Nov 24, 2012

Black Friday

Since starting my job in September, I haven't spent any of my money on anything other than groceries and paying down debts. I've been watching Black Friday deals -- not like I can avoid them, since some places literally started advertising them in October -- to catch some good deals on clothes and stuff for my new apartment. But when Friday finally rolled around, I found myself
lacking in any real want for material possessions. I don't have everything, but I'm happy with what I have.

My family is unfortunately very indecisive when it comes to their Christmas wish lists, so I didn't have them to shop for either. (Protip: don't go Black Friday shopping to browse casually. You will get trampled and wait in long lines for what will ultimately not be worth your time, in terms of money.)

So here I am, a quarter century old, not remembering a time when the day after Thanksgiving was spent just being happy with what I have. I can't decide whether that's wonderful because of the overwhelming sense if peace or depressing because the feeling is unfamiliar and I seem to be one of far too few in this mood.

Here's to more days of giving thanks.

Nov 13, 2012

Free time (or lack thereof)

It occurred to me the other day that we, especially as Americans, have less and less "free time." Never mind the fact that we have less vacation time than other first-world countries and our society's addiction to caffeine -- whenever we have spare time, the tendency is to pack it full of "productive" activities. I was just listening to a podcast earlier today about how various medications people have created in an effort to get rid of the need for sleep entirely. Why? Presumably, at least to employers, to work more, but hopefully to have more free time as well.

Sure, people say "TGIF!" at the end of a long work week. But after vacuuming, dishes, laundry and grocery shopping, suddenly an entire weekend is gone. Even breaks and lunch hours are spent on the phone scheduling oil changes or doctor appointments, sorting out bank account issues, paying bills online.

I feel guilty when I spend a day for myself -- curled up in a chair reading a novel, for instance. I wonder if I should be reading a self-help book instead, maybe learn a thing or two about cooking or improving myself otherwise. I think about how many calories I could be burning if I were reading on the treadmill at the gym instead. Suddenly I feel very lazy. The extra time it takes me to get out of my worries and actually into the book makes me feel even more guilty when I reflect later on how long I spent sitting around reading.

I've actually been listening to less music and cramming in more informational podcasts and audiobooks -- there's a prime example of giving up things I enjoy in the name of productivity.

So why do I always feel like I don't have enough time? With life expectancy higher than ever and a wealth of technological conveniences, you would think there would be time to rest. But there's this little nagging feeling in me -- maybe in all Americans, maybe in the human spirit -- that keeps saying "you can do more." Surely it's what fueled great inventors and artists, given motivation and goals for people all over the world.

But is there a point where it becomes a little detrimental? I think I'm trying to find a balance between "reach for the stars" and "don't worry, be happy." I typed "the balance" a second ago and backspaced -- I don't know that there's a perfect balance. I imagine it's different for different people, anyway. Most things seem to be.

I want to be just

--what's the word, motivated? striving? aggressive? no. overachieving? no. I want to be just...

fired up(?)

enough to keep improving, I guess.

Enough to not feel lazy, maybe. Enough to feel like I'm not being left behind, like I'm not wasting potential. It's a tough wire to walk.

Nov 6, 2012

Highly Conceited

Tonight the United States of America elected its first black president for a second term. Gay marriage and recreational marijuana use have been legalized in some states. The first openly-gay US Senator was elected. Facebook, Twitter, every television channel, all erupted and have been covering this election all day.

So it boggles my mind when I see someone complain about hearing any of it while proceeding to talk about their own petty issues.

I get that your kid's having trouble sleeping and it upsets you. I get that you think it's important to post pictures of your baby just sitting there. I understand that you do this every day because your child is your world.

But to berate the people who care about other things? To get irritated at people excited about the results of an event that happens once every four years? To scorn the passion with which people express their reaction to these historic events?

Get over yourself.

You're not the most important person in the world. You're not the only one that matters. You live in a world where you interact with other people.

Learn to do it right.

Sep 20, 2012

The Best Intentions

One of my friends, a kind-hearted school teacher, was speaking highly of a book he had just read about homosexuality. A devout Christian married to a lovely woman, he wanted to share what he'd read with people who were "struggling with their sexuality." The book was written by a pastor and was essentially telling people they could become heterosexual through will and faith. It claimed to show the way to "recovery" in an "authoritative" and "academic" way, with stories of people he knew personally.

I was appalled.

