Of cats, baes and 2k16

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2016 has finally ended and while it’s been a rough year on – I’m sure – all of us, I couldn’t start a new year with an old, petty tradition: focusing on all the bad shit that happened in the past and ignoring how many good things actually happened. While a tough year economically, historically and generally speaking, great things happened in my life that I figured were worth a list and appreciation.

For starters, I adopted Amelia. If you do not know yet who Amelia is, Houston, we have a problem. Amelia is a beautiful, adorable and sometimes possessed by the devil lilac Siamese (that resembles immensely a raccoon) that has changed my life. I’ll tell you right now, you guys, if you don’t have a pet yet please add it to your 2017 resolutions. Adopting Amelia was the best decision I’ve ever made – even if she was truly a Christmas present and at first I didn’t have much of a choice – and it has helped me in many, many ways. She has helped my sleeping patterns, my depression, my sense of responsibility and, believe me, has done a great deal of help in my Binge Eating Disorder treatment.

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Here she is, drunk in love with her mom. Aka me.

Speaking of…

2016 has been a big year in my treatment. I am here speaking openly about a subject that haunted me for over three years before I could even realize I had a problem, and that continue to follow me. And it is three years later into therapy, meditation, a kitty and never ever resorting to any sorts of medication that I can say out loud (or in writing, this is very confusing sometimes) that I am a BED in recovery. Please take note that this is not, in any way, me telling you to refuse medication! Different treatments work for different people, and as a very spiritualistic pagan raised with the most natural and homeopathic  means, I chose from the start to stay clear of meds. I resorted to yoga, reading, meditating and yes, adopting Amelia. My treatment has maybe taken a lot longer than other would, I am still in recovery and every single day is a battle but I can proudly say that 2016 was a year of very, VERY few heavy binging episodes.

But we’ll return to the subject in a much recent future. Now for the past…

I took advanced, grad school classes this year as well and read the most amazingly interesting letters for my Rhetoric class. I got a new job, one that I love dearly and that has taught me so much about people, about respecting the diverse kinds of intelligence those around you can have, about the struggling, long process that is writing, proofreading and publishing a book.

I got into my second uni! That was absolutely wild! Five years later I decided to try it a second time, different place, different major. Different people – oh so different people! And that I can honestly say was the second (after Amelia, of course) best part of my year. I’ve met so many new people, coming from all possible upbringings, places, social classes and cultural beliefs. I’ve learned to give people the benefit of the doubt, to listen to them and know that each and every person you cross paths with throughout life has something new to bring you and teach you to make you a better human being.

My best friends now are a freakishly tall girl with the most beautiful eyes one could ever see and a heart as big as the sun; a tiny little thing with the smile of a Disney princess and a sweetness and kindness inside her that you don’t see in anyone these days; a boy I used to hate with a passion and that has showed me how people can be distinct and complement each other’s hearts; a crazy chic with bright colored hair that has been through a lot and still keeps on going; a girl with the most badass Instagram account you’ll ever see and the vastest knowledge in this planet; and many, many more beautiful people that a simple decision has brought back into my life.

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Some of my new baes Preta, Let, Erica, Tony and Duda. (Plácido is not in the picture because he’s an ass and runs from cameras.)

2016 was a fucked up year but it brought me hardcore badasses for friends, people who’ve been to hell and back and are still standing and that show me every single day that such thing is beyond feasible; is it vital! Yes, 2016 took David Bowie away from us. And Alan Rickman, and George Michael, Carrie Fisher, Umberto Eco and the list goes on and on and on… But I truly believe that each person that goes, if their mission is accomplished, they leave a spark behind ready to ignite where something beautiful can happen. These girls up here, the boys, the goats (there are goes, trust me) and even teachers who has no sense of self preservation (*winks* at all JORPA1m class) were my ‘something good’ amidst all the losses that came with 2016.

