the point.

i’ll never understand
why the loud makes me want to cry
why labels in grocery stores make me nervous
why I feel alone in crowded rooms or
why my bed feels safer even on perfect days

i could tell you theories
simple guesses about predisposition or childhood
hypotheses I’ve come up with entirely on my own
on quiet nights when the stars smother me and
no one is around to reassure me that I can breathe

i could blame my parents for fighting when i was small
my mom’s mom for choosing alcohol over her or
my dad’s parents for arguing in front of him
i could blame my grandmother’s mother for using
violence rather than love or my grandfather’s dad for
deeming him unworthy or his parents for focusing on war

i could blame the boy at the lake house who went too far
the person who taught him it’s okay to go too far
the person who taught the person before that and
whatever son of a bitch set it all in motion

when I exhaust the long list of people, I could blame
the stars in the sky for making me wonder why i exist
blame the universe crafting this raging ball of chaos
blame God for being as forged as Santa on a sled
blame people who believe in miracles when in reality
some people get lucky and some people don’t

but then I’d be missing the point
which is, there is none
no rhyme or reason or person to blame
no clear cut ‘he did that’ and ‘she did this’
there’s only a planet with people doing the best they can
people being shit on by pigeons and stomping on ants
with no motive other than we are small, so very small

maybe I’ll never know about the loud noises and
why I feel so lonely; maybe it doesn’t matter
one day, a girl might blame me for the things
I did to her, or to her mother, or to her grandmother.
I hope if she does, she stops to realize that I love her even if
I hurt her, and I’m thinking about her in these moments
so far before she even exists, which has to mean something

so maybe people, with their flaws, just don’t know
anything other than crazy, fearful love;
having been pushed out into the world,
told to do the best with what they have
without much to go by. we all seek answers
only to come back empty handed, for there are none

but I’ll tell you this:
I’ve never met a human void completely of hope
I’ve never met one that didn’t love someone or
something, even if it is whiskey or cigarettes.
regardless of what makes us tick,
we all work towards better things;
even with restless souls and twisted minds,
we know hope and love and maybe that’s the point

stay

It’s too easy to remember snow covered cars in parking lots
That sat on a hill housing a castle, where you could
Hear the tallest man on earth sing love songs and
We trekked across the icy campus in snow boots and
Ratty sweatpants with messed up hair and the sight of you
Standing in line for an omelet and me making a waffle
While drinking coffee that was never really warm enough
As we talked about our drunken escapades the night before
And whether the sex was good and whether I would leave
Now or take a nap and dream about what it would be like if I could just
Stay

It’s too hard to remember hot sweaty days when I lay glued
To the hardwood floors in my too big apartment when you were
Busy writing a dissertation and planning spring break with friends and
I was busy writing a tragedy of loneliness and pain and real life
And we fought about things like how much time we spent together and
If we were really in love and we gave into the notion that we weren’t
While screaming and crying and icing each other out with complete silence
Only to return to each others’ arms, giving our hearts whiplash and our brains
Too much to handle at once while we pondered why life was projecting
Us into directions that were opposite and far when all we wanted was to
Stay

It’s too simple now to get lost in both the future and the past
Knowing I’m not glued to my floor in utter heart break and addiction but also
Not pushed by the bitter winter wind into your arms so I could sleep
So peacefully while you watched shows I hated and finally drifted off only
To be woken up by the sound of my laughter or the heaviness of me laying on top
Of you kissing your neck or just breathing in the smell of you;
Rather I see the future without the venomous, screaming insults I let flow
From my rotten mouth that needed so badly to be cleaned but could only
Be cleaned in your absence and is finally clean and controlled by the filter
I decided to install the day you said once and for all that you wouldn’t
Stay

-m.noelle

What Happens When You Take a Risk?

I’m turning 25 this week. I couldn’t be more excited. A crisp, clean, quarter-century number. I’m going to be so good at being 25.

So many of my friends are dreading this milestone. After all, it is a reminder that our twenties are half over. Speaking from my own concept of time, I’m sure these next five years will go faster than the first. Still, I’m not worried. The first half of my twenties has been a complete rollercoaster, filled with up and down moments. High highs and low lows. Maybe my thirties won’t be as crazy, but I think I’m ready for the stability. In fact, I think I’ll welcome it.

The thing is, I write on this personal little blog each week, revealing a snip-it of my life to you. Although I don’t have 5,000 readers at the tips of my fingers, as I sometimes do when I freelance, I would argue that this blog is more of a risk for me.

See, when I write freelance, I am writing cultural pieces that are nothing more than fun for me. My true millennial brain shows itself as I revel in the free-spirited but painfully broke ideas of our generation. It’s easy to write an article when you have 10,000 free spirits ready to put their virtual fists in the air and scream a-men. We’re never getting old.