Both my friend and this author were completely sincere. They knew and loved people who "struggle with temptation." I wonder, though, if I should put "love" in quotes -- I understand that they are concerned for the souls of their gay brothers and sisters, but it seems to me that real love doesn't involve wanting to change a person. I think about drunkards and the people who love them wanting them to get sober. For some reason that idea makes sense to me. But to insist a homosexual person be able to "cure" themselves of their "sin" seems so wrong and I couldn't and still can't quite articulate why to my friend.

He's a good person -- the first to offer to help and the last to leave when the work is done. I can't find fault in him, and could hardly believe he was even looking into this sort of material. He was genuinely concerned about his homosexual friends and wanted to find a way to fit their lifestyles into his belief system.

I can't be mad... but I just can't understand.

Sep 9, 2012


Took my happy pills early, along with an Advil. Still felt like shit for a while til the drugs kicked in, but I reached out to some friends to keep me distracted.

I've been listening to the Radiolab podcast all day (okay, more like for several months now) but it was hard to focus, so I switched to The Mental Illness Happy Hour: a podcast that, as host Paul Gilmartin puts it, is "an hour of honesty about the battles in our heads. From medically diagnosed conditions to everyday compulsive negative thinking -- feelings of dissatisfaction, disconnection, and that vague, sinking feeling that the world is passing us by." The best part is that it doesn't pretend to be treatment or anything -- he used to say "I'm a jackass that tells dick jokes." So it doesn't set me up to have expectations of "fixing" my situation and makes me laugh too.

"You are not alone," is the overall message of the show, and it is incredibly comforting. It helped me get out of my head and kept me from feeling sorry for myself, which is really what I need when I'm falling apart and feel like I'm losing my mind.

I'll probably sleep soon. Hopefully peacefully this time.

Happy Pills

I am on two different antidepressants. I have been on drugs like these since I was eleven years old.

Last night, I forgot to take my pills. I had a nightmare in which a man was trying to kill me. Normally I wake up during these fairly quickly, but a side effect of being on SSRIs (or any drug, really) for an extended period of time is your body's dependence on them. Withdrawals are a horrible experience. I sleep well while on my medication but even a single night without them, I am vulnerable to the side effects -- poor quality of sleep, intensely vivid nightmares, extreme difficulty waking and a powerful grogginess that the brain struggles to recover from.

My dear cat luckily saved me by shoving his nose into my face repeatedly, because only physical movement can cause me to stir when my brain is lacking serotonin (in addition to mood, it also regulates appetite and sleep). But when I finally got out of bed at 3 in the afternoon, I recognized that it was too late to take my missed dosage without ruining my routine -- I normally take it at about 11 in the evening. So I decided I would wait it out a few more hours til it made more sense to take it again.

While I have been able to tolerate the migraine I've had all day, I feel physically weak. I forced myself to eat a sandwich and have a glass of green tea. It tasted like nothing. I spent some time surfing the internet but my headaches cut it short. I called my mom and focused on normal things. I cleaned a little. I even tried to exercise, but with my lack of any real calorie intake today, I literally collapsed.

It is currently 7 at night and I am lying on the floor, clutching a pillow to my chest. Light makes my head hurt more so it is dark in my entire apartment. I am crying and trembling. I am scared because I hurt so bad all over. It is unbearable. I am even more afraid of the realization that this is, and will be, the rest of my life. I need those stupid pills or I am reduced to this feeble little body on a dirty carpet, choking on her own stupid tears.

God, help me.

Aug 19, 2012


The last days of summer wind down and I find myself wound up something fierce. Huh.

Uploaded some poems to make up for my lack of blogging.

Aug 17, 2012

Apartment Cleaning

I hold back the sun again
 as I soap up the windows.
The daylight kept at bay.

Each Sunday brings reprise of
this most mundane ritual:
a regular exercise,
but one in futility.

Yet if not for my efforts
we'd be tsunami victims,
drowned in glossy magazines
and new credit card offers.

Everything was clean once.
Now, I am down on my knees,
sweeping up loose hair and crumbs.

Aug 15, 2012


Today, 150,000 people died of natural causes

                        because starvation is natural when there isn't enough food to eat
                        and the immune system's natural response to abnormalities is to beat
                                    whatever it is to death, despite damage to the self
                        and fire was discovered, not invented
                        and jealousy is a natural response to wealth.

