple of weeks now.  I've been working to save up for a study abroad trip next summer, and I've also been reading and writing. As I do this, I realize that life doesn't give you breaks. Summer "break" isn't really a break, but that's not a bad thing. It's a break from school, not life. We're in a constant battle with ourselves, our environment, our relationships––everything. But that doesn't mean it all has to be bad. We live with so many beautiful, wonderful things. Friendships. Graduations. Weddings. Twenty-first birthdays. Baby showers. A new job. College acceptances. A trip to a new place. Bloomed flowers. A day of sun. A good night's sleep. A new season.

Spring is the season I've felt the most pain. But that cycle will fade. And I'm not alone, I never was. Neither are you.

Sincerely,

Alena

Friday, March 3, 2017

March 2nd & Layers of a Person

Yesterday was March 2nd. The date of Chris Martin's, the leader sing of my favorite band (Coldplay), birthday. Also the date of my dead brother's birthday.

Spring, a time of blooming life gushing out from the quenched roots in the soil, is a time of mourning clouds for me, like T.S. Elliot's poem "Wasteland." (If you haven't read it, I highly recommend it). You see, spring is the time that the winter snow melts, revealing the death and brokenness that lied underneath all that time; the smell of death becomes prominent in the rising warmth.
Spring. The season of their birthdays and death day, how ironic. March 2nd is the first date of this series, and it's usually the one with the meanest swing.

But something was different this year.

I met with an old pastor of mine who knew me growing up. I also met with my counselor (Rae). She's a RAE of sunshine (lame, I know, but my best friend thought it was funny). To say the least, they changed the inevitable downhill mood that March 2nd usually goes down for me. I usually end up tumbling down that hill until I hit the cushion of mud to top off the night––the grand finale to the pleasantries of March 2nd.

Anyway, they told me a few things that I think that every girl should hear (guys, too, but in relative social stereotypes, most likely applicable to women).
Imagine a cake. Any kind of cake––chocolate, ice-cream, vanilla, drizzling raspberry chocolate––whatever you feel like, but it has to have frosting and four layers. I'll explain in a minute why this matters.

The frosting represents the outside layer of people, particularly of a romantic interest. The actual layers of the cake represent the deep, sincere core of who that person is. Here's a picture to give you better idea of what I'm talking about:


You see, that outside layer is what blinds us sometimes. Even personality. We may be blinded so easily, thinking that "Personality" shows the core of that person. "WOW! We both like the same type of ice cream? Obviously it's meant be." I'm not even going to say that's an exaggeration, because I've definitely heard that more than on one occasion.

Now, even if you do get into the core, people, especially women, make the excuse that lack of good character is attributed to lack of maturity. However, a person's character almost never changes; maturity does. The way I see it, maturity is simply development of already existing characteristics. A lot of people have this idea that if their partner is acting childish, it's due to the fact they haven't matured yet and they will change. They just need to grow up a little. But what if this person is just childish? Love really does blind us, and for this reason, I try to be more objective about someone I've just met. I'll just tell the truth: I don't trust myself when it comes to love, only because I've been a victim to disillusionment. I could say it all started with my father, but to tell the truth, I think that caution has always resided in a dwelling within me. It just took years of tragic betrayal to draw it out as a conscious being actively living in my mind.

Anyway, if you really want to know about character, look at how the person treats their family, friends, elders, etc. What are the consistent characteristic that unfolds in their relationships? Are they patient? Kind? Conceited? Light-hearted? Narcissistic?
Faith does refer to religion. This is controversial, but really, you need to ask, "Does this person respect my beliefs? Are they open? Are they willing to listen?"
Values refers to culture; do they value structure, family, academics, etc.

These layers are the core of a person. Unconsciously, I have evaluated these layers of my friends and family. I have stuck with them because, they are, at the core, beautiful beautiful people. When I think about it, I realize I have many friends, but none of those relationships are surface-layer relationships. I deeply value each one, and can sincerely say that they are the parts of my heart that beat with light. Any goodness and resilience that I may possess comes from these people, and for that I owe them the world.

