Moving On and Forward

My mother died in November 2010 and to be honest, it took me a minute to even recall the year. The year that she died is not so relevant to me, not even the date.  Honestly, its the time that I spent with her before she died that is most important. The last year she was alive was filled with many happy moments and memories, and many moments of misunderstanding and sadness. When she got sick, she told me to protect myself. She told me to look out for my siblings. I’m sure she had this same talk with my sister, who is 2 years younger, but this conversation I had with my mom in private replays in my head often.

My mom had made sure her family would be well taken care of after her passing, but she knew that her children would not get the full benefits. She reminded me to look out for myself and to try to look out for my little brother who was 6 at the time. When she died, the money was given to my dad who then gave us some. The money I took was spent towards school. Then there was the house. My dad was gracious enough to put the house under my name and my sisters name. I was 22 years old when I became an official homeowner. Only months after my mother died, we moved on and forward. The deal was to pay our own utilities and my dad would take care of the property taxes.

Dealing with the death was hard. Only two weeks after, I went back to work, and made sure the utilities were paid. Two months after, I started at a new college and made my own payments from the money my dad had given me.  I tried to be as productive as I could, but I look back and I don’t know how I went to school full time and juggled two jobs after my mom died. It got hard when I tried to balance. I couldn’t give 100 percent to one without failing the other. I wasn’t making tons of money to be paying the electricity, tv and internet of a four bedroom house, 3 bathrooms, 2 living rooms, and 3 car garage. I thought I could but I was humbled when I had to ask my dad for help, which I hated doing.

Then we added another person in the household. It was supposed to be temporary but temporary turned into indefinitely, and when no extra help came, things started to get ugly. I was crying every night. I was not happy and I found comfort in the “give no fucks” attitude. I just started living life recklessly and carelessly. I didn’t care about other peoples feelings because I felt that nobody cared about mine. I would post things on social media to try and ruin a reputation. I look back and regret some of the things I said, but at the time it felt like the only way to bring up the obvious lack of support. Everyone deals with grief differently.

Now, we all have different versions of this story, which causes for some controversy, but my reality today is that I choose renting my apartment versus living rent free with my dad, little brother, my sister, her husband, and their child. The house we bought was meant to be for us – my sister, my brother, and myself.  It was bought with the dirty insurance money that I feel like doesn’t even belong to us. I gave up my luxuries so I could be happy within myself. A part of me has resentment towards some people, but I would rather live the life I live now. I look back and see how much things have changed. I really am in a better place. I am almost finished with school, the school that I started after my mom died, I am still working and even got a second job in my career field and I just bought my own car.

Sharing all of this was hard, walking through everything step by step. I was once told that I have accomplished nothing by someone who should have been supporting me. I think I am proving those people wrong now. I am so happy today and I am doing great. I know my mom is watching over me and is proud of the adult I’ve become.

Creating My Dream Space

I remember being 14 and daydreaming about my future adult life. I pictured myself living by myself in a stylish apartment in some big city and eating pizza whenever I wanted. Now 11 years later, I live that life. Well, Long Beach is more laid back than a big city I dreamed of but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I love this city; it is even better when I get to share my dream life with my amazing boyfriend. We don’t live on the expensive part of town. I like to say we live where the real people of Long Beach live in; the people you hear about in the rap songs from the early 90’s. My one bedroom apartment is located on the historic Pine Avenue. We are a bike ride away from all of the downtown attractions which means you don’t need to deal with all the horrible traffic down there. It may not be the luxury condo that they have a couple of blocks away (for triple our rent), but this apartment is definitely my own and that is all I can ask for.
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*Death Kitty Print made by MRDR and available at http://mrdr.storenvy.com/*


It is very important for me to create my own personal space that I love. The space we live in is kind of awkward but we make it work. When we moved to this apartment, I knew I wanted to utilize the space on the walls. I have a weird OCD thing where I hate when people put things on their walls and that is the only one thing on their big ass wall. I knew if I was going to put things up, I had to go all out. I didn’t want to shell out a ton of money for the art that was going to go up so I started creating my own art pieces before we moved and decided to put all the pieces up along with a lot of other art by some local artists we’ve met at zine events. All the art in different sized frames (mostly from thrift shops) creates a home feeling for me and it also helps my creative juices flowing when I can’t seem to do any work.

