Dear Diary

June 12, 2013

Stress, love, and disco.

Ruby

Paper. Paper. Pencil case dangling from my bag. I leave the library for a second to pace before walking back in briskly to fix it. I have found the paper. I pull out a pencil. It is not sharpened. I throw it away without thinking and my breath shortens while I look for another, more perfect one. I find it and measure the top of my paper as quickly as I can, knowing that the title will be exactly 18 characters long, including the space. When I find the center I write the title with serif, to differentiate it from the content. Urgent Assignments. Subhed (sans serif): Biology.

I make a list: 10 biology assignments, with neat little check-boxes beside each, four with stars because I need to consult with a teacher about them. That means 60 percent of them have to be done completely on my own. Twenty-four percent of the algebra assignments have to be done on my own, 100 percent of the English and Chinese, and 25 percent of history. I put them in order in my head: algebra, history, Chinese, English. Algebra, history, Chinese, English. Algebra, history, Chinese, English. Algebra, history, Chinese, English.

I have a little over a week to complete 43 assignments. Some are projects. Some are tests I missed or failed. Most is homework. I have 10 days before the semester ends and I fail. That’s 4.3 assignments per day. That’s not so bad. I will work during study hall and after school and all hours of the night. It is only 10 days. But I might miss a day for therapy and my new kickboxing class at the Y, because when I get home I might be too exhausted, mentally or otherwise, to do work, so that is eight days for 43 assignments, which is approximately 5.4 assignments per day. I can do one test a day. Perfect. As I think the word, a boy sitting beside me says it in a totally different context.

I am too scared to look at my grades online, but I try to calculate my GPA anyway. I realize that I will not be able to handle knowing. I walk out of the library again, trying to do the breathing exercise my therapist told me about, but it isn’t working. I do not have a panic attack so I walk back into the library, retrieve my backpack and papers and pencil, and go to biology to dissect a fetal pig.

***

That was disgusting. At least everything was sterile. The smell of formaldehyde fills every hall in the school, gagging us. Retching noises and gagging sounds surround me. But like I said, at least everything was sterile.

English class. My teacher hates me because I am doing poorly, and I am absent a lot, and I skipped a couple times, because I was too nervous to go. I love this teacher. I love reading and writing. But she looks at me with disdain, like I am a delinquent, making her life more difficult. I probably am. I see the girl I am partnered with for a project in this class, the girl I let down last week by doing my part wrong, the girl who deserves a partner who isn’t failing.

I walk away from the classroom as my teacher approaches. I am afraid that she will yell at me or send me to the office. “Where are you going?” she barks. The world becomes muffled; everything sounds like I am underwater. “The nurse,” I stutter. She says something else, and I just say OK and keep walking. “Did you hear me? I said come get a pass so I can make sure that’s really where you go.”

I need help. I don’t know what I need. I don’t know whom to ask.

Instead, I go to the main office. I ask for the assistant principal for some reason. She has a deep-auburn perm and wears beige skirt suits and nude heels and has a sharp smile that sometimes scares me. I know she is a good person. The secretary says she is out. I go to the nurse, who tells me she got a call from my English teacher. I don’t know what to say to her when she asks what’s wrong, so I go to my guidance counselor. I convince him to let me stay in the guidance area. I am still panicking. I try to do work and cannot, because my heart is in my throat and my brain must be somewhere else. I decide to write.

I grab a computer. There are three. I realize I still need to write my Rookie diary. My thoughts about it were lost in a feeble effort to distract myself from myself last night. I am writing it now, in the guidance area at school, trying not to panic because of my 43 assignments.

The bell rings. I am still writing. I’m going to be late for algebra. ♦

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33 Comments

  • KatGirl June 12th, 2013 7:15 PM

    I am always doing the same thing as Britney…. I keep on thinking about how everything becomes a memory. On any holiday, Friday, etc. I just can’t believe it’s really happening.

    • decemberflower June 12th, 2013 8:06 PM

      That’s so true. Whenever something exciting comes along, I realize that the actual moment of living it doesn’t feel much different from any other moment. And then I think about everything else I’m looking forward to… and how those things are just going to be more moments that all feel the same. And LIFE IS JUST A LONG SERIES OF MOMENTS. Idk.

  • eremiomania June 12th, 2013 7:16 PM

    Caitlin, your diary is so accurate at the moment ag thank you.

  • Aurora June 12th, 2013 8:09 PM

    Ruby, I totally feel you on that assignment thing. Tip: do all the assignments in one class to get to the bare minimum grade you want. Repeat for each class, and then do the other assignments to bring your grade up even more.

  • thelilacparadox June 12th, 2013 8:10 PM

    Ruby, you can do this.

  • kolumbia June 12th, 2013 8:56 PM

    Britney, your entry really hits home this week. Since summer started, I haven’t really hung out with anyone that much, and I’m just so lonely, and I feel like I’m drifting around with no one to connect me to anything.

    Also, I am organizing a way for Rookie readers to be pen pals with each other, so I’ll just leave this link here with all the details.
    http://kittydrawscomics.tumblr.com/post/52725396412/rookie-pen-pals-round-2

    • decemberflower June 12th, 2013 10:47 PM

      THIS IS A GENIUS IDEA

      • The_Idler_Wheel June 13th, 2013 1:45 AM

        I am so doing the Rookie Pen Pal thing!!! Everyone DO IT and we can all DO IT together and tell everyone we’re DOING IT TOGETHER…what am I saying I’m so tired.

        But still!!!

  • whoknows June 12th, 2013 8:58 PM

    omg, ruby. literally the exact spot i was in last year, wish i could help. hang in there. ♥

  • alexisapunk June 12th, 2013 9:05 PM

    I relate to all of these posts so much i’ts crazy it makes me feel so good that I’m not the only one.

  • Britney June 12th, 2013 9:11 PM

    Good luck, Ruby! You can do this.

    • Ruby B. June 12th, 2013 11:01 PM

      Thanks Britney (and everyone)! :)

  • Kourtney June 12th, 2013 9:12 PM

    I am rooting for you Ruby. You can do it!!

    Britney, I relate almost entirely to all of your entries. It makes me happy that someone else understands what I feel and also a little sad that you might be experiencing the sadness/confusion I do on a daily basis.

  • j-bird June 12th, 2013 9:32 PM

    Katherine! I am a Smithie (alum) and I hope you love it there as much as I did! Please enjoy brunch and tea and Julia Child Day for me, and visit Herrell’s as much as you can!

  • Taylor WM June 12th, 2013 9:43 PM

    I love the immediate sense of realness you get when you read Ruby’s diary entries, knowing what she’s writing about, and then where, and why… it’s really unique :)

  • Ariella95 June 13th, 2013 1:58 AM

    Katherine! I’m so happy for you! I’ve identified with you throughout your whole transfer process because it sounds a lot like my college search process, right up until the very end (I’ve decided to go here! Wait no I changed my mind!) Of course, I’ll be a freshman, and I’m still not entirely sure I made the right decision, but I’ve learned that, cliche as it sounds, having a positive attitude really does help.

  • Tara A. June 13th, 2013 2:11 AM

    Good luck Ruby! I can relate with you completely, because a while back, I was in a pretty similar situation. You can do this! (:

    http://www.unlockingpandorasbox.blogspot.com

  • Chloe22 June 13th, 2013 10:05 AM

    Probably the worst part about the end of the year is that the weather is great, some kids are already out of school, but your still stuck studying away. And if your homeschooled like me, you have construction going on next door!
    http://rhinestonemoon.blogspot.com/

  • Bas Raad June 13th, 2013 10:15 AM

    Oh Katherine, I like you more each week :)

  • Rylls June 13th, 2013 10:51 AM

    Ruby, I am literally in the same exact situation as you. I am sitting in an abandoned office in the guidance department, crying, wondering how I got myself into this mess. I LITERALLY HAVE 10 MISSING BIO ASSIGNMENTS AND I’M TOO AFRAID TO CHECK MY GRADES ONLINE AND YOU ARE DESCRIBING MY LIFE. You’re psychic.

    Oh god, I can’t fail my classes. Somehow, we will get through this together.

    • Anaheed June 13th, 2013 11:24 AM

      RYLIS & RUBY YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED TO READ ROOKIE UNTIL YOU ARE DONE WITH YOUR HOMEWORK. You can do this, you guys. Turn off the internet though. xoxo

  • kathryn-s June 13th, 2013 5:43 PM

    Good luck, Ruby! Just push through it, even though it will suck for awhile, and give yourself a big reward when you’re all done.

