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Mentors

14 Mar

Finally I have found some mentors in my adult life.  They happened to be The Judge, two coaches, and a writer.  Each one has made my life better and has added meaning to what I do and what I want to achieve.  These individuals have given my life structure, provided new ways of thinking, and new ways I can lead my life.  They allow me to make some sense of me; of all the craziness that lives between my ears.  Plus, they have enjoyed spending time with me.

These people have made me feel comfortable in my skin. They game me the strength to keep at who I was and was becoming.  The process of learning is not easy.  There are a lot of bumps on that road.  I will let you know I have suffered my fair share of bumps and turbulence.  My commitment to achieving my goals is strong.  I grin and bear through ridicule and judgement from others; misunderstanding, misinterpretation, pain, sweat, mental anguish, and  anything else you can think of.  Hey, I am still here.  I am still trying to be the best person I can be.

My mentors in my life can be counted on one hand.  They are so very important to me.  I can hear their voices in my head, I can see what they are writing down on sheets of paper for me.  I can feel their eyes piercing through me to get the best out of me.  They know there is more in me trying to get out.  Each of these folks made a connection to me.  They made me feel empowered.  I can be who I am and achieve whatever I want.

One mentor is responsible for allowing me to be me.  Teaching me to free write, to let my emotions come out, find this odd voice that is mine, question reality, question creativity, and know that I am being genuine.  He saw the writer in me, the creativity that lived in my head, and that I was an athlete.  A deadly combo of brains and brawn; something that many girls in my catholic school did not have. He knew that I was aware of my difference among my classmates and he permitted me to embrace it; even through my mini goth/death phase.

Coach.  Yes, coach.  Pushing me to be the best, knowing that I can come back and say I can do it better, I can get faster, stronger, and smarter.  The coaches knowing that I can close my eyes and know how my body moves through space.  I can see part of me moving properly and improperly.  Give me the feedback and I can do it.  Give me the opportunity and I can achieve it.  I am the player who can spend countless hours practicing one skill.  Why?  Because I have the patience and the drive to do so.  Coaches who have been able to see this have been amazed to see what I can do.  What am able to do is see my overall process, I may not be great at it now, but give me 1 month, 6 months, or 1 year.  Hell I will get there, just be patient.  My coaches permit me to be a scholar of the sport; on and off the ice/court.  I have a desire to know.  I may not need it now, but it will come back later.  I have the commitment to sport, the patience, and the respect to allow those who are more knowledgable to shape me to becoming a better player.

Sport has been the one aspect of my life that I have felt the most comfortable with.  I have always excelled playing sports or learning new ones.  I constantly default to my body and its ability to work in space, lift heavy things, or to climb obstacles.  The physicality of sport has allowed me to calm down, sweat it out, and relax.  I move too fast in my mind and the movement of sport permits my body and mind to slow down.  To find calm in moments of my life.

This all leads me back to the person who now influences many parts of my mind.  The writer.  The writer energizes me to pursue a dream of reading, researching, testing, and writing.  Tells me when things are going well or poorly.  Honest and very real.  No sugar.  It just is what it is.  I take responsibility for both negative and positive results.  Here I see the voice emerge from the writer; I want to dive into myself and see how I can pull that strength out of me.  Or just find out if it is in me.  I see the voice in him, the power of it, and what it is able to do.  I am left speechless.

The writer sees that I can play a sport, but challenges me to find my voice.  This is so novel to me.  Funny, novel.. anyways.  I am beginning to feel the power of what I feel through my fingers again.  I am trying ever so slightly to channel the words I am thinking in my head to the keyboard.  Be emotive, be informative, share a story that connects.  In all of this, I can see how writing can lead me to finding myself.  Maybe it is a bunch of mumbo jumbo, but I really don’t care.  The future of me is coming around and well I am really excited to see her.  So, thank you.

In the midst of all of these words from my collection of thoughts, I believe I can say that these people have left major imprints on me.   I want them to know that I think of them everyday.  That their words and actions have made me remember these thoughts.