You owe it to yourself to have the best. Too often, we are told to not have expectations because we will end up alone, but that's not true. The thing is, there's a balance. You have to take the risk–– calculated risks. Basically, is this person worth the risk? Listen to your heart, but also your mind. They are a working unit that functions to make decisions that will bring you happiness.

Yesterday was March 2nd. The date of Chris Martin's birthday. Also the date of my dead brother's birthday.

But this spring, the roses may finally sprout from the soil of heartbreak.



Alena



Monday, February 13, 2017

"What's the Point?" Question answered, possibly.

It was only one week ago.
I don't want to remember it, because every time I recount the exact order of events, the flashbacks come, and I cannot grasp reality. I have to count . . . move my fingers, and breathe. It's a lot harder than you might think. I don't think I can handle giving another police statement.

People kept telling me it wasn't my fault, but I chose to go outside that night, didn't I?
The crappy thing is I predicted the whole thing. I wrote about it happening to me in my novel––I predicted every single feeling I would feel if it ever happened, every sensation, every anxiety, every scar it inflicted on my mind. Luckily, I don't think the wounds on my body will scar. The bruises are passing their ugly yellowing phase, and the cuts from the glass are fainting to pink.

I predicted the first trauma, too. It wasn't exact, of course. But I remember having dreams of their deaths.
The most prominent one in my memory is when one of my brother's got shot in the street, and I cried next to his bleeding shoulder as I called out for help and my dad had a gun in his hand, then shot himself. It didn't exactly happen this way, but it doesn't change what really matters: they're both dead.
I cannot recall ever dreaming of my mother's death, which I take some comfort in, but I don't get my hopes up. Not anymore.

I know this is a dark post, and maybe you don't want to read anymore because you don't want to be sad, but sometimes. . . I think we need to feel the gut-wrenching pain in order to feel love again. I repressed the first trauma the moment I heard the news; I went to school right away, wanting to forget that three of the five bedrooms were now empty, only full of echoes and the dust of their lives. I tried to do the same thing again, but my friends and family, without question, grasped onto my arms and are pulling me out of the black hole. If anything good came out of this, it's the reminder that I have so many people in my life willing to hold onto me so I do not fall.
But that doesn't stop me from questioning why bad things keep happening. I'm trying to be a good person. I'm trying. But I must not be doing such a great job, because shitty things just keep happening. So what's the point of being good when it's so damn difficult and you get nothing out of it?

I still feel safer with the hat on, so the pain feels more hidden. To the world, maybe I'm just having a bad hair day. I've never liked asking people for help, even if I know they'd do it in a heartbeat. Asking for help always makes me feel weak and vulnerable, like I am incapable of the simple task of taking care of myself. I hate the fact that I cannot want to walk out alone at dark anymore because fear envelops my mind and chokes my senses, tricking me into thinking that I'm in constant danger when it's dark.

I don't want pity, either. Someone once told me that pity can be people's way of showing that they care, but pity just makes me feel weak all over again. Like I'm a victim; like I'm some helpless little kitten that got beat and tossed onto a wet street. But I guess that's just my pride speaking.

I thought that one trauma was enough for a lifetime, and that nothing as bad as that could ever happen to me again; I'd already served my time of suffering and I was onto the healing. This wasn't as bad as that loss, I guess, but still, it all feels like it's happening again. It's the same process, only I'm nineteen––six years older, and I didn't lose anyone, thank god. Although I may have lost a part of myself. I've definitely lost chunks of hope that I clung onto before with the expectations that life was finally a roller coaster that could only go up. Well, I'm sorry, but Augustus Waters was wrong. Life is a roller coaster, alright, but it goes up down around side to side and flings you wherever it wants.

