We’re up in the air.
lying under Fall leaves, all
We’re up in the air.
lying under Fall leaves, all
The curious bend
between motion and stillness
silence and volume
the tomes we write with furtive glances.
Elastasis, the imperfect cousin of
free of form and shape
and reason and ration
and love and grounding,
and love and grounding,
and love and grounding.
Hush, the sound of
chapped lips and a light breeze
that smells faintly of manure
Why were we built like this?
Straw huts with fiery hearths
smoke to billow the brim
flame to lick the floor,
begging to catch.
You crawl to me on all fours.
I dig my nails into your forearm
and scream your name
til it’s etched onto my tongue.
We tuck ourselves into the corners of our own minds,
we cry with raw throat and shiny eyes.
We’ll get worse
before we get better
before we get
This #WorldHealthDay, the World Health Organization (WHO) identified depression as the leading cause of ill health and disability globally. My closest friends, doting and attentive boyfriend, college professors, and a handful of beautiful strangers in DC club bathrooms know that I’ve spent the majority of my life battling dysthymia, a chronic, low-level form of depression.
If I had to characterize it in a way that one might be able to grasp, it’s your annoying coworker Charles who doesn’t wear nearly enough deodorant, skims everyone’s lunches for the good bits, and craps on every little piece of good news that comes through the office.
Before we start, though, let’s clear up some persistent BS. If depression is Charles, then Charles isn’t (just) crying constantly, looking longingly out windows, journaling while listening to Conor Oberst, or wanting to die in a number of, if nothing else, inventive ways. He’s an amorphous sort of blech, fitting whatever container he can sneak his way into and waving squatter rights triumphantly when he’s made a home of your mind (that asshole). He’s a different sort of unpleasant to everyone who has the pleasure of making his acquaintance.
This is how Charles makes his presence known in my life.
Charles is missed showers — a growing pile of clothing on the floor, skipping school, skipping social interactions, skipping life. It’s like there’s this idea that while he and I sideline my life for a second to chat, there’s a nice, elderly shopkeeper on hand with thick, crescent glasses and a feather duster to keep everything neat and orderly. Obviously, that’s never the case.
Then, he transforms. He becomes eating too little, eating too much, waving an old-school calculator while shouting caloric intake and calculating the repercussions behind every good feeling thing. He becomes not calling your parents because they sacrificed too much for you to do so little with your life. Charles is you walking away from office hours with an otherwise understanding professor, a metaphorical menacing glance over your supervisor’s shoulder as you’re chastised, yet again, for not producing expected deliverables.
He transforms again. He’s that urge to kiss that stranger next to the booming speaker and letting their warmth replace your cold, if only for a moment. Charles is loving someone and wanting to reach out, if only to graze their hand, only to find yourself repeating just reach out and touch just reach out and touch just reach out and touch in your head while you stare blankly at them and they plead with you, imploring you to stop being so cold, so distant.
He transforms a final time and, ah, it’s a sigh of relief because you’ve finally hit the stereotype. Charles, finally, is a crying fit — heaving, shoulder-wracking sobbing. Snot dripping, eyes stinging, the whole shebang. However, what should be cathartic becomes infinitely tedious, because no amount of crying over some abstract sadness really cuts through the fog, as Charles is quick to gleefully remind you.
Then, it ebbs. And it flows, and you go to class, or work, or to a fancy dinner with your boyfriend and order something more than the water (hold the lemon). Charles goes to sleep, and let me tell you, this mofo hibernates for days, months on end. You end up talking to someone, it’s great. Your insurance coverage ends and those conversations stop; it’s not so great. It’s not better, it’s not worse. It just is.
Life continues this lopsided lope down some dusty path, and the thing about getting better is that it’s just getting marginally better at predicting the speed bumps and craters along the way.
To complete this crap metaphor, you and Charles still don’t like each other, and he’s definitely still an A-grade asshole, but you learn to live alongside him.
If you’re thinking to yourself, oh shit I definitely have a Charles in my head only her name is Miranda and she has perfect teeth and the cruelest laugh ever, it’s okay! I mean, that sentiment is a bit BS in and of itself, because you know it’s not okay, but I just mean you’re not crazy. You’re not wrong, you’re not attention-seeking.
Take a look at the resources available through WHO and talk to someone, if you can. This journey doesn’t start getting easier until you take the first step or some namaste crap like that. Trust me on this one. A year ago today, I was pulling my life together from having almost flunked out of my Fall senior semester and today I’m living in the nation’s capital, doing fulfilling work in a relationship with someone who loves me, in his own words, in happiness and sadness.
Take that shower. Message that friend. Finally, and most importantly, repeat after me:
Throughout the final week of 2015, I found myself chatting at all odd hours of the day with friends and strangers alike. Conversations ranged from the mundane and unremarkable to life-altering and thought provoking. Through each conversation, however, there was a common thread; I found myself wondering Have I effectively managed to get across the nuances of my personality in this interaction? Do they understand that there is so much more to me than this?