  • Judge: be who you are, remember the classics, keep writing, and be the athlete you are: Johnny Unitis.
  • Coaches: mold and shape me, make me a better player each time i step out on the ice/court, I wait for every morsel you will share with me.
  • Writer: you are smart, talented, kind, and adored.  You are on course for what you want to go.
Now it is time for me to focus on me to become who I want to be and become.  Am I afraid?  At times.  Will I fail?  Sure I will, but I will pick myself up and try again.  The one thing that each of my mentors have taught me is that I am different and it is ok for me to be who I am.  The scary part is that I am finally starting to accept that being different is my biggest strength.

A great quote from the most talented writer Jack Kerouac

“Here’s to the crazy ones; the misfits; the rebels; the trouble-makers; the round pegs in the square holes; the ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules, and they have no respect for the status-quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify, or vilify them. But the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”

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elBulli of Desire

29 Feb

A bit of background here.  I wrote this about 4 weeks ago, prior to the start of the new season at Next.  A lot has happened since then, like taking fifth at USA women’s curling nationals and scoring season tickets to Next.  This reflection took me about a week to rationalize and write.  You probably know that my mind works very differently then most and when I am committed to something I am in for it.  I love my work in the culinary field and I love my desire to train for sport.  This post took a lot out of me and it tested my mind.  In a few days I will be dining at Next for the elBulli menu and I will report on the meal as I always do.  First, here is my emotional rant on my obsession to dine at the top restaurants in the world.-DK

Tell me if I am crazy. Tell me if I am sane. I have the most amazing story and I have no idea how to rationalize it. This has everything to do with Next and the elBulli dinner. It is sad, possibly refreshing, and quite insane; but it really happened.  I feel my decision every day since I found out.

If you are into food, I mean serious big boy food you know that elBulli closed this past year. You also know that Grant Achatz and Nick Kokonas are doing an elBulli inspired menu at their super cool and exclusive restaurant Next.  Yes, I have dined there twice and have gotten tickets for the thai dinner too. So, to some I am one lucky girl with fast fingers.  This past month; we or well the whole culinary world has been patiently anticipating the elBulli dinner, maybe not patiently; but has been stalking them on Facebook, twitter, their website, etc to find out when the tickets will hit the interwebs.

Last week Next announced that tickets were not on sale, but you could throw your name in the hat to see if you get to be a part of the first week of dinners for the new menu. What the hell I thought I’ll throw in my name as I have many times before to see if I get in. I had no idea what I was thinking or what crossed my mind when I wrote down the date. Maybe my sister since the date I selected was her birthday or the fact that my boss may want them. I had no idea; I was on auto pilot.  Nor was I prepared for the feeling that I could be consumed by these tickets, by elBulli, by the fact that my mind and my stomach craved that ticket.

Monday night after my late night of curling in the land of cheese, I got the email from Next. OMG! I got the email!  No way!  I instantly dropped to my knees.  I was overcome with a full range of emotions. I could not control my anger, I could not control my tears, and a smurk was on my face. Someone asked me if I was ok. In that moment I had to collect myself and think fast.  I was at a curling club with “meat and potatoes” people.  The people who surrounded me would not understand what just happend; I realized the fact that no one would get it; get elBulli.  If I told them that I was just invited to attend the most exclusive dinner in the city and how much it cost, they would think that I was off my head. The curlers were probably thinking someone died or a bad thing just happend at work. They would not be thinking ah that poor girl can not attend dinner at Next for the elBulli dinner; that is so sad. 😦

In that instant I was totally numb. I was shaking when I made 3 phone calls to 3 fellow foodies. I was in shock. Nothing could have prepared me for the reaction to getting that email from Next and what emotions followed.  First to overwhelm me was the rationalization of my feelings, what it meant to dine there and what my desires are.  One could say it started out as dinner, then it turned into a philosophical reflection of desire, gluttony, and experience.  This existential examination of the self  that was brought about by dinner.  No one told me that this ticket would turn into both a cloud of dispar and a beam of enlightenment. My philosophy profs from college would be so proud.

