A Message from Ember – Jester of the Royal Court

Disclaimer: My friend Derek writes many an essay from the perspective of his cat, Hugo, as well as other animals (my baby Holly included). I recently got inspired to try and do something along a similar vein… but unfortunately, some recent events have expedited the process. So before you continue reading, just know that this message from my feline friend is not a happy one. But I couldn’t let her go unheard.

Hi Friend,

I understand that you have not heard from me often. I’m sorry. Sometimes I struggle to find… uh… the words? I think that is right. We cats do not have words. We speak in lots of sounds– I like to say “mrow”, and “ack”, and… I like to rumble!

I am sorry… Words are hard. I forgot I was wording.

My sister Holly (I love her!) has told me that I should call you something strange like “peasant” or “servant”. She says you are here to serve her… and I think you do good! But I don’t like those names. Those names are mean. I like “friend” better. I have heard you call me “friend”.

I am tired lately. I miss you, friend. I am currently staying at my favorite person’s house! I think he is your mom? Wait, Holly has told me the human is called a “dad”. Do I have a dad? I think I had a mom, but friend, your “dad” has always been more of a mom to me. Does that make sense? I am struggling.

I know sometimes I am….difficult. Difficult is a big word. Is it right? When I’m happy, my claws move sometimes, and you seem upset by this. Why? Do they hurt? I cannot say I’m sure. I have never been the, er, I think they say “brightest” of kitties. I like the word kitty. It is cute.

Am I cute? You have called me and Holly cute. I’m rumbling now! …I stopped. I miss you.

My tummy hurts lately. It’s hard to move, and I’m sad. I am not usually sad, as you and mom (dad?) and all the other big cats (people, Holly says… people) are very kind to me. Dad has been giving me lots of attention, but he keeps trying to give me some food. I’m not hungry. I have not been hungry in a while. I am tired. Very tired.

I hope you know how much I love you. Sometimes I make you mad… I get that. I am a cat and you are a bigger cat people. Your cat people ways are hard. You cry sometimes. I rumble because you like when I rumble. I keep seeing you cry lately… I’m sorry. You look at me and you cry. Is it something I did? I just want you to be okay.

I think I’m starting to understand. I’ve never been good at understanding anything, but I think I finally know what’s going on. I’m going somewhere else. Somewhere new. I don’t feel right in this world anymore. I feel weak, and I am sad, and you keep crying. I don’t want that for you. I want you to feel good. I felt good for a very, very, very long time.

Very, very. I like repeating the words. It means I very very love you.

Anyway… I wanted to try and write. I gotta say… it’s hard to move this pencil with my teeth. Holly has bigger teeth. Have you seen her teeth? My sister is cute. You love my sister and she loves you. She is worried about me. She will take care of you like you take care of her. I will miss you. But I love you. I hope I took care of you good like she did. I always try my best.

Words are hard, but I made some happen. I hope they make sense. I’m more tired now. I just want to sleep. Soon, I think I will go to sleep for a long time. You cry when I think about sleeping. But it’s okay. I’m just tired. I’ll feel better once I get some rest. Maybe someday, you can take a long nap too, and we will hang out. I’ll rumble for you again! I know you like the rumbles. (Holly rumbles too!)

I leave you in the hands of my sister, Holly. When I’m this sleepy, it’s hard to be the funny guy (that is what Holly says “jester” means). Maybe you need to be the funny guy now? But maybe Holly would be mad, because she calls you “peasant” not “jester”. Who invented words? I much prefer “reowr”.

So I wanted to say, “mew”. That means, I love you. I hope you start to feel better soon. You are wonderful. Wonderful is a big word. But big words mean big things, right? You are the biggest very, very wonderful.

My teeth hurt from holding this pencil, and I am very tired. I should rest more. Come visit me, okay? I will always be there for you.

Love always,
Ember (Resident Funny Guy, I think)

[ Edited in part by Holly, Minister of Aesthetics and Pulchritude ]

Page-by-Page

When I’m reading a book, particularly plays for my dramatic literature class, I have trouble immersing myself in the story. I’ve always had selective attention problems, and unless something is completely drawing in all my interest, I find my mind flickering to and from the task at hand too often. This semester, I’m in a dramatic literature class which I enjoy very much, but nonetheless, sometimes reading these plays can feel like a task. It’s a chore to churn through page after page of some play when I’d rather be doing something else. Even if the content interests me, I am flighty. I’m an airy soul. I lose my train of thought.

I constantly find myself counting pages.

“Acts 1 and 2 are due tomorrow,” I brief myself, settling into the comfiest chair available. I fan through the thin anthology pages, sticky fingers slipping over them anxiously. I remember how much I don’t want to do this. I count twenty pages and sigh sharply. Here we go.

On good days, the stories catch my attention and I manage to read through them like its nothing. In a flash, I’ve finished what I was required to do and am now free to read whatever I wish. On bad days, and boy are there bad days, it takes every last drop of my energy to read word after word, line after line, page after page after page.

Fourteen to go. Ten. Seven. One. Finally, I finish.

