Sadie Sadie Workin’ Lady

Today has been quite something at work. Usually it’s pretty relaxed– at most, one crisis per day. Today? Not so much. My brain hurts.

It also got me thinking about how hard I work. An actor I did the most recent show with posted today on Facebook about how he is stuck in Puerto Rico, where he’s been on vacation. Lots of whining. And I’m thinking: a) I couldn’t possibly afford to go to Puerto Rico! and b) I don’t have the TIME to go to Puerto Rico! and C) if I WERE in Puerto Rico, I would not be complaining about having to be there for a bit longer. And CERTAINLY not on Facebook.

Which got me thinking about the number of hours I dedicate to work. So. Calculations:

20hrs/week at my office job.
I do about 3 hours of VO session stuff maybe 6 days a week. So, 18hr/week.
I take an on-camera class for 3 hours each week.
I audition usually once or twice a week. On average, with getting ready, transit, waiting, prep, that’s about 8hrs/week.
My daily commute is at least 45min each way, and that’s if I’m going to work and then going home, which I do about twice a week. Other times, I commute much more. But as far as basic commute, 40 min each way 5 days a week, that’s about 7hrs/week.
I see a lot of shows, which can count as work. Show, plus commute, about three times a week is about 12hrs/week.
There are 168 hours in one week, minus about 48 hours of sleeping (I get about 7hrs/night). How do I spend my days?

So. Here’s the breakdown:

Screen Shot 2014-04-07 at 4.47.54 PM

With 120 possible hours per week to do as I please, 68 of those are NON-NEGOTIABLE job requirements. That gives me 52 hours/week of free time. Which I guess isn’t bad, except I’m counting all 7 days of the week. Eek.

I always tell my mentees that in order to truly recover, you have to give yourself lots of free time. I did that when I was deep in my recovery, but it’s an important reminder to really look at when I can cut myself slack and take a BREAK. I deserve that. Since, y’know, I don’t get holidays…

xoxo to all, and be KIND to yourselves!!

It’s nice to feel proud.

Tonight I went and saw a show at my alma mater/workplace. I’ve admired the play for a while, since it was done downtown by one of my favorite off-Broadway incubators, Soho Rep, so i was thrilled when it was selected for the season. It’s appropriately edgy for this school (god forbid we do the expected) but it’s fresh, unique, and utterly do-able. I was proud to come from a program that would take risks like this, and with intelligence and deliberateness. This was thoughtful theatre. That meant something.

(It’s also pretty darn cool that we hired the playwright to teach Playwriting last Fall, and she’ll teach again this fall. Yeah, it’s pretty freaking cool.)

Last night we did our third runthrough of the show I’m currently rehearsing, which runs March 1 – 30. The run was really good, I felt great, and the director even specifically commented on how he thought I was really on track. It’s nice to do a show that you audition for, totally fresh and without knowing anything, get called back, and get cast. No politics, just good old-fashioned picking the right person for the part. And to do a good job– that’s the icing on the cake.

NOW it’s time for this little Belgian to go to bed.

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What have you been proud of lately?

HOW?

How? HOW?! (so many hows)

HOW #1: How do I balance busy and not busy?

I’m not happy when I’m not busy, but when I’m busy, I feel run down. Balance? What’s that?

A and I fought last night because I was irritable and needed space and probably other things I couldn’t articulate. All day today I felt overwhelmed by all the things I haven’t completed (learning lines, cleaning the apartment, literally my entire job at school) but when I sit down at my desk, I can’t focus on doing them. It’s terrible. Why can’t I complete tasks like a normal person?HOW #2: How to I figure out what I need?

Do I need more space? Probably. A’s not working right now, except from home, which somehow really irks me. I run to work at 11am, then to rehearsal at 5pm, then home at 8pm, and then he’s there and wants to talk… so YES, I need space.

