Sunday, September 1, 2013

30 Times I Was So Happy I Could Cry

1. "When someone dies of depression, the cause of death is listed as suicide."
    Okay, my first example is actually bittersweet. On the one hand, there was that time (April 24th, 2011) when I did not die of depression, and that's pretty sweet (please note: this list is called "30 Times I Was So Happy I Could Cry," and I couldn't cry if I had died; dead people can't cry or smile or do anything else because, you know, they're dead). On the different hand, there was that other time (July 2013) when I found out that the friend who originally shared this wisdom with me had died of depression. We had been permanently out of touch for a few months before that, but she was still far too awesome to die so young, and part of me is still mad at her for it.
    A bigger part of me is just thankful that I'm stronger than her.

2. A few nights ago, I had a dream about being harassed by the worst person I've ever met. While it was happening, this was a very bad dream; as soon as I woke up, I looked back and realized that it was actually one of the best dreams I've ever had, because it was just a dream. In real life, he is thousands of miles away and he can never hurt me ever again.

3. A few nights ago, I had a dream about bumping into the second-worst person I've ever met. While it was happening, this was a very good dream; as soon as I woke up, I looked back and realized that it was actually one of the worst dreams I've ever had, because it was just a dream. In real life, he is thousands of miles away and I don't actually know for a fact that he's quite as miserable as his life choices would seem to indicate.

4. Once upon a time, on my 21st birthday, I marched up to an evil idiot and told him, "You're as ugly on the outside as you are on the inside." He yelled something angry as I marched away, which is a pretty clear sign that he cried himself to sleep that night.
    Almost five years later, I still don't even kind of regret this behavior. Don't fucking mess with my sister.

5. In December of 2008, I met my best friend Adam for the very first time.
    Approximately eight seconds after meeting Adam for the very first time, I knew he was gay.
    But he never mentioned it, and I know better than anyone that coming out is something you have to do at your own pace, so I never pushed the issue.
    In March of 2011, he finally admitted that he was "like me."
    That day, we saw Sucker Punch, in which several characters say the line, "You already have all the weapons you need - now, fight." Adam won his own fight in his own way, and I love him for it.

6. As anyone who knows anything about me ought to be able to tell you, my favorite book of all time is Harriet the Spy, which was written by Louise Fitzhugh.
    True story about Louise Fitzhugh: I had been re-reading the book at least once a year for ten years before I found out that she was kind of secretly well-known for being a big ol' lesbian.
    Another true story about Louise Fitzhugh: A few days ago, I noticed for the first time that she and I were both born in October (so was Harriet).

7. "You are not consumed by the darkness because you are full of light." - Robin McKinley, Sunshine
    I haven't actually owned this book in a, you know, legal sense for several years because I loaned it to Jason and he lost it in the mail (it was a first-edition hardcover, by the way, in excellent condition).
    I do intend to replace it someday, but at the same time, it's nice to have a concrete reminder that stupid boys will always be stupid, and they will ruin everything if given half a chance. I must never give any stupid boy half a chance ever again. I must learn to listen to my instincts.
    My instincts, believe it or not, are actually pretty good. I know this for a fact because a wise old woman told me that I am not consumed by the darkness because I am full of light.

8. Speaking of "You are not consumed by the darkness because you are full of light," there was that time in the Prisoner of Azkaban movie when Harry saved himself & his friends by banishing the fuck out of all the dementors.
    If dementors aren't an obvious metaphor for depression, I don't know what is. Well done, J. K. Rowling. Well done.

9. On Sunday, March 21st, 1999, our littlest sister was born. Cara and I, who were eight and eleven at the time, can still tell you everything about that night.

10. Go back and re-read #4. I'll wait here.
    I have no memory of this, but the sister in question assures me that I succintly summarized his status as an evil idiot months before he showed his true colors (which must have been awkward for her at the time, as we were all living together then, but you know what they say about hindsight).
    Speaking of my instincts.

11. On October 31st, 2009, I drank way too much and threw up all over Sho Tanahara's living room (I also repeatedly asked her roommate, who was in a relationship with someone who made him very happy, if he wanted to make out with me; I don't remember this at all, but I have no difficulty believing that it happened). We didn't really know each other very well at the time, but after that she quickly became, well, my Asian Friend.
    The really shocking thing is that I'm still pretty good friends with her roommate Emily, who I had never met before that night.

    HISTORIAN'S NOTE: This was more than a year before I realized that, duh, I have depression. In retrospect, well, what can you say?

