Friday, March 7, 2014

3-8-14 (for lack of better title)

I guess all you can do is throw your love out there in the world and hope that it means something. Hope that it comes back. You never know the way things are going to go and it really is one of those bittersweet fibers that makes up life. You can't hold past experiences, regardless of them being positive or negative, against a person that wasn't involved with them. You can't love unconditionally when you're constantly questioning the million things that are "meant and not meant to be" in the back of your mind.

It ruins everything.

It really does.

As a little girl, I never dreamed of my wedding day the way that I've heard so many other girls tend to do. I don't even recall ever dreaming of what "he" would be like one day. I didn't have a specific idea of what I'd like him to look like, nor did I ever have a specific "type". I always thought that after I finished school, I'd just  travel the world and experience things. If someone happened to fall in love with me during that time, then so be it. But to hell with the idea of me being the one to fall in love first.

My mother always told me to "never love a man more than he loves you". I hate that it's one of those things that occasionally still pops up in my head. What the hell am I even supposed to take from that? Is loving someone "more" a sign of weakness? Or is it just that it makes you more susceptible to being hurt if you invest more love and trust in someone? I mean, I get wanted to protect your kid and not wanting to see them get hurt, but as a result, I think I've almost done nothing else other than get hurt over and over again. And it's all my fault because I'm the one that runs. I run from things just as they start getting good. I let go before anyone has a chance to. I've done a great job at destroying. I really have.

Like I took that "if you love someone, you'll let them go" saying a bit too seriously.

I make a good filler. I'm good enough until the right thing comes along. People seem to do better once I'm out of their lives. It's a trend I've noticed.

The truth is I'm scared shitless.
That and I feel like at this point in my life, I have nothing to offer anyone.
I don't know if I ever have.
I doubt myself in everything I do every single day.

It's abrupt and stupid and completely lacks flow or clarity, but I'm ending this entry now.

I've said enough to bring me enough peace to sleep tonight.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

October's Death Grip

There's a place we used to sit as friends
that I don't dare tread on with others anymore
and with the air comes sadness and a feeling that you're still here
If you were here with me in the flesh, we'd probably be discussing how awful the music is
how unnecessary this lighting is
and how we feel the world is going to shit.
Then you'd probably leave with a group and go smoke 
and I'd stay behind listening to stupid songs 
you know
old habits die hard


By the time the world took you away, I was already numb.
I look at pictures from my life at that point, and almost everyone I was close to at that time is dead now.
I guess I was still naive in thinking that this isn't what happens when you grow up in the "pretty part" of Michigan. But if not being naive would have meant I'd expect this to happen, then I'm more than content with the outlook I have in things.
..or at least the outlook I had.

All of you were always a few years ahead of me. You kept your vices away from me the way someone might from a little sister. It made me feel like I was always left out at the time, but I'm so thankful for it now. You burned through life like fire as if you knew you had twice as much ground to cover than the rest of us.
You traveled.
You had one hell of a past that consisted of all the terrible behaviors addicts tend to resort to.
You cheated
You stole
You hurt so many people
You hurt us more by dying than anything else you ever did
but I honestly think you loved me.
And that's what I try to remind myself of now when I look back and only the bad parts seem to paint to clear pictures
I remind myself that the good part was the love and no matter what happens in my life tomorrow, next month, in one year or in twenty years
the love is the lesson.

I remember having several conversations with you about the direction you wanted to go
before the drugs came back
but it was rockstar or nothing for you.
You didn't see what a good story teller you were the way we all did
You didn't see the way your own life experiences really helped all these sick kids you talked to who were headed down one hell of a nasty path.
I always thought you'd make a good counselor
You could save so many people
but you couldn't help yourself

I know how it goes

I'd like to think I had some type of positive influence in there somewhere
It's taken me years to try and think that way.
I have so much to get out of me about you and the domino effect you had on so many other friendships I had in my life
It wasn't always pretty
but at least I see the good parts now.

We all damage one another a bit
Then someone comes to pick up the pieces

It's like breaking the same object over and over again.
Each time pieces come off, there's always a part too small to bother reattaching
so you let it go
and you keep on going

People come in your life
they add things
they take away
you push them out
or they leave you
or you keep them
Either way, there's something there that wasn't before.

It doesn't always happen right away,
but eventually you become thankful for it

Last week, dozens of memories came back in one night
A combination of the right kind of silence, the right kind of atmosphere and
3 a.m.
but things came flooding back that I didn't think of in years
And it hurt like hell
but hurting is healing.
One of the things our parents told us as kids that they actually weren't full of shit about.

