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129. Excerpt from Anthony Stephens’ Mood Journal

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March 28, 2008,

Was in the book store today and saw this little kid whose dad was trying to veer him towards the book section, but all the boy wanted was to look at the comics. I laughed when I saw the father pleading and he looked at me and laughed too, rolling his eyes. As if to say, “what can you do?”

But I wasn’t laughing at the kid’s resistance so much as I was laughing at his dad’s condescension.

I wanted to walk up to him and tell him he could keep that shit up if he wanted, but it would never work out in his favor.

You can’t control people, no matter what you do. It’s in humanity’s nature to rebel.

That dad wants his kid to read more because his son wants the comics, and that kid wants the comics more because his dad wants him to read books. It’s unavoidable, that conflict. Which is kind of ironic when you think about it because, if we’re all rebels, then doesn’t that mean that rebels, by their very definition, don’t actually exist?

It’s these things that fuel me nowadays; for the first time in my life the things that go on in my head actually comfort me, give me strength to face the world as it is and not as this ideal image that I used to make it into.

I think things may be leveling out for me finally, or starting to at least. Me, my life, this med school thing. I’m getting the hang of it all. Starting my Brain and Behavior courses this summer, teaching some undergrad electives too on this assistantship they gave me. Hopefully with that I can keep these student loans from getting even more retardedly high than they already are, so maybe I can actually live my life for me for once as opposed to living it for somebody else.

As far as Louise, yeah she’s still around. I don’t know what’s going on with her. She says she’s distant sometimes because of school, that she doesn’t want any set-in-stone commitments until we’re both finished with our residencies and all that. She says there’s nobody else, even though she still disappears for days on end and acts like nothing’s weird when she just pops back up again.

I can’t tell if I believe her or not. I don’t know if I care enough to try. Part of me just wants to end it, to prove to myself that it doesn’t matter.

But, on the same note, going back to being alone doesn’t even really seem like an option.

I don’t know, maybe I should. I don’t need this. What I need to do is remember where I came from, where I’m going, and have faith in myself that it’ll all be alright if I just don’t let up.

Things always end up alright in the long run, if you wait long enough.

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118. Excerpt from Anthony Stephens’ Mood Journal

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November 23 2007,

And here it starts again.

Tried to avoid this crap for all my undergrad, and succeeded for the most part. I was hoping I’d at least get through med school before the drama returned.

Dr. Silver always told me all my social issues stem from my outlook on people and personal relationships. Romantic relationships, parent relationships, any relationship, all that shit is what gets me all worked up. I can’t stand to be alone for too long but I can’t be around people for an extended period of time or I lose my sense of identity, start forgetting who I am and letting other people influence me, which always ends bad.

I feel like I’ve been keeping that in mind and developing so much as a person these last couple of years, and until now I’ve been under the impression that my steady improvement was a result of me just staying the fuck away from all types of relationships. Just stick to myself and I’ll be alright, that’s what’s worked out for me pretty well so far. I’m not a degenerate-drugged-out-alcoholic-college-dropout anymore. I’m a future psychiatrist.

You want to talk about a fucking one-eighty? And all because I kept my focus on what I wanted, what I needed. Until now.

Now, once again, I feel myself falling right back into the same fucking trap with this Louise chick. Granted, I met her in my Anatomy lab this semester, so it’s not like she’s a deadbeat. And she’s my lab partner, she’s on the pediatrics track, beautiful, smart, funny, relatable, so for all intensive purposes it’s perfectly understandable that I’d develop feelings for the chick, right? And she’s from Miami, went to FIU, actually, before coming up here. Even more of a fucking coincidence, huh?

And here’s the clincher: she likes me.

Made it pretty obvious she likes me too. Giggles at everything I say, touches me a lot while she’s talking, makes it a point to hang out with me after class.

So, what’s the problem then, right?

That’s the spiel I’ve been giving myself all semester. Let your guard down, Tony. Dr. Silver said you’d be fine, Tony. You can’t be alone forever, Tony.

So finally, like a month ago, I made up my mind to make a move, during our study session at the library. Decided I’d give it a shot and ask her out to dinner sometime, so I did. And she said yes. And basically we’ve been dating for a couple of weeks now, and when I’m with her I’m happy. Insanely happy. But when I’m not with her, it’s like there’s this voice in my head. That same dude that I haven’t heard from since I first got to Tallahassee. He keeps telling me things, and I can’t help feeling like Louise is hiding something from me, like there’s somebody else or something. Like the other day I called and she just hung up on me in the middle of us talking, called me back a minute later and made up some bullshit excuse about losing service. She was on campus though. I’ve never lost cell service on campus.

Might be over-thinking things I know. But it’s this trust thing, man. I’m supposed to buy into it again, according to Doc Silver, if I ever want to try and become a functioning citizen again.

And I just don’t know, man. I don’t know.

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113. Excerpt from Anthony Stephens’ Mood Journal

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August 26 2007,

I can’t believe I actually made it here.