Even when it comes to things I enjoy, I have realized I always find myself wondering when they will be over. When will I finish this book I’m reading? When will I finish this T.V. series I’m watching? When will I finish writing these stories that I pour my heart and soul into every day? I have roughly the attention span of a crippled blind gnat, so as soon as one thing begins, I grow bored and start looking forward towards the next thing. Where will life take me now? It’s as though I’m a wide-eyed puppy wondering what its human will do next. Will he blink?! Will he stand up?! All of it is more exciting than my current dog state.

I found myself particularly perplexed recently by my constant forethought. It occurred to me while reading yesterday that I have no need to count pages. As I read, they will turn, and the number, however high, will dwindle slowly down to zero. I realized it doesn’t matter whether I’m a quarter, a half, a third of the way done with my book, movie, etc. What matters is that in this moment, I am reading, watching, breathing, being. I’m allowed to just sit and enjoy a moment. Sometimes that’s hard to forget.

We all have the tendency to look ahead of ourselves, and oftentimes there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s when that tendency overshadows our ability to feel our true feelings and be present in time that it becomes a problem. Books may have been my metaphor, but this entry comes from a deeper place than that.

For those who are new, I have struggled with depression and anxiety since early middle school. I’m currently on some medication, but no method is foolproof. When you have depression, your body doesn’t like to let you be happy or even content. There’s science to it: a lack of serotonin in the brain, which my medication works to counteract. Despite my best efforts, and despite the knowledge that all will be well, I sometimes cannot help but slip into a dark place. Without delving too deeply into my personal life and psychosis, I can at the very least tell you this: last night was hard.

Allow me to get somewhat personal for a moment. I’m at a crossroads in my life, a defining stage in my young adulthood. I am just beginning college, trying to figure out what I want to do. I’m currently unemployed, and as such, going relatively broke. I spent the last two or so years miserable, working my ass off for near-minimum wage, and to see those hard-earned savings begin to dwindle is exhausting in and of itself. Sometimes, I find myself in a frenzied mix of rational and irrational worry. What will my future hold? The question is too tempting for my untrained mind to resist, and so I chew on it for hours, holding my breath and sinking slowly until I settle on the sandy bottom of depression bay.

Today, I’ve let my breath go and floated back to the surface. I’m better. Remember that like good things, all bad things must come to an end. As I write this, I don’t feel too bad at all. I was reminded how many wonderful things I have to cherish, how even the dimmest of moments can hold the faintest of glows. A few months ago, I would have struggled to bounce back this quickly, even during the best of times. I’m alright, and I’ll be alright. We all will. It’s just a matter of realizing we don’t need to worry about it.

Counting pages will not change the course of my novel’s plot. There’s no point in anticipating what will happen when I can simply read the story. Like all changes, this development will take time, but I hope to live more and more in the moment each day. While I can still wonder or hope for things to come, I must live my life the way it’s meant to be lived. From now on, I hope to write my story the way we all should read them: one page at a time.

Ice Shards

Shimmering shards of stories have been coming to me lately. Bits and pieces of fleeting ideas, glimmering in and out of my peripheral. I will start to write a post, begin crafting these thoughts into tangible form, but they fall away from me. My mind wanders, and off with the cold wind float my efforts, however small. I fight the chaos, but some ideas are simply not ready to be brought to life. Perhaps they never will be. Today, I rebel against these scattered thoughts. I will finish this post, god damn it, even if I have to scrape up every last transient word with a dustpan.

I recently travelled to Merritt Island, Florida with my boyfriend and his family. (She looks to the sky and squints; pale fingers clench around the fading remains of her vacation recap post.) Overall, it was wonderful to have some leisure time, despite some unexpected setbacks. I did some swimming, some reading, some shopping, and a fair amount of adventuring. I found meaningful trinkets, made meaningful memories, and spent time with the people I love. It was warm enough, beautiful, and absolutely, wonderfully devoid of any snow.

The sun, however, teamed up with my medication to scorch the living daylights out of my delicate, fair visage. I learned the hard way that the new meds I started taking make me more photosensitive. Despite quite a few days spent battling anything between persistent discomfort and searing pain, I still managed to have a good time. It was vacation. Need I truly say more?

Now, I look outside and I see hills upon hills of white fluffy bullshit. I don’t hate winter per say, and snow is beautiful as it falls, but I don’t always do too well in the cold, and I get a little stir crazy. I take after my dad in that the winter is the perfect breeding ground for my depressive tendencies. I get sad for no reason. Stare outside and desperately wish for warmth, blossoming trees, fresh air. Who needs serotonin when you have cripplingly bleak landscapes full of white voids and dreary beige grass?

My inspiration is fleeting, as should be clear by my lack of activity on this blog this month. In the winter, that motivation is even harder to find. I can physically feel the inspiration flowing into me when I step outside on warm days. While obviously it’s not impossible for me to be inspired during these darker times, I confess it is significantly more difficult. I draw energy from nature, and not being able to get outside regularly takes its toll on my mental wellbeing. I get exhausted. And god, I’m tired of being tired.

