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Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?

Love

By Guest Blogger: Richard James, 26. Richard is a night auditor from New Hampshire and a graduate of Dartmouth College. He was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder in 2006.

“In my life, relationships are like rubber bands. They stretch and snap back so many times, but eventually something breaks and there’s no way to repair the damage.” -Kiera van Gelder, The Buddha and the Borderline

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I never know what kind of reaction to expect when I tell someone about my diagnosis. The conversation is rarely a pleasant one, typically after I’ve suffered an emotional breakdown on a stressful day or sometimes in response to being asked why I no longer maintain a relationship with my family. Most people show some level of sympathy, even if they don’t really understand what Borderline Personality Disorder is. Some people express doubt or disbelief, especially if they’ve heard the negative stereotypes associated with the disorder, and assure me that I’m “not that bad.”

There is a wide range of experiences among people with Borderline Personality Disorder, but one thing we all have in common in interpersonal relationships is the core wound of abandonment. I don’t fully understand how it comes to be, but deep down I hold the belief that I am inherently unlovable, hard-wired to believe that even the people I care about the most will one day abandon me, and the best I can do is delay the inevitable. Often this fear of abandonment goes hand in hand with serious feelings of depression and a sense of emptiness. Imagine that you are in a room full of people you like, but you secretly believe that they all hate you and that they’re just too polite, or afraid, to tell you how they really feel. The intense fear of abandonment warps my perception of reality and causes me to sometimes act out in strange and unpredictable ways.

Most days I can suppress the idea that no one really loves me, but it’s always sitting in the back of my mind, waiting to be triggered. On the wrong day, the slightest perceived rejection cuts deep and will send me into a full panic. Maybe a friend had to work late and canceled dinner with me. Maybe someone took a little too long to respond to a Facebook message.

Immediately I think about the worst case scenario–that it’s finally happened; they’ve realized I’m not worth their time. By the time I realize I’m overreacting, the damage is done. I’ve yelled, cried, and left several voicemails pleading with my friend not to abandon me.

The first couple of times I subjected someone to this sort of treatment, I smoothed things over successfully. I explain that I was having a bad day and that I misread their intentions. I tell them about my mental health issues and that I’m working on getting better. And I am.

But as I grow closer to someone, anyone, the emotional stakes get higher. My outbursts become more frequent and desperate. The thought of losing a close friend drives me to engage in self-destructive behavior. The pain that I inflict on my loved ones pales in comparison to the fear and disgust that I feel about myself, but it’s still an undue burden, and eventually it’s too much for some people in my life to tolerate. They tell me that they’ve had enough, and suddenly my fear has been realized–I’ve brought about the exact thing that I was fighting to avoid. Each time I destroy a relationship I can only hope that I’ve learned enough to keep from repeating my mistakes in the future, and to stop asking the question…

Will you still love me tomorrow?

Love

Losing My Religion

LosingMyReligion

By Guest Blogger: Ryan Abbott, 20, he lives in Detroit, Michigan (yes, actually the Detroit).  He is a junior, pre-med at Wayne State University and is majoring in Spanish. He wants to one day become a cardiologist and fittingly, loves to golf. You can find him on Twitter at @_abbottr.

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That’s me in the corner, that’s me in the spotlight, losing my religion…

It’s kind of a weird thing if you stop and think about it.  How does one exactly ‘lose’ their religion? Tempers, maybe, but actual religion? I lost my religion once, or whatever religion I thought I had.

Growing up, my parents never made a big deal about religion and respected it as a personal thing. But then my dad suffered a grade 5 subarachnoid hemorrhage caused from a ruptured brain aneurysm and was in a coma for a month, and survived. Religion and faith – in God and my dad, then played gigantic roles in my life.

“Thank God,” was around me every single day.

“I’m praying for him,” seemed to be the new way for someone to say goodbye to me.

While the majority of my family clung onto their relationship with God, I pushed mine away. Whatever shaky ground I had stood on before with my faith and religion, at some point along the road, collapsed underneath me.

In high school, my dad was pretty popular, a stereotypical jock and incredibly social. But, when prom rolled around, he asked one of his friends outside of his normal friend circle. He knew she didn’t have anyone to go with, and he didn’t want her to be left out or feel bad. This is how my dad has lived his entire life. He cares for people more than I can actually fathom.

I felt stuck in an abyss. I had nothing to hold on to.  How could this have happened to my dad?  He is such a phenomenal person. If God is real, how and why did this happen?  I was devastated by the idea that I may never “have” the same dad, or life, again. These questions consumed me. I fell to new lows in search of answers. I was a sophomore in college…perfect timing for a ‘quarter-life-crisis.’

