Sunday Sermon

This past Sunday was the third of the month; in my parish, that means the deacon, rather than the priest, speaks the Homily. For anyone who doesn’t know, in a Catholic mass the Homily occurs after the three Bible readings. In the Homily, the priest or deacon tries to explain or add insight to what we had just heard. Usually, I don’t particularly like when the deacon at our church does the Homily. He’s not terrible, he just utilizes the same writing technique every time, which, as a writer, tends to get on my nerves.

However, this Sunday was different. Saturday night I randomly woke up and felt empty inside. “There is no God,” I thought to myself, not sure where this sentiment came from but believing it nonetheless. The next morning I didn’t feel as faithless, but could not fully trust in my religion, even though I still prayed and sung throughout the Mass.

As the deacon performed the Homily, my mind drifted between listening intently to what he had to say and wondering whether I should apply for that campus job. Fortunately, I tuned in to hear a beautiful comment  from our deacon.

“We seem to focus so much on who we think should be saved. Instead, let’s focus on strengthening our own faith.”

This is a really important idea for Catholics and other Christians to hear in a world where people march against gays and abortion or condemn the use of birth control. Sometimes we spend so much energy, resources and time attempting to persuade others to do “the right thing” when we could be improving our own religious dedication through prayer, service and love. I literally smiled in church, relieved to hear this statement after hearing our priests discuss the evils within our modern society every so often and how we must be the metaphorical light of the world.

Furthermore, this is an attitude someone of any race, gender, nationality, age, and yes, even religion, could adopt. Changing others is difficult, especially when dealing with a) those who do not wish to change, or b) opinions rather than fact. This does not mean abandoning our own beliefs and submitting to someone else’s views. Rather, we should concentrate on enhancing our way of life instead of attempting to change others, because no one can claim they live a perfect lifestyle.

This wasn’t the end of #quotableChurchmoments. During another part of the mass, a lector reads a list of intentions, or things we want to pray for. After each intention, we all say “Lord, hear our prayer”. This was one of the best intentions I have ever heard:

“We pray for all those who are searching for God, that they may be enlightened so that their natural goodness will shine through”. 

Anyone who has studied Classicalism and Romanticism knows most religious institutions, especially the Catholic church, follow many classical beliefs, including the idea people are born evil and must be taught to be good. Contrariwise, this prayer recognizes people are children of God and therefore naturally good creatures. Beautiful.

Though these experiences have not reinstated my faith to its full health, this Sunday sermon made me hopeful for alterations in the attitude of the world and hopeful for my own future. As I look forward to college with excitement, anxiety, and some fear, I know this will be a time of change and self evaluation, of figuring out who I am and what I want. Through my own natural goodness, I can strengthen my faith and achieve my full potential in whatever I’m supposed to do on this earth.

*Note-all comments are paraphrased.

Changes

Hi everyone. Again, sorry about a nearly month-long hiatus. Soon after posting “Waking Up Happy”, I started dealing with some pretty bad depression (the worst I’ve had in a long time), actually skipping work because I felt so bad. Though I have been feeling better for about a week, I’ve been preparing for the so-called next chapter of my life: college.

Other than excuses, I have some pretty significant changes I’ve experienced in the past month or so. After over a year of enduring depression, my parents-well, mostly my mother-caved and agreed to take me to a psychiatrist before I go to college. I was exceedingly anxious prior to visiting the doctor, knowing that I usually cry when discussing this topic. And, of course, I did cry when he asked me to start describing how I had been feeling. We discussed the symptoms of depression, how depression affects the body, and how antidepressants can help.

I was relieved when he told me he certainly believed I had depression; I had been clobbered with self-doubt, wondering if maybe I wasn’t really depressed and was just going through a rough patch in my life. But depression is a real illness, which can be treated just like any other disease. When we started discussing antidepressants, my mom related her worries, and pointed out that, based on the symptoms he had described, most of the people she knew could be depressed.

He then related the most important symptom of depression: the disease affects one’s life and prevents one from functioning as they would without the depression. Though she claimed she did not see it interfering with my life, I reminded-or rather confessed-I had skipped work and school because of how I felt. The psychiatrist also stated I had been trying to solve the issue through other means, particularly therapy. Though I feel therapy helps me tremendously, I seem to have reached an impasse and can no longer progress forward in healing.

Soon after, I was prescribed some antidepressants, and have been taking them ever since. It’s been about a week now. In the past week I’ve had trouble sleeping, but I’ve started to fall back into my pattern, and last night got 7 whole hours of sleep.

I’m also looking forward to college more than I have thus far. Prior to this week, I’ve been terrified to embark on my college adventures, to the point where I was dreading my departure date. For some reason-maybe after talking with my roommate, feeling less depressed, rediscovering my love for biology, or a combination of the three-I’ve become obsessed with going to college. It’s one of the first things I think about when I wake up and the last thing on my mind before I fall asleep. I’m done with paint crew, my summer job, and just want to get back to academic work.