With Spring comes the promise of many beautiful things. The end of the semester, the start of the MLB season, nice weather, pretty flowers. I’ve always wanted to try gardening, but I was never disciplined enough to keep up with it. This year, however, I’ve got a good feeling about it and have decided I’ll make another attempt. I have some flower seeds picked out already, and I can almost fell the dirt on my hands. I swear I can smell the soil.

Soon, I will be able to spend more time outside, both alone and with those dear to me. I look forward to it, and hope to make the most out of the Spring and Summer. Baseball games, bonfires, camping, walks in the park… Perhaps, with the assistance of these precious outdoor experiences, I will be able to pull all my fragments of ideas together into something worth reading. In the end, that’s what we writers aim to do.

C’est la Vie – Albert Camus’s Take on Absurdity

 – Written for Intro to Philosophy – 

Albert Camus was a 20th century French philosopher and author whose life and legacy could easily be considered absurd. As one of the founding fathers of the absurdist school of thought, he would likely be pleased to be referred to as such. Absurdity in philosophy reaches further than the concept of the incomprehensible or unbelievable; although it is complex in nature, coming to peace with it can feel remarkably mundane. “The Absurd” refers to the human tendency to desperately seek some kind of objective meaning in life despite the human condition making it impossible to find. In Camus himself’s words, “The absurd is born of this confrontation between the human need and the unreasonable silence of the world.”

It is important to note that it is neither mankind nor the universe itself that defines the absurd, but the juxtaposition between two inherently contradictory ideals. Camus finds this struggle to be a universal fact, and it is the basis of most of his teachings. In his essay, The Myth of Sisyphus, Camus delves deeply into the effects becoming aware of the absurd can have on the human psyche. An absurdist worldview implies that life itself has no true objective meaning. When all hope seems lost, however, Camus raises the important point that life can still be lived without meaning. In Sisyphus, Camus determines that there are three possible outcomes after making this realization: suicide, faith, and revolt.

The opening line in The Myth of Sisyphus is “There is but one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide. Judging whether life is or is not worth living amounts to answering the fundamental question of philosophy. All the rest … comes afterwards.” For the first few sections of the book, Camus touches upon suicide and why people consider or follow through with it. There are many reasons, he determines, why someone might want to end their own life, but the deeper reasoning always stems from the absurd. When a mere man is faced with the reality that his life is devoid of meaning, the mind’s first response is a desire to cease living it. Why should one exist if not for some greater purpose?

Camus understands the mentality behind suicide as an answer, but he quickly dismisses it as “irrational” and “nonsense”. Of the suicidal dilemma, Camus writes, “I am interested––let me repeat again––not so much in absurd discoveries as in their consequences. If one is assured of these facts, what is one to conclude, how far is one to go to elude nothing? Is one to die voluntarily or hope in spite of everything?” Suicide to Camus is an irrational yet human desire born out of knowledge of the absurd, and while he is certain it is not the answer, too many men fall victim to the despair of this unattainable knowledge. Whether their motivations be some kind of afterlife or simply an end to their suffering, suicide is not the answer they truly seek. “If one could say just once: ‘This is clear,’ all would be saved.”

If not suicide, then what? Camus considers another simple answer: faith. By putting your life in the hands of some higher power such as a god, you are inherently denying the existence of the Absurd. Camus quickly dismisses this ideology as existential folly, pointing fingers at many known thinkers who he claims are “escaping” the Absurd despite being aware of its reality. Camus claims, “The Absurd, which is the metaphysical state of the conscious man, does not lead to God. Perhaps this notion will become clearer if I risk this shocking statement: the Absurd is sin without God.”

At first, this seems very black and white–acceptance of the Absurd leads to suicide, denial leads to the fabrication of faith–but Camus raises the claim that there is a third option. A major question he raises in Sisyphus is whether or not one should continue to live life even if it has no meaning. When pondering this, he says, “It was previously a question of finding out whether or not life had to have a meaning to be lived. It now becomes clear, on the contrary, that it will be lived all the better if it has no meaning.” To “revolt” against the meaninglessness of life is to live life to the fullest, as opposed to taking the leap of faith and committing “philosophical suicide.”

Camus believes in revolting against the absurd, but that is not synonymous with rejecting it. If one rejects the absurd, they are not truly living. To Camus, the point is not to overcome the feeling of meaninglessness the absurd throws at you, but to learn to live with it, even embrace it. Being religious is not without its downsides. When discussing Chestov’s views on god as the absurd, Camus states, “Everything is sacrificed here to the irrational, and, the demand for clarity being conjured away, the absurd disappears with the terms of its comparison. The absurd man, on the other hand, does not undertake such a leveling process. He recognizes the struggle, does not absolutely scorn reason, and admits the irrational.”

