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Charlotte Johanssen

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epilogue: october 2010 [09 Oct 2005|06:06pm]
Charlotte's freshman year experiences inspired her to start a support and awareness group for SHS students with mental illnesses. She dropped out of the BSC midway through sophomore year to concentrate more on schoolwork and other extracurricular activities (the support group, the SHS environmental club, and volunteering at library storytimes). Her anxiety problems grew worse senior year, and with her parents and her therapist, she decided it would be best to take a year off before she went away for college. Charlotte spent that year living at home, working as a server at Cabbages and Kings, volunteering at the local animal shelter, and taking a few community college classes. The next fall, she began her studies at Smith College, where she's currently majoring in psychology, going to a lot of club meetings and concerts, and trying to convince her roommate that she never had a crush on her "almost-sister" Stacey.
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[02 Aug 2005|04:11pm]
I am a terrible, terrible friend.

Have I visited Dani once since she went into the hospital? No. Have I even called? No. I wouldn't even have known she was doing better if Adam hadn't posted to the boards. I didn't even know she and Adam were going out.

I haven't talked to Sara or Nessa in weeks, either. Stacey emailed me about catching up at Cabbages and Kings, but I haven't written back to her yet.

Basically, I've been spending a lot of time by myself. I think I'm nervous about going back to school and freaking out in class again, so I'm avoiding things that remind me of school--like hanging out with my friends. My dad said the other day that since I started going to therapy, sometimes I sound like a psychologist myself. My mom got all excited and started talking about colleges with good psychology programs. Then I had to remind them both that I'm just 14. I have to do that a lot.

I'm drinking strawberry tea and listening to new songs on Dar Williams' website, and that's helping.

I should email Stacey.
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we all need a little someplace else, now and then [20 Jun 2005|01:43pm]
I just got back from the most amazing weekend of my life.

Mom and I left Stoneybrook on Friday morning and got into Boston in the afternoon. We stayed at this fancy hotel that connected to a big mall (I'm not big on malls, but I know Stacey would have loved it), and we had lots of time to explore before we went to Club Passim. Since Passim is in Cambridge, we got there early and walked around Harvard (!) for a while. It was weird to be right there, at a famous school that's never seemed totally real to me. I still have another year or so before I have to start worrying about college, and I don't think I want to go to a big school like Harvard, but it was still really exciting.

Mom made dinner reservations at the Passim restaurant, which is called Veggie Planet (!!). All organic veggie and vegan food! I had pizza with goat cheese and butternut squash, which was so good, and they made their own chai tea. Yum. And then it was time for the concert, which was even better than I thought it would be. It was a release show for Nerissa's book, Plastic Angel, and almost their whole family was there in the audience, even Katryna's little daughter Amelia (if I were braver, I would have brought some BSC fliers). They sang a bunch of my favorite songs--"This Town Is Wrong," "Clairman Town" (I think those songs are about Stoneybrook), "Glow-In-The-Dark Plastic Angel," and "The Day I Let Glory Steer." At the end, they went right into the audience and had everyone sing along for "Down By The Riverside," an old traditional song Dad taught me on guitar back when I was 9 or 10, and then they did "Easy People." I couldn't believe that I was in the same room with Nerissa Nields and listening to her and Katryna sing all their songs in person. It was late when we got back to the hotel, but I didn't get to sleep for hours, I was so excited.

