Rudolph

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (the 1964 original) has always been my absolute favorite Christmas movie of all time. For as long as I can remember, I’ve watched it several times during the Christmas season. It’s one of those things that never gets old. Just like the Polar Express–that’s my second favorite. 

Anyway, a few years ago, I realized that Rudolph’s story is more than just a fun holiday tale. It has a message, one that was especially encouraging to me during that time of my life. The very thing Rudolph was rejected for–his glowing nose–saved Christmas in the end.

Excuse me while I go watch it again.

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What do I need right now, you ask?

Recently, someone told me, “Wow, the person you were over the summer is a totally different person than the person you are now. You’re like two different kids.”

Well, thanks. That totally helps better my life and make me feel absolutely awesome about myself. It’s amazing how tactless people can be. And, in truth, I’m not much of a different person. In fact, I’m exactly the same. Just because my life isn’t awesome with a cherry on top doesn’t mean I’m not the same person. And saying that I’m not the same person is, to me, kind of implying that I’m a worse person than I was in July or August. I’m a project. I’m a box that needs to be checked off the to-do list. I’m the main focus of Operation Fix Abigail. So many people around me have been treating me like a disease. I just need to be cured. It seems like everywhere I go, I get the same treatment:
“Gosh, what happened to you?”
“Why are you in such a dark place?”
“You’re not okay. You need help.”

Oh. My. Gosh. Look, I understand that everyone wants July-Abigail back. So do I. I get it. But having it shoved in my face all the time is not going to make me suddenly appear with a smile and a sense of self-worth. Telling me over and over again that I’ve changed is not going to make me change back, okay? It just makes me feel guilty and bad about myself.

I’m going to use the cave analogy, because everyone’s talking about this “dark place” I’m in. Whatever. Fine. Say I am sitting in a cave. Then people show up with flashlights and blankets and provisions and start screaming, “IT’S GOING TO BE OKAY. WE WILL GET YOU OUT OF HERE.” Other people show up at the entrance of the cave and bellow, “Just make the cave go away. Make it disappear. Stop hating light.”
I understand that both are trying to help, but you know what I really want? You know what would really make me feel loved and understood? If someone could just come in the cave without flashlights and first aid kits and overwhelming concern, sit next to me, and say, “Hey. You’re in a cave. Been there. Wanna talk about pizza toppings?”

Smothering me in love makes me uncomfortable and drives me to distance myself. This is not the movies; pouncing on me will not make me feel appreciated. I want to be understood. I don’t always want to talk about my problems. Talk to me about food. Talk to me about my favorite songs. Hang out with me at the park so we can laugh about stupid things. Do it without any motive. Do it because you really want to, because you like spending time with me.

You ask what I really need right now? That’s what I need right now.

 

 

 

Oh, the Holidays.

Around the Thanksgiving/Christmas time of year, everyone puts on their “oh my gosh I don’t want the relatives to see how much of a mess my life is” face. Or is it just me? Anyways, everyone gets insanely happy and filled with holiday spirit–and you know, I can understand that. I love this time of year myself. But the thing about the holidays, at least how I’ve seen it, is that it’s a time where society looks down on you if you’re not a hundred percent happy with life. “YOU’RE SAD? YOU’RE NOT THANKFUL.” It feels frustrating. During the Thanksgiving and Christmas season, I try to force myself to be happy all the time. It feels guilty to be anything but full of joy. I’m a privileged suburban kid who can’t fit all the Thanksgiving on her plate at one time.

So at the start of November (that’s about when everyone starts getting holiday-crazy), I try to force myself to be happy all the time. It must look pathetic to any outsider, the things I do to attempt to accomplish this.
“No. Feel. Happy. Feel. Happy.”
“No dessert until you get happy.”
“You’re listening to this sappy dance music on repeat until it makes you happy.”

Then everyone’s like “oh, you’re just not thinking about the things you’re thankful for. Be more grateful, Abigail.” I am grateful. Honestly, I acknowledge that I don’t have a reason to feel sad any of the time, and I’m probably better off than most of the people in the world. I am grateful. It’s frustrating how little people actually understand.

I end up feeling bitter toward people who seem overly cheery. When I feel sad, everyone around me seems like a spinning blur of smiles and love and roses. It’s like they’re all mocking me. Then I start wishing that those people could take all their happiness somewhere else, but then I realize that’s selfish of me.

These are the three responses I’ve been getting:

  1. “Stay strong! It gets better! It’s going to be okay! I love you! God loves you! Everyone loves you!”
  2. “Well, just make yourself happy then.”
  3. “You’re choosing sadness. Shame on you. Condemnation. You want attention and pity.”

