Cheers to my friend named Emily

So this year I  met a girl named Emily and she completely changed my life.

I found Emily in January. She had picked up a job at an Olympia Sports store near her school to show her parents she was well aware of her financial situation based on the decisions she’d made.

She donned the athletic pants and company tee shirt every Monday, Tuesday and Thursday night. We ate dinner together at 9:30 p.m. in the dining hall, but sometimes she didn’t have time to eat anything at all. I watched her type texts to her Ex boyfriend when she got lonely and kissed someone else just to feel something.

Emily avoided talking to her parents, avoided going home. Waking up and having the motivation to get out of bed became a struggle. But I kept her company.

I helped her squeeze into her senior-year prom dress, and then we drove to the venue for the 2013 Military Ball and met up with Ex, even though she had told him beforehand that, should he want to take someone else as his date, it was perfectly okay. He responded with, “I promised I would take you,” and avoided the question.

They talked during dinner and discovered they were both “seeing” different people. Then he introduced Emily to his new girl because –– of course –– she just happened to be at the ball, too. New girl squeezed the absolute shit out of Emily’s hand.

I think she was trying to prove a point.

When you're watching the  Rose Bowl tomorrow, picture me standing on the field!
When you’re watching the Rose Bowl tomorrow, picture me standing on the field!

And just as everyone else kicked off their heels to dance, Emily kissed Ex on the cheek one last time and left alone, wishing the windshield wipers on her car could work for her eyes as I drove her home.

I get it. She broke his heart, he returned the favor. They’re even now.

That night, she ran from what had been instead of running from what could be like Cinderella did. Then, unlike Cinderella again, we drank together to forget. Unless Cinderella did get belligerently drunk after losing her slipper and riding back in a carriage-turned-pumpkin.

I know I’d need a drink after that.

But that breakup –– which happened over a year ago, now –– was the best thing Emily ever did. It’s taken nearly a year, but she has FINALLY realized just how much Ex hindered her.

Held her back.

Pumped her up with too many empty compliments.

Accepted her behavior when he damn well shouldn’t have.

Emily scored the right internship, the right scholarships and the right connections. She lived on her own over the summer and learned what personalities the group she fits in with consists of. Her baby-blue Schwinn helped her escape an air-conditioned hotel room and explore a new place, a new city.

The other four Murray Scholars and me
The other four Murray Scholars and me

She opened up so many doors her 17-year-old self was all too content on keeping closed. She’s ready to open more.

I’m ready to open more.

In October, she cried over a childhood friend’s open casket.

Later that same night, those tears helped her reconnect with colleagues from high school she hadn’t spoken to in years.

She traveled to Pasadena, Calif., to accept a $5,000 scholarship she’d won by entering the Jim Murray Memorial Foundation’s annual sportswriting contest.

…Emily doesn’t have trouble getting out of bed anymore.

I don’t have trouble getting out of bed anymore.

So I met this girl named Emily. She’d been sheltered and smothered and I helped her live again. I helped her find her independence again. She ditched her pessimistic thoughts and began seeing the future’s many possibilities.

Together, we plan on opening more doors.


I submitted an application to the Los Angeles Times today because, in 2014, I will remain open to possibilities and seek out exciting opportunities. I won’t let anything –– or anyone –– hold me back. Cheers.

Mourning memories

I watched from my bedroom window, tears rolling down my cheeks. The little girl and her mom walked down the driveway back to their car, taking some of my childhood with them.

A couple of years ago, my mom and I perused our basement for garage sale items.

“Which doll house do you want to keep?” she asked me.

I decided to go with the giant dream Barbie house, figuring my children would be more apt to like something modern-looking. The house even has its own elevator, for Christ’s sake. My mom didn’t say anything at the time, but she wished I would have kept the Fisher Price one instead. I played with that one more and even dubbed the little boy with curly, black hair “Jordan” after my oldest brother (he was African American too, the doll, I mean – my parents got a kick out of that!).

The Fisher Price dollhouse I so loved.

The little girl and her mom purchased that house from our garage sale that day, along with my Fisher Price makeup vanity and several baby dolls. But it was the Fisher Price house that got me. And I’ve regretted choosing to sell that house ever since.

Watching them walk away that day, I wished I could go back in time to my younger days. Then I realize how stupid and self-centered that makes me.

There are kids who don’t even have toys to play with, and I, at nearly 19 years old, sit here mourning the loss of mine? Somebody slap me.