On Saturday Mom and I went to the Museum of Fine Arts and saw a really cool exhibit of quilts (Mom wants to try making a quilt together now), and then we went on a walking tour through the city, led by someone dressed up as Abigail Adams. And I know I'm supposed to be the smart Hermione kind of girl who really enjoys this stuff, and usually I do, but I couldn't stop thinking about the concert, and how cool it was to be in a room full of so many interesting and different people, and I kept trying to peek into weird-looking stores and restaurants, and reading newspapers and bulletin boards and fliers to see all the exciting things that were happening in the city. I even saw some old fliers for something called Pride, and when I looked it up online when we got home, I found out it was a big celebration for people who are gay. Nothing like that would ever happen in Stoneybrook, would it? People in Stoneybrook are still getting over their prejudices about the Ramseys. I never thought I liked big cities, but maybe I was wrong, or maybe I'm changing. Today I'm back in Stoneybok, the only place I've ever lived, and I think I'm homesick for a place I've barely even seen.
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[11 Jun 2005|01:27pm]
I almost forgot to write about my birthday--but then again, there wasn't much to write about. My mom and dad took me to Cabbages and Kings for dinner, and my dad didn't complain once about the menu. I guess that's kind of monumental.

I wonder if this is the way birthdays are as you get older...that they get less and less important.

Or maybe it's just that my big present this year isn't going to happen for another week?
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and whether pigs have wings [09 Jun 2005|09:33am]
Tiffany Kilbourne makes me so mad! I wish I could be brave and snarky like Dani and Nessa are, and have the guts to respond when she and Mike Hofmeister are mean on the boards. But I'm a coward, and I'm scared that if I say something back to them, they'll start in on me.

So maybe C&K closing isn't such a big deal in the grand scheme of things. But in our town, to those of us who care about what kind of food we put into our bodies, it does matter. I've always really admired that about Dawn, that she has causes she believes in, and she fights for things, and it doesn't even matter to her what other people think or say about her. In a book, Tiffany would act this way because she was jealous of people like Dawn. But this isn't a book, and I don't think Tiffany cares about anything but making other people's lives miserable.
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exclamation points!! [04 Jun 2005|12:26pm]
[ mood | excited ]

Oh, my lord, I'm so excited.

I knew my mom was planning some kind of surprise for my birthday--now that we spend time together every day, it's harder for her to hide that kind of stuff--but I had no idea it was going to be this cool until she finally told me on the way to the farmer's market this morning.

In two weeks, she and I are going to spend a weekend in Boston.

And we're going to see Nerissa and Katryna Nields play a show at Club Passim!!!!

Oh, my lord, I am so, so, so excited!!!

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[05 May 2005|08:44am]
I keep thinking I've written about this here, because it's been a while now, but I guess I haven't.

I went to see Dr. Sorenson, Mom's psychiatrist friend, last month. She asked a lot of questions and we had a really great talk, though it was weird to be talking about such personal things with someone I'd never met before. But she was really nice and friendly, and I felt comfortable pretty quickly. I found out later, when I asked my mom, that the questions were part of something called the DSM-IV, which is kind of a manual for diagnosing and treating people with mental disorders. I know, that scared me, too. But when Dr. Sorenson and I talked, she kept telling me that mental illness isn't something to be ashamed about--just like you wouldn't be ashamed if you had a chronic physical illness like diabetes (I know it's probably silly, but I felt so much better when she brought up diabetes--like it reminded me of Stacey, and how well she's handled being sick, and how open she is about it). It doesn't mean you're bad or weak--it just means there's something off with your brain chemistry, and there are lots of ways to treat it.

Dr. Sorenson told me that I fit a lot of the symptoms of an anxiety disorder, but she also thought that I'd had a bunch of "unique stressors" this year. She said that some things, like moving, or a breakup, or a death in the family or something, can make you really stressed, but it doesn't have to mean there's something off with your brain chemistry. She thinks maybe I wasn't ready for high school in some ways, but she doesn't know what else we could have done--I couldn't have repeated eighth grade! So for now, I'm seeing Dr. Sorenson once a week, and just talking about what's going on in my life and what I'm worried about. Big stuff like tests and school projects, and little things like baby-sitting jobs or wondering why Adam Pike's acting so weird. Dr. Sorenson says it's a good idea for me to keep up with activities that make me happy, and to spend time with my parents and my friends. So there's no way my parents are going to pull me out of the BSC, and they're trying to spend time with me every day--and I feel like I have a good group of friends with Sara, Dani, and Nessa.

