The Whoosh of Defeat

In his posthumous book, The Salmon of Doubt, Douglas Adams wrote, “I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.” Which is very charming and witty and Adams-esque.

And it annoys the hell out of me.

I hate deadlines. They bring me nothing but anxiety, as I watch the days go by and the deadline get closer and the project lay dormant. And I do it to myself, I realize. I am a terrible procrastinator, waiting until the very last minute to virtualy anything. And it’s not that I do something else in order to procrastinate doing the thing I don’t want to do. Some people, they will explain, “I did my dishes because I was procrastinating doing my laundry.” I simply don’t do anything.

I think I’ve figured out why I do it, though: one, it’s worked out for me so far. It’s a bit hard to convince yourself to buckle down and do something early when experience has taught you that you can knock out a research paper–research included!–eight hours before it’s due. And two, if I barely have enough time to think about the project, then I certainly don’t have time to OVERthink it.

That’s where my problems usually come up. I overthink everything. It’s the major source of my anxiety. When presented with any situation, I will find myself on The Darkest Path, the one that ends in misery and tears and hospitals, and I convince myself that this is what is going to happen. And of course it isn’t going to happen.

My solution to this has been to throw myself into any given situation with no thought at all. This is not a solution by any means, and almost always ends up badly, but it is the only way I’ve figured out for me to go and do anything in the world.

I can’t seem to find the middle ground, where I stop and consider my choices, and then proceed to calmly perform an action. Either I jump in feet first or I convince myself I’m going to drown and avoid it all together. I’m not good with balance. Which is why I always go into February feeling like a failure.

As I always do at the beginning of the year, I’m suckered in by the endless chanting of “new year, new me!” and attempt to improve myself. This year was all about expressing myself creatively in different outlets. I’m aware that this is hilariously broad and more of a marathon and not a sprint, but I barreled into it with lots of half-baked ideas and no real plan of execution. This resulted in me being frazzled and overwhelemed, and I missed my self-imposed deadline of having a blog post published every other Tuesday.

You may think that I’m making a big deal over a deadline that I gave myself, but that was part of this exercise. The main goal was to force me to write more and consistently, but it was also to develop in me a better habit of finishing stuff on time.

I failed. That’s all I can see: I didn’t do that, so I failed, so I should stop trying.

But perhaps my failure is another teachable moment for me in the Great Project of Getting My Shit Together 2k19: not giving up because it’s the easy thing to do. So here I am, rambling away, and publishing it the next day. I got back on the horse instead of lying in the dirt and waiting to get crushed by a hoof. A small victory that no one knows or cares about, but I will treasure forever. Or at least as long as I remember that it happened. That could be twelve years or twelve minutes.

So I’m not a failure. Not yet, anyway. It’s a long year. But I’ll try and take it one blog post at a time.

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Confessions of a Former Pro-Lifer

I’ve wanted to write this for a while, but am also loathe to, for several reasons. No one likes discussing their embarrassing teenage years. Even with the caveat of “I was a teenager, and teenagers are dumb,” it’s still awful to relive such awkwardness. But with most people, the awkwardness is bad hair or dumb reasons for detention.

I was a pro-lifer.

Which… I can’t even explain why. I sort of just fell into it. Which is a weird thing to fall into, I know, but lots of people fall into weird things, like Jonestown or the Republican Party.

I fell into it in high school. Ah, Catholic school. What a weird and wonderful (but mostly weird) institution. Some joined newspaper, some joined the Irish Club. I joined the Chasitity and Pro-Life Club.

That’s the thing with depression–not to put the blame on it, of course. That would be easy: “I did it because I was sad.” Every choice I made was an active one. But those choices all had a common goal in mind: to create a reasonable fascimilie of a person, because I hated the person I was. I chose to listen to music I didn’t partcularly enjoy (despite owning their t-shirt, I, in fact, hate the Sex Pistols. I want this on record) or to go places I didn’t particularly want to go, to traipsing around Washington, D.C. in the middle of January to protest something I kind of didn’t care about.

