Blanket.

I made soup last night. It came out delicious. McLaughin came over and we sat on my couch and ate soup out of mugs. I turned off the stove.

The pot caught fire.

McLaughin and I went out and met up with our friend, Tom. Together we went to… where he works. Was this wise of us? No. Is it what we did anyway? Uh-huh.

McLaughin was up to date, but Tom wasn’t, so I found myself sitting and filling him in on the entire story as he walked back and forth around us. I told Tom the truth: “I hate him for not being interested.” I say it’s fine — if he isn’t into me, I’ll just move on. There will be plenty of options.

But that’s easier said than done.

“I feel pathetic!” I exclaimed to my friends. They comforted me, laughed with me and distracted me. The waitress brought over our drinks.

It’s cold here. I was wearing Tom’s fleece and shivering. And then he came over and handed me a blanket…

“No! Don’t read into this,” McLaughin said as soon as he was out of earshot. “There are plenty of blankets around, it’s not a move.”

“Yeah, but I didn’t ask for one… he thought of me.” As I finish my sentence I drop my head into my hands because McLaughin is right and I don’t want to feel like this anymore. Yet I really can’t help but think about that night, how such a big chunk of the flirtation was around me being cold and him warming my hands…

Tom patted my knee. They both agreed: the situation is bizarre. The wires got crossed somewhere and we’re obviously not on the same page, but it’s just strange of him to make such obvious moves and then flip a switch and turn cold.

They also agreed he’s incredibly handsome (not the word they used).

As we neared midnight, I decided it’s worth enjoying this feeling. Because really, this confusion and angst? It’s so perfectly normal (it’s almost laughable). Tom tells me I’m “practically ‘Sex and the City’”.

They walked me home. They didn’t try to kiss me when we got there*. 

I let myself in and transferred my smoky soup to a container. I started scrubbing the pot and scraping off the charcoal layer at the bottom. As I scrubbed and scraped (and scrubbed and scraped) I felt lousy and elated and stupid and… happy.

Because this, ladies and gentlemen, is what happy looks like. It’s been six weeks since I moved here, five weeks since I started my job, and the biggest problem I’m dealing with is some stupid boy who’s playing it hard to get. It’s been six weeks and I feel like everything’s falling into my place and my life is starting.

“She believed she could so she did” has never felt truer than right now. Everything really is coming up roses.

~~~

Ella

Song Quote:

I’m drawing perfect circles round the life that we could share. -Light Up the Dark, Gabrielle Aplin

*Ha. Humor.

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Onion.

My single roommates and I sit around our living room, scrolling through Facebook on our phones and announcing: “Engaged”… “Married”… “Engaged”. They understand there is no max to how shit I can feel. They say I make love to my food – I take my time, I make sure everything is well orchestrated, I put background music on…

My roommates and I sing nursery rhymes as we walk to the ice cream shop. We read each other texts from guys and congratulate each other on being empowered. We share our writing and speak truths.     

There was a gathering at work, a celebration. I was waiting in line for the sandwich bar with a few friends. He walked over and asked if I could put some red onion on my plate for him. I said yes. Later, after, he said, and I quote, “Thanks for the onion.” So, you know, I figure we’re friends now.

I was walking back from my pilates class a few days ago and all I could really think was, “Eff yeah”. I’m simply loving all of this.

I feel surrounded by hot and cold, hot and cold. I’m giving it no thought.

My roommate calls, “Come look at this girl’s wedding dress!” We flick through pictures and I smile inside out. One day those pictures will be of me, but not yet. I’m good.

I am thrilled through and through with the here and now.

~~~

Ella

Song Quote:

Everything’s coming down roses. – Whole Lot of Heart, Ingrid Michelson

Change.

 

Change is gathering up ahead.

I’m trying all of my adjectives.

A little while ago I was talking to my friend, Jewel,about how, when I was a little girl, I had this vision of my future self. The vision was very clear:

I’ll be independent, living in my own apartment, working a really cool job and helping people. I’ll be the person people turn to for support, understanding, laughter and ideas. I’ll have a worth of knowledge and wisdom to share. I’ll be sociable, confident, proud and happy with where I am in life. I’ll be glamorous because I’m free and comfortable with who I am.

Ringing any bells?

It suddenly hit me that somehow, without consulting the picture I had painted before I even turned twelve years old, I managed to create and execute a plan that would allow me to live exactly the way I hoped I would.