First day of med school tomorrow, my first day.

I mean, I’m in. Biochem and an anatomy lab tomorrow and genetics and embryology the day after.

I couldn’t even really believe it when I was signing up for the classes, thought I was going to get an error message on my comp, like “you have not been accepted to this program. Please exit the web browser and fuck off.”

But I’m in. Actually went all the way with this.

The first year med school advisor told me I won’t be into my psych track until my second year, so for right now I’m lumped in with all the future heart surgeons and gynecologists and whoever else, but it’s a pretty good atmosphere from what I can tell so far. Went to orientation the other day and everybody seems really friendly, like they’re just as excited to be here as I am. Going to be a lot of work but I can’t even really think about all that right now.

Still can’t really believe I’m here. I spent so long heading towards this, it’s weird to see it happening. It’s like I got used to never reaching my goals, and now that I’m here I don’t even know what to do with it.

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107. Excerpt from Anthony Stephens’ Mood Journal

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March 24 2007,

Don’t know where the time went. Been so long since I wrote in here, I don’t even really remember why it used to help so much.

I was just lying in my bedroom right now and wishing I had something to organize my thoughts on and I remembered how good it always felt to write in here, set things down visually so I could look back over what I wrote.

See the larger picture, maybe that was the appeal. Sometimes it’s hard to figure it all out in your head.

So, it’s my last semester already. Graduating in two months, med school in fall. Things have changed so much. It seems like it all happened so fast.

I’m just getting used to living here and now I might be leaving soon and, really, where the hell did the time go?

I talked to Dr. Silver a few weeks ago and it was so weird, hearing his voice and remembering our sessions and…I just had to thank him for everything, for all his help. He sounded pleased, genuinely pleased, and overall exactly the same. Like I could still imagine him sitting in that chair and me sitting on “The Couch,” both of us going back and forth. Which makes it seem like it was just yesterday I was there, even though it’s been a year and a half.

Funny how time works. In one sense, a couple of years seem like a lifetime. In another context though, it’s like a drop in a bucket.

I mean, I just flip-flopped on my feelings like three times in as many sentences. Back to that bipolar psychobabble bullshit. I’ve been taking way too many cognitive theory courses.

What I’m trying to say is that one minute it seems like it was twenty years ago that I moved here and got all suicidal again—things have changed so much that I can’t remember what it was like to be that far gone. And yet, at the same time, when I think about it—really think about it—it feels like it was just last week I was lying on my shrink’s couch listening to him tell me why I’m so fucked up.

Basically, all of this has made me realize what the most unstable element in the universe is: time.

It’s the reason we’re all fucked up in the head. We try to slow down, take things in, figure out what just happened, what is happening, what’s going to happen, try so hard to make sense of it all. And while we’re doing all of that, time just keeps moving forward, shifting and changing and not really giving a shit about us or our analyses, knowing we have no choice but to stick around. Unless we’re willing to do something drastic.

In a way, time’s kind of like…a high maintenance chick or something. A really hot high maintenance chick, sitting at a bar with a couple of her other hot friends, if you can picture that.

They’re all sitting around laughing and you know they know that everybody’s looking at them. And they’re all there, Destiny, Trust, Faith, Love and, of course, Time, who’s sitting at the head of the table just basking in everybody’s attention.

On the surface, Time, she looks confident as shit, beautiful and secure and like nobody can fuck with her. But then you get close to her and get to know her and start realizing her entire demeanor can flip on you from one minute to the next.

Time’s a tricky bitch, that’s for real. The worst type of acid trip if you let her in your head. Spend the rest of your life not knowing what the fuck is real or not.

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95. Excerpt from Anthony Stephens’ Mood Journal

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January 11 2006,

One semester in and things have changed so much.

I feel kind of stupid now, looking back at my last entry, how I lost it last summer. How close I came to leaving all of this.

I love it here now; it was just so hard to adjust at first. Like the same part of me that wanted to leave Miami so bad didn’t realize exactly how much he’d be leaving behind. Everything I’d ever known was five hundred miles away and I don’t think I really comprehended that fact until I was sitting in my apartment alone in a city I’d never even visited before.

This past fall though, everything sort of fell into place. It was like something clicked a few weeks into the semester. I stopped being scared to leave my apartment anymore and I stopped shunning everybody who tried to talk to me. I love my classes and I’ve even got a couple of professors this semester who are kind of helping me out a little, more than I think they have to.

People aren’t so bad when you give them a chance, seriously.

It’s like I’m in a different world now, and I’m really feeling it. I thought I’d keep regretting moving up here, thought the feeling would never go away. But things seem more stable now that I’m actually into all this, into my major and making plans and…

I’ve come up with this theory: I feel like all that stuff I was doing before, last summer and the couple of years before that, all that negative shit, it was all a lash out.