I thought of calling one of you and then realized that almost all of you are gone
The ones that aren't have actual families of their own now and probably wouldn't much appreciate 3 a.m. phone calls from a girl who can't even put her thoughts into words half the time.

I still have the numbers of all my dead friends saved in my phone
It's the last thing I can never part with.
It reminds me that you used to be a phone call away
And maybe more importantly,
it reminds me that many people still are

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The "thank you" Left Unspoken

Sometimes a person enters your life for a short amount of time, but leaves a lasting impression that continues to inspire you for the rest of your life.

My mother was a classically trained pianist and so many memories of my childhood are filled with the sound of her playing piano for hours on end. From an early age, she made it a point to teach me about classical music and composers. Though I often tried to combat these lessons, dismissing them as "boring", she would always argue that it's important to know at least a little bit about these composers because it's something I won't necessarily learn in school. I always had an interest in instruments, so naturally the piano fascinated me because it was the one instrument that was always at my disposal. My mom would try to teach me here and there, but I was too sensitive to be taught by here. She wasn't very patient and often got frustrated when I made too many errors or would rather play my own little songs instead of learning the basics. She also mentioned that I had great hands for playing piano as well as a good ear, but I was such a "stubborn pain in the ass". She was right (and I still am). What I'm getting at is that it was fairly obvious early on that if I was going to learn how to play an instrument, she most certainly wasn't going to be my teacher.

Growing up in Chicago, my mother had a handful of Czech friends that would come to visit from time to time. One of the ones I remember fondly was Otakar Sroubek, though I always knew him as "Otto". He was always a kind, soft-spoken man and my mother enjoyed being able to converse with someone who also immigrated Czechoslovakia at a similar time as her. I don't really remember the conversations, but I do remember feeling privileged and honored to have him as a teacher, even though it was for an extremely brief amount of time.

Otto was (at the time) the second chair violinist in the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and when my mother briefly mentioned how she wished I could learn an instrument, he immediately offered to give me violin lessons. For no charge whatsoever. Even as I write this, I can kick my six year old self in the ass for not following through with it. He tutored me for several weeks, but sometimes my friends would come knocking on the door asking me to come play and tears would follow when I had to decline because I was in the middle of a lesson. Eventually he explained to my mother that though I showed potential, he just couldn't go further with the lessons because I wasn't really expressing the interest in learning violin. Not to mention I also spent so much of the lesson crying.

Stupid Nina.

Otto continued to visit and always gave us tickets for performances when the CSO was playing more kid-friendly programs such as The Nutcracker or Peter and the Wolf, as well as some of the "boring" adult ones. Sometimes we were even able to talk to him afterwards."Ninotchka", he would always call me. I can still hear it. I always had a great time going and will always cherish those memories with my mom. Most kids went to see movies with their parents, but I was lucky enough to experience such beautiful music at an early age.

Once we moved to Michigan, Otto and his wife would still come to visit, but over the years the visits became  less frequent. After all, being a member of the CSO really doesn't allow for a whole lot of downtime. Years went by, we moved several times, addresses changed, phone numbers changed, and eventually him and my mother just lost track of one another, I suppose.

It was one random fall evening in 2008 that I was enjoying a night out at Czar's that something strange happened..

 Oddly enough a few months prior that random memories of Otto were surfacing and I found myself wondering how he's doing. I entertained the idea of tracking his address and sending him a letter mostly just to express the gratitude I had for his patience and kindness during those few music lessons so many years ago that I'm sure I didn't understand the full value of at the time. I also wanted to tell him how much he shaped my young mind in understanding and appreciating classical music as well as sparking the interest in possibly perusing music myself someday.

So that night at Czar's, while I was waiting for another drink, I noticed a stack of the new Michigan Shore magazines in the corner. I enjoyed flipping through these over the years (almost every job I had in SW Michigan had them on display) but hadn't seen a new issue in a while, so curiosity got the best of me. I was just about to put it down and order my drink when an article caught my eye and completely floored me. Right there in front of my eyes was an article all about Otto! One of those crazy instances in life where you feel like someone was reading your mind. I mean, what were the odds that a person I recently thought of who I hadn't seen in fifteen years would suddenly show up in a Michigan magazine?!

Suddenly I became that awkward girl crying at the bar.
I mean, it wasn't even closing time, guys.
Dare I say, "ain't nobody got time for that!".

Tears that came from complete joy and total bewilderment suddenly turned into tears of sadness and even greater appreciation for this man as I read through the article and learned about his remarkable life. At the end of the article, however, the tears turned to those of complete devastation when I read that at press time, Otakar had passed away.

