oh facebook. where would i be without you? probably done with my homework, that's where.

1.) Only days left until SEND: Camden 2010. If 2009's trip was any indicator of how this one will go, it's sure to be another one of the best experiences of my life.
2.) I still run on Dunkin' most of the time, but I now also have a particular fondness for Boston Donuts on Park Ave. Khalua Creme or Almond Joy iced coffee can sometimes put hazelnut to shame.
3.) Unsure if I'm feeling up to the challenge of forgoing Facebook for forty days and forty nights another time around.
4.) Ever wonder how LCD screens work? Ever care to know? It's not all that exciting, trust me.
5.) The age of technology has put us in constant contact with one another. Sometimes I wonder if that's always a good thing. The more technologically advanced we get, the more we drift away from the simpler joys in life.
6.) Turns out Khaki-Beige Puke doesn't show up on anybody's list of favorite colors.
7.) Ever see those TV ads by Autism Speaks? The estimated prevalance of autism spectrum disorders in the US is 1 in every 110 births. This is, in its simplest form, a national health crisis. I can only hope that sometime in the next 10, 20, or 30 years, we unlock some answers to the questions "why?" and "how?" I'm sure any parent who has ever watched their child lick the swim instructor hopes so too.
8.) You turn 21, and everything changes.
9.) Oh camp. I will truly miss 36 hours of student leader bonding in the deep woods with the mosquitoes and poison ivy. Nothing says "We're in this together for the good of our fellow members of the student body" like 50 different ice breakers topped off by completing a low ropes course.
10.) First of all, barbecue sauce is now and forever will be my favorite condiment. Second, me on any sort of cold medication is bound to yield entertaining results. And if the good people of SEARCH want to know what my favorite order at Charlie's is after I've taken Alka Seltzer Plus, then by God, they are going to get a thorough answer and explanation.
11.) Sir Francis Bacon made his way into two disciplines I studied this semester. How nice of him to show up.
12.) Like all jobs, being the designated weekend night ramen cooker has its benefits and its risks. I knew what I was getting myself into when I signed up for this. It comes with the territory.
13.) By "recycle," rest assured I do not mean we played Bounce or Break off the balcony above 6R. I can neither confirm nor deny, however, if we maybe got sick of them taking over the kitchen and passed up the trip to 6men to put them in the recylcing barrel, instead shoving the bags of bottles into the dumpster outside our apartment. Don't tell Becca.
14.) We finally figured out what it stands for. Students Talking About Religious Topics. START love is easily one of the greatest loves I have ever known.
15.) Sometimes I feel like the name change might still be relevant. Other times, I feel like maybe I'm not a giant epic failure... I'm just in a learning stage.


2 dollars and 40 cents

Nicki got us all Christmas gifts. They're little coin jars, each one painted with a cute theme picked to match the receiver. Kim's jar is a Wine Fund, Becca's is Vacation Money, Maggie's is for Happy Hour and mine is for Hopeless Dreams.

I laugh. It's a good gift, not at all offensive because I'm forever complaining about wishing & hoping for things I can't have, things that most likely won't happen. To me, this is great, because it's someone else besides myself acknowleging that a lot of the time, when I find something in life that I really want to happen, the joke is on me. Now, I have a way to take my wishful thinking and transform it into something I can use as a financially-struggling college senior: a jar full of spare change.

While still laughing, I start taking change from off my desk and placing it into the jar. I proudly dedicate each coin to one of my many Hopeless Dreams, like the jar instructs me to. Nicki shakes her head, laughs, and leaves the room.

Over the next few days, I continue this routine of taking my coins and dropping them through the slot in the jar, pairing each one with another crazy and unlikely wish, just like a kid at a water fountain. Pennies are for everyday hopeless wishes; quarters are saved for the big important stuff. Nickels and dimes are for everything in between.

About three days and $2.35 later, I realize I've been doing it all wrong.

"Y'know, I was gonna say something to you about that," Nicki says, "but then I figured there was no way you read it wrong that many times, and you must have just thought you'd made a really funny joke, and I didn't want to crush that for you yet."

With that, I drop another nickel into my Hopes & Dreams coin jar: this one's for spontaneous free-of-cost vision improval.

Kinda got me thinking though... maybe all my hopes & dreams aren't as hopeless as I always think they are.


