(Entry below was handwritten on 3/5/14)
It was another half day of work missed. I had to clock out at around 2:25 because my internet connection kept dropping. So I called my cable company and they sent an emergency technician out to my home to resolve the issue.
His name was Elvis, and when he called to let me know he was on his way, he greeted me with “Buenas Noches.” I guess he thought I only spoke Spanish when he looked at my last name.
He was here for a long while, connecting a new, separate cable line for me. Mine had been split with the cable line going to the apartment upstairs. He also replaced the modem I had with a new one.
I hope this fix corrects the problem, because I really don’t want to go into the office to work. Working at home in the wintertime is just so much better.
Elvis left at 7:30pm, and it was just in time for me to watch In Time on television. It’s the movie with Justin Timberlake and Amanda Seyfried that takes place in a future where time is used as currency instead of money.
It’s an intriguing concept, but kind of a boring movie. I read a review online which stated that people really are living by the currency of time, except that we don’t know when our time will run out.
It’s not like in the movie where you can check your wrist and see how much time is left for you. The ‘poor’ people in the movie live day by day, they are risk takers and need to make the most of their allotted time. The ‘rich’ people are cautious, trying not to do anything risky because they want to be immortal and not die by mistake.
It made me wonder how differently I would live my life if I knew how much time I actually have left. I guess people with terminal illness are the ones who really face their mortality and force themselves to create lists of what they want to do and experience, all before death takes them out.
There are so many paths out there for someone like me, someone who isn’t tied down to a husband or kids, or a house. So I have to wonder why I continue to play it so safe. Maybe because of how I was raised- very sheltered and in fear and suspicion of others.
Men have so many more choices and freedoms than women. Men can go out and drive to an all-night diner or bar, hang out there for a while and then go home, without the fear or risk of getting raped or kidnapped in the parking lot.
Women don’t have these kinds of freedoms. I envy women who have the guts to travel the world alone. Travelling alone is a fear that I hope to overcome before it’s too late.
In the movie, In Time, Amanda’s character is rich and always has body guards surrounding her. They advise her, ‘You can’t be too careful’ when she is simply staring at a man, a stranger. She replies with ‘Are you sure?’ I think there is such a thing as being too careful, it keeps you away from living the adventure that is your life.
Prompt: Is being “normal” — whatever that means to you — a good thing, or a bad thing? Neither?
I don’t think that ‘normal’ is a term that can apply to anyone really. I think we are all different. Saying someone is normal is almost like implying that they are somehow better than other people, which I do not believe.
For some people, ‘normal’ has a negative connotation. It can bring up ideas of being boring, stale, stuck in a rut or the same old routine. Normal can mean the opposite of exciting to some people.
I don’t know what ‘normal’ is, and I don’t think anyone really does. Is it normal to get married, have kids, and own a house? For some people that’s a dream, for others, it’s a nightmare.
Is it normal to be cautious or free-spirited? I think that whoever you are, what you have a tendency towards and an interest in, is perfectly normal for you because you are a unique human being.
I don’t think it’s normal to stay in one place and never grow. I think it’s important to branch out of one’s comfort zone every now and then and explore the horizons beyond one’s everyday life.
Living in this society, people like me are made to feel abnormal since I am in my 30s, female, and unmarried. It’s hard to deal with the expectation of marriage and wonder if I will ever get there. It’s something that is pointless to dwell on, because it either happens or it doesn’t.
Being single and marrying later or not at all has become something of a norm these days. I could be meant for something else in my life, and doing something as conventional as getting married maybe doesn’t fit into the ultimate plan for my life and what I truly desire out of it.
There are worse things in life than being alone. I have dealt with that status for so long that it feels practically natural and normal for me at this point.
I think most people balk at the idea of normal or a ‘standard’ for living one’s life. Everyone’s idea of happiness and success is different, and that’s fine. It’s what makes up the human tapestry, and makes the world interesting and fascinating. Without differences, no one would ever be inspired, there would be no magic in anything, no mystery. And that would not be a fun way to live at all.
