Life update from somewhere in the sky

I’m floating.

Does everyone float at halfway to thirty? No, that’s unfair. I’m rounding up. Twenty-four, then. Is twenty-four the floating age?

It could have something to do with the fact that existential dread peaks around the mid-twenties; it could have to do with the parents’ gray divorce or the world’s global pandemic. It could have something to do with friends growing older, getting married, moving and never stopping, always saying how their “life has been nonstop since college, how’s yours?”

It’s nonstop alright. Nothing but stop.

Those people (read: all people of sufficient age and seasoning) who say “you think you have life figured out at twenty, but you’re wrong?” They’re right. How silly of me to sit on my small space station, feet dangling over the atmosphere, watching other objects burn up on reentry with no thought of how I, too, would get home. All the while I thought myself wise. You learn a lot about yourself when the atmosphere scorches your heat shield and vaporizes the unnecessary things – and I was gifted with a space suit, which too many people don’t have.

We spend our precious adolescence staring at the stars, preparing for a massive launch, and feeling so special (and perhaps a bit nauseous) when the zero gravity hits. And isn’t it so scary and unfair and silly and wonderful how quickly thereafter we learn that our great exploration doesn’t take place among the stars, but in the unfathomed depths of the sea?

See, I’m waxing poetic as a defense mechanism.

I’d like to stop waiting – travel without a plan! record my music! finally learn how to fall in love! – but unfortunately, I’m very patient. Being patient and content is not a bad thing. It may even be a rare thing for twenty-four. But every so often, I catch a glimpse of some dark and terrible sea creature that I ache to sketch, to lay my hands on and know the feel of its scales, the sharp of its teeth. I remind myself, Maddie, teeth.

Thirty is going to reveal that the ocean is fake and the Earth is hollow or some shit.

Welp, I lied (or, Time is a Funny Thing)


I said I would update, with a decidedly non-shitty post, “soon.”

Yeah, no.

But time is a funny thing, isn’t it? That fact has been elbowing me real hard lately, trying to get me to take notice, and I guess it worked. This is me taking notice.

It’s been 11 months and 9 days since I totaled my car – which might be part of the reason I didn’t post here, now that I think about it. That year feels almost like it didn’t happen. When I look at the accident, boy, it feels like yesterday. But it also doesn’t.

Time is a funny thing.

It’s been ten days since I found out our family dog passed away. I left to return to college a week before they took her to the vet. I knew it was probably our last year with her, but I didn’t know January 6th was my last day. And I try to tell myself, even if I didn’t get a “final” goodbye, that I said goodbye to her hundreds of times over the years. But time is funny, and one missed day distracts me from the 4,875 she was with us.

It’s been 6,755 days since I met my little sister – that’s 18 years, 5 months, and 28 days for those of us with no sense of thousands of days. First of all, it almost disturbs me how close that number is to our old dog’s. Second, she’s headed to school who-knows-where-yet for the creative degree I never had the guts to pursue, and she’s wise, and when did she get so old?

It’s been more than 25,000 days for each of my grandparents on this Earth. I’ve been there for only 7,749 of those. That’s not even a third! And yet they’ve always been willing to drop everything to help me out.

So if time is so… unreliable, so inconsistent, why do we use it to measure everything? Why should we worry if we take too long to find love, leave grief behind too quickly, waste an hour or two, when in the next moment it’ll seem like the reason for the worry died centuries ago?

Time is a funny thing, so let’s laugh at it more often.

Welp. I finished it.

Yeah. I finished the draft of my second novel.

Three months ago.

Also, I’m attempting to edit it. Also also, I’m rewriting my first. And… Oh, whatever. I’ve started my third book, too. And a webcomic. And a YouTube channel. And a bunch of digital art.

I have class at 8 am (read: in 6 hours).

I’ll update and expand on this and make a not-shitty post soon.


Uh… poetry?

I’ve been having some severe writer’s block lately, especially when it comes to long, articulated pieces about my opinions. To alleviate that, I decided to write some poetry. Poetry was actually the first kind of writing I ever loved–my gateway drug into writing, if you will. My first piece, as I mentioned in a previous post, was a poem written when I was three. It was just:

Sword, sword, are you golden? So poised upon the yellow grass?

