Contents of Pandora’s box

  • abandonment
  • alcoholism
  • betrayal
  • bullying
  • burglary
  • corruption
  • cruelty
  • death
  • depression
  • disabilities
  • disappointment
  • discrimination
  • disease
  • domestic abuse
  • drug abuse
  • eating disorders
  • failure
  • false friends
  • hate
  • hate crime
  • heartache
  • heartbreak
  • homelessness
  • ignorance
  • indifference
  • isolation
  • jackasses
  • jealousy
  • lies
  • libel
  • mental illness
  • molestation
  • murder
  • neglect
  • oppression
  • pestilence
  • physical abuse
  • poverty
  • prejudice
  • rape
  • racism
  • self-harm
  • sickness
  • spite
  • suicide
  • verbal abuse
  • war
  • hope
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Painfully distracting things

  • hangnails
  • bad breath
  • excess enthusiasm
  • a disarming smile
  • an absurdly attractive voice
  • the crunch of someone eating in class
  • a song you recognize playing somewhere you can’t see
  • mouth-breathers
  • nicely dressed people
  • people who do not sit still
  • stuff caught in people’s hair
  • loud music playing from someone else’s headphones
  • typos in print
  • ugly fonts
  • people whispering loudly
  • nice handwriting
  • people talking about something you know a lot about
  • visible tattoos
  • litter
  • children at play
  • shameless idiots
  • socks with sandals

Summer and autumn

When it rained briefly on Wednesday I understood that summer was finally drawing to a close. It will be time for me to change my desktop background to something more mellow and to take down the hammock in the backyard and to put away the flip-flops.

I love autumn.

That’s not what this post is about, though.

As a general rule I hate summer. I also am not fond of my own birthday, which falls in the same season. It’s for this reason (rhyme unintended) I first picked up the first Harry Potter book, because I identified so strongly with his similar attitudes.

That’s not what this post is about.

Actually, I was going to write up a list of all the things that happened this summer. I found this one atypical in that I was not bored to tears and I did not have time in my boredom to collapse under the bad thoughts that would haunt me in the heat. It was eventful. Whenever I use that word it means it involved a number of crises and exultation, and a whole lot of mood swings.

So, this summer I have:

  • aced my psychology class
  • tasted rose cardamom ice cream
  • been on the train 5 times
  • spent 6 nonconsecutive late hours wrapping egg rolls
  • seriously contemplated running away from home and made appropriate preparations
  • lied
  • been told the truth
  • thrown tantrums
  • cried myself to sleep
  • reread my favorite book
  • read a new favorite book
  • been tremendously inspired
  • cut my hair shorter than I ever remember having it
  • done unmentionable thug life Thursday activities
  • slept in the garage
  • almost fell asleep in my backyard around midnight
  • been given a bloody nose
  • stared and stared at the full moon
  • been forgiven
  • had multiple people upset with me all at the same time
  • been called a whore
  • been called beautiful
  • been called an asshole by someone I wish thought better of me
  • been accused of stubbornness
  • ripped out pages from a journal
  • saw pages of my journal go down the shredder
  • sat next to a man smoking a pipe
  • attempted vegetarianism
  • memorized three pages of a four page poem
  • danced
  • been to Sacramento (not that impressive)
  • figured out three unrelated wordplay related things
  • reevaluated my stance on faith
  • contemplated the meaning of life, again, again
  • watched the sunrise from a car, appreciated the cliché brilliance
  • saw the sea the way Homer saw it, wine-dark
  • decided that when I grow up I want to be a well-dressed old lay like the ones I’m meeting
  • reevaluated myself

Rare things

  • Good hugs
  • Forgiveness
  • Quality television
  • A good night’s rest
  • People of integrity
  • People who write good letters
  • People with good memories
  • Chapstick that I don’t lose
  • A good man
  • Loyalty
  • Preloaded ringers that aren’t obnoxious
  • Old writing that I’m not embarrassed of
  • Nature valley bars that don’t explode in crumbs all over my keyboard
  • Reasonably priced college textbooks
  • “A person who is without a single quirk”
  • Middle school relationships that last
  • Gratitude
  • Attractive guys in my English class
  • The ability to actually see the stars from my backyard
  • An honest opinion

Paper tents

It’s too early to judge quite yet, but it seems this outer layer of my identity crumbles away when the material is eliminated.

My old writings are gone to dust, therefore I was never a writer. Never mind if I know in my heart that I may have once been, because there’s no longer proof. The chaos of second semester junior year and the bulk of senior year never happened because the evidence is in shreds and/or decaying in some distant landfill. All my doubts, dears, sins, dreams, revelations, secrets, angst, ponderings returning to dust and never to be revisited.