I should mention that this internal struggle is not a recent development. Rather, it’s a pesky question that has followed me through most of my life. Usually, it’s paired with the even more frustrating Where do I fit in? How do I make myself fit into the spaces I desire to occupy? Each and every relationship I forge is always skirted by a halo of doubt that somehow, I will be misconstrued. That this individual will take a parcel of my person and assume it to be my whole.
I would argue that this fear is not unfounded. From coworkers to bosses to even (and especially) friends and loved ones, I’ve found a tendency to generalize, stereotype, and simplify people based on appearance, habits, or actions. In one of the conversations I had this past week, I was told that people want to be judged for their intentions, but judge others by their actions. I, too, am guilty of this behavior, which only serves to bolster my fears. Perhaps I can save my hypocrisy by saying that my simplification is a defense mechanism or a preemptive strike?
Maybe it’s a classic case of chicken or egg, nature or nurture. Which came first? The habit of oversimplifying or the experience of being oversimplified? Does it even ever matter? At the end of the day, I’m still left wondering what I can do to convey all the facets of my being; what can I do differently, how can I work to be understood?
I haven’t yet found The Answer™, though I highly suspect that there is none. What I have come closer to understanding, though, is that we can apply an (admittedly bastardized) concept of the Burden of Proof to this issue. What I mean to say is that the burden is not on you to prove yourself whole to the world.
You are a whole person. Every morning, you wake with blood pumping gloriously through (hopefully unclogged) arteries and a host of interests, fears, questions, and desires. Those do not go away when another refuses to acknowledge them.
They are the ones tasked with rifling through the boxes of your personality and finding enough proof that you are somehow not worthy of their time, attention, etc.
It’s a strangely comforting conclusion as, despite having absolutely zero impact on the way that people continue to judge and parcel you, you begin to develop a core belief that it isn’t some inherent shortcoming on your part. The burden shifts away from you convincing people that you are worthy of the life you’re living to just, well, living it. Going out and doing and being and allowing that to speak for itself.
Is this a cure-all for insecurity? No. Will I finally feel 100% comfortable in my skin and my surroundings? Uh, hell no. But it’s a step. I’m not one for New Year’s resolutions, but this time around, maybe just this time around, I’ll resolve to absolve myself of the burden of proof.
I deserve this life I’m forging. I deserve to be multi-faceted and I deserve my complexity. And I hope you know that you deserve the same.
The biggest suggestion I can make regarding designing custom shoes (mine were a gift to someone I love dearly) is to consider not only what design might look great, but also what vibe they might be feeling. As you can see, I originally wanted to have designs in all panels, but upon finishing the toe panel, I realized it was too busy and so I blacked out the side panels.
Mod Podge serves as a great sealant and finisher, giving the product a blended, solid feel.
The end of 2015 is the
emptying of a handbag, worn down
with wear over the past year, faux leather
strap cracking into fractals of time. In it,
what do we find?
Crumpled paper containing
smudged numbers forming lips on
the other end of the phone,
lips that form names I once scratched into backs
and whispered under hot breath.
Leaves with caked on mud from a rainy overnight-
sat under the large tent, a vivid memory of an
apology for saying “fuck” in front of a
group of twelve year old boys.
Several condom wrappers with dried red
lipstick on seams where I tore the
package open with impatient teeth.
Mechanical pencils with erasers that look
like chewed up dog toys and a sketch book
filled with postures and half finished faces-
Guitar picks stowed in crevices that hide
the words to songs I haven’t set to
melodies I haven’t created yet.
Breath mints and chapstick and
a small diary containing calorie counts
of roasted peanuts. A tube of fruity lip gloss.
A small vial containing a perfume that
perfectly mimics her scent. A few loose
pieces of gum that taste like him.
A small wallet containing ticket stubs
and a copy of the WMATA bus schedule.
A business flyer with some advice about
biking around D.C. scribbled on the back
with an apology regarding legibility.
Some lint, dust, and a scattering of
orphaned letters of words that
never came to fruition when I sat
down to write.
A note scribbled on the back
of a bank receipt;
“Next year I’ll do better.”
I keep asking you to bruise me with your lips.
…So that when I’m adjusting to the new lights
streaming through my bedroom window, I’ll
remember how bright and red
my skin was when you left it.
And maybe, with that,
I’ll remember the taste of your mouth
after it ran down my neck
and the brush of your tongue
on my inner thigh.
Leave me with the physicality
so I can remember the sound of your voice
and the nebula in your eyes
as you stare hard, wishing you didn’t have to go,
wishing we had more time.
Leave your mark on me so
when it’s 12 am on a Friday and
I’m lost somewhere in the city and
feeling a little sad and lonely…
maybe this time it’ll be enough
to stop me
from climbing into a stranger’s bed
and sneaking out stage left
in the early morning’s rays.
Maybe this time it’ll be enough
to stop me from finding empty pleasure
or from searching for you in other’s eyes.