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“Daniel in the Den”

It’s harder than you think telling dreams from one another.
-Bastille

Upon first hearing this in the song I thought it meant that it’s difficult to tell your dreams to another person. If we are the stories we tell, how can you explain yourself through something as ambiguous and abstract as your dreams?

But now that I wrote it down I see it. It’s not about miscommunication. It’s about fantasies. We have difficulty telling the difference between the person and our dream of who they are. It is difficult to separate the two.

Dreams are dangerous things. Fantasies are fucked too.

You can’t hold on to either for very long.

The fact is: most people just don’t hold up juxtaposed to the dream. Reality is too harsh a light, but dreams are impossible too.

We have to be wary and we have to be prepared for disappointment a bit too.

The truth is: everyone’s a narcissist and a cynic and shallow and stupid and selfish. Everyone’s a lot of stuff they’d like not to be…which is why we have dreams of who we are too.

I know it’s stupid and prosaic, but when someone dies young I immediately detach myself. Not like I can’t handle death, I know it’s inevitable and everything and I’m not a believer in the afterlife or the soul. I think we just die. That’s not even a depressing thought to me, really.

Most days I think that’s reasonable and okay, but then I get news like Aurora or Newtown or how on Dec. 20th a girl I was in Girl Scouts with died in a car accident. She was twenty-five.

I detach myself from her. I think of how we must be different. She must’ve done something wrong. This couldn’t happen to me. This couldn’t happen to people I love.

What happens to her dreams? Where do her ambitions go? How is she just gone?

With my mom, I even tried to do this. I thought of all the ways we’re different. I missed her so much, all the while trying to reason out how her fate will not be mine.

It’s horrible, but when I hear of accidents like my friend’s I have this thought: they must not have had anything to do. Disposable people. What the hell is wrong with me? It’s freaking terrible, but it’s how I cope.

I slink further into my own dreams. My dreams will keep my alive. Safe-guard my future with this idea that I have a purpose and these other people did not.  Why would they be gone if they did? My dreams of my future protect me from reality in more ways than one.

I hate myself for it. I recognize how callous it is. Death doesn’t need this added insult, courtesy of me.

It’s happened before. When another friend killed himself in a car accident over a year ago I had these same thoughts and they weren’t more correct in that instance. I wasn’t suicidal like he was, but certainly he had intentions of surviving beyond twenty-three. Certainly he did at one time.

I just don’t understand how things happen like this, so instantly and so permanently.

And I’m sad for my friends and their families, and for myself and humanity. I’ll try to be more sensitive about it, maybe find a different coping mechanism. It’s the only one I’ve found that allows distance and sadness—not too much of either. Maybe I need it after all, in which case, I am sorry for the dead for thinking so little of you. I hope you understand.

Sometimes I wish this thing were anonymous but I have friends who check it occasionally. I guess I shouldn’t write at all if it’s something I’d be embarrassed to have linked to me; sort of like, you know you’re doing wrong when you have to hide it. This isn’t like that though. My problem stems from my puritanical upbringing. Okay, actually, my mom was pretty liberal but overall my pretty massive extended family and my ex-Marine, Republican dad probably wouldn’t approve of me writing this.

I am annoyingly divided about this issue—the one I haven’t mentioned yet. Oh well, here it goes. Sometimes I think about sex. I’m almost 24; it’s not scandalous or anything but I don’t often talk about it with anyone. The divisive thing: sometimes I say to myself, “These are your early 20s, the time to experiment and be sexually liberated” and then immediately following that semi-rational thought is “Why would I want to have sex? And potentially get pregnant or hurt? And really, it’s a waste of time trying to establish and maintain a healthy sexual relationship with someone. You have more important things to do.” How do I fight that? It’s so true. The voice that wins—the voice I always agree with—is the second one.

I see my friends in relationships, happily settled into things and I think that’s great. But I really don’t want that for myself yet…maybe not at all. When it comes down to it I am far too selfish to even want to take care of someone else or to factor them into the future that I haven’t even planned yet.

And then there’s also that there are zero contenders at this juncture. I mean, seriously, I am surrounded by women. I really prefer it that way. Guys are usually so competitive and loud and conversationally dominant; I am already all those things! Just kidding, I mean, definitely sometimes but I know how dull it can be to listen to that one person all night and start thinking to yourself, I could really say nothing for five minutes and this person wouldn’t even notice. Let’s test that. And it isn’t even satisfying to be right in this instance. That one person ruins everything.

