Life, Thoughts, Uncategorized

Anthony Bourdain R.I.P.

I was on Facebook today and saw this picture posted by one of my friends. As I near the ripe age of 22 and prepare for my trip next Monday, this quote connected to me a lot:

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Source: Facebook – The Chef’s Circle

Anthony Bourdain was highly admired, a star chef, and a lover of life. He showed us the importance of traveling and adventuring and experiencing another person’s lifestyle. In witnessing his exploration of the world I was taught empathy and passion and a love for food.

Growing up, my mom and I spent little time together as she worked the majority of the day and wouldn’t get home until late at night. Most of the week I was either in school or with my grandparents, where we spent our television time watching game shows or sports. During moments where my mom and I would be able to spend time together at home, we took pleasure in watching Anthony Bourdain’s: No Reservations on the Travel Channel. My mom and I loved his poetic and raw outlook on life, and it was always interesting to see what adventures he experienced. I have many fond memories of us watching his trips together, reacting to the dishes he would eat (how we would want to try this or that someday), laughing at his (sometimes crude, but always real) comments, and wishing to one day go where he has gone.

Anthony Bourdain suffered from heroin addiction when he was younger, the same difficult struggle my late brother battled with. While they were both alive, Anthony Bourdain’s triumphs and long life gave me hope that my brother would beat his addiction and life an equally full life.

He also suffered from depression, but didn’t let that prevent him from experiencing the world as much as he could. I also suffer from depression and other mental health issues, but Anthony gave me hope that the world could be better, that I could accomplish and experience things that I’ve only dreamed of. It saddens me that his battle with depression ended this way.  I was told that he never sought treatment, dealt with it by himself without trying to seek help. I am grateful for the community I grew up in and the information I was given about mental health and depression, to be able to seek and receive treatment. No one should ever be pushed to this point in life, where they feel like there is nowhere to turn to.

For anyone reading this: If you feel like you are alone and have nowhere to turn to, know that there are always options to get the help you need and that there are people out there who will care and support you. The National Suicide Prevention Hotline is 1-800-273-8255.

Anthony Bourdain, you fought your demons for as long as you could and inspired so many people to live their best life. My condolences and best wishes to your family and friends. Thank you for all that you’ve done to bring the world together.

Writing

My Life as an “Oddysey” Essay

My parents told me that when I was little, I was extremely independent and strong-willed. They told me that I had a creative, determined, and straightforward way of thinking. They said that if I there was anything I wanted to do, the only person who could stop me from doing it was myself.

As a kid, I knew who I was and whom I wanted to become, but as I grew up my inward stability started to sway back-and-forth. The older I became, the more I realized that my emotions were getting harder and harder to control. My unstable emotions started to become progressively worse in 8th grade, and by then I knew that there had to be something wrong with me. After a lot of research on mental disorders, I came to the conclusion that I was bipolar. My self-prescribed diagnosis was confirmed by my psychologist and psychiatrist in March 2012, who said that I had Bipolar II, Seasonal Affective Disorder, and intense anxiety.

The struggle to control my emotions and achieve balance in my life is the main journey that I go through every day. My constant mood swings affect nearly everything I do on a daily basis. It’s hard for me to maintain solid grades because my motivation to do things always changes. I can’t have a healthy dating life and my relationships with friends and family are constantly strained because of my lack of emotionally stability. Being bipolar affects me physically as well, because my sleep and eating patterns change according to whether I’m in my depressive phase or manic phase.

The problem with being bipolar is that you don’t quite know how you’re going to feel the next day, and almost every emotion is heightened and intensified. Instead of feeling “normal”, I either feel depressed and stressed and anxious, or charismatic and energetic and bubbly. When I’m in my depressive phase, the old Jazmyne that was determined and hard-working completely goes away, and she’s replaced by someone who’s lazy and unmotivated and surrenders to sadness. When I’m in my manic phase, the old Jazmyne is electrified, and it’s like I need to do a billion things at once in order to feel alive and tell people about everything beautiful and wonderful in life. And I can’t just ignore my intensified emotions, either- it’s always there in the back of my mind, ready to resurface and cause problems in my life. Similar to Odysseus’ struggle with overcoming adversaries to go home, it’s like every place I turn the thing I’m trying to overcome brings more problems.