Waking Up Happy

It was really refreshing to wake up this morning unreasonably happy; no thoughts about anything in particular, except trying to remember the dreams I had last night. I walked over to turn my air conditioner off, and when I got to the window to turn the dial to the “Off” position, I wondered why I was so happy. It wasn’t even the kind of happy you experience on your best day with friends, or the jubilant relief that accompanies realizing a gnawing worry is resolved. It was, in the only way I can think to describe it, ignorant bliss (Clichés-1, Wiggygirl-0). I wasn’t sure why I was happy, but I was obviously enjoying it. Honestly, I have not felt that happy in weeks or months. Months. That’s a long time to not experience an emotion, let alone a fantastic one. This realization made me wonder how long it would be until I felt this strange elation again. After a few weeks of believing my depression was actually going away, I was hit by an especially depressive mood at the beginning of this week; unfortunately, I have to wonder if I brought it on myself. I had been sick after coming home from vacation at the beach, and through a mixture of not really wanting to go to work and guilt of probably spreading germs to my coworkers, I coerced myself to take Monday off. I texted my boss that morning and he told me it was fine if I didn’t come into work, and to inform him when I would be able to come back in (have I mentioned my boss is really chill?). Monday was spent sleeping a lot, browsing a variety of sites on my computer, maybe a little reading….nothing too productive, because I was attempting to relax and “get better”. However, as the day progressed and I knew I would have to go back to work the next day, I started feeling unmotivated, though not quite depressed yet. Since my boss hadn’t said “see you tomorrow”, rather telling me to contact him when I was feeling better, why shouldn’t I take another day off? Though I told myself I would see how I felt in the morning, I knew in the back of my mind my decision had already been made. Not wanting to tell my mom I was taking another day off, I decided I would wake up normal time and pretend I was going to work. I drove to the park behind my house to chill and listen to music/my anxiety tape while I waited for all my coworkers and mother to get off the roads. Then, I spent three hours driving around South Jersey with no actual destination in mind. I love driving, but this wasn’t supposed to be a leisurely escapade through main streets and lonely roads. This was foreshadowing for the lowest low I’ve felt in awhile. Flashback to last summer, when my depression went along unnoticed and untreated. I was so afraid and anxious to tell my boss that once soccer started I would not be able to work, I decided I simply would not, and instead texted him two days in a row saying I would not be coming to work that day. No explanations or excuses; I just would not be working, and in my last text I told him I would not come in again because soccer would be starting. Minus the vague text messages, I did the same thing I did this past Tuesday; I pretended to go to work but instead drove around aimlessly. When I told my best friend about what had occurred, she completely brushed it off. She didn’t get it. This was what I did when I was very depressed. I know now after talking to her she was trying to help by distracting me and discussing other topics, but I had to tell her this was not how to help me. I don’t know about other people, but when I am really depressed or upset about something, I don’t want people to distract me immediately. I don’t even necessarily want advice. What I really need and covet is sympathy and someone who will tell me it’s okay that I’m upset. I really would like someone who will ask questions; this will either show they are interested in what’s going on or it will help me look at the issue and work through it. After a similar conversation with my ex/guy friend, my depression became severe, and I’ve unfortunately spent the past few days feeling alone and melancholy. I barely talked to my friends and spent a lot of time inside my room, traversing the dark regions of Tumblr and listening to music that makes me sad. I excessively and genuinely cried for the first time in awhile. Luckily I conversed with my friends and therapist about this issue and, after this wonderful morning, am starting to feel sort of normal again. Though I know this intense change of mood is fleeting, I have some sense of hope for future happiness.

Salutatorian Speech

Just thought I’d share the speech I made almost a month ago [insert gasp here] when I graduated from high school. I decided my theme should be “Time”, since I have had such difficulty with nostalgia, growing up, and preparing for the future. And yes, I did reference Mean Girls and quote Doctor Who.

“Good evening parents, teachers, board of education members, siblings who are wondering why they have to sit out here just for that ten seconds during which their brother or sister get their diploma, and, most importantly, the Class of 2014. Graduation seems to always focus on two things: the past and the future. This fall the Science League participated in the Ocean Science Bowl at Rutgers, and we decided to commemorate this experience by buying a fish for Mr. T’s classroom. We named it Fetch, both because this is a type of wind pattern which causes waves, and because of the movie Mean Girls. So, Class of 2014, you’re welcome, we made fetch happen. All of us, no matter what we have been involved with, have these inside jokes and special experiences with those we are close to. Though I cannot name all of these, because they are your own individual experiences, I really hope these are the things you remember about high school.

As a wonderful friend reminded me while I was writing this speech, graduation is not about perfection; we’ve already passed all our classes and possibly trashed old papers. We’re done. Graduation is about honoring us. Let’s honor our high school adventures and the teachers who have enriched our lives. Sorry Ms. F, there are no Shakespeare quotes in this speech. Let’s celebrate each other. Though I am honored to be your salutatorian, there are so many of you out there who are just as or more qualified to speak to our class. You are experts in political science, chemistry, or theatre. You are incredible dancers and athletes. If you are artistically inclined, I envy you, because five year olds have been disgusted with my drawing skills.