Then, in fifth grade, a close friend of mine got really into writing haikus (thanks Leann!). For those who don’t know, haikus are little Japanese poems that have three lines; one five syllables, the next seven, the last five. I jumped right onto the haiku bandwagon with her and started to crank them out. They were so short and easy to write! I actually made a little nine-page book, each page with five haikus on it. If I could find it, I’d add one of the little beauties in here, but I’ll just have to reproduce one from memory.

Love is strange, but can

Someone truly be in love

With a brown chicken?

Something like that. I was a weird kid. I also thought I was way better at these than I actually was. Man, I bragged about that 45-haiku book for weeks. I’m still proud of it, if only for how fond I was of the haiku format at that point in my life. Later, in sixth grade, I wrote a poem about slavery (we were doing a unit on it–this was not of my own accord) from the point of view of a fleeing slave. A guest speaker came in to read our work and ended up crying while reading mine. I was very proud, but it also made me feel uncomfortable and guilty. Looking back on it, I only feel weirder about the whole thing–was it really right that a little white kid wrote from the perspective of an African-American adult woman facing racial discrimination? Not a fan of that memory, to be honest, but there’s still a certain (shameful) amount of pride there.

I wrote some angsty stuff in middle school. We won’t go into that.

In the summer following eighth grade (or was it ninth?), I discovered that I could play the piano by ear. That’s when my songwriting really kicked off. I’d taken some stabs at writing music before, but my lyrics were always trite and the tunes the same. But it turned out that all I needed was a bit of residual ~edge~ from middle school and some ~mild piano skills~ to get started. Now I have a repertoire of about 45 songs, and of those 45, I like about a quarter of them. Listening to my older stuff is just the worst. (Unless it’s instrumental. That holds up decently.)

Junior year, I started my novel. I’m writing the second in the series now, and I have plans to overhaul the first. It’s good for being written by a 17-year-old, I’ll admit that, but hoo boy are there some amateur mistakes in that thing. I’ve also got my third novel (and fourth and fifth) in the works. I’m actually super psyched for this series–its characters, lore, all that jazz. Now I just need to think of a plot.

But this is about poetry! Not novel/songwriting!

Recently, because of my writer’s block, I’ve been searching for other creative outlets. I had a conversation with my dad not long ago, right after he showed me a poem he’d recently written. It was really cool, and you can actually read it here. What got me, though, was that he said it was inspired by my own stuff. He went on to say that I was gifted in the poetry department especially, which really touched me. NOTE: I don’t mean to toot my own horn here. I’m just relaying an experience. Anyway, that reminded me that poetry has always come easiest to me. I went back to my roots and wrote about the existential crisis I’d been having (in short, to engineer or not to engineer?). Later, I wrote a tune for it.

Here it is, I guess.


The Narrow Road

A glance along the narrow road

Begets a certain kind of dread;

I still must walk the darker mile

Perhaps I’ll sit and wait awhile

For all the steps I’ve yet to tread.


There is no way of knowing now,

Is there a path to page and pen?

I, although I could not see,

Forwent the compass offered me

And ventured out beyond the glen.


To trail my hand along the line,

This burning street that now I walk,

Will cast great shapes in shadow-play,

And little ones? They run away

And tremble in the aftershock.

I am afraid to finish writing my novel

I am. I really am.

This is the second and final novel in my first series. The idea for the series came to me when I was sixteen years old, and I’ll be twenty this year. Accordingly, I’ve known my characters for almost four years of my life. That’s a solid fifth. They seem almost like real people to me, like close friends and confidantes and people I know inside-out. I have four main characters, who each stemmed from a different part of myself and took on more characteristics on their own.

I don’t know what I’ll do without them. I’ve been planning the endgame of this book for over three years, perfecting the character arcs and enjoying their moments of triumph as my own. I find myself asking, “What would this character think of what’s going on right now?” I laugh when I imagine the grumpy one, really hating the peppy activity I’m partaking in. All I can do now is give them a good ending (even though I’m killing one of them), and that’s really hard for me to deal with. This project has been my favorite hobby for so, so long that I don’t know what I’ll do with myself when I type “The End.”