Aug 12, 2012

Poem About Abraham Sutzkever's Child

Mameh is looking at the men with the big black boots
She is not blinking and I,
I am so hungry

I ask for something to eat
Tug at her pant leg
and I win a fish

The fish tastes good and I bite in
It is slimy on my teeth
I begin to chew

But there is a loud sound
Something warm hits me in the head
There is ringing and my fish has no taste

I go into the big hole without Mameh
She is not blinking and I,
I am not hungry anymore

Aug 10, 2012

First impressions matter

Swing your best foot forward
into a sewing needle

Under the big toenail it slips,
punctures flesh on the underside.
The needle eye's thread, long and white,
stitching together two red lips

immobilized but all the while
are oh-so-desperate to scream.
Yet instead, the ends of the seam
lift awkwardly
into a smile.

Aug 8, 2012

Top 20 Reasons to Do Anything

Top 5 Reasons to Hate Someone
5. Money (a lot)
4. Infidelity
3. Revenge
2. Obligation
1. Musical tastes

Top 5 Reasons to Love Someone
5. Money (a lot)
4. Fidelity
3. Religion
2. Obligation
1. Loneliness

Top 5 Reasons to Murder Someone
5. Money (a lot)
4. Infidelity
3. Revenge
2. Survival
1. Mario Kart

Top 5 Reasons to Marry Someone
5. Money (a lot)
4. Fidelity
3. Revenge
2. Survival
1. Disney movies

Jul 28, 2012

Through with you

I'm tired of the scent of urine and the way you look right past me.

I feel lied to and unwanted and alone.

I hate that belly and the way you don't give a shit.

I love you, but I'm not in love with you, and it seems the feeling's mutual.

You will not see this because you stopped reading things I write two years ago. You stopped trying two years ago and I've felt it ever since.

Jul 18, 2012

The Never-Ending Job Search

It is currently month four of my unemployment since officially graduating from PSU. It's driving me crazy.

I understand that the economy is shitty and there are millions of people out of work all over the country and that many over-qualified people are having difficulties finding jobs as well, but it really doesn't make me feel much better at all.

I feel useless. I feel as though I lack value to society.

I can't even be a stay-at-home mother because I don't want to have children. I can't be a housewife because I'm afraid of marriage.

What the hell am I supposed to be?

Ugh. Back to completing more job applications and waiting quietly by my phone.

Jul 17, 2012


I have decided that I will not have children. Ever.

People dismiss my statement as a common one of young people with the implication that I, like many others my age, will reconsider as I grow older. Be it my "biological clock" or the desire to raise a family or happy accident, people think I will be a mother one day. Even my doctor doesn't think permanent contraception is worth talking to me about.

What they do not understand is my paralyzing fear of pregnancy and childbirth (as a former biology student, I know too many terrible details), incredible selfishness, long-term prescriptions to anti-depressants, and high susceptibility to postpartum depression.

I hear about people like Andrea Yates, the woman who killed all five of her children during a postpartum psychotic depression, and I fear for my unborn babies enough to never want to become pregnant. Neurologist Alice Flaherty, in the book I have been reading, discusses her PPD while looking at the link between literary creativity and mental illnesses -- it's basically cementing my decision.

I feel like children will not make me happy and I will make miserable children. Why bother?

Jun 30, 2012

From my sixth grade choir class

step by step. day by day. inch by inch, all the way.

bit by bit. mile by mile,
and little by little you're there.

if you can't climb a mountain then climb a hill
that's much better than standing still
there's a way if you've got the will
and little by little you're there."

Jun 26, 2012

Getting my hopes up

Got a call from AM Income Life about a job opening. I don't remember applying to a place with that name, but I've submitted so many applications that I can't be sure. They didn't mention the position at all, didn't ask about anything on my resume, didn't tell me anything about the company... but wanted me in for an interview. I agreed happily. After quick Google Search I see numerous complains that the company scams, making people shell out hundreds of dollars for training and licensing and books, etc.


Jun 23, 2012

Why Georgia

Sometimes I really wonder if I'm supposed to be married or have children or own a house or have a successful career or whatever by now.

Quarter-life crisis?

May 9, 2012

May Angels Lead You In

Thomas' mother passed away last night. May she rest in peace.

May 8, 2012

The doctors said there is nothing more they can do for Thomas's mother except make her comfortable until... she dies.

I am trying to be strong, but I'm not very good at it. I am trying to be helpful, but I feel useless. I am sorry.

I am so, so sorry.

Apr 28, 2012

Insomnia in April

The muses tend to pick the most inopportune moments to strike -- but it isn't a strike, is it? It's more of a tap, a light brush that you think little of at the time (in truth, sometimes you don't notice it at all) but festers into an itch that can't be cured under your idle fingernails -- no, it needs release beyond flesh, beyond body.