But people should care about SOMETHING, right? That’s what people DO. So… I picked something. It happened to be the first something.

Hoo boy.

It was a cause, a purpose, a fight. Which meant I could be reasonably snotty about it, because I was MAKING A DIFFERENCE (Teenage Me spoke in empatic capitals a lot, for reasons that are lost to Present Day Me). I went to Washington, D.C.. I marched for LIFE. I was PAYING ATTENTION to the REAL WORLD, not wasting my time on TRIVIAL things, like PARTYING or BOYS.

This was, of course, ignoring the fact that I was uncomfortable in most social situations, thus making it impossible for me to participate in parties or dating. But again, digressing.

It snowballed. I got involved in an organization specifically for young pro-lifers. There is probably evidence of this somewhere on the internet. I went to a retreat. A whole three days of nothing but anti-abortion rhetoric and prayer groups. I had found a community of people my age, people who I wanted to be more like, with their beliefs and their drive and their hope. And maybe the tiniest sliver of me thought it was nice to be surrounded by people telling me every life is sacred when the one thing I wanted more than anything was to not be alive.

On the last day, one of the activities planned, was to protest in front of a Planned Parenthood. There were a lot of us, enough to fill the street. People spoke over bullhorns, choirs sang hymns, and women were accosted with pamphlets and people begging them not to kill their babies.

I was mortified. This wasn’t like the March for Life at all, where two sides met on neutral ground to protest each other. This was different. This was an invasion. And even though I didn’t know a lot about myself, I knew I wasn’t this person.

Ironic, really, that my come-to-Jesus moment happened surrounded by a bunch of Christians.

I quietly withdrew from everything after that. I wanted nothing to do with it anymore. I was embarrassed, and shoved it to the back of my head, refusing to deal or acknowledge it. It wasn’t until my late twenties that I sat down and actually looked at where my values lie, because it wasn’t until my late twenties that I felt I had a decent grasp on who I am as a person: my beliefs, my sexuality, my feminism.

I spend a lot of time thinking about whether I genuinely believed in what I was saying. Because I don’t now, and I really can’t imagine ever believing in such a thing so fully. And this may be the passage of time. People change. They become better educated. They learn that their own moral compass, wherever it points, should not dictate the law. They are prescribed medication to fix the chemical imbalance in their brains.

On my way home from work, I pass a women’s center. Most Saturdays, a small group of pro-life protestors set up camp, with horrific signs. I spent a good deal of time having to look at them. I hated them then, and I hate them now. But now, when I look at them, I feel remorse. I am sorry for whatever hurt my teenaged self caused anyone. No one should be harrassed for seeking medical advice or attention. I was wrong, and I know that now. I can’t change the past, but I can do better in future.

This is my first attempt.

I’m writing all of this because right now, this country is a hellscape. Families are being ripped apart. Students go to school afraid of what the day may bring. The value of a life is predicated on whether or not they adhere to the ideals of a small group of narrow-minded people. It’s unconscionable.

In my experience, the people who claim to be pro-life seem to stop being so vocal about things as soon as that life leaves their mother’s womb. They are a one-issue group, hyper-focused on abortion. As I’ve gotten older and seen more of how the world works, the term”pro-life” seems like it should encompass so much more than just a single issue. To be pro-life should be to strive for better quality of living: easily accessible and affordable healthcare, better education, reforming the justice system and abolishing for-profit prisons, getting rid of the death penalty. These things are crucial to one’s quality of life, and yet were never once discussed.

I can’t tell you how to think or how to feel. I’m not here to convince you, nor am I here to be convinced. I have my own opinions, and I’ve learned better than to force everyone to adhere to personal beliefs. Which I suppose is another reason I’m apprehensive about writing this. I don’t want an argument. What I want is to be accountable for who I was, and who I want to be. And the person I want to be is more than just a guilt-inducing presence in someone else’s life. I spent years being negative. I want to try and be positive. And I think that all starts with an apology.