But even when I have it, I’m not happy. I need MORE. Or I need something else. I need him to make choices? I need to relax more? I need to work harder? I seriously don’t know what I need. It would be so much easier if I could answer the question A asked me today: “Is there anything I can do, or say, or is there a food, or an object, or an activity that would make you feel better?” How the fuck do I know? I WISH there was.

HOW #3: How can I stay focused?

The second I get busy I lose my drive. I simply can’t fathom picking up my script and memorizing lines, so I wander around and submit audiobook auditions. What IS that? I know I need to clean the apartment, but instead I take a bath. WHY? I know A’s coming home so I should enjoy my me-time but instead I lock myself in the closet to do voiceovers, which I could do to get space when he IS around. WHY?

HOW #4: I don’t even know how to cohesively write a post right now, so how on earth am I going to accomplish anything else today? HOW????

 

High school is where the heart is.

Where I went to school, everyone knew who they were. We were the best, and that was proven because we were there.

We had yet to feel the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.

I see the faces now that were my family in those days, and I feel this thin, clear string, like a fishing line, that links me to them.

We are different now– a little longer, a little stiller, little duller in tone– but with something inside that can only come from being trusted with a future from the age of 16.

I touch these waists, these shoulders, and I feel how we’ve grown thicker, tougher. Real life has no mercy for the special. We have experienced love now, loss, disappointment and frustration. We are thicker because we’ve blistered, then calloused.

And yet we are here. We touch, we whisper, we giggle. My hand around her waist, her squeeze, her voice, is the same as it ever was. The gasps over kisses shared, the bluntness of our expressions of love, the easy comfort of each other’s company.

When you are sixteen and the best, you are untouchable.
And yet, everything touches you.

Every face is burned into your memory, every nice thing ever said, every hurtful moment. The wind on the lake. The smell of her room. The slippery concrete, iced over, between the cafeteria and your 8am class.

We grew up together. We formed a world in which only we existed.

College was wonderful. I made important, remarkable friends in college.

But to be sixteen and on our own, hemmed between two lakes, yet without the bind of the “real world” telling us who to be, we were special. Our parents let us go so we could become who we are.

There is nothing like that place, and those years, in the entire world. We built it, and it’s stronger than that land, those buildings, or any one of us. If we went back it wouldn’t be there.

Where it is now is at a bar on Orchard Street, with arms wrapped around each other, easy laughter and genuine interest in each other’s minutiae. It is in a rehearsal room on 29th street, where suddenly you are not alone; the you of those moments when things started to become clear, are known by someone. It is in a Facebook message, where the years are no deterrent to the pull of that thin fishing line.

I am lucky. Not because I got to go to Interlochen, not that I was deemed “special,” not that I had good friends there. I am special because I was allowed the space to discover what was special about me. I never worried about “what I wanted,” because I had it. All that was left to me was creating the community I wanted to be with me for life. All I had to do was find my family.

And I did. I found Nora, Rebeca, Will, Drew, Auden, Holly, Warren, Tor. Even the ones who scared me– Loralee, Caroline, Chase– they are my family. We shared the moments in our lives when we began to realize who we were. We were there for the surprises, the meltdowns, the times when we suddenly realized what success, what struggle, what love WAS.

That can’t be replicated. I will never, never, have anything like what Interlochen was again. I had those years, and they live in me now. They will, forever.

I was sixteen and the best, and now I am 24 and ostensibly just like everyone else. And yet, I feel that fishing line, tugging, tight and secure, that binds me to the people and the moments when I realized who I was becoming.

These are my people. This is my universe.

My Universes

I am a participant in so many tiny universes.

Today is A’s 28th birthday. Over the Labor Day weekend, we were at his parents’ house in PA. We drove to Annapolis to see his brother compete in a drum corps competition, we golfed nine holes at the local course, ate a lot of shitty food, played board games, and dipped in the little pool. This has been a world I never could have expected to be a part of– one that is in countless ways different from the others. It’s a humbling place to be.

