Thursday, March 15, 2018


It's raining outside, and so gloomy.

I'm supposed to read three articles before class tomorrow and write engagement papers about two of them.

I'm going to see my friend Yohei perform in Rent in about 2.5 hours.

I'm dieting, which means it's hard to think about anything but what I'll be eating next. Dinner is the current upcoming meal. I have to keep it in the 500 calorie range. I'm trying to lose 68 pounds before Vanessa's wedding in August.

I'm struggling with the realization that I'm a failure.

I've told Katrina I can live with her when I come back but I don't think I can. My monthly expenses will come to $1,000 even before rent because of my stupid debt.

I'm struggling with the fact that easily 80% of that debt was accrued just in coming up here to get a degree I don't want in a subject I don't understand in a place I don't like very much.

I'm also realizing that if I don't really kill myself to get stuff done between April and August that I won't even actually get the degree.

I'm screwed in a lot of ways, and the rain is falling outside, and the sinus pressure headache I've been fending off with pseudoephedrine for a week is still there lurking, waiting to strike again.

It's my birthday in 29.5 hours, and I'm lonely and I miss my family and friends.

So, you know. Those are just some of the things I might tweet today on this twitter-feed-for-one. Except they're too depressing. Nobody wants to read what you actually think.


Thursday, March 8, 2018

Twitter for One (Without the Character Limit)

I'm trying this thing where anything I'd be tempted to post on Twitter I post here instead.

Today's entry:

When you have a migraine and a nosebleed at the same time, it feels like your brain's exploding and seeping out onto your chin.


Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Green With Envy, and Really, It's a Seasonal Color, So I Don't Know Why You're Judging Me Like That

I'm so bored here.

I don't want to do the things I'm supposed to do (i.e. read articles and books on boring, confusing subjects for class or transcribe for my grad assistantship or write my thesis).

I don't really want to go out and do things, with the exception of seeing movies (up here, it's all "heritage this" and "handmade or homegrown that," and a bunch of bands playing, which I might enjoy except there are all these unwritten rules that make me feel like a dumb outsider every time I try to go to one of these things).

I don't really want to get up and go out at all. Like, it's cold and drab outside, and where would I walk? To campus? Downtown, where there are shops for me to spend money I shouldn't be spending and restaurants for me to eat food I shouldn't be eating (I'm on the diet/exercise regime again, we'll see how long it lasts). I miss having a job, like a real job where I make an almost-living wage in exchange for the things that occupy my time. I was thinking about starting on some adventure boxes, because that was a really fun project over Christmas and I'd like to possibly expand it into a business opportunity, but I don't want to accrue any extra stuff up here because I'm going to have to figure out a way to get all my stuff home in about half a dozen suitcases between now and August, and I'm only returning home once before The Final Return. (Dramatic capitalization to emphasize feelings of dread.)

To be fair, most people I know all have obvious issues too. They have families and lives and responsibilities, but they're open about the fact that they don't have their shit together. Some days are hard. I appreciate that.

Then there's the girl I grew up with at church who was always so awkward and ended up marrying this military guy who seemed so controlling at the time that we all felt kind of bad for her. But she's travelled the world with him, going to all these cool places. She doesn't have my money problems or my health issues or seemingly any mental health problems at all. She has a spouse who loves her, friends who care about her, and in the last several years she's developed a passion for art and been going to conventions and selling her art online and making this successful side business with this creative passion of hers. And now, today, she's gone on Facebook looking for advice for people about whether she should self-publish her illustrated YA novel or try to ship it around to publishers. And the thing is, she's good. She'll find an agent and get the thing published, I know she will. And it's just like - gah. The envy in my heart right now. Like, I could burst into tears. Because she's had this pretty, nice, easy life, right? At least that's what it looks like from the outside. Like she has everything. And now she's going to be successful at the one thing I care about but have never been able to do properly. She's going to have this, and I'm just a failure.

Because of course that's the thing I should be doing with my time. Writing. But the walls inside my own mind seem to make even that impossible these days.

Maybe someday I'll be able to say this was all just me building up experiences I could use in my storytelling. Like, how could I write about how pathetic Sid's shut-in lifestyle is unless I experienced it myself? How could I write about Em's experiences with not having a home anywhere unless I knew that myself? How could I write about the Doorkeeper trapped in the House, unless I knew a bit of that eternal cabin fever myself?