To the women who have been harassed while trying to seek medical attention, I’m so sorry. I judged you without any thought or knowledge of your circumstances. I accepted the information I was given without doing any independent research. I did not take the time to educate myself and form my own thoughts and opinions. I simply absorbed the convictions of others and followed their lead. It was lazy and selfish. You deserved better.

Life is enriched by lessons learned. That’s why I can never truly say that my time within the pro-life movement was wasted. It helped teach me who I was by showing me who I wasn’t. I’ll always be grateful for that.

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A New Beginning

44622724_503411076810877_3028988512562053120_nI’ve wanted to take up blogging again for a while, as it is a fairly casual form of writing that offers feedback, a way of marking progress, and a system of accountability. But the problem with blogging is you need to have something to say. And I don’t really feel I do.

I don’t mean that in a “I don’t think my opinions are valuable” kind of way. I mean that in a “I open my mouth and nothing comes out” way. If I, by some miracle, stumble upon a topic, my brain can never figure out a way to stay on it long enough to reach an end point. I lose steam. It’s hard to write out what is essentially a half-hearted shrug.

It isn’t as if the year hasn’t given me things to discuss. A quick recap of my year: I had to put my 21-year-old cat down, my mother had cancer surgery, and my father’s brother unexpectedly died. But I couldn’t find the drive to write about any of it: the hole created by the loss of my constant companion, the worry I felt about my mother or the relief I felt when everything went well, the confusion of my uncle’s death. I’ve recently discovered quite the collection of gray hairs that were not there at the beginning of 2018, and each one is a story. They just aren’t stories I have the energy to tell.  

I used to have a LiveJournal, which I used religiously throughout high school and into my first attempt at college. While mortifying to go back and read through old entries, it is nice to have something concrete I can point to and go, “This is a Thing I have done.” I don’t really have that anymore. What little writing I do manage to accomplish, I almost always scrap and begin again. Fourteen folders full of starts and re-starts, and no endings. Whereas journal entries, they ended, they were posted, people commented. It was a nice system.

I think the difference between the me of the past and the me of today is that the me of the past didn’t really care that she didn’t have Something to say. It was enough to just say something. Past Me was still trying to figure out who she was. Writing it all down helped unpack it. It was unorganized and messy, but it was out in front of me (her? I’ve lost track of pronouns). So even though I didn’t know how the pieces fit together, I at least knew what ones I had to work with.

The Me of Today is also trying to figure out just who the hell I am, but at 30-something, I kind of assumed I would have that worked out by now. I don’t. I’m nowhere near approaching it. Which makes it difficult to know just what I want to say, because the idea of this blog was to be Me, but I have no idea who Me is, so I have no idea what this blog is.

Perhaps that could be the point of this blog: a continuation of that journal, of that exploration of just who the hell I am as a person. Figuring out what I want to put into the world, what I want to say and how I want to say it.

I suppose the first thing I’d like to say is: hello again.

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A Pause in Production

You may have noticed that my blogging ambitions have fallen to the wayside. I aim to fix this. I want this to be a collection of all of my creative endeavors, whatever they may be. But that’s going to take some time and a lot of reorganizing. Please bear with me as I give this site a good going-over and (hopefully) soon, I’ll have something exciting to share.

Or at the very least presentable.

x Anna

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Stormy Skies

I haven’t been feeling stellar lately, on an emotional level, so to counter that, I’ve taken to binge-watching Cheers. I figured it would have a few Very Special Episodes, but nothing on the level of, say, my own bleak outlook of the dull gray wasteland that is my existence.

Then I got to the episode where Diane’s cat died.