Like Odysseus’ distractions, there are distractions I have to deal with that constantly prevent me from reaching my destination, which is achieving balance in my life. I think that one of the biggest distractions is my never-ending concern for other people because whenever something happens to someone I care about I become agitated and worried for them. There are so many things that my family members and friends deal with, and I always let their problems add to the stress of my own problems. Multiple family members and friends of mine have mental disorders, as well, and I always trouble myself more than I should about their happiness and well-being. Some of my family members also have physical complications, and so I get worked up about their health and how they are doing all the time. Many of my friends are self-conscious and complain to me a lot about their unhappiness about how they are, which make me feel the need to console and fret over them. Another distraction I have that ties in to my concern for other people is my concern for my family’s finances. I worry as much, if not more, about the financial stability of my family. I make a lot of sacrifices so that I don’t feel like a financial burden to my parents, and I worry a lot about bills and how I can help save my family money.

Odysseus is faced with many temptations throughout his journey, and every now and then it seems easier for him to surrender to the temptations that taunt him. For me, it’s also tempting to give up to my emotions, or to give in to negative ways to cope with how I feel. A lot of times I do submit to whatever phase I am in and I let my unstable emotions take over my life. When I’m in my depressive phase, it’s easy to just not do work and stay unmotivated. I rationalize that being in my manic phase is helpful to me because I get things done and I’m more social in that phase. Many times I’ve been tempted to turn to poisonous groups of friends to relieve or magnify whatever phase I’m in. In both of my phases, I can be extremely impulsive, which is a huge temptation I have to try and counter with rationalization (which doesn’t always work).

The main antagonist I have in my journey to maintain steadiness over my emotions is myself. I am a very stubborn, independent, and defensive person. At first, it took me a while to convince myself that I needed help to deal with my emotions because I am very reluctant to ask people for help. I always do this thing where I bury my feelings deep inside of me and never show it to people because I don’t want them to lose sleep over me. Most of the time I try to deal with my problems on my own and try not to involve anyone else in the problematic side of my life. My stubbornness and pride gets in the way of fixing my problems, much like how Odysseus had ran into problems because of his stubbornness and pride.

Even though there are a lot of things holding me back from achieving my goal of creating balance in my life, I possess a lot of things that help and support me while on this journey. Like Odysseus, I have people who support me and somewhat admirable traits that aid me while I am in a tough position.

I have a lot of qualities that counter my stubborn, independent, and defensive traits. When it comes to the things that I want to accomplish and the goals I have, I am very determined to get them done. Much like how Odysseus always put everything he had into his goals and was determined to get home, I work very hard whenever I really want something. I also have a lot of integrity when it comes to how I am. I am very honest with myself and with the people around me, so usually I am able to recognize when something is wrong with me, the reason for why I feel that way, and why I need to fix whatever problem I am having. Because I have a good amount of integrity about myself, I also know that whenever I’m in distress I know I should ask for help and do therapeutic, healthy things instead of turning to other means of relieving my stress and agitation.

Another thing that helps me along my journey is the people who support me. My doctors and therapists are supportive of me and try to do the best they can with diagnosing and helping me treat my mental disorders. My friends are also extremely supportive and understanding of my struggles, and try to help me in any way they can. A lot of times I use my friends members as a way to vent about my feelings, and they always offer their sympathy and advice and guidance. My family is also very supportive of me. At first they didn’t really want to believe anything was wrong with me, but after being diagnosed and medicated, they try to help me and know how to handle me in my different phases and how to make sure I stay sane and happy.

Even though the journey I have ahead of me is a difficult one to travel, I know that with the support I have from my friends and family and the drive I have to get better will help me through it. There will always be temptations along the way of this journey and distractions that will hold me back from being happy, but I know that eventually I will become prudent and have balance in my life. Similar to Odysseus’ long and painful journey, it may take many years and a lot of trials and tribulations for me to finally reach my destination, but I know that one day I will eventually be in peace with myself, be able to control my emotions and have a balanced life.

Synopsis of Books 9-10, 11, 21-23

Book 9

            Odysseus and his men land on the island of the Lotus-eaters, where the people who live there give them lotus fruit. The lotus fruit makes all of the men forget that they want to go home and cause them to stay on the island for a long time. Odysseus gets him and his men off the island and sail away. They land on the island of the Cyclopes, the son of the sea-god Poseidon. Odysseus and his men wander into the Cyclopes’ cave, where they eat his food and get eaten by the Cyclopes in return. Odysseus and his men escape the Cyclopes’ island by blinding him and then sneaking away under the bellies of the Cyclopes’ herd of sheep. Blinding the Cyclopes makes Poseidon angry, and guarantees Odysseus and his men an even harder journey back home.

