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LJ Idol, Topic 6: Sunrise

“We can only appreciate the miracle of a sunrise if we have waited in the darkness” –Author Unknown

Prior to March 2nd 2009, I took very little time to enjoy simple things. The thought of waking up to watch the sun rise sounded like the lamest idea possible. I never enjoyed a sun set or took time to look at the stars. The morning of March 2nd, though, my whole life changed. When I flung my front door open to the incessant knocking, the last thing I expected to see was them. Two uniformed Army soldiers, just like in the movies. I can’t imagine a more terrible job; to go to people’s homes and destroy their lives by announcing the death of their loved one in war. My little brother, Jeffrey, had been killed by a grenade attack on his convoy in Iraq. He was supposed to be home in less than three weeks. It was like the sickest joke anyone could have come up with.

It’s only been nine months but sometimes I feel like that day was yesterday. The plans after a death are so quick that there really is no time to process it. After Jeff’s funeral, I began to really struggle. I had done the good daughter thing by organizing and planning everything so my poor parents didn’t have to. But then my whole life turned to darkness. They say that time heals all wounds but sometimes I am SO tired of waiting. It’s already been a long road but I am slowly getting there. Good days or bad, one thing that helps me is to slow down and enjoy those simple things. Last week, I went outside on a really clear night and stood in the middle of the field next to my apartment building. I don’t know how much time passed while I was out there looking at the stars but I know it’s the closest I’ve been to Jeff since the last time I was able to hug him almost two years ago.

I miss Jeff every day, more than I can put into words. I know I can cry and be bitter or I can do whatever it takes to feel as close to him as I can. I think next time I need one of those moments, I’ll watch the sunrise.



**This has been my entry for therealljidol. If you like what you've read, voting will open up at the end of the week. Thank you for your support.

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LJ Idol Topic 5: Bearing False Witness

I used to be religious. If you know me in person, I understand why you’re laughing right now. But it’s true. I used to go to church every Sunday (and Wednesday for that matter), did all the mission trips, the praying, the bible study, blah blah blah. I always thought that the Ten Commandments were pretty decent guidelines to living a good life. While I’ve recently decided that Christianity and I should go our separate ways, I still respect anyone who chooses to practice it. As long as you practice what you preach. My best friend from church while growing up was a girl named J. My family didn’t go to church so I always kind of envied the fact that hers did. I would cling to them, trying to blend in and not be the girl who had to catch a ride on Sundays. The problem with all this was J’s parents were incredibly fake. They talked all the Christian talk, served as church deacons and tithed every Sunday. But they were also perfectly content with sitting back and judging people the other six days of the week. And by people I mean mostly me. They hated that my parents weren’t church goers. They never bothered to learn that my parents were in fact very decent people who believed in God but had to work on Sundays. They also hated that my family didn’t have any money. And they REALLY hated that their precious daughter associated with the likes of me. In my young and naïve mind, I figured as long as J didn’t turn into her parents, we could make it as friends. When high school came, her parents decided she would be attending private school. We began to grow apart a little but still saw each other at church. I began seeing changes in J…she was becoming just like her parents, much to my disappointment. At high school graduation she supported the idea her parents had of having two separate graduation parties, one for her high school friends and one for her “other friends.” When we went to college, things only got worse. She went to a private college and pretty much stopped talking to me. As I began to grow up more and start questioning things and deciding what I believed, I really couldn’t accept that this was how Christian people acted. I thought Christianity was about love and compassion and acceptance. I knew that all Christians weren’t like J's family but for as long as I could remember, they were what came to mind when I pictured the perfect Christian family.

J ended up marrying a college class mate from her superior private university. I wasn’t invited to the wedding. When my brother was killed earlier this year, I was shocked when J announced that she would be flying in for his funeral. We really hadn’t spoken in so long and I thought it was an incredibly kind gesture for her to drop everything and buy a plane ticket for her AND her infant daughter so she could come support me and my family. Knowing their family I should have figured there was more to it. J’s mom showed up unannounced to see her granddaughter. She and J never said a word to me the whole time.

In the weeks after the funeral, I started to really ponder the whole situation with J and her family. Sometimes when I think about how unconventional I may be to some people, it worries me. I’m a liberal agnostic with too many tattoos and no desire to have kids or a family. I think about how people might conceive me. But I really would rather be true to myself and know that I am a good and compassionate person, then to be a Christian who bears false witness by judging and condemning others. If it’s all true and God has the final judgment, I am pretty sure J and her family won’t pass that test.

