Saturday, December 31, 2011

Two Worlds

On the outside, she is perfect.

Her scrubs fit perfectly, her hair is messy in a way that says she is confident and doesn't care what the world thinks. Her nose is petite, her skin clear.

Her shoes add just enough height to make people notice her, but not enough to be imposing.

She is young; younger than most with her job.

After setting down her purse and coat, she sits facing me.

I watch her eyes as she listens to the report. They are large and brown, rimmed by dark eyelashes.

The intensity with which she listens is unusual. Her job clearly means a lot to her. Her eyes never waver from the other women's as she takes notes.

After shift change, this woman settles into her chair. The hinges squeak as she adjusts the settings to her liking.

Her gaze settles on me, and we exchange the customary "Good mornings".

She makes small talk with the other nurses as they trickle in. They comment on the weather, whining kids, the new year, lack of sleep, and other standards.

Her intense gaze is now fixed on the computer screen. I continue answering calls.

Only after the third "Meghan?", does she turn to face me. Her eyes are no longer intense, but fixed on a point no one else can see.

I tell her about the family member on hold, before slowly returning to the blinking phone.

Her gaze and changed demeanor startle me. 

She continues to answer questions and type and be present when needed.

In the small spaces in between, however, her eyes un-focus. She allows her lids to close partway, for wrinkles to from at the corners, and for her chin to drop.

Her outward appearance is carefully orchestrated to disguise whatever lies beneath the surface.

I wonder at her secrets. Her life. The one she shows to the world, and the one that takes place behind closed doors.

The pager's strident buzz catches both of us off-guard and we reach for it, she with her work face back in place, and me, not making the transition quite as quickly.

Friday, December 30, 2011

New Year

This year is different.

The New Year is approaching, just as it always does. Time is still playing tricks on me, stretching out the days while I wait, shortening the days of no school.

But this year I'm not trying to shove the year behind me. I'm not getting nostalgic about the past, the things that have changed, the hope and possibility that the New Year brings.

It will be good to see a new year.

This doesn't mean I'm not looking forward to what it will bring (believe me, I am).

It doesn't mean I haven't changed in the past year. I could go on and on (and on) about what has changed. In many ways, it would be a list of improvements.

It means I'm not living in the past or for the future. It means I'm living in the present. The here and now.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011



We all have them.

Boyfriends, girlfriends, friend friends.

They linger in our memories, our hearts.

My ex-best friend also lingers at my school.

By a lucky combination of opposite schedules and quick glances away, I've avoided seeing or speaking to her for about three years.

Unfortunately, our schedules are no longer completely opposite, and I am no longer convinced that total avoidance is the best strategy.

I moved on.

I got new friends. I took down all the pictures of us. I convinced myself that I didn't miss her, or need her, or hate her, or feel anything about her.


Because that's exactly what happens.

Now she keeps popping up.

I have no desire to be her friend, electronically or otherwise. I've been down that path. It didn't work. 

However, I don't want to be a jerk. We have a messy past, but that's just it--it's the past.

I guess this is me asking for advice? Or something? Anything?

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Thursday, December 22, 2011


I sit here, with so many things I could say. Important things, very not-important things. Some I'm just dying to talk about, others are just fleeting thoughts.

The words are trapped somewhere.

See, right here? This is where normally there would be words. Funny, interesting, thoughtful, you choose the adjective.

I just keep writing a sentence and deleting it. Not because there was anything particularly wrong with it, it just didn't say what I wanted it to say. But I don't know what I want to say. That's a teeny bit of a problem.

I guess I have to figure out what I'm feeling before I can start to describe it.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Weekly Winners: I'm Baaaaack

Yes, I'm back. Yes, it's been a long time. Moving on.

My parents gave me a certificate for a macro lens for my birthday. I have yet to cash in, mostly because I don't know where to begin. Any suggestions, advice, personal stories?? I have a Canon Rebel XS, but I don't need a Canon lens, it just has to be compatible.

