Family Dynamics

Ah, I think I’m depressed again. Though I don’t want to call it that. I’m feeling shitty. Yeah, that feels just about right.

It just so happens that I’ve been kind of crappy with my Prozac since I left home to visit the Russian in October. And I haven’t had therapy in who knows how  the fuck long. G and R? I don’t know who they are anymore. I also haven’t been writing as much and today and yesterday I tried to sketch but I couldn’t even doodle. Sigh.

And I know what triggered it all. In addition to the obvious (the Russian, interview season, thinking about my goddamn future on a daily basis…) I’ve been back home for a few days now. It was like turning on a switch.

I’m back in the noise and with my parents, but most of all back to this tired old place where I’m from and which I’m so sick and tired of. It doesn’t change. It literally does not change. If you visited this place 50 years from now you’d find the same people, the same conversations, the same problems. I’ve always been an outcast here, and having the joy of pretending I was a nomad across the different states for a month now made me forget just how much I don’t fit in here.

Also, not helping my depression is the fact that I need a fucking car to get anywhere interesting here. Sounds stupid, but it’s much easier for me to balance my emotions when I know I can just pick up my two legs and go somewhere within 5 minutes without having to turn on a car and think about gas, traffic, or road rage. So, I lock myself in my room because it’s just fucking easier and it’s my comfort zone…hence the isolation and falling into depression again.

And then there’s my parents. The same old tired crap that drags me down again and again. I love them to bits but my god, I cannot live with them anymore. Anything they do or say sends me spinning into bitch-mode.

I’ll be leaving for another interview in a few days. Then I’ll be a tourist somewhere else for a few more days. Then I have to come back and study for Step 2 CS. Oh the excitement…

And the Russian. Nothing there, obviously. Texted him today because he has a pair of earrings that I adore and left in his apartment. I refuse to leave them there. I suggested he ship them or we meet up quick when I’m back in the city that I adore in January for an interview. I was crossing my fingers he’d say meet-up, but was expecting having to text him my address. No answer. No nothing. Texted him again, nicely, asking him if he had any preference. Again, nothing.

I’m so fucking heartbroken you guys. I want to be angry at him and I know it’s what I should be, because he’s the one avoiding me and not showing face. But I can’t help but think that I was just wrong in sending him that angry text (which wasn’t even insulting, by the way, it was firm and angry but not indecent). I keep thinking about the small things we shared before it all went downhill…the conversations, the uncanny coincidences in things we liked and just the things we talked about, the movies we liked and joked about, the conversations about medicine and philosophical stuff, him saying “I love listening to you ramble”, the kisses, the intimacy, the jokes we shared, the places we went together, that cute smile of his, and that fucking geeky laugh he has that makes me weak in the knees because it makes his tough exterior melt away for just the teeniest second…..

I miss him you guys. And there’s no getting him back. There’s no fucking getting him back (ah, hello tears…they’re starting to well up). I fucking ruined it.

And of course that sends me on a tailspin of thinking: Oh I don’t want to be a doctor anymore, fuck I don’t want to be a psychiatrist, why am I even interviewing for residency?, I’m a good for nothing idiot, I’m fat and pathetic, can’t even hold onto a great guy who was interested, I just want to crawl in a fucking hole and wither away and die in my own fucking shit.

Last night I couldn’t sleep. I can’t sleep anymore. The noise in this house and this fucking neighborhood just don’t let me sleep. The noise in my head, thinking about interviews and the teeniest details about what I answered, what I did wrong here and there, how I would rank the programs, where I would be willing to compromise where I not to match in my #1 program (which is very possible)….it’s all keeping me awake at night.

And then come the thoughts of wanting to die, the suicidal thoughts that never come to fruition because fuck, if I’ve made it this far I’m not just going to kill myself on a whim (in my case, I know it’s “on a whim”…I know myself well enough to know that the thoughts will wither away after a while, doesn’t mean it’s “on a whim” for others though).

And then, by fucking g-d….I wake up in this fucking good-for-nothing place that offers me, you guessed it: NOTHING. This place offers me zero opportunities, zero life, zero happiness. The only things I find here are my parents and siblings, my friends, and my dogs. Nothing else.

