This last week and a half was weird. I did my morning pages, or tried to. Some days I only got a page and a half or two in instead of the expected three. That’s due mostly to my inability to get out of bed. My first alarm goes off between 7:30 and 8 AM, but I’m never up before 8:30. And then I sit there at my desk, straining to push words out of my pre-coffee cerebrum, writing, as Cameron suggests, with loose, stream-of-consciousness sentences; and most of the time I get bored. (High School Me is shitting herself in disbelief right now.) I write about what I did yesterday and what I need to do today and maybe I’m too matter-of-fact because three pages feels like a slap in my groggy face. I need to pay my student loans and check my work schedule and can I pick up a shift this week or would that kill my back? Speaking of my back: it feels awful. This chair is awful but what am I gonna do, stand while I journal?
And then it’s 11:00 and I have to be a person.
The point in getting up early to do morning pages is that it should be over by the the time the world needs me to exist. But I can’t get the fuck up. I think it’s my depression. I’m not miserable for the first time in a long while, so I think it’s presenting in a purely physical way. It takes an incredible amount of conscious effort to counteract something like that. It also concerns me a bit because it suggests I might need an antidepressant, not talk therapy alone, which is what I’m hoping for this time around.
Thanks to my new fixation, I now know that VOGUE Knitting is a thing. I bought the winter 2014 issue, the only issue of anything resembling a fashion magazine I’ve ever read, and it’s pretty great. Plenty of patterns for me to look forward to inflicting on my loved ones. Anyone want a slightly misshapen sweater?
So, December happened. I stalled out with my writing again and just when I was convinced that I had no idea who I was, a coworker gave me a copy of The Artist’s Way for Secret Santa. She’s a part-time yoga instructor with pink hair and that makes me trust her.
So I cracked it open the week of Christmas. That was a mixed bag. I got a good distraction from the gaudy holiday bullshit that’s fueled my Scroogeness for a decade, but then I caught a nasty flu and lost a week. I’m not exaggerating. There was one day where the only thing keeping me upright was Dayquil, and then two more are lost to sleep. Obviously, my first couple weeks with The Artist’s Way weren’t the infusion of creativity I’d hoped for. But I spent this past week getting back on track. I stuck to my morning pages even when I felt like foggy, mucusy death, and now it’s time for my weekly check-in.
So that’s why I’m here now. The morning pages are just for me, and I know I said that about this site before but it’s not true, is it? This page is for me to do something for you, but in a selfish, passive way because I might not know who you are or what you’re into and on that front I don’t care. But on another front I care enough to shout into the void with the rest of the cacophony.
So this is my weekly check-in. Started reading The Great Gatsby for the first time. I’m over half way through and I think it’s beautifully crafted. Nick Carraway’s perspective as an unintended conduit for the rekindling of an old love affair feels awkward only when Gatsby makes it so. Fitzgerald toys with his language in graceful, imaginative sentences that I hope retain their charm until the story’s end.
I had a lot of trouble getting out of bed to do my morning pages this week. I blame the Polar Vortex. I enjoy the morning pages, I want to do them, but that’s difficult when unconscious.
I took my artist date at clothing stores. I didn’t buy anything. It’d been a long time since I tried on clothes for fun. Plus, the old Marshall Field building has a wonderful mosaic in one section of ceiling.
Color, texture, shape. I haven’t given these enough space in my life.
I’m in the midst of working on two serious, long-form essays–I’ll be surprised if they stay under 2,000 words so I could only post sections of them here–but I’m scattered. I’ve only been awake for an hour and just now got in my first sips of coffee, so my
imaginary self-diagnosed ADD is going haywire.
The background on my laptop is:
And my knee-jerk reaction:
…maybe I need a break.
