awkward mermaid

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awkward mermaid is an online safe place for writers regarding mental illness. Think of us as a place where magic and mental illness can coexist. Brand new millennial and mental health online literary magazine accepting fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and art.



Let me tell you a story about recovery.


It starts like this: six years ago, I lost everything.  I lost my friends and I lost my romantic relationship. I lost my job; I very nearly lost my life. I spent my childhood, adolescence, and early twenties preparing for a career as a classical musician and just when it was within my grasp, I lost that, too. Six years ago, my lifelong battle with an eating disorder reached a frightening and costly zenith.


There, at the intersection of inevitable death and a last call for continued life, I chose the latter. I checked myself in to The Emily Program in St. Paul, Minnesota. Over the course of the subsequent year, I worked hard through hours of therapy, supported meals, and hospital stays. After 11 months at The Emily Program and with the blessing of my treatment team, I packed my things and moved to New Orleans to start a “vita nuova,” and, incidentally, my MFA in poetry.


Before I could even unpack the few belongings I brought with me, I sat cross-legged on the floor of my teeny tiny Bayou St. John apartment and made a list, The List: Things I Will Never Do Because to Do Them Would Compromise My Recovery. The List’s numbered items included things like go running and count calories and skip meals and join a gym. The List was a protective measure: my recovery was like a newborn. It lacked language and it was fragile and I was its caretaker and The List I made baby-proofed a world of temptations and their dangers.


Year after year went by. I referenced The List. I moved in and out of relationships. I referenced The List. I moved in and out of apartments. I referenced The List. I finished my MFA and spent a few months as ghost writer for a local celebrity. I referenced The List. I got jobs, quit jobs, and finally found fulfillment and a living wage in my current work. Recently, I referenced The List but somewhere along the line, it seemed, The List had diminished.


Every so often, I go for a run through Crescent Park. Sometimes, I get busy and forget to pack my lunch. Sometimes, I’m running late in the morning and don’t have time for breakfast. Sometimes, I balk at the number of calories in a package of yogurt-covered pretzels (regardless, they are delicious, y’all). Sometimes, I do all of these things and, six years into my recovery, I’m happy to tell you that they really no longer phase me. The List, such as it is, has but one remaining entry.


Join. A. Gym.


I never considered myself a “gym” person (in fairness, this is largely because I never had enough of a monthly income to even consider the extra expense of a membership). But, regardless of any fitness-forward self-identification I might have lacked, I simply never thought I would be able to join a gym. During my eating disorder’s most active years, I used exercise as a metric to determine how much and how often and even if I deserved to eat. So yes. “Join a gym” is on The List.


Maybe it was the heat and maybe it was the reverse S.A.D. to which New Orleanians succumb during the month of August (it has been so hot for so long when will it ever not be hot where is it not hot?!) but I decided I (and my living wage) would challenge the last entry on that damned List. I decided that I would both attend my terror at relapse while trusting my strength in recovery. I joined a gym.


That was a few weeks ago and it has been just fine. Worlds have not collapsed and I have not stopped eating. I have not been hospitalized and I do not use the amount of time I spend at the gym to determine how much I am allowed to eat when I get home. I still have my job and I have a happy hour date with a friend planned for this weekend. I wrote a poem yesterday and I’m meeting my boyfriend for dinner tonight. And, I go to the gym three or four days a week for yoga class and a few cycles on the elliptical machine.


To notice how little I have thought of The List in the last several years; to be able to challenge its remaining directive is to recognize how far I’ve come in my recovery. More than that, I hope it is a recognition of how far we can all come in the wake of a battle with an eating disorder or an addiction or destructive patterns of behavior.


Six years ago when I was in treatment at The Emily Program, I often attended the “recovery talks” given by former clients. With shades of rancor, I listened to their stories; I was bitter and longing and certain that I would never find a similar path to recovery. These women were healthy, they were beautiful, they were happy. These women had jobs and relationships and passions. These women may have had gym memberships because, when it is not an obsession or a function of self-destruction, maintaining physical fitness can actually make a person feel good. These women were so very much.


Today, I assessed my first few weeks of gym membership. I referenced The List, only to find is palimpsest. Face-first into this new void, I felt as I always imagined those healthy, beautiful, happy women with jobs and relationships and passions may have felt. The day I joined a gym I reduced The List to a blank page ready to be re-written with the endless possibilities of recovery.

DIY MERMAID HAIR CLIP, By: Carolyn Emogene Brown

You will need:

●      A crafting starfish

●      Acrylic paint (Ex: metallic acrylic paint by Craft Smart in “pearl.”)

●      Paintbrushes

●      Iridescent glitter paint (Ex: glitter paint by Craft Smart in “crystal.”)

●      E6000 glue

●      Scissors

●      Toothpicks

●      Swarovski crystals

●      Tweezers

●      Faux pearls

●      Hot glue sticks

●      A hot glue gun

●      A small metal alligator clip

●      Felt


  1. Paint at least three layers of acrylic paint onto your starfish. It’s good to work in thin layers and to give each layer some time to dry.

  2. After the base coats are dry, paint on at least three layers of glitter paint. Craft Smart glitter paint will dry clear and leave sparkle.

  3. After the glitter paint is dry, open your E6000 glue bottle with scissors. Grab tiny  dollops of glue with a toothpick and place them onto your starfish. Use a pair of tweezers to set the Swarovski crystals onto the small dots of glue. (Don’t touch the starfish for at least ten minutes so that the glue can form a bond. It takes at least twenty-four hours for the glue to cure. You should be okay to keep working if you leave the starfish alone for an hour.)

  4. Place faux pearls on your starfish with dollops of hot glue.

  5. Cut out a small piece of felt and use it to cover the backing of a metal alligator clip. Use a generous amount of hot glue to set them in place.

