[Happy] Holidays

November 23, 2012 § 1 Comment

So Thanksgiving happened. I have distinct memories of holidays at my grandmother’s house that are full of light, warmth, food, and the chatter of happy people. When I walked in the door yesterday, I could tell things were different. The atmosphere was tense. Apparently my grandmother had been cooking herself to death (because no one else in that house would ever lift a finger to help her, though they’re more than happy to put a mile-high list of demands on her) and my grandfather had been throwing tantrums all morning. There was all this stress in getting everyone together to eat, because so-and-so was complaining that we were eating too late and they were hungry, but then someone else couldn’t be found, and someone else was still taking a nap, and someone else was out at the shed, etc. So much stress just to sit down and eat a meal which we could have eaten at 1:00 or 1:20 and it wouldn’t have made a difference, but those people stress out over weird things.

The silence at the dinner table was deafening for me. All I could think of was how much I missed alec, how much easier things were when he was there. Were the dinners always this uncomfortable and I just didn’t notice because alec was there? Or were things particularly bad yesterday?

Dad’s depression is still pretty bad, so he was quiet. Grandmother was really sad because this is our first Thanksgiving without Great Gran (who died in April, just after my birthday). Lisa breezed in just for an hour or so, and then left again to head back into town. Jessica and Blake rarely talk (or smile) anyway, and Kelley kept yelling at Blake the few times she opened her mouth (she hasn’t talked to me in years and I’m fine with that), so I can’t blame him for not wanting to talk. She didn’t even have the common courtesy to get out of her sweatpants for dinner, but I guess when it’s “your house” you can do whatever you please. Things have been really different since they moved in with my grandparents. I guess when you all live together you don’t have much to talk about at the table. Even my mom, the most cheerful person in the South, voiced frustration because she was the only one in a good mood. My brother lucked out, getting to stay up n0rth because Apple doesn’t let people off for the holidays. Dinner was so uncomfortable and unpleasant, I don’t want to go home for Christmas now. That’s something I never thought I would say, but there it is. I don’t want to go.

It’s been such a weird year for holidays, too. My birthday and Easter were pretty dampened because it’s hard to celebrate when your 93-year-old great-grandmother is hooked up to machines in a hospital that she will never leave. I was violently ill during the 4th of July, so our plans to go to Atlanta were cancelled. I had actually made plans for Halloween this year but they fell through and I had schoolwork, and museum work, and training all piled on so I didn’t do anything at all for Halloween, the weekend before or the day of (when I had class until 8pm after a 12 hour day). Maybe I’d put too much pressure on Thanksgiving to be this perfect day of happy family time. My family isn’t happy anymore.

I spent a lot of the day hanging out “down the hill” at the outhouse where the washer/dryer are doing all the laundry that I’d had piling up since the last time I was home in early October. A little dog, Gus, lives down the street but sometimes comes to hang out down by my parents’ and aunt and uncle’s houses. He’s pretty adorable, some kind of a jack russel mix with sweet brown eyes and cute ears that do this bounce thing when he runs across the field. Gus does this quiet little whine that Cleo does when he’s being petted and likes it, and he does it louder when he thinks you’re about to stop. Anyway, I sat outside with him as I waited for my laundry to finish a cycle. Mom came down and visited with me as well. I wish we could all be happier for her. I know it must be exhausting for her to be around all these depressed people. My family members can be pretty gross too, they all smoke cigarettes which is revolting, and we’re all pretty sure my uncle is an alcoholic, but no one says anything. There’s always a lot of drama too, so Mom and Grandmother both just try to keep their noses clean of it. That’s a tough thing to deal with at home though, when you should be able to kick back and relax instead of worry that you’re going to say the wrong thing and start a shitstorm. There are so many great reasons for why I no longer live up there with the family. I’m not built for that kind of environment. And I know it’s taking a toll on mom, and probably dad too. I can’t imagine it’s making things better for him. I actually do think it helps that he lives so close to his brother. They’re pretty friendly, not like me and my brother, and John seems to be in high spirits most of the time. He’s got a good sense of humor about life which I think helps dad. I don’t know.

