self portrait

I feel like the sort of person who would have gotten much help out of this blog, in the old days. It was so cheery and positive. So helpful. Conversation Starters and Short-Fic Fridays. I’ll let them stay published. I can’t say the same for this 2018 drivel.

I wonder how long I’ll be in this rut. I feel as if I am watching my life from behind stained glass. I can sense things, but vaguely, distant. I hear things as if from a dream. I see things as if through a cloud. I feel things as if under a heavy winter coat. Pressure, no sensation.

I’m exaggerating. I’ve said before, I think, that this blog has become nothing but the glorified diary of a depressed person trying to accept the fact that 22 is a harder year than was promised. I’m exaggerating. I have bad moments and good moments. Both come on like nausea, sudden and unavoidable.

Sometimes I feel bright and rosy. I like watching the teenage lovebirds in class, drawing on each other’s arms in permanent marker, making each other laugh with silly noises and light bops on the nose. I love how they look at each other. At least I still have love.

That’s the thing. My love life is in order, it has been for years. It’s my everything else that’s gone awry. My career and my future, my emotions, my novel, my living situation. Living at home again is like willfully locking myself back in a prison. And then leaving, and then locking myself back up at night. I have freedom, but it’s a privilege, it’s temporary, and the prison hangs over my head, the way Monday taints Sunday night.

I really got to erase all of my name off this blog. It becomes more and more of a diary every day.

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treehouses

Looking for Alaska used to be my favorite book, then it was Cat’s Cradle, and now I think it’s The Bell Jar. I really did like The Bell Jar. I really like most books I read. Nutshell was pretty good too, by Ian McEwan. Ian McEwan? I think that’s right. He also wrote Atonement, so, whoever wrote Atonement also wrote Nutshell. It was a story based on Hamlet, told from the point of view of an unborn fetus. It was pretty good.

Anyway. I like books about sadness and death I guess. Depression. I like things that remind me of myself. Things that make you think.

BUT. I’ve also been enjoying Little Women, which is so bright and positive and cheery and simple. I just love it. It’s so innocent and nostalgic. I wish I lived it.

I don’t know. Maybe it’s just ‘cause it’s well written.

I want a treehouse. I’ve always wanted a treehouse. It was one of those things my parents promised me but never got. I would read in it, until the bees found it. Then I would have left it to rot, and my parents probably knew that. But I still want one.

drivel

Is anyone I know reading this drivel? I sort of am afraid someone is. I wouldn’t be surprised if someone I know finds it, calls the suicide hotline for me. I’m not going to kill myself. I just know I’m not, however easy it would be, however nice it would be to have a doorway past which there is zero chance of suffering.

I’m here, as long as I can be, thinking too much and writing too little. I should write a bit a day. I really should. I don’t. Sometimes I do. Not really, though.

What do you think of it? I used to get lots of stars, lots of comments. I have 800 followers. I did so much work just to abandon this blog, then return years later to spit out unreadable drivel. Drivel! Can you even make sense of it? I can’t. I probably sound insane. Maybe I am, whatever.

Sometimes I talk myself in circles. Sometimes I talk so much I get confused and my own thoughts don’t make any sense, and I have to retreat and go to my plants and candles and sit in silence and meditate and chill and try to be happy alone.

I’ve been swirling around a sink drain, clawing out not because I’m afraid of the U bend but because I want to be okay. I want to get out of the sink and onto the counter, bury myself in the bowl of fruit and breathe in sugar.

Is this poetry? Is this anything?

I just need to go home. I’ve been in this chair for hours. I would never survive in an office, I’d go incredibly mad, even worse than I am now.

I wish I had curly hair, wavy hair. My hair is bland and flat.

I’m fine, but that’s hard to gauge. What is it like to be fine? Am I fine? How depressed am I? I know I should go back to my therapist, but compared to my old self—the only thing I have to compare to, truly—I am much better. My bad days aren’t as bad, my good days are far better.

I keep saying “I.”

This blog probably comes off as a bit scary.