Anyway, I know to cool it and also that I am not that interesting. I know how to have a conversation, mostly because my sister doesn’t and I don’t want to be like my sister. My sister also is a serial dater, which is another way I don’t want to be like my sister. I don’t want to be like my other sister either, who got married at 22 and had a baby at 24. They’re both relatively happy and I’m happy for them. I just don’t covet their lives. I don’t want that for myself.  As far as I can tell, it’s not narcissism. I’m not sitting here thinking I’m inherently better than them. It’s just not what I want.

Now I just have to figure out how to get what I want. Simple. I’ll just get some fairy dust, glue it to a magic wand, walk through a wardrobe and into a magic blue box. I estimate only a few more hours before the glue dries and then I’ll be off to the Magical Future of my Dreams!

Boy oh boy, did I lose track of my original topic. I’m the worst writer ever.

Message to a friend:

It really is tough to relate sometimes to growing up with a family like yours. My family picks on each other, but because I’m forever the preemie-baby-who-had-that-bruising-virus, whenever my feelings got hurt a new boundary was drawn. On family road trips I always got the middle seat to myself, while my sisters shared the backseat. I liked it because I was closer to my parents as well as the door. And I guess I’ve always liked being left alone, which when I was little was as easy as having a partition as incomplete as a car seat. That’s all that was required for me to be in my own imaginary world (my parents were spies in my imaginary world. Also, my sisters were not my sisters– they may have been robots). That may not be why I got my way, but maybe it is. I can’t fathom it for you. I can’t believe that your parents are the people who make you feel worst about yourself.

I know you already think my parents were great supporters. You’ve said before my envious it makes you sometimes. And I really didn’t quite “get it” until recently…like, today. My dad is so completely uninterested in whatever I decide to do. He’s already told me the house is mine, if I want it, but that he’s probably moving back to Ohio to be with his parents and sisters in 2014. He has his plan and I’m not really a part of it (Katie’s pissed off that he wants to do this, by the way).  And my mom, if she were here, she’d say “in your own time, kiddo.” With the ignominy of death my mother has become something of a cool, whatever-you-want type figure with a hippy-ish way of speaking. Poor mom, my subconscious has ruined her. You knew her; that is basically what she’d say, if not the exact words. But I wish you could take my SUB-mom’s advice. Pressure is good, it makes you work hard. Pressure should come from you though. And not from the You who’s trying to please her parents. From the You that wants to be proud of what she does, but don’t think you have to have all the answers or all the paths figured out. You’ll get there. It’ll take some time. College was just the beginning of your re-education. You have to navigate everything else and I have absolute, unwavering confidence in you. You can do it. But in your own time, Kiddo.

And the other shit? Ugggh. Why can’t they just love you and worry about you in a healthier way? In a non-demeaning way. In a non-hurtful, non-judgmental way. I’m so glad I never dealt with that…from my parents. I’ve definitely hated my body at different moments or periods of my life, but my parents never really say anything and when my dad did, well I made him realize that he really can’t remark on it. I’m sorry you have that. It’s so dumb, simple as that. All those beauty products and junk talk about how this or that will change your life by changing your complexion or eye-lash length or appearance of cellulite, but they always say the same thing: “healthy-looking” or “natural-looking.”And all I think is, what’s more natural and healthy than just looking the way I really do?

Anyway, I love you and I hope I didn’t sound sanctimonious. I just really wanted to say something.

Transitory Days

I keep having dreams about losing my teeth. It’s never in an interesting way, either. It’s never a bare-knuckle street fight or a hockey puck to the face or something cool like that. I’ve had friends chip and break teeth in weird ways, but in funny ways—a way that becomes a story. My friend broke her teeth while playing on a giant make-shift slip n’ slide. In my dreams I’m just talking and I can feel it move and I play with it with my tongue like I did when I was a kid. And then I just yank the thing out, roots and all. It’s disgusting and I feel the hole and it is gaping. I put the tooth in my pocket and continue talking about whatever it was…

After the third time I have this dream I am more than a little freaked out so I looked it up. Google search “losing teeth in dreams.” It means, according to internet lore, that your life is in transition and you’re very worried about it. It’s seen as a loss of innocence, just like losing your baby teeth is an ending of your childhood. Also, it could mean that you’re having a toothache.

Both are true. My life is very much in flux and a chapter is definitely over and I am scared and nervous about it. And my wisdom teeth are pounding in my skull.

More accurate than I really expected dream interpretation to be.

Are you worried? I am, but I’m worried in my head (like, my thoughts are really worrisome, not my situation necessarily.) I still have no direction. Not a direct path. Just like one of my new favorite heroines Jessica Darling, I’m worried about the days when my life won’t be graded at various intervals, progress can’t be determined, no syllabi, no rubrics. I just have to figure it out and I have no idea how.

But the dream is fairly obvious. If it’s any indication, I’ve got some stuff to do to prepare for this new life.

One year.

I’m not going to write anything, because I don’t care to show anyone how I feel about today.

But I felt like this photo is a good summation of this past year.

Pointe Orlando.

For those of you who don’t live in Orlando or who live here but have never been there, Pointe Orlando is a touristy entertainment mall thing. But, really, there’s no reason to go there ever unless you 1. Work there 2. Are eating at one of the collection of restaurants (Taverna Opa, The Capitol Grille, Hooters, etc—I’ve only been to two of the three. Guess which ones and you get a prize!) or 3. Watching a movie (they were the first ones to get IMAX around here. I may be wrong, but I’m pretty sure. I think Disney waited to see if it was successful before undergoing the expense). Mostly, the mall portion is a complete wasteland. They have high-end boutique shops that have no business being next to a movie theater, much less a Hooters. They used to have an arcade, but that went under a while back. I just looked at their website and I guess they count Wonderworks as a part of it. Wonderworks is pretty damn cool so I guess you have four legitimate reasons for going there (Well, five, if you include getting lost on International Drive).

Now they have a Performing Arts Center and The Improv. I have no idea how long they’ve been there, but they sound interesting so I hope they stick around. I saw them for the first time yesterday, which may not mean they’re new. I’m not observant like that.

Anyway, I have three awesome memories from Pointe (which is what we call it).

The first was in 2009. This was back when we had the awesome Polo Warehouse crew (I’m the only one left…) It was Eric, Emil (Lime), Ryne (Ryno), Derek and me. We would talk all through the day about movies and disgusting things, be gluttons on break together and play Rock Band when we were done. The guys were all agog over my singing voice, but when I’d play the drums scream, “Jackie, why do you have no rhythm!!” They were all rock stars. We were a fun and stupid group. Anyway, a few of us had read the graphic novel “Watchmen” (by Alan Moore) so when the movie came out we had to see it. I don’t even remember if we saw it at midnight or just on opening night, because that’s not the important part. We saw it at Pointe (again, I don’t even remember if we IMAXed it. That’s not the point. And shut up, IMAX can be a verb!)

What I really remember is Eric, Lime and I going in my old car Sylvia to get the tickets after work one day, because we were afraid it would sell out for whatever time we were seeing it at. I had a yellow legal pad in the backseat for some reason, so Lime (who is an artist) drew a picture of what he imagined to be a “Chancletasaurus” and he also drew a really fantastic picture of Rorschach (from Watchmen), which I still have. We bought our tickets and looked around the dead mall for about 15 minutes, mostly just passing through a couple of shops on our way to the parking garage. We climbed the stairs to the second floor and Lime said something that I took a little mock offense to, probably something insulting to women and I threatened him with my usual violence and he said it again and ran away so I took off my shoe and threw it at him. It hit him in the back (near the kidneys) and he didn’t go down or anything. He just sort of yelped and stumbled over his own feet. I thought it was freakin’ hilarious. And I really miss our old group. Lime is in Pensacola now, working for the government or something. Derek and Eric are both nurses. And Ryno is in the Navy (and will be sent to Afghanistan in June).

The second memory is from 2009, probably. I have Unabomber tendencies, where I write down everything I do on my calendar. I could easily get to these calendars and find out the exact dates, but even I think it’s kind of not worth it. Right, so some friends and I went Mini-Golfing. I don’t exactly remember why we were forced to park in the Pointe parking garage (which costs a year off your life unless you get it validated by the movie theater or a restaurant; not really a year off your life, but it is an absurd amount for parking for just a few hours.) But we weren’t going to Pointe, we could not get validated and we had no cash to pay the stupid fee. Hello, broke college kids! Or just kids who don’t carry actual money, I’m not completely sure which it was.

I broke down and checked my calendar; it was January 1, 2009.