Honestly, I’ve never really been a fan of Diane. She’s a snob, which bothers me, and maybe her constant need of validation concerning her intelligence hits a little too close to home. I found it hard to sympathize with her. But then she found out her cat died, and she was an emotional wreck. Everyone made fun of her for it, and I became fiercely angry on Diane’s behalf. I connected with her then, because I know what it’s like to love a cat that deeply.

My own cat is eighteen years old, which is ancient for a cat, and it’s starting to show. He has arthritis, which makes his back legs are wobbly, and he can’t properly scratch his head, often relying on a (literal) helping hand. He had hyperthyroid, which has caused an increase in appetite and decrease in weight, and is most likely the cause of his galloping heartbeat. He’s lost none of his personality, however, and is still the chatty little brat he’s always been.

In the episode, Diane confides in Sam that, when she was younger, her cat saved her life, simply by being there. If she was to commit suicide, who would care for her sweet Elizabeth? So she stayed.

Any reason to not kill yourself is a good reason. But that one affected me so much because it was my reason, too. In high school, struggling with a darkness that had yet to be named, I thought of escape. Death seemed easiest. But how could I do that to my cat? He would wonder where I went. Why wasn’t I there to play with or pet him or be a general nuisance? Whose laundry would he sleep on?

This cat has been through all of my important life events: moving across the country to Philadelphia, learning a new religion and school system and culture, gaining friends, starting high school, losing friends, losing hope, graduating high school, being a miserable failure at college, being diagnosed with depression, gaining hope, making new friends, and testing the image-sharing function of every new social media platform. That furry little loser is my best friend, and I am scared every moment of the day that I’m going to lose him. So when Diane sat in Sam’s office and cried over the loss of her best friend, I was struck with the realization that one day, perhaps soon but God willing not for a while yet, that I would know, on an intimate level, that kind of pain.

So much for my bright and breezy sitcom binge.

My cat is eighteen years old, and I am lucky to have spent nearly all of those years with him. I don’t really know how to end this, because an ending is what I fear most. So, to conclude, here are some pictures of him in all his fluffy glory:


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O Girls of 2005

I went to my ten-year high school reunion on Saturday. It was an odd feeling. The cafeteria was different, but immediately I was taken back to awful french fries, loud talking, grace coming over a sound system from the mid-80s at best, teachers yelling, and books dropping. There was always the sound of books dropping.

I remember in my freshman year, my first full Tuesday was September 11, 2001. They made an announcement during homeroom that something had happened in New York, but didn’t say anything else. Classes continued as normal. My second period was English. In the middle of the lesson, the television turned on. The picture was fuzzy, with two dark rectangles against a lighter background. And then one of the rectangles sank out of frame. It was then that we were told the scope of what was happening. We were to be dismissed at noon. It was only ten-thirty. In that ninety minutes, stories spread about what was happening: stolen planes, stealth bombings, attempted assassinations. It was a dark time, but also an important lesson in mass hysteria.

I remember how comfortingly insular it was. Even though I was painfully shy, I never felt out of place there, even in the beginning. It felt comfortable.

I remember in sophomore year, some upperclass girls filled a condom with fruit punch and Skittles and tossed it at someone, hoping it would burst like a water balloon. It didn’t, which speaks well of the condom company. It ended up getting thrown around to the sounds of shrieking laughter, until my theology teacher picked it up off the floor, threw it away, and gave a stern glare to all of us who dared to laugh.

I remember that we drew dicks everywhere. For an all-girls Catholic school, we drew a lot of dicks.

I remember in my junior year, my friend Cait and I would lie to the study hall moderator that we had homework or a project to work on, and if we could please use the large table in the hall so we don’t disturb the other girls. We would open books, and just goof off the entire period. Study hall was across from the trigonometry classroom, and occasionally the teacher would poke his head out and see what we were doing. Once, Cait had spent half the period drawing snowmen with the circle templates we were given for trig class. As she sat there awkwardly, the teacher just shrugged and said, “I’m glad they’re getting used.”