I found my answer, in Buddhism. Karma is a big part of Buddhist belief and was essential in my struggle for answers. It was exactly what I needed, a religion that’s more about myself and how I live than it is about my devotion to something greater. I could finally understand better why my dad had survived, despite the 2% chance. My dad is the best person I know. Karma.

LosingMyReligion

It has been 11 months now since I discovered and converted to Buddhism, meditating, and committing myself to living a better life. It works for me. It’s the most liberating feeling in the world. I feel confident, clear, peaceful and most of all, I finally feel happy.

But, as a white guy that grew up in a small, semi-rural town in Michigan, I experienced mixed reactions. Half my family thought I was joking. Well, no, all of them did. Do. My mom is confused. My brother? Who the hell knows what he truly thinks? My dad talks to me about God like he’s ignoring the fact that I’m Buddhist.

I don’t blame any of them but like it has always been in my family, religion will always be – just for me.

 

What It’s Like to Run the Boston Marathon…

Drama

By Guest Blogger: Megan, a music teacher, runner, fitness blogger, and soon to be personal trainer. If you would like to follow more of her adventures, check out her blog: Meg Go Run.

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Running a marathon is a unique experience that most healthy people can accomplish if they are willing to put in the training. Marathon running has become extremely popular in the past few years. Still, only 1% of the population has run a marathon. Of that 1%, only 8-9% qualify to run Boston.

I’m part of the running population that has run Boston. I ran it in 2009 and will be back in 2014. I’m really excited!

What’s it like to run the Boston Marathon?

A day or two before the race you head to the Expo, which is held at the John Hynes Convention Center. There, you pick up your packet – which includes your bib, timing chip, shirt, and other goodies. There’s an extensive collection of Boston Marathon running apparel for sale. It’s severely overpriced but most runners buy a jacket anyway!

Jacket - 1

My cat puked on mine. Don’t worry, the stain came out. 

The Expo is only a block from the finish line, so runners stop by to have their picture taken at the most famous finish line in the world!

Finish Line - 2

 

The evening before the race, runners flock to area restaurants to eat all the carbs in sight. Early reservations are good because marathon morning starts early with a 6:30am bus ride to Hopkinton.

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Ready to board the buses!

 

The Boston Marathon is actually a marathon TO Boston, starting in Hopkinton. At Hopkinton High School, an Athletes’ Village is set up for runners to congregate. The race doesn’t start until a few hours after your arrival.

Athletes Villiage - 4

There is A LOT of waiting around in the Village. You can tell the seasoned runners from the newbies. Seasoned runners bring inflatable rafts to catch a few Zzzzs before the race. Newbies (me) bring a tarp.

Tarp - 5

 

Port-o-Johns are a runner’s best friend. I never saw so many port-o-johns in my life until Athletes’ Village.

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This picture probably only depicts 5% of them.

 

** Tip: After you use the toilet, get right back in line. By the time it’s your turn again, you’ll have to go!**

 
Two F-15s fly overhead as the race begins. Then in waves…wheelchair racers, elites, and then the “common folk” broken into three more waves.

The scenery of the race is small town Massachusetts, passing through several small towns and colleges until the final finish line on Boylston Street. Friendly spectators line the course.

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Around Mile 13, the course passes by Wellesley College, where the college girls are out cheering. Many of them offer kisses to sweaty runners.

Wellesley - 8

Heartbreak Hill is around Mile 20. It’s really not that heartbreaking and gets more hype than it deserves.

Drama

Drama atop Heartbreak Hill.

When you see the Citgo sign in the distance, you know you’ve almost made it! Boylston is just around the corner!

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Source

As you cross the crowded finish line, you are handed a medal and mylar blanket.

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Congratulations! You just ran the most famous foot race in world!

Meg

3am train ride home. I swear, I had fun!

 

Slowing Down on Weekends: Guest Blogging Opportunity

WeekendGuestBlogging

I’ll be blogging Monday through Friday, but at this time I’ll open up weekends to any of you aspiring bloggers out there. Even if you’ve guest blogged here before, feel free to submit again. No real experience necessary as long as you keep it real.

Bloggers. Keep in mind your guest blog would be 500-600 words, give or take. Anything longer should be kept for your own writing.

Use the Contact Jun link to get in touch with me, and put “Guest Blogging” in the subject line.

