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MIT blogger Sabrina M. '21

The Blog Graveyard by Sabrina M. '21

skeletons in my google docs

I’ve gotten into the habit of keeping graveyards for my writing—little, dedicated spaces for my sentences and paragraphs that don’t make the final cut—where I can lay them to rest without feeling like they’re gone from my life forever. It’s as the old saying goes, you know the one about killing your darlings, but with a little bit of humanity added to it.01 they don’t call them darlings for nothing! sometimes the work you do, whether it's writing, music, or another kind of art, can be really personal It’s helped me edit, and in turn, write better, since I can more effectively cut things that just aren’t working out without feeling like I’m amputating a precious, home-grown limb. I tell myself that I’ll come back to them, but I almost never do. 

Well, what’s a better time than now? Since I’ve been in a bit of a post-application-season pre-Spring-semester writing slump, I decided to revisit the metaphorical graveyard and see if there were any blog ideas I could expand upon. I have new ideas, plenty of them, but when I think of starting them my mind and hands feel frozen into gridlock, and I’d hoped I could find a little bit of ignition through the form of already begun works. There’s something to be said here about transition states and enzyme reactions, as all I can think of are the many reaction coordinate charts I had to draw for 7.012 last semester, but I won’t bore you with introductory biology. All you need to know is—something you probably already know is—starting things is hard, somehow harder than the actual task at hand! A little homebrew necromancy is a bit easier, surprisingly.

I have two main Blog Graveyards: one, a 45 page (and counting) Google Doc titled random blog thoughts, which is where I begin most blogs that have no clear cut structure, and where many of them go to die, half fleshed out and half void. Occasionally, when I have something good, I’ll copy and paste it to a new document to organize things a little better and continue writing, leaving outdated drafts behind in what has become a hunkering zombie of virgin words. The other graveyard is a Notes app monstrosity I’ve only recently titled BLOG IDEAS, with bullet points, ideas yelled back at me in ALL CAPS so I don’t forget, and the occasional disjointed sentence that pops into my head, waiting for a lovely plush paragraph to surround it one day. Some of these ideas are just things I’ve never gotten around to finishing, whether it’s because I found a newer shinier idea to latch on to or because I couldn’t find the right words to describe a Particular, Specific Feeling.02 and nothing at all is better than something that isn’t perfect, am i right? /s Others I stopped because after months of writing and not-writing I just realized that I didn’t exactly feel the same way as I did when I started writing, and it no longer felt genuine. The last ones, I never even got around to starting beyond an introductory sentence.

I still find myself moved or simply entertained by the half-blogs, even if they’ve never reached completion, hence this post. I probably won’t be revisiting these ideas, but I hope they can impart some kind of feeling03 hopefully not overwhelming confusion to you all. I’ve tried my best to not edit anything beyond some quick formatting, so as to preserve the original works as they once were, like little insects preserved in amber.


I.

For the first time since May, I walked alongside the Charles River. I’ve done it more than a dozen other times, each for a different reason, whether it was to get somewhere or just to reflect. This time, I was walking just to walk, to have an excuse to leave the confines of my space and be outside. Equipped with a cloth mask and one of my trusted playlists (link?), I walked my way up to Harvard, crossed the small footbridge there, and walked back on the Boston side before finally crossing the Boston University Bridge04 with a minor detour, since i had to actually find another bridge to take me to the other side of storrow drive, a major parkway in boston, so that i could actually climb the stairs to the bridge and returning to my girlfriend’s Cambridgeport apartment. I took in the sights of the river and the sights of the people who populated the paths alongside me. I tried to stick close to the water and peer in. But, I found that most of the grass was overgrown.

So many times in the past I had watched the surface of the Charles ripple and reflect back light in small, bright circles—whether that was the light of the sun or of Boston’s city skyline. I could see the river, just feet away, and wonder what it’d be like to step in.

