Why My Brain Sucks 3

Tomorrow is the research competition, and I’m hardly excited about it. This sucks because not only is this my first time participating in something like this, but it is also my sponsor’s first time participating in that role. He puts a lot of stock into my ability to give a great presentation tomorrow, and I can’t help but think someone else should be doing this instead of me.

My suit is hanging out so I don’t forget that’s what I’m putting on tomorrow morning, and I’m about to put the finishing touches on my presentation. However, there is only a hint of nerves. Everything else is a dark hole in my head where excitement usually comes from. Other people might think I’m being really calm despite the circumstances, when the truth is that I don’t want to be. I’d welcome those emotions, because they’re normal.

I have exercised caution in telling even the closest of friends about my darker days. I don’t want to mar whatever positive image they have of me inside their head. It could be considered a dishonest thing to do, but can anyone blame me for wanting them to feel okay, even when I can’t muster it? I say this because I opened up to someone, and I fear I’ve lost them. This could be real, or could just be my stupid head talking, but either way I do feel like they’re gone. Even if this person told me everything was fine, I would have to disagree–things don’t feel like any semblance of okay.

There is an abyss in my head where thoughts and emotions should sprout from. A chunk of my chest has been cored out and hidden from me, and the absence is most definitely felt. I feel like less than half a person today, sitting in a classroom full of people who were really super happy. The guy next to me even remarked on it, and then noticed I didn’t exactly blend in. He didn’t ask further, because maybe he sensed I didn’t want to chat about it. It could have also been the fact that class was starting, but either way, it was one of those moments when I felt like I really didn’t fit in.

I’ve started to feel like I shouldn’t have been in certain places, doing certain things. Nothing illegal, mind you—sitting on the bus yesterday morning, talking to people at school, other such daily activities people don’t normally think twice about. It’s like I made a last minute decision and everything somehow feels wrong. All the while, life goes on around me, and no one knows the storm brewing inside me.

Why My Brain Sucks 2

I spent today trying to convince myself that it was going to be a good day. I had at least gotten my class reading done for today, even though I had totally forgotten about the minor group speech in class. I don’t know how my introduction managed to “blow away” our professor, but I’ll take it. I wasn’t in the mood to do much of anything today, much less talk to other people and present. I know that may sound antisocial, but such is the nonsense of an addled mind—I can be peppy and talkative one day, and run on autopilot anywhere from minutes to hours to a day later.

I asked for an egg and cheese omelette and got mac-n-cheese, instead. Normally this wouldn’t bother people, but for some reason today this had a profound effect. All I could keep thinking were things like: You should have just gone next door for a burger. No, you’ve been eating too many of those; the sandwich stand is healthier. You could have even just asked for the basic pasta+sauce combo and avoided the trouble. It seemed like just another notch in a day I couldn’t put faith into being a good one.

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Why My Brain Sucks

I feel it—the need to complete my work, borne of knowledge and routine. As a college student, this acts as a clock that is always ticking. I know it well, have improved its parts over several years, and since I had to start on an academic schedule that was virtually my own I have felt something else

Procrastination—the desire to do anything but what I am supposed to be doing. At first, I thought it was just a matter of being lazy, of having to get over myself and “hop to it.” I internalized that if I got something done I would feel more motivated to do other things, and that works sometimes. However, it doesn’t work all the time.

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Trump is An American Problem

Make no mistake. Even if you think you personally don’t have anything to lose under this farce of a presidency, let me make myself perfectly clear: You are still losing. Why? An essential American ideal is unity. We are a country full of diverse people, but the goal is to still come together for the common cause of humanity—the ability to be human, and exercise our rights to that end. Many people are saying that Trump has been successful in unifying this country in that he has united millions of people in their hatred of him. However, this is just the start.

We are unified in our hate for a man who despite insulting and assaulting other human beings, managed to get voted into the White House via the electoral college. The popular vote was not on his side, and now a bed has been made that we do not want to sleep in. Even people who voted for this man are begging him on social media to not do away with programs and legislation that they need in order to survive. They are just now realizing what a lot of people already knew, and who now see our fears played out before our eyes—a Trump presidency is likely to mean an end to an era in which we saw legislation and attitudes change to accommodate the human condition, to realize the fact that rights are not privileges.

Your neighbor may stand to lose something because of President Trump.

A friend of a friend of a friend may lose something because of him.

An entire group of people may be disenfranchised and ignored because of him.

Even if you don’t personally know someone who stands to lose something in the next four years (granted, if he doesn’t get impeached first), you still lose something. If one American citizen, one group of Americans, one individual or group of individuals who want to become citizens of this country lose because of this president, you also lose under the principle of unity. We stand with our fellow human beings, and to watch one fall and believe that doesn’t affect us to ignore something innate and true within us.

We forsake our empathy.

So feel, kneel, and lend a hand. Are you furious? Raise your voice and make a spectacle on behalf of your fellow Americans. Are you curious? Do extensive research and be prepared to face people who will call your findings “alternative facts.” Are you concerned? Find ways you can help people in your community and at large. This way, it will be seen that efforts are being made to help instead of harm.

We do not have to be our president.

We do not have to trust him blindly.

We do not have to hang our heads and accept the atrocities that are soon to come.

We do not have to do nothing and be enveloped in our hopelessness, our anger, and our fears.

We have a vehicle for change, so let’s drive it. Let’s peacefully protest and boycott, sign petitions and write on platforms to get our point(s) across. Let’s make it to where we cannot be ignored, because we will not be ignored.

This is America, and we are Americans. Trump is an American problem. Therefore, let’s do a lot of things now before he becomes a global catastrophe.

My New Year’s Resolution

It happens every year. A new year invites people to set goals for themselves, regardless of their prior history with the practice. Some people do keep them, and by year’s end can proudly say they stuck to their will and carried out their ideas from fruition to completion (in some shape or form). Others have renewed devotion at the start that eventually dwindles down to nothing in the span of months or weeks, perhaps even days after January 1st for some reason or another.

I used to set resolutions for myself at the start of the new year, and more often than not I ended up falling into the second category of well-meaning individuals whom I previously described. At some point, I realized that such a list was not the way to go, even if it was the primary method of organization I see dividends from in other areas of my life. So much could happen within the year that I grew worried about external circumstances changing the course of my journey. This time around in the second week of the new year, I think I have figured out a way around this problem: create and attend to one serious resolution—something I can stick to in terms of the majority, so even if I don’t do absolutely everything, I can still end the year and say I accomplished something.

My resolution? Learn more about my nonreligious identity, and how to navigate with it in my daily life.

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To Eulogize A Matriarch

Compared to the many decades of her life, as well as those spent by her family knowing and loving her, the two years I spent getting to know my boyfriend’s maternal grandmother seem to pale in comparison. But here’s the thing: She was a woman of stories, and to know her for any amount of time was to experience an adventure into the past with insight into the present.

If you’ve ever met a family member who has seemed to hold their family together, you already know a crucial part of her role within the family. She was such a loving human being, which may sound typical of grandmothers, but she was also capable of massive sass. She didn’t back down, and would express the sentiment in the right amount of words with the right amount of bite. She was certainly the orator of her own fate, and considering the how, where, and what of how she died only makes this all the more true.

She already suffered from a lung continuing to fill with fluid, as well as cirrhosis of the liver. However, it got worse—she was diagnosed with liver cancer, and it could not be treated because of her age and the effects of her previous conditions on her body. Apparently, the cancer usually kills within a month or two of diagnosis, in the state it was in at her diagnosis.

This was several months ago.

From the first moment I visited their house, my boyfriends’ grandparents made me feel welcome there. I walked through the door and felt like I was walking into the home of a relative, in that it felt so familiar and so unlike how I expected to feel. At this point in my life, both of my parents’ mothers had died, and I had gone through a low period when the one thing that kept going through my head was: I don’t have a grandma anymore. The thing that had already happened to a fair few of my friends had finally happened to me, and I felt a gap I hadn’t known could exist. Not too long after I met my boyfriend’s grandmother, I felt like someone’s granddaughter again, and it felt so good to have someone in that role in my life again.

This woman was the picture of resilience. A gradual weight loss and age, as well as her ailments, did take their toll on her. However, from the way she spoke and made you feel when you sat across from her would give you pause. She could smile, laugh, sass, and carry on conversations with the best of the them, even besting this proverbial them when the need arose. This Southern Italian woman was true to herself no matter what was handed to her. No illness could rob her of such a personality.

The last time I saw her was December 26, 2016. My mother and I had driven down the night before to the hospital where she had been transferred, because earlier that day my boyfriend had texted to say she didn’t have more than a day or two to live. We told her stories that night, and she listened, even though she always wanted to provide her thoughts in return. We took turns holding her hand as she slept, and slept either in a chair near her or in the consult room next door. I honestly thought she was going to die at some point on Christmas Day, but she didn’t. And she didn’t die the next day, either. In fact, she was more awake and lucid the next morning. By the time my mother and I left the hospital around noon, she was in good spirits and wanted to go home.

She was relocated from the ICU, and even walked around with a physical therapist before being able to go home on December 28.

Two days later, I got the text that she passed away. I was sick with something I couldn’t classify as any specific illness, and I got the text message almost two hours after my boyfriend sent it because I had left my phone in my room. I had just gotten through using hand gestures and what was left of my voice to tell my parents that she was back at home and doing just fine.

It still hasn’t fully sunk in yet. I cried for a while after I found out, but part of me still expects to see her when I spend time with my boyfriend and his family after the funeral tomorrow. That same part of me anticipates sitting with her if the rest of the family gets too loud, or I want to hear one of her stories again. There is a nostalgia I feel even while writing this post that will either disappear after tomorrow, or will come back to bite me in a major way later on.

I’m unsure if I’ll be able to say anything at the funeral, or if it will resemble any of what I’ve typed here. If I am able to, however, I hope that whatever I do end up saying will do justice to her legacy and her memory.