Red Pen: Pt. 4

6 months, one awkward dating announcement, and a 24-hour break-up later and there we were, saying goodbye for the two month break. You were off to summer school and I to start my new job at McDonald’s, a feat I was more than proud of because finally I’d be able to have more money for clothes (I was a little fashionista back then). It still felt like a dream, and I couldn’t help but imagine waking up one morning to find that it was. But it wasn’t. You actually did like me, and you weren’t going anywhere (well, emotionally speaking).

I wrote a poem about that day in July when we met at the duck pond by your house. I remember your eyes the clearest–they were golden that afternoon, a colour I had never seen them shine before. It had been about 2 weeks that we hadn’t seen each other, which given our current situation I think is hilarious. This was the longest we had gone apart, and for a new relationship, it was major. It’s funny how far we’ve come, isn’t it?

I remember arriving late, and seeing you, your hair grown out and your worn Aeropostale shirt complimenting your tanned skin. I ran. I had missed you so much and the feeling of seeing you again was overwhelming. I dove into your arms, just like I have each time we’ve been apart, when the Pacific Ocean has decided to separate us in its evil ways. I think about that day, that first time seeing you after so long, each time I see you again. Whether it’s arriving back in the True North after a semester away, or landing in your home country to be reunited once again. We’ve been apart so many times that they’ve begun to blend into each other, but that first time will always be distinct. You, me, a couple of Canadian geese and the hot mid-summer sun above. Just like that time we kissed in the rain on Valentine’s, that moment in our hometown will forever be with me, no matter what side of any ocean we decide to end up on. Because, just like time and time again, I know your arms are waiting.

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Red Pen: Pt. 3

I don’t think I could ever forget that night. It’s engrained into my mind and quite possibly into my being. Sitting in front of that computer screen, the glow of white against the black backdrop of a 2:30 am living room. I had to turn the sound off because that damn messenger alert tone could wake up the dead. My heart was racing because you kept pushing for an answer, something I didn’t want to give. There was only two ways this could go and both of them were equally as scary. I knew it, you knew it, hell, even Nina knew it.

You asked. You, the lovable coward that you are, gave me an ultimatum, one that, looking back now, wasn’t the most chivalrous move you could have made. But bringing forth that confession was a risk that I’m glad I took.

You. I liked you. Oh, how the universe must have been laughing at me in that moment. I had no idea what was running through your mind but I knew that you, too, were laughing. You had known this, known it for months now and for some reason you chose December 2nd at half past two in the morning to confront it. I’ll never know why, but I guess the stars told you that this was it–this was the perfect moment to lay it all out on the table.

I waited for your reply with tears streaming down my face. Panic, anger, fear; all of it stained my cheeks as I waited for you to finish typing.

Kyujin: lol
I felt like throwing up.

Kyujin: I know lol
I was ready to log off and never show my face at school again.

1 minute passed. Then 2. I didn’t understand–why had you forced me to say this? To make fun of me? To ditch me like everyone else? Dramatics aside, I had never known you to be this cruel.

Kyujin: I like you too

I screamed. I froze. I smiled. I almost threw up again but for a completely different reason. Even now as I type this, the feeling emerges in my stomach. I’ll never forget it I think, as long as I live. God, just the feeling of my emotions being matched by you, by my feelings being met by you. It’s indescribable.

I ran to my mum’s room, screaming “KYUJIN LIKES ME! HE LIKES ME BACK”. My mum’s agitated but pleased voice telling me “that’s great sunshine but you should go to bed–you have a presentation tomorrow”. But in that moment it didn’t matter; the looming fatigue that tomorrow would bring stood nothing against the sheer thrill and wholeness that your confession gave me. I would face tomorrow’s exhaustion, coffee in hand, with the most amazing smile I’d ever mustered before because finally, finally I had you.

Red Pen: Pt. 2

Let’s fast-forward a bit. Yes we were friends, and yes that friendship progressed into best friendship, resulting in many before and after school discussions about every topic under the sun. This meant the occasional hug, hand brushing, and one infamous rainy day where you walked me home because I forgot my umbrella (if you forgot this you’re dead to me). I know I always claim it was Halloween when I knew I liked you, but that is a lie (I know you hate lies). Realistically, it was one random night at youth when I finally realized I had feeling for you. I don’t remember the exact day, but late September for sure, when we got into our small groups, we started talking about love, relationships, and God’s plan for our love lives. And despite all of this, all I could think about was walking past the room you group was in “by accident” and running into you. I think this was the same night that you drove in front of Maria and I on our way to the church, and I instantly knew it was you, as I proudly pronounced that I “could recognize the back of your head”. This was not some close friendship—I was falling for you and your stupid ASK jeans and worn out American Eagle shirts. You, who still had yet to master the art of the razor with your stubble, and contagious smile. You saved me.