Yes, I wanted to go to Next to experience the dinner of a lifetime. The ticket invite was sitting in my mailbox, but the date I picked fell on the week of my Curling National Championship in Philly. No big deal I thought. Yes, it freaking was. These were the two things I wanted so badly and I knew I could only have just one. Option 1: the dinner of my life.  Option 2:  six years of training for curling and years of desire to work my way back to represent the United States again in another sport. A battle arouse between gluttony and persistence. elBulli or curling. I wanted both; only one could win.  I suddenly thought that I could swing both.  Thank god the sound of reason stepped in and told me that a $300ish dinner could turn into a $1000 faster than I could think. For me to go to Philly then back to Chicago to return to curl in Philly would be possible, but INSANE. All I could think of was where is my sugar daddy with my G6 when I really needed it?   The inner me kicked in and said “Think E think”.  If I flew back to the Chi to eat and then flew back it would be fantastic and then cat lady crazy.  This is the kind of crazy you can not explain to non-culinary people. Normal eaters would think I am utterly insane, in fact I am already kinda nuts, but this would be institutional crazy.

Anyone who knows what I do in the culinary world and knows how persistent I am; how real I am; or how respectful I am towards the profession.  These individuals know that if there was anyone who could get tickets to elBulli it would be me. Yes, I DID. I am also big into sharing and providing opportunities to others in the realm of food. In my heart and my mind I knew that I could give up those tickets to elBulli in a moment. Once I saw the email, I was enveloped with emotion.  All I wanted to do was to hold those tickets closer to my heart and tell myself I wanted to go.  This was going to be the dinner of my life.  A dinner as if the master was there. I felt like Veruca Salt from Willy Wonka, I want it all! Why? A desire to dine at all the top restaurants in the world, to collect food memories like Pokemon. Yes! Is that shallow? How can I make sense of this?  Can you? How am I bound to this? Letting dinner go should be easy. I mean saints do it all the time, maybe that is what I am; the future saint of the culinary world. Now that is pretty funny… I had to repeat that I was not going to dinner over and over.  That I could not go and it was ok.

Some of you maybe thinking how could you give up these tickets? I thought the same. I challenged myself to sit back for one moment and think why I wanted it so bad. The exclusiveness of it, dining as if I was at elBulli, to follow the father of modernist cuisine, or a slew of other reasons. My ultimate answer was to have a moment.  A moment that I could never have again.  To eat what I only dreamed of and saw on the pages of Ferran Adria’s cookbooks or in the video I saw of his cuisine. To examine this issue more I talked with a chef friend.  After speaking with B and discussed a Master Chef teacher of ours another realization hit. How much can you really eat? How many dinners can you have that are truly novel and real? When do you get sick of dining out searching for that perfect moment? All cuisine in one form or another does becomes passé.  Or does it?  How could I trade all my training to reach a possible world championship in a sport  for a dinner?   I know what this dinner means, but looking at the entire picture is it really that important. It depends right?

Right now I am over the fact that I turned down my dinner to elBulli. Yes, I cried when I watched Grant’s videos he released for the dinner. Inside of me I have culinary faith and persistence. Although I turned down this dinner of a lifetime I can sense that the karma will come back; a second chance could be in my future.  If not for this dinner, then another experience that I can not see right now. What I am, is me. In my odd life good things happen to me and surprises are around every corner. I am no different any one else who wants to eat, I go for the experience and I’m hungry.

There will always be another dinner, another chef, another master, and another moment. Do not be consumed by the flurry of emotions that entangle you in these instances of loss. Just breathe. It is ok. It is dinner. Keep in mind that billions of other people do not understand elBulli, to them what it is, is just dinner. One can not forget that. IT IS JUST DINNER. The culinary Buddha has spoken.

You are thinking where did my tickets go. Back into the tumbler?  Maybe another story for another time.  I do hope to hear back from the people who went to my dinner somewhere in the cyber world. The reaction now will be worth the wait. Those stories will tell me if I made the right choice. Until then I am still hitting my refresh button, but not as frequently as I did before. Culinary enlightenment has occurred, a sense of peace has entered my stomach. I may have had my fill and I am ready to start my new chapter in my culinary life. To share what I have had and what I will experience, to bring clarity to what it all is. The emotional attachment to the freznie of high end dining and that the perfection of food preparation can occur at home. Now that is real!

J’ai Perdu…Perdu

9 Feb

Wondering if the real me is actually here

Rambling around; doing what I am doing

Experiencing what I am experiencing

Thinking if this is it

Is my life just this?

