A chip, a bitch and a trip down memory lane

He told me I had a chip on my shoulder.

“We don’t want to get rid of it, we just want to shrink it,” he said, motioning with his hands.

I had not realized that that’s how my behavior illustrated me. I saw myself as a strong, independent, opinionated woman, much like –– hell, identical to –– the woman who raised me. I didn’t understand why anyone would want to break a confident person down to nothing.

I vowed I would never let that happen.

…but I think I broke my promise to myself.

I’m not the 14-year-old Emily who began this blog five years ago today. She used to write about anything and everything –– always ranting and speaking her mind. The world consisted of just over 300 other teenagers whom she went to high school with. Life was nothing but her family, her friends, her poetry, her running and the boy she pined for.

Five years and a trove of experiences later, I can say 14-year-old Emily was sheltered. The world ended when her “first love” dumped her and then again when she knew she had to show her mom the fresh, albeit minuscule, welt on her wrist. Fourteen-year-old Emily just wanted attention. She carried her parents’ and brothers’ opinions into conversations with her because she had not yet developed the ability to create her own.

And boy, was my younger self judgmental. She had opinions and she spoke/wrote them, even if it meant losing a friend in the process.

But now? There’s just so much more.

There are so many new people, places and experiences.

It hurts a little bit knowing the original blackbyrd would judge the shit out of me.

I want my confidence back, but I’m not sure I want that chip to grow again. It can keep shrinking down to nothing for all I care.

Fourteen-year-old Emily was such a bitch.

My new golden heart

I have wanted a locket of my own ever since I saw my grandmother’s (which is home to a picture of my grandfather in his military uniform, if I recall correctly). My mom also owns one that my daddy gave her. It seems like every woman who has a loving significant other owns at least one locket. Well, I wanted to be that woman who has a loving significant other. Turns out I became one.

I got Robby a winter jacket for Christmas (which I have been wanting to write on this blog for weeks!). On top of that, I (with my mom’s help) made him a fleece Yankee blanket to keep him warm – sense the theme going on here? A winter jacket sounds like a weird gift, you might be thinking. But, you’d have to know Robby to understand. He is someone who wore two hoodies and a hat hoping they could replace the warmth a winter coat could provide. I was sick of seeing him cold, so I bought him the nice coat you’ll see him wearing from now on (since he loves it so much).

I opened my gift from him and found a delicate, gray pouch. When I opened it carefully, a beautiful gold locket made its way into my eyesight. My jaw dropped. The front of the heart locket says “I Love You” and has a fancy flower design. I could not believe that he remembered that I wanted one badly since I didn’t really remember mentioning my longing for one very often. I opened it and found that it was empty, but then was happy thinking that he could help me choose the pictures to go inside of it. And boy, were there plenty of pictures to choose from. The next package I unwrapped was just as special: a beautiful oak jewelry box where I can keep the locket safe from harm. Just tonight, before the clock struck midnight and brought 2011, we picked and filled the locket with two very special pictures.

“Let’s see if you can keep that for sixty years like your grandma has,” said Papa after I showed the locket to him on Christmas Day.

“I plan to,” I said with a determined smile (at least, I hope it looked like I was determined)!

The pictures I have placed inside of the heart-shape will remain forever. I don’t plan on ever removing them from their new home.

The next day, mom told me that for my dad’s and her first Christmas together, he got her a gold locket (the one I mentioned earlier) and a jewelry box to keep it in. What a wonderful coincidence.

From death and funerals to stem cell research and abortion

Cross country season picked back up again. On Monday morning I was awakened by a song coming out of my iHome speaker at 7:30 (which is much too early to meet my approval, I’ll let you know). I got up, showered, grabbed some Cinnamon Toast Crunch and put it in my bag, and then was out the door and on my bike, heading for the high school.