We cannot control what happens to us, but we can control what it does to us.
I really considered giving up for a brief moment. I considered just quitting. Quitting school, quitting writing, music, art––everything. I would just sit and breathe, and nothing would ever happen then. But then my best friends would bother me (in a good way). They'd talk to me without expecting a reply back. They'd offer to walk with me. One even said they'd take a plane right over if I really needed that. My best best friend's father came to the hospital for me when my mom couldn't right away. They let me sob into their shoulders as the pain struck me over and over again. Sometimes I still cannot believe that such good can exist in a world that caused the pain in the first place. I guess that's why I don't trust goodness until it proves itself to me. I don't trust that people will not run away until they prove that they will always be in my life, and I think it's times like these that remind anyone that this love exists. It's still alive, and it's powerful.
That's the point. That's the reason why we should choose to be good; to love.

"You're alive," they say. Physically, this is true. I am alive. But I have to live––that's an action. There's a difference between the act of living and being alive.

It's only been a week. It feels like a lifetime. But if there's anything you're going to get from this depressing confession of the chaos warping my mind, get this: love never destroys you, it heals you from the darkness that tries to poison us.  

Sincerely,

Alena






Friday, January 27, 2017

Contemplations at the Edge of Hell

I cannot say how difficult it is to accept that sometimes life is a steady line, especially after you've grown so used to the constant turbulence of raging seas.
I feel as if my memories of them are slipping, like that hazy moment right before you're about to pass out from the liquor running through your blood. It feels like the only thing I can remember is that they're dead.
I guess that's a habit of ours, isn't it? We recall the moments in which the people we once loved slipped a knife into your back, slicing your heart. I know, brutal image, but it sure as hell feels just like that. Sometimes people even have the nerve to take the heart you offer in your hands and crush it as they close it in their fists.

The world works in a funny way. Sometimes these tribulations come in a war-like manner––bombs falling out from the sky and polluting clouds grey, loss after loss crippling you until nothing seems to matter anymore. Other times––
nothing.

A simple routine with friends and family, school or work with slight nuances. Perhaps a brief existential crisis. No matter what, a majority of us are always looking for something that makes us feel. . .
complete.

So what do you want in your life? Or, more importantly...

Who do you want to be?

Usually, we know who we don't wanna be, as Gavin DeGraw (bless his soul for the song "I Don't Wanna Be") so relevantly expresses. We don't want to be our mom, our dad, our brother, our sister, that one kid you always see pick his/her nose when they think no one's looking. We're always comparing ourselves to others. You want to be your friend that's better in school than you, the one that can talk to new people with ease analogous to spreading soft butter on toasted bread, while you stand there trying to converse, which ends up feeling like you're forcing a slice of refrigerated butter to flatten on the bread––you just end up with an awkward clump of bread and butter. We always want to be someone else, don't we? But why can't we just be a better version of ourselves, instead of coveting what others have?

It's about the moment you question who you want to be and who you need to be, who you want and who you need. How do you figure it all out?

Maybe the habit to compare yourself to others is so ingrained into your minds that you forget the possibility that you can be someone you like and still be you.
The concept can apply to the way you find friendships and relationships. Ask yourself this: why did it end? When you get to the source of why it didn't work, then you can ask yourself "so what do I need?" Because a friendship, or more commonly, a relationship will end for reasons which we often choose not to linger upon because we want to simply move on with our lives, but that becomes a problem when you try to begin another relationship. Sometimes we find ourselves repeated the same mistakes because we fall for the same sort of person that it didn't work out with before (I know that was a confusing sentence, but I'm just trying to make sense of this as much as you are).

Sometimes beginnings aren't so simple because you don't even know where the end ends. Let's face it, we cannot pretend that our adversities haven't distorted and deflated our once buoyant oblivion,  but for all of you who're stuck at a crossroad, I want to tell you something that may go against what others have said: look back.
Just look.
Don't linger. Don't despair.
Learn.

Learn from the heartbreak––whether self-inflicted or by the hand of those we trusted, or even a stranger on the street––that tore at your innocence, stripping you of your shreds of hope, because if you do not look back, you won't realize that one path is really just a circle that brings you right back to the start.