It is hard to write when I am tired, but sometimes it is harder NOT to write. It is unbearable to attempt to satiate this reoccurring restlessness with something Useful for the Real World, something Productive for the rest of Society. I remember the heartache I felt as a little girl when I learned that doctors are useful and poets are not. I decided I would be a dentist that writes. But I came to this decision before discovering that scientists and authors cultivate their professions very differently. My anatomy notes were littered with lyrics and my diary was buried under a stack of textbooks. So I changed my mind and chose pretty words over medical terminology, meter over metric. I gave in and continue to give in to my muse. I took poetry instead of physiology.

And now here I am, lying awake at 3 in the morning, trying to come up with the right words to scratch an itch.

Apr 21, 2012

Dianne B.

So I've been sponsoring a little girl in the Philippines through Children International. I'll be honest -- it wasn't my idea. I was ambushed by people with clipboards on the PSU campus for weeks before I caved in to one that was actually polite. I'm terrible at saying "no" to people. Even after I started sponsoring a child and told the ambushers so, they continued to pester me though -- "you can sponsor ANOTHER child!" One man went so far as to physically try to reach into my bag to get my credit card. After that, I became more firm with declining and avoided even eye contact with them. (This is very difficult for me -- I love making eye contact and smiling at people!)

Regardless of the terrible volunteers, I've continued to donate for over two years now to a little girl named Dianne B. She's ten-years-old now and I've been getting yearly photos and hand-written letters from her. I haven't replied or written her anything, because no one told me how to -- today I stumbled upon the Sponsorship Guidebook they sent me a few weeks after I signed up, and there's a whole section on how to write to your child. I really wish I'd found that sooner.

I wonder what she thinks of me -- this mysterious stranger she calls Ms. Mercado, who's given her family $20 every month for two years. Do you think she looks at the letters and pictures all the other sponsored children get and wonder why she doesn't get one too? Do you think she's ever afraid that I will stop helping? She doesn't have much to say in her letters -- I get little stories of things that happen in her life, things she enjoys, thank yous for supporting her family. I wonder what other sponsors write about. What would I say? Would I tell her that when I look at her picture I see a little girl that, were the circumstances different, I could have very well been? Do I tell her that I've walked the very streets in Manila her family probably lives on, watching children with tiny unwashed hands and feet running around nearly naked? Do I tell her that it's really the guilt I have buried deep inside me that continues to make these donations, which, in a twisted way, satiate my gut for a time?

I was sent an information sheet about Dianne two years ago. She has five other siblings, mostly older than her. Just reading it tugged at my heartstrings -- it was only luck with the randomness of life that I was not in her position.

Child sleeps on: The floor with a mat
Water Source: Neighbor's faucet

I'm sure there's an element of manipulation on Children International's part -- they certainly keep sending me their own letters trying to suck more money from me -- but I still have this sense of duty, of obligation to this little girl on the other side of the world.

Apr 19, 2012

One of the Lucky Ones

When I was in high school, I publicly expressed disappointment when I was not selected as the representative for our graduating class. Someone then told me, "well, you can't have everything."

My initial response was anger. Of course I know you can't have everything -- I don't want everything. I just want to achieve things I work hard for. It's only fair, right? I was the newspaper editor-in-chief, I was valedictorian, I was prom queen, I was on every student council there was, and I felt like I deserved all of it because I'd worked hard. Life seems simple when you are seventeen.

I graduated and went to my first choice of colleges. It was there that I started to face the "real world." I failed my first calculus exam -- my first failed test ever, despite visiting the professor's office for extra help and the night tutor daily. I didn't get a bid from any of the sororities I wanted when I did rush in the fall. And in the spring. I was rejected when I applied to be an RA. My boyfriend of four years started resenting the distance between us and had streaks of jealousy. Our relationship deteriorated and eventually ended. I later discovered he'd been seeing his best friend's ex-girlfriend.

I completely broke down. I attempted suicide despite the love and support of my family and friends. They caught me soon after I swallowed all the pills, though, and rushed me to the hospital.

My college would not let me return, and I enrolled at Portland State University, with none of the big scholarships I'd earned. I stayed with my parents who no longer trusted me to care for myself properly. They took away my cell phone and needed their permission to do anything.

Recovery was a long, slow process with many relapses into depression and anorexia. I am still prone to them. Every time I face disappointment, it reopens the wound and I struggle to keep together.

But even as I look back at all of this, I realize that I'm one of the lucky ones. I was able to have the medical care that saved my life. I was able to have a secondary education.

It has been five years since I attempted suicide. I have a million regrets, but I've been lucky enough to come away from all my mistakes in one piece.

