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Memores acti prudentes futuri

You're unsure if I am a loose end or a strand
that waits for you to mend or understand
A few words
"When we describe the Moon as dead, we are describing the deadness in ourselves. When we find space so hideously void, we are describing our own unbearable emptiness."
~ D.H. Lawrence

"Is the meaning of life defined by its duration? Or does life have a purpose so large that it doesn't have to be prolonged at any cost to preserve its meaning?"

"Living is not good, but living well. The wise man, therefore, lives as well as he should, not as long as he can... He will always think of life in terms of quality not quantity... Dying early or late is of no relevance, dying well or ill is... even if it is true that while there is life there is hope, life is not to be bought at any cost."
~ Seneca

"People will tell you nothing matters, the whole world's about to end soon anyway. Those people are looking at life the wrong way. I mean, things don't need to last forever to be perfect."
~ Daydream Nation

"All Bette's stories have happy endings. That's because she knows where to stop. She's realized the real problem with stories-- if you keep them going long enough, they always end in death."
~ The Sandman: Preludes & Nocturnes

"The road now stretched across open country, and it occurred to me - not by way of protest, not as a symbol, or anything like that, but merely as a novel experience - that since I had disregarded all laws of humanity, I might as well disregard the rules of traffic. So I crossed to the left side of the highway and checked the feeling, and the feeling was good. It was a pleasant diaphragmal melting, with elements of diffused tactility, all this enhanced by the thought that nothing could be nearer to the elimination of basic physical laws than deliberately driving on the wrong site of the road."
~ Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita

"It is easier to forgive an enemy than to forgive a friend."
~ William Blake
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A small moment from last week
Saturday, April 16, 2016
"I stayed kind of late at his place last time because we ended up talking for a long time about ethics," I said.

She looked me straight in the eye and asked, very seriously, "Are you in love?"

I couldn't help but laugh. What a silly question.

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The trip to LA
Saturday, April 16, 2016
"She used to tell me to marry Chinese, because she didn't want any half-breeds in the family. Later on she softened and changed it to 'Christian only, but no blacks.'"

There was an open casket viewing the evening before the memorial service. It was on the second floor of the Rose Hills mortuary, room 209. We signed our names in the guestbook before entering the room, which held a handful of people, silent, heads bowed. As we walked toward the front, we could see that what we initially took for postures of reverence was actually just everyone looking down at their phones. I recognized almost no one. There were expensive looking fresh flower wreaths on stands propped up against the walls, with big ribbons declaring who they were from. The one that stood out to me most was an arrangement whose ribbon was dedicated to "BELOVED NIECE", from "UNCLE PAK-KI". Auntie Daphne was in her 90s. How could she have an uncle who was still alive?

My parents and I stood before the casket for a moment, looking at the body. It was the first time I could remember not feeling afraid of my great aunt. My most vivid memory of her was from when I was a child, and we visited her at her big house in the hills of Monterey Park. She served me and my brother little Jell-O molds with mandarin oranges inside, and I didn't want to eat mine. My refusal made her very angry, and she yelled at me.

Whoever prepared the body had done a decent job, although the makeup on her face didn't quite cover up all her liver spots. She had lipstick on. I couldn't remember if she had worn much lipstick while she was alive. She looked strangely small, even young, in a way, lying there, even though her hair was completely white. I had never seen her with white hair before. She used to dye it a reddish black color, and it had never occurred to me that she might have white hair underneath the dye.

After the viewing, we drove to visit another great aunt's grave. My parents had described the size of the cemetery to me on the drive down south, but I hadn't been sure how to imagine it. Rose Hills is the biggest cemetery in the world, I am told. It has a big white sign of its name perched on a hill, reminiscent of the Hollywood sign. You can see the grounds from a distance, because the open, sprawling lawns covering the hills are so green and empty compared to everything else in the area. There are enough people buried there to form their own city.

My mom placed some flowers in the vase at my other great aunt's grave, and my dad remarked on the veracity of the inscription of her grave marker: She gave so much, and asked for so little. I didn't know Auntie Jane well either, but she had always seemed much kinder than Auntie Daphne, even if I was still slightly frightened by her because of her age. Auntie Jane didn't have much money, but she used to send my brother and me gift cards of small amounts for Christmas. I never had much use for a $10 gift card to McDonald's, but it was a thoughtful gesture.

At the memorial service the next day, the pastor who spoke for the majority of the service invited anyone who wanted to say a few words to come up and speak. Nobody moved. Eventually the pastor asked one of Aunt Daphne's nephews, who had agreed prior to the service to speak, to come up. It seemed they had expected more people to want to say something. After the nephew had given his speech, the pastor went over more of his memories of Aunt Daphne, but one of my mom's cousin's stepped up and asked if he could still speak. He started with "Aunt Daphne loved us, but she didn't always show it in the best way..." My brother later remarked that that was the most truthful speech given during the service.

