• Speaking My Mind

    Post-Graduation Blues (Fake Happy)

    It’s ironic how happy I look in this photo considering that graduation has not been an entirely happy time. Granted, I took this photo a day or two before the graduation ceremonies and the drama occurred.

    During the first of the three commencements I attended, I was just trying not to cry the entire time. The second two ceremonies were less emotionally intense, despite the pouring rain, but afterward, my sister went to the ER during dinner due to a potential concussion (which thankfully, she didn’t have). This caused my mom to stress out excessively. Then I moved home, which was exhausting although my grandparents helped out tremendously. The next day, I went to a family dinner with my parents and my sister, which ended in tears on my part and my mom stormed out of the restaurant. She ignored me and my sister until the following evening. Lastly, my girlfriend got an internship, which is incredibly exciting but I’ve cried a ton because of it. The last part of these dramatic days is what I really want to talk about now because the other stuff has been resolved.

    I am afraid of being alone this summer, which seems like it’s going to happen anyway. This has caused me to spiral into sadness when the people around me are successful. Pretty much all my friends have jobs and/or are moving out of state/out of the country. No one is going to be local to me except for my sister, but even she has a job. I mean, yeah, I have a part-time job until mid-August that allows me to work remotely, which would allow me the time and flexibility to

    1. Research PhD programs
    2. Apply for jobs
    3. Study for the GREs
    4. Organize my life both physically (my room is a mess) and mentally (I’m a mess)
    5. Do my month-long, intensive yoga teacher training

    So yeah…I need to be alone to do most of these, if not all, of these activities. Therefore, I will have plenty of time to accomplish these goals because I have a part-time job during these critical summer months. On the other hand, though, I wanted to do fun activities and trips and because not even my girlfriend will be local to me now…I feel like I can’t do them unless I want to go on my own.

    My girlfriend said she is going to see me weekly, and I believe her but when she’s not seeing me, she’s going to be working and having fun where she’s at. Everyone is going to be having fun where they’re at. Meanwhile, I feel worried that I’m just going to be at my parents’ home, alone studying or something…which isn’t bad…I have different goals than her and everyone else for this summer but…I don’t know what my problem is. I’m jealous of everyone else, I’m comparing everyone else to myself, and so I feel bad about myself for no reason.

    She said I need to change my perspective, which I agree. I definitely need to do that.

    Maybe the interests and goals I have for my life will cause me to feel a little isolated from everyone, even if my friends and girlfriend were around. If I am going to be doing a PhD program, these feelings will probably continue because I’ll be spending a lot of time studying and working on the weekends, whereas my friends who get jobs with their Bachelor’s may be able to go to brunch on Sundays and mingle more.

    Regardless, this gap year or two or three that I am taking sucks. I feel stagnant and alone in that. I want to find a job but I haven’t been looking even though my girlfriend and mom send me job listings once in a while…I want to figure out a PhD program I’m interested in but I haven’t been looking at that either, although I’ve talked to my thesis advisors about it. My girlfriend said I’m avoiding things and so…yeah, I am. I’m unsure why though.

    I know in the past, avoidance is a method I practice when I’m either depressed or anxious. Perhaps I’m feeling a little bit of both right now. Possibly due to my graduation blues.

    Do people talk about how awful graduation is? Aside from the overwhelming emotions that arise during the ceremonies, afterward is so much worse. Suddenly, you go from having tons of friends within walking-distance to having no friends nearby. All your friends become busy with their adult lives and you’re stuck living at home with your parents, who ask you daily about getting a job (if you don’t already have one, like me). The possibility of getting a job, being able to move out, and make friends/have friends feels impossible. Not only does that feel impossible, but so does working toward a doctorate because there are 100,000 steps I have to take before even applying for a program.

    Maybe I’m a little depressed and anxious and I didn’t realize the depth of it until now. Regardless, it’s manageable and I’ll overcome it. Right now, I’m unsure how and I’m unsure when this will happen. I may end up having to take two years off, which is okay although undesirable. But worrying about how long things will take is not what I need to be doing right now. So first thing’s first…

    1. Focus on myself!!! I have a part time job for a couple of more months and I’ll be busy doing the YTT. In the evenings, I’ll need to study for it in addition to doing the work required for the other goals I have listed below.
    2. My path is not anyone’s path. I will find a job if I actually look for one and apply. I will figure out what doctorate program to do if I actually look at them. I will be prepared for the GREs if I actually open the book and study for them.
    3. I will do fun things this summer with my girlfriend and my sister. Maybe I can challenge myself a bit too by doing fun things by myself. I can’t rely on anyone but myself. I must be there for myself and not allow people’s inability to hang out with me deter me from having a good time.
    4. Be at peace with myself.

    I may need to repeat these things like a mantra until I relax. I was able to do this two summers ago. During that summer, I was lonesome but at peace with it. I didn’t write much during that time so I don’t remember what I was doing exactly…I was taking a summer class and working part-time but that was it. I probably read a lot and watched TV. I don’t know how I achieved that state of mind but I will figure out how to get back there.

    Anyway, tomorrow I’m leaving for Disney so I’ll try my best to enjoy myself and maybe I’ll plan a little bit about how I’m going to manage my days when I return so that I am busy daily. I’ll let y’all know how that goes.

    xx Vic

  • Short Stories

    There She Goes

    Fall 2016

    The glossiness of the dark wooden casket reflected my teary-eyed face. I have never cried so much in my life, and I’ve never been so devasted by a death before. Your death was unexpected, not that death is ever really expected…it was an accident.

    My mom squeezed my shoulder when she touched the smooth surface of the box in which your body lied. Your sister, your parents, and the rest of your family were all there, desperately trying to connect with you through this touch. Most of us didn’t get to see you one last time before we buried you…because it was an accident. It was probably better that the only memories I have of you are from when you were alive anyway.

    My parents did see you in the critical condition you were in though: they were the first ones at the hospital. You wouldn’t have known that though because according to the doctors, you were brain-dead upon impact. My mom said she had clutched your feet when you were lying there, in the hospital bed. Now, we all touch the wooden casket, seeking some form of relief from it. Trying to connect with you.

    Winter 2017

    As my family drove through mountainous farmland on the winding roads to where your body lies, I reflected on how you would have felt about the location. You hated the suburbs, let alone the rural atmosphere of Virginia. You had made it clear that you aspired to be in the city since your decision to attend Pittsburg University, and then later by moving to Jersey City and then to Newark. You were getting closer and closer to Manhattan, but you never had the chance move across the Hudson River.

    When my dad parked the car and we ambled out, the entire family encircled your gravestone. It was beautifully engraved, and your mom ensured that you had fresh flowers daily. We prayed, and then we cried, and then we laughed…reminiscing about our lives with you. Honored to have gotten to know you. By connecting with each other about the past, we reconnected with you.

    I walked around to the back of the gravestone and noticed the depiction of the city skyline. I remember that I thought…that it looked like the city crossed the Hudson River to come to you.

    Happy 27th birthday. 

    © 2018 Vic Romero

    All Rights Reserved.

     

     

     

     

  • Speaking My Mind

    I Am A Badass

    I’m feeling…a little gloomy I guess. For the most part, I’m feeling positive but…there’s a twinge of sadness mixed in there too.

    I had an intense and difficult conversation with my girlfriend last night and now I’m thinking about how to…improve some things in my life. Right now, it’s not at the forefront of my mind because there are some awesome things that are happening before I would have to address the things that I spoke about with my girlfriend. For example, tomorrow I’m presenting my thesis at a state conference for Women’s and Gender Studies! So I’m more focused on that right now, but once that and a few other things are over, I’ll have to resume determining how to make things better.

    The things I’d like to improve are in regards to the relationship between my girlfriend and my family, which I’ve mentioned several times before. The relationship between them is not hostile, but it’s not exactly warm either…and we’ll be dating for a year in 11 days. Plus I’m moving home in about 30 days so things can’t stay as they are right now because if they do, my mental health will suffer. This is why I’m going to develop a plan with my therapist in about two weeks to help me navigate the tension in a manner that will ultimately serve my well-being.

  • Speaking My Mind

    Moments of Self-Doubt

    I got into a horrible fight with my mom on the last day of spring break. She had gotten back from a difficult medical seminar and she was trying to relax at home when I came downstairs from my bedroom to sit with her and my sister. It was late, around 10:30pm, and they were planning the family trip to Disney to celebrate my graduation.

    I was joking with my sister and mentioned how I was turning twenty-three this year, which prompted my mom to ask me what I am doing with my life. Assuming she was joking too, I responded that I don’t know (which is pretty true though). For some reason, this response instigated the fight, which was essentially about how I need to get a job and how I’m not doing enough and how what I’ve been doing my entire college career has been a waste of time.

