Friday, April 8, 2016

A Birthday, An Anniversary, and Thoughts

I don't normally get overly personal on here, unless you count shrieking at the top of my lungs about my OTPs as personal (which you should, because my OTPs are my life). But it's my birthday. A rather important birthday, for several reasons, and it wouldn't be honest of me not to share the many complex feelings clogging up my heart place.

(Possible trigger warning for peeps not yet ready to talk or think about loss or grief, aka my sisters in suckitude <3)

Today is my twenty-fifth birthday. Twenty-five years ago exactly, my twin brother and I said GOODBYE, CRAMPED WOMBY LIVING QUARTERS, HELLO WORLD and graced Los Angeles with our magnificent presences. (I came out first, of course, because I must always win.) I like to think I immediately quipped, "Phenomenal cosmic power, itty bitty living space" but a) Aladdin came out a year after I was born and b) as a newborn, I wasn't quite on top of my pop culture references, nor the ability to make word sounds with my mouth hole.

Twenty-five. That's a quarter of a century. That is...officially a GROWN UP age. I feel like the universe is playing a practical joke. ME? An adult? Are you sure? Have you thought this through? You know I'm a child, right? Did you see that Aladdin reference? Have you seen me try to tax/car/house/bill/make phone calls to other human beings? Attempt anything that involves other human beings? I'm still only semi competent at getting this mouth hole to do the word sounds. I still can't figure out that whole heartplace malarkey. Are you sure you want me to be one of the grown ups charged with setting this flaming garbage heap we call our planet back on its axis?

Apparently, yes, the universe is sure, because I'm twenty-five today, believe it or not. Time's pretty much the only thing you can't alter. It moves forward, for better and for worse.

Today, April 8th, is the twenty-fifth anniversary of my birth.
Yesterday, April 7th, is the one year anniversary my dad's death.

It's a funny thing, this universe of ours. In the Lumatere Chronicles, one of my favorite series, a character has a saying: Be prepared for the worst, my love, for it lives next door to the best. Which, wow, what a grim little maxim, but damn if the universe doesn't like to prove it again and again. Nothing ever happens cleanly, and all manner of nonsense gets tangled up in these messy heartplaces of ours. I've always loved my birthday, because I'm a self-centered girl, and I like presents and cake and attention. Though weirdly enough, I've never minded sharing it. I used to think few things can bond you like sharing wombspace and/or escaping to Witch Mountain.

this is exactly what being a twin is like

But I was wrong. Apparently, few things can bond you like tragedy, because best and worst are very friendly next-door neighbors, and they hand gifts out in pairs. (The bastards.)

The past year sucked. There's no point pretending otherwise, and anyone else who's lost a parent knows exactly how sucky it is. You don't merely move from a present tense parent to a past, losing all the tiny things that make up who they are, but a whole corridor of your identity gets barricaded, too. Parents are your crutches, your shields, your coaches, your grown ups. When you're with them, they're the adult and you're the kid, even if you're pushing twenty-five. Remove that shield and you suddenly learn just how cold it is outside.

I've never lost anyone close to me, so maybe I didn't have calluses in the right place to handle a loss of this magnitude, but when I try to think about how I would have survived my twenty-fourth year without my brother, mom, and friends (which includes all of you--wholeheartedly) (wholeheartplacedly?), I can't figure out how I would have done it. My last birthday stands out as a strange bright spot in a very blurry April, as my brother and I had dinner at my mom's with our cousins and best friends and about thirty Sprinkles cupcakes.

Be prepared for the best, my love, for it often rescues you from the worst.

I'm not a very introspective person, really. I'd much rather engage in an intense analysis of the many layers and facets of Bellarke for hours on end than turn any such in depth study on myself. I'm not a journaler, and I'm not a sharer. I don't do New Years Resolutions or quarterly goals. I just let myself be me, often to disastrous effect, and try very hard not to think on it.

oh look I got distracted again

But there's something about cataclysmic life events that really gets to you to think about...well, life. It's a dark sort of birthday, tragedy. It's like I'm both twenty-five years old and one year old today. New Gillian was born unwillingly and prematurely, and she was slapped damn hard by the doctor on her very first day, but I think I'll keep her. She can take shit a lot better than Old Gillian could, mostly because she's had no choice.

