The empty box glares back at me.

“How do you feel you can contribute to this program?”

This question is more difficult than any I have faced.  It is worse than the complex formulas of organic chemistry and the tedious matrices of pre-calculus, combined.  It has no right answer.  No amount of studying could have prepared me for this.

I feel that I could contribute my fresh perspective and knack for finding uncommon solutions to ordinary problems, I type.  I love working in teams and readily take on leadership roles in order to get the job done, I spill a million half-truths in virtual ink.  I hope the person reading this believes me.


            The empty box glares back at me.

“Tell of an experience where you have been given a large amount of responsibility.  What did you learn from it?”

I don’t know why, but this one is easier.

One summer, when I was fourteen, I had to fulfill the role of mother for myself and my sister.  I learned to cook pretty well, and I also learned how to wash and fold laundry.  I learned that I had to need myself as much as I needed others, but what if this experience isn’t enough?  To quote my mother, there are plenty of others who have had it worse.

I leave out the tear-filled nights, the yelling about how my chores did nothing to make up for my lack of competence, the fury about my having folded the underwear wrong.  No one would believe that.  No one ever has.


The Many Joys of “Dorm Cooking”

I’m usually skeptical when it comes to other people saying my generation is the “rudest yet,” until I step into the kitchen of my residence hall on a weekend morning.  The weather is getting colder here in Minnesota and, although I am a winter lover, I am not so keen on walking all the way to the dining hall for something I could make with a few bowls and a microwave.

It seems like nobody else is, either; but that does not excuse the yellow-and-orange pattern of Ramen residue and Velveeta crust that greet me on those quiet two days that separate last week from the next.  Noodles are cemented to the bottoms of pans, and bottles of perishables are strewn about the counter.  This is only a minor exaggeration.

You could tell me it isn’t my problem, and you would be right.  However, I grew up in a household where, if you did anything, you at least rinsed your dishes with soap and water before doing anything else.  I concede I never perfected the pattern, yet there is a point when the neglect of a public, shared space becomes impossible to ignore.  I love to cook, whether it happens in the microwave or elsewhere, and there is something about abundant filth that gives me the heebie-jeebies.

As a result, I clean the kitchen.  A chore of fifteen minutes or less in length, I wonder why the midnight snackers of the weekend’s eve could not take care of their own property.  Heavy sanitation is not needed – just a little tête-a-tête (or main-a-bol) between your hands, your bowl, and the dish soap that is mysteriously renewed by an unknown force every two-or-so weeks.


            Speaking of unknown forces, which of them is taking all the forks?

Sometimes I wonder if we are aware that someone probably purchased these utensils (or bowls, or plates) and that, while they may not care whether or not you borrow them, they would like to have them back.  The same goes with food – I don’t mind if you put some of my ketchup on your fries, but I would like to consume at least some of what I buy.  Although the latter doesn’t happen often, there is nothing more disheartening than finding the eggs for your omelet were probably used for someone else’s pancakes.

“Welcome to share” has its limits too, you know, and there is a point when you should ask permission.


            Aside from their difficulties in wiping countertops and utter disregard for other peoples’ property, I still have some hope for my generation.  I still don’t think we’re as demanding as the one that will follow us, having seen ten-year-olds begging for the latest iPhone (and getting it, too, no questions asked).  I also know that I tend to verge on picky when it comes to my circumstances, and that I am prone to critiquing small, easily-fixable things.  I guess that’s what comes from having been raised with high standards, and expecting them of yourself.

Still, though, would it bother anyone if we wiped away the brothy microwave explosion?  I think not.



The Anxiety ABCs

A is for Anxiety, the subject of this list.

B is for the Blanket that gets wadded in my fist.  Crap, crap.  I’m regressing one-thirteenth of the way in.

C is for the Counselors, who could not tell what was wrong.  She said it was all in my head, and another one really thought I was faking it to “look cool.”

D is for Doctor, and her circled nurses’ throng.  Her hands are really cold and firm.  Ouch.

E is my Elementary school, where I dazed in reverie.  I never knew the content of the lessons.  I never did my homework.  What was I doing?  What was I thinking?  It’s also Escitalopram.

F is for the Father who never forgave me.

G is the Grace, who did the best she could.  Thank you for ignoring me, sometimes.  I mean it.  No sarcasm, here.

H is for the Hate I have for ruined childhoods.  I’m so sorry, Grace, for making a mess of what could have been some awesome years.

I is for the “I” of me, do I speak of that too much?

J is my Jolting heart, whenever I am touched.  What if I get raped?  What if I get raped?  What if I have a baby?  I don’t want it to hate itself.  What if he rapes me?

K is Kindergarten, where I learned I didn’t fit in.  What was playing?  Why did all the girls wear pants?  How is getting dirty okay?

L is Love, which may never pass my thickened skin.  It’s basically rape.

M is all my Memories, blown up and torn to shreds.  What happened at that party?  But you were – me?  No.  That can’t be right.  Who was watching?

N is Nothing – might I be, when I’m dead?

O is for Ophelia; I don’t know why it must be she.  I don’t know why she has become the symbol for the distressed female.  I respect her character, but I don’t identify with her.

P is for a French phrase: Vous me faîtes Peur, mon ami.

Q is for the Questions.  Do I ask too many?  Am I being weird?  How does my hair look?  Did I say too much again?

R is Regression into my mind, body, and soul.  I’ve never been older than twelve, in some aspects.

S is all my Stress, digging the six-foot hole. Also, Sertraline

T is all my Time constraints: Up at five, breakfast at eight, lunch at one, dinner at six, and bed at ten.

U is Underdressed (slut?), Underslept (irresponsible?), and Underweight (anorexic?)

V is Vaniloquence, which is basically all this is.

W is for Woman, which I am, according to my birth certificate.  Can someone burn it?  Can I have surgery now?  What if they hate me?

X is for Xanthippe.  Do you think I am one?  I really try not to be.  I’m sorry.

Y is the Yelling, which to some people is like talking.  What if I’m talking too loud?  Could you be a little quieter?  I need to concentrate.

Z is for Zero, the amount of ideas I have left for this letter.

(Note — Anxiety is a serious mental illness that has the potential to negatively effect the lives of the sufferer and his or her loved ones.  If you or someone you know suffers from anxiety, there are several resources available here and here.  — Sami)