Thursday 31 January 2002.

what is it you want to know

(Here is the picture of my new haircut, which Dani insisted I post. My hair really isn't that color. I'm sticking out my tongue in concentration, and yes, I look exhausted)

I got my hair cut. Quite a lot, actually, a lot for me, anyway. I don't think my hair has been this short since I was maybe 4. Cutting it all off, instead of being a bit traumatic like it usually is, was a relief, to get all that dead weight off me. I sat down in the chair, and didn't care how it came off, I just wanted it off. Now the strands are short enough for the ends to brush my nose.

Ironically enough, my hair was cut by an old high school classmate of mine. She recognized me and remembered my name, I recognized her but it took a furtive glance at her nametag to remember her name. I relaxed and listened to the golden tones of her voice rise and fall as she washed my hair. Who has kids, who got married. Did you hear about Kirk and accident. She's getting married next year. It's so weird. It feels so far away.

When she finished, she looked at me in the mirror. "You look tired," she said.


The week before school started, I inadvertently ended up having the entire week off from work. So I went home to Lebanon. I had intended to only stay until Tuesday night or maybe Wednesday morning, but I ended up staying until Friday. A whole week in Lebanon, not doing anything in particular. I felt vaguely guilty, thinking of all the things in the studio that should be really getting done. I did laundry, I shot my slide portfolio, I went out to lunch with my Dad every day, to the usual local places, South China Buffet, Mama Jean's, A&M Pizza. I watched Fight Club three times, with various different commentary tracks, Ghost Dog, Save the Last Dance, Center Stage, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Ever After, Taxi Driver.

In between movies and all sorts of other bullshit, I would aimlessly surf the web and pound on the filthy keyboard every stupid thing I was feeling.

----- Original Message -----
Sent: Wednesday, January 16, 2002 3:24 PM
Subject: what i've been thinking today.

My mom tells me, almost every day now, to call Temple's counseling services and get something set up. I'm in this weird place with the idea of therapy, medication and what have you. Torn between wanting to remain in this place where i am now, which i wouldn't call abject misery, but to paraphrase Fight Club, "like that little scratch on the roof of your mouth that never heals because you keep tonguing it", and wanting a change of some kind. Okay. Here's the deal. I want to be fixed. I want to stop feeling this way, I want to stop thinking these thoughts, but I don't want to work at it. I want to take a pill, I want it to go away, I don't want to sit on some couch and probe my self-hatred. Because I really don't think I hate myself, really. There's some part of me that's just begging to break out and really kick some ass, but something's holding it back. No. I don't hate myself. I hate what I've let myself become, i hate that I've let myself just slide, slide, slide.

In first grade, my allergies were still pretty bad (i had only been diagnosed maybe 4 years before), and I was on a bevy of medications, some of which made me really act out. I've heard tales of me biting one of my classmates. Anyway, I became unruly, and I was the Bad Kid. I had to have my desk pushed up against my teacher's, so she could keep an eye on me. And i remember distinctly thinking, even then, that I didn't mean to do any of this. It just happened. I'm really good, please just give me a chance. it's not my fault, it was the medication's fault, but of course I didn't know that until a good ten years later.

I'm afraid it'll be like that all over again, I'll go on Prozac or Zoloft or whatever SSRI of the moment and I'll wake up one day and have no friends and no job and i will have wrecked my life because I became the Bad Kid again. I'm worried about destroying my life, this foundation of sanity i've so carefully and meticulously built. I'm worried I'll exhale and it'll all fall over and i'll have to start again.

I want this story to be more interesting. I want it to be more than about the rise and fall of my mind, an ocean of stupid unpredictability, an endless, pointless, sad story. I just want to be. I want to be okay with just being a person, not have to worry what I do, what I make, what I write, what I think.


Ever since October and my little breakdown or whatever you want to call it, my mom had been bugging me to call Temple's counseling servies. My boyfriend had been bugging me to call Temple's counseling services. I put it off, I had the semester to finish, I had the craft show, I had to work full time, I was just starting back at school again, let me get settled in. In truth, I don't think I ever intended to call. I couldn't do it. I needed to have someone do it for me.

I was taking my clothes out of the dryer when Mom came through the door, home from work. She was still standing there, laden with bags, when she said, "I hope you don't mind...and I hope you don't think I'm overstepping any bounds, but...I made an appointment for you with Dr. Wheeler tomorrow."

I didn't mind.

Dr. Wheeler is our family doctor, as well as being my allergist. He was also the father of my friend Jim, who killed himself when I was in 11th grade. I remember him like that, as Jim's father, at the memorial service, right across the street from his office, flanked by his wife and Jim's five or six brothers and sisters. When he looks at me, I wonder if he even remembers me being there.

I sat on the paper covered table, and my Mom took a seat in the corner. He came in, and it took me about five seconds to remember what a shitty bedside manner he had.

He took my blood pressure. "120 over 80," he muttered.

"What?" I asked.

"120 over 80."

"Is that good?"

He seemed irritated. "It's perfect."

Probably the only part of me that's actually in perfect working order.

Then came the questions.

"Do you have problems sleeping?"

If anything, I sleep too much.

"Are you crying a lot?"

I don't know, christ, how you define a lot? I don't know.

"Eating okay?"

You're asking me about food?

At this point, my Mom interjected gently, "I know you didn't want to bring this up, but you have had suicidal thoughts-"

"Mom, that wasn't for real. I was kidding. I would never do that." Um, who the fuck are you trying to fool, exactly? I stared hard at the Sesame Street curtains in front of me. I looked at my Mom, concern written on her face. I look at Dr. Wheeler, and force myself to meet his gaze.

I am 21 fucking years old, I am an adult, and I can look you in the face.

He scribbled on the pad, leaned back in his chair. "Well, I prefer Zoloft. 50 Milligrams."


So it was, just like that. My Mom paid at the desk, while I lingered in the vestibule of the office, wanting to climb the wood-paneled walls.

When we were walking to the car, my Mom gave me a chocolate coin, hugged me and said, "This is going to be okay. You're doing the right thing."


I took the first one on Friday afternoon, right before I went to work. It was a bad idea. Maybe it was pyschosomatic, but I started getting the shakes. I felt almost high. In a panic, I tore back to the break room and called Dad, my voice nearly breaking through my tears. He told me to stop taking it. But somehow I knew that wasn't the answer. I kept taking it, and that was three weeks ago.

Everyone I talked to, friends and colleagues, have told me that it'll get worse before it gets better. And for the first couple weeks, I felt almost normal, whatever normal is, until things just began going downhill.

I've sat in the studio for the past two weeks, trying to sketch and think. Everything I draw and produce looks ugly. I feel like I've picked and thought everything to death. I feel like everything coming out of my mouth is stupid and shallow. I have to talk myself into getting out of bed every day. I have wandered from book to bed to bathroom to computer, over and over and over again, finding no resolution and no comfort in anything. This is part of the reason this site has not been updated in so long. I've looked at the redesign over and over again, tweaking it and picking at it like a bloody hangnail, and still it looks ugly. Everything looks ugly.

I am blue, I write to John in email over and over again. John says he'll paint me a nice yellow-green or rust color. Blue is the best word for it. Everything is colored blue.

I am obviously not in my right mind.

So, I am waiting for the upswing. I am trying to ignore what my mind is thinking. I just need to get through this.