Wednesday, September 6, 2017

full control

Allison and I have had a great summer. Going to Wild Waves, checking out art exhibits, blueberry picking, I saw Fred Armisen live at the Neptune as well as The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time at the Paramount (an INCREDIBLE play from the perspective of an autistic kid - cannot rave about it enough), we spent a lot of time in the city as well as endless days in the pool right outside our back door. And while this was an amazing summer (and one of the driest in years), I couldn't help but count down to the Fall. Not because it's the best season of the year, but because in just a little over a week, Allie and I will be taking our first ever mother/daughter road trip down to California and we could NOT be more excited. 

Allison's been down to California a handful of times but this will be the first time we're driving down just the two of us. Since moving up to WA state at the age of 2, I've gone back down more times than I can count (or even my parents - they lost count around 35 I believe). I'm a pro when it comes to road trips so I have every detail planned out from which truck stops to stop at for the best snacks to which lipstick I'll be sporting on day #5.

My little sister, deeply wounded by the fact that she will not be accompanying us on the drive, decided to write out a list of things she is sad to miss out on when Allie and I head south. So I have decided to contrive my own list. 

Things I'm Looking Forward to the Most:

1. Picking the music
2. Picking the volume of said music
3. Not having a particular younger sibling complain about said volume of said music
4. Being able to belt out my favorite songs without passive aggressive remarks from said younger sibling.
5. Not having to listen to said younger sibling try tirelessly to prove that she can belt out the songs better than I.
6. Not having to deal with her inevitable emotional breakdown as she quickly learns who the real alpha is in the family and watching her slowly succumb to the darkness that takes over her soul.
7. Having full control over the a/c

I'm sure I'll think of more as the day approaches.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

a hideous shirt and a new perspective

Growing up, I always knew I wanted to be an artist. And as I've gotten older, my eyes have opened to the endless amount of avenues in which I can explore that. My grandma had a friend who was a professional artist and she would give me lessons in elementary school on how to draw and I fell in love with illustrating. In the third grade, I fell in love with writing and my teacher would let me read books I had written to the class (my favorite one was about a girl who discovered a tiny alien and carried it around in her pocket - still have the copy of that one). I was homeschooled for 6th and 7th grade and my mom and sisters and I would go out on adventures and I fell in love with photography. I was given an easel in high school and fell in love with painting with oil and acrylics. In the past few years I've fallen in love with fashion and interior design. 

After I dropped out of art school, I worked at a few different photography studios and eventually started my own photography business. Quickly, I learned that that was not the avenue I wanted to go down. I don't like making art as a means of income. I absolutely love photography, but when your ability to pay rent lies in your ability to sell your art, it really adds on the pressure and for me, takes out the fun.

Allison has always loved art as well. I have a bin in my closet that's filled with art projects and drawings she's done over the years. But one way she's been expressing herself lately is through fashion. She's now at the age where she has a lot to say about the clothes she wears and my opinion is being pushed out. I'll be honest, this is really hard for me. We were shopping the other day when she spotted a shirt she really wanted. Like, REALLY wanted. To me, it was hideous. And  almost immediately, I said no. I'm not really sure why I said no - I've just been used to having full reign over her closet and I'm sorry, but that shirt was NOT the look I was going for. But what threw me off was when Allison started crying. And it wasn't the cry of a spoiled brat who wasn't getting her way, it was the silent cry of a little girl who wasn't being able to express herself. So I had to check myself. And we got the shirt.

The amazing thing about being an artist is that there's no right way to do it. Being an artist means you see the world differently than others do and you want to visually show your individual perspective. I will never stop being an artist but I can guarantee you it will look different every day of my life.

