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Grief, and not the ‘good’ kind.

Grief is a funny thing. It only visits me when I am alone in my car. The hours stretched thin, I think about her. She killed herself. After endless attempts, she finally did it. I couldn’t help but be slightly relieved.

My mother told me when I was 14, Amy would eventually make that choice.

I didn’t want to believe her, and for the longest time I held onto the slim hope that Amy would find a treatment that would stick. Something to change her sad state of mind. I hoped that cure would be me. I took on her sickness as though it were my own, researching and finding ways to manifest insanity in a healthy way. Every time I was with her, we passed the time doing crazy things. We TP’ed her own house. Stole vodka from her parents. Met boys in the middle of the night.

She told me once that she wished she had cancer. Because then people would understand. Instead of being greeted by sympathy, she faced sharp stigmas that blamed her sadness on a personality defect- adding to the heavy load she felt with each passing day.

When I spoke at her funeral, I tried to express myself in a coherent way. And although I made it through without snot-bubbles and sobs - I feel that I didn’t say it exactly the way I wanted to. So here it is:

Amy woke up each day with the pain we each feel right now. But she was strong enough to touch each one of our lives. Every single person in this room, was effected by Amy in some way. And if that doesn’t say something about the strength Amy had to last these past few years, then I don’t know what will.

People like to remember the highlights of a person’s life. It makes death more manageable and compact. But being alone in my car lets the curtain slip and shows me the whole story. The all too often phone calls of another attempt. The times I was scared of her. Of what she might to do to herself. Letting myself drift away from her because of the constant care she required. I regret more than a few of these things, but I am glad I remember them. For Amy was not just a person who changed people’s life with her good moments, but also her bad moments. She reminds us not to take for granted the health and the happiness most of us have been blessed to stumble upon in our lives. So, thank you Amy, for staying in my thoughts and becoming a token reminder of why life is meant to be enjoyed.

Seasons serves up second-rate grub

Seasons Bar & Grill should be named A Season because that’s about how long they can possibly stay afloat in Rohnert Park. I can see how their food would be really good if you were wasted. But when you are sober, you will leave feeling your money has been wasted.

Their food and beer choices were both “meh”. Although they had beer both on tap and bottled, the drink choices were pretty limited. No wine, no cocktails – but they oddly offered a seasonal Hard Pumpkin Cider. Which sounds…. adventurous. Their menu featured several grease-soaked items to choose from, everything from fried mushrooms to fried mozzarella sticks.

So, if Seasons has neither an excellent selection of alcohol nor food – then it is neither a bar or a grill. A little advice would be to pick one side of the business, and try to improve it. Customers will eat at Seasons if there is excellent beer, and vice versa – but you can’t have a mediocre selection of both.

I ordered the Classic BLT with a side salad and blue cheese dressing. May choice may sound boring, but I guess I thought “hey, if they screw this up – then I know they’re in trouble.”

It was a good amount of food, but the bacon was obviously old as Betty White and had been salvaged from the back of the fridge. I’m pretty big on fresh ingredients, so a piece of my heart turned black and fell off at that moment. The blue cheese dressing on my salad was 99% mayonnaise with a tiny hint of blue cheese. C’MON NOW. It’s blue cheese – it’s supposed to hit you in the face with flavor. Nobody wants to be hit in the face with mayonnaise. Also, on a side note… iceberg lettuce? Am I a 8 year old who can’t tolerate vegetables that aren’t soaked in ranch dressing? Seasons needs an adult makeover on their salad selection.

The service was satisfactory, given the fact that we brought 30 rowdy communications students with us. But our waitress was less than enthusiastic than I like to see. I’m not asking for a plastered-on smile and a sparkling vest of flair, but I would like to see the waitress smile at me once during the meal – and not roll her eyes when I ask what the side dish selections are.

However, Seasons was in the clear when it came to environment and atmosphere. I was greeted with a nice blend of typical sports bar and clean-looking industrial interior. There were 9 flat screen TV’s around the restaurant, offering different sports channels and other channels that probably only men would like. The restroom was clean. The kitchen has an open window into the restaurant which acted as a reassurance that they aren’t spitting in our sandwiches and soup.

Overall, Seasons would be a great place to go watch a game with your buddies, or have a beer without rubbing elbows with Cotati Crawl college-goers. But if you are headed out for lunch and you are looking for a really good meal, steer clear of Seasons Bar and Grill. You might find yourself at the kitchen window, demanding to speak with the cook and threatening to throw Betty White bacon back in his face.

MY FRIEND HANNAH.

“People are everywhere, so you might as well like them.”

When most people have been asleep for hours, you can guarantee that Hannah is still awake. Whether she is typing away at her keyboard, mulling over a math problem, or trying to finish up some last minute homework, she never makes it to bed before one in the morning. Hannah is the average college student, stressed out and sleep-deprived, trying to squeeze social life into the thin slots of time left behind in her schedule.

Hannah Wishnek, a 21 year old UC San Diego student, flutters onto my computer screen and smiles instantly. She sits in a student center on campus where people buzz heavily around her. She thinks deeply about the questions I ask her, and takes care to say the exact thing she means. Hannah is one of the rare 20-somethings that doesn’t suffer from constant word vomit.

