Burning The Candle At Both Ends

There is a light behind my eyes, but I can only see it when I close them.

My head feels a little bit fuzzy, and the tips of my fingers seem as though they’ve detached from the rest of my hands, but I look at the profile of my appendages in front of the light of my laptop’s screen, and I look around the room at the various lights that are on (a lamp in the living room, the ceiling light in the kitchen, the light in the opening “foyer” space that’s only used by those who are clearly strangers), and I see that I’m still whole, that I’m still here, both in the abstract and the not.

This has been… a long night, but not nearly as long as many of the other nights that have come up into the morning. Yet this has been a longer night than those.

Sometimes I feel as though my body’s being run through with an electric current. It’s not as though I don’t know that feeling—when I was in the seventh grade, I broke off one of the tines of an electric piano’s plug, and I stupidly tried to pull it out, and when I touched the metal in the socket, a fuzzy shock ran up my entire body, like an animated chill, a cartoonish shuddering, except the warmth was there in my skin and my own sockets, and I pulled my hand back as if the wall were a sheet of molten lava

and I remember thinking how stupid I was for reaching out and touching that embedded metal, but I couldn’t fight the urge to make things right.


I can’t sleep. My roommate’s sick, and so I don’t want to take my laptop into the bedroom because I don’t want to listen to music through headphones, and I know I type loudly, and anyway, I don’t want to relinquish my perch on our living room couch.

Mostly, I’m confused, and troubled, and frustrated, and a whole slew of other things

but mostly frustrated

and I’m going to be honest, a lot of that frustration stems from a problem

no, not a problem,

a… a symptom

of something that’s far from a disease but much more than just an effect of my supposed daily life

…if that makes sense. Oh, it’s difficult to write around something, isn’t it.

But it’s so much easier to dance around a subject than to name it by name, and if I were to name this by name, I’d lose so much of the image I’ve built for myself, and the day I relinquish that control is the day that the moon breaks out into a smile.

Here’s to hoping that doesn’t happen.


The other day, I let slip something about my past that I hadn’t meant to, and my roommates caught it, and since they all read this blog, they’re probably going to bring it up again, but only if they can remember what the slip was.

And of course, I don’t plan on explicitly reminding them, nor do I think I have a particularly sordid past, but I do like to keep things close, and I hadn’t meant to say what I’d said, but of course, what was I thinking when I broached that subject

especially since it’s come up recently, but always only in my dreams.

To put it lightly… there’s a long shadow behind me, and though I may walk with different steps and carriages from place to place, the shadow remains the same,

slinking behind me like an unwanted stray

or clinging to my skin like a self-serving shade.


This year, I’ve had so many moments of panic, whether real or imagined, but what I haven’t felt for a long time, or a longer time than ever before, is a sudden seizure of my insides, of that inside-out flip that characterizes a particular brand of emotional turmoil.

I’m more at ease than I’ve ever been before, yet my nerves remain as frayed as the first inch of thread that’s pulled through a needle

(unless you’re one of those lucky few who can thread through that tiny little hole in one fell swoop)

and it’s almost 3 a.m. here, and yet I’m listening to repurposed static and wondering where it all went wrong

even as everything is right

and yet.


I don’t want to hear that low whistle, that soft trill of approval, or whatever else it is that I’m not supposed to hear

just as I can’t stand to hear the words that are supposed to be compliments, that are supposed to instill within me some boundless joy

when all I feel is the kind of self-doubt that I told myself I’d never harbor again, not after all the work I’ve done, not after all I’ve accomplished.

On paper, I’ve succeeded. I’m making it work. My grades are solid, my professors all know me, I’m doing work the way I’ve always imagined I could, I’m reading and writing and thinking and critiquing more than I ever have before,

and when I finally wrap myself in my sheets at night, I feel a sense of purpose, or at least a sense of completion,

in every way except the one that counts.

And there’s no way out of this particular conundrum.


When I was in middle school, I taught myself Photoshop so I could make my own desktop wallpapers. Since I was really into anime and manga at the time, I would often draw from the series and artists I followed to create these wallpapers. Wallpapers turned into general graphics, which turned into various websites, which turned into an absorption and participation in a particular online graphics community (IVD, how I remember you).

I started out as a newbie, and there was a particular group of artists that I particularly admired, and over time, I became one of them. I was never in the inner circle, so to speak, but it was satisfying, to create something that no one else could have because the vision of creation went directly from my mind to my screen, to get feedback from the people I considered to be my artistic idols.

An old acquaintance from those days recently called me by a nickname I’d gained through that community. Miss APT. The girl with the wrong profile age, and the penchant for gratuitous emoticons, and the intricate, amateur, lines, and the knack for coming up with text work.

I’m not that far removed from that life, but it all feels a millennia apart. Sometimes I miss the girl who did the WAR challenges for POVISM (whose meaning escapes me now, though I’m desperate to find it again POINTLESS VANDALISM), who sought to complete all the challenges on Instant Noodles, who worshipped Gideon and Yina and Kalico and those like them.

Fuck, where did that girl go.



One of the best things (in my opinion) I’ve ever made was the above wallpaper, based off of an illustration by artist Akihiro Yamada.

Goddammit, where did that urge to create go. I’m not a freehand artist by any means, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t have an eye for design, and design creation,

and goddammit, I never finished walling “Absolution.”

…FUCK, I miss this. I always tell myself that middle school was hell, and in most ways, it was, but what I lacked in, I don’t know, social interaction (HA), I made up for in the kind of indulgent creativity that I only wish I could plunge into now.


My roommate was blasting “Stress” by Justice yesterday night, and it brought me back to when I’d first heard of Justice, back when they first released “†,” and all I did was show the people around me the band’s fabulous “D.A.N.C.E.” music video

but all the people around me listened to Top 40 and they laughed at me for liking the things I liked

and ever since then, I’ve been incredibly defensive about the things I like

but now that I don’t have to defend myself against those kinds of attacks

I don’t know what to do with the shields I’ve left standing.

For the first time in a long time, I understand what it is I have to do:

I have to go back.

(Image: Party by Rebecca Mock)


2 thoughts on “Burning The Candle At Both Ends

  1. i remember everything you’re talking about except i guess for the stuff you’re being ambiguous about. haha, feel so old but you were a big influence on me in those days! it’s pretty safe to say i would be entirely different if i didn’t know you! so like, thanks.

    • Uh, same on my end. You’re still a pretty big influence on my life :3 And dude… all I want to do these days is make things. Just go back to walling and writing and playing around with fonts and filters and brushes and textures and patterns and all those things. I JUST WANT TO GO BACK, except for all the bullshit of actually being in middle school.

      …I don’t mean that, the now is awesome, but sometimes, man…

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