Observations Made

Observations made in the last 24-25 hours:

On a blue line train towards O’Hare: A man sits with a young girl (about 6-8 years old, maybe even a little older). The man has a bag on his lap with two empty plastic cups each holding a green straw. The girl is holding a tall inflatable hammer or bat. She is licking it. The man doesn’t seem to notice. I call my younger sister’s name to direct her attention at the girl. It took a few attempts because the train is loud. After she notices the girl she laughs and tells me “that’s you.”

At O’Hare’s Terminal 3: We waited for a bus to take us to Terminal 5. Two busses arrived. The first had many passengers in wheelchairs. We decided to take the second bus.

At O’Hare’s Terminal 5: While waiting for the airline to begin the luggage check I watched the female ticket agents put their make up on. One woman put on lipstick twice while looking in the mirror.

While leaving O’Hare: My sister and I raced each other out of the airport. We ran down halls, escalators, and stairs as though we were running late.

While walking towards the bus terminal at Jefferson Park Station and young man said ‘hi’ to me. I did not recognize him.

Three people, two men and one woman, stood outside of the building I had to enter blocking the door. They were talking. I did not know how to interrupt them so I stood to the side. The man noticed me and opened the door for me.

I was given two strawberry Laffy Taffys and a watermelon Jolly Rancher. I ate all three in less than an hour.

Inside a Kmart, a man speaking Spanish approached an employee. The employee stated that she does not speak Spanish. He asked her where the “men’s intimate clothes” were. She led him towards the men’s underwear.

Inside a Walgreens, as I decide which two chocolate bars I will purchase (they were 2 for $1), a woman tells a man “I got the type of face that only a mother can love.” They laugh. I did not see her face. I chose to purchase a twix bar and peanut M&Ms.

On a bus stop, I sat on a bench. An older lady came and sat on a different bench. After a few minutes she came and sat next to me. She talked about the weather, the bus, and guessed my ethnicity/ told me about her own. When the bus arrived she boarded in front of me. She pulled the cord for the first stop after we boarded; but, exited the bus two or three stops after.

Outside another Walgreens: A flock of about 20 pigeons lingers outside of the store. As I pass by them none fly.

On a bus, a man boards and sits near the front. A few stops later a woman in a wheelchair boards, he shakes his head when he has to change seats because he was sitting on priority seating. He sits across from where he was sitting, next to an old man who was also shaking his head when the lady boarded. A few stops later, a lady with a stroller containing blonde twin boys boards. The man has to move again. He seems frustrated. The old man shakes his head while looking at the lady with the two kids.

While crossing a street a man behind me is yelling at someone. The yelling is very loud and it sounds as though it might get violent. I turned around and saw the man yelling at no one. He was having an argument with someone only he could see.

Inside a different Walgreens: A lady stocking juice said something to me. I was confused. She then asked me “do you work here” and I said “No.” She said my vest made her think I worked there. My vest was red.

Outside a different Walgreens a man sat in his car. He called me over. I continued walking because I did not recognize him.

At a clothing store a customer approached me and asked me where she should put the clothing she does not want. I told her I did not work there.

On the sidewalk: A woman with an Ipad approaches a pedestrian asking if she has a minute to talk. The pedestrian states that she has already signed-up.

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My one true love: In the past 30 days

I had a birthday thirty days ago. It was my 25th. As a 25 year old I have been doing a lot of the one thing that makes me feel at ease. I have been going to the one place I have always felt comfortable. I have been more openly sharing my joy.

It is not a secret. (Everyone who has known me knows about this special place).

I am not ashamed.  (I talk about this place often).

I am only dramatizing my truth; hence the following: Today is the day I tell the world. It is time to make my confession,

I love Walgreens. I have always loved Walgreens, and I cannot see myself ever not loving Walgreens.

In the past thirty days I have visited nineteen different Walgreens stores and have entered a Walgreens a total of forty-four times. As a 25 year old, I am keeping track of the Walgreens locations I visit. I am attempting to recognize how often I frequent this space. I am also tracking how many different Walgreens I can visit in one year while continuing with my day-to-day life.

I do not know how or when my love of Walgreens began. As far as I can recall, Walgreens has been a special place to/for me. The healthcare clinics have taken care of me, the pharmacists have been thorough, and the atmosphere has been exceptional. For the last twenty-five years and thirty days Walgreens has been both my pharmacy and my corner store.

There are people who describe my love for Walgreens as an obsession. It’s confusing because describing emotional states of being is challenging. To those who call me ‘obsessed’ I ask:  Is love not in part an obsession?

As I spend my 25th year sharing my love of/for Walgreens, I will also be sharing my reflections and memories associated with this company. More words are still to come. In the meantime, visit your local Walgreens.

Another new year

A few days ago I met a new year. The day was a Monday. To be more specific, it was a cold Monday. I waited around on Sunday, a cold Sunday, to meet the new year. I was aware of the change that would be occurring. I knew that in a few hours I would need to start writing 2018, instead of 2017. Becoming accustomed to writing a new year could possibly be the hardest/ most frustrating part about starting a new year. In the last few days I have seen other individuals write the incorrect year; thus, it appears as though a lot of people struggle to immediately adapt to writing a new number.

As I was writing before I detoured, I was expecting the new year’s arrival. I was anticipating the arrival as I have anticipated the arrival of many years prior to this year. The day did not feel special as I’ve met many years and understand how year’s change. Also, the day was not too different from other days. What made the day different was the knowledge that when it ended a whole year would end with it. I stayed up as I have on many nights and behaved as I tend to behave. Well, I was cleaning up after myself more quickly than I tend to in order to not have to begin the year cleaning; thus, I now see that I was preparing myself for the new year while simultaneously attempting to act and feel as I would on any other day. At the moment, other than that slight change in urgency towards household chores, nothing felt unusual about waiting for Monday. Yet, when midnight struck I felt an overwhelming urge to cry. This urge confused me as I did not expect this reaction. I am still struggling to interpret my experience on midnight. Was I sad? Was I happy? Was I relieved? scared? terrified? anxious? overjoyed? mourning a year now gone? celebrating an arrival? a new year? a rebirth? I am unsure. Were my emotions aimed at 2017? or 2018? or something else? Was I just ready for bed? hungry? thirsty? I do not know. The fireworks outside guided me to acknowledging that, although I was focused on how the day was as other days, I was also aware of how it was/would be different. Although I might have attempted to treat it like a mundane, everyday, run-of-the-mill type day, I had also ascribed symbolic meaning to the day. The day symbolized a new beginning and literally represented a new tax year.

Despite my urge to cry, I was determined not to start the year with tears. Thus, as I have done on many days, I stood up, took a conscious step with my right foot, in order to begin on the right foot, and continued moving as I have on many years.

Translating Emotions to Comprehensible Language

I enjoy attempting to read signs that are in languages I do not speak. I take pleasure from attempting to translate phrases, songs, television captions, etc., for myself. I often check for accuracy on Google Translate. To translate what is foreign to me into something familiar, I heavily rely on the languages I currently speak. I work under the assumption that all languages have a genealogical relative while simultaneously being aware of theories proposing the existence of language isolates (for instance: Basque, Korean, etc.,).  My translations from written French to English are amongst my most accurate. With every failed attempt at translation I pick-up words in new languages that later help me translate from a new language to English (i.e., new French words, in combination with knowledge of Spanish, have assisted me in understanding Catalan and Haitian Creole). There is always the risk of losing meaning in translation. There are expressions that cannot be properly translated. Communicating interlinguistically can be difficult.

