It’s About Happiness

This week, I interviewed one of my friends from school and another inspiration in my life, Sabrina 🙂 She talks about her life growing up in a biracial household and how it helped her learn to accept herself. She comes to a beautiful conclusion at the end so make sure you watch the whole thing! Enjoy! 

I’m a Foster Kid

Hey guys! Sorry I didn’t post full-length pieces Saturday or Wednesday. I’ve just been super busy with school and work! But don’t worry, although I may take a mini-hiatus from full-length pieces for a week, I promise to keep posting my quotes and videos!

This week I interviewed one of my friends, Kat, about her childhood in foster care. She has such an amazing story. Seriously, what are you waiting for? Click play!

Autistic Girl Expresses Unimaginable Intelligence

This is the story of Carly. She’s an autistic girl who could not communicate with those around her until she was 11. That’s when she got her first computer. She began to type to her friends and family in order to communicate. She had been “marked off” as intellectually disabled. But when she began to type, it was obvious that Carly was just as smart as her peers and had amazing insight. This is truly amazing. Please watch. 

1955-2010

Hello all! I haven’t forgotten my newest video project, don’t you worry, but for today I want to post one last poem. In memory of the anniversary of my dad’s passing, which is this upcoming Saturday, I wanted to repost this poem. I hope you enjoy it. (And get ready for next week’s video!)

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 (July 2009 at Lake George)

Every time I hear Jerry’s
voice
I think of the hours we spent
driving around
soaking the sun into our
fair
and
freckled
skin.

It seems we went
everywhere
in the Jeep.
The sun filtering into our car,
baking me,
as my eyes droop
in the ultimate serenity of it
all.

I sit beside you with my window rolled down,
the wind tangling my
brown mop
for your lack of one
as we reach 85.

Your aged hands, thick and healthy
beat the steering wheel
in rhythm to the drums,
keeping you in the song
infinitely.

It’s something I got from you,
you know.
To find beauty in sound.
To find beauty in what others considered
small things.
Because really,
they were all we truly needed.

And each other.
And that remains.

When the dancing bears
pass me by
I think of our adventure to get tickets
to a concert I was too young to see.
Your strong, tough, large hand
enveloping my tiny one
that was so untouched by the world
you wanted to keep it that way,
protecting it
and me
as you held tight.

One swift movement
and I could easily be in your arms
against your warm
chest
with your heart thumping loudly into my ear
away from anything too scary
for my innocent
blue eyes.

I was able to see then
that smiling,
enjoying other peoples company,
and wearing long flowy skirts with anklets that
made music when you walked
were what
it all seemed to be about.
A simple truth
I easily understood,
standing less than five feet tall.

And that remains.

Glancing at my bookcase,
always resting
is the giant red book you gave me
from when you graduated college
as your way to encourage me to get there too.
Barely able to see my face in the bathroom mirror,
it was too big to handle
with too many words I did not know
and could not pronounce
even if I tried,
and only lately
is it manageable.

A book found in every home,
but special
because
it is worn
and it was
your gift to me.

I see many new additions;
all familiar
and
some I know that are older
than me.
When I take them down
-always gentle-
I rustle through the pages
looking for a place to crawl
into,
where you’re just awaiting
my company.

And sometimes
when I find your
scribble
here
and
there it reminds me of
myself
and
how we are
truly
one of a kind.

And that remains.

When I sink into the couch
and watch the History Channel
you take the remote and change it anyways.
When I’m sick with a fever
you still check in to make sure
I’m not really faking it.
When I get a good grade
you’re still all ears
forever replying, “Not bad.”
When I wake in the middle of the night
from the worst
nightmare a person
could ever have
you’re there to put me back to bed.
When I’m on the train
doing homework
you sit down next to me
so no one else will.
And when I feel alone I just think back to
Jerry’s voice
and all the years we
had
knowing that they remain.

Even if all that remains now are remains.