I guess I’m doing that thing again where I want to peace out just because things are uncomfortable. It’s weak, I know. But what else can I do? Sit there and suffer through it and feel even more miserable rehashing why alec isn’t there to make things better? I sit there at the big table, listening to the silence and feeling like I have so little in common with anyone. My parents and my grandmother are nice to talk to, but sometimes I get really mad about how everyone else in the house treats them that we just end up arguing. Apparently my understanding of family isn’t the same as theirs. I would never run over my family members, and I certainly wouldn’t constantly run over my family members and then yell at them for being in the way of my car, figuratively speaking. That’s how I see the interactions on the mountain, but I’m also biased of course. Family dynamics are as delicate as they are complicated and I prefer to stay as far away from them as possible most days. I just wish our special days, these holidays, were the way I always remembered them. With everyone so unhappy, I’m really not looking forward to Christmas…

 

Edit: Thought I should mention that I did retake the GRE today for the fourth time. Still got the same score as the last time I took it, despite the revised version of the test. Thought the new test was still pretty hard. Either way, basically retook it for no good reason since my score didn’t improve. It’s a funny thing when you realize that even though it’s been years, you’re still the same person you were when you were 20. Hah hah, life. Hah hah. Let’s still keep hope alive that I might get into a PhD program, though. Get some kindling for that flickering flame. This time I have to get in.

Happy Holidays

November 22, 2012 § 5 Comments

It’s funny how incredibly predictable life can be at times. For example: take an emotionally broken girl who just a few months ago got out of a serious, long-term relationship that sent her into a spiral of self-destruction that she’s only just now beginning to drag herself tooth-and-nail out of, and try to start something new with her. But instead of taking it slow, for some reason, despite the lengthy warning label stapled to her forehead, you toss her into the deep end of the dating pool where you’re inviting her over to meet your mom and your best buddies just two days later and wanting to spend all your time with her. Somehow, after all the verbal and written warnings, after the lengthy warning label, you’re actually surprised that she freaked out and shut down when you chunked her in the deep end? I mean, honestly, how many kids actually learn to swim that way? I’d like to see some statistics for that.

Some people say that I’m self-sabotaging, that I over-think things to such an extent that I refuse to start them because somewhere down the road I imagine troublesome road blocks. I’m not a little kid anymore. I’ve lived enough of life to know myself pretty well, and I can recognize and accept that I am a big mess, but I’ve learned to politely but firmly warn people of that fact and the consequences that will result of getting involved with someone like me.

The sad thing is that I’ve always been like this. The few times really great, sweet guys are interested in me [and I’m actually mutually attracted to them], I shut down and shut them out. But when someone treats me like shit, I’m content following them around, nipping at their heels until they turn around and kick me in the face. Alec is an interesting case because he is a great, sweet guy, but he’s so emotionally damaged that I didn’t feel the need to shut him out and he made me feel insignificant enough that I followed him around for five years.

Of course, I have a theory about this, and for a long time I refused to entertain it, but given recent events, I think I have to.

Chase used to tell me he didn’t want to be in a relationship because people can’t be in love unless they love themselves first, unless they’re okay with who they are when they’re alone. I’ve always rolled my eyes whenever I’ve heard things like this in the past, but I’m starting to think there might be a scintilla (GRE word!) of truth in it. This truth really has two parts: loving myself and letting someone love me. For some reason lately, I keep having the saying “We accept the love we think we deserve” run through my head. I think it must be subconsciously seeping into my thoughts through The Perks of Being a Wallflower movie advertisements, because I’m pretty sure that quote is in that book (everyone else in art school read the book, but I didn’t. ever the rebel). Anyway, I think that whenever I get around people who could actually love me, I shut down because I don’t believe anyone ever could or perhaps should love me. I’m volatile, impulsive, impatient, and I lash out whenever I feel hurt, tired, or vulnerable. I have impossibly high expectations for everyone, but especially for myself, and I beat my ass to a pulp when I fail to meet or exceed those expectations. I’m constantly negative or wrapped up in my own head, a result of a genetic predisposition for depression. I fear for anyone who dares to love me, cause that’s a kamikaze mission, if you’ll forgive the dramatization. I can’t love myself because I recognize all my flaws and refuse to forgive myself for them, and I refuse to let anyone else love me because I don’t think I deserve it and because I know I’ll just hurt them in the end.

We accept the love we think we deserve. People never really change. Depression hurts everyone. I will be alone, or I will be unhappy.