I don’t think it’s possible to fully understand what’s going on the first time it hits you. At least, I didn’t the first time it hit me. Unlike so many other moments of change in our lives—a haircut, a new tattoo, a broken bone—there rarely is a clear cut before and after. Instead, there’s a slow progression of something bubbling underneath your skin, so slow that you can’t physically see the changes on the day to day basis. There just comes a time when you lie in bed for the fifth straight waking hour and you think to yourself, has it always been like this?

II.

WRITE ABOUT VIRTUAL ROAST

WRITE ABOUT MAILING LIST CULTURE? Fb group

III.

It’s been long enough since that time that I don’t remember the day-to-days any more. I remember a lot of lying in bed, the first time I’d had a queen sized bed to myself, spread out in the middle underneath my comforter with the air conditioner blasting on high.05 it was too cold for me, all the time. but i didn’t want to lower it, because one of the worst symptoms of depression is in how enticing it is, and how it makes you want to stay, and i wanted to stay miserable and uncomfortable because it had already become familiar and i felt like i deserved it. I’d wake up, and I’d watch cooking videos on YouTube for recipes I never planned to make,06 at least, not then or hours of some guy building houses in the Sims, or watching other video game playthroughs. I had games installed onto my computer already, including the Sims, but I couldn’t even muster up the energy to play, so I settled for watching. I stopped imagining the distant future, because there was just this haze of negativity that was too painful to look through. My parents worried about me all the way from New York, and I’d ignore their calls and send cryptic messages, only worrying them further. By the time they had realized what had happened, it was too late—I was in the hole.

I remember the euphoria I felt when I realized it was over, months later. I had already started a new job, and though I didn’t love it as much as my first, I finally felt like the haze had lifted in my life. I was lying in the grass just in front of the Cambridge Public Library; it was a warm day, and I had to walk by the library on my way home from work anyway, so I stopped to enjoy the last moments of sunshine. My head resting on my backpack and my back to the grass, I listened to music and stared up at the sky through the leaves above me. I cried to myself when I took a moment to reflect and realized just how much I had changed in a year. For so many months, I was plagued with thoughts of overwhelming despair, and I couldn’t envision it ever getting better. I fantasized about death and what a world without me would look like, unable to face the thought of never getting better. But in that moment in the grass, all I could think about was how happy I was to have made it to that day, even to just experience a warm day in the grass. And when I looked back from that moment, I’d realized that there had been a lot of good days leading up to then that I hadn’t really taken stock of.

IV.

A list of relics I see on a long drive:

–  a billboard for a Dave shapeless show May 9th

–  a bowling alley, Boston Bowling, candlepin, big sign that says ALWAYS OPEN

–  two white vans with SCHOOL BUS painted ton, parked in the driveway of a home

–  “St. Bartholomew’s Church: Permit Parking Only” in an empty lot, Come and Rest Every Sunday at 8am and 10:30am

Signs left up out of a hurry, an urgency that no one saw coming. Or maybe as a reminder that there was a different kind of life in store for us.

V.

Before the pandemic hit and summer began, I dreamt about the things I would accomplish and do, with the money I earned from my internship, with my free time, in a place I hadn’t lived in in years. I envisioned myself playing tennis in New York City, after taking a single PE class on Tennis during IAP. I imagined the kinds of people I’d meet, at my job and through serendipitous encounters on the subway, or at the tennis court, or at a bar. I looked forward to my nights, which I’d spend writing for fun, a finished manuscript completed by the time the fall semester began. 

VI.

On tropical storms and hurricanes:

Having spent the bulk of my life in between New York and the Dominican Republic, I am no stranger to the occasional hurricane or coastal storm. 

VII.

There’s my high school’s outdoor track, just a stone’s throw away from our house. In middle school, I learned how to ride a bike there, feeling the wind blow through my hair as I soared in between people and made loops around and around. Later, I’d sneak in late at night with my friend and neighbor after family barbecues, and we’d lie on the turf and talk and look at the few stars you can catch just outside of New York City.

