September

This is the exact day when I used to write, “Time to go wake up Green Day.”

As if “Green Day” was a person and as if “Wake Me Up When September Ends” isn’t about Billie Joe Armstrong’s dead father.

Ah, did you miss me? I’m a spark of sunshine in a dark world, huh?

 

Right now I’m in a library, a library that closes in an hour. I’ve been here for three hours and haven’t moved from this table in the center of everything. I’ve actually gotten a lot done. But not enough. Never enough.

 

Did I mention I’m a teacher, now? High school English, yeah. Starting off by covering a woman’s maternity leave. About fifty percent of the time I tell someone that they ask me when the baby’s due. I’m not the one with the baby. If I was, I wouldn’t be at work.

Sometimes people’s mouths move faster than their minds.

I’m starting Hamlet with my seniors tomorrow. I haven’t read Hamlet since I was a senior in high school. I was supposed to read it as a senior in college, but I figured I knew it well enough. I don’t think I know it well enough anymore.

I type fast and hard. The other library people keep glancing at me. Sorry. My fingers are silent to me. My thought-words drown them out.

I just uploaded all my Ireland pictures–pictures from a trip I took in July, almost three months ago. Yipes. Some things just get away from you. I wonder how many hours of YouTube bullshit I’ve watched since July. Probably a sickening amount.

On the plus side, my novel is truly, really, almost done. I mean DONE done, like ready to send to publishers done. I’ve “finished” 8 novels since I was 12, but this is the first novel I feel comfortable sending to a publisher. I’m terrified, lol.

“Terrified, lol” is how I’m explaining it to everybody.

Honestly, yeah. That sums it up. I’m terrified, lol. I’m scared I’m not good enough, lol. I’m hiding my fears in millennial internet slang, lol, to lighten the weight of my emotional load on the shoulders of my unsuspecting readers, lol.

I wonder if I’ll use the same pen name I use on this blog. Probably not, I’ll probably change it. Pen names are so hard. Do I go the gender-neutral initial route, or choose a good female name? Who knows.

The clock seems to go slower, here. There’s an art book for Solo: A Star Wars Story, and it’s still in plastic. No one is ever going to borrow that book. I wonder who ordered it.

Whenever I get back into blogging I realize how much I missed it. It’s so nice to journal out loud. And yes, lady by “New Non-Fiction,” I know my typing is loud. Sorry. It’s impossible to type quickly and quietly.

They probably think I’m playing a game or something. Heck, maybe I am.

 

How do people DO this art thing?! How am I supposed to deal? I never minded when college magazines would reject me because hey, they’re just as stupid about literature as I am, but a Big Boy Publisher? Damn, that will hurt. Of course I assume I’ll get rejected right out the gate.

I think it’s actually a good book, and that actually scares me more.

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i have overwhelmed myself again

and so i prep for a job i am under qualified for, using not enough time to do something too far out of reach.

i edit the novel months away from completion, i read the book a hundred pages from the end, i lounge to the sound of birds and coyotes, dozing to dreams of unfinished stories half watched or half imagined.

i listen to music halfheartedly, the hour-long compilations set to a mood, the pleading piano and weeping violin, my face wet and swollen, my hands clammy and too big for their weak wrists.

i am out of my wits.

i feel again as if i am walking down the plank, hot summer air whipping my clothes with the force of icy sea mist. i am voluntary. i am sacrifice. i am martyr for the cause of myself.

the greater good.

i leave things lowercase here. i leave my ring finger blank. it’s easier to think in grammerless terms when my mind, too, is riddled with run-on sentences. nothing in my head is in capital letters except my own voice.

i build a fortress out of phone books. i cry ink onto pages made of skin. i sit alone in a room painted green and feel locked in. i smell chlorine. it reminds me not of summer pools but of formaldehyde.

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.

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.

Substitute Teaching in my Old High School

It’s the end of the year for the kids in high school. I’m a substitute teacher now, living the high life, nearly exactly where I was when I sat in these very rooms.

My old high school is preparing itself for destruction, its replacement soaring lines of brick and mortar right over the old soccer field. This poor old building must feel like it’s being cheated on, abused by those who once loved it, those who use it without care, those who slam the doors and scratch the walls because, hey, we’re getting a new school after next year.

The kids are and always have been rather free in this school. A public school that trusts its children? Who could imagine.