  • Pippi L. June 13th, 2013 8:52 PM

    One of the things I love most about Rookie is that whatever you guys choose to talk about, serious topics or not, it always rings true. You post very personal things. You choose to have stories about things that don’t wrap up nice all the time. I love your journal entries because often the main gist is, “I am sad,” or something of the like. They don’t have a false sense of hope imposed on them. Somehow, that makes me feel hopeful while reading them. Because I know that other people sometimes feel sad, and not hopeful. I know that you guys too can feel lost. Knowing that other people are sad or hurting and yet okay enough to write about it and share it with others is so amazing. Knowing that you’re all right with not being all right inspires me. So, thank you.

  • katie.s95 June 13th, 2013 9:09 PM

    Katherine, I’ve loooved reading your blog! Congrats on choosing Smith! I’m going to another 5-College college (but not starting until 2014 because of a gap year). Maybe other readers also live in the Pioneer valley area? We should totally organize a Rookie meetup/event !

  • chareth cutestory June 14th, 2013 8:24 AM

    katherine — ahhh! congrats! amaaaazing choice. seriously. the best choice. go to woodstar for delicious drinks and haymarket cafe for delicious (and cheap) sandwiches all the time. I’ll see you there, probably!

    ruby — last year, I had to finish a ton of work in a really small amount of time, and the stakes felt HUGE. the anxiety I grapple with made my assignments seemingly impossible to complete, not to mention the pressure I put on myself to do it all well. BUT THEN I came to three conclusions: 1. the short amount of time I had to complete the work would totally suck no matter what 2. I could only complete one thing at a time and 3. there wasn’t time for me to think about how well I was doing the assignments, just to get them finished. once I accepted these three things, I started to feel more capable of doing the work… and I actually got it all done. you can do it!

  • Katzemuse June 14th, 2013 6:20 PM

    Ruby! I take Mandarin too. I hope everything turned out alright with the assignments, I was in that exact state of mind last year. Remember to reward yourself after you’re done! You worked hard and you deserve a rest :) good luck

  • Lady Celia June 14th, 2013 8:29 PM

    Katherine, I totally agree that the college process is completely over-dramatized. I ended up applying early decision to try to avoid being torn between two places, which was a big decision in itself. I am also going to Smith next year!

  • irismonster June 15th, 2013 2:32 PM

    Ruby–

    Your post really struck a chord with me. It’s never gotten that bad, but I tend to get myself in that kind of situation and I totally sympathize. I’ve been in the way-too-many-weeks-long, when-does-it-end-I-have-to-get-to-work-I-have-to-finish-this-that-and-the-other-thing-mindset–and the only thing that works for me is thinking of the time when it will all be behind me and all that I’ll have to do is relax. Then, whenever I get to that point all I want is things to do. It’s a scary, awful cycle but I love it.

  • EmmaS June 16th, 2013 8:53 PM

    RUBY, you are amazing!

  • Rhiannon June 17th, 2013 11:47 AM

    Katherine – ohmygod I did literally the same thing. I’m so happy someone else felt that way about choosing a college as I had my top two like everyone else but it seemed like I was the only one who hadn’t picked one as my top choice.

    I actually left it less than a week before the deadline and about one hour before I chose, I was set on Bristol. (I live in the UK)

    Then I just thought to look at the courses again and my mind went into lightning mode and I chose the OTHER college.

    weird

  • ChloeC June 17th, 2013 1:40 PM

    Ruby-
    Two weeks ago, I was flooded with finals, regents, papers, and all the other school assignments that makes me ponder the consequences of becoming a high school dropout. After the final regent, I knew that I had not done my best. I had only worked hard enough to pass. And, this world you’ve entered, of pencils and pens, and high expectations and lost standards, can be so terribly aggravating, I felt like it would be the death of me. All I want to say is, you can turn in the papers and complete that awful algebra exam, or whatever assignment you are dreading to complete, and time will go on, and you will make it through this hell. If you knew this already, well, you go girl.

  • Yelena June 30th, 2013 10:47 AM

    Naomi, I dont know if it’s because we’re both british, but your diary entries really speak to me.