Jessica, Josh, Josh’s brother Andrew and I went in Jessica’s car. And looking back I think we did have the money but I’m an indignant nut so I was like, “No, we’ll just ask somebody at the movie theater to have them validate our ticket.” The worst thing they could say was, “No, crazy! Get away from me!” I think I remembered it the other way because that was the story I told the couple, you know, “We don’t have any cash. Broke college kids…yada yada yada.” So we stood around the entrance to the theater (outside of the Hooters) and waited for someone who seemed like they might not run in terror from me. Jessica, Josh and Andrew kind of hung back when I approached them (partly out of embarrassment and partly so we didn’t seem like a rag-tag gang about to rob you). I explained that we had no money or whatever and then asked if they came in one car (one car=one parking ticket to be validated) because they had two movie tickets and it was therefore perfectly acceptable for them to validate two parking tickets. I explained this to them and they kind of shrugged their acquiescence. The guy went up the stairs and inside with my parking ticket and his movie ticket to get it validated and at this point I noticed that he had a limp that looked extremely painful. The lady half of the couple stayed with me as I awkwardly apologized and thanked her much more than necessary. I think I may have asked what movie they were seeing. When the man appeared in the doorway I ran up the stairs and thanked him even more than his other half. The woman followed me a little less briskly up the stairs. I thanked them again and wished them a happy evening and enjoyable movie. And in they went. And off to a frustrating game of mini-golf we went. All this to say, I am incredibly cheap about the weirdest stuff.

And my final recollection is from 2008. And not to play favorites, but it is my favorite… I loved “The Dark Knight.” I had seen it in theaters two times already, but I decided that my father, quite plainly, must see this movie. It was imperative to his role as fellow movie-lover. I truly believed that it was the best performance I’d ever seen, and I think you probably know whose performance I’m speaking of. It was my first time going IMAX, but I thought such a film was deserving of the price (and we wouldn’t have to pay for parking so, yeah. Worth it.) We got the tickets and popcorn and got our seats (good ones, in the middle of the theater like we prefer). The movie was still fantastic the third time. We left the theater in veneration of what we’d just seen, though we agreed that we didn’t quite understand the point of IMAX (calm down, it was the beginning of IMAX. At that point, it was really not that great. I’m sorry if you disagree.) We got in my car and exited the parking space and sat. Apparently everyone at Pointe Orlando was leaving in some mass exodus so we were at a standstill. I’m lucky to have even reversed out of my space, but nonetheless we were stuck.

My dad’s going to hate this, but whatever. He’s not on the internet to complain about this story. He’ll never know (I will throw my shoe at you if you tell him!) We had drinks. Huge Movie Theater sized, 64 oz. drinks. My dad had to pee. We were stuck in this unmoving line to get out of the parking garage; my dad asked where the nearest bathroom was (no big deal, the bathroom was located four stories below us) and got out. Bolted, really. But the line didn’t stay still. I don’t know how it was possible with all these people leaving, but there were no empty parking spaces for me to comfortably wait in. So I was forced to turn in my parking ticket and leave the garage. I didn’t leave him! I circled to the drop-off area near the bathroom I told him to use. We were stupid to not have formulated a “meet up” plan, but the man had urgent needs. I waited and circled. I didn’t want to go back into the parking garage. Hello, the fee! You’re probably thinking, Just call him. My gosh, you’re brilliant. Except my dad didn’t have a cell phone back then. But my phone did ring and it was my mom. “Hey, honey. Your dad’s in a taxi on the way home. What happened?” When he couldn’t find me in the garage he went downstairs and got in a taxi. He asked the driver if he could borrow his cell phone, he called my mom and told her to call me. He made it home. And I made it home. And we did enjoy the movie. Success.

Now, whenever we leave a movie theater I ask him facetiously if he needs to use the restroom before we leave. He hates it.

Hmmm…all these stories had more to do with the Pointe Orlando Parking Garage. I guess it’s the more happening place for me.

Goodness, I really did enjoy parentheses today.

Daddy,

For someone so simple, you’re also much more complicated than you realize, which makes you difficult and wonderful depending on the circumstances. But whether you’re difficult or wonderful or in a good mood or a bad mood, you’re still my dad and I love you.

Somehow these cards always end up being about how grateful I am for you or how you make me laugh or how much I appreciate all you do for me; it always ends up being about me, a bit conceited…but that’s fitting, I think. Life isn’t just about what other people mean to you, mostly it’s about what you mean to others. And, to me dad, you mean a whole lot.

