Sunday, February 25, 2018

Written on New Year's Eve


The best way to describe it is as too much. Too much thinking. Have I done anything worthwhile in the past year? Because it certainly doesn't seem like I'm moving towards anything. Too much feeling. Guilt overwhelms me with the sense that I'm wasting resources--the primary resource being time. Too much nothing. Because it's all in my head. No one is around. Every three hundred and sixty-five days I find myself alone in this room having too many thoughts and assigning too much significance to a fleeting moment.

It's just that I've been taught to believe that I'm supposed to acknowledge the changing of the years as something special. Maybe that's something people made up to give themselves hope that their lives won't always be the same. They need the calendar to move them from one phase of their lives to the next. They want to abandon the stagnancy and pain and regret that define their current lives, and they need someone to tell them when to do it.

Don't they know that they don't need a new year to become the person they want to be? Every month is an opportunity to look at the past with forgiveness and acceptance. Every week offers the potential for a fresh start; every day, the chance to improve.

All of this optimism and sage advice doesn't diminish the fact that I'm still here, sitting alone. I can deny it all I want, but this isn't what I want. Is it?

<Lucy Cartin

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Addicted to Sticky Notes


The notion is extremely conceited. I recognize that. And I hope that my recognition serves to diminish some of the arrogance that I will inevitably pin to myself when I say that I have more thoughts than other people. There. It's out. I've done the damage, now please let me scramble to explain myself and attempt to cling on to whatever shreds of respect you might have for me.

It is all too supercilious of me to believe that other people are less complicated than me. When I fail to understand that every single person on this planet has just as many, if not more, complexities and nuances as myself, I fail to truly recognize the people around me as actual people, as humans with hearts that beat and palms that sweat. I don't want to be that person. But let me describe my alternative.

Have you ever been to the dollar section at Target? I spent a significant chunk of time and money there as a kid, and the result was an impressive collection of notepads. Let me tell you that those notepads did not go to waste. Around the age of ten, I started writing to-do lists and hour-by-hour schedules defining how I would spend my weekends and school vacations. My concern was that if I didn't have my plans in writing, then I would throw away all of my time watching television. I didn't trust myself to remember to do everything that I wanted to do.

Years ago, I mentioned that I have kept some form of journal since around the second grade. Records of conversations I had with friends, summaries of how I'd spent recent weeks, confessions of my endless insecurities, thoughts that keep passing through my brain--I have them all somewhere in some form of writing. Somehow, I had developed this fear that if I didn't write something down, I would forget it. I would lose it forever. So I felt this urgent need to write down everything happening to me, with me, or around me. Because I was desperately afraid of forgetting myself, of losing myself.

And it always feels like I'm on the brink of doing just that. I overthink who I am and why I act the way I do. What motivates me? Am I being myself or am I trying too hard to be this ideal person? But isn't trying to be the person that I want to be the same thing as being myself? Nothing I do feels natural. It all feels forced, like I'm constantly trying to execute some plan rather than just living my life.

The simple act of having thoughts like these makes my brain feel like it's running with no sign of stopping. It hurts. It gives me constant headaches and makes my heart beat faster. My fingers are always itching to do something because of it. Just to clarify, I mean all of this literally. This isn't a poetic description. My hands actually go kind of nuts. That's why I draw and write and play piano--to put my hands at ease.

The best thing I can do is write down as much as I can, because when I write down my thoughts it feels like I'm dumping them out of my head. Then for a little while, my head is empty enough to think about things like turbulent flow through a rough tube or high-pass circuit impulse responses. I mean, these things also give me headaches, but at least they're more productive.

But I digress. Let's get back to discussing that thing I said that makes me sound like an asshole. I kind of know that I don't think more than most people. But maybe I'd rather sound like an asshole than address the fact that other people have the brain capacity to deal with an endless stream of thoughts, and I just don't. I don't possess the mental strength to not be overwhelmed by my own thoughts.

Alternatively, everyone struggles the way I do, but we all just hide it from each other. Perhaps I am neither special nor stupid. But I don't like that. I've always aspired to be this great protagonist, which means I can't be normal. I have to stand out in some way, you know? I've either got to face this great disadvantage that I will eventually overcome in order to prove myself a hero, or I've got to possess this incredible trait that gives me a mark of superiority. I can't just be normal. I can't be satisfied with normal. Why else would I put so much effort into each of my outfits?

<Lucy Cartin

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Something that Doesn't Exist


A glowing laptop rests on a small table in front of me. My legs are propped up onto the chair next to me as I sift through the expanse of notes that surround me. White pages, blue lines, black scribbles--everything blurs together. I notice an ache in my upper back, a dull soreness in the back of my head, a slight burning sensation in my eyes. Sometimes there's music. Soothing classical. Energetic rock. Motivational pop. Sometimes there's silence--interrupted occasionally by the squeak of a chair, the whir of an overhead plane, an excited shout from outside.

This is how I spend most of my time. I spend it alone. I spend it staring at a screen. I spend it working. Does it sound boring? Because it is. That's why whenever I get the chance, I open a book and run to Pemberley or Gilead or Wonderland. Sometimes I watch Rory jump off of a three story ledge in a baby blue ball gown as she starts to fall in love with Logan. Or I'll put on a Ghibli film and follow Chihiro through the bathhouse or tag along with Sophie as she navigates the Wastes. Any time I get a chance, I attempt to make an escape, to abandon the neutral tones of my reality for a technicolor fantasy.

Occasionally, I'll contemplate how most of my "worldly knowledge" was obtained from fiction. Everything I know about falling in love is fiction-based. As is everything I know about great tragedies and overcoming adversity and soul searching. My perception of the world has been carefully written and edited--manufactured, if you will. It leads me to wonder if the things that I'm looking for actually exist. Because for my entire life, I've been searching for something. Something that makes an uptight person like me lose control. Something that forces me to stop thinking and just feel. What if this thing that I seek is fictional as well? Maybe I'll be trapped in my own head and under my own control for the rest of my life. Maybe there's no way out.

<Lucy Cartin

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Terminal 17


There's a relentless buzz pulsing through the air, as if the sound waves are oceanic rather than conical. I turn my head towards the sound, and my eyes fall up on shelves of rainbow colored plastic. Bottles, bags, and cans bursting with salt and sugar and chemicals whose names threaten to tie my tongue. I imagine that me pronouncing those names would sound something like the clashing of Terminal 16 and Terminal 18's overlapping announcements: a myriad of syllables that sound like a language I know but that don't really mean anything at all. Especially when blended with the rhythmic click of rolling wheels over tile, the slap of a flip flop against a woman's heel, the fascinated "wow"-ing of a toddler in a stroller, the announcements are hard to follow.

It's hard to focus on any voice or person for that matter. An endless stream of people walk past. I'm surprised the airport isn't filling up like a glass under a running faucet. Though I suppose it's true that people are leaving. People tend to do that at airports. I wonder where they're all going. Are they going on a trip? Perhaps it's baby's first vacation. Or maybe it's a big job interview. It could be a trip that's been done a thousand times before, like visiting Grandma for a few days or checking in with the clients up north. What if they're headed home? I'll bet they're tired, looking forward to sleeping in their own bed again. I hope they've got clean sheets and something edible in the fridge. Do they have family waiting at home? A roommate? A fish? Maybe they just have a piano that their fingers are itching to play. I should hope that something good awaits everyone when those planes land.

I just think it's nice to be surrounded by people who are all going somewhere. Stagnancy is kind of terrifying, isn't it?

<Lucy Cartin
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