Growing up in La Mesa, California, Hannah knew exactly what she wanted to be when she was 8 years old – a microbiologist. Not your average 8 year old’s dream, but Hannah was not your average 8 year old. It wasn’t until she was she was older that she became more aware of her draw towards the psychiatric field.

“Helping people is the ultimate goal. We’ve all felt like we are alone at times – I’ve felt that. I want to help those people help themselves.”

Hannah echoes an idea that most of us have given thought to before. Life can become overwhelming and the only way to pull through is to rely on the help of another – be it a therapist or a friend. “Everyone can’t do everything on their own, sometimes you have to rely on other people to help you out.”

Aside from her classes and working for UCSD Youth Study and the Alzheimer’s Disease Cooperative Study, Hannah is also the Vice President of Psi Chi Honors Society. Working together with a team of dedicated students, Hannah has built the program from the ground up in the past two years. “I’m teaching and mentoring people, and we’ve created a space where I can learn just as much from them as they are learning from me.” Hannah attributes much of her learning experiences to Psi Chi. “You learn all of the definitions and technicalities in classes, but Psi Chi teaches you about psychology in the real world. It has educated me in a more external sense.”

Like her fellow Psi Chi members, Hannah believes that every person has value. She sees that people struggle with their lives and feels driven to get involved. “Everyone is just as important as everyone else,” Hannah says softly. “I want to get people to see the value I see in themselves.”.

When asked what advice she would give to wide-eyed freshman, she says the best way to figure out what you want is to, “do everything you can.” As a freshman, Hannah admits she was shy and and limited herself because she didn’t have faith in herself. Since that point in her life, Hannah says she has made the conscious decision not to be passive in her life. “Now I just don’t give a shit… and I don’t sleep,” she laughs.

Hannah leaves those searching souls with one last sentiment: “Things are never going to work out the way you expected them to, but they will always work out. Be open-minded, shit’s gonna happen that you couldn’t foresee.”

I’ve been needing to let go of these restraints I placed on my own arms many years ago. Now is the time to tell myself, you are capable. This is possible.

Let’s do this.

I’ve been needing to let go of these restraints I placed on my own arms many years ago. Now is the time to tell myself, you are capable. This is possible.

Let’s do this.

POLARIS

polaris, you always wait for me. you are such a good listener. i can just stare into your eyes for hours. you understand me, your wisdom matches your age.

Porn, paralysis and porcelain at the University Art Gallery

The Future is Now Exhibit at Sonoma State’s University Art Gallery features promising artists who have just recently graduated from Bay Area MFA programs.  

The first piece that caught my eye was Bing Zhang’s Café. Displayed on four  different canvases, Café features four drab slaves to technology. All of their  faces lack emotion and passion, and are in a paralysis state due to their laptops and cellphones. Zhang paints in tones of gray and brown, setting a nice bland mood for these nice bland people. The most moving part of these four canvases is simply the electrical outlet, which is infected with different kinds of cords – almost to suggest a sort of substance abuse for these technology users. The man who casually wears a simple gold wedding band reminds us all that when we use technology to this extent, it creates distance in relationships people have in the “real” world. Similar to the isolation felt in Zhang’s Café, Shenny Cruces’ piece sets the table for a melancholy dinner.

Shenny Cruces’ Georgian Collection quietly sits in the white corner of the gallery.  China plates glare down at you as if you are visiting your uptight Grandma’s dining room. The plates lead down to a Victorian-era white table, which offers a cornucopia of porcelain fruits with a washed out glaze.  At first glance, her piece looks like a pretty (albeit boring) sculpture. However, the longer I stare at that sweet porcelain pear, the more I become inexplicably disturbed. Cruces’ pretty piece is unsettling because the fruits, whether intentional or not, all resemble human hearts torn from their cavities. Their washed out red and blue glaze suggests the image of blood and veins. Spilling out from flawless china, the piece suggests an element of melancholy that cannot be expressed outright. Quickly, I deemed Cruces to be one of the most confusingly disturbing artists in the show, until I rounded the corner and saw Mitsu Okubo’s drawings.

300 Drawings by Mitsu Okubo completely stole the show. Whether you couldn’t look away or you ran away screaming, Okubo’s piece stuck in my mind like plaque in a smoker’s lungs. Simply drawn with black ink on plain white paper, the piece is deceivingly boring as you approach it. As you get closer, the panels come into focus and you find your eyes bouncing in their sockets, trying to find some relief from the gruesome doodles. Every panel grows more disturbing and perverse than the next, although it would seem impossible because the first panel features a woman cutting off her breast and eating it. The piece is like flipping through a sexually-charged high school boy’s math notebook. There is no denying that Okubo has insight to the most base and crass instincts of human sexuality, but simply put – it is offensive to the eyes. The piece only displays 190 drawings, which left me shuddering to wonder what unpleasant wonders the other 110 drawings had to offer.

For regular gallery-goers, this exhibit will prove a good, mind-boggling time. It is recommended that art-neutralists use Head & Shoulders, because this is bound to be a head-scratching experience.


The exhibit will be showing now through October 16th, 2011. The University Art Gallery is open Tuesday through Sunday, admission is free.