What a Year 2018 Has Been.

This year has felt like it has been five years at the same time it feels like it’s gone by in a blink of an eye. For America, we’ve gone through so many ups and downs that I have forgotten much of what has happened because so much happens every single day. For me personally, I’ve gone through some of the highest highs and some of the lowest lows I have ever experienced in this last year.

I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s in February. Something I knew was coming but had avoided for much of last year, besides the fact that there were some physical signs that something clearly wasn’t right. That took a while for me to process because it’s a disease you can’t physically see. Acceptance came about a month or so later. Then, in October, after having gained puffy eyes over the summer and seeing double in early fall, I was diagnosed with Grave’s. Most people cannot have both antibodies at one time.

Last week, my doctor told me that I’m a mystery because my numbers aren’t where she suspected they would be at this point. I’ve been through a lot of trials and tribulations in 2018 and unfortunately, I see this continuing into the next year; though I’m hoping it will be a little less intense. My health has been the majority of my lows this year. It’s not fun not knowing what your body is capable of and finding out long after the damage had been done is a tough pill to swallow.

However, a lot of good things have happened this year as well. I published a short film at the beginning of the year. I got TWO pieces published that I’m extremely proud of and so grateful they have found a home. The essay is about how I found writing and the ways it has helped me with my stutter. The poem is about my stutter and how what you hear is only the surface layer of who I am.

I haven’t said this online yet but I might as well share it because it’s something I’ve worked hard on and I’m very proud of. Earlier this year, I finished the first draft of a story that has the possible potential of one day being published as a book AND last month I finished a fifth draft of said story. I’m very happy with how it’s coming along.

On top of all that, a couple of weeks ago, I graduated from college with a BA in English with honors! I never thought that would happen and with everything going on this year, I thought it may not happen. But I’ve worked very hard and so, so happy with finishing my degree.

I’m sure 2019 will be full of new adventures, hardships, and possibilities. I’m excited and ready to see what the next chapter of my life will be. It will be an interesting year. Personally, it will be a big one. As a country, I’m curious to see how much of this year we will remember at this time next year. I’m hoping movements formed these last couple of years continue to speak up and fight for rights in 2019. I hope you all have a safe and great New Year!

Be kind. Be brilliant. Be you.

The title is a quote from Michelle M. Lucero.

The week before last, I graduated from college with honors, something I never thought I would accomplish. I majored in English with an emphasis in creative writing. A few days ago, I got my final grades for my last semester. 3.93, my highest GPA of my education journey.

I wasn’t the most productive student in high school. I was an average C student. I didn’t care about school. I didn’t see the point of trying hard because I didn’t have a choice if I wanted to go or not. For the record, I didn’t want to go. Classes were too early (7:45am, I’d be there by 7, get a good parking spot far away, and sit in the library for 45 minutes before the first bell rang). I didn’t have a study routine, I was terrible at taking tests, and I barely turned in my homework.

This thinking carried onto the first few years of college. Though the schedule was more flexible, I didn’t know what I wanted to study, therefore I didn’t really care. I got good enough grades to pass. When I decided to study web design (a decision I made because I didn’t know what else to study), I got decent grades, better than I did in my general education classes.

As fate would have it, the summer before I began studying web design, I decided to take an online English class to get a sense of what school would be like the following semester, with all online classes. From that summer class, I would discover my passion for writing. Life works in mysterious ways and puts the pieces together before your able to see the full image.

In fact, the Joan Didion quote currently at the top of my blog is from that English class. “I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear.” The first week of summer school, I read that quote in the essay by Didion and wrote a response in an online discussion board. I cannot remember what I wrote but this quote has become a sounding board over the last few years. It’s been a reminder for me to keep writing, that this is why I love writing so much.

The last two and a half years of studying English have been the most fulfilling semesters of my educational journey. I’ve written numerous pieces, two of which have been published (poem and essay). I’ve grown so much as a writer and a woman. These last few years, I’ve come close to the person I can see myself being.

The quote by Michelle M. Lucero was shared in her speech at my graduation ceremony. It’s a simple set of six words with a relatable message, a good reminder in these turbulent times. Be kind. Regardless of how you’re feeling, try to be kind to everyone you interact with. Be brilliant. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box or to see life through a different lens. Be you. In a society filled with people constantly chasing trends or thinking of the next big thing, know yourself and follow your own path, marching to the beat of your own drum.

#MeToo, One Year Later

One year ago, I was in a hotel room in New York City, about to leave and take the N train from 42nd street to 23rd street to see the Flatiron building, when I got a notification on my phone from CNN. There was a breaking story on Harvey Weinstein in the New Yorker. The story was by Ronan Farrow and it broke down many tricks and avenues he would take to manipulate and take advantage of women. I showed my mom the headline and she shrugged, continuing to get ready for the day. I sat down on the bed and scrolled through the story, getting chills on my arm from every account I read.

One year ago, I didn’t know the magnitude this story would have on our society. No one did. After so many years in power of Hollywood, no one knew the significant impact the fall of Harvey Weinstein would have our society. No one had seen a man fall from grace this hard and this fast. No one realized that he was the first of many who would follow in his footsteps. I was too preoccupied with seeing the Flatiron building before the remnants of Hurricane Nate rolling through New York to focus on our society breaking into two. A few hours after receiving the notification, I became overly preoccupied with trying to get home through the shitty weather.

It wasn’t until the next day when I was sitting in the hallway, waiting to go into my last class of the day that I understood how this Weinstein story hit a spark in the universe, creating an explosion of women sharing their stories. I was seeing people using the #MeToo on Twitter and Facebook. The more stories I read, the more I felt less alone while at the same time becoming angry by the fact of how common this is and how it took a hashtag for so many women to share their stories public. I was hesitant about sharing my story and after lots of trepidation, I wrote two poems about how the actions of careless boys have impacted my life.

One year has passed since #MeToo spoke to the zeitgeist in a way no one could have ever predicted. We have opened a door we can never close again. One year later, we’re listening to women’s stories and believing what they share, yet we don’t believe them enough to change the old patterns of human history.

A Letter to Myself at 15

Dear 15-year-old Kelly,

Ten years from now, you’ll be finishing up your bachelor’s degree in English after years of trying to figure out what you want to do. You will be a published writer. You don’t realize this now but writing will become one of the most important parts of your life. Writing will help you grapple with your stutter. Writing will help you stop running away from the parts of yourself that you don’t like and refuse to accept now. Writing will help you figure out feelings you’re currently pushing down.

You’re about to embark on a journey that will last until you’re 20. Its already begun but you don’t know how it will skyrocket when you choose not to encounter your authentic self, your stutter, your sexuality, and other things. You unknowingly decide to run away from yourself because your scared of being more different than you already feel you are. You’re already feeling anxiety linger beneath the surface of your skin. When you begin running away from yourself, your anxiety will increase to an overwhelming level. You will wake up every morning, terrified to face the day. Your heightened anxiety will stay with you for the remainder for your teenage years. You know you’re different but you choose to see yourself as normal in aspects that you’re now experiencing because of medication. You still stutter even though you’re fluent. Just because you decide to look the other way doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. But it’s how you’re coping with all that has happened to you.

The stories you choose to tell yourself now will shift as you get older. It’s only when you begin to tell yourself stories with truth in them five years from now will you stop running away yourself. You will realize how tired you are jumping from one thing to another and running around in circles for so many years. You will also realize how much of your teenage years you were mentally absent because of fear and anxiety. Fear to embrace all the parts of yourself that aren’t considered normal by societal standards. But your normal always has been and always will be a little different from everyone else’s normal.

You will be okay. I promise.

Love,

25-year-old Kelly

Miracle Baby: 25 Years Later

On Saturday, the 25th of August, I will be turning 25 years old. My golden birthday. For those of you who don’t know my story, I’ll give the short version. I was supposed to be born on November 25th. My mom had a liver transplant when she was 20 weeks pregnant with me on July 1st. I was born at 27 weeks on August 25th, 1993. I weighed 2 lbs 2oz when I was born and dropped to 1 lb 7 oz shortly after. I had to spend the first five months of my lifein the hospital and I was on oxygen for the first two years of my life.

