I Really Cannot Believe that You’re Gone

When I was 18 years old, I had a dream that you were dying. I was in New Jersey and you were in California. And, I was trying everything that I could to get to you. But, I couldn’t. I was so close, but I was so far from you. In my mind, listening to you sing was like hearing a big brother, guiding me, leading me somewhere I belong. See, even there was a song…But, I didn’t reach you in time. I woke up. And, I was so shaken by this that I cried silently, praying that my mother wouldn’t see me.

I knew then that something was wrong. But, I couldn’t place my finger on it. Years later, I am 33 and dealing with my own thoughts of not so much suicide, but not being. Doctor’s still say that it is “suicide” with a hard “S”. And, here you are, gone from this world to that very word. I had to hear it from a friend. I didn’t even know. It was a punch to the gut. I thought to myself “Is my mourning period ever going to end?”

I cannot believe that you are gone. But, I can, all the same.

It kills me when I hear that line, “Sometimes solutions aren’t so simple. Sometimes goodby is the only way.” I am not going to be angry. I won’t call you a coward. Because, the world needs to know that we all have our demons. Sometimes, more than we’d like to admit, the demons win.

I’m going to use this just like I used your music when I was 16, 18, 21, 25, 28, 33, and in between. I’m going to see what’s really going on. I want to see those demons. I want to face them head on. I want them to know, these are battles. The war is not over.

So to you, Chester Charles Bennington, I say,

Thank you. R.I.P.

What Have I Done for Me Lately?

I am beginning to believe that I have done nothing in my entire life for myself. I am disgusted by this fact. I know that this is an exaggeration, but I am referring to my life post high school.

My father asked me an interesting question two years ago. He asked me who I was going to school for. Not what, but who. It took me by surprise. I needed a couple of months to even answer the question. When I first went to college, I’m sure that it was my mother. She wanted me to get an education and either work or go to school. I regret to inform that since work was scarce, I chose school.

When I went to my second college, I went back for myself but because I felt once again that I had to supplement one situation for another. If you ask me now, I am aware that I was just unhappy at home. So, I needed a change of pace. I went back to school and was put out again.

I went back to school after realizing that I had been putting a large chunk of my existence into someone who wasn’t investing in me. I decided to take my debt by the horns and make it worth it. If I had to kill millions upon millions of trees to pay back the government for ONE piece of paper, I should at least want that piece of paper.

Now that I am in a master’s program, I am once again asking myself, what am I doing for myself? Because, in all honesty, I love helping others, but introspectively, I have this unnerving feeling that I am heading toward nothing. I have the nightmare that I am trying to make a career out of something that I believe that I am good at, but that I can also fail monumentally. I am scared because today’s society is not forgiving. And, it has not been for most of my life.

If I don’t know what I am doing for me, then, can I at least know why I am doing what I do?

Of Got7, and the “Ghost” Culture

GOT7 is a k-pop group. A member of said group is Jackson Wang. I have learned a lot about myself by watching Jackson. One such thing involves an episode of GOT7 Jackson Show, a Vlive ch+ program which features specific members of the group discussing topics going on in their lives while eating. In one episode members Mark (From America), Bambam (From Thailand), and Jackson (From Hong Kong, China), discuss the topic of shipping and tagging. Allow me to elaborate.

Shipping is when a fan of two or more characters or idols link said characters or idols into a preferred pairing. For instance, a fan of Marvel characters Steve Rogers and Tony Stark either platonically or romantically link the characters, usually giving said pairing a name. In real example, when Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck were in a relationship, people referred to them as Bennifer. And, these days, ships are tagged with hashtags, so it would be #bennifer. Further example, Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose would be shipped as #AmbReigns.

At times, shippers will run across persons who ship another pair. And, that pairing may include a member of the other ship. So, fans of Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins, for instance, will ship #AmbRollins. These shippers do not always get along. It’s tense in this fandom world.