Aunt Daphne didn't have any children of her own, and one of my mom's cousins told us that Aunt Daphne had never wanted any. She was married two times; the first time, her husband went to Hong Kong and didn't come back, so she went to find out what had happened. When she confronted him, he disowned her in front of the family and said that she had only married him for his money, but had never loved him. He had found someone younger, who did love him, and he told Aunt Daphne that she could keep the money, but they were through.

Years later, she married again, but her second husband left her too. Cousin Grace told us that Aunt Daphne had been very candid about why, and had said that she simply wasn't a good wife. Her husband was an affectionate man, and she didn't provide a loving, caring environment for him, nor was she particularly supportive or nurturing. After he left, she was single for the next forty or fifty years.

There was no information about Aunt Daphne's life in the pamphlets we received for the memorial service, and few details of her past were shared. My maternal grandmother's side of the family has numerous stories of scandal and drama, and my own mom very rarely talks about anything regarding them. She almost never says anything regarding her own past, either, although she will if prompted. In contrast, my dad tells stories about his and his family's lives all the time.

After the service, we went to visit the grave of my mom's cousin. He committed suicide when I was 10, and I don't think I ever met him. His brother led us to the site and pointed out the inscription on the wall, then showed us an empty space nearby and said, proudly, "And that's me, there." He talked about how all the spaces on the wall had been sold out for at least 15 to 20 years. My mom inquired as to how much the spot had cost, but he brushed past the question and said that he had tried to get a deal on a nicer plot somewhere else, but Rose Hills hadn't been willing to accommodate his request. "So I just have to be buried next to Ophelia" he said, with a trace of disdain in his voice. I guess he found something distasteful about having his remains placed in a wall next to a stranger's. He made a few more jokes about having to be next to the strange woman before driving off.

In the car ride on the way home, my parents talked a little about my mom's side of the family. My dad said that he felt like "the dark side of the family" had contributed a lot to who Aunt Daphne was, and who my mom is. My mom talked about how at family gatherings, her parents would get into huge arguments with Aunt Daphne, but it seemed normal to my mom and her sisters, and they would just go watch TV in another room. She listed some of the programs they watched with an air of nostalgia.

The more I learn about that side of the family, the more I realize how dysfunctional they are, and the only reason I never thought of them that way before was because nobody talked about it. But well, maybe that's why they don't talk about the past...


Man, this guy is awesome. I want to learn all the things from him.

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Pushing forward
Wednesday, April 13, 2016
Went to Piloxing today. Didn't go back for an evening class, though... maybe next week? I think I've gotten in four hours at the gym this week so far. Trying to just take it easy.

In therapy today I attempted to describe to my therapist how I feel sometimes, but unfortunately I probably did a pretty poor job of it, because the only language I know isn't well suited to describing the feeling. I was trying to explain how sometimes I don't feel like I have any physical presence anymore, and I'm just existing in the moment, observing things without being a separate entity. Except... there's no "I" really, there's no subject observing. It would be closer to say "there is observation," except that that way of phrasing it is nonsensical to most people, since we assume there has to be a subject to do any observing.

At the end of the session I tried to put it a different way, and said that it's like my atoms just mingle with the atoms of everything else, and they're indistinguishable from my surroundings, but some things will snap me back to awareness and my atoms will once again form this semblance of a distinct entity. That's also wrong though, because the distinct entity is just an illusion wrought by distance.

I have no idea how to talk about this without sounding like some kind of new age-y hippie stoner, so I'm just gonna... not.

Going down to LA tomorrow for my great aunt's memorial service on Friday... She died um... last week? Maybe? I don't know. I wasn't close to her at all and had vaguely negative feelings towards her (a step up from the stronger negative feelings I had as a child). But yeah... driving down south... I think we're driving back home on Friday after the service. I hope we don't leave Saturday, because I have a crisis line shift then and I really don't want to have to cancel it.

Lately some things have felt difficult (like getting back into the swing of things at the gym), but I feel like that's the most important time to do them. Like... it's not the easy times that are the ones that matter, when it comes to my goals. If I want to be a more calm and reasonable person, then yeah, it's still good to practice in small situations, like not getting angry over being cut off in traffic, but it matters more when it's something big and I don't want to get over it. Getting over the desires is the challenge, and everything else is just fluff. This is where the hard work comes in. I keep thinking, "it's crunch time," even though that's not quite right. It's more just... "this is the important part, this is where the blood and tears and hard labor come into play, this is where you have to push, no matter how much you don't want to. This is what you need to do to get where you want."

Can't settle. Can't get locked into habits. Gotta stay flexible, adaptable. Always something to be done. Have to keep finding the uncomfortable things and mastering them.

"Big Wild" by Aftergold.

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And if I had a star to wish on...
Tuesday, April 12, 2016
More headaches today... I don't know why. Only during the first half of the day, at least...

