a messy mind

i’m busy being pulled between distance and openness,

privacy and closeness,

intimacy, and being alone.

wanting distance from those i initially thought could be friends

and openness for the sake of my own sanity.

and scared of vulnerability’s apparently inherent invitation to a friendship where

efforts to grow closer become the wrong end of the magnet over time,

and altruistic motions are ungratefully accepted,

never to be returned.

– casper. a messy mind

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a question of opinion

a moment of freezing when asked –

anything.

a moment of silence,

respect lost forever in that speck of time,

visibly leaving their eyes which

judge, and i wonder why

it’s so hard

just to speak.

a silly question

which i ask myself,

knowing i’ve been trained

to never speak my mind.

  • casper. a question of opinion

cursed

i don’t know what to say;

it seems that i’m cursed with emptiness.

so, what?

there’s nothing.

not sadness or pain or anger or heartbreak,

nothing worth saying,

or writing.

casper. my curse

Little Things

I went to Israel over the summer and things changed.  I changed, at least.  I don’t know if anyone else has realized it.  Because my past self was lingering, at first I worried that it was because they didn’t care.  It wasn’t until a few days later that I realized my expectations were simply unreasonable: everyone else was just wrapped up in their own Little Things, as usual.

These Little Things, I have them, too.  I always have, like everyone else. Like everyone else, I also used to call them Big Things.  Important Things.  Sometimes, on bad days, The Only Things That Mattered.

But for me, they’ve always been small.  They’re the things that weighed on my mind, more than they should have.  Bad grades.  Average grades.  Heck, the mere possibility of a less-than-excellent grade.  And then there were speeches, God forbid.

Outside of schoolwork, there were things like not having enough time in the day to read all the books I wanted, or watch all the shows.  Maybe my family didn’t have the right subscriptions.  I didn’t have unlimited access to music without ads, and I couldn’t sleep properly at night.  Only 5 hours of sleep on average!  And then I had to go strain my mind for 8 hours a day at school, and what if that lack of sleep brought my A down to an A-?  Can you imagine?

And oh, the agony of relationships.  The angst!  The impossibility of finding a perfect friend, and thus ending up with no friends at all.  The debilitating sadness when someone I thought was a friend betrayed me by – how dare they! – not inviting me to a group outing.

Besides that – and this one I’ve always kept more or less to myself – there’s appearance, there’s so much body fat, there’s acne, there’s the fact that maybe the reason I didn’t have friends was because I was too ugly to love.

And I was considered to be an undramatic child.  Right.  I suppose that was wishful thinking on the part of the adults who said this, who were responsible for caring for me, one of their Little Things, which they could push to the bottom of their long list so long as they didn’t see the drama.  And yes, I was more discrete about mine than those who sobbed every night about lack of a boyfriend or who actually failed classes or who were legitimately fat.

But there, in Israel, Little Things are just little things.  Because Big Things are BIG Things.  Big Things are my aunt having panic attacks every day, because her father refuses to include her in his will unless she divorces her husband.  Big Things are the fact that my aunt had never heard of panic attacks before I gave her the words to define hers, which she thought were near heart attacks every time.  She thought she was dying.  Because the stigma around mental health doesn’t allow psychologists to make a living there, and so they don’t exist.  Big Things are the way my grandfather upended the kitchen table during breakfast one morning due to a combination of chronic pain and innate selfishness, and the fact that this was not surprising to anyone who lived with him.  Big Things are the fact that my cousin, who is the warmest and most caring 14-year-old boy I have ever met, hates Muslims – not just because of the media or something distant, but because a group of Muslim boys beat a friend of his to death because he was Jewish.

There are so many Big Things there that I can’t even begin to list them all.  There’s definitely not room for little things.  My Little Things are sources of relief to my family there – what great news that these little things are the biggest challenges I’m facing.  What great news that I’m studying Psychology and am a good student, if a bit stressed – do you think you could become a psychologist here in Israel?  They ask.   You can live with us!  Oh.  Oh, I don’t think I could do that.

When we got home, my mom told me that she’d considered raising my brother and I in Israel for a time.  She said she’d felt guilty that we never got a chance to know our family there, outside of one or two short visits in the course of about 20 years.  Besides that, learning to speak Hebrew wouldn’t be a bad thing.  Learning our family history, too, wouldn’t hurt.  She said that after that trip, any guilt about keeping us in the U.S. was gone.  Her hands shook as they squeezed mine and she smiled.

So my perspective has changed.  The Little Things which I used to mislabel as Big Things are now, truly, little things.  Unreligious as I am, I must admit that I am blessed to be so carefree that I can worry about getting a bad grade on a test.  I am blessed that the majority of my concerns are of missing out on a opportunity, not of losing the people I love or myself.

The first time I became aware of someone noticing a difference, a friend called me out for not empathizing as much as I used to as she freaked out over a test.  Verge of tears, nearly ripping her hair out, bags under her eyes from lack of sleep – I had told her calmly that everything would be okay.  I suppose in the past I would have told her something along the lines of “That’s awful!” or “Your professor is so cruel!” but I don’t believe either of those things any more and I am not a liar.  I shrugged, not knowing what else to say.  She got a bit annoyed, but I couldn’t truly bring myself to worry about that either.  There are so many people who have to deal with so many terrible things on their own; I can handle my responsibilities as a privileged college student on my own if I need to.  Of course I can.  It’s silly that I ever let myself think otherwise.  It’s called independence, and it’s a little bit lonely and it’s far from perfect but it’s also far from being a Big Thing.

“There are children starving in Africa who would die for that piece of broccoli.”  That’s what it comes down to.  That guilt-inducing statement that adults always used on us in an attempt to make us eat our vegetables and appreciate them, too, and only ever resulted in a shriek of anger and sometimes a full-blown tantrum; but it’s more than that.  It’s true, and as much as we’d love to continue throwing tantrums as adults, it’s our job to grow out of that.  How can we expect the kids to learn that if we can’t set a good example?  And besides that – there’s no one else to teach us that lesson except ourselves now.

So let’s not neglect it.  That’s what I’ve decided.  Before I panic because I’ve allowed myself to believe that it’s okay to make little things into Big Things, I put things into perspective.  I’m really, really sick of acting like a child, especially when so many people, much younger than myself, don’t have that luxury.

stronger than air

i suppose that i know,
that i knew from the start,
the reason your cheeks
grew damp.

your quivering lips
left the air wanting for words
and still it filled
with sorrow to shatter.

but air is stronger than you know,
as she always said:
out of sight, out of mind
but it rushes, fills your lungs,

infiltrates your bloodstream,
and swiftly enters your heart;
try preventing it by willpower alone
and you find only failure and more air.

i suppose that i know,
that i knew from the start,
that she finally, accidentally,
found that once-in-a-lifetime success.

she was old,
she was sick,
she had achieved her goal,
never complaining of its difficulties,

raising her daughter’s child
to be strong than air;
you will not shatter
and reduce her to failure.

– marsh.  stronger than air

soft hands and growth spurts

soft hands and growth spurts

my hands are soft to the touch; a notable change.  a notable loss of texture, and lack of strength.  they are also very small, but that’s not new.

i’ve always been the one with the contradicting hands: look at ‘em one way and they appear the same as those of a child’s; inspect the palm and they expose themselves as the leathery old mitt of a seasoned farmer.  or, alternatively and entirely more accurately, that of a seasoned rock climber.  regardless, now that the contrast is gone, they don’t even look all that small.

shouldn’t matter, i tell myself.  my core hasn’t changed.  but that’s just the problem: it has.  this isn’t a matter of missing my old hands, my old skin, my old apparent paradox, but of missing the old me, and the old people who molded with care my deceased version of self.

because the next time i go home, the next time i see those people who taught me how to infuse my hands with the strength to climb, they’re going to see my hands, and they’re going to notice them.  and unlike the rest of the world which cries “oh they’re so cute and small,” these people who taught me the joy of being strong enough to support yourself and pull yourself upwards, even at the sacrifice of superficial beauty, they are going to look at my hands and ask “what happened?” and “why?”

and maybe i will have to tell them that i failed.  in the end, being strong for myself wasn’t enough.  without them, i no longer cared.  i made up excuses, the kind that i learned to accept, but which really weren’t even quality enough to trick myself into believing them.  the kind along the lines of “i don’t have time” and “i’m too tired” and “it’s too late at night to go out alone.”  none of that has ever stopped me before, and these old people of mine, they know that.

so i will have to tell them that i failed.  and some of them – because i like to think that i know them as well as they know me – will adopt the blame as their own.  they’ll steal it.  they’ll remind themselves and me that they were the coaches, the teachers, the mentors, the friends, and they left me to my own devices which, once again they’ll argue, they didn’t make strong enough.

and now i must acknowledge, for the sake of those old people of mine, that my own devices were faulty to begin with.  i was not crafted to function solo and dependency was built into my bones or soul, from the start.

but, on that subject, dependency.  is it such a bad thing?  perhaps it’s me being hopeful, once again doing what i can to avoid pain at all costs, but another name for dependency is connectedness.  i want that.  i want to be connected.  i want to have been connected.  maybe it was the pressure to be independent that distanced me from those old people in the first place.  maybe that pressure is the reason that, deep inside me lies the doubt and fear that those old people won’t react in the way i expect.  maybe i’m expecting too much when i worry that they will take my blame – because it isn’t only a fear, but a hope.  and my fear is greater when i consider that these old people of mine (are they?) will not care about, will not even notice, my soft hands at all.

and now i have to wonder: if fear is at the root of my struggle for independence, then perhaps, as difficult as it is for me to appreciate them (or maybe because of it), these soft hands are not a sign of giving up, but one of the courage needed to grow.