I'm crying now as I write this.

If not learning violin all those years ago was one of my only regrets, not getting to properly thank him suddenly became another.

We take many things for granted in this life, and I've always felt that getting to know our elders and not only where they came from, but what they went through, is one of the biggest things that take a backseat. A human life is a phenomenal thing and when you add history to mix, well, there is simply nothing else more fascinating to me. Maybe it's the writer in me, but the amount of stories that never get told or just simply get lost throughout the years completely saddens me. When you read about a person like Otto and the obstacles he overcame to not only survive, but pursue his dreams, I become all the more honored to have had him in my life. His story and the short time I got to spend with him will live with me until I too close my eyes for good one day. And though I'll always be upset, to some degree, that I never got to personally reach out to him and say "thank you" as an adult, I do find peace in knowing that I'm sure many others did. His outstanding dedication to his talent and the way it shaped his life will continue to inspire and motivate me for the rest of mine.

Bravo, Otakar!

Somewhere within me lives your encore performance.

Monday, July 29, 2013

thoughts without clarity

In the middle of the night, I wake up in frantic mode
Unaware of if it was a dream that triggered it all, but my first coherent thoughts come to me like a backwards puzzle. Bits and pieces of a fragile childhood.

If he didn't work so hard at wrecking everything, things could be different. But he did it like it was his job. As if something clicked in him before I ever even met him. Something just clicked and said to hate it all. Hate the family he made the choice to create.

If he spent more time trying to give a shit about being a dad
more time trying to be a husband
more time defending his family
More time taking responsibility
less time drinking
more time feeling
less time lying
more time caring

if he would have taught me how to believe "everything is going to work out"
he wouldn't have had to try too hard
just to say it once in a while
because sometimes it's good for your 8 year old daughter to hear
because kids don't deserve chaos
you don't bring a child into this world to take on your problems
and you don't marry someone to "own them"
you're taking a vow
not fucking buying property

and when
divorce becomes the only solution
you don't turn your children against the other parent.
and if you do
you can't be surprised when it all backfires on you someday
kids are impressionable, but they're not idiots
eventually they see through it all

what exactly goes through your mind?
I'm fortunate enough to never be able to think the way you do and find out
there are things I'm lucky enough to not recall anymore
there are things I'd give up everything in order to forget.

being 5 years old and going for a walk with you
you stopped and pointed up at a lamppost
same one we walked past dozens of times before
"You're mother hung someone from there once."
that's the one
that's the one that doubles as my first real memory of you
as well as one of the things I wish I could forget more than anything.
what an achievement
you must be so proud

that's what I got for a father
there's really no coming back from that one
I never thought of it before now
maybe I was lucky to have my image of you tarnished in the worst way at such a young age
it saved me years of disappointment
it saved me years of me allowing you to let me down
and over

perhaps most importantly
it saved me from ever wanting to end up with someone the way my mother ended up with you

everything about you is everything I don't want from the person I choose to be with in this life
some people find that out in a much more difficult way
I remind myself that I'm lucky
and that there is no place to go from the past except forward

I shake it off

and go back to bed

Sunday, July 28, 2013

"Freedom's Just Another Word for.." Part 1

     My mother was born in Prague on February 17th 1944. She was one of two children, the other being her sister Elizabeth. Her sister would one day marry and have a daughter named Lenka. When Lenka was about three, my mother and grandma agreed to watch her for the weekend while Elizabeth settled into a new home. Also, the chimney cleaners were scheduled to come. At some point during that weekend, Elizabeth went to sleep and died of carbon monoxide poisoning. She was 23 (I believe). My mother and grandmother were obviously completely distraught. They tried to gain custody of little Lenka, but her father was given custody instead. For one reason or another my mother and grandmother never heard or saw Lenka ever again.

     My father was born in Russia on August 23rd 1937, but moved to the small town of Bad Schussenried, Germany with his family when he was a child. He was one of six children. All of his siblings immigrated to America (I think around the 1960's) except for the oldest, Peter, who was paralyzed at a young age and lived in Germany until his death.   Him and his siblings lived in Colorado initially and then eventually settled in Chicago, IL. I don't know much about my father during this time because he rarely ever speaks the truth about anything, and I haven't talked to anyone on his side of the family for over ten years, so who the fuck  knows? My father lived near Lincoln Ave in Chicago (a predominantly German-American area) and most of his siblings did too. It was here where he married his first wife and also owned his beauty shop in the Kempf Plaza. Next to it was Selmarie Bakery which had some of the most delicious pastries I ever had. This fact is completely unrelated to anything, but I'm in dire need of some positive memories while typing this, so forgive me.