(Fun addendum: the one time the moderator came out to check on us, I was working on a huge French project, and had enlisted Cait to help color it in. Moderator was delighted at our hard work, and never bothered us again.)

I remember always finding a place to sleep: study hall, homeroom, a bathroom stall, bolt upright in theology. One year, there was a tiny alcove next to my locker. I spent a lunch period napping there. I nearly always got caught, because I was never that slick. It never stopped me from trying again, though, which I thought spoke of my perseverance. No one else ever saw it that way.

I remember in my senior year, I lied. I told everyone I couldn’t wait to graduate. Admittedly, a small part of me wanted to be done with high school, because I was certain that was the cause of my torment. And yet, it was a known entity, and I didn’t want to leave it. I wanted to freeze time, to stay in those last moments. To figure out who I was within the safety of school. I was already scared of what was happening in my own head. To have to deal with the outside world as well? The thought terrified me, cripplingly so.

I remember standing outside of the church, waiting to process in for our baccalaureate mass. The last time we would all be together as Hallahan students. I knew I should feel sad, but instead, I just felt hollow. My bubble of safety had popped. Now what do I do?

I remember years later, meeting new people and telling them stories from high school: discovering a closet full of gold cups, sneezebangs, throwing projects together six hours before they were due.

It’s funny what things stick with us. What our brain deems worthy of holding on to. Those walls, those girls, those teachers, they all became a part of me. We became a part of each other. It may have taken ten years for me to realize it, but we are bonded for life by blue and white. By Mickey Mouse and colored shoelaces, fountain jumps and secret lives of bees.

The sisters I never had.

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Ill Humours

Once upon a time, I spent an evening arguing with a complete stranger about my dominant humor.

I was visiting a friend in Los Angeles, and she brought me along to a get-together at her friend’s apartment. We sat on the balcony, doing shots of rum as we watched the sun set through the LA haze. The conversation wandered to medieval medicine (as it does), and the subject of the four temperaments came up.

“Melancholic,” I said immediately. I was still coming to terms with my new identity of “clinically depressed college dropout.” It seemed the obvious answer.

“No, you’re not,” said someone else. I had no idea who this person was. He was sitting across from me on a cooler, wearing a suit and smoking a bong he made out of a Jack Daniels bottle. Blue-gray smoke surrounded him like a halo. “You’re phlegmatic.”

“Melancholic,” I said again. Who was this asshole? I’ve spent years trying to figure myself out. I finally knew who I was. And then this stranger was going to correct me in between bong hits? Fuck this guy.

He shook his head. “Phlegmatic.”

“I am not!” I knew my voice went shrill, but I didn’t care. I needed this jerk to stick to what he knew, which was apparently stoner arts and crafts. I knew me. He wasn’t taking that away from me.

“You’re fuckin’ choleric,” interrupted a third. “Quick to anger.”

“He doesn’t know me!” I snapped. “Fuck you ‘quick to anger’!”

The guy with the bong shrugged, completely unbothered (unsurprisingly). “I say what I see.”

“I see an asshole,” I said, and tried my best to walk away with dignity. As one can imagine, this is a bit more difficult when you’re five deep with a contact high. But I made it, and spent the rest of the night in the kitchen. Never saw the guy again.

I remembered this because I took a quiz recently to determine my temperament (the things you do when you’re bored, eh?). I got melancholic. When the result popped up, that night (at least, what I remember of it) hit me full force. I remembered clinging to that word like a life preserver. It was my identity. It was a definite.

I’m not the girl on that balcony anymore. There are so many things about that person that no longer apply to the person I am now. All these things, all these facts that I thought had such permanence, and I can’t remember them. But I remember the guy in the suit. I remember the breeze as I sat under the indigo California sky. I remember not knowing who I was, and being terrified of that fact.

I still don’t know who I am. Not really. And I’m okay with it. I think that’s the biggest difference between me and her. I’ve gotten more comfortable with the unknown. Other things still terrify me, of course, but I’ve come to terms with change. It is the one constant in life. Everything is fleeting. Just like that breeze. Just like that sunset.