So I wake up. Go back to sleep. Wake up. Go back to sleep. Dream about the Russian never coming back home from work. Wake up. Go back to sleep. Dream about the Russian avoiding me during an interview day where we coincided. Wake up. Can’t go back to sleep. Hate myself. Sit on the bed. Get up. Open the blinds….and fuck, I’m still in this shitty place they call my hometown. I’m here again. Stuck again.

I go through the day. I eat dinner. Hate myself for it. Purge a bit. Feel the high. Alone.

No Russian. No new interview invites. No new adventures. No place to grow. It all withers away the moment I start to get comfortable. Hurting so much.

(And yes, I’m crying.)



I saw G this week. I realized I didn’t really miss her or R that very much during the past month. It wasn’t until I had her in front of me that I actually missed her, and missed our therapy sessions. I freaked out a bit when I realized that; however, I know it’s not really pseudo-adult-me who’s thinking that but the abandoned little girl in me that remains attached to her therapists.

It’s ok to not miss them, I keep telling myself. It means progress. And progress means no depression. And when I remember what my depressions are like…I forget wanting to self-sabotage. I don’t wish that pain upon anyone.

She told me I looked great, and that she was proud of me. Part of me is glad I’m ok, but another part of me is just worried when the next episode will be. I know the odds are against me. “There is a 50% recurrence rate after the first episode, a 70% recurrence rate after the second episode, and a 90% recurrence after the third episode.” That’s what my pocket psychiatry book says. I skip a breath whenever I read that sentence. But, whatever, I’ll enjoy what I have now and not worry about that, because then I wouldn’t do anything ever.

My borderline traits made a reappearance the other day after I felt terribly abandoned and lonely. I emailed G so I wouldn’t do something impulsive or stupid. She was worried and told me she didn’t want me to take steps back progress-wise, and that she felt really happy after seeing that I was in a good place during our appointment. I assured her having her support meant everything to me and not to worry, because it was just one bad day. And I pulled through. I remember my old posts from when I first began the blog and can’t help but think: “Holy crap, who would’ve thought that borderline girl who would cry and cut after a canceled appointment would get this far????!!!”

Yep. It’s possible guys. If I can do it, you can too.

Food-wise: meh. It’s always ‘meh’. My behaviors and thoughts go up and down with the tides. I’m eating lately. Too much for my own comfort, but not healthy at all, though. The past month was a good refresher for me because being alone actually helps me respond to my hunger cues more appropriately. Also, if I want to skip meals and simply “don’t feel like fucking eating” (as happens a lot with me), then I can just feel free to do what I please. I guess it has to do with my feeling comfortable to eat when I want or what I want without someone judging or asking (my parents). I only purged once while away, yet I purged the same day I got home after feeling too full for my comfort. I restrict here and there, skip a breakfast or dinner every other day or whatever.

The day I emailed G I pretty much lost it after my dad saw me eating McDonald’s and triggered me to hell and back. He had just gotten home and saw mom and I in the kitchen eating. As per usual, his entire focus went instantly toward our (gross-ass) junk food. He wanted a bite. He commented on what he wanted to cook that night, and joked that we wouldn’t be having dinner because we were getting full off junk food. He kept going on and on about food. And then he said it: “Holy crap Dana, you’re going to gain 20 pounds eating that!”

Holy. Fucking. Shit. Needless to say I was devastated and my head started overflowing with thoughts of SEE, YOU’RE JUST AS FAT AS HE IS! YOU’RE A DISGUSTING PIECE OF SHIT! STOP EATING OR YOU’LL GET FATTER THAN YOU ALREADY ARE, YOU FUCKING COW! HAHAHA YOU’RE A JOKE! 

And so, of course, being back home has caused my food issues to come back to the surface. But I’m managing for now.

Still feel fat. I think I’ll always feel fat to some extent. I’ve come to embrace what I can change and what I simply can’t.

It’s been a pretty good week I think, except for my lack of studying.

I started a new rotation (internal medicine sub-I) on Monday. I was scared shitless on Sunday thinking I wasn’t able to be a good enough fourth year medical student, but so far it’s been running smoothly. Except for being incredibly tired, which is why I haven’t been able to study.

My parents are spending 4th of July weekend with us. And, surprisingly, it’s turned out OK so far. Except food-wise, things are good. They’re in a good mood, we’re in a good mood, and it’s all great. Food is always a pain in the ass because having my parents around means I can’t control my eating/food as much as I’d like to. And the stress makes me emotionally eat a little.

