September 29, 2011


I was looking through old drafts of blog posts, and I found this one. Apparently I never posted it, or, if I did, I went to edit it later and never put it back up. An essay from my junior year of high school.

I am in their house, his house, but the doors are twice my height. My sisters wear large pink dresses, layers of tulle bursting around their legs. They wobble about, unable to support their heavy crowns. Although I must stand on tiptoes to see over the couch, the dresses are too small. I leave the other girls and go upstairs, looking for him. I find him using the computer in the kitchen. I sit next to him, on the same chair but barely touching, and he shows me how to fight with animated soldiers.

He races up the hill in my backyard and I chase him, trying to release the competitive spirit that he has been coaxing from me all night. He trips over a tree root and slows, I slam into him, we tumble down. He catches himself on his elbows before landing above me, but his leg still comes down on mine and I groan. I look down, trying to disentangle, and I see his pale, pale arms, glowing in the barely-there moonlight.

The moon is above us, and we are silhouetted in its light. I dance down the middle of the street, ignoring the glass shards in my hand, forgetting that I’m leaving tomorrow. I dangle the spicy mint he wants so badly in front of his face before snatching it away as he lunges and I twirl down the street, singing “mine, mine, mine.” He gives up, returning to the sidewalk, but I continue to twirl and joy under the dull moon. Then he is beside me, grabbing me, pulling me over and a car runs by so fast I can barely see it, so close I can almost touch it. He saves me. Our mothers say that now we have to get married, like the rescued damsels in distress do in all the stories, and our blushes are hidden by the dangerous darkness. I still do not give him the mint.

We are back, before it all, in Iona, where the beach is close and the tide closer. My sister hit him earlier, and he didn’t hit her back, because he never hurt anyone, not back then. He has taught me to fight the way I could, has taught me not to flinch from pain by hurling ping-pong ball after ping-pong ball right at me, but would never hit a girl, would never hurt a soul, would always save my life. I trust his goodness. Our families are on the couches, spread out and close together, and we play a card game that is more laughing than thinking. I am wet for the first time. I notice, but I don’t know what it means. When I go to the bathroom later, there is a bloody spot on the inside of his basketball shorts, the ones I wear because my luggage is lost. My mother gives me Motrin and a bulky pad and cleans the shorts and tells me that I am a woman now, and I wear her sweatpants to bed and think but I am still twelve, and I am confused by all this growing up when all I really want is to play another round of cards.

I lie in bed that night in a room with my sisters but in my own bed because now I am special, now I am old. I realize, as the last bit of wakefulness leaves me, that my body has just told me that it is ready for sex, for love, for children. I try to picture it, but I don’t know how. The next day, I examine the books in the house until I find one with vivid sex scenes, perfectly specific, and I read until I can see it in my head and have to put the book down because the image disgusts me.

I am fifteen now and he is naked, above me around me within me, sweating, panting, shaking arms dark and glowing in the dim lamplight. I toss and turn, the visual plaguing me even though it has not happened and is based entirely on imaginings, but it makes my insides warm in a way that no other dreams do, and I decide not to chase it away.

It is snowing, and he is at my house, and we chase and run with a flock of children, throwing snowballs, and I see him break a window but he doesn’t know I saw. When the window is found later, no one ever knows that it was him. He wrestles his sister who is less than half his size after she calls him weak and emasculated and worthless. He is pushing her, tugging her, pinning her down with the arms that hold him over above within me. She claws at him, writhes, but cannot escape, and he tries to smother her with a pillow. I scream.

I can never marry him, never be with him, says my mother, because he is angry and only knows how to hit. That’s what comes of having a father like his.

I am sprawled across a couch in my basement, the gangling limbs that I’ve finally come to control and love and cherish stretching all the way from armrest to armrest. He is seated on the other couch, joystick in his hands, voice calm, steering an animated car around and around an animated track, destroying competitor after competitor as he tells me that he and his girlfriend broke up because he got angry and didn’t know what to do, that it just comes out, that, that now he’s not allowed to drive because his mother saw him hit his sister. “I don’t know why it happens,” he tells me, looking only at the television. “I can’t control it, can’t see it coming, I just get angry, sometimes.”

He breaks things.

We stand in the lights of the subway car, close together although it is late and the car is empty, falling into each other with each bump and curve and turn and stop. His eyes go transparent, the pale green-blue washed out by the bright bright lights, and I can see through him and into him and he is mine and I love him and I want him but I know he is not safe.