Just like now.

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Depression Diary: The Dull Ache of Melancholy

I’ve been doing some thinking, which isn’t necessarily how I want to spend my time, but brains are hard to turn off and thoughts never really form so much as appear, so there’s no preventative measures. So I think.

I haven’t been feeling great lately. Not in a physical way (though it’s spring in Philly, and therefore my sinuses are freaking out, so that’s it’s own brand of awful) but more in terms of my mental state.

The best I can describe it is “meh.” Which is a weird feeling, I’m not gonna lie. And on the surface, it sounds like a good idea, because you stop caring. Not in a cold or cruel way. You just lack the energy.

It’s like a phone battery. You only have so much of a charge. And it doesn’t matter if you put it down and walk away. Things are always going on in the background, using up that limited resource. Eventually, you run out, and your phone needs recharging.

It’s the same with me. I only have so much energy to put into my life, to put into caring, to put into pretending.

“Oh, Anna, you don’t have to pretend.” No, but I do. I get tired of being asked if I’m okay. People mean well when they ask it. I know they do. But my stock answer of “yeah, I’m just tired” doesn’t really fully explain how I feel. Because it’s a different sort of tired. I once tried to describe it as an emptiness, but that’s not entirely fitting. There’s a weight to it that drags down everything. Everyday life takes on a heaviness. Tasks are more difficult. There’s no will to accomplish anything.

And yes, I realize that all sounds terribly dramatic, but that how it feels. Simple things become Herculean tasks. A litterbox can very much become the Augean stables when you can’t even bring yourself to get out of bed.

So, if you’re asking, I’m not okay. I feel kind of shitty, if I’m honest. I’ll probably feel like that into the foreseeable future. It never really goes away, but time does goes on, and eventually, enough time will pass that I will forget that constant dull ache of melancholy isn’t supposed to be there. And I’ll get back to whatever my version of “okay” is.

So yeah. I’m here. I’m not great. But I’m here. And for now, that’s enough.

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Something Fishy

Smell is probably the most powerful trigger when it comes to memories. Case in point: at work, one of my co-workers heated up a meal that involved fish. I started remembering vividly my days of elementary school science. There was a schoolwide program called MARE Week. Each grade had their own theme, but one of the things we had to do every year was a squid dissection. That’s what her dinner smelled like: strong and seafood-y.

I could probably still do it, if I had to. Squids are not complicated. The final step of each dissection was to write your name across your worksheet using the squid’s beak and ink from its ink sac. This was actually the hardest step, because squid ink is designed for protection, not calligraphy, and the beak is worthless as a pen. Half the time, we just used toothpicks (part of our arsenal of scientific tools, along with safety scissors and a popsicle stick).

Looking back, this was completely bizarre. But at the time, it was just what we did in March.

The worst year for MARE was third grade. Our theme was the wetlands. It was interesting to learn about, and as I was living in northern California at the time, there were plenty of actual wetlands to go see.

The week culminated in a schoolwide assembly where each grade performed a song based on their theme. The third grade’s song was a charming little ditty entitled “Butts Up!” It was about how ducks fished around the bottom of the marsh for food. For our performance, we made little duck bill visors and little duck tails out of construction paper and paper plates. We would do a little dance that culminated in us turning around and bending over and shaking our little paper ducktails.

It was mortifying. And I refused. I stood in the back and simply crouched down whenever we got to that part of the dance. And I got glared at every single time. I wasn’t one for class participation on a good day, but this? Even as a seven-year-old who was (at the time, surprisingly) hesitant of cursing, I knew this was some serious bullshit. A phone call home was made, and my teacher explained that I refused to participate in the school performance. My mother replied with something like, “So you’re telling me my daughter refused to, essentially, shake her ass in front of the entire school? Good for her.”

