self portrait

I feel like the sort of person who would have gotten much help out of this blog, in the old days. It was so cheery and positive. So helpful. Conversation Starters and Short-Fic Fridays. I’ll let them stay published. I can’t say the same for this 2018 drivel.

I wonder how long I’ll be in this rut. I feel as if I am watching my life from behind stained glass. I can sense things, but vaguely, distant. I hear things as if from a dream. I see things as if through a cloud. I feel things as if under a heavy winter coat. Pressure, no sensation.

I’m exaggerating. I’ve said before, I think, that this blog has become nothing but the glorified diary of a depressed person trying to accept the fact that 22 is a harder year than was promised. I’m exaggerating. I have bad moments and good moments. Both come on like nausea, sudden and unavoidable.

Sometimes I feel bright and rosy. I like watching the teenage lovebirds in class, drawing on each other’s arms in permanent marker, making each other laugh with silly noises and light bops on the nose. I love how they look at each other. At least I still have love.

That’s the thing. My love life is in order, it has been for years. It’s my everything else that’s gone awry. My career and my future, my emotions, my novel, my living situation. Living at home again is like willfully locking myself back in a prison. And then leaving, and then locking myself back up at night. I have freedom, but it’s a privilege, it’s temporary, and the prison hangs over my head, the way Monday taints Sunday night.

I really got to erase all of my name off this blog. It becomes more and more of a diary every day.

drivel

Is anyone I know reading this drivel? I sort of am afraid someone is. I wouldn’t be surprised if someone I know finds it, calls the suicide hotline for me. I’m not going to kill myself. I just know I’m not, however easy it would be, however nice it would be to have a doorway past which there is zero chance of suffering.

I’m here, as long as I can be, thinking too much and writing too little. I should write a bit a day. I really should. I don’t. Sometimes I do. Not really, though.

What do you think of it? I used to get lots of stars, lots of comments. I have 800 followers. I did so much work just to abandon this blog, then return years later to spit out unreadable drivel. Drivel! Can you even make sense of it? I can’t. I probably sound insane. Maybe I am, whatever.

Sometimes I talk myself in circles. Sometimes I talk so much I get confused and my own thoughts don’t make any sense, and I have to retreat and go to my plants and candles and sit in silence and meditate and chill and try to be happy alone.

I’ve been swirling around a sink drain, clawing out not because I’m afraid of the U bend but because I want to be okay. I want to get out of the sink and onto the counter, bury myself in the bowl of fruit and breathe in sugar.

Is this poetry? Is this anything?

I just need to go home. I’ve been in this chair for hours. I would never survive in an office, I’d go incredibly mad, even worse than I am now.

I wish I had curly hair, wavy hair. My hair is bland and flat.

I’m fine, but that’s hard to gauge. What is it like to be fine? Am I fine? How depressed am I? I know I should go back to my therapist, but compared to my old self—the only thing I have to compare to, truly—I am much better. My bad days aren’t as bad, my good days are far better.

I keep saying “I.”

This blog probably comes off as a bit scary.

What would an “Introvert Playground” even look like? A library, probably. A quiet room with a big fireplace. Playground, hell. I used to love playgrounds. They always became pirate ships. I would hold onto one of those poles, up top by that big castle roof, let the wind blow around my hair and the sweatshirt I wrapped around my waist, look off to the forest and see nothing but a wall of seawater. I would smell in the woodchips brine and wet wood. I would see the new world in the cracked pavement of the parking lot.

writing, during all this

Writing my actual novel tends to take a backseat during times of great stress. I suppose that’s why adults have fewer hobbies than children. I remember a time when every second of my day was eaten up. Dance classes took up most of my free time after school, but I also had Brownies on Mondays, church choir on Thursdays, soccer practice on Tuesdays, cello lessons on Thursdays before choir….

Why do I feel infinitely more burned out now?

I think it’s because little girl me knew how to take a break. I never practiced cello or soccer or my dance routines–of course, I should have practiced all of them, and maybe if I had more time I would have. No, after I left that building, I was done with it for a whole week.

All my activities now are things I should be doing when I want to be relaxing. Writing a novel is something that  feel like should take up every free breath. Learning Spanish, they emphasize, needs to take place every day. Even my job as a summer school teacher is taking up my free moments, if not in work than in anxiety and nerves.

Even “relaxing,” when I manage to do it, is productive. Maybe that’s a good thing, or maybe it points to a deeper issue inside myself. I can’t just chill and watch something on television, I have to be working through a series, or reading a book, or meditating, or drawing…I have to be completing a task or creating something new at all times.

It’s exhausting. I want to be able to put it all aside and play with dolls for an hour, then move onto Playdough.

But still I write, and it is good, because I do enjoy it. It is hard, and it takes time. But I love it, I do. And I am so close to being done with this novel, and then I can send it out places and get it published and start a new one, and let the whole thing start over again.

 

Substitute Teaching in my Old High School

It’s the end of the year for the kids in high school. I’m a substitute teacher now, living the high life, nearly exactly where I was when I sat in these very rooms.

My old high school is preparing itself for destruction, its replacement soaring lines of brick and mortar right over the old soccer field. This poor old building must feel like it’s being cheated on, abused by those who once loved it, those who use it without care, those who slam the doors and scratch the walls because, hey, we’re getting a new school after next year.

The kids are and always have been rather free in this school. A public school that trusts its children? Who could imagine.

This teacher has two teal staplers and one roll of transparent tape. Her desktop is otherwise blank, as well as her classroom, besides the elephant in the room in the form of a judge’s bench. It’s the legal systems classroom, where kids come to learn about laws that don’t yet apply to them. They learn about the ramifications of drinking and driving before they are legally able to do either. There’s not a single poster on the cinder blocks, only tears in the paint. An ancient chalkboard, black and empty, hangs beside a whiteboard, streaked in blue, and a Smartboard, the dirty placid feel of printed paper.

