Blogjune: Nostalgia For a Past Self

(An aside: 1000 Words of Summer is a lofty goal, but it isn’t sustainable for someone like me who thinks in short bursts. I want to continue challenging myself to post (almost) every day in June, and to be less precious about the whole process, but (1) have you met me, and (2) HA!)

I’m in a reflective, nostalgic mood tonight because I’ve been in a lot of pain these last few days, and the pain has kept me from being able to write as much as I’d like. I know voice dictation software exists, but I always find dictating text and editing it later is one step too many, and the words never flow quite the same way when I speak versus when I write/type.

No wonder I was born caesarean!

I’m feeling nostalgic about having a body that didn’t know pain. One where it didn’t matter how I slept or for how long, I’d be a beast the next day, ready to take on whatever the world threw at me. Now I wake up, take inventory of which parts hurt, which ones don’t, and do some mental math to figure out how long it’ll take me to get out of bed.

I miss not needing two different pairs of progressives (and at least 3 pairs of reading glasses) just to watch tv, use my computer, or walk through my apartment.

I miss not having to carefully consider the consequences of something so mundane as going for a 30-minute walk or having sex with my girlfriend. I miss being carefree, reckless, and a little irresponsible.

But the things I’ve gained because of aging into this body — the wisdom, the unshakeable sense of self, the ability to luxuriate in and celebrate those things that others would have me feel shame for — I’d never give any of those things up for knees that didn’t creak or a neck that doesn’t get stiff when it’s too cold.

And now, away with you — I have Salonpas patches to apply everywhere.

And I Would Write 1000 Words…

Jami Attenberg’s 1000 Words of Summer started a few days ago, coincidentally at the same time #blogjune began. Because I’ve never met a challenge that I haven’t abandoned halfway through, I’m challenging myself to reach that lofty goal this month. For some reason, I want it more this year. I’ve felt creatively fecund lately, and there are stories and art living inside me that simply must get out.

I’m starting to think that it isn’t the fear of success that keeps me from getting serious about writing or a creative career, it’s fear of criticism. Furthermore, I don’t handle criticism or rejection well at all; I crumple like paper in a clenched fist at the slightest brush of disapproval. But that urge to create, to purge myself of whatever words or images live inside me never goes away. I put in my earbuds, find a focus playlist that is motivating without being too aggressive, and pick up a pen, a paintbrush, or stylus and write until I feel creatively spent. It’s a rush.

I’m currently reading Moss House, a work of historical fiction that is based on the real life diaries of Anne “Gentleman Jack” Lister (verdict: I’m enjoying it). Miss Lister says she keeps a diary because she was sure that her lesbianism would result in others erasing her from history. “(I)f I have not recorded what happened, did it happen at all?” It made me wonder why I keep a journal. I’ve done so sporadically over the years, and while I might not write daily, I seem to have picked up the habit in earnest after repeated incidents of various kinds of trauma over the years. I write to help me process my emotions, to set free the swelling emotions that threaten to pull me under. Furthermore, I write to have a record of emotional healing and progress, and to get better as a writer.

I write to be more self-aware, and to learn to hear and trust my own voice. My journal is where I go to yell; where no one can hear me or judge me, or think less of me because I dare to express an emotion that runs counter to theirs. But mostly I write to stay connected to myself, to wrap myself in my words as if they were my mother’s loving arms. I write to reassure myself that I am okay, that I remain a magical and wondrous creature, despite what society would have me think.

Two weeks ago, I had an idea for a scene in the young adult/new adult novel I’ve been threatening to write, and the scene felt so powerful that I had to step away from it until tonight. I’m going to share it with you, knowing that it is extremely raw and unpolished, but like the woman says,

Today you will write 1000 words. You are going to write freely and passionately and with beautiful abandon. You will not worry if they are the wrong words. You will not second guess yourself. You will not talk yourself out of this. It is day one and you have a reason for being here: you have something you want to say. No one can stop you from saying it but yourself. And you are going to nail this. Hard.

Jami Attenberg, Day 1, 1000 Words of Summer

So here goes.

In all of my years of going to concerts, I always wondered what it would be like to be backstage at one. Backstage conjured up mystical images in my mind: rangy, sweaty, half-naked musicians of every gender draped languorously over couches or their nearest sexual conquests. I’d find bowls of fresh fruit and towers of bottled water stacked higher than my head over on the craft services table. The adrenaline rush of performance coupled with endorphins would make me feel heady and a little punch drunk.

