Tuesday, day 2

I got one step closer today – I got home from work, went straight to the office, opened the laptop, pulled out my hard drive, oh wait picked up the cat bc she was feeling needy, pet and held the cat for a few mins, took excessive pictures of the cat (I am worse than a first time mother OMG SHE IS SITTING I LOVE WHEN SHE SITS), plugged in my hard drive, and very nearly opened my manuscript.

Nah, fuck it, I’m going to open it now. The time is 5:35PM.

14 MINUTES LATER –

It is now 5:49PM, and I successfully wrote a little bit in my manuscript – just a couple tweaks here and there.

BUT, success! Maybe tomorrow I can crack open my notes and see what I had been planning back in January.

On to tomorrow…

Hello, Dave.

I’ve been actively avoiding anything regarding writing since March February January December 2019. If I have sat down to get some pages down, I struggle. 5 words in, I’ll open solitare (I never win). Then, I’ll write 4 more words. Then, I’ll open some wedding dress tabs (I’m not getting married). Then, it’s time to do something else, like go the grocery store bitterly complaining that I could be home writing and then come home and sit on the bed with the cat on my phone complaining that I should be writing and why don’t I ever have time to just sit and write why is the world against me??

A few weeks ago, we moved from our beautiful, itty bitty, exposed brick, wood beam, golden hour filled one bedroom apartment, and into a beautiful little terrace house with a real kitchen, a back court yard, so many more rooms and ceiling fans and – shock – a second bedroom that we could use as a study.

i.e. I would have a place to write that would be bigger than 130cm x 75cm and that wouldn’t be parked right next to the cat’s litter box.

i.e. I could get a bigger desk. A more supportive chair. I could spread out. I could have privacy. I could have space.

i.e. And I’m not working 10 hour days anymore, so I can come home at 4:45PM and write until Joel comes home, and I don’t bring work home on the weekends anymore, so I can set aside time to write as well.

i.e. I would soon run out of excuses as to why I’m not writing.

Alas, here we are. And here I am, twiddling my thumbs and wondering what excuse I’m going to come up wiht now.

I’m tired. But I’m always tired. I was tired when I wrote my novella. I was tired when I wrote all those plays. I was tired when I was writing like crazy right after college.

I’m busy. LOL. Unless I’m on the clock for my day job, there is usually nothing I’m doing that’s so important it can’t be postponed by like 1 hour so I can work.

I’m scared. Hey – look at that, a legitimate excuse.

About 5 days after we moved in, I came home from work and decided to unpack my desk, and set it up for writing. I had to psyche myself up for it, and promise myself a special treat if I just went and worked in there for a little bit. Like, that’s how little I wanted to be involved in something that would remind me that I’m avoiding what I’m supposed to love like it’s the plague* it’s the dentist. So I set my desk up, took heaps of “BEFORE!” and “AFTER!” pictures to post on Instagram to show how productive and awesome I’m going to be, and then I left.

And I haven’t been back until today, when I took a sick day to rest, and early this morning thought “hey I should try and write a little bit, since I’ll be home by myself.” And I put it off until 4PM.

Writing is like the big black monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey just following me around whenever I have spare time. And I am like the antsy ape standing at the base, angrily tossing bones and sticks at it, trying to shoo it away while at the same time being drawn to it, because I have a feeling it’ll do me some good, and trying to duck and hide from the horrifying guttural cries of the Swedish choral group moaning around me.

Every day after work, when I come upstairs to change (like Mr Rodgers, I change from my ‘hard pants’ into my ‘soft pants’ and from my ‘work sweater’ to my ‘house sweater’ ((which is actually a different work sweater not appearing at work this month)) and emerge from the bedroom in my true form: Potato.

And as I head back downstairs to decompress by staring into the same phone I already stared at for 60mins+ while coming home, I pass my study. There the Monolith stands. Black, so Black. To quote Nigel from Spinal Tap, It can’t get any blacker. If the question was, how much more black could this be, the answer would be: none. I can see into it, I can see into its void. It’s glinty. It looks like it would be soft and cool, like the misting aisles at summer amusement parks.

