Friday, June 26, 2015

Today I was surprised to wake up and find out about what happened in the United States Supreme Court this morning.

It seemed quiet to me, for such a big decision. But perhaps that’s just because I don’t live near any big cities.

But by now, the noise is beginning to grow. Much celebration, much dissent.

I am optimistic, and excited for my friends. Even though this came about perhaps a little more forcefully for comfort government-wise, and even though this sparks a variety of other questions and concerns for the future, I sincerely hope this is the beginning of something better.

I hope we will be able to treat each other with so much more grace than we have been. This won’t work well without it. In fact, not being able to love each other will kill our country far faster than redefining traditions ever will.

We don’t necessarily have to agree. With such a diversity of experiences, that’s just not possible. But let’s not demonize or silence each other. Let’s not hurt each other to make a point, or cheer on the ones that do. (Looking at both sides, here.)

Love wins. Christians believe that more fervently than anyone else I’ve ever met. Let’s have a little more faith in it.

Opinions aside, let’s make this a positive mark in the history books.

Thunder Egg

A/N: I had this dream about a week ago, with a kid with a rude mouth and someone very angrily trying to drown him in a fountain–and light and explosions and magicky type things. As soon as I woke up, I pulled out my notebook and started writing. The images changed shape very quickly off that first impression, and I found myself tasked with the mystery of who this kid is and where his story could possibly fit in the current book in recreational development (titled Diliken). Or what his story even is.

I’m beginning to figure it out, I think.

[This scene isn’t that scene, as that scene would be a massive spoiler for things I still haven’t a clue about. Have this considerably more snap-shot-esque one instead.]

+++

The heavy curtains were drawn, but Kennick could feel the static. Crawling along his skin, making his hair stand on end, crackling through his nerves and whispering through his head. It forced itself in, thousands of imperceptible pieces trickling into a snapping, urging swarm.

A shaft of lightning burst from behind the curtains and Kennick shoved his face into his pillow, clutching the sides of it in his tight, shaking hands. Thunder cracked to follow its light and he flinched. The roar of rain smothered the outside world but he could always feel the lightning.

“Go away.” He squirmed under his blankets, gritting his teeth as another flash split the roiling sky. “Stop it.” His shoulders tensed, his voice shuddering. “Please just stop.” He just wanted to sleep, not to hurt and boil so much inside.

He could supposedly transform reality someday, but for now, it never listened to him.

The doorknob clicked as it turned. Kennick jerked his sweat-covered face from the pillow to see who entered.

He saw the rumors of a tall white nightgown in the darkness, poking out from a dark robe. The hair and face of his master had to be in it somewhere, but she blended in well with the nearly nonexistent lighting.

“May I come in, Kennick?” she asked softly.

Kennick pushed himself up. “Yeah.”

Ix stepped forward, pulling her robe closer around herself as she glanced toward the window. “Lovely storm, isn’t it.”

Kennick sat up, pressing a hand to the sharp, pulling pain in his jaw. “No. No it’s not.”

Ix sat down beside him.

A hand found its way to his shoulder.

“I know,” she said with a sigh, her hand tightening. They contemplated the turbulent dark for a few moments. “I feel it too.”

“Really?”

She nodded. The hand lifted, and she traced a finger along the underside of her jaw line. “Right here is where it hurts. The rest is just…distracting, to say the least.”

He nodded, watching his master. She understood. Nobody had ever believed him before. About thunderstorms, fire, excessive noise. Everything that made him feel strange and jittery and overwhelmed had to do with what he could do. Ix understood that.

And not only that. She had lived with it for many more years than he had. She knew what to do with it. How to make it work.

Another surge of energy from the storm outside assailed him and he ducked forward with a whimper. He felt Ix’s hand on his back, slowly rubbing up and down his spine, dispersing the particles.

Their buzzing began to fade, and he realized she must have been taking it from him. After a few minutes, she stood up and ventured to the window. “I’ll plant something to help you sleep better.”

Kennick straightened up and twisted around to see. Ix clenched her hands together tightly. She muttered a single word, and a burst of light swept the stray hairs hanging in front of her face like a gust of wind. Carefully, she opened her hands to betray a glowing sphere about the size of a billiard ball.

She ran her fingers over its surface, identifying its boundaries, and drew a line to the ground, which she flicked under the curtains, under the terrace doors.

And gradually, Kennick began to feel less staticky.

She turned, rubbing her hands on her robe. “There. That should do it. Is that too bright?”

“No,” Kennick said quietly. “What is it?”

“A thunder egg,” she said with a wan smile. “A decoy. This should capture the majority of energy filtering in from the storm.” She passed the bed. “And keep it from reaching you.”

Kennick smiled, relieved. “Thank you.”

She nodded and continued to the door.

“Master?”

She glanced back. “Yes?”
“Any chance we’ll be learning that tomorrow?”

She smiled. “It’s a little advanced for tomorrow’s lesson. I’ll take care of things like this for now.” She took the doorknob. “Don’t touch it. I’ll dismantle it in the morning.”