"so did you pick a talk topic yet, or do i need to send you an angry email?"

yeah. i picked my stupid topic. not like i had much choice in the matter, though. it's been staring me down since last friday night saying "pick me. just suck it up and do it already. i don't care if you don't want to, you HAVE to."

4. WHAT KEEPS US FROM GOD? SIN AND FORGIVENESS: Talk giver must be open about his/her sins; how did your behavior hold you back from fully living your life? What effect does sin have on your personality? On the larger community? What is your experience with forgiveness and the freedom that comes with it? What has your experience with the sacrament of reconciliation been like? How does it feel to know that God forgives you?


quite honestly, the thought of "sharing" about my sinfulness with a group of confirmation kids and a handful of my own peers & friends makes my stomach knot up big time. i've done a lot of stupid things in my life--stupid things that i don't want to tell people about for fear of judgment. not like most people would have the right to judge, since they've probably done the same stupid things i have. it just makes me squeemish because i don't even know why i did them. i probably judge myself more than anyone else judges me.

there are other topics i could choose from. i could talk about Jesus' mission on earth. i could talk about the meaning and importance of the sacrament of confirmation. i could even go in the complete opposite direction of sin and talk about the gifts God has given me. for whatever reason, though, i'm drawn to this one. the more i think about it, the more i realize it's an opportunity to reconcile with myself and my actions.

remember going to confession for the first time ever? you spent months as a little kid remembering what the teachers said you had to do when it happened. there were lines to memorize and motions to follow: "bless me, father, for i have sinned. this is my first confession," followed by a list of all the bad things you've done, and concluded with a sentencing--er, penance--given by the priest, then you had to say the act of contrition but of course there were 20 million different versions of that you could use and no one was quite sure which one was the REAL one. then, when the time came, you got all dressed up and sat in a pew with all the other seven-year-olds wondering what the parish's pastor, one of the highest figures of authority in your life, was going to think of you when you told him about the time you smacked your little brother upside the head because he was being obnoxious, even though he probably deserved it. you sat in the confessional across from the priest, stumbled over your lines, fidgeted a lot and felt like a terrible person for a few minutes, then had a teachable moment and finished the day up with a couple hail mary's and a glory be, and BAM--clean slate.

after the first time, this process became a regular, semi-annual occurance in my life during elementary school. it was the same thing every time; same sins, different day. the worst one was around third grade or so when i finally had the courage to confess to not going to church every sunday. i got a stern lecture from the pastor about how important it is to keep holy the sabbath, and had to say twelve--yes, TWELVE--hail mary's before i could consider myself clean. the great thing about reconciliation, though, was that i could go straight to the big guy to own up everything and got to completely bypass my parents (if they didn't already know about it, that is), thus avoiding punishment and more lecturing. even better was what i was getting in return... it wasn't like mom & dad could guarantee salvation after death for telling them about the time i called chris stupid for no reason other than his being a 5-year-old boy. sweet deal.

eventually, though, i lost God, and everything about faith lost its meaning to me. I went to confession a few times during high school before my own confirmation, but it didn't have the same feel-good effect as before. it was just another meaningless step i had to complete. moreover, i didn't have much incentive not to sin and just act like a moron in general. it's not like i was an out-of-control kid, but i definitely wasn't making decisions as a result of careful consideration or because they were what i thought i wanted.

the first time i went to confession after my confirmation was like the first time i had ever received that sacrament. i was nervous and fidgety and didn't want to go talk to the priest because i felt guilty. i had been on a retreat that whole weekend and i was starting to gain a sense of where i had gotten lost and how to get back to where i needed to be. luckily, paper and pens were provided for those of us who were too afraid to speak. i stared down at a blank sheet for a long time before i knew where to begin, but once my pen hit the paper, i couldn't stop it until everything weighing on my mind was on that paper.

my list of bad things i had done... updated accordingly to fit a young adult instead of a child.

it was a lot different than the one i had given the pastor at st. anne's nearly fourteen years earlier. it was a list full of stupid decisions and moments of weakness, of making in-the-moment decisions without thinking of the long-term consequences on myself and the people around me. the things on that list were the things i had done not because i really wanted to, or thought they might be good ideas, but because i didn't know what else to do.

the last item on my laundry list of sins:
"i am lost and confused. i have walked out on God, and i don't know how to get Him back. my mind has become so clouded over that i can't see clearly anymore."