***This has been my entry for Week 5 of therealljidol. Thanks for reading and if you liked my entry, voting will be open at the beginning of next week.

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Voting Time!

This week's voting for LJ Idol is open. If you guys would be so kind as to go and vote for me, I would really appreciate it.

I don't think my entry this week is incredibly strong but I would really like to stay around as I have a lot of ideas for future weeks.

Thanks so much for your support.

http://www.livejournal.com/poll/?id=1485615

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LJ Idol Topic 4: Choose Your Own Adventure!

I have a love/hate relationship with my home town. The nightlife is great and support for the arts and music is greatly improving. But I’m a sports lover at heart and the support for those (aside from Nascar, shamefully) is seriously a joke. Our minor league triple A baseball team, the Richmond Braves, finally took off after years of horrible attendance records, even when the team was doing well. I held on to the fact that we still had a hockey team (who can resist men with permanent black eyes and missing teeth?) But, alas, they folded after two seasons of abysmal attendance.

When rumors that a double A baseball team might be relocating to RVA, I was ecstatic. Yeah, it’s double A (meaning the teams, for lack of a better word, kind of blow) but at least it was A SPORT. Once the team move was confirmed, they teamed up with the local newspaper and opened a contest to name the team. How fun, I thought! I’m sure someone will suggest something unique and Richmond-y. Imagine my disappointment when the contest ends and the winning votes have chosen to name the team (don’t waste a drum roll, please)…THE FLYING SQUIRRELS. Uh, seriously? When I revisit the team names that were finalists, I guess it could be worst. We could be attending games for the Richmond Hush Puppies. My personal choice, because that’s all that matters (duh) would have been the Rock Hoppers. The name pays tribute to the many Richmonders who spend their summers sitting out on the rocks of the beautiful James River. Alas, that would have been to thought provoking and clever for the grand people of Richmond.

My distaste for our new baseball team’s name came full circle this past weekend. I went to see the touring cast of Avenue Q, a Broadway musical. At the end of the show the characters are trying to collect money and they jokingly take hats out into the crowd and beg for some cash. After coming back on stage one character asks how much they got. A second character answers, “Besides this ticket to a Flying Squirrels game, not much!”

Despite my disgust for the team name, of course I’ll support them. I’ll be at most of the games and I’ll cheer and all that sports crap. But, I will not be caught dead in a Flying Squirrels t-shirt, that I can guarantee you.

*****This has been my entry for [info]therealljidol. The topic I chose (from 5 available) was Current Events. Original news article can be found here.

I hope you enjoyed it. :)

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It's that time again...

Voting for week 3 of LJ Idol is open until Tuesday! If you think I'm worthy of the votes (and I hope you do) you can go vote for me HERE.

The only catch this week is that voting is open to friends only....so you'll have to join the community to vote.

Thanks for the support!

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LJ Idol Topic 3-Smile


I have to share an office at work. It’s not the end of the world but my office mate can be a little distracting. He’s not the best at respecting personal space. He talks non-stop and spends a lot of his time goofing off or sleeping on the desk. He often uses my computer without asking and always messes with the files on my desk. But all of his downfalls aside, he is incredibly sincere. He checks in to see how I’m doing every morning when I come in. He tells me what’s going on in his life with such conviction that I can’t help but to listen, busy as I may be. And he shows me how to have a little fun when I need to loosen up.

I just found out this past week that he’s leaving. I have such mixed emotions. On one hand, I sure as hell will get a lot more work done. On the other, I won’t have that fun distraction when I need it. I know I'll get a new office mate but I doubt they'll have as much personality as he does. I'm sure he's excited about the move...he’ll probably even have his own space where he’s going and will be a lot more comfortable.

The selfish side of me wants him to stay. But when I think about how much joy he'll be bringing into the life of his new owner, I can’t help but smile.





My office mate, Pooch, a soon to be Richmond Animal League alumni.  

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LJ Idol-Voting

The voting for week two of LJ idol is now open. If you feel my entry on the topic is deserving, I would love for you to go vote for me! Anyone with a Livejournal account can vote.