So things are going OK.

But I'm glad the school year's almost over.
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you've always been a good girl... [11 Apr 2005|08:48am]
Nerissa Nields has a book coming out! I don't know how I missed this. It's called Plastic Angel and it's coming out next month. She based it on this song "This Town Is Wrong," which is one of my favorites--it's about breaking out of the mold your family and your hometown have put you in all your life, and finding out who you really are and what you can really do. Maybe it sounds weird that I really love that song, but I do. I love my parents and my friends, and I love Stoneybrook, but I've never known anything else, really. Stoneybrook is so small, and everyone here is so similar. I remember when Becca's family moved in, and how many people were terrible to them, just because their skin was a different color. I remember times I've been teased about being "too smart"--being "Hermione." I've heard from older BSC members about the grief Logan Bruno sometimes got, for being a boy babysitter. And now Dawn says they're even thinking of closing Cabbages & Kings, the only non-"meat and potatoes" or junk food restaurant in town. Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to live somewhere else. Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to find out who I really am.

But those things seem really, really scary to me right now. So the next best thing is to read about them.
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[26 Mar 2005|11:05am]
I just got the invitation to Vanessa's sleepover. I'm more excited about this than I've been about anything in a long time. Now to convince my parents, who've been making noises about cutting down on my extra-curricular activities while we wait for the appointment with Dr. Sorenson. I think they think that stuff like BSC meetings and sitting jobs, and even hanging out with my friends, might be contributing to the stress. And I don't think they want to get another phone call from the school again.

I just can't wait until that appointment is over and I know what's going on. Even knowing for sure that I'm totally crazy is better than being so uncertain.
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[16 Mar 2005|08:43am]
Here's what's happening.

My parents and I met with the guidance counselor, Ms. Meadows, two weeks ago. And she asked me a lot of questions, and I tried hard to answer them--first, I tried to give answers that I thought wouldn't worry my parents too much, but I think she caught onto that pretty quickly, and eventually the truth came out. My parents barely said anything--they just sat there, looking shocked.

Then Ms. Meadows said she thought it would be a good idea if my parents took me for a psychiatric evaluation, to see if there was something serious going on that could be treated. Of course, my mom came back to life after that, and started talking about a colleague of hers in Stamford who specializes in adolescents with anxiety, and how it's so important that these things are evaluated and treated by professionals, because so often, teenagers are misdiagnosed or not diagnosed at all...and then I just sat there, staring at her, wondering where all of this concern and professional advice had been all year. It kind of looked like Ms. Meadows was having the same reaction--she interrupted my mom and said something about how, in the meantime, before the evaluation, it would be a really good idea for Mom and Dad to try and spend some time with me every day, and maybe we could find ways to adjust our schedules and lives so I had less stress on me. I wasn't really sure what that meant. But Mom turned bright red and looked...well, I wasn't sure what it was, because I'd never seen it on her face before. But then I figured it out. She looked guilty.

So my appointment with Mom's friend, Dr. Sorenson, is next month. And in the meantime, my parents are trying to spend time with me--my dad and I are eating breakfast and walking Carrot together in the morning, and my mom is trying to teach me how to knit. I don't know if it's making a difference in my brain yet, but it is nice to spend time with Mom and Dad.

I wonder how many other thirteen-year-olds would say that?
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[24 Feb 2005|03:29pm]
I'm so scared. I've been avoiding my journal because I don't want to write about it. I don't even want to think about it. I don't know what's wrong with me. And I don't know what's going to happen when I tell my parents tonight, and when we go see the guidance counselor together. I'm afraid they're going to say that I'm not ready for high school after all, that I should repeat ninth grade next year or go back to eighth grade for the rest of the year or something. Maybe they'd even make me go away to school, like when Mal had all those problems when she was in sixth grade. Or maybe they're going to put me in a mental hospital. I'm obviously crazy.

I'm scared I'm scared I'm scared.