On Monday night, I went to see L’s play. This is the girl who, almost two years ago, was diagnosed with Aggressive T-Cell Lymphoblastic Lymphoma. I was there for her diagnosis, I was there when she checked into the hospital, I was there on her 23rd birthday when she was so frail and thin that she looked like a ghost, tubes coming out of her arms and chest, food pumped directly into her stomach. I was there when she wrote a short scene, very Ruhl, very Fornes, about a year ago. And now, that scene is a play, and that play was accepted into a festival, and I saw the closing performance, with L in the lead. I cried the whole way through, not meaning to, but unable to stop. It wasn’t sadness, either… more like pride. Admiration. I’m not sure I would have the strength and momentum to throw myself into life after the terror of the last two years. But L did it, and it was magnificent. I feel privileged to live close to her heart.

My parents are coming up for Thanksgiving. My dad hasn’t been to the city since I graduated over two years ago. I’m looking forward to it. I do miss them, but I also want them to feel like a part of my life. Whether or not I’m calling every other day or telling my secrets, I am a part of their universe as they are a part of mine.

I have a universe at work, where the students know me (some as an administrator, some as an actor, some as a peer), and the faculty know me (partly as an administrator, partly as a student, partly as a colleague). I waft through the halls in perfect comfort here, sometimes remembering as I pass ID services the night that I sat with a boy as he played his uke for me, drunken nights in the studios, crying with frustration in acting class in the black box. I have been many things in these places, but they are now mine.

My high school friends, my roommates and peers, sometimes close and sometimes just seen from a distance, live on in social media posts. They also live on television, onstage, in the news. Beyonce’s sax player lived on my hall. One of Buzzfeed’s hottest twins played my brother in a Shakespeare play. One of the princesses in Shakespeare in the Park this summer ate cheerios from the box with me in bed one night. Even people I wasn’t with in school inhabit the same small universe.

Looking at A’s Facebook page today, loaded with those lovely “Happy Birthday!”s that pop up through the day, I noticed my universes converging. That’s how life goes, I guess, and love is the catalyst for it. Actors I worked with last summer post greetings after friends from college share their blessings. A knows these people and they know him because I exist. I love A, so I bring him places. I love my friends, so I make a point to go to those places.

I know I’m not the only one with these many orbiting galaxies, meshing and meeting, with only me, my strange and special life, at the center. How did I become someone whose world has so much variance? It makes me feel good. It makes me feel like I exist.

Glowing

My Junior year of college, I was at my lowest weight. In the Fall semester, I took a scene study course taught by a relatively famous actress (anyone seen Star Trek: The Next Generation?) She commented about how “she would kill for my body,” how she wished she still looked like me. She assigned me great scenes and took a deep interest in me– I played Maggie the Cat from Williams’ Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Emma in Betrayal by Pinter, Claire in Auburn’s Proof. In early summer, I saw her at the opening night of a Classic Stage Co production starring Dianne Wiest. She gave me a hug and then said, “You’ve gained like, a pound.” My face flushed, and I just responded, “Ha, ha. Haven’t we all?”

So she scares me. I fear that she’ll lose interest because I gained weight.

But I invited her to the show I starred in in December, and she came. Afterwards, she brought me, a costar, and a friend (all of whom were in her class) out to dinner and wine next door. She wined and dined us and effusively complimented our work. She told us she would do her best to get her agents and managers and friends in the biz to our show. At some point, she turned to me and looked into my eyes. “You look beautiful. Truly.”

Last night, I emailed her to tell her about my exciting new project. She responded with this email. I’m glowing.

I am tremendously proud of you! I am not surprised, but I am thrilled to see that not only are you made of wonderful complexities, colors and textures as an actor but you have the steel to go with it. B, this is a great accomplishment for an actress of your age and experience and anyone in this industry would agree with that. I am going to do my level best to pass this information along to people who I think might actually make an effort to go to New Jersey – including myself – although I must tell you that this summer is pretty crazy and that I’m all over the place. If there’s even a remote chance that I will make it – I will. Nothing would give me greater pleasure than to see you walk out on the stage as the leading lady – and thus I am sure it will be for the rest of your life. Brava!