As I think about languages and challenges that arise when translating information into different languages, my mind wanders towards a different type of translation that I am conducting as I aim to learn a new language. I am attempting to learn the language my feelings speak because I struggle to translate what I feel for myself; hence, often fail to communicate how I feel to others. The language spoken by my emotions and internal states seems foreign to me. It might be that my emotions are like language isolates, too unrelated to the languages I know; thus, too incomprehensible for me. In order to understand this isolate I am observing the gestures, physical reactions, and other forms of non-verbal communication my body exhibits as it attempts to communicate with my often rational mind. For many years I had turned to other people to learn about what they claimed to be feeling before making their emotions my own. This reliance on another’s emotions to understand my own has prevented me from owning my feeling and from taking ownership of the perspective allotted to me by my internal world. Today, as I try to wean away from my reliance on other people’s perspectives, I am starting to create my own understanding of the semantics of emotion-words (with the assistance of a collection of descriptions by people I encounter daily, posts on Yahoo Answers, Experience Project, and pages found while conducting simple Searches on Google). I now more heavily rely on the languages I currently speak to understand my emotional states than I had when I was mimicking the emotional states of those around me. In many situations I am still a mime, but I also see that I am spending more time rationalizing my internal experience in acts of self-reliance that assist me in my efforts to understand myself.

I remember, as a young child of either seven or eight years, I once tried to practice looking happy for picture day. As we waited in line to have our pictures taken, one of my classmates behind me in line attempted to teach me how to hold a smile for a picture; I did not achieve the intended results. Now, as an adult, I still struggle to purposely hold a smile for a picture. Facially expressing what I internally am not feeling is an act of deception I have not yet mastered. From attempting to smile when I did not want to smile, I learned that just as an individual can use spoken language to lie, many people use expressive communication to lie. I sometimes lie. My facial expressions often unintentionally deceive others– I am frequently told that I am displaying an emotion that I do not believe I am/was feeling. Of course, it is possible that I was feeling the emotion I was displaying; maybe what I perceive as an unintentional lie is an act of honest representation. I might just be unaware. Anyway,  I have many memories of being in a classroom as an angry teacher reprimanded my class. I do not remember any instance in which I did not feel the need to laugh. I am sure I smiled on many of these occasions. For a long time I assumed that laughing/smiling and wanting to laugh/smile at inappropriate times made me a bad child. As a teenager I realized that I laugh when I am uncomfortable. I translated my laughter by reflecting on the context and recalling the way my body has felt in similar situations. I depend on context to know what I feel. Context is what separates my understanding of happiness, excitement, ecstasy, love, and serenity. Context creates a distinction between frustration, irritation, confusion, anger, and sadness– emotions that feel identical to me and, if felt with noticeable intensity, can lead to tears. I use words to express a wider range of emotions than I feel.

In my case, translation is an act of subtraction and addition; I often lose my raw understanding, or lack of understanding, about what I am feeling, while simultaneously  creating a semantic network that links the emotion-word I have chosen with related concepts, and with memories of other instances in which I had chosen said word. My semantic network is constantly being re-created and the way in which I describe how I feel is continuously changing. I do not know if I am becoming more accurate or more inaccurate with my use of emotion-words. Being unaware of my emotions, failing to accurately express, and failing to effectively translate my emotions into spoken or written language, is frustrating (or confusing, or irritating, <insert emotion-word>).

 

It’s a Challenge

Being specific is difficult. It’s hard to determine exactly what I want, what I feel, what I need, what I do not need, what I’ll eat, what I will not eat, what I see, what I think I see, what I wish to see, what I will write about, what I will not write about, etc. It’s complicated; it’s difficult; it’s hard.

Sometimes I think I am being specific; then, I realize that I am being quite vague. Sometimes I pretend to be specific; to hide behind a façade.

Yes, sometimes I think that I am being specific; then, I realize that I am being quite vague. Then there are also times when I pretend to be specific to hide something away. The most complicated, and frustrating, aspect about pretending to be specific is that, even when the mask is lifted, it’s still difficult; it’s still hard; it’s still a challenge to be specific.

Is this specific to the human race?

