Tuesday, September 27, 2011

I do believe a song can heal me. - KV

I firmly believe that music can save lives.
The way I see it, if someone has survived their trials well enough to turn their raw emotions into art, they are at least partially healed. And if they can rise above loss/brokenheartedness/loneliness, so can I. Music makes me feel stronger. It tells me, no matter what I'm going through, I'm not the first one to live through it.
In the past few months, I've noticed more and more mainstream music is focusing on a positive message. For example, here are a few uplifting songs I've heard by popular bands/singers:

-"Born This Way" by Lady Gaga
[Whether life's disabilities left you outcast, bullied, or teased/Rejoice and love yourself today/Cause baby, you were born this way]

-"Firework" by Katy Perry
[Do you know that there's still a chance for you/Cause there's a spark in you/ You've just gotta ignite/The light/And let it shine]

-"Perfect" by Pink
[Pretty pretty please/If you ever ever feel/Like you're nothing/You're f--king perfect to me]

-"Who Says" by Selena Gomez
[You've got every right to a beautiful life...Who says/Who says you're not perfect/Who says you're not worth it/Who says you're the only one that's hurting/Trust me/That's the price of beauty/Who says you're not pretty/Who says you're not beautiful?]

-"Swim" by Jack's Mannequin
[You gotta swim/Swim for your life/Swim for the music that saves you when you're not so sure you'll survive/You've gotta swim/Swim when it hurts/The whole world is watching, you haven't come this far to fall of the earth]

-"Believe" by the Red Jumpsuit Apparatus
[And I still believe/There is more love than hate/There's more hope than pain/And we're all stuck in this great big world together]

-"Good Life" by One Republic
[Sometimes there's airplanes you can't jump out/Sometimes there's bullsh-t that don't work now/We all got our stories but please tell me/What there is to complain about]

-"Gravity Happens" by Kate Voegele
[In the wreckage of heartache and hindsight/A new beginning starts to unfold/And if you let it/It just might save your life]

-"Second Family" by Patent Pending
[The time has come to believe in yourself. Believe in your friends. Find something that you love, and spread it like wildfire. There is such a thing as a perfect world, but without each other, it does not exist. There is such a thing as happiness, and this is it.]

"Hold On" by Good Charlotte was the first "keep going" song that I ever heard. I was in 8th grade, and I remember it affecting me right after I saw it on MTV. I was having trouble in school like any other socially awkward 14 year old, but I wasn't yet at a point in my life where I considered suicide. Still, I knew it was a problem, and I hoped at least one person would hear that song and decide to throw out their pills or razor blades.

In the future, I hope other musicians will follow the lead of these bands, and release songs that can change the world in a positive way. In the media, we hear so many stories about bullying, societal pressures, racism, discrimination, and other degrees of hate I've forgotten to mention.

I can't change the world on my own.
I can't tell every lonely/hurting person that other people have experienced their struggles and survived, triumphed even.
My wish is that they turn on the radio and hear those words from someone who can reach them better than I can.

Monday, September 26, 2011

you know my name, not my story.

(Today, I was planning on writing about food -- "yankee" restaurants in particular, but I've noticed SO. MANY. Cookevillians are reading my blog, so I decided to write something so you all could get to know me a little better.)

By now, I'm sure everyone I've talked to in Cookeville knows why I applied to TTU. I get really tired of explaining sometimes. But as those people should already know, I didn't start out here. I've lived the college life for the better part of 2 years, in 2 other schools I'll talk about today.

After I graduated high school, and had a fail of an experience at Eastern Kentucky University (long story short, I went there for a guy who left, and my financial aid didn't go through, and I found out it was a wild party school who placed way too large of a priority on greek life), my dad kicked me out of the house. Fast forward 6 months later, I was living on my own and planning on moving back to Kentucky to try again. This time, I was accepted at University of the Cumberlands in Williamsburg, where I got a pretty good scholarship. The only bit of Williamsburg that I knew, I had seen on vacation. Living there was an entirely different experience.

I knew I wasn't ready to be thrown into a world of frat parties, drugs, and one-night stands, so I made sure to apply at a school that banned those things. However, I wasn't ready for the rules that smothered me under the basis of religion. The turning point, where I realized "I don't like this lifestyle," is when I had gone to Walmart to buy decorations from my dorm room -- including some heavy things, like a TV and microwave. My guy friend who drove me to the store offered to help me carry my bags and boxes to my room, but he wasn't allowed to because it wasn't visiting hours. None of the FEMALE RA's helped me. I had to carry everything by myself, because letting a guy into a girl's dorm was somehow "offensive"...if it was before 7 PM.