The girls’ hair falls in pin-straight strands over their shoulders, or pinned up in a bun on the top of their head, or frizzing out of a ponytail. The lone boy stares at his phone. The door might as well be revolving, but I don’t bother to close it. It is, after all, the last day of classes.

They figure their next year schedule on their cell phones. A friend comes in, smiles at me, and sits on the top of a desk. A girl juggles a slinky, drops it against the legs of her desk with the sound of cymbals.

New Novel

I’ve been almost done with this novel for months now.

Maybe that’s actually fast in the literary world. I once read that the Diary of a Wimpy Kid took the author like, nine years to finish. Of course, he probably had a job and kids and a wife or whatever. Me? It’s just me.

I get discouraged. I open it up, all of its 88,000 words and like, 250 pages or whatever, and I see all of my 145 comments of things to change, and I just get sad. There’s so much more to do, and I’ve already written it over three full times.

Going into a bookstore is like getting reprimanded. LOOK at all these books. Surely, by odds alone, mine has to be better than some of them. At least one. It would be statistically impossible, otherwise. Someone would publish my book as is, right? It’s interesting. It’s well written. It’s certainly long enough, for the first time.

So why can’t I just finish it and send it somewhere?

Because I’m scared. Not of a publisher rejecting it, but of a publisher accepting it, and giving me a sign-on bonus or whatever, and going through cover design and marketing, and holding my first hardcover copy and crying and flipping through it, and going to Barnes and Nobel and not finding it but a week later finally seeing it…and then only selling 400 copies.

Not terrible, but nothing good, either. And no awards, no nothing. And then years later seeing it in a bargain bin at Big Lots.

All those books, even the worst ones, went through a similarly heart-breaking process of writing, rewriting, rejection, waiting and waiting…I am fragile, I am sad, I am overwhelmingly pessimistic to the point where it’s annoying even to myself. I don’t know if I have the strength to do this, despite my finger-trembling desire.

I’m going to, obviously. I just keep putting it off. Which is horrible.

But you, metaphorical you who knows me better than I know myself, who can bear to read back in this blog and see the “ME” I pretended to be for you, the ME who viewed my wordpress stats and had high hopes for advertisers and supporting myself off this silly blog, YOU say it’s worth it. YOU say being an author is all I’ve ever wanted, what I’ve been working for every day of my life since I was in second grade.

You’re always so right.

Hobbies begun

I know, I know. Another post after months and months just to talk about how I’m posting?

Nah.

I’m gonna talk about other hobbies I’ve left to die. Like sewing, with which I mend all the pants and pockets in the world. Which is good. I’ve made a handful of dolls and one skirt, and cut out all the pieces for a dress. And haven’t touched a needle this year.

Cooking. Of course, I cook almost every day. It’s the cook book I’ve left unopened on my desktop, wherein we were meant to cook the national dish of every country we could find. That, unfortunately, has come to a halt.

I can’t even begin to list the amount of novels I’ve started to write but gave up on, three or two or half a draft in. The amount of books I’ve read a chapter of and stopped, the television series I saw a pilot or a season or even three then grew bored of.

I’m acting like this is something special, and of course it isn’t. And I’m neglecting the fact that every hobby I grew out of has given me something in return. I can sew, now, and could get back into it if I wished. I have the rudimentary beginnings of knitting, and embroidery. I could start up those novels or cookbooks or whatever.

I don’t really know what else to say, other than it makes me sad to see my bedroom as a sort of graveyard, to see these totems of lost hobbies–my pottery, my paintings, my old awards and costumes and my Wicca books and American Sign Language worksheets and yoga mat and ukulele and cello and German Rosetta Stone and stacks of paper I’ll probably never read.

And you, reader, if you have read any of my years-old posts, will remember my excitement at some of these things, and tell me that it wasn’t a waste, and these projects aren’t graves but memory figurines fit for a china cabinet. And I’ll say that’s probably a more optimistic way of looking at it, and so I will try.

The stories others remember 

Today for class my professor had us text our friends and family and ask them, “what’s your favorite story about me?” She then had us put away our phones and wait.

After awhile, we were to pick one of the responses and think about why that person remembers that story, and what it says about you. The idea was to deconstruct why we tell each other stories–to see the stories we tell at parties as a (true) mythology of ourselves. This is how we cement our personal identity in a group.

My sister told me her favorite story was the time we were playing hide and seek in my grandmothers house. It was my turn to hide, and the grown ups were telling me ideas on where to go. Now, my grandmother collects dolls. Three-foot-tall, life size dolls that live in the corner of her living room. My sister is counting down, and I decide, hey, I’ll be a doll.

So I posed in the back, smiled, and waited. My sister hunts around the house for a long time–she even makes eye contact with me and keeps looking. She actually thought I was a doll.

I thought for awhile why she remembers this and what it says, both about me and about her. It was funny, sure, and I do love making her laugh. But why does she tell other people this story? What trait of mine does it show, in disguise? 

I realized that this story shows that I don’t shy away from a challenge. Yes, a “safer” hiding spot would have been under the table or in a closet. But I chose to be a doll, the more interesting and difficult path.

This class literally just ended about 10 minutes ago, but I can tell this will be something that sticks in my mind. Why d we tell stories? Funny stories, cool stories? What does it say about us and our relationships? How is it that we bond through storytelling?

Telling stories is, of course, what I plan on spending my life doing. I guess it had never crossed my mind why stories exist in the first place. It had always seemed so obvious, just an integral part of humanity. