Saturday, June 27, 2009

My Sister's Keeper

Every now and then I like to go to the movies on my own. It sounds strange to some, but I really enjoy my "Olivia time" every now and then. A friend once told me you have to learn to be your own best friend in life. It's true. Not easy (as you may have noticed from previous posts), but it's true. So, on occasion, I take time to do what I want, by myself, simply because I've learned that I can't wait for others to do what I want. And, some times, doing it alone feels just as good. And, it may even be just what's needed.

All of this is to say that on Friday, when I was able to leave the office at 1pm (yay half days!), I decided that I wanted to go to the movies and see "My Sister's Keeper". It was a movie that hit close to home, very, very close, but I loved it all the same. And, in watching the movie, I felt that I could understand more of what my brother went through. His pain and fear and strength. My parents never talk about my brother anymore. Or that time in our lives. It's understandable. The pain is overwhelming, even so many years later. But, I have so many questions. So many things I want to know. Most, I have to deduce from my better understanding of AML now or simply imagine on my own. It's what I do to fill in the blanks. And to try to put together more pieces of my brother; so much of him seems to be slipping through my fingers as time passes.

I know there are many who wouldn't be able to see a movie like that. My mom is one of them. But, for some strange reason, I find comfort in the sadness. In feeling, despite the fact that I know it's fiction, that someone else has been in my place, felt my pain. It's comforting to know I am not alone.

I'm not really sure what this post is about today. I miss my brother. The changing seasons always make me miss him a little more. Seeing the movie brought so many emotions to the surface.

I have a brother. He was the most amazing, brave and inspiring person I know. I miss him. And, he's everywhere. Just like the sky. Just like love.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Remnants of a War

The Human Rights Watch Film Festival is going on now. I went to my first movie (I got the movie pass for 5 films) on Tuesday. I went to see the independent film, Remnants of a War. The film discusses the aftermath of the Lebanon-Israel War in the summer of 2006.

Did you know that Israel dropped 1 million cluster bombs on Southern Lebanon during the war? One. Million.

35% of them failed to detonate.

Cluster bombs are highly unreliable. While they are relatively cheap to make, they don't always work. The cluster bombs that do not explode on initial impact can explode later, at any time. A six year old Lebanese child died in 2007 after finding a cluster bomb, mistaking it for a toy, and playing with it. The cluster bomb (essentially a bomb that contains many, many, many smaller bombs in it) exploded in his hand. This death is only one of the many deaths that continue to occur throughout Lebanon as a result of the cluster bombs littering Southern Lebanon. The majority of cluster bombs Israel used in 2006 were American. Many of those used in 2006 dated back to the Vietnam war. Old. Unreliable. Deadly. Not a good combination.

Teams of cluster bomb clearance experts have gone in to Southern Lebanon to train the locals on how to find and destroy these bombs in the hopes of preventing more deaths. Their work was made even more difficult because Israel refused to release their military target maps for years. The military target maps would have shown the detonation teams where the cluster bombs were dropped. Israel finally released them last month. Unfortunately, some of these teams have been disbanded due to lack of funding. Their work is not complete. Unexploded cluster bombs still litter the landscape.

Following the war in 2006, and the devastating effects the cluster bombs had on the Lebanese people, the Cluster Ban Treaty was drafted. While the Cluster Ban Treaty has received worldwide support from numerous countries, Russia, China, Israel and the US have still not signed. The main US argument is that cluster bombs remain an important arsenal for the US army. The weapon is unreliable and yet, the US refuses to ban their use during war.

The end of the documentary nearly brought me to tears, one of the Lebanese they were interviewing was speaking, and he said:

"Would the Americans...accept to live like this? Just as they love life, we love life. Just as they like to live with dignity, we like to live with dignity".

People are still dying, three years after the war. This needs to change. Civilian lives cannot continue to be lost. No one deserves to live with the fear that every day-- walking their dog, working on their farm, driving their car--could be their last. Please call your Senate and House representatives and tell them to support the cluster bomb ban.

I love life. I like to live with dignity. I am no more simply because by a geographic fortune, I was born in the US. My life would be no less worthy, my dignity no less significant, had I been born in Lebanon. We must not turn a blind eye to this injustice. As history has shown, it could be us tomorrow. By speaking for the people of Southern Lebanon today, we give voice to our future tomorrow.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Being Gentle.