Human beings, even at the edge of hell, possess a resilience that can climb them out of the deepest abyss. Yes, we are only human, but we are also humans. We can love and gather in laughter that flutters and kisses the late summer night stars and moon and the universe, envious that such joy can exist in animate beings.

The beauty of being human is, despite the messy wounds that scar our hearts––together, magic dances and sings and fights against the guns and war and loss that try to break us apart.
"We may not have it together, but together we have it all."

Sincerely,

Alena

Sunday, January 1, 2017

New Year, New You, Eh?

Yeah yeah yeah, we get it. It's a new year. But are you really going to change? If you are, I suggest you try not to make your goals on New Year's because, well, we all know how it usually goes.

"This year, I'm focusing on school and getting my shit together. THIS IS MY YEAR!"
"I'm gonna work out every day!"
"PUMPED OKAY LET'S DO THIS!"

*Focuses on school and does well on the first test*
"Man, I'm killing it. I deserve a break." *Goes out with friends and flunks the next test*
*Meets cute guy or girl and settles for a lower GPA*
*Working out every day turns into working out once a week*
*Relationship ends*
*Cries for a few weeks, maybe months*
*Starts working out again*
*Holidays cheer!*

*New Year's Eve Again*
"Okay, now's my chance to focus on myself again. THIS IS MY YEAR! YEAH!"

And then the cycle starts all over again. Now, this is the pretty cynical way to look at it, I know. But, it's also one of the ways you can almost guarantee failure: setting an unrealistic goal for yourself.
We're not superhumans. We're not machines, and hell, even machines don't always work.
I'm not saying you can't earn the big bucks if you really push for it. I'm just saying that sometimes we set ourselves up for disappointment and we lose motivation because the dream seems unattainable. It's tantalizing. Sometimes, to get to the ultimate dream, we have to walk up to it step-by-step, and although you may turn a corner only to find more stairs, short of breath and thighs throbbing, if you really really want it, you have to go up the steps. You can't fly over them (and for the sake of the metaphor, there's no elevator).

For example, if you wanna get fit or something and you don't really work out, start out with a reasonable goal like working out 3 times a week, then make your way up to 5-7, and maybe you'll actually start enjoying it. It takes time to form a habit, so patience is also key. You're never going to see the results after one day. I think that's the problem, especially in our technology-driven society; answers are so instantaneous we're used to getting what we want right away. Google search just about anything, and you'll get it. No one bothers taking too much of their time really looking, but the thing is, to find something worthwhile, you need to take your time, and to take that time, you need patience.
I wonder if there's been a study about how technology has affected people's patience. If there is, my guess is that patience has decreased over the decades.

The power went out in three neighborhood in my area, so I spent my New Year's Eve without any electricity, which I didn't mind because I love candles and it kind of gave me a chance to reflect without any distractions, without anyone else's tweets or instagram posts affecting my decisions. Just me. That's a little scary. When are we ever really alone anymore? Like, really alone. No social media to distract our loneliness, no TV––just you, left to your own thoughts. Some of us might go a little crazy, but maybe you'd be forced to deal with issues you've been avoiding.

That's all part of the healing, you know, the hurting. Wounds hurt before they heal. The pain in your heart is the same way, but what complicates that is that our mind can numb yourself from feeling the pain, but it doesn't go away; the pain stays there, frozen in time, never healing until you unfreeze. If that makes any sense.

Beautiful things do happen, but nothing worth fighting for comes easy.

Just food for thought, I guess.

Happy 2017,

Alena

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Christmas Eve and Other Drugs

The title has no significant meaning, I just added the "Other Drugs" to catch your attention. I hope you don't feel too betrayed right now.

What I really wanted to talk about is how people change, sometimes without you even realizing it until you do. People especially change when you only see them once or twice a year for the holidays, and especially ESPECIALLY little kids. Seriously, they go from three to four and they can suddenly speak comprehensible sentences, their mouths moving at 10 mph.