I bike down roads less than a mile from home but they are foreign now. I go faster and faster, imagining monsters on my tail, fighting to get away, fighting the urge to go to his house and throw rocks at his window and cry that I want him and need him and beg him to hold me. I cannot go there, cannot do that, cannot let him know because even if he loves me, even if he wants me, I cannot have him. I pedal, and I cry, and I pray, seriously for the first time in my life, that this hurt can go away, that this love can run its course and leave me because I am too feeble to fight him and to weak to let go. I must not love a boy who is dangerous.
I feel like a hand-height section of my torso around the vicinity of my bellybutton has been filled with knives. I know I'd been saying for the past few days that I'd rather have the cramps than the soreness that precedes it, but at this point I'd go back in an instant.

At the very least, now I'm working on my math pset instead of going to a physics recitation. Which kind of counts as being productive. But, mostly, I just hurt.

That was written a while ago. Now it's much, much later, and I'm back at the dorm, and I'm pretending that it's still the 28th because it isn't 6 am yet. Being silly on Bonfire is a heck of a lot of fun. James continues to be highly ticklish, and Ruby is continuing her efforts to learn what girls James thinks are cute (so far--there is at least one computer science girl at AIS who I also know who is attractive. Also, James doesn't want a trophy wife when he grows up).

In other news, Victor's hair is incredibly fluffy, I babble about things I shouldn't when I get tired, and Nicole squees about gay boys and cats. I squee about astronomy, though (not, as Nicole thought, astrology. Good god...), so it kind of works out.

Now, I really should sleep. Even if sleep is for the weak.

Someone said that in 13 Days, which we watched for my foreign policy class. "Sleep is for the weak." So the statement could not have originated with Becton.

September 27, 2011

Too Many Things

Ken finally decided to ask for my student evaluations from this summer. This means that I have to finish writing them (I have three left at this point), which is kind of a problem, because it interferes with what time I have to goof off and be thoroughly unproductive (which is actually a surprising quantity. Well, that or I've gotten very use to taking advantage of what little empty times I can eke out during the day).

I'm with my physics study group right now. People suddenly started saying "derp derp derp" and it sounded like rain.

Now I'm still being unproductive. I have to do a "library assignment" for chem (Can we use the internet to search for journals? Yes we can!), and finish a two page essay for my foreign policy class tomorrow (and by "finish" I also mean "start."). And then there's the math pset due on Thursday that I probably won't start until Wednesday night.

In other news, I'm waiting for the day that I go to call Jason and accidentally contact Ken. Because they're alphabetically next to each other on my phone, and I'm really not that observant of an individual.

Now, I should probably go and be productive. Because that would probably be a good idea.

I'm really really hungry right now. 19:30 is a very long way away. But eating now would be stupid, because I have gym class at 14:00, which isn't very long from now. I think I'm veering into the level of "things no one actually cares to read about," but I can't think of any actually good stories.

September 21, 2011

Lowlight of 8th Grade English

I found, also, the poem I wrote describing my depressive episode during the winter of that year.


You feel down,
Down so low it feels like there isn't any up.
It feels like the hurt
Of all 6 billion people in the world
Has been dropped
On your shoulders,
And it's weighing you down,
Even though you don't know what it is.
You cry and cry,
For no reason, no reason at all, it seems.
You stand on the wall and look down.
You are sad, but somehow can't feel a think.
A voice in your head says jump,
Fall from this wall that you stand on so high
Above a world that can't understand you;
Fall from the people who never even try to listen.
You run from the voice,
But running from yourself you can't get very far,
And it follows you,
Taunting that you are too stubborn to ignore it,
And you are scared,
'Cause even though it says jump you don't want to,
But you wonder,
If you listened,
How long would it be before someone realized you were gone
And that you were never coming back?
You look down at the water,
And your heart says walk until you are gone,
And the voice says let go of everything,
But a little tiny piece of you,
The piece that is the real, lasting you,
Says stay,
Stay in the world that hurts you so much,
Because it's all that you have.
So you sit on the wall,
And cry until it feels like you've cried forever,
Like you've cried out your brain and your heart and everything that is you,
And you turn around and leave.
Go back to your room,
Pretend nothing happened for a little while,
Because you are smart,
And your brain is good,
And nothing can be wrong with you.
So you hide it,
Until you can turn around and cry again,
Because you are scared of yourself,
And you think,
What if I took that razor over there and dragged it across my wrist?
Would I feel better, then?
What if I pushed this hammock so hard that I fell and cracked my head into a
Million tiny pieces?
What about then?
And all those thoughts,
of ending it now,
Freak you out so bad that you can barely think,
But you can somehow still feel the weight of 6 billion frowns on your shoulders.
And you bite your hand,
So hard that your teeth hurt,
And the mark lasts for days,
Because it makes it all go away.
The real pain, the kind you can feel, makes the hurt stop inside,
And you can breath again.
You're still down,
But somehow
It's better now.
It hurts later, but what else can you do?
'Cause the pain makes it better,
So you can stand back up,
And go on until your next down,
When you need to get back up again.
And who knows what will happen then?
Who can say how far you will go,
And how much you will be able to hold back,
Next time?
Next time,
What if it really is
The End?

