Lately, I feel like I’m stuck. Physically, emotionally, creatively. I’m stuck. I’m in a cycle that I desperately want out of, but nothing seems to work. If you look back at my life five years ago I was in the same position. Alone. Stuck in a job that I wasn’t invested in, killing myself at that job so I could pay bills, too tired to do anything but that job and every day that went by without picking up my camera or writing chipped away at my…me. And they’re all excuses. If you really love something, you’ll find a way. But when I’m depressed I take away the things I love. Not consciously, but bit by bit it gets harder. The voice in my head telling me why bother? It’s not going to amount to anything anyway.

I’m looking around at my life and, I’m wondering why? If this is it; if working jobs I don’t love and barely being able to pay my bills is  it? If I’m going to spend this completely unremarkable life alone, if I’m not going to be able to share my life with someone, then what’s the point? I want so much more. I need so much more, but I’m not sure I can get it. Maybe I’m asking for too much. Maybe all the time I’ve spent with my head in a book reading about fantastic lives and loves and travels has skewed my expectations. I wish so much that being healthy and having amazing friends and family were enough.

Life would be so different if I wasn’t carrying around this constant weight of more. But it’s there. And it’s been pressing on me for so long I’ve stopped moving. Even the smallest of steps feels insurmountable. And I’m trying to be okay with what I’ve had. Accept that not everyone gets what they need. That part of being human is failing and falling and doing without.

It’s just not enough.


Salam, Khoda Hafez

I watch a lot of terrible reality television. I have no shame about it. But the past two weeks, I’ve found myself crying during Shahs of Sunset. And not because I’m watching grown adults act terribly while occasionally speaking Farsi.

For as long as I can remember, I have identified myself as Iranian American when asked my ethnicity. I was born in Indiana. I’ve only been to Iran once. I don’t look particularly Persian and I can’t speak the language outside of a handful of phrases. But, it’s always been something I’ve been proud of. Something I could latch onto and call mine. My mom read me The Hobbit has a bedtime story. My dad read to me in Farsi.

The past two weeks have shown the crew of Shahs heading to Turkey, because it’s the closest to Iran that several cast members could get. One a political refugee, one is gay. They will never be able to step foot in the country they were born in. Watching Asa and her family reunite for the first time since her family fled Iran was harder than I thought it would be. I’ve had that reunion. I may not be a political refugee, my father left Iran for college and has been back several times. But it took 20+ years before he was able to go back. It took 20+ years before I got to meet an entire side of my family that I’d only heard about in stories and whose voices I’d only heard over the phone. Who had only seen me in photos. It took twenty something years for me to be able to discover I had a piece of my heart across the ocean.

Listening to Asa and Reza talk about how the country they love so much is also a country they have so much anger and animosity towards and I understand the conflict. Saying that my dad is from Iran or even just saying the word Iran draws people’s defenses up. The majority of the United States only sees Iran as an evil country. And there is a lot wrong. But there is also so so so much right. My family lives there. Half of my DNA is Iranian. The culture, the history, the land. It’s magical and life changing despite all the war and misguided politics. My trip to Iran was, without hyperbole, the single most life changing event in my life.

I started watching Shahs because it was a reality show on Bravo about Persians. I kept watching because it was a reality show on Bravo about Persians. They looked like my friends and family. Listening to people speak Farsi is my single favorite sound in the world. Watching the show brought a little more of that into my life. But for all of the bad behavior and buying caviar out of a vending machine with $3,500 cash, they’ve done one thing right. They’ve shown that at the heart of this “scary” country is just people. Good people. With families and a history and a love for each other and the language and the food and the country that may not accept them anymore.

The Cold Never Bothered Me Anyway

There are two things I will never not love, no matter how much you side-eye me about them. The first: flying. I’ve had my share of bad flights – being prohibited from getting on a plane because the word Iran scared the lady at Northwest too much; screaming children, delayed flights, being stuck on the runway. But I will never get over (or at least I hope I will never get over) the thrill I get of going somewhere new, somewhere different.

Snowglobe snow. I love the snow. It’s pretty. If it’s going to be cold anyway it might as well be snowing. It’s weather appropriate. It’s seasonally appropriate. And no matter how much I hate digging my car out of it, or how much I hate that suddenly it makes every Indiana driver act like they’re driving on the lava level of MarioKart, I still love it.

It’s also quiet. It dampens everything, makes everything soft and soothing and still. My brain these days is not quiet or still. The few brief moments of peace I’ve had has been when it’s been snowing. Something about it helps me slow down, quiet the parts of my brain that overthink everything. All my worries of jobs and money and weight and keeping this damn cat alive, and finally getting the apartminium clean, and being the last and only single person on the planet, and food, and and and. For a brief period they disappear.