From our one foot tall to two feet, to three, to four, to most of us, five, maybe six feet. With every inch, every new word, every mistake, we grow. Soon enough, even when we stop physically growing, our minds keep going, then after awhile, the mistakes we've made fill up a whole dumpster. But we learn. We grow.
Some of us learn that drinking and partying isn't as glamorous as it is on TV with that morning hangover, an ache pounding so hard against your skull you think it might split open. Some of us don't and use the physical ache as a distraction of the ache in our hearts that cannot be surgically removed. Some of us grow and learn more about the world only to feel disillusioned––lost in the contradictions society.

Love everyone, but do not trust the people sleeping on the sidewalks dressed in tawdry clothing because for all you know, they just flushed a hundred dollars down the toilet for their fix of heroin. Open your heart, but do not become a needy burden. Be independent, but do not stick to your narrow-mindedness.
How can anyone grow to be themselves if, no matter who you are, you're judged? There's just no winning here.

It's that time of year people start evaluating who they are. Let's be honest, none of us are 100% satisfied. If you are, you're either an egocentric prick lying to yourself or you're just really damn lucky. Change is good, sometimes needed, but there's a difference between a want and a need, between greed and growth. You want to be rich, but you only need enough money to live comfortably. You want that dress because it's a jaw-dropping, sexy piece of fabric, but you need a new pair of jeans. You want that joint or sip of alcohol to take the edge off a rough day, but you need to change because it's been affecting your grades, your work performance, your relationships, or all of the above. You know, it's okay to want things, but sometimes we need to make sure the things we want are things that are good for us.

"We accept the love we think we deserve." A lot of you may know this saying from The Perks of Being A Wallflower. What a sad reality.
Everyone deserves love, so don't forget that no matter what mistakes you've made growing up, at least you grew, and just because you made those mistakes does not mean you deserve less. Drop the cigarette. Drain the bottle. You do not deserve the "love" that drugs give you.

You deserve the heart-warming love that can only come from another beating heart.

Merry Christmas,

Alena 

Friday, December 16, 2016

Define Home.

To most people, home consists of family, a house that you regularly go back to for the holidays, usually personalized with a scent that only other people can smell because you've grown so used to it. But you know you've been away from home for too long when you notice the smell of your home once you step through the door. Warm, baked cinnamon apple candles and a hint of a crackling fire––I started identifying this scent as home in middle school, when my friends would come over and gush over how my home always smelled like my mom constantly kept a pie in the oven.

Now it's the holidays, and people are going home, but what is home, really? Is it where your family is, where you grew up, where that familiar scent lingers, or where you spend the majority of your time? For college students living in dormitories, school becomes a "second home," but why?

I've traveled and moved a lot, so sometimes I struggle to answer the question "Are you going home for Christmas?" I don't know how to answer this question because I don't really know where home is anymore. It's not because I have nowhere to go, nothing like that––I just feel like so many places in my life could qualify as a home.

In 8th grade, my mom moved to Southern California for her job, and because I didn't want to move in the middle of the year, my best friend's family (I'll call her Zia) offered their home to me. At the time, I struggled with some losses, but this family changed my life. They welcomed me into their family. Their home smells like apple cinnamon candles, too, with a hint of dog. I still go to their house every Thanksgiving, and let me tell you, my stomach always rejoices from their divine cooking. Anyway, I guess this is home because even when Zia and I got into fights, we got through it; even though I moved away eventually, I could always go back.

When I was in 9th grade, a freshman in high school, I studied abroad for a year in France. I didn't go back to the USA for the holidays, but the Pfisters included me in their secret Santa gift exchange. I was surprised that 20-year-old Matthieu knew what mascara even was when I opened my gift.
I remember feeling alone. I remember staying in my room a lot for a while, but I also remember the times Christel or Judith would knock on my door and invite me to cook or go out with them. I remember the surprise birthday party that Judith threw for me with all my friends from school, and I think it's the sweetest thing anyone's every done for me, and if she's reading this–-thank you, again.
I cried in my room, alone, cold, in the middle of winter. Christel came into my room and hugged me and treated me as her own daughter; she became a second mom, and Vincent a second father. Sorry, I'm getting sappy here. Let's move onto the next.