   (this next paragraph is where I need to do some fact checking with my mom in regards to where Franz was from and the citizenship she obtained with him. I'll be sure to edit it as soon as I know for sure)

        My mother's first marriage was to a concert pianist named Franz Schmidt (though she told me, I've since forgotten where they were married). I believe that he was from Austria. She left Prague during Communist rule understanding fully that she could never come back to her country as long as it was still under Communism. From Prague, she went to Austria and that was where they obtained her Czech (at the time, Czechoslovakian) passport and she was issued a new one from Austria. My mom and Franz spent a great deal of time traveling and living in many places in Europe including Munich (Germany), Belgium, and Spain. It was when she divorced Franz (again, I have to get the dates) that she immigrated to America by means of working with the Austrian Consulate with very little more than a suitcase. She spent some time in California and then came to Chicago. She was living in Lake Point Tower (downtown) when someone mentioned to her how predominantly German the Lincoln/Western area on the north side was (though born Czech, she loved all things German and enjoyed living in Germany very much). This peaked her interest greatly and she decided to go there one day in hopes for an authentic meal and maybe even some live music.

    It was there she met my father. In a bar. If you know me at all, you can see how that makes a great deal on sense.

     I know most kids wonder, at one point or the other, what their parents saw in one another. I'm convinced that most of the attraction (at least enough to bring me into the world) was booze-related. If you saw how they got along, you'd understand. My complete disregard for believing in a higher power makes me roll my eyes at then "God's plan" scheisse most people tend to throw at me. This is like the butterfly effect if the result was a series of atomic bombs. The universe went out of it's way to make sure these two people would never cross one another's path, and yet the inevitable happened.

     When they met, my father claimed to be divorced (nope. not the case), and my mother actually was. Pregnancy was the last concern on her mind because her doctor in Germany told her she was unable to reproduce. Shortly after they met, though, my mother learned she was, indeed, sick with baby. It's at this point in the story where I tend to start veering off topic entirely and tend to start yammering on about my childhood. That wasn't the purpose in me writing this tonight, however. I mostly just wanted to give a better explanation for my mother's "alien status" in this country. In a way, it's still me yammering about my childhood because her history has become my history, too. She's been fighting for her freedom since I've been born, thus I've grown up fighting for it too my entire life.When I bring my mother's situation, it's funny how many people suddenly think that they know everything about the topic of immigration. By funny, I mostly mean infuriating. Immigration laws are changing constantly. You almost have to constantly study it to ever really have a good understanding of it, and even then, there are a multitude of different circumstances. The more I learn about it, the more I feel like no two cases are the same. It's frustrating. It's disillusioning, and heartbreaking.

     The bottom line with my mother's case is that she left a country that has since turned into another country who's government has since changed into a whole other type of government. Google "Velvet Revolution" if you don't remember your history teacher ever covering this (imagine that). This alone makes it difficult enough, but also the fact that she no longer has any type of documentation proving she is who she says she is. None. My mother is a ghost on the map.

and it's everything she never wanted.

How did it get to be this way? I'll get more into depth on that one in the second half.


Tuesday, March 19, 2013

When I was younger, I was better

It's hard for me to think about the memories the past few years have given me without getting a little bit melancholy. I know you get older and friendships/relationships change, but sometimes I wish I could get back to a place that I know I'll never be able to reach again. There have been a few 'ships that screwed me up a little. I think mostly because I cared too much. I've learned how important it is to look at people as what they are: humans. Rather than ever putting someone up on a pedestal and thinking that no greater person will ever walk into your life. It seems pretty silly, but the few people I held such high regard for in the past have hurt me more than anyone else. It's my fault- I see that now. That's what happens when you leave yourself out there for someone.

I've mentioned it before (and promise I'll stop soon) but I feel so out of place and out of touch with my surroundings and the world I live in. I feel like the things that everyone else wants are things that I rarely give a second thought about. I never let my personal goals/dreams be effected by those of others and I've tried to not compare my failures/success to anyone else, but it gets more and more difficult. I feel like I have the detachment from family that you'd expect from a drug addict squatting somewhere. I feel like I'm at the lowest level of self-worth that I ever could have imagined. I feel so awful saying it out loud to someone, but I almost don't care what happens to me anymore. I can't fake being happy or content. I don't know what the problem is or how it began to manifest like this, but I know that's the only way I can explain it. I'm completely and utterly fucking lost.