 

My crush on you made me quickly distance myself from you, which I regret now. I was just so afraid of rejection, and given my track record with boys, there was a reason for this. Maybe that’s how I deal with things in my own way—by pushing them to the side and distancing myself. I’m sorry for that.

 

So no, it wasn’t Halloween. But that night, the night we were walking through the woods, when you grabbed my hand—that night will be engrained in my memory for the rest of my life. My heart beating a mile a minute, my stomach in my throat. I didn’t want you to let go. As soon as we exited out of the forest, you let go and I think my heart dropped the pavement below. I knew I liked you, but that physical contact confirmed any doubt I had had in my mind. It also didn’t help you looked extra handsome that night, even with your face paint. That night will forever be one of my favourites.

Pt. 6

It’s funny how a song can spark a fire. One minute, I’m sitting there, head in my hands about to cry over some meaningless friendship, and the next a song comes on shuffle that changes the course of my future. Yes, you heard me–a song. By my favourite artist, no less. Sitting there, I suddenly had the epiphany that only I can direct the course of my happiness and my life. If I decide to move on, only I hold that power. I could sit there, feeling sorry for myself and refusing to move on, or I could pack up my emotional baggage, strap on my backpack, and move forward. Change my SNS, turn on a new track, contact a new person, and go do things that make me happy. It’s that simple.

Wow, it’s really that simple, isn’t it?

Pt. 5

I used to think my life would be something straight out of Sex and the City. Happy nights, a good friend group, great clothes, a writing career in fashion—you know, the good stuff. But somehow, I’m found myself smack dab in the middle of Catcher in the Rye. Alone, confused, and not really knowing what direction to take. I have begun to lose a passion for the things I love, like writing, editing, blogging. What is this? I know I suffer from depression, but this is something to a greater extent. It’s like I have bursts of motivation, those fleeting moments where sparks are ignited and oil is burned, but then, inevitably, the moments of lowness follow. And they stay… and they stay some more… and they just… don’t go away. The ratio of productive to uninspired is completely unbalanced. It’s not like I don’t want to do those things. I know I have to and I know they’re beneficial. I like doing them, don’t get me wrong. It’s not like I’m not happy. I am happy, trust me. But it’s something else… Something I can’t quite pin down. My head and my heart are not on the same page right now and I don’t have the strength to flip through chapters to get us there. I know what I have to do to get that sex and the city life, but my inner Holden Caulfield is angstily sitting this one out. Again. For the fourth time this week. If this is the quarter life crisis my friends told me about, where do I check out? I don’t need this in my life, especially not at the moment where my future is on the line and the decisions I make now finally, after all these years, have consequences. Not now, Holden. Not now. 

Pt. 3

It tasted like chocolate, this daze I was in. Momentarily inspired, I thought hell, it couldn’t hurt to put pen to paper and ignore the buzz around me. Dings and bells were utterly distracting. It’s always those moments where, when you’re really trying to focus, that you just… can’t. Whether it’s studying for an exam, writing a paper, or listening to someone’s breakup story. You really want to care. You really, truly do, but it’s always in those instances that everything could be more interesting than here. The coffee cup ring on the table, the pillow’s threads you’re mindlessly picking at, or the intricate French music playing in the background. Distractions are like little devils waiting to pray on your innocence, your momentarily diverted attention, and they reel you in with their little pitchforks. Damn you, feisty things.

I smacked my face trying to wake up. Why is it always so damn hard to wake up? In the morning, waking up is impossible. The bed is too warm and work is too far to actually put two feet on the floor and make my way to the vanity. In life, waking up from your blissful daydreams is just as hard. Like in that moment. The sweetness of my cloudy state was intoxicating. But something needed to be done because I couldn’t just live my life like that.

I felt a hand on my back, a touch that jolted my tiny soul out of my subconscious and back into my unfortunate reality.