What Once We Felt

I spent a portion of tonight re-reading many archived emails deep in the “vault”: I have archives in my box that go back to September 2008.

I can’t say it makes me feel good, but I know why I do it. I do it to make sense of the things that happened to get me to where I am. Because I do this… well, not infrequently… I remember most of what’s there. But occasionally I stumble upon something that really hits me.

Here are a few things, for my reference, so I have them in one place… and I wonder if some of them bring up things for others. Sending love.

B.

November 2009 – Feeling Like a Victim

Tough session with [therapist] today. It started great… I told her about how great it felt to do Katie’s birthday, a lot of what I expressed to you on Friday. But somehow we sort of got on how I have a hard time feeling like I know how to care for others (I never know what to say!), and maybe that’s because I don’t know how I want to be taken care of. I ended up telling her about this weird thing I have about always wanting to be a victim– like loving being in the hospital when I got that kidney test done, all the Holocaust and Salem Witch Trial obsession stuff– weird stuff. What amazed me was how often I feel that way (wanting people’s pity, wanting to  suffer), and although I don’t totally know why, part of it ist that I feel like I need some sort of validation to be in pain. Like my life didn’t give me any reason to be in pain, and an outward, excessive expression of suffering (like being in a hospital) would allow me that. I feel that way shockingly often.
 
[Therapist] had me try and isolate a place where I felt truly sad– the place that I feel like I need a “reason” to feel. From there we spent a long time “exploring” this deep, ancient grotto of sadness. That sounds really esoteric, but we sort of found this imagined location where I spent a long time. We didn’t “discover” anything, I didn’t have any great realizations, but we explored. It wasn’t a comfortable place to be for a long time.

November 2009 – What Is Going On?

[Therapist],
 
I want you to know some things that I haven’t yet expressed. It is really, really difficult for me to say them, and I think that’s part of the reason I haven’t yet. I wrote a list of sentences I wanted to share and am sending them to you in this sort of unfinished form because otherwise I’m not sure I’d be able to.
 
I eat when I’m not hungry
I feel as though I can’t stop eating
I feel guilty afterwards
I don’t starve myself after I binge, and I don’t purge, so that’s good
 
Even though I know I should gain weight (I bought a scale and I weigh between 98 and 102lbs) the idea of gaining weight is really scary to me and repulsive to me.
 
I love cooking and making food. When I binge I don’t cook, I just eat. I don’t focus on anything but putting the food into my mouth. There is no joy in it.

I hide this from everyone—I only binge when no one is looking.
 
Besides the binging, I am a very healthy person. I feel good about the way I treat my body beyond this one thing.

February 2010 – What People Are Saying / What I Am Feeling

Then, after I finished classes, I got a text from the Theatre Department manager asking me to come to her office. I went up, and we talked about some work things/business stuff (because I’m the head of the department’s assistant, so I help with money and paperwork stuff). Then she asked me to sit down. When she almost started crying, I knew what she was going to bring up, and sure enough, she told me that “there is a lot of concern in the department about whether you have an eating disorder.” She was really sweet and caring (as everyone is when they talk about this stuff to me), but in the place I already was yesterday, it was especially hard for me to hear and kind of put me over the edge. I didn’t know what to say and I just felt really lost and misunderstood. I told her what I always say, about the fact that it was accidental and I know it’s weird and I SO appreciate the concern and all of that, and also that I am making direct efforts to help myself. Of course she was really wonderful about all of it, but I felt self-conscious and really sad all through the rest of the day.

