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Age 23

Age 23: It’s been 5 years since we have spoken. It sounds weird saying that because it doesn’t seem possible. That amount of time doesn’t necessarily make it easier, but the days of nonstop crying and emotional breakdowns are mostly over. I wonder how she is doing and where she is. I fear for her safety, but I can’t spend too much time worrying about it. It doesn’t do me any good. I have been given so many wonderful things in my life and I’m so grateful. I won’t let her ruin it.

Age 22: I’m graduating college after 4 years. I worked really hard and even graduated summa cum laude. I also got accepted into graduate school at USC. I have never worked harder for something in my life, and I am so proud of myself. I wonder if she knows I’m graduating. I wonder if she knows how well I am doing. I try not to care.

Age 21: I’m getting married. I have never been so happy and so sad at the same time. I always thought my mom would walk me down the aisle. Friends, family, and even strangers ask me what my mom thinks about my wedding. I never know what to say. Sometimes I lie because it’s less awkward than saying, “She’s not invited.”

Age 20: How dare you do this to me? Every time we’re on the phone you lie to me. I find out new lies and hurtful things daily. Did you think of what this would mean for my future? I stop answering the phone calls. After a while, they stop coming.

Age 18: I’m graduating high school. It should be a very happy day in my life, but I am sad. I am angry. My mom was supposed to be here. She said she was coming. Instead, she lies in a hospital bed. I feel bad even saying I’m angry with her. It makes me sound like a terrible person. But I know she did it to herself and I think she is selfish. My family has spent the last two years arguing with me, saying she doesn’t drink anymore. “She’s better,” they say. They get mad at me when I disagree. I was the one who lived with her all those years so I know the tricks she uses to hide it. So now they see the proof: she drank so much last night that she is in the hospital missing her daughter graduate from high school. I told ya so.

Age 17: I live with my dad now. My whole life is different. My mom can barely speak to me without breaking down in tears. It makes me feel guilty. My grandma told me that I’m the reason my mom drinks. I feel guiltier. School is going well. I got nominated as Homecoming Queen. My parents were notified prior in case they wanted to see me get crowned. No one comes. I don’t feel like much of a Queen.

Age 17: I am running away from home. It has all become too much for me. My home is a toxic place. My grades, social life, and mental health are all slipping. I cry all the time. I push my friends away. I feel like I have no one to turn to. I have lied for my mom so many times I can hardly keep it straight anymore. I put clothes in the trunk of my car while no one is home. I can’t tell her I’m leaving because I can’t stand to watch her cry. She will beg. She will tell me she won’t want to live if I leave. Then I will have to stay. When I go to school tomorrow, I know I will never come back to this house. The home I grew up in. I’m not sure what my plan is. I guess I will go to my dad’s house even though I hardly know him. I wonder if he will believe me.

Age 16: Mom is fired from her job. She loved her career at the bank so I’m confused. She’s really angry so I’m afraid to ask her about it. She says her coworkers were out to get her. They seemed nice when I met them. My aunt mentions something about my mom drinking on the job. My mom says that is ridiculous. I get my own job because I don’t want to be a financial burden on her right now.

Age 15: Rehab didn’t work. It’s worse than before. Everyone thinks she is better. No one is checking up on me.

Age 14: My mom went to rehab. I am so glad she did. The intervention was really hard for me. My family pressured me into giving my mom an ultimatum. I did, but I knew it was an empty threat. I wouldn’t leave her. It’s my job to take care of her. She needs me. I know she loves me more than anything. If I can just help her through this, things will get better. If I can be good enough, she will stop drinking.

Age 13: My teacher told me I am really good at writing. I write all kinds of stories for my mom. She loves them and shares them with our family. That makes me proud. I am focused on getting the best grades I can and being a good daughter. My mom makes a drink every night that I’m not allowed to try. She lets me have soda instead.

Age 12: We moved to a new house in the country. It’s really beautiful here and I already made new friends. I like the days when I get to hang out with my mom all day. She is really funny.

Age 10: My mom is getting married. I don’t like the shoes she got me for the wedding, but I love my dress. All our friends and family will be there. She’s getting married in our church. I get to drop the flower petals down the aisle and she told me it’s the most important job of the whole day. She is happier than I have ever seen her. I am happy too.

Age 9: It’s take your daughter to work day. I go to my mom’s job at the bank. She has lots of friends there. I get to wear a headset and listen to her phone calls but I have to be real quiet. She is smart and I want to be just like her.

Europe 2015

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I GRADUATED!

I officially have my Master’s Degree. I started a new position, graduated from graduate school, and went on a European vacation all within the same month. I feel like I could sleep for a month and it hasn’t completely soaked in, but I am so happy to finally have time to do the things I love, like write! I will have more posts coming up soon, but for now I wanted to share a little video recap of our vacation.

