repetition

she loves me when i’m sad, she spins around our room and the light catches in her hair

with our little yellow cat in her arms and love in her gaze.

i chose forever with her.

she loves me when i’m sad, and she serenades me with carole king when i’m down. i

didn’t know i was missing her until she was back in my arms, softly kissing my face and

grazing her eyelashes across my cheek.

she loves me when i’m sad, from afar and up close. a summer apart was the hardest

thing i’ve ever had to do, but it was worth the wait. we dance about the hardwood floor

to our record player, and our cat is pressed between our chests.

she loves me when i’m sad, and intertwines her fingers with mine at just the right time.

she is a dream. and she is mine.

 

–she turned my life around from nothing but hurricanes to only sunny spring days.

 

update 5_terri
Terri & Felix, Stewart Park

 

 

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temporary things; eternal moments

We were hurtling down rural New York back roads and admiring the sunset. It was the type of lilac and light rose that you rarely see. It had us enamored and we gazed through our open windows at the sky.

As we turned around the bend, we rapidly approached the lake.

“Pull over!” I yelled, pointing towards the water.

Terri turned into the parking lot and we jumped out of the car, racing to the water’s edge. Our little dog, Ollie, could hardly keep up.

Terri crashed into the water, wading in as high as her shorts allowed, admiring the oranges and yellows emerging from the sunset.

I soaked in the moment, amazed at the sight before me.

“We really do live in a beautiful place.” I murmured under my breath.

I sat down on the grassy shore and watched Terri for a few moments as the sun crept lower and lower behind the hills. At this moment, I wanted nothing more than to capture these feelings forever.

The sound of the gentle lapping of the water washed into my ears, and the air from the summer breeze filled my lungs. There was a boat, floating nearby, and I watched the reflected pinks fade to blues on its sails.

My bare feet in the cool grass, I pondered something Terri had mentioned earlier.

She said that we are merely in a temporary place, with temporary people, and temporary jobs. For us, New York is temporary. It won’t last for more than another year before we run off to our next adventure.

But sitting there, counting the fireflies among us, I knew that this moment is not temporary. Something about this moment, with Terri, is eternal.

How do we explain this phenomenon, of being together in this moment forever in our minds?

I want to live in this memory and swim in its colors. I want to jar the scent of the water and the air, and store the sounds in a conch shell to retrieve whenever I see fit. I never want the sunset to end.

Terri splashed into the water as the sunset drew to a close. The remaining orange glow warmed her face, and I captured a photo that will never do her true beauty justice.

Hand in hand, we walked back to the car, Ollie tangling himself in his leash.

In ten short minutes, the memory making ended.

Where does one go from here?

the sun closes out another chapter

If you’ve ever rushed down country back roads in Upstate New York,

with the lavender and cotton candy skies behind you,

a small dog on your lap, and

with your partner’s hand on the back of your neck,

while a song that stirs up feelings of nostalgia plays on the radio,

then you know what it’s like to be in love.

I’m still alive. I have been wildly, wildly busy.

I realize it has been awhile since I’ve updated this website with relevant information, and I decided to give a few major life updates. If you read the whole post, I am honored.  

 


 

First, personal updates…

 

The most exciting news I have for you is that I got engaged in March! I am so excited to further my journey with my partner, Terri, who is my muse, my love. Together, we started a little family and home here in Ithaca, NY.  

 

Terri recently brought her dog from Texas up to live in New York with us, so we now have a little shaggy doggo (not the one in the header image) (our pup’s insta is ollie_landez) (sorry, I’m legally obliged to plug) running around the house after Felix the cat (insta: felix_banning), who, by the way, just turned four years old (the mommy in me is crying). The pets live with us in our adorable new one bedroom apartment, which we are enamored with. It’s a little rustic (ants unfortunately included), but overall a charming little place where Terri and I are able to enjoy some (amazing, wonderful, engaging) studio space. I’ve been spending way too much money decorating this cutesy little apartment.

 

Lastly in personal news, I got a new hairdo. It’s short and dark blue/black now. I look awesome.

 


 

Now for some of the professional stuffs that I know you’re all dying to hear about! 😉 I apologize that this section might sound like reading a resume or my Linkedin profile (ADD ME ON LINKEDIN. I LOVE LINKEDIN). The brief version of this section can be found here.

 

I am wrapping up my time as an Out for Health intern with my local Planned Parenthood after working there for the past six months. There, I helped primarily with the LGBT Youth Group. Our LGBT Youth Groups offer a supportive, empowering environment for LGBT youth to express themselves. Our meetings provide a safe, educational, and super fun place for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, and allied youth. Weekly meetings provide an accepting, judgement-free space for youth to ask questions, make new friends, and share their ideas. The group hosts movie nights, creates art projects, has discussions and queer guest speakers, plays (lots of) games (Mario Kart), occasional field trips, and much more.