Well, that’s not entirely true. I know I’ll keep writing, and I have a decent idea of what my next book will be. But the world, the genre my current series takes place in is so entirely different than anything I’ve read. There’s nothing I can turn to to remind myself of the world I’m leaving. And I can’t develop that world anymore, either. No one will ever know that Charles had a dog when he was a kid, or that Blanc’s favorite color is scarlet. Except you, I guess. It’s just small things like that. They don’t matter to the story, so they don’t appear. They’re the kinds of things a friend would know about another friend.

I’m going to miss all of them when this is over, even the stuffy Mereux and the creepy little Sanabi. I know I won’t write anything further with them, because their stories will all be told. That’s the weird and depressing thing about being an author. When you finish a book as a reader, you can imagine all of those things about the characters. You can take their stories further in your mind, never knowing what the author intended for them. But when you’re the author, you say everything you need to about your characters. There’s nothing left for you when you’re done.

I know I’ll always miss writing in the world of Carre D’as. I feel it more and more, as I near the final 10-15,000 words of the novel. But I’ll always remember them, too, the characters who got me through high school and boring afternoons and lonely nights. So, to Marie, Ebahir, Blanc, and especially Charles, it’s been fun. Sorry to the one of you I killed, and to the rest of you, I hope you like your endings.

Thanks for being a part of my story.

Why I hang out alone

I was never that kid who invited friends over.

I’d go over to their houses if I was asked; attend birthday parties; enjoy the occasional sleepover. But whenever my mother, even into my teenage years, said, “You should have some friends over! I love your friends!” I just… didn’t. I’d say it wasn’t for lack of interest, but it really was. I’d have friend or two over for a movie night. That was usually as far as I went.

And this isn’t because I didn’t have friends, either. With the exception of grades 3-5 (during which I had like, literally one friend), I’ve always had lots of friends. I just would always rather do things with my family or – even better! – myself.

Even as I write this, I’m sitting in Chelsea Market, NYC, alone. I’m on a trip with almost thirty people from my university, some of which I know reasonably well and most of which are great people. I’ve spent the last few days with them and have really enjoyed getting to know them. But I’m so much happier now that I get to spend a day on my own.

I slept in, then stayed in my hotel room until after one today, trying to figure out what to do. I’m not a huge fan of New York, so I had a shortlist of the things I was interested in seeing. These included the Highline, Chelsea Market, Grand Central Terminal, and the NYC Public Library. I tried texting people to get a group together, but doing so took me (no lie) a full hour and a heaping side of discomfort. My thought process basically went:

“Aaaand… Sent. Oh no, oh no, I’m sorry for asking you if you want to do things with me, they’re not the things you want to do. You probably have plans, and I’m making you uncomfortable, you definitely have closer friends here than me, I’m just an annoyance you don’t want to think about. I’m sorry, I’m sorry, please don’t hate me.”

I can fully recognize that this is irrational, and I don’t mean to imply this is how I feel when I text my close friends. I’m sure no one actually feels that I’m super annoying or anything. But… Part of me isn’t sure. I do feel that way to a much lesser degree when I ask anyone to do anything. Like, actually anything.

Allow me to digress for a minute. I’m very very into the Myers-Briggs personality types. It’s a system that sorts people into sixteen types using combinations of four letters. It isn’t scientific, but it’s useful for analysis and helpful for someone who is very black-and-white, like me. It’s also a hell of a lot better than astrology. The types run on these things called functions. There’s eight of them, and each type has a different order to these eight. My type, INFJ, has a function called Extraverted Feeling as its second in command, so to speak. Extraverted Feeling, or Fe, is really really good at knowing how EVERYBODY ELSE feels. Unfortunately, it sucks at knowing how IT feels. Meaning? I rarely know how I’m feeling.

I have no choice but to base my enjoyment of a situation almost entirely on the people around me.

(Digression over.) Sure, I can say that a movie is good, but if I see it with friends or family, I’ll constantly be worried about whether they’re enjoying it too. I’ll glance over throughout it, trying to get an impression. I’ll laugh when they laugh, be anxious when they look bored. And if they walk out and start bashing a movie I thought was pretty good, I’ll immediately start to think of it differently. This isn’t something I can help. It just happens because of the stupid way my brain is wired.