Last, but not IN THE SLIGHTEST least: I graduated college. Yes, my friends, five years of pure divine probation ended. This is another subject that could take up a whole post (maybe a series of posts) but what’s important now is that I survived something really, intensely hard for me, something that has messed up my life and changed who I am in so many ways, good and bad. That was what 2016 was for me, a year of survival. Of learning new limits of mine, finding strength where I least expected and standing tall through all the difficulties these 365 days brought me in a frequency that is unbelievable.

Okay, Jules, so what does all this ranting mean?

It means it is possible for good things to come out of the hardest situations. It is possible to keep on going even when your legs, your head and your heart hurts. It is possible to fight and conquer an eating disorder that has fucked up my health so much. It is possible to find solace and companionship in the tiniest, furriest creatures. A lot can happen in a year and yes, most of it can be bad. But if you still choose to wake up the next day with a smile on your face, you’ll find beauty and laughter in the most unimaginable of places.

Talking about my disorder is not easy for me. Seeing the best in people was not something regular on my life. And finishing something I had started, oh… That simply did not happen. Yet this year I managed to do all of those. Crazy, huh?

Bear with me here, buddy. I’m sure together we’ll have twice a bigger list to share with each other by the end of 2017!

Bye, Felicia!

It’s been twenty days since my first post.
I started two post during these past few days, two I couldn’t finish for the life of me. But after two weeks of fighting what I first thought was tonsillitis, then turned out to be measles and now we’re thinking it’s dengue fever I realized that the true reason why I couldn’t finish those first two posts was not the lack of time or me being too sick and tired to come up with anything. It was fear.
I’ve started maybe ten blogs since I was fourteen. First ones were directed to my fictional production at the time, poems, tales and such. Then I had journal blogs, book review blogs, blogs about every single thing I have ever considered a hobbie or an interest of mine and none of them – I repeat, none – went past ten or fifteen posts. Most of them were never advertised, none of friends or family members ever heard of them. Some were collabs with friends, some I had the courage to tell people about, but at the end they’d all die and not even slowly. They just died.
And looking at all that now I realize it was all because of fear. I’ve been an anxious person since I can remember, and always deadly scared. Not only of clowns or heights, but of everything. I was scared of making people upset, of failing grades, of not finishing books I started writing but also not liking the books so I’d drop them in half. I quit ballet because I was afraid of being bullied (because of my weight, which will most definitely be the subject of future entries); I quiet taekwondo because I was afraid of getting hurt. I was always afraid of showing people my writing because I was scared of not being good enough. Or even worse, I was scared of being too good, raising their expectations and later not living up to them. I am always scared. And this fear had led me absolutely nowhere in my life.
Looking back now ever single thing I have ever conquered in life was during a small, brief moment of complete carelessness, recklessness. And the things I either regret or know were not the best choices are the ones I know I chose when afraid of something. I’m months away from graduating my first college, a place I now hate and that has changed my life in so many ways (most of them not really that good) and that I chose to be in because I was afraid of moving too far from my family, picking a place that could maybe possibly be not that good for my future CV, moving to a country town and never finding a job. I moved away from my mother’s house, from a city I loved, to a stressful and crazy place just because I was afraid to admit that maybe I didn’t want that life at the time. I know speaking like that it makes it sound like I’ve only made bad choices in life and I am now one hundred percent unhappy and I swear that is not the case. But I can see now the long list of things I did out of fear and they are worse than the ones I didn’t do for the same reason. And I am so tired of it.
Fears had gotten me nowhere but places I didn’t want to be. It has done nothing but deprive me of amazing opportunities, great friends. It has gotten me to the point where I weight over two hundred pounds, take more meds than my eighty-five years old grandma and with a terrible sense that I am watching my life happen in front of my eyes without the courage to step in and say ‘hey, you are mine, stop rolling without me’. So I say – pardon my French – enough of that shit. This post is me saying enough! Enough of letting fear take over our lives and our will! Enough of allowing our brains to trick us into not doing something or even doing it because it manipulates us into being afraid! Let us use fear as a healthy defense mechanism, not as a crutch on which we support the weight of our cowardness.
May this second entry be number two out thousand more to come. And hey, you, fear?
Bye, Felicia!

Who am I, you ask.

I am a story-teller. 