At 11:30 this morning I was Tweet-ranting from the back of the Belmont bus on my way into work. My voter demographic, my peers, failed to show up yesterday. The reason our politicians are always a few decades behind the rest of us is because the only people who consistently show up to vote are the Conservative zealots who’re terrified of change. At my polling place, I was the youngest person by at least fifteen years. And, look, I get it: democracy isn’t ever perfect. Two years ago, I voted in my first Presidential election while delirious with fever and drenched in sweat from a kidney infection. I was racked with convulsive shivers and couldn’t stand upright on my own and, honestly, all I wanted to do was go home and nap. I’m only eighty-percent sure I filled in the right arrows. So, yeah, I take every election result with a grain of salt; but I vote so I can take solace in knowing that if I’m there, giving half a shit about that ballot, then maybe I’m not alone.
This morning I felt alone.
Our final project in eighth grade English was a persuasive paper on a topic of our choosing. Mine was “Why President Bush and His Administration Should be Impeached.” Yes–I’ve been the liberal bitch in the room since I was thirteen. It suits me. So, even though I felt abandoned this morning, I wasn’t surprised. I was frustrated and disappointed. I was concerned for our immediate future. But, unlike high school, I wasn’t angry and desperate for someone to listen to me. I’m still not. I’m determined. I’m focused. I’m certain that I have a lot of work ahead of me these next two years.
I wrote today (the 4th), but it was in my paper journal so only I know it’s there. For now. There are some things I’m processing at the moment that aren’t ready for the consumption of strangers. I don’t think it’s “cheating.” I’m doing this for me. You’re just along for the ride.
We sit on her bare floor, drinking beer from the bottle and eating pizza from the box. And I’m jealous. It’s just a studio, the living room/kitchenette small enough to fit in my current dining room, but still. It’s hers, one hundred percent. Within an hour after getting the keys she taped two things to the wall by the door: a street map of Prague, where we met two and a half years ago; and a poster of a snow-capped mountain adorned with “NEW ZEALAND…WHY NOT?” at the bottom. After a brief, perilous attempt to hang white icicle lights around her window, we decided they were better off down along the baseboard for the night. And now, as we scarf down four-cheese pizza at ten-thirty pm, illuminated from above and below, I think back to the studio I had in Logan Square and wish I could rewind.
After three summers and five semesters the only things on my walls were a couple business cards from theatres and artists, a printout of “Daddy” by Sylvia Plath, and a list of advice for submitting manuscripts that I’d gone through with a neon pink highlighter–none of which I offered a second glance after tacking them up. Spartan as Gibson’s studio is, there’s still a significant dose of personality here that mine never had. I tell her as much.
“I was in class full-time and working around twenty-five hours a week on the Mag Mile, which means my commute was forty-five minutes both ways,” I shrug as an explanation, “so, I wasn’t home a lot. But, still. I didn’t really try to make it mine. I don’t know why.”
And then I consider my current apartment. The one-bedroom in Old Irving Park I split with my boyfriend is on a residential street, with trees and a courtyard and a balcony and the afore-mentioned dining room, and though it seems full of things the one piece I know is missing is me. I haven’t tried to make this one mine, either. I let Travis make it his because furniture costs money–two things I didn’t have when we moved in. But now I look up and I’m in someone else’s living room. And I wish I could rewind.
I get into this habit of thinking I don’t have time to write. I frame my days around my work schedule, which is inconsistent–some days are 10 am to 4 pm, some are 5 pm to midnight–which means my sleep schedule is inconsistent, which means, at the bottom of it all, I forget to be a person. I let words swirl around my mind all day but I can’t commit them to paper so they choke me out and then fade away.
It’s so easy to lose track of myself. Most days I feel as if I’m pirouetting on tight rope–I maintain a feverish momentum or else teeter over the edge. In my mind, there’s no net. Not even a floor of packed dirt thirty feet below. Just a pit. I know that’s not healthy or correct. Logically, I know. But if I could logic myself out of the pit, I’d have done it years ago.
I’m working on it.
The only way to gain traction is to dig in and grit my teeth, right? So, I’m writing an essay every day in November. No disappearing. No censoring. No losing track of myself.
Maybe I’ll finally get moving toward something interesting.