08 January 2012

The Reason For The 22 In My Blog Name

That was the age that I came back from much of time period I described in the posts labeled "cancer" and "auntie m". It was the age I had, for probably the first time in my adult life, the time and the resources to start unclogging the master grand hairball of toilet bowl-exploding confusion that was my life up to that point.

It was not lost on me that it sounded kind of like 'catch-22', although a majority of the mess had far less to do with a 'you're-damned-if-you-do/damned-if-you-don't' cliche than it had to do with feeling freaking incredulous realization that I had just been through hell and was still reeling from it; and then was trying to take the encouragement I was given to write, tell my story, and ran with it, like any dork would, to the awkwardly forced humor side of it.

Anyway, it was just the age that I was when we all moved back to the town where the girls' dad had gotten his first job teaching and been diagnosed with the third episode of tumors. We had left, lived through hell, and come back. 

It was pretty amazing that he was able to go back to work so quickly with having experienced all his side of these episodes, but as he went back to work, one little step at a time, I sat down to my computer and started to write. I started to write my story.

It has evolved into a hundred other things since then. Rants, introspection, memories not even related to the heavy parts. But after reading my auntie's post about her first child (my auntie, not the auntie m,) it inspired me to go back to my own. Especially since she is such a good writer and so interesting. I love her take on things.

So I went back into my old drafts, dug up a first chapter, and did some editing on the cutting floor.


My first of year life out on my own started at a Catholic university. Being a music major, I was instantly overloaded with class credits. 

It was new. It was scary. I was out of my league on just about every issue imaginable, but especially the music level. Everyone around me had already had tons of experience in their instrument. I felt like a little hick kid out of Cow Town, wondering if I'd ever be good enough. 

I didn't go there on scholarships, save for the one I got from the Knights of Columbus that didn't even pay for all the books I needed and the Burger King one that never, to this day, got paid out to me or the school. I was set up completely on loans that my mother had to help me get.

I hated practicing and saw practice rooms filled up all the time with people slouched over pianos and music stands. I knew I was going to have to work a lot harder to get better, rather than being a natural, and I hated that, too. If it didn't come easy to me, I didn't want it. I felt I should have been AWESOME without any effort.

And after seeing these people, I realized I was only so-so at my craft. Pulling an aria out of my ass, like I did in high school, wasn't going to work for me here.

What was worse was learning that flute and piano players came a dime a dozen. They have always come a dime a dozen. That's why certain instrument families are highly competitive. That's why I gladly switched to bassoon. Anything to get me out of there.

Plus, I was surrounded by kids who were on scholarships. I didn't even have the expressed desire of the college to have me there. I was there out of my own free will and accord. There couldn't have been a scarier way to be motivated. Relying on myself? Psh. No way.  And I wasn't even realizing this feeling beyond the dread factor of it. All these kids around me who were being paid to be busy bees over their instruments.

I would have my work cut out for me.

Besides feeling cross and resentful about this new reality, I also knew that a lot of money was riding on me getting through this. So I dove in, trying to look like I knew what I was doing, trying to look like the others. Only I wasn't and I was deathly afraid it showed.

I did swallow the desire to complain. Mostly. I choked down the newness and unfamiliarity of a campus that was largely made of concrete. (No lie, even the walls in the main arts building were gray, lifeless, prison-type concrete.) I tried with a tremendous case of the "I don't want to!s" to be in the practice room as much as I could.

Because that's just what a Cazares does. They jump in feet first without thinking about it, being tough and proactive, and think about the sting of it later. Or the consequences.

But I was also sick during this time. I was bizarrely, uncharacteristically nauseated day in and day out. 

And I couldn't explain it. 

I went to class feeling gross and sick. I sat in theology as the nun went on and on about her syllabus. I tried to follow my Spanish literature professor during night class.

That's if I made it to class.

I was late to morning music theory that year more than I was on time, because even if I could make it breakfast without heaving, I was often rushing to the washroom after breakfast. I actually even quit wearing makeup because it would all wash off as I cried, bent over the toilet, wondering what in the sam hell was wrong with me.

Did you hear that? Me! The Makeup Queen! The girl would not even so much as leave her house without it. Not wearing makeup. That's how bad it was.

I was never a sickly child. I think the worst thing I suffered in childhood besides a broken arm and a few sprained ankles was the chicken pox.

I was beginning to think there was seriously something wrong with me. I could not, no matter how I tried, surpress the overwhelming feeling that something was terribly wrong.

I had actually started getting sick in Paris, France, where a whole group of us traveled, as a state diocese (about 200 individuals) all over the fabulous city on a tour of World Youth Day in 1997.

I thought it was culture shock. Food poisoning. Something. Anything. Maybe the french food was not sitting well in my stomach, the clove cigarettes, the smashed-down wilted grass, the collective scents of just about every nationality of people in the world. Smells set me off and even apples I bought to try and sooth myself didn't set right with me. Smells and flavors filled my nose like a pungent spear.

I called my barely-boyfriend back home, crying. Everything was so strange. Maybe it was because I was missing out on some of the more cultural parts of the city due to being on a church trip. Maybe I was just one of those wusses who couldn't travel to foreign countries after all. Maybe it was just the churning in my stomach that just wouldn't go away, no matter how I tried to make myself comfortable. Maybe I was just pregnant and I was going to be in a shitload of trouble in very short order.

The lacking bit of interest he showed in my distress didn't help.

Neither did landing on home ground, which I thought it would bring some source of relief, nor the 13-hour bus ride for the last stretch home that had my nausea crashing my insides like a tidal wave. I rode with my bag on my lap, clutching it with a death grip, forehead miserably glued to the seat in front of me. I hate throwing up.

Hate. It.

I was fighting the raging fire in my esophagus so hard that I found myself relenting to having a trash can in my seat so that I would at least be at liberty to. If I could get anything to come out.

Everyone on the bus was aware of my situation.

Finally, at about seven in the morning, the bus reached our church. I saw my parents waiting outside for my brother and me. I was in such distress about my nausea I bolted past them to go throw up in the church bathroom.

Good times.

It was like everything pointed to me being pregnant or something.

Denial is funny, funny, strange thing.

The hell adventure didn't stop there. I was college-bound promptly the next day. I had the whole day I got home to rest, then it was up and re-pack for oh, I don't know, roughly the last hour and day of my childhood I would ever see again.

It was another 400 miles or so of traveling. I didn't even puke until we were at a gas station at the bottom of the hill where the campus was. Yep, I waited a good chunk of time before it came blasting out of me onto the floor in the back seat of my mom's car.

Mom and I said our good-byes outside on the sidewalk, shortly after getting my stuff set up in my room. She looked at me strangely and, without much ado, turned around left. Scared as a little baby in a dark room full of monsters, I screamed at her not to go. I did so without moving my lips.

No play on words intended.

* * *

So, after a round of this horrifying thing that was making my body do all these things and feeling the suspicious eyeballs of my parents, all the stress of the new surroundings, and noticing that it just wasn't going away, wasn't a bug or the flu, I finally relented to calling my mom, who asked me point blank if I was pregnant.

Whoa, wait a minute. I laughed it off nervously. No. Way.

She was so calm about it.

In fact she was so calm, it was eerie.

After I got off the phone, I handed my roommate, who had a job in the city, the last of my care package money and asked to get me a pregnancy test.

Just barely 18 and new on campus, I learned I was pregnant.

Oh, snap!


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