On my way home, I called my mom to tell her how it went, and opened up about how frustrated I was feeling. At some point she said, “I’m glad you’re taking care of yourself, but I’m sorry it had to take your hip injury to make you realize that you need to deal with this problem.” I reacted to that, saying that I had been taking care of this particular “problem” long before my hip started hurting (I’m not sure if I told you, but the hip stuff may be related to demineralization, which could be related to the weight loss). I tried to explain to her what I was hearing and what I didn’t agree with in that, and we came to a kind of understanding, but I think therein lies the root of what I’m feeling right now…

 I wish I wasn’t feeling quite so hyperaware of how other people are perceiving the way I look, and I also wish I didn’t have to jump through all these hoops with doctors and meds, but that’s sort of where I’m at right now. I feel a lot of resistance towards calling the internist and even more towards the nutritionist (I think because I don’t want to be seen as someone with a problem with eating that has to be fixed– I just want to keep doing what I’m doing). And, frankly, I don’t want to take the birth control for very vain reasons– I felt moody, I broke out, and I gained weight. I know the goal is to gain weight, but I want to do it on my terms, not the pills’ terms. Maybe that’s a sign of a “problem,” but I still want to be in control of the things that happen to my body. With all of these things to change how I’ve been going through my life the last few months (a life I feel REALLY good about), I’m feeling nervous, sad, and lost. I’m feeling a lot of resistance to all of this but I think I just have to buck up and do it. I do want to be healthy. But I wish it wasn’t mixed up with all of this.

February 2010 – Acting Notes Sound Like Porn

First Orgasm Sillhouette – we will look at this today but maybe you can sit on his lap on “why are you so sweet, so juicy, and so bad?” – so that it is easier for you to climb up the wall?  I want to hold your back arched for a bit longer with your hand up before you moan.

March 2010 – Bragging

And then I rediscovered this: one of the final scenes from the play I did in Feb/March 2010. It was for a forum at my school about Religion and Madness. I went to a Jesuit school. I flashed a lot of people. You’re welcome. Don’t judge me.

 

What’s going on?

I’ve been binging like a motherfucker. Every single day, for at least seven days, I have binged. It’s terrible. A part of me is hopeful I’ll get my period just so at least I’ll have a reason for the insanity. Another part of me is just accepting it and trying not to make myself go crazy over it. Another part is just. So. Over. It. All.

I did a really great monologue in class today. Portia, from Julius Caesar. It was a particular achievement since I literally memorized this quite circular four-page monologue last night at like 10pm and then today on the subway. Skillz, y’all.

I texted L the other day to apologize for being distant. I told her that I’d had a really tough week (basically explicitly said I was depressed), and that I hoped to be more present in future. I also invited her to be my plus one to a mutual friend’s show this week. No response. And she didn’t come to Shakespeare today. So it’s been since Wednesday night that I heard from her, though I texted on Thursday, Sunday, and today… Nothing. She’s been playing Words with Friends, a good sign, and occasionally tweeting and Facebooking, so she’s not… god, I almost said “dying.” Anyway you take it, this is causing me excessive anxiety– and not from worry about her but shame I’m putting on myself (isn’t narcissism great?).

I’m ashamed that I must’ve done something wrong that made her mad at me.
I’m ashamed that I had a drink with a friend before WIT when she couldn’t.
I’m ashamed that I am healthy and auditioning and she’s not, and I’m ashamed that I’ve started talking about it in front of her again– I really should stop.
I’m ashamed that I wasn’t there for her this week because I had to tend to my own depressive gardens.

These are clearly quite healthy thinking processes.

What the hell. I did a good monologue. That’s something to hold onto for a moment.

The rest of the week, I have work tomorrow, my callback in NJ on Wednesday (the annoying thing about callbacks is they allow you to actually want the part– making it much more miserable when you don’t book it), an audition for a student film and for a regional production of a musical (? who am I?) on Thursday, something with Magis on Saturday, and Sunday tea party with Leslie and a few other girlfriends at one of our professor’s apartments (can I tell you how psyched I am to see this woman’s place? She runs the directing program and she’s an enigma).