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Our living room is where it gets tricky. We don’t have a garage so our living space triples as a bike lot/office/living space. I don’t mind this because our bikes double as an art piece as well as our transportation and I think it fits in well with our apartment. We put everything up against the walls so it works out for us. There is 4 bikes in our living room but it doesn’t really feel that way.

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You might be thinking, “Where is the couch?” We have a little love seat I’ve had for years, but we are currently working on purchasing a new one that will be even more perfect for us. Everything we have is not too expensive (its mostly DIY art) and the furniture is from Ikea. Creating my dream living space is so fun and I hope it shows in this post.  I will end this post with a picture of my new favorite piece that my boyfriend got me for Valentines day. I hope you all enjoyed this little tour of my tiny dream apartment. Would anyone would like to  come over for some tea?

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XOXO Vanessa Ro

A Young Woman’s Perception of her Growing Chest

This article was originally featured in Influentza Independent PressOutbreak: Dysmorphia. Published in 2013. Originally titled: Beauty and the Breasts

When I was 8, I got God’s gift to women – breasts. I was the only girl in school to actually wear a bra because I needed it. The rest of the girls wore bras because they wanted to look older and more mature; they wanted to look like their mothers. Even at that age, I knew I was not my mother and did not aspire to be like her; her boobs were funny to me. Before I developed, my mother said my boobs would be bigger than hers because I made fun of her for it, she knew that my breasts were on their way and they were coming fast. One morning, she drove me to Target and we stood in the women’s underwear section. At 8 we skipped the training bras and headed towards the woman’s section. “I think you might be an A,” she said, then quickly took it back and said, “Actually, you look like a B.” I was so nervous and ashamed standing there, fearing I would run into someone I knew. I was jealous that my younger sister didn’t have to go through this and I was angry that I had to go through this first. My insecurities as a teenager started from the point that I stood in the underwear section that day.

Quickly after developing breasts came lower back problems and a lot of insecurities, I felt so ugly, I felt alone, I felt like no one would ever want me, and from then on I referred to them as my curse. I started receiving attention from all the boys in my class, and even at 8 they noticed my growing bust. The constant staring would make me feel uncomfortable, and my mom took it as an opportunity to point out that boys weren’t interested in my personality, just my chest, and from grade school on I was influenced by that mentality. I couldn’t develop relationships with boys because I just assumed that was only thing they wanted. Girls made fun of me because of my breasts and I found it hard to form friendships with my peers, especially in high school. I thought people were just always redirected to my chest when having a conversation with me.

Shopping was horrible. When we would go shopping, my mother never let me buy low cut shirts because she was convinced people were always looking.  I knew that if I even dared to look at a small or a medium shirt, it wouldn’t fit me because my boobs were just too big; I wasn’t even going to try. In reality, I was still very small, and I was so frustrated in my own body that I was so unhappy for such a long time. Then I started seeing a double standard with my parents; whenever I would want to wear things that would accentuate some body parts, my mom would come up and cover me right away. Then, when my younger sister, much skinnier, would wear almost the same thing, my mother would compliment her.

I eventually learned that my boobs weren’t a curse. I still have issues with them, from not fitting into certain dresses because it won’t zip up all the way to fearing exposing myself when wearing low cut shirts, but in the end I learned to work with what I have and embrace that I am in fact a curvy woman. If I ever got rid of them, I don’t think I would feel like myself.

Welcome

Hello Everyone. I am Vanessa Ro. I am a 20 something year old trying to figure out how to be an adult. I woke up one morning and decided I wanted to have my own personal blog where I can just be myself and not worry about any kind of censorship. Hello Vanessa Ro has existed for many, many years. I recently decided to take it more seriously and move to WordPress because I feel like the serious bloggers are on here. hah. I’m only kidding but I hope for this site to archive a new chapter in my life. I feel as if I am finally coming into my own as a person and I am having so much fun being me. I hope to make time to write more personal stories and share my experiences with you.

xoxo Vanessa Ro