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I thought I would come back. Did you miss me? (Don't answer that.)
I've just been frustrated with myself lately. I haven't been reading, or writing, or keeping up with my blog.
The writing is a constant struggle. I should just give up, since I obviously don't have the motivation to write on a regular basis, but there is that nagging part of me that won't let go.
The blog isn't a big deal. Just another thing I've given up on.
The lack of reading is seriously a problem, since that's what I consider my passion in life to be.
Tension running high today. Housework, yardwork, work for weekends. Each sigh an accusation. I think the walls must be closing in, the way we keep running into each other. There is none of that smiling dance you do with strangers. Today you said, "No. You let your mother go through." I pressed against the wall (it pressed back), and felt the dull smack of the words where they always hit. I cringe as I glimpse a blurry image of how I must look to you.
This nest has grown too small to hold both of us. I fly in August.
You know those people you've promised to keep in touch with, and yet it's been months or even longer? I have so many they would fill this room. Their shadows follow me around, breathing memories down my neck. I remind myself that half the blame falls on them, but that doesn't hold back the guilt or worry. I know each additional day added to the dizzy pile of silence only makes it harder to pick up the phone. But I shy away from the shadowy prospect of unsettling changes or bad news, and I wait here, staying out of touch.
Earlier today I saw my dog through the window, watching something in the grass. I ran out, hoping to save a life. Not a bird or a mole this time but a gopher, or something like that. It was still very much alive and pretty angry. I managed to grab Lady and drag her up to the house (she can be very strong when there's a live squeaky toy involved), but she slipped away just as we got to the door. Then she meant business, and it was hurt before I could catch her again. It took hours to die.
"You look pretty today."
Those words, and the insinuation hidden in them. Pretty today, for a change. Surprisingly. Not like usual, nor as always. Just today.
Of course a lot of guys know from experience to add the "especially." Then it becomes the compliment it's supposed to be. It's girls who say it, your friends, all sugary smiles while their eyes take in your efforts. Oh look, she's trying. There's nothing attractive about trying, and no one wants to be pretty just today. It's one little complement nestled in a bed of insults for every other day of your life.
Ugh. So... today this woman told me I was pretty. Can't complain about that. Then she preceded to ask my age. I told her I turn eighteen in two weeks. She said she never would have guessed. I waited. Sometimes people think I'm older than I am. A couple months ago a waiter asked me if I would be having wine too.
"I thought you must have been fourteen, fifteen."
I let that ruin my day, still feel like crap about it. I should let it go, but my fourteen-year-old self is something I thought I left behind.
I made a list of books I want to read this summer, roughly in the order I want to read them. I really want to start spending more time reading, which I think I've done well with the past couple days. Most important is the summer reading book for college, though it's still too early to start that I think. Then I want to reread two or three books, because we'll be reading them in my English class. I was super excited to see the textbook list; I actually really like studying a book I've already read, or even studied.
My friend was complaining about the gender role stereotypes types in the play we saw tonight. Of course I had to share my opinion, which probably came off as obnoxious and argumentative. I said that while that sort of thing isn't good and needs to be addressed, this wouldn't be the place for it. To change people's perceptions, a piece of art would have to have sole intention of changing perceptions. Challenging stereotypes without acknowledging the challenge just wouldn't work. Lately I've been thinking about the difference between blaming and simply judging as wrong. (It all started with the gopher.)
Tomorrow I want to spend more time reading and get back to reading because I want to, not because I'm trying to portray someone who does. The internet is such a nasty time-sucker. I don't understand why I feel so happy to open my laptop when I know I won't feel rewarded a few hours later. I wonder how our brains are affected. I remember hearing about one study, how it was shortening our attention spans; I think they called it "popcorn brain." I can't think of any advantages to that. When is it bad to focus and think?
It rained all day today. I worked on reading
, did housework, listened to NPR, made granola bars for the first time. (They taste good but are a little crumbly. I'll make some changes next time.) My mom made an emergency stop at the grocery store on her way home from work to get arugula, because we didn't have any salad greens in the house. Actually we did, but it was going bad. I hate picking over half-spoiled lettuce. I started my hundred words earlier but got distracted, and here I am, writing them before bed like usual.
