It’s real, guys. So let’s talk about it.

A year ago this week, I was incredibly depressed and having suicidal thoughts. I had to go to the hospital to see if I needed to be admitted. I had to take a couple of days off school to go home and reset to make it through to the end of the semester. I had to go to counseling a lot, and I took medications for a while. It’s was really hard and long. [For context, the spring semester, when I took freaking COMPS felt like a breeze compared to the end of fall semester. Depression is not for the faint of heart, man.]

And I’m doing so much better now, and it’s a Really Good Thing.
I get that my experience definitely doesn’t make me an expert on depression or suicide or anything, but I wanted to say a couple of things anyways.
1. I wanted to talk about it publicly because I don’t think it should be a shameful, secret thing. Yes, it’s scary and personal, but so is any illness/accident/stressor that’s affecting your life that much, and we’re not as scared to talk about things like cancer or break ups or car accidents or other stuff. So I just wanted to say: depression and suicidal thoughts are real and they happen to lots of people in your life (and/or to you), so let’s not pretend that they’re not or that they don’t.
2. To people who are in that awful spot: I’m sorry. It is the worst. Please tell someone that you aren’t doing okay. You might think you deserve to feel this bad. You don’t. Even if your friend or sibling had done the exact same things you hate yourself for or were facing the exact same things you want to escape from that seem overwhelming, you would never think that they deserved to feel this bad. You would do everything you could to get them help and start not hating themselves again. So, give that a try on yourself. Tell somebody. Tell me. (Seriously. I will listen, and I will care. I promise.) It’s not your fault that this is happening, you don’t deserve to feel this way, and the “pile on the self-hate until you actually fix the things you hate about yourself” method doesn’t work. I have tried it. For a long time. And eventually I’m learning that it doesn’t work and there are other ways to go through life and make changes. So, first, tell someone you’re not doing okay.
3. To people whose friends have come to them in that spot: I know it’s scary, and you should definitely take this stuff seriously, but please don’t panic and freak out and make your friend have to take care of you at this moment. Take a deep breath, and tell your friend you love her. Sit with her until she’s told you everything she wants to; don’t jump to “Solve Everything Mode” before you’ve actually heard everything, and sat there, letting her know that her pain is real and you feel it too and it matters.
Then talk with her about some next steps to get help, not as a way to Fix Whatever She’s Doing Wrong, but because your friend is a person who is loved and the way things are going right now is unbearable, and things can be another way.
It’s your job to be the person who has a tiny bit more perspective, who can see that this isn’t the way it always was for your friend, and it’s not the way it always has to be, because (for me at least) that is the number one thing depression adds to any negative emotion: “Not only do you feel this negative emotion, but you’ve always felt this way, and you will always feel this way. Give up trying the stupid things that might help you feel another way.” You need to be the hopeful one. Not obnoxiously perky in a way that denies the reality of the issues. But someone who sees that there could be another, better way to exist. This is not the way it will always be.
It’s also your job to be the pursuer. If someone is suicidal, I’d rather be obnoxiously present and the person be really annoyed at me, than give the person space to spiral further. And finally, get help from people who know more than you. Call the Suicide Prevention Hotline, if you can’t think of anyone else to give you advice on how to help your friend. (Here’s their number:  1-800-273-8255)
I guess none of those things are new news to anyone. I’m glad that you’ve heard all that before. But now you’ve heard it from me. If you have any questions at all, ask me. Seriously. I am totally open about what lead up to my depression, what it was like, and what it took to help me get through it. Ask me, and we can talk about it.
Edit: Also, a reminder: Depression doesn’t necessarily mean you’re sad all the time. It can mean you’re angry all the time (that’s what it mostly feels like for me). Or that you don’t-can’t-care about anything.  Or other

Ladle Heist

People are inspired by different the same sight differently. For example: the gorgeous Swiss Alps inspire some to write poetry, or paint, or go on long hikes. They inspire ME to rewrite the words to “Edelweiss” from Sound of Music as “Ladle Heist”, the epic tale of spoon-theiving adventures. I am comfortable with who I am and how I react to things.

Ladle Heist (sung to the tune of Edelweiss, from The Sound of Music)

[You must attempt to sing it as you read. it's no good otherwise. Promise.]

Ladle heist, ladle heist; we stole all of big spoons

Ladle heist, ladle heist; now you can’t serve the au jus.

[now the "blossom of snow" part]

Punch and some soup and the gravy,

all are stuck, in the bowl

foreeeeever

Ladle heist, ladle heist; late one night we crept iiiiiinnnn.

Ladle heist, ladle heist; all the beds were all slept in.

["blossom of snow" part again]

We ran in quickly to kitchen, kitchen for the laaaaadles.

Ladle heist, ladle heist; once we gather them in a sack

Ladle heist, ladle heist; we sneaked off without looking back.

[other part]

We can now scoop to our hearts’ content, while you vent, your frustration, foreeeever.

Ladle heist, ladle heist; we stole all of your big spoons.

Ladle heist, ladle heist;We are the culinariest of all the goons.

[okay, that last line is tough to sing, with all those syllables and stuff. but if you're committed, you'll be able to manage.]


The Rices Stand In Line At The Vatican Museums and Fight Off a Line-Jumper with Awesomeness

oh my goodness, guys. I’ve got such a story for you. It’s empowering, and full of drama and daring-do and ultimately either triumphant or super frustrating. (Hint: it’s triumphant. And AWESOME.)
So, to set the scene: we are in Rome, in June, which means that it is freakishly hot and muggy and about 70% of the people you see are tourists, and 25% are people working with, selling to, stealing from, and otherwise engaged with the tourists. The other 5% are very annoyed with the other two groups, who are probably also annoyed with each other. There are lines everywhere. There are massive tour groups, radio headphones in, following their leaders, who hold up some object (a scarf, umbrella, etc) in the air, dragging their masses of people behind them, through other masses of people. All this to line up some more. In the broiling sun. In the heat. In Rome. In June.