Eventually I caved under the pressure of culture shock, homesickness, and the incredibly stupid no-male-visitors rule, and did something really bad that got me temporarily kicked out of school. (I will explain this later once I feel like I can trust my readers.) Since I was forced off-campus, I had to move into the first apartment I could find, and my money all had to go to rent/heat, rather than taking care of myself. I lived a disgusting life in Williamsburg second semester (when I was allowed back at school). I sprayed my clothes with febreze and washed them in the bathtub because I couldn't afford to go to the laundromat. Some days, I skipped meals (eating once a day was my norm), and sometimes I survived on ramen for almost a month at a time. There was just no money left over for anything else...and without a meal plan, I was dependent on what other people gave me.

I couldn't live that lifestyle anymore, so after my first year in Kentucky, I went home. I stayed with my mom for the summer, and enrolled in a community college 2 hours from my hometown. I wasn't particularly fond of my new apartment, but it was in good shape. My mom bought my food, and helped me out with rent. I was still poor, but I was clean and well-fed. And I loved the city. I still miss it a little. I miss the independence of the bus system, and my bike, before it got stolen. It was a neutral life. Not awesome, but not nearly as bad as it was. I began to enjoy myself.

Then my mom died suddenly in November (a week before my 21st birthday). And there was no reason to be close to her house anymore. I didn't have a "home" to go back to, and I was on my own again. The cold Minnesota winters didn't contribute any to my crumbling sanity...I was incredibly lonely... Kristi + family were great to me, inviting me over for Thanksgiving and Christmas, but there was nowhere I felt I could go just to visit. Mike had tried to convince me to move closer to where his mother lived, but I knew I couldn't handle living in Kentucky again. I had no desire to ever attend another religious college, and I wasn't interested in any of Kentucky's state schools.

And then we went to Nashville...and my perspective changed. Now that there was nothing to keep me at "home," the hope of something better in Tennessee (as in, cheap food, affordable apartments, and GREEN GRASS in MARCH!) motivated me to move again. And here I am. Home. :)

Sunday, September 25, 2011

I thought I was gonna die...and then I didn't.

First, before I get into the important part of the story, I have to sadly admit, Fall Focus didn't change my life. I wasn't in the right mindset to enjoy it. First of all, I realized about halfway through, that I was there for the wrong reasons. I just wanted my BCM friends to like me. That's why I went originally. I thought they'd think I was of lower status than them, and therefore not worthy of their company, if I skipped out. Secondly, I was soooo drugged. Everything passed by in a haze. The car ride went by with few problems, but Unisom Sleep Melts (available at Walgreens for 7.99, for all you fellow uninsured anxiety-sufferers) work a little too well.

Half because of the pills working their magic, and half because I felt so incredibly inadequate compared to these other people who came to FF for the RIGHT reasons, I isolated myself from the group on purpose. While everyone else was singing, I sat outside on a wooden bench, counting down the minutes till I could go home. I kept reminding myself that as soon as I was out of Lebanon, I could be back at home (Or Cory's. Or Kevin's. Wherever), partying my frustrations away and forgetting about how confused I was.

When Cana and I left the last worship session, I was forced out of my drug-induced haze. I wouldn't call what happened to me in the parking lot a panic attack. It was worse than that. I felt physically ill. If I had been shaking any harder, I swear people would have thought I was having a seizure. I almost threw up, and my heart was beating faster than it had ever beat before. My legs got weak and I was sure I'd pass out. (But I didn't.) I think what happened, is that suddenly, there were no more sedatives in my system, and my body had a hard time adjusting. I tried so hard to keep myself from feeling stressed or scared, that I hurt my body from the inside out in the process. Cana didn't laugh at me or call me a freak. She walked around the parking lot with me, and prayed with me.

On our way home, she said something that hit me. I don't remember what it was, but suddenly I realized, God was bigger than any moment of panic. And I stopped shaking so hard. She said something to the likes of, I can't comprehend why things are they way they are, but He can. So I did something pretty shocking this morning. I woke up early and went to church. And I enjoyed it. I kinda avoid church because the crowds stress me out, but today, I sat still the whole time. Maybe that's just a one-time miracle, but I'm hoping it was part of something bigger.