This was the poem that got me temporarily kicked out of school for being a danger to myself and others.

I wrote, to accompany the poem (and so as to avoid the mess that occurred the last time it was seen), a letter to my English teacher.

The letter is as follows:

This poem is a part of my past. I am no longer afraid of the downs mention in it. I did some therapy and all that, and I am better now. I am no longer a threat to myself. However, the down part of my life is as much a part of me as the good times with my friends and the embarrassing moments in and out of school. It is something I must look back on, not fondly, but as a lesson. That's why I chose to write a poem about it. It seemed like an event that needed telling. Because of the experience, I am more afraid of things (blood, height, and deep water) but it also makes me more aware of myself. The poem is me, but it is not me. I am not "Girl with a Problem," I am myself, I am my life, and "my problem" is no longer even mine. I now handle downs the normal way, with chocolate and a friend (which, by the way, works much better!). Don't worry. I've already been signed off (twice!) as a normal teenager (assuming you don't count my genius, gorgeosity, and sheer superiority*). I hope that you will not judge me for what I used to be. I am the same person you have known all year. Thank you for understanding.


*I hope you understand that was sarcasm. I was demonstrating the typical teenage belief of the world revolving around me. Plus, I couldn't resist being so self-congratulatory. Sorry.

September 20, 2011

Highlights of 8th Grade English

One of the fun parts of packing for college is that I've been going through every thing I own. This includes schoolwork, straight back through 8th grade, when I first started saving things. I guess I get sentimental about anything I pour that much time into, which, in my opinion, certainly makes sense.

I found a brief graphic memoir from that year. The scanner isn't exactly functional at the moment, so y'all are going to have to cope with me transcribing the visuals as well.

Frame 1: "MOON" [image of a crescent moon, identical to the one in Starry Night, which was above my desk even then], "By Tessa"

Frame 2: "Gym class: it's some people's favorite time of day, but for others, it's a NIGHTMARE! "(Nightmare is written in squiggly, scary looking letters)

Frame 3: "I am a member of the second group"

Frame 4: [Figure labeled 'me' is in a push up position, with lots of wobbly lines around her arms. A male figure is next to me, also in the pushup position, with no squiggly lines. A teacher stands nearby, labeled "too fit teacher"]. The teacher is saying "Down! Up! One!" I'm thinking "But I can't get up!" and the other student is thinking "this is FUN"

Frame 5: "You'd think I'd at least have friends to complain with, but no! All I had was Barbie!" [I'm sitting with my knees drawn up to my chest while a ponytailed girl, presumably Barbie stands angrily next to me, arms folded. Two other girls are standing nearby with their arms around each other's shoulders]. "Oh my god! Did you see Tessa's shorts? Eww!" says the speech bubble for one of the friends. Barbie is saying "Gosh, Tessa! You only ran 5.8 miles! You were supposed to run 5.86. I'll have to tell Mrs. M!" "The teacher's pet was my new BFF," reads the caption at the bottom.

Frame 6: "I asked the guidance counselors to switch my class." [Three heads, in imitation of the gifted students's counselor, the general 8th grade counselor, and the one counselor I was actually comfortable talking to, were interspersed with the following text] "no no no no no no NO no no NO!"
"I was stuck." (the last is in a nested frame at the bottom right).

Frame 7: "So one day in March" [Mrs. M stands with a basketball under her arm]. Her speech bubble reads "Run around the really big field!"

Frame 8: [An aerial view of the field is shown. One fast person is out front, indicated by a circle with a bunch of lines trailing behind it. The rest of the class is in a large pack. Barbie and Me are both labeled near the end]. Barbie's thought bubble snakes out behind her and reads "Gosh, Tessa, I <3 Mrs. M. Do you think she'll give me an A+?" My thought bubble reads "AHH!"

Frame 9: [I've caught up to the rest of the group. My thought bubble reads "Yes! I lost her." There's a trio of boys immediately in front of me surrounded by the words "Do it!", "Dude!", "Yeah!", "Dude!". In front of them, the pair of mean girls from before are surrounded by "giggle!" and "hahaha."]

Frame 10: "Then, the guy in front of me moons me! (and everyone else behind him)." [the three boys have turned to two. One of them has the waistband of his gym shorts below a behind that has been censored by a black starburst]

Frame 11: "My poor eyes!" [An eye is illustrate]. "That was something I NEVER wanted them to see!"

