Saturday, May 31, 2008

Holding Back Dreams - Part III

My big baby brother is graduating from Punahou on Saturday and of course, the question of the moment is: "Where are you going for college?"

His dream? New York University

That's where I wanted to go. And that's where my littlest brother (now 16) wants to go.

I didn't go. I went to Mount Holyoke College and wasn't even allowed the opportunity to apply to NYU. In the end, MHC was fine and I met beautiful people that made the whole experience worth it.

But there has been a lot of drama within the family lately. Talks of unhappiness. Of suicide. I've always said my family was disfunctional. It's not empty of love. We all (most of us) love each other. But maybe with the exception of one person, who of course has her share of downs, there is not one of us who is happy.

Not my mom, dad, stepdad, grandparents, brothers. Not me.

And now it looks like my brother may not be going to NYU. The final decision has not been made -- but the outlook is grim. And why will he not be able to go?

Because of one person standing in the way.

And I watch as another person's dreams bite the dust.

/me.

Holding Back Dreams - Part II

Did I ever tell you what my dreams were?

I wanted to be an artist. Of any kind. I wanted to draw. To create. To design. To do something that wasn't along the lines of a young urban professional. That was my first and foremost dream.

When I was young, I was a state sponsored Honolulu Academy of Arts student. I went to weekly art classes, free of charge. I guess my teachers saw something special in me in terms of creativity. I was working toward my dreams.

What happened?

One day, I drew something of which I was really proud. The average artist is rarely satisfied with their own work -- so to say that I was proud of it is to say quite a bit. I showed it to a particular member of my family.

And they said it sucked. They asked me why I was even drawing. It would never amount to anything. It wouldn't pay my bills.

That day, I threw away every piece of art I had ever done. I put away my crayons, pencils, and cray-paas. And I have never done a serious piece of work since then. Doodles don't count.

And I moved on.

I picked up music. I was a percussionist in band. And at my peak, I was considered the 3rd best mallet player (xylophone, marimba, vibraphone, etc.) in the state. Playing music was wonderful. It moved me. I imagined continuing to take music through college and eventually play for the symphony or ... broadway shows... or something.

What happened?

I was told that I have to quit band. Quit playing music. Why? Because my brothers wanted to play baseball and soccer. And I needed to take care of them. I needed to go to every practice. Every game. It doesnt matter that no one in my family came to my practices, games, concerts. My brothers needed me, or so I was told.

So I quit band. I put away my mallets for good. Never to touch them again. And I threw myself into my brothers' lives. I joined the PTA so that I could take a more active role in what their school was doing for them. But because I was young, my opinion wasn't taken seriously. And eventually, my brothers quit soccer. Quit baseball. And I was left with not much, in terms of dreams.

Then I started dating Yoshi. And I dreamed of being with him forever. And marrying him. And making a life with him. Four years later, we were broken up. I was laying on the floor each night, sobbing my heart out. I'd lost my final dream.

And now we're together again. But I'm not dreaming anymore.

And I don't think I want to dream anymore.

It's not worth the piece of yourself that you lose when you give up on that dream.

/me.

Holding Back Dreams

A friend of mine recently had to make a decision of huge importance -- whether to stay with his girlfriend or pursue his life-long dream of becoming a tattoo artist. His sister, his ex-gf and I pushed him to "ditch the bitch," so to speak, and follow his path to greatness.

In my mind, I was appalled that she would even consider asking him to choose her or his dream, because to me, if you love someone, it is your place to push them toward their dreams. Even if their goal is not one that is particularly savory or important to you.

In the end, he took our advice. He approached his gf, told her he wanted to continue pursuing tattooing... and she conceded and realized that she was stupid and selfish for having asked him to choose in the first place.

Victory. He got love and dreams in one fell swoop.

Yoshi has always pushed me to be more than I am. He so wants my business to take off and I know he gets frustrated when I don't work on it. But to me, I get frustrated BECAUSE he's pushing me -- when he should be pushing himself.

He's always wanted to sing. To be a singer. In Asia, specifically. And I honestly, truly believe that he can do it. And it pisses me off since I've found so many opportunities for him to move closer to his dream. When I lived in Japan, I had a friend who was following his dream to be a jazz singer/songwriter. He is still pursuing that dream and had offered, at the time, to help me send out Yoshi's demos, since he already had all the connections.

Yoshi never gave me a demo.

In more recent years, Yoshi has had the opportunity to sing in front of Sony executives with ties in the music industry. They heard his voice. Loved it. And told him to submit a demo. We never gave them a demo.

And today, when I talked to him about it -- I found out part of the reason why he hasn't moved forward with his dream. Because if he does, he won't be able to give me the attention that I need.

Admittedly, I'm an attention whore when it comes to relationships. I'm needy. (Totally shitty realization when it hit me.) I think that in so many situations, I've found myself being put on a back-burner when compared to other things, that now, I demand being number one. I need to be the most important thing in my significant other's life. Because, no matter what I'm doing, I try to make it a point that THEY be the most important thing in MY life.

And when I'm put on the side -- even if they don't mean to put me there -- I feel it acutely. And I begin the self-hate thing. Totally unhealthy, I know. It's the years of being told "you're not good enough" and being put on the sidelines within my own family, I'm sure, that makes me the needy thing I am.

So then it hit me. I'm holding him back.

He always said he was holding me back from realizing my dreams. But he asked me today,"what is your dream?" And my answer? "I don't really have one anymore." And it's true. I don't. So obviously, he's not holding me back from anything.

So it made me think about my friend's dilemma. Girlfriend? Or dream? The difference is, that she was making him choose, hoping that he'd choose her. In this case, because I love him, I want him to choose his dream. Even though it'd suck to be me when that day comes because I know that I'd be losing him.

I realized today, while we were having that conversation, that it was almost like asking him to leave me.

Of course, that wasn't my intent. I fought so hard to be with him. I've been fighting for the last 7 years to keep him. And I wouldn't have fought so hard if only to have him leave me again.

But I believe his dream is... right.... there. And the only thing standing in the way... is me.

I guess it's a subject we'll deal with when he returns from Kuwait. He'll be back on the island in 18 days. It'll be good to have him home again.

I wonder if, in the end, home = with me... or on the road.

/me.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Stress

For quite a while now, I've been really stressed for various reasons. I've mentioned some of the different sources of that stress in previous blogs, but in the last few weeks, the stress seems to have truly compounded -- causing, in essence, a not-quite-as-genki, rather-sit-in-the-corner-and-not-interact, don't-wanna-go-out kind of me.

My self-confidence has plummeted (again -- ha!) and what I originally thought to be some kind of cold or bug has actually turned out to be stress-induced coughing, accompanied by untimely spotting, some kind of weird rash thing on my torso and lack of appetite.

I don't feel the urge to do anything, except for maybe sleep -- and I haven't had a good night's rest since... I actually can't tell you when.

I force myself to eat at least once a day, not because I'm hungry but because I know I need the sustenance. But no longer am I eating healthy. Instead, I'm eating what's easy -- which is rarely ever good for me.

I don't work out, which is setting me back in the Muffin Wars. Total, I've lost like 20 lbs and I've at least another 10 to go before I'm satisfied. But in the not exercising and the not eating (or not eating healthily) I've begun losing the muscle mass I'd gained and have begun regaining the fats.

And while I can't tell you here what has been the main root of my problems -- let's just say that whatever it is has severely affected my self-confidence in other areas as well and left me completely unmotivated.

And there's always the issue of who I can trust and who is a wolf in sheep's clothing.

I've been very lucky in that I have many who know I've been stressed and who worry about me and want to help in what ways they can to alleviate what stress I have. I appreciate it, even if I don't seem as though I do. I'm very much aware that some of you have gone out of your way to try to take care of me and I love you for it.

The universe is out to protect me, probably as much from myself as from the things that seek to cause pain and unhappiness. Lately, Buddhas and protective amulets keep finding their way to my side -- many in the form of gifts and some in the form of circumstance. If you've given me anything to try and help me -- bracelets, amulets, cards, hugs, prayers, massages -- it has helped. I'm not completely self-destructive and that, let's just say, is an amazing thing, because there was a time in the past where I would have easily taken a knife to my skin to "alleviate the pain." I think the praying and chanting I've been doing also helps me to stay sane and realize that this isn't that bad. I know it's not.

Yesterday, I bought myself an amulet of sorts and I pray that it's a sign that things are to get better.

In 2001, a Wiccan friend of mine gave me an unshaped piece of black jade wrapped in silver wire that served as my protective amulet while I traveled. She imbued it with all her love for me and her wish to keep me safe. I wore it as a pendant for a few years, never taking it off. In 2003, the pendant disappeared. It just fell off one day, leaving the silver chain around my neck. I guess its work was done, but I've always felt funny that it was no longer with me.

Since then, I've been looking for black jade. Ask anyone who knows and they will tell you it's nearly impossible to find. Many will say that they've not seen anything made of black jade in years. Over the last 5 years, whenever was appropriate, I'd look. And so would my mom. And my dad. And we've never found any. (Well, I found some on the Net, but wasn't sure if I could trust the source.) Anyway, yesterday, when I was out with my sister and my dad... I found black jade. In the form of a pendant. In the shape of a happy Buddha.

And with the help of my family, I bought it (since I didn't have the cash on me to buy it myself). According to the woman from whom it was purchased, her mom brought it over from Hong Kong 10 years ago. And it was the only black jade one she had. And I guess it was waiting for me.

So, at least that's one positive turn. Surely, a needed one. It would be great if the Universe could send a few another positive things my way. I mean, I guess it has... but it's all stuff for the future. Nothing for the present.

I guess I just have to be patient.

/me.

P.S. Congratulations to Leah on her engagement to Mark. I love you both and will try my best to make it to Atlanta next year to be by your side. I miss you and send alll the love I can to you and to Mark and to One-Two and Three-Four and your parents and Kyle and Bubbie and your weird grandpa with the dented head. I love you!

Check out their site: http://www.leahandmark.com