 

via Daily Prompt: Specific

New Year, Same Me

2016 was a hard year for me. The transition out of college into full-time employment was a challenge. I realized that I greatly appreciated the routine that being a student provided me with. Now I am entering 2017 with more uncertainty, less routine, and more frustration than I felt in the beginning of 2016.

New Year’s Eve did not feel special. New Year’s day has not felt special. I think that maybe days don’t feel special because I am older now. I have had a taste of the real world were holidays are not for everyone and religious days are not holy. I have seen birthdays become reminders of lives lost and anniversaries become years couples could have spent with the other they might have loved, but did not pursue. It’s tragic; yet there is something painfully beautiful about observing another’s day-to-day. I do a lot of observing and a lot of reflecting today.

As I’ve stated, 2016 was a hard year for me. It involved a quest for personal knowledge and moments of confusing introspection. I faced mental roadblocks, hurdles, tables, and dead ends as I followed a path that could have led nowhere. I am unsure about whether or not I arrived at my destination. Early in 2016 I chose to stop, in order to ask for a direction in which to head towards while on my journey to self-understanding. That stop indirectly pointed me towards my present location. I don’t yet know if I am or am not in the right place. I don’t even know if I want to be where I am right now. I am exhausted, disoriented, afraid, frustrated, and dehydrated; but, I am not defeated.

I remember eating at a college dining hall a few years ago. Some friends and I were playing Never-Have-I-Ever with goldfish crackers. One of my friends stated, “never-have-I-ever felt alone here,” or something along those lines. We all ate a cracker. 2016 involved a lot of feeling alone. My loneliness stemmed from my insistence on focusing on my differences, when comparing myself to others, rather than focusing on how I am like everyone else. I became obsessed with changing myself. 2016 is a year I could have spent learning to love myself. Although I have a fully-developed frontal lobe, I am still thinking like my pre-full-development-of-frontal-lobe self. I still want to fit in more than I want to be me. I know that there are many people who warmly accept me as I am; I don’t need to be around people who cannot tolerate me or who are constantly frustrated  at/with me. I felt alone in 2016 because I made the choice to keep the people who matter on the outside of my journey. I chose to not provide insight into my process. I chose to not accept the responses provided by people who insisted that I am as I am because I am. I was delusional in 2016. I imagined that I could love myself only if I understood myself. I forget that love should have no conditions. I am entering 2017 with a different perspective in mind. My thoughts are less rigid and fixed; but, in the present moment, the idea of acceptance feels like failure. In regards to this, we’ll see where 2017 takes me.

New year, new me? Nah, new year, still me. I am who I am. It’s the same me in a different year. I am still growing, learning, and evolving. I am still moving in the waiting place. 2017 is just a continuation of my journey. While 2016 felt like a challenge, I still managed to make my way into the new year. Let’s see where this continuing journey takes me.

The Transient November 1, 2016

It is now November 1, 2016. This year, I have now left ten months behind me and have two months ahead. Today has been unusually warm for November. This Monday has kept me unusually busy. I am entertaining the questions arising from this existential crisis I am experiencing. I do not know if there is any meaning in anything  I do or accomplish. I don’t know if there is a point to this constant struggle. I want to say that I am done; but, my finish line is still out of sight. I cannot see it because it is dark, not necessarily because it is far. I want to say that I have countless miles to travel before I can sleep— but this would be incorrect. No one has countless miles. Everyone’s journey will one day end. My journey will one day end.

As I have on countless nights (countless because I cannot recall the number, not necessarily a literal countlessness), today I lay awake thinking about the transient nature of everything. Even the abstract concept, time, that induces panic within me as I think about the past ten months and the coming two months is transient. Everything is temporary. Finding something to hold onto that is fleeting at the same rate as which I am has proven difficult. I know this comes down to perspective. I can choose to perceive that which I wish to hold onto as passing alongside me. My problem is that I cannot presently identify anything worth holding onto. I cannot recognize the value of anything. Everything seems worthless and I, being a part of everything, am worthless.

