And now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good.

– John Steinbeck, East of Eden


Automatic Writing: August 24, 2014

The world is as complex
as we need. I find
my happiness in distant
corners, on jagged rocks,
on crumpled-up papers
at the corner of a busy
intersection. The night
is an elusive thing, but
these days I am surprised
to look at my wrists
and see blood, not galaxies,
beneath the skin.

Letters from the Hedge: August 24, 2014

To touch something real
Will help your wounds heal,
Like the sun on your face,
The dreams of starry nights.

And we are homeward bound.

– Whitley, “More than Life

The day before senior year starts.  WOW.  I’m really excited but also very nervous.  At the beginning of the summer I didn’t know how I was going to survive, but now I feel like the months went by really quickly.  And despite the terrible things that happened, I managed to enjoy myself after all.  The other day I woke up and wrote down a quote I had dreamed about: “The world is as complex as we need it to be.”  Unlike many such quotes I’ve dreamed/hallucinated over the years, I think this makes a certain amount of sense.

Yesterday was Dis-O, move-in day for the upperclassmen.  “It stands for Disorientation Day, doesn’t it?” asked one of the freshmen I was volunteering with, and although I’d never thought very much about it I realized she was right.  Our campus is “wet”, meaning that alcohol is allowed (with certain restrictions), and after being dry during the freshmen’s orientation week it turned wet yesterday afternoon.  And I do mean SOAKING wet.  My new floor is known for hosting wild parties, so I actually had to climb the stairs to a different floor so I could use the elevator to go down to the basement to do my laundry for work (try following that statement.)  Fortunately I still wasn’t as incapacitated as the people playing beer pong in our lobby.

I was never one for beer pong.  I prefer my alcohol in “girly” drinks like screwdrivers or White Russians, although I’ve had good beer (the kind that’s a few dollars a bottle, absolutely not PBR) over the summer and it was surprisingly good.

Laundry completed, I was walking over to visit a friend last night when I again got a sudden, inexplicable feeling of happiness and warmth.  Unlike the silent campus I’d gotten used to over the summer, every building was full of light.  People were relaxing on swings and benches outdoors, playing music and eating leftovers from the tailgates.  I realized that even though I’ve complained (a lot) about this school over the years, and even though I’ve made my fair share of enemies, I’m really going to miss living here next year when I get kicked off-campus.

I find my happiness in difficult, complex places.  I’ve found hope when I least expected it, but when I needed it the most.  And I suppose I’m ready, or as ready as I’ll ever be, to begin my fourth year of college in less than 24 hours.  🙂

August 19, 2014

I feel like a failure.

This is not to say that I am a failure. In fact, on most days I’m pretty happy with myself. But today, when I had a 30-minute-long panic attack that left my face bruised and my throat raw, was not one of those days.

The road out of illness is long and painful. I had made myself believe I was doing better. I really did think I was doing better. In fact, earlier in the summer when I had an unfortunate incident on a Greyhound bus, I prided myself on how calmly I handled everything. But I suppose I haven’t really processed that incident at all – just shoved it aside so I could deal with my depression and grief.

Because I have many panic attacks, and because I am prone to severe mood swings every month, and because I had already gotten used to being labeled “sensitive” and “weird” by the time I reached high school, I’ve grown to think of myself as somehow deficient as a person. How much of my condition is due to medical problems and how much is due to me just being weak? Opinions differ. Are my panic attacks real or are they just excuses to get me out of things I don’t want to do? Opinions differ on this, too.

On days like this, when I’ve let down so many people, when I’ve experienced so much abject terror or sadness packed into such a short time, I try to think of all the things I’ve successfully done.  I did not want to do many of these things. I was afraid of doing many of these things. But I did them.

So I’m not a total failure. I try very hard not to be. But it’s hard to remember that when I’m staring at my beat-up face in the mirror.

Setbacks are part and parcel of recovery, and as long as I can still have good days, I’ll take what I can get.

Letters from the Hedge: August 17, 2014

There are places I’ll remember
All my life, though some have changed
Some forever, not for better
Some have gone and some remain
All these places had their moments
With lovers and friends I still can recall
Some are dead and some are living
In my life I’ve loved them all.

– The Beatles, “In My Life”

Do you sometimes just get tired?  Not physically tired, of course, but emotionally tired.  I do.  I woke up one morning earlier this week and decided that I was just done with being sad.  I’m not used to being sad – depressed, yes, but sadness is different.  I’m just tired of feeling things, I suppose.

The other day, I discovered I had a fairly large cavity in one of my teeth.  Sadly, I have neither the time nor the money to get it fixed right away, but hopefully with good hygiene and not too much sugar it won’t decay much more until I can get around to making an appointment.  I never realized how much soda I drank until I suddenly couldn’t anymore.  Can you say migraine?