this time, instead of the lecture i was convinced i was going to get, i got advice. i got empathy and caring. i got responses that showed that FINALLY, for the first time, someone understood what was wrong with me. for the first time in a long time, i felt forgiven and new. like a clean slate again.

later that day, standing next to some of the closest friends i have made over the last four years, including the one who asked me the question that started this thought process, i threw my sin list into a trash can with everyone else's and we all watched as each of our papers burned and turned to ashes at the bottom of the bucket. the sins weren't gone, they didn't disappear, but they were physically different. they had been transformed into something new.

now here i am, almost a year later, more faithful and happy and in-tune with myself than i have ever been. sometimes, like now, i find myself thinking back on the decisions i've made on the past. sometimes they make me angry. sometimes they make me sad. sometimes i get frustrated at myself and sometimes i wish i could build a time machine and take them all back. when i take a step back, though, i remember that i can't really erase my sins. they'll always be there. what's different is the way i look at them. they've been transformed from stains on my soul to teachable moments and, ultimately, steps on the path to where i am now. i've learned a lot from what i've done wrong--i've learned about who i am, about what makes me happy, why i am where i am and why things have happened the way they've happened.

like i said before, i've done a lot of stupid things in my life.
but if it wasn't for those stupid things, i wouldn't be the person i am right now. and i gotta say, i like who i'm becoming these days a lot better than who i have been before.

anyway, yeah, i picked my topic. i don't need an angry email from you. do me a favor though: when you listen to my talk, remember the day we stood and watched those papers burn in the trash, because that's when i became the jenn i am now, the only one of me you've gotten a chance to know. and this jenn really doesn't want you to think any less of her because of the one who used to be in her spot.


happy thanksgiving :)

**Note: My mom has been telling me I should write here more often. She's probably tired of trying to convince any relatives that possibly pay attention to this thing that I'm not depressed.Well...I'm not depressed. I'm doing quite well, actually. I'm just busy, which is a good thing. So after dropping off the face of the earth for a while and taking a quick break from feelings, here's something new. Enjoy, and I hope it proves I'm not depressed.**

It's Thanksgiving Eve. Cold and rainy, and the streets of Downtown Crossing are already decorated for the holidays. The Salvation Army is out in full force and every store is blaring a different version of Jingle Bells.

Liz and I are eating quesadillas at Fajitas and Rita's. We're carefully avoiding talk of "the future," because that's just not polite dinner conversation for two seniors in college. But it's on both of our minds, and it's bound to come up eventually. The challenge is picking the right context in which to bring it up and presenting the topic in just the right way.

"So what day is your graduation?"
"May 15th."
"Awwww seriously? UMass and Suffolk's graduations are both the 23rd. I was hoping you were gonna say that Assumption's was that day too. How cool would that be if all three were the same?"

Good start. This leads into more serious discussion about such things as career choices, grad school options, and "Suddenly I decided this year that I don't really like one of my majors" dilemmas.

Luckily, we manage to realize what it is we're talking about and we both shut up before this horrifying conversation can go any further. We continue the rest of our quesadilla dinner in silence, apart from the occasional comment about the strange artwork around us and the fact that we never did get that side order of olives we asked for. Eventually Kayti gets out of work and texts us, and we venture out into the rain towards Fanueil Hall to find her and figure out where to go next.

Liz, Kayti, and I have spent every Thanksgiving Eve together since 8th grade. In high school, there would be more people involved besides us three; usually Fatima and Ashley, sometimes Kelly and Danielle, a few more here & there. We'd get out of school after pep rally at 10:45, hop on the Green line, go out to eat, pick names for Secret Santa, maybe see a movie, maybe get some early Christmas shopping done. The people and activities varied from year to year, and as the time since our high school graduation continues to grow longer and longer, it gets harder and harder for everyone's paths to cross again. But by some miracle, on the last Wednesday of November, we three still manage to find our way back to each other.

The three of us have grown immensely since Thanksgiving Eve of 2005. Since then, we've become adults. We've earned diplomas. We've branched out and started lives separate from each other. One of us went to UMass Amherst to study journalism anthropology and Latin American studies. One of us went to Suffolk to study forensic science. One of us went to Assumption to study biology. Since Thanksgiving Eve of 2005, the last Thanksgiving Eve before our high school graduation, we've made ourselves new groups of friends. We've found new people to laugh with, to cry with, to fight with, to hang out with. We've each found new groups of people to be college students with.