But this wasn’t the worst part of that week for me. Oh no. You see, in third grade, we got a special assignment: clam dissection. You may be wondering just what there is to dissect with a clam. I have no idea, because I didn’t actually do it.

When I got my clam, I poked at it with my popsicle stick, and the clam snapped shut. Because living things tend to react when poked. So I held up my hand, and informed the teachers that there was a slight hitch in their whole dissection plan. The clam wasn’t supposed to be alive. And yet, there it was, clinging to life (and my popsicle stick). Well, of course, dissecting a live clam wouldn’t do. So the science teacher did what was quite possibly the most horrifying thing ever: he stuck it in the microwave.

If you’re wondering, it takes about three minutes to nuke a clam to death.

I spent the rest of class sitting in the back with the coats, refusing to do anything. I didn’t eat clams for a year. Again, there was a phone call home, and the situation was, I can only imagine, delicately explained to my mother. Within the next few days, my mother was in the principal’s office.

I don’t know if I’ve explained my mother during my time at elementary school, but she was kind of a big deal. She served on the PTA for a number of years, two or three of them as president. People knew her, the principal especially. They were on first-name terms. So when two phone calls were made home in the same week, a meeting was called.

“Look, John,” I imagine my mother saying to the principal. “I don’t think I’m asking a lot from this school. I’m just asking for my seven-year-old’s butt to not be on display to the entire school, and I’m asking for the science teacher to not brutally murder a living creature in front of her.” You can’t really argue with that.

In the end, I was given a C for the clam situation, and I imagine the year after, the science staff gave the next batch of dissection animals more than a quick once-over. By sixth grade, when we had to dissect sharks, the only thing I had to deal with were the idiot boys in my group who discovered that shark eyes are nature’s superballs.

It’s amazing what bizarre memories smell can unlock, and what roads those memories can take you down. Some can be romantic, some can be tragic, and, for me, one very specific one ends hiding under a coat in the back of a classroom.

And people asked why I didn’t take anatomy in high school.

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Depression Diary: Writing is Hard

Every time I went to put words on paper (real or digital), my brain froze. I knew the gist of what I wanted to say, but finding actual words felt nigh impossible. I didn’t have the energy. For anything, really, but especially writing. And it was frustrating, because I was better. I was in therapy. I was back on my normal dosage of medication, and I was taking it consistently.

But it was Month 5 of the Longest Winter Ever, and I had completely given up on ever seeing blue sky again. I hibernated as best I could with a full-time job.

We had all been warned: winter was coming. It finally showed up.

After living in a gray-and-white world for eight months, color finally began to poke its way through. It was the big reveal in The Wizard of Oz: one day, I walked out my door, and there was color: green grass, orange flowers, blue sky. As the days went on, and more colors began to reemerge, I got happier. More productive. I could even, on occasion, be referred to as “chipper.”

But the words still wouldn’t come. I don’t know in what deep recess of my mind they had gone to wait out the winter, but it was apparently so far removed that they didn’t catch up with the rest of my manic need for accomplishment.

With me, my depression takes the form of emptiness. I’m not sad; I’m nothing. Things occur, and I feel no emotion towards them. My life becomes a TV show. I don’t have any real attachment to anything. I just watch it play out, waiting for a part inconsequential enough that I can leave to go get food.

With the weather becoming nicer, and my mood brightening, this lingering apathy was frustrating, but it was also scary. Writing is the thing that gives me the most fulfillment, the most pleasure. It is the thing by which I define myself.

And it was lost.

I spend a lot of the time feeling adrift. I don’t know what to do with myself, with my thoughts. Like a phantom limb. “I’m bored. I could always write… oh wait.”

It always confuses me when published writers tell aspiring writers the best advice is to “just write.” My response is always the same: write what? There are no words to write. Just… emptiness.

This is my attempt to write about the emptiness. Because maybe, through some miracle, the void has an end, and there is another side, one with stories and characters and words. And I will drop anchor there, and finally be whole again.

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