Just like Dr. Silver said, I was bored. And I know people say that all the time, “I’m so bored, oh my god this sucks it’s so fucking boring” but they’re not really bored because they have stuff that they like to do in their free time. They just don’t like working, that’s what it is. They’ve got their hobbies, their pet projects, all types of shit they can do on the mornings they wake up and have no plans.

It’s the days they can’t do that stuff that they get all pissy, but that bitching is also what makes their hobbies and free time seem like so much fun.

Like, ok, say right now isn’t right now. Say, instead, it’s a couple years ago, and I’m at my mom’s old place, before I was working at Shambles, after I got kicked out of school, after my mom died. Say I wake up and get out of bed and go out in the living room and don’t go past that point. Every day for like a week, I’m just out in the living room lounging, doing nothing from Monday to Sunday. Every morning, waking up and watching five different movies on DVD, eat a bunch of delivery junk food and playing video games, hitting my bong and making every possible effort to not leave the house even once. Say I do all this for an entire week. Come the following Monday morning, I’m going to wake up and think that house is like my own personal Siberian prison, you know? I’m going to start feeling like it’s my very own white padded cell and I’m stuck here in a straitjacket. I’m going to want to do anything I possibly can to get the fuck out of that place, and I mean anything.

The only problem back then was that, sometimes, that place I was at, that living room/prison I couldn’t bear to live in anymore…it was in my head. And it’s not easy to leave a place when it’s in your head. Even if you leave the physical place that reminds you of it, your mind’s still there. And when that happens, you feel trapped, and trapped people do crazy things.

We’re animals like that. Throw us in a cage, especially a mental one, and bad shit starts happening.

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92. Excerpt from Anthony Stephens’ Mood Journal

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August 20 2005,

Morning: 0 out of 10

Afternoon: 0 out of 10

Evening: 0 out of 10

Fucking A I think I made a mistake I fucking hate it up here Tallahassee is so horrible I mean it was good the first week living in my own apartment like a new place without all the old memories and crap just playing video games and just relaxing not thinking about my mom or dad or friends or Shamble’s or any of that shit but then a few days ago I was sitting on the couch playing Prince of Persia and the walls started closing in on me like I was in a fucking garbage disposal and the place started feeling like it was running out of air like I was on a leaky spaceship or something and I dont even know what the fuck Im talking about but I went outside to get some air and realized how fucking empty this goddamn city is how secluded and stagnant the air smells so stale up here like its recycled or something and its like a ghost town right now with school not starting for another two weeks and I think I might have moved up here too early because I feel like Ive completely regressed to my old self in just a couple days like I can’t even organize my mind right now and I keep trying but whenever I close my eyes and try to think I just imagine myself getting in my car and turning onto the I4 exit over on Monroe and hitting the gas until my car smashes into something rocky and immovable and shoots me through the windshield and splatters my brains on the concrete and just ends all of this crap so I can fucking sleep I havent slept in fucking days and I just want to not go back to this pounding in my head and chest and the thoughts like the whole worlds out to get me are coming back and it’s the same what’s the point of any of this shit type of thoughts and the urges the fucking urges to just do the stupidest shit possible and fucking consume consume consume consume consume everything I drank three 40’s of OE last night walking down the street and talking to myself about I don’t even remember what the fuck and walked right by a campus cop and he didnt even say anything and I really wish he had because I dont need enablers right now I need somebody to stop me because I dont want to get like this again I dont think Ill survive it this time I really fucking dont think

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83. Excerpt from Anthony Stephens’ Mood Journal

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June 15 2005,           

Morning: 4 out of 10

Afternoon: 6 out of10

Evening: 5 out of 10

Graduating in a few weeks. Finally.

It feels good to be going somewhere, to have a plan. To take the next step.

My acceptance letter from FSU came in last week and now it’s all about looking for a place in Tallahassee, selling my mom’s house, packing everything up and hitting the road. And through it all, all the excitement and anticipation I’ve felt the past week, I can’t stop thinking about that last journal entry.

It’s been over two years since Janice left me.

Even with my breakdown and the psychotherapy and all that, that’s a long fucking time not to be romantically involved with anybody.

It’s not like I haven’t been with a woman since then, that’s not what’s bothering me. That stuff doesn’t really count when you’re talking about a relationship. A meaningful relationship. The last time I can remember having even a meaningful conversation with a woman was the day I told Janice to basically  kiss my ass.

But even then, like I said, it’s not the lack of a girlfriend that bothers me now. It’s the fact that it hasn’t bothered me.

Until now. I didn’t realize how long I’d been single until Dr. Silver asked me the other day.

I only have about three more visits with you, Doc, before I move. Then I’m on my own, so to speak.

I want to use that time to talk about this no-girlfriend thing, what you think it means about my personality.

Does it mean I’m too introverted, or have I just become independent enough not to need somebody to prop me up?

Is it a positive sign that I’m moving forward, or am I just so screwed up that I can never be in a serious relationship again?

Am I getting better, or am I slowly rotting beneath the surface?

Because I can’t tell the difference anymore.

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