However, I don’t want all this goodness to fool me. These are the times I fall into the trap again and think Oh well, things are great between us, I’ve finally got the ideal family I’ve always wanted. The reality is this: I love my parents to bits, but like any other family, we’ve got our issues. And I don’t want all the goodness to fool me into thinking I don’t have to put up boundaries between them and myself. I don’t want to fool myself into thinking that because things are good now, then they’re always good.

I have to continue setting those boundaries, even if it feels bittersweet. And just enjoy the current goodness. But too much of a good thing makes it turn sour; so, I’ll try to not get carried away.

I’m back. I couldn’t take the lack of posting.

I’ve finally gotten ’round to really really studying for Step 2 CK (didn’t stop posting for 20 days straight for nothin’!). However, I still decided to reschedule the exam…again. I simply was not ready to take the test without a bit more extra time. Will hopefully be taking it mid-July or come the end of July. I want to be done with it already.

And I’ve been holding up, somehow. Living with MM and her husband these past few weeks has been both a blessing and a curse. A blessing because being away from home has made me realize so many things about my future and things I have to do so that I can become a mostly healthy, (questionably) sane, and independent pseudo-adult. A blessing also, because I’ve been able to just focus and study. No TV on 24/7, no arguments, no emotionally-laden family stuff affecting me at all times….just me and my books and qbank.

But it’s also been a curse because it’s brought to the surface a lot of issues having to do with the codependent relationship I have with my mom. Also, issues relating to the relationship with my dad. G says I have to be selfish in a good way, and continue to pay attention to myself at this time…continue focusing on me and my stuff, because the family stuff isn’t helping at all and they’re not much support either way.

It feels good, but then I get the pangs of guilt. Utter guilt and shame. I feel like the worst daughter ever, like I’m abandoning them and even abandoning my dogs by giving myself any semblance of importance in this world and tending to me. If I’m not being miserable alongside my mom I feel like I’m a traitor. If I’m enjoying my life at any given time, I feel like I don’t deserve any of this and deep down I’m the worst daughter ever for leaving my parents at home to manage their non-existent relationship on their own.

I don’t know if I’ve said this here before, but for a long time now, I’ve felt like the buffer that keeps the tension at home slightly lower than boiling point. But that doesn’t do me any good. I’m working on myself, I’m going to therapy, taking my medication, staying on top of my mental health and trying to find my way in the world. It’s not my job to make them do that for themselves. Although I would give anything to see my parents genuinely happy and I love them so-fucking-much, I can’t do anything for them if they’re not willing to change and put effort into living better lives. That’s their job. (I sound so mature, reading this paragraph now, but really what I feel is 100% guilt.)

Trying to find that balance between laying out a line of boundaries and maintaining a relationship is completely new to me. I’m used to losing myself in people with whom I have a very close relationship (not that many people, actually). And I’m used to losing myself in the black hole that is my mom, specifically. It’s a constant push-pull battle between Just being me and living a positive life feels liberating vs I’m the worst daughter ever and I’ve abandoned them to fend for themselves….and then I go back to But this guilt just feels like the prison I’ve been in my whole life, while living -my- life feels so liberating.

In a recent appointment with R, we compared the process of placing boundaries to a fenestrated membrane…because we’re fucking geeks. (To my non-science-y readers, that’s like a sieve, or a type of membrane with little holes that makes up some parts of the body. I told you we’re geeks.)

And I recently kind of failed at placing that little fenestrated membrane and pushing away the negative parts of my family that take a toll on me. On Father’s day the small family reunion we had was horribly awkward and I felt completely rejected by my mom, who was acting icy toward me and barely speaking to me or MM. I felt she was somehow, albeit unconsciously, reproaching me for taking a break from the home environment. Then my dad, in all his depressive glory, made me feel like shit at one point and it was completely unexpected. (Trigger warning: self-harm) It all resulted in me purging part of dinner that night and then proceeding to burn myself with matches (not as hardcore as it sounds, I’m ok). I had to take the next two days “off” because I was back in the depression hole for a bit.

