Youngest-child syndrome

Emily broke the disc for our favorite game, Pandemonium. It had been a complementary game that came with our brand-new computer. We fought over playing it and learned to take turns until it, well, broke.

Naturally, Emily did it.

Uh, no she didn’t. But Jordan, Trevor and Adam were convinced I did and still bring it up sometimes.

am guilty of some crimes.

Yes, Adam, I did lose the DVD that belongs in the case for the movie Envy. I only pretended it hadn’t originally been there.

They have no idea what they're getting themselves into.
They have no idea what they’re getting themselves into.

And if you three noticed coins missing here and there from your bedrooms, yes, that was me again. I stole from you to fund the late fees I often accrued at the library. (Sorry for reading, late fees?) I remember pulling $6 in change from my pocket once to pay a fee. The librarians found me amusing.

Sometimes, when you weren’t home, Adam, I’d sneak onto your XBOX and play Halo 2 on XBOX Live. I kicked ass with the sword, shotgun and plasma rifle.

After you went off to college, Jordan, I switched mattresses with you and hoped you wouldn’t notice. You never did.

That crack in the glass over your baby picture in the foyer, Trevor? I did that. Whoops. I’m sorry.

You guys may have read my diary once at camp, but I regularly rifled through your rooms, looking for any ammunition to fire at you the next time I was the center of ridicule. I used to read your yearbooks, trying to decipher what each person’s signature meant. I read over your shoulders while you instant messaged your friends.

“What does L-O-L mean, Trevor?”

“Laugh out loud, now go away.”

Cool.

But I did not touch the Pandemonium disc. I swear.

I may be guilty of a lot of things, but I probably didn’t do whatever it is you want to accuse me of.  I merely suffer from youngest-child syndrome.

That is, unless I did do it.

It certainly is plausible.

The faceless nobody

The tile floor in the kids’ bathroom is brand new. I noticed it a couple weeks ago when I came home to see Rob Delaney in Buffalo with my brothers.

Some faceless nobody came in, pulled up the old linoleum floor, discarded it then carefully arranged the new tiles in a perfect pattern, complemented by the grey grout. It’s no underestimation when I say “perfect.” One tile matches up with the other, the grout’s level is consistent between the tiles; whomever got down on hands and knees to install the new floor paid very close attention to detail.

The tiles in the bathroom of my friend’s off-campus house aren’t aligned at all. I understand college housing isn’t always that nice, but whomever did that floor installation did a really shitty job.

I may have more in common with my mother in terms of career paths, personality and physical appearance, but I definitely get my meticulousness from my daddy. I don’t write about him nearly enough.

So much Bona Pride in this pic before my trip to LA. And yes, we did get him a coffee mug.
So much Bona Pride in this pic before my trip to LA. And yes, we did get him a coffee mug.

He carefully measures tiles, marks them up with pencil and then cuts them accordingly to fit whatever space he’s working in. They’re always even, always lined up, always perfect. He doesn’t half ass anything; if he screws a tile up, he scraps it for future use and picks up a new one to cut.

That random man who kills his knees, damages his spine and strains his neck on a regular basis to install the floors in your respective homes is my daddy.

My daddy didn’t go to college; his career isn’t glamorous; he isn’t astonishingly successful. He went to a trade school, learned what he needed and works on his own time with his own equipment. Because of his self-made schedule, he didn’t miss a single baseball game, basketball game, wrestling match or track/cross country meet. He made it to every play, every musical, every band concert.

My three brothers and I are the center of his universe and he has sacrificed plenty for us, from bartering work with our orthodontist to pay for braces to paying for car insurance until we’re able to do it ourselves.

The little things I do for him –– buying him a coffee mug from every place I travel to, giving him a call when walking home at dark to put his mind at ease, texting “I love you” –– just don’t compare to everything he’s done for me.

Though I most definitely got my personality from my mother –– and my father likes to remind me of this often –– I hope I got a mere inkling of my daddy’s hardworking nature and complete selflessness from the genetic whirlpool.

I hope he’s as proud to call me his daughter as I am to call him “Daddy.”