Apr 4, 2012

It's that time again...

April is National Poetry Month! Go read some poems. ♥

This year I plan on committing more poems to memory -- at least one a week.

Mar 30, 2012

Just what you deserve

Thomas had a phone interview this morning with Kroger for an internal IT position. I was still sleeping but I heard his voice in the living room and slowly made my way to the couch next to him. I only heard half of the conversation of course, but I think the interview went really well -- Tom has this incredible ability to communicate with people and I think it really served him well during the call. I was beaming with pride as he talked about himself -- not with the overly critical pessimism with which he brings himself down with but with a strong, confidence that made me realize why I fell in love with him.

When he mentioned his studies at Ball State University there was a short pause followed by "I did not... I moved out here to take care of my girlfriend, so it's been tough to finish the one or two classes I need to graduate." I was in the kitchen at the time pouring myself a glass of milk and I almost burst into tears with guilt. This man completely left his work, school, family and friends in Indiana and traveled thousands of miles to a strange state where he didn't know anyone else but me.


Because I asked him to.

Mar 22, 2012

Short, useless post

Not much of an appetite lately, but Tom made me pancakes this morning and I ate them happily.

Feb 3, 2012

Giving Blood

Gave blood for the first time today. My arm seized up and I nearly fainted, but I did it!

I've had some blood drawn before, but never a whole pint... I started feeling lightheaded about five minutes in. My attendant asked if I wanted to stop the draw, but I wasn't going to give up. If it saves peoples lives, I'll put up with some discomfort for a while. When it was over, I couldn't move my left arm. My fingers clenched up and I couldn't feel anything lower than my elbow. I was about to pass out. They put a screen up, transferred me to a different bed and brought me to another area to rest. A nurse told me it was tetany and would go away in a short while.

A couple juices and some cookies later I was feeling much better. I went in at 11am and didn't leave til 1:30pm or so. It was... it was exciting.

Jan 29, 2012

No one pays enough attention

He's a grown man with an imaginary slice of cheese
held between his thumb and forefinger,
pinky held high in the air.

"The French savor the flavor of their food," he explains
to a student absently chewing,
laughing behind a book at Odysseus,
ears filled with beeswax,
sailing past the sirens tempting his crew to crash.

As imagination touches his outstretched tongue,
his grip on the table slips and his spine is soon against the floor.

No one ever pays enough attention.
That is why these things happen.

Outside, the alcohol the cotton ball is soaked in
hardly touches the woman's own hands,
no doubt thanks to the delicate nature
with which she dabs it against the child's wounds,
her tiniest finger held as far from it as possible.

This siren's song sure sounds a lot like an ambulance

Jan 20, 2012

Sleeping lots this week since I've been feeling under the weather. :(

Jan 18, 2012

Morning and Recovery

Finding myself here embracing
   the rim of the bathroom sink:

Eyes fixed on the bowl — on anything other
than the  lashes  covered
in charcoal black mascara
blinking back,  above tongue licking dry lips.

"What a pretty little thing,"
  mouthed smirking lips
  spoke condescending grins

"Just a lovely darling,"
  leered strange faces
  in stranger places I was not supposed to be

& yet to trace the path of tapwater now
would only be to  tease  out  that vague,
  sinking feeling
that the world is passing me by today.

   i could start to be okay
if i should turn the faucet off
exactly the way a victim wouldn't

Jan 11, 2012

In the Kitchen Aisle

One stainless steel kitchen knife
and it goes -- sharp side down --
into the crate with the rest of the apartment's dirty silverware.
"Silver," the box  -- now broken down --
in the closet read, but she thought it more of a "grey."

"It's all the same," he had shrugged,
with dry lips pursing to one side
and blue eyes -- rolling down --
turning his head away.

"but it's not," came the protest, in
a volume -- falling down --
that did not turn the head back,
nor the sharp side of the knife up,
nor the shade of the utensils that would lie
              by a smashed bowl against a wall
              to a color more like what the box
              had promised her in that day in July,
"it's not."

Jan 2, 2012

The Glass

It's never too far away, is it?

It's always there, it's always lurking, always looming.

It's the bell jar Sylvia Plath described, the one always threatening to drop and trap me underneath it. I have to actively avoid it.
It's the little animation next to the people in the depression medication commercials they have on TV -- it will always be there no matter what I do.
The only option is to get better at avoiding it. I'm still susceptible and I am aware of that, but being aware of that is a step further than I was before.

Jan 1, 2012

Happy New Year

Here's hoping the Mayans are wrong.