Such is life. There are few surprises.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Reflection

November 20, 2012 § 1 Comment

Man, that girl in the mirror is looking ragged. Guess things aren’t going too well over there for her. She looks exhausted, at the end of her rope.

Getting out of bed this morning was incredibly difficult, suggesting that my own depression is worsening. Sunday nights seem to be the worst times, for some reason, and I usually go to bed thinking things will be better, but I wake up feeling the same or worse. It took me 30 minutes to force myself out of bed, to force myself to take care of my animals, to put clothes on, to try to put on a face that resembled something normal. You could crack a “case of the Mondays” joke if you want, but I won’t laugh.

It’s funny (in that odd way) how the little things going wrong push me over the edge, but when it’s a bigger thing that’s going wrong, I can shrug it off and somehow make the best of it. The truck broke down today and I missed class and a doctor’s appointment, but what can ya do, right? Sometimes shit happens. I had a nice dinner with my parents, so the day wasn’t a total waste. I didn’t do a single productive thing, though, beyond doing a GRE flashcard app for vocabulary words while I waited for my dad to come check out the truck. Now I’m too exhausted to do anything productive, and the days are really counting down now. I should have stayed home instead of going out. I should have sent the emails I need to send and written the applications I need to have done. I should have spent at least an hour studying for the GRE. I accomplished nothing today.

Priorities are tricky things. Family, friends, boyfriends, school, work, volunteering, personal time. The proper balance is hard to find and you can’t balance everything without sacrificing some things. School and my applications should come first before anything else right now, yet I keep putting them last. In a topsy-turvy world where the girl in the mirror is starting to look haggard, I suppose it only makes sense that my priorities are ass-backwards. People tell me that I focus too much on the future, that I’m missing the present. Futures don’t build themselves, people. I need to get my head in the game in a serious, urgent way. I need to stop dicking around and get my shit done. I need to stop sabotaging myself at every turn.

I sure wish the girl in the mirror could talk back.

That Pesky Past

November 18, 2012 § 2 Comments

I don’t even know where to begin to try to verbalize where my head has been the past few days. Deadlines for PhD apps, the GRE, etc. are all coming up incredibly quickly and I’ve been a huge coward, pretending like if I ignore them they’ll go away, which has put me weeks behind where I should be right now. The truth of the matter is that I’m a huge coward. I blame myself for everything and the few times I let myself hope, let myself try again, let myself risk anything and it goes badly, then I beat myself up over and over again, vowing that I’ll never try again.

I was going through my old flickr page (because a number of my old flickr friends have been pushing for a new photo blog) and I found this photo and entry:

Image

in retrospect, doing a bridge off the seat of a rocking chair wasn’t the best idea I’ve ever had, but creativity is running low these days. this was my third take, and considering how much blood was rushing to my head, I think three pictures were two too many. I think the idea stemmed from my inner frustrations right now, like I’m contorted into all different directions or like I don’t know which way is up anymore. I’ve forgotten how to stand up straight, stand up tall.

got my last rejection letter today, so I’m looking at a forced year off. I haven’t felt this defeated in a long time. I tried to go for a run, but the whole time I just wanted to lay down on the lushest grass I could find and wake up after my life sorts itself out. my lease is up on june 1st, so it looks like I’m going to move by then. where to? no idea. wherever alec wants to go, I guess. so long as it’s not in the southeast, I don’t care where we go. it’s a good time to get out of here, start over, catch up on all the things I’ve wanted to do but couldn’t.

the list:
-read for pleasure
-get back in the studio
-ride horses regularly
-and hang out with my animals more

it’s a short list, I suppose, but those are the things I miss most that I haven’t done in the four years I’ve been busting my ass in undergrad. and for what? nothing. I have absolutely nothing to show for that work. so now, a year off. at least I have alec, and the girls, and a family that loves me.
I’m so glad I didn’t lose them along the way.

I remember sitting in the car crying, holding that last rejection letter, feeling my aspirations circling the drain. It’s so weird being back in the same position, writing applications again and hoping against hope that just one place will accept me. What’s funny and perhaps a touch poetic about that flickr entry is I didn’t do any of that “short list” above. I’ve made five pieces of art in the last two years. I haven’t ridden a horse since college. I do read on occasion for pleasure, and I suppose I spend a decent amount of time with the girls, but I still feel like I should be doing more. Obviously, I lost alec along the way, but I know I did what was best for me, so I won’t dwell on that.