  6. There you have it! Now you can be the envy of all.

IMG_8248 (1).JPG

Carolyn Emogene Brown runs Iris Daughter Cosplay and she is a princess performer.



(Spoiler alert – I’m so behind on having a real life, probably one of the last people to see this film.  In case you haven’t and you plan to, there are plot points of Jurassic World:  Fallen Kingdom discussed in this column as well as non explicit references to child abuse, so consider yourself both spoiler alerted & content warned.)

Jurassic Park is my adolescence – which like everything in my life was in some aspects hastened and delayed at the whims of my parents.  I knew secret adult things I shouldn’t very young.  At the same time, I was forbidden to date (or even sleepover at many girls’ houses) until I was an adult.  My skirt length was prescribed (long below the knee), television viewing habits  (no Simpsons, MTV or Facts of Life) and no R-rated movies.  PG-13 was okay, especially if it was rated so (not for blasphemous bare naked female flesh) because of killing.  

Killing is appropriate entertainment.  

So I went to see Jurassic Park several times while I still lived in my parents’ home.  

There’s an echoed dialogue in those films, differing characters repeating the paraphrased sentiment of “do you remember when you first saw a dinosaur?”  And I do on that big screen, one of the movies you just cannot imagine a person not watching in the inflated grandeur of a cineplex – to feel the epic-ness of the natural world reduce us to our simplest primitive essence in a dark room full of strangers.

Last night, I went to the fourth installment Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.  

(*This is not a movie review or an in-depth discussion of plot points, their failings et cetera.  I went because I wanted to feel awe in a man-made primitive sanctuary of artificial night with beasts and a bunch of strangers who don’t see me.  In that sense, it was magnificent.*)

And then I saw myself on that screen, and I figured out why I love these movies so much.

I wasn’t a stegosaurus or a velociraptor.  I was Maisie Lockwood, a little girl who, as the movie develops, we learn was not born at all but created in a lab – a clone of her dead mother created to appease the grief of a father she is raised to believe is her grandfather.  Maisie, having discovered this truth about her creation, has the ability to choose between the human species and the dinosaurs at a critical point in the film.  She can kill all the remaining dinosaurs or unleash them on mankind.  It all comes down to one button.

Maisie chooses the dinosaurs.  They are like her, cloned, deemed “less than” by humanity – assets used to sate unfulfilled desires.  

It’s how I felt my entire adolescence.  I was created to live someone’s else religion, repressed sexual desires.   Many traits of my personality, writing, my womanchildness, my fetishes were manufactured by an environment that I distance myself from and despise.  Yet, it shaped me.  I took these details in my own direction.  I escaped like the dinosaurs did, with the help of their cloned little ally.  But I have spent countless hours in therapy trying to change parts of myself that are programmed/conditioned inside me only to ultimately realize that I am who I am, and I must accept that. I will always be a womanchild, a little stunted inside, seeking a father I emotionally didn’t really have, and I just need to go about that in the most healthy way possible.

The Jurassic Park movies question the ethics of genetic science: The fact that we can doesn’t necessarily mean that we should.   

I think this is equally applicable to parenting itself: because we can make a child, should we simply do so?  Should we consider our motives for wanting to procreate, to bring a child in the world?  Should we ask ourselves what our intentions truly are regarding raising/training another human being, the risks involved?  

Obviously, we should, and many do.  Many don’t. And for those of us raised in situations where we were commodities, controlled, used and abused without acknowledgement of our humanity, it’s no wonder we feel disconnected from, said, humanity. It’s why I have found peace in a move to the woods, where I am alone a lot and don’t see my neighbors.  I don’t go out a lot. It takes me months to go see a summer hit movie.  I did though, and sitting there looking into a pre-teen’s projected eyes, I saw the lab experiment that was my childhood.  I felt the otherness and objectification that these animals and this designed child felt.  As the movie progressed, I watched this young girl evolve to the point of recognizing her otherness and choosing the dinosaurs.  

I feel you, Maisie.  Many days, I choose them, too.  


(me dressed to go see Jurassic World:  Fallen Kingdom)

(me dressed to go see Jurassic World:  Fallen Kingdom)

Kristin Garth is a poet from Pensacola and a sonnet stalker.  Her sonnets have stalked magazines like Five: 2: One, Glass, Anti-Heroin Chic, Occulum, Luna Luna, Yes, Former Cactus and many more.  Her chapbook Pink Plastic House is available from Maverick Duck Press, and she has two forthcoming: Pensacola Girls (Bone & Ink Press, Sept 2018) and Shakespeare for Sociopaths (The Hedgehog Poetry Press Jan 2019).  She also has a full length forthcoming Candy Cigarette from (The Hedgehog Poetry Press April 2019). Follow her on Twitter: (@lolaandjolie), her weekly poetry column ( and her website (

Lit-Inspired Favorites from Modcloth

Who does't love a literary inspired outfit or accessory? (Seriously, tell us who doesn't and we will track them down and change their ways). Modcloth has recently been pretty spectacular in this area, so we wanted to highlight some of Awkward Mermaid's favorite pieces. 

Do you have any favorite literary inspired looks? Comment below!

Awkward Mermaid's Inaugural Post is about, well, Mermaids

We love mermaids, so why not make a blog series featuring our favorite mermaid stuff? Duh. Below you'll find PART ONE of our "MERMAID MUSTS" posts. Enjoy! And comment below if you have any of your own favorite fishy findings. 

  1. MODCLOTH Unprecedented Panache Midi Dress in Mermaids: found here

  2. FIZZ CREATIONS Mermaid Mood Lamp: found here

  3. ASOS Mermaid Clamshell Hand Cream: found here

  4. GIFT REPUBLIC Holographic Mermaid Beer Bottle Opener: found here