Each of us has become someone new.
Each of us has grown up.

There was a time where I couldn't imagine life apart from these two. We had been best friends since 7th grade, and when graduation came around six years later and we were heading off to start our new lives in three completely separate areas of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, it almost seemed like a bad dream. I was quiet. I was socially awkward. People knew me by association with my younger brother. How was I supposed to survive somewhere completely new without them by my side?

Well, we're entering the home stretch. Fall '09 finals are right around the corner, and after that comes the last semester of my undergraduate college career. I am proud, ecstatic, and, in all honesty, even a little surprised to say I did it. I survived. I made a new group of friends, some of the best I've ever had. I became involved in a wide varitey of clubs and activities at school, from Class Assembly and CAB to Chapel Choir and START Retreats. I became an a cappella performer and a student leader. I've held officer positions in two organizations for the past two years. I've learned so much about myself since June 2006, and I'm still learning more every day.

Maybe I had a bit of a rocky start at the beginning, but I've somehow managed to hold my own for the past four years. I've made it this far with no major issues except for a health/fire safety violation (and subsequent probation) for possession of birthday candles and a couple of weekend nights gone terribly wrong at the hands of Captain Morgan. Even after that quick field trip to the emergency room during gen chem lab in October of freshman year, when I thought for sure I was doomed to be known as "the fainter" until May 2010, I got over it and now look back on it with a good laugh, like I do with all the other bumps in the road I've hit on my way here.

Compared to the me of my high school days, I am as much a different person now as I am the same person. There are pieces of me that only my college friends know, not neccessarily because those pieces weren't there in high school, but because I didn't know how to express them. I didn't know what they were yet, didn't know what to do with them. However, I wouldn't know where to even start looking for those pieces if not for the guidance of my high school friends. They were the ones who knew me before I knew myself. They were the ones who saw potential in me where I saw shortcomings. They were the ones who prepared me for the day I would have to leave Boston Latin School and move on to bigger (sort of?) and better things, the ones who brought me to the end of one chapter so that I could start the beginning of a new one. They know where I've been, and I know I'll still be able to find them once I get to wherever it is I'm going.

We're an indecisive group; we always have been. After relying on a series of coin tosses to determine our course of action for the night, we find ourselves sitting at the bar in Kinsale. We catch up on each other's lives. Each of us has been well, each of us is enjoying school for the most part. One of us has a boyfriend but doesn't want him touching her unless he finds a way to turn into Rob Pattinson. One of us has recently found interest in a guy who does not appear to have a boyfriend of his own (although she still finds the ones who are boyfriends with each other quite attractive). One has a huge crush on a guy but is putting forth every effort to make sure he doesn't know about it unless, y'know, it happens to come up in casual conversation. We dance around the dreaded topic of "the future," but it finds its way into our reminiscing anyway. And wouldn't you know it, we're all freaking out. This is it, we're about to be shoved further into this place called the Real World that everyone keeps talking about, and none of us seems all too thrilled to have to leave the comfort of this apparent Fake World we've all been living in up until this point.

It's scary. It's like June 2006, part II--but this time around, the stakes are higher; the unknown maze up ahead is looking a lot more confusing than the one we faced just four years ago.

Just when it looks like the same depressing silence from dinner's failed "future" talk is about to overtake our lovely get-together, Kayti makes an observation:

"How great is it to be able to sit at a bar and just talk instead of wandering around Boston for hours with nothing to do and nowhere to go?"

She's right. It is great. It's Thanksgiving Eve 2009, and we've finally all reached the age where we can park ourselves at a bar for a few hours, relax, and enjoy a few brews, instead of having "movie" or "shopping" as our only two options. While the Thanksgiving Eves of the past have all been great, this is a first. This is huge, because it's actual proof that we have grown up. We're 21, 22, and 21, so different than the 18-, 18-, and 17-year-olds we were when we left high school but still so the same. We've gone different places, done different things, met new friends, been shaped and transformed into new people, but we can still bring it back to where it all started. We've kept the tradition of Thanksgiving Eve alive from 8th grade to the end of college, even though we've become different people. We'll continue to keep it alive in 2010, 2011, and--dare I say--even 2019. We'll have to adapt to our various new situations and new adventures, but that's what they made things like telephones, Skype, and babysitters for. Somehow, we'll find a way to bring it all back while still allowing ourselves to fly free and do whatever it is each of us has been put on this earth to do.

