Thursday, July 31, 2014

end of an era, part ii: birthdays


Lately on Go Ask, I've been talking about the mechanics of how Ends of Eras affect us. This is the second installment in my little series, you can find the introduction post here and my post about teenagehood here.


"Go shawty, it's your birthday. We gonna party like it's your birthday."
-50 Cent, "In Da Club"

i. My Birthday

In re: my recent-ish 20th birthday, I will straight-up confess that I loathe all birthdays, mine especially. It's partly because I feel the same way about birthdays that I feel about Valentine's Day: it's an unremarkable day of the year where people are coerced into treating you better just for the sake of the date. But another part of my birthday complex is about how birthdays make the passage and permanence of time really noticeable. I mean, every day is a day that you're never going to be able to live again, but it's a lot more conspicuous every year on your birthday when you transition from one age to the next. I will simply never be 19-years-old ever again. Birthdays are a forceful and indestructible End of an Era; there's no option to linger in 19, there's no way to postpone growing up. I don't want to be 20, I don't want to leave the blinding, gorgeous, rainbow-hurricane blood bath of teenagehood and move smoothly into the slow, pale death of adulthood. I want beauty and youth forever, I want laziness and irresponsibility and havoc, I want hormones and heartache and brilliance, I want immortality. That's not an option.

Every year I inevitably do these big ~birthday~ journal entries in which I sort of review the past year of my life and figure out what has changed and what I accomplished and what went wrong and right. It's always hard not to end up dwelling on failures and losses because they seem like such big gaping holes of regret and disappointment and sadness. But maybe that's a good thing about Ends of Eras: you can kind of look at them as a way to seal off past badness and move on cleanly. The past year---especially the recent months leading up to right now---has officially been the hardest one of my life. I've had to let go of so much, say goodbye to so many people I loved, I got my heart all twisted and chewed up, I lost important friends, and I've been very, very, very, very, very, very sad.

I've been thinking a lot about what validates this past year. Did the successes count more or the failures? The heartache or the happy times? What happened that made the last year of my life matter?

Most of my time is spent on things that aren't Big Milestones; most days blend together in a kind of faceless sprawl of "work" and "naps" and "church" and "re-reading High Fidelity on the quad" and "eating cold pizza." Honestly, I can't even really remember what happened last Monday (or Tuesday or Wednesday or Thursday), only that nothing remarkable happened. It sometimes feels like all the motions I'm going through are pointless, and that's why I'm trying to figure out what makes my life meaningful.

But maybe life doesn't have to be Nonstop Action for it to still carry weight. I think going to work and reading High Fidelity and eating pizza actually are part of what gives my life significance, in their own small and peculiar ways. Nothing subtracts meaning from the experience of living a unique and individual life, despite sometimes feeling like you're just operating on autopilot. I mean, even this blog post is a way of expressing and tracking meaning.

Whoever you are, reader, you are in some way validating my experience as a Living Human Person just by reading this and interacting with me facelessly and silently from wherever you are in the world, and I am validating and interacting right back at you. THIS is some kind of life-touch between two people, and it is its own tiny Era in and of itself. An Era of me writing, and you reading, and us sort of feeling each other; and each of those Eras will end very soon, unceremoniously, and we'll just keep living normally and we'll forget about the time we spent here on this blog, me: 20-years-old, long-haired, tired from a sleepless night and bored in a cold office at BYU, and you: whoever/wherever you are, reading. The moment is already gone, you know?

It's been about a year and one hundred twenty nine days since I was 18. In one more year, I'll be 21 and the Era of 20 will be over, and who knows what will have happened. Hopefully all the gross heartbreak and depression stuff will be long gone, hopefully this day and yesterday and all the bad days that came before it in ~this Era~ will be long-forgotten and even laughable. One year---the space between two birthdays---is a paradoxically long and short Era, but one that will inevitably end.

ii. Your Birthday

Birthdays are funny: they're one random day out of the entire year, and they wreck you. Between 11:59 PM on March 23rd and 12:00 AM on March 24th, my teenage era was brought to an abrupt and jarring end. Why do birthdays matter so much? Why do people (including me) always end up getting sentimental and crying? Is it because they emphasize the passage of time so acutely? Is it because they make us remember things we've lost?

