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2:47 p.m.

Lana feelsThe current mood of xengirl at www.imood.com

The good and the bad and the balance. Thursday night was horrible. The culmination of a very stressful couple of weeks in which I made my room scarily clean in a compulsive, last-ditch effort at procrastination, then at around eleven sat down to do my outline. At four, six pages and a bloody kleenex later, I gave up. Friday was better. Amanda Leahy was wonderful - she did not kill me for not having my outline, she gave me an extension until Wednesday since I haven't been in school all week. Most importantly she understood, she wasn't mad at me, she even took what I had for her and said that it was more than she had expected. The rest of the day went really quickly, no french class, easy math and bio. Bought a combination reward for me and belated birthday present for Manda at lunchtime and spent the rest of the day giggling at the thought of it. We went out for dinner, bought breath mints and eyedrops (I just got new contacts!) at City Market, a can of soda at 7-11. Borrowed a closure thingy off of the electric box at the bike shop cause it had a sharp pointy thing for the poking of holes in said can, gave Manda a refresher course on how to use such instruments, had fun trying to get the lighters to work in the wind in the middle of the cow pasture. Ten minutes later we stumbled back to campus, pleasantly incoherent, wandered back to the dorms, sat in my room and looked and acted stoned while Cesca laughed at us. Laughed and then came the fun exchange of Meaningful Looks over the bloodily tic-tac-toe'd kleenex in my wastebasket. I don't know what she thinks of this and I don't know what to say. Nothing has been asked and nothing has been put forward and she's tired and stressed as well, we all are. So I'm just leaving it alone for now. Pekay's treating me like he does Cesca and Kelly, monitoring my sugar flow and goddess only knows what else. I don't know what I'm doing any more than anyone else does. I'm trying to keep my life pulled together, trying to get over the distinct feeling that the happiness I find here is way more than I deserve and possibly way more than I can handle. Trying to find a balance in myself that will allow it. Heather says I sabotage myself because I'm scared, and Heather is right, I'm scared shitless. Scared to have it, scared to lose it, scared. Scared of success and scared of failure, scared of being alone and scared of people, stressed and just plain sick and tired of all the crap. Then I look at it objectively and it's not crap, it's everything I love about this place - it's having work crews and going snowboarding and a challenge, sometimes. It's not all that overwhelming, it's just school and homework, mostly, and I can do that. And all the things that I'm scared of really aren't that scary. But I'm still overwhelmed and I'm still scared, so all the objectivity in the world hasn't helped much. I worry most about the blood. I've been stressed before, while I was here, and up until Christmas break I hadn't done that since the middle of the summer after freshman year. At all. Since break there are two new boards on my arm and eight on my stomach and I think that's not good. It's not just school, it's not just too much work and too little time, because I was able to laugh that off last year, and even earlier this year.

I think a lot of it has to do with all the mess that is my family and all the issues I have yet to resolve with them. I think a lot of it has to do with the way they've moved on from all the trauma and pain of my childhood, the way that they seem like a family now, like maybe they care about each other, they do things together, they try to work with each other, they do the things that families do. They still fight, there's still a lot of tension and bitterness and anger roiling beneath the surface, but the surface is much better maintained these days. When I come back it feels like there isn't really a place for me anymore. They'll ask me a few questions about school, about snowboarding, about my photographic efforts, but it feels staged, like they're taking turns trying to fill the space. Mostly they just leave me alone, except when my grades come. Even my little sister doesn't look at me the same way. They're painting my bathroom this week and they didn't tell me until it was half done, and nobody seems to understand why that bothers me. I'm not ready to grow up yet. I still need my daddy to try and care for me, I still wish my mother could find it somewhere in her heart to love me, I still want to be Brynne's "sissy," as she used to call me before she really talked, I don't want her to shut me out of her life, I want her to follow me and look up to me, even when it irritates the hell out of me. She's my baby sister and I've always loved that, no matter how cruel I was to her sometimes, no matter how much she annoyed me.