Auxier Europe Vacation

Thanks a lot Obama

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Uh oh.

It’s happening.

I’m growing up.

And it’s all Obama’s fault.

I am still a graduate student. It’s been 18 long years of school and somehow I still scribble down my assignments in a planner, rush to class late (but with coffee), procrastinate my work and consider Cheetos a part of the food chain. We have had a good run, school and I.

I mean, I like school. I just don’t like like school, you know? However, one benefit of going to school is I get to work in the Office of the President at USC. I really like my job. I enjoy the people who work there, I feel challenged all the time and I get to be a part of really great, inspiring things at the university. Plus, the President’s kitchen is definitely something to write home about. All the granola bars, diet cokes and yogurt-covered almonds you could ask for. Then you wash it down with a coffee and eat some pretzels to round off the meal. It’s great.

Here is my problem: Obamacare is messing with my access to yogurt-covered almonds. In fact, it’s messing with a whole lot of things in my life. I’m not going to pretend like I know the ins and outs of this whole thing, but it boils down to this: student workers are no longer allowed to work more than 20 hours a week for the university. I spend 20 hours a week on watching Friends alone, so how can you limit me like that? I understand that it’s a rule meant to protect students, but from what? Being able to pay their bills??

So here I am, forced to look for a real job. Can you put “stocked kitchen” under minimum compensation requirements? A girl can dream.

I have been working on my resume all week wondering what employers are looking for. Like sometimes I realize I didn’t drink any water for 3 days and I should be kind of dead but I’m not. Is that a skill? I can’t tell you how many times I have pulled up a thesaurus to find another word for “qualified” or “hard-working” so the employer will be like, “This girl has such a diverse vocabulary and didn’t repeat the same word twice which is totally a skill we are looking for.”

Basically, Obama is making me grow up and I’m kinda bitter about it. Pretty soon I’m going to be working a 9 to 5 for The Man. Until then, I am going to wake up at 10am tomorrow and eat a cookie for breakfast because I will never be this young ever again and being an adult is overrated.

Yosemite

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A couple months ago our neighbors mentioned in passing that they were going to Yosemite for a weekend. Brock and I over-enthusiastically mentioned how much we had always wanted to go there. They said, “You guys should come!” We booked it soon after, eager to see what all this national park mumbo jumbo is about. I’m still not convinced it wasn’t a pity invite, but I have no regrets because Yosemite was AWESOME.

First, there are mountains. Cliffs, really. It feels like you are stuck in a giant rock maze, but in the best way possible. It was cold and crisp most days. And guys, there was fall. I got to experience a season that is nonexistent in Southern California. The leaves actually crunched and there were colors. So. Many. Colors.

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Brock and I stayed in a little cabin in Curry Village, where all the hard-core campers come to brave the weather and live off the land (not us). We decided to forego the tents and take residence in cabin 5B. It had two small beds and a teenie tiny bathroom. I felt like I was at summer camp all over again, except this time I wasn’t in middle school in a cabin full of screaming girls (score). We cranked up our tiny heater and I sat right on the floor in front of it during the night while we played games. I am the reigning Connect-four champion. I’m putting that on my resume.

Each morning we would apply about a hundred layers of clothing, yet it was still shocking when you took that first step out into the cold air. However, the scenery quickly stole the show and the temperature was an afterthought. Did I mention the colors?

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I spent a lot of time doing this. How could you not? IMG_1797 IMG_1800 IMG_1812 IMG_1850 IMG_1982

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I mean, look how cute my husband is climbing up to Yosemite Falls. Natures looks good on him.IMG_2010

We spent the days exploring and hiking around Yosemite. And by hiking, I mean walking. We were all in agreement that vacation doesn’t include any more exercise than necessary. Once the sun sank behind the cliffs, we would go back to Tom and Rick’s room to play game after game after game. All I know is 4 adults can totally have fun playing Jenga and Clue. Even if we don’t always know all the rules. We decided that diets and healthy eating are only for non-Yosemite residents, so bring on the chips and Hostess treats. Which then lead to another game of is-that-cheeto-dust-or-zinger-frosting-on-the-jenga-pieces? We are still unsure.

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Thanks to a very confused German man, we have no group picture of the four of us. He insisted that he look at least 5 pictures of us, however there were none to be found. Just imagine us all together in front of Lake Mirror, which actually isn’t a lake at all. So imagine us all in front of a sandy field. A glorious sandy field.

This was one of the most fun mini-vacations Brock and I have ever had. Thank you Tom and Rick for allowing us to tag along on your vacation. We hope to impose on many more in the future.