That's not only great. That's beautiful.

This year, I'm thankful for my friends, old and new. I'm thankful both for the ones who have watched me grow up over the past four years, and for the ones who got me to the point where I could allow myself to grow up. And, as freaked out as I get when forced to acknowledge "the future," I'm thankful for the new roads that we'll all find in front of us at the end of this year. Each new road is a new opportunity for us to grow up a little more and become new people; another reason for you to call up those friends, both old and new, grab a few beers and celebrate a made-up holiday so you can get to know the new people each of you has become. Because when it comes to growing up, half the fun of arriving at wherever it is you're going is being able to take a trip back to the place you came from.


i drove.

i drove south and east for an hour. just me. i didn't stop until i was there, until it was right in front of me.

the sagamore bridge. one of the most easily recognizable symbols of summer in new england.

over that bridge, everything melts away and washes out to sea. all you have to do is feel the sand under your toes, the warmth of the sun, the cool ocean water on your skin. all you have to do is smell the freshness of the air and listen to the people laugh. all you have to do is stand on the shore and look out at the vast open horizon in front of you, picture yourself in comparison to the atlantic ocean you're standing in and realize your place in the big picture. over that bridge, everything is right.

i live for summer. i wait for it every year from september until june. it's when i'm the happiest, because it's when i feel like i'm really me, like i can break out of my shell and still be okay. i rely on my summers to get me through all the crap in the other three seasons, to give me a reason to think optimistically in a world too often preoccupied with death, destruction, doom, and dismay. i get excited and i get my hopes up; i make big plans for my summers based on the daydreams i have on frigid, gloomy, gray afternoons. and while most of these big plans just continue on as daydreams, enough amazing and wonderful unplanned things usually happen to make up for it.

this year, june rolled into boston and brought with it about 23 days' worth of cold, rainy, march-esque weather. maybe that should have been the first clue that this summer wouldn't be like the others.

i'm a firm believer that any situation is only as bad as you make it out to be. if you're willing to keep yourself facing forward and to get back up when you fall, everything will work out. but right now, i have 5 days left of summer, and i don't feel okay, not at all, even though i did so much. i grew so much and accomplished so much this summer. but for whatever reason, i'm stuck in this emotional low point and i don't think those 5 days are going to help much because i'm at a loss for what to do to fix it. in fact, i'd like nothing more than to just fast forward through them and get out of this shitty season of disappointment, just so i can start waiting and hoping that next summer will go a little better.

i drove all the way to the sagamore bridge, but that was it. i didn't make it over to the other side.

instead, i stayed on the west side of the canal and drove a quarter mile down route 6 to the closest dunkin donuts i could find, where i then had the worst-tasting iced coffee i've ever had in my life. it was like it was my punishment for not going where i knew i wanted & needed to go.

another day down, 5 to go.

good thing i still believe in miracles, because i could use one at this point.


so what if absence makes the heart grow fonder?

what good does it do to grow fonder over something or someone who can't be there? the feelings that result from that are usually not the...happiest...in the world.

kinda a dick move on the part of absence, in my opinion.


writer's block.

"I know this is probably a stupid statement considering where we are at the moment, but holy sh*t, you look miserable."

"My eyes are itchy and I can't stop sneezing. I think I'm allergic to something back there."

"Allergic? Nah, it's probably just your body rejecting Shaw's."

She laughed.

"I'm serious," he said. "Would not surprise me at all. This place sucks."

There were three carts behind the counter, one filled with brownie cookies and the other filled with ring cakes, all for a table to be set up in the front of the store.

"So wait--you're closing tonight and opening tomorrow? That's f*ckin awful."

"I'm not opening tomorrow. Susan is in at 5 to bake, and I'm in at 7."

"Close enough. Honestly, if I was you, I'd be like f*ck this place. I'm not coming in tomorrow. I'm done. Go ahead, say it: F*ck Shaw's!"

She laughs and says it quietly, almost loud enough to be a whisper.

"Are you kidding me? That was weak. You gotta say it like you MEAN it!"