Friday, May 5, 2017

what could have been

Whenever someone asks me if I have any older siblings, I always say "Yes, but my older sister has Down syndrome." And there's a lot that's held in that "Yes, but" that people don't necessarily realize. "Yes, but I didn't grow up with an older sister who showed me the ropes or gave me advice about boys. Yes, but I didn't have an older sister who taught me about make up and hair or helped me learn from her mistakes. Yes, but I didn't get all the things that come with an older sibling. Yes, but...it wasn't what it could have been." I love my sister but I have always longed for that older sister I never got. The older sister I had to become in place of the one I often needed. Who knows where my life would be right now if I had someone ahead of me, guiding me and showing me what NOT to do - what roads to take and which to avoid. 

The dedication to normalizing special needs kids is awesome and the mantra of "their lives are just like yours" is great and all but my life growing up (and still often now) is quite unique and challenging and that was always obvious to me even at a young age. As a kid who was bullied in elementary school for being the sister of a "retarded kid," it was MADE obvious. Thankfully we've come along way but growing up 30 years ago with a sibling with Downs was not a walk in the park. It was a life filled with bullies, loneliness and isolation. 

I didn't grow up with a big sister. I grew up past my older sister. I did all of the huge milestones that come with adolescents like getting my license and moving out of the house, all the while having this constant guilt-filled sorrow knowing I wasn't the one supposed to be doing these things first and the one who was, was just as heartbroken. When I announced my pregnancy 8 years ago, she didn't talk to me for 4 months and we both knew why. It wasn't supposed to be me. 

So when you ask if I have any older siblings and I reply, "Yes, but..." I really mean, "You have absolutely no idea."





Friday, April 7, 2017

adventures

I knew this was going to happen. Deciding to start blogging again at the busiest time of my life was probably one of my better decisions. A single mom working full time and going to school as well as working small jobs on the side...great job, Sharaya. You'll all just have to forgive the random spurts of posts this blog will ever see. But I'll try my best.

So parenting is fun! Oh sorry, you can't read my sarcasm. But trust me, it's there. See, I grew up with a little sister who was the most dramatic thing that has ever been produced on this green earth. And as the most easy-going kid in the world, it bothered me. Like, a lot. We didn't really become friends until we were older and especially after I moved out of the house. And then a few years later I had a kid and lo and behold, it's a little hell-raiser just like my sister. It's been quite a challenge becoming the mother this girl needs. She's extremely intelligent and gifted but her emotions are through the roof. It's hard to keep up sometimes. I can't imagine what the teenage years will be like but I know for sure my bar will be fully stocked.

And although our personalities clash and she can really test me sometimes, being her mama is really the best. My favorite parts of our life are when we do things just the two of us. After I became a single mother, I planned so many adventures for us. I guess I was trying to replace all the horrible memories with good ones. She's a shy girl and new things make her really nervous but she's always down for an adventure with me. Our favorite thing to do is to be tourists in our own city. But our biggest adventure so far has been our trip back east this past winter. My sister moved to PA a year ago and so we went and spent Christmas in NYC with her, a dream I've always had. We did it Home Alone style where we stayed in a fancy hotel and ate New York pizza while watching Christmas movies. It was the best Christmas I've ever had. We have more adventures planned for this summer and I can't wait.

Allison being a goof at Time Square

I'll work on writing more on this blog with super cool and interesting things to say. Or I won't. Your guess is as good as mine. But I promise I'll at least think about this blog and all the writing I'm not doing. Can't that be enough??

Monday, March 6, 2017

walls

Allison and I moved this weekend and it was emotionally exhausting for the both of us. I went back to the old place yesterday to do some last minute cleaning and to turn in the keys. But before I walked out the door for the very last time, I took a minute in each room. 

This wasn't just another move for me. This house had been nothing but a place of turmoil and grief the last 5 years. And as I walked through the house, I reflected on all the things that happened in each room. The closets I would retreat to when I would have panic attacks, the kitchen where I walked in on an attempted suicide, the walls that have physical evidence of past domestic violence. I remember the specific spots I was standing in when I was being screamed at or when I received horrible news or when I had to call the police for help. I stood silently in each spot, taking in the emotions I felt when those instances occurred so that when I brought my mind back into the present, I could feel the weighted difference in where I am today. As I stood there, I cried, and I leaned forward so the tears would fall on the floor. I didn't want them. That old bastard house could keep em. 