I left the house today (haha), optimistic. But I missed my lines. And I guess they can't just let my falterings lie in their usual awkward place. I came home and just didn't know what to do. It was a sort of listlessness entirely different from my typical wasted days. The numbness has set in now, but of course the problems are still there and the crumpled, mascara-stained tissues are still lying where they missed the waste basket. "You're so lucky you don't have a boyfriend." I guess I can't blame them. It's my fault for never speaking up.
Why is it my brain so often tries to tell me I don't have anything to say? Do I have any questions, should I write a story, jump in on a conversation? "No," a voice insists, pleads, "I don't have anything to say about that." I listen to this voice all the time, and yet, paradoxically, it is a belief of mine that everyone always has something to say. I've developed this belief from witnessing others tell their stories and a perhaps na´ve will to believe in goodness or what have you, but why do I let myself be exempted?
They say scars tell stories. I think most of mine are uninteresting. But there is this one on my left knee, pink, on the smaller bone, that has a funny story. I had been walking down this hill after my English class, when my right foot slipped off the sidewalk and down I went, tearing my (good!) jeans and bloodying my knee. I must have been quite lost in thought, though as soon as I fell I couldn't remember what I had been thinking. Here's the funny part: we had been discussing
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
My texts and IMs always have capitalization, punctuation, and spelled-out words. I hope my friends don't think I judge them for not doing the same. It's just a habit for me. But I do wonder if there is a value apart from convention? Surely there's nothing sacred in a comma, but it
our language, the way we've agreed to share our thoughts. Is the growing disregard a sign of decay or simply another step in the constant evolution? (Incidentally, I'm sure you can imagine how distraught I was when I realized I italicized a short story title yesterday.)
Oh no. I'm writing this on... Monday. Shame on me. You see, there really wasn't a way for me to write on Saturday, as my mom and I spent the weekend with my grandparents. But we got back around six yesterday, and on Friday I had planned to write my two entries then, but I guess I just forgot. Or I didn't remember until it was already past eleven and I was much too tired from Ishmael telling me everything I never wanted to know about whaling.
I don't have many intelligent things to say about that book, at least...
...so far, but I do know for sure that its most basic purpose really is to tell you everything you never wanted to know about whaling. It's incredible what those men had to do, just so people could light their lamps. I imagine the realization must have been even more powerful if you were reading the book by the light of an oil lamp.
There is the same sort of education happening today, though I don't think it's really doing anything (but what are we supposed to do?). Every once in a while the TV will stop its stream of...
...advertising and show us one of the factories in Asia where our electronics are made. We know, we can read the tags on our clothes. We criticize the quality, or halfheartedly joke about sweatshops, or complain "our" jobs being taken, but we still don't really appreciate where all of this stuff we have comes from.
I can't decide where to draw the line of similarity. It's definitely worlds apart from Melville's romanticized version of whaling. The question seems to be whether whalers chose their dangerous line of work or it was the only option the economy and circumstance gave them.
Everybody loves spaghetti, right? Long strands of carby goodness... what's not to love? But let's be honest: even for something so delicious, it requires a bit too much effort, skill, and talent to eat with any semblance of grace. Maybe I'm just a hopeless slob, and spaghetti-eating isn't a concern for normal, well-adjusted, right-minded adults. But I suspect, or at least I like to think, that almost everyone struggles with the worry that ordering the spaghetti could leave them publicly embarrassed and practically covered in tomato sauce. But eating spaghetti by yourself? No twirling or napkins needed.
Ugh. I've been feeling kinda crappy the last few days. Maybe it's because my birthday's tomorrow. Is eighteen too young to start feeling depressed about your birthdays? And my skin's been freaking out more than usual because of my new acne medication, so that's fun. And there's the high school disappointment/college apprehension I've been feeling for a few months. Oh, I almost forgot the whole oboe thing. See, I'm trying to block it out of my thoughts. No one seems to be taking the hint that I really don't want to do it, including myself when I agreed to.
Well, here it is. My birthday. We're going out for sushi tonight, and there are two gifts in the kitchen, despite our discussion on how I would just be getting money. I was instructed not to open them yet, but I did give one a poke as I was cutting a piece of my birthday coffee cake for breakfast. It felt rectangular, but not rigid like a book or a box... mysterious.
I guess this means I'm an adult now. I don't feel any different, and I certainly don't feel like an adult, more like an overgrown twelve-year-old.