And my mother. The only place in my mother's life I could ever find was that of the thorn in her side, so I did my best with that. She would hit me, sometimes to the point of leaving bruises, fingernail marks in my shoulders, bloody noses, but those faded. Those faded long ago and if that was all it was I would be fine, but she could be, can be, the most venomous person I've ever known. The things she would say - I was always to blame for everything, for the fights with my father and for her job issues and for her lack of friends and for the price of my clothes. And she didn't know why she bothered when I was so ungrateful, she didn't understand how any daughter of hers could get such bad grades and I would never get into a good school and I would never do anything with my life, because the only thing I was any good for was something professional, I didn't have the talent to write or sing or act and besides, you have to be pretty to do things like that and, well, she thought it was obvious that one only had to look at me to know that that would never happen. And just all the minor things she would say. Trying to shop with her was always a nightmare but I was never trustworthy enough, even once I was old enough, to go by myself with my friends. I was never really sick, I was always just faking it to get sympathy and to add stress to her life. Never good enough, and I refused to use the only gift she saw in me, a relatively high IQ. We fought to no end, she couldn't understand me but in her own way she did try to do what she thought was best for me, in her own way I think she even loved me a little sometimes. But I was always the biggest disappointment in her life, because I was never good enough to live up to the standards she set. She worked her way up from a poor catholic family with five kids after WWII, her father an alchoholic chainsmoker who couldn't hold a job, her mother a working housewife who raised all the kids and for the most part, let her husband walk all over her. She went to the best schools, got a good job, married a fairly successful, well-educated, self-controlled, addiction-free, intelligent in an abstract way, gentle man who seemed likeable enough at the time, moved into a nice little apartment in a good neighborhood of New York City, had a couple of intelligent, adorable little girls, moved to a big, old, almost-classy house in the suburbs, found a church, hired a nanny, and expected to live happily ever after. She still doesn't know what happiness means. The daughters were supposed to grow up, get good grades, do good things with the money she could afford to spend on them, live up to their respective potentials, develop some personal beauty of the physical and spiritual variety, go to the best schools, and generally be successful little cogs in the giant wheel of life. My sister's about halfway down that path. I went astray. I've been trouble all my life, to her, from getting croup on the airplane when I was a month old, falling out of the train in Switzerland when I was two, kicking my shoes off in Germany when I was three, never understanding the concepts of clean rooms or organized desks, skipping a grade, not fitting in, not doing my homework, stubbornly refusing to excel at anything but reading, setting things on fire, getting hurt and dirty, talking to squirrels, and all that before fifth grade. After I met Amy, it all went to shits. We failed half our classes in junior high together, fell deeper and deeper into depression together, started cutting ourselves at the same time, though never together. She never knew about that, but she sure as all hell knew I was fucking up, over and over again, no matter how much she slapped me around. Daddy lost his job and they fought and fought and fought, over that and over money and over me, over how to deal with me and how she treated me. So that, of course was my fault to. Her life was not going the way she deserved, all her hard work was wasted, and as far as she could tell, it was all my fault. And she could tell. And tell. And keep on telling, over and over again, exactly in what ways it was my fault, and why I was no good, worthless, how much grief I caused everybody, how I would never be good enough for anything. It's that that still hurts, it's that that I still have buried inside of me, not the hitting. It's my father's eyes, saying that he's sorry but it's too hard to do anything, not quite worth it to try and make it better, but that he'll stay with me tonight if that will make me feel any better. He's so sorry for how much it all hurts, but what can he do? Mother's sick and it hurts him too, he knows she's mean and bad and he knows she hurts people but there's nothing he can do but stay with me, he really does love me, look how much he fights with her for me.

Now I go back and they don't fight as much. They work a lot, they never see each other, nobody ever says much of anything, but they don't fight. I come and they act like nothing was ever wrong. Sometimes Mother snaps and goes a little bonkers, sometimes Daddy roars for no reason at all, Brynne still cries a lot more than your average twelve year old, over nothing whatsoever, but they ignore all that. Mostly it's just the very large elephant sitting on the living room table, whispered about sometimes, but mostly tiptoed around for fear of waking it. The thing is, that elephant is me. That elephant is my childhood and my psychological makeup, it's all the things that formed my mentality in it's moldable tenderness, and for them to ignore it HURTS. So I'm dealing with that. Or, as it happens, I'm not dealing with that, not very well. I'm suppressing it, because I don't know how to talk about it or what to say, and it doesn't feel right that I'm upset because they're stable and happy. I'm not. I'm just pissed off that I'm being discounted in the process, that what it took for them to finally assume the guise of normality was sending me away and pretending I don't exist. It hurts. I need love, more than peace, I'm prepared to take it with pain because that's all I've ever known. I need a family, and I need them to have a place for me in their lives. I need to deal with the pain and the results of my childhood, and it's a lot harder to do that when everyone involved is busily pretending that they never happened.

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