I would like to try and remember all the good times we had there but they were few and far between. Allie had her third birthday party there but she also learned about death and heartache and parental neglect and depression there. They kind of overshadowed the cake and balloons.

I'm moving out of that house a completely different person than I was moving in. I didn't expect to walk out of it as a single mother. I didn't expect to go to war in that house or to leave it with all these battle wounds. But I can choose what I take with me. I can choose to leave behind the self-doubt and fear that lingered over me all those years and choose to bring with me the strength and wisdom and self-assurance I gained. 

This will be my last time writing about what happened within the walls of that house for a long time. Allison's dad has been making positive changes in his life and I don't want to ignore that. We're both very different people today. But my way of healing throughout all of this has been writing and I've been so grateful to have that outlet. And now I'm moving forward. And I don't want to bring all that with me.

And as for the house, I'm happy to be saying good riddance. Although I know the building itself didn't cause my disparity, within those walls I leave it.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

The Big Fat Quiz of the Year

1. What did you do in 2016 that you'd never done before?
Took my first solo trip, took my daughter on a trip by myself, took an uber for the first time, went to my first live show taping, went to my first music concert alone, went to my first comedy show alone, went to about a dozen museums I'd never been to before...

2. Did you keep your New Years' resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I lost a little weight, brought my credit score up almost 300 points and enrolled in school. My resolutions for 2017 will be to eat healthier and cleaner, to keep my gpa at 4.0, and to read more.

3. What would you like to have in 2017 that you lacked in 2016?
Financial security, trust in my government (yeah right)

4. What date from 2016 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
June 18th (seeing Mumford & Sons in Queens)


5. Compared to this time last year, are you:
happier or sadder?
-much happier

richer or poorer?
-richer

6. What was your favorite TV program?
Game of Thrones, Shameless, Documentary Now, Legit, Stranger Things, Black Mirror

7. What was your greatest musical discovery?
The Borns, Halsey

8. What was your favorite film(s) of this year?
Ghostbusters, BFG, War Dogs, Deadpool, Room, Sing Street, Fantastic Beasts, Popstar, The Little Prince, Arrival

9. What books did you read in 2016 that you'd never read before?
I read like a million children's books with Allie and a few for school but I can't remember one single book I read for myself this year.

10. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2016?
Ripped jeans, stripes, faux fur scarves, dark lipstick...so maybe street grunge?

11. Who was the best new person you befriended?
Some parents from Allie's school and the peeps in PA


Happy 2017!

Thursday, December 15, 2016

identity

Selfies get a lot of crap. I mean, I'm a part of a generation that constantly gets ridiculed for taking a silly photo of yourself when there was once a time when people would sit for hours as someone painting an oil portrait of them. Perspective, people.


This selfie, however, is much more than just a silly photo to me. For years, every picture of myself was fake. A fake smile, a fake portrayal of my life. My eyes hid the darkness that was engulfing me and that's exactly how I wanted it. Hidden. You can't see abuse in a photograph.

A few years ago, I remember watching a music video that was based at a carnival. Everyone in the video looked SO happy. They were just so blissful and carefree. It seemed so unbelievably unattainable to me. I was surrounded by this dark cloud for so long that that's all I could see. Happiness looked like a fairy tale.

But in this photograph I'm free. I see so much confidence and joy, things it took me years to reclaim. This past year has been about rediscovering my identity. I hadn't realized how much I had given away until the dust settled. I'm sure I'll write a post all about my past someday but for now, I'm moving forward. It no longer dictates who I am or what I am. I exist for a purpose. And I'm having a really good time figuring out what that purpose is for me.

When I was in the thick of it, I didn't know anyone who had gone through what I was going through. It was the loneliest time of my life. So if there's anyone out there struggling, just know you're not alone. There's been women who have walked this road and come out the other side stronger than ever. It's hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel sometimes, but just keep marching. You'll get there.