Some of you may know that I've been seeing a counselor for nearly a year now. Some of you reading this now may even be the ones who encouraged me to take this step. I can't say it's made everything 100% better, but it certainly has helped. Last year was a rough one. Nothing particularly catastrophic happened. I was just sad and lonely and frustrated. Sad when I wanted to be happy. Lonely even when I was surrounded by people I loved. And, frustrated because I didn't know what was "wrong" with me or how to "fix" it. It wasn't a great place to be. Sometimes, I find myself in that place again, but the stints there are much shorter, more manageable and not nearly as emotionally exhausting as they were. It's progress.

In my first session, I was asked what I wanted to get out of my therapy. I replied without hesitation, "I want to love myself." Because that's what I want. I've wanted it for a long time. I want to love myself every day. Not because of anything I've done or what I look like or any great challenges I've managed to overcome. I want to love myself for the simple fact that I deserve to love myself unconditionally. Just because.

This isn't to say I hate myself now. I don't. But I don't love myself either. On a regular day, I'm more indifferent than anything else. On a good day, I don't think I'm half bad. On a really good day, I like myself. On a bad day, well, let's just say, I'm not in a happy place with me on a bad day. I'm a perfectionist. And, my own worst critic. It's a volatile combination. A friend once told me I have a bad coach (The "coach" being that inner voice inside your head.) because I confessed that my own inner voice is usually pretty negative. I'm working on being more positive with my thoughts. On being more gentle with myself. On loving myself unconditionally.

And as I was waiting for the train home in Penn Station a few nights ago, I read this quote and I thought it would make a great new motto for me. A new mantra. And because I think it's so true. And because I know we all need to be reminded of this truth from time to time, I am sharing it here with you.

Be Gentle With Yourself.
You Are A Child Of The Universe,
No Less Than The Trees And The Stars.
In The Noisy Confusion Of Life,
Keep Peace In Your Soul.
~Max Ehrman

It's great advice. One I really need to remember.

Monday, June 8, 2009

It's Monday...

It's Monday, I'm tired and got very little sleep last night. (I've been having a lot of trouble sleeping over the last few weeks), and to boot, OTH is over for the season, so there's really nothing to look forward to today. And because I was feeling a little negative, I decided to post 5 happy things. (Any incoherence here is strictly due to sleep deprivation.)

1. I went for a good run on the treadmill this morning. Knock on wood, those shin splints are nearly healed.

2. I was able to listen to a lot of news this morning and I'm listening to more now as I do data entry at work.

3. I already got my first text from Jennifer today which means I won't be lonely.

4. I started reading the newest issue of The Economist today. It makes me happy.

5. I woke up!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

where i've been.

so, i haven't been the best at posting lately. not sure if anyone noticed, but i have. things have been a bit hectic and i just haven't had time to keep up with things other than work lately...and even that, i'm not sure i am doing such a good job at! :p

so  we're in june now. wow. time flies by and i feel like i should have so much to report since my last post. the no chocolate thing isn't going as well as i'd planned but i am trying! work is taking up a lot of my time at the moment. (another reason giving up chocolate has been hard.) working 9-7 is really not all that fun. we're heading into our busiest time. yeah. summer. everyone's always so excited about it and it's the time of year i'm the busiest. awesome. jennifer has been keeping me sane with tests and IMs. she's the best.       

i have recently started getting up at 4:30am. weird, i know but by getting up at that hour, i can get my workout in and then read/listen to the news before having to get on the road to work at 7:15am (my commute is 1.5 hours). so lately, i've been able to start out most mornings with a good run (on the treadmill) and then my needed dose of BBC News, Television Espanola (Spanish news station) and El Pais (Spanish newspaper). it's crazy, i understand this, but it makes me happy so i don't mind. i love starting my day off that way. i've also been  reading a lot lately. i recently finished this republic of suffering which discusses death and the american civil war. it was a fascinating read. did you know that it was after the civil war and the unprecedented death toll that the national cemetery system was started? currently, i've started reading dreams and shadows: the future of the middle east. as you may guess from the title, it discusses politics in the middle east. i think it's super interesting. but, that said, i'm also a super nerd. 

today, i spent the day thoroughly cleaning my room. (i moved furniture, people.) and doing nothing.  i'm onto my last step now which is going through a whole bunch of cds i found and seeing if i want to add music to my ipod. most of the cds have no label (homemade mixes) so it's been interesting to see what i was listening to 5 years ago. 

that's all on my end for now. i hope you're all having an amazing weekend!