There are so many things that happened in my twenty-fourth year I wish I could share with my dad. We watched Gilmore Girls religiously together when I was a teen. The fact that it's coming back, and this year...well, it's both glorious and horrible, really, but I'm also so excited my heart does dangerous little spins whenever I think about reuniting with Lorelai and Rory. We used to watch American Idol together too. Now, it's American Idol's farewell season--last night was its final episode--a nostalgia-soaked beginning and ending all wrapped into one, because the universe, man. What timing.

One of my dad's favorite things was politics. He lived for election season, and I'd give anything to hear his thoughts on our current and sundry political fiascos. It's weird how little things like TV and current events are what you wind up missing the most. They're on par with the things I felt while attending an August wedding, watching a family friend get walked down the aisle by her father. You lose both the big things and the little.

I'm living on my own now. Every time something goes wrong with the cable, my laptop, the wi-fi, hell, even the coffee maker, my first instinct is to call him to fix it like dads do.  This year I learned how to fix them on my own like a real adult-shaped, grown-up type, old-ish person, and I hate that I did, but I love that I can. Best and worst, side by side.

These are only a fraction of the sucky and painful, happy and funny thoughts I've got on this, the highest of holidays, the Birth of Gillian. I'm definitely not sharing them to depress you, especially since I know I'm not the only one of my blog readers who's going through the same thing. I'm not sharing to look for sympathy, or even to elicit any "I'm sorry"s or *hugs* (in fact, if you do, I may cry, so don't get too mushy on me). Because honestly, Birthday #25 is promising to be bomb ass. So bomb ass that I'm feeling all Hallmark card-y, or like one of those inspirational needlepoint pillows I've always hated. I've climbed a mountain, weathered a storm, yadda yadda, cliche cliche, nuns are singing, and the forecast is looking rather delightful.

April 7th is a horrid day, yes, but do you know what also happened this year on April 7th? Harry Potter world opened at Universal Studios. HOGWARTS IS HERE TO WELCOME ME HOME. Or I'm here to welcome it home? To my home? Whatever. The point is, HARRY POTTER WORLD.  It's super nice of the universe to do me a solid and give me Hogwarts for my twenty-fifth birthday.

April also has the LA Times Book Festival. Friends coming into town. Birthday excursions. A trip to New York. TICKETS TO HAMILTON. The Raven King. And then there's May, the month of BEA, the best part of every year by miles, and Blogger Con where I'm speaking on a PANEL like a PROFESSIONAL ADULT-ESQUE HUMAN, and Captain America, and deep dish pizza and donuts and boozy bookish ladies and all manner of fantabulous things.

And then there's the fact that this year, I'll be buying my own home. BUYING. OWNING. WITH ROOMS AND FLOORS AND DOORS AND EVERYTHING. I won't have my dad to help me pick a place-- he loved to share his opinions, and he had them on everything--but it's also because of him I can get a place at all. Best and worst. The universe is a bitch, and births and deaths come hand in hand.

To once more quote the Lumatere Chronicles and Our Lord and Savior Melina Marchetta: Today, I'm leaning on the side of wonder. Because hey, I'll only be twenty-five for a year. I'm in my mid-twenties (*has a minor quarter-life crisis at the mere thought BUT THAT'S ANOTHER FREAK OUT FOR ANOTHER POST*) . That is scarily adult, but it also comes with a lot of cool freedoms and the chance to really set myself in stone, I guess. There's something awesome about leaving that chaotic, teeming cesspool of uncertainty that constitutes teenage identity and the following "uh...what now?" period of young adulthood. Those twenty-four other years were me trying on a bunch of hats that maybe fit but maybe didn't, and now I get a chance to settle on the one that suits me best.

this one

We millennials. We don't grow up until we're forced, kicking and screaming. Or at least until we weirdly realize, wait a second. I'm kind adult-ish thing-type already, despite the hours a day I spend on tumblr reblogging gifs of Bob Morley emoting.


(I know that was a lot of emotional blathering, but thanks to everyone who read it all, and thanks to you guys for being entirely, constantly awesome. It's been three and a half years since I entered YAlandia. Here's to three and a half more. <3) (And here's to many more years of emotionally charged Bellarke hugs)


  1. So, so many hugs to you. I knew you lost someone last year but I never knew who, and that is hard as hell. But it's quite literally awesome that you're finding strength in the pain, and new life out of loss, and I'm sure he would be so damn proud. I hope your 25th year is everything you need and want it to be - happy happy, my friend <3

  2. Did you know I'm obsessed with you and I'm gonna tackle hug you when you get your butt to my city at the end of this month? Yes? Good. Just checking.

