I told this story a few years ago. It’s a long one. But Making Stuff asked me to post it again so here it is. Hope you enjoy.
We always intended our forays into Christmas caroling to be idyllic, in an innocent, 1950’s kind of way. We had good intentions. We had the parkas and the rubber boots and the off key voices. We just didn’t have the right amount of Wally and the Beaver in us to pull it off correctly.
Our trudging through the neighborhood was not quiet at all. We were like a pack of rabid dogs who turned on each other. Lori wanted to stand in front all the time because she thought - mistakenly - that she had a beautiful singing voice. She was the only one who couldn’t hear that her whispery vocal stylings sounded more like helium escaping from a balloon than Roberta Flack (Lori’s rendition of Killing Me Softly was to die for. Literally). So Lori would run up ahead of us, trying to gain the coveted spot of bell-ringer and first soprano. The boys would pelt her with snowballs as she ran ahead and more often than not, Lori would end up face down in a foot of snow, crying that we were just jealous of her.
Gross. on Flickr.
Sitting here in the early morning darkness, just me, one of the dogs and the local news. It’s nice and quiet, the way I like to start my mornings. The weather portion of the news starts up and they’re talking snow just in time for my commute, snow possibly all day, making the commute back home treacherous.
I used to freak out about things like this. I’m not particularly fond of driving in bad weather, mostly because my car is on its last legs, partly because people around here drive like idiots. But I noticed that I’m not having heart palpitations over this. I’m not doing my usual “what if” scenarios. And now that I think about it, I haven’t had one of my “what if” freak outs in a while. I think I finally found the right combo of meds that are keeping my brain from going wild.
It’s such a weird feeling, to have a “normal” reaction to a situation that would normally give me anxiety. I think about the other things in my life that are giving my anxiety and I realize I’m not in my usual “sky is falling” mode. I’ve taken a “this too shall pass” attitude.
Like I said, it’s weird. I’m not used to being so rational. Sure, I worry. I worry in normal doses though, I think. I worry the way anyone would worry about things I’m worrying about. But the fact that I’m not hand-wringing, crying, popping Xanax (haven’t taken one in weeks), the fact that my hands are not shaking from anxiety, it’s like a little Christmas miracle.
I’ll deal with my snowy drive like a rational human being. I’ll handle the other situations in my life with what feels like ease. I’ll worry in small doses, remember that everything is temporary and there’s an end in sight to problems and keep my head above water.
It feels good to be rational. But weird.
Better living through chemistry, or have I just learned how to deal better with the crap life throws at us? Or maybe it’s a little of both.
Either way, I’ll take it. It’s making a big difference in the way I approach life. Each day has possibilities. Each day is a new beginning. Get through life one day at a time. That sounds like a chore to some people, but it’s what is working for me.
Today is another day. Let’s make it a good, anxiety-free one.
Invisible Child: Dasaniâs Homeless Life -
There are more than 22,000 homeless children in New York, the highest number since the Great Depression. This is one of their stories.
‘Old College Try’ by The Mountain Goats is my new jam.
That’s what’s going on in the writer’s part of my brain right now. Nothing. The other parts of my brain, the places where I keep anxieties and fears and irrational thoughts, those parts are swimming with ghastly ideas. But the writing part of my head?
It’s been months. About four of them. Four long months of minimal output. I can’t even piece together a blog post, let alone something I’d pitch to a magazine or website. It’s not even that I can’t write about the ideas I have, it’s that I don’t even have any ideas. All those other things that used to keep me from sending out stories or essays or articles - pitching, fear of rejection, cover letters, not knowing where to send my stuff - they have all been conquered. I know how to pitch. I have a cover letter. I have a list of sites that accept pitches/submissions. I’ve made peace with rejection letters. I just don’t have anything. I search my brain.
I’m spending a lot of time on the novel. I’m in the editing/rewriting process, working mostly on structure and mythology. It’s work. It’s hard work, sometimes frustrating work. There’s little creativity involved, which is a good thing, as I seem to be running low on that particular thing.
I lay awake at night trying to come up with words. I wake up at 3am thinking about things to write. I get up at 4:30 and stare at a blank page. I go through my days feeling frustrated and inept. I’m a writer. I should be writing. But I think my problem is not the nothing. It’s the some things.
There are too many other things in my head keeping me from writing. They are keeping me from my usual thought process, blocking the creativity, holding back the words. Because I’m not writing about those things - I just don’t want to - I’m unable to write about anything else. Bottlenecked, as it were.
That’s what’s on the new page I opened up in Scrivener. It’s what’s been there for months. Sometimes a few words will appear but then the backspace happens and the page goes blank again. That page has become my nemesis and I mean to vanquish it but I just don’t have the weapons for this fight right now.
I have to discard all that other stuff before the words will flow again. But there’s a part of me that’s afraid. Afraid that if I finally let loose with all the other stuff in my head - even if I just write it for myself - I’ll find out that those things were not the cause of my writer’s block. That I’ll still have nothing. That the well has run dry.
So I sit here instead and write a bunch of words about not being able to write. And continue to stare at that white page of nothing as if I had something to give it to bring it to life.
I wrote this, so that’s something. But it still feels an awful lot like nothing.
My mother sometimes has a hard time getting her point across in email.
Also, I don’t think she “gets” Todd.
Someone got a haircut yesterday. on Flickr.