Frame 12: My face turned bright red [a blushing girl with shoulder length hair (the same me I'd drawn the rest of the time) is shown]

Frame 13: I jog past the two boys. My thought bubble reads "Maybe if I run fast enough they won't notice me." The friend of the mooner, though, has the speech bubble "Man! Did you see her FACE?" Nested in the bottom right of the frame is "Oh well."

Frame 14: "I got back first. Mrs. M hadn't even seen. Not that I said anything--I was too embarrassed."

Frame 15: "The image had been seared into my brain. I was scarred forever." [a thought bubble of the butt, still censored]

Frame 16: "I told the kids on my bus after school." [My younger sister, my friend, and our neighbor with his emo haircut sit listening to me. I look despondent.] My speech bubble reads "And then...he mooned me."

Frame 17: "The thought it was FUNNY!" [Five giggling heads are scattered around the frame in various directions, including Mr. Emohair. They are surrounded by a very large number of "Ha"s]. "They were rolling on the floor."

Frame 18: "No one understands my traumatic experience." [I stare out the window of the bus, grumpily]

Frame 19: A small image of a crescent moon on a dark background.

September 18, 2011

Visits with the Universe

I greatly enjoyed my time with Priya last night. She's fun--more friend than child, I think.

I'm trying to work out the Trader Joe's shuttle schedule. Well, trying to find it on the internet. Supposedly, if I'm outside of my dorm at noon, it should magically appear, but that looks like the spring's schedule, and I don't know that it continues to be true.

As it turns out, I have too much work to take time out to go grocery shopping. I'm pretty sure that I have too much work to go to the free tango class that Jason wanted to go to tonight. I've been reading my chem textbook since Priya left this morning, and that was more than three hours ago.

In other news, I'm doing laundry again. I really need to buy more underwear so I can do laundry less often, because I still have plenty of clothing left.

I actually spent a good chunk of time yesterday talking to a group that was entirely female--Sydney, Priya,  Nicole, Ruby, and Chelly. It was kind of surprising, and the fact that it's surprising is, on the whole, rather strange. I guess my social life has shifted more from high school than I'd noticed up until now.

September 3, 2011

Fun Times

I'm really liking this "college" thing. I stayed up until god knows how late last night (interestingly, I also know how late. It was 4:45) doing vaguely crazy things in the wee hours of the morning. I spent my evening first at my dorm eating liquid nitrogen ice cream, then dinner, then doing a couple of math problems (/sitting on the couch and giggling like a madwoman while a number of my male dorm mates did math problems).

I'm trying to tell this in a reverse chronology, which would be confusing enough without taking into account that fact that I am running on a very small quantity of sleep and can't quite think straight.

I ran into Jason again before the water war--he was at my dorm (which will now and forever be known as Incidental) helping to fill water balloons. One girl was directing everyone about, and, in an attempt to improve my usefulness, she and Jason decided to attempt to teach me to tie water balloons.

Okay, it's 10:47, which means that friendly toast is supposedly going to be served on Incidental's first floor. I'll be back.

September 2, 2011


My darling blogosphere,

For some reason, I have been too busy having fun to write you messages glorifying the events of a given day. Also, so much happens in any given day that it becomes very difficult to compress it down in a manner that doesn't involve me spending hours writing it down.

We had a volunteering day today, so I prepared and served food at a women's shelter. I feel a bit guilty about the fact that I have little to no interest in continuing to perform community service, but at the same time, I do have reasons. Shelters are, in my mind, like bandages. They're really important, and, if one gets hurt, they're extremely helpful and necessary and important--but they don't actually heal anything. The root cause, the injury, isn't being dealt with. This is basically the entirety of the reason that I'd rather get involved in political activism than in community service. Yes, politics sucks, but I do think that sorting out issues within our government, and working at macroscale approaches to solving crises, is a better option than turning away as many women as you can feed every morning.

If that makes any sense at all.

But this argument only holds if I actually get myself involved in doing something. And, for whatever reason, there don't seem to be any student groups devoted to causes. I suspect I'm going to have to look off-campus for this sort of thing, because, as a freshman, I am not yet ready to gallivant about and actually start things, interesting as that could possibly be.

The activities expo, though? Lots of stuff. Should have been tons of fun, but having so many people hawk things to me makes me uncomfortable. Particularly when I accidentally made eye contact with a guy manning the pro-life booth. And then he started talking to me and tried to get me to come to a picnic and shook my hand before I realized that he wanted to take away my rights. It made me very, very uncomfortable. Which probably means that I'm prejudiced against anti-choicers, but you know what? I have every right to hate a man who thinks he and his unproven deity deserve to have control over my body and those of all other women.