Camus views religion when used in retaliation to the absurd as a weak and desperate attempt at denying the phenomenon’s existence. In order to truly face the absurd, one must accept it and face it head-on. Relying on religion in the face of absurdity is resigning oneself to their inability to live without meaning. As an alternative to faith, Camus describes “The Absurd Man”, a creature of boundless passion and infinite potential. “The certainty of a God giving meaning to life far surpasses in attractiveness the ability to behave badly with impunity. The choice would not be hard to make. But there is no choice, and that is where the bitterness comes in.” The absurd is difficult to live with once one has come to terms with it, but not impossible. Through faith, one fabricates a universal meaning, deciding to live with a false sense of ignorance. Through revolt, one fights hard for their humanity and gives life a subjective “meaning” of their own. Religion in response to the absurd is not the worst outcome, but it is in no way harmless.

Having thoroughly covered the thoughts and beliefs of Albert Camus, I find it essential to review them through my own modern eyes. Personally, I believe Camus is a very grounded and sane individual. My whole life, I have struggled with a strange sense of morals and a sheer lack of tangible purpose. For quite some time, I agonized over the sheer despair and meaninglessness of my young life. Those were years wasted, I recently realized, as in the end, why must one strain himself with thoughts of the great beyond? Our lives are right in front of us, the moment is here to be cherished.

Camus writes, “And here are the trees and I know their gnarled surface, water and I feel its taste. These scents of grass and stars at night, certain evenings when the heart relaxes––how shall I negate this world whose power and strength I feel? Yet all the knowledge on earth will give me nothing to assure this world is mine.” Those words resonated with me, and I believe that Camus has spoken a lot of the philosophies I myself could never put words to. I’m not sure I can think of a claim he makes within Sisyphus that I inherently disagree with, but that doesn’t shock me; I am open-minded by nature. I have lived two decades, and among them, some years were devoid of life, love, or passion.

As I have grown, I believe I have come to terms with the absurd and accepted my place in this universe as an insignificant speck. Reading Camus only made me realize I was not alone in my mentality. I’ve found comfort in the concept of the absurd, just as he did. I have always asked myself, “Do we really need answers?” To simply accept that the universe is more complicated than I could ever understand is the only answer I truly need. Once upon a time, during the depths of my despair, I confess I considered suicide. Sometimes the darkness weighs down on me, but I have a life, friends, family, love. I refuse to let irrationality get the best of me again, and after all, as Camus himself said, “Everything considered, a determined soul will always manage.”

Red-Book Rewind

In late 2017, I decided for the second time to attempt keeping a bullet journal. For those unfamiliar with the system, I would recommend Ryder Carroll’s website for some quick information on what exactly it is. In it’s simplest form, it’s an “analog system in the digital age” for keeping track of your life and thoughts. During my first attempt back in February 2017, I was trying too hard to make mine look like the really fancy ones you see on YouTube or other parts of the internet. That didn’t work so well, because I kept realizing how much mine sucked compared to every other. When I decided to try again, I decided to stick a little closer to Ryder’s original design: simplistic and functional, making modifications as I discovered what worked and didn’t work for me.

So, at the start of March, I figured now was as good a time as any to take a look at my bullet journal and what I’ve done with it. For those who are looking for a good way to journal or plan, you may want to consider giving bullet journalling a shot. Frankly, I believe it’s changed my life for the better. I’m not going to go through every page or even every section of my journal, rather highlight the system I’ve developed and why it works for me.

Let’s start from the beginning.

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Here we have the outer skeleton of my bullet journal. I haven’t named it, which honestly is surprising knowing me, so let me know if you have any suggestions. It features a NaNoWriMo sticker, a sticker from Golden Gecko in Toronto, a somewhat sad looking MLB sticker and some holographic tape. I wish I could show you the beautiful rainbow shifts of the holo, but alas. You will simply have to imagine it in all of his holographic glory. For those who are unaware, I adore anything holo.

I believe there’s no need to personalize the cover of your journal, but these little additions all came to me one by one, and perhaps more will come to me over time. I enjoy the character it gives to something so inherently personal to me. And be assured, this is certainly personal. I believe there is only one person in this world who I would give free reign of this entire book. Maybe more will come with time and trust, but for now, only my best friend has that privilege. After all, I tell him everything.

For the sake of this post, I’ll obviously be omitting any juicy personal details. Keep dreaming, you curious fools.

Next, we have the Future Log. Ryder classifies this simply as an overview of the year ahead.

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It’s simple enough, but I elected to add the mini calendars as an aesthetic detail. That, and it does help me determine what day of the week any certain date might be. Mine starts with December because I started this journal in November, but you could start yours whenever, like with January. Here and on the next three pages, I chronicle events that will be taking place months from now such as holidays, birthdays, or (marked with stars) events that came up after the fact. I tend to only use this section for things more than two months out, because for the current month and the one following, I use my monthly spreads.

Speaking of which, here’s mine for March:

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Over the last few months I’ve determined that this is the setup that works best for me. In Ryder’s original model (yes, I’ll be comparing each of mine to his) the left page consists of merely the month’s name, the numbers, the days, and what needs to be done. The right page consists simply of a list of tasks. As you can see, I added a lot more than that. I have a column for school classes on the left there (it was formerly my work schedule) and a “Coming soon” section for events in the near future; it’s easier to access than the future log. On the right, I added a large calendar, which is mostly for visual aid like my tiny ones were in the future log, but I also do like to cross off the days as they go by. It’s fun and it’s pretty. Below it I have my general tasks, which can move to the next month if they’re not important or are more long-term, my resolutions, and my class schedule.

I do admit I think this is my prettiest monthly spread yet. My choice of color and decorative touches vary mainly only by season, and throughout December, January and February, I was using light and dark blue and drawing snowflakes. I find that with March comes the promise of Spring, and my little doodle flowers help solidify that in my mind. It’s simple enough to still be functional. The main purpose of this journal, after all, is to keep track of things and write down my thoughts or feelings. Making it look nice is an afterthought, but it’s still important to my enjoyment of the journalling experience.

As such, I get something cute, but not so cute it disrupts the flow of my tasks and thoughts. An ugly cute; a happy medium.

The main additions I decided to make this month were color coding my three classes as well as anything related to baseball. For my classes, I simply delegated the three colors I already had designated for the month (three now, as opposed to my former two), and for the Sox… well, red. Also notable, but not new, things relating to my boyfriend are green.

Following the monthly spread is the weekly spread, which is something Ryder didn’t have in his original model. To be honest, I neglected to do these throughout most of November and December. It wasn’t until I got serious about journalling again that I decided the weekly spread would be helpful.

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Admittedly, it bothers me that I didn’t make the days of the week pink instead of green. I fucked up.

This much is pretty simple and hasn’t changed since I started doing them. I write down things I’m doing or may be doing, people I may or may not be seeing. Edits can be made where appropriate. Last month I had a rather messy weekly spread which I think is still worth sharing:

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Plans change. Life is messy. Pages like this are simply a testament to the beautiful unpredictability of the world. Or maybe I’m just crazy. Nonetheless, moving on. Next is the heart of the journal, the daily spreads. This is where the “bullet” aspect of bullet journalling actually becomes more relevant.

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I decided I wouldn’t censor anything on this page. I’m baring my soul. Okay maybe not, but still.

Everybody has a key they use in terms of what their different bullets mean. Ryder has his own system, and I’ve used some of his basic indicators, but I have also developed a system of my own. Here’s a quick breakdown of what I’ve determined works for me:

• = task
○ = event
– = note or recommendation
☆ = thought or introspection
♡ = boyfriend
! = important (not shown)
♪ = music (not shown)

And that’s the gist of it, honestly. I do this every day, or if I forget or am busy, I try and catch up. I personally believe bullet journalling has been a truly life-changing experience for me, and I hope to continue it for many years to come. To anyone who journals or wishes to, I hope you find as much meaning in your personal logs as I do. After all, we each create our own meaning in our day to day lives. For me, I like to chronicle my adventures. All times immortalized, good or bad. Someday, I hope to be able to look back on them and smile.

The Grapefruit League

Given that the general demographic of serious baseball fans is 45+ year-old men, I consider myself an outlier. I’ve been fascinated with the sport since I was a young teenager, but I didn’t really get into Major League Baseball until I was quite a bit older. In fact, I didn’t even go to my first game until last year when I was nineteen! Better late than never to discover a passion, eh? As a nearly lifelong New England resident, I’m a Red Sox fan of course, and not even my New York origins will make me stray from that. Don’t test me, Yankees. Rivalry runs deep.

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Home sweet home.

I kid, I kid. I would never fight anyone over their preferred team. It’s friendly competition to me, all in good fun. Those who are more in the loop may know that Spring Training started recently down in Florida for the Red Sox (Arizona for some teams). Plenty of people don’t care, plenty of people do. I for one, have been following the pre-season rather closely, and got the opportunity to go to a game on March 11th vs. the Orioles. It’s going to be an interesting split-squad game at JetBlue Park down in Fort Myers. Coincidentally, I happened to already be heading to the western Florida coast with my boyfriend and his family during that week, and managed to snag some pretty solid tickets at resale prices. I’ve never been to a Spring Training game before, and as much as I love good ol’ Fenway, I’m beyond excited for the new experience.

Despite this all still being relatively new to me, I certainly know (and care) more about the sport itself, the Sox players, and the season’s standings, than the average American. I’m not going to bore you all with my opinions on this year’s roster, or the new manager, or anything the layman might not understand. Nonetheless, I do just feel the need to do some baseball rambling, and that’s really why I’m writing this post today.

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Me and my dad at my first Sox game last September!

I think baseball is a fascinating sport. It can be fast-paced, slow-paced, convoluted, simple. It contradicts itself frequently at a moments notice due to the complexity of the rules and the unpredictability of playing styles and strategies. So much goes into the formation of a successful baseball team that not a lot of people realize. It’s all about marketing these days, but I wish I could have grown up in the prime of baseball. Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, Carl Yastrzemski… I would have loved to live in eras such as theirs and watched history being made. Hell, I was even too young to truly appreciate when we broke our historic 86-year “curse” in 2004 by winning the World Series. I suppose I need to be glad baseball’s even still around. It wouldn’t shock me if in another century or so, physical sports become totally or nearly obsolete.

I don’t like to think about it.

As much as I love watching the games on TV or listening to my good pals on WEEI, it can’t be argued that nothing beats being there at the park and experiencing it yourself. The yells and cheers of the crowd, the vendors marching up and down through the stands, tossing beers twenty feet across the bleachers. Take Me Out to the Ballgame, Sweet Caroline around these parts. There’s absolutely nothing like a good trip to the ballpark. My boyfriend doesn’t quite understand, but that’s his loss. Someday I’ll drag him to a game with me, and someday he’ll realize he likes it.

Overall, I just really like baseball. Winter without it sucks, and I’m super excited that the pre-season has finally begun. It gives me something to obsess passionately about, and something to do in my spare time. Everyone has a passion or two, and baseball is just one of the many things that adds meaning to my life. What adds meaning to yours?

When All Else Fails

Since about Wednesday afternoon, I’ve been feeling under the weather. I thought it was the flu, turns out it was strep. Either way, it’s been a recipe for misery. I attempted two or three times over the course of this sickness to blog, write, do anything productive… but I failed. I do not hold myself to that. You should see me. It’s pretty pathetic.

I do still feel quite ill today. I missed the last couple days of classes, much to my dismay, but I’m confident it won’t be too hard to catch up on what I missed. I do wish my throat would stop attempting to destroy me from the inside, but I doubt I’ll get my way quite yet. Patience is a virtue, but god, I’m so tired.

Luckily, my boyfriend Pen is an angel and was taking care of me all weekend. He even drove out to see me last night even though he had class in the morning. I’m lucky to have him in my life right now, and I hope to do the same for him should he get sick in the future. I don’t mean to get sappy, he just deserves credit for how helpful he was. My best friend Nico was there with us as well, and it seems like he may have inherited the infection from me. Luckily it doesn’t seem like Pen got anything. Yet. Fingers crossed. Hey, I warned them.

No need to back away! I assure you I’m no longer contagious. God, can you imagine how awful this world would be if illnesses could be transmitted over the internet? If technology ever comes that far, please count me out of it.

This entry is essentially just a lump of my thoughts, as well as my excuses for why I’ve been so behind in my posts. I haven’t forgotten about this place. Not this time. Given my track record of abandoning my blogs, I’m frankly surprised, but I think that by not forcing myself to write every day, I’ve been able to keep myself interested. I’ll write here at my own pace, and that’s what I need to do to make things happen.

I find it interesting that in juxtaposition with my friend Derek, who forces himself to write an essay a day, I find that that only seems to stifle my progress. I have daily goals, but they’re more like guidelines rather than requirements. Back when I was younger, my last attempt being in junior year of high school, I kept trying to blog every day, just about my daily life. The issue was that sometimes, there was just simply nothing worth writing about. That’s fine, and I know that now. The inspiration is coming to me more now than ever before. I need not push myself any further towards the top, lest I topple off the edge.

Unfortunately, I do not think I have it in me to write much more today. My throat is killing me, I’m extremely fatigued, and my mind’s still just a little too out of it to form a more cognizant post. Nonetheless, I thank you for reading. I’m glad I managed to write anything at all.

Friend or Foellicle?

I envision her staring daggers in my direction, facing me with her head held high. She crosses her arms in anticipation.

“It’s time to choose,” she relays her ultimatum, this old mortal enemy of mine, “You’re either with me… or against me.”

I shiver as I stare down the barrel of my razor, but I swallow that lump in my throat. With a deep breath, I release the safety on my shaving implements.

“I’m sorry,” I whisper, lunging to attack, “Against.”

Nearly anyone who shaves any part of them knows that there are two main approaches to sword-fighting those hair-raising pores of ours: shaving with the grain or against the grain. Now I’m no professional, but those who are seem to stand by the same advice: always shave with the grain, to avoid irritation, ingrown hairs, and damage to hair follicles.

I reiterate– I’m not a professional.

Shaving side-note: there are so many better ways to do this, for those of us who care to spend the dough. I don’t expect anyone to laser or wax their faces (though some do), but the options are there especially for those who like to shave larger areas. I hoard pennies like a dragon hoards gold, so when I’m faced with a leg full of unwanted hair, I’m not about to drop a pretty one. For the most part, shaving tends to be the quickest, most painless, and most affordable option.

That being said, it’s a pain in the ass.

I’m not going to delve into gratuitous detail about how I shave my body because nobody cares or wants to know, but I should note that I shave for my own sake, not anybody else’s. A while back, I decided to stop shaving in an attempt to feel more “feminist” and “empowered”, because there’s certainly a power in not letting societal standards define you. But after hardly a week of letting my hair grow out, I realized I just… didn’t like it. I wasn’t shaving so men, or even women (I’m bisexual), would be satisfied with me. I was shaving because having hair where I don’t want it bothers me. It’s not my style anymore, and if I’m casually running my hand down my leg, I’d rather feel soft, smooth, skin than lumpy uneven strands of hair. I shave by my own standards, not society’s.

Personally, I believe that the societal standards for shaving are fundamentally flawed on both sides. If you’re a man who’s never at least tried shaving his legs, I wholeheartedly recommend you give it a shot. Come on, just this once? How bad can it be? It’ll grow back! I find that it could be as liberating for men to try shaving for women to try letting it grow out. Gender roles are a mess, so can’t we try and break this one?

Back to the matter of for or against the grain, I stand by my belief that fighting against is the most efficient option. Now, I’m not remotely claiming it’s the best option. I have suffered many a wound at the hand of my dangerously nonchalant shaving habits, but that’s simply a price I’m willing to pay for the most important result: smooth skin. I won’t lie to you and say I never shave with the grain, because often times that’s how I start, but it’s simply not good enough for my own personal standards. I want that close shave that fighting the natural direction of your hair growth achieves, and I’m perfectly willing to stick it to shaving experts (aka, the man) in order to get it.

“But wait!” Save-the-grainers may say, “There are less damaging ways to get a close shave!”

I know, I know. I could buy better razors, find a way to open my pores, buy better creams or gels; there’s a few high-maintenance options available. That’s too much of an ordeal for me. I don’t care enough to go through all the effort. I want my skin smooth, fast and cheap because I feel like it. I’m not falling for your propaganda, Gillette. Not today, Gillette.

Maybe someday, when I’m not so busy and lazy, I’ll devise the true path to the perfect shave. But for now, I’m content fighting dirty, yanking those hairs right out of their damn follicles as I slice them down at the knees. I’m not afraid, hair monster, you Medusa of my flesh. This is war, and I intend on winning.

In conclusion, I believe that shaving, shaving method, or lack thereof altogether should be a personal choice. While I stand by this, I also believe it can be important to experiment with it. Today, I encourage you all to possibly take a moment and think about what it would mean if you switched up your hair removal routine. How much do you care how society, your friends, or your significant other sees you? What does that say about your relationship with yourself? How would your skin feel if you decided to shave with the grain for a few weeks? Would it hate you if you decided to turn against it?

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This was me in 2014 after I shaved my head for a cancer fundraiser.

How would you feel if you stopped shaving for a while? Would you be turning against yourself, or turning against societal ideals? None of the above? Both. Only you know the answer.

Shave your hairs, grow them out. Fight the grain, let it win. Hell, even shave your head if you’re feeling so bold. I’ve done so in the past, and as much as I wouldn’t do it again, I don’t regret it for a single moment. Take charge of your hair, and as a result, your life. Who knows… you might just realize something about yourself you were always afraid to discover.

Gary no Hero Academia

(All title credit goes to my boyfriend. Fuckin’ jackass.)

High school for me could most simply be described with two words: living hell. I have struggled with depression and anxiety as well as attention deficit issues since I was in early middle school, and no matter how hard I tried, I simply couldn’t manage to have a high school life the way other kids did. I took months off at a time, tried night school, back to day, and after everything the faculty tried to do for me, still ended up dropping out. I don’t let that phase of my life get to me anymore. I’m a dropout. That is a fact. I have my GED, employment history, and am enrolled in college. Those facts are far more relevant.

I’m taking three classes this semester at my homey little community college: Psychology, Philosophy and Dramatic Literature. Unlike in high school, so far I’m really enjoying the education I’ve been getting. The class debates are lively, and I find that I like everyone I’ve come into contact with. In high school, I may not have been introverted per say, but I definitely held a lot more negative feelings towards a lot of people and a lot of opinions. That’s not to say I don’t disagree with plenty of people now, I simply have a wider radius of what’s considered a tolerable opinion, and what’s objectively a piece of garbage. I isolated myself in class discussions back then because the notion of conflict scared me to the core. Now, I find that I can finally blossom in an environment like this because as of recently, I’ve somehow changed.

A few months ago, while I was drowning in the throes of a complicated and depressing love life, a stressful job, and family issues, I had a revelation. It hit me like a train on a track and has become one of my six 2018 resolutions.

“I am sick and tired of apologizing for who I am,” I realized suddenly, not quite knowing just how profoundly this thought would change me. Yet here I am, realizing that even though it took time for me to ease into the idea, I really did begin to follow my own advice. I stopped apologizing for things that I need not say sorry for, and I started embracing my identity more head-on and not shying away from myself. Do I still fight the eternal battle of that creeping self-loathing? Sure. Depression is still an aspect of my life, even if I’m fighting it hard. What I do notice, however, is that I’m making the change I wanted.

When I was younger, I had various forms of social media with varying levels of publicity. My Facebook has always been limited to friends, but includes family and real life acquaintances. My Snapchat is essentially the same. Over a year ago now, I ditched the other two platforms I had (namely Tumblr and Twitter), as they were starting to drain the life out of me. My friends on there were mainly strangers, mainly in places across the country or even across the world. I shared anything there, but it was meaningless. The world was toxic. I needed to get away.

These days, most of the hesitance I had when it came to sharing what I wanted to in places where my IRL friends could see it has faded away. I don’t remember an exact moment where this happened, but perhaps it was gradual and I just didn’t notice. Though, it’s here. I’m truly coming out of my shell, if it can even be argued that I had one to begin with. I’ve stopped caring what people think of me, and it’s making all the difference. In high school, I can’t imagine I would have ever been able to participate in class discussions the way I do now. I’d have spoken up, been shut down, regretted it, and remembered just how much I hated myself.

I’m twenty, I’m in college now; things are different, and I’m not the only one who’s matured. People who in high school I would have bitterly detested, I respect their differences in opinion and still appreciate them for who they are. No, not everyone has matured in this way, but I can tell that its not just me who’s going through stuff like this.

My dearest friend Nico said to me at the end of last year, “I have a feeling that 2018 is going to bring great things for both of us.” I told him I was hopeful, but I had my doubts. Me? Happy? Bullshit. As I reflect on my life on the ides of February, I realize that an eighth of the year has already gone by, and I’m okay. I’ve yet to drop out of college. I’ve yet to fall deep into a spiral again. Bad times are sure to creep up on me again, but I’m honestly, truly okay.

In a world as dark as mine can sometimes feel, this feeling is a blessing. I only hope that I continue to mature every day, and that I get the most out of my college education. After all, the one person who’s in charge of my destiny is me.

Life in Technicolor

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“I DEFY YOU, HEART-MAN!” – Patrick Star

February 14th, as everybody knows, is Valentine’s Day. The general consensus on the celebration of this holiday is that if you’re taken, you make sure to shower your significant other in as much affection as you can. If you’re single… well, you’re fucked I guess. I never particularly harbored too much venom over all these years single on Valentine’s, but it’s hard to deny even the faintest nips of bitterness, even when it’s not at the forefront of your mind. It can be a difficult holiday to deal with due to the unpredictability of where you’ll be at that time. Single on Valentine’s is a “bad status” to have, and sometimes it can just feel like shit.

For the first time in my twenty years of existence, I don’t actually have that problem.

This year, I am lucky enough to be in a relationship with the most handsome, funny, intelligent, creative and charming guy I know. Admittedly we’re still at that point where what we have is still new and blossoming, but I can already tell that it’s unlike anything I’ve ever had before. He makes my heart feel… light. God, I feel lame saying this stuff where everyone can see. I hesitated to write this post for that exact reason, but something happened that made me realize that I had to write it. People should know how serious I am about this. I want people to know.

I’ve been burned before, and I’ve dealt my fair share of flame. As I’ve reiterated numerous times, my personal relationships are immensely meaningful to me, and as such, looking back on my failed attempts can be a little disheartening. It’s hard to simply ignore the past, but I can learn from it and keep it where it is; behind me. Of course I’m scared of what the future holds. Like aforementioned, the world is a wild and unpredictable place, but I can’t shake that intuition that this boy of mine is special. And he is. Oh man, he is.

For the sake of his own anonymity, I’m not going to name him in this post, but I’ve known him on some level for quite a few years now. He’d always been a vague presence in my life, a distant acquaintance that I’d hear bits and pieces about. For a long time, he didn’t even live in the area, but even when he returned, we never really talked. We only saw each other once a year, if that, and hardly exchanged more than a few words. We were acquaintances by association. Friends of friends.

I never thought much of it, until I did.

Last New Year’s Eve, at the dawn of 2017, I started to realize that there was more to him than meets the eye. I looked at him that night when I wasn’t supposed to be looking, and I panicked when I looked too hard. I saw a beauty inside him that night, one I’d never bothered to get close enough to him to see. I saw more of his personality– intelligence, ideals, humor; but back then, I was still hopelessly wrapped up in the illusion of having a certain someone I never could, and by the time I realized how stupid I’d been to be pining for all that time… It felt like it had to be too late. How was I supposed to follow up with someone I’d essentially blown off?

A year later, apparently. When I was ready. This time, the spark he ignited in me didn’t scare me.

In retrospect, I wish I hadn’t blown so much time on this now-irrelevant crush of mine as I did. Had I known then that one curly-haired boy at a party would be making me happy like this, I don’t think I could have resisted. I suppose it’s hard to justify a year spent alone when you know you could have had something better. But this post shouldn’t be about the past. It should be about the future. Our future.

Hindsight, as I learned the hard way, is certainly 20/20. The future is blind, but I’m ready to face it with him by my side. I’m not scared this time. I’m simply ready. The other day, sitting comfortably next to him where everything feels okay, he said to me, “I’m really excited. Just, for life.”

I don’t think I really knew that feeling until I met him, but I couldn’t agree more. I made allusions to a chromatic life in a recent post of mine, and he’s the most vibrant shade of all. To be able to walk along this rainbow with him is the best birthday present I could have gotten, and if I’m truly as lucky as they say the Irish are, there will be a glimmering pot of gold at the end.