The way in which I live is influenced by my idealism. I become frustrated and disappointed with living because there is a disconnect between my transient lived experienced and my rigid idealist mind. In many ways I am a romantic who looks back on her life with tenderness, but gazes forward in fear. Throughout my life I have learned to recognize the unpredictable nature of our temporary existence. There is a beauty in recognizing the complexity in our lives’ multidimensional essence. Simultaneously, there is something terrifying about being incapable of thinking about the uncertain future. I won’t deny that my worthless life is beautiful. I won’t deny that my my meaningless uncertain future frightens me. Since, I have ascribed the term beautiful to my life; describing it as meaningless and worthless now seems complicated. I am unsure about whether or not it is possible for something to be both worthless and beautiful. At this moment I will say that it is possible to be worthless and beautiful because the word ‘beautiful’ provides my life with a descriptive illustrative term but does not contribute any sense of expressive meaning.

I was wandering with existential thoughts, but am now taking them on walks. My fugitive mind has transitioned away from its escaped convict on the run identity. My vagabond thoughts have transitioned into ideas on a pilgrimage. My existential crisis has transformed itself into an existential calm. I am walking in my waiting place. I am moving in my thoughts.

 

 

With Pressure

There is pressure. I feel pressure. The pressure comes from within and from outside. The pressure is intense, sometimes painful, and always present. I cannot fail. I must always find a way. Despite the quantity of doors that have been, literally and figuratively, slammed before me, I continue knocking on doors. With painful bruises acquired, from countless falls, I must continue to stand. My body and mind are exhausted; yet, I am determined to do my best.

Noticing the Backyard

Yesterday, I managed to lock myself out of my home for approximately two hours. In those two hours I wandered through the back yard of the house I grew up in. I knelt on the cement, grass, and rocks. I let my hands move the earth as I explored a space I used to adore. I first admired my father’s innovation, as I looked at the fence my father made, many years ago now, to separate our yard from the neighbor’s yard. This fence is made from pipes, metal, scraps of wood, and bits of an older fence. It’s a nice fence. It’s sturdy ,and has survived many storms. As my eyes moved away from the fence, I noticed the exercise machine covering the manhole in the yard. I tried to open the manhole by lifting part of the cracked lid, but could not. The exercise machine is tied to a fence to keep it from being moved; thus, I could not easily access the manhole. It’s probably best that I do not go inside it.

I continued walking. I noticed small plants growing between most sidewalk cracks. I saw a thin tree growing through one of the many wired fences, weaving itself in and out of the fence. I found dirty dice, dirty golf balls, dirty bouncy balls, and the colorful glass rocks that had been in a fish tank I had once, as a teenager, owned. I found our, now dead, pet parakeet’s bird cage, between the branches of a dead tree that, when living, my sisters and I used to try to climb. That tree used to yield beautiful purple flowers. In front of this dead tree is a dying a peach tree– there are peach pits scattered all around it. Opposite this dying peach tree is a smaller peach tree, in a large cracked flower pot. This living peach tree has roots that are  beginning to extend out of the pot. As I continued observing I found many more plants I recognized. For example, a single cucumber vine wrapped itself around the tree that is growing around the fence. A couple tomato plants were present near the cemented parking space. These plants had yielded several cherry-tomatoes. I did not pick any. I found a spearmint plant, oregano, and several small strawberry plants. Most summers throughout my childhood, my dad would plant as much as he could in our yard (tomatoes, peppers, tomatillos, watermelon, cucumbers, strawberries, corn, radishes, etc., etc., ). In recent years, he stopped planting crops. Yet, some plants return year after year– the seeds left behind from previous years now germinate on their own. We don’t always pick the crop, sometimes we do. We don’t always notice, sometimes we do. Yet, the earth seems to remember us and the days of labor once dedicated to growing a garden in a backyard.

The sun’s heat began to bother me, so I retreated inside the old car parked in the backyard. I tried to take a nap inside it, but the heat made me too uncomfortable. I then sat on the sidewalk with my back leaning against the house, facing the yard, waiting for someone with keys to arrive.