Why?

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I’ve realized now for a few weekends that blogging on Saturdays and Sundays is becoming impossible. Not that I don’t have time to blog on the weekends, but i’d rather make time for my family. My husband Davy and I are baffled every day at how fast Noah’s growing into his very own personality. I don’t want to miss it if I don’t have to, and especially on the weekends. Quality time.

One of the reasons I love living here in Belgium is because of the copious amounts of time spent with family. Ghent is not that much different from other cities in Belgium, although every city in Belgium believes they’re the best city. It’s cute how many rivalries there are.  The distance between home for the Yankees and the Red Sox alone, would get you from one end of Belgium to another with some time to visit France or Germany.

Compared to America, Belgium’s business plan as a country and social plan as a people is polar opposite. The United States is running bright 24 hours a day, while Belgium is not a 24-hour country at all. By and large, businesses all over Belgium big and small are closed by 6pm, save for night shops and fry shops and a few supermarkets. The almighty McDonalds is even closed before midnight. There are night shifts being worked sometimes, because Belgium’s time difference with other parts of the world calls for it. This is all possible because Belgium is a small country.

On Saturdays, hours are shorter if shops are open at all. On Sundays, there’s one pharmacy and one supermarket and one book shop open in every “town square.” Bakeries and cafés are open on Sundays, and farmers markets too. It’s a slower and steadier pace in social surroundings, and you take your time drinking and sitting and chatting. obody is sitting around on answering work emails or tweeting furiously over coffee. Here, quality time is of the highest quality.

CookieMonster

If I’m lucky I get to eat my little cookie accompanying my coffee or hot cocoa at some café, before Noah snatches it up and eats it himself. I don’t remember the last time I’ve actually eaten my own cookie in Noah’s presence. He truly is a little cookie monster.

Admittedly, I arrived in this country a New Yorker. I’m still a New Yorker at heart. I’ll cut you down in public if you hurt me or someone I love, but I know something has to give if I’m going to put firm roots down here. It’s probably why I didn’t take any photos last week. I’m turning Belgianese! There were freaks and geeks all around me begging for a Twitter upload last week, and I took zero photos. My iPhone was not attached to me like life support, like usual.

I’ve been trying to balance everything on my plate these last three years.

Marriage. Pregnancy. Motherhood. Homesickness. Forgiveness. Memories. Loss. Assholes. More. More. More.

Everything good and bad have added up to everything I’ve ever wanted. I take none of my blessings for granted. It’s why I’m slowing down on weekends. I look at it as an opportunity for some of you to take on this next leg with me.

Always dishing,

Jun

 

To Believe

MarissaFM

By Guest Blogger: Marissa Meleske, a 26 year old woman, born and raised in NY. She loves music, anything that makes her laugh out loud (literally) and she lives for helping people enjoy life. Sounds ordinary but she was born with a physical challenge. She could have let it get her down, like many people do, but she refuses to be defined by or limited by her circumstances. Plus, she likes to stick it to doctors who have told her she’d never do this or that! Watch her…

Marissa

We sometimes live our lives backward. As children, when our parents told us we couldn’t do something, we’d slyly see how far we could push their buttons or try our hardest to do it behind their backs. Anything in order to get our way, and do what we wanted to do we did. As adults, if we are told we can’t do something, we automatically internalize it. Clearly if someone doesn’t believe in us and says we can’t do it, we really must not be able to do whatever it is we’re trying to do, right? I hope you detect the sarcasm…

We need to take back our power.

When I was still in my mother’s womb, doctors told her I had a 50/50 chance of living and if I did live, I’d be much like a vegetable. Her and my dad would be lucky if I could sit up, crawl and not shit my pants as an adult. At 26, I can sit up tall like a big girl (-sarcastic grin-), I’m a certified life coach, author, seasonal secretary at the Board of Elections of my county, and I wipe my own ass after using the toilet. I’m in a wheelchair but let me tell you, after 8 surgeries that were supposed to be fool-proof, I refuse to go under the knife again. I embrace my life the way it is. I may not be able to do things exactly like everyone else, but just like the title of my first book, “Everyone’s Different, Get over It!” if I want to do something, nobody and nothing is going to stop me!

Recently, I got the opportunity to dance with Valentin Chmerkovskiy, a 14-time ballroom champion and professional (and star, if you ask me) on “Dancing With The Stars”. I am not confined to or defined by my wheels. I was blessed with parents who instilled the will to succeed (and prove people wrong) in me since birth. Parents, I beg of you, teach your children the same thing. Don’t coddle them, even if they’re “different.” Let them live a full life. They CAN if they think they can!

