Saturday, March 29, 2014


I've been very terrible at keeping up with The Songs of Spring. There are a myriad of excuses I could use. I've been busy, I've been enjoying my time off, I've been depressed, I've been so boring that there's nothing to write about. At one time or another in the past few weeks, I've been each of or more than one of these things.

The relationship I've had with this blog for the last several months has been indicative of my state of mind. I've forgotten, essentially, to focus inwardly and improve upon myself. Early on that was because I was finding myself through other means - I started going to therapy, and that was a way to get my feelings out that didn't solely involve speaking into the void in the form of a blog. I was also absorbed in other activities. I finished off college, I interned full time, I got caught up in relationships (none of which were fruitful in the end, but all of which were time-consuming).

At the end of the day, what got lost in the shuffle - especially lately - was me.

I've tried to be happy in other ways, tried to forget who I am - which is, despite my attempts to avoid it, a person who struggles with depression.

It feels kind of scary admitting that outright. I'm sure I've mentioned it in past blogs, but right now - in the throes of a day of wallowing - I kind of feel ridiculous pointing it out. Like somehow it should be obvious, yet it is entirely embarrassing to admit at the same time.

Lately my depression has felt like an unwanted appendage. Like a third arm, it comes shooting out of my heart and doesn't bear any subtlety. If you're around me, you're forced to see it. Even if I'm hiding it well, it's still there.

I don't really know what to do with it anymore, in fact. I've decided my first order of attack is that I should go back into therapy soon. And that's only the beginning, really, of returning to the status quo of "Me"-dom.

I've been afraid of changing because I feel so stuck in the person I am right now (as self-loathing as she is), but I know that part of getting out of this slump of life is moving forward and not dwelling on the past so much. The people, things, experiences that are gone are just that: gone. And the only things that matter are the things that will inhabit my life from here forward.

As a writer, and the type of person who likes to live in fantasy worlds most of the time - I'm always stuck in the past. Nostalgia personified is my truest description.

Nostalgia is great, but not forgetting to make new things to be nostalgic about.

When I am older, I don't think I'll ever look back on my very early twenties as the best time in my life. If anything, this has been the most trying period in my short time on this Earth. But I want my later early twenties to be something to behold.

Right now they're not quite there, but I'm making plans. And I'm not forgetting to fulfill them.

So there. And here's a big F-you to the past. As in, "forget" you. Or, you know, the other thing.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Black and white memories

The lights were bright. They blinded me, but not enough to erase the knowledge that I was standing in front of a crowd of people, performing a tap routine I barely knew. Under the harsh lighting, I stood surrounded by several other girls. We all dressed in matching androgynous outfits. White shirts, ties, suspenders, black pants and tap shoes with our hair pulled back into pony tails. I'd stolen the two former items from my father and, as a result, I looked like a pre-teen boy just entering puberty.

I don't often enjoy remembering this event. Perhaps it was exhilarating at the time, but as an unlikely dancer and a feminine dresser, it's a blunder of my youth that I prefer not to recollect.

Today, out of the blue, my best friend (and fellow tapper) texted me about the tap dancing debacle. "Hey! Remember when I bribed you with pbj sandwiches to do that tap performance with me in high school? :)" It's a thought that rarely occurs to me on its own, but with a little push - all the memories burst through my mind like they occurred last week.

Occasionally I feel like I'm in my own self-inflicted version of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. What I choose to commit to memory is entirely unpredictable and gets slowly more corrupted as the years go on. Not because I've gone through any targeted memory erasure procedure, that stuff is solely for the movies and even if I could get lobotomized, I don't think I would go for it.

Like everyone, I have selective memory.

Many of my experiences in life are clouded by perspective. I can't seem to get away from my emotional experiences. They take over the past and therefore inhabit the present, coloring each and every memory with an association. Happiness, sadness, loneliness, pride, embarrassment.

I try to let go of the more negative emotions - pushing those thoughts to the back of my mind and never willingly bringing them back to the front. Instead, all the happiest memories stick in my thoughts, and sometimes that makes the sad things even sadder.

When I've quarreled with a friend, a loved one or even a complete stranger, it's not the actual spark of unhappiness that keeps me dwelling. It's the loss of life's homeostasis. If anything, I'm one to forget the petty issues. After a while of being angry, I forget why I was angry and I go back to feeling the way I always do.

My problem is that my selective memory has the ability to make me sad, but often because it remembers so much of the good and then associates those things with the bad.

I lost my mom when I was a teen and I still haven't fully accepted that fact. Letting go of someone so important is like having someone scrape out a part of your heart with a scalpel and never being able to salvage it again. You don't feel whole anymore.

But the loneliness wouldn't be there if there hadn't been so much positive. My mom played games with me, made dinner for me, comforted me. She loved me. I push the negative memories away and latch onto the positive ones, but that makes the loss even worse.

All relationships are two-fold, though. Of course, I'll never see my relationship with my mom in a bad light - even though there were moments I could've done without. But in the case of non-familial relationships, sometimes it feels like targeted memory erasure is a worthy path.

Instead of erasing all the negative thoughts, as we do naturally (thus creating a resulting longing effect), would it instead be helpful to push away the positives?

Have you ever had a best friend who wronged you terribly? Or maybe someone whom you just grew apart from?

Years down the road you become nostalgic and start wondering what that person is up to. You add them as a friend on Facebook, maybe you even try to rekindle the friendship by meeting up again. But there's nothing there, and inside your heart you knew there wouldn't be.

That friend left for a reason. They exited your life story because they weren't meant to be there. One of my favorite quotes comes from the author John Steinbeck in correspondence with his son on the subject of love: "Nothing good gets away."

Though the good memories may have you hopeful for a repetition of the past, that doesn't mean repetition is possible. People change and grow and become totally unique - you could know someone for years and after a brief separation find out their character is completely different.

It's also quite likely that you've changed and that might make the experiences you had in the past completely inimitable.

Of course this isn't universally true, and it isn't to say that we should let go of everything that isn't immediately surrounding us. In this technological age, that's virtually impossible; we're bound to become increasingly nostalgic, keeping up to date with the goings-on of people we haven't seen even for a decade's time.

What's important, though, is not to let those memories - good or bad - dictate how we feel now. The longer we live in the past, the less time we have in the present and future.

The reason I forgot about the tap dancing incident was because it was an awkward memory that brought up uncomfortable feelings for me. Looking back, I am embarrassed by how I looked that day, unconfident in my dancing. I lost my enthusiasm for performing for a variety of reasons, part of which I attribute to tap dancing in public and feeling worse for it. The memory of spending time with my best friend practicing the routine, however, was good. It was only the emotional association that soured it.

Looking back, I realize that all experiences have dual sides. When I perceive my past as being full of mindless bliss, I'm fooling myself. No experience is completely free of turmoil. But just the same, when I remember only the bad of a situation - I'm missing out on the happy moments during that time.

Knowing that I must ground my happiness in awareness of reality is part of moving forward and no longer thinking about the past in such black and white terms. In the same way, this knowledge makes it possible to ground sadness in reality and move past that as well. Romanticizing in either direction isn't healthy.

Black and white is what keeps us chained to what doesn't matter anymore. But by bringing some color into the picture, perhaps that unintentional target memory erasure won't be so necessary anymore. It is possible to understand the depths of our experiences, but only by looking at them with a discerning eye.

We all have eyes, we just have to learn to use them properly.