Hurricane Sandy recently destroyed my friend’s home down near New York City. To top that off, their family business suffered great damage from the storm as well. Toys were destroyed. Family memories were destroyed. Hurricane Sandy basically destroyed life as they knew it.

And you mourn the loss of a few toys? Grow up, Emily. They weren’t destroyed. Your house is still intact. Your memories are still preserved. And those memories you left in that dollhouse, vanity and baby dolls? A different little girl has had the chance to enjoy them, too. They’re not gathering dust in your parents’ basement anymore. You gave a little girl the chance to play with some really nice things. She and her mother took the opportunity you gave them.

I take a lot of things for granted. My friend’s childhood memories are most likely gone now. I need to stop mourning mine.


That fall you took
can’t have been your last.
So many lie ahead for you…
right now is too soon; too fast.
Wake up, please please wake up.
You’re missed by all your friends.
We all know Dakota as “fun” –
you’re so passionate about acting –
you can’t possibly stay forever young.
Wake up, please please wake up.
Oh, the thinks you probably thought
as you fell, asking “Why?”
You missed a step and fell toward black
instead of taking a stair to the sky.
Wake up, please please wake up.
A week of your life has passed –
and you have been in the land of unknowing…
spring has arrived, wet and rainy…
but, for us and you, it’s still snowing.
Wake up, Dakota, wake up.



11:13 p.m.

I think it’s time I write about Dakota. I don’t think I ever have.

I got a text message a year ago tomorrow morning that said “Remember how you said you had a feeling something bad would happen to someone in our class?”

My heart stopped. I instantly thought someone had died. I had discussed this issue with my friend. A tragedy usually occurs in every class before graduation. It appears to be a right of passage at our school. I never dreamed it would actually happen.

Image courtesy of Lisa Reinard.

I grew up with Dakota. We were in the same Sunday school class all the way through. His elf ears used to make me giggle. When I dated his best friend (Christian, the guy from a couple posts ago), the three of us hung out a lot. We spent hours after school at Dakota’s house across the street from school. We were in countless theater productions together. Monkeys together in The Jungle Book Kids; he, Cat in the Hat, and me, Gertrude, in Seussical Jr.; kids together in Schoolhouse Rock Live! Jr... the list goes on from there. In the winter of 2011, I played his daughter, Anne, in Cheaper By The Dozen. There are so many memories from that play in particular. They are still fresh in my memory – some of the last memories I have of him.

Dakota had an accident; he fell and hit his head. The fall put him in a coma for months. When he finally got out of it, a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) took hold. He currently resides at ECMC, where he has been for a whole year now.

We had grown apart during the later years of high school (the break up with Christian seemed to do it), but still had a connection from the childhood we spent around each other. We loved Veggie Tales and used to acolyte together at church. I never thought of him as anything more than another brother.

The last time I saw him before the accident, he was walking down the hallway from the art rooms in the school. He wore a grey shirt, black pants and had his headphones on. We sort of nodded at each other, but I didn’t say anything. I figured his music was probably too loud (we always had similar taste in music). I’ve regretted that ever since.

I haven’t been able to make it to ECMC since August. Last time I saw him, he was starting to twitch his body parts. His feet moved. His chest moved up and down with each breath intake. Like any other person with brain damage, his arms were bent with his hands up near his face.

He’s still at ECMC and is making progress every day. It’s very sad to see his – and his family’s – life on hold.

Having a friend like Dakota can open your eyes. We take a lot of simple things for granted; simple things that are very hard for Dakota.

The bracelet on my wrist reminds me of you every single day, Dakota. I will not – and can’t ever – forget the day my bad feeling came true.

I was given this bracelet on June 24, 2011. I have not taken it off since.

Thirteen poems later…

Thirty days hath September, April, June and November…

Throughout this 2009 month of June I:

