Monday, March 29, 2010


Today, I woke up feeling rested, and I listened to the heavy rain pouring from our tired gutters. I was very convinced that it was going to be a good day.

I made a dent in The Memory Keeper's Daughter, which has been a dull and obnoxious book that I can't justify quitting, but I'm am glad to be approaching its end. I have precious little time for book reading, and to just let this poor tortured novel sap my spare moments away is unbearable. I'm moving on to Going Bovine. "Do you love it?" Or perhaps Cry, the Beloved Country. I mention that so you'll affirm my choice, tell me what a wonderful, hope-filled book the latter is. Or in the case of the former, totally hilarious. [I've read the acknowledgments page already. I know it's hilarious.]

I turned to my enormous to-do list, too, my fresh-faced effort at utilizing procrastination to get things done. I've been dreading writing these American Legion assigned topics, though I have research and outlines enough to produce some passable first drafts, and the competition being in less than two weeks and all. But that dread helped me to best a bunch of little projects that I'd been putting off. Tackling Flylady-style all the places I let clutter build up, while performing odd jobs I'd continually let slide until "tomorrow." I wasted very little time today. I was somewhat disciplined. This is only an intellectual realization, however. It doesn't feel like I did much.

But while drinking in the clarity of a task completed, and washing the dishes, I had an argument with Maggie. Way to go.

From there I took inventory of memories from the past month and further got wrapped up in an MIT psychology lecture when it came on my iPod shuffle during one of my brief organizing projects. It was about gender differences and evolutionary psychology, and it was all very interesting. Coincidentally, I got Mardi's booklet in the mail today via Rebecca, and yes, I love rain. Is there anyone who doesn't? The seal on the envelope makes me smile.

When my mom arrived home from work, I was confronted with the full scope of my laziness: here I am, a senior in high school, with my math course hardly bearing a dent. And so I was banned from Facebook, television, and movies as punishment. And I was glad. Does that defeat the point of punishment? I just so desperately need to be punished, to be snapped out of my senioritis and forced to work hard. Confronting my laziness on my own has been inconsequential and ineffective. It was strangely wonderful to experience a forcible intervention.

Later, Dad gets home from visiting with Grandpa, who has lost two of his siblings in the past nine months. Dad told how Grandpa had received an awkwardly worded sympathy card from a niece, who pointed out that the deceased brother had died exactly five months after his birthday, and the deceased sister had died exactly five months after her birthday, and gee, wasn't his birthday nearly five months ago? I laughed and laughed -- who says that in a sympathy card?! Thankfully, it's past five months after my grandpa's birthday and he is decidedly still alive. At the point in the day, I also contributed to my developing double chin with the Rhode Island flavor Hood ice cream, and it was worth it.

Before my mom went to bed, we talked some more. About school and college and the American Legion competition. It was cathartic, but somewhere towards the end I said something to make her angry, or upset, and I'm not really sure what it was, but I just feel awful again. Despite the fullness of everything I accomplished today, there is no rest or peace or comfort in the prospect of going straight to bed now. I can say, with limited hyperbole and a significant measure of certainty, that disappointing my parents is one of the worst feelings I've ever known.

So much of my short, foolish life has been a quest to not feel bad. Going along with the flow, taking the easy way out, letting things slip through the cracks, glossing over conflicts with slight deceptions, burying ugly feelings under layers of apathy. No, not all of the time, but a little bit, sure. Doing what needs to be done to not feel bad. Sometimes the methods of doing so were good. Sometimes they were bad. I seem to be doing all the wrong things to not feel badly lately. And now I feel bad again, and don't know how to slip back into a cheerful, mellow existence. I miss living like I'm free.

Today wasn't so bad. It was in most respects a very normal day. Nothing earth-shattering, nothing heart-renting. But it seems as though so many little events from this past month are coming to a point. I'm not having an emotional crisis, and I'm not experiencing some significant self-molding milestone. But I wonder, would you please pray for me?

Saturday, March 20, 2010

"You seem so out of context"

Glitter and twinkles and lights upon lights. Sunshine and starlight and warmth coming up from the pavement. The bass thumbing through the soles of your feet, the harmony zinging up your spine. If you tripped you wouldn't feel it, and your scraped knees would bleed euphoria.


This is not what it's like to be alive.

This is artificial. A thrill. A feeling of higher-consciousness. A high that is temporary and deceptive in its farce.

It feels so good and so surreal, justifying a transcendentalist indulgence.

But it will not give you meaning, and it will not bring you understanding, and it will not slip you wisdom in your nectar of starry-eyed clarity.