I don't have that close-knit group of friends anymore, nor do I really care to try and find them. I'm content with the few friends I do have that know me well. I feel like I'm not even in my own body half the time. Like I'm moving out of habit, rather than purpose. I honestly don't know where to go or what to do. I don't have a  family to lean on, and I don't know how much the friends who have become my family are going to take  from me before they get sick of me too. I'm constantly trying to do good for everyone else because it's all I feel I'm good at. I don't know how to be proud of myself. I don't know what to do with myself. All the things I used to like about myself vanished years ago. Sometimes I hear myself talking to others and all I can think about is how boring and awkward I sound. In return it makes me feel like I'm better off talking to no one and then I end up writing on some public forum like this and feeling like I'm even more crazy and stupid than I initially thought.


I'm definitely more emotional than I need to be. Which is part of the reason I feel the need to get these emotions out (usually by writing) RIGHT AS THEY ARE HAPPENING as opposed to just chilling out for a bit and reflecting on my feelings more rationally later. But that's just how I am these days. It's like I'm either at 0% or 100% and there is no room for anything in between. In a room of people I'm closest to, I couldn't feel more alone. I'm just in a weird, lost place. I know I'm not alone and that there are many people who tend to experience this around my age and that gives me a little piece of mind. I know that I'm the only one capable of changing my future and the path I go in, but I don't know where to begin right now and I just feel so overwhelmed by it all.

I should add that I'm not, by any means, suicidal. I'm just venting on the things that weigh heavily on my head and heart.

I look at pictures of myself as a little kid and I wish I could just shake the 9yr old looking back at me. I'd tell her all the things to avoid so she wouldn't be such a fuck up later on.

But then again, I probably wouldn't have had all these stories and life experiences that have made me who I am today, right?

The fuck-up that I am right now.

Monday, February 18, 2013

From there to here

When I was little, the only people I remember having around were my mother's eccentric, foreign friends coming from every last corner of Europe. I think it had a lot to do with my intellectual development because I was forced to talk to and carry on conversations with these older people before I ever even a had a close friend my age. By then, meeting a kid who wanted nothing more than to talk about cartoons and play house was boring to me compared to the cool lady from Switzerland with the crazy stories and foreign toys who came to visit from time to time. It's no wonder that I've spent most of my life feeling uncomfortable in my own skin. I feel like I'm not very relateable to most people my age. I thought it would go away the older I got but I've found that it's something that's followed me. I'm such a lucky bitch.

I feel like that came off far more pompous than I intended. I don't mean to make it sound like I had a superior outlook on the world than everyone else, but more so a crippling one. I was worried about finances before most kids were even aware of how much money controls everything in this world. Has it made me more responsible? No. If anything, all the strides I made to be a responsible, self-reliant person when I was young have seemed to vaporized when you see the women that child grew to be. I know nothing of the direction I'm going. All I know for certain now are the same things I knew all along: My mother is older than most and probably won't be with me much longer. I don't want children. I'm 98% sure that not even marriage is something that interests me. I just want to run. I have this warped, teenage outlook on there being some kind of romanticism attached to the idea of getting the hell away from everyone without any explanation or reasoning. Just to simply take off and to keep on doing that forever. I'd like to think that this too shall pass, but I'm also not holding my breath. I was bound to have a fragment of craziness from my mother inside of me somewhere. I think that whole "running away" bit is it.

I used to love the way my mom told me about her life before me. The places she lived, the boyfriends (though, not many) she had, and even her previous marriage. She talked about these people she loved like she had no attachment to them whatsoever. I found that quality admirable somehow and wished I could be the same. For me, I think I was always too sensitive and caring for all the wrong assholes in my life, which in turn made me feel weak for letting them effect me so much. So, yeah, naturally the thought of not caring seemed like a relief that I'd never be strong enough to experience, myself. It's only now that I'm older and I listen to all the stories again that I realize just how fucked it all really is. Every serious, loving relationship my mother has ever had, she has run away from. She ran away from my grandma knowing fully well that once she left Communist-occupied Czechoslovakia, she'd never be able to return. She left men she'd been in serious relationships with without an explanation. She left what was supposed to be her first husband at the alter. She left her actual first husband, whom til this day I can say is the only man she ever really loved, with just a suitcase in hand. The next week she was on a plane to America. She never looked back. She's kind of awful in that sense. It breaks my heart to think of ever breaking someone else's heart like that.

And that's how I know I'm not a complete cunt.