12. Animorphs #54, The Beginning (which is really the end, because is there ever actually such a thing as "the end" of a story?). Did Rachel have to die? Was there no other way to save the day? Well, sure, they probably still could have won the war . . . but if she hadn't sacrificed herself, countless other people would have been killed. For a warrior like Rachel, there was never any question. She summed it up nicely in book seven:

    "My closest friends think I'm fearless. They're wrong about that. People without fear are just insane. I have plenty of fear in my life. Some days I feel afraid from the moment I wake up in the morning till my last nightmare at night.
    "But the thing about fear is you can't be afraid of it. I know that sounds confusing. I guess what I mean is, be afraid if you have to, right? Fear is like this vicious little worm that lives inside you and eats you alive. You have to fight it. You have to know it's there. You have to accept that you'll never get rid of it, but fight it just the same. Brave isn't about not being afraid. It's about being scared to death and still not giving in."

13. Also from Animorphs, Marco (who, by the way, spends the first four books wanting nothing to do with their fight) gives us this gem in book five:

    "I have a saying for you. I got it from a fortune cookie. 'Fall down seven times, get up eight.' You know what that means? That means you don't ever just lie there. You always get up. You always come back for more. You never surrender. Maybe you die, but you never surrender."

14. The time I met Tony (which I actually don't remember all that well, since we didn't know it was such a big deal until after it happened). Other than "he's my BFF," I don't know how to describe our relationship, except: Our friendship makes sense because it doesn't make sense. We are perfect for each other because we're both so flawed, and that makes us powerful.

15. When I was sixteen, Cara and I saw Relient K (there will be a bit more about them as this list draws to a close) at Universal Studios. There were a bunch of other people there, too, of course - our entire church group, dozens of other church groups, tons of people who just happened to be visiting the park on the same day as several dozen church groups, park employees, at least half a dozen other bands - but, to my way of remembering, it was just me and Cara and Relient K.

16. Speaking of my little sister, I usually go through 30 Times I'm So Happy I Could Cry every single time I talk to her. I'm "lucky" (note my use of sarcastic quote marks; they are sarcastic because, in fact, luck has nothing to do with it) enough to have several truly wonderful people in my life, but none of them will ever know me quite as well as my sister. If I had to pick one person, out of all the people on the planet, who is my very favorite person on the planet, it would be her.

17. Speaking of truly wonderful people in my life:

    "The spark ignited inside me when I realized that you all are my friends."

    Honesty + Kindness + Laughter + Loyalty + Generosity = Magic.

    I beat depression (have beaten, am beating, do beat, will beat) because all of you have shown me, in word or in deed, that I am greater than the sum of my parts. Sometimes you don't even realize it, but I do.

18. Speaking of beating depression, I was so happy that I literally cried when I finally, finally, finally actually physically got the fuck out of Indiana. (Thank you, Kiki; you exemplify all six Elements of Harmony, but you especially embody Generosity so shockingly well that my jaw hurts from dropping over and over and over.) Putting my life together in Seattle is a process that's neither swift nor snappy, but you know what?
    I had no idea it was possible for me to be this happy.

19. Once upon a time, in the mythical land of Hollywood, a reporter asked Joss Whedon, "Why do you write these strong female characters?"
    And Joss answered, "Because you keep asking that question."

20. I don't remember who pointed this out to me for the first time, but The Little Mermaid - which would be my favorite Disney movie ever if Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King and Aladdin and Mulan and The Parent Trap and The Princess Diaries and Lilo & Stitch were all erased from existence, in some sort of horrible time travel mistake - is kind of sort of almost a perfect metaphor for growing up trans.

21. Well. I mean. I suppose I felt a little bit happy when I got the call:

    "Ryan, I have bad news and I have good news; the bad news is that you can't start right away, but the good news is that you've been accepted to the Art Institute of Seattle."


    They say that "a problem shared is half the problem" and "a joy shared is twice the joy" - in this case, the second half of that saying was most definitely, definitively proven to be absolute truth, since a) I texted Kiki to say that I GOT IN I GOT IN I GOT IN I GOT IN, so she called me and insisted that we go to English Ivy's for some celebratory drinks, and b) between that text and those drinks, I called Adam and Ben & Marci to tell them that, get ready, the day we had all been waiting for was finally coming: I was officially getting the fuck out of Indiana and coming to Seattle . . .

22. . . . which reminded me of a Terry Pratchett quote: "Joy is to fun what the deep sea is to a puddle It's a feeling inside that can hardly be contained."