What I am dwelling on is my current spinelessness. I’m so afraid of what I see as the inevitable — the rejection letters all over again — that I can’t even start my applications, which is just going to turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy. I’ll write them very last minute and thus trash any slim chances I had of getting into a program. Feelings of being directionless and powerless are overwhelming. A number of professors I initially contacted about doing prospective student interviews have emailed me back, asking when a good time to talk is, but I’ve ignored the emails because I’m too afraid to call them, too afraid to feel like an idiot again. What would I do, anyway, if I did get into Stanford, or UPenn, or any of the other schools? Who am I to say that I deserve a sacred spot in one of the top programs in the country? Confidence is key, kids, and this girl is seriously lacking confidence.

My lack of backup plan is disturbing as well, and a further example of my own cowardice. Is it weird that I’m feeling contentment in Birmingham? I think it’s just fear, that I’m afraid of venturing out into the world again, of having to continue the struggle for an unknown amount of time. Birmingham is incredibly easy. Cheap, familiar, small. I view the PhD program as a bit of a security blanket, as a period in time where I don’t have to worry about money (stipends, bitches!) or moving again or if I’m going to lose my job. I’ll be stable, tied to a particular location and activity, connected to a certain group of people for about 5 years. That’s so desirable to me right now. I want that, I want to be in one place and get comfortable. I’m just so exhausted from moving all the time, from things always being in a state of flux or change or disruption, from constantly trying to plan for a future that I can’t predict. I want to get somewhere and just sit.  Is it laziness? Maybe. But I’ve been going full speed for literally years, constantly taking on multiple things at once, biting off way more than I can chew, and working myself into the ground. I’m tired. I don’t want to settle anywhere permanently, but it sure would be nice to not have to move every year. I’m just exhausted, I don’t know how else to put it. Not getting into a PhD program this time around is really going to be a bad news bears kind of day.

How about another picture (this is from my senior year in college, as the photo entry above is)? I leave you with this, a self-portrait I made that I think expands on the idea expressed above, about feeling totally disoriented and out of sorts. Thank god for gravity, eh?

Image

Addendum: So I read a bit of my brother’s blog, just because I was thinking about him earlier today when talk of siblings came up. People are always surprised that I have a brother, though for some reason they always assume I have siblings. I guess they just think that my siblings are much older since I so rarely talk about them, or him, as the case may be. Anyway, most of my brother’s blog is disinteresting to me, though it is significantly more creative writing than my “whine-athon” entries. In my defense, my daily life is fairly creative and I use my blog in a therapeutic “thought vomit” kind of way. He had an entry that I skimmed through about looking back on his college days, when he had these great friends who he did crazy things with. Life was spontaneous, exciting, inspiring. He feels a distinct and lasting affection for those years of his life, those people he became close to. I don’t have that at all. I spent so much time building my resume, taking extra classes, and focusing on getting into a PhD program that I didn’t really make friends. I didn’t do anything crazy, I wasn’t inspired or excited. I don’t have crazy stories from my college days. I spent all my time trying to fulfill the expectations my parents set for me, that I set for myself. I spent all my time pursuing job opportunities, internships, academic honors. Alec was my only real social interaction outside of family, and at least half the time, he wasn’t even that interested in seeing me. I worked so hard, I sacrificed so much, and for what? My resume is a piece of paper, meaningless and temporal. There is little that is lasting about it. I try not to think about all the years I spent building it, all the summer vacations I gave up so I could take more classes, do an internship, take on something else that I thought would help me get into a PhD program. My life is a piece of paper that can’t even get me a decent job in a museum or into a PhD program at a top-tier school. We can never go back. I made my choices, my college years will never be a fond memory for me. I have no more nostalgia for that time in my life than I do for my childhood. There is little in my past that I want to return to, and there is little in my past that I actually enjoyed. It’s going to be a sad day if it turns out that I made all the wrong choices. Alive for the first time, alive for the last time. We all do what we can and that’s all we can do.