But then when I get back up and place that little fenestrated membrane again it feels slightly better. At least if I’m feeling down I know it’s due to stuff pertaining to my life, and not my parent’s life. At least if I have problems with food (which of course, I still do even after taking a break from home!), I know that I’m the one in control and -not eating- and I’m the one damaging myself. I’m not using it to get back at my parents, or as a coping mechanism for the crappy home environment when it’s just me. It gives me the time and energy to be able to do what I like to call “STOP, Drop, and Roll”: taking a pause when I’m about to engage in behaviors and questioning it all.

Am I making any sense? It makes sense to me, somehow, and I guess that’s what matters. When I don’t have the home environment as an excuse to flog myself on a daily basis, it’s easier to focus on just growing up and living my life. And, like I said, I still have my shitty stuff going on here even on my own, but the difference in my mood and the absence of constant ups and downs is….astounding. It’s given me a whole new perspective on my future life plans/goals, etc.

It’s all easier when I just have to deal with myself.

Ok, back to the books now.

I finally got myself to sit down and focus on studying for Step 2 CK. I’ve been studying on-and-off since February…but way more “off” than “on”, unfortunately.

June 30th is the day. That’s not enough time, but I honestly can’t afford to change the test date a third time. And, I don’t want to change it. I’m sick of moving it around, playing around with it. So, I’m taking a risk (for now). Wish me luck. I’ll need lots of it.

My determination was caused, of course, by a bit of drama. I don’t like to call what happens in my life “drama”, since I despise the word, but I can’t find another term for “there’s always something happening”. So, I’ll stick to “drama” for now.

The drama has been nonstop during these past weeks. I haven’t been doing well, due to both my lack of sleep and the shitty environment at home. I feel like my parents are pulling me from both sides, and it’s kind of driving me nuts (more nuts than I already am, ha!).

Then yesterday I saw G and I was in such a horrible state that it prompted the infamous “Do you think you need to be hospitalized?” conversation. I had barely slept, couldn’t put my thoughts or words together, and felt an incredible level of mad rage. I was tense, thinking about death, and spiking every sentence with more swear words than usual. But, no hospital for me, thankfully. (As a side note: I’ve kind of learned to unconsciously wait the death thoughts out. Either that or taking a nap. Sounds stupid, but it’s saved me quite a lot of times.)

G emphasized the need for me to focus on the important stuff right now: Step 2 CK and Step 2 CK (plus, Step 2 CK). She told me that it’s absolutely necessary for me to place boundaries with my parents. And she called the relationship with my mom “codependent”, which pissed me off but only because I know it’s kind of true.

She said the plan was to “go to your dance class so you’ll have an outlet for the rage, and then go straight home to study”.

But of course I didn’t do that.

I mean, the studying part. There’s no way in hell I was going to miss my dance class because, priorities.

But I didn’t do much studying yesterday because once I got home after seeing G, the rage just kept building up and up and up. I snapped when I realized the TV is on at home 24/7. Yeah, that itty bitty detail was what made me snap.

Thing is, I’m very sensitive to external stimuli, especially auditory stimuli. Having the TV on 24/7 at home has me on edge constantly. I can’t live like that. My parents have turned into zombies. All my dad does is watch TV (remember he had his back surgery, so he’s still not working), while my mom watches TV at night…..both watch TV at a ridiculously high volume.

So, I snapped. Though, there was no nuclear word vomit like the other day (thankfully). I did the following:

I went to dance class (because, priorities) and then went straight to the apartment where MM and her husband are staying.

G suggested the idea, and the more thought I gave to it the more logical it seemed. MM and her husband are positive energy for me, there’s no noise messing around with my brain, and I don’t have my parents pushing and pulling me. A perfect environment for studying.

Except for my dogs. Geez, I miss my dogs so much and it’s barely been 24 hours. They’re my little rays of life.

So, here I am, in my little safe haven, for now. I’ll probably be going back and forth between here and home in the coming days.

Thing is, I felt horribly guilty yesterday. So horribly guilty! Why? Because I felt I was being a traitor to my mom, in a certain way (and also to dad, but less so). I felt I was being a terrible daughter for putting myself first, for listening to G and being “selfish in a good way”. I felt I was abandoning them….and the dogs.

And that’s when I realized the relationship with my mom has turned way more codependent than it was before. And I really don’t want that to happen. I need to live my life. I love my parents to pieces, but I can’t stop living for them.

If only it were that easy.