Book 10

            Odysseus and his men sail to the island of the wind-god, Aeolus. He helps Odysseus by giving him a bag of winds. Using the western wind, Odysseus and his men arrive close enough to Ithaca to see it, but are then set back even further because of Odysseus’ jealous, greedy shipmates. Odysseus and his men eventually land on another island, the island of Circe, a witch. She lures in some of Odysseus’ men into her palace and turns them into pigs. Odysseus goes to find and rescue them, and with the help of Hermes, is able to avoid Circe’s magic. Circe makes Odysseus stay with her for a year as her lover, but eventually lets them go with advice on how to get home.

Book 11

            Odysseus travels to the River Styx in the underworld to find the blind prophet, Tiresias. With the help of Circe’s advice, Odysseus attracts the dead and finds Tiresias. Tiresias tells Odysseus about his fate and warns him about what he should do to have a smoother ride home.

Book 21

            Odysseus has returned home alone disguised as a beggar. Odysseus reveals his identity to two of his most trusted followers and asks them to help him in return for treating them and being a part of the royal family. Penelope has announced to all her potential suitors that she will marry the man who wins her contest. The rules of the contest are to string Odysseus’ bow and shoot through a line of twelve axes. All of the suitors try to string the bow but fail at doing so. Odysseus steps up to string the bow, and succeeds in stringing it and shooting it through all the axes.

Book 22

            After he wins the competition, his disguise disappears. With the help of his goddess, Athena, Odysseus and he and his son kill every suitor in the kingdom. He then proceeds to kill all the unfaithful women servants he has and take back his kingdom.

Book 23

            Penelope goes to see Odysseus and when she sees him, she faints. When she comes to, she finds Odysseus in front of her again, but doesn’t believe that he is really who he is. She thinks that the gods are playing another trick on her. She tells Odysseus that she needs help moving the bed back to the bedroom, a lie that only Odysseus could know the truth to. Odysseus gets mad and says that it was impossible to move the bed unless it was cut from the tree he grew around it. With the answer that she wanted, Penelope embraces him. Everyone is eventually appeased and lives happily ever after.

Life, Uncategorized

I’ve Been Away…

Hello again. I’ve been gone for a while… like five months or so… and internet time that’s like a few decades. I have a lot of catching up to do and a lot to fill you all in with.

 

The main reason why I dropped off of the face of the interworld was because I was mourning the death of a very close family member. I’m not going to go into that much detail about what happened or how I was during that time. If you know me personally, you probably know what happened anyway.

 

To be completely honest, the internet and blogging didn’t really seem like a good way to spend my time. I thought that if I were to blog about how I was feeling or what I was doing during that point in my life, that my blog would turn into one of those depressing, angsty, teenage drama blogs that everyone loves to read so much (sarcasm, if you couldn’t tell). So, I basically shelved my computer and my blogs and most forms of social networking. Since then I’ve been trying to cope and continue living life.
But after three months or so of being cut off from most forms of social media, I realized that I missed sharing my life with the world. I want to be able to share what I love to do and what I think about things with you all. And I know that most of you have probably stopped following this blog, but for those who haven’t- I’m back, and I’m hoping to stay.

 

I’ll be posting another update about what I’ve been up to over the summer very soon. Thanks everyone!

Dance, Life

The Pride of a Teacher

(Background information:

I am the founder and president of my hip hop club at school. Since around…September?…I’ve been working with relatively the same students every week for an hour and a half on Tuesdays.)
When I started my hip hop club, I can safely say that every single one of my students sucked. They were literally…some of the most uncoordinated people I have ever seen when it came to hip hop dancing. Sure, there were some dancers trained in ballet or contemporary dance that joined the club, but they sucked at moving their body to hip hop songs and dancing hip hop moves. They were so horrible that I had to cancel our first performance because I didn’t want to be embarrassed by their atrocious dancing.
Since then, however… I am proud to say that they have improved. Immensely.
I was going over two of the dances we are going to perform on Valentine’s Day and putting formations to the dances. We blocked everything, ran it a few times without music, and then “performed” it in front of one of my friends who dropped by after school to see what we were doing. I was literally stunned by how good it looked. Everyone basically knew what they were doing, they remembered the changes I made in formations, and it just looked…so…great. I don’t even have the words to describe the feeling of pride I felt when we finished the dance. If I had a child, and that child got a full-ride scholarship to Harvard, I would know that feeling of pride I had for my child. I never knew how much gratification a teacher could feel until today. I now know why teachers do the jobs they do.
SUCH A GREAT FEELING.
Life, Thoughts

Fame or Passion?