 

Second, I am closing in on my time with Crisis Text Line as a Spike Captain and a Youth Advisory Council member. I will continue to work closely with the organization as a volunteer and an (sporadically needed) part-time Coaching Assistant. As a Spike Captain, I was responsible for being a mentor, a cheerleader and a peer advocate for fellow Crisis Counselors. I was selected for Friday Spike Captain out of a large pool of applicants, and worked overnight every friday. During my shift, I monitored the queue health for Crisis Text Line’s platform and when a “spike” (influx of texters) occurs, I am called to encourage the 500+ Crisis Counselors that I manage to show up to tackle the long wait list. During this crazy time, I am their go-to person with questions about their conversations, and their light at the end of the tunnel when things get tough. This was a six month position that I am honored to have experienced.

 

As a member of the Youth Advisory Council, I was a part of a group of young people (age 18-25) who are Crisis Counselors with Crisis Text Line. I worked with other Crisis Counselors across the nation to be “eyes and ears on the ground,” giving the organization the scoop on how they should get word out about our service and how we can recruit their friends and peers to volunteer with us. (PLUG!: Message me if you want to know more about how you can be a crisis counselor!)

 

In addition to working with Planned Parenthood and Crisis Text Line, I have been working diligently at Starbucks. We recently had our diversity and bias training, which was a wonderful first in an installment of ongoing trainings to be built into our curriculum over the twelve months. I had the awesome opportunity to discuss some deeply personal topics with my fellow partners, and am eager to see what the company has in store for us.

 

LAST THING FOR PROFESSIONAL UPDATES. I’m still writing the book.

 

SPRING UPDATES DONE! Onto summer plans!

 


 

I’ve already started my internship with The Advocacy Center of Tompkins County, and it’s been a blast. I’m working closely with the Community Engagement Specialist to revise the center’s Volunteer Hotline Training Manual, since that is my area of focus due to my extensive crisis counseling experience and educational background.

On Tuesday, I will begin my internship with Family and Children’s Services of Ithaca as a Youth Services Intern, where I will be helping to facilitate groups and getting to know some super cool youths with in the Dispositional Alternatives Program. Feel free to read more information about what that program is on my Linkedin profile- it’s an interesting and much needed program here in Tompkins County. What’s most exciting to me about this internship is that it’s direct experience with youth services and a great way for me to learn how to better communicate with people of different backgrounds as me. This internship also has to ~potential~ to carry into the fall/spring semester so wish me with that one!


I am eager to see the impact I will make on these organizations, and look forward to an awesome summer. I will be balancing two summer classes (Personal Relationships and Human Development!! WOOT!), two internships, and full-ish/kinda-part-time work at Starbucks as well. Here’s to a challenging and rewarding summer “vacation!”

 


 

Phew! Thanks for sticking with me. If you’re still reading, I appreciate you. If you skipped to this part and are going to like the post as if you’ve read the whole thing, that’s totally fine, I’ll have absolutely no idea you did that. Just comment something generic like “Sounds awesome,” or “Congrats!” and it’ll be fine for us both. 🙂


 

ALL THIS BEING SAID. Since a fall internship with Family and Children’s is in no way a guarantee, I’m on the lookout for potential opportunities for fall internships in family/youth services in Ithaca area. If you know of any cool places to start looking, let me know. Any help is appreciated!

 


 

PHOTOS (if you’re really too lazy to read)!

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christmas eve

the winters wind in wakefield

whispered in my ears

as my best friend and i walked

up and down the rocky beach.

pink is my favorite color,

so we picked up all the rose rocks

we could find.

we stood over the stones

admiring their marbled complexions.

the beach was empty–

save for a lonely young girl and a strange man–

so we wandered towards the

seaside cottages.

the abandoned huts stood on

wooden beams, holding them strong.

many of the windows were boarded up

with “for sale” signs

and I recalled my childhood

dream

of living by the sea.

my friend and i collected nine rocks that day.

-in rhode island, i felt alive again.

If you’re not a danger to society, then stricter gun policies shouldn’t scare you.

As we are all aware by now, our country has experienced yet another instance of mass violence in the form of a school shooting. This is a vague post reflecting on all school shootings and occurrences of mass gun violence, as what I am about to say is relevant to all school shootings.

I am not going to attempt to bore you with numbers or yell big words in your face.

Rather, I intend to use but one word of significance: EMPATHY.

Today, I had an encounter where someone literally said, and I quote: “My empathy is stored away for the proper moments, I need to defend myself from the government should it become the Nazi dystopia the left keeps saying Trump is trying to turn it into…” followed by me saying, “Proper…moments…. people are dead.”

To which they again replied: “Yes. People are dead. But public policy is not the place for empathy. It is the place for cold facts and evidence.”

DA DAAAAAAAAH. (Here’s where the word empathy comes into play!)

POLITICS IS FUELED BY EMPATHY, OR RATHER, THE LACK OF IT!

Now, I’m well aware that the person I was talking to likely didn’t have a background in sociology or psychology (not that my background is extensive, but I’ve taken some relevant courses), so I quickly stopped replying to the person who feels no empathy for innocent dead teenagers or their families (they really said that). I gave them a quick F you and bid them goodbye. To which, they told me that this is why the liberals always lose. Go figure.

But my point–

If politicians were to hear the stories of the families of victims, the stories of survivors, the stories of the millions of Americans who have lived through these horror stories (even if it’s just on their TV’s), then they would finally feel the compassion that they’ve been lacking.

THERE IS A REASON PRO-GUN POLITICIANS DON’T LISTEN TO THESE TYPES OF STORIES. THERE IS A REASON THEY STICK TO THEIR ALTERNATIVE FACTS.

Their alternative facts can put the blame on someone else (rather than themselves). Their alternative facts protect them from feeling.

Storytelling is one of the most powerful forms of arguments. There’s a reason for that.

EMPATHY WORKS.

I’m not talking pity parties. I’m not talking feeling bad for the people who lost loved ones.

I’m talking about empathy– taking on the experiences that these people have dealt with and reflecting on what it could be like to handle this situation themselves.

If a politician listened to these stories, they’d recognize that we need stricter gun laws. That the shooter shouldn’t have been able to access a gun in the first place. That stricter gun laws lead to a safer country– proven over and over again.

They refuse to listen because they are being rewarded by not caring about the lives of America’s children. Rather, the lives of all Americans.

These are the types of people who are safe in their homes and receive endorsements in the mail from the NRA. These are the types of people whose families will never be directly affected by gun violence. These are the types of people who claim that mass shootings are an anomaly.

We are but a month and a half into this year and have experienced more than enough gun violence. I don’t need to give you hard statistics for you to recognize this. We’re adults here, we’ve read the news.

To those who support stricter gun laws, thank you for using your empathy. Thank you for recognizing that we need policy and change, not thoughts and prayers.

To those who are still not convinced, and are upset that tighter gun policies may restrict your access to guns: who do you need protecting from? What are you so afraid of that you need a killing device with you at all times? Aren’t these the people, the ones you’re afraid of, that we should be taking guns away from?

I don’t want to infringe on your rights. People should be allowed to own guns– it’s an amendment, that’s fine, I’m not trying to argue that you shouldn’t have a gun.

But if you’re afraid of others hurting you with a gun, then perhaps they should be the ones who need to go through more hoops before gaining access to one– if they even do.

Again, TLDR: If you’re not a danger to society, then stricter gun policies shouldn’t scare you.

dichotomies

Apparently, you’re not supposed to post on social media when you’re depressed, angry or lonely. Today I am all of these things.

I am depressed because I am alone, and I am depressed because I feel as though my anger will simply be absorbed into the world without generating a blink from anyone. I am alone because I feel friendless, with only my cat to keep me company on cold January nights while my partner sleeps in Texas.

I know that the truth is, I am not friendless, and that I have a strong support system in my partner, in my best friend Erin, in my friends from work. But on days like this, I simply feel isolated.

Today, I am angry. I am angry with myself for taking on this woe-is-me persona.

As though my problems are meaningful. As though my problems are not meaningful.

This is the duality of being borderline.

I’m upset with myself for avoiding feeling, I’m upset with myself for thinking I matter. I’m upset with myself for having the audacity to imagine I don’t matter, and I’m upset with myself for indulging in feeling.

I’m well aware that these dichotomies don’t make sense. That doesn’t stop me from living them.

I can’t seem to shake the depression off my back. Being alone in upstate New York can be terribly, terribly cold.

13 Reasons Why: Media’s responsibility toward mental health

Netflix’s newest series, 13 Reasons Why, follows Clay Jensen as he listens to 13 sides of his friend Hannah Baker’s suicide tapes. The series attempts to bring light to suicide among teenagers by sending the message to ask for help when you need it and be kinder to others because you never know what someone is going through. Instead of teaching these positive skills, the series comes across as insensitive, ineffective and grossly misinformed. This results in a poor representation of the mental health community on a major streaming service, which is bad news for at-risk individuals and the community as a whole.

Continue reading “13 Reasons Why: Media’s responsibility toward mental health”