Saturday, September 27, 2014

The Beast

The scenario has grown all too familiar. I start to feel strange, almost out-of-body. I don't want to write, do I even like to write? I question. I don't want to go to class, why did I choose them this semester? I always chose the wrong ones, I blamed myself. I don't want to get out of bed. Why would I? The room is cold, my blankets are warm, and right now I'm wrapped tight like a cocoon, and as far as I'm concerned no negativity will bleed through this blanket. That may be because it's already all inside my head.

"The beast is back," I warn myself. My dukes are up, and once again I'm ready to fight. I've had my fists up on three separate occasions now, this routine has become a part of me.

As much as I try to fight it, and as much as I am confident that at certain times I can "beat the beast," I am also confident this is a darkness I will be plagued with my entire life. They try to tell you that your depression is not you, and you are not your depression, but they're wrong. Depression is me, and I am my depression. I have accepted that. I cannot recall of a time where I was not fighting the beast, so I'm convinced he's always lived inside of me.

My first bout of depression was when I was eight years old. The beast consumed me for two weeks, before I could shake my wrists from his blood clotting grip. Eleven years later, onto my most recent bout, lasted nine months, and was no doubt the scariest time of my entire life. I was convinced that I had become the beast. I wanted my life back. I wanted my mind back. I wanted the sound of my laugh back. I wanted the light back.

This is part of the reason I am so proud to have the waves tattooed on me. It serves as a constant reminder that the waves will come, and they will go, but they will be ever-present. A threat lurking in the shadows, waiting to make a return. Will this be the time they finally take me out? Send me tumbling back to shore, with no chance of coming up for air? Maybe, but I'll be ready to put up the fight of my life upon every single return. And that's why I can't dwell on the beast. I love the fight. It presents a challenge on my strength, and I have the opportunity to prove myself to the bastard every single time.

I've said it before, and I will say it again without shame, I owe my life to my best friends for having incredible levels of patience with me as I found myself again. My mom is an angel. No matter how many times I start to fall, she is always there with open arms, ready and willing to push me back up. She ensures I never sink or hit the ground, and I am (sometimes) thankful for that.

"I guess life is a bit like the roulette wheel- we all take our chances and it seems like most everyone lands on a bad place sooner or later."

So I got dealt a shitty hand. I can't dwell on that, because I can't trade them in, nor would I want to. This is my life, and I can't take it for granted, because I had to fight like hell for it.

For now, welcome back beast, this time you're not allowed to over-stay your welcome.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Dear Mom

It seems a tradition in our family is to have designated "sister days." These given days are exactly what they sound like, you dedicate the whole day to bonding with your sister, and no one else. Due to the fact that we live on opposite sides of the country, my sister and I thought it would be a good way to ensure that we never felt neglected when we get to visit each other. However, our mother and her sister stole our tradition and decided to expand from sister day to "two weeks with my sister." They went to France. My sister stayed working too many hours in California, and I stayed in Florida, attending class 8 hours every other day. They win.

The only other time my mom went on an international vacation, I was ten. I cried every day, because she took my sister, and I was stuck home with my dad. Every body knows that moms just "get" you better.

You never realize how much you talk to someone, until you don't talk to them. However, this time I didn't cry (maybe once). Just kidding. In an effort to grow up and become independent, I wrote her a blurb of all the funny things I had to tell her while she was gone.

Two weeks apart and my life becomes a sitcom waiting to be picked up by Tina Fey.

Besides the blurbs, I had time to reflect on how important she really is to me, and basically essential for my day-to-day life.

Dear Mom,

I’ve often heard people say, “you don’t know what you got til it’s gone,” but these two weeks you were on vacation, I definitely felt the void. Who authorized you to go to France, and leave me here?

You are the reason I am a writer today. You are the reason I spend hours on end researching, typing and cramping, rewriting and reworking articles. You are the reason I work so hard. You are the reason I am so in love with what I do everyday. Although you are the reason I am a writer, I somehow find myself at a loss for words, when I’m asked to describe what you mean to me.

You are my motivation, role model, mother, and mainly my best friend.

Mom, I’m in awe of you everyday. Your humor and “laugh at life attitude” automatically makes me feel safe when I’m around you. Your cackley laugh is so loud that I can hear it up the stairs, even when my door is shut, and it's contagious. You are the only person who knows how to make me feel better when I am upset. Your determination to get what you want when you want it, inspired Alex and I to do the same in our lives.

I couldn’t be more grateful for the stubborn Italian sass passed down from nanny to you to me.

You have saved my life countless times. When no one else had the patience to understand, you always did. From my eighth grade “boy who cried wolf” mid-life crisis, where I couldn’t decide what to do with my life, and you told me to pick up a pen. From my two week bouts of depression, where I couldn’t find a reason to get out of my bed, you gave me the hope. To my eight month bout of depression, you never gave up on me.

There is not a day that has passed that I am not grateful to have you in my life. Sometimes while walking around campus, I thank God you pushed me so hard during the application process, even though I swore I was too stupid to settle in school. When I see other people’s parents I feel so lucky I have you, and I feel sad for them that they don’t.