But, we are. I’m not so scared of it anymore because there are important experiences that come with growing up. There are break-ups that mean more to you than you’ll ever be able to put into words. There is the realization that these break-ups should never steal your soul the way you’ve let them. There is the realization that being so painfully dramatic was simply a growing pain you needed to go through in order to mature.

Yes, I write about my struggles with eating disorders, depression and anxiety. Yes, I open up to you about awful dates and times when I felt that world was unfair to me. Yes, it’s a risk.

It’s a risk because while my freelance writing reaches thousands, to a majority of those people, I am just a name and a picture in a byline. A person on Twitter they can now follow. A two-second thought that doesn’t stick. Which makes it all the more easier to express myself.

That’s not the case on this blog. My readers, most of them, know me on a personal level. That break-up post I wrote is easily identifiable – there is a face behind it. I do my best not to give away large details about the people and places I touch upon, but let’s be real: I’m writing about my experiences. I am inspired by miniscule moments and details of my own life and I want to share them with you. I believe someone, somewhere can relate to these moments, because they are all too common.

What is not so common is this open-book syndrome that I have somehow inherited in my gene pool. Not many people go around publishing the darkest, deepest moments of their lives. Especially not people who are actually somewhat private in real life. A friend from college and I had dinner together not too long ago, when he just said, “Monica, I feel like I really know nothing about you. You always ask the questions.”

So, if that’s the case, then maybe my writing shocks the ones who know – or think – they know me. I am constantly torn between what I want to share and how I believe it will be perceived. The thing is, no one wants to read about a mundane day in the office. It’s the nitty-gritty that people relate to; it’s the idea that they aren’t alone in their struggle, that someone else has less-than-perfect moments in a less-than-perfect life.

To me, this camaraderie that I am trying to cultivate is more important than any one individual’s opinions of me. It feeds my soul directly when people can say that they’ve been moved by my writing, that they’ve gone through similar things. On the contrary, I never want to hurt anyone.

Sometimes it’s just unavoidable. I am a writer. It is what I do. I whole-heartedly believe it is one of the things I was meant to do. I know from the days in which I felt alone that if I don’t share my story, someone else is going to feel just as alone as I did.

I’m prompted to write this because, as can be expected, I have received some criticism. I know when I hit the publish button that somehow, somewhere, someone is going to be unhappy. This used to censor me. This used to provoke a fear within me. I used to call my mom every week, in which she would say, “Monica, this is what you do. You find it important to write these things. Why worry about it afterwards?”

I realize now, though, that the fear of being called dramatic, the fear of being told that my life must be pretty shitty, the fear of being told I’m making it all up is no match for sharing my story. I can’t be silenced. I won’t be. At 25, I think it’s important to stand tall and do what I love, which is sharing both the good and the bad.

I’ve come so far. The eating disorder I described to you? Well, that feels like a distant memory. (In fact, I kind of feel weird calling it that, but my doctors insist otherwise.) I no longer feel the darkness of depression. However, I could choose to write these things at risk of sounding dramatic, or I can sweep them under the rug and pretend they never happened.

The truth – that huge phenomenon that people choose to ignore and I beg to bring forth – is that I’ve had rough times. I’ve traveled through break downs. I’ve survived. Were they dramatic? Yes, of course they were. Everyone goes through hard times. Everyone is entitled to be dramatic when they are in pain, I believe that.

Being fearful of myself has always been something I struggled with. I understand that I feel things completely. Human connections and emotions have always interested me. But, I’ve realized that some people don’t hold a high regard for the mushy-gushy Kodak moments of life in the ways I do. What I’ve struggled with figuring out is that, it’s okay – for both them and myself. I no longer need to be so afraid of seeking out what I believe are the best parts of life; personal growth, love, acceptance, truth, happiness. I don’t have to be scared to explore my depth and the depth of others.

I suppose my final thought is that I am a writer. No, I do not like to destroy people via my blog. I hardly write about people whom I truly care about. I try to focus mainly on my own experiences. However, I refuse to keep my own story quiet in fear that it may offend. It’s going to be a long 40, 50, 60 years if I choose to live my life at the hand of others.

I’m not always pleasing, nor am I always displeasing. It’s exhausting to pretend otherwise. So, to only focus my blog entries on, say, the happy-go-lucky days I have and ignore the shitty, frustrating mental health days, break-ups, you name it, would be completely unfair if I am going to accurately paint the big picture, which is what I aim to do.

Therefore, as a 25th birthday present to myself, I hereby give myself permission to be exactly who I am, good or bad, breakdown or no breakdown, good date or bad date. Cheers to another lesson learned!

When Blue Dish Detergent Pisses You Off

I look down at the counter and see thick, bubbly blue soap everywhere. On the floor, dripping down the cabinets. What the hell. Then I see that I forgot to put the little white cap back on the sponge/soap dispenser I’m using to clean the dishes. I’ve been cleaning the dishes while blue Dawn dish-washing soap escaped all over.

I’m immediately angry. No, I mean, irrationally angry. I’m gripped with anger in a way that I feel I might hit something or go crazy or just start yelling at someone, anyone who gets in my way. In the past, I think I would have.

At first, I think I’m mad at my parents because I’m doing the dishes and somehow that’s their fault. As if doing the dishes is such a chore. As if washing a few dishes on a quiet Monday evening is something to be angry at.

So, I turn off the water and just stare out the window into the darkness and the snow. I’m angry because there’s no sun when I get out of work. I’m angry because my car is cold and old and never heats up. I’m angry because of some snarky side comment someone said to me over the weekend. I’m angry because I’m angry.

Between pointing my finger at this person or that situation, trying to pinpoint exactly what is making me so goddamned angry, I feel my eyes welling up with tears. My parents are still in the kitchen cleaning up, and I haven’t even gotten a grip on what the hell is happening yet, so I try to blink the tears away. They just keep falling.

This happened one other time recently. I went to get my grandfather and he wasn’t ready for me, even though we told him what time we’d be there. I was so angry, irrationally angry, first at him and then five times as much at myself. It’s not fair to be angry at someone simply because they are aging and don’t remember as well as they used to.

So, as he got ready, I went for a walk in the snow. I walked through my old neighborhood with red lipstick on and my navy blue, knee length winter jacket, knowing that the cars driving by had to be wondering where such a dressed up girl was walking to in the middle of winter. Why did she look so sad? I cried, stopped, cried. I found myself at the cemetery. It was the only place I could think to go.

Nobody likes death. Nobody likes to think about it, to confront it, to realize it’s a part of life we all need to accept. Death comes in two ways; shockingly fast or painfully slow. When it happens fast, it’s like a straight punch to your gut. When it happens slowly, it feels like someone is letting the air out of a balloon inside your stomach, and you can’t fill it back up no matter what.

Regardless of the way it presents itself, it demands attention. So, if you aren’t going to let the soppy tears fall into the soapy dishwater, than you can bet your ass you’re going to be punching something.

I realized that as shitty as this feels, I’d rather just cry. So when my parents finally asked me what was wrong, I just break down and tell them. No “I’m fine” or “nothing” — just the straight out truth. My grandfather is getting older and it hurts like fucking hell. He’s the head of the family, the strongest one there is, and it’s hard to grip the reality that he is human just like the rest of us. I don’t want him to be human. I want him to live forever.

I don’t call the shots, though. I don’t have that kind of power. So, I just send my prayers and hold on to the moments I have right now. When he makes me laugh, I laugh. When I want to cry, I cry. If nothing else, I think about the time I have here and the time he has here and how important it all is. Cliches aside, it all goes by too damn fast.

When Football Fields and Candy Stores Pop Up in Your Living Room

She looks at me with big, blue eyes and tugs at my hand.

“Monica, come closer.”

Then she whispers in my ear the best secret she can come up with to get me to follow her into the next room.

“There’s candy in there.”

So I close my sociology book and take her tiny hand as she leads me into the make-believe candy store that popped up in the living room. She gives me a tour of the place which is comprised mostly of chocolate and banana flavored candy. She asks me if I want some. Of course I do; after all, pretend candy may not taste all that delicious but it doesn’t have any calories.

I sit down in the corner she points to. She tells me I should sit there if I ever want to get my candy. I look around the room and realize that I don’t know how long it has been since I sat on this floor, let alone in this corner. I note how the world looks different from down here.

She continues to run her candy store, telling me that she will also make me a “hamburg” but I’d have to forget about the cheese; she doesn’t have any. An imaginary person named Henry ate it all. She asks me if I would like mustard before she decides that she ran out of that as well.

The counter of her shop is set up right beneath the piano. She’s small enough to fit under there but tall enough now that she could bang her head if I don’t keep reminding her to be careful. She’s not worried about hitting her head; she’s just worried about making my food.

I watch her as she runs around, laughing and being silly. She stops to tell me secrets now and then about the football field that she decided is somewhere behind the couch. I try so hard to see it, but all I see is a green wall. She’s sure it’s there, though. “Monica, see the football field?”

So I try to see it. I play her game and think about how wonderful it is to build your own beautiful candy store right next to the football field on a rainy Sunday night when the rest of the world is dreading work the next day. I’m envious.

Her tiny blonde ponytail is bouncing up and down and she looks at me and giggles. While she starts making me an imaginary bucket of buttery popcorn, my heart aches a little. I want her to stay this way forever, as selfish as that may be.

I don’t want this perfect little girl to grow up and experience the bad – because right now her world is filled with candy and cake and happiness.

I never want her to look at a candy bar and wonder if it will go straight to her thighs. I don’t want her to feel like she needs to sleep with a guy to make herself feel worth it. Lord knows I never want her to experience drugs, or even alcohol, because right now, the world is good enough for her just the way it is.

I stop thinking so much about the real world for a minute and fall into her creative world filled with endless candy and “hamburgs” and football fields. We giggle and laugh and when she does lightly bump her head on the piano, she runs to me with a serious look on her face and I hug her and she smiles. I love this little girl, we all do. She pulls me out of the real world and into her exclusive, make-believe world. It’s all I need to keep my heart at least a little bit young.

Cold Pastoral and Love on a Cold, Rainy Day

“I thought about the things he’d said about her in his journal. The morning after they first kissed, when he’d spent forty minutes writing her a three-line email. The game of bowling where they got high in the bathroom, the way he’d described her collarbone and her smile and the first time he saw her band play in the basement during the storm. The first time they had sex and didn’t use a condom and the first time he came home with her for Thanksgiving and met her alcoholic mother and the discussion they’d had about it afterward. How he’d said he held her and told her it’d be O.K. and that he’d always be there. The bad poem he wrote for her and the good song she’d written for him. The time they thought she was pregnant and the time his grandfather died. How they’d said how much they loved each other and how they always would. How he worried he loved her more than she loved him and that she had a crush on a boy named Emmanuel. And I thought then of how he’d described things growing old. Growing similar, habitual. How he’d begun to wake up in the morning without rolling over to kiss her. How he’d started to resent the time away from his friends, her nagging habits. How he’d begun to look at other girls and compare her to the hypothetical. How’d she’d begun to ignore him, too, and how they’d gone along anyway for another six months, another year. How it’d ended and how he’d felt free and young and energized. But then how he’d begun to miss her. And doubt himself. And worry that they’d screwed things up forever. How he’d loved her, still, whether or not he understood it, and how, when it came down to it, I could never really compare.”

The above excerpt comes from a fiction piece written by Marina Keegan that was published in The New Yorker. Many said Keegan would be the voice of our generation if she hadn’t died in a car accident first. After reading this, I believe them.

These words spoke to me on a rainy, cold day in October when I felt like the world was folding in front of me. Having just come home from work, I slipped under my covers, where I cried and cried. It was the kind of cry that just takes you over, the kind that doesn’t ask first, but instead comes accompanied with deep, gasping sobs that make you feel like you’ll never stop.

Alas, I did stop, I had to. I couldn’t spend the afternoon desperately crying in my bed, so I picked myself back up using all the strength I had, opened up my laptop, and happened across this excerpt.

Marina Keegan did in 311 words what I wish I could do for my entire life. She summed up the good, glorious, soul-calming beginning of any good relationship and explained the soul-wrenching, slow fall of it into a dust of heartbreak.

I just got it, because I had been there. I’d been that girl that experienced those things. I’ve been with the guy who did those things for me. And before it started it’s slow decent into a world full of nagging, jealousy, and ugliness, it was good. So good that once it ended – perhaps six months or a year later than it should have – there was nothing worth looking back on but the good times.

It made me wonder why relationships are so universal to so many people but so personal at the very same time. She crafted the template of so many relationships that came before her and would come after. The magic of it, the dullness of it, the heartbreak of it. There’s a hope that arose within me, because the beginning is so good; the exaggerated lengths we all go through to say the entirely right thing, the soul sharing way you open up to a person and feel so confident and safe about it. But then there was the sadness; the end of the excitement, of the newness and the creation of strain and boredom that wears the relationship down.

I think once everything is said and done, if the relationship was real and raw and intimate, we all look back and wonder what it was we ruined and if it was all worth it. Friends will tell us that we are better off, we weren’t that happy, it wasn’t as good as we thought. We know better, though, because for a few moments of our lives, it mattered.

For a few moments, we were able to go home to our beds and fall asleep knowing we had something to look forward to the next day, something to distract ourselves from the dullness of our own lives. We had a person to share things with, to laugh with, and to conquer the world with.

When we inevitably get comfortable and begin to stop conquering and instead start bickering, we take things for granted. We start to look to other places and we move on.

Why do we do this?

I’ve been telling myself lately that I don’t believe in love. I’m not sure if I don’t or I’m too scared to. I look at the couples around me and I see the dullness, the nagging, and I think to myself that these things are just not worth it. The thing is, I don’t get to see the moments of clarity, the closeness they feel when they open themselves up to the other person and are accepted for being exactly who they are—good and bad.

Until I read this, I forgot about those magical moments I’ve had in my life – and there’s only been a few. I’d rather not remember them, because then I start to miss the people with whom I’ve shared them, and that’s just too painful and scary.

However, I think there’s something to be said about finding another person to open up to and I think it’s this: It’s worth it. It means something. Regardless of how it may end, it’s what keeps us going, keeps us alive and saves us from the ugliness in life. So while you have it, cherish it.

–M