Today is move-in day for the freshmen – “freshmens” as a coworker calls them.  I feel so much older than them, even though I can’t be more than three years older than the youngest.  It will be so weird living on-campus during their orientation week.  Is it a little sad that I’m still resentful over not being chosen as an advisor?  Yeah, probably.  I guess I’m just not cut out to be successful or popular in that area.  

The new round of auditions is coming up.  I’ve been invited to two already – one is a musical, though, so that’s out.  The other play is being directed by the same guy who directed two other plays I auditioned for but didn’t get a part in.  I’m sure he’s getting tired of seeing me and my poor acting skills, but you know what?  It’s a free country and I love auditions.  Maybe this third time will be a charm!

I’m supposed to be flying home today from visiting my family, but due to bad weather the take-off time has already been pushed back an hour and a half, I only get 30 minutes of Internet, and my tooth is really starting to bother me.  I can feel these tiny stressors piling up on me – losing financial aid, having a toothache, my flight being delayed – and even though individually they’re very small, I’m getting tired of balancing all of them.  There it is again, tired.  Well, then.

Oh, and I’m planning to start an exercise regime this year.  We will see how well that works out!


Letters from the Hedge: August 9, 2014

Let your heart hold fast
For this soon shall pass
Like the high tide takes the sand

– Fort Atlantic, “Let Your Heart Hold Fast

Does anyone remember when I used to write TMI Friday letters?  No?  That’s probably good, because they weren’t very good at all.  These probably won’t be either, but that’s okay.

Welcome to Letters from the Hedge, a project to help me remember my last year-and-a-half of college.  (School starts in two weeks, by the way.)

In any case, since my cohort is graduating in May and I won’t be, it’s about time for me to start steering away from Facebook.  Until I took social psychology last year, I thought that being sad and angry after spending too much time on Facebook was just a symptom of me being a terrible failure of a person, when actually feeling like that is completely normal.  People tend to post only the highlights of their lives on Facebook, and if you go to an elite university like I do, “highlights of people’s lives” tend to include things like studying abroad in Europe, ecotourism in Africa, scoring awesome internships, and going hiking with beautiful, popular significant others.  Did I sound bitter?  It’s because I am I didn’t mean to.

My point is, social networks tend to skew one’s view of reality.  Moving on.

Within my own reality, I just moved into my new dorm room for this year, and it’s looking pretty good.  I took a picture of it just after I’d finished moving everything in but before I covered the walls with posters and pictures.

I know, right?  Maybe I should be an interior decorator.

I turned on comments for the first time in the year or so that this blog has been around.  I hope I won’t end up regretting it.  There have been no ugly or mean-spirited comments this time around – yet- so there’s that.

Today, I went to the coffee shop and the bookstore.  I will never understand why I “recharge” so fully by spending time alone on Saturdays, and I will never understand why my spending time alone seems to concern other people so much.  It’s easy for me to get overstimulated by interacting with too many people in a short period of time, or conversely, interacting too often with a few people, so by the time the weekend rolls around I’m generally exhausted.

There’s something so soothing about wandering around the shopping center I’ve grown to know so well, ordering the coffee I always do, and squeezing into my favorite nook in the bookstore.  I live in the middle of a huge, dangerous, vibrant city, but this neighborhood is affluent and predictable.  There’s a time and a place for changing the world but sometimes it’s just nice to feel like you’re home.

Since work starts at 9 instead of 8 these days and since I’ve grown tired of Facebook, Tumblr, and my TV shows, I’ve been listening to … get this … NPR.  Is this what it feels like to be an adult??  Should I be expecting to get grey hairs now?  In any case, although I’m not interested in much of Morning Edition and quite frankly can’t understand a lot of it, it’s yet another form of auditory comfort.

In just a few weeks, my three roommates will move in and this quiet suite will come back to life once again.  I’ll have to start cramming for immunology and chemistry, attending psychology experiments, and analyzing poetry.  But for now, things are quiet and small.  I feel like a little metal box full of light.  And that’s a good way to begin healing.


Although logically I know
that there are a finite number of atoms
in the universe, I cannot recognize my
garlic plant that died last year in the new
grass outside my dorm, I cannot
recognize my betta fish in the flowers,
bright though they may be. On my
computer I keep a playlist of music
I was listening to this time last year,
and maybe because my memory is
much worse than my computer’s I cannot
recognize the chords of one song in another.
On cooler nights I put that playlist on and walk
out to the big oak tree, the same
tree I sat under so many years ago, but
I do not feel your voice in its bark. I hope
the universe is as small as you said it
would be, because even though I cannot
find you in its spaces yet, I can only
see it getting smaller.