“All right.” Kennick pulled his legs back up under the covers. “I won’t touch it.” With the amount of energy it would have absorbed by morning, he wouldn’t dare.

“Good night, Kennick.”

With that, she shut the door. Kennick glanced at the soft glow of the thunder egg by the window. He blinked, a faltering smile finding its way onto his face.

He lay down, slipping into sleep as soon as his eyes closed.

Camisoles, Transgenderism, and Intangible Misalignment

When I was sixteen, I bought my first two camisoles from Aeropostle. Most of the girls at school wore them under shirts and, being a gymnast, I thought it looked like a fantastic idea. I liked to feel contained, supported, closed in. I was most comfortable when I felt most packaged. Like in a leotard, for example.

Also, let’s face it, I was unpopular and a small, foolish part of me hoped I’d feel a little better about myself if I clothed myself like the girls everyone else wanted to be friends with. Especially since I’d had the unfortunate experience of being labeled a “fashion reject” when I was 12, and the sting had never really subsided.

So finally, I had decided to try the camisole my peers had fallen in love with.

And the stretchy tanktops were beautiful. I felt contained in the best way. Accounted for, secure. I could do handstands without the risk of my baggier t-shirt baring my midriff. It was reminiscent of a leotard, except something I could wear in everyday life. It made me comfortable. Very comfortable.

But when I got to school, I realized nothing had changed. And that small part of me that thought something material would calm the dysphoria was let down.

It’s a small anecdote, but it taught me something that has never left me.

Intangible pain cannot truly be treated by tangible remedies.

Tangible might numb it, might give us something to look forward to. The “If only I could be’s” or the “If only I had’s” that promise so much but in the end offer so little. The goals that, once achieved, leave us feeling empty and desperate.

Throughout high school, like many kids my age, I worried about being considered overweight. Fortunately, I was in competitive gymnastics for three of those years, training intensely—which afforded me the consolation that my body was as good as it was going to get. Still, I frequently checked my belly fat, hoping it wasn’t too much.

After high school, when the stress of college kicked in and my perfectionism and self-insecurities went into overdrive, I stopped liking my personality. I thought it was stressful and high maintenance and, if anything, I just wished for a vacation from it before I really broke. I was still insecure about my body, but the dysphoria toward my identity went far deeper.

But God was working behind the scenes, making imperceptible changes, listening, keeping me going. At some point He had to be frank with me and tell me I needed to buckle down and start believing what I knew in my head to be true: that the disappointment and insecurity and self-dislike was a deeply ingrained lie and I was worth so much more than that and it was practically my duty to stand up to it.

That year, I took Him up on it. I put my foot down and pushed into what I knew to be true. I’m human, so I still have insecurities even as I write this. But they hold no power over me.

This is what I want for other people. If they have not found God, that they find Him. Not the looming, angry God. Not the God of white picket fences and normalcy and superiority and false smiling faces. The God who humbled Himself, who broke, who died and rose again. The Father God. The God of everything-is-self-destructing-but-somehow-we’ll-make-it-through-together. The God of second and third and fourth chances. The God who understands, who hears, who intervenes, who answers in both loud and quiet ways.

He is our greatest source of peace, of hope, healing, and restoration.

In the face of all the backlash against transgenderism and sex alignment surgery that’s been flooding my Facebook feed of late, this is all I can think about. I heard a statistic that many people who have had the surgery still commit suicide, and I wonder if it’s out of desperation. Maybe they thought it would fix them completely, that maybe they would finally feel comfortable in their own skin, maybe they would finally love themselves for who they are. But having made such a crucial step and still feeling the same after all is said and done…I can’t imagine how desperate a person might feel then. When the intangible remains misaligned when everything was supposed to be fixed.

I know I can’t fully understand what that would be like, because I feel I was born into the right body. But I can understand what it’s like to feel broken, hopeless, and irreversible. I’m still misaligned in some intangible ways—lifelong projects I’d be hopeless trying to sort out alone. But God has shown me that He is stronger than dysphoria. It’s a nasty, complex trap, but He knows the way through, and He fully intends to help anyone who will take His hand.

In such a pivotal time of change and redefinition in our culture, it’s hard to know what’s what. What traditions, roles, and ideologies need to be upheld, and which are only hurting us. Who we are and what that means and what we’re supposed to do about it.

Maybe for some, sex alignment surgery is a crucial step in finding who they are, and maybe others are meant to tough it out in the body in which they were born.

But ultimately, I pray that we would all recognize in the most crucial of moments that the peace we are hurting for is God’s.

We will never be at peace without Him, and even then we aren’t fully at peace. For me, the constant, dull undirected homesickness is very hard to bear. To be alive hurts like crazy, and I feel like without God’s steadying hand, living might drive us to insanity by the end.

