I am so grossed out right now.

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So there’s this bush out front of my house, right, and it’s always covered in flies and spiderwebs. Like, I really think there’s something WRONG with it – maybe there’s a carcass rotting underneath the branches, or maybe there’s a nest of some kind of nastiness buried underneath its roots. There’s a lot of snails out there, I’ll tell you that much, and the webs are tacky little cyclones burying into the shrubbery. It’s absolutely. ABSOLUTELY. Disgusting.

Tonight, after a long evening of emails, editing, and monitoring my Twitter feeds, I stepped out for one last cigarette before calling it quits. I’m enjoying the sound of rain on pavement, the smell of the air, and then, just as I go to flick the burning stub out into the street, it slips from between my fingers and falls between the cement porch and the fly bush.ย And sure enough, as I stand there contemplating what to do next, I start to smell burning leaves.

Now, this bush is not small. At street level it would probably rise up to my shoulders, and its infested girth runs right up flush with the front stairway, which corners to the porch at a right angle. There is no way to get back there without wedging myself neck-deep into the bracken darkness. Which, you know, sounded as about as appealing as sliding headfirst into a pile of someone else’s vomit.

Unfortunately, that’s exactly what I had to do. The wedging, not the puke-slide. I cleared away the cobwebs with my shoe, kicked the bush a few times to shake off any extra creatures, and just bloody dove right in there, bracing myself against the stairs with my arms and flailing my feet at the cigarette like a free diver breaking for the sun. It was probably the most horrifying sixty seconds of my LIFE people, and that’s kind of saying a lot.

I’m out of the bush now, and my apartment is not on fire. These are both good things. But I can’t shake this grimy slimy feeling all over my skin. I think it’s time for another smoke. Maybe a cocktail as well.


Sometimes I think I’m charged with negative ions.

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In what seems like a string of unimaginable coincidences, in the past several weeks I have spent the better part of a month’s salary on not-so-extravagant electronic items, only to have them die at their pulse-driven cores: zero by one by one.

1) Failed 2009 MacBook Pro RAM upgrade: $150 +/- 12 hours of my time

2) Failed 2003 Ford Focus: $850 +/- untold pain and suffering

3) Failed 2011 MacBook Pro (battery? logic board? They’re a little fuzzy on what they’ll be replacing.): $2,200 +/- 36 hours of my time

I thought it was bad when the Focus’ main computer gave out after we’d just ponied up for new brakes and a clutch, so you can forgive me for wanting to crush glass when my brand-new refurb MacBook Pro suddenly stopped charging in the middle of my workday. I mean, I LITERALLY spent two whole days configuring the machine – reinstalling software, repartitioning hard drives, restoring from backups – not exactly the fun time one wants to have on any given Friday. I’ve invested a lot. Which is why I almost strangled the Apple “Genius” at the bar when he said to me, blithely,

“Well, you have 14 days to return it, if you’d like.”

Um, no DUDE, I do NOT want to RETURN the computer. What I WANT is for the computer to WORK.

Which, I think, is exactly what came out of my mouth.

But now, I’m thinking. Does this mean that the computer’s a lemon? Ought I to cut losses, return the beast, and go back to square one? More research? More time? ANOTHER three days spent repartitioning hard drives? Internet, I’m confused. I need help. Please guide me.


Is a black girl in a white, white world.

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It’s cold in Massachusetts right now. Not North Dakota cold, but pretty cold, nevertheless. And, as I’ve mentioned, my old winter coat is no longer a viable option. Not only am I too big for it, it’s also ripped at the zipper and been sent back to North Face for repair. A normal person might just tell me to buy a new coat and soldier on, but that normal person might not know how broke I am / how much I love my North Face. It might not be surprising, then, that I’ve managed the winter thus far with just a fleece jacket, the one with the cigarette burn in the left arm that vents like an ice luge right up my sleeve. I’m nothing if not determined.

It was ten degrees when I pulled up to my parents’ house this past Sunday, clad in an equally inappropriate winter garment and with wet hair to boot. My mom, being a mom, kind of freaked out. Midway through our visit, she disappeared into the basement and returned, some fifteen minutes later, the proud bearer of a lightly-used (by her), puffy, white coat.

White. WHITE!

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There are seven hundred and fifteen pictures of me on Facebook, and the only ones where I’m wearing white were taken on my wedding day. Other than that, in twenty-something years of dressing myself, I’ve never voluntarily worn white. I’m really more of a black girl: black tank tops, black socks, and, yes, black underwear. I bought a tan sweatshirt a couple months ago. That was branching out. So the idea of wearing white ANYTHING, much less a GIGANTIC WHITE COAT, is just about as appealing as sporting my skin inside-out.

That said, it’sย really been pretty cold here. So I took it.

Seriously, I feel like a cross between the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man and Pippi Longstocking. It’s like having some other person’s body, or trying to cook in somebody else’s kitchen. I mean, God, I love my mom, but this coat is like the worst thing I’ve ever worn in my life. North Face! Hurry back with my jacket! I promise to be slim enough to wear it when it comes!!


And another thing, while I’m on a roll here,

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http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=the-truth-about-borderline

This article, found through a Twitter feed I follow at work, made me at least 6% less productive on Tuesday. I remained devoted to my job, turning my attention back to more relevant Tweets, but something about it stuck with me long after the day was done.

Now, let’s be up front. I’ve never been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. I have a lot of other official diagnoses, but BPD is not one of them. However, they did teach Dialectical Behavior Therapy, a treatment schemata for those *with* BPD, in The Bin while I was there. I found the techniques very helpful: mindfulness, awareness, cultivated skills and concentration. I’m not saying it works every time, but, really, it’s not supposed to. Emotions are normal, and, we learn, they come and go.

The horrible thing about depression is that it seems to NEVER let go. Being depressed is like being trapped under a heavy, moist, 1-ton bale of stinking farm hay, and not even having the energy to wedge yourself out. And when you’re treating someone depressed, I’d imagine, the first order of business is to lift up that load and help the person stand. So in the hospital, every bit the picture of classical depression, it’s no wonder that they diagnosed me thusly.

So I’ve not been depressed lately. But I haven’t been great, either. Where my moods were once a one-note hum, they’re now a jazz arpeggio. Like, that kind of crazy jazz I hate. I’ll be fine one minute, just OK the next, and then feel myself slipping over the edge into something dark and mushy. Sometimes I’m able to catapult myself back out – sometimes I’m not.

None of this is like depression. But a lot of it is like borderline. Although I’m able to maintain relationships, it has more to do with my resolve to stay healthy and the infinite patience of my companions. Although I’m usually able to compose myself, I generally feel just on the verge of going technicolor. And impulse control? Let’s not even talk about all the ways I venture to excess.

I feel bad about it, really. I feel like I conquered one horrid beast only to be faced with another, more jostling foe. And anyone can tell you, the worst thing about feeling bad is feeling bad about feeling bad. But this article, instead of bringing me down, gave me some measure of hope and self-forgiveness. It’s exhausting to manage these moods – the euphoria and the depths – and since I’ve now been trained to bring awareness to every flicker, each movement is obvious to me.

So maybe it’s OK to be exhausted. Maybe it’s OK to be sad sometimes. And maybe it’s OK that my on-off switch flips at the speed of a strobe light. Maybe this is just the new me, and now I just have to learn how to handle her.


Is having a problem over here.

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So I’m writing this essay for this contest, and it’s about my personal journey from sickness to health. Well, I mean, it could be about anyone’s journey to any old place, really, but for me it’s about that. There’s a cash prize, also, so I’m especially motivated to make it a good read. And, as usual, I’m fine with talking about my depression, my anger, my marriage, my stay in the Bin, but it is SO HARD to describe how I got well. The journey from there to here is impossible to relate, and, in some ways, more painful to remember than my days in despair.

I mean, how do you describe how your husband left you, and you were living in the apartment alone with a cat who pissed not just everywhere but EVERYWHERE, and you barely had heat and you slept on the pull-out couch, but how during that time the Universe saw fit to give you amazing friends, shiny fun toys, and a brand-new lease on life? How do you describe how you were actually GRATEFUL to your husband for leaving, and how much sorrow you felt about how everything turned out? And then, if you can manage all that, how do you convey the beginning with B! – how a phone call from an old friend turned into capital L-O-V-E in a matter of weeks? Like, crazy fast but it was gravity, and the realization hit like a crash-test dummy faced with 65mph of brick wall.

Maybe it’s hard because those last days with Katsu were so hazy and strange. Maybe it’s because the months after were stranger yet.ย Maybe it’s this way because I’ve yet to figure it all out. I never want to come at my story from a position of being totally well – I mean, I’m still amazed by each day without utter catastrophe – but it’s true that my mind is much better now. Regardless of whether I win or not, regardless of how I tell the story, the essay will bubble up here eventually. It’s good to have things to rely on.


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