If you're reading this and I love you enough, I've probably spent at least one of your birthdays attempting badly to explain how I love you and why, but it never comes out right.

iii. Milestone Birthdays

The "BIG" birthdays, you know? 16, 18, 20, 30, 50, etc? The birthdays where things are supposed to happened and you're supposed to act differently and feel differently. They're Era-Ending birthdays. But do they really matter? What makes 30 so different from 29? Why is there a big surprise party on 50 but 51 passes quietly with a homemade cake and a few candles? I guess the point that I'm trying to make is that some Ends of Eras are kind of fabricated and a little bit silly. It's like, something (society?) tells us: "THIS IS THE END OF AN IMPORTANT ERA SO FREAK OUT" so we end up making waaaaay too big of a deal over something like turning 30. Remember the episode of Friends about everyone's 30th birthdays, and Rachel has a big meltdown about her life not being on track and Joey is in denial and cries a lot and it's all a big fiasco? 

I guess this sort of proves that even the biggest, most devastating Ends of Eras are sometimes purely psychological. Maybe our sentimentality is a little bit unwarranted. But thinking about it like that sort of makes me panicky, too. If these big, emotional, life-altering Ends of Eras are generally meaningless: does anything mean anything? Do Ends of Eras create meaning? Is the process of change the only thing that produces significance in life? I guess if there weren't Ends of Eras in life, we'd all be stuck in some kind of Twilight Zone limbo, and that's even worse. Maybe my problem here is that I wish I could decide which Eras have to end and which ones don't. 

 As above, so below. As within, so without.
-Avery Jalaine

Monday, July 14, 2014

end of an era, part i: teenagehood


Last week I introduced my End of an Era series: here. Mostly what I'll be talking about is how everything ends and it's sort of the worst and sort of the best, and Part I is all about teenagehood.


"I'm seventeen and I'm crazy. My uncle says the two always go together. When people ask your age, he said, always say seventeen and insane."
-Clarisse, Fahrenheit 451

i. Transience

My birthday was about 4 months ago, and suddenly I'm 20-years-old which means that after seven years of idealism and romanticism and recklessness and danger, I've finally run out of teenagerism.

The world is super obsessed with teenagers and I think it's because we recognize that teenagers are sort of half-fey magical creatures of evil and beauty, and that their wonder and alien-ness and lightning-fast metabolisms are all bound to wilt and fade with age until they become ~regular adult humans~, which is boring and highly non-magical.

Part of the beauty of teenagehood is that it's so ugly. It's all zitty and noisy and sticky and painful, everything is unmanageable and hormonal and overwhelming. It's so full of everything. And it's impossible to replicate or to preserve. That's important. Teenagehood exists for a few glorious, too-bright years, but then it's gone. Transience is a really seductive thing. 

Another part of teenagerism that's really infatuating is the in-between-ness of it all. You're old enough to do grown up things like get a part-time job or read Proust or borrow the Honda on the weekend, but you're still young enough that nobody really holds you accountable for anything. You're allowed to be both a child and an adult at once; t
he teenage years are so paradoxical and I love it. That said, I certainly don't believe that my years as a teenager were the "best years of my life" by any means---it terrifies me when people say things like that---but being a teenager was really important to me. Teenagers can get away with anything---violence, stupidity, lust, depression, laziness, love, cruelty---because they're young and hormonal and passionate. Nobody expects teenagers to be level-headed and diplomatic and smart. Mostly teenagers are expected to be slobby and pervy and bitchy, and everyone is kind of fine with it.

Furthermore, teenagers are given everything. Teens are supposed to be "finding themselves," so they kind of have free rein of the world: the arts are at their disposal and they're encouraged to create, they're encouraged to experiment and find what they love to do, they go to school to learn about whatever they want, there are clubs and committees and organizations filled with empowered youth, they're taking dance classes and guitar lessons and playing tennis, they're arguing about politics and religion and fair-trade coffee, they're blogging about fashion and poetry, they're in boy bands, they're Tweeting, they're Instagramming, they're going to the mall and reading both Sarah Dessen and William Faulkner and they're learning about meiosis and drinking Mountain Dew and putting on lipgloss and staying up all night, they have strong, limber, velvet-skinned bodies to run and dance and have sex with. IT'S SO BEAUTIFUL. YOU GUYS, IT IS SO BEAUTIFUL.