The first time I felt really liberated from this was when I went to see Avengers: Age of Ultron alone. (*Yes. I’m a giant nerd.) I’d already seen it twice in its opening week, but I wanted to go again.* No one wanted to come along, so I drove myself to the theater and realized… no one was with me. 

Holy shit.

I can eat as much popcorn as I want.

No one was there for my brain to worry about. I could just enjoy the movie, fully, on my own. I could do what I wanted without the constant feeling of “oh no oh no what if I’m annoying them? Boring them? I invited them here, if they feel bad, it’s on me.” Needless to say, it was one of the best movie theater experiences ever for me.

Looking back, I can say that I’m usually happiest alone. I mean, I adore spending time with family and they’re often an exception from this. But not always. My hobbies? Reading, writing, composing, playing piano, Netflix. All things I can do alone. I’m not lonely when I do these things. Most days, I feel more alone in a crowd of friends than I do by myself. I will acknowledge that I’m a bit of a lonely person, but that’s not because of this “alone” thing. That’s because of my trust issues, which are a whole different beast. Nah, I love spending time with me.

Today, as I sat on my hotel bed trying to decide who I could call without annoying them, I realized, screw it. I’m going out myself. I might go eat some doughnuts, or spend an hour in a bookstore, or drink coffee in a corner. I can write this blog post without worrying about holding someone up or boring them.

And I’ve been having a whale of a time.



On College

Everyone always told me, “College is this big, scary, overwhelming thing. But that’s okay–everyone goes through it, you will too.” Problem is, I’m not actually going through that. Do I feel a little alone? Yeah, but it’s no more than I have felt in any new social situation ever. Are the classes different, harder? I guess, but I’m used to taking on new academic challenges. Sort of.

I think what keeps me from being super overwhelmed about this large life change is that I don’t view it as a large life change. I’ve always seen college as just “the next thing.” I’m someone who looks far into the future, all the time; like, five-ten-fifty years down the road. I always thought that was normal, to think about your life that far ahead. So College, this scary thing with a capital C, never seemed that far-off and looming. I expected to feel a little lonely at college, but I never expected the meltdown that so many of my elders had described.

My mother always tells me the story of how, when her parents dropped her off, she sat in a bathroom stall and cried for what felt like hours. That’s perfectly valid. I have always respected that it’s hard to be away from family–hell, my family is the only group of people I don’t feel lonely with, and even then I do at times. Now that I’m here, I realize that College is not this big deal everyone is making it only because I never let it be.

To me, life feels like a vine creeping up an endless fence; growing, changing, getting stronger, but never moving, never breaking. I’ll go into the “endless” part in another post.

My brain is a computer

There’s something that causes me to clash with other, normal humans: my brain is actually a computer. Now, I get that brains are technically organic computers, but mine seems to be something more on the order of an old Dell that runs Linux. Just today, as I was shopping for sheets for my dorm room, I heard, “I don’t think you have any idea of how much stuff costs.” So my brain does this:

>input: “I don’t think you have any idea of how much stuff costs.”

>keywords: MUCH, COSTS

>output: look for cheapest sheets available

I picked up a sheet set for, like, $21.99 or something. They were 275 thread count, pretty cheap-looking. The thing is with me, I don’t care. Sure, I can tell the difference between 700 thread count Egyptian cotton sheets infused with orphan tears and 275 thread count sheets made of opossum, but it doesn’t matter to me. Even if I know, objectively, that I’d enjoy sleeping on fancy-ass bedding, I’m not going to mind sleeping on ghetto sheets. My brain sees this as:

>input: “700 thread count sheets, $149.99” — “275 thread count sheets, $21.99” — “Microfiber sheets, $39.99”

>keywords: SHEETS, $149.99 — SHEETS, $21.99 — SHEETS, $39.99

>criterion: cheapest available

>process: $21.99 < $39.99 < $149.99

>output: purchase “275 thread count sheets, $21.99”

And that makes my computer brain happy. Normal humans are like, “Microfiber’s easier to wash, and it’s between the other two prices. Get that.” But I think, “Error. Clashes with criterion: cheapest available.” And that makes my computer brain sad. This results in my inability to take anything in a less-than-literal way; just like a computer, what you put in is exactly what you’ll get out. Most humans have some process, which is entirely mysterious to me, to tell them how to act around each other. Normally, my literal input-output system works. People like when they get exactly what they put in for things like, say, small talk. Pleasant attitude, friendly demeanor, whatever. But, if someone puts in a command that they didn’t really mean or that was supposed to have nuance, I won’t pick it up. Other normal humans will, but I won’t, and that makes normal humans frustrated. That’s probably why I’m not fun to shop with.

Normal human: *holds up patterned shirt* “What do you think of this?”

Me: *processing* “That’s a shirt.”

Normal human: “Yeah, but what do you think? Should I get it?”

Me: *downloading query* “Do you need a shirt?”

Normal human: “I guess… we’re shopping. What I’m asking is, do you like it?”

Me: *error: query not found* “… That’s a shirt.”

Normal human: “You’re no fun to shop with. I’m buying it.”

Me: *processing potential mistakes, unanswered queries* *404: not found*

I’m missing an important part of my body, Part 2

What can be done about the absence of an important, metabolism-regulating gland and all the hormones it produces? Well, you can just take the synthetic version of the hormone. It’s that easy. There’s no horrible catch or weird side effect of the medication. (The name brand is called Synthroid, but I actually take a generic version). There’s only a few rules to deal with when taking synthetic T4, which comes in a small pill:

  1. Take your normal dose (mine is 175 mcg) daily
  2. Take it at around the same time every day
  3. Take it on an empty stomach
  4. Get regular blood tests to check T4 and TSH levels
  5. Get a good endocrinologist to help regulate your dosage

As long as those rules are followed, nothing else really needs to be worried about. Sure, if you’re under-dose you’ll be weirdly energetic and it’ll feel like there are reptiles crawling around in your stomach (happened to me when I was three or four). If you’re over-dose you’ll be lethargic and tired. That effectively comes from under- and over- suppression of TSH, respectively. But once you get a handle on the dose, you’re pretty darn normal. I’ve had the same dose for years, because it stabilizes after puberty. Up until this point, I’ve had a mostly normal life.

The only catch to the whole situation is the needles. I am really used to needles. I have my blood tested about once a year these days, since my dose is stable and I’m an adult. But throughout my childhood, I had to be drawn up to three times a year. That has pretty much desensitized me to needles (although I will not claim to have been stuck with them a lot. No way. There are people out there who are way more used to needles than I am).

The endocrinologist and blood tests went hand-in-hand. They’d interpret my results and tell me if I was screwed up or not, basically. We started out at Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh, but got kind of frustrated with them. It was hard to find an independent, consistent endocrinologist, and we ended up trying a lot of different places for blood tests / doctors. And that is quite the basis for some stories, let me tell you.

There was this one lady we went to–how old was I, six? Under ten, I don’t know–and she was OLD. Like, not just old, OLD. It normally took only a few minutes, maybe five or ten, to get all my information entered into the early-model computer at whatever medical place I was. This lady hadn’t finished after a solid half hour. This was concerning. My mom was obviously antsy (She did not want this shriveled dinosaur to stick me with a needle. Um, no). I, being the giant accommodator I am, was like, “no no it’ll hurt her feelings if i don’t let her stick a hollow needle in my arm,” but my mom was eventually (after maybe 45 minutes) like, “We are leaving. Bye.”

This is where things got weird. We were the only three in there, and I was getting kind of creeped out by this ancient fart as well, so I was pretty much okay with leaving. Still a little sorry for the old lady, but not eager to give her my life substance. So, as we headed out the door, all was well until I hear,

“Wait! Don’t you want me to take your blood, sweetie?”


She was sort of shuffling after us and everything. Absolutely terrifying. It was like watching a zombie slowly shuffle after you, calmly asking to bite you in the face. You know the zombie won’t reach you, since it’s as slow as a crippled sloth, but you still would like to give it a polite “no thank you” to its generous offer. Suffice it to say, my mom got us out of there fast. We didn’t ever go back there. Hm.

We ended up at Quest Diagnostics. That’s where I still get blood-tested. They’re polite, efficient, and know what they’re doing. I’ve never gotten a bruise or puncture from them (unlike a lot of places), and they always seem impressed with my blood-drawing savvy. Roll up the sleeve, sit on the chair, give them your info. Watch the needle go in (I have to watch, always), wait, and that’s it. Whatever. Only weird experience I ever had there: I had to get tested for Lyme disease, mono, and allergies at the same time as my thyroid test. That meant four vials o’ blood. This is before I had ever donated, so it seemed like I would basically die. It was probably my freshman year of high school. I sat down, put on my brave face, and let the phlebotomist do her thing. I had told her before the drawing how much I loved science, and was actually fascinated by this whole blood thing. I even briefly considered going into phlebotomy, which I also mentioned.

