Dog years.

I’ve always thought it to be common knowledge that one dog year is equivalent to seven human years. Apparently, we’ve all been misinformed. The formula to calculate dog years into human years depends on several factors such as the size and the breed of the dog. There is no way of calculating exactly how many dog years are in a human year. The 7:1 ratio started from an outdated generic statistic that people live around 70 years and dogs around 10. It was essentially a simplistic way of saying dogs live much shorter life spans than humans so take care of their medical needs accordingly.

My brother got a dog some time when I was in high school He was one of the most active, excitable, rambunctious dogs I ever came across. Any time I opened the front door for someone I had to hold him back from running out. I didn’t even know it was a thing that you could let your dog out in the front yard without them darting down the street and having to go chase them. He jumped on all the furniture he wasn’t supposed to and tore up practically anything he came across.

At 21, I found myself in an inescapably low place. I finally scheduled a therapy appointment but the days leading up to that seemed terribly difficult to get through. I remembered I had been prescribed anti-depressants a long time ago and I checked to see if we still had them in the medicine cabinet. We did and I desperately took one, knowing full well I should have talked to a doctor about that and that they were much past their expiration date. I think they made me sick later if I remember correctly.

At this same time, my brother’s dog had recently gotten very sluggish. It seemed to happen overnight. He limped any time he moved, he never ran or jumped anymore, and you could tell just looking at him he was in a lot of pain. He was not himself at all. I remember that day that I took that pill, I saw him on the couch. I don’t even know how he got up there now that I think of it. I walked over to him and I laid down with him, and I believe we could both feel each other’s pain.  I have never been extremely affectionate, especially with animals. But I laid there and I held him and I said “We’re gonna be ok… right?”

One week later my brother took his dog in and they told him he had cancer that had moved throughout his body very quickly and that the only option to end his pain was to put him to sleep. He was around 6 or 7 years old.

Sometimes it seems the periods of more pain last human years and the periods of less pain last dog years. And there is no way of calculating exactly how long those times are.

But we’re gonna be ok… right?

Mugsy

Australian state of mind

Sometimes I try and reflect on the happiest times of my life in hopes of finding something to hold on to.

Ever since I was a kid, I had an obsession with Australia. In 2011, two of my friends decided to travel for the summer and when they told me they would be in Australia for 2 and a half weeks I knew I had to go. I spent all of my savings to make it happen. I ate healthy and worked out leading up to it because I wanted to feel comfortable in pictures that I would have for the rest of my life. I traveled all by myself to the other side of the world, which was scary and exciting. I saw beautiful things that pictures couldn’t capture. Being in a different country and away from everyone I knew, I felt care-free. While I saw other girls around me focusing on finding a guy to go home with, all I cared about was this beautiful experience I found myself living. I danced and I enjoyed it. I laughed with my friends until my gut hurt. My drinking hadn’t gotten out of control yet and I didn’t feel the pressure of needing a drink to “loosen up.” I had a goal and I had worked to make it happen. I loved the way I looked, I loved the way I felt, I loved who I was.

That part of me doesn’t just exist on Australian soil. It didn’t create itself on Air New Zealand and die on the plane ride back to California. It’s within me. It’s gotten buried under the weight of depression, daily obligations, the mundanity of a 9-5 job, societal expectations of what my body should look like, how I should act, who I should be.

I find myself looking for pieces of Australia all around me in my every day life. It’s there, inside of me.  I find it when I plan trips and make them happen, sometimes with friends whose company I enjoy and sometimes by myself whose company I also enjoy. I find it when I allow myself to stay in one night to get lost in a bubble bath and a book that feeds my soul and not let my head tell me I should be going out being social because that’s what people my age do.I find it when I write. I find it when I love my friends and family fearlessly with no concern of getting hurt.I find it when I scream my lungs out to my favorite song even if it’s in dead traffic and everyone can see me. I find it when I find the strength and courage to believe I am enough. I’ll be searching for Australia for the rest of my life, if I’m lucky.

 

Post-it.

“Make better choices,” says the neon blue post-it stuck to your wall next to your bed. Not your finest penmanship but undeniably yours. Except, where it says “better,” it had previously said “good”. “Good” was scratched out and in its’ place: “better.”