The rest of the week, I hope to go to the gym at least twice, I hope to not binge every day, I hope to do my Shakespeare homework. I hope to shower a normal number of times. I hope to not feel that hot, prickly feeling of shame and sadness. I hope not to cry, but if I do, to not cry for shame.

OH AND GUESS WHO JUST TEXTED ME BACK.
She said “thanks for remembering” that she was at Sloan tomorrow and no worries her parents were going to be there. And sorry she hadn’t been in touch, she’d been “sorting through some stuff and needed some alone/reflecting time.”

I can’t tell if that makes me feel better or worse. A normal person would feel better, right? I know how I’m supposed to respond, but I get incredibly anxious about what it all “means.” It probably just means she was depressed like me.

So… I also hope I don’t feel so freaking crazy much longer. I am all over the place.

Love to all. Sorry for the word vomit.
B.

“I cannot escape myself, though I feel that I am consuming my life. To prepare the honey I feed to unknown crowds, I am doomed to brush the bloom from my dearest flowers, to tear them from their stems, and trample the roots that bore them under foot. Am I not a madman? Should I not be treated by those who know me as one mentally diseased? Yet it is always the same, same old story, till I begin to think that all this praise and admiration must be a deception, that I am being hoodwinked because they know I am crazy, and I sometimes tremble lest I should be grabbed from behind and whisked off to a lunatic asylum… I did not know my readers, but for some reason I imagined they were distrustful and unfriendly; I was mortally afraid of the public, and when my first play appeared, it seemed to me as if all the dark eyes in the audience were looking at it with enmity, and all the blue ones with cold indifference. Oh, how terrible it was! What agony!”
Anton Chekhov (Trigorin in The Seagull)

And so we came forth, and once again beheld the stars.

Every few weeks, I pull out four well-worn, too-girly journals and read each, in chronological order, cover to cover. There have been moments in my life where I’ve been very good at keeping an account of my thoughts and feelings, and many more when I haven’t. When I read my entries, skipping from regular entries on a summer break into months of nothingness only to burst back onto the page with boy problems, my brain tries to patch up the holes, weaving the memories together with thin twine.

I read about my first love extensively at the beginning of Journal 2, the date and time I lost my virginity scrawled in the corner in silver Sharpie, so I’d remember (as though I’d forget). But my entries about him mostly exist in the months after we broke up, during my first semester of college, where I was desperate to find happiness and acceptance somewhere I didn’t think I could. “I get tight in my throat when I think about you, or look at pictures of you. It’s not an altogether pleasant feeling, frankly, but I’m not sure what it’s supposed to mean, either.” More boys make appearances, the burning of unrequited love and the comfort of a relationship that was basically just experienced out-of-body.

I re-read my experiences of the summer of 2009, away from home at a theatre festival working my ass off. Except I mean literally.
My recollection of the illness brought on by a Northern Idaho tick bite is grueling, but more grueling are the entries that begin: “Yucky. I wish I was happier here. I’ve been going through the motions, telling myself ‘oh, it’ll pick up,’ or ‘you’ll show them who you are soon enough,’ or ‘you’ll be the comeback kid… I just want to yell “I AM INCREDIBLY TALENTED, WILDLY DETERMINED, AND HAVE SO MUCH TO GIVE TO PEOPLE AND TO THE THEATRE!’ I did not come here to eat and sleep and watch movies. I want to be pushed to excel. I want to be given the opportunity to do so.”

Reading these entries, which are pretty much like that until the end of the summer, I can see how “this” all started. And although I’m not sure I can ever make anyone understand quite what I mean, I know in all sincerity that I didn’t mean to lose weight. This is the same as I didn’t mean to gain weight when I eventually did. It just happened. I really can’t explain it beyond that. But I can see it in the woven threads between my entries– the deep longing to excel, the effort I put into making myself the best I could be. The exercising more and eating better (although to some extent that came later, I think, as I never dieted or ate differently during the summer, but because I didn’t cook and all eating was monitored in the festival’s cafeteria, once I was making my own food I basically just subconsciously created a whole new system of eating).