I wish Carrot and I could hide in a cave.
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Is it too late to come up with New Year's resolutions? [23 Jan 2005|10:12am]
[ mood | anxious ]

1. Get over Byron Pike. He and Vanessa both made it clear that, for some reason, he can't or doesn't want to date me. This is none of my business and I have to stop thinking about it.

2. Get all A's for final grades at school. I need to prove that my parents didn't make a mistake by letting me go into high school. I shouldn't have gotten that B in math last term. I can't get any more Bs. I'm supposed to be smart.

3. Stop being such an idiot when I talk to people, especially people like Sara Hill. I'm never going to make more friends if I keep acting so stupid around everybody. When was the last time Kerry Bruno talked to me? Or Corrie Addison? I probably drove them away by acting so stupid.

4. Be elected to some kind of office in the BSC next year. Claudia Kishi was vice-president just because they used to meet in her house. Now we meet in my house. Think about it.

5. Convince my parents to let me go to one of Nerissa Nields' writing workshops this summer.

6. Get over this not-sleeping thing. I don't know what my problem is, but I need to solve it before I really do turn into a zombie.

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so this is christmas [25 Dec 2004|11:39pm]
My mother worked through Christmas.

My dad slept most of the day.

We left presents for each other at the breakfast table, but we all opened them alone. I curled up in the living room and watched White Christmas, and I made a veggie stew and peppermint tea for dinner. Then Carrot and I took a walk outside and looked at all the neighborhood Christmas lights.

That's all I feel like writing now.
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Stacey said I should... [14 Dec 2004|10:33am]
1. Charlotte
2. Char
3. ?

1. _charlottesweb_
2. charlottej
3. carrotj

1. I'm sensitive
2. I think I'm smart
3. I'm good with kids

1. I get really nervous about a lot of things
2. I'm really shy
3. I act really stupid in front of Byron Pike

1. German
2. Danish
3. That's it.

1. Boys
2. Tests
3. Making mistakes

1. Tea
2. A book to read
3. Some time by myself

1. Brown sweater
2. Blue jeans
3. One earring in each ear

1. Nerissa & Katryna Nields
2. Dar Williams
3. Vienna Teng

1. "Easy People," Nerissa & Katryna Nields
2. "The Christians and the Pagans," Dar Williams
3. an old recording my dad has of Joan Baez singing "I Wonder As I Wander." I think that's my favorite Christmas song.

1. Writing a song
2. Organizing a BSC event
3. Getting some sleep

1. Intelligence
2. Sensitivity
3. Kindness

TWO TRUTHS AND A LIE: In no particular order...
1. I don't know how to whistle
2. I used to want to be a detective when I grew up
3. I like to eat meat

1. Eyes
2. Smile
3. Hair

1. Be onstage in front of people
2. Cook without using a recipe
3. Get to sleep at night

1. Reading
2. Playing guitar
3. Taking walks with Carrot

1. Sleep
2. Sleep
3. Sleep

1. Journalist?
2. Teacher?
3. Owning a bookstore?

1. Germany
2. France
3. England

I'm thirteen years old. I'm not ready to answer this question.

1. Write something really good, that makes people think.
2. Have a best friend again. Who isn't my dog.
3. Be really, truly happy.

I don't think anyone should take this quiz if they don't want to. I just didn't have anything else to do in study hall today.
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[09 Dec 2004|01:44pm]
It's not you. Out of all of my friends, you would be the one I wouldn't mind going out with one of my siblings. It isn't that. There's something about Byron that I know about, but can't tell anyone. Let's just say that he's seeing someone. If things were different, I'd help you get together with him. I wish I could tell you why.

I'm so confused. I'm so embarrassed.

I'm so tired.

Why I Didn't Sleep Last Night, by Charlotte Theresa Johanssen [07 Dec 2004|09:42am]
[ mood | worried ]

1. Still embarrassed about the "boyfriend like Byron" thing. I don't think Tiffany's going to let me forget it.

2. Still worried about what Vanessa's "appropriate boyfriend material" comment meant. Is it because I'm her friend? Or I'm not good enough for Byron? Or does Byron hate me?