A collection of moments bound by a mind, body and soul

Ponder that and then consider the alternative

Maybe one’s existence is organized by ones mind

Random assembly of creative notions that form the day

 

There are times where I am so full of energy and color

Others when gray and pain envelope me

What choice does one have?

Continue or end

Which is better?

There is no right answer

Play and go on; no other.

 

I see Alice and I see part of me in her

We mirror.

How odd…

Who will escape?

Who is really real?

Words on a page or my existence

One will live forever

It is clearly seen in black and white

There is no red

Yet, I will still chase, question, yearn , and fall

Only to see that I could be on that page

That I have been created and molded to be the way of the writer or the artist

Never unique or individual, but a figment pieced together in someone’s head.

 

When the book is done

When my day is over

It will all come to a close

The end is always near no matter how long it is to the finish

Ask then who recalls the life of her.

 

—-

Thanks for permitting me to let that beast out.  Kinda rusty.  It needs some oil.  Later…

 

And So It Is…

26 Dec

There has been great sadness in my heart and it currently is playing with my mind.  October in one of my favorite months of the year because fall is in full effect, curling season is gearing up, the leaves are in full color, pumpkins, and yes, Halloween.  I had planned to write, as I do plan to write more, but the day came.  The day that I have been dreading for the last 10 years.  The day that my mom’s parents die.

Yes, I get death and I embrace death.  At time in my life I have been obsessed with death.  Although my dad’s parents have been passed for some time, I knew that with babcia and dziadzia it would feel different.  It did and it has been different.

Babcia’s birthday is in late September I called to wish her a happy birthday on the 22nd and that would be the last time I would talk to her.  It was not like when I spoke with Pranas and I heard death in his voice.  I did expect to see her in November instead she said I would be home in two weeks.  Her plan worked.  She suffered a horrible stroke a week after her birthday.  Then that was the beginning of the end.

It all began at dinner in the city with my mom.  We were finishing up our entrees when the phone call came in.  Complete silence from my mom and I heard that Babcia was in the hospital.  She has been there a lot but this was the first time stroke came in.  I kinda knew there that this was gong to be bad.  This was not like the other times when she fell or broke her arm or hip.  This was it.  My mom could not eat her dessert.  I squared up the bill and drove my mom back to her hotel. We both knew that babcia was going to die, it was just a matter of time. Mom had to get back home to see what was occurring, the hospital told her that they were keeping her alive until my mom got there. The hospital was keeping her alive and that she was on life-support.  I was numb and reflective.  So sad. So very sad. At least I was somewhat ready to deal with this. I have spent so much time with my grandparents. In many ways they helped shaped who I am. My sister and I spent a lot of time with them because they watched us when my parents worked. We were always with them.

The car ride home alone was flooded with tears and with memories, both good and bad. I was going to return to Detroit to see my babcia shortly. All I could think about was wooden spoons, baking cookies, rolling pierogi, whole wheat bread, secret smoking, Elvis, Fonzie, gardening, and painting the walls and floors. There was singing, chasing, mild violence at times, and always cooking. Things were either clean or dirty. Good or bad. A true world of dichotomy.

They both survived world war II and that influenced me. I grew up Polish and Catholic. I completely understand the role of a traditional polish catholic, especially pre war. It is tough. Theirs lives were so stressful and they needed to survive and they did.

I arrived back home in Detroit. I drove home, that was the fastest way for me. I went to the hospital to see her. My mom and sister were already there. Now my babcia was a tiny tiny lady with arthritic hands and super strong. She layer there in the bed unresponsive, unaware, but her body was alive. She was gone. In the two days before I got there we took her off life support and the vent. We thought she would crash and leave us. We thought she may wake up. If she did it would have been a miracle. She was a surviver of the holocaust, we don’t know if she was a Jew or a gypsy. She has no family and no one knows her secrets. The one thing I knew was that she was a fighter.

She survived for a week with no food or water. I think she trained herself to do this. It’s odd to say this, but people do strange things. I watched her breathe. I sat on her hospital bed. She was dying, she was already gone, but her body needed to leave. I spent so much time with this woman and now she was passing. All my Easters, Christmases, birthdays, and feast days were with her and now they are all done and all gone. Simply memories exist.