It's late, so this will be quick and stupid. I'm sure you're dying to know what the gifts I mentioned yesterday turned out to be. The smaller one was a doggy seatbelt for Lady, which I'm actually really happy to have, and I hope she doesn't mind wearing it. The larger one was this book-holder pillow thing I've looked at in the store a few times, but didn't think would work that well. I was right, and we're returning it, and I guess that's why I'm hard to shop for. But I spent some birthday money on yarn today.
Hello, whiny. Getting less sleep than I'm used to can really ruin a day. It's eighty degrees in the house and my mother refuses to turn the air conditioning on. I wanted to rip somebody's face off for that earlier, either mine or hers. What a strange impulse that is, and thank God no one ever acts on it, or else a lot of people would be walking around without faces. I've since cooled off literally and figuratively and now I'm just aching to go to sleep, in bed before nine o'clock (I just know I'll be popular in college.)
Today's social outing was something I'd been looking forward to, something I'd built up in my head, as I suppose I do with all future events, and consequently was something I began to dread this morning, considering how often these sort of things result in tears or at least disappointment. But my pessimism proved wrong and everything went very well. A few bumps of awkwardness, but nothing I can't handle. It kills me to acknowledge this, but it's the truth: having A around makes these things worlds easier. I can't even write out the full truth, it sounds too ugly.
The young man sat down and took a sip of his skim milk, double-shot cappuccino. There was an old man sitting one table over, reading the paper. He had a scar across his brow, a prosthetic leg, and what the young man had decided were weary eyes. His mug sat empty, and had for a while, he suspected. The old man caught him staring, so he said, "You must have seen a lot."
The old man's eyes gazed in his direction, surely fogged with memories, but then looked back at his paper. "I don't have any stories for you."
Today was, basically: waking around nine; the usual "I'll only be online for a few minutes; a fried egg, toast, and an apricot; thinking about writing; reading writing advice; trying to write; reading more writing advice; mosquitoes in the backyard; a couple chapters of
; most of a documentary on sperm whales; cooking dinner from a new cookbook; eating the best food I've had in a while; crocheting, and consequently being called an old lady by my mother; a documentary on Henry Ford; thoughts on
Brave New World
; a thunderstorm; a very nervous dog; this; more
(Forgive me if I cannot muster much coherence.) Sometimes I get this bleak feeling of emptiness, meaninglessness, a loss of what little sense of identity I have. It's like I become convinced that everything I thought but never said or did might as well have never been thought at all. I suppose there is some truth there; does a thought matter if I'm the only one who knows about it? (A tree falls and nobody's around to hear it, does it make a sound?) This is why I tell myself I need to speak up more, or at least write.
I was watching the news with my mom today, and they were reporting on the trials for both Zimmerman and the Boston Marathon bombing. I turned to her and said, "How come we haven't heard anything else about the Newtown shooting?"
"He's dead. There's no trial, nothing to hear."
Well, I knew that, but I thought there would be some investigation into why he did it. Maybe I missed it; I don't watch the news as much as I should. But I remember them talking about how the publicity just encourages more shootings. Why do I still want to know?
I want to write letters. Isn't that strange? I just finished a neat stack of thank-you notes, and while the actual writing with the awkward social conventions and never knowing what to say isn't fun, there is something I like about the small sharp-cornered envelopes with the addresses written out as legibly as possible. So not those kind of letters, but long letters where I ramble on about whatever, and letters that get replies. It seems like the perfect conversation for someone who has trouble saying what she wants to the regular way. No interruptions in a letter.
I don't know. I just don't know, okay? I have always been so unsure about everything, and it doesn't seem to be changing. I am unsure of my beliefs, values, interests, who I am. And I know that it's impossible to ever be entirely sure of something, even if someone tricks themselves into thinking otherwise. But it doesn't work to be beliefless either. It's hard to get by with nothing to hold on to. I know I have some beliefs, but I don't have much support for them and the longer I think about them the more insubstantial they become.
I hate to say it. It's whiny, it's lazy, it's not any excuse at all. But I feel like I'm running out of things to say. Everything is something I've said before, or the sort of thing I don't want to be heard saying, by others but especially by myself. It's always the self-judgement holding me back, the inability to really see myself, the way mirrors make everything backwards.
I've always been waiting, first for something to happen and now for a chance to make something happen. I do have determination and hope, but there's also the what-ifs.
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