There’s the dead-end street, past the track. In mid-high school, I’d convinced myself I was going to become a skater. I watched skateboarding videos every day when I came home from school, memorizing the basics of what I needed to do without actually doing it. I caved and bought a skateboard with money I saved up, and I’d go over to that street to practice riding around. The track was a better option, flatter and more spacious, but always filled with people when I really really wanted to be alone.

There’s the parking lot where I first learned how to drive, and the route I practiced over and over before taking my road test.

VIII.

For the person I was in high school, MIT was my dream girl. I had taken parts I’d seen from a distance—dorm I3 videos, snippets from the lives of former bloggers, statistics on LGBTQ support on campus, mentions in the news, to name a few—and twisted it into a deep infatuation with this place, much like we can do with people. When you invest so much of your energy into what feels like love, it’s easy to personify the object of this feeling into something so much more. MIT wasn’t just a school, it was this living, breathing, thing that I felt I needed, that so much of my emotions were tied to. 

IX.

incredible loneliness at MIT as a returning student/disliking MIT but feeling a sense of duty (what’s the Spanish word for “showing up?)

X.

I feel different, now that I’m back. I’ve come into a graduating class where most have spent the past two years getting to know each other, forming groups of friends as the days have gone by. The friends I left behind are either off in different places, or transitioned into the new parts of their life that don’t revolve around MIT. I still love and see them often (hell, i live with 6 of them), but our friendships are evolving, too, with my return. I miss work parties to do PSETs, and drown out their conversations over television so I can concentrate on my readings. We’re at different places in our lives, and I feel caught in the middle of being a student and being an adult, never really getting the full experience of either. This middle ground is isolating.

XI.

Sometimes, when I feel particularly down, I like to imagine myself in the fictionalized world I’m creating. I’m floating in a lake in a place where the Sun never sets, nestled between the mountains that cast a looming shadow above. I’m surrounded by nothing but warmth—the lake washing over me, and the tingling of the Sun on my cheeks even despite the cool shade. The sounds of life are drowned out by the sound of water rushing in my ears. Here in the lake, nothing else matters. Within my daydream, I dream about rainforests alive with sound, and snowy tundras shrouded in silence, and characters that come alive when I pour my emotions into them, the bad and the good. Their world isn’t perfect, either, no good story lacks conflict. But my problems aren’t theirs, and theirs aren’t mine, so I’m at peace, weightless and floating despite the things that make my heart heavy. 


Without the context of a full post, some of these feel like little threads of my former life and interests. For me, the memory floods in as I read the same words I once wrote in a different time, but for you all, there’s nothing but the snippets. In a way, all posts are like that—we consciously choose what to write and what to omit, and there will always be something left unsaid or lost in translation. In this case, there’s a lot of omission, so you just have to make your own meaning out of the disconnected sentences.

In the meantime, I’ll be saying goodbye. Posting them all together like this feels like I can finally let go of them. Maybe one day I will write about VIRTUAL ROAST like I told myself I would a year ago, though I probably won’t. Otherwise, it’s back to the mausoleum, though I hope they can rest easy knowing they got to shine for a moment. 

  1. they don’t call them darlings for nothing! sometimes the work you do, whether it's writing, music, or another kind of art, can be really personal back to text
  2. and nothing at all is better than something that isn’t perfect, am i right? /s back to text
  3. hopefully not overwhelming confusion back to text
  4. with a minor detour, since i had to actually find another bridge to take me to the other side of storrow drive, a major parkway in boston, so that i could actually climb the stairs to the bridge back to text
  5. it was too cold for me, all the time. but i didn’t want to lower it, because one of the worst symptoms of depression is in how enticing it is, and how it makes you want to stay, and i wanted to stay miserable and uncomfortable because it had already become familiar and i felt like i deserved it. back to text
  6. at least, not then back to text