Not exactly worded like that, but that’s how it feels being received. Is there anybody, anybody at all, who can just stop and at least make an effort to understand me?

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. Merry beginning-of-Christmas. I promise I’ll write something more grateful and cheery tomorrow. I try.

I was forbidden from racing wooden cars.

As a child, I was part of this program for girls and boys (it was sort of like Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts, but weirder). One of my favorite things about the program was making pinewood derby cars. We got to design, carve, paint, and finally race the blocks of wood on a track. Sitting out in the backyard painting our cars became a family tradition.

When I got to fifth grade, I had to move to a different program location (the location we’d been going to didn’t have enough kids to keep doing it). I didn’t think it would be that much of a change. When it came time for the wood cars, I had many ideas for my latest design. But, according to the leader of the program at that location, “girls don’t do that kind of thing.”

I never had the opportunity to make another pinewood car. The girls never learned to tie knots or pitch a tent like the boys. We were never allowed to play basketball or ball games like the boys did. Do you know what we did? We baked cookies in the kitchen. Don’t you dare tell me something is not messed up with that.

I just felt like I needed to write this. It’s one of those things that still makes me really angry.

 

Yellow Jackets Ruined Recess

It was a sunny, that recess during first grade. Everything was going as expected. I was playing alone, but it didn’t bother me–I liked playing by myself. It was more imaginative that way. I was gripping the yellow railing to the playground equipment, when I saw a fuzzy, yellow and black striped caterpillar. Before I could stop myself, my hand came down on it.

Ouch.

That was no caterpillar. That was a yellow jacket. With a bleeding hand, I approached my teacher and calmly explained what happened. I was surprised that I wasn’t crying–usually bleeding made me cry.

No, the sting didn’t make me cry, but it affected me in much worse ways.
It ruined recess that year.

I was terrified of setting foot on the playground equipment. For the rest of the year (or at least the majority of it), I paced around all by myself–with my imaginary friend Anna, of course. It wasn’t too bad. I talked to Anna and held her hand like I would any friend. Still, I longed to take my invisible playmate onto the brightly colored palace of slides and monkey bars.

Okay. That’s it. Just a random memory.

Squishy Dinosaur

My preschool class had this really cool dinosaur play area. Dinosaurs of many different types, colors, and sizes were kept in a box next to a mat with designs of trees, rivers, and other natural land features. If my high school had a dinosaur play area, I’d still hang out there all the time. (Can we petition that–to put a dinosaur play area in every high school? Come on, let’s do this!) Because I was not confined to the inaccurate and unfair gender stereotypes that state that little girls can’t play with trucks, trains, and other “boy toys,” I spent a good amount of play time there.

My favorite dinosaur was a smallish green T-Rex. It wasn’t hard plastic like the others; it was squishy and probably rubber. One day, I saw two other little boys playing in the dinosaur area. Naturally, I wanted to join in their game. I dug through the dinosaur box and found my special squishy friend.

“Can I play with you?” I asked, placing my dinosaur’s feet on the play mat.
“No.”

I was crushed. Nobody (at least not that I can remember) had ever refused to let me play with them before. Rejected, I sat at the other end of the mat and fiddled with my little T-Rex all alone.

A similar thing happened a year later, in pre-kindergarten. Instead of dinosaur play mats, however, it was an issue of a fifth birthday party invitation. Two girls were talking about a fun Powerpuff Girl-themed celebration, complete with a moon bounce, balloons, and cake. Excited (though I had no interest in the Powerpuff Girls), I approached the two girls.
“Can I come to the party?”
“No.”

This time, however, the teacher had to interfere.
“You have to let Abigail come to your party.”

I did end up being invited. The only thing I remember is falling over, accidentally rolling upside-down on the moon bounce and then feeling embarrassed, and being disappointed that the birthday girl didn’t open her presents until after the guests had left.

Some similar type of event happened each year after that. You know, like always being the very last one picked for schoolyard sports games in fifth and sixth grade. Things of that nature. Each year had its own squishy dinosaur event.

Speaking of that squishy dinosaur, I think I may have one just like it in my house somewhere.

Loving all the enemies!

I really apologize for having nothing to write about other than memories and whatnot. I truly hope I’m not boring anyone. My present isn’t anything to write about–well, nothing I’d put in public or the Internet. My future is too shaky to really discuss. What does that leave? The past.