Last night was really rough. I was lying in bed for over two hours trying to fall asleep and was overwhelmed by bad thoughts. Finally managed to fall asleep after I put my white noise app on. Apparently I've played one of the sounds for the equivalent of 51 days... Makes sense, it's a nice soft sound. Before that, I had on "Stranger" by Dentist, which I think might have been a bad choice. I don't know if it necessarily contributed to how horrible I was feeling, but it definitely didn't help anything. Being unable to sleep is bad enough by itself, but the thoughts I was having made it a rather hellish few hours.

Still... I got through babysitting today, and made it to Cycle class this evening. I napped instead of going to Bootcamp though... I think I tend to go between monophasic and biphasic sleep schedules, and lately it's been more on the biphasic side. Definitely biphasic during school, when I often do 4-6 hours a night and then take a nap during the day. I'm probably not doing it exactly right, though. Recommended nap time is around 90 minutes and I go between an hour to like... two hours or more. >.> Ah well... hopefully it's not killing me.

I've been listening to "Coin-Operated Boy" by The Dresden Dolls a lot today. I realized I have the edited version in iTunes, and I wasn't really familiar with the full version... This was the first time I'd seen the music video, as well, although I remember hearing the (edited, I think) version for awhile on the radio in high school. I didn't think much of the theme then, but I relate to it more now.

Made of plastic and elastic
He is rugged and long-lasting
Who could ever ever ask for more?
Love without complications galore
Many shapes and weights to choose from
I will never leave my bedroom
I will never cry at night again
Wrap my arms around him and pretend...

Coin operated boy
All the other real ones that I destroy
Cannot hold a candle to my new boy and I'll
Never let him go and I'll never be alone

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My head hurts :(
Monday, April 11, 2016
Well, I just bought a light box. There was a 15% off coupon that ended today, and I figured this was probably the best price I was going to get, so I went for it.

I went to Mat Pilates today, and got through it alright, although I had kind of a headache behind my right eye for part of it. I thought that maybe the headache was from not eating enough or something (I felt really tired today and mostly stayed in bed until 3, but I ate a Clif bar and a protein Larabar before going to the gym...), but it came back later in the evening. Actually, it's here right now. I'm keeping my right eye closed because it makes it hurt less, but my depth perception is all messed up right now because of it. Man, I wonder how people with only one eye manage. I guess they probably get used to it, but it's really disorienting. My screen feels like it's so far away.

This is so cute I almost wanna cry watching it.
View post on imgur.com

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It never really ends
Sunday, April 10, 2016
I'm thinking about getting a natural spectrum lamp for when I move. I haven't tried light therapy before, but the lamp I'm looking at isn't expensive (at least, not at the current sale price), and I'd rather err on the side of caution and wind up with something that doesn't help than not try it at all.

I haven't been thinking too much about leaving, at least, not actively... It's kind of in the back of my mind, I guess. I'll need to do more in the coming months to make sure I have support in place for when I go there. When I get there I'll probably check out the counseling services as a precautionary measure. It would be better to already be seeing someone if anything bad happens.

We had one bizarrely hot day in the high 80s/low 90s here, and it's been rainy and overcast since then. Feels like depression is setting in. I went to the gym today hoping to keep it at bay, but I'm not fully recovered from being sick and had kind of a bad time on the treadmill. I set my target distance at 5k and managed to run about a mile at an 8:34 pace, but my airways got kind of umm... clogged up, and it was very hard to breathe. I tried to clear my throat with no success, but pushed through and finished the one mile, then walked the rest while watching SciShow videos. Also did a tiny bit of upper body stuff on the weight machines, then hopped on the Stairmaster for awhile... I couldn't finish the workout I set it for, though. :\

I told my therapist that I knew I'd always have depression. Not in the sense that it's always active, but it's always going to be in the background, hanging around for the right conditions. I've been doing better these past few years than I was before, but I'm not naive enough to think I could ever be cured of it. I expect to have it for the rest of my life. Just seems like a fact to me. The choice, then, is to try to manage it as best I can, or not try. But I can't give up. I have to be ever vigilant... And it's tiring, but it's better than being lulled into some false sense of security and being taken by surprise when the next mood hits.

And some people, they don't understand at all what it's like. They don't understand the habits and structures I've built in my life to keep this under control. And it's frustrating because it limits things. No, I don't want to hear your argument about why nothing is wrong with suicide, because it may be abstract to you, but that's real to me. You don't understand how dangerous this topic is. Feels like I've built a wall to try to keep a flood out and people are trying to remove the bricks...

Anyway... nothing really prompted this. I didn't intend to rant at all when I started this entry. Just have been feeling kind of down and tired and it's difficult. I've been sick for weeks. I don't want to be sick anymore.

"Made of Stone" by The Stone Roses.

When the streets are cold and lonely
And the cars, they burn below me
Are you all alone?
Are you made of stone?

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Some writing, some songs [2P]
Saturday, April 9, 2016
Be it extremely emotional, controversial, messed up, or whatever, this entry has been password protected.

If you know it, enter it; or, ask me for it.

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Holi [2P]
Monday, April 4, 2016
Be it extremely emotional, controversial, messed up, or whatever, this entry has been password protected.

If you know it, enter it; or, ask me for it.

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