Anger.

“BECAUSE SHE IS A FUCKING MORON!!!!” I was screaming at the top of my lungs and actually jumped up in the air, hitting the ground hard with a resounding thump just in case my voice didn’t convey how angry I was. It was almost reminiscent of a child’s tantrum, if my anger wasn’t so great and intense and dare I say fearful. The second of silence that filled the hallways was almost loud. There is a weird pause that lingered in the air right before I forced myself to take a breath. My roommate looks at me in total disbelief. She has never heard me scream like that. In a truth, I actually don’t think I have ever screamed like that intentionally ever in my life. I yell all the time, don’t get me wrong. But that scream was very, very different. It erupted out of a seriously dark place in my soul that I did not even know actually existed. I was out of breath and my noses flares had a mind of their own. I could actually feel my heart beating in such a way I had previously only recognized from after a seriously hard multi-mile run in 90 degree heat. The heat was practically radiating off of my red cheeks. That was not normal to go from practically calm to… whatever this was in that short of  time span. I actually think it was not normal to feel this angry or to let my body take over in this manner, in general. As my mind came back to me I tried to evaluate how I got here. And then it hit me. I became my father. And that terrified me. But probably not in the ways that most people would interpret that sentence. You see, I idolize my dad. He is my biggest male role model and influenced me in the best possible ways my entire life. I love him as much as a daughter could physically love her dad and then some. I am the person I am today based on the ways that he and my mother showed the world to my brother and I. Some of my legitimately happiest moments are when I can make my dad smile. I want to take after Dad as much as I can. But this was something that scared me beyond belief.

The scariest words that I have ever heard in my life were “Dad’s in the hospital, it’s his heart.” I didn’t know at the time that it was what they would later diagnose as AFib (irregular heartbeats) and felt myself falling apart. Even that very day in the hospital, he was basically normal by the time my 13 year old self would reach his bed side  and the sight of him smiling, sitting up, still wearing his dress pants under his hospital gown and making jokes about how the hospital had better TV (we never had cable) were just enough to make me burst into tears even after the nurses kept assuring me he was completely fine and was not in any life threatening danger. And before this story takes any other dark turns I am just going to jump right to the end. Dad is fine and today is as healthy as he has ever been. I talk to him all the time, equal amount about politics, both of our workplaces, life and bowel movements. Our most recent discussion involved my poking fun at him at dying his salt and pepper beard that was just starting to grey. This poking only occurred after years of dad embracing old age and slightly shaming my mother for plucking out all her white hairs. Dad is fantastic. Dad is living life to the fullest. But more than a decade ago, he was not. He was a lot angrier back then. He took everything he was into himself and would have rapid bursts of rage. In his defense, Dad owned (actually still owns) his own business, he has people in his life that made life difficult at times and at the time of his heart attack, my brother and I were at the height of the worst of our combined teenage years. But after his attack, Dad changed everything. He completely changed his diet for one matter, he started to exercise more for another, but most of all, he smiled more. That is actually what he will tell people. He will point to his deep crow’s feet that decorate eyes and say that these are what saved his life, the many years of more laughing and smiling. He never took things as seriously as he had in the past. He learned to let go of the little things and just worry about what mattered the most to him, mostly Mom, my brother and myself. He shrugged more, and found the good in everything. A few years ago, Dad’s doctor said that his heart had improved so much, it was almost like he had never had heart problems in the first place.

I can tell you exactly why I screamed like that day. I greatly disagree with the opinions of said person I was screaming (obviously) about but the thing is, that person probably doesn’t even remember the disagreement. She probably shrugged and moved on with her life. I will not go into too much detail, but my deep disagreement with this person is actually a big deal. The decision she made reflects the decisions made by so many other people and that decision will affect lives. Many lives for the worst. So I wasn’t irrational going off about an outfit decision or lunch choice. Her vocal opinion was a big deal and hit me really hard. So yes, I almost felt in the right to feel the way I did. But my anger, that was making her problem my problem. I should not be fighting this person’s mind but their concept. I let her get under my skin, crawling deeper and deeper into my mind and letting her subliminal message rage havoc on me. I let this happen. I cannot let this happen again. So this post is for two reason. It’s a bit different from what I normally write. One it is to show my appreciation for Dad as a person. To show how much the will of a human can literally save lives. Second, it’s a reminder to follow in his example. I am putting it in writing and out in the open. I will refuse to let my demons take over me again. I will not other people define me. I will chose my life’s outcomes. Because I can. And I will.

Never giving up,

~C

Almonds and Cheerios

Crunch. Crunch. Crunch. I turned just glare at my father as he ate another almond, slowly and deliberately. I love my father dearly  and he is an overall wonderful human but at that very moment I had to really restrain myself from swatting the jar of almonds in his arms and yelling “No snack for you!” You see, I have recently gone back to school and had just gotten this really obscure assignment from my cell biology professor which was to pick one of the cell structures we were studying in class and make a diagram of it using household items and foods. It was one of those things that at first I said “Oh, that’s simple!” but then after the hours past and I just found myself staring at half a piece of toast, a handful of cheerios, and various bit of candy from many Halloweens ago. I was back living at home and I hadn’t asked for help on homework since early in my high school years but I thought I would give it a shot. “Hey Dad, do you have any ideas?” Dad walked in and looked at the mess I had just made in the kitchen. “What are you doing?” I gave him a run down. “When is it due?” “Tonight.” He gave me that sigh that only a father can give to his procrastinating daughter. I knew I had put in off but in college, I put things off all the time and all I needed was a Red Bull and a box of cookies to get through it. I also mentioned this to Dad, which in retrospect probably didn’t help my argument. After some back and forth, slight bickering with Dad he finally said e would help. I started to arrange my candy and Dad reached into the Pantry and pulled out a big jar of almonds. “Oh Dad, those would be perfect for the kinases! Thanks” Dad looked me straight in the eyes, reached his hand in the jar, ate a hand full of almonds very slowly as we stared each other down. Then he put the lid back onto he jar and put it right back into the pantry. I could have gone mental but decided to be the grown up in the situations.

I rolled my eyes and grabs the almonds myself before continuing with my diagram. I turn to put the jelly bean phosphates into pace when I hear another bone chilling crunch. I turn and see dad’s mouth filled and half of the Cheerios that were lined up to make my plasma membrane gone. “Dad! The box of Cheerios are right next to you!” He just shrugged and reached for the membrane again and I quickly swat his hand away. This goes on for a while for all the snack food I display. My father had this quirky way of playfully annoying us but this was going was too far, at least in my opinion. I finally set my diagram up and took the damn picture. Then I turned to Dad and said “Okay, go ahead, eat as much of it as you want.” He shrugs again. “No thanks.” I could actually feel my knuckles turning white. “Well thanks for nothing. You were no help at all.” He cocked his head to the side. “Wasn’t I though?” I turn back to my finished diagram that took me less than an hour to set up. Then I consider the hours I had been working on it before Dad showed up. Every time Dad ate a part of my project the more motivated I was to finish it before he ate another part of the cell. “You’re welcome.” was all he said as he casually walked out of the room whistling and I knew that I had both won and lost at the exact same time.

Putting the Fuse in Confused,

C