Twenty years is a long time. It’s time enough to live a full chapter of life: to start a career and end it, to raise a child, to get fed up completely with society and move to the countryside and cultivate a witchy reputation that is at once feared and admired. Twenty years is long enough to get to know yourself, drift apart, and come together again like any tragic love story. Twenty years is long enough to fall in love with your best friend a little bit more every day until the two of you are more easily recognized as a pair than as individuals. It is an endless blessing in my life to count Harriet as my best friend.
This blog has seen a lot of me. More than that, it’s seen a lot of my work. Over the last four or five years, I’ve written hundreds of pages in the way of essays, poems, operas, spoken word albums, obituaries, short stories, and novels. Every line, every word has been a real piece of me, a real piece that I place in a basket and send down the river hoping that it will arrive to some distant shore. I’m never really sure what I hope to happen after that. I don’t have many expectations for my words (letting go of outcomes is a mental shift I’ve been trying to make for awhile, to varying degrees of success), save one: I hope they do good.
Maintaining motivation is hard. I was recently diagnosed with ADHD, and it sort of put my whole life into perspective. The diagnosis doesn't really change how I feel about myself, but is more of a "huh, I learned how to cope really well" sorta thing. Pandemic time threw all of my skills right out the window because there was no structure to my day other than wake up, walk dog, turn on computer. I've always been the sort of person who has needed a jam-packed schedule to keep all systems functioning at average speed. Now that this new normal (hate that term) is on the horizon, it looks like life will shift again. And I'm wondering, how will it go?
Writing every day used to come easily. Once, a professor asked my class who there wrote every day. No one raised their hand but me, and he told me I was full of shit. Back in those days, I was full of shit for a bunch of different reasons but lying about writing every day wasn’t one of them. Despite my daily practice, it took me seven years to complete a book about the French Revolution that I’m still not happy with. It took years to realize that writing every day is a practice dedicated to its own perpetuation, like jogging. After moving to Boston, without the external expectation of school or a big project, the daily practice was pushed to the wayside in favor of work and friends. My writing muscles got flabby. Very flabby.
Let's get the cliché out of the way now: It's been a long year. Like, a really long year. As someone who is very comfortable at home, man was lockdown hard. About midway through it, I found myself restless and irritable and certain that nothing was never going to change. Anxiety attacks were making a more consistent appearance in my days. When I talked about it with my therapist, she asked me what I did throughout a typical year. After thinking about it for a minute, I said that I normally went on several domestic and one or two international vacations a year. In that time, I typically had a lot of revelations about myself and wrote a lot. So, in that light, the anxiety isn't fear so much as is claustrophobia. For the last year and a half, I've been trying to shed my skin but haven't had the room. Now, though, as the world begins to open to vaccinated people, it feels like it might be time to molt.
A lot can be said for living with your landlord. My landlords care a lot about their property, but they also care a lot about me. That much is evident in the upstairs bathroom’s new herringbone tile, fresh baseboards, newly installed wall heater, and drafts that have been filled and sanded smoothed. The kitchen has a new sink, updated plumbing, garbage disposal, recessed lighting. The first-floor’s black ceiling has been painted white, transforming the space from man cave to coffeehouse. When we find some tall enough bar stools, we’ll have to start saving for an industrial espresso machine. Not that you gotta twist my arm about that.
I need to write something. It needs to be 500 words. It needs to be posted today. At first, I was going to post a poem because I have lots of poems stored in the archives, but then I decided that would be cheating. So, here we are at the edge of burnout. This week marks one year in quarantine. One year of sitting in my bedroom, day after day: wake up, walk the dog, work, eat, work, walk the dog, work, walk the dog, eat, scroll, sleep. Intersperse that with some major dissociative episodes kicked off by mindlessly checking social media, and you’ll have a good idea of what this pandemic has looked like for me. It’s probably been the same for you, too. Or maybe you’re one of those people who had the personal strength to get super into CrossFit and cut carbs out of your diet for good. If you are one of those people, good for you. I am not.
It’s a new year, and I am reflecting on the nature of my relationship with creativity. I’m learning to fall in love with reading again in the hopes that it will lead me back to writing. That was the case for me when I was younger. I read so much that the words tumbled out onto my own page with relative ease. Of course, writing and reading were both coping mechanisms for a rather gentle-natured child who did her best to handle the emotions of those around her. In any case, we are approaching the first anniversary of the Bug Eyes recording, which was released in November to surprising success. I say surprising not because the album isn’t good but because I am not as familiar with the feeling of success as I’d like to be.
Last year I ended things by asking 2020 to be gentler with all of us. I read that this morning and I laughed. And laughed. And laughed. I laughed until my sides hurt. I laughed until tears streamed down my cheeks. I laughed until I started coughing. I stopped laughing because many of my family members are sick right now, but I'm not. A lot of my friends are out of work right now, but I'm not. A lot of people are struggling to make ends meet, but I'm not. There's a lot that I have to be grateful for right now. At the same time, I know that it is unhealthy to force myself into an optimistic mindset just because of my fortunate circumstances. And because this blog is based in truth, I have to tell you that I'm tired. No, I'm weary.
I’ve resolved to be more prolific, like the old days when writing every day wasn’t such a chore. Hard to say what that looks like, but I think sticking to some sort of posting schedule is probably the way to go. This year has been hard in more ways than one and getting myself to work has sometimes been impossible. Despite what my therapist says, I don’t want to use the pandemic as an excuse to not write. 2020 will not crush me, I won’t allow it.