Dear Diary

January 4, 2012



Sometimes I hate myself for feeling a certain way. Like: god, I’m so frustrated that I’m still mad at so-and-so for flaking out on plans. Or: I hate myself for hating the way I look today. Clearly, that pattern doesn’t get me anywhere; it just gives me another negative emotion to deal with on top of the original one. So 2012 is all about getting over that, and not apologizing to anyone about the way I feel! Because otherwise I will die alone in a beige land of numbness because I was too embarrassed to acknowledge what it’s like to be a sentient being. But, there’s a problem. Right now I think I do owe the world, and specific people contained therein, an apology for my feelings, or lack thereof.

My mom’s dad died last week, a few days after Christmas. He was 94, and is the perfect example of the live-every-day-like-it’s-your-last ethos. He was just loud. Always belting Sinatra songs, making old-man hurrumphs when he wanted attention, and punctuating every other moment with proclamations of gratitude about how awesome his life was. When he would visit us every Thanksgiving in Seattle, I’d take him to my all-girls Catholic school for a tour, and he would hit on the nuns and the underage students alike. He kissed a lot of my friends’ hands. Everywhere he went, he made a show of himself and a friend of any stranger. He was a social fixture in Kansas City, where he lived most of his life and raised my mom and her sisters. We all called him Papa, and he was a pretty dope grandfather, who is now gone.

Papa was put in hospice care right before Christmas; we knew it was coming. My mom and I talked to (well, at) him on the phone an hour before he died. His death happened the day before my second annual After Christmas Blues Party, an idea I stole directly from Papa. He used to have these big open houses every year after Christmas (which now my mom says were her idea, all right Mom), which of course were torture for my cousins and me when we were younger—they were essentially conventions for local adults seeking to pinch our cheeks. But now that I’m older, wiser, and obviously more awesome, I thought it was a great idea to appropriate, and given my mom’s somewhat recent approval about my general party habits, why not have it at her classy little townhouse in the middle of the city! The party was quite a success, with 50 buddies stopping by to flick cigarette butts into my yard and accidentally drink my mom’s champagne from the fridge. It also felt like a perfect way for me to honor Papa’s memory. I’m not into the whole all-black-wearing mourning tradition; I’d rather celebrate life. And considering that Papa died in basically the ideal way—after a long, happy life, in his sleep, surrounded by loved ones—it didn’t seem appropriate to be all morose about it.

But: I feel like I’m being less than honest. Like I’m rationalizing my insensitivity and disguising it as a well-considered joie de vivre and a superior take on death and mourning. I think my outlook of “Oh, he was really old, he had a great life, IT’S ALL OK” might be a strategy I’ve adopted to keep from feeling sad. And now I feel guilty for not being sad.

My mom, for the first few days after Papa’s death, would have little random bursts of crying. I’m pretty terrible at comforting people (getting better with my peers, but comforting people older than me feels really awkward…why?), so I’d just nod my head and be like, “Yeah, Mom…it’s sad.” Then she asked me if I ever even felt like crying. Shit! I should be crying!

What’s really going on is that I’m distracted. I’m unbreakably obsessed about returning to California after winter break. How selfish do I sound right now? I can’t help it, and I’m sorry about it. I left my sense of life back at college, and it’s all I can think about. Not to mention that my crush boy is going to be back in town upon my return, and thoughts of seeing him have taken up a lot of brain space. God, am I really so selfish that thoughts of a cute long-haired boy override my sadness over the death of my grandfather?

I know I’ll be sad at the funeral, when I’m immersed in the moment of it. But for now I can’t stop wanting to be back in MY own apartment, doing MY own things. My feelings distribution is jacked right now. I wish I could feel the feelings that this moment in my life is calling for. But all I can think about is my apartment, my friends that I miss, the feeling I get when I wake up and have the entire day open to me and no one else. And I’m so, so sorry. ♦


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  • Marguerite January 4th, 2012 7:18 PM

    RUBY! – that’s so beautiful, like seriously i feel like that was the end of a chapter of an awesome book, and now i’m going AAAWWWWWEEE and can’t wait to read more!

  • kirsten January 4th, 2012 7:23 PM


    • kirsten January 4th, 2012 7:24 PM

      I suppose I should clarify that the heart is directed towards you, rather than meaning that I love that your grandfather died.
      Feel better! Your grandpa sounded kickass.

  • Dylan January 4th, 2012 7:36 PM


  • Cerise January 4th, 2012 7:40 PM

    Dylan–I’m sorry. I know how that is. My mom died five years ago, and it was really, really surreal for me, especially because–and I know this sounds terrible–I just couldn’t cry about it. And I know this sounds so cliche, but that’s just because it’s true: everybody grieves differently, and that’s frustrating, because it feels like you’re supposed to be super upset–openly upset–but you aren’t. I remember I felt really guilty because I wasn’t bawling all over everyone, but sometimes grief is just more of a personal thing, and sometimes the things that make you sad aren’t the big things that bother other people, things like funerals or family-get-togethers. For me it’s the tiny things: memories or trinkets of hers I find. It will be okay. Don’t feel too bad about not feeling bad–you’re not alone.

    Katherine–That’s funny. I’m pretty sure I felt the *exact same way* about being sixteen–I thought everything would be perfect and magical. Nope. Good to know I’m a real person, now, though.

  • LittleMarzipan January 4th, 2012 8:17 PM

    Hi Naomi! I just wanted to say you are a wonderful inspiration to me. Towards the end of 2011 I developed anxiety right out of the blue and because of it, i ended up developing some trauma. ANYWAYS, It helps me to see someone who also suffers from similar problems, sharing their story. It gives me strength to know I’m not alone, and that I don’t have to be this way forever. Much like you, I want to start building my foundation so that way I’ll have a strong beautiful house. Thank you for sharing your story.

  • Adrienne January 4th, 2012 9:20 PM

    Hey Ruby! I’m Chinese-American (well more like Taiwanese/Singaporean) and I’ve never lived in China but visited Beijing before. My cousin who lives in Hong Kong gets 2 weeks off for Chinese New Year! (and I’m aways jealous…)

    My fam still celebrates Chinese New Year as well here in America. Hongbao is like my allowance for the year! The dinner is also delish…mmm. Now I can’t wait till Chinese new year! I think it’s earlier this year, like jan 28th.

    And lulz, for this New Year’s, I spent the night watching Cats the musical on stage (the traveling cast). You can tell how popular I am haha.

  • emile January 4th, 2012 10:00 PM

    that graphic! wonderful. <3 i adore sue lyon as lolita.

    • Minna January 5th, 2012 7:02 AM

      Thank you Emile. I just love Sue Lyon also! I watched Lolita for the millionth time when I got home on New Years Eve. I ate cake. It was late.

  • unicorn January 4th, 2012 11:14 PM

    Wait a second…so when I’m sixteen, I don’t automatically turn into a goddess who can talk to unicorns? There go my life plans…

  • rachnevermind January 5th, 2012 2:24 AM

    i’m 20 and i don’t think i’ll ever feel like a ‘real’ person

  • Miz Yvette January 5th, 2012 5:10 AM

    Ah Ruby, I love your posts! I recently moved back to the States after living in Japan for 6 years, and New Year’s Eve will never be as cozy and wonderful for me as it was there. I miss gathering at the neighborhood shrine at midnight, the food, the festive atmosphere, the importance of family and friends. I never felt comfortable on NYE in the States – it didn’t become a real holiday for me until Japan. Weird how sometimes what you need for something to make sense is to be somewhere else.

    Katherine – my stepfather decided he should stop calling me by his nickname for me when I announced my engagement, because I was ” a woman now.” I was 31 at the time. I had left home and been on my own since the age of 18. Seems everyone has their own ideas about what it means to be a “real person.” Which means you can make up your own definition!

    Dylan, I’m so sorry. I lost my grandpa in 2011 as well, and he was in his 90s. I also lost 2 classmates in grad school. I knew Grandpa had to move on, so while I miss him I feel like his death made sense. But my friends’ deaths left a hole. The 2nd one was during my thesis project, and I just had to push forward & put it out of my mind. Now that I can stop and mourn her, I can’t stop thinking that she’s still in India, doing her research, and that I just won’t be able to see her; our paths will just never cross again, that’s all. It’s like I can’t really think about the truth anymore, I’ve suppressed it for too long. It’s weird how each death is so unique, requiring different responses. My heart goes out to you as you discover your response.

  • EllaJade January 5th, 2012 12:49 PM

    Naomi, I swear you are like my twin! I’m 17 and also from England, and have suffered from anxiety and depression for like 5 years (it sucks!) AND I play guitar. I also went to therapy but it was kind of crap. I think it’s so great they you’re sharing your story because people need to be way more aware of this stuff! Anyway just thought I’d say hi :)

  • Flower January 5th, 2012 3:08 PM

    I’m 14 and always feel like I am going to be forever in the same place in my life. A few weeks ago I was babysitting a 5 year old and for a while I had passed of anyone younger than me as ‘idiotic’ but suddenly I realised that I still think the same way I did at that age. And when I thought over what had changed since then, its just that I know more STUFF, am taller and more depressed. But essentially I’m still a 5 year old inside, which is wierdly tough when I am supposed to be all mature and smart and stuff. I think the problem is that, as a tennager, you are forced to confront EVERYTHING, when as a little kid its just about doing everything step by step; learning to tie your laces, clean your teeth, use taps etc. And I guess I should be able to cope with more, but geez I wish I could be 5 again.
    ^ random rant
    I wish I was one of your diarists!

  • fizzingwhizbees January 5th, 2012 3:33 PM

    Katherine, at least the boys at your high school have vaguely decent (or at least inoffensive) taste in music. All the boys at my high school liked Wiz Khalifa or whatever other rapper is a thing now. Blah. I’d take Mumford and Sons over that any day.

  • TheAwesomePossum January 5th, 2012 5:53 PM

    To Ruby,

    That is entirely, incredibly, and amazingly coincidental that you mentioned looking up into the sky on New Year’s and admiring the stars. I was doing the exact same thing, except I was on the beach. I never really look up at the stars, and I just thought it was so surreal and beautiful.

  • Emmy January 6th, 2012 4:29 PM

    Katherine, do you happen to go to my Christian private school? Because everything you say is freakishly familiar–very few people have any originality. Today we had a dress-out day and every single fucking girl was wearing sweater/low-cut shirt/sweatshirt and leggings/yoga pants tucked into Uggs (generally of the rainbow/sparkly/rainbow sparkles type).

  • caro nation January 8th, 2012 7:12 PM

    Ruby, move here and be my best friend.

  • momiji January 9th, 2012 10:40 AM

    Dylan, don’t push yourself. Everyone feels grief in a different way and at a different pace.

    This is an extreme case, but my father died when I was ten. It took me another ten years to admit to my therapist that I was sad about it. That it effected my life.

    Don’t rush yourself or feel guilty you because you mother shows grief in a different way than you.