November 15, 2012 § 4 Comments

The last few hours have consisted of my brain whirring away, mulling over different things but not coming to any kind of resolution or conclusion. Dissatisfying and ultimately unproductive.

Unrelated, I picked up my work from that gallery in avondale and I can’t tell you what a relief it is to have those pieces back on my wall. I really missed them. Things feel right with art on the wall, in its proper place. I didn’t sell anything, but that’s not a surprise since I’ve never sold anything. Guess people don’t want pictures of dead children on their walls… wonder why…

I’ve been feeling the creative tug lately. I even looked at art supplies on dick blick yesterday, but couldn’t let myself put the $50 on my credit card. So I didn’t buy anything, but maybe someday, after PhD applications are paid for and I get my student loans, I’ll be able to buy the supplies I need. I’m going to take my work in a different direction, mainly in process/method not subject matter. I want to have more of my hand in my work instead of doing so much with collage. I’m a reasonably talented drawer, so I think I should exhibit that skill. Plus it’s just more personal when you’re looking at work that has a close relationship with an artist’s hand. I think that’s why I don’t like digital art — it doesn’t have the same grit or heart that a work created by flesh, muscle, bone has. I almost justified buying more art supplies by saying that it would help my PhD application stand out, since I’m including pictures of my work in most of my applications. Art historians who also work in the studio are rare and that might be the only angle I can take that will help me stand out. I hate that feeling when you realize you aren’t remarkable, that you’re at most above average which is why you’re so rarely noticed.

The slim part of class I was mentally awake for the other day included a brief mention of a Japanese artist who kept a travel journal in which he would draw the places that he went, the people he saw on his trips. I would love to do that, but I’m so lazy. Right now I could be drawing, but instead I’m alternating writing this entry and staring at my blank ceiling. There’s a strip of what looks like dry wall tape that goes from one wall to the other, but they didn’t put it on correctly so it has all these areas that have wrinkles or are peeling away from the rest of the ceiling on one side. I can’t decide if there is some kind of electrical wire that the tape is covering or if they really were so inept when they put it on that it’s just one long wobbly wrinkle. There are a few smooth areas that make me think the latter…

I’ve only slept a few hours this whole week. Stupid insomnia. I can function alright if I have enough coffee, but my brain feels dull and disconnected for most of the day. Usually singing helps me feel better; it improves my bad moods and helps my heart beat slow down to something resembling a normal pulse. But today as I was belting some song out in the shower, I realized all the songs I know by heart are depressing. Most of these songs have been my go to’s for more than ten years, but maybe I’ve just been depressed for that long. When am I going to be happy? When am I going to finally feel satisfied with my life? I think the worst thing about growing up is that adults actually tell you how unhappy they are instead of pretending like life gets better when the other kids stop picking on you and making fun of you for having the wrong style shoes or a dumb halloween costume or whatever. Once I got out of high school and certainly now that I’m out of college, people are so honest with me about how unhappy they are in their lives. If people twice my age are unhappy, what hope do I have? How can I have hope when I look at how unhappy my dad is? I don’t have some great ending to look forward to, some cozy plateau that I’ll hit after I make the grad school and career climb. I have a lifetime of depression to look forward to. What’s really funny about it is that I might have a chance at happiness if I agreed to be medicated, but after watching all that my dad went through (and as a result, all that my family went through) as he tried antidepressant after antidepressant, I refuse to do that. He was like a totally different person sometimes, depending on what meds were in his system or what meds he was in withdrawal from. I don’t want to go through that and I definitely don’t want to put anyone around me through what we went through. Of course it could have been worse, I know that. But it could have been a lot better too. Things could be better now. Things could have been and could always be better. But that doesn’t mean I think hope is realistic.

I have no idea where this entry is going. I didn’t intend for it to get quite so Debbie Downer. I’ve really got to get these PhD programs sorted out. After that, I’ll have done all I can do. I’ll be forced to move on.