Saturday, December 17, 2011


Barring any failing grades next semester, I can now call myself a Grinnell college student. 

-Insert giggling and shrieking and giddiness here-

And this is the essay (the one my English teacher hated), that I think played a rather large role in my acceptance.

Mr. B opened my eyes to my own potential and taught me that there’s more to learning than getting a perfect score. His words are the little voice in the back of my mind telling me that I can do it and to never give up.

I hated writing with a passion throughout elementary school. The process of the five-step paragraph seemed a special way to torture me and the cursive script slowed me to a snail’s pace. I had so much to say, but I couldn't figure out a way to get it out on the page fast enough and in a way that would satisfy the strict requirements for the number of sentences and complex sentences, transitional words, and a color-coded final product.

The first assignment Mr. B gave our fifth-grade class was to compare a fan to a pencil. He gave us a sheet of paper and time, as much or as little as we needed, and off we went. The first few times I sat at my desk, paralyzed by my fear of being anything less than perfect. I couldn’t fathom the idea of writing without strict boundaries being set for me. Mr. B acknowledged my fear and then went right on smashing down all the boundaries by letting us throw paint, go outside, listen to music, or just sit in silence to find inspiration.

Mr. B knew that I had been taught to write within the lines, and here I was, scribbling furiously on the current assignment, without any lines to guide me. While I sat hunched over my desk, Mr. B walked around the room. He was ready with a joke if I was stuck or with a smile if I wanted him to give me the right answer, but he never interrupted me while the words were flowing.

The balance he struck between letting me figure it out for myself and giving me enough help so I wouldn't feel lost and abandoned was impressive. I had room to grow; to grow as far and as fast as I could, without the loss of my support system. If anything, I learned that sometimes the best kind of support a person can receive is to know that someone is there, but to have that person step back and let you take on the world by yourself.

During the nine months of fifth grade, I learned to do more than just write words; I learned to craft them into a final product that had significance and could clearly communicate my thoughts and ideas to the world. Mr. B gave me freedom to write, to grow, and to make mistakes by obliterating the idea that everything I wrote had to be perfect. After he had given me all the tools I needed to tear down the barriers around my mind, he stepped back as I discovered the amazing new world outside of perfection.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


I breathe in for four beats. And then out. One. Two. Three. Four.

As my arms drift down to the floor, I can feel the tension draining out of me. I always hold it in my back, in these two spots that I can never reach without stretching.

I never take this time anymore.

It used to be part of my routine.

Every night, I would stretch and meditate and just be.

I would make a conscious effort to not think, to let it all go, and just be in that moment.

Somewhere along the way, I stopped.

My reading and writing and desire to curl up in bed and go to sleep took over.

All good things.

Which is why I didn't really notice.

I thought that if I was replacing one good thing with another, it shouldn't make a difference.

Not so.

There are so many good things, things that help me to stay centered, and to remember who I am. The writing and reading and sleeping are parts of this. But they were never able to replace the slow breathing and mindfulness of meditation.

Yesterday I needed it. To be quiet. To move slowly, but with purpose. I needed to recenter.

I don't know if it helped or not.

Because although I went to sleep early, I was awake for two hours during the night. And then awake an hour early.

I don't think it was because of the meditation. I hope not, because it feels like it could really help me.

I think I am stressed out, and worried, and unsure of what to do, or how to handle all of this.

I think it could have been worse, had I not taken the time to slow down last night.

But I'm not sure.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Not Funny At All

It's funny, in a very not-funny sort of way, how dramatically my week has changed.

Monday morning I wrote this whole, happy, smiley post.

I had had an excellent weekend, I wasn't that worried about finals, and I was only six days away from hearing back from the college I applied to.

The only thing marring my happy smiliness was the dead internet. So you never got to hear about my fantastic weekend, and the time when finals didn't seem like such a big deal.

Now, you get to hear about my terrible day. The one where I am worried about finals, to the point of freaking out.

It's Calculus. It's all Calculus.