One of the benefits of having dealt with depression for so long is I can see the symptoms manifesting. Just like I know I’m getting sick when my ears start hurting, I know I’m slipping when I see myself get grummpier. I can see the way my internal focus shifts. Everything is terrible and nothing is okay. And the problem is I can see these things happening. I know what’s happening. I know where my brain is headed, but I can’t stop it. I use my SAD lamp, I drink more water, I work out, I’m even eating cleaner. And it works. For awhile. And then I’m right back down. And I don’t know which is worse; having it sneak up on me or seeing it come for me and knowing I’ll lose.

I know Indiana is over the cold, but I could use a good snow fall; a few more moments of silence.

My Sweaty Secret

Can I tell you a secret, Internets? I really like working out. *waits for you to collect yourself after dropping that truth bomb*

Okay, so that’s not entirely true. The actual working out part I’m not so much a fan of. But the after? Oh y’all, the after is the best.

Two weeks ago I joined a gym. I haven’t worked out in a proper gym setting in half a decade. But I marched up the stairs at LA Fitness, determined to look like I knew what I was doing, and jumped on the first thing that looked like an elliptical. Y’all. Y’ALL.  It was not an elliptical. It was a Precor machine. The bottom part moves like an elliptical, but on an incline. Thirty seconds into I realized I’d made a terrible mistake, but at this point there’s no turning back. Part of the reason I need a gym membership and can’t just workout by myself at home is there is no one to shame me into continuing when I get tired. Sure, the stupidly attractive dude on the treadmill probably isn’t paying attention to me. And okay sure the tiny college co-ed with her tiny thighs that don’t touch probably isn’t going to judge me if I stop and find a proper elliptical machine, but you try telling that to my brain.

So, I kept going. Twenty minutes, I told myself. You can do twenty minutes. Twenty minutes is just fine.

A minute and a half into it: Fifteen minutes. Fifteen minutes is a perfectly acceptable amount of time to work out for the first time in forever. Fifteen minutes. You probably won’t die. You can do fifteen minutes.

Five minutes in: Oh god, you are going to die. You are actually going to die at the gym. The tiny girl with her tiny thighs that don’t touch is so totally going to judge you. Do you think her thighs get lonely with all that space in between them? Oh god, you’re going to throw up. Don’t throw up. Don’t throw up. Oh jesus, he’s pretty. Why is everyone here so pretty?

Spoiler alert: I made it to 15 minutes without throwing up or dying. I also managed to make it down the stairs without my legs giving out. Whose bright idea was it to put the cardio equipment UP A FLIGHT OF STAIRS?

And then I sat in my car looking like this:

The most attractive photo of me ever: let’s put it on the internet!

and trying to get my heart to return to normal. Eventually I made it home during which time my body got real confused. What is this…happy feeling? Am I saying that right? Happy?

BEST. MOOD. EVER. And the only one around to appreciate it was the cat.

Is this how you people feel all the time? Like, you look at that pile of dirty clothes that’s three weeks old and starting to move on its own and it doesn’t make you want to jump out a window, you’re just all, “IT’S FINE.” You see all the dishes in the sink and the empty cat food cans and you’re all, “NO BIG DEAL. HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY.” Still broke, still single, still trying to piece my life together at 31, but IT’S FINE. I FEEL HAPPY.

It’s a new emotion for me, is what I’m saying.

In the meantime, I’ll be buying bulk of this magic tape that makes my knees feel like they’re 16 again and chasing down this happy feeling like a fat kid chases cake.

Books You Must Read Now Right Now

Last month I headed to South Carolina for Yallfest, a young adult book conference. I roadtripped with some of my favorite people the internet has ever brought me, laughed and drank more than I have in ages, fangirled all over my favorite authors and taught my favorite internet people just what I mean when I say I’m a cuddler. You want personal space? TOO BAD. NOT HERE YOU DON’T. And after wrangling Emily to stop in and watch George Weasley, because apparently I’m a special brand of crazy cat lady who can only adopt cats that are 18 kinds of needy and no you can’t just leave a clean litter box and a bag of food out, I need you stop in every day and please assure me that he hasn’t dropped dead in the past 12 hours. Post Traumatic Dead Cat Syndrome, it is real and alive, folks.

Thankfully Emily is accustomed to my particular brand of crazy and sent me proof of life photos every day. The only thing she asked in return was a reading list. And since I’ve said I’m going to write here every week I thought: two birds! one stone! And what with tomorrow being Thanksgiving which means Friday is Black Friday which means dear Thor in Asgard it’s practically Christmas: shopping list. Yes. That.