Sixth grade. Honestly, I still sort of admire my sixth grade self. It surprises me that I actually had that much strength in me. Then I start wondering where all that strength went.
Sometimes bad experiences change us for the better. For me, that was sixth grade. After fifth grade’s terrible experiences, I decided to be the sweetest, most accepting little girl anyone had ever met. I tried my hardest to put kindness into practice and make it a priority, even when people hurt me.
So, in sixth grade, some drama happened with three girls. Two of the girls had been my friends formerly, and one of those two stopped being friends with me unexpectedly. This is where my desire to be kind was tested. I could’ve retaliated to all the hate I got from those three, but I refused. This is where I admire the random strength I had in sixth grade: I still chose to love and care about those girls, no matter how they hurt me. I remember thinking a whole lot about Jesus–how he’d basically been hanging there bleeding and dying for the people who were killing him. I wanted to be like Jesus. I wanted that kind of love and forgiveness. No, I wasn’t perfect–of course I still messed up–but I did my best.
And somehow, through it all, I didn’t completely lose hope. I didn’t really pray all that much, but I do remember this one time. It was a bitter day in December. The only warm thing about sitting out there in the cold was my tears. It was then, while I was sitting on the back of the car, that I started praying–not for my circumstance, but for the lives of those three girls. In the worst months, I sat out there and prayed for the very people who were making those months hard for me. At school, I did my best to be as kind to those girls as I could.
My school had a rule that if Valentines were to be given to one student in the class, they had to be given to all the students in the class. The Saturday before the fourteenth, I spent the whole day making personalized, handmade cards with an encouraging word and compliment for every student in my class. On Valentine’s Day, everyone handed out their cards. One of the three girls (the girls whom I prayed for) had also made handmade cards. I watched her hand them out–they were made of brightly colored foam, and they had stickers and googly eyes on them. Then I got mine.
It was brown construction paper. Black marker. No stickers, no decoration. No smiley face. It read:

abby,
happy valentine day

I felt like crying when I received that Valentine. It was almost worse than if I’d gotten no card at all. But then I remembered–I’d made very special cards for everyone. I passed them out. The very moment after I was given that ugly piece of construction paper the color of dog excrement, I handed the girl the card I’d made just for her–a large purple heart with designs, and a personalized note.
Her face changed.
She stared at it for a very long time.
It was only a matter of days before she and one of the other three girls apologized and asked to be friends. About two months later, the other girl did the same.

Today, I’m still friends with two of those three girls (I had a falling out with one of them shortly after I began the seventh grade), and they are both very wonderful people. I still find it amazing. I mean, how many people can say that? I believe that if I’d retaliated and tried to fight fire with fire, the outcome might have been very different.

I like that sixth grade me. I want to pray for the people who have hurt me more. I want to be kind not only to the people who I love, but the people whom I find harder to love. The easy thing to do when someone hurts us is to find some way to get revenge. It’s harder to keep calm and practice forgiveness. Of course, that doesn’t mean we should be doormats and let everyone walk all over us. It’s important to stand up for ourselves (I’m still working on that one). But standing up doesn’t mean lashing out at the other person.

Again, I find it harder to forgive than to seek revenge. It’s difficult, but it’s so much more rewarding than revenge. And when you think about it that way, being kind is actually pretty badass.

 

Fifth Grade

I blog a whole lot about the past. It’s probably because the present isn’t really anything to blog about at the moment, and maybe I’m just an overly nostalgic, past-looking person. It probably gets annoying just hearing about my past all the time. And I will admit–I’m obsessed with the past. My own past, the past of the country and of the world and of humans…history. I love history.

History tangent aside, fifth grade was the beginning of everything. If life is a book, I’d probably consider that the inciting event after a ten-year exposition. Although everyone grows a little every year, I feel like many people have a year where they “really grew up.” Fifth grade was that year for me. I got my big-kid eyes. The obnoxious kid I was at the beginning of September was nothing like the shy-ish girl in June.
It’s not like everyone actively sought me out and attacked me the whole year. It wasn’t like that. In fact, for the first few months of the school year, nobody really talked about me at all. I’d walk by and get the classic eye-roll. People just walked away from me. I was pushed out of groups. For those months, nobody went out of their way to hurt me–they just excluded me and showed a general contempt for me. A quiet contempt. For me, that was almost as bad–feeling like I was too crappy to even be crapped on.
So when people became more open about how much of a worthless loser I was, my way of consoling myself was trying to force myself into believing that it was “really a step up.” I clearly remember saying it: “It’s a step up. At least I’m not being ignored.”

And so it had begun. I became the “emotional breakdown” girl–the one always in the bathroom crying, or always getting pulled out and talked to by the teacher. As you can imagine, it just did wonders for my self-esteem and social status. By the end of the year, I was a completely different person. The days of pouring milk in my salad, breaking into song and dance in the middle of class, and trying to join in on all the cool girls’ games had ended. I had accepted the fact that everyone saw me as inferior. At the end of the year, when we had to write goals for sixth grade, my goal was this:

“I hope not to be a weird jerk like this year.”