I want to go in, I want to try and touch it, but instead feel my arm go all the way through it, I want to fall in and spend hours on the computer, straining my eyes doing something I want. I want that all consuming, can’t wait to come back to this manuscript and play around some more feeling. I want to evolve into that starchild floating above the bed, but instead of staring into nothing while contemplating the complete knowledge of everything, I’d be typing on my celestial, embryotic laptop, scaring the shit out of Joel and Pancake.

But I don’t go in. I ignore it. I walk downstairs and think “eh, maybe this weekend.” Because I’m worried that I’ll see the Monolith, I’ll walk into the room, I’ll touch it, and it’s just going to be a dumb, muted black wall and I will fall, not into it, but against it, and stub my toe. And I’ll get pissy and dejected and I won’t want to come back ever again.

And I repeat this. Over and over again. And nothing changes. Not even my level of self-punishment gets worse. And the HILARIOUS part is, I’ve made this kind of entry so many times now, that it’s basically my speciality.

“Oh you’re a writer! What do you write?”

“Excessively self-defeating essays on why I don’t write, and how I’m going to really start writing this week, and oh, I put out a whole series where I say I’m going to put my progress online so people can hold me accountable — but spoiler alert, I don’t stick to it, and no one holds me accountable because I let so much time go by that the time I mention I’m going to write again, they’ve already forgotten that I wrote in the first place!”

“Right.”

So what’s the deal, Potato? Why are you so afraid of possibly becoming au gratin when you hoped you’d become hasselback? You’d still eat au gratin. It’s not the worst thing. Look at you go today, you sat down, completely unsure of what to write, and you’ve come up with a 2001 metaphor that makes you chuckle. That’s a good start!

Note to self: Not every session is going to be successful and on fire; somedays you will literally do nothing. Try not to hate yourself.

Note to self: Saying I will do this by this date means you will NOT do this by this date.

Note to self: Imagine what would happen if you work as hard for yourself as you do for other people.

Note to self: if you keep consistent for 7 days, you can treat yourself to one sweater you don’t need. Oh, you already bought that treat? Ok, well now you have to work it off. Debts and credits, you definitely know those inside and out.

You can do this. You can become the celestial potato that the weird alien/Jesus monolith knows you can be. And now it’s 5:30 – you did it! So now, go do some house stuff before Joel comes home. And feel good about yourself, ok?

Over this shit, how ’bout you?

Alright folks, all together now please recite the biggest understatement of the year: “2020 has been an absolute shit show.”

Everyone is feeling the struggle. Shit has been hard. Since FEBRUARY.

As I headed out of the mind-fuck that was April and into May, work from home was hitting a good rhythm, and I was dangerously close to relaxing into the “new normal.” Our COVID numbers were starting to decline, restrictions were easing up, and there was even talk of returning to work at the end of June. My therapist went on maternity leave at the end of May, and in our last session when she asked if I wanted to set up some sessions with someone else while she was away, I was all “naaah I feel good, I got this.” And we laughed uproariously and shared a Zoom high-5 and the screen froze and we rolled to credits and the next scene was 2021 and shit was all good.

Except that didn’t happen – June happened and shit wasn’t all good.

Continue reading “Over this shit, how ’bout you?”

Black Lives Matter

I don’t know how to say what I want to say.

I want to acknowledge that I have no perspective from which to write about this. Being born into a white, middle class family with married, sober parents afforded me protection and a luxury I have always taken for granted. I had a car and a cell phone at 16, I rode horses as a hobby, and the only prejudices I have ever faced have been based on my uterus or the fact that my parents weren’t in the 1%. I don’t know what it’s like to be a person of colour. I don’t know the struggle. I don’t know the fear. I don’t know the anguish of hundreds of years of entrenched racism and inherited disadvantages.

But it angers me. And I want to change it.

My grandparents grew up in mid-west America where people of colour weren’t considered people – segregation, KKK, and lynchings were common and accepted. My parents grew up in an America of changing values – they were small children when the last of the Jim Crow laws were finally abolished, but still raised by parents who were adjusting to the changes. My siblings and I grew up in an America that was much more removed from our grandparent’s – but it was still changing. We grew up with our parents and our teachers who urged us to treat everyone with respect and fairness regardless of their skin colour, who taught us about the cruelty of slavery and the one most offensive word we could never say. We grew up seeing everyone as equal – confused as to why racist people were racist, and why racism was still a thing. We learned that some older people – such as our less informed mountain people family members – came from a “different time” and that it was ok to brush it off when these otherwise good older people said inappropriate things. “From a different Time” became a reasonable pass for mild racist behaviour. “That’s just the way they thought back then, but it’s ok because they’re not racist.”