In the Mirror

November 14, 2012 § Leave a comment

I find myself lost in thought a lot lately, or in times of stress. I stare at myself in the mirror for long time periods, not because I’m a narcissist but because sometimes I imagine that the alexa in the mirror world has things figured out, has simpler decisions. That other girl knows what she’s doing, knows what she wants and how to get it. The alexa I am can’t make a single decision it seems. I feel caught between multiple choices everywhere I turn, and I feel pulled in multiple directions constantly. It could drive a person insane. What’s the term? Quartered. I think that’s it. One of the biggest reliefs when I broke up with alec was that I could finally make decisions for *me*. Everything I did was for my own happiness, but things have changed again, or maybe I was just kidding myself. Now I feel like everyone has a stake in what I do (not everyone, of course, but multiple people) and will be affected by my choices, so I have to consider all the people involved, all their wants or potential desires, all their hopes, all their disappointments. But these things aren’t exactly crystal clear either. Everyone has their hidden agendas, things unspoken. So really I’m playing this big guessing game at how people feel and how people will be affected by my choices, but really I might just be making a big gamble and losing everything because I guessed wrong. Or not losing everything, but missing out on things. Is this a half-drunken ramble? Perhaps. But I bet the girl in the mirror doesn’t have these kinds of dilemmas. The second half of 2012 was supposed to be all about me, my motto was supposed to be “not my problem.” But here I am. again. making choices based on how I assume other people feel.

I feel like an idiot.

Even worse, I feel frozen, paralyzed. Whenever I take a step in one direction, it negatively affects someone else. So I stand stationary, trying to do no harm but not really moving forward either. Of course, if I moved, then the girl on the other side, the girl in the mirror, the girl in the world where things are easier and simpler, the girl who doesn’t hurt people as she pursues her own happiness would disappear.

Through the Roof

November 13, 2012 § 2 Comments

Heart rate: through the roof.

It’s only Monday and already it’s been a pretty uncomfortable week. So uncomfortable, in fact, that I’ve got that “I need to bail” feeling already and I’ve only been home a few months. Maybe it’s childish, but my first impulse when things start to go seriously south is to just peace out, move away, detach myself from everything. “I don’t need this. I don’t need you.” keeps running through my brain. I don’t have the money to get out of the state, much less get settled in a new one, so I’m stuck for the time being. Go to your happy place, alexa, go to your happy place. Waves crashing, the sound of sea gulls, the feeling of sun on my skin. Go to your happy place.

Really what’s even more concerning than the elevated, irregular pounding heartbeat is that my chest constricts to such a point during these irregular beats that I feel like I can’t breathe. Breathing is necessary for stress reduction. And life, too, I guess.

Honestly, this month has just been a complete disaster. Work is a nightmare, but I know I’m doing my best to get through it. My dad informed me that he doesn’t think I’ll get in anywhere I’m applying, so with that vote of confidence my new backup school is NYU. “But you hate NYC!” Yeah, I know. I do. But it’s a great program and the museums the museums the museums. I don’t know. I might just say fuck everything and move to Alaska. Oh right, snow…

So no one thinks I’m going to get into a PhD program and the few professors I’ve talked to just act like I’m wasting their time. A country bumpkin from Alabama couldn’t possibly make it in the Ivy League. What was I thinking, right? My response is to include a bit about my “context” in my personal statement so they’ll put my accomplishments into perspective and to remind them that they need a diverse class. Yeah, I’m a little white girl and we’re a dime a fucking dozen in the art field, but I’m from Alabama, not only that I’m from *rural* Alabama like where there are enough cars in the front yard to fill a parking lot and people will miss church before they would ever miss a kickoff, and I guarantee they don’t have someone from that background in their program. Diversity, bitches. It ain’t always about skin color.

Best case scenario is I offend someone, worst case is still the same: I’m paying $120 for a rejection letter. Worth a shot, though, right? Yeah, I don’t know either.

Even though I deleted my Facebook, somehow my life is full of drama, tension, and confusion again. [Wow, there goes the heart rate.] Just this week I’ve heard from three guys who I have semi or definite histories with, and they all want to reconnect this week. I guess it’s just curiosity that has me agreeing to drinks and “catching up,” but really, how bad could it end up? ::knocks on wood:: My life is a borderline disaster anyway, so it’s not like I’m risking a lot. At least my apartment has heat now. It’s the little things in life… I just feel like I’m on the verge of totally going off track or off the tracks, whatever the phrase is.