Magic? Truth.

~~~

Among the things that have already changed this past year is that I’m no longer The Sick Kid. Sure, I’m still sick (she says so nonchalantly), but I think that not being surrounded by healthy kids all day made the title fade a little. It’s not how I think of myself anymore. It carries much less weight in the equation these days.

And yet… I am sick. How will I manage?

The Change, it’s all-encompassing. I’ll be starting with a completely blank page. I’ll be living and working with people I don’t know. Absolutely everything around me will change and be different than it is right now. Three months from now I’ll have a whole new world.

I find myself in need of a reminder that that’s a good thing. That’s why I’m writing about Change – because it’s desired. It’s healthy. It’s what I want and what I’ve been waiting for all of this time.

Take a deep breath and look around. Appreciate where you are right now before it all changes. Don’t let a single good thing pass you by. Take snapshots of moments with the people you love and admire. Spread your arms and soak in the feeling of the present. Change is coming.

Get your adjectives ready.

~~~

Ella

Song Quote:

I walked off an old me… And now, breathe deep, I’m inhaling. –Alaska, Maggie Rogers (in love with this song!)

{By the way, please note that this is filed in a new category called “Changed.” Future posts will also be in “Changed.” Welcoming in a new era, three years on…}

 

Beach Happiness

Last year, on a particularly hard day, I spoke on the phone with my friend, Beatrice, about why we were both so depressed. We had many reasons, and this led us to a discussion about the different types of sadness. The list covers a lot of ground, including: hypothetical sadness, death sadness, projecting sadness, jealousy sadness, bittersweet sadness, extreme weather sadness… we ended up listing about 75 types.

 

After half an hour of compiling this list, I forced her to help me come up with the different types of happiness. Surprisingly, we found this extremely difficult. When we challenged ourselves to think of the bad it poured out of us as though we’d been mentally preparing our whole lives for the moment we’d need to recount it. But the good? It was slow to come to mind. Over the course of a few days, with the help of a couple more friends, we eventually had a list consisting of around 50 types of happiness.

 

One of these types is beach happiness. Neither Beatrice nor I thought of it initially, but it rings true for all of my peers and I. When I’m on the beach I just feel… peaceful, I suppose. The sound of the waves replaces the sound of worry in my mind.

IMG_1896

I stand on the beach looking out at the sea and marvel at how tiny I am compared to it all. If my life is so small compared to the world, then the problems in my life amount to nearly nothing. I’m never one to belittle my own suffering or the hefty challenges I face every day, but during certain rare moments I truly believe they aren’t all that important. The beach supplies the majority of these moments.

 

Yesterday was an odd summer day in the middle of February so I flocked to the beach with my friend and her boyfriend. The water was freezing but I almost prefer feeling numb to feeling my normal pain. The smell of the water and the sunscreen smeared on my (pathetically) sensitive skin remind me of summers past, in just the way that bug spray reminds me of hiking trails around my childhood hometown.

 

My mom reminded me that one year I had a birthday party at the beach and that I hated it. I remember the reasons for this being that sand got on my birthday cake and watermelon, that we never had time for the dance party or limbo (I’ve always been quite the planner), and that a boy from my class (who was not invited) saw me in my bathing suit (mortification. I hate you, Speedo.)

 

My mother remembered the reason being that I got salt water in my eye and that at that exact moment the love affair between the sea and I became a tale of regret and disappointment.

 

Safe to say the discord has dissipated, and I have kept a special place in my heart for the beach throughout it all. One of my biggest regrets in life is that I’m forced to miss out on fun – a seemingly harmless substance the majority of young adults seek and occasionally experience. I’m more of an 80-year-old stuck in an 18-year-old’s body type, and I have to “take care of my health”. Which means I often need to miss out on all sorts of experiences because fun has a clear consequence for me – pain. Pain leads to sadness, but mainly, pain leads to more pain. More pain leads to trouble sleeping, which leads to extra fatigue, which leads to extra pain, which leads to even more trouble sleeping… it’s only one of the viscous cycles that people with chronic illnesses need to live with.

 

But just because I have less fun doesn’t mean I have to be less happy. This year I’ve been privy to a few types of happiness that weren’t on my list before: proving myself happiness, spreading joy happiness, professional growth happiness and above all – somehow, it will all be okay happiness.

 

At the very least, that’s how I feel after I go to the beach.

 

Love,

Ella

 

Song Quote:

Take me back to the basics and the simple life, tell me all of the things that make you feel at ease. –Ease, Troye Sivan

 

Have a suggestion to add to my lists? Share in the comments below please!

The Hospital Anecdote

I never wanted to end up in the hospital. I never wanted to get sick in the first place.

I’m so exhausted. Yesterday was a nightmare, and I wish I could erase it from my memory.

But I keep thinking of two things: the song that played in my head while I listened to other people moan and cry out in pain, and the hair cut I’ve been dreaming of for years.

“All I need’s a whisper in a world that only shouts.” Poignant as it is, I’ve related to it since I heard it for the very first time. But after everything I went through yesterday, it was the soundtrack and is still at the forefront of my mind. I don’t deserve what has happened to me. I am a good person, and this is awful stuff. The pain I suffer through is not fair, and yesterday was a bad dream that really happened.

I’m getting a pixie cut. This is so unrelated, but lying in bed today, all day, I keep thinking about it. How free I’ll feel, how cute it’ll look and how I can’t wait to release the weight of all of this long hair. I never realized what a burden it was until I decided to cut it off.

This haircut is now linked, hand in hand, with graduation. I naturally create things to look forward when I’m staring at a bleak stretch of time. I’m about to finish high school and I have no clue what my life will look like. The fear threatens to cripple me every day. Because here, look what happened! I have three weeks left to the year and it was so important to me to feel like I’m not missing out on anything, so I pushed myself beyond my limit and yesterday happened.

Yesterday.

Isn’t it fun when you end up in the hospital? When the dramatics went down in school and they carried you through the building on a gurney to the ambulance?

My own voice is echoing in my mind. “Why are you being so mean?” I tried to yell at the paramedics. They were hurting me, but I could barely talk. I don’t know if I screamed it or not.

Isn’t it funny that I just turned eighteen? At eighteen and three days I wasn’t allowed to go to the children’s hospital and had to go through the regular emergency room. I spent seven hours hearing awful sounds and seeing awful sights. All I need is a whisper.

From the worse pain to the shaking hands, from the tightening sensations to the embarrassment, from the worry and fear to the panic. From the mob of spectators to the scary paramedics, from the rough yanking and dragging to the collapsing, from the stairs to the chair and the chair to the gurney. From the sirens and the movement to the bed-to-bed, from the ugly curtains and needles and sleepy eyes to the waiting and waiting and waiting. The sounds of suffering, the yelp of the in pain. Curtains don’t block sound. The man who yelled that the nurses don’t care if his wife dies. The man was removed by security. I cried and cried – the woman was alone now. I want to go home. The world only shouts.

Erase. Erase. Erase. Delete. Backspace.

Now I should think of a way to look at this differently. I shouldn’t be angry at the world; I should appreciate what didn’t go wrong.

My friends were amazing. They acted quickly, and well. They love me. It upsets me that they saw me like that. They love me. My family loves me. Yesterday proved how beautiful my support system is. I have people, and I am so grateful for this.

What my body did to me yesterday was a reminder that I’m not superwoman. I can’t do it all. It might not be fair, and it might upset me very much, but I just can’t do everything I want to. I need to take care of myself, slow down, be more careful and go back to living life in small doses. If I could choose a super power, it would be healing. To be able to look at someone who is suffering and heal them. I saw so much pain yesterday.

These last few tests are going to be a struggle, but I will manage them and I will graduate. The next few days will be spent in bed, but after that I will pick myself up. I will get a pixie cut and then I will feel free and adult and optimistic about my future. It will mark this transition in my life, and it will be a sign that I can control what happens to me and how I deal with it all.

Ella.

Song Quote:

Well it’s hard to find a reason, when all you have is doubts, Hard to see inside yourself when you can’t see your way out, Hard to find an answer when the questions won’t come out. Everyone’s filling me up with noise; I don’t know what they’re talking about. You see all I need’s a whisper, in a world that only shouts. –Whispers, Passenger

The Year of the Extreme – 18

18

My dad always says that the best way to live your life is by being where you are.

I’m very good at being where I am and feeling everything to the fullest, for better or for worse. Today is my 18th birthday. Looking back on 17, I see it as the year of the extreme.

When I was happy, I was really happy, but when I was hopeless, I was really hopeless. So it went with every emotion, from anxiety and sadness to excitement and love. There were times when I felt like I loved my friends so much I would burst, but others when I felt like my struggles were all for naught and I have no future. I felt everything so strongly, and though it’s part of what makes me who I am, it doesn’t lead to the most stable way of life. This year has been exhausting. Maybe it has to do with age or maybe with my personality, but I hope that in the coming year I’ll be able to maintain a steady, positive outlook.

I am a happy and optimistic person, stuck in a situation that often leads me to lose sight of all the good. There is a constant war inside of me, trying to lift myself, suspend myself, and run far, far away from the pain.

There are two things I’ve learned from a person I appreciate very much:

  • Every time I feel pain, of any kind, it only makes me more human. With every new experience of hardship there are many more people whose difficulties I can relate to and to whom my understanding can extend.
  • The moments in life of intense emotion are beautiful. Never before had I looked at my breaking points as beautiful, but this statement of sorts fits perfectly into how I view the world and manage my way through it: we can’t control what happens to us, but we can control how we look and approach it. I now suddenly find myself sobbing in anguish in my bed and thinking, “This is beautiful. These feelings are beautiful.”

I am eternally grateful to this person.

There’s this exercise where you imagine all of your thoughts as cars on a highway in front of you and you need to try to stay calm and just watch them as they pass by, without feeling like you’re in the traffic yourself. You are an observer of your own thoughts, and you don’t need to find yourself in chaotic, honking danger of being caught in the way of the cars. This year I definitely found myself precariously jaywalking.

The truth is that from every time I’ve reached rock bottom, I’ve risen with newfound insight and maturity. I’ve known for a long time that happiness is not a state that you achieve, but rather something you need to learn how to glimpse when you pass it by. If you don’t notice it, appreciate it and cherish it, you will never feel like you’ve found it. There were moments this year when I was happy. Albeit greatly overshadowed by pain, fear and anger, I will not let myself view this year as one devoid of happiness.

This year holds the record for fewest moments of hating myself. I genuinely like who I am, and in my better moments, I can see myself succeeding in my life. My parents raised me to acknowledge my strengths, and so I do. My strengths are my weaknesses, and vice versa, but I’ve made my peace with that. I am a wonderful person, if only because of how hard I try to be so, and it feels really good to say that.

I don’t know what’s going to happen to me. I can’t view myself in two months, and definitely not in two, ten or twenty years, but I have a few wishes.

I hope I never forget to remember that people are large and we contain multitudes (Walt Whitman’s “Song of Myself”, section 51). I will live my life with an open mind, open eyes and an open heart. I will always try to see people and accept them for all that they are. If there is one thing that really gets to me, it’s when people judge others and don’t give them the benefit of the doubt. Every single one of us has feelings, memories, and a story of their own, and that is never to be belittled.

“I want to encourage you to be vigilant in the struggle towards empathy… You will have a choice about how to read the actions and intonations of the people you meet. I would encourage you as often as possible to consider… the possibility that the lives and experiences of others are as complex and unpredictable as your own. That other people… are not simply one thing or the other – not simply good or evil or wise or ignorant… You will always be stuck inside of your own body, with your own consciousness, seeing the world through your own eyes, but the gift and the challenge… is to see other as they see themselves, to grapple meaningfully with this cruel and crazy and beautiful world in all of its baffling complexity.” –John Green, commencement speech 2013

I hope my relationships grow stronger and more meaningful every day. I hope I keep trying even harder to be a good person. I hope I don’t lose sight of how much I love life. I hope I fall in love (she puts in the middle of the paragraph to feel less silly for writing it). I hope I keep writing, because it brings me joy and pride. I hope I retain my enthusiasm for everything I love. I hope time will do its job and freaking cure me already. I hope I never let my difficulties cloud my vision. The vision is everything.

Nothing is ever ideal, but the love I’ve been receiving today fills me with warm and fuzzy feelings. Kind words pouring in from everyone that matters to me makes it all seem worth it.

Here’s to being 18.

Love,

Ella

Song Quote:

The backs of my eyes hum with all of the things I’ve never done. –Welcome Home, Radical Face

The Sleepless Anecdote

One might think there’s something romantic about a late night. The dim lights, the silent house, the rustle of the wind outside.

There isn’t. I couldn’t sleep. I got into bed at 10:30 and fell asleep at 4:30. That’s six hours of non-romance. It was frustrating. The crazy thing was, my brain was totally awake and processing the implications of the situation while also enjoying the game of keeping me awake.

I finished reading The Bell Jar. I watched three episodes of Friends. I meditated. I ate cereal. I took everything off my bed and put it all back. I solved a math question.

I did everything but sleep. My body is like “you suck” and my brain is like “yay I won!” and I’m like dead.

What do you do when you can’t sleep?

Insomnia for the win,

Ella

Song Quote:

Even when you’re sleeping, keep your eye-eyes open. -Eyes Open, Taylor Swift

P.s. Happy second birthday “Sick and Sick of It”!!! Rather than creating a virtual cake with candles, you’re each invited to just write a wish in the comments below. I think my wish is obvious at this point.