I'm so afraid to "grow up" because adults really aren't allowed to be reckless and dangerous and romantic. You grow up, and suddenly creativity is childish, it's a waste of time, it's a hindrance. Growing up in 2014 America is all about Success! and Power! and Money! and Starting a Family! and Taxes! and Dieting! and Wearing Sensible Shoes! Even though I don't feel like I'm getting any older, numbers matter in the world and the distance between 19 and 20 is a chasm.

ii. High School

I was never really the quintessential teenager from Disney Channel movies and YA novels: I didn't go to many football games or school dances, I wasn't on student council or debate team or the cheerleading squad, I didn't have a high school boyfriend or an eating disorder, I didn't really rebel against my parents or get a bellybutton ring or a tattoo. Instead, I chain-read Wasteland comics and Tom Robbins novels on the stairs during lunch, I went to Postmodernist feminist colloquiums and argued with my health teacher about contraceptives in high school, I walked around the forest at night looking for ghosts and werewolves with Katie and Zack, I wrote little cartoons about cyborg ninja grrrrls and viking biker gangs, I told the girls next door that I was a mermaid looking for a boyfriend to take back to Atlantis with me, I wore silver lipstick, I Googled fire ants endlessly, I went to the library on the weekend and checked out guides on lucid dreaming, I avoided everybody. 

On the other hand, I was 100% pure Teen Grrrl: I painted my fingernails with purple glitter, I went out for burritos and crinkle-cut fries at 2 AM with my friends, I watched Gossip Girl and argued with my mom and had crushes on boys and went to concerts in the park and got A's on essays and took Tylenol for cramps. 

I was owlish and standoffish and cynical, obsessed with teenage culture but uninterested in actively participating in it. I could never really figure out how to identify with average teens, I had such a hard time talking to people my own age because I was so nauseated by small talk, but we never wanted to really talk about any of the same things. I could never figure out what everyone else cared about (it sure wasn't Sailor Moon or Alphonse Mucha or the hibernation habits of bears), so I was a talented observer but never really an insider. Still, high school was where I met some of my best friends and did some of my best work and formed important opinions that I still have. High school graduation freaked me out because it wasn't just high school itself that was ending, it was the person I'd gotten used to being in high school, it was all my habits and rituals and routines---putting on makeup in the girl's bathroom because I always woke up late, doing Creative Writing assignments on Sunday nights, passing out newspapers to the art hall with Kaitlyn, trying to distract Mr. Vawdrey with Portal or Zelda in AP Stats, going late to French class and being lectured about taking off my earphones, drawing comics about the Periodic Table in Chemistry, writing in the Boy Book on the bleachers with Kait, walking home from the bus stop with the elementary school kids and getting their advice about boys---it was familiarity and comfort that I was losing. That was hard.

On the last day of high school, Kaitlyn and I walked around touching the lockers and sitting on the steps in front of the auditorium and saying embarrassing things like, "This is the last time I'll ever sit on these steps as a high schooler" or "this is the last time I'll ever drink boxed chocolate milk as a high schooler." We could feel the End of our high school Era happening, and even though we certainly didn't want to stay at Lone Peak High School for another second, it had been this big factor in determining our lives for three years and suddenly it was about to be taken from us and the high school Era would be over. It was sad. Ends of Eras, even when they're good, are sometimes sad.

iii. Peter Pan Syndrome

I'm a little bit worried that I'll be stunted as a teenager forever because my whole entire personality is based on the hallmark teenage characteristics: I'm hyperemotional and vaguely misanthropic, I'm irresponsible, lazy, obsessive and self-obsessed, sarcastic, gossipy, pouty, antagonistic, self-righteous. As a teenager, my big, messy personality was sort of permitted by the laws of hormones and the movie Clueless. So I'm worried for what will happen when I'm still naive and starry-eyed as a 20-year-old, or as a 30-year-old, or as a 65-year-old. Will I actually grow out of my PMS-iness and somehow become level-headed and docile and calm and easygoing? That seems unrealistic, and moreover, depressing. I may be furious and devastated and morose 90% of the time, but the brief rays of psycho-joyfulness and euphoria seem worth it. I'm not interested in apathy. I'm not interested in composure. I want GLITTER and I want FASCINATION and I want LOVE and I want DEVASTATION and I want GORE and I want MAGIC. 