My family was ready for her to pass. I saw my dziadzia touch her hand, which I has never seen before. They never touched, never showed any affection. They hated each other and tolerated each other. Now their time was coming to an end. I guess this is is tough for a 98 man to get this, who wishes everyday that he was dead. He is the oldest and has been the whole time, now he has outlived all of his war friends and his family.

When babcia died, my mom was there. I was at home. I was ok with this. There was no talking she was unresponsive. We knew that her funeral would be at the same place that my dads parents were laid out at. We also knew where she would be buried.  When she was in her coffin I was fine, macabre has been a part of my life for a long time.  But, when it was time for me to leave.  I felt awful.  I knew I would never see her again.  I would never hear her voice or feel her punching my arm or telling me to go with god.  It was all gone now.  All I have left are my memories of her, cooking items, and her recipes.  Items that will last forever with me and will be passed on to others.

My babcia was a worker, a caregiver, a cook, a domestic tzar.  She constantly worked around the house.  Everything had to be clean.  Her hands were working women’s hands.  I know mine will look the same as hers.  She was the busiest women alive.  She hated onions and garlic.  Disliked soups, even if she did eat a bowl and hated wine even though we called it grape juice and she drank it.  Babcia liked Fonzie, the Sound of Music, Julie Andrews, and adored Pope John Paul II.  She was a survivor of the holocaust and as I said we have no idea if she was a true Pole or if she was a Jew or a Gypsy.  Now this allows me to makeup grand stories of her.  I have selected being a gypsy.  We have no idea who she is related to or other family members.  It was just us.  She went to the grave with the biggest secret which was her idenity.  She was who she was.  We loved her through all the good, the bad, and the crazy.

This is our first wigilia without her.  I am now responsible for the food.  I need to compile the recipes I know to retain our heritage and our babcia.  Now we visit her grave and celebrate her life.  We saw her on wigilia.  Plus, it saddened me that dziadzia was in the hospital (he is better now).  I can’t lose both, I can deal with one now. Let me have one more year with dziadiza.   I feel a bit off without her here, but she is happier now.  She will always be in our hearts and in our thoughts.

“Have no fear of moving into the unknown.
Simply step out fearlessly knowing that I am with you, therefore no harm can befall you; all is very, very well.
Do this in complete faith and confidence. ”
Pope John Paul II

Hmmmm

5 Dec

So what do I do?  What should I do? Am I on track to where I want to be?

In many ways I think I am on track.  I have a plan.  I really do.  Looking at me from another direction I can see that I may not be on the path that I should be on.

Is my map upside down?

“Every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh, and therefore it is great to be misunderstood,” said Ralph Waldo Emerson.

There are days I am a chef, others where I am a writer, some I crush apples and make cider, I keep dreaming to be the athlete I am, and others I am hopelessly lost.  I want to get lost in my mind again.  Be muddled in the word and ideas that live in my mind.  Trying to live in the moment.  The moment is so exciting and scary at the same time.  I cannot escape the black and white of how I have developed my mind, but shades of grey are sneaking in the corners.  I was told by a friend I worry too much about what others think and that I allow drama to enter my life.  This could be true.  I see what my friend said.

Where will I go from here?  Take more calculated risks.  Smile more.  Try to be the person who i want to be.  I am full of life, of energy, and of love.  I strive to be me, whoever that is.  I do find out new things about myself everyday.  Although I know my tendencies, my weakness, and my strengths.  I can still see that naive girl in the mirror yearning to follow the white rabbit into the rabbit hole.  My life should be an adventure and I do want to leave a legacy.  Will I end up like a Plath or a Bronte sister?

I am a different kind of women.  Yes, I am a little bit of sugar and a little bit of spice.  As I am very rough and tumble with moments of grace thrown in there.  I am who I am.  Totally awkward, shy, too chatty at time, and yes overly physical.  Please don’t talk to me works for me.  I am a porcupine, but if you attempt to find out who I am; you can soon find out that I am the most loyal friend you can ever have.  Inside my cold, abrupt, edgy, mute exterior is a sweet, fun, and caring girl who will help one out at anytime.  If you cross me, beware.  My heart will break and you will lose my friendship, even if I am a fool in the first place to trust you.