23. Obviously, all six Elements of Harmony work together ("Harmony" - it's literally right there in the name), but for me, personally, Laughter has always been clearly the most powerful, since it banishes fear (and makes it look easy) before anypony figures out how the Elements do what they do.
    Even if you ignore all the pretty horses and the ~magic~ and everything else, "laughter is stronger than fear" is such an unbelievably awesome thing to put in the very first episode of a kids' show (especially one inspired by a toyline from the eighties); while it's impossible to choose a favorite Pony, Pinkie Pie, who holds the Element of Laughter, will always be the most important to me.
    So I was pretty gosh-damn happy when my ginger friend & I went to Toys R Us and each bought the other a plush version of her. I've acquired many other Pinkie Pies since then (thank you, Kristine; thank you, Adam), but the plush is my favorite Pony in my entire collection, because my ginger friend (who, by the way, has been a human Pinkie Pie since before Equestria Girls was anything other than a Katy Perry parody) would not have started watching the show if I hadn't been gushing about it so much when I was in therapy - refer back to the beginning of this list - where I learned a lot about how to take my fears just seriously enough, which made it a lot easier to laugh at them until they get tired of trying to scare me.

24. I want to make it clear that I do not really truly ~believe~ in ghosts (or, you know, anything else).
    But my friend Vanessa has been talking to them for longer than I've been alive. Shortly after reading "Epiphany," which I wrote when I was in therapy (writing it took longer than it could have because I kept crying at how awesome I am), she had a dream about my dad, who wanted her to tell me that he was proud of me.
    That wasn't a time I "could" cry, that was a time I "did" cry.

25. In the very last episode of the series that was named for her, Buffy the Vampire Slayer stood in front of a bunch of terrified, powerless girls and gave a speech:

    "So here's the part where you make a choice: What if you could have that power . . . now? In every generation, one Slayer is born. Because a bunch of men who died thousands of years ago made up that rule. They were powerful men. This woman is more powerful than all of them combined. So, I say we change the rule. I say ~my~ power . . . should be ~our~ power. Tomorrow, Willow will use the essence of the Scythe to change our destiny. From now on, every girl in the world who might be a Slayer . . . will be a slayer. Every girl who ~could~ have the power, ~will~ have the power; can stand up, will stand up. Slayers, every one of us. Make your choice. Are you ready to be strong?"

    A few scenes later, she led those girls in a fight against the worst evil she had ever faced (which is saying something; she  once smashed in a god's face with a hammer) in an epic battle, during which she told that evil,

    "I want . . . you . . . to get out of my face."

    No matter how many times I watch the last episode, both of these scenes will always give me chills.

26. Speaking of, I gave myself chills when I wrote this:

    "There's darkness inside you, little boy."
    "I define darkness, it does not define me. Also, what the HELL do you know about my mind?"

27. I don't remember what I was thinking when I decided that I should buy a "real" camera, but I do remember, less than a month after making said purchase, the very first time anyone ever pointed out that a) I kind of have a knack and b) some of my shots would look ~even better~ with a little editing.
    (Thank you, Leo.)

28. "When I was hired, working for this company made me feel really good about myself. But for the last year and some months, it has only made me feel suicidal. The thing is, I like my life a lot more than my job."
    That's not verbatim, but the note I wrote to give two weeks' notice at Starbucks was completely fucking epic. When I finally clocked out after my last shift, all I could think was

29. When I was three years old, my mom sat me down to watch The Wizard of Oz for the first time.
    The Wicked Witch of the West is widely regarded as one of the most horribly purely evil characters in the history of film; the Queen from Snow White gave me nightmares, and I had to leave the room during Ursula's death scene, but the Wicked Witch had something, some sort of stage screen presence, that made me love her right away. Why shouldn't she have her dead sister's shoes? Why did Glinda send Dorothy to the Wizard so he could order her to kill the Witch? Why does no one notice that Glinda is clearly the real villain?
    Obviously, I couldn't articulate these observations at the time, but the Wicked Witch of the West struck a chord with me right the fuck away, and I have been obsessed with witches ever since.
    Which is wonderfully wickedly ironic (fairies love irony), because my mom. Well. She's as stubborn as her name implies. And I love her for it even though her opinion is wrong.

30. Once upon a time in 2004, in the magical land of LiveJournal, I met Kiki.
    We instantly bonded when she learned of my love for Relient K.
    She saw something in me that I couldn't see until recently; something real, and something powerful. I already have two younger sisters, so I never wanted an older one as well. But wanting and needing are two wildly different things, aren't they?
    A great majority of the moments on this list never would have had a chance to happen if I hadn't met her when I did, because I would've died of depression before anyone realized it was a thing that made me struggle.
    Today is Kiki's 30th birthday, and I am so very very happy about that. She's already a badass human being, but her thirties are going to change her, and everyone she knows, in ways none of us can hope to imagine just yet.
    Happy birthday, brown-eyed girl.    
    I love you more than words can say.

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