We started running. That’s what you do in cross country, if you didn’t know. We ran up prison hill. Some were encouraged to go on and run around the entire prison (the prison that Lindsay Lohan’s dad was kept, oddly enough), and I was one of those encouraged. I felt great. I had started out in the way back with a couple of my fellow teammates on the girls’ team, but little by little I had inched all the way up to the people that had fallen behind from the leading pack. I passed two newly instated runners and then fell into pace with the smartest kid in our entire school. My plan was to catch up to the leading pack which consisted of my best friend, my boyfriend, and another friend, but instead, he (being the smartest kid) and I started talking. We started talking about stuff that really mattered. Important issues, problems, and beliefs. It was nice to have an intelligent conversation, and it distracted me so much that I didn’t even notice when we passed another kid that had fallen behind from that same leading pack.

Our discussions ranged from death and funerals to stem cell research and abortion. It was like we went through the entire endless cycle of life during that one discussion we had during our run. I told him about the funeral I had had to go to recently and the unfortunate situation it had to be under, and then he shared how once when he was younger he had two funerals in one day to go to. We discussed how we both are not sure if there is a God up there and the hypocritical actions that are associated with members of the Church.

Then came the abortion topic, which then lead to a conversation chock-full of stem cell research. I had heard about it, but wasn’t exactly sure what it was all about. He informed me of everything about it (seeing as how it had been the topic he’d chosen for the recent research paper he’d had to do). What I don’t understand is why people are against it. And, it ties in with the abortion thing. I think that women should be allowed to make the decision of whether or not they want to abort their pregnancy. Let people frown upon a mother’s decision to abort her pregnancy, but if that mother is not ready to be a mother, then why not? If that girl is carrying the baby as the result of a rape she doesn’t want to be reminded of, why not let her make the decision to rid her body of that growing embryo? And, if every woman or girl that decides to have an abortion also donates the stem cells within them, that could initially save lives. You go from “killing” something that doesn’t quite exist yet to saving someone whose liver is failing or is in vital need of a heart transplant and just needs a donor.

Let stem cell research carry on! Let it save lives despite the many frowns of disgust it is receiving! We were put on this earth somehow and are now being plagued by disease left and right. If we’ve discovered a way we can cure, why not carry on and finish it? It means having one less child to feed, sure, but it also means one less person hanging out in an isolation room in the hospital just waiting for that heart or liver or lung or whatever to come. I say that science makes more sense than God. Science can save lives when God obviously can’t.

Susan Boyle: an inspiration

My mother got on the computer, went straight to youtube, and pulled up a video from a show called Britain’s Got Talent. “This is their version of American Idol – and you just have to see this,” she told me.

She clicked on the arrow to play the video, and it began. The first second of the video began something that was to go on for seven minutes and thirty-four seconds more, and I watched in awe as this woman performed. She confessed that she’d never been kissed, had on a frumpy little dress, her name tag wasn’t even on her dress (it was stuck to her chest), and her hair needed some brushing. I instantly fell in love with her appearance and attitude.

The audience angered me in the beginning. They heckled, laughed, and their expressions openly admitted their opinions of her. I could instantly hear their thoughts in my head. Susan didn’t seem to care; I’m sure living with this humiliation for 47 years has made her strong. She didn’t back down, she didn’t shake with nervousness when she sang…overall she seemed so confident, and I wish I could have been there to witness this amazing performance. When she opened her mouth to sing, I swear that you must have been able to hear a pin drop in the audience. Her voice was so powerful, and that definitely hushed up the people that had been heckling her only moments before. They stereotyped her, and they were proven wrong. Don’t judge a book by its cover.

This woman, this one frumpy-looking woman poses as such an inspiration. It’s hard living in this particular time period. Growing girls are told what is “beautiful” by pictures they see in magazines and on television. Supposedly, if you’re not beautiful, no man will ever love you, and you will not get anywhere in life. Susan Boyle is the perfect example of the opposite of this. Maybe she’s not the most attractive woman on the planet, but her soul, her attitude, her voice… all are beautiful. I think that maybe the people of the world needed to realize this.

Thank you, Susan, for providing a different example for girls to look up to. You proved everyone wrong as soon as you opened your mouth and that beautiful music escaped. You’re going to go far, and now the many people who are inspired by you will as well.

After seven minutes and thirty-five seconds, my mom looked up to me and smiled. I rubbed my arms to rid them of the goosebumps that had risen, and tried to hold back a few tears. “I told you,” she said with a grin.