Finally, we look towards the future. Elton Pope, an obscure character in a TV show called Doctor Who, states, “When you’re a kid, they tell you it’s all… Grow up, get a job, get married, get a house, have a kid, and that’s it. But the truth is, the world is so much stranger than that. It’s so much madder. And so much better.” Some people say our high school years are the best years of our lives, but I challenge you to get better and better each year. As we look forward to our futures, I challenge each of you to depart from the norm and create your own strange, mad, better world.

My final advice to all of you is to take time. Take time to figure yourselves out, to realize what it is you want. Go out, live, take risks, make mistakes, come back to square one, try again. Fail as much as you possibly can. Take time to be open to new ideas, and to love and be loved. Take your time growing up, and don’t forget to be a little immature and rowdy every now and then. Congratulations Class of 2014, and good luck, though I know you will not need it.”

To Science Or Not To Science

The ever-closer prospect of college has caused me to reevaluate my life decisions and goals, which also includes my projected major and profession. I’ve been told it’s silly for anyone to expect an 18-year old to know what they want to do in their adult life. I’ve also been told I need to think about these things so I have some sort of direction and don’t ignore the future, which I have a tendency to do because I am incredibly nostalgic and hate the idea of growing up.

Going into the college search, I was certain I wanted to pursue biology with a concentration in molecular genetics. AP Biology was my favorite class in high school, and it’s interesting and cool. Science jokes, pick up lines, and puns make me excessively happy. However, I received my AP Chemistry score back today and received a 1. I remember the day of the exam I was really depressed and essentially gave up when I reached the open ended section, but…really? The lowest score possible?

Other things have also caused me to question my decision to enter the science field. My second favorite class in high school was AP English, in which I excelled notwithstanding it being considered one of, if not the most, difficult AP class in our school. I graduated with the highest overall grade average in English for my entire grade. My AP English Literature and Composition score was a 5. My ex once told me he knew I was good at science but never really knew that it interested or captivated me as much as, for example, English literature.

But was this last statement an accurate description of my feelings or a sign that, perhaps, he didn’t get me as much as I thought he did? Or is it neither, and simply a reflection that, though I love science, it’s not something I excessively fan girl over?

I have difficulty with self-esteem, and not feeling good enough often plagues me when it comes to the sciences. I’m terrified to begin my biology and chemistry courses in college for fear of being behind in my studies. However, what could I do with an English major that I would enjoy? I don’t want to be a teacher, and pretty sure I wouldn’t want to be a college professor. I don’t want some business job, unless it’s for something I’m actually interested in. Perhaps an editor or writer of some sort? But journalism has never intrigued me.

Furthermore, why should I let anyone else get in the way of what I want? If I want to be a biologist, even if I’m better at something else, who’s stopping me?

But what do I really want? That is the question.

Back to Reality

Spending four days at Wildwood with my two best friends was absolutely wonderful, and now it’s time to return to reality. Throughout these four glorious days, I acquired:

  • A black t-shirt that has the German emblem and “German” written on it in gold, black and red.
  • A Germany jersey (I’m a sucker when it comes to Germany. I’ve decided that after I graduate from college I’m going to travel to Germany so I can be there during the next World Cup).
  • A pound of fudge for my family.
  • A necklace with “ACP”, which stands for “Awesome Cool People”, the club my best friends and I created when we first met in 6th grade, engraved on a charm.
  • A sore throat, nausea, and mucus-filled eyes. Not sure why my body decided to get sick on the second to last day.
  • Deep fried Oreos (I’m sure they’re still swimming around in my stomach somewhere).
  • Some sunburn, though my friend got the worst burns on the first day; only the spots I lotioned for her, her back and shoulders, remained unscathed.
  • Rad vacation memories unblemished by alcohol or drugs.
  • A few selfies and pictures my friend took.
  • A CD of road trip music from my friend, who let me keep it after we came home.
  • Four books: Great Expectations, Dubliners, The Portable Shakespeare, and the Diary of A Young Girl. Yes, my friends and I managed to find the ONLY book store on the boardwalk and proceeded to rampage through it.

The post-vacation depression from this adventure is likely to be severe, so I am going to do my best to keep myself preoccupied, which will hopefully include more frequent posting and writing.

My Doll’s Eyes

Here’s a new piece I’ve been working on the past few days. It’ll probably go through more edits, but here is what I have so far.

My doll has bright eyes

and my eyes are their reflection

as we innocently spend our days

playing out our jubilation.

*

My doll’s eyes are dimmer

and therefore mine comply;

we play a little less each day

and my breaths have learned to sigh.

*

My doll’s eyes grow dimmer still

and mine will do the same;

though We no longer have fun

We still play silly games.

*

My doll’s eyes are dust-ridden.

The grime has covered their shine

the brightness completely abandoned

the luster lost in time.

*

And my eyes are no different;

they’ve surrendered their childish light.

If I wipe the dust away,

will it work for me too?

*

Whose eyes reflect whose?