The summer that the radio station put on a weekend long music festival, I learned that it was much cooler than I could have ever imagined. I was in the crowd, but I stood at the back with the rest of the kids from the radio station. It was closest to the bar and our VIP area, but it put us close enough to the action to experience it without needing to be in a crush of bodies. To be in it, but not of it, which is how I usually felt at these events.

Yes, I obviously worked at the station, and in a few weeks, I’d be the general manager, the impossibility of which makes my mind collapse in on itself in disbelief.

The heat of the day was beginning to dissipate, but our bodies carried the memory of being slowly roasted over a low fire all day long, being stoked by music, drugs, and the incomparable allure of being young. We felt like gods. Or were supposed to feel like gods. They looked like Zeus, while I felt like Demeter. I hovered near the edges, dancing with myself and occasionally with other members of the staff, each of us a clumsy, milk-drunk puppy with its littermates. But there was a carnal undercurrent that danced through the air, and that night, I set out to fuck (or be fucked by) somebody.

There’s some other stuff that’s supposed to happen here, but I lost the plot once my arms started to hurt. What do you think? Should I continue? Is it any good, or am I just fooling myself? I suppose ultimately it doesn’t really matter what anyone else thinks, what matters most is that I’m enjoying the process. But we’ve established that I’ve got the Lassie gene, and I thrive on praise and head-pats. I am who I am.

Daisy Dreams

Procreate drawing of a vase of daisies sitting on a table top.
aw shit, i’m an artist

Creating artwork with Procreate is great fun. In some ways, it gives me more freedom to create because it’s a lot easier to move my iPad out of Bubba’s way than it is to move paints, paintbrushes, and dirty paint water.

When I started trying to draw with Procreate, I was easily frustrated and always gave up. I didn’t understand the interface, and because of my ADHD, I didn’t have the patience it took to actually pay attention to tutorials and learn how to use the application correctly.

I know now that my frustration came from a relentless pursuit of a kind of perfection that wasn’t sustainable, attainable, or even desirable. The one great advantage of drawing this way is I never have to worry about not erasing something cleanly. I don’t have to fret over ripping the paper, or feel guilty about spending so much money on art supplies that will dry out because I don’t use them enough. I can simply…draw.

What a concept.

Nod to Mary Oliver

Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?

Mary Oliver, “The Summer Day”

The Co-Star astrology app is so accurate at times, that at times it feels more like a close friend instead of an algorithm. Today was no exception.

A screenshot of the Co-Star astrology application. The image contains the text "After all you've been through, what do you still hope and dream for?"

I hope for a library that is as committed to justice, equity, and professional revolution as it is to access.

I hope for a cure for rheumatoid arthritis.

I hope for an end to COVID, dear God, haven’t we been punished enough?

I hope for more time with Lanie to make up for all the years we both spent with the wrong partners.

I dream about packing Lanie, my cat, some art supplies, my phone, and iPad and relocating to Tulum.

I dream for a chance to gather all my friends together for a huge party (maybe a wedding?) because it’s been entirely too long, and we’ve been apart long enough. I need your energy. I need to mush our cheeks together and hug your necks.

And lastly, I wish someone would drop a house on Mitch McConnell post haste.

Blogjune: Keeping A Promise to Myself

Once again, I’ve let my mouth, Twitter fingers, and ADHD-enhanced brain write a cheque that my motivation really doesn’t want to cash. A while back I promised my friend Con Wiebrands that if she signed on for Blogjune 2022 and attempted to write at least one blog post per day during the month, that I’d do the same.

Here we are a few days later, and I’m already looking for a way to back out of things. 🙄 I know, I’m tired of me, too.

However, Kathryn Greenhill (helpfully) posted a list of questions at her blog that I — and anyone else who wants to play along — can use as writing prompts for what will end up being one of the longest months of my life. If I didn’t have ADHD, I would plan and schedule entries in advance, but I’ve learned that while this superpower of mine makes me a brilliant conversationalist, it also makes it likely that I won’t carry through with projects if I get bored or hate what I’ve written. I want to start keeping commitments to myself, to not bail when things get difficult, to work through them even when my writing may not be as perfect as I would like. So here I sit, fingers on keys, making a promise to myself that what matters isn’t how well-written my blog posts are, but the satisfaction I’ll get from honouring a commitment to myself.

Of course, it also helps to know that entries don’t have to be written; I could post some of my rough/rudimentary artwork to fill the space. I’ve learned that working through a problem visually can be just as introspective and rewarding as putting fingers to keys. Here goes…everything!