I am done with English and Economics, not at all worried about Spanish (Although the teacher announced today that we have to learn new material over the next two days that would normally take us about two weeks to learn. Great planning.), and pretty confident about Anatomy (Although it would have been nice if we had actually used class time today to study. Instead, we watched what easily qualified as the stupid movie I have ever watched.).

But oh, Calculus.

I was worried. And then I got more worried when I saw the review packet yesterday. Which turned into a full-on freak-out when our teacher was mysteriously absent today, leaving us with a completely incompetent sub.

I want to go back to Monday morning. When my biggest issue was the internet not working.

I do apologize for the ranting and raving about school. I know I'll survive. But right now, in this moment, I'm not so sure.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


I hate that the best word to describe how I feel most o the time is "tired".

Everyone's tired. It's the most common complaint. So I fit right in.

But it's not the same.

I know this.

But sometimes it's hard, when everyone else is listing off all their complaints, all the thing they have to do. Doing their best to win the "whose life sucks more" contest.

I tend to stay quiet.

So often I feel like words aren't enough.

And I'm not about to start listing everything I complain about in my head.

It's not who I am.

And everyone thinks they have it worse. And that no one else can possibly imagine what they have to deal with.

It's true. I believe that you don't really understand someone, all of them, until you walk in their shoes.

Which is, of course, impossible.

So I keep my mouth shut.

I think I've been dealt a tough hand.

I also think I've dealt with it pretty well.

And that's nothing to complain about.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Worth It?

Saturday there was a doctor at the hospital.

At work at 6pm on a Saturday night. Looking tired, beaten down. Having a discussion with his wife on the phone. Deciding on pizza toppings. Not an argument, per se, but more thought and effort than it should have taken to decide against spinach.

They're both being noncommittal; she, knowing he's tired, not wanting to add more stress, he, just wishing that someone else would make a decision, just once.

They decide on cheese, pepperoni, and chicken and pineapple. I wonder how many kids are at home, waiting for their dad.

His light blue scrubs are wrinkled as he sits and dictates his report. There's a big sigh when he can't find the chart.

The huge stack of pre-made flashcards. To become board certified, just general surgery, he explains to the nurse. And this is just half of them.

"Well maybe that's why you look so tired."

He doesn't say anything, as there really isn't a response to this.

I watch him check something on his phone, wondering if it's worth it.

Do they pay him enough, to make up for the long, exhausting days? All that time away from your family?

And more than that--is it worth it?

Dedicating your career, your life, really, to helping other people. Learning and teaching and caring. Knowing that no matter how many times you run through those flashcards, you'll never know it all. You'll make a mistake, a costly one, at some point.

Is it worth it?

Sunday, December 4, 2011


I miss my camera.

I feel slightly guilty about how long it's been sitting on that shelf, untouched.

I am not inspired to pick it up.

I am not in a place to truly see the world around me.

I believe in practice.

I believe in pushing myself.

I also believe in giving myself a break.

I believe in letting myself off the hook.

It will be there when I'm ready.

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Hospital

I think I've mentioned it in passing a couple of times. Really talked about it once.

Which is strange, because it means so much to me.

I think I haven't written about it because I didn't know how to put it into words. All that it means to me.

I want to do it justice.

For almost a year I've been volunteering every Saturday evening at the hospital.

I love it.

I have since my first shift.

It started out great because I was finally on the other side of things; a caregiver instead of a patient.

But it's turned into so much more than that.

It's a place where I feel safe and comfortable. I fit. I am known. I am part of a greater whole.

It is such a privilege to be part of such a dedicated group that works so hard to care for their patients.

And while the patients want nothing more than to go home, to escape the hospital, I'm the opposite.

The hospital is my escape.

From life and homework and procrastination.

To a place where I fit.

It just feels right.


And this thing is hospital related. It's actually really good news. And I promise I'll talk about it someday, when I've figured out what it means to me.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

on the last nine days

Coming into Thanksgiving Break, I had a bunch of ideas about what I wanted to do with my nine days of freedom.

I did not paint my nails. I know it wasn't on my list, but it was in my head. I do not understand how I did not find half an hour to take off the nail polish that's been on since Homecoming!

I did make my bed. More than once, even!

I don't really feel rested. It took me a while to figure out that to get more rest, I would have to go to sleep before 11.

But I did put those waking hours to good use reading Inheritance. I need someone to discuss it with!

I did not read my Spanish book. I'm not sure I'm ever going to pick it up again.

I spent a lot of time not being bored, but rather sitting around thinking about all the things I should be doing.

Therefore, I do not feel caught up. At all.

There was much baking. Two pumpkin cheesecakes. Yum.

And knitting. Lots of knitting.

Lots of watching football. Happy Tela.

Despite all the things I did not accomplish, there was lots of giving thanks.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Giving Thanks

I am thankful for many things.




Laughing so hard I can't breathe.


Warm houses.

Having a house that is home.





From the radio.

And from the birds.

Toe socks.

Hair that cooperates.

Pretty things.





The road ahead of me.



Being young.


This moment. Right now.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Letting Down

I am just starting to let down.

The stress and weight of school and all the things I must do still press on me, but I am working to let them go.

I don't need to worry. They will get done, or they won't. And I only have so much control over the outcome.

So I curled up on the couch and took a nap. I watched my cat watch the world outside. I admired my newly knitted hat. I read Inheritance.

Now I sit down to re-work an essay. I listen to music. I let the peace of a cold day seep into me. The knowledge that there is nowhere I have to go fills me. Nothing urgent must be attended to.

I sit. I drink my orange juice. The sound of the furnace lulls me into a tranquil state.


I let it all go.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

A Break

Today marks the first day of my Thanksgiving Break. I have been anticipating these days for the past several weeks. I want to do lots, as well as rest...

Make my bed. Pulling up the covers without straightening or tucking only works for so long.

Bake. Preferably something with pumpkin.

Read. Everything. And especially the new Inheritance book.

Watch movies.

Get caught up.

Do school work. (Boring, I know. But I have a project to do and a research paper to write.)

Watch football.

Do I dare say Christmas shopping?

Get back in touch with my camera.

Edit pictures. I have a huge backlog to go through--some from before Halloween.

Knit. Some more. I just finished a scarf in record-breaking time.

Distract myself. From the fact that 28 days from now, I will hear back from Grinnell. The one and only school to which I applied. (No, I'm not obsessively counting down the days. What gave you that idea?)

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Weekly Winners: 11/11/11

I decided to do something slightly different this week. All these shots are from 11/11/11, just of my everyday life.

Sunday, November 6, 2011


I'm feeling rather overwhelmed.

It's just sort of everything that seems to be at the same time. There may be enough hours in the day to type all the words, but my brain cannot function for very long. I can't write quality words all the live long day.

I think I just need to start. Because that's all I can do--start, and give it the best I've got.

I know this, yet I can't help but freak out and go into the whole but if I don't I'll fail and won't get into college and end up working at the corner store pumping gas, all because I couldn't come up with the right words.

I don't know where to start. Somehow, talking with my teacher gave me less confidence in myself. (Although that's really not surprising, considering that he told me he wondered how he was ever going to teach me to write.)

(Those last two sentences are my compromise on this. Maybe more will come later, maybe not.)

My compromise was to start here. It might not be something I can send to a college, or have my overly judgmental teacher grade, but it's a way for me to get the words flowing.

To remember that I can write.

And that sometimes I'm even pretty good at it.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

on anonymity

I never really thought about the implications or potential consequences of having my real name on my blog.

No, my last name isn't here. Although if you wanted to, you could probably get a pretty good idea of where I live.

But if I type my name into Google my blog doesn't come up. For which I'm glad. My goal isn't advertisement or followers. It's having a free space to write. A place where I feel safe.

And when changing from Terrie to Tela, I never thought that it might stop me from being completely free and open.

Now, though, I have something I want to say. It's rather similar to this. It's something I want to write. To share. Because that's how I process things and get them out of my head. But I don't want to write this thing if it might get back to the person. Or really, anyone. I don't want the Tela on this blog to be connected to the physical me who goes to school and hopes to one day get a job.

It's not that I want to tear someone apart, it's just that in this piece of my story, another person happens to play a rather large part. A not-so-positive part.

I'm confused.

I don't know what to do.

So I'm rambling.

But I think my options are really quite clear: write the story, get it out of my head, but keep the details vague, or don't write it. Figure out another way to get it out.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Thursday Happiness

A trip to the library that resulted in a huge stack of books. I am always so much happier when there are at least two big piles of books next to my bed. I'm getting there.

I made muffins which is happiness all by itself. It has been way too long. 

And so the house smells like chocolate chip muffins.

I got to dance and be slightly crazy while making the muffins. (It's part of the recipe for the perfect muffin. Trust me.)

It snowed yesterday. Fingers crossed I got some good shots. My fingers were just itching every time I looked outside. So beautiful. 

I have no school today. Or Friday. Do you know how amazing four day weekends are? They pretty much make my life. Because it's like you get two whole weekends all at once. I can't even begin to tell you what that felt like waking up today.

Interview on Monday. I don't want to jinx myself, but I can't not talk about it. Sorry for the vagueness. If everything works out you'll be hearing about it November 11. If you don't hear anything, assume the worst, and let's just agree to never mention it again.

But back to the happy over the vague interview. For which I'm getting all dressed up. I love getting dressed up.

I'm seventeen. It's always fun to be a new number. I still need to go see an R rated movie, as that's the only thing that turning 17 gets you.

Birthday party tonight. yay. With friends. Double yay. And I got her fuzzy socks and fuzzy socks are just awesome.

Have a happy Thursday!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Friday, October 21, 2011


In ninth grade I got a cold about two months in to school. In October. And I never got better.

It always starts with a cold.

These are the facts.

It's October now.

I'm ready for October to be over.

Every time I miss a day of school I worry.

And wonder.

Trying not to be negative or morbid, but wondering.

Is history going to repeat itself?

Am I going to recover from this?

Or will I, once again, spend the next three years sick, at home?

It's October.

I'm ready for it to be over.

Ready to enter a new month, ready to leave the past behind.

Ready to start making new memories.

Ready to start living without being chained to the past.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


(Please ignore the out-of-focus -ness, and focus on the pretty new camera strap cover and how very 17 I look.)

Sunday, October 16, 2011


Four years ago I bought a dress. I went with my best friend and our moms. We giggled and laughed and modeled, until we each found the dress. We spun and twirled and talked about earrings and bracelets and shoes.

I went home and showed my dad. I spun some more, and talked seriously about how it was such a good deal. (Really, it was.)

My mom and I went shopping again. For shoes. To match the dress. I fell in love with a black satiny pair that went perfectly with my dress. They were strappy and black and pretty and I loved them.

I tried them on with the dress. My parents oohed and aahed. I attempted to describe them for my friends. We were all bubbly and filled with excitement for our first high school dance.

Before I could buy a ticket or figure out what to do with my hair, I got sick.

There wasn't a dance or a dress or black strappy shoes. There were tears and doctors and home alone, not at the dance.

This year I put on that dress; it still fits. I put on those shoes. Carefully, around the injured toes. They still fit. I bought a ticket. I figured out how to do my hair. I wore earrings, but no necklaces or bracelets. I giggled and laughed and did make-up with friends. Five of us smashed into a bathroom meant for half a person.

Our parents showed up to take pictures. They oohed and aahed at all the right places.

Someone commented that it was our last dance. Everyone made sad noises about the last year. I kept quiet. It was my first dance.

I went. I danced. I sang.

I saw the best friend with whom I bought the dress. I did not dance or sing or speak to her.

I went to my first high school dance.

Weekly Winners

Sunday, October 9, 2011