Everyone who I have told this story to over the years has responded by saying I am a Miracle Baby. I’ve known this my entire life. It’s a weird thing to live my life knowing all that of this traumatic and scary events happened that I have no recollection of. How I spent the first five months in an incubator. How it must have been for my parents to see me so helpless. How nerve-wracking it must have been to have a child who was going to have challenges beyond their control.  How worried my parents were about my later development of both walking and speech. There were so many things that could have gone wrong.

I know how lucky I am to be here. I know that had it been just a few years earlier, I would not have survived. I arrived at just the right moment where medical technology knew how to help premature babies have a good chance of surviving. Though I’ve developed later than most people throughout my entire life and I have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease that began as bronchopulmonary dysplasia when I was an infant, I’m so fortunate to not have any serious problems that have stuck with me from being born three months early.

We all have stories and events that define our lives. Miracle Baby was put on me long before I could comprehend anything about life. It’s been a part of who I am. I don’t know what life is like without this story that’s still mindblowing to understand. Every so often, I will stop and think, that really happened. It’s crazy to think about. I’ve been given a unique perspective from what happened to me when I was a baby. Every year on November 25th, I give a little moment to the day that seems so far away from my actual birthday. I think about the person I could have been had I been born on that date. But I’m also thankful for the person I am and for the life I’m so fortunate to live.

On my birthday, I always watch the news broadcast that was done on my early arrival. My mom and dad had a news story on them a month earlier to talk about my mother’s liver transplant while being pregnant. The first few years I would watch the news broadcast, I would think I was looking at someone else’s life because that’s the only way my young mind could comprehend this incredible story. It was only when I turned 12 that I began to process the fact that this story is mine, that little baby that looks like a tiny baby doll is me. This year on my golden birthday, I’m reflecting on how far I’ve come in the last twenty-five years and how all that I’ve gone through has only made me stronger.

My Essay Is Now Published!!

I won’t be posting a review today. Instead, I have some very exciting news. One of my essays is published!! I wrote this essay for a class in the spring of 2017. It’s about my journey to beginning to acknowledge my stutter and how that coincided with finding my passion for writing.

For almost a year, I had submitted this piece to different publications and received one rejection after another. I had gotten a DM from Z Publishing on Twitter in late April, asking if I was interested in submitting a piece for their upcoming emerging writers from Colorado anthology. I decided that this was going to be the last piece I would submit this piece to before completely rewriting it. I had submitted my essay in early May and forgot about it for about a month.

In the middle of June, I thought I didn’t get it because I hadn’t heard from them. But, by the end of the month, I got an email congratulating me on having my essay being accepted for publication. I’m still on cloud nine and can’t believe this is happening. This is only the beginning!

If you want to read my entire essay, “Finding My Voice,” you can purchase Colorado’s Emerging Writers: An Anthology of Nonfiction on Amazon or Z Publishing.

Tweets from Sunday

August 12th, 2018

6:15 am

I love when I’m in a place and my phone isn’t on the forefront of my mind.

6:50 am

This is so important for someone like me who seemingly can’t detach from the lure of always needing to be updated on who posted what and when on Instagram.

7:01 am

It’s an addiction I’ve been trying to control for a while. Habits that I’ve blissfully unaware of harder to acknowledge than one would assume.

Denial and ignorance take over my mind for a long time until my awareness over my routine becomes too strong to the time that falls out the window due to too much time scrolling through stranger’s photos on the app that’s different to detach from.

It’s only when I’m on my own and away from good cell coverage that I can step back and see what life is like when it doesn’t revolve around feeling the need to know who, what, when, and speculate on why.

Although, I had this feeling when walking through New York. Being out and about in the city, I barely thought about what could be happening on the addicting app. It was another view into a life where technology wasn’t sucking up the time in my day.

My goal is to get to a place where I don’t feel the need to check Instagram too many times a day when I’m in good cell coverage or have WiFi.

For now, deleting the app will have to do.

7:03 am

(Some of this is rambling, some of this is incoherent. I’m tired and excited to spend the day not on my phone.)