3. How long til Elizabeth convinces Sara to hate me?

4. Sitting for the Prezziosos on Friday for the first time. Can I handle Jenny and Andrea?

5. First English term paper due next week, on A Separate Peace, and I still haven't finished the book, and I don't even know why. Every time I pick it up, I freeze, and the letters all start swimming and they don't make any sense.

6. Haven't heard from Stacey in a while. Is she busy at college, or has she forgotten about me?

7. What to do about Christmas, and Christmas presents? Do I have to get something for everyone in the BSC? Anything I get for Tiffany, she'll make fun of. Same with Jordan. And what do I get for Byron?? And do I even have the money for all these presents?

8. Mom missed Thanksgiving this year, for the first time ever. Is she going to miss Christmas, too?

9. How come I can't raise my hand in class anymore? I used to be such a Hermione, and now even when I know the answer, I won't volunteer. I may be smart--at least, I used to think I was--but I'm so scared that the other kids in class just think of me as a weird little kid, and they're waiting for me to mess up so they can laugh at me.

10. I think I'm going crazy.

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freudian slip [01 Dec 2004|10:06am]
[ mood | embarrassed ]

Oh, my lord. Over on the message board, Vanessa was complaining about her brothers, and I was typing a reply about how I wouldn't mind having Byron as a brother...only instead of "brother," I typed "boyfriend." Oh, my lord. I think I'm going to throw up.

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catching up [22 Nov 2004|08:56am]
The Pikes' party was...different. Not what I expected, but in a good way. I went as Hermione from Harry Potter--kids in elementary school used to call me Hermione because I was always raising my hand in class (something I don't do much anymore). I made a fool of myself in front of Byron, of course, but he was really nice about it. Adam was acting really nice, too--maybe I've been wrong about him. One of the best parts of the night was talking to Sara Hill and finding out how sweet and fun she can be when she's not around Elizabeth. She's been talking a lot about wanting to make money--I'm almost wondering whether to ask her about joining the BSC. I don't know how good she is with kids, though, and I'm sure Elizabeth wouldn't like it.

Just a few more days til Thanksgiving. It's funny--usually I don't mind being an only child, and not even seeing my parents that much, but holidays like Thanksgiving always make me wish that we had a bigger family. Adam said something about the party, about how even though his brothers can be annoying, he can't imagine what it would be like without them. I wonder if he knows how lucky he is. How lucky they are.
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[28 Oct 2004|04:25pm]
For once, I don't have much homework. I think I'm going to make some Halloween cupcakes--chocolate, with orange frosting--as a surprise for tomorrow's BSC meeting. I hope we'll all be able to talk about taking the kids trick-or-treating, because I can't remember where and when we're supposed to meet.

It's funny--I was so scared about making friends in high school, but joining the BSC has really helped. I don't have a "best friend," but I feel comfortable with the rest of the club, and I don't worry too much about who I'll sit with at lunch, or anything like that. I'm even going to a Halloween party this weekend at the Pikes' house.

OK, I'm actually a nervous wreck about the party. It's going to be my first real high school party, and I have no idea what it will be like. Knowing that the triplets will be there is also pretty nerve-wracking--I never feel comfortable around Adam or Jordan, and I still have this stupid crush on Byron. And I still have no idea what kind of costume to wear!

Maybe some answers will come to me while I'm out walking Carrot.
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[23 Oct 2004|01:14pm]
Oh, my lord, I can't believe Homecoming is already tonight. Not that I'm going, of course. I'm sitting for Nina and Eleanor Marshall. Stacey reassured me that Homecoming wasn't as big a deal as I'd worried it was, so I decided to just skip the whole thing. I think my parents are worried that I'm not going, but once I got the sitting job, it was like I had an excuse, so it was all OK.

But still. I wonder if Byron Pike is going...

I need to snap out of this.
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