All 5’2″ of me

The light is still on in the far-right room on the second floor of Townhouse 31 because Emily CANNOT sleep. And she just gave away WHERE she sleeps. Whoops. She’d make some potatoes to eat right now if she had any. Unfortunately, she threw her last bag of sprout-covered potatoes in the trash can last weekend during a spring-cleaning binge. New potatoes have yet to be purchased. Tsk tsk. I know.

Enough of this third-person shiite.

I was texting my friend who lives in Iowa, but he seems to have fallen asleep. So that’s fun.

I wrote in my journal already and couldn’t come up with any material for a poem, so there’s that.

Oh, and I updated a few things on this here portfolio blog in case you’d like to take a gander. I finally –– FINALLY! –– added a picture of myself. Seems that’s been on my to-do list for two years.

What else to do but to open my laptop and try to write something? I’ve done my fair share of Facebook and Twitter stalking tonight and have grown a tad bored. Not a lot is happening on Instagram either, though I guess I shouldn’t be surprised after seeing what hour I’ve reached in the early goddamn morning.

I guess this is what I get for loading myself with sleeping pills every night this week except tonight. I really thought I was tired enough to just roll over and conk out, but I stand, erm, lay, corrected.

I ran tonight. Yes, as in the past verb tense of “run.” Shocking, I know. I had some pent-up energy that needed to be released, and staring at Natty World notes for another second sure as hell wasn’t going to help things. I ran to the gym. I ran around the track a few times. I walked. I ran again. I skipped a song on my iPod. I managed to forego what could have been an awkward encounter and just flipped that group of people the bird instead. I never said I was nice. (They laughed at me, though…people don’t seem to expect shit like that to come from me in all my 5-foot-2-inch glory. Hmph.)

It felt great to experience physical pain instead of the emotional-bullshit kind. It felt great to breathe heavily –– though my lungs are seriously suffering now –– and work up a sweat. I also got what is to me a rare glimpse of gym culture. It’s fascinating, really. Men flooded the basketball courts for intramural games, hogged the weight-lifting equipment and women took up the cardio room. I just kept running. And walking. And skipping songs on my iPod. Oh, and rehydrating.

I’ve said this before, but I really mean it when I say it this time: I’m going to take some time to really focus on myself. 

My roommate doesn’t believe that I will, so I’m going to prove her wrong. I have text messages from friends who agree that it really would/will be beneficial for me:

“Just give it a few days and you’ll be back to feeling like the wonderful person you are all by yourself!” said one.

“You need to get back in touch with you and stop trying to please everyone and stop trying to fix people, hun,” said another.

“You definitely deserve time for yourself,” said a third.

So I’m going to keep running and exercising, in general. I came back home tonight high off endorphins and ready to go. Go do anything.

I got the summer internship I really wanted, have plans to get serious about road biking and, best of all, my parents, brothers and sister-in-law are all in good health.

I’m done stalking social networks and I’m especially done writing this post for the night. Good night/morning.

The trigger for tears. Thanks, Mom.

It’s been six months.

Six months and I didn’t even realize it. Logging in to Facebook yesterday morning brought this post made by my mother to my attention:

Screenshot 2014-02-05 00.12.01

…followed by some silent tears because Emily, of course, tries to hold back emotions when she’s in public places. She’d rather be overwhelmed by them late at night when she can pull the flower-shaped capsule containing her grandparents’ ashes up to her mouth to kiss.

I had never seen that photo before, the one on the left where my mother clasped her mother’s worn, battered hands shortly after life escaped her.

Grandma always had messed-up knuckles. She used to scold me for cracking my knuckles as often as I do (who knew her loss of hearing would actually be a blessing in disguise? No more scolding!). “Do you want your hands to look like these?” she’d say, holding up her tired-looking hands to taunt me. If I’m not mistaken, her brother or someone in her family had shut the car door on her hand as a child, creating some funky-looking joints and misshapen fingernails.

Yep. Me. Grandma. Braces. Papa in the background a year before his death.
Yep. Me. Grandma. Braces. Papa in the background a year before his death.