This place drives me crazy sometimes, no doubt about it, she thinks to herself, but most of the time I enjoy it. I work with some fun people. And hell, I have a job. That's more than a lot of people can say these days.

She wheels the carts up to the front of the store to start filling the empty table. It's 6 pm, an absolutely gorgeous summer evening. Customers are still coming in, sun-kissed and smiling after enjoying a weekend in the sun.

He comes out from inside the produce department, carrying the ugly almost-beige polo shirt in his hand. "I'm outta here, thank God," he says on his way to punch out. He continues his rant on his way out the door, well past the empty carts. "I'm free. I'm off the clock. Now I can say it as loud as I want: F*CK SHAW'S, YOU ARE THE DEVILLLL!"

She looks out after him. The sun is still out, there isn't a cloud in the sky. For a minute, she seriously considers dumping the cart of baked goods right there on the floor and following him out of the store to sweet freedom. Her better judgement eventually pulls through, and she waits the extra hour until her shift is over before leaving.

The next morning, at 7 AM, she slaps some labels on pakages of dessert shells and brings them up to produce, where he's rotating some kind of odd apricot-plum hybrid fruit.

"SO great to be back here, huh??" he says sarcastically.

"Haha. Feels like I never even left," she replies. And as she says it, she finds it funny that despite everyone's constant whining about how much they hate it, the same faces always show up the next day, the next week, the next month, year, decade.

They weren't lying... something about it certainly does have the capability to suck you in.

picture prompt from Write On Right Now! http://www.writeonrightnow.blogspot.com/



if only autism could speak.

Being in constant severe pain and not being able to tell your parents or doctor what's happening must really suck. The words and the emotions are there, but they can't come out. It's not your fault, it's just the way you were made.

Man. Talk about frustrating. I feel for ya, kid...I don't know how you put up with it. If it was me, I'd probably be biting myself and everyone around me too.

Hang in there.


humans are dynamic beings, constantly changing and adapting to various situations. no one can be the exact same person when they go to sleep at night as they were when they woke up that morning.

but general personality traits should probably stay pretty stable from day to day. so if you're gonna be nice, then be nice. don't be nice for a day or two and then decide to switch it with an asshole card. i can't keep up.

consistency. that's all i ask for, really.


Congratulations on Your 1st Birthday

Hope it was worth the trouble you went through to fake a 1st birthday just to get a $5.99 cake for free. Here's a tip: next time you try to get a promotional free "Baby's First Birthday" cake, don't ask the person taking the order to write CONGRATULATIONS on it. If you're gonna be cheap, at least get the freakin occasion right.


happy belated father's day, bruce

And especially to you, Dad. I am more proud of you now than words can ever express. Lovelovelove from my heart to yours.

for those of you paying attention, my dad did not change his name to bruce. i don't know bruce. i just happened to write on his belated father's day cake. but i do hope bruce enjoyed his father's day as well.


internship, day one

When I walked in the room, they already knew my name. "This is Jenn too! Now there are two Jenn's in the group! And if the other Jen came in, then we would have THREE Jenn's in this room!" The three elementary school-aged boys tell me their names in a tangle of shouts and laughter. One jumps and claps. The two others are sharing a seat; one ends up on the ground and decides he likes it there instead.

They are overly-energized and eager to impress any audience they might have. And you wouldn't know it at first glance, but they all have one important thing in common: each one falls on the high-functioning end of a developmental or autistic disorder.

The two speech & OT therapists work patiently with the boys, paying close attention to and utilizing each one's strengths and weaknesses. They give constructive comments in areas that need work and give them much needed encouragement and praise when they succeed. They work with the boys on group & one-on-one interactions, as well as helping them tune up their speech and movement. The entire one-hour session is, basically, hands-on training in social skills.

Too freakin' cool.

In one exercise, the kids pair off with a buddy. The simple objective: to learn something new about your buddy that you didn't know before by asking him questions. With the help of the therapists, they hold pretty engaging conversations about everything from favorite foods to names of pets. After a few minutes, the group comes back together and each person shares what they learned about their buddy.

One boy, who looked to be about 5 or 6, stood up to share what he learned about his buddy, who happened to be one of the therapists. "We both like dogs," he said as he alternated from looking out the window to looking at the ground. "I like dogs a lot. I had a dog but he was old so he died. Her dog is still a baby. And she likes hot dogs too with mustard and onions but I don't like that when I eat a hot dog because I don't like onions." His hands flap wildly as he speaks, leading me to guess that maybe he's in the group to help manage the effects of Asperger syndrome.

I go to college with a few people who have Asperger's. I've heard what people say about them, about their awkward tendencies and their strange ways of social interaction. I chalk it up to a lack of understanding about a relatively newer and lesser-known diagnosis. There's no reason for their quirky or strange behavior other than that they're wired to respond to social cues a little differently than what we perceive as the "norm." Get beyond that little bump and you can have as engaging and "normal" a conversation with them as you could with anyone else.

Hot dog kid is lucky. All of the boys are. They're getting essential support in mastering skills that will help them succeed in all aspects of their lives, in the present and in the future. What they learn in that social skills & playgroup now will help them ten, fifteen, twenty years down the line. It makes a visible difference. And I can't wait until I someday get to be part of someone's support network.

Yes. This is exactly what I want to be doing with the rest of my life.


words to a friend... 12:55 am wednesday june 3

"i think if you care a lot about a person, it takes a very long time to get rid of the pain. who knows, maybe you can never fully get rid of it. but eventually, you'll convince yourself not to let it take you down. it all has to get better eventually... hopefully sooner rather than later."



You know what I like? Epiphanies. That one moment when the lightbulb flicks on in your head and all of a sudden you start making all these connections that seem so obvious now but were hiding before. When you finally start feeling like you're closer to figuring it all out. There aren't many feelings better than that.

The past is old news. You can't go back and relive it. There's nothing you can do about it now except think about it, learn from it, replay it as much as you need to until you're satisfied. After all, everything that happened back then affects you right now to some degree. Good or bad, life-changing or insignificant, it's all a part of you.

so when you finally sit down and think, think back, think back and really dig through the past to figure out the reason why you decided to find a shell to take cover in,
decided to hide from the world under baggy clothes and big hooded sweatshirts and long hair in your face,
decided to keep your thoughts and emotions to yourself because you were better off just staying quiet,
and you figure out that it was probably all because of some stupid thing that was said about you years and years ago by some stupid girl who you weren't even friends with,
and because all her stupid friends, many of whom were once all your stupid friends, all of whom you had known almost your entire stupid life, turned and laughed at you when she said it,
and because a few days later some other unrelated stupid person did some other stupid thing that also made you feel like the stupidest person on this whole stupid planet and then all sorts of stupid variations of those stupid events continued to take place throughout the next couple of stupid years,
then... maybe you'll feel a little stupid.
because the past is the past, right? and it was a 13-year-old kind of issue that you should have probably outgrown and forgotten about, right? and... they were just words. stupid words, at that. words can't hurt, right?
sticks and stones can break my bones but words can never hurt me...?
hah. whoever came up with that saying should have included a disclaimer that it's only valid until age 7.
those words hurt more than any stick or stone i've ever come in contact with.

They say time heals everything. Maybe they're right. But some wounds are deeper than others, some require more time and more care to really heal the right way. So maybe, it's okay that something that happened years ago is still very much a real part of you. Maybe now that it's out in the open, you can start to accept it and get beyond it.

The past is important, but it doesn't need to rule your life. The present and future are just as essential. Once you find the cut, you can try to stop it from bleeding out into what's happening now and what's yet to come. You can help it heal, and with time and patience, you can make it all okay. This is it, this is our one shot at life, and the past can't take it over.

I had an epiphany. I know what happened to me and why. I'm ready now to really make it okay. I want to put the past where it belongs, to keep it as a part of me but to focus on the present and the future.


In less than a week, I will be a senior in college. Weird.

I have grown up. I've been an adult on paper for almost three years now, but now I'm starting to feel like one.

It's been a tough ride getting here, and there are certainly times in my life that I would much rather not relive. But if I were given the choice, I wouldn't do anything different. I wouldn't change any aspect of the past 21 years for anything in the world. It's the people, places, and events in my life that have shaped me to this point. I am who I am today because of where I have been, for better and for worse--I like to hope the better outweighs the worse.

And to the person who told me today that she was sorry she didn't do more to help me through the tougher parts--I want you to know that no one could have done it better than you did. You kept me grounded when I could have easily lost control. There aren't enough words to describe how incredibly grateful I am for all that you are, have been, and will be to me.

