Too much Citalopram, not enough words

Neglecting my own personal writing has been something I have gotten used to over the past four years of my college career. Now graduated, I hear people talk about how they rarely write for fun anymore because work and families and daily life get in the way of writing for one’s own personal portfolio. 

I can’t let this happen to me — yet. Really, I shouldn’t ever let it happen. 

I freelance often, since I am in limbo, just having graduated college in May and job searching/interviewing in the meantime. I write for a variety of publications, including an online food magazine, a digital news outlet, as well as my university’s marketing and communications. Most of my day is spent writing for these publications, and when I’m not writing, I’m job searching. And when I’m not doing that, I’m taking pictures of my cat(s) and creating Instagram accounts for said cat(s) (see @zooeythetabby on Instagram). @Zooeythetabby

How can I possibly find the time to write for myself?

And if and when I sit down to even begin to write something “worthwhile,” I always end up sending things to the draft folder or scrapping it altogether. Who will read it? What will they think? Will they care?

These are the questions I ask myself, and then by the end, I decide not to write. 

I’m constantly battling with myself trying to figure out what it is that I should write because I have gotten to the point where I care so much about the words that people are reading. These words are coming out of my brain, and into the keyboard to some sort of blog post, magazine article, social media something-or-other. I write for multiple publications because I care about updating people on what is happening in the community. I transfer this mentality of who is seeing it, why are they caring, how is it news, how many clicks will I get…into my own personal writing (*if you write for news, you understand how I might feel). 

Everything becomes a measurement. Each sentence I type becomes judged…do I keep it? Does it make sense? What am I saying?

I recently started writing in a journal, just to get back into this feel of nonjudgmental writing and writing purely for the sake of “writing.” Journals are a symbol of this secret kept, this hideaway book stashed under pillows so our brothers won’t find it and read it. Each curly-gel-penned signature at the end of the post was this simple little sign off, like the journal was a person listening to our thoughts, understanding the words on paper. It’s so private, so innocent. 

My favorite journal was this spiral bound silver and shimmery square notebook. Hearts drawn with a name called “Keith” in the center dotted the inside of the back page, and gel penned dates were at the top of each page. 

I also remember writing in a password journal, which was an innovative piece of technology a 12-year-old could get her hands on [Looking back I realize how silly it was because all you had to do was pop the batteries out and you could get into the journal]

Journals give off this vibe that you’re talking to someone that will never judge you, interrupt you, give you looks, get distracted, or make you feel like you’re wasting its time. Then again, it is just a book bound together and it’s totally inanimate. It’s just this little safe haven where you can pour all your secrets into. 

Another reason I have neglected my blog and my personal writing is because towards the end of my college career, I found myself increasingly overwhelmed, and anything that wasn’t on the high priority to-do list was just not important. I found myself increasingly anxious, depressed, agitated, stressed…panicking…about my future. 

And it all makes sense, given a recent study by The New York Times, which pointed out that one in six college students will develop an anxiety disorder during their college career. The pressure to succeed and do well and become more than a statistic, it’s all too real and it’s all too much. 

quillpenI believe now that my issues had developed before college but increased around sophomore and junior year. Anxiety is something that I live with, along with several other members of my family, and it’s so hard to explain to people how debilitating it can be. People tell you to just breathe, do yoga, relax, don’t be so stressed. It’s not easy, and if it was, I’m assuming there would be more yoga instructors and less pharmaceuticals. 

Recognizing that I have/had depression has been eye opening, and I’ve found that once you talk to people about it, you find how many other people are going through the same thing. And from coming to terms with myself, who I am, and what I’m going through, and finding what I need to do to be “okay,” I’ve found that writing in a journal and writing finally for pleasure, is what I need to do. 

A friend who’s a nurse recently told me that when you talk to people, you’d be surprised how many are medicated [and how many should be]. It made me laugh but it also gave me some comfort. It also made me think that maybe sometimes, the feeling of pen against paper is all the therapy I need. Maybe it’s time to go back to being a writer that takes risks and makes mistakes, and stops worrying about who the story is going to reach. Maybe the person it needs to reach is the person writing it. 

In Time

When you’re a creative soul, you can’t help but be your worst critic.

Can you help when you look back at old stories, poems and the times where you just wrote. You can only grimace by how lackluster it is. Can you help when you’re an artist and your old paintings are hidden in attics or stashed away in storage because they just wouldn’t sell? They spoke to you. Can you help when you’re a performer and the recollection of a past performance haunts you? You cried when you left the stage.

I critique as a way to become better — to unleash creativity that hides in small spaces of my skeleton, the kind that harbors until it is discovered. I critique to feel whole again — to know that I am human and I have something to reach for and find that part of me that needs to grow.

When pen meets paper, when fingers brush keyboards or pencils scratch at old napkins, I can’t help but remind myself of the writer I was and the writer I am and the writer I’m becoming and the writer I’ll never be….

Can I help it when I look back and read what I’ve written and I can’t help but be reminded of my past? And is it my fault that all I want to read is my future?

The Drinking Game

she couldn’t stomach anything all week
doctor’s diagnosis; the stomach virus of the spring
week old vodka slithers down the spine and into a belly
that vomited just twice this morning
she clasps the secretive flask, brimming full with a bitter brew
unscrews the cap, tips it back,
rubbing alcohol and sweet sugar
numbing the pain of stretched muscles
clenched teeth, soaking liquid into tired skin
tongue like leather, each bud boiling from the lick of liquor
wincing, she wishes she could hold her face still like the men
who take gin and tonics in a heartbeat
–she takes hers in two
She couldn’t stomach anything all week
but still she plays the drinking game 

Max’s Mother

max“Are you ready to hold your baby boy?” the nurse asked the exhausted new-mother who sat slightly upright in the hospital bed.

Her eyes, although tired, sparkled as she held out her hands. A tiny blue bundle was placed in her arms, and it was as if he was made to fit there. He peeked up from his soft cocoon, much like his mother’s womb, and he gazed up to see a woman that he already loved, although he did not quite know it.

“Hello, my little Max,” said his mother, and she smiled into his little face even after he had fallen asleep.


It’s too late for this, thought Max’s mother. Her son was wearing his wolf suit again, even though she had asked him three times to take it off and get into his pajamas. Most days, he refused to wear any other type of clothing around the house. He was attached to his suit, a gift given regrettably one Halloween long ago.

Max had always been a rambunctious child. The moment he could crawl he began to cause all sorts of unwanted stress to his mother. The wolf costume was a new addition and it matched his wild behavior. But, despite his occasional monstrous behavior, Max’s mother still loved him as she did from the first day she held him.

Tonight, she was having a hard time being overly loving to Max. She was tired and had cooked a hot meal for Max, including all of his favorite foods. She was even going to let him have chocolate milk with dinner, instead of plain milk.

She was getting tired of the night’s antics. To start, Max was refusing to take off his wolf suit, but unfortunately that happened on the regular. Tonight however, he nailed up a tent to play in, using a hammer as a tool and leaving holes in the freshly painted walls. He was pretending that it was his castle, a castle that he would rule for the duration of the night.

He also decided to run around the house, jumping on and off furniture, chasing after their poor dog with utensils, thrashing around and refusing to settle down. Max’s mother couldn’t take it any longer. Supper was on the table and was ready to be eaten, and Max couldn’t care less.

Finally, she had to do something. She rarely raised her voice, thinking that it didn’t do anything to calm down a child, but she didn’t know what else to do.

“WILD THING,” she yelled at him, hoping he would stop and settle down.

Max looked at her with angry eyes, like a wolf ready to attack. He held up a spoon that he had been carrying, waving it at her with force and ready to throw a tantrum.

“I’LL EAT YOU UP,” he screamed, waving the spoon in front of her face.

That was the last straw for Max’s mother, and she was through with how he was acting and how he was treating her. She figured a cruel punishment would have to serve as a lesson. She pointed towards his room and ordered for him to go to bed, without supper.

Max stormed off and obeyed, and locked himself in his room. Max’s mom went to the kitchen and made herself a plate, looking down with dismay. She hated to yell at Max. She loved her wild son with all her heart, but she couldn’t understand why he was acting out, behaving like some sort of animal.

As she picked at her supper, she heard him clanging around in his room. Probably creating another “castle,” she thought. He had such an imagination at such a young age. Always dreaming of far away places with creatures and monsters and other wild things. He was always telling her these stories, in between the fort-building and rumpus-making, but she listened and smiled all the while.

Sometimes she would read Max stories before he would go to bed. He curled up in her lap in her arms, in the spot that was made for him, and she would read to him before he fell asleep. Since Max was always bouncing off of things in the house, he always came to her with a teary-eyed face and scratches on his arms. Max’s mother always had Band-Aids and kisses ready for her restless son.

And, every Mother’s Day since he could write, he would scribble a homemade card for her on construction paper, with unsymmetrical crayon hearst and “I love you” written all over the inside.

Although Max spent most of his time daydreaming, she knew her song would always come back to her, because in her arms there was always a warm place where he could endlessly be loved. She knew in her heart, that her Max loved her just the same.

Max’s mother finished her supper and went over to the stove where she put food on a separate plate. It was still warm. She walked quietly to Max’s room and walked over to his nightstand. He was collapsed in his bed near his make-shift castle. His wolf costume remained on and his face was flushed and peaceful.

She placed the warm plate of supper on his nightstand and dimmed his lights in his room. She crept to the open door and turned to where Max was sleeping. Before leaving she whispered goodnight to him, even though he was fast asleep, off in some jungle with vines and monsters and little boys without supper.

“Goodnight, my king of the wild things.”


This short story was written for my mother. The inspiration is from Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are, a story about a boys adventurous mind and a mother’s eternal love. Max’s journey and realization that he always has a place at home is just one reminder of all the things a mother is and always will be.



rhodoSweetly soaked pastel petals

Floated, removed from their spindly stems

Their tops bobbing briefly to the surface

Of her lukewarm bath from early this morning

She had asked for roses, but instead

Received rhododendron

Dull tones to match her skin

Sinking, the flower buds wait to be saved

While she stays at the bottom

Lifeless in a porcelain vase

Definition of Music


In my Introduction to Music course that I am taking this semester, my professor asked the class to define music in our own terms, and I thought the best way to describe it is with a blog post.

The past weekend I went to Winter Jam in Philadelphia, PA, which was a free outdoor concert. When my friends first invited me, I thought they were completely crazy, because not only was it an outdoor concert, but it was an outdoor concert during one of the coldest/snowy weekends. I didn’t think my first choice for a weekend outing would be standing in the feels-like-below-zero weather and snow, but I was clearly mistaken.

My friends and I stood at that concert for more than five hours, but it’s a memory I hope to hold onto. During the concert, I had to just look around and see how many people had showed up. It was such a surprise to see that many people willing to stand in the cold for a concert, but it made sense to me. Music brings people together.

There’s something amazing about that idea, that no matter the weather, the time, the place, if music is somehow involved it’s like none of those things matter. Complete strangers can get together and bond as one unified group for the same love they all share: music.

This concert stood apart from all other concerts I had attended. I was able to bond with complete strangers, hold hands with girls while we danced to the music, sing to my favorite songs with my friends and crowd members, let go of agendas and stress and just enjoy the sound of talented musicians and crazy fans. There is no textbook definition that could best describe music as an experience like that.


A Fishy Relationship

A impromptu short story completed for my creative writing class, where I partnered with  avid writer Becca Lynn. Our prompt was on a relationship, with the incorporation of a goldfish somewhere in the story. 



John and I never seemed like a couple that would break up over something so trivial. One day, I just couldn’t take it anymore. I had to leave him. I had to get out. He came home from work one day, and I don’t know…I lost it.

“I hate its bulging eyes and its white flecked scales and the round bowl that you have it in. It’s so oddly placed on that dresser, look at it…next to your dying plant that you refuse to water,” I paused, taking in the deer-in-the-headlights look on his face.

I continued my rant, watching him set down his briefcase and take a step back. Was he afraid of me?

“You never forget to feed the fish though. It swims around, in its pathetic prison—waiting for you to feed it!”

My voice echoed in our apartment. Thank goodness the window was closed. I’m sure the neighbors would be scared to hear such a fight from what they thought was a forever-in-love couple. They didn’t know about the fish.

“Jodi, no,” John mumbled.  “Why are you saying these things?  Where did all of this come from?  You know how much this fish means to me!”

I heard what he said but I didn’t care. I kept thinking about the fish, glancing over to the bowl with a sick feeling in my stomach. It’s not the fish, although, it was a little. The fish is just simple and boring. I don’t see a point in something that swims around, never changing its path, always remaining a sad, little orange creature that lives in a comfortable home on top of a comfortable dresser.

But he loved that fish. I could tell he was about to cry, or tell me why the fish meant something to him.  He took a step closer to me, his eyes glazing over and his eyebrows quivering up and down in confusion.

“Jodi, I just don’t understand.  We have been through so much together and now you’re getting worked up over a fish?”

He kept looking at me in those wide eyes, searching for any ounce of sympathy that I wasn’t willing to give him.

“I love you, Jodi, don’t you get it?  You make me so happy.  I would change for you, I really would.  I just love my fish so much.  I would do anything for you, as long as I can keep my fish.  You know you love coming home from work and seeing her swimming around in her little bowl chasing bubbles around in the water.”

He was running out of breath but didn’t give up.

“Well,” he swallowed.  “Now you’re the bubbles and I’m the fish and I’m chasing you.  Eventually she gets bored of chasing her bubbles but I could never get bored of chasing you.  I promise.  All I ask is that we keep her!  I wish you could see how much this would mean to me.  I want to swim through life together, with you, forever, Jodi.”

I looked down at the floor and took a deep breath.  I knew this wasn’t going to be easy.

“John, I can’t remain in a place created upon routine, each day the same thing,” I saw his mouth quiver.

“Jodi!  It’s a fish!  Just a fish!  One of the most simple, easy-going creatures on the planet!  You don’t even have to take care of her—”

“You bet I don’t take care of that thing!” I interrupted, shouting a little louder than I intended.

“Then why does it matter to you?” he demanded.  “This fish completes me.  I love her.  But I love you more!  Believe me when I say this, Jodi, I love you, and you mean the world to me.  I just need both of you in my life.”

He stood waiting for me to say something, probably hoping I wouldn’t go on about the fish. I had to continue.

“Each swim around the tank is just another day for that fish. You can’t even give the fish different color rocks at the bottom of her tank, remember? I suggested those purple rocks, at least give her a chance to have a change in scenery.”

I sat on the bed, looking away from the fish and John’s face as he desperately searched for air. Like a fish, I thought.

“You know what, I feel sorry for that fish. He’ll never get that from you: change. Life will stay the same, just like our relationship.”

I stood up and walked toward the window, my back is again to the fish, and to John.

I stared out the window and wished to say something else but I was lost. I was swimming in my own pool of frustration. I tried to understand what he was saying, but I only hated him more. I walked to the door and saw him hold out his hand.

“I never wanted the life of a goldfish,” I whisper, and I was gone.