I present unto you: Books You Must Read Now Right Now

  • Attachments by Rainbow Rowell. Rainbow has written three amazing books – Fangirl being her most recent. She is one of us. And while I loved Fangirl, my heart is fully with Attachments. Someone find me a Lincoln.
  • Anna And The French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins. Fluffy, happy, funny, smart. If you don’t swoon over this book (and it’s follow ups), I don’t know if we can be friends. Stephanie was at Yallfest and she’s written about depression before on her blog, but hearing her talk about it kind of broke me. I may or may not have accosted her, sobbed all over her for creating a dialog about mental health when she has such a young and impressionable fanbase and how I wish that 16 years ago I’d had someone like her to let me know I wasn’t alone.
  • Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened by Allie Brosh. You probably know her blog. I would have bought this book just to have her depression posts in hard copy. I would have bought this book if she had just illustrated the alphabet.
  • Coda by Emma Trevayne. Full disclosure: Emma is a friend of mine. I love her dearly, but even if I didn’t I’d tell you to read this book. I had the chance to read this before it was published and I’ve been dying to have hard copies to shove at my friends. Now is that time. Dystopian future, music, and whip smart writing. You won’t be sorry.
  • Beautiful Bastard by Christina Lauren. DADDY STOP READING PLEASE. *ahem* I’m fortunate enough to call these ladies friends as well (NO I HAVE NO SHAME ABOUT HUMBLEBRAGGING ABOUT MY AUTHOR FRIENDS. WHAT OF IT.) But we have left dystopia. Need a little smut? I am begging you, please stop reading that 1000 shades of monochromatic shit. Read this. Read all the follow-ups. Well written smut. It’s a thing. It’s a glorious, glorious, dirty thing.
  • Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. Hoshit. I love this book so much. I love the way she writes. I don’t write in my books often, but this book is COVERED. Marking all the little turns of phrase, marveling at the way she uses the English language, remembering THIS. THIS is why I fell in love with reading and writing.
  • Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor. This one took me by surprise. I’ve read a lot of young adult, dystopian books lately. But it’s not really dystopian. It’s only young adult in the fact that the characters are teens. Kind of. You’ll see.

Honestly, this list could be 10 times longer. Gimmie all your books.

What have you read lately that’s on your NOW RIGHT NOW list?

NaNo NoMo

November is usually the time that I commit to NaBloPoMo, commit to writing in this space every single day. And I thought about it, you guys. I really really did. But. *heavy sigh* I just couldn’t do it. I knew I would fail and right now one more failure would push me from emo to Eeyore and I don’t want to be Eeyore, y’all. I’m a sad about it, because it’s November and November is when you do NaBloPoMo and I am nothing if I’m not a creature of habit and resistant to change, but knowing your limits and all that.

BUT I am going to try something. I believe it’s called a compromise. I’m going to try & write here once a week. HOLD ON TO YOUR BUTTS, Y’ALL. Cause, okay here’s the thing. I have things to say. And I’m happy when I’m writing. So. While I may not be able to commit to writing here every day once a week doesn’t seem so unreasonable, does it? I’m glad you agree.

Go team!

I Am

Things have settled since yesterday, as I knew they would. Which is not to say that all those feelings are gone. They’re certainly not. But they’re back in their boxes. Back to being small, manageable bites.

Someone mentioned recently that what I share in this space is entirely too personal to be shared with everyone. And to a certain extent, they’re right. Blogging, if you’re doing it right, is extremely personal. Everyone has different levels on the personal blogging spectrum that they’re comfortable sharing. I’m more than okay sharing about my struggles with depression. It’s not a cry for help and it’s not a passive aggressive ploy to make you tell me how wonderful and lovely and special I am. (Stay tuned for my memoir, The Most Specialist Snowflake.) It’s what I’m going through at the moment. (It’s also only a fraction of what’s going on in my life.) I’ll gladly talk to you about it in person too. I spent a very long time trying to hide it. But all that did was make me miserable. As cliche as it may be, if even one person reads something I’ve written and discovers that they’re not alone in their feelings, then I am more than happy to share.

I also LIKE sharing. While I love writing & I will write whether anyone is reading or not, I also like the stage aspect of blogging. I like that I can share what’s going on with me and have other people read it. I like that by doing so I’m creating my own microcosm community.

I know that by doing this I’m making my life a little harder. I’m lucky enough that one of my employers is knowledgeable and understanding enough that this blog doesn’t cause any problems. If I were to ever leave that job I might not be so lucky. I know that I’m visible enough that if someone I were dating wanted to find this before I shared it with them, they could. I know that seeing some of my deepest struggles right up front can be off-putting.

I can only hope that they know that my depression does not define me. It is not all that I am. What I share in this space is not the sum of my parts, but only a fraction. I am depression and anxiety and loneliness. But I’m also joy and laughter and stubborn and shy and introverted and curious and wanderlust and nerdy and a fangirl and sarcasm and a hundred thousand other things, some of which I’m still figuring out. But depression is not all that I see. I can only hope they can see that too.