Thank you for accepting all of my phone calls, even though sometimes they can be up to eight per day. Thank you for constantly motivating me to run after my dreams, even though I quit the track team (twice). Thank you for still loving me when I ask you, "this or that" and when you say "this," I always pick "that." Thank you for loving me, even though at times I make that an extremely difficult task.

If and when they invent an award for the most patient mother dealing with a stubborn child, you will win for sure.

Thank you for never losing faith in me. I hope I continue to make you proud, and less stressed. But, we'll see how that goes.

Mom, please stop going on vacation without me.



Monday, September 8, 2014


Today in creative writing, our prompt was to write about the negatives. Whether it be in a single person, or all of your pet peeves wrapped up into one horrendous person. I've never realized how fun, and how liberating it was to smother someone's flaws in ink, to serve as a constant reminder and warning to yourself for future reference.

Also, the people who ask you never to write about them are often the most fun to write about:

You're welcome.

Sorry, I don't keep promises, my fingers are stitched crossed.

You never call,
like I wish you would
only complain,
and come home late,
like a fool usually would.

You never surprise me,
like I hoped that you would
only make excuses,
and other plans
that never include me.

You never dress up,
only mess up
no shirt or suit,
or even clothes that fit you.

You never drink coffee,
and ask me how my day has been
only a beer,
paired with a belch,
poised as a reply.

You never read the paper,
or a book with more than three chapters
only the backs of the box
that house your video game obsession.

You’ve never met my friends,
I don’t think I’d let you.
You’ve never met my dad,
I don’t think he’d like you.

I never loved you,
like you wish that I would have,
like I told you
I could have.

Involuntary Disconnect

This week, I learned a very important life lesson, against my own will.

I’ve been wanting to conduct a social experiment for awhile now, where I surgically remove my cell phone from my retinas, and occasionally, my asshole, in order to reconnect with my surroundings. To be fully present.

Of course, excuses are abundant, and sometimes motivation is not. However, sometimes fate happens, and gives you the kick in the ass you need to get things done, and push your boundaries.

This weekend, my phone suffered a tragic accident at the Dallas Bull, and had no chance of revival. I’d like to say there was a cool story behind it, like it flew out of my hand while I was riding the mechanical bull, but it didn’t, just dropped. I only have a purple bruise to show for the mechanical bull, but that’s another story that I’ll save for another life.

In the slow motion replay of my phone gracefully proving that gravity exists, I thought I would be distraught not having my phone. I was never disconnected, I always had my shield to protect me from small talk and awkward encounters. Now, i’d have to talk about the weather and make eye contact? What the hell kind of torture was my fate offering?

Instead of being angry about lacking the means for communication, I am more aware. I am in a sense liberated. No one is bothering me to ask where I am, or what I’m doing. No one is harassing me that I missed a deadline, or I forgot to call them back, or meet them for lunch. Instead, I am getting e-mails, and hand written notes left on my desk, or people knocking on my door, and I love it.

On the way to class, I was able to breathe a little easier. I looked around and was amazed by how robotic our strides appeared. I saw about 50 people, each walking different directions, headed to different classes, but all walking the same pose. Eyes down, walking crooked lines, many into my path (ugh! No really, it’s fine. I love it.) Many apologized, but some gave me death eyes, passing the blame of the traffic bump on me. I accept.

What I noticed: the sky is extremely blue today, which will later blend into a cotton candy sky that tempts me to go buy actual cotton candy. But, I’m on a diet, and you can’t bite the sky. More flowers were planted on campus for this semester. Not all of the palm trees are brown and dying a slow death. The fashion on campus is really diverse, and really inspiring. I never realized how nice everyone dressed. (The conceited part of my brain only really cares about my own closet, but I can appreciate it.) No one actually wants to talk to me to my face without minor stutters, losing their train of thought, or breaking eye contact. That’s fine with me. For once I can proudly say, “It’s not me, it’s you,” and mean it.

I’m more attentive to the smaller things, that often get overlooked when my eyes are inside my screen, rather than in my head. I like not having to answer, “what’s up?” three to five times a day. I live a very simple life, the answer is more often than not, “not much,” or “laying on my couch with Netflix and cookies.” Instead, I am making eye contact and small talk. I am persistent with people making conversation with me, because they can’t text me, and I’m glad for that.

Although my screen is shattered, I have fifteen unread text messages and two missed calls. I can’t see who they’re from, but I have a very strong feeling I’m not missing much. (no offense if you sent me a message, I’m very bummed I can’t see your text.)

It’s been three days, and my new phone isn’t supposed to come for another week.

For right now, I’m enjoying the silence and gaining my eyes and a little bit of my sanity back. I’m re-exploring my surroundings. I was so connected, that this little bit of disconnect feels like a welcome relief. This involuntary lesson was nice, but next time, hopefully it will be as a result of my own devices (no pun intended.)

I encourage you to take a break and look around, or maybe talk to me for the time being. Our campus is really pretty, and I really like having conversations about anything besides the weather or politics.