No suitable words exist to properly state how much I love you, Old Man. This is just cracking the surface (but maybe I’ll get smarter and next year’s card will be more eloquent).

Always yours,

Jackie

When you rearrange the letters in the word ‘ASTRONOMER’, you get ‘MOON STARER’.

DESPERATION = A ROPE ENDS IT

THE EYES = THEY SEE

THE MORSE CODE = HERE COME DOTS

DORMITORY = DIRTY ROOM

SLOT MACHINES = CASH LOST IN ME

ELECTION RESULTS = LIES – LET’S RECOUNT

SNOOZE ALARMS = ALAS! NO MORE Z’S

THE EARTHQUAKES = THAT QUEER SHAKE

ELEVEN PLUS TWO = TWELVE PLUS ONE

SCHOOLMASTER = THE CLASSROOM

DEBIT CARD = BAD CREDIT

A DECIMAL POINT = I’M A DOT IN PLACE

MOTHER-IN-LAW = WOMAN HITLER

[Obviously I didn’t write this since I didn’t create the English language, but you see? Language is fun and beautiful and it makes me happy.]

[I was doing this for myself for my own random reasons but decided to post it as well. It’s kind of dull…]

1988: Born December 21st (several months early).

1989: Learned to sit up, crawl, walk (probably).

1990: Learned to talk-ish and swim and make up terrible songs.

1991: (I have no idea, I was a baby)

1992
: (I have no idea, I was a baby)

1993: (I have no idea, I was a baby) Became a pain in my sister’s behinds with all the pinching I used to do. Broke my collar bone (Thanks to Katie).

1994: Got stitches in my toe. Started kindergarten and Daises (Girl Scouts). Met Christina Torrez.

1995: Decided I wanted to be a Marine Biologist. Began baseball at Bear Creek.

1996: Switched to Softball at South Orange.

1997: Diagnosed with ITP (Idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura). Began ballet classes with Carolyn Bourland.

1998: Commended for my writing for the first time (by someone other than my parents). Made All-Stars for softball. Went to camp Mah-Kah-Wee for a whole week.

1999: Sang my first solo in choir (Thanks to Jessica Gonzalez and Mr. Marotta). Made All-Stars for softball.

2000: Became a Safety Patrol. Starred in the fifth grade play “Historical Hysteria.” Sucked in the Oration contest. Sang “Hero” to my mother and made her cry (5th grade). Made All-Stars for softball. Flubbed up my solo in a choir performance (6th grade).

2001: Started pointe classes (Ballet two times a week). Hit my first Home Run during a game in softball. Made All-Stars for softball. Danced for charity (first time dancing for an audience not consisting of the dancer’s parents).

2002: Met Jennie Ngyuen.

2003: Voted Most Valuable Musician for the Stallion Singers. Got into International Baccalaureate Program (I remember that night).

2004: Danced my last ballet recital with Carolyn’s Dance (I was in FOUR dances that night). Began high school in the International Baccalaureate program. Had my first boyfriend. Broke up with my first boyfriend. Became good friends with someone older than me…I know that sounds weird, but I think up until then I was pretty much just friends with people in my grade and Olivia. Felt too cool for Girl Scouts.

2005: Worked my first job at Touchstar Cinemas. Voted unanimously best “Team Player” for the Varsity Softball team. Captained the losing JV Softball team. Decided I want to study Psychology. Learned to party (Thanks Fourth Street Gang). Cried over a guy who didn’t deserve it. First vacation without my parents.

2006: Lived in a non-nucelar household (My Uncle moved in). Had family in Florida! Gabe is born. Had my first real relationship.

2007: Got fired from Touchstar Cinemas. Graduated High School. Began working at Polo. Started college. Flew in my first airplane. First vacation without any family members. Ended my first real relationship.

2008: Began mentoring through the Young Women’s Leaders Program and met amazing people. First car accident; it was a fender-bender, my fault .

2009: Watched my sister get married. Rediscovered my love for singing with the Polo Warehouse guys (and Rock Band). Tried to date people I wasn’t sure about (stupid idea). Added Criminal Justice as a major.

2010: Totalled my first car (Thanks to Stacey and my Mom for rescuing me). Called the ambulance to save my mother’s life twice. Became depressed after my mom died December 11th (several decades early).

2011: I am going to be an Aunt! I started working full-time at Polo.

2012: Graduating with two Bachelor’s Degrees from the University of Central Florida…ack, who knows.