I’ve learned, from a very young age, that it’s very important to believe in yourself, to believe that the world is always a good place filled with opportunities to fulfill your dreams. But you also need to have the confidence to go for those dreams. That’s the only way you will get anywhere in life. It doesn’t matter who believes in you, if you don’t believe in yourself. It’s not naïve, even at my 26 years of age, to still believe that the world is still filled with so many beautiful things and amazing opportunities to succeed. From time to time there will be road blocks, but it’s up to you how you look at them. Are you going to let them stop you? Are you going to look at them merely as a wall, testing how bad you want to get to the other side of it?

The choice is ultimately yours.

A Letter

robnettleton

By Guest Blogger: @Robulous, 25, a bureaucrat and part-time college teacher from Ontario, Canada. He loves his boyfriend, coffee and Stevie Nicks. He’d like to one day write a book, and make a career out of teaching and learning.

robnettleton

A Letter to my 17-Year-Old Self,

Congratulations! You’re moving out. You’ll quickly grow to hate your new apartment, but rest assured, it’s a short-term living arrangement. I also know that Mom is annoying the shit out of you right now, but please know that over the next 8 years, you won’t see her all that often. You’ll begin to miss her more than you know. Sometimes you’ll find yourself calling her, crouched down in Chapters having a breakdown, but just hearing her go on and on about horses, farm life and failed diets will bring you the kind of emotional relief one can only really obtain through the familiarity of family.

You are going to have an amazing time in college, but it’s going to be hard work. One day, you’re going to be sitting in the Financial Aid office, hiding back tears, like always. You’ll explain to the very patient service rep that you have one of two choices: to pay the tuition you owe her, or to pay your landlord rent. You give her the choice and she gives you $1,500.00. It restores your faith in people after a really rough first year.

When you’re 19 you’ll become the president of a student union and it’s going to change your world. You’ll feel respected, you’ll feel like something you’re doing actually matters in the world and you will love the experience more than you could ever imagine. You’ll also gain about 20 pounds because of Nanaimo bars and raisin bread, but you’ll lose it shortly after. You’ll be on TV and the most popular person on campus, but you’ll soon grow to appreciate and desire anonymity.

At 21, you’ll be in University and you’ll meet someone named Anna. While this person thinks they have your best interest in mind, please believe Richard – one of your university friends – because he’s right about her. You don’t need her and you never did. Be happy. Tell yourself you love yourself. Take note of your amazing legs. Some people would kill for that kind of length.

When you turn 25, you’ll have a bit of an epiphany. You want to so badly grow up, have kids and settle down in a career, yet you’ll start to realize that life is happening too quickly. And because you’re too tired from all of this “growing up,” you’ll start to miss the things that matter. In fact, you just said no to visiting with a friend, just so you could write this.

As you approach 26, you get braces and your driver’s license. A little late, but I’ll forgive you. You’re also truly in love, talking about marriage and kids (and you’ll never guess what names you actually pick! You won’t even believe, well, you).

You’re a happy person in your 20’s. It did get better. You’ve never looked better and you finally found a style that works for your lanky frame.

…Oh and remember, when Lihn suggests you put blond highlights in your hair. Just do it. You won’t believe what it ends up doing to your confidence.

Love always,

25-year-old you.

Changing Everyday

CathrynS

By Guest Blogger: Cathryn Shannon, lives in Massachusetts with her husband and three children. She went to the West Hartford Academy of Performing Arts and enjoys Community Theater with Valley Repertory Theater in Connecticut. Her latest work with the arts was her role in the short horror film The Earth Rejects Him.

CathrynS

I noticed my son Evan’s voice is changing, he is 12 and about as tall as me. Aidan is right around the corner bringing along a following. He is 11 and a hit with the girls and quite the comedian. Kiera is just beautiful inside and out. She has the kindest heart I have ever known and a good day for her is when everyone is happy.

I am going through something that is so beyond weird as a mother. I don’t want them to grow up but I am loving each new year. If I see someone post a picture or video of their cute baby taking over walking for the first time or climbing stairs I get all emotional because I remember what a huge deal that was. Then I remember the baby gates and fear and boo boo’s..I go back to loving that my children can make breakfast now with out my assistance.