"Something's bubblin' up inside your holy head."
-Avery Jalaine

Monday, July 7, 2014

end of an era: intro


Lately I've been thinking a lot about Ends of Eras in my life and in the world, about how human lives are sort of divided and subdivided by milestones and tragedies and the aftermaths of both of these things. When something BIG happens in life---whether it be a good thing or a bad thing---it throws a wrench into the way life currently exists and creates a new reality in its place. A new era. 

Ends of Eras are both necessary and unavoidable: they happen with the passage of time, when somebody dies, when you fall in love, when you move from one place to another, when you get your heart broken, when you lose a job or get a new one, when babies are born, when you graduate, when you lose old friends or get new ones, when the seasons change, etc. etc. Technically, every day is kind of the End of an Era because it's another day that has passed that we'll never experience again, but we only notice big changes.

When I started brainstorming this post (like 4 months ago), I made a cluster diagram to try to figure out where I wanted to go with it, but it ended up getting a little bit out of control wild style:

The problem is: I have too much to say! EVERYTHING ENDS, GUYS. That's kind of the point of this post, it's just an introduction to the next 4 or 5 posts in which I'm going to try to organize the bloodbath of everything that I've been thinking about in a way that's hopefully a little bit more eloquent than bubbles on a chart. I want to talk categorically about all the stuff that's been bothering me about feeling nostalgic and leaving teenagehood behind forever and how birthdays are weird and sad and generally pointless even though *time* isn't.

Everything in my little End of Eras series circles back to the theme of the passage of time, because that's the nature and cause of Eras in general, and certainly of the Ends of them. 

In the amazing The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, Tom Wolfe articulates something important: 

"You can’t go any faster than that. You can’t through sheer speed overcome the lag. We are all of us doomed to spend our lives watching a movie of our lives — we are always acting on what has just finished happening. It happened at least 1/30th of a second ago. We think we’re in the present, but we aren’t. The present we know is only a movie of the past, and we will never be able to control the present through ordinary means."
This is something that used to haunt me late at night: you can never live in the present. Everything we do is "past," everything is already over, our very lives. It's deceptively depressing when you think about it at first, but it's actually sort of the most empowering thing in the world. It took me the better part of twenty years to realize that things that are past are actually PAST because I've always spent so much time dwelling on stuff that has already happened when I could've embraced the past as a comfort: knowing that it was done and over, I could move on and literally do/be whatever I wanted. So that's what I'm trying to do now: not dwell so much.

Stay tuned for End of an Era: Part 1, sometime later this week. And thanks for reading, as always.

Si vis pacem, para bellum.

-Avery Jalain


Friday, June 13, 2014

gods of summer they were at twenty


Hi, it's me. 

I know, I know, I know: I've been super AWOL the past few months due to ~FEELINGS~ and ~RESPONSIBILITIES~ and ~PERSONAL REASONS~ but I'm back and ready to rumble and I've written officially ten billion half-drafts of posts so I have sooOoOOooOooooOOoOoooOooOOOOooOoooOOOOOooOOOOOoOooOooOoOoooooOoo much dope stuff to tell you about that I'm super close to posting on this dumb blog. There's a lot about why I've been gone and why things have been totally Suck Fest 2014 around her for so long and why I'm theoretically ready to try to fix some of the Suck Fest things and make my life a little bit shinier and better again, plus also some stuff about becoming a vegetarian and getting a Real Job and also books I've been reading and also some stuff about Japanese eels and Attack on Titan and medical marijuana and about love handles + short-shorts this summer and how I LOVE it and also about Tamanduas and bush babies and Spotted Genets and Fenec foxes. THRILLING. (*confetti canons* *barfs*)

This is just a little junk-post about #1: that I'm back and I'm here and I'm ready to write again! and #2: my new summer credo, and finally #3: a call for book recommendations. I already covered #1, and #2 makes me So! So! So! So! So! So! So! Excited!!! So I'm really happy to tell you about it.

Okay, have you guys read any Albert Camus? Like, I always knew that his work was kind of ~out there~ in the world, and that he was French and a demi-existentialist and made everybody feel kind of angsty. That's all I really knew. But then I found out that's he is most famously an absurdist---which is my 100% #1 All-Star Champion favorite genre of literature ever ever ever ever---so I sort of threw myself into his body of work, starting with his essays, and found myself full of rapture and magic and itchiness and I was all overwhelmed and euphoric. So now Camus is one of my dreamiest and most trusted heroes.