For Now

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It has been a long time since I last wrote a post. That has mostly to do with graduate school, which is demanding and hard and rewarding all in one. It also takes up most of my time. However, I always feel myself getting pulled to write when I need to process my feelings. Writing can be therapeutic in that way:

Some hurt is impossible to put into words.

I keep trying to think of a way to make my experience a poetic, well-thought piece of writing that others can relate to. The problem with that idea is that it’s too clean. The real hurt is messy and raw. It doesn’t sound like a poem or fit into a certain amount of characters. It impacts every day of your life. It wells up during the worst times and breaks your heart in a way you didn’t know was possible. That is real hurt.

I thought I was past the time where I could feel this kind of hurt. I had distanced myself from those that caused pain. However, like most things, it didn’t work like I planned. So here I am, a mess again over things I cannot change. I feel powerless against it. Yet, sometimes I still feel like a warrior who will persevere through this. Like I will be refined through the flames. Sometimes I feel so small and weak.

And sometimes I feel selfish. That there are so many people who love me and choose me, yet it doesn’t replace the people who don’t. So I try to hide that feeling. I try to fit my hurt into a small, pretty box. I don’t let it be the real mess that it is.

But I have to allow myself to feel that pain. I can cry for the day. I can cry for the week. I can be angry. I can be not okay for a while. I have rebuilt my life through the rubble many times. I have taken pain and turned it into inspiration. I’m sure I will find my way to that place again eventually. But for right now, it hurts. And I have to let it.

How to be healthy when you’re busy

photoI am basically a doctor so the following list should be considered factually accurate:

1. Wake up early, ready to take on the world.

2. Right before you leave the house for a jam-packed day, stare into your empty cabinet. Tell yourself, “I will pick up something healthy along the way” and go out the door without breakfast.
 
3. Definitely buy the doughnut with your morning coffee because you need something to sustain you through another day of work.
 
4. Reach right past the water in the fridge at work, and grab the leftover diet coke. Hydration is for the weak.
 
5. Eat 3 granola bars in a row around 12pm so you get your sugar and protein servings for the day.
 
6. Forget to eat anything for the rest of the day so you are nice and cranky when you get home to your spouse.
 

7. Once you are home, think of a healthy dinner you can cook yourself to make up for the rest of the day. Then, decide it will take too long. Go pick up Taco Bell.

8. Consider working out, but then remember you have a belly full of Taco Bell. Opt for changing into pajamas instead.
 
9. Eat some kind of candy when the sweet tooth kicks in. Calories after 10pm don’t count.
 
10. Repeat tomorrow.
 

Farewell Summer

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This is it.

Despite my attempts to turn back the clock, despite dragging my feet and digging my heels into the ground, despite my refusal to cross days off my calendar…

School has started again.

It’s not that I hate school. In fact, if you look at my track record, you might think I like it a lot. I’m going onto my 6th year in college. Six years. I haven’t done much of anything for 6 years straight. I have freckles on my body that are less than 6 years old. I am leaving college with more freckles than I came into it with.

So anyhow, this is my last real semester in my master’s program. At least that’s what I keep telling myself. I still have to do my thesis in the spring, but it totally doesn’t count, right? I’m basically graduated besides the massive, overwhelming, looming thesis project I have yet to think about. But let’s not get hung up on the minor details…

I had a nice break after my summer course. A whole month of classless bliss. To be clear, I was classy during my break, I just didn’t have a class to go to. That month was a whirlwind of friends, concerts, lying by the pool, and even a little bit of state hopping. I knew I would get too comfortable. The sun would be too warm and the pool too refreshing. The drinks would be too delicious. The relaxing would be too relaxing.

Then this. Out of nowhere, without warning, class would start again. My attempt to will time to stop was unsuccessful, so here I am. It’s my first day of class and I already hear a margarita calling my name later.

Cheers to the beginning of the last real semester. Sort of.

Media’s Terrible Tribute to a Talented Man

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Yesterday the world lost a talented, warm, humble, funny, and wonderful man. Robin Williams was such an incredible person on all accounts. There have already been countless people who have written more poignant and beautiful tributes than I could have done myself. I won’t try to write about Robin’s career and legacy. It speaks for itself. I will say he has had a huge impact on me through the years, as I’m sure he has had on most people. I saw someone say they have never been so impacted by the death of someone they have never met, and I could not agree more.

Since he has been such a huge inspiration to the world, every media outlet is writing about him. Even the Los Angeles Times had his picture and story on the front page today, paying homage to a person we all loved and adored. However, some headlines are addressing the topic in a different way. Rather than focusing on the legacy Robin leaves behind, they are taking advantage of a terrible situation for publicity and attention.

