Numb

The cello hums a warm melody through the laptop speakers.  I am no stranger to this sound.  My lungs move with the instrument’s faint swell-drop, characteristic of its hollow, wooden body.

The ocean undulates ferociously.  Waves crashing against the rock-hard barriers that keep water away from the shore.

Meanwhile, on land, all is dry.  The villagers have no embellished tales of fish, extravagant beasts washed to shore in the night’s storm.  They know the legends of mermaids and sharks as large as ocean liners, fictitious feathers of hope that something interesting might happen, if they pray hard enough.  They gaze at the black clouds above them: perhaps tonight is the night.

The floods come hard and fast, spilling jellyfish and bottles and unanchored ships onto the sand.  They bury themselves beneath the dust, sculpting homes of the wet, grainy clay.  The salty ocean swallows them before dawn.

***

            Bluish laser lights cannot penetrate the thick, graphite brick that rests somewhere inside my skull.  They can blind me all they want, but they will never disrupt the safe, neutral mass of minerals I have allowed to accumulate between my ears.

…or so I think.

The artificial sun is hot enough to form crevices where there was once a flat expanse of gray.  Heated rays spread lonely particles across the wasteland to where they, too, will transform this uniform object into something unsightly.

All the earth’s work, falling to waste.  This brick took years to form, fitting the mold just so.  At this rate it will never form a house; it will see the sad day where it is mechanically separated into slender cylinders and divided equally among the wood.

***

            The percussion of pots and pans affects me more than the steepest high note, the loudest shout to leave my lungs.  My vessel-lined alveoli shrivel into their pink mothers, asking why this chaotic noise has to happen to them.

Iron lungs are no longer iron, for iron rusts too fast.  They are bricks laid around a wooden frame, massive twelve-by-twelve squares too heavy to be mobile.  The patient must lie inside, wrapped in the safety of the oxygenated cocoon.

“What a sad way to live,” the villagers say. “What a lonely way to go.”

There comes a time when the patient must choose how or if he or she wishes to communicate, to know the humans outside without choking on their pollution.  To leave the lung would spell danger.

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)

On Laziness

Laziness; its exact meaning is a cloudy, curious thing.

I remember when I was young, probably in middle school, being called “lazy” by my teachers, left and right.  I cannot argue I wasn’t, but the definition of “laziness,” according to their standards, was as follows:

Lazy [ley-zee] adj. :  A student who, in her honors courses, holds marks of no higher than a B+ at any time.

            Again, I shall not disclose whether or not I met the actual, set-in-stone description as recorded in the dictionary, as I believe my view on the matter would be far less than objective.  Speaking of the dictionary, here is what it has to say about my situation:

Lazy [lā-zē] adj. : Not liking to work hard or to be active.

Admittedly, I was not the hardest worker when this “adj.” was bestowed on me.  There were many times I would come home, throw down my bags, get on the computer and, as the expression says, “that’s all she wrote.”  I might not have been the most committed to my schoolwork when I was a youngster, but there were other, less academic facets of my life in which I would have earned straight-A’s: family, fraternity, and reverie.

My kin, would balk upon the lecture of the above phrase.  As much as I gave the appearance of “shock” and “rebellion,” my most intimate desire was to please them.  Sadly, their minds were not like the grade books and holistic scales of modern education: they were unpredictable and, young as I was, I could not forecast what mark in them my work would hold.  To the twelve-year-old me, I was shooting an arrow through a field of corn, hoping to catch a tiny sparrow that was perched on the stringy tip of a skinny stalk; their approval, in reach, was impossible to attain without a precise, yet flexible, tactic in persona.  I was apathetic, I was happy, I was sad, and I cried when it seemed appropriate because, as we all know, emotional slips lead to failure and isolation.

Friends of mine were few and far between and, when I think of it now, I wonder how many were actually my friends.  Ever-fluctuating, they molded my interests, like non-toxic clay, from vampires to werewolves to BDSM.  They asked me the questions and I had to answer, and how else could I answer without executing the proper studies?  I couldn’t disagree, and I couldn’t reason – that would have gotten me called “pretentious” quicker than quick – so I opened my mouth and vomited out the web page I had read the night before, in lieu of the chapters I ignored and the equations I had failed to memorize.

I was deemed a “potential dropout risk” when I was fourteen, but I didn’t let that get in the way of my one, solitary dream.  At that point, I was dead-set on becoming a tattoo artist.  I could spend hours with pads of paper, lining out designs for people who never paid and “big fans” who barely knew my name.  Bathed in the swirling patterns of my colored pencils, they were my only hope for a future.  I had to get out, I had to be something, I had to go out to the city to be invisibly there.  Art school was the only place my grades wouldn’t have mattered; and those far-off institutions, to me, were the only places I might end up. Of course, my dreams wouldn’t come true, my counselor said: I was “lazy.”  My work was barely passing.  I needed to put down the pencils and the pens and the paintbrush, and do something with my life.

Today I sit at my computer, and think about how “lazy” I was.  Sure, improvements were made after junior high.  During my four years of high school, I never had anything below an “A-.”  I wasn’t lazy, I thought, and I was going to make damn sure everyone knew it.  I spent my evenings in study, my books and my pens and my pencils and my friends eventually restricted from my iron box of academic tenacity.  I locked it tight, with enough room for myself and my formulas.

Could I tell anyone, then, what I really wanted?

Could I suppress my emotions to the point I flowed with the aura of the crowd?

To the latter, maybe, but I never got the chance to know what I wanted, or the time to know how I felt.  Want was laziness, need was a myth, feeling was the result of boredom.  The opposite of sloth is activity and, as I had been reminded, the active mind has no need.  It does.  It doesn’t ask other occupied minds to do for it.  I was active, I was the mind, I had escaped that dictionary page and had leapt onto, what?

Where had I landed?  I’m still not sure, but I can tell it’s somewhere behind the rest.

They walk ahead of me, shouting backward to ask me if I’ve overslept.