Still, when my 8 year old daughter asked me today if she could have a cell phone I just about lost it. No. NO! I love that they all still hug, cuddle and ask to spend time alone with me. I love bike riding with them and cooking with them and any activity the will include me in because I have heard someday very soon…they will find me embarressing and annoying and not want to even hug me anymore. HUGE SAD FACE.

But as Evan pulls a Peter Brady Voice at the dinner table I also imagine him as the young man he is growing into and I like what I see. Aidan is hilarious and I imagine him to be the hardest one to tame but also the closest one to mom by his choice. My beautiful daughter who has already at 8 had to deal with bullies and is the sweetest soul you will ever meet will sadly have to learn to grow tougher skin. People are jealous and can be cruel. And you don’t need a phone to fit in. Not with those girls anyway.

It is truely an amazing thing to be a parent. I remember being told by other parents when I was pregnant with Evan that I would never know such love after this. It is more than what you feel for your family, husband, wife, partner..this is without thought lay down and die for you love.

Those other parents forgot to mention the ever lasting fear that comes with that love. Your own imagination can be your worst enemy. The news is now something you turn off.

It’s very hard for a child to grow up into an adult as we can all remember. I was just never prepared to see it from my parents’ eyes. It sure is the same as we will tell them, but it’s also very differant as they will try to tell us. No one is lying.

On the Edge

RyanStrangeFeaturedImage

By Guest Blogger: Ryan Strange, 19 years old, from East Granby, CT. He just graduated from Westminster School, a small preparatory school in Simsbury, CT, and will attend Bowdoin College in the fall. He lives with his niece, two loving parents, is a fanatic of hockey, reading, and music.

Ryan Strange

I’m right on the edge…elated and scared shitless.

I’m neither going to tip and free-fall just quite yet, nor can I back up into more comfortable territory. I just graduated high school, and I’m heading to college in the fall. I know that things will be different, and it’s starting to hit me gradually, each day. Quite frankly, this time I have right now I’ve been using to reflect on who I am and who is around me.

I’m starting to appreciate my parents like never before. I did appreciate them before, but now I feel more deeply for them. Both of my parents are retired Correctional Officers and that is how they met…so yes, they literally met each other in prison.

My mom worked 26 years as a Corrections Officer while my dad finished with 28 years, overseeing all 18 prisons in the state of Connecticut. My mother is black, and my father is white. I am the product of them, and this is my first time discussing this personally in writing.

I believe that my parents’ occupations allowed them to share some level of “normalcy” when “them” together was not normal in so many people’s eyes. People stared and people talked, and there’s been backlash that sometimes hurt my parents’ marriage. That backlash from others has also hurt and hindered me before, from being myself, because I was afraid of what others would think of me. Not only just about who I am in skin color, but much deeper in who I am as a person.

I remember when I was 10 years old playing hockey, and all the parents on the team would just talk constantly about my parents’ marriage. It was some sort of circus attraction to them. I stayed on the team as long as I could, but eventually left because it got so bad.

I realize as I write this that I’m so grateful I’ve came to a place where I know the past has no effect on what I can do now. For a long time it was burdensome…a weight on my shoulders that was hard to shake off. My parents still together, today, helped me see that as well. I am so proud of them.

To any parent in a mixed-race marriage or with a child who is of mixed race, I’d like to say: Love can go a long way. Your child will be confused when people question who they are as a person, and it will hurt. Your love will bring them back to a place of knowing everything will be all right. That might sound cliché but it is the truth.

As I’m writing this now, my thoughts are moving hastily as my dad is calling me to help him in the yard and I’m still thinking about what I’m going to do for a job…still thinking about that girl, and hoping the Bruins are going to win this game tonight against the Blackhawks. I am on the edge, not falling over yet nor can I jump back. I feel replenished, and ready. Indeed I am ready. I thank everyone who took the time to read this.

Here’s to the future.

Cheers,

Ryan

P.S. I wouldn’t be surprised if I’m one of the youngest writers who submitted in this Guest Blog series, and probably the most nervous. But that shouldn’t matter…Jun said it best in her email, “Ryan…I don’t think it matters how old you are as long as you can write.”

Guest Blogging Opportunity

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I’d like to open the door to some of you who would like to take a stab at guest blogging here at the end of the month. I have up to 5 openings for guest bloggers from the week of June 22nd – June 29th. Whether you’re a:

– Seasoned writer

– “Maybe just thinking about starting a blog” and you’d like to test the waters

– Regular guy/girl who has a message needing to be heard

Please don’t hesitate to use the Contact Jun page to get in touch with me!

I hope to hear from many of you!

Always dishing,

Jun