    To many more birthdays, many more introspections, many more cupcakes/donuts/whatever else we can find to eat while together, and to as little future loss as possible -- HEAR THAT, UNIVERSE? (PS: Let's plan our next vacation. I would like one with little walking and much sun.)

  3. Loved this post! I thought you were younger! I'm 25 too, well I turn 26 this year though. Keep doing what you love and reading what your heart wants. Don't let adult life ruin your happiness! <3

  4. you are so right...we can never be ready to loose a parent and growing up too quickly as a result ( same s it's never easy to become teh parent of our parent but thankfully you don't have to face that!)
    it's won't be easy anytime soon either ...i'm still hoping my father will come and help me or share his thoughts but i'm sure you made and are making him proud by standing up

    so wile universe can be so unfair he also can be giving so HAPPY BIRTHDAY i really wish you all teh happiness in teh world and i'm sure you will have fun in your vacation so just enjoy it to the fullest!

  5. (Going to try and keep this is as least mushy as possible because of who we both are as people but) there's a point pretty early on in The Vanishing Throne when Aithinne turns to Aileana in the middle of battle, cups her cheek, and tells her she's extraordinary. And I think that she'd tell you the exact same thing because you are. (Did this work? Between the vague referencing and the very not subtle pressure to just READ IT, I can't entirely tell.) I think you're an excellent person, Giller, and I hope you have a birthday as amazing as you.

  6. I cannot imagine the loss of a parent because my parents are my rock! This post made me cry it's so beautiful! I really hope that the next year starts to look up for you!

  7. Wow, props to you for writing this and for getting through the past year. I got emotional just thinking about what you went though because my dad is the absolute best person I know and I can't imagine anything without him. The way you're looking on the bright side of things is actually so inspirational because I've had a bit of a rough year and I have a great habit of only looking at the negative things and getting stuck in that horrible rut. I've also been super inspired to make a lil personal post on my blog about my past year, too, which I think will be good for me (thanks for all this inspiration). On another note; I'm also going to BEA! And speaking on a panel!! For the first time!!! Look at us. Doing cool things despite it all. I don't read your blog as often as I wish I did, but I do see your Instagram all the time and just love everything you post (I also admire your dedication to The 100, I stopped watching mid-2nd season...). I hope we have the time to see each other during the BEA craziness!!

    Love, Emily (blueeyedbiblio)

  8. I read this at work which is probably not a very good idea because I want to cry and shouldn't because, work and all. I can't imagine the loss of a parent and I'm sorry that you had to experience it at an age that I want to say people shouldn't have to. I'm glad that you've had family and friends to help you weather the storm and i hope there will be good things in store foe you in the upcoming year! I hope you have a fabulous birthday and yay for Hogwarts literally opening to celebrate your day ;) I'll also be at BEA and hope to see you there!

  9. I have nothing to say except I wish I could give you an in-person hug, so this virtual one will have to duffice for the next few weeks. *hugs*

  10. Big hugs to you, darling Gillian! I can't imagine what it's like to lose a parent, and I honestly don't know what to say that would be comforting or helpful. Just wanted to say that I'm thinking of you, and wishing you more healing and more peace and more joy in this 25th year of yours! I'm so glad you've found things that help you get through such a tough year, and I continue to hope for the best for you <3

  11. Slack. You should cut yourself some.
    First off: grown up adult thing is a state of mind, NOT an age (and I don't mean this in the 'be silly and you'll stay young forever' way but in the serious 'once you've hit enough major life events, you're a grown up, regardless of how much mileage you have'). Yes, losing a parent, definitely one of those. I can't imagine, and I hate thinking about because we'll all lose our parents. As a first death? That's straight-up fucking MEAN, universe. That's...I dunno, first sunburn because you fell into a bonfire. So....surviving that deserves a badge.

    I don't think Millenials are being dragged into responsibility at all. The vast majority of you that I know, you have your shit together AN ENTIRE DECADE before my generation (Gen X) did. I just bought my first house at age 34, ok? You got this whole thing covered. In fact, your generation is more politically involved than mine, as well as more fiscally, socially, and environmentally responsible. Can we please retire the baby boomers and just hand y'all the reins? You got this. We'll only mess it up more, because we're a decade behind you in development.

    In other words: Happy Birthday. You rock. In a very strong, mature, got-your-shit-together way.
    And if anybody tells you different, punch them in the mouth.


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