We each have been given a physical body. What we do with it is our choice, for better or for worse. I’ve chosen to keep mine as is (+ a few piercings and attempted teeth alignment), but everyone’s different—so who am I to say my experience is to be the enforced norm? Norms change, and they should change because we are a highly dynamic species. To resist change is to resist life.

I would argue that God cares much more about (intangible) hearts than genitals, secondary sex characteristics, and gender norms. God doesn’t always make sense, but actions speak loudly and everything He’s done in my life has pointed to the fact that He loves people more than people can ever understand, and that He’s always present and eager to help, even when it feels like He’s distant and silent. And that everything He does has a purpose, with our best interests at the forefront.

I pray that we all find Him, and feel His touch when we need it most—in all the ways it might manifest. And for all the ways we hate ourselves, I pray that God would heal and guide us to recovery, to courage, to hope.

Costa Rica part III: Tonteras, Shiro, y Choque de Cultura

The final installment of comments, much more brief than the other two posts:

+++

The last two weeks of my time in Costa Rica passed quietly. I finished my excursion with A.

I was talking with A about how I am embarrassed to take photos because I don’t want people to think I’m the kind of tourist that is just there to see things and be served in luxury. A said if you want to see the intentions of a foreigner, you listen to them. If they are speaking the language, or at least trying to, then you can tell that they’re here to learn.

I guess here many people put Americans on a pedestal. And I worry that people will think that I think I’m better. But what A said made me a little less ashamed/afraid of my skin color and my blue eyes and American Spanish. I’m here to learn and to make friends. That means something.

I finally found a Costa Rican food that I do not like: Tamarind. I hear it’s kind of an acquired taste, or that it’s not uncommon for people to all out dislike it. I tried to entertain thoughts of drinking the entire glass of tamarind fresco, but I couldn’t do it.

G and his brother C are ridiculous. I walked to the panadería (bakery) with them and it was tonteras (silliness) the entire way.

One day we went to hang out with E and I, G and R’s youngest son and wife. They live near a lot of family, so R took me to go meet everyone. It was awkward for me, but it meant a lot.

G adopted a little white, spotted Chihuahua puppy. We were thinking of something along the lines of white. We considered “Blanquito.” G asked me what snow is in English, but that word’s kind of tough to pronounce for a name. Offhand, I mentioned that white in Japanese is “shiro.” The next day, G was talking to his granddaughter and mentioning how “Shiro” sounded like a good name for the dog. It officially became the puppy’s name, though it’s pronounced more like “cheer-oh” by most people. R kept pronouncing it “chirop.” She doesn’t like dogs, but I think she’s warming up little by little to Shiro.

On June 1, we went grocery shopping and I strolled after my adopted family taking it all in. I remembered my first time, and I was kind of terrified. I was super comfortable that day, and it was nice.

R took me with her, her sister-in-law, and a neighbor to a country club to go swimming. I felt a bit like a hillbilly, since the place was so fancy, but it was fun.

I tended to have long talks with G in the evenings after R went to bed, but on one particular night, we all sat up talking. I let off steam about my anxieties of the impending travel day.

Shiro destroyed my headphones.

I watched an old horror movie with G, and I thought i could handle it, but it was quite sickening. G likes horror movies. He’s better at making himself dwell on positive things, I think, so maybe movies like that don’t get stuck in his mind as much they do in mine.

The first time I left G and R, I cried. I had never experienced anything like what they did for me, and I didn’t know if we would ever see each other again. This time, I didn’t feel so broken, because I know we’ll see each other again. I’m also, admittedly, more accustomed to goodbyes.

I still almost cried leaving them, though.

The travel day was exhausting. We landed after midnight, and I got home around 1:30am. The next couple of days I spent in a state of unmotivation, sleeping off headaches. Today I am feeling better, though I’m still culture shocked coming back.

I need to start getting everything in order to move to California in August, and I’m not yet ready to face the adult world. I don’t want to have to rush so quickly to the next thing as has been my habit for the last few years. I just want to sit for a while.

But I do have some time to do that.

I will be human.

A/N: Hey look! Fiction! Now that I’m editing two books and I have a lot more time on my hands (being between schools an all), I’ve begun flirting with other story ideas. As things are going, I’m playing with old and new concepts. Right now, it’s just scenes and doodles here and there (below is one of the former), since I should avoid hardcore book-writing mode for a while. At least until The Bioroboticist and Dragonfly are ready for submission.

This emerging story’s of a different genre. How different remains yet to be decided. So much more worldbuilding than my first two. So much possibility. I’m excited to see what it becomes.

(My fascination with biology continues.)

+ + +

Something was in the palace that had never been there before. Something potent. Something that had no business being there.

Stacea wasn’t sure how she knew, but it left a bad taste in her mouth, and made her heart beat a little too fast.

She didn’t know what, exactly, it was until she saw him. Walking along with visiting nobles, dressed simply but expensively.

And his head turned, meeting her gaze, surprised.

Stacea stiffened and retreated. Cold dread pressed against her forehead and her heart hammered hard against her chest as she just short of ran down the hallway.

She understood now. What he was. What that thing was.

He was one of her. A Perthaeam. A shapeshifter. A demon.

“Hey—” she heard his voice at the end of the hallway. Panicked, she dodged into a different corridor, headed straight for the servant passage that cut across the palace floorplan.

She reached for the doorknob but then he was in front of her. Heat and smoke burned in her throat as she swung back away from him.

“Are you all right—?” the fully-fledged Perthaeam said.

Stacea just stared at him for a moment, stunned, cornered. His scent made her bristle and itch to either bite him or hide from him. He’d chased her to ask about her well-being? Even on the outside, a noble toward a servant.

Nothing about this made sense.

He hesitated before venturing a step forward. “Do you speak the common tongue?”

Stacea nodded, retreating another step.

“What are you doing in a place like this, as ill as you are?”

“I’m not sick.” Stacea shook her head and backed up further along the wall. She looked at the doorknob, too far away now.

His eyes were green, like the sea. What Stacea had seen of it in the paintings along palace corridors, at least.

“Then what is it?” he said. “Something smells off.”

“Don’t smell me—”

He lifted his hands in a peacemaking gesture. “I’m not doing it deliberately or anything. It’s just—It’s hard to ignore. Can I help?”

“No.” Stacea shrunk away from him. His words scared her. She was not only a Perthaeam. She was apparently a blatantly ill one. “Please, just go about your human business. I don’t want any of this.”

“What do you mean?”

“I will beat this,” Stacea said, with as much resolution as she could muster. “I’m going to be human.”

His eyes narrowed. “What?”

“I can’t be overtaken by the other side,” she said. “I can’t lose myself.”

He stared at her a long moment, mouth hanging open in bewilderment. His teeth were human, his eyes, his ears. His façade was seamless. Only his scent gave him away, but Stacea doubted other humans could smell it. “But…we aren’t…” he recovered himself. “Who told you that?”

“Doesn’t matter.”

“Sure as heck wasn’t a Perthaeam, that’s clear…What have you been told?”

Stacea shifted. She knew she sounded crazy. To fight this evil fate was futile, ludicrous. No, she couldn’t think that. That’s how it would beat her, by wearing her down until she didn’t care. “That the dragon side is dangerous, evil…”

He stared at her again. “Evil?” Then he began to laugh, a soft, sandpapery sound. “Evil? There are no sides. It’s all you. It’s only evil if you are evil. It won’t take you over because it is you.”

Stacea shook her head. “But…the mood swings, uncontrollable shifting episodes, strange urges…it’s trying to destroy everything. I can’t…I don’t want it.”

He nodded thoughtfully. “Are you still fledging?”

She nodded. So that’s what it was called.

“How old are you?”

“18.”

His brow furrowed. “18?”

“Yes.”

He blinked. “You’re at least a year late—how did that happen? That never happens naturally—” He cut himself off. His demeanor grew earnest. “Listen, whatever you’re doing to yourself to try to curb this, you need to stop. It isn’t healthy. Fledging can be a confusing, frustrating process, but you’re making it so much worse by fighting it. And you might permanently compromise your health. We’re an extremely resilient species, but there is a limit.”

Panic tightened around Stacea’s throat. Anger, futility. “But—I can’t be a—” She hated to even say it. “—a dragon. I can’t go through this here.”

“Well as long as you stay here, it’s going to happen here,” he said, kindly but gravely. “I’d recommend finding someone you trust who also understands, who will support you. They don’t have to be Perthaeam. Also, find a safe place, secluded, easily accessible, with ample room. Enough to fly in.” He sized her up. “Your upright form is pretty small, I would assume your anguine is on the small side as well?”

“It’s huge…” she said, timorously, assuming he meant the dragon side. “I don’t know how huge yet.”

He shrugged. “Dragons are big. It’s a matter of perspective.”

“How—” she faltered. “How big is…”

“My other form?” he glanced around the corridor. “This hallway would be a tight fit, but I could probably cram myself in here.”

Stacea took a look around as well, knots twisting her insides. That was huge. “And how do you line up on the—the spectrum?”

“I consider myself pretty average in size, though I haven’t met many other Perthaeam,” he said. “My mother says females tend to be bigger.”

Stacea’s heart sank like a stone.

+ + +

Costa Rica Part II: Quepos, Cartago, y muchos pensamientos andando en bús

More freewriting from my phone. I can’t believe I only have 11 days left here. I’m anxious to get back to the United States and start working more hardcore on preparing to move to California, but I will also be really sad to leave.

I find myself in a predicament now. I miss my home country, but as soon as I go back, I’ll miss Costa Rica. I still can’t quite believe that I’m here. That I made it and have already spent almost three weeks abroad completely of my own volition, to spend time with loved ones, make new friends, and see new places. It’s been wonderful.

Already, we talk of the next time. I hope that time comes soon.

+++

Day 7

It’s raining super hard.

No cockroaches for a while.

I finished a notebook. :)

Fun fact, cockroaches undergo incomplete metamorphosis. They don’t have a grub stage. Which I appreciate. I hate grubs, and cockroaches are gross enough.

I injured something I thought was a cockroach but was actually something probably harmless. I think it eats ants and stuff. I let it live. I knew it was probably in pain because I smashed it, but I couldn’t bring myself to kill it. It slowly wandered around for a while. I found it dead under my bed the next morning. It looked like some kind of isopod (same family as saw bugs and roly-polies. A cute little bug. I feel bad for hurting it. :’((

Day 8

I couldn’t sleep until like 4am. So I woke up late.

I spent a long time working up the nerve to bestow G and R’s grandkids’ birthday presents. I was afraid it would be kind of lame of me to give them something I would enjoy…since I’m obsessed with writing.and K was excited about the quality of notebooks. He looked at it for a long time and showed people. It made me happy.

Day 9

We’re goin’ to the beach! Quepos in the Puntarenas province.

In San Rafael, the buildings are close together, the roads narrow and uneven and often dirty, there are gates everywhere on everything and a lot of signs have been bleached by the sun. Where I come from, this betrays a poor, often dangerous area, and I think that freaked me out the first time I was here.

But it’s not that way. There are different rules, different ways of thinking and different societal priorities and availability of resources. Perhaps that’s why I thought Costa Rica looked eerily like the United States. It’s very westernized in some ways, but it’s very much its own country and things looked similar, but perhaps more in a convergent evolution kind of deal.

I keep randomly thinking that I hope I get into the AAU illustration program, but then I remember that I already have.

The beach in Quepos is so hot and humid omg.

There’s a show here called “Caso Cerrado.” (Case Closed). It’s super dramatic. Like Judge Judy except probably more dramatic. Latin American TV is interesting. It has vibes of Japanese variety shows.

Somebody just buzzed by on one of those things you see in the mall or airport.

I fell asleep in a hammock and woke up and the sun had already set. Dang.

G offered me a pastilla de miel (honey pill). It tastes like a cough drop.

I have gathered that “chuncha” means “thing.” I’m probably wrong.

G y R have still been telling people about my robot brain, about how es como máchina and they’ve been trying to find ways to quitar la máchina. I fell asleep in the hammock and I think they counted that as a victory.

Day 10

We slept outside because it was so hot. I slept in spurts. It started thundering in the middle of the night, but it never all out rained, though I was concerned. There were a bunch of black ants freaking out over a dead avejón (kind of like a junebug), and some made it onto my inflatable mattress. Something bit my hand a few times in the night. Bugs don’t leave me alone. R says, “Sara es tan dulce por los bichos.”

It’s 6am and I am awake. Not sure what to think of this.

We were about to enter the beach when they asked me if I had brought my passport. Apparently, I need it? Maybe I wasn’t paying attention earlier? I guess the park needs my passport so they can charge me more for being a foreigner.

R’s brother asks for directions for everything.

Saw a big red dragonfly. :)

Went to Manuel Antonio Parque Nacional. Saw sloths and capuchins and crabs and hermit crabs and iguanas, sat in the sea and got a little sunburnt.

Eating on the beach was prohibited, of which I was informed the moment someone deposited a bunch of chips into my hands. I ate them as quickly as I could. I’m a foreigner, I should behave myself.

G likes to take pictures of me sleeping. He’s a huge perpetual tease. He should make a collage or something…

Missed the sunset again because I was sleeping in the hammock. For like three hours…but at least I wasn’t the only one sleepin. Three of the others hung out and napped. It was pretty fun. Though, without fail, G got a gross sleeping picture of me.

I burnt my shoulders on the beach. I’m not sure why I thought bringing SPF 50 was a good idea. It’s like plastic. So intense it doesn’t absorb and it rubs off like weak silly putty. Luckily, my face didn’t burn. It gets pink enough because it looks practically transparent here. And my face skin gets really sad for a long time when it burns.

I’m in Costa Rica with my adopted Costa Rican family talking Spanish in the background, listening to Japanese music, and writing/editing in English. What is my life? Besides colorful and confused?

I think it’s silly little wall lizards that make kissy chirpy sounds at night in the walls. In the house in Heredia, I thought it was a neighbor’s late-night parrot or something, but there are lots of lizards here in Quepos, and I’m always hearing the chirping from near where they are hiding.

This evening, I’m extremely tired and I’m unnerved because I don’t think I should be this exhausted. Perhaps it’s just the last few days I’ve spent without much of a chance to stop socializing and retreat unashamed into my head.

Day 11

A weird night got even weirder. R fell ill and had to go to the hospital. I was moved inside, while everyone else prepared the house to leave in the morning. Nobody slept all night, except me. I slept for a few hours.

The next morning I waited around for a long time. There are a bunch of magpies outside flirting and feeding their babies, and chirping lizards in the walls.

An iguana has come to hang out. I want to give it food, but I’m being plagued by bugs as it is. I don’t need other animals wanting food from me.

I’m going to R’s brother’s house in Heredia because R and G are at the hospital. I was really stuck in my head today, unable to understand or speak much. For a long time, I was too timid to ask how R was doing. I felt like a little kid, or like I had regressed to the first time I was here. It was extremely frustrating.

I stayed at their house for an hour or so, after which R and G’s son picked me up and brought me home. G was sleeping. R was still at the hospital, but doing better. I talked with people for a while. When G woke up, we talked for a long time, which was much needed. I finally got out of my head talking to him and his daughter-in-law.

Day 12

I slept in so much longer than I wanted. Now there are lots of people here and it’s 11:30am and I just sat up. R’s already back home, which was a surprise to me. She’s still not 100%, but she seems to be herself again. She’s sleeping right now.

I should just get my computer because I’m internetting up a storm on my phone…but I don’t want to.

I started drawing and next thing I knew, one of the grandkids was sitting, drawing next to me. We drew pictures together for a long time.

Day 13

I’m leaving for Cartago today, on invitation by A, one of the students renting space in G and R’s home. I’m going to return on Monday. I think it will be better for R to relax if I’m not around.

I’m feeling more confident now around the house, after G and I talked for a long time, that I was like family, so I could go ahead and do whatever, make myself at home without worrying about stepping on toes. So far it’s been good.

G is listening to 70’s love songs. He likes romantic music.

The roads are narrow and bumpy and filled with cars, yet buses go with little trouble.

Sitting on the bus, I’m kind of aware of the fact that I’m white. Sharp nose, light hair, light, rosey skin tone, blue eyes. People don’t stare or anything, but I’m aware I’m tall and of a different color palette, and definitely not invisible on the street.

Nobody wants to practice English. They all say better for me to keep practicing Spanish. *sigh* You’re missing your chance, guyz.

It takes a very chill kind of person to just go and travel and feel at home anywhere. I am not such a person. I like things to make sense, I like things to be familiar, I like to be able to communicate with ease. I don’t like to feel small and afraid and lost and dependent and stuck in my own mind.

Yet I travel, I study, I work. Because I want to learn. I want to grow. And I refuse to grow stagnant.

And as I learn new things, I become comfortable in them, in being with new people, in speaking a different language, in learning about different places. The process of large-scale exploring, even, I’m becoming more familiar with.

And as I lay here in an unfamiliar bed in a bedroom in a place I have never been before. I find I feel safe.

Day 14

I lay in bed for a long time. Not really tired, just not really ready. I’m going to be here for two more days and two more nights. I’m just generally tired. I kind of wish this was a little later after getting back from Quepos. But I suppose I’m traveling, so I should travel as much as possible. Though I dislike being away from G and R. I have only 2 weeks left in Costa Rica, and I don’t know when I’ll be able to return. That makes me sad. :(

Sitting in the living room, I casually survey the foot sizes. My feet are huge…and they look bigger in chuck taylor’s.

I’ve noticed I don’t see a lot of homeless people here. There are setups of places where people have squatted, sort of shantytown-esque, but you don’t see a lot of people just laying around on the side of the road. There’s probably more of that in the big cities like the capitol. I saw one person in Heredia. But maybe people are generally more resourceful, or having a more collectivistic culture, they help each other out more.

It’s interesting how you can see a culture’s beauty standards reflected in manakins.

Driving here in Costa Rica, you have to be quick, aggressive, and resourceful. The roads are insane. Lines are suggestions more than anything else.

Andamos en muchos buses. Practice for San Francisco.

Just passed a house with toy dinosaurs hanging all over the bars of their patio, like hanging on by themselves. It was cute. :)

There are lots of schools in Cartago.

In Costa Rica, cemeteries are very white, with tombs of white tile and flowers.

Going to Costa Rica the first time, I never would have thought I’d find family, and that 2 years later, I’d be back for another month, with intentions of coming back again and again. This time around, I can say I really do like Costa Rica.

A, T (her roommate), and I went to the lookout in Orosi this afternoon. It was really pretty.

There are yellow lines on the side of the road that mark bus stops. It makes so much sense now…

I met for the second time A’s sister and husband, and we talked for a long time. They’re language professors and are absolutely hilarious.

A’s mom is from an indigenous ancestry. A cares a lot about what happened to the indigenous peoples at the hands of Spain, and she wants to help pull their cultures and languages to the forefront of the social and lingual consciousness of Costa Rica.

Costa Rica part I : Bichos y café y mucha conversación.

As a lot of you know, I’m in Costa Rica right now! Visiting my familia tica whom I grew close with while studying abroad and the 2 years of weekly Skyping we managed to keep up. They are amazing and I blush lots because I love them so much.

My Spanish is coming back pretty quickly. I should take to writing down new words, though…that might help.

I’ve been writing random little notes on my phone—written verbal processing, I guess.

I will proceed to dump those on you with minimal revision.

+

Day one:

Upon arrival in Costa Rica, I had an unfortunate encounter with a toilet. An automatic toilet that didn’t flush on its own and when I clicked the manual flush, it flushed so long and with such gusto that the water just got higher and higher and I thought it was going to overflow. So I freaked the crap out and almost forgot my passport in the stall. So then I had an adrenaline kick and was super jittery for a good 15 minutes—during which I went through immigration, baggage claim, and customs.

I had a sudden overwhelming inundation of homesickness and I milled around my room hunting for my nightlight (yes I brought one of those) for an hour or so…I didn’t think I would feel this, but I think it’s mainly because I’m so worn out.

Day two:

I slept until real late and the first thing I did this morning was kill a cockroach. Then I met somebody without having brushed my teeth or made sense of my hair because everyone was hanging out in the kitchen and there is no other way to the bathroom from my room.

My Spanish is lacking this “morning.” (afternoon)

My host family were concerned the mattress was too hard for me. This afternoon, I was sitting at the table writing and I saw they were changing the mattress in their bedroom (I can see it from the table), and I suspected they were switching out mine with a softer one. When I ended up in my room again, I felt the bed, and sure enough. Ah well. It is comfortable, and softer.

 

Day three:

It was hard to sleep because my mind was too excitable.

I want to come to a place where I go to bed at a decent time and get up at a decent time. Maybe little by little I’m getting there…

I finally figured out the shower. It’s not like American showers.

Apparently May is cockroach breeding season. Apparently they eat fabric. I have found 3 in my room in 2 days’ time.

Today we went to my host dad’s sister’s house and we talked for a long time and she and her daughter-in-law M made us food and really good strawberry smoothies. M speaks some English and when we left, she told me something in English, and it was such a breath of fresh air—even only three days in. I disarmed very quickly, because I didn’t have to concentrate to understand or act like I knew what was going on when I only understood a part of the conversation.

I am not very helpful. -.-

I brought tea and coffee and we’re going to drink the coffee now. A little taste of home. I forgot how strong French Roast is. My host mom really likes the tea I brought them, which makes me happy. ^^

“Novela” in Costa Rica apparently means TV drama (think Korean drama). Luckily, my host family gathered that the “novelas” that I am writing are not those types of stories. (Very much not my thing.)

¿¿Qué demonios acabo de matar?? Translation: I killed something very strange on the wall. I don’t know if I’ll ever know what it was. (update day 4: I killed another one. Still don’t know what it is, as hard as I googled for it.)

Day four:

I can’t seem to sleep all the way through the night, or fall asleep quickly. I’m not sure why. I keep waking up and it is only after 6am that I can sleep through until 9 or 10.

My familia tica is trying to figure out what would help me sleep better. I’m thinking it’s more that I’m still in school mode and I’m used to being exhausted and being on vacation, my mind is wound a little too tightly. That or I’m eating too much too late at night, drinking coffee too late. Or I’m not writing or drawing enough to satiate my brain.

4th cockroach killed in my room.

My host parents and I talked about homosexuality today (I actually didn’t bring the subject up this time. It follows me.). They are very chill about the subject. It sounds like a lot of Costa Ricans are. :)

I love how parakeets and parrots live outside in Costa Rica and I hear them bickering and stuff from trees and buildings.

My spotify commercials are in Spanish…IT KNOWS

I JUST FINISHED DRAGONFLY!!!! My second book and the end of a series of I’m not sure how many books. Depends on how I decide to divide it up. Likely 3 books. I don’t know if the first one (The Bioroboticist) divides well enough to be two books, though it is big enough to divide.

5th cockroach killed in my room.

Day five:

In Costa Rica, YOU KILL BUGS.

Costa Rican Spanish has taught me a lot about the fluidity of words. They arbitrarily change words to include “tico,” “ito,” or “illo.” For example avacado = aguacate –> aguatico. “Tico” is also the name Costa Ricans call themselves, and I find that extremely adorable.

My familia tica were talking tonight and got on the a subject in which I explained how my mind works in needing to write all the time. My host mom said it was like a machine and I told them about my roommate and my joke that I’m and andoid, and as I was explaining more about my brain, she said something to the effect of, “You really are like a robot!” Which made me happy.

The “qué demonios” bug is some kind of black and white caterpillar with a dust bunny home. I think it’s more interested in wedging itself inside the wall than invading my bed.

Day six:

People walk all over the road in Costa Rica. Cars go fast, but they’re prepared for people.

I feel like I’m stuck in my own head a bit, not being as well spoken in Spanish as I am in English.

My host parents have mentioned my robot brain a few times in our conversations, especially when I told them I ended up staying up super late writing in a fit of inspiration. I think they think it’s both hilarious and concerning, my preoccupation with writing. They’re trying to get me to relax. I should get up at a decent time.

My host mom’s aunt brought cockroach killer. Yeeesss.

I’ve been listening to REVERSI by UVERworld on repeat today. I don’t know why.

I’ve already landed on a new project, but I’m mostly flirting with ideas, playing and experimenting and worldbuilding, as I now have two large novels to prepare for publication so I shouldn’t start hardcore writing on another. I’m hoping what takes shape will be very different than the series I just finished. My brain does not stop.

Checking in before I’m off again!

A short status update because apparently I haven’t posted in an entire month?

Wow.

Quite a bit has happened. The last three weeks of school were a blur.

A week ago today, I graduated from university with a BA in Biology with an English Emphasis and a Spanish minor. Two days after that, I received a phone call from my admissions counselor at Academy of Art University–the only art school whose graduate illustration program I applied to because it sounded too wonderful for me to want to go anywhere else–and I was informed that I got into the program! I’m going to graduate school to become an illustrator and a comic-artist! Needless to say, I spent the rest of the afternoon calling family and friends to tell them the news.

What this means is, God willing, I will be moving down to San Francisco with friends to find work and attend art school. I’m so excited for what this new chapter will bring.

I’m also soon to finish my second novel. I had meant to finish it before school ended, but everything got in the way. I’m taking it steady, making sure all the ends are tied, etc. My other novel is being torn apart again. I’m looking forward to what other projects will take shape this year.

And, finally, this post is so incredibly short and anticlimactic because I’m leaving for Costa Rica in the morning (middle of the night)! I’ll be spending a month visiting my host family, who I grew close with while studying abroad. We’ve been skyping almost every week for about two years and I’m super excited to be able to see them in person again. To share an entire month with them. Not to mention this time around will not be my first time traveling alone or outside the country, so I’ll be considerably more at ease.

So the rest of tonight, I’m finishing up preparations and I’ll try to get some sleep sometime in there. I’m not looking forward to my 6am flight or the 6-hour layover, but I’m excited.

Adventure is afoot.

Stress is gray

Undergraduate senioritis is so much worse than high school senioritis.

I’ve been carrying around a can of Red Bull for four weeks. But I haven’t yet found circumstances dire enough to willfully consume this failsafe. I feel like whatever I need to be able to pull through the remainder of this semester, caffeine and taurine’s not going to cut it.

I have been drinking a lot of coffee, though. But more as comfort food.

I’m not so much sleep deprived as utterly and completely burnt out. At this point, I think I’m too far gone for any stimulant, direct or indirect, to be able to remedy that.

It’s time to get psychological, I think.

When I think of doing homework, my insides shrivel up and it feels like every bit of life housed in every one of my body’s cells is opposed to the concept of fulfilling my academic duties. But it’s just homework! What’s the big deal? Learning is good. I like learning.

But this semester’s been hard, and these days, I really can’t be bothered to care enough.

The scary thing is, I felt the burnout last semester, but my reluctance to devote time to academics stemmed mostly from an acute need to further my creative pursuits. This semester, I still have the need, but the motivation to do anything is declining fast.

Bedtime is my favorite time now. That has never been the case up until this point. Two weeks ago, I legitimately woke up in the morning and thought, disillusioned, that I would have to go the entire day before I could crawl back into bed again. Which was quite unnerving to me.

I don’t want to do homework, but I find myself not wanting to do anything else either. Not writing, or drawing, just nothing. That and the very definition of my existence does not compute. What happened to “I’ll sleep when I’m dead?” What happened to actively pursuing coffee dates with friends? What happened to spending time outside or making time for people? Playing video games and practicing backflips when the weather’s nice or drawing cartoons until the sun comes up?

Gradually, I see the world of “boring adults” in a different light.

Prolonged stress. This is what it does to us.

If I could use a color to describe myself right now, gray is the color I would name. Without hesitation, without deliberation.

Gray.The color of stress, of fatigue, of burnout.

I find myself wasting a lot of time, sitting still for hours on end doing nothing of consequence, never fully fixing my mind on anything for a particular span of time. I think I need to keep better tabs on myself. Not create a meticulous schedule for myself per se, but make sure I’m engaged or that I’ve deliberately disengaged instead of dismally floated off into a stupor, or cycled through social medias three times in a 10 minute span.

I feel like my current way of doing things is slowly killing me. If I’m avoiding something, I should deliberately avoid it and do something that will keep my mind off it and recharge my courage a bit instead of letting the looming obligation constantly suck energy out of me. When I decide to work on it, I’ll work on it.

But I do wonder if I have the energy to do this. To simply not sometimes, instead of fill the fatigue with noise.

Perhaps I can pull it off.

I know this state is temporary, because I’m peace-ing out in three weeks and moving on to new things.

Until then, the remainder of this semester stretches before me like endless nails on a chalkboard. But perhaps I can find gratification in work completed instead of endless distraction.

I want to be excited and optimistic, make the most of the countdown.

But I’m not making much out of anything right now. Only making myself sad.

And I’m not usually willing to accept things as is, so I think there has to be a way to fix that.

Still, if all else fails, I’ll be free in three weeks.