I only hope that I can one day be half as good at this as you.

Happy Mother's Day, Mommy. I love you.


I'm just a little black rain cloud

I have this weird habit of referencing or quoting obscure things from the past. For example, the other day there was this giant cloud of doom over campus that looked like it was just going to open up and start pouring any second, so I started saying "Tut tut, it looks like rain!" over and over again.

No one understood it until I explained the context in detail.


A flashback to childhood every so often is kinda cool.


wrong way

Yesterday I went for a run and noticed that the ear buds I have had hooked into my iPod for a while now have officially bit the dust. My roommate let me borrow hers and when I came back telling her how great they worked, she told me that I could find them cheap at Staples. Being the brilliant college student that I am, I decided this ear bud situation was an emergency (I sleep with my iPod on most nights and use it to block outside noise while doing work) and warranted an 8 PM field trip with two of my roommates to the Staples next to Target on Lincoln St. Twice, I took a wrong turn to get there--note that I've been to this shopping plaza millions of times before. I could tell you how to get there in my sleep.

Both times, the wrong turn I was taking was in the opposite direction of Staples and would eventually lead me to I-290, which is the way home. Yes. I subconsciously attempted to kidnap my roommates and go home. Twice.

Here's the thing--These past few days, I've gotten a lot accomplished. I pulled together a final project for my physics class on freakin' liquid crystals after having absolutely no idea what they did. I held it together and patiently got through a consortium registation fiasco that could have left me short of a pre-req for potential grad schools. I wrote a kick-ass paper on a book I only had 24 hours to read, secured a spot on the leadership team as vice present for a student organization I'm involved in, and I'm enjoying a seemingly smooth finish to my junior year of college. I have a lot to be proud of, and I am proud of myself.

I'm content with the way things are going right now, but I'm not as happy as I should be.

You know that worried feeling that sits in your stomach when you feel like you're forgetting something, or something's missing or otherwise just not right? That's how I feel right now. Something is out of place,and I have this feeling that I'm teetering on the edge of keeping it all under control or just losing it at any second over something stupid. I'm extra sensitive to people's words and actions when I shouldn't be. And I'm sorry in advance if I let go on someone who doesn't deserve it.

Yeah, I wish I was home right now. If I could pick any place in the world to go right this second, that's where I would be, because maybe the relief I'd feel from being home and being done with school for a while would flush out this wierd worried feeling and I can really be happy with everything I've done.

Guess I should have picked a more convenient time to start making wrong turns, so that maybe I could just keep driving straight to where I wish I was instead of having to reverse directions.


gotta start somewhere

I spent this past semester in my microbiology class looking up various information about the pathogenic organism Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the perpetrator of the disease more commonly known simply as tuberculosis, or just TB. One of the things I found out was that over 1/3 of the world's population is infected with MTB without even knowing it. Only 10% of those infected will ever begin to present symptoms of tuberculosis disease, but that doesn't mean nothing is happening--in fact, these little tiny bacteria set up camp in their host's immune cells, replicating over and over, creating proteins and virulence factors, waiting for their chance to break free and reach their full potential.

recently, i came to a realization that i am just the same.

By just the same, I don't mean that I'm a nasty microbe waiting to wreak havoc on some poor unsuspecting person's respiratory organs. What I mean is that I am constantly changing, feeling, evolving, thinking... and somewhere along the line, I convinced myself that it would be better to keep it all in, just bottle it up and not show any signs of anything going on in my head.

A high school teacher of mine once referred to me as the quiet soul at the back of her classroom. And she was right, I am quiet. For whatever reason, I taught myself over the years that keeping my mouth shut and my thoughts to myself at all times was probably in my best interest. On the plus side, I'm learning that this is not true. I've come to learn that within me, I have a voice that is dying to speak, and maybe other people would genuinely like to hear what it has to say. The problem is, all of it wants out. NOW. Faster than I can reverse upwards of 9 years of quietness.

I may not be able to use my voice as much as I would like, but I have two working hands always willing to pick up a pen or start typing.

So here it is. In my bacteria analogy, this is my lysing factor. This is my way of letting it all break out when it has to and my vocal cords won't let it. This is my place to put my thoughts for anyone who may be interested in them, until I really find my voice again.

Enjoy it.