And by jerk, I didn’t mean horribly unkind or disagreeable. I didn’t really understand the meaning of that word. I really meant “weird loser,” but couldn’t find the word for it.

The reason I write so much about fifth grade is that I want people to realize that everyone deserves to be respected and included. Really. We all know some kids–and they’re different. They stand out. Maybe they put milk in their salad, or they’re a little obnoxious and loud. Maybe people see them as annoying. All I’m trying to say is that you need to include these people, too. These people have feelings and are not any less than you or anybody else. They are humans like you. When you really think about it, they aren’t that different. You both have flesh and blood and feelings and futures and pasts and presents. 

Okay. i don’t know how to end this post yet again. So…goodbye. And don’t worry, I have more past to spew. I’ll never run out. Ever. Because eventually, the present will become the past. See? Snap your fingers. That snap is now in the past. It will never be again.

Ooh, so deep I’m drowning! Deep thoughts! Deep thoughts! Deep thoughts!

Spelling Bees

Hi. I’m back for a little. I’ll take advantage of this bit of inspiration. It hasn’t been the best month.

In third grade–the very first year students were allowed to compete–I won my class spelling bee. It was an amazing feeling, representing Mrs. Campbell’s class in the school-wide competition. I got there feeling absolutely confident. The first few words were fine. On my third turn, however, I was given the word “sombrero.” (I don’t know a third grader who can spell sombrero, by the way.) I gave it my all, but I was stumped.

“S…E…M…B…R…E…R…R..O.”

Everybody in that room winced, including me. I knew it was wrong. Hanging my head in shame, I walked to the loser table. My friend tried to make me feel better–she had messed up the spelling of “vegetable”–but nothing worked. I got back to class and wrote a scathing poem directed toward myself. It went something like “I cannot spell; I cannot spell; I cannot spell; I am horrible and I cannot spell for my life.” It didn’t matter that I had beaten everyone in my class. It didn’t matter that I was only eight and  competing with twelve-year-old, almost middle-school kids. The only thing that mattered was that, in my eyes, I had failed at the one thing I thought I was really spectacular at.

Fourth grade, I was class runner-up. I lost on the word “caustic” to the genius girl. It was disappointing. I secretly hoped she would be sick on the day of the bee, but I knew that was a terrible thing to wish. I ended up being sick that day, so I guess it was better that I lost. We didn’t have a spelling bee my fifth grade year–not that I can remember, that is.

I still clearly remember the sixth grade spelling bee. It was the worst bee I’ve ever been through. I started out feeling confident, but a girl (a former friend at the time) watched me from across the room, my every move, and snickered at me. By the time it was my turn, I was shaking and trying so hard not to cry. I was given the word “abolitionist.”

“A…B…O…L…I…T…I…O…N…S…T.”

“That is incorrect.”

I knew I could spell that word. The teacher knew I could spell that word. Everyone in the class probably knew I could spell that word–I was the freak poet girl. But the fear had overtaken me. I’d lost. I wasn’t even close to winning–I was the second one out. Eyes teary, I shrunk back to my seat and did the same thing I’d done three years earlier–write a poem of frustration and defeat.

That was my last spelling bee.

 

Seeya.

I’m doing a rambling post. Not stopping for accuracy or grammatical errors. I’m just going to write without stopping.

Fruit snacks. Bananas. Music. What is life? Everything is a–I want a cup of hot chocolate. It should be balanced on a plate, so it doesn’t tip over. Sigh. Sigh. Sigh. Sigh. Sigh. Fifth grade. Fourth grade. Third grade. Loser. Losers. Loserette. Loserette isn’t a word. Why does everything have to be changed? It doesn’t make sense. Music. Music. Music. Music. Music. Music. Fruit snacks. We’re out of fruit snacks, aren’t we? Yeah, I checked yesterday. Did I? Yes. Yes. Yes. Music. Fruit snacks. Third grade. First grade. Eighth grade. No. No, not eighth grade. No. No. No. No. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. What is wrong with me? I hate this blog. I’m so uninspired. Goodbye.

That was the worst thing I’ve ever written. I just wrote this post out of obligation, just like several of the recent posts. I’m running out of inspiration. I kept writing posts every day because my October stats blew through the roof, and I didn’t want to disappoint myself with a low month. But the more I think about it, the more I realize that this isn’t about the stats. This is about inspiring people. And if I can’t even do that, what’s the point of even blogging? What’s the point, if I’m just going to put out a poorly-written ramble?

I’ll blog when there’s stuff to blog about. Until then, seeya.