Got it?

So, the Rice Band of Six Intrepid Travelers were firmly planted in the line to get into the Vatican Museum, home of the Sistine Chapel, among other things. The line was in the full sun, in between a wall and a fence. The line had easily 150 people in front of us, 100 behind. It was 2.30 in the afternoon, and we’d already traipsed all over the Forum and Palatine Hill that morning. We were tired and not going to put up with any funny business.

All of a sudden, through the packed line of people behind us, a guy started pushing through. “Excuse me. Scuzzi. Excuse me. I need to get through.” He was quite urgent, and when we didn’t let him through very easily, and seemed a little skeptical about his right to shove through while the rest of us waited, he escalated the intensity a bit, “ I work here. I need to get through!” and shoved past us. We let him through grudgingly and he shoved ahead, but then we saw that he had no uniform, no badge, nothing. He might have been a pickpocket, creating a distraction and brushing up against people, or he might have been a running-behind tour guide. Nevertheless, there was a separate line for tours, and he had no right to shove through.

So, of course, THEN we thought of lots of come-backs and witty remarks we could have said to him, things we could have done, ways we could have stood our ground. Isn’t that always the way it is in these kind of interactions? Grr.

If the story ended there, it would just be one of life’s frustrating episodes.

But it doesn’t.

Miffed by that encounter, the Rice Band of Six Intrepid Travelers formed a blockade in our part of the line, standing shoulder to shoulder from the wall to the fence. Some minutes passed, everyone baking in the sun, the line of hundreds of people slowly shuffling forward together.

From behind, again, we heard “Excuse me. I need to get through. Excuse me. Watch out.” We all braced ourselves, shoulder to shoulder, with my arm against the far railing. Soon the middle aged woman, who had perfected the stressed, authoritative, in a hurry voice and manner had reached us, after bullying past other annoyed people. She had reached us, and we weren’t going to move, as she was about to find out. (Can you feel the tension building? It was for us.)

“I need to get through.” She huffs.

“Why?” Mom asks, turning her head, but not unwedging her shoulders.

“I am a group guide. I need to get through!” she huffs again, and tries to physically push between mom and I. we don’t let her through.

“Let me through! I will call security!”

This is escalating quickly.

“Go ahead and call security,” mom says. “there is a separate line for groups, right over there. I think everyone would agree with me,” at this point she gestures to the other people who are quickly tuning in to this escalating situation, [Note: my mom is so clever, to go for the group solidarity.] “that we are all waiting here, and you can wait, too.”

“You don’t understand. I need to get through here!” she continues, and tries to push past again. “Please move your arm from that fence or I will call security!”
She tries a bit more blustering threats, and tries to push past again. We are unmoved, physically and metaphorically. It has actually gotten to that point, a test of wills and physical locations. This is intense.

“Where are you from?” she asks accusingly.

“why does it matter?” mom responds calmly.

“just curiousity,” the woman responds unconvincingly.

“well, we’re in line here, and that’s all that matters. Curiosity solved.” My mom is tough.

The woman turns to the people behind us who’ve been following this whole exchange, because what else is there to do in line, and also it’s really intense. She starts speaking to them in Spanish, complaining about us, and ends with, “No entienden nada. No entienden.” [They don’t understand anything. They don’t understand.]

Rising to the occasion, to defend my family’s honor, I turn back to her, just like you always imagine doing, and I retorted, “Si, entendemos todo. !Todos nosotros estamos esperando aqui en la linea!” [Yes, we understand everything. All of us are waiting here in the line!] and I turn back around. She gives it one last shot, trying to push past me again, but I don’t budge, and say firmly, “No me empuje. Por favor no me empuje.” [Don’t push me. Please don’t push me. (I didn’t say it with entirely correct grammar. Oh well, she got the message.)]

And, conceding defeat in the face of the Rice moral and physical fortitude and linguistic ability, she slunk away. And no one else tried to jump past us in the line again.

 

BAM. Guys, isn’t it just everything you always play back in your head and wish you’d done after an encounter where someone takes advantage of you, or thinks you’re stupid?

1. We didn’t let her shove by us and everyone else who was waiting in the sweltering sun, even when it was awkward and escalating and high-stakes not to give in. 2. I retorted to someone in Spanish who was assuming that we were stupid Americans who couldn’t understand them. 3. We stood for justice and not jumping in lines when everyone else has to wait, so you should, too.

We are awesome.


Summer in Oxford

 


Work


Light

This picture was taken early in December, in Scotland. It was 2.30 in the afternoon.

 

oh my goodness am I glad it no longer gets dark that early anymore. I think it would kill me.

Now the sun doesn’t set until 8.30!!! It is glorious.
And it rises at 5.30 am! So that means, on sunny days, when I get up at 6 am, it actually feels like daytime. I am so glad.

 


Bunski!

My hostel in Tallinn was called “Bunstell” because of Bunski/Sir Nomsalot/whatever he was being called that particular day. The hostel was basically an apartment converted into a 12 bed hostel, and having a pet bunny who lived in a corner only added to the feel that we were all just folks living in an apartment together, rather than a strictly divided Staff/Owner and Guests.

He was great. And adorable.

Sometimes in the evenings he would get super hyper and start dashing around the apartment, skidding around corners like a dog whose nails can’t get a grip on the wooden floor. t was HILARIOUS.

and, because he was always zippin’ around, it was super hard to get a good picture of him.  most of them ended up like this: