An Extremely Late Post

With my ever-elusive twenty-first birthday finally around the corner I’ve been thinking a lot about my past year. Since turning 20 I gained friends and lost others, broke my own heart and had my heart broken, got a new phone, new tattoo, lots of new shoes and more than anything: new lessons. I went to Hard Summer, Nocturnal, Escape, Audiotistic, Countdown, and Cocahella. I’ve seen Fleetwood Mac, Brockhampton, Blue Face, met Cody Ko, started (& graduated from) intensive therapy, watched my best friend graduate and laughed (& cried)… a lot.

When the clock strikes midnight on my twenty-first birthday I’ll be with my best friend at Odesza’s finale show — after missing their shows three times and eventually accepting that seeing the Moment Apart a tour was simply, impossible. It’s a sugary sweet way to bring in what I hope will be an equally sweet year. I am excited to keep growing and exploring this amazing life in the coming year. In the end I am nothing if not Cody Ko’s biggest fan so without further ado —  here are 12 things I learned while being 21. (I know, I know but I didn’t learn 21 insightful things this year. I learned like how to button pants to make them tighter and how to sell clothes online but I don’t think those things are worth writing a blog post about.) (If you want to learn more about either of those topics hit me up though and we can discuss.)

  1. You already have everything you need, you just have to believe it

This was a big one for me and basically changed my entire perspective on life. I know, groundbreaking. It seems like a simple idea but it’s a powerful thing to truly believe that your capabilities stretch as far as your own imagination. Own your power.

2. Protect your energy

So now that you know that you have this amazing galaxy of endless possibilities within you don’t you want to take care of those little stars? Some people might not be looking for your energy at the time — that’s fine. Some people want to drain your energy without offering any in return — cut that off. Surrounding yourself with positive people will always put you in a better mood than hanging around people who exude negativity.

3. You are not your emotions

Another radical, life-changer here. I used to fly over my emotional handlebars about any little thing. Spilled milk would devastate me, an argument would obliterate my self-worth — I was volatile and dangerous, mostly to myself. I explained this issue to my therapist and she looked at me and said, “you have the power to control how you feel,” as if it was obvious. I doubted her and told her that was hard, potentially even impossible. She responded with “you only say it’s hard because you haven’t thought to try it,” and she was right (obviously). You’ll never be able to control what happens to you but you can always choose how you react. If you don’t want you life to be devastated by a small inconvenience then don’t let it be. If you don’t want to be lonely, then see it as quality time with yourself instead. You can make as much positivity as you want — the good news is that it’s free.

4. The only way to truly love yourself is to truly be yourself

I used to be terrified of drawing attention to myself and the thought of being noticed made my palms clammy. I wore unassuming clothes and shied away from most social interaction. I had a constant monologue in my head telling me that my hand placement was weird or my eye contact was awkward or my walk was funny. It was exhausting and miserable. But ever since I’ve been fostering positivity I’ve been wearing what I want, laughing loudly, meeting new people and dancing when I walk. And what if people don’t like it? Well I don’t really care because that’s none of my business. My business is my happiness and my happiness alone and I will never again stop doing something that makes me happy to try win over the opinions of others.

5. There is always someone if you need someone

This is one I’m still looking at the flashcards for some days but I’ve been trying. I didn’t have many close friends before college so a lot of the time I still feel very lone wolf about my issues but I’m trying to be more open. People love you and there is always someone willing to give a hug and a listening ear. Talking about it really does help.

6. Don’t be so hard on yourself

On my journey of healing (I know, I know, yoga guru here I come) I was often frustrated at my slip ups and set backs. It’s hard to see the bigger picture in the moments where you’re sobbing on your bathroom floor and feel right back where you started but the progress is still there. Mental health is tricky and the brain is the slipperiest eel in the whole ocean — it can be hard to hack the computer that literally programs your entire being. But that’s okay. Because as long as you remember that you are on a journey towards positivity, the days will get easier. And the tears will stop and you’ll dust off your knees and keep going.

7. The good times don’t last

But that’s okay. Because the bad ones don’t either. My advice for the good ones is to write it down, take a picture, try really hard to soak it all in. Let the moment change your life. Relax your shoulders from your neck and imagine you’re exhaling all the bad things that happened before that moment. Let it be transformative and special because it’s your life — anything can be noteworthy. And that’s the story of how my life changed at Coachella while walking through the rainbow tower (lol).

8. If you love something, dedicate time to it

This seems like common sense but when people get busy it tends to be the first thing that’s forgotten. Love only grows when watered. I used to think I had nothing to dedicate my time to because I don’t have what some would call “traditional hobbies”. I don’t play sports or video games and have fallen significantly off my reading books for fun game. But there are things I love. I love music, so once a week I dedicate a couple hours of my time to sitting down and seeking out new music. I also take the time each morning to have a dance party in my room each morning before getting ready. The dance party sometimes involves working out, sometimes not. Either way, starting every day doing something that I love makes me happy and affects my mood throughout the entire day.

9. People will treat you exactly how you think you deserve to be treated

Okay maybe not 100% of the time (there’s always that one asshole) but generally speaking. If you think you’re not worth anything, people are going to treat you accordingly. The only way to avoid getting trampled is to stand up for yourself and what you deserve. No one else is going to do it for you. Like I said earlier, own your power.

10. Time alone is crucial to a good relationship with yourself

My ex boyfriend would be laughing hysterically if he ever read this but here it is in writing — you were right. One day I woke up and it suddenly clear to me: if you need to spend time with a friend to have a good relationship then why don’t we treat ourselves the same way? The more time you spend with yourself doing things that make you genuinely happy (for example: singing in the shower, doing your makeup, eating an entire bag of hot cheetos in bed at 3 am, etc.), the more you’ll enjoy it and want to do it more often. Every morning and night I take a couple hours to myself to relax and do the things that I want to do, exactly how I want to do them. And I can finally say that I now truly do enjoy being alone.

11. It’s okay to not have it all figured out

This is one I’m still having trouble believing but people keep saying it to me and it keeps working out so I guess there’s something to it. Appreciate the process and don’t rush too much to the finish line. Whatever is meant to be will be and everything happens for a reason. These popular maxims all seem to have the same undertone that reassures us that there is a plan for our lives and the universe will relentlessly move us towards that path.

12. It’s okay to eat cheetos for dinner

Obviously. Also when dipped in nacho cheese you can add the element of heat which is makes it then consistent with traditional dinners.

The first apology of the day

Like a snake,

I am shedding the flaky layer

of my estranged past.

 

It has hard to keep things straight-

when people press into my pain,

and say they relate to my work.

 

I forget what grievances I am still paying off

 

and I crawl on my belly

as penance to the sins of my mother

Eve.

 

Long have I suffered

the painful tear

of her teeth in the flesh of my fruit.

 

A constant echo

of guilt

swimming in my ears in the morning .

 

I carry this weight

that I did not pick up,

but had it gingerly placed in my palms.

 

My mother warned me to look before crossing the street,

but she could not have known that the things that trip me

live in a history book that I have not yet written.

 

Each morning I wake

and the sun licks my elbow

and begs for breakfast.

 

I mumble through the folds in my pillow-

 

“yes, yes I am alive-

despite my skin laying beside me.”

Opening Up About Mental Health

This is something I’ve been struggling with the idea of for a couple weeks but I think being on the upswing is as good a time as any to finally do this. I am finally taking my mental health seriously and getting help in all areas of my life. And I have to say- it’s working. And it’s working really well at that. I am not pretentiously stating that I am healed and I am the savior for those who are still healing. That isn’t the case at all- I am still healing and still learning. I still have bad days and hard days but my perspective of them has changed. I now know that there is always progress being made and I am willing to put in the work to see those changes. I now know that it’s okay if I still cry now and then about what has happened to me these past weeks. Because I finally believe that the hurt will pass and better things will replace it. I know that it is incredibly difficult to stay positive amongst all the pain of the world but here’s how I’ve been going about it.

 

Therapy:

My weekly therapy sessions have been one of the most influential things on my journey of healing. Admitting how hurt and broken I was terrified me, and opening up about it was even scarier. But her advice, guidance, and perspective have opened my mind to new ways of healing. One thing that has really impacted my life is her idea that the mind, body, and spirit are all connected. When one is hurting, they are all hurting and when one is strengthening, they all are. It is important to nurture all three elements so that one doesn’t strain itself trying to carry the dead weight of another. Overall, she’s helped me learn to not be so hard on myself and that has completely changed my outlook on my journey of healing.

Appreciating myself:

This seems like common sense but taking this seriously and being mindful in these moments has transformed how I go about my day. I thank myself for every single thing I do for myself. Whether it’s brushing my teeth or buying a smoothie- I am constantly acknowledging all the little ways I love myself. Taking time out of my day to do these things has also been influential. In between classes I sit in the grass and write and, in the mornings I make sure to give myself enough time to see my roommates before I leave. Making time for these small moments of joy throughout the day has changed how I go about my day and my attitude throughout it. These things have helped me realize my value and the confidence to no longer accept a lesser standard than I deserve.

Fueling my mind, body, & spirit:

I have always been a snacker and I have finally accepted that this will likely always be the case. However- switching my snacks to healthier alternatives like multi-grain crackers and dried seaweed has made my body feel stronger and less lethargic. Also adding a smoothie into my diet as a mid-day alternative to coffee has helped me feel refreshed without the added jitters from caffeine. I have also started working out daily, as a concentrated time spent purely on bettering myself. It is incredible how much going to the gym has improved my mood, cleared my mind and helped me find my confidence again.

Cutting out multi-tasking:

There are certain things that require multi-tasking such as cooking or taking notes while listening in class. However, there are certain things that require our full-attention yet, we are reluctant to give it. This is because society has trained us to believe that the ultimate achievement is productivity. Because our brains are used to working on four things at once, when you try to focus on just one, you may feel your mind floating away to think of three other things. Overworking our brain repeatedly creates a pattern of anxious thoughts and it limits our ability to be mindful. I am making small changes to try and train my brain to slow down and give each moment 100% of my attention. It’s almost impossible to have a tirade of negative self-talk when you’re so focused on the positive aspects of a moment. Every day I have a ten-minute walk from where I park my car to my class. When my life was falling apart I spent this walk anxiously worrying and often it lead to me crying before I even made it to class. Now, I make a conscious effort on this walk to just enjoy my music and literally smell the flowers. And you know what? I haven’t cried before class in weeks.

Absorbing affirmative media:

This is a smaller task but I think it’s a helpful one, nonetheless. I listen to a variety of music and read a variety of media. I’ve noticed that when I read poems or listen to songs that I relate to, I feel so much more hopeful. It is so comforting to hear a lyric that makes you realize that someone has been where you’re standing and they made it out alive. I have been listening to and reading things by artists who have struggled with mental illness and it helps to know it is possible to be productive through the pain. There is such great art that has been made from the darkest pains and this has inspired me to work through my own pain in a productive way. Also, there are so many great podcasts that deal with mental health and many are made by successful businesswomen. Their advice and perspective have been super beneficial for me.

The biggest change I have made is my perspective and that was accomplished through all the above steps. Struggling with mental health has been the hardest challenge of my life but to finally be able to say that I am making serious and permanent changes makes me feel so proud. When faced with the task of “feeling better,” the sheer vastness of the problem is at odds with the implied simplicity of the solution. This is an overwhelming task and it is so hard to want an immediate solution that simply, doesn’t exist. Every single day I fight, from the moment I wake up, to the moment I go to bed to remember to be mindful in all things. It is hard work and it is constant work but the results are undeniable. I haven’t felt this much like myself in years. I’m writing with passion again, I’m excited about taking care of myself and, I’m inspired constantly. There are still bad days but now I know that my life is still hopeful and exciting regardless. To anyone struggling with mental health: don’t give up. It is okay to start broken, scared and beaten. Just start, from wherever you are and keep moving forward. I promise, it will get easier.

Crumbs

Must I spend my whole life begging

for the crumbs of your affection?

 

I follow you trying to remain

quiet and unnoticed,

 

a person who has become nothing is difficult to grab

with the snares of hatred.

 

My plate is never full,

even when I pile the scraps in the center-

 

a monument to hunger.

 

Each day I awake to the rupturing of my stomach

as it pulls me towards you again and again.

 

A beggar learns that their place is in the aftermath,

once everything that breathes has had their pick.

 

Fulfillment does not come from a half-eaten peach

or the gristle that still clings to a thigh bone.

 

This is a way to make a person into not a person-

to teach them that they deserve the leftovers of another’s desire.

 

Do I not deserve a bounty?

 

A table overflowing and a place setting

with my name on it.

A Trip Like No Other

The year is sometime in the distant past and our setting is a quiet suburban town. The crime rates are low and the resident satisfaction is high. All the children know each other and families sleep with their doors unlocked. If you come at just the right time, you will likely see a few pies cooling on freshly scrubbed windowsills. Nothing out of the ordinary happens in this completely ordinary town which is why this came as such a surprise to us all.

————————————————————————————————-

 

Rob reached his hand across the rippling sheets to his wives which was dappled in the fresh sunlight. She murmured and rolled over to face him. “Good morning.” she whispered.

He forced a smile, “I’m really glad you let me sleep in the bed last night Patricia, the couch was getting awfully lonely.” he said with a half-hearted chuckle.

Patricia sighed, “Yeah Rob, that was the point. But we’ll figure out next steps later, right now I have to pack.” She sat up and smoothed her hair before pushing off the sheets and walking towards their closet.

“When are you coming back again?”

“Depends how long these negotiations take but probably no more than a week.”

“While you’re out there, you should see your sister. You haven’t talked to Betty in ages,” he said as he propped himself up on his forearm.

“Yeah, I might just do that.”

A few minutes later Avery and Scottie were roused from their beds as their mother cooked them breakfast and packed their lunches. “Rob, can you take them to school? I really have to head to the airport.”

“Of course honey.” He walked Patricia to the door where they hugged but she tilted her head so his kiss landed upon her cheek rather than her lips.

“I’ll see you guys in a few days, I love you,” she called into the kitchen as the front door closed behind her.

 

After her first meeting on the second day of her trip, Patricia went to her hotel room where she decided she would indeed reach out to her sister. She looked up the number for the Bellevue psychiatric unit and found out their visiting hours. After napping and freshening up she called a car to take her.

“Who are you here to see?” the receptionist asked as she gnawed the cap of her ballpoint pen.

“Beatrice Parker. And I was informed that I’d be able to visit her in her room, is that still the case? I want her to feel comfortable.”

“I’m sorry ma’am but Betty had an incident earlier this morning that no longer permits her to have visitors in her room but we do provide a common area for visitors to spend time with our guests.”

“Okay, then I suppose that will suffice,” Patricia answered reluctantly as she signed into the visitor log.

“Right through those double doors there, second door on your right. If you get lost or someone bothers you just press one of the red buzzers in the hallway.”

“Thank you.”

 

Patricia sat on the faded green sofa and waited for her sister to appear. Suddenly she felt hands on her shoulders and she leapt off the tattered cushion. Her heartbeat felt as though it had recently been swallowed and hadn’t had the time yet to move to its proper place in her chest. Standing behind the couch was someone wearing her own face but the cheekbones were slightly more hollow and below the face was baggy sweats and slippered feet. Patricia laughed nervously, “Betty, why would you scare me like that?”

Her twin laughed, “Hiya sis, it’s been awhile. What brings you to my neck of the woods?” Betty moved to sit an old armchair across from the couch as Patricia settled back into her seat.

“Yeah, yeah it’s been awhile. I’m here for a business trip actually, it was supposed to be no more than a couple days but the negotiations seem to be taking longer than we thought. I’m glad I could come see you while I’m here though, I’m staying at the Hilton on Fourth street and it would just be silly to be that close to you and not stop by. How’ve you been?” she folded her hands in her lap and tried to make herself very small in this chaotic room in the hopes she wouldn’t be noticed and labeled as an outsider.

“Been good, yeah really good actually. They take good care of me here, way better than mom ever did- God rest her soul.” The two took a moment of thoughtful silence to remember the screaming in the hallways that plagued their nightmares as children. The nights at the dinner table where their mother couldn’t tell them apart or thought they weren’t her children at all were especially prevalent in Patricia’s mind as she stared into the reflection that was her sister.

“That’s good, I’m glad to hear it. And you’ve been keeping up with your medications and everything?”

“Yes indeed definitely. They’re real sticklers about that here,” Betty leaned in and winked as if the two shared an inside joke. If there was ever a joke to be shared in that knowing look, Patricia had long since forgotten it. “But enough about me, how’re you? How are Rob and the kids? I just love getting your letters, helps me to stay updated with the goings on,” and then in air-quotes, “out there.”

“We’ve been good. Rob just became a partner at the firm which has put us under a lot of stress but I know he feels accomplished. It’s been tough because he hasn’t been able to be around as much and I’m trying to further my own career at the same time but we’ll figure something out. The kids are doing well in school- Scottie gets a little distracted but baseball has been great to use up his extra energy. I’m really sorry that I haven’t been able to send you any letters these past few months, things have just been really crazy at home.”

“I wondered why you stopped, I really do so look forward to those letters. It gets kind of boring in here.” Betty looked to her sister’s face for sympathy, where she found none.

“I’m sorry Betty, I do the best I can.”

“Yeah well that was always good enough for you, wasn’t it?”

“What are you talking about?”

Betty stood and leaned in towards her sister, “You always got whatever you wanted. You’re the good twin, the pretty twin, the smart twin and you leave me to rot in this hell hole. It’s not fair! It’s never been fair!”

Patricia looked around nervously as the other patients seemed to be completely oblivious to this sudden outburst.

“I liked Rob! You knew I did! But he wanted to take the better twin to prom and you said yes. And now you’re perfectly married with your perfect kids in your perfect house with your perfect life and what do I get? A Dixie cup full of pills three times a day and food served to me on a plastic tray! I don’t belong in here and you know it.”

Suddenly two orderlies appeared and held Betty by the arms, “Come on Betty, let’s go back to your room for some quiet time.”

As she was escorted away she called out over her shoulder, “It’s not fair! It’s not!”

 

Patricia’s hands shook on the drive back to the hotel and when she closed the car door, she felt her arm strain with the effort. Meanwhile, across town, Betty paced in her room.

“You can’t take that! It’s my personal property! I still have rights you know.” Betty yelled as the nurse carried two cardboard boxes with her out the door. The nurse turned down the hallway and entered a room filled with confiscated items. Another employee was putting a baggie onto one of the shelves and turned as the door open, “Hey Carol- is that more stuff from Betty?”

“Unfortunately. Mike this stuff is really weird and getting weirder- do you think we should be worried?”

Mike took one of the boxes from her arms and began to sift through the contents, “It’s definitely strange but I don’t know. Being a twin can be hard on some people I suppose, kind of hard to be yourself when there’s someone who’s doing it better.” He picked up a photo from amongst the dozens that littered the bottom of the box, “Where does she get all these pictures anyways?”

“Her sister used to send them in the mail, a whole film stip every couple weeks. Such a shame she ruins them like this though.” The picture Mike was holding was a family photo of Patricia, Rob, Scottie and Avery sitting on their front porch. Light came through the picture where Betty had cut out Patricia’s eyes. The box was full of photos of similarly blinded Patricia’s.

 

The next morning Rob was awakened by a figure sliding into bed next to him. He rubbed his eyes as he slowly adjusted to the morning light, “Oh hey honey. You’re back early?”

Betty’s red lipstick sliced a smile in her porcelain face, “Yeah I was able to wrap things up last night and I took the first flight home to come surprise you. I know we’ve been in a bit of a rough patch as of late and I just want to say I’m sorry, I’m really proud of you and all you’ve been able to accomplish at the firm. I know it means you can’t be around as much but I’m rethought things and I’m more than willing to take a step back at work so I can be here for you and the kids.”

Rob smiled and put his arm around her, kissing her forehead “Thank you so much Patricia, that really means the world to me. I’m glad we could finally agree. Besides, your place is meant to be here with the kids anyways.”

Betty kissed him passionately, “I couldn’t agree more.”

 

An hour later, Betty made her way downstairs where she cooked a lavish breakfast. After feeding her sister’s husband and children she kissed Rob goodbye as he left for work and shuffled the kids into the car. As she began to back out of the driveway, she realized she had no idea where either of their schools were. She doubted they would be able to give her directions either so instead, she thought quickly, “Who wants to skip school today?”

“Me! Me! Me!” they both chirped from the backseat.

“Great! We can make Daddy his favorite dinner for when he comes home.” She pulled the car back into the driveway and the kids ran into the house. After dropping their backpacks in the hallway, Scottie went to play in the backyard and Avery went upstairs. Betty took a nap on the couch, tired by her long evening of travel. When she woke she turned on the television and tuned into a news story already in progress. The reporter was sitting at a polished desk and holding a photo of her, “-ran away from the Bellevue psychiatric unit sometime last night. If you have any information regarding her whereabouts please call the number on the bottom of the screen. Staff at Bellevue has labeled this patient as delusional and potentially dangerous so please, help us find her and return her to the care she needs.” Betty frowned, wrote the number down on the back of a rogue receipt laying on the coffee table and clicked the television off. “Rob should be home in a few hours, if I start making dinner now I’ll likely have enough time to make something special for dessert,” she thought to herself.

In the kitchen Betty opened cupboard after cupboard looking for a pot, “I hope that spaghetti is still his favorite,” she muttered to herself. After she had completed the fourth step of the recipe, she realized she had made a mistake. Her entire figure began to reverberate with rage until she finally exploded and dumped the pan into the trash while releasing a series of various curses and cusses. “It has to be perfect so that I can be the perfect wife and this can be my perfect family and my perfect life. Patricia has gotten away with one-upping me for far too long,” she muttered to herself as she began the recipe again.

 

That night the four of them sat at the dining room table, enjoying their meal. “It’s delicious honey but I thought you hated spaghetti.” Rob looks questioningly at Betty as she chewed an especially robust bite of salad.

“I figured I’d give it another chance,” she smiled tightly as a voice in her head scolded her for being so careless, “I think it turned out quite good.”

Rob smiled, the fog of inquisition passing as quickly as it had arrived, “Well I’m glad you’ve changed your mind. It’s been my favorite meal since high school.”

“Oh really? I had no idea.”

After tucking the children into bed, Betty changed into a lace slip dress that she was sure Rob would adore. Sure enough, her entrance through their door was met with, “Honey, you look great.” He pulled her towards him and he began planting kisses along her neck.

“One second, I have to make a quick call.” she said as she pulled away and slunk quickly downstairs. She snatched the receipt from the coffee table and dialed the number on the kitchen phone.

A perky voice answered on the other side, “NYPD anonymous tip hotline, how can I help you?”

“The runaway from Bellevue, Beatrice Parker, she’s staying at the Hilton on Fourth Street.” Betty whispered into the phone before forcing it back onto the hook. She smiled to herself and started up the stairs.

The Space Between

your lips on the soles on of my feet

the dissolving of a border

a boundary

a degree of separation removed

 

we danced until sunrise

the soft carpet unfurling to catch our toes

velvet dresses licked knees

your pants hugged your thighs

 

you scrambled eggs

the smell made me throw up

i have never liked eggs

i have always liked you

Raving Advice

Lately, I’ve been attending more rave events and I’ve learned a thing or two both from my own mistakes and the advice of others. Overall, I can’t recommend these events enough. The DJ is engaged with the crowd and the majority of people are incredibly sweet. There are also great moments to bond with the friends you went to the event with.

TIPS:

  1. Bring Water!!
  • I can’t stress this one enough. These events get hot and with all the dancing you’ll be doing, you want to make sure you’re hydrated. Also, a lot of events have free water stations so bringing in an empty camelback or water bottle will serve you well.

2. Bring a fan

  • This goes along with the first tip but when I say these events get hot, I mean they get HOT.

3. Take Vitamin C a few days before and after the event

  • With all the people at these events, there is bound to be tons of germs flying around and since you’re not getting a good nights rest, you want to make sure you don’t get sick.

4. Bring a bandana

  • Once you get dust in your throat and nose, you’ll be feeling that for days.

5. Bring a long sleeve for later

  • The walk back to the car will feel like the longest, coldest walk of your life- might as well be cozy.