Her sun-spotted hands combed my hair, poured water over my head in the bathtub and kneaded apple pie crust just enough without overworking the dough. She taught me how to do needlepoint, played Go Fish! with me and played the piano for me back when she took lessons in her 70s. Those hands did a lot. She was quite the lady.

We moved what I call my “Big-Girl Bed” into my room over this past winter break from my grandparents’ house. I went into the house ahead of my dad to collect the sheets and prep the mattress and box spring.

Big mistake.

“Emmie?” Dad asked when he walked in through the garage door, but I didn’t answer. My sobs had forced me to sink into myself as a headache crept over my brain from all the scrunching and frowning. He found me, blinked back tears himself and just held me. “I know… this sucks,” he said. That only made me sob harder.

Yeah. Emily got her Big-Girl Bed. But she lost her grandma.

I don’t think about her as often as I did. She’s on my ankle, she’s around my neck, she’s on the walls, she’s everywhere, but I don’t break down as often as I used to. It takes certain triggers to set me off. My mom’s Facebook post did the trick.

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Below is my poem from the 2013 Poetry Slam at St. Bonaventure University. I sat down afterward, put my head between my knees and sobbed. Hope you do the same…?

Blog posts and birthdays

When I turned 13, I got my room redone. We covered the ugly mauve walls with bright raspberry, periwinkle, lime green and orange. I had my first boy-girl party that year. My crush came. He gave me AFI’s Decemberunderground CDNothing happened.

When I turned 14, I got my first iPod, a square, silver Nano that I promptly named “Pandora.” I wish I could access my mom’s computer right now to upload those pictures. My hair was long and curly. My crush-turned-boyfriend gave me a beautiful little heart necklace. If I remember correctly. Maybe that was Christmas…

When I turned 15, my mom made homemade pizza and wings, but didn’t think to thaw out the wings before putting them in the deep fryer. It overflowed, spilling oil all over the floor. Grandma and Papa came over with cleaning supplies to save our ship. With my brand-new camera (an orange Kodak EasyShare point-and-shoot), I took a “selfie” of my Papa and me. I have pizza sauce in the corners of my mouth.

When I turned 16, my dad couldn’t find my birth certificate. We rushed out to the DMV after he found it, but they had already stopped offering driver’s permit tests for the day. I pouted. And I couldn’t eat cake because I had the most important cross-country meet of the season (Sectionals) the next day. I made it to the state championship meet. Then I bought myself another iPod with my birthday money.

When I turned 17, I ran at Sectionals and qualified for the state championship meet again. Robby and his mom both gave me iPods. (I know…) And, to my mother’s dismay, I told our waitress at Red Robin it was my birthday and the wait staff gathered around our table and sang. My mom sat with her head in her hands.

When I turned 18, Robby gave me a diamond promise ring. I haven’t worn it in almost a year.

When I turned 19, Mom and I went on a shopping spree and Robby gave me diamond earrings. The cross-country girls sang to me at my door when I returned to school.

When I turned 20, my parents and brothers gave me my grandparents. I cried.

I love my family so much.

They’re all I need.

There they are.
There they are.

From the box to the grave

I wrote this poem in a cemetery I found nearby. In the beginning of the summer, I’d ride my bike there to sit and think. (I’ve spent a lot of time alone over the past couple of months.)

Such a gorgeous, gorgeous couple.
Such a gorgeous, gorgeous couple.

The poem is about my papa. I started crying and ended up calling my boyfriend while he was at work –– I needed to talk to someone. I’m my own worst enemy and often beat myself up mentally. I sat there under my tree near Harriet’s grave (died in the 1870s, no last name on stone), and wished I could visit one for Papa. I wished I could go somewhere to be alone, but still be with him.

When he died, my grandma decided they would wait to open the grave until their combined cremains could be buried together. So his cremains sat in a bag, in a box, on a shelf. And I just wanted closure.

Looking back now, I’ve realized that, to have closure with him, she had to die, too.

And she did.

I just didn’t think about it at the time.

And I can’t go back to that cemetery ever again. I just can’t.

 

Sibling camaraderie

There will be no Easter egg hunt tomorrow. Oh, and I didn’t buy much candy to put in the Easter baskets, thus I have no jelly beans.

