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Photo by JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash

As the holiday season is approaching, I’ve been mentally planning out the gifts I’ll be giving my family and friends and bracing my bank account for the outcome. This year, especially, I wanted to start early to find small businesses to buy from and account for the delay in shipping. Earlier today, I sent my family a message asking if they had their Christmas lists yet, and only my dad responded. Fortunately, his list brought a much-needed moment of joy that I haven’t had much of this week.

His list was the following:

Vodka, sweats, or a machete.

Yeah, that was it. Three items that, with the inclusion of “or”, signified that he would be happy receiving just one of those. Now with a five-person family, that’s quite unlikely. But even as his daughter, who is used to the short lists and his preference for acts of service rather than material items, I did not see this coming. …


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Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

I have never been into video games. For one, we never had them growing up. We were more of a books, board games, make-believe kind of family. We had a giant box television much longer than most, had a landline up until about three years ago, and never owned any sort of gaming console until my brother got one for cheap from one of his friends several years back.

The closest we ever came to video games was Just Dance 4 at my best friend’s house or the Barbie Fashion Show CD game that we either inherited from a friend or got at a garage sale. Both, admittedly, were phenomenal. …


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Photo by Marcos Paulo Prado on Unsplash

I’ve had a nut allergy all my life. For a long time, I was allergic to all nuts. I had one of those woven bracelets with the metal plate saying I had an allergy with my mom’s phone number on it, pink with little flowers. Now, luckily, I’m only allergic to peanuts.

My allergy’s never been bad enough that I have a reaction because someone near me is eating peanuts, or that my elementary school class was banned from bringing PB&J’s. …


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Photo by Louise Sacré on Unsplash

There’s been a fog in my head for quite some time. Not the kind that tinges every moment with a widescreen filter of a coming of age movie that makes you feel alive. Not the kind that closes you in and makes you feel isolated from everyone else around you. But the kind of fog that stretches your soul ever so slightly away from your body, filling your head with a barrage of thoughts that usually come and go as clouds do. But lately, they haven’t been drifting away.

The strings of letters and demands from my anxiety have mixed into the endless chatter of the news of the world and what will become of our society in the next seven days, stirred into an unappetizing alphabet soup that takes much too long to try to rearrange the letters into coherent thoughts. By the time a sentence is finally formed, it’s gone soggy. …


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Photo by Joshua Hoehne on Unsplash

My first memory is from my third birthday party. We invited all the neighborhood kids over, and while the parents talked in the kitchen we played in the living room for hours until orange light seeped in through the windows. My mom made me a Barbie birthday cake — one of my favorite Barbies stuck in the middle of a gown-shaped cake, bubblegum pink.

The rule for both myself and my siblings was a birthday party every other year. They were never whole-class parties like our classmates’ we were invited to, but they almost always had a theme. One year it was Wizard of Oz and we dressed up as our favorite characters and played broomstick tag in the garage. …


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Photo by Aarón Blanco Tejedor on Unsplash

This week has been a “screaming at the world” kind of week, and it’s only Wednesday. A lot of weeks have been, lately, but sometimes the pain and fear and sadness about the state of the world morphs into uncontainable anger and frustration that you can’t change everything in an instant. You don’t have control over the mountain of distressing current events, other people’s actions or lack of empathy, and you’re not in a position where you can change things, at least in the big picture.

I could list a hundred reasons why, in this moment, I’m tempted to punch a wall or scream at the top of my lungs until my throat’s raw and my voice hoarse. But there’s more than enough of that to go around, and it would only make me more angry, so here are some little ways you can keep yourself from lashing out at the wrong time, and use that emotion in more productive ways. …


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Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

I’ve lived in my current apartment for about a month now. This is only the second time both my roommate and I have rented, and the first time the internet wasn’t roped into the monthly rent. So naturally, being the fake-adult adults that we are, enlisted the help of our parents.

How do we set it up? Do we really have to call them? Which company is better? Should we rent a router? What’s this grey box in my closet do, and why is the red light blinking?

We had a lot of questions.

Turns out the grey box was our link to an internet company, so we hunkered down on the floor of my closet and made the daunting phone call that would reconnect us to the limitless world of the interwebs. …


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Photo by Cathryn Lavery on Unsplash

When I first started college, I was naive enough to believe that by the time I graduated, I would have my life (somewhat) figured out. Now, with a little less than two semesters to go before I’m released into the “real world”, that is absolutely not the case. Although, there is some hopelessly optimistic part of me that keeps telling me I could still do it in time. Sort out my life, I mean.

Now I’m not positive whether or not some people’s parents offer them more practical knowledge than I’ve received, or if everyone is truly faking it until they either make it…or die. …


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Photo by Roberto Lopez on Unsplash

When I was a child, we used to find lots of frogs in our yard during the summertime. We’d hear them croaking through the window amidst the patter of rain, and every so often we would peek out to see if any brave frogs had landed on our doorstep to say hello. One evening, I ventured out into our rainy yard and a little frog friend hopped right from the damp grass onto my palm. I gave him a name (forgive me for not remembering what it was, it was eleven years ago) but before I could say much more, he hopped away. A fleeting, Notebook-esque moment that I will remember forever. …


You always forget how far you’ve come until you’re given a reminder of where you used to be.

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Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

A while back, out of boredom or curiosity, I don’t remember why, I dug through my old Tumblr archive. For whatever reason, instead of Instagram or Facebook, my friend group in high school used Tumblr as our way of sharing how we were really doing. Yes, we longed to be queens of aesthetic, and yes, every poorly-taken picture we posted reflected the off-brand version of current trends. It was our nearly-anonymous way of shouting our innermost thoughts into the navy blue void where we thought no one would hear them. Sometimes people did, and sometimes that was better.

My sophomore year of high school was, simply put, the worst year of my life. I had a lot of friend troubles, pressure in athletics and school, and numerous other factors that led to nearly a year of crushing anxiety, debilitating panic attacks, and depressive thoughts. There were a couple months where I didn’t have talk to my friends at all, and spent an embarrassing number of lunches hidden away in the bathroom. Admittedly, I can’t remember many specifics from that year, but one of the most vivid feelings I’ve never been able to shake is the split-second of peace I would feel in the morning right after waking up, followed immediately by an overwhelming feeling of disappointment. And exhaustion. And an uncontrollable heaviness captioned by the echoing voice in my head that told me, over and over, “I don’t want to be here.” …

About

Helena Ducusin

Putting thought to paper and hoping it’s coherent.

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