When I was five or six, can’t remember now, I wrote – with the help of my already alphabetized big brother and my comic nerd of a father – my first story, a comic book about a vampire. Don’t ask me how I knew what a vampire was at the time, but I remember him being a rather nice fellow that walked around in a cape and had fangs so big they reached his chin. Needless to say my brother and I had poor drawing skills, but there I was showing first signs of story-telling.

As I grew older, I’d create plots for my cousin and I to play when we spent time together during summer vacation. Okay, for the most part we’d engage in Harry Potter Universe acting, but I’d make my own modifications (since she’d never let me be Hermione or Gina, and I wouldn’t simply take any other minor characters so I had to create mine). One year I adapted “Little Red Riding Hood” so it’d be playable in less than half an hour and with four characters only, and I remember very vividly how much my grandfather laughed as me, my brother and my two cousins played our parts so lamely. Poor old man almost had a cardia arrest there, and that was the first time I noticed something I had done had entertained people. So I continued telling stories.

A while back I started working with some great people and there was this one day in particular, we were all sitting around our working table, talking about the most random subjects, until one of my friends – her name was Beca and she had the most beautiful red hair I had ever seen – told me that whenever she wished to tell someone else about me, she’d describe me as ‘my friend who tells stories really well’. Beca had no idea that at that time I was struggling with one of my many crisis and I had been questioning my habiliteis. Not as a story teller, as a writer. And when she said that something in my heart told me: “Juliana, this is the best compliment you have ever gotten.” To be known as a person who could speak up and get people hooked, interested, made me realize how many times I had heard something like that, like when in eleventh grade my best friend told me he’d never read any books because it was always better, more amusing, to hear the books told by me. Or when my mom said I was funny because I had my own way of describing situations, an unique way. That day I needed to hear Beca’s words more than I thought I did and more than she’ll probably ever know and while it didn’t made my crisis any easier I had acquired a certainty, a fact about myself that was much needed to what I’d come to call the ‘Who am I’ list.

Two years passed since that day and I’ve been through many crisis since then. I questioned my talent as a writer, doubted my passion, second-guessed my choice to study literature in college and my decision to go to college once more to become a journalist. I threw away notebooks with chapters and more chapters of fan fiction written, I started blogs that I abandoned violently, I even began using Google Docs to share my failed creations with my best friend, only to reinforce how much of a failure as a writer I was. I had no interest in following an academic career because I wrote my essays poorly. I decided (very strongly) that I didn’t want to be a teacher because I had no patience for writing classes to people that didn’t care. I started working in a publishing company as a proofreader because I was certain I was born to read and not to write ever again. Until this last Wednesday, during a History of Art class, when my professor cried, remembering a photograph and the story of a photographer that touched him deeply.

I noticed that during the two days prior and the classes I had in this new college project, I had found myself watching my new professor speak of their professions so passionate that I couldn’t stop smiling. I watched one of them tell us a story about his writing process with a racing heart. I listened to the other share passages of her past with the urge to grab a notepad and write it all down so I could pass the story on. I met new people with whom I shared moments of my life and they stopped, and listened, to a point where I stopped breathing, and talking, and doing anything else because I could feel it in my heart, and my bones… In my soul, if you will. That touch, that breath that told me once again: You are a story-teller.

I am a story-teller.

Whether that makes me a good writer, or a good journalist, I don’t care. I am what I am and while I can be so much more that I haven’t learned yet, this is the first step to a long process of self discovery. This is a very important step that will lead me on a path I have no idea where it ends. And I don’t want to know. What I want to is to listen to more and more stories and to watch people speak up with passion, to have it pour over me so I can learn and have more and more stories to tell. So here I am, once more, starting what I’d like to believe is going to be a long journey of learning, making mistakes, making emends after, smiling, crying, laughing, but most importantly, story-telling. I once wrote a blog entry that ended with me affirming I am a writer. I am not only a writer. I am a journalist. I am a daughter, a reader, a worker, a student, a friend. Today I end things differently, I end them with the start.

I am a story-teller.

And I am going to be so much more…