Life is just not like that.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Why I'd be a hippy if I could, Part 2

My friend Lindsey and I are working through a car search, and she commented to me that a car is one of the most fruitless investments ever: once acquired, a car requires maintenance and gasoline and insurance. Once you get one, you only stop paying for it when it dies.

I would note, at this point, that cars are a pretty good reason to live in the city. As much as Natalie Tran hates public transportation.

Anyway, I feel like so much stuff is like this. A television is the gateway drug to video games and DVDs and cable and digital convertor boxes and a sound system and a furniture unit and a universal remote. It's never just one thing. It's always a slippery slope to more stuff. And that's not inherently bad. But it seems to me a kind of inevitable trap, and that irks me.

And so I think, being a hippy must be ridiculously freeing.

It's just, I see houses and careers and possessions and hobbies, and it all feels very burdensome. Distracting, and, enslaving. Things make me feel trapped. And maybe that's because I'm a teenager and have not lived my listlessness fill, that I'll get this spontaneity streak out of my system after two months on my own, once I realize what it means to have nothing, and that I'll value these "worldly trappings" more once I realize what blessings they truly are. But I'm not at a point where I understand that right now. And so being a hippy sounds foolishly attractive.

Of course, I cannot play guitar. I would be a useless hippy.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


I want you to see me as I am.

But I worry that this is selfish of me.

This is why I like blogging, of course. Because I have a semi-public outlet for my thoughts and feelings and experiences that gives me the safety of a computer screen and the non-presumptuous opportunity to be heard without soliciting people to listen.

I am processing things now, things that happened perhaps a year ago. A year from now I'll be able to process this busy, mind-boggling month. God, sharpen my hindsight to show me sense in these lessons.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Set me on fire!

I am just so ugly inside. My self-righteousness and self-pity makes me feel so alone, and I shrug patronizingly at my own internal conflicts knowing that this too shall pass.

What is stopping me from living like I'm redeemed? Why is it that I can't seem to connect with God and with people at the same time?

These failures of existing are so insubstantial and insufferably genetic. I'm trying not to bumble around like my own pathetic version of Dogberry, but I am about just as confused and just as confusing.

I don't want a cycle of recycled revenge. I don't want to follow death and all of his friends.

I want to go home. I want to walk out into the woods and sit on Mount Fuji and let little trickles of tears relieve my shrunken little heart as I share what I can find words to share with my pen and paper. "This is not what I wanted." I don't know what I want.

I want to burn away.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Who Shall Deliver Me? - Christina Rossetti

God strengthen me to bear myself;
That heaviest weight of all to bear,
Inalienable weight of care.

All others are outside myself;
I lock my door and bar them out
The turmoil, tedium, gad-about.

I lock my door upon myself,
And bar them out; but who shall wall
Self from myself, most loathed of all?

If I could once lay down myself,
And start self-purged upon the race
That all must run ! Death runs apace.

If I could set aside myself,
And start with lightened heart upon
The road by all men overgone!

God harden me against myself,
This coward with pathetic voice
Who craves for ease and rest and joys

Myself, arch-traitor to myself;
My hollowest friend, my deadliest foe,
My clog whatever road I go.

Yet One there is can curb myself,
Can roll the strangling load from me
Break off the yoke and set me free.

Monday, March 1, 2010

"The sidelines is lined with casualties."

I assumed that in New York City, the sidewalks are in a perpetual state of "walk" when in actuality, we spent a lot of time staring at the red hand symbol while taxis whizzed by. On one street corner there was a large homeless woman with a carriage, talking to herself and to us. She said, "Want to see my bunny rabbit?" And she pulled out an M&M container with Bugs Bunny on it. She kept talking to us, I suppose, but I was in another conversation and in my intuitiveness easily tuned her out. When the crosswalk blinked we started moving, and she stood up and started crying. I saw her pants were too small, gaping in the front where they were unbuttoned. As we walked away she yelled at us, "Mommy, help me! Help me zip up my pants, please!" She was so loud and sounded so piteous . . . I swallowed and kept walking.

Mentally ill people make me nervous. They are the epitome of that which I don't understand, and that which I fear the most. The disease of the mind is a terrifying thing. We are so frail, and I see so clearly how weak the human mind is. And walking away, I was so ashamed that I was afraid of her and her mental illness, and horrible guilt mingled with my confused compassion. What could she have wanted in her simplicity? Security, comfort, attention, love. And not only was I afraid of her but I walked away, head down, biting my lip. And remembering. Talking to Christopher on Market Street, nodding at the hot dog vendor in the T station. You're supposed to walk away. That's what they tell you to do, that's what the proper thing to do is. We are not God. We cannot meet every need, we cannot fill every void. But still, walking away feels awful every time. And every time I wonder, is this right?

Oh, Lord, have mercy on all that is broken.