His essay "Summer in Algiers" makes me feel especially stir-crazy and hopeless and awesome because it's all about summer, so I've read it like 4000 times in the past two weeks. I'm one of those people that treats summers like they need theme songs and catchphrases and long to-do lists, and I'm also one of those people that looks for "signs" everywhere and inevitably finds them in hyperdescriptive defeatist essays written by dead French philosophers.

I found the official theme or canon or whatever that I've adopted for summer 2014 in "Summers in Algiers," in a passage near the end:

"There are words I have never really understood, such as ‘sin’. Yet I believe these men have never sinned against life. For if there is a sin against life, it consists perhaps not so much in despairing of life as in hoping for another life and in eluding the implacable grandeur of this life. These men have not cheated. Gods of summer they were at twenty by their enthusiasm for life and they still are, deprived of all hope. I have seen two of them die. They were full of horror, but silent. It is better thus. From Pandora’s box, where all the ills of humanity swarmed, the Greeks drew out hope after all the others, as the most dreadful of all. I know no more stirring symbol; for, contrary to the general belief, hope equals resignation. And to live is not to resign oneself." (Albert Camus, "Summers in Algiers")

I guess I freaked out when I read the part that says, "Gods of summer they were at twenty by their enthusiasm for life and they still are, deprived of all hope." I was like HI I'M AVERY AND I HAVE JUST READ WORDS THAT DESCRIBE MY CURRENT LIFE AND ALSO MY SOUL OKAY. It was just one of those weird things where the phrasing and the timing and the placement of the words was the exact way I had wanted to describe myself, but hadn't yet thought of the words. So it was scarily accurate and beautiful and heaven-sent from Camus, and it immediately became my summer credo: "Gods of Summer They Were At Twenty." It's full of power and hard sunlight and invincibility and junk food. I use it as kind of mental steroids because when you think about being young and Olympian forever in an eternal summer, it makes you feel like you can punch through walls and shoot lasers out of your eyeballs and do whatever you want. But it also reminds you about transience and impermanence and the fleetingness of the idyllic and symbolic "summer" and also the brevity of being twenty-years-old, strong and fearless and able. So it's a good summer credo, because it's empowering but it also reminds you to be realistic. I might even need a hashtag for it. #GOSTWA20 #stopkoni

You can read the rest of the essay here.

Okay, okay, good. Remember how I said there were three things I was going to talk about in this post? #3 is really easy but important: I just wanted to ask you guys if you had any good book recommendations for me? I've been chain-reading like a book or two a day (my mom's voice: "NERD!"), and I've sort of hit a dry spell because it feels like I've read All Literature Ever Written On Earth. My only request is that you do NOT even think about telling me to read anything written by John Green. I honestly don't have time for the wrath and rage I will feel if somebody suggests The Fault in Our Stars. I am not joking. I will burn Utah to the ground. Stay away from me.

That's all I've got for this post. Thanks for sticking around.

Chin up and guns out.
-Avery Jalaine


Thursday, February 13, 2014

live! from planet avery

(DISCLAIMER 1: You probably shouldn't read this. It's very long. It's about me. It's sad. 

DISCLAIMER 2: I probably shouldn't have posted it. It's very long. It's about me. It's sad.

That's all.)

Sometimes I feel like I'm so in love with everybody that the universe is going to blow up from the sheer velocity of my love.

Okay. A post about... eating lunch in the Cougar Eat alone.

I think what I'm trying to write about is... Being a Lonely Kid in College: a Helpful How-To Guide. Or maybe a more appropriate title would just be Posting Things on the Internet that I Don't Want to Talk About: Pod-Robot Edition. This is a funny blog post because it's been written over the space of a few weeks, in various states of emotional well-being, so it's kind of a psychological train-wreck and I keep going back and forth about whether it's too spazzy and long and depressing to post online at all. I guess it's important that I at least finish writing the post because it's about a weird, scary thing that's been happening to me, and I haven't talked about it at all yet. I mean, I want to talk about it but that's a very, very difficult thing for me to do because it's all so dumb and so bizarre and I can never put it into words out loud; I start talking and I'm like, "Ag. Nobody wants to hear this." My life is so easy and pretty and normal in theory that I feel like the biggest jag in the world when I try to explain how things have been hard for me. I've just been kinda lonely. 