Coloring eggs? Forget it. I’m not buying the kit.

 

…all of the above from my mother.

And I’m okay with it.

“When do we even stop doing Easter baskets?” My mom asked me while we ran errands today. It then dawned on me that we may be getting just a tad old for this.

Jordan’s 26; Trevor, 24; Adam, almost 22. Me? Nearly 19.5 (going on 30).

Good question, Mom. Because tomorrow’s just another day in my book, despite receiving a few goodies in a basket I’ll have to find somewhere outside. I am honestly looking forward the most to dinner and its abundance of leftovers.

We used to make Easter lists and lay them out on the coffee table in the family room next to our respective baskets the night before. We searched for baskets early in the morning before church. Tomorrow you’ll be lucky if we’re even out and about before noon, especially after the boys chugged beer after beer tonight.

“Maybe when the boys and I have kids of our own,” I told my mom to answer her question.

Until then, we’ll probably keep this simple sibling camaraderie alive. Just being together and laughing together is enough.

Unconditional love

I live at one end of our upstairs hallway with my parents and my dad’s office. The boys take up the other end, filling the air with a pungent odor of testosterone.

Image
Jordan, Trevor, Adam and I having a sleepover in Jordan’s room, apparently.

Or, at least, that’s how it used to be.

I just realized that I haven’t called, texted, tweeted at or Facebook messaged my brother Trevor in ages. I haven’t even spoken to him since Christmas. 

just texted Adam and even saw Jordan over the weekend. But, honestly, none of them cross my mind on that regular of a basis. 

We don’t talk on the phone. We don’t text. We don’t tweet at each other and we rarely exchange Facebook messages. That’s just how we are.

If I had a sister this might be different. Maybe I would call her, fill her in on what’s going on in my life and share some juicy gossip. 

But I don’t have a sister.

Family is a funny thing –– brothers especially.

The unconditional love thing is great. Trevor probably hasn’t even realized that we haven’t spoken in over a month. And it’s just not a big deal.

“Hello, (insertnamehere), how are you today?”

I wish I could say “Hey, <insertnamehere>!” to nearly every person I pass. For such a small campus, I barely know anyone. I see someone new every day I’m here.

That’s the thing.

I don’t meet someone new every day, I just see someone new. We should be a tight-knit little community…a cute little family… we’re just… not. From what I’ve heard, the people at this university used to be friendlier and more personable. What happened?

We each have our own groups of friends, but we could still say “Hello” to each other. We could still try to meet someone new every day.

Too often I see people staring at the ground during the walks to and from classes. I wish they would look up so they could see my smile. But then that brings up this thought of mine: I think my generation is weirded out by smiles. Nobody looks happy when walking alone. Faces either point to the ground or are in seemingly permanent frowns. I wish I could make more people smile. My parents paid a lot of money for me to have these nice teeth – you’d better believe I’m smilin’!

What kills me the most is when someone I do know completely blows me off when I walk by. Especially the girl who lives next door to me. We haven’t spoken two words to each other all semester. I smile at her when I see her and receive absolutely nothing in return.

I found a different group of people to hang out with this year and they accepted me with open arms. I don’t think every “group” on campus would do the same. I wish they would.

The other day, I wandered around the library talking to different people and asking them questions. I loved it. I met so many new people and heard so many different opinions – some I had never even thought of.

I have two different sides: quiet, subdued, anti-people Emily and Reporter Emily, the lively, outgoing girl. Reporter Emily made the first appearance she has made in quite awhile. For a long time I’ve hidden behind a computer, creating things on InDesign and never really receiving credit for my work. Reporter Emily goes right up to people, asks questions, records answers and begins conversations. She finds connections with people that she never knew she had (for example, I met another Emily that day – we have the same name and I never knew).

“You’re in a great mood today, Em!” my friend told me. Reporter Emily smiled. Nothing – not even being purposely ignored at the dinner table – could bring her down.

Reporter Emily just wants more people to say “hi” to her. She just wants a friendlier campus to live on. She – I mean, – am going to find a way to make this happen.