But the thing about writers is our trade is in lies. Even failed writers like me are still good at making up deceptions. And the biggest deception I'm spinning is that somehow all of this will be worth it, that I'm any good at anything, that I shouldn't just give up and never try again.


Maybe I should just call it quits, go back home to my family, and try to clean up all my messes.

Or maybe I should just take a walk to clear my head.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

If At First You Don't Succeed...

Trying this again. Here's a little tracker which will supposedly change as I progress:

We'll see!

My goal is to be down to 170 by Vanessa's wedding in August. This seems unrealistic to me, but I'd at least like to be below 200 which is slightly more manageable.

Let's do this.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Snow in St. John's

This is adapted from a journal entry I wrote on February 28, 2018.

It snowed yesterday for about seventeen hours straight, the first serious snow we've had this winter. (It's been unseasonably warm.) But this morning when I woke up the flakes had stopped coming down. Because of my attempts to correct my sleep inversion, I managed to be awake for all of it. I'm shifting my sleep schedule forward three hours at a time, and on this particular day I woke up at midnight and stayed awake until five. The flakes were falling thick and fast that whole time.

(I felt a bit like Gilgamesh, tasked to stay awake. Like it was an enchantment, and as long as I could keep my eyes open the snow would keep falling - soft and magical, and perfect.)

But I couldn't stay up. I was nearly cross-eyed after being awake that long, not to mention having done eight hours of transcribing work for my graduate assistantship. I'm not supposed to tell anyone about the contents of the interviews, but I'll be vague here: there was a part of this interview with a woman from Eastern Europe who came to Canada to work after university and just settled here afterward. She was talking about returning to the country of her birth and how it wasn't really home, how she doesn't belong there but she doesn't have roots in this new country either. "I don't really think I know what home is anymore," she said at one point. "That's something I won't ever know again."

With snow falling down outside the window, and this woman's words echoing in my head, I fell asleep that "night" and woke at three the next morning feeling a bit too much cabin fever to stay still. So when it grew light out I went out to wait for a bus so I could go to the mall, walk around indoors a bit, and maybe watch a movie.

It was foggy out, and chill, but not nearly as cold as I'd hoped. The snow piled high, high, high on either side of the road, so I was forced to walk through the remnants left behind by the snowplows  - that velvety brown mush that splats to liquid beneath your boot tread. The house behind the bus stop on Merrymeeting Road had these enormous icicles hanging down from the porch roof, drip-drip-dripping. But I climbed the pure white mountain next to the pole with the bus flag and stood waiting. It's a Rule of the Universe that I'm always either ten minutes early or thirty seconds too late for a bus. Fortunately that day was the former.

(I forget a lot, you know. I forget it constantly, that the sea is right there. Only a few days before this I'd been up overnight with my usual sleep inversion nonsense and realized I could take a walk outside and catch the sunrise, so I walked down a block or two, past the Sobeys grocery store and the Rooms museum, and I found the perfect spot atop this little hill, and I watched the sun come up, and it was such a surprise even then to realized that the glitter in the rosy light was water, and there were boats gliding across the harbour in that orange glow of daybreak.)

But today, in the snow, there was nothing there to remind me. It was cold and white and still like the world is after a snowfall. Even the people who were up and about seemed subdued, caught under its spell. And that's a world, a moment, a circumstance where I might expect to smell pine trees or wood smoke, or maybe mountain-type smells. But I was standing there looking toward the east, because that's the direction the bus comes from, and I smelled it. Not any of those things. I smelled the sea.

It's not a smell you can mistake for anything else. Nothing compares. (Cue SineƔd O'Connor.) But seriously. I know that smell. I have a hundred happy memories linked with it - this same sea, glimpsed in Cape Cod or Topsail Island or Cherry Grove or Daytona Beach. I've smelled that smell most often in summertime, with sun beating down overhead, a warm prickle on the skin. I've smelled that smell with sand stuck to my legs. With sunsets and beach chairs, star-gazing and shell-gathering. While watching the waves smooth away castles and messages sculpted from sand. I know that smell like I know my childhood phone number, and the way it feels to hug my mom and dad, and the exact layout of the bookstore where I used to work that doesn't even exist anymore.