After vial #4, I see her calmly put a fifth one in. ??? Um?? That is my blood you are taking???? Not yours to have?? My mom looked ready to jump the lady, but she just removes the vial o’ blood and hands it to me. Turns out, she knew it was mine to have and went one step further by giving me my own blood. Huh. She then proceeds to take a bunch of the different types of vials (even the fancy glass ones with chemicals in them), stuffs them in a bag, hands it to me, and is like, “I probably shouldn’t give you some of these, but.” I’ve still got that vial. Somewhere.

This whole post went a little off the rails, didn’t it?

Moral of the story: get born without a thyroid and you will get a vial of your own blood to keep. Also, you will sound like a badass to anyone you talk to.


  • I am missing an important part of my body. Guess which one!
  • *at blood drive* Oh yeah, I’m fine with all this needle stuff. Stick it in there. Yep, right there is fine.
  • Yes, I have some of my own disembodied blood in my room. Oh? You don’t? Hm.
  • My IQ might be lower than it should be because of a developmental deficiency. IDK, tho.
  • I am also probably fatter than I would have been if I’d been born right. Oh well.

WARNING: It may possibly be in your own badass interest to not use those last two. I don’t know where they came from, as they do not sound badass.

I’m missing an important part of my body, Part 1

Since no other blog topics have come to me recently, I’d like to talk today about the important part of my body I’m missing. Spoiler: It’s not actually that important.

The thyroid.

I was born with a shriveled-up little raisin instead of a thyroid gland, and it’s in the wrong place to boot. This defect is called congenital hypothyroidism, and it occurs in about 1 in 4000 births. If not caught early, it can cause severe delays to physical and mental development, as well as lethargy and a whole other plethora of nasty side effects. So why isn’t it talked about more? Well, it’s caught pretty early on these days. People used to just let it go because they couldn’t test for it, leading to… less than optimal results. It was called cretinism for a while. Yeesh.

So my twentysomething parents found out that me (kid number one) came out wrong just a little while after having me. My mother’s first question was, “Will she be able to have kids?” That wouldn’t have been my foremost concern, but hey, the general idea of having kids was probably on her mind, given her recent having of a kid. Anyway, there were a lot of blood tests and long story short, my TSH level was through the roof.

Let’s pause and take a minute to discuss some technicalish terms regarding this weird butterfly-shaped gland. It’s situated in your throat near the Adam’s apple, and its cells are the only ones in the body that can absorb iodine. The thyroid takes this, mixes it with other body stuff, and starts pumping out the hormones T3 and T4. These little guys are the regulators of the metabolism. If your body needs more T3 and T4, it starts to make TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone). It basically pokes the thyroid in the face and says, “Hey, more hormone please. You made it? Okay, cool. Thanks.”

That’s not quite how things were working for my janked-up system. I didn’t have a functioning thyroid when I was born, and by extension, no T3 and T4.

Fun fact: Your TSH level should be around 5 or lower when you’re born.

Another fun fact: My TSH level was around 400 when I was born.

So basically, my TSH was not poking the thyroid, but full-on ramming it in the face with its elbow, over and over and over. The exchange probably went something like this:

  • TSH: Hey, there’s no T3 and T4 in here. Yo thyroid? Could you make some of that? We’re about to get born and there will probs be a freakout if we don’t have any.
  • Thyroid: …
  • TSH: Hey. Hey, bro. It would, uh, be nice if you made some hormone. Please.
  • Thyroid: …
  • TSH: Bro. Buddy. Pal. *pokes thyroid* C’mon. We don’t want a bad first blood test haha right?!
  • Thyroid:
  • TSH: RIGHT?! *nudges thyroid with elbow* *is panicking*
  • Thyroid:
  • Thyroid: …nope dude, haha. i’m dead.
  • TSH: WHAT?!

I hear they’re making a movie adaptation of it soon.