Pt.2

I’ve always felt like I’ve been leading 2 lives. It’s like I’ve constantly had my feet on opposite sides of a doorway. The best metaphor I can think of was this time when I was 13 and my cousin came to visit my family at our house just outside of Vancouver. Our town was nestled right in the mountains that bordered the US and so, naturally, we had what we called “wilderness borders”: borders that, as the name implies, were nothing but woodlands and endless, endless mountain ranges. The neat thing about these “wilderness borders” was that you could do that cool thing you see in all the movies (and by ‘all the movies’ I’m honestly only referring to A Walk to Remember because that’s the only one that really matters) where you could be in two places at once. Plant one foot in Canada and one in the US and boom, you’re defying the laws of space and time (well.. not really but don’t tell my 13-year-old self that, OK?).

I remember us driving up, winding through the trees that always reminded me of Twilight. I was obsessed with that novel at the time, and the fact that my little ol’ town looked exactly like the backdrop Ms. Meyer had created for my fictional fantasy had me overjoyed. I was Bella, wandering through the expansive green landscape looking for my Edward (let me remind you I was thirteen, ok? Don’t judge me). All teen novels aside, the area surrounding my town was and still is utterly beautiful and I specifically remember that drive up being taken aback by it’s presence.

We arrived at the spot and I remember thinking just how cool it all was. Being in two places at once? Was that even possible? But as I walked towards the little stone marker telling us which side was which, as if we didn’t know where we were, I slowly realized that there wasn’t much of a difference north or south. The Jasmine that stood with her tiny right foot in American soil still felt a lot like the Jasmine who, for the past decade and three years, had lived with both feet in the true north strong and free. Left or right, there wasn’t much of a difference, and my excitement quickly turned to disappointment.

However, I distinctly recall just something feeling off. This magical moment of defiance made me feel almost… incomplete. As if I wasn’t totally whole. Maybe it was because I’ve always felt a little off in the US (nothing against America whatsoever) but, while the two halves of myself still felt like myself, they didn’t feel whole.

We left that mountain a little less enchanted and a lot more confused, but that memory still haunts me today. Not only can I still vividly remember the details, even down to the outfit I was wearing (which was, I’m sad to report, an ill-fitting black sweater and cropped black workout pants… not my best moment, I’ll tell you that), but I can even recall the thoughts running through my mind. Maybe it’s because this memory is so engrained in me that I’m linking it to now, here, in this moment of my life, in this corner of the world.

My heart is in two places and I don’t feel whole. Much like that moment on the border, I feel like, while not physically, I’m mentally on the border of here and there. Here, I feel like myself in the same way I did with both feet in different countries, but this time, my feet have to be figurative. My feet, at this current moment, aren’t necessarily planted on anything (they’re actually resting on my mattress as I type these words), but they’re still within a country that I call my second home. I feel myself here, a version of myself that I’ve longed to find and have yearned to call my own. Now, I have that edition of myself and I’m happy. I’m elated to chase after my dreams here and seek out my happiness in ways I had only dreamed of before. I’m comfortable.

However, there’s a part of me tied to the other side of the ocean, back home. This other half or other foot of mine longs to be on a different shore, closer to my friends, family, and, hell, even my dog that I haven’t met yet. I want to bask in the Pacific sunlight, reading books in a living room that looks out towards a western horizon. I miss nights at the pub with my friends, spontaneous brunch dates with my roommate, and feeling a sense of purpose in my life. I have purpose here, but it’s a drive that has an expiry date. This happiness, this life, this dream–everything is temporary.

I paused too long after writing that last sentence because the weight of those words hit me too hard. Everything, down to the last instance, the last touch, the last moment–everything is temporary. There’s nothing permanent in this world of dreams I’ve created and maybe that’s why I feel torn. Happiness and life shouldn’t come with a best before date, but mine inevitably does. Maybe that’s why I can’t shake this feeling of brokenness or can’t look past this sensation of being pulled apart. Because I know that I cannot be whole here, nor can I be whole there. I will always, always be living in between. My existence will be like that day on the border, constantly being influx and unsettled.

How am I supposed to live when I can’t put my mind and my heart at ease? How can I truly be happy if I’m constantly looking towards a different horizon, longing to pull continents together and collapse space and time?

Because I’m not some magician or a sparkly vampire with psychic abilities. My defiance towards the laws that govern this Earth ended back on that hill, when I first felt the weight of being in two places at once.