Let's first talk about how it's 100% way easier to be alone. When I'm alone, I get to sit on the floor and read a book and watch a movie and eat ice cream straight from the box all at the same time (the combination of books, TV, and food is like the trifecta of antisocialism) and I'm under no pretenses of acting pleasant or entertaining; I can just sit there in a little raincloud of Doom and Despair and be as pissy and snarly and evil as I want to be. If I'm sad: so be it. If I'm furious: so be it. If I'm joyous: so be it. Around everybody else, you have to be civil and well-mannered, make-upped, obliging, you have to say "yes please" and "no thank you" and "I'm fine" and it's all very dumb and useless. In public, there's no room for all-consuming, soul-crushing happyjoy excitement about finding the Mundy song you thought you'd lost forever. You don't get to yell. You don't get to cry for Jennifer Lawrence in Like Crazy. Everything is "calm down" "calm down" "calm down". You have to act like there isn't hellfire and moonbeams and gammarays all boiling under your skin; you act "nice" and "polite". Ew.

Exception: there are some people that get so close to you that they become a weird little part of you and then you can kind of be "alone" with them. They kind of become mutant appendages of you, phantom limbs, and you can sort of radar them from across campus or read their mind or show up to school wearing the exact same outfit as them. They know about how ugly and shallow and stupid and irrational and insensitive and selfish you are. But they also know that you're smart and loyal and protective and funny and gentle and brave in bizarre and unpredictable ways. They like your sense of humor and they help proofread your essays and they call you Av and they write you long notes in class and draw pictures of you with a mermaid tail and they forgive you for not texting back and they saw you crying that night on the trampoline and they reached over and rubbed your leg and didn't say anything at all. I used to have people like that. Now I have a weird thing where there are beautiful, wonderful people who are suddenly so so close to coming in and being like the kind of miracle-angel-friends I used to have, but I'm not really letting them because it's easier not to, and it'll be easier for me when they're gone. I don't want to have to miss more people.


A Portrait of the Artist as a College Girl: I sort of got used to being extra-extra-alone at college this year because Kaitlyn has been on an LDS blitzkrieg back east and Addy is the Queen of New York City and everybody else was kinda MIA and hard to reach in Cedar Hills (Matt) or SLC (Em) or we were just barely new friends and it was still scary (Brooklyn). I just naturally started doing everything by myself---eating meals, going to movies, studying/doing homework, shopping, exploring outside, etc. etc.---and it became so routine to keep my thoughts to myself and to sort of blot everything out with my own little inner-monologue and daydreamy pseudo-world that I started to doubt my capacity to ever communicate with anyone ever again. I wrote a journal entry about how I felt like I had completely lost touch with human interaction, and how every time I had to socialize with anyone, even my old friends or my roommates, it felt forced and awkward and suffocating. I got to this weird point where I felt bored of everybody but also like I was so self-involved that I was boring everybody at the same time. Everything in my life revolved around myself, but I was so sick of myself that even narcissism wasn't that entertaining. 

I was so scared that I had turned into a giant apathetic pod-robot that was doomed to be lonely and vacant and distant forever. This is what being a pod-robot is like: on the outside you're an indifferent metal shell, cold, callous, nothing getting in or out, shiny, pristine. On the inside everything is hot and bouncing around and reflecting off itself, all the pieces of you are overheating and clanging together and ringing and buzzing and hissing and blinking. Everything is deafening and violent and obscene, but it's all locked up airtight in the vice of your metal skeleton; you're a magic trick, a flightless bird, a paper doll.

I remember this one night a little while ago when I realized that the only words I had said out loud during that entire day were, "Lions are cool," in my Sociology of Gender class, and it was kind of funny but it also terrified me. There's this thing called neuroplasticity, and it's all about changes in neural pathways and how they affect your behavior. Teen years are a big deal because that's when the brain-plastic-goo is finally solidifying into your Real Adult Brain 4Ever, so you have the chance to strengthen some of these neural pathways and make different patterns of behavior easier/more natural for yourself for the rest of your life, like organization skills, taking risks, leadership, etc. It can also be bad news though, guys, because you can shut down neural pathways if you don't use them enough, and that's why I was so worried that I'd annihilated my Makin' Friends neural pathway forever. I was pretty sure that I was doomed to being Lonely Grrrl for the rest of my life because I hated everybody and also thought everybody hated me, and I just didn't talk to anyone anymore and if I did it was always torture. One of the worst things was that I felt like I lost my entire sense of humor and any semblance of an ability to make jokes. Another awful thing was that I seemed incapable of speaking anymore; I'd be like Okay, c'mon, say literally anything, but my brain was this big dumb black hole that sucked any possible conversation in and ate itself; so I was silent and useless and freaky, and everybody else was bored and annoyed. I still find myself doing that all the time: sitting in a group of people---or even just with one other person---and being like, "I think I used to be funny. I think I used to be interesting," but not being able to really do anything about it because my brain is busy being the stupidest black hole ever.