My appointment with G this week went great. I was in a surprisingly good mood, even dressed nicely for the appointment and the errands I was doing before that. She noticed, and found it odd. I got a hint that maybe she found it a bit unsettling, even. Considering the nuclear word vomit that happened two days previously, my good mood was most definitely odd.

I guess I just felt kind of calm and numb, like the shock you get after a natural disaster or some really really good news. However, I guess she had reason to be unsettled, because the next day was a mess.

The next day I saw R, and I was in a horrible mood. Completely the opposite of what G saw. I didn’t really know why I was in a bad mood, though R inferred that it probably had to do with my having a lot of stuff happening lately. First, the difficult situation happening with MM and the family and then there was the whole nuclear word vomit with my parents. Plus, there are some things I didn’t get around to telling G or R, like a huge Ex-related trigger I had when cleaning out my room the other day, how the list of med-school related errands I’ve had to do lately has become infinite, and how my dad isn’t doing so well emotionally. Finally, my sleep problems….a general lack of sleep, vivid dreams, at times confusing real-life events with what happened in dreams, anxiety and slight fear of the dark relating to my dad and how he out of the blue screams during his sleep….the list goes on.

The whole appointment I was putting insane amounts of pressure on myself to speak a certain way, or act a certain way, or just be a “good patient”, something that for some reason I still have problems with when seeing R. So, I couldn’t relax at all during my time with her. Pisses me off so much when I do that.

I told her I was feeling crappy, but shit didn’t really hit the fan until we talked about this crazy idea I have relating to my career (and which I will not post about here because it’s unnecessary for now, embarrassing, and it’s just a crazy idea that will probably not come to fruition…but rest assured I’m still going to be a doctor and still want to be a psychiatrist).

Instead of immediately approving of the crazy idea, she kind of danced around it. I was expecting this, because when I say the idea is crazy, I mean it’s pretty crazy. What got to me was actually what followed. She asked me all sorts of things, in a way to keep me levelheaded and not let me get carried away by my random impulsive career plans. I know she did it because she cares and doesn’t want to see me ruin my career. She said she just wants to keep me grounded.

However, I realized much later that her questions stirred some anger in me because she reminded me so much of how my family, specifically, my mom, react to my career and life plans, and really any other spontaneous thing I might want to do on any given day. Conversations usually go like this:

Me: “Hey mom, I want to be a psychiatrist.”

Mom: [disgusted face] “Oh really? Don’t you think you’d like to be a radiologist?”

But they can also be as mundane as this:

Me: “Hey mom, let’s go to the movies.”

Mom: [disgusted face] “Ugh, no.” [proceeds to go on angry rant]

Sounds stupid, really, but when you’ve spent a lifetime getting NO as the automatic response to any and everything you suggest, it makes you a bit jaded.

So, it really pissed me off that R reminded me of my mom. That’s basically what happened. And since I didn’t understand that at the moment, I ended up going on a sudden and desperate rant right at the end of the session about how I’m tired of having so much emotional pain, which was really a result of the horrible abandonment issues that were triggered the moment R started confronting my crazy idea.


I don’t blame ya’ R, I’m doin’ it too.

I’m pretty sure I pissed her off a bit. And it didn’t end there because I asked to email her later on so I could go on an extension of my desperate abandonment-related rant. I told her she didn’t need to answer said email, I just wanted to feel like someone was listening. She didn’t answer, thankfully.

I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if I stirred up at least a semblance of an exasperated sigh and an eye-roll in her. But I’m probably just projecting here…I’m the one who’s eye-rolling at myself. I was conditioned to think of myself as stupid and pointless from a young age, for some reason.

I hate it when I do that. And now I have to wait an entire week to talk to her and say I’m sorry. Yeah, I apologize for everything, I do it with G too. It’s the fear of abandonment.

Someone shake me, please.

I exploded yesterday and it wasn’t pretty. It was like watching a modern day version of the Chernobyl disaster.

However, I did exaggerate a bit yesterday when I posted and said that now my parents know everything. I didn’t quite tell them everything. I told them I was abused for 5 years….well, I screamed at the top of my lungs that I was abused for 5 years. So, now my parents know. And the neighbors too. Plus their Memorial Day BBQ guests. And when I say “neighbors” I really mean everybody within a 200 foot radius (or maybe 500 feet?). Now, I didn’t tell my parents about the food issues. So, yeah, I didn’t tell them everything.