What would an “Introvert Playground” even look like? A library, probably. A quiet room with a big fireplace. Playground, hell. I used to love playgrounds. They always became pirate ships. I would hold onto one of those poles, up top by that big castle roof, let the wind blow around my hair and the sweatshirt I wrapped around my waist, look off to the forest and see nothing but a wall of seawater. I would smell in the woodchips brine and wet wood. I would see the new world in the cracked pavement of the parking lot.

healing?

You know what’s like, incredibly ironic?

I think I heal from overwork by…doing work.

Is that absolutely insane?

The only thing that seems to cure my stress is getting rid of my stressors. Maybe this is healthy, maybe not. I should really go back to therapy.

I’ve realized I get more stressed when I don’t do things than when I do. So I’ve been keeping busy, but not biting off more than I can chew. Doing tasks I can finish after starting.

Avoiding my unfinished novel…gah, see? Even this isn’t without guilt, without stress. I’m always not doing something.

I think it’s from growing up in such a stressful environment, pertaining to grades and expectations. Maybe it’s just because I have high expectations for myself. I don’t know. Maybe I’m a realist in an optimist world. Maybe I’m a real downer most of the time.

 

 

religion

I grew up Catholic, then met a boy two years older who was smart and tall and loved me like I was his last breath. He was an atheist, but he called me his angel.

I have to give him credit, because I never questioned things before him. He made me skeptical. Later, cynical. I questioned the anxiety I felt at home, and why my family injected into my heart more fear than love. I questioned my future in “some sort of science” and realized my hands couldn’t stand to spend their energy with numbers and figures but chose art instead. I questioned even that: my writing was so frivolous and childish compared to his–his made me feel emotions I never thought about when writing my silly science fiction and high-octane adventure. Eventually, I even questioned our relationship. We broke it off after maybe half a year or so.

I was an atheist. Then an agnostic. I used science and logic above all else, and when others touted faith I labelled them as ignorant.

That lasted awhile. It’s hard to be an atheist when you’re afraid of ghosts. Not necessarily that I believe in ghosts, but long hallways and creaks in the night do frighten me more than they ever would an atheist. Perhaps an atheist would be afraid of these sounds but first think of burglars, you argue. True, I say. But I don’t think of burglars, I think of ghosts.

Spirits, maybe. Spirits would probably be more politically correct.

Thanks to that first love of mine, I also stopped performing so much of my life. I had told him it would be hard for him to meet my friends, as I acted so differently around him than I did them. I told him everything, you see. He knew me better than I did, myself. He found this confusing.

Aren’t you yourself, with me?

Yes.

Then why aren’t you yourself with them?

Again, it was something I had never questioned before.

With this loss of performance, I stopped performing atheism as well. There are mysteries in the world we can’t explain, I said to myself but never out loud. I was afraid to out myself as a faltering academic to my scientific friends. They’d say I was going off the rails. Drama kids and their yoga bullshit. They’re getting to her, they’d say. Or not. I was so worried about what they’d say.

In any case, I was a secret agnostic, hiding both from my religious family and vehemently anti-regilious friends. And I stayed that way for quite some time.

Then I graduated college.

They say God comes to you in times of need. I turned instead to Wicca. Don’t people always? I feel like Wicca wouldn’t still exist if not for college kids experiencing some sort of crisis.

I put off job applications to learn tarot cards. I swept off the top of a bookcase to make my little alter and burned candles at midnight. I meditated with crystals clutched deep in the pit of my palms.

I don’t really believe in it. But what it has been doing is calming my anxiety–ah, did you notice the tense change? I’m still in this phase of life.

The thing about Wicca is it’s kind of silly, but isn’t all religion? What’s the difference, between praying on your knees or meditating in a lotus position? Eating Jesus’s bread and body versus lighting a handful of candles? Eh. Maybe it’s because Catholicism is so pagan, honestly. So many crazy traditions ripped from local religions. Maybe it’s me getting back to my roots after all, but roots that extend deeper than just the Christian ones.

It’s silly. It’s silly, and I know it’s a phase. And I don’t believe in the gods, and the goddesses, and that the elements are blessing me, or whatever…but I do believe in the calming power of meditation. And sitting in front of a candle with some pretty stones and plants and dried roses is like sitting before a gorgeous altar in a church. It makes things feel sacred and calm. It makes things feel right.