  • Speaking My Mind

    Glamping + Spring Break

    While many college seniors are enjoying their last spring break on the beach, I was glamping in my parents’ house. Due to the storm that hit us recently, my parents’ town had no power for about five days. The power is back on, thankfully, so the glamping (glamorous camping) has ended.

    My spring break is coming to an end too since I am returning to my apartment tomorrow to study for an exam I have next Friday. It’s been pretty chill. On Sunday I went to my step-grandma’s, sister’s birthday party. The food was delicious and it was a surprisingly nice time.

    Other than that, my spring break has been low-key. I’ve been primarily doing schoolwork. My thesis is due the Monday after the next, and I’m feeling…not great. I have done some work, which is definitely better than nothing, but I don’t feel like I’ve been productive enough. I’m feeling a bit stressed and the stress is ruining my sleep, so I feel exhausted.

  • Yummy Recipes

    How to Fuck Up Dinner: Ground Turkey and Sweet Potato Noodles

    I feel when people write about recipes, it’s primarily because they want you to try the recipe. Unfortunately, that is not the case with this recipe that I’m about to share with you all the details about.

    Please heed the warning: do not make this recipe at home!

    I was inspired to make ground turkey because one of my friends prefers it to cooking chicken. In fact, she has never made chicken because she’s afraid to handle the raw meat. I felt similarly until my mom taught me before I moved into my apartment, but anyway…

    I was sick of eating chicken all the time so I thought that I should try out ground turkey. My mom isn’t a fan of ground turkey so I’ve never really had it before, and I now understand why.

  • Speaking My Mind

    My Experience with Mysticism

    My experience with mysticism began at an early age due to my parents’ influence.  My dad’s parents were immigrants during World War II and were deeply religious, presumably as a result of experiencing and witnessing such tragedy.  They raised my dad and his siblings as Baptist.  My mom, a Puerto Rican in Manhattan, grew up as Catholic.  When my parents had me and my sister, they raised us as Baptist.

    I was very involved in the Baptist church for a majority of my childhood.  I attended church regularly on Sunday, Vacation Bible School in the summer, and youth groups. Many of my friends at the time were Christian too, although different denominations, but I joined their youth groups in addition to my own.  Therefore, at one point in time, I was part of three youth groups.  The youth groups were my favorite form of involvement because they were smaller and therefore more personal.  We also did fun activities such as games and day trips, but there was always a spiritual element to it.

  • Speaking My Mind,  unzipped lips

    Getting What You Want

    When I finished the second season of the Podcast, “Homecoming,” I played the latest episode of my other favorite Podcast called “Truth + Dare.” The Journey Junkie, who is my favorite online yoga teacher, produces it with one of her best friends. They are both currently live on a boat with their husbands, and I find them to be super inspiring.

    Anyway…it was so ironic that the first episode after their break was about Difficult Conversations because I’ve been avoiding a difficult conversation myself. The conversation I’m afraid to have is with my sister, who is a year and a half younger than me, but for some reason, I have a very small backbone when it comes to addressing issues with her. The issue I am having with her right now is how I feel like she completely ignores my girlfriend most of the time. I always give her the benefit of the doubt because 1. I don’t want to confront her and deal with whatever that entails and 2. sometimes it seems like she does acknowledge my girlfriend! But I shouldn’t be like “oh, she said hi to her this time so everything is fine” because she should be showing common courtesy every time, not just when she feels like it.

    The negative impact of avoiding a difficult conversation has been manifesting in my relationship with my girlfriend as well as in my overall mental health. My girlfriend and I have been discussing the conversation that I need to have at length, I went to therapy recently to talk about it, and it consumes my mind. I’ve been worrying in the shower that I will never be able to be my authentic self unless I move out of state, away from my family, and rarely talk with them. It’s gotten pretty ridiculous, but it was perfect timing for this podcast to be released!

    I didn’t even finish the podcast yet but one of the messages that really resonated with me was a quote that they shared from Elena Brower.

    “What you are afraid to say is the doorway to your freedom.”

    This isn’t new knowledge for me by any means, especially considering how one of my majors is Women’s and Gender Studies and this theme is critical in our discussions. Plus, this quote closely aligns with my favorite Audre Lorde essay, which is the premise of my blog!

    I suppose that being confronted with this specific message again at this time was just because I needed to hear it again. In my WGS seminar yesterday, we talked about how the different contexts for when you’re reading something affects the significance of what you’re reading. For example, if I wasn’t afraid to say anything, then the quote probably wouldn’t have resonated with me as much.

    Unfortunately, I am afraid to address my sister and therefore, I am suffering. I must talk to her though because it’s causing so much toxicity in my life that can be avoided. So I’m going to go through one of my DBT worksheets I got from a group therapy session in the summer to think this through. Perhaps this model will be helpful to y’all too.

    How to Liberate Yourself By Asking for What You Want

    (Based off of DBT handout 5)

     

    1. Describe the situation.

    2. Express your feelings about the situation.

    3. Ask for what you want.

    4. Explain positive effects of getting what you want and/or the consequences of not getting what you want.

    1. So…I will describe to my sister how I feel like she is not particularly courteous with my girlfriend.

    2. I will say that it makes me feel uncomfortable when we’re all together and by ignoring her, it hurts me because she is very important to me.

    3. I will ask my sister to be more courteous toward my girlfriend because everyone deserves that, and if she had a partner or a friend around, I would be considerate of them.

    4. Then I will explain that it would make me more comfortable hanging around with her and like I have a more cohesive identity because she takes an interested in the people that I am interested in.

    Some arguments that my sister may have may include that she doesn’t like my girlfriend, that she didn’t realize she was being rude, and/or that she is jealous that I spend more time with my girlfriend than I do with her.

    I can counter by saying that it’s okay if she doesn’t like my girlfriend (although perhaps she should consider getting to know her more before making that rash judgment), I just want her to be more respectful and courteous. If she says she didn’t realize, I will ask her to please be more conscious of it going forward, because it upsets me. If she says that she is jealous of my girlfriend and that she wants to spend more time with me, I will respond by saying that…I guess this one is the trickiest one. Perhaps I can suggest negotiating this with her more but reaffirming that it is critical that she be more courteous.

    I found this exercise to be particularly helpful! I want to ponder the last counterargument a bit more but otherwise, I feel a little more prepared.

    xx Vic

  • Speaking My Mind

    Family and Significant Others

    How do you navigate this? By this, I mean the title of this post. Specifically when your SO is the same gender as you are.

    I worry that I’m not dealing with this appropriately…lemme explain.

    My family knows about my girlfriend and they’ve met her. She’s come to the house several times. They don’t seem to have any objections (believe me, if they did, they would make it known) but they also don’t seem particularly excited about her. I can only assume it’s because she is a woman, but honestly, who knows. Reasons I have come to this conclusion though include:

    1. They never ask me about how she is.
    2. They never ask me about how we are.
    3. They don’t get excited when she is around, whereas I would expect them to get excited if she was a guy.
    4. My sister barely acknowledges her when she’s literally next to me. Perhaps she feels shy/uncomfortable though?

    constantly worry about how they perceive her, and why they perceive her a certain way. For this reason, I tend to be hesitant to share activities we do together and anything that kids may tell their immediate families about their significant other.

    I’m stressed that either 1. they don’t take our relationship seriously and/or 2. they’re just tolerating her because they care about me, but they don’t really like her, or accept her, for whatever reason.

    I’ve been considering to bring it up with them but then I don’t want to address it because I’m afraid of instigating a dispute or an intense conversation…I just want them to more openly welcome her and to care about her because I care about her.

    Of course, I’ve discussed it with her at length because I don’t want her to feel uncomfortable or bad about anything. She says she fixated on it before but she doesn’t let it get to her anymore…unfortunately it continues to affect me because they are my family.

    If anyone has any suggestions for me in regards to how to navigate this, please let me know. I would greatly appreciate it.

    xx Vic

  • Poetry,  Speaking My Mind

    over time

    first

    you will be dumbfounded

    your heart will plummet

    into the depths of your stomach

    as the whole world before you

    tumbles

    as if the entire universe

    was shoved into a dryer

    spinning

    steady yourself

    on someone’s shoulder

    first

     

    then

    when strangers

    you haven’t seen

    since you were a newborn

    all cluster together,

    solemnly murmuring

    donning dark colors

    touching the glossy wood

    of the coffin

    the magnitude of death

    will feel heavy

    you will

    need to sit

    and your aunt

    will comfort you

    then

     

    later

    when you call her up

    because you start to forget her voice-

    but the line has been disconnected

    when her seat at the table for the holidays

    is vacant

    year after year

    when her sister

    has become an only child

    when you get older

    and she doesn’t-

    the passing of time just means

    that she’s been gone longer

    you will understand

    the finality of death

    later

    © 2017 Vic Romero – Creative Writing Fall 2017