Prompt: Tell us about your favorite way to get lost in a simple activity— running, chopping vegetables, folding laundry, whatever. What’s it like when you’re in “the zone”?
Being in the zone, like in the middle of a good workout, is really satisfying and gratifying. It makes me lose all sense of myself and makes me feel powerful, like I can change into someone else. I love how exercise brings you into the present moment because you are focused on exertion, and moving the body just feels good. The body was made to be exerted and to be in motion. The body was made to be put to use.
Being in the zone is a great feeling because there is no sense of time. Activities become fun instead of drudgery. It’s like with writing, or reading a really great book that you can’t put down. I used to get into the zone by listening to my favorite band when I was younger. It gave me a feeling of being almost high.
Listening to my favorite band, I felt like I was floating and blissing out. Getting in the zone of music is very easy for me, and for a lot of people. Music can change your mood and uplift you, even if you’re listening to the most depressing shit in the world. I think music gets you into the zone because it touches certain emotional parts of a person, and you can feel it in your body and heart.
Being in the zone is a sort of lost art. People love distraction and spend most of their lives distracted and procrastinating, or getting into the zone of unhealthy things. I like being in the zone of writing of course, but I also procrastinate just like everyone else. Writing is satisfying when you have a good flow of words going, but can be frustrating when you become blocked, and start to feel like the most boring person on earth who has nothing to say.
But there are always new ways to seek out inspiration. I like to think about my dreams and sometimes write about them. Or simply reading a book of poetry, or observing the world out the window, or looking at some photography online. Human beings are fascinating, and lots of inspiration can be drawn from just observing them, or meeting someone new and getting their view of the world. People love to be really heard, and writers are often good listeners, and gifted observers.
Ideas will always come if you just stop and pay attention to your thoughts. Things float to the surface. For example, I know I need to go write out the answer to the question: Who do you want to be? So I’m going to do that in my paper journal. Sometimes you need to write by hand just for fun, and explore a topic that has been nagging at you. Hopefully it gets me in ‘the zone’ of writing.
(Entry below is an excerpt from an entry handwritten on 2/1/2014)
I just finished reading The Help the other night, and one of the reading group discussion questions at the back of the novel is: Who was your favorite character? Why? My favorite character was Eugenia Phelan, nicknamed Skeeter. She was my favorite character because she was akward and insecure of herself at first, but by the end, her true character reveals itself.
She felt strongly about a topic, and decided to interview maids and write a book about it. This decision was very brave and very dangerous, (considering the time period in which the book takes place) but Skeeter was determined to complete her project and write her book. She even worked around the clock at the last minute in order to get the manuscript to the publishing house in New York in time for the deadline.
Skeeter lost her friends, her social status and acceptance, and her first boyfriend. All that did not deter her from reaching her goal. She decided to write something extremely controversial, yet important, with the hope that it would open people’s eyes and create change. And the book she wrote succeeded in creating a dialogue between the maids and the families they worked for.
I admire Eugenia for withstanding so much criticism from her mother for not having found a husband, and for everything about her appearance that was criticized as well. And then for later dealing bravely with her mother’s serious illness and failing health. Eugenia is a strong character. She is patient and empathetic, as well as blunt and honest.
Eugenia published her book “Help” anonymously. She didn’t do it for recognition of accolades. She did it because it was an important topic to her, and it was something that no one else had ever written about before.
It’s hard to believe that The Help is the debut novel of Kathryn Stockett because the characters are so alive and the scenes are all so vivid. She has a great imagination and way with words. I was thinking the other day, how awful it would be to get to the end of my life having never written or published anything substantial- without having left behind some sort of creative legacy.
I hope that one day I find my own story, and finally get it written down, committed to paper and published.
Prompt: Tell us about something you know you should do . . . but don’t.
I know that I should try to make new friends, meet new people. And sometimes I get a weird urge to, but I don’t do it. I know that I will eventually, maybe when the weather becomes less extreme because I don’t tolerate the cold well. But right now, being on my own is fine for me.
I’m not the kind of person who needs to have other people around. I’ve always been this way. I remember once reading about how Shirley Manson finished her latest tour and went out to a grocery store and freaked out because she was by herself. She realized that for 15 years, she has had someone around.
And it was funny to me how I am the opposite. When I have people around, that takes an adjustment on my part. It drains me mentally at times. And I feel that I need to be on my own again to recuperate for a while. I do like having company, just not all the time.
There is the danger of getting lost in one’s own head, which I tend to do, so I do see the value in pursuing friendships and hearing other people’s thoughts and opinions. Constantly focusing on oneself makes you a bit crazy and unstable and unreasonable. It’s healthy to realize that it’s not all about you.
I think I realize this more as I get older. There is a great big world out there and I’m not the center of it. I’m the center of the world inside my head, but other people are going on about their lives, oblivious to me and what I think or feel every day. Their own lives are what’s most important to them usually, just like me.
Social situations make me nervous, especially when no one is drinking and everyone is kind of tense if they don’t know each other well. I find this kind of thing a nightmare. I constantly wonder if I’m saying the right thing, if the other person gets me, if they find me strange.
I tend to recall stupid things like when I threw a baby shower for a coworker (because others pushed me to) and while everyone was gathered, I attempted to speak now and then and be friendly.
Whenever I would say anything totally normal, two of my female coworkers would look at each other and laugh. And I was just left thinking, what the fuck did I say that was so funny?
These kinds of memories get in the way and anger me when I feel the most vulnerable. I don’t like to be judged or laughed at for no reason. Social anxiety is a very real thing for some people.
My mother tells me that having friends is easy. Maybe it is for her, and the majority of the population. But not for me, for some reason that I have yet to understand.
Prompt: Explain why you chose your blog’s title and what it means to you.
My blog title, Rubies of Random Thought, means that I sometimes feel that I have epiphanies in my writing. But other times, it is just drab. Everything goes into my paper journal, but only the ‘rubies’ go onto my blog.
The rubies are the special thoughts in which I articulated something in a certain way that I am proud of, and that I feel is worth sharing.
Random Thought, meaning that out of all the stuff drifting through my mind, only certain things are ever written down and I don’t know why those thoughts are and not others.
There is a strong internal voice that picks up on observations, feelings, impressions and insights, and that’s the voice that comes out in my writing.
It takes a lot of stillness at times to hear it. And when the mind is muddled with thoughts, it becomes nearly inaudible. At times though, that inner voice- the chatter can become “incessant,” as Sylvia Plath once put it. It won’t leave me alone until I express it through my pen. And I can’t feel quite complete until I do.
Many times, I find I have to write a bit of stream of consciousness stuff, to empty out the mind of the minutia, in order to reach the ruby thoughts underneath.
They are always there somewhere in the subconscious mind, but are not always obvious. Writing more often sharpens them, hones the inner voice, and encourages it to emerge more and not be so elusive.
When I first told my mother about how I love getting home delivery service for my groceries, the first thing she said was “Isn’t it great to live in this country?” And it really struck me. We are so lucky and we often take that for granted. We have everything that we need, plus extra comforts too.
My mother was born and raised in Colombia. Everyone around her was very poor, always in need. She has 4 sisters and is the oldest. She had no toys when she was little. She jokes about having had to play with the roaches and bugs and animals.
When my mother moved here and got married and then pregnant, she did not have a lavish baby shower. She bought the few things she needed on her own at Woolworth’s.
The main aim for her and my father was survival, and raising my sister and I. All they wanted was a better life for us. My mother still periodically sends clothes/bedding/jewelry/makeup/perfume/curtains to her relatives in Colombia. And they cherish it all.
They wear my old dresses, jewelry and clothes (that I gave my mother to donate) until they are falling apart. And I gave them away because I was tired of them, and clothing and jewelry here is so plentiful.
Her relatives use everything to the fullest, until it’s no longer useful. Here there is abundance to the point where we barely see what we are blessed with anymore. We can’t imagine lacking anything.
I never complain. I have a job, a warm place to sleep, a loving family, and enough food to eat. And use of all my senses and limbs. Many people in this world are not so lucky, every day is a struggle for them.
All I worry about are my wants, not my needs. My needs are all handled thanks to my parents who paid for my education, and who taught me discipline, love and gratitude. My love for them knows no bounds.
Always remember that so many people in the world would love to live the way that we do, with abundance, luxuries, comforts, security and hope for the future. Give to those who need help, share your wealth.
Prompt: Do you have a favorite quote that you return to again and again? What is it, and why does it move you?
I don’t have a quote that I return to again and again. But I recently watched the movie Castaway and there was a quote in it that really struck me. It’s something that I think I was supposed to hear at this time in my life. I don’t want to ruin the movie for anyone, so if you haven’t seen it, don’t read any further.
Near the end of the movie, Tom Hanks’ character is rescued. He is speaking to someone and explaining how much pain he’s in because his fiancé from before his plane accident has remarried. He has lost her because she assumed he had died. He says that after he was stranded, he told himself he had to stay alive on the island and simply keep breathing, and one day, the tide came in and brought him a sail. (He used that makeshift sail to escape to freedom and be rescued).
He compares his current hopelessness about the relationship to that moment. Although he feels empty and alone without the woman he loves, he know he has to just keep breathing and stay alive because “Who knows what the tide could bring?”
There is so much truth to that quote. I was moved by this moment in the film and the sincerity with which he spoke the line. There have been many times in my life when I’ve felt hopeless, but then something happens to turn my whole mood/day/life around, and it’s usually something that I could never see coming.
So I don’t think there’s any sense in believing that the future will be a continuation of the past. It only will if we don’t allow our minds to expand and see the real possibilities out there. It’s like that line from a Garbage song, “Nothing in life is set in stone, there’s nothing that can’t be turned around.”
I think we hear the things we are meant to hear and they affect us in ways to make us learn, open our eyes and all senses and simply observe. There are always messages coming to us. Every day is a new chance to start over.
Below is a fuller version of the quote, along with another quote from this film that has stayed with me:
“I had power over *nothing*. And that’s when this feeling came over me like a warm blanket. I knew, somehow, that I had to stay alive. Somehow. I had to keep breathing. Even though there was no reason to hope. And all my logic said that I would never see this place again. So that’s what I did. I stayed alive. I kept breathing. And one day my logic was proven all wrong because the tide came in, and gave me a sail. And now, here I am. I’m back. In Memphis, talking to you. I have ice in my glass… And I’ve lost her all over again. I’m so sad that I don’t have Kelly. But I’m so grateful that she was with me on that island. And I know what I have to do now. I gotta keep breathing. Because tomorrow the sun will rise. Who knows what the tide could bring?”
”The most beautiful thing in the world is, of course, the world itself.”
-Main character reading from a birthday card
Prompt: Where were you when 2013 turned into 2014? Is that where you’d wanted to be?
I was at my sister’s neighbor’s house, a family who lives across the street from them. I had to take three trains to get there and it was freezing cold, and I wanted to be home. But at the same time, I didn’t want to be alone again on New Year’s Eve.
I figured the distraction of my niece and nephew, and talking to my sister, and watching my brother-in-law DJ at the party would be good for me. My mother always tells me that it’s better to welcome the new year accompanied, than alone.
It was an OK party, I drank a lot, danced, and tried to forget my loneliness. The neighbors were nice people, though I was getting hit on by a brother of the neighbor, which I did not welcome and was kind of annoyed by. I later found out he was ten years younger than me. I wasn’t attracted to him at all, as is usual with the guys who like me.
The neighbor was a girl my age, but with a totally different life. She had a house, was married and had two small sons. Her children spent the time playing with my niece and nephew. We all oohed and awwwed at how cute they were dancing together. Of course it wasn’t my ideal new year’s celebration. After spending so many years with my ex-boyfriend, having a romantic time escaping from the world together over Christmas break and into New Year’s.
Every holiday seems more difficult when your single, but whatever. I’m alive and have my health and possibilities for a different future. That’s what I try to keep in mind, even though the Valentine’s Day decorations are already going up in the stores.
Once the holidays passed, I felt better. I kind of wish I didn’t work at home sometimes, so I could interact with other people more directly on a daily basis. But when there is a huge snowfall, I realize how lucky I am to work from home.
Ironically, when the big snowfall hit, I wanted more than anything to go out and meet people. That is extremely rare for me. I guess that’s just the way it works. I had to wait a while for my anti-depressant medication to start working so I could start feeling social again and stop hiding from everyone and everything.
It was just not the best timing with the weather situation. But it did give me time to write, to meditate, to clean out my closet, to watch some movies I borrowed from my sister, and to exercise. Maybe tonight I’ll finally get back to reading The Help, which somehow went ignored during my whole Christmas vacation week.
I went out today to a drugstore and was met with sidewalks coated by sheets of ice. It was actually safer to walk in the streets with the oncoming traffic (during red lights). And I remembered again how grateful I am to work from home, as the commute tomorrow morning would’ve been horrendous.
It completely breaks my heart to see that Avonte Oquendo, the autistic 14-year-old boy from Queens, is still missing after so much time. I can’t imagine what his mother must feel like with the holidays approaching, knowing that her son is out there and she doesn’t know where, and she can’t be with him or take care of him.
Stories like this didn’t used to bother me too much, but now they do because I know how terrible it would be if my niece or nephew were missing. It’s unimaginable and the worst nightmare for a family to have to endure. I don’t know Avonte’s mother, but before he went missing, we worked for the same company. She hasn’t been back to work since, obviously. I read in an interview that she is not looking forward for Christmas and the only thing she wants is her son back.
When I was little, I got lost a few times. I once walked out of my day care, calm as anything, and tried to walk back home. Luckily, the principal/director of the day care was late that day and as she was getting off the bus, she saw me standing on a street near the school and recognized me.
She brought me back to the woman taking care of the children and asked, “Isn’t this girl from this center?” and the woman screamed, “Yes, Kari! Thank goodness!” She called me Kari instead of Karen. That was my last day attending that day care. My mother took me out of it and cared for me herself since she was not working at that time. Who knows what would’ve happened to me if the principal hadn’t been late that day by chance.
Another time, I was with my parents at their friend’s apartment. I was playing with a few other kids and when it was time to go, my parents couldn’t find me. They searched the entire apartment, turning it upside down and I was nowhere to be found. My mother said she was paralyzed with fear and couldn’t move.
My mother said she felt sweat pouring out from her fingertips. My father ran outside and saw me standing at the corner in front of a bar, and this was late at night. I was casually strolling around in circles around some utility pole or something, oblivious to all the fuss.
I don’t remember how old I was, but again, I was lucky. Anyone could have taken me and that would’ve been the last I saw of my family. I don’t know what I was thinking both of those times when I got lost, but I just thank God that I was found and reunited with my parents.
It just makes you wonder why some parents are lucky that way and some aren’t. It’s so random how quickly life can completely change from one day to the next. That’s why I know not to take things for granted.
I am incredibly blessed to be healthy mentally, to be educated and cared for and have a job and my independence. Life is fragile and miraculous, even in the ordinary times. Being alive, safe, and sheltered is something to be grateful for every single day.
I still pray for Avonte to be found safe, and returned home to his mother where he belongs.