They always tell you it’s not worth it. Whatever excuse you can conjure up, it’s not worth it. You say you just wanted to be in your own bed, but is it worth the thousand dollar fine, the arrest, the loss of your motor-vehicular freedom, those ominous 3 letters, DUI, hanging over your head? But you’re not that drunk anymore, you had some carbs and absorbed the alcohol and you are fine to drive… but at the end of the night that decision will be made by the breathalyzer, and that’s one showdown you’re not prepared to lose. They say it’s never worth it. But as you speed down the 101, you pray to whatever god is out there that will still listen that there’s no CHP officer out on the road tonight who’s been just dying to perform his newfound way to administer the finger-to-nose test. You can only cringe at the thought of getting trapped in an unavoidable DUI checkpoint on the shortcut you take to avoid that intersection that takes your picture if you run a red light. You see it in the distance: the golden gate bridge. For most it is a beautiful landmark of our beautiful state, to you it marks the 20 miles left you have to travel to make it alive and into your bed tonight. They say it’s never worth it.

But as his arm unwrapped around you and he slowly turned his back to you, you knew there was no way you could wake up tomorrow in this low budget hotel room. No way you could do the scavenger hunt for your clothes, the attempt at a silent exit, the early morning drive home that leaves you alone with your thoughts and flashes of the night past. No, you definitely couldn’t do that. You have to do it now. In a few short hours you can wake up in your own bed and pretend you were there all night.

“You have to trust me,” he had said. Have to; an interesting choice of words: not a suggestion, not a request. A command. You have been missing the weight of a man on top of you, a touch that sends chills down your spine from excitement. And here it is right in front you: the unbearable weight of a man, the touch that gives you chills… but the chills don’t feel the same as you remember.

One would think it would be hard for a man to continue as the girl beneath him is hysterically crying. Your lips said no but maybe your eyes were saying yes. You don’t know, alcohol does this to you right? And no one made you drink except yourself. And you think to yourself, “Maybe I do want to do this.” But you didn’t want to right now; you didn’t want to like this… You didn’t want to.

When you had gotten to his hotel room that night you had suggested you get beer. How the plan for a 6 pack of beer got exchanged for a handle of Captain Morgan you’re not really sure. You don’t even like dark liquor. He does. Back at the hotel room his jokes about your pussy-sized shots spur you on to drink like you’ve never drunk before. You always did like to believe you could keep up with the boys.

Make good scratch better choices. They don’t have to be good, they just have to be better. Better than the choices you’ve been making.

You choose to wake up the next morning and plan a busy day ahead of you so that it’s easier to not think about last night. In fact, why think about last night? Last night didn’t happen because you woke up in your own bed. You choose to lock this memory away in a teeny tiny box in a deep, dark pocket of your mind. You choose that if for some reason this memory does come up, maybe you’re having an off day, you’ll just have to chalk it up to another drunken adventure gone wrong. The captain did you dirty once again. Because it’s easier to think that than to think that something was taken away from you that night. Let’s be honest, it wasn’t your innocence. But maybe it was your dignity, or your sense of control. But you choose to ignore that loss.

Make better choices.

Good.

It is sometimes so uncomfortable for me to say I’m good when I’m actually good. It is actually more comfortable to me to say I’m good when I’m not good or to say I’m not so good even if I’m feeling alright. But to say I feel good and to actually feel good is unknown territory for me. And it feels unsafe and scary because to discover something new that I love means that something could be lost or disappear or taken away from me.

I’m in a very flux phase of life right now. In this phase, I’ve discovered some new things about myself. I like to color. It calms me down right before I go to sleep. I enjoy traveling alone and traveling with good company equally. I enjoy hikes. They’re extremely rewarding. I am capable of cooking but don’t necessarily enjoy cooking. I can have all the free time in the world and still the only motivation to clean I ever find is when someone is coming over. These are little things but they’re little things that make me, me. And it’s a good thing I’m starting to love being me because being me is something that can never be taken away from me.

Today I feel happy. And that’s great, because the people I love deserve to be happy.

I’d like to start by saying this is my opinion. You might disagree with it. It might be uncomfortable for you or make you angry, like most opinions that aren’t your own do. But it’s also based off of my experience, which is something no one can take away from me with any corny cliches or Bible verses people want to recite to me. 

I don’t think I’m alone in that when I was a kid everything was black or white, truth or fact, right or wrong.  My parents knew all the answers and everything new I learned was exciting, new, and factual information. 

So imagine how excited I was when before I was even old enough to read I was taught things like “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you” and “Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this.” This was my guarantee that this thing called life I was about to embark on was gonna be a breeze. All I had to do was commit to the Lord. 

As a teenager, the desires of my heart were probably much like any other teenager’s. I wanted to have friends, I wanted to be happy, I wanted others to like me and to like myself. And while I had some friends, I was far from happy and I hated myself. Now I can see that probably everyone my age felt the same way, but at the time I felt alone in this. And I felt especially confused because my whole life was going to church, praying, and reading my Bible. And if that wasn’t committing myself to the Lord I didn’t know what was. And yet I still didn’t have the desires of my heart. And I would stay up for hours at night asking God questions that I felt I really needed the answers to, feeling ready to end my life and this whole asking and you shall receive, seek and you shall find thing was not working out. I took these verses as fact, so if I wasn’t getting the desires of my heart I must not be committing  myself to the Lord right. And if I’m seeking and not finding I must not be seeking right, my faith must not be strong enough. 

I don’t believe in karma. I don’t believe in the universe hearing you or any cosmic forces that punish you for wrong and reward you for right. Because I’ve lived too much life to see that horrible things happen to good people and good things happen to horrible people. And although the rational adult side of me can know this with my head, the child in me still feels in my heart that the depression and suicidal ideation I still experience is me being punished for not believing enough, for not doing enough, for not being good enough. 

People with multiple degrees and PhDs devote their whole lives to understanding and analyzing the Bible and I was taught it as a child with no tools to distinguish fact from fiction, my belief from someone else’s belief. 

I’m not writing this because I’m mad or resentful. I’m more so writing it because I think it’s important to explain why I still have such an allergic reaction to the idea of prayer, because of all the times I felt I wasn’t praying hard enough or faithfully enough or right. I still will get annoyed with you if you mention anything about God’s plan, because I thought I was taught God’s plan and life proved me wrong. 

I don’t know what I believe. I think the only thing I believe in is life and life happening. And I believe in having people in my life who support my ongoing journey figuring out what that all means.  

 

Transitory.

Our whole lives we are programmed to progress to the next indicated level. We go from kindergarten, to grade school, to middle school, to high school, to college, to “real life.” What no one ever warned me about is that there will come a time where the next step isn’t so clearly laid out for me. And that time will suck.

Until the age of 24, I found comfort in my identity as a student. Being a student meant for me that I was progressing. It was acceptable to not know what I wanted to do next. They told me to study something I was interested in and the rest would figure itself out. And maybe eventually it will. But right now I find myself in the uncomfortable state of constantly asking myself, “What now?

I’m at a point where I have no strings tying me down to any geographic location: no specific career path to follow and no significant other to be close to. I have family and friends in different areas and I will always be missing somebody or something no matter where I go. This is the ideal time to drop everything, travel the world, and experience new adventures. However, having no specific career path to follow and therefore a job that barely allows me to get by, traveling is not an option. It’s hard not to feel stuck.

I feel like I have had many different identities throughout my lifetime, and none that I still identify with. I long for something deeper that anchors me no matter where I go in life. I envy others’ connection with something bigger than themselves and I am constantly searching for my own that makes sense to me.

So here I am in the thick of an existential quarter-life crisis, constantly asking myself, “What now?

9 percent.

These statistics might be off, but I recently heard that 9% of Americans suffer from diagnosed depression and 3% major depressive disorder. Only 3%. Sometimes I forgot that not everyone thinks like me, that everyone might not see their future as a black hole caving in on them. Not everyone has difficulty getting out of bed in the morning(or afternoon) and in fact, they might even be excited about it. I know that I am not alone, but people say “you’re not alone” as if being alone would be the worst possible thing to happen to you. I’m not alone but I’m not sure that diminishes any of the pain. Fighting depression feels like a daily uphill battle. I’m tired.