I never thought about the difference between “not racist” and “anti-racist” before last week. I’ve been sitting with what these terms mean, and what it means in terms of my behaviour, how I think, how I act. I say I’m not racist, and I believe I’m not racist – there’s not a part of me that would condemn someone based on the colour of their skin. It’s simply not the way I’m wired. But I haven’t been acting as an anti-racist, and I see that now. We lived in the South for most of my childhood, and racism was prevalent. I knew racism was bad and made me uncomfortable, and I then learned how to not be racist because I saw racism happening. I learned to condemn bad behaviour. But, hand in hand with that, I learned how to rationalise and apologise for “innocent” racism – from others and from myself. I laughed at jokes — It’s ok I laugh at jokes about white people too. I’ve given a wide berth on the sidewalk to someone in a big hooded sweatshirt – It’s ok, I wouldn’t walk close to any man in a big hooded sweatshirt. I’ve listened to elderly family members saying disparaging things and didn’t say anything — It’s ok, he’s from a different time period, and I was too young and scared to say anything.

So yeah. I’m not a racist. But my silence and excuses and inaction have contributed to systemic racism. And I own up to that. I’m a part of the “I hope something changes soon”/”I voted for Obama twice and donated once to the ACLU in 2016 and posted a couple of memes so I’m helping” self-serving pat on the back crowd who sits back, justified in their inaction.

But I don’t want to be that person anymore. Change starts at home, it starts within. And if I want to stop feeling horrified and enraged about what’s happening to people of colour, I have to change how I react when I see racism happening. I have to turn that reaction into action. I have to help where I can – with my votes, with my dollars, with my voice to extinguish racism where I see or hear it. While I can’t make up for hundreds of years of abysmal behaviour, I can do my part to try. This is not ‘virtue signalling.’ This me acknowledging that I haven’t been the best, and I can and want to do better.

My nieces and nephews, and my friend’s children are growing up in a time where Black Americans are empowered and rising up against the systemic racism that has been marginalising them. I feel like this is our time to change our culture for the better. To use our votes to remove racist, hate mongering, fear cultivating egomaniacs from positions of power, and to fight for lawmakers who give Black Americans and people of colour the voice, the chances, and ALL the opportunities that white Americans have.

Black lives matter. Past, present, and future. And I stand with them.

Be Gentle with Yourself

I was talking to my friend Kristin today about getting stuck in the void of isolation – I’m at day 26 of lock down and I’ve really started to notice how the days are all blending into one. Wake up, breakfast, work, lunch, work, walk, grocery store, dinner, chores, relax, bed, repeat. And how much of an emotional roller coaster it is — one hour it’s fine and suddenly you’re bottomed out under the weight of misplaced existential dread and your place in the suffering Olympics, and in a few hours its fine again. It can be tough (yes, this blog is about First World Problems, let’s get that out of the way). Continue reading “Be Gentle with Yourself”

What a Time to be Alive

Remember the phrase “March comes in like a lion, but goes out like a lamb”? People in the States said it all the time, because the beginning of Spring – March – usually has heaps of storms and crazy temperature changes, but April is supposedly¬†the start of the “beautiful months” (If you’re into everything blooming and plants spooging pollen everywhere – I much prefer Fall when everything dies and I can stop blowing my nose and overdosing on anti-histamines). I could say this phrase applies to March 2020. But I could also say March came in like a Sherman Tank and left like a pack of angry terminators in 1996.

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actual depiction of March 22-31

But seriously. Continue reading “What a Time to be Alive”

Mac n cheese n memories

*this post brought to you by Distracting Yourself From the Growing Global Shitstorm*

Every time I make Mac n Cheese (the blue box, powered only – in a choice between chemical poisons, I’d rather have powdered cheese than that petroleum laden orange squeeze cheese from the packet. I have firmly held beliefs on my white trash food), I have the same two thoughts: Continue reading “Mac n cheese n memories”