One of my favorite poems since high school:

Not Waving but Drowning

BY STEVIE SMITH

Nobody heard him, the dead man,
But still he lay moaning:
I was much further out than you thought
And not waving but drowning.
Poor chap, he always loved larking
And now he’s dead
It must have been too cold for him his heart gave way,
They said.
Oh, no no no, it was too cold always
(Still the dead one lay moaning)
I was much too far out all my life
And not waving but drowning.

 

Just ten minutes ago I realized next week is Thanksgiving. That means alec will probably be home, and the question will come up again whether I’m ready to see him or not. How has it been four months? More than four months, you say? My how time flies. Counting has never been my strong suit. I can’t imagine seeing him without falling apart, but it’s impossible to predict how you’ll react in those situations. Even if I don’t see him now, Christmas is just around the corner and no doubt he’ll be back in town again. The last time he was in town, I felt painfully anxious the entire time even though I didn’t see him. Knowing he’s in proximity is upsetting for some reason. I’m not sure I understand it. But I’m not sure I need to either.

cat·a·ton·ic

[kat-uh-ton-ik]  Show IPA

adjective

1. having catatonia,  a syndrome characterized by muscular rigidity and mental stupor: The schizophrenic remained in a catatonic state.
2. appearing to be in a daze or stupor; unresponsive: She had the catatonic expression of an avant-garde model.

Sometimes I feel a bit like a mental patient or a child. I can’t decide which because one I’ve never been and the other I haven’t been in a long time. Childhood seems so distant and not at all nostalgic like people say it should be. Being in DC, I could ignore a lot of things. Voices seemed weak when spoken from such a distance, they were easy to ignore. But now that I’m home, everyone has an opinion on what direction I should go in, what choices I should make, what my options really are. People are so busy telling me what I should and shouldn’t do that no one has really stopped to say “Hey kid, how ya feeling?” No one seems to trust my own judgment. Sure, I’ve made some bad choices in the past, and even recently when I moved home I made a series of risk assessments that could have ended badly. But I’m a tough kid, I got over it and moved on. And looking back on it, taking into account how I was feeling and what I was thinking, I know that I would have made the same choices. I do the best that I can, but no one seems to trust in me. No one seems to think that I can make it on my own.

 

News flash: no one knows me like I know me. No one knows what my heart is saying unless they’re inside my fucking chest. No one knows what I think, but everyone would rather tell me what I should think or what they think I think instead of just asking me. But you have to care to ask, I suppose. It’s certainly easier not to care.

Oh right, eating and sleeping. I haven’t been doing much of either lately, which is probably exacerbating my irregular heart beat. I’m tempted to become significantly more reclusive so I can avoid the questions of “When did you last eat?” (though honestly, I’m getting more “Are you eating?” than anything these days) and “Why aren’t you sleeping?” My body does what it wants, people. My heart makes its own decisions, whether that’s to love someone new or to have an uncomfortable, pounding, irregular beat. My appetite appears according to its own mysterious will, and whether or not I give into that will is my own business. Sleep I would like, but my subconscious has other plans. Wake up every hour? Oh, why the hell not. REM cycles are overrated. Really my conscious brain is on a runaway train.

Reminder: I retake the GRE next week. Next week. This week: andrew, riley, chris, austen, mark. Next week: the alec question. The GRE. Applications. Work. Seminar papers and presentations. Oh yeah, why can’t I sleep again? Why don’t I have an appetite? Well, gee, let’s think about it. Heart beat elevated.

Honestly sometimes I feel like saying “fuck it” and waiting another year to apply to PhD programs. But I think that’s me just being weak, feeling like I can’t handle everything I bit off, that somehow I can’t find the muscles and brain power to keep chewing without choking. Everyone else seems to think I’m weak, but I think they just don’t understand my decisions and don’t care to take the time to try to. My mother reminded me of our family motto the other day, saying “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” but I didn’t have the heart to correct her. Our actual family motto is this: “Pain is just weakness leaving your body.” a phrase I’ve heard over and over since I was a young child and first asked the question “What is pain?” (no really, I actually asked that question). The mottos are similar, I’ll grant you that, but they are still distinct. I think I’m stronger in a lot of ways, a lot more ways than people give me credit for. Which is why I’m still applying to the Ivies for PhD, why I’m agreeing to catch up with old flames, why I keep putting myself in shitty situations to see if I can get out of them or not. I guess I am testing myself. I guess I don’t believe in myself either.

 

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