I lost my USB drive shortly after graduation somehow. All the college app essays that in the end didn’t do me much good, all the AP lit essays I churned out at the last minute are also gone.

Now if the folders stuffed with all the letters dating back to sophomore year are truly disposed of, the in-between, more intimate, most important parts of my high school experience may have never happened. I will be lost and stranded. This is the price I pay. This is what happens when I build a paper tent for a shelter, something I knew then and know now cannot protect me forever.

In the end I don’t have many material possessions. In a reckless act of desperation I collected all the belongings I would want to take with me if I should ever want to really leave.

Everything I want to keep fits in a standard manila envelope:

  1. High school diploma
  2. Two small photo albums, artifacts of  my childhood
  3. Journal I kept throughout high school during the summers
  4. Spare bills I have laying around the room
  5. Blank small journal
  6. Glasses
  7. Current journal
  8. Favorite pen

Nothing else.

It’s hard to judge times in your life. Truth is hard. I am now. I can’t depend on the material to remind me that I was or have been or might still be.

Trees are still growing, the sky is still blue, birds are chirping, neighbors are well into beginning another day, all are unconcerned about my back-and-forth analysis of my vague sense of loss.

This morning my brother told me, “You’ve centered your life around something unstable.”

He’s right, but I know I’m going to keep writing because I don’t know what else to do.

The title of this post is in reference to one of my favorite pieces of writing by Margaret Atwood “The Tent”

Post-graduation

It’s been three weeks since commencement.

Oh hey I was there.

There’s proof of my physical presence. I can’t say I was there in any other way, though. It was too surreal. I was certainly ready to leave high school and Homestead , but I forgot that there are a number of things I won’t be returning to. Like, ever. There are some things I will miss, others…not so much.

Things like:

  • mindful walks to school
  • mindful walks from school
  • cutting calc whenever I was having a bad morning
  • (I still can’t believe I got away with 6 unverified absences 2nd semester)
  • taking half hour bathroom breaks in gov/econ
  • the way certain doors threatened to squish me
  • maneuvering through dumb crowds during passing periods
  • retreating into the journalism room
  • blaming teachers for everything
  • criticizing teachers/admin for being incompetent
  • passing nonsense notes
  • the “I don’t care so it doesn’t matter” attitude
  • morning chills and huddles in the quad
  • mooching off others’ food
  • being mooched off of
  • lingering in the halls before entering class

High school was just too much senseless competition and masks and angst and imaginary obligations. On top of that people’s lives exploded uncannily and simultaneously within the same four years and that was quite a bit to deal with. People are so different than who they used to be; people never really change. Only fairly recently was I able to understand that cliche.

Now that we’re out of the public education system we’re free to choose what to do with our lives from here. That’s sort of exciting.

Let me know how it goes.

Dear Mom

Dear Mom,

I feel so much more whole since the last time I wrote to you. Please don’t worry about me.

Then again, worrying is what mothers do, like when you worried about the long cut on my face from playing football with the boys. Or when you worried when I meant it when I said I would hate you forever for turning off the Gamecube before I could save the game. Or when you worried when you thought I came home in tears becasue of a boy. Or when you continued to worry because I was upset from a fight with my best friend.

I am so grateful for the sheer amount of freedom you allowed me as a kid, however reckless a teenager I’ve become as a result. You didn’t let me get away with everything, though. I remember nights spent perfecting my handwriting at the dining table, writing the O’s over and over this way not that way. I remember getting in trouble for losing my sandals in the ivy bushes during a game of tag.

I remember dorky mother-daughter moments, like belting out to Britney Spears in the car. We talked about our dreams in the same car, and you told me about how much you wanted to open your own restaurant. I told you I believed in you. I can trace paralells between us even now. I continue to obsess over Pokemon and Disney in the same way you collected the respective cards and movies. The color lavender has grown on me. You’re the purple ribbon in my senior project. Your sisters never fail to tell me we have the same eyes though I don’t quite have your wavy hair as much as I want to. We’ve both always been people-people. People have criticized us for being too stubborn to admit we’re wrong.

I just wanted to let you know that I’m happy, and that I hope that you are safe and happy, too.

Love,

Brenda

Reasons I’m thankful for my aunt 

  • providing the one place I know I can call home
  • forgiveness
  • patience
  • dealing with my childishness
  • dealing with my mood swings
  • dealing with my recklessness
  • letting me hang out with people you don’t approve of
  • being a goofball
  • telling it like it is
  • giving me room to grow
  • tough love
  • unconditional love
  • believing in me
  • doing everything a mom is supposed to do and so much more

Love,

Brenda