Radar Online posted a picture of Robin at an AA meeting a couple months ago. I won’t post a link to the picture because it doesn’t deserve any more views. It is clearly taken by a patron of the meeting with a cell phone. It’s unclear if he even knew the picture was being taken, but he probably didn’t. I understand that the person taking the picture was probably excited to see someone they admired and respected, just like we all would be. However, it is still wrong. I’m mostly offended that Radar Online decided to post the picture.

This picture is a violation of Robin’s privacy, as well as the privacy of everyone else in the picture. It is still a violation of everything AA stands for. It is sickening to know that we live in a culture that values knowledge of a public figure’s personal life over respect for them as a human being.

Imagine living with depression, or addiction, or another mental illness while under a microscope. We live in a culture where paparazzi sit outside rehab facilities hoping to catch a celebrity checking in. They prey on public figures, hoping to catch them at their worst. Media outlets, like Radar Online, will buy pictures that are wrongfully taken in a place founded on trust and anonymity.

We require so little of our media today. No one holds them accountable for the impact their words and pictures can have on people. As a culture, we have decided that any and all stories can be printed under “free press” despite the negative impact it can, and does, have on people. The press prints fabricated (and downright untrue) stories every day. The press prints pictures of minors (without parental consent) every day. The press prints any and everything that will bring them attention, without consequence.

Radar Online should be ashamed. It was irresponsible, in poor taste, and inappropriate. They were hoping to get the most hits on their website as people dig for more proof that Robin was struggling in recent months, as if his death isn’t proof enough.

If you were struggling with depression/addiction/mental illness, imagine how hard it is to reach out for help. It’s nearly impossible, especially when dealing with something as debilitating as depression. In my experience, many people are hesitant to reach out for help because they don’t want to disappoint their loved ones. Now imagine that feeling magnified by a million because you are a public figure. Reaching out for help means your face will be on every magazine. The headlines will talk about your struggle in detail, and people you don’t even know will make assumptions about your battle. You get calls from your publicist, from friends, from family. Everyone knows. You wonder if it will impact your ability to work again. You wonder if it will impact your relationship with your family. You wonder if therapists, doctors, counselors, will sell what you said in private to the media. You wonder if you can trust anyone with your real feelings. It is not surprising that someone who is constantly surrounded by people can feel completely alone.

“Free press” is no longer a good thing if it’s used to tear people down. We have taken the humanness out of our public figures by treating them like a spectacle. We believe we are entitled to know the details of their lives. But these are real people. Real human beings with fears, hopes, families, and struggles.

I don’t know Robin’s story, but I do know depression is something many people deal with. It is something that cannot be handled alone. Maybe the media culture had nothing to do with what happened to Robin. Maybe it did. All I know is we should have more respect for him than this. His legacy, his body of work, his philanthropy, his family; those are things worth writing about.

Stained Hands & a DIY Headboard

I don’t use Pinterest.

I know, I know, I can hear the females of the world gasp in unison. I used it quite a bit before I got married for all my décor ideas. I thought I could buy coffee filters, pipe cleaner, and some twine and I would have a beautiful wedding reception like all the pictures showed. I usually ended up covered in super glue and glitter for a week after every project. And still, somehow each DIY project never turn out quite like they look in pictures.

After my wedding (I will note that I used exactly ZERO of the crafts I made because we ended up having a destination wedding) I stopped using Pinterest altogether. It gave me too many ideas and I was spending way too much money and time at craft stores. That is important to note because craft stores are where joy and youth go to die. You should limit your exposure.

Recently I have been itching to find a new project for myself. I have a month off from school and no clue what to do with my time. I quickly decided that I wanted to make myself a headboard.

Our bedroom has always been the neglected room. It’s where we store our belongings that are eyesores anywhere else. Lately, I’ve been trying to put some effort into it because, after all, we spend about 2,920 hours a year on sleeping alone. That’s a lot of time to spend in a place we have been using as a glorified storage closet. 

Besides the wood, all I needed was a dark stain, a brush, some sand paper, and screws.

IMG_1346I ended up with poplar (wood) because it was recommended by a friend and it has interesting grain patterns. I got five pieces that are 5’5″ and two pieces at 5′ to use as the stand (or legs). 

IMG_1349I picked a dark stain called Carrington because I wanted a rich look. 

IMG_1359After the stain dried, I used two pieces of wood as legs for the headboard and connected the stained boards to it with screws. It’s important to get the top piece level or else the whole thing will be slanted. 

IMG_1362I accidentally made the legs too tall, which causes the gap between the top of the mattress and bottom of the headboard. I plan on shortening it to fix that problem. 

photoIMG_1393Overall, I love the result and I had a lot of fun making it. I still have a lot of work to do on the bedroom, but… baby steps, you know?

photoOn a side note; Gloves are important. Lesson learned.