But I've never in my life experienced that familiar scent in this way. Standing up to my knees in perfect, pristine snow, surrounded by fog, listening of the plink of icicles behind me, as a bit of wind gusts full in my face and I smell the whole of it, that big, vast, immeasurable mystery, and I remember. The ocean. It's here.

It was the weirdest, most wondrous realization.

Two worlds crashing together, yet making not a sound.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018


Sometimes I say "migraine" when I really mean "depression."

People are sympathetic and forgiving when the former derails your day, but awkward and a bit impatient with the latter.

I do really have migraines some days, which confuses matters further.

But today was a depression day. I lay in bed and stared at the ceiling a lot, then went in a social media spiral, and ate some hummus and beef jerky and the other half of the pan of brownies I made myself last night when I realized Bloody Mary had come to call (if you know what I mean). But mostly I just wished I could fall asleep again.

I have so many things I should be doing.

"Tomorrow," Depression says. "Always tomorrow."

So "migraine" it is.

Friday, February 2, 2018

A Song

If you're ever looking for a really good place to cry where no one will disturb you, stand in the middle of a graveyard on a hill overlooking the city of St. John's on a windy February night. And by middle I do mean middle - smack dab, as my Southern upbringing would have me say - on that point in the path where the top of the hill (where you're headed) and the bottom of the hill (where you've come from) are equidistant, and the graves roll back into the dark on either side, still and gleaming.

It's really just the act of stopping. You've been holding it all in, forcing yourself through the day, trying not to understand why this weight has settled in the middle of your chest and why you're holding your breath in a choke at the back of your throat. You stop for a minute as you walk up the hill and turn to look at the city, and it's just that act of pausing, of breaking stride - you breathe in the wind and the night and the lights of the town all around you, and the graves are wet, cold stone and the snow has melted into long white stripes on either side of the path, and you feel it let go and fall away and you


The lights look so pretty through the glimmer of your tears that you take your phone out and snap pictures, but of course your phone's cheap and the camera is lame and you just end up with something that looks like a smattering of yellow, orange, and white dots on a black rectangle. You could show it to someone, but they wouldn't be able to feel the wind tangling its ragged fingers through your hair. They wouldn't know what it's like to keep staring up and down the path, checking that no one else is coming, and the feeling of being hidden and yet so utterly, blessedly exposed.

You don't look pretty when you cry. Like in the movies, where the person (usually a woman) is blotting at her face with a tissue, laughingly lamenting, "I'm a mess," and all the while looking tragic and beautiful and like someone should sculpt a statue of her face including that one perfect tear rolling down her cheek. You do not cry like that. Your lips get puffy and your skin gets blotchy like you've broken out into a rash. And the wind keeps grabbing your hair and flinging it in front of your eyes, then away again.

I'm a mess, you think, and you really are.

It's okay, though. It's okay. It's good to be sad. It's a fine and wonderful thing to peel away all those layers, to be a raw nerve open to the endless dark. Because the thing about crying in the middle of a graveyard on a windy February night in Newfoundland is that it makes you feel things, and you haven't felt things for a really, really long time.

Blame the computer and the phone - all these screens you shove into your face every day. Blame the stress of the routine you've chosen for yourself. Blame genetics, and the melancholy temperament your father gave you along with his nose and jawline. Blame your own damn foolish self for all the mistakes you've made.

Blame away, but remember somewhere in the middle of all the rage and the regret to forgive. Forgive this broken world, and forgive the stranger yelling at you through the computer screen, and forgive your family. Forgive all the people who have the effrontery to care about you even though you keep holding them at arm's length. Forgive the darkness, and the rain that's begun lightly falling, and your bag that rests heavy on your back.

Forgive yourself.

You don't deserve it, but claim the grace of this moment. An unearned gift that makes you feel almost whole again.

Keep crying as you climb the hill, but now the tears are quiet. Your breathing is calming. Your footsteps are steady. Before you know it, you've reached the top.

Feel, feel. Look at those lights. What a glorious thing it is to be cracked open.

There's no music, but this feeling is a song.