  1. wrote thirteen poems,
  2. apparently listened to 398 songs from iTunes while sitting at my computer (and I’m still adding onto that number),
  3. learned that some people believe that the black bits in a banana are tarantula eggs,
  4. watched Charlie’s Angels with a friend – and laughed at all of the horrible special effects,
  5. ran the fastest 1500 I have ever run and reset my school record (4:54),
  6. helped reset our school record once again in the 4X800 (split time: 2:24),
  7. volunteered for a youth track program,
  8. met a little girl who coined herself the name “Taco,”
  9. read the first-ever Emily the Strange novel,
  10. got writing advice from the co-author of that first Emily novel,
  11. laughed my ass off over a cooler that had a sign labeled “MILK,”
  12. watched my youngest older brother graduate from high school,
  13. ate several giant strawberry flavored marshmallows,
  14. finished my sophomore year of high school,
  15. took three grueling NYS Regents exams,
  16. received my last report card for this school year and was surprised by the grade I earned without even trying,
  17. did enough laundry to last me a lifetime,
  18. found my Pretty Pretty Princess game which I had not been able to locate for the longest time,
  19. found tears rolling down my cheeks after the announcement one of my favorite teachers had to give,
  20. conducted several angry rants in my head toward certain people,
  21. petted little golden retriever puppies, one after the other,
  22. wore pretty pink heels with chains,
  23. created my very first portfolio in hopes of securing another writing job,
  24. shared many secrets with one of my very best friends,
  25. revisited The Waterfall with my boyfriend, and got pushed into the steady stream of cold water,
  26. pretended to be Chinese/Japanese ping pong players with my friend and my brother’s friend,
  27. got one of my favorite songs RUINED by a couple of my friends who went to college and suddenly discovered the hidden meaning of it,
  28. learned that people down in central Pennsylvania often slip and say “let’s go hale some bay!”,
  29. strapped parachutes onto little kids and watched them run around and
  30. lived and breathed during every single one of these.

So, I guess this is goodbye, June. You and May are my two most favorite months of the year, and both of you are over already. Thanks for the rain, the sun, the wind and the thunder and lightning. I’ll see you next year; the last June before the June of my high school graduation. What a scary thought.

Don’t “go with the flow”

These days I live in a world where people quote lines from movies constantly. Maybe I am bitter about this because I do not tell stories or quote movie lines very well, but it gets annoying when I ask a question and someone responds with a line from Stepbrothers or Juno or The Dark Knight. It’s as if there are no more original thoughts anymore… it’s like everyone has their own personal screenwriter. I guess people just piss me off in general.

Am I the only person in this world with confidence? When I first brought my knitting to school, everyone laughed at me – but was I discouraged? No. I kept bringing it to school despite what people thought or think. If you like something, don’t be afraid to express it. Liking something makes you who you are and what’s wrong with showing who you are? Watch me walk down the hallway in what people call my “hooker” boots and my adorable Tripp skirt. Sure, people will stare, but do you know what they are really thinking? I think that they are wishing they could do something like that; dress like that; be who they really are. I can tell when someone has their shield up…and it’s kind of disappointing. I am kind of sick of taking the initiative. There are too many people that just “go with the flow.”

I have a friend who has changed a lot in the past year. Sure, I have changed too, but I haven’t changed what I believe in or my sense of humor or anything. My friend (he has been a friend for years) recently discovered his love for God. He goes to this church that sucks people in (at least, I think they do) every Sunday, and for the extra teen things that they do. I think of it as a cult. Going to church (should church be capitalized? ‘Cause I really don’t think it should be) so often has changed him completely. It’s as if he thinks he needs to be righteous all the time and do the right thing. If we gossip around him he gets pissed off. Oh, but when he wishes to gossip, it’s okay. I really miss who he was before he became super religious. Before he started bugging me about going to church. I feel like he has a wall up, and it needs to come down. I wish to knock it down, but we fight everyday over stupid things, and I never get the chance. I am very opinionated, and he can’t seem to accept my opinion, so he gets all cheesed off when I say mine. When he says his, I consider it. I don’t really know about him anymore. He is a completely different person these days. I don’t know what happened.

Anyway, yeah, people piss me off. Most people are selfish and it drives me nuts. I may not seem like it, but I think about other things besides myself. I am concerned about world hunger (which is why I visit the Free Rice website often), the economy – I was even thinking about how I was complaining about having to wake up early to go to school this week. Then I thought about it and here’s what I came up with: here I am complaining about going to school to be with friends when there is some kid who has to wake up early to go to school and gets beat up everyday and comes home covered with bruises that his/her parents don’t even notice. Yeah, suddenly waking up early to go to a place where I have friends and am at no risk whatsoever of being beaten up (unless I piss someone off) doesn’t sound too bad.

I have scratched the two resolutions I wanted to tackle. I can’t just quit everything cold turkey – I will ease into breaking free from my habits. Right now I am trying to be extremely thoughtful. And people still piss me off.