Irrational Fear

Well a promise is a promise; I promised myself more dedication to this blog, and so I’ve returned, with nothing but the thought of ice cream on my mind (what else is new). Nonetheless, I’m here, and I’m ready to write about happiness.

Why are some of us so afraid of happiness? Doesn’t that feel somewhat counterintuitive? We’re supposed to be attracted to happiness because it brings us joy and, in retrospect, is supposed to cancel out the bad in our lives. So why is it something to fear?

If you’re anything like me, then it purely comes down to timing. Everything has an expiration date–eggs, milk, relationships, school, dreams, and, ultimately, happiness. It’s as if there’s some invisible “best before date” sticker slapped right on the back of our happiness and, unbeknownst to us, that joy will turn sour at the turn of the full moon. One minute we’re laughing in our bliss and a fortnight later things begin to take a turn for the worst. Isn’t that always how life works? You can’t have too much of a good thing and like the Canadian genius Nelly Furtado told us, good things always come to an end (though her rendition posed the idea more of a question but you get the picture).

I’m baffled at my logic. Maybe it’s because it’s been so long since I felt happy but now that I’m experiencing some form of enjoyment and excitement in my life, I’m suddenly more cautious than ever. It’s as if I feel the absolute need to protect my heart from some unforeseen darkness that looms just around the corner of this miracle on 34th street. Like I’m on a ferris wheel and all at once we’re going to tumble to the ground. Have you ever have that thought? When you’re on the ride, at the very top, taking in the view and the fresh, untainted air and you look down. All at once you get the looming thought of doom: “this could unhinge and roll away at any second”. Am I the only one?

Well happiness feels a lot like that terrifying sensation. It’s not a bad thing, I guess, being leery of happiness. As we grow older, our trust in others, their emotions, and even ourselves seems to deteriorate. Take free things, for example. We, as adults, are so repelled from accepting anything free. I noticed this one time in university, when my student club attempted to hand out free candy as a “random acts of kindness” campaign during finals. 9 times out of 10 the students not only blatantly avoided our actions, but some even questioned our motives. I specifically remember one student who, upon realizing my confusion towards the latter question, simply stated “nothing is free in this world”.

Maybe that’s our mentality as adults, because I definitely don’t remember thinking in this capacity as a child. Maybe, after so many years of existence on this Earth, we’ve experience so much rejection, hate, fear, and judgement that we’ve lost our ability to trust. I know, deep down, that I have. The idea of putting faith in people and projects and even happiness is so terrifying that I, instead, run from it.

In order to embrace my happiness and understand that maybe, just maybe, it won’t go away, I think I need to let go of this fear and embrace emotions for what they are. I’m not saying this is an easy task by any means, but I really, truly believe that happiness is not something I should run away from or shun or question. Instead of giving into the societal pre-conditioning I’ve been primed with, I need to start taking a step back, taking off the critical lenses I’ve been accustomed to, and let it go. Believing that this happiness, even if it doesn’t last, will lead me to somewhere good is my new goal for this year. I deserve happiness, just like any one else, so who am I to push it away when it comes knocking at my door? Instead of turning off the outside light and locking the door, maybe I should let happiness in, offer it a nice cup of Earl Grey, and ask it how it’s been. It’s been awhile, but happiness and I have all the time in the world to catch up.

Until next time,

Jasmine

A look back

What is it about December 31st that just makes us, as a species, so reminiscent? Is there some magic veil we all walk through at the stroke midnight that suddenly transports us into this reflective state? Maybe it’s the fear that this is it! This is the last day of this year and we just can’t bare the thought of not existing within it any longer. I’m not quite sure, but I do know that I fall victim to this nostalgia every year without fail and so here I am, looking back on what these last 12 months have been.

