I’ve been staring at this blank blog post entry for two hours.
I’ve been sitting in perfect silence in my new apartment, my desk and the floor around it still littered with things I have not yet put in their proper places. A package of AA batteries (an off brand, because I didn’t want to spring for Duracell). Crumpled receipts. A stack of scripts. A bird cage with a plastic dinosaur inside. A half eaten Luna bar.
Okay. So my desk usually looks like this. But I still can’t help this tug and pull feeling that I’m stuck and in transition at the same time.
Like a paradox or a catch 22 or an oxymoron. One of those.
I get bored and start staring at my Facebook newsfeed instead. More things I haven’t yet qualified. Babies. Weddings. Artists promoting their wares. Invites to events I’ll never attend. Pictures of cats with witty though misspelled tag lines. Pregnancy updates. More weddings. Theater reviews. Articles debating the relevancy of theater reviews and theater itself. Book reviews. Articles debating the relevancy of books and literature as we know it. More cats. Puppies. Memes with awkward penguins. Headshots. Videos. More headshots. More puppies.
And I start to feel queasy. So I close it.
I stare at the blank page some more. I don’t realize it, but this is the reality of a literary life.
Last month was one of the most difficult, emotionally taxing months I’ve had in a while, since the month leading up to and just after the opening of 99 Impossible Things. I say this with several grains of salt already on my tongue; there are plenty, many of whom I know personally, who are dealing with sickness and loss and other hardships I am grateful I do not have to struggle through quite yet. I must constantly remind myself that most problems are not real problems. Most problems are ones you create on your own out of fear or boredom. You know a real problem when it hits you.
These people are probably those I have neglected over the last month as I’ve been simmering in a pool of acid of my own creation. And for that I’m sorry.
Expectations and demands of several jobs, The Theory of Silence and Hurricane Season (two projects that were not going particularly smoothly at the time), a birthday that makes me officially “late-twenties” and moving apartments all came together, like winds from the four corners of the world creating a tornado inside me.
Life became work.
I woke up and went to work. I fell asleep trying to finish work.
I lived in limbo for about two weeks, hovering in the air between apartments. I cried often and usually in violent bursts over silly things.
I resented everything. Emails. Snarky comments. More emails.
I felt myself burning out.
And now I’m just left with the debris on my desk and my Facebook newsfeed.
And I try to explain what I learned over the last month. Hell, over the last year, since everything leading up from last January was building to a near breakdown this spring. But I end up staring at the screen for two hours writing nothing because I can’t explain exactly what I’m beginning to understand, what last month’s hurricane taught me about building better storm drains in my life. But you see? I give it a try and I end up with terrible metaphors.
I’ll try to avoid metaphors.
There were two days last month that felt perfect in every way. And they had nothing to do with to-do lists or my ambitions or work or notoriety.
First was May 20. That day I ran/walked a half marathon is 3 hours and 12 minutes. A good time for me. I did it alone, with no one else to push me. Old men ran past me. My ankle nearly froze up at the finish line. I looked pudgy and frightful and awkward. But nothing else I had to do mattered. I was completely free and focused on my goal. Parts of those 13 miles were very hard. Some where downright painful. But there were endless strangers on the sidelines cheering me on, handing me water when I was thirsty. I had friends waiting for me at the finish. And I had pancakes after.
Second was my birthday, May 22. I was on the beach by myself for an extended period of time, long enough to burn my back (again). Sand was all over my body. I felt the water cold against my legs and seaweed got tangled around my toes. I read a book. I listened to Neil Gaiman give a graduation speech on the Youtube app on my phone and was inspired. I felt new.
The two things those days had in common: focus and quiet and a sense of community while not giving a fuck what I looked like or what people thought about my work/accomplishments/activities. Breathing.
So what I learned, what has now taken me nearly three hours to write: My priority should be to recreate those days as often as possible. Focus. Community. Breathing. Not giving a fuck.
There’s life for ya.
Otherwise I’m just a plastic elephant balancing other people’s baggage, blending into the background while everyone else builds the life they want.
Sorry, I know I promised about the metaphors. But I had to explain the picture didn’t I?
As of now, I’m still feeling the nagging tug and pull of a life in transition, even though right now I’m very much that elephant stuck in the store window trying not to make a fool of herself. But the transition has started. And now, thanks to May, I have my mantra:
Focus. Community. Breathing. Not giving a fuck.