I starting attending Villanova Preparatory School in Ojai, CA, a boarding/day school, my sophomore year of high school. I moved in the summer of 2012, and I can't say that I could've predicted all the friendships I would make there. The first friend I would meet there was Krisi. A few students were giving me a tour of the school on orientation day, and Krisi was one of them, and we instantly clicked––talked for hours. Now, she's still one of my best friends; we just talked on the phone yesterday, actually, even though we go to colleges in different states. Then there was Robert, a boy from Congo who could sort of speak English, but with a heavy accent that I had to really listen to understand. (He can speak perfect English now though––in fact, I can't remember the exact moment that Robert started speaking so well, it just kind of happened, but let's just say he was good enough to get into MIT). And let's not forget Denny. I'll be honest, there were times were Denny annoyed the heck out of me, like that pesty brother that always snoops into your business when you just want to be alone, but he's also one of the most loyal friends a person could have. If you say you need to talk, he'll reply as soon as possible. Robert, Denny, and I became family. We are family; our relationship is the typical, immature, brother-sister relationship. I swear to god we were really blood-related in another life. Later, I would meet Noriko and Paola, my sisters from around the world. Anyway, what was my point? Oh, yeah. Villanova became my home, too. I still talk to some of my teachers.

Now I'm in college. I've made new friends that will become family, too. So, I guess home is wherever your family is, which could be anywhere. A lot of people associate home with a place, but really, to quote a cliché, home is where the heart is.
So if you're missing "home," as in the place you grew up, I hope you realize that wherever you are, you do have a home if you have people that mean something to you. It's funny how we think a certain place will make us happy, but really, it's the people that make the experience worthwhile. I hated California, but I don't ever regret staying there because, I mean, how could I ever live without my family? I can't bring myself to regret the decision to stay at Villanova. I can't bring myself to regret the decision to study abroad in France, even though it was a challenge. I can't regret any of it, because I always have a home.

I hope you have a home, too. I hope you always have a home. If you don't, I hope you find one. I hope you make one, because you can, you always can. You just have to open up your heart to people, which, yeah, I know that's hard. I know people suck, trust me. But some people don't suck. Some people are actually pretty cool. Those people change your life.

If you're unsure about where your home really is, then close your eyes and breathe.
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What do you see?
What do you smell?
What do you hear?
Now, if you feel the warmth build up in your chest and the excitement flutter your lips upward as this image appears in your mind, this is your home you can always go back to. So go back to it, because home misses you, too.
Go home for the holidays, wherever your heart tells you that is, because you don't want to miss these moments alone.

Happy holidays,

Alena


Sunday, November 27, 2016

Thank you, love.

On Thursday the 24th of November, in the United States at least, families gathered together at a dinner table and feasted until they were stuffed like a turkey. Some families bought a bucket of fried chicken, but close enough. Some families weren't together. Some people didn't have a family to eat with or even something to eat. 

Thanksgiving is about giving thanks for what you have, right? So why did they start extending Black Friday into Thanksgiving day? Why do we even have two contradictory concepts right next to each other on the calendar? Talk about irony. I'm not saying that you should feel like a greedy bastard if you go Black Friday shopping right after you said you were thankful for what you have, but that's kind of what it looks like, doesn't it? But I like Black Friday, don't get me wrong. I spent at fifty dollars at Barnes and Nobles and thirteen at Bath & Body works (originally a forty dollar value!) and that felt great. I love stuff. Stuff stuff stuff stuff!

The thing is, sometimes people get a little obsessed with having stuff they want. Think about it, even if we have a stable income, home to sleep in, food to eat, friends and family to bug us and have fun with us, we always want more. When will it end? When will we finally stop wanting more? Honestly, I feel like the cycle will never end. I admit, sometimes I think, "If only I was rich, then I would be satisfied and never ask for anything more." But that's not true, is it? Our stomachs work the same way. We eat, and then a few hours later, we're hungry again. 