 

Here is a list of some of the things I want to accomplish or do:

  1. Retake photography class
  2. Make my own movies again
  3. Get lost in Italy
  4. Taking dancing class (ballroom, tap, and modern)
  5. Return to Japan
  6. Write a cookbook
  7. Get a smoker
  8. Eat a sacher torte in Vienna
  9. Go on a canoe trip
  10. Make it to Worlds
  11. Be happy

Where Have I Been?

16 Nov

Sorry for the long delay in writing.  A lot of crazy things have occurred.  I mean A LOT!

I think I have mentioned that I got a new job some time back working with cider folks, then my job with Ruhlman, and my personal life.  The cider project is very interesting and dominates the majority of my day.  It can be anything from research, preparing platters of food, pressing apples, etc.  Ruhlman is pretty awesome, he has a new book and he came to the city to promote it.  I got to spend time with him and I want to spend more time working with him.  Personal life is going well and the curling has just started up.  So, I’m in a frenzy of driving, playing, working, eating, and sleeping.  You get used to the schedule.  I enjoy it.

There is so much I want to write about; food wise, dining out, life wise, and such.  But, I really need to buckle down and doo it.  I need to make the commitment to writing again.  I miss it.  I miss it a lot.  I miss the way the words flow through my mind to my fingers.  How ideas are woven together.  How a sentence can have  rhythm.  I miss my voice.  I miss my thoughts, the way i think, the puzzle peices in my head.

By far the biggest thing that happend in my time away was the passing of my babcia.  That will be my next big post.  I need to finish the story.  It is nearly there.  She is gone and I miss her more then she will ever know.

For now I leave you with a few quotes that I am loving at the moment.

“Good, better, best. Never let it rest. Until your good is better and your better is best.” Tim Duncan

“I learned never to empty the well of my writing, but always to stop when there was still something there in the deep part of the well, and let it refill at night from the springs that fed it.”  Ernest Hemingway

“If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn’t. And contrary wise, what is, it wouldn’t be. And what it wouldn’t be, it would. You see? –The Mad Hatter
Louis Carroll

Identity Defined

21 Sep

“If you wake up at a different time, in a different place, could you wake up as a different person?”

–Chuck Palahniuk

In a time of having virtually anything, wanting everything, how can anyone be who they really are?  Each day seems to be a battle of trying to discover who one really is in the midst of the modern life we life in today.  I think I have always desired simplicity. In fact I have always wanted simplicity, but complexity seems to take over.  The best I can do is live for the moment, no matter what it maybe; a taste of a new apple, watching a hawk fly beside me in the car, or feeling a warm piece of bread in my hand.  They are snippets of sections of me.

Somehow I feel like I am at the crossroads of life again.  Reflecting on why I am the way I am.  I return to my middle school years and know why I am the way I am.  Categorized, boxed, compartmentalized, defined, and pigeonholed.  Yes, I feel trapped again.  Why not see me for who I am and what I can bring?  Why fear a free spirit and one who just is.  Please let me be.  I am stuck in samsara.  I may never get out.  Trapped by others definitions and by my own constant questioning.  All I can see if that I am going to take the same path, fall into the same trap, into my own depression.  Is it me or is it them?

Moving ahead I try to think that this time it is different.  My mind is muddled knowing that it is quite possible it is not.  Am I naive?  Am I just plain dumb?  Maybe just numb to all those around me.  I’m tired of others, I’m sick of definitions, and I am finished with haters.  Taking the first step to knowing what I want to be is the logical answer; but I feel like my map is out of date or I could just be blind.  What I think I am and who I know myself to be is something I am not quite sure of.  It is all of a bit of a puzzle, yet I have all the pieces and I do know how they all fit together.  I will get there.  When?  Soon.  How?  With a plan.  With who?  With me silly, with me.

I will then rediscover who I am and as quickly as I do; I will forget.  How ironic and how very me.  So aware and unaware at the same time.  A living dichotomy.  It is exciting and problematic at the same time.  Yet, I believe to get who I am.  That I am sour, bitter, an acquired taste to many, but I do have moments of popular normality. I am my own worst enemy more than anything else.  Then there are are times when I see the brilliance within me.  I wish I could be more balanced; if I was I would not be me.  I realize that it is time for me to be me and for those to try to accept it or I will move on like I always do.

“You are dangerous, cause you are honest.  You are dangerous, because you don’t know what you want.  You’re an accident waiting to happen.”