The Mazie Days

When I moved in with my dad at ten years old, my little sister—who was four–stayed behind with my mom. My relationship with my mom wasn’t a good one after I left and because of that, I barely saw Mazie for the next few years. When I did see her however, we both knew that when I left, we wouldn’t know how long it would be till we saw each other again. I can still see her banging on the glass window by the front door, tears streaming down her face, begging me to stay. Hear her screaming and feel her tugging on my shirt late at night on the front stoop trying to bring me back inside.

Finally, after months and months of this irregularity, my grandparents intervened. A schedule was put together. Mazie and I would see each other every weekend at our grandparent’s house. I learned a lot about my sister in those weekends. I caught up on lost time.

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(Me and Mazie reunited)

It became obvious that she was pretty weird (read: unique). She could memorize everyone’s phone number by heart. Even people who would only call for our grandpa. She knew the order of the presidents backwards and forwards. She found humor in almost every situation. Her laughter was contagious. She could learn song lyrics after only hearing them once. She would spend hours singing and dancing in the living room, begging anyone and everyone to watch and listen at all times.

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(A picture’s worth a thousand words, right?)

We quickly became used to the routine of seeing each other. Neither of us cried when it came time to say goodbye. We knew it would only be a few short days until we’d see each other again. As the years passed and this routine solidified—heck, we even spent every school holiday and summer vacation together–it was almost like we forgot all the time we had spent apart.

Last year, our schedule changed. My mom, who has battled behavioral-emotional disorders her entire life, was severely struggling. It became apparent that she couldn’t care for Mazie the way that she wanted and the way Mazie needed. Mazie moved in with my grandparents and me.

But I’ve been away at school this past year. I haven’t seen Mazie as much as usual. I went months without seeing her just like when I was in middle school. Except this time, it didn’t feel so bad. I knew with certainty that I would see her when I returned.

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(Mazie and I on our winter break)

Now, Mazie’s thirteen years old. To fill her time, she mostly plays on her Nook (which she promised she would read books on but I’m pretty sure she’s only watched YouTube videos on), eats junk food, or hangs around me asking every five seconds what I’m doing and where I’m going–when most of the time I’m just walking up or down stairs. I try not to let it bother me, but sometimes it gets on my last nerve to be asked where I’m going when I open the bathroom door. Sometimes, she’ll ask to sleep in my bed just to be close. I usually say no. Who wants to share a nice big comfy bed with their little sister who steals the covers?

But the other night after writing about May (https://abbeygallagher.wordpress.com/2013/07/03/the-month-of-maying/) I was feeling pretty down. So when she hinted at staying with me for the night, I couldn’t stop myself from asking, “You wanna sleep with me tonight?”

Her face lit up. “Yes!”

As I brushed my teeth, Mazie called to me from my bedroom. “Hey Abbey! I found something to keep me occupied.”

I spit in the sink. “Oh, really? What’s that?”

“Looking at myself in the mirror.”

I finished up in the bathroom and went in my room where she lay sprawled across my bed with a small mirror in her hand, staring at herself.

Since I write in my journal (yes, I write even more than on here; it’s really problematic) and read before bed, I decided to let Mazie listen to my iPod. That way, her inner narcissist would be stamped out and I would get a little silence to focus on the words on the pages.

As we sat next to each other, me scribbling in my notebook, her wearing gigantic headphones over her ears, I started to hear her little voice slip out lines from the song she was listening to. It was like traveling back in time when she was just a single digit girl, when her voice was just as small as her stature.

It’s hard to express what this moment meant to me. As she switched songs, she smiled and sang along as if I wasn’t even sitting there. As if she didn’t even realize the words were escaping her mouth. It was a moment of pure childhood innocence and reminded me of all the reasons I love her.

When we shut the light, she held my hand.

March 24, 1906

Alright guys, I’ve got one last piece of fiction for you (at least for a little while)! My finals end on Tuesday so I’ll have the time to write my memoir style pieces once again!

But for now, take a step back in time to meet Molly, a young Irish immigrant traveling to America for the first time. This is her letter to her best friend back home.

nyc1900s

March 24, 1906

To my best friend in the entire world, Margaret,

I’ve survived! I know you were secretly thinking I would die on that boat but see, I’ve proved you wrong! I must admit, however, the journey was treacherous. Mother, Father, and I were stuffed into a small cabin at the bottom of the ship with three other families. Can you believe that? You don’t even like sharing a room with baby Nora…imagine living with groups of people you don’t even know! One family had three mischievous little boys who were so filthy, I think the dirt was permanently ground in their skin. They managed to run through the cabin’s tight quarters, wailing night after night. One of them even tried to sneak a peek at my ankles!

Once we docked, I couldn’t be happier to be rid of the ship. I don’t know if I could have survived another night pressed up against mother’s bosom listening to those wild animals called boys! But my happiness faded quickly, Margaret. I watched Mama and Papa kiss the streets once we got off the boat but I couldn’t do it. It looked so dirty, Margaret. America is nowhere near as beautiful as Ireland. Instead of rolling green pastures and the gentle ocean breeze tickling your face, everywhere you look here is a shade of grey covered in a thick layer of soot–like the boys I told you about!– and countless buildings, big and small, line the streets that can barely fit all of the people walking through them. After only a few moments in America, I heard the strangest ways of talking and can’t imagine where all these people are from. I do hope at some point I can make a friend or two. But don’t you worry, Margaret, you will always be my best friend in the entire world. Next to Bessie, I miss you the most out of everyone back home! I do hope you’re milking that ol’ Bessie, by the way. Don’t you forget, Margaret!

I’ll spare you the details of our first few nights here, but will let you know that they were just as awful as being on that ship. Mother and Father fought so much about where we were staying and while I pretended to be asleep, I could have sworn I heard Mother call it a “whore house”! Luckily though, Father came back on the third evening shouting, “We’ve got a place of our own girls! A place of our own!” That night was quiet and I was actually able to get a good night’s rest! Finally!

The next morning, we gathered our things and went to our new home, which was a very far walk through the crowded city streets. I felt like a fish trying to swim upstream! This house is nothing like our home back in Ireland. In fact, it’s the complete opposite. We live in a tall building, Margaret, behind a door, like in Old Marty’s Inn, with a view onto the grimy city streets. It is so small, barely fitting the three of us, and we have to share a bathroom with the other families that live in the building! It’s disgusting! We don’t even have an inch of land that I can look out upon to ease my aching heart’s desire to return home. Mama says I will adjust but I secretly hope that one morning I will wake up and be back in Ireland. That’s the only kind of adjusting I want to do.

And to top it off, this week Mother and Father began their jobs. Remember how they said they wanted to open their own shoe repair business? Well, it turns out that was harder than they thought. Again, I listened to them bicker night after night about how it looked almost impossible to start their own business and that it was time they “changed plans and looked for real jobs!” Several nights later, Papa came home and told us that he found himself a real position. And the whole family was meant to go with him. Well, boy did my heart skip a beat! “The whole family?” I asked. “Papa, what does that mean?” To which he told me that I would be going to work with him and Mama instead of going to school. Margaret, I was furious. I didn’t speak to Father the whole night. But the next morning, I awoke and dressed and followed them both into the city to one massive grey building. It is the most horrid thing you could ever imagine, Margaret. I am forced to sit all day sewing buttons onto shirts. If I stand up to stretch my legs, a sweaty man with a dark mustache comes and yells at me. I can’t stand it. It makes me sad to even think of it.

Oh, please forgive me, I don’t mean to bury you in all my woes. Just remember Margaret, I miss you very much and I cannot wait until we are reunited. I know they said the streets were paved with gold here, but I suppose they’ve gotten a bit rusty.

 

With all my love; your best friend in the entire world,

                                                                        Molly