In case you missed it, you can read my entry here: http://cindylou07.livejournal.com/183615.html

Voting is here: http://community.livejournal.com/therealljidol/264520.html

If you extra love me, feel free to spread the word! Thanks so much! Happy weekend/Halloween! :)

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People, as a whole, are very good at complaining…me included, of course. But at the same time, we’re even better at judging. When your friends say they have it bad, you can always manage to think of how you have it worse. When my brother was killed in March, all I could think was, NOW I really do have it that bad. There’s no way that people can say their lives are more troubled than mine. The circumstances surrounding my brother’s death were about as horrible as you can imagine. He was 15 days away from coming home after a year and a half in Iraq. He was also on the verge of divorce and I can’t help but think that that’s what was on his mind when he was killed. Since my brother’s death, I have found myself disgusted when people I knew complained about their terrible break ups or how much they hate their miserable jobs. All I could think was, “You want to talk about pain?! You want to hear about what really hurts?”

One night this past summer, I was at a bar with a few friends. It was towards the beginning of that point where I was forcing myself to go out just to try to stop thinking about my sadness. I didn’t want to be there—I would have been much more content sitting at home feeling sorry for myself. When I excused myself to the restroom, I remembered this was the place that had chalk boards in the stalls. I always loved reading the nonsense and humorous things that drunk people spewed onto the board. The stall I went in disappointingly only had one thing written on it. It was a quote by Plato that said “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”

To this day, I can’t get that quote out of my head. I think about it all the time. My brother’s death was a horrible thing. But at least I come from a very strong and tight-knit family to help me deal with it. At least it has caused my relationship with my other brother to strengthen greatly. And at least hundreds and hundreds of more people know the name Sgt. Jeffrey Reed and what a strong and heroic individual he was.

People’s uphill battles are all in perspective. Of course, bad breakups and office drama are that big of a deal to the people who have never lost a sibling. As hard as it is and as much as I want to scream sometimes, I really try to make that extra effort to be kind to people. Who am I to judge their battles?    

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LJ Idol Introduction

The first topic for LJ Idol is "Introduction" So here we go...

Despite my LJ name, I hate being called Cindy. I much more prefer Cynthia, even though ever since I was little I always wanted a different name. My siblings were named two of the most generic names ever and it always annoyed me. I usually say I am your everyday typical 27 year old female. But at the same time, I recently have had a lot of life experiences that aren't so typical.

After screwing around at college for waaaay longer than I should have, I decided to take time off and join a national service program: AmeriCorps' National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC, fondly called the N-trip or N-triple-C by its members) Basically, I served two terms (one term is 10 months) and led a team of young adults around the country doing different service projects with various non-profits. I lived across the street from a crack house in the worst part of Jackson, MS and worked with Habitat for Humanity. I lived with 800 other volunteers in a gutted out school serving as a volunteer camp in New Orleans. I froze to death every night at a camp in New Hampshire doing camp maintenance and end of season clean up. I slept on the floor of the Lutheran Student Union at the University of Northern Iowa and assessed flood damaged houses, also beginning the gutting process. At my worst, most tired and miserable moment, I wouldn't have traded the experience for anything.

When I came home, I had learned how to discipline myself enough to finish my bachelors degree in Psychology in one semester. Psychology is interesting and all but not exactly my cup of tea. I have very strong opinions on the over-medication of people with psychological issues and I just don't see it as a career path for me. I don't regret getting my degree in Psych because I did have a lot of fun and learned a ton of interesting things.

In March of this year, my youngest brother, Jeffrey, was killed by a hand launched grenade while serving in Iraq. He was just 15 days short of completing his second tour of duty. I never knew true sadness and pain until this happened and I don't think most people who haven't gone through things like this do. Jeffrey was one of the coolest people I knew and I am certain he has no regrets about how he lived his life. I have always been an emotional person in general and I think I have felt every single emotion that is fathomable over Jeff's death. I am incredibly close to my family and even more so through all of this. My other brother Chris was honorably discharged from the army after Jeff's death and he now lives about an hour away. We have never seen eye to eye AT ALL, but are definitely making progress. Despite all the sadness and how big of an event Jeff's death is in my life, I try very hard to not let it define me. I think eventually I will have learned a lot through all of this, but right now I just take it a day at a time. I generally dislike pity but I do appreciate people's sentiments, especially when I know they come from the heart.

There is soooooo much more to me, but I'll leave it at that for now. I try everyday to learn something new about myself and the world, as cliche as that sounds. I hope the LJ Idol experience will be a great one. :)
This serves as my official announcement that I will be participating in this season of LJ Idol. :D

No, I don't have any idea what I am getting myself into, but I am hoping this will be a great experience for me and the quick kick in the ass I need to be a more regular updater.

After everything I've been through this year, I think some good old fashion journaling is what I need.

Best of luck to all of you participating, especially my LJ friends!!

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