As a mean little jab at myself, I started to refer to my little bubble as Planet Avery, Population: 1, and the basic laws of the planet are that (1) it's all very magical and full of the kind of bizarro, psychopath beauty that only I seem to be fond of, (2) it's also full of ghosts and shadows and big volcano abysses, so it's sometimes terrifying and dangerous to live there, (3) the planet is host to a single alien life form called the Witch Baby, and there is only one living specimen of the entire species, known as Avery.

Species: Witch Baby, a humanoid fey thing, a little bit evil, a little bit fragile. Witch Babies like me have big, glittery obsessions with everything, fearsome tempers, bruise-y soft spots, a vicious streak, abandonment issues, insomnia, unquenchable thirsts, big rainbow supernova force-field shields made of armor and toxic poison and lasers and magic that keep everyone out out out out out out. Even though it's super beautiful and fabulous to be a Witch Baby, sometimes it's very lonely to be the only Witch Baby in the whole entire cosmos. On Planet Avery, it's starry and magic and big and bright, but it's also cold and sharp and terrifying, and I'm always always always on the hunt for other Witch Babies (spoiler: there aren't any) or at very least, other mythical hybrid people that understand having racing molten mercury blood and a killer dragon heart and the biggest dreamiest dreams in the world.

I mean, it's true, I have always been difficult to love: prickly, obsessive, PMS-y, secretive, jealous, doubtful, passive aggressive, indecisive, arrogant, anxious, combative, sad, greedy. I have always been strange and distant and hard to understand. I have been skittish and afraid; a hungry street cat who runs when you reach for it. 

I make it very, very hard to know me.

Part of my problem is that I've always loved people too fiercely and too violently, and I've always loved things that aren't mine, and I've always loved so severely and permanently that I allow everything and everyone that I love to walk inside me and eat my marrow and drink my blood and I expect to be allowed to do the same. I'm not a people-pleaser, I'm not a pushover, and I won't put up with being taken advantage of. But I'm a leech, a cuckoo. Codependent. An epiparasite is a parasite that feeds off another parasite, or sometimes two parasites feeding off each other. That's me, I guess. I make it hard to know me, yeah; getting in is hard, but getting out is even harder. So I have, like, six friends.

I've been thinking a lot about Kyle and Katie and Juliana and Bri and Zack and Cara while I've been writing this. What happened? I loved them all so so so much. But somehow it was either that they were disposable or I was disposable, and now they're just these people that I used to know so much about, but don't anymore. I can't keep doing that over and over: I get too attached, I don't make new friends, I take everything personally. I want to keep everybody forever. That's my biggest problem. I'm always trying to turn everybody into weird family members: my sister-husband-daughter-mother-brother-dog. How do I turn it off? I don't want to miss anyone. Brooklyn and Emily: you're going to London in five months. Schuyler: I don't know what you are. I've been trying to figure out whether or not I should keep doing stuff with you guys because sometimes it makes me too sad and it seems like maybe it'd be better if I just let you go now before I've wound myself too tightly around you. Sometimes I'll be sitting in the same room with you guys and feel myself start to miss you. 

Everything feels too big for me right now---even the smallest, simplest desires seem huge and distant and unattainable---and it's hard to write it in a way that makes sense because everything inside me feels like it's made of oatmeal, and my brain is oatmeal too, so it's hard to think of what to say. Everything has the power to cripple me lately. Everybody keeps breaking my heart. I go from joy-joy-joy-joy-joy-joy-joy to the oatmeal-black-hole-crushing-abyss feeling in two seconds, and it's disorienting and jarring and terrible that I'm always trying to prioritize what's more worth it: the joy-joy-joy-joy-joy-joy-joy feeling or simply a lack of the oatmeal-black-hole-abyss, because it's one or the other, all or nothing. 

