“You don’t believe in yourself.”

I believe in myself, I just don’t believe in anything else.

My skin is at an all-time low now that I’ve, once again, increased my dosage of Lithium. I don’t know if it’s helping. It might be. I don’t feel so full of despair, or at least it’s not overwhelming. But I start my last year of undergraduate school tomorrow and that could be change. I’m not ready to wake up at 6:30am, to drive 45 minutes to campus, to block out the sounds of young, obnoxious voices droning on and on. I’m not ready to be so physically and mentally exhausted, and so drained. I’m not ready to read four different books at once and struggle to retain the information.

I’m not ready for any of it.

I dyed all of my hair teal and this seems like the opposite thing for me to do, considering I don’t want to be seen. At all. Ever. By anyone. Encouraging attention is the last thing I want at this point in time.

My friends have too much faith in the world. Or too much faith in me. Maybe both. I’m not capable of much. I can barely scrape by while doing the bare minimum.

I want to land a teaching job without needing a PhD. Or, if I need the PhD, I want it to be worth it. I want to be held in high regard. I want people to know my name, to read my writing in various magazines and papers and yes, books too. I want my talent to be recognized. I want a modest house in the Pacific Northwest and a job at a modest college. I want a dog and gardens in the yard. I want my friends to always be by my side, even if we separate physically, and I want someone to love me. I don’t want to succumb to suicidal ideation. I want to eat healthy and go hiking on the weekends and have a good dentist and decent health insurance. I want to feel good about myself. I want, I want, I want…

I had a dream the other night that I shot myself in the chest with a revolver and a giant bloody hole was left, and then I told the person in front of me to shoot me in the head, and then I woke up. I don’t know what this means.

I do believe in myself.

I do.

Advertisements

I can never think of titles.

I haven’t written a post in a while. I feel like these days I just have nothing to say. It’s almost April and it’s snowing. Well, it’s a mix of snow and rain. It’s been raining a lot the past two weeks, which is pretty depressing. My spring break is over. Mine was really early compared to other schools. It was decent, despite it going by so quickly. I even found a new job. It’s nothing exciting or cool but it’s a job, which I start this evening.

I drank quite a bit over spring break, but hey, it was spring break. Last night I bought more beer. I’m already really overweight so I probably shouldn’t be drinking so much. I realized the other night that I feel way more attractive than I am. I never really feel unattractive until I see my reflection or a photo of myself. I can’t believe I let myself go and I’m still so ashamed I gained all the weight I had lost back. But I feel really unmotivated to do anything about it, as much as I hate it.

It’s about halfway through the spring semester now. I’m anxiously waiting to hear from my advisor so I can sign up for classes in the fall. I have a lot of work to do in the next two weeks. One of my projects is a play for my poetry workshop. We had to have four characters and we have to make an audio recording of the play to present to the class, so mine is about the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse sitting in a Starbucks, except they’re all women. I’m relying on my friends to play three of the parts, which is honestly terrifying. I don’t like relying on other people, especially when a large grade is involved.

I had to write a scene of a play over break for poetry as well. I thought it was trash, but yesterday in class, my professor pulled me outside of the room and told me how good it was and how funny and how it’s exactly what he’s looking for. This was all very unexpected and very flattering, but now I feel like the pressure is really on for my other play to be just as good, if not better. And tonight I have to finish working on this sonnet.

Scholar’s Day is also coming up in a couple weeks. I’m doing the reader’s theater for my Tolkien professor from last semester. She wrote a large script based off stories in the Silmarillion. I’m playing Sauron, which is an honor but also a huge challenge, since I have to make my voice lower and more menacing, and also Varda and “Voice 2.” I don’t entirely regret committing to this, but I have no confidence in myself when it comes to performing in any capacity (even though I’ve done reader’s theater before) and so I’m very nervous about the actual day of the performance.

I felt fine earlier today, but now I’m kind of feeling depressed. It’s probably the weather. And anyway, I’m just always depressed. I’m always looking for distractions, whether it be friends or alcohol or both, and when I don’t have them, I feel alone and useless. Sometimes I just want to fast-forward through life a little bit. I have so much schooling left and it stresses me out. I miss talking with my psychiatrist. I really do. My medications are doing nothing for me, so it seems, and there’s nothing I can do about it. I feel really alone and helpless. I can’t articulate my emotions into words so I just never talk about how I’m feeling, or on the rare instances I do, I start crying because it’s overwhelming. I feel like I’m just going through the motions without any purpose and it all feels very dismal and depressing.

Well. For having nothing to say, this sure was a long post.

-Zara

“You Have Talent” II

On Wednesday I emailed my poetry professor, sending him a brand new poem that counted as a revision for our first assignment. He raised my grade from an 8.5 to a 9.5 and I asked if I could have a hard copy of his notes after break. He responded telling me to see him in his office the next afternoon.

The poem I wrote was a volatile, completely honest poem depicting certain aspects of my own mental illness. My professor himself has been open with his own mental health issues, so I wasn’t sure if he was going to bring me in for a therapy session or just simply give me critiques. It ended up being a bit of both.

He said my poem sounded like a detailed diary entry, which he said wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. He said it was a “victim poem,” which I scoffed at, but he was right in saying that. He also said he thought it was an improvement from the first poem I submitted and I deserved the A but I needed to “work through some shit” in order to make it work, as well as either add self-deprecating humor or change the form to something structured.

I agree. I also told him I normally don’t write such material. We both agreed my title was shit. But I’m really shit at titles.

He also told me that I deserve an A in the class and I’m a good listener. He said I seem to withhold scathing comments but I also genuinely show compassion, which he says makes for a good poet. As for grad school, he said he would write me a letter himself, but either way, with my “talent,” persistence, and GPA, I would get in. He said I would have no problem getting in.

He asked if I was bummed out. I said I was always bummed out.

He asked if I had a boyfriend and I regret telling him I’m not straight.

We talked for about 40 minutes. It was nice. I’m still unsure about his teaching methods, but he even said to come talk to him if I felt bad about the class or was questioning anything.

I learned while in community college that it helps to have a professor on your side. It always helps.

-Zara

The Fate of the Student is to Be Forever On Edge, Rigid, and Frightened

I’ve been in a bit of a panic-mode all evening, with it being Monday but feeling like Sunday, and scrambling to finish up homework and remember to take care of financial woes. My panic escalated when I saw that for my young adult literature class I have an intro, outline, and thesis due on the 18th and one due on March 1st for my children’s literature class. I also have three projects due in March, all of which I am clueless as to what to do about.

I’m reading three different books right now, but I suppose I should get a jump start for my YA literature class and start reading the book I have to do a paper on. I hope I have the right edition. I don’t have the right edition of Alice in Wonderland, but that’s what I’m going to do my children’s lit. paper on because it’s the one book from the list I actually like and have read more than once.

I was on the verge of tears as I tried to submit a poem for my poetry workshop. My professor demanded it be in .doc form, not .docx or RTF or anything else, and it took an email, two different computers, and a Google search to figure out how to do that.

Right now I feel as though I will never be relaxed again. Death is welcome. Anything to release me from the crippling anxiety of academia. I can’t do poorly. I MUST maintain my GPA. I must write only A papers. I must maintain this level of excellence and I am so worried I won’t be able to.

I need to pay my parents and my credit card bill. I don’t want to wake up at 6:30am tomorrow. I don’t want to go to work on Wednesday. I wish I could still see my psychiatrist. I wish I still had health insurance. I wish I was naturally a good student and didn’t have to nearly kill myself trying. I wish I was done with undergrad work.

-Zara

Living In the Land of Opportunity(?)

This evening I went to an informational seminar about the Oxford Scholars Study Abroad program my university does every fall and spring semester as well as every summer. I’ve always known, despite wanting to, that I probably would not ever be able to study abroad due to financial reasons. I knew this going in. With that being said, maybe it was a mistake for me to go.

I was one of the “chosen few” invited to this seminar, because I have a high GPA and I am an English major. I felt honored to be there, in a way, because so few people are invited and I’m sure that one of the professors I had last semester, who is the program’s liaison, noticed my hard (and good) work and had something to do with me being there.

The program sounds amazing. It’s anywhere from 6-9 weeks, depending on when you go, and I already know England is beautiful, but Oxford sounded lovely. You can walk along the bank Lewis Carroll first told Alice in Wonderland on, visit all the libraries, walk through gardens, visit the Lemon Palace, and so on. You also get strictly one-on-one sessions with your designated tutor once a week. The rest of the week you have to study and write and, if you have the time, explore.

It costs about $7800 for the summer trip. It costs about $17,000 for the fall and spring trips. Both numbers are daunting, but seeing as I only have one more year left until I graduate, a fall or spring semester seems more likely. But I can’t afford that, and I wouldn’t be able to muster up nearly $8000 by this May. Yes, financial aid, loans, and scholarships come into play, but my loans don’t even cover my tuition in full, so I have none leftover to spend on studying abroad.

Once I started college back in 2012 I realized how financially disadvantaged I am. Even though, back then, my father was employed and made a decent annual salary (more than “decent”, I’d say), I was on my own when it came to education. Community college was not so difficult. I managed to get my tuition, because it was so little, covered by federal loans. A couple years I was unable to get all the books I needed because I ran out of loan money, but I made due. But I’ve always been, for the most part, on my own since I hit 18.

Starting at a four-year university has been even more difficult. My federal loans don’t cover all of my costs so some has to be paid out of pocket, and my hundreds of dollars in books have to be paid out of pocket as well. I have a 30 mile commute to campus, which drains my car of gas and my checking account of money quite quickly. I have very little room to spend on things I want, seeing as how I have a hard enough time paying for things I truly need.

My professor said his philosophy is, “The two best things to spend money on are education and travel.” I agree with his philosophy, and I wish those were easier things to obtain.

They say to travel when you’re young. I have a fantastic opportunity to travel to a beautiful country, be totally immersed in my own interests, explore, learn, and grow, and yet this opportunity will slip through my hands like sand, because I simply don’t have the means to do it.

Maybe we are living in a “Land of Opportunity.” But unless you have money, those opportunities will simply pass you by.

–Zara

First Day of the Spring Semester ’16, Play-by-Play

8:17am: Hit the road. I’m leaving 17 minutes later than I did in the fall since my first class doesn’t start until 9:30. I wonder if this will be enough time, enough time for me, that is.

8:48am: Arrive on campus. I sailed across the expressway free of rush-hour traffic and made good time without speeding excessively. My cigarette is already half smoked though, as I wasn’t sure if I’d have enough time to smoke one after parking my car, so now I get to stare dumbly at my phone. I don’t want to be here.

9:05am: I begin the walk from my car to Holmes Hall, which is a decent distance. I go in the ground-floor library entrance then go upstairs and all the way over the overpass. It’s cold. Down three small flights of stairs, then across a cement courtyard of sorts and around the corner and there it is. This is my only class not in the Liberal Arts Building, and I’m paranoid that, despite checking this very morning, I will enter the building and my class won’t be there.

I forget if my classroom is on the first or second floor or in the “basement.” Turns out, it’s in the basement. I’m excessively early and eventually more students arrive, all of us waiting. Finally the professor, who looks an awful lot like Tina Fey, lets us in. The room is too small for how many cheap swivel-chair-desk-combos there are. They’re nearly on top of one another, and I struggle to make my way to the back. The back of the seat is shoved against the wall so I have to move the desk in front of it to make room for my actual body to shove itself into the seat. I know I’m a larger person, but this is ridiculous.

9:30am: The professor starts going over the incredibly long syllabus. It’s basic sense, really. The thing I’m most worried about is the research paper and the project. I don’t like projects. I start to feel anxious about the workload.

Three people in the class have major lisps. This bothers me to the point of homicidal fantasies.

A black girl comes in late, I specify “black” because when she sat down in front of me, turning the desk sideways and crashing into me, I noticed a plastic grocery bag full of weaves sticking out of her bag. She kept rubbing her nose with a dirty napkin, which further angered me.

The professor, after finally finishing up the syllabus, went around the room to each student and had us tell the class one thing about ourselves. I hate this, but I actually had something ready to say. I was the only one the professor forgot to call on.

10:45am: I begin walking back to my second class, immediately getting turned around and walking out the wrong door. I correct this mistake and head back the way I came, going underneath the overpass and then up flights of wet stairs. The overpass has an incline and I walk very fast, and find myself struggling for breath in my out of shape state.

10:52am: I take a piss, all the while trying to settle my heart rate.

11:00am: British Novel II. One of the girls with a lisp is sitting across from me, and she seems nice enough, it’s just that lisp. The professor, an unmarried, poorly-dressed plain-faced woman, first has us write our names on a large piece of paper so the rest of the class can determine who we are. Then she gives us a question: “If you could revisit any point in your life as you are now, which moment would you pick and why?” In my notebook I write, “There isn’t a point in my life I’d like to revisit, the reason being that revisiting and having an ‘outsider’ perspective would change what I think of that experience. I don’t want this changed, since my experiences helped mold me into the person I currently am, and I don’t want my current perspective altered.”

We have to partner up and share what we wrote. The girl next to me, Kate, I think, tells me she’d like to revisit the time when she was five years old and got chased up a tree by a goose. Our conversation ends quickly.

My professor says “um” so many times that I wish I had started counting at the beginning of class. It enrages me, because I become enraged over nothing. I watch her say it. I look at her grey plaid tights underneath the black polka-dot dress as she says it over and over until I think I’m going to lose my mind.

12:04pm: The “Um” Professor lets us out early, bless her lonely heart. I immediately dash to the courtyard outside the Liberal Arts Building, the one with all the benches around the abstract and unpleasant-looking fountain, which is off for the winter. It’s extremely windy. I crouch down to light my cigarette and sit on the damp wooden bench. The wind whips my hair all around me and slaps the ash off the cigarette before it’s ready. I finish half of it before I give up on trying to feel calm.

12:15pm: I walk back into the same classroom as before, since my children’s literature class is taking place in there as well. The girl with the lisp says, “You’re in a lot of my classes.” The people who were waiting outside the door flock in, including this short, chubby kid named Dakota who was in my intro to literary analysis class last semester. He sits next to me and talks about how it’s his birthday and he overslept, and he missed the same young adult literature class I was in that morning, but it’s his birthday so whatever, and he’s gonna out later tonight. He’s the first person to talk to me all day, really, so I engage in the conversation and wish him a happy birthday and recommend a bar downtown for him to go to.

12:30pm: The same Tina Fey-like professor teaches the children’s literature course. It’s another big class, and she wants us to arrange our desks into rows. She goes over the syllabus and whatnot almost verbatim as she did earlier in the day. This time when she goes around the room asking us to say one thing about ourselves, she calls on me first, and I say, “You forgot me in your other class,” to which she expresses surprise. I tell her that it’s okay, I don’t like talking about myself. She urges me to say something else, but I say, No, that’s my thing. I don’t like talking about myself.

We have to do one project on one of the books of our choosing during the semester. I have a really cool idea for Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, but of course we’re reading that first, and the project would have to be done by February 9th. Not happening.

My phone goes off during class and the girl next to me sort of compliments my Lord of the Rings ringtone.

1:48pm: I stop in the bathroom on the first floor and see Cady in front of the mirror, sloppily applying lipstick. We hug briefly. I tell her I’m surprised to see her and I wasn’t sure if she’d make the spring semester. There’s lipstick all over the outside edges of her mouth. We chat for a minute more, then she says she’s gonna go, but since I have poetry next, I should say hi to her friend Joel. I don’t know if I want to even meet this person. I pee, then trek up the stairs to my last class.

When I walk in I’m glad to see Richard, Tristan, and Mitchell all sitting in the back. I sit down next to Richard and Tristan says, “Is this where all the cool kids sit?” to which I reply with an enthusiastic “Yes.” Even Jessie and Kayla, two girls who were also in our fiction class from last semester, poke their heads around and greet us.

The professor is the loudest, gayest man I’ve ever come across. He immediately makes everyone move up in the seats, and I’m forced to separate from my pals. He goes around and hands everyone an index card with a different word on it. Mine says “scuba diver.” We separate into assigned groups, assigned with the task to create a 5-minute skit using all of our words. Compiled, my groups’ words are “scuba diver,” “police officer,” “advent calendar,” “petunia,” “ballerina,” and “lifeguard.” After 15 minutes of brainstorming, we have our skit.

The first group’s skit is funny. Pretty funny. Then my group has to go. The professor said not to laugh during it, but I crack at one point. It’s actually sort of fun, and the girl playing the police officer goes off into a dramatic monologue about her desire to be a ballerina. Our skit is fairly well-received.

The professor tells us we need to buy the book he edited, an anthology of independent poetry. That’s $22 scraped out of my checking account. He says not to be in this class if you don’t want criticism, and lists off things he doesn’t want to see in our poetry. He’s certainly a character, and I’m sort of terrified, but I built my entire schedule around this class so it better be worth it.

Joel, who was sitting next to me, and seems strange, introduces himself to me as I try to scuttle out of the room. I wait for Richard and down the stairs we go, bumping into Cady again. We go outside and light cigarettes, but Joel arrives quickly and steals Cady away. Richard and I discuss the absurdity of the poetry professor before we say goodbye, and I walk to my car.

3:42pm: I’m finally getting on the expressway. My feet and ankles are sore, I have a cramp in my calf, and it feels like there’s a knot in my neck. I just want to get home. It feels like I’m driving through a wind tunnel. My commute sucks, and that’s the end of it.

When I do get home a couple minutes after four, I immediately shovel carbs into my mouth and I fall asleep on the couch. My makeup feels caked and greasy on my face, and I sort of want to die.

–Zara

D.U.F.F.

also known as, “Designated Ugly Fat Friend.”

I wasn’t always a D.U.F.F. Well, not to the extent that I am now, anyway. I once worked out four times a week. My legs were muscular and toned. My stomach was almost flat, which in turn made my breasts look larger. I never had hips or a nice ass, but back then, my ass was a little less flat. My face was thinner, more angular. But even then, people paid no attention to me. No one asked me out. No one eyed me or said hi to me.

My friends Megan and Susanna are not D.U.F.Fs. I am their D.U.F.F. Susanna is small and has the epitome of “birthing hips” and a voluptuous chest, and long, long blonde hair and blue eyes. She actually does look better without makeup. Her skin is the most perfect I’ve ever seen. We made out once. Megan is a little taller and works out all the time. She has a nice ass and toned legs and large breasts. Her face is nothing special, but she has that non-threatening, flirtatious, nice-girl vibe that people really like. She’s had lots of boyfriends and hook-ups.

It must be nice to peak the interest of not only men, but also women, I think. It must be nice to be perceived as attractive. It must be nice to get invited to social events. It must be nice to have a partner who loves you for who you are.

A few nights ago, Megan and Susanna went to an…”upscale” frat party. If you can call it that. The point is, everyone dressed up to get beer funnelled into their throats. Susanna’s boyfriend is in the frat, which is why she went. But she attempted to set up Megan with one of Ethan’s friends, even though Megan has a boyfriend. Megan went along with this, despite expressing her feeling uncomfortable with the whole thing. She just can’t say no. Ever.

Bennett brought up a good point last night, as we sat in her car and smoked our cigarettes: even though we’re the single ones, Susanna still chose to set Megan, who is taken, up with someone over us.

It was probably never even a thought in her head.

And all my life, with every friend I’ve had, I’ve asked, “Do you know anyone you could set me up with?” The answer has always been no. Whether that’s more so because of me than the other person, I don’t know. But damn it, stop being greedy and just introduce me to your single friends so maybe I can get somewhere in life.

As I was wrapping my friend’s Christmas presents today, Susanna sent me a text with a picture of a note from a guy named Steve who goes to MCC. He wrote down his name and number. Because she smiled at him. Because they made eye contact.

This has never happened to me. Nothing even remotely close to that has ever happened to me. But it’s nothing that unusual for Susanna. Or Megan.

So, here I am. The D.U.F.F. Eternally making my friends look even better by comparison, eternally alone in my D.U.F.F.-ness.

-Zara