I guess the point I'm trying to get across is that you don't have to worry about what you don't have because you're never going to be fully satisfied; you're never going to have it all. So you should relish in what you have, especially if you have love. Loving family, love friends, loving wife or husband or girlfriend or boyfriend, because you cannot measure love. Love is priceless. I know it sounds totally cheesy and cliché, but fuck it. If saying that love is priceless and the most valuable part of life is cliché than that's a wonderful cliché because that means many people think the same way. Love is not original, it is universal––that's the way it should be. 

So I'm thankful for the existence of love. Without it, I would not have this family with a beautiful home, warm fire, hot tea, home cooked turkey, and pumpkin pie; although we are not blood-related, I've learned that love is thicker than blood by far. Even people related to you by blood may not love you or you don't love them––yeah that sucks, but it's reality. But how do you think a husband and wife become family? Love binds people together. Be thankful for that. And don't forget it. 

Sincerely,

Alena


P.S. I've managed to write eight more pages of my book over this Thanksgiving break. I'm feeling pretty accomplished because I haven't made much progress in a while. Hopefully I'll be done by next year. Hopefully. Emphasis on the hopefully. Wish me luck. 

Monday, November 7, 2016

Waiting for the Great Perhaps.

Sometimes you just have to wait.
But don't waste your time while you wait.

While you wait for whatever you're waiting for, go out and live. I know everyone says "Just live," and it's not as easy as it sounds, believe me, I know. But you have to do it anyway because that's the only way you'll be able to get through the wait.

The time will tauntingly tick away if you just lay there until the happy holidays arrive, until your friend comes over to hang out, until the girl or boy texts you back––life is too fucking short to just wait for good things to happen. You have to seek out happiness because it's not going to just fall into your lap from the sky. That's not how life works. That line from Looking For Alaska by John Green––"I go to seek a Great Perhaps––" says it all. GO to SEEK––these are active verbs, which means YOU must be actively doing things in order to find GREATNESS. YOU have to make things happen, you can't WAIT for life to make things happen for you.

Now, I'm saying all of this because I've noticed that people, especially now with the holiday season upon us, say "I can't wait until _______ !" You don't have to wait. You can enjoy the present presents, not the future presents, because you can enjoy the future presents in the future; you can only enjoy the present while it is present.
I'll let you think about that for a second.
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What can you do in thirty minutes? In an hour? Probably an episode of a TV show on Netflix, right? Sure, I guess, but is that really going to get you any closer to your "Great Perhaps" ? Anyway, let's make a little list. (Most of these are things I would do, but maybe some of them are the same as yours).

- Workout
- Read a chapter or so of a book you've been meaning to read for months (or years).
- Try to climb a tree
- Download some music on your phone
- Clean your room
- Decorate a part of your room
- Write
- Draw/Paint
- Call a friend and catch up with them
- Go for a walk and see where you end up
- Research random information
- Watch a Ted Talk (I personally find these as a source of learning so it's not technically "junk" TV)
- Text your friends and hang out
- Hike (Off-trail for you daring people. Just don't get lost.)
- Talk to someone new
- Shop
- write a song and then never finish it
- Go to a music shop and try to play all of the instruments
- Write a bucket list
- Go to a sports game
- Play an easy-going game of soccer or baseball or whatever with friends but get fired up on the competition
- Go to the humane society and gawk at how cute the dogs are
- Take the personality on 16personalities.com because it will change your outlook on yourself (might need to take it a couple of times for accuracy)

L I V E while you W A I T.

If you guys want, you can comment below and suggest something for the list. I'm sure everyone needs some more ideas besides mine because I have a rather odd idea of fun. I made this post because waiting doesn't have to be boring. It doesn't have to feel like waiting at all. And there are things in this life worth living for, you just have to find them. You can't wait around for them.
Maybe there is such a thing as fate and destiny, maybe not, but why wait around to find out when you can literally just go out and find the thing you were looking for in the same amount of time?

Seek a Great Perhaps and it will seek you in return.


Love,

Alena