Ok, I give up trying to minimize what I told them. I told them a shitload. Period.

I haven’t been doing well these last two weeks in part because of some issues related to my sister MM and her husband. They’ve been having some problems that have involved also my sister Y and it has all turned into a big, glob of a monster-mess threatening what little integrity the family had. And I’m basically the only one supporting MM during this whole ordeal, so I’ve been carrying on my shoulders her issues in addition to mine. I knew I was stretching myself thin, but I pushed through.

My parents, knowing I am MM’s confidante, were all over me, asking me what was wrong with MM, creating more tension and putting more pressure on me. So, I snapped.

It started with my angrily going over to dad to tell him everything. It ended with both my parents sitting in front of me, in complete shock and sometimes confronting me while I screamed at the top of my lungs about everything that was wrong in the family, and their marriage, and their attitudes, and what was happening with MM, and my own issues, and how I was depressed, and suicidal, and had been abused for 5 years and… was a horrible word vomit. And of course it included all the theatricals, with sweat dropping down my forehead, tears and snot running down my nose.

Oh my….I still can’t believe I did that. I feel an incredible amount of shame, to be honest. I feel horrible.

Since that mess yesterday things have been calm at home; heck, even friendlier than usual. But I still feel like shit. I said too much and not in a pretty way. At least my dad agreed with a lot of what I said and he listened and later told me I opened his eyes to a lot of issues. My mom’s reaction was combative, as is usual for her, but she was surprisingly receptive every now and then.

I just feel so ashamed. There is just no other word to describe what I feel. And to think now my parents know the truth. 98% of it. I basically have no secrets to tell them anymore. I feel like I’ve been standing naked in front of a completely silent audience since yesterday. Talk about feeling vulnerable.

My dad said to me at one point after the mess that he wanted to talk to me in the coming days. He said it didn’t have to be today, tomorrow, or even this week, but he told me to think about it. I know he wants to talk about the abuse. I’m just glad he didn’t ask me anything yesterday or today, even. I’m glad he made himself available and is obviously worried, but gave me some space. Heck, maybe it’s because he simply doesn’t know how to approach the issue, but either way I’m glad he reacted that way. At one point during my nuclear word vomit, after I mentioned the abuse, I even said I didn’t want any hugs, kisses, or anything from him, and he seemed to just get it. He finally understood why I have trouble with that.

Mom, on the other hand, had a different reaction. I approached her a few hours after the mess and asked her if she had anything she wanted to say to me. She was calm, and said no. Then she said she was tired when she noticed I didn’t believe her. But I decided to leave it at that. I’m just….afraid she might not believe me about the abuse, to be honest. And I’m afraid she might never address the issue or….geez, I’m just afraid of what she thinks or will think.

So that’s what happened yesterday. I don’t know where to go from here. I’m honestly not expecting things at home to change, probably they’ll change for a bit and then go back to how they were. I just….don’t know what to do with myself. Should I apologize? Should I leave it at that? Should I cross my fingers and hope for the best? I don’t know. I have no clue.

And, to finish this post on a lighter note, I had a medication mix-up today. Instead of my usual 30mg of Prozac that I take in the morning I accidentally took 20mg of Ambien right after I woke up. I realized something was wrong when, halfway through breakfast I noticed one of my dogs had two heads instead of one….and when I stood up I had the nastiest ataxic gait (that’s walking like a drunk, to my non-medical readers)….then I think I hallucinated at one point (nothing serious)….then the amnesia….then the hiccups….

Yeah, don’t take 20mg Ambien on an empty stomach. I spent the day knocked out in my room, which was fine since I was too ashamed of myself to even take out the trash.

I guess they don’t call it Memorial Day weekend for nothing.


“Shit, that wasn’t Prozac….”


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Medical School, Fitness and Fun plus all the ups and downs

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Adult Survivor of Child Abuse and Diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder - Working towards ending the stigma of Mental Illness

The Person Next to You

... we're not alone in the journey of life!

Doctor Psychobabble

Through the looking glass of a psychiatry resident.

Problems With Infinity

Confessions of a Delusional Maniac

Falling down the rabbit hole

Trauma therapy, life after sexual abuse & PTSD


Not-so-random thoughts

Write to Live

I'm just a twenty-something girl with a voice and a pen.