Today’s food for thought:


“People are too focused on being famous. You’re either passionate about being known or are known for how passionate you are. Which are you?” – Keone Madrid


I would be lying if I said that I didn’t want to be famous when I grew up. But when I read this quote from one of my favorite hip hop choreographers of all time, Keone Madrid, I seriously started thinking about where my priorities lie. It is true that I am in love with doing multiple things (acting, writing, dancing, making movies) that could lead me to fame and fortune. But I have to remember that I should be doing the things I love because I love doing them, not because they could potentially make me famous. Every now and then my drive and ambition is for the wrong reasons, and I need to make sure I keep my passions above the reward. I don’t know what I’m going to do for a career, but I know in a heartbeat that I will choose a career that makes me feel fulfilled and happy than a job that I hate and makes me a lot of money. Just my two cents.

 

Yours truly,

Jazmyne

Life

Satisfied With Life

I’ve been working hard towards fulfilling my resolutions and doing homework and being happy. I’ve spent the last few days working on making a name for myself through social media (twitter, my blog, YouTube). I feel really good, and (this might sound a little strange) I’m really glad my happiness isn’t because of my friends.

The past two years have been difficult. I shouldn’t be complaining however, because most people’s lives are twice as hard as mine and what I’ve gone through probably doesn’t measure up to what others have gone through. But, for the sake of saying what I meant by, “I’m really glad my happiness isn’t because of my friends,” I will describe what has gone on with me for the last two years of my life.

Freshman year was a mess for me. I was going into a high school where everyone LITERALLY knew each other from middle school (because it’s a 6-12th grade school), coming from a school I attended for 9 years. I didn’t know anybody. No one from my old school came to this new one except for me, and I was absolutely terrified. I was extremely shy for the first month or so of school, eating in the bathroom during lunch or off in secluded corners and not talking to anyone. I finally did make some friends, and stuck to that friend group for the rest of freshman year. Many things happened during that year, one of which was a very negative, complicated relationship that I was too invested in. Long story short, I got hurt very badly, and was completely reliant on the other person for my happiness. I was sort of happy by the end of the year, but not really.
Sophomore year also kind of sucked. I transitioned into another friend group, and they were all very close to each other. I didn’t feel accepted or a part of the group when I joined it, and truth be told, I still don’t. But anyways. They are fantastic, fun, caring people and they helped me through a lot during sophomore year. But my happiness depended upon their approval of me and how much they liked me. I bounced a lot between two groups, and set out to make as many friends as possible so I could be happy and not alone.
Junior year. The beginning of junior year was alright. I managed to find myself in-between three groups: the group I hung out with in freshman year (everyone kind of left), the group I hung out with in sophomore year (still going strong), and the group I started hanging out with (mostly seniors who are going to leave). I didn’t really know where I wanted to be, and there were often times scheduled hang-outs at the same time as other hang-outs, and I usually had to make a decision on where I wanted to go. I was starting to feel liked by a lot of people, and that made me kind of satisfied. Kind of. I was still completely reliant on other people to make me feel happy.
The summary of my high school career for 2010-2012: I needed all of my friends to like me and I needed a boyfriend.
Now though, I am completely happy to say that I am making my happiness instead of relying and depending on other people to make me happy. I can be happy on my accord.
I don’t know when the shift happened. Maybe it was the dawn of 2013 that triggered this. But now I feel like I can be independent and single and not have a problem with that. I know I need to lay off trying to make everyone happy and like me, and try to lay off pursuing or crushing on other people. I need to focus on my goal of re-vamping and re-creating myself. Not for someone else, but for myself. I’ve been so preoccupied with my relationships and wanting one that I lost track of myself and my goals in life. It’s about time for me to start over again and be whoever I want to be.
Hopefully this feeling of happiness and independence will stay with me for a while. I really hope it will.
Love,
Jazmyne
Life

My Ukuleles

Both are sopranos. The one on the left was a gift from my friend for Christmas, who said it was his old one and he didn’t know what to do with it anymore since he doesn’t play it. It’s decent but the strings need to be replaced and tuned. It sounds horribly tinny and gets untuned very easily. It’s also a pretty cheap uke, but I like to keep this one as back-up if I am going somewhere where my more valuable one will get damaged, or if my friends and I are going to have a jam session and one of them forgot theirs. The one on the right is my pride and joy that I got from my dad. He paid like…$27 for it I think, when it was originally priced for $90 (around there). His friend worked at the store he bought it from and was able to get a hey-can-you-give-me-a-better-price-because-we-know-each-other-discount. Even though it’s not as expensive or awesome as other ukes, I think the quality is fantastic for being so cheap. My friend has a ukulele her parents paid $235 for, and it sounds only a hair better than mine. I love the brown one to death and bring it along for jam sessions and concerts.
I don’t take lessons- I self-teach myself and watch videos on YouTube or look up chords on ukulele websites. I’m not a great singer, either, but I love playing and harmonizing with my better-singing friends.