Lastly, there was this time about a month ago when I had this humongous world-changing epiphany that ~God is good~. Or, if you're not into stuff like that, that the universe is good, or karma, or whatever. Initially, I was feeling so so so so so so so happy about something that seemed like the biggest, wildest miracle to have ever happened to me that it started to make me feel scared and wary because I thought something terrible had to happen to ruin my happiness. But then I was reading Psalms and there are all these verses that are like, "Yo! The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord!" and like, "Hey! If you're pretty good and you trust in God, He will give thee the desires of thine heart, okay!" and like, "Joy cometh! Yeah! You're doing great!" And then I had the epiphany because I was like "OH DUH GOD WANTS ME TO BE HAPPY AND HE WON'T JUST TAKE AWAY THIS GOOD THING FOR NO REASON BECAUSE HE'S ON MY TEAM AND HE ROCKS. SWAG." And I was so joyous about everything because I felt like I could finally just let myself be happy for maybe the first time ever, and stop worrying incessantly about why the miraculous good thing was going to somehow lead to my ultimate unhappiness. Yeah! A cool, great epiphany! Spiritual stuff! But guys, then the miraculous good thing kind of... like, I don't know, ended? sort of, or at least stopped being so miraculous as it initially was. Instead, the miraculous thing became a source of heartache and neurosis and doubt and grief, and it took over my dumb black hole brain that I'd just barely started to coax out of lonely cryosleep and turned everything into Raincloud World of Sad Sad Sad Sad. 

So what about my really cool epiphany? Yeah, at first I thought it was totally defunct and that I had been wrong wrong wrong so completely wrong. I was all, "Yup, God wants me to suffer eternally and be the Saddest Girl in Sadtown forever. Woe, woe, woe." But recently, I've kind of had to go back and revise both epiphanies. My first epiphany was totally great and gorgeous in theory, but it was really naive. Just because you get something that you want and feel happy about it doesn't mean that you're going to get to keep it forever, or that some terrible tragedy isn't going to happen to you. Stuff happens. It's life. I kept trying to figure out what I'd done wrong, or why I wasn't worthy, or how I could pull off some impressive magic trick that reversed time and made me Queen of Joy Joy Joy again. But it was just something that happened, and now it's over and I'm going to figure out how to deal with it. 

Alternately, when something happens that makes you feel sad or mad or lonely or embarrassed, it isn't proof that God is out to ruin your life, or that you're never going to be happy or get anything you want ever again. Just because I'm morbidly (and excessively) sad about one stupid thing in my life doesn't mean that I can't also be so unbelieavably happy about other things that it feels like my heart is exploding. There is room for both. I didn't realize I knew that until I wrote it just barely, and it took a few weeks and a lot of tears and journal entries and so much despair despair despair to actually believe it. I'm sad sometimes, guys, and I'm lonely, and now I'm kind of trying to understand how and why I can be so lonely and so full all at once, and what I'm supposed to do about it, and who to push back and who to pull closer, and where I'm supposed to fit in everything. I don't really know what I'm doing, but I hope it's good.

I guess part of this blog post is about me figuring out how to get off Planet Avery, and how I'm okay enough that I can talk about it and think about it semi-objectively, but it's also about saying that I still live there a lot of the time, and I'm only just barely learning how to do things normally again. I feel like it might be like waking up after 10000 years after being in cryosleep and having to relearn how to move your toes and eat solid foods and speak and stuff, even though it's only been a couple months and I was mostly okay all along. I'm kind of coming back to the surface, and there are some days when I'm silent and stuck inside my head and I can't help it, and there are other days when laughing and putting on mascara and talking about the hunting habits of cheetahs or why Tina from Bob's Burgers is a feminist icon or describing the merits of giant spider movies (i.e. Tarantula [1955], The Giant Spider Invasion [1975], Eight-Legged Freaks [2002], Ice Spiders [2007], etc. etc.) are all really easy normal things for me to do. I'm trying to say that I was never really a social butterfly-mermaid to begin with, but somehow it seems like I managed to get even more standoffish and silent and loner-ish over the past few months and right now I'm trying to cure myself of it but it's only happening a little bit at a time. I've been leaving Planet Avery and coming to Earth for longer stretches of time---eating human food, sleeping in a human bed---and pretty soon I'll be a regular native human again. 

I want to say thanks to the ones who haven't left me, thanks to the ones who found me, and thanks to the ones who are still taking care of me: let me in.

"What ails you, child?" (S.H.)
-Avery Jalaine