Tagging involves linking posts to a specified person. On most sites, this include the use of an @ and then the name of the user. In my case, my “name” on this site is LeminLemur. If you were to tag me in a post, it would be written as @leminlemur. Of course, not everyone wants to be tagged in certain posts. Hold onto this thought.

Back to GOT7. Jackson Wang is a member who is quite sensitive. He’s honestly a sweetheart. Many people hold Jackson as a standard of the type of person they want in their lives, be that romantically or platonically. Hell, even I used Jackson a few times as a template of my perfect best friend. Jackson craves closeness, as such he often ships himself platonically (or other, I don’t know him personally and do not judge)  with other members of the group. For instance, #JackBam is Jackson and Bambam. #MarkSon is Mark and Jackson. It would appear however, that Jackson becomes upset when members of his ship are shipped with others. I think is a human response. Let me explain what I meant by learning about myself from watching him.

Jackson has said in the episode of The Jackson Show, that he is the type of person who feels that someone might not like him if they do not reciprocate his emotional output. As such, when he sees someone he is close to interacting in a specific way with another person (sometimes whom he is close to), he feels ignored and begins questioning himself and if they like him. Fans who ship members of the group have created ships which include other members and not Jackson, and they tag him in these posts on social media. Therefore, when he clicks into his social media, these posts show up. Imagine being a person who craves closeness and feels ignored, and seeing nothing but posts about the people who you feel far from. Here, have a personal example.

In high school, I had a friend whom I had known since elementary school. She and I were not super close, but we weren’t exactly distant. She had a friend from another school who also went to high school with us. This friend did not like me. Per her reaction to being me, I did not like her. This put our mutual friend in a bind. She pulled us both aside and told us, “You don’t have to like one another, but I’m not going to choose who I can be friends with because you don’t like each other. So, I’d appreciate it if you’d at least try to get along.” Well, myself and the other girl became friends.

When I moved away, I met a whole new group of people. I learned in my time away that my personality was huge and that I potentially could shut people down with it and my problems combined. But, I did not know my problems, nor how big they were until I moved back. When I returned, my friends had become friends with the people who initially didn’t like us. That threw me off. Because a lot of these people were particularly cruel to me. I found out later that the only reason these people were not cordial to my friends was because they didn’t like me.

I felt hurt, betrayed, and angry. What was so wrong about me? Why didn’t they like me? Well, for one, I was very possessive. If you were my friends, I wanted to be included. I was too immature to know that you cannot include everyone in everything. I was too immature to realize that no one is truly closer to one person than they are another. In fact, it is a matter of two people gaining things from one another. At times, you may gain something from a friendship with me, that you cannot with someone else. But, you’re still close to both people. At times, you don’t hang out with someone constantly and you hang out with someone else only at specified times. Some people can handle that. As a teenager, I could not.

I hated being left out. It carried on into my adulthood. When my ex and our mutual friends would go out, sometimes, one friend would talk to me as if I were there with them at the time. And, I was not. This is what it feels like to be tagged in a ship which you are not a part of. I was so annoyed at the thought of them going out together without me that I became a black hole. I questioned myself, I questioned my friendships. I didn’t need to do that. That was insecurity on my part, but it was also traumatic response from other incidents which I had not healed from. The wound kept opening.

Jackson reminds me of myself. He’s asked not to be tagged in shipping posts, and only to be tagged in #GOT7, which some other members have also requested. Not just tagging, but shipping, only #GOT7. They are one. I told a friend that I felt they had done this to protect one another’s feelings. I thought about my friend from high school. That mutual friend, and the pressure she must have been under to be friends with me and someone who didn’t like me. I thought about how hard it was to be pushed aside when they had finally not had me around. Sad as it is to say, it was probably a relief.

I never realized that this was such a deep topic for me until I saw that (and other) video. I still have these issues. When friends of mine online begin talking to one another, I feel excluded. When rping, if my characters friends begin interacting with other characters, I feel excluded. I know now that I need help in consolidating my feelings about past traumas so that I do not keep feeling this pain.  It’s funny the things we see that bring us back to ourselves.