All in all, I didn't get much out of FF while I was there, but after I left, I had a pretty powerful moment. So I don't regret going. Random stranger, thank you again.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Impending doom.

Okay, so maybe it's not that bad. But it feels like it.
I have such a silly phobia. Who could possibly dread something as innocent and common place as a car ride to a town less than an hour away? ...I do.
My neighbor, Kevin, asked me why car rides are so hard on me. I couldn't answer him.

Ever since I was a little kid, I HATED them. As I grew older, a general distaste for road trips grew into a full-blown anxiety disorder that required multiple prescriptions just to get me to school in the morning. (I lived 8 miles from my school, btw. Not far at all.) At least I'm not as bad off as I was then. I could hardly get to the grocery store some days. (Less than 2 miles.) And somehow, I DID make it all the way to Nashville without getting kicked off the Greyhound bus. (Though I DID have to lock myself in the bathroom a few times so I couldn't see out of the windows.)

Honestly, it's impossible to understand unless you've been there yourself. I'll be sitting in the passenger seat (I don't know if I will ever be able to drive. Hopefully someday, but I'm sure I'll always hate it.), talking, reading, listening to music, etc., and then something snaps in my brain. Suddenly, sounds are louder (unbearably loud, if it's music), lights are brighter, and I feel like I've been shot out of a cannon, rather than moving along the highway at a normal pace. If I don't have an opportunity to get out of the car at that moment, then the true panic sets in.

Imagine you start shivering and sweating at the same time. You're nauseous and dizzy, and you feel like someone is squeezing your midsection so tightly that a deep breath is impossible. All the color drains from your face, you want to scream, explode, die, ANYTHING but sit in that car...and everyone around you is frantic. "ARE YOU OKAY?" No. Not okay. Rolling down the windows doesn't help, turning on AC doesn't help (sudden change in noise = more stress, better to just keep things how they are), and speeding faster certainly doesn't help. The only thing that can stop it is time.

This is why I don't like riding in cars with strangers. Even if I warn them beforehand, they never care to distract me when it actually happens. My mom was great at that. She'd ask me questions and keep me talking before the anxiety even started. Kristi and Karen were also wonderful drivers, because they've dealt with attacks themselves. I'm praying with all my heart to the gods of sanity that I can get a ride with a patient friend who will keep me talking, and therefore feeling a bit more sane, so I can enjoy the trip, and not end up disappointing the random stranger who paid for me to go in the first place. Wish me luck.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Random Act Of Kindness

Before I go into the plot of the story, I should introduce the cast.
Cory - Guy I'm dating. We hang out sometimes. :P
Ben - Really cool church friend.
John Aaron (JA) - Youth leader at the BCM.

So. There's this trip I impulsively decided I wanted to go on. Or more so, I realized all my friends were going (most of them, anyway), and I didn't want to feel left out. Plus, I think getting out of town for a weekend will force me out of my comfort zone, and hopefully improve my anxiety in the long run. ANYWAY, I wanted to go, but couldn't come up with the money.

I had posted a Facebook status about hoping for a miracle. Not asking for anything, I just wanted to vent a little. I texted Ben about it the next day (he is like my personal twitter, I text him everything lol), and he offered to help me out. I hesitated for a little while, but he reassured me it was no big deal, so I accepted his offer.

Later on, I was eating pancakes at the BCM with Cory when JA walked by me and said, "Hey, you're all ready to go for Fall Focus."
I said, "I know. Ben paid for me."
JA said, "No, I think it was a girl who paid."
Me: "I just talked to him. He said he'd pay."
JA: "He came in to talk to me, but someone had already covered you."

I was too shocked for words. Maybe $30 isn't much to some people here, but it's a lot for me. If I lost $30 paying an unnecessary expense, I'd feel it for the rest of the month. I was touched by the somewhat generous gift. I'm nothing, I don't deserve it, Why is this random person being so nice to me? <-- Those were the thoughts going through my head.

I still don't understand who would help me and expect nothing in return. Since I don't know her name, I can't pay her back. So I'm going to pay it forward instead. Perhaps not with money, but with a kind deed somehow. If I get into the community service sorority I'm rushing this week, that should give me an opportunity to give back. And if I don't, I will find another way.

Because I am so grateful.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Wow, you're far from home!

EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. that I meet someone new, I wish I was wearing a nametag that addressed the 4 most common questions.
What's your name?
What's your class?
What's your major?
Where are you from?
When I get to that last question and tell this new person/group of people where I'm from, their eyebrows raise and they stare at me and wonder, "WHY?" So then I have to explain in depth why I chose to attend TTU. "Because I wanted to." isn't what they want to hear.
I FOUND TTU because Brianna recommended it, but I wasn't originally planning on living in a town as small as Cookeville. If only apartments in Nashville didn't cost so much. :( There was nothing about Tech that impressed or inspired me, but I applied anyway. It's just another school, really. I had literally no reason to go here except it was close to a city I fell in love with, and I already knew one person who'd be in my class.
I suppose I knew more people who attended MSUM, but I also knew more people there who I'd rather avoid. It's great living in a town where no one knows where I went to high school. Half these people probably couldn't even point out Minnesota on a map. It's freeing. I know no one here will say, "OH, do you know (insert name of high school bully)? He's my roommate/boyfriend/best friend/drinking buddy."
I am free to make friends by being myself. Sometimes that works, sometimes it doesn't. But who I was in high school doesn't matter here. And unlike UC/Williamsburg, my religion (or lack of) and brand of clothes/purse/car doesn't define me either. But it's still a small town.
Sometimes I get bored.
Sometimes I get lonely.
But I don't have to walk down the street afraid of people throwing things out their window at me.
THAT is why I moved to Cookeville. :)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Church, new friends, and the sad lack of a roommate.

I want to write more, I really do, but my internet still isn't working at home. Yep, that means I've had absolutely terrible luck finding a roommate. After one LSN response, I haven't heard ANYTHING. I would really like someone to rent out my spare room so I can afford to get my 'net fixed...and maybe, eventually get cable. Then I can go back to writing a few times a week.

Anyway. I'm halfway done with my third week of school. I kinda feel like I've been here for months. Technically, I HAVE been, but summer is a whole 'nother season...I hardly see my summer friends anymore. Brianna and I eat lunch together on Tuesdays and Thursdays, but we haven't gotten a chance to hang out yet. Kyle texted me yesterday, and I wanted to visit, but there just wasn't time. :( Shawn and I talk a couple times a week. I wish we could hang out so we could FINALLY make a successful mentos bomb. Adrian and I don't talk anymore, which is sad, but understandable. I wish we could have stayed on friendly terms though. He was fun to hang out with.
These days, I spend most of my time with the same few people.

I met Ben at a BCM function called Freshman Survival. (He's actually a freshman. Obviously, I'm not.) Yeah, that means I gave in and joined BCM after all. It's not as bad here as it was in Williamsburg. No one's really mentioned politics yet. XD Listening to all the worship songs still makes me nervous, though. People get so emotional!! Lutheran churches are very quiet and subdued, compared to the churches these people grew up in. Even when I get all this religion stuff figured out (if ever), I can't see myself as one of those girls with her hands in the air and tears streaming down her face. That's just not me. At church, I can't make myself feel anything.

Anyway, Ben is a great friend. We text a lot (my phone has literally died a few times lol), but going to the pool has to be the most fun thing we do. There's just something about spending a hot afternoon in cold water, knowing class is done for the day, and there's nothing but fun ahead until the next morning. :D I never want to look ugly around him, because he takes pictures of EVERYTHING. :P

The other girls in BCM are really nice too, though I still wonder if I don't end up being "converted," will they still like me? I would hope so. Friendship should be stronger than that.

And I'm dating someone. :) His name is Cory. He's pretty cool. We met on the internet, but we know a lot of the same people. I joke that September 11th will be a good day to remember now. His friends share a big house, and they're all really accepting. And guess what? There are girls there! And I didn't even have to pay money to meet them. XD

I imagine, eventually I'll spend more time there than I do at my own apartment. I'm rarely there as it is. I still haven't cleaned. Since I can't afford paper towels, a mop, or a trash can, it is a quite difficult task. Which brings me back to the roommate problem. I really wish I had one.

(In my next post, I will explain why I decided to move to Cookeville and apply at TTU.)