I need some ritual in my life of turbulence. It’s been so insane. I disappeared into the mountains to teach ski lessons after graduation, then decided to teach high school English and get my masters, and now I’m in limbo waiting for someone to give ol’underqualified me a job. Of course I turn to something for certainty.

Bottom line is that I don’t know why I’m doing this, or anything else. And you, metaphorical “you” who still reads this blog: you know I only come back to this place when I’m depressed. Maybe it’s manifested itself in strange customs and rituals this time instead of slicing open my thighs with a pocket knife. So this is probably healthier.

All I know is, it’s making me less anxious. And I’m not scared of creaks in the hallway at night any more. So. Who knows. Whatever.

writing, during all this

Writing my actual novel tends to take a backseat during times of great stress. I suppose that’s why adults have fewer hobbies than children. I remember a time when every second of my day was eaten up. Dance classes took up most of my free time after school, but I also had Brownies on Mondays, church choir on Thursdays, soccer practice on Tuesdays, cello lessons on Thursdays before choir….

Why do I feel infinitely more burned out now?

I think it’s because little girl me knew how to take a break. I never practiced cello or soccer or my dance routines–of course, I should have practiced all of them, and maybe if I had more time I would have. No, after I left that building, I was done with it for a whole week.

All my activities now are things I should be doing when I want to be relaxing. Writing a novel is something that  feel like should take up every free breath. Learning Spanish, they emphasize, needs to take place every day. Even my job as a summer school teacher is taking up my free moments, if not in work than in anxiety and nerves.

Even “relaxing,” when I manage to do it, is productive. Maybe that’s a good thing, or maybe it points to a deeper issue inside myself. I can’t just chill and watch something on television, I have to be working through a series, or reading a book, or meditating, or drawing…I have to be completing a task or creating something new at all times.

It’s exhausting. I want to be able to put it all aside and play with dolls for an hour, then move onto Playdough.

But still I write, and it is good, because I do enjoy it. It is hard, and it takes time. But I love it, I do. And I am so close to being done with this novel, and then I can send it out places and get it published and start a new one, and let the whole thing start over again.

 

sunk cost fallacy and control

I painted my nails this awful color that’s normally purple but shines green in the light. It’s mainly a sickly grey, like raw chicken or old beef, but it took ages to put on so I’m leaving it, resigned to my fate.

Sunk cost fallacy.

That’s what’s locking my friend into a relationship he’ll certainly be leaving in a month or so. It’s what locked me into college when I grew to hate it by first spring. It’s what draws me to buy thing after thing after I buy the first damn thing.

You needn’t worry about me, you metaphorical “you.” I am fine. Writing like this makes me feel better. It’s good practice, too. It’s fun to write again, not just edit in tedium. It’s so annoying to edit. I love it. I hate it. C’est la vie.

This classroom is ringed in colored curtains, shielding the class from the new building going up next door. I am bathed in pink and blue. Jackhammers buzz out the window, men shout, hammers drive. Again I wonder what the school thinks, if it could. How it would sigh if it could breathe, how it would gaze longingly at the new brick, the fresh paint. I imagine buildings as trees, often enough. The way trees likely enjoy a fresh rain and endure, dutifully, a harsh winter, so does this school, standing for three quarters of a century in the spot of its birth, sinking ever lower in the swamps of this state, housing generation after generation of accent-laced townies. How many coffees have been drunk up by this stained carpet, colored like burgundy television static? Pixelated, undistracting, unstaining.

Tonight I am hosting Dungeons and Dragons, structured play-pretend. The more things change, they say, the more they stay the same. I play several different characters while my friends play one. I am in charge. I pull the strings. It is wonderful to have control over something, even if it is just pretend. I think that’s why I liked writing so much as a child. A blank page, on which I can do whatever I want. Sullen dolls who can look as I like, say what I want, do what I command. Letters that form at my will like a magician might control cards or string. Control.

Control and power, one in the same, no? I’ve always shrunken from it, but I suppose I’ve always hungered for it.

Substitute teaching is like spying. None of the students pay me any mind, but I can’t help but overhear them. Now they are talking about first kisses, joking over one boy who hasn’t kissed anyone at sixteen. Who cares? I would have, at that age.

“At that age.” Eight years ago. Oh, how adult I like to think myself to be.