Just to close that walk down memory lane, I had found a new group of friends in high school, and my senior year, I had begun to exclude myself, defense mechanism. My mutual friend was then excluded from her own group of friends, same group she had introduced me to. She came to me told me that she understood now how hurt I had been, and apologized. I told her I accepted and she began hanging out with me. But, the friendship was never the same. And, to this day I find myself pushing people away from me, somehow believing that they will leave anyway. It’s a subconscious situation, but it’s present and I see it.

The Ghost Culture

I am currently studying Multicultural Counseling and Therapy. Part of this means getting through all multicultural competencies, which include knowing myself and my prejudices and biases, knowing about other cultures, and knowing proper techniques to help said cultures in counseling. One part of the knowing myself, which is self-awareness, is knowing my culture(s). I am, and most are, a multicultural being. A few of those traits are that I am African-American, female, born in the 1980s. Of course, new findings have made it required that some of these traits mentioned be altered and specific, for example, I am not just female, I am cis-gender female, which means that my assigned gender is my perceived gender. When I was asked to write the most salient cultural information about myself among a long list of traits and characteristics, I had an existential crisis (man, I am prone to those).

What the hell am I? I just mentioned three, so why didn’t I just write those down? Because, I am a part of what I call the “Ghost” culture. What is that? Ghost culture consists of those of us who began to sit behind a computer screen and “create” online personas. Not quite cat-fishing, but, freedom to be who we want to be instead of who we are. By the time I was in high school, I had a computer, internet access, and two online journals. This was the time when people would ask for photos of you, and you could go online and pick a photo (again, not quite cat-fishing, but close). I could create a person who would not be ignored or left behind. I could create that girl that I wished that I was but could be never be. I was anything but myself.

These days, social media almost requires that we keep honesty in social affairs, but there are still people who make these “alter egos”. I am one of them. And, if you are a gamer, you’re probably pretty good at it. But, I noticed when I was doing my assignment, during those years when I was becoming the adult that I would later be and rearrange, I was busy creating the person I never was. Essentially, people of the ghost culture, have many cultures and many cultural attributes. And, many of them don’t even exist within the person behind the computer screen. It’s like House MD says, “Everybody lies.”

Who am I? I spent the last four years of my life trying to answer that question. But, in truth, I spent the previous fifteen years of my life as ten+ other people, including exaggerated versions of myself. Aside from obvious points in my personal life, you know, the one I could not erase in my waking world, every aspect of my being could be and was altered at any time I wanted. I should not have panicked the moment I received that assignment. I should have been able to POW, write. But, it dawned on me that I am not the only person like this. This is a culture. This technological digital world, is a culture. And, I am part of a sub-culture which I know has a name, I just can’t call it.

It’s amazing when you realize things like this. I can already anticipate the feelings I am going have during this eleven week course. But, I really want to know, in a world where you have the means to create an imaginary person and live their life on a computer, which cultures do you really identify with?

A Review [Of Reading and Watching]

I am not always late. When I am, it tends to be extremely so. I spent the last three days of my vacation binging on Stephen King movies. An interesting tidbit about me, I am a product of family members who love to read. And, I have read a great many books in my life. But when it comes to Stephen King–an author whom I claim is my favorite of all time– I have read two of his books: Carrie and Cell. In the past month I have acquired Everything’s Eventual and Stephen King On Writing. I am currently working my way through the latter, and find that it is increasingly difficult to do so with five chapters of one text and two of another to read by next week.

It takes me longer than I’d like to admit to read these days. When I was younger I could read a two hundred page book in three days. Nowadays, if a book does not interest me within the first three pages, it takes about a month at max. But, this is an entirely different post about an entirely different thing.

Aside from my shame at claiming an author to be my favorite and only having read two of his published works, I find myself drawn to his stories. Therefore, I am a King-Movieverse kind of girl. My favorite movies based on his works are The Shining, Carrie, Pet Semetary, Misery, Stephen King’s Cat’s Eye, The Lawnmower Man, and Tales from the Darkside. I have seen others but, these rank as the ones that are highest in my scared shitless meter. Of all of the movies I have seen my favorite one is Dreamcatcher. After Dreamcatcher is 1408.

