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.