This teacher has two teal staplers and one roll of transparent tape. Her desktop is otherwise blank, as well as her classroom, besides the elephant in the room in the form of a judge’s bench. It’s the legal systems classroom, where kids come to learn about laws that don’t yet apply to them. They learn about the ramifications of drinking and driving before they are legally able to do either. There’s not a single poster on the cinder blocks, only tears in the paint. An ancient chalkboard, black and empty, hangs beside a whiteboard, streaked in blue, and a Smartboard, the dirty placid feel of printed paper.

The girls’ hair falls in pin-straight strands over their shoulders, or pinned up in a bun on the top of their head, or frizzing out of a ponytail. The lone boy stares at his phone. The door might as well be revolving, but I don’t bother to close it. It is, after all, the last day of classes.

They figure their next year schedule on their cell phones. A friend comes in, smiles at me, and sits on the top of a desk. A girl juggles a slinky, drops it against the legs of her desk with the sound of cymbals.

reiki

today i tried reiki

and a woman with warm hands

washed energy from my head to my feet

with arms moving in figure eights.

 

i lay on the table like a woman about to be cut in half

and she ran up my spine in vertical lines

no one ever cured someone by pushing air around

but she seems so serious i can’t help but respect her.

 

i close my eyes and feel still

i can hear dogs–or are they coyotes?

i want to be the breath behind their teeth

i want to be the stone she holds between her palms.

 

she tells me to sleep with amethyst under my pillow

i tell her thank you

she knew my knees were bothering me

they hurt when they are straight.

 

i wanted her to tell me what was wrong with my mind

but i guess my knees are a start

and amethyst can’t hurt, anyway

what else can you do when you’re this desperate?

Allowed Feelings

I’ve been thinking a lot about “allowed feelings.” Meaning, what am I allowed to feel? This may sound ridiculous, but let me give you a personal example. I’m turning 21 in 1 week, and I’m having a bit of a crisis over it. I’ve had a crisis about my birthday since my 18th birthday, and I doubt I’ll stop soon, but this one is particularly bad.

I will be able to do nearly everything at 21. There are no more restrictions for me. And that’s scary. It’s scary also because it’s the last birthday I’ll celebrate while still in college, since I graduate in December. Who knows what I’ll be doing a year from now? What job I’ll be working? Where I’ll be living? Definitely not in this apartment, since I move out permanently in 1 month. Probably not Boston. Maybe not even Massachusetts.

But to tie all this back, I don’t feel like I’m “allowed” to feel crisisy about my age yet. I know I’m young. I know my life is just beginning, I have no agency to be sad about being so-called old. But I do.

There’s a social tendency recently to quantify emotions like this. It’s sort of like when your mom used to make you finish dinner because there’s “starving kids in Africa,” even though finishing dinner did absolutely nothing for starving kids anywhere. It’s good, of course, to put things in perspective. But just because someone may have it worse does not mean that your experiences don’t matter.

So, I suppose just because someone is older than me doesn’t mean I can’t be mindful of getting older. The whole idea of “mindfulness” is taking note of one’s feelings and not judging oneself because of them. It’s hard not to judge yourself. It’s hard not to call yourself names. I’ve called myself stupid probably 1000x more than anyone else has ever called me stupid. We are so cruel to ourselves.

This is a lot to dump on this blog all at once, but I don’t write so much anymore so I guess that’s okay. I’ve been feeling down lately and this blog is helpful when I’m feeling down. Maybe that’s partly why my birthday is a bit scary, too. I’m turning 21! I should be happy!

“Should” be happy. “Allowed” to feel. I wish I didn’t feel the need to fulfill expectations so much.

How are you guys today? Does anyone else freak out over birthdays? Sometimes it feels good to forget about perspective and just wallow in your own experiences. Maybe it’s not the most healthy thing to do, but I believe some days of unhealthiness are vital  to a healthy life. It’s like a diet cheat day, but for your mental well being. Is that an insane idea? Probably. I allowed myself to have a “bad day” like I used to have when I was deep in my depression. I skipped work and just spent the afternoon in my bed. Ever since I’ve een feeling gloomy. Maybe this whole paragraph is a bad idea. Whatever, I know for a fact it’s good to write down feelings now and then, and this is how I feel, so whatever.

A year ago, I felt so much worse than I do now. I have that to be thankful for. My 21st year will be happier than my 20th, and that is an undeniably good thing.