desk nest shelf

mental health and other creative projects


introvert nook

on missing school

cn: mention of disordered eating

I work part-time, with the option of doing quite a bit of my work remotely. So when I woke up this morning feeling anxious, overwhelmed, and nauseous, I had the option of sending my supervisor an email to let him know that I’d be in tomorrow, but that I needed to work from home today.

It turned out to be a good decision– I was just one straw away from an emotional explosion, and of course that straw dropped just minutes after I sent that email.

I will get to my work this afternoon, but this morning, clearly, another kind of work needed to happen.

My feeling upon waking up this morning brought me back to grade school. I haven’t been there in a while, and it was a scary moment.

Every morning for most of middle school and high school, I felt physically sick. Getting out the door was a huge struggle. By mid high-school, I could barely get two bites of toast in me. These days I cannot function without breakfast, it is basically my favorite thing in the world, and when I can, I eat it twice (I’m a hobbit / I’m hypoglycemic / I love breakfast). But I could hardly eat then because of my anxiety and disordered eating related to self-esteem.

I missed a lot of school. I was known for it. My teachers and classmates commented, a lot. They would shame me for it outright, or with attempted subtlety.

“How are you feeling today? You get sick a lot.”

“I wish my parents would let me stay home as much as yours do.”

“You know, you’re doing so well in my class, but that doesn’t mean you can miss school whenever you feel like it. That won’t work in the real world.” (Ie: “Tough it up, clinically depressed child. You’ll have to do this for the rest of your life, and my class is definitely more important than your mental health.”)

So, why did my parents let me miss so much school? As far as they were concerned, I could miss as much school as I wanted so long as I kept up my grades. I missed on average probably about a day every two weeks, sometimes more, but I graduated in the top 5% of my (very competitive) class.

This was probably better for my mental health than forcing me to always go to school, but it wasn’t good either. I was very depressed, and my parents failed to take any actions towards my wellbeing. I’m not really here to rail against my parents for failing me to give me a safe and supportive childhood and adolescence, although they did, and I am still dealing with the results of that.

What I’m wondering today is, why did my teachers approach me the way they did?

I know it is not the responsibility of high-school teachers to parent their students. But I was so, so clearly not okay– and I had so many teachers who pulled me aside to chastise me, instead of asking me if they could help. They commented on the paradox– the high-achieving student with so many absences– and then threatened to lower my grades if I continued to miss school. They were all willing to overlook me, for my grades. I didn’t asked for help because I had been trained not to. So, somehow, I got through it.

I remember a teacher telling me that “playing hooky wouldn’t fly in college”, as well as if it had happened yesterday. Even missing school, I was just spending the day at home doing my work, reading my lessons, getting it all done faster so I could read or make art. But I felt so deeply ashamed the next day that the anxiety of facing everyone just made it worse.

Guess what happened in college? I think I only missed a few days of classes, in all four years, when I was contagiously ill and physically unable to show up. Huh.

This morning after sending that email, I expected to feel that shame again. I actually started to, for a minute- and then I crushed it dead.

My supervisor legitimately doesn’t mind. And I’ll get the work done. I’m a very good employee — check my references–and I’m not a bad person. Today I’m taking the time I need to productively take care of my things, because I’m a person.

“That won’t work in the real world.”

Is that so.

spring thoughts

It’s spring here. I spend mornings listening to robins and rain. The season has this rumbling, resonant feeling, like I’m a pebble spinning around in a enormous stone bowl. It always feels like the entire world is about to change, not just the temperature and the plants but the whole structure of my life, my beliefs and my body and my breakfast. I associate it strongly with school graduations. A feeling of being very present and grounded as I spill over the edge. I can’t do it justice. Continue reading “spring thoughts”

meeting them all


My night. I like this tea. It’s pretty good. It’s called ‘Love’, with rose, chamomile and lavender. It seemed appropriate, even more so since I’m getting a headache. (I’ve been getting them a lot recently…)

So, a bit o’ self-love is called for. Tonight I’ll drink my tea, do some yoga and meditation, go to bed early, call my boyfriend for a little while. (We didn’t get to see each other today but it’s not a big deal. We’ve been together for a while and are really low-key about Valentine’s Day. And pretty much everything else.)

But quickly, before my head starts hurt more, I want to share this.

Continue reading “meeting them all”


“We speak not only to tell other people what we think, but to tell ourselves what we think.” -Oliver Sachs

I think this goes,too: We write not only to tell other people what we think, but to tell ourselves what we think. (I’m not always convinced that I think something just from saying it. Writing is where I can really work through different possibilities.)

identity (i win at vague titles)

I tend to wander away from abstract ‘what-ifs’ but am endlessly fascinated by the nuts and bolts. I usually make decisions by weighing feelings over logic, and I prefer to reside in gray areas instead of forming solid opinions when issues are complex.

I’m very introspective, and spend much of my time (maybe even most of my time) thinking about identity — questioning it, playing with it, wondering about it. Basically, trying to understand myself, and to validate myself, to myself, almost all of the time. This search is endlessly fascinating, but usually sends me to bed at night exhausted. I’ve been at least vaguely aware since my teens that this need to probe into identity is usually the drive behind my writing and art. I am constantly wondering who I am today, who I was in the past, and who I will become, and I never feel satisfied that I’ve even remotely begun to understand any of it. Continue reading “identity (i win at vague titles)”

checking in

Hi friends.

I think most people who write or make art will have times when they wonder why they bother to toss all those little bottles out into the ocean. I often do. Writing for an audience can really draw your insecurities to the surface. I am so appreciative of those who’ve followed my blog and those who pop by. I hope you’ll stick with me for a little while. 

I’ve been taking a bit of an unintentional blogging break. A lot of tough things have been happening recently, so for now I’m just trying to stay on top of daily life things. Continue reading “checking in”

shelf (3/3) [includes a book review]

Take a wild guess at what my interests are…

Shelf is easy. That’s where the books live!

Shelf is pretty self explanatory, and similar to desk in that the things it holds tell a lot about who I am. Since I recently moved, right now I have a baby bookshelf with just a few books. I only brought things that I hadn’t read yet. My collection favorite books will stay at my old bedroom at my parents’ house for the foreseeable future.

So, my present bookshelf is a little sad. It’s missing the stories I grew up with, and the books I want to re-read. But I’ve still been reading a lot. Right now I’m focusing on non-fiction, generally about science. I’ve been considering science journalism as a career path (though that hasn’t really been reflected in the writing I do for this blog), and right now I feel like absorbing as much as I can about scientific stories. I’m interested in how people tell these stories. How do they work in dialogue from interviews? Create timelines and structure? Present technical information? How do they weave in personal elements, like the voices of characters and a narrator? What kinds of connections do they make between different worlds?

I thought I’d share a little bit about a book I’ve finished reading recently. It isn’t science journalism, but it’s making big waves as a recently published book that fits somewhat into the category of nature-writing.

H is for Hawk, by Helen MacDonald (2014, Grove Press, NY)

Continue reading “shelf (3/3) [includes a book review]”

desk (1/3)

Hi friends! I’ve had some questions about why I’ve chosen to name my blog “desk nest shelf”.
I picked this name for two main reasons.

It’s a bit difficult to say but sounds very satisfying when you annunciate it very clearly. DessssK NessssT SHHHHelF. So I like it for the sound of this combination of words.

Each of these words represent ways I know myself, and ways other people can known me.

Today I’ll explain desk.

Continue reading “desk (1/3)”


This week I’ve been visiting a friend in Minneapolis. (I’m flying back home to Massachusetts tonight.)

Look what I found in a little store.

introvert notebooks


Though the only other set of notebooks there was notebooks for grumps, not for extroverts. I looked on the distributer’s website and saw that their third category is notebooks for narcissists.

Hmmm, it’s almost as if introversion is perceived as a negative trait in western culture…

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