2017 has been… a year, to say the least. It’s had many ups, and, if I’m being quite honest, had many, many downs. While the bigger half of myself likes to dwell on the “might-haves” and the “could’ve-beens”, I think the growth I’ve made this year would have been in vain if I let myself fall into those ways again. Because, you see, 2017 has been my year of challenges, set-backs, loop-holes, and complications, but it has also been one of the best years yet. This year, I saw more personal growth than I have since middle school, all sparked by the revelation that toxic people are not worth my time. I know–sounds like something straight out of a coming-of-age teen movie, but it’s probably one of the biggest ‘ah-hah’ moments I’ve had in my life. If you know me, you know that I’m a people-pleaser. For years, I’ve always let the emotions and judgements of others dictate my own choices and well-being. Whether it be friends, family, or partners, I’ve consistently held the place of “Jasmine: the doormat” throughout my entire existence and this year, that doormat had had enough. By cutting ties with those who were pulling me deeper and deeper into a darker state of being, this doormat, by the grace of some Aladdin-esque magic lantern, became a flying carpet. Weird analogy, I know, but stick with me.

2017 was the year that I finally started to put my own interests first, and I surrounded myself with people that were there to motivate me, inspire me, push me, and encourage my growth mentally, academically, and professionally (though not, much to my dismay, physically). The change from 2016 Jasmine to 2017 Jasmine is not so much day and night as it was fall and spring. Fall, 2016 Jasmine, though much more aesthetically-pleasing, was shrouded in self-doubt, emotionally manipulated by some not-so-great people (who, she later found out, were working on their own things and who 2017 Jasmine has learnt to forgive), and failed to blossom into the person she knew she was. Spring, 2017 Jasmine, on the other hand, began to take the necessary steps towards personal growth and a positive mental outlook through putting herself first. While not firey hot like summer, spring Jasmine quietly took the reins back of her life and began to heal the wounds winter left behind with small buds of future possibilities.

While I may not be perfect and while I still have a long way to go, I’m proud of this new spring Jasmine. She’s come a long way this year, learning new things, earning a degree, travelling abroad for work. So, for the last few hours of 2017, I’m going to revel in my spring self, slowly praising the person I’ve become and looking forward to potentially a summer, 2018 Jasmine that continues to nurture herself, and look for new ways to find happiness.

Here’s to you, 2018 Jasmine. I’ll see you soon.

Until next time and a happy new year to you all,

Jasmine.

Pt. 1

The sound of mosquitos terrifies me. I don’t know what it is; maybe it’s the buzzing or maybe it’s the animosity of their existence, but I’ve always been scared. Memories of nights lying awake in terror strike me at the mere whisper of their sound and I’m instantly transported to that summer. It was a blur of a time, days of working long hours blend with leisure time, driving down an unmarked road and discovered new peninsulas at night. I think I was happy then, but I’m not sure. To be honest, I can’t quite remember when I was happy. Somewhere between the ridges of my undergrad and graduation, I must have lost myself. I was warned, that I can’t deny. People told me you lose yourself in college amidst the zealous first years, the endless clubs, the long-stretching nights of study, and the ceaseless herds of tour guests. I was happy, that I know, but to pinpoint the time, the place, and the situation seems impossible.

I remember this one night, this one never-ending night where we were driving back to campus. It was one of those typical college scenes, with friends laughing in the back seat, clutching their McDonalds, screaming along to the music. I remember thinking just how infinite I felt, like something straight out of a teen movie. Speeding up my university’s mountain, our heartbeats in-time with the music as we stuffed fries into our mouths and attempted not to choke. Was I happy then? Or does my mind wear rose-coloured glasses when remembering the past? Memories seem to replay the good and eject the bad. But I’d like to think I was happy.

We walked back to campus that night with the smell of young adulthood heavy in the air. I’m still young now and it’s almost comical to think I’ve aged, but something about that night felt so new and fresh. Open hearts as bright as the lights off the hill because there was nothing to fear. Sure, the odd mind wandered to thoughts of relationships and school and work, but in that moment nothing could bring us down. That’s how I remember it.

His face would always come to my mind at times like these. Sure, he wasn’t friends with my friends nor did we even attend the same college, but he was mine and I was his. He, who let me discover passion in a way I never had before, was my shining star. The boy I’d written poems about, the boy who had saved me in my darkest time. He was everything and yet he was not there, in my shining moment of youngness. He was young, too, but that was beside the point. Sometimes it’s our happiest moments spent away from those who are closest to that we begin to find people that meet needs we never knew we had before. That’s not to say that those original people lose their importance. Frankly, it’s the contrary. It’s in these moments that we begin to find new spaces within ourselves for new people, and begin to cherish the old, occupied spaces a little bit more in a new, more heightened way.

I think that’s what happiness is all about—finding ways to make space to feel happiness in new ways and allowing others to revel in those experiences as well.