Dreamcatcher may not have been the most visually stunning movie. I may never forget Morgan Freeman’s wild eyebrows which may be an indication of what I will look like one day. But, the film featured three things that I find important in my personal life. Things which may be present but, often times I cannot tell. Friendship which transcends the boundaries of time, binding childhood trauma and events, and hidden abilities which seem pointless to some but are major to the self and the group.

As I have said, I spent the last three days binging on Stephen King movies. Cell, 1408, Stand By Me, and It. I had seen 1408 before and absolutely love the film. The reason I purchased Everything’s Eventual is because 1408, the work that the film is based on, is in that book. Stand By Me is a movie which I have seen parodied and referenced in mainstream television countless times. I never understood any of the references. Even when the references were play by plays of the story, I never understood them. I was extremely pleased with the film. The funniest thing I recall was how when I watched it, I kept connecting to E.B. Sledge’s memoirs, and I don’t know why.

I read Cell in two days, right after it was released and loved it. It was a film that fell into the zombie genre easily, but featured a twist in the infection method, rate, and evolution. It easily stands out as a classic which I can one day tell my grandchildren (assuming that I have any) that they must watch. I was terrified of the movie despite the reunion of John Cusack and Samuel L. Jackson, two actors whom I find to be the best of their colleagues. I was afraid that the film would water down the edge of the book. However, I was greatly surprised that the film was as close to the book as it could be, even if there were some differences between the story on the screen and the story on the page. It may have helped that Stephen King was one of the screenplay writers.

Of all the movies I had finally watched for the first time, It, has to be the scariest. I watched the movie because I am going to watch the reboot in a few weeks. I tend to abhor watching reboots and not watching the originals. I did this once before with George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead and I have regretted this decision ever since. I had time, I had the 3.99 it took to rent it ( I bought it for 12.99) but I consumed it. First, I realized that this was an incredibly long film. Only upon reading synopsis online did I realize that this was a miniseries.

The film contained everything that I loved about Dreamcatcher with the mind-fuckery of 1408! To say that I didn’t enjoy this movie would be a major lie. In fact, it inspired me to begin writing story ideas again. I even found a passage in Stephen King On Writing which felt really familiar. [Forgive me, oh wise one, I know you told me not to do that!] However, I found it incredibly hard to sleep later on that evening. What made things worse was that when I was attempting to sleep, a very large spider lowered itself from my ceiling to the base of my bed in the glow of my television. I leapt from my bed so fast that I almost hurt myself. I had to call in a family member to kill the insect. [We vacuumed it up. Pretty sure it’s alive in the vacuum cleaner and plotting revenge.] The next day, a baby spider was also in my room.

One thing is certain, I have not felt that terrified in a long time. I don’t think it was entirely the spider’s fault.

Naturally. A lesson taught by trees.

I have something to show you.

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There is a branch just outside of my window. This branch has been slowly producing leaves since the beginning of spring. I’ve never actually stopped to witness something as amazing as this before. Here is the progression.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Now, before I show you the final image, I need to tell a story. I am not a fan of insects. In fact, they are bigger fans of me than I am of them. I have also never had a window this close to my desk, while being this close to the ground before. I needed to repel the insect population. So, I think to myself, “I have OFF! insect spray!” I spray this around the screen of my window and through the screen itself. It works! However, I realize that some of it has gotten onto the leaves just outside. I thought to myself, maybe throw some water out of my window. Then, I sat down and played World of Warcraft.

The next day, I peeked out of my window and noticed this:

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As you can see, where the OFF! spray landed, the leaves died. Now, I feel awful. This is a perfect moment to figure out what the lesson in this is.

And, in my own fashion, I have!

The moral is this: Sometimes, it is okay to leave things alone. There may not be a problem to begin with. When you try to stop a situation from happening, often times you cause a worse situation to happen. I know I sound like Captain Steve Rogers, but it’s true. The trees have taught me this.

-A.