I can’t even pinpoint when the tipping point of my health occurred. Despite all the pieces I can put back together and tie in a neat little bow, that still eludes me. My entries after that summer are anxious and solitary, as I watched the people I thought were my friends drift away from me. There is nothing about my body, just my loneliness and fears, and at times, my great successes and my joys. And I have to shut my heart when I read my detailed entries of studying in Moscow… as I’ve mentioned, during the time I was there, my mother went behind my back and sent a letter to my therapist expressing concern– basically undermining the idea that I was an independent 20 year old with my own support system, my own therapist and process of healing, and the ability to do so without her oversight– and in lying to me for over a month about her feelings about me, destroyed a significant trust in our relationship that will never be repaired. So I read those entries while keeping my distance, reading for the stories about seeing UNCLE VANYA where it was first performed and doing ballet with Baryshnikov’s old teacher .

And Journal 3 begins when the shit hits the fan. This journal is smaller in size, which is part of the reason I stopped writing in it, and it’s filled with scribbles and cross-outs, anger and self-hatred. If I counted the number of times I wrote the word “hate” in this journal, I would be horrified. These were the months when my real “treatment” began, and I was self-destructing with food and extreme depression, all the while trying to keep my shit together while moving twice, doing two shows, and attempting to be a human.

I remember this entry, naked on the bathroom floor– the only place that felt okay for my hot head to lay.

I feel scared
Out of breath
In pain (my stomach hurts)
I want to throw up (not because I want to be skinny or get the food out but to feel better)
Hot
Out of body control
Manic– like not doing normal things or controlling actions
Suicidal thoughts/hurting myself which scares me so much
Talking to myself
Heavy loud breathing

Or this one, sitting on my fire escape.

I want to be my own best company and I want to love myself, but I frequently do things I hate and feel so separate from myself.

I feel like I have two lives, one that everyone sees and that I love and the other that no one knows about but tears me up inside. I become so scared when that second life affects the first.

Where I used to fear others, I now fear myself.

And then quotes… Part of the reason I use quotes on this blog. From Unholy Ghost.

“…I greatly desired to speak the whole truth. Instead, much of the time, I merely said, Thank you, thank you, I’m getting up now– going to school, going eventually to college and the bright future that everyone expected. But the present, which I tried so hard to dodge, could not be dodged… An imperfect word is sometimes better than silence, a pale metaphor better than suicide.”

“Depression brought to me a new rationing of resources– for every 24 hours I got about 3, then 2, then 1 hour worth of life reserves–personality, conversation, motion.”

“…looking at the tiny pills– ‘is this all that stands between hell and me?'”

And the quotes expand into taped in notes and emails, the detritus of my recovery. Typed memos to myself, brief thoughts I wanted to keep. Things that made me feel okay, or maybe even a little better, or reminded me that I wasn’t alone. And at some point, these entries petered off too.

Journal 4 is where I am now– a green notebook stolen from home with my sister’s name, and “English” on the front. It’s worn and not much of a “journal.” But inside are long entries, entries about L’s cancer, my self-conscious fears, my dreams, pros and cons list about a certain boy, plans and brainstorms, shallow recounts of a really good day, notes from my Shakespeare class, taped in comments from my Facebook page or sweet notes left for me. I’m not ready to crack that spine and read it for understanding like the other three– that’s for when it’s finished. But when I pick up that journal, I can feel the flexibility of it’s cover and its size comforts me. I flip through and it’s full of color. I carry it with me all the time, and though I’m not a devoted journaler, when I do bring it out to write, I can feel the weight of my thoughts and feelings in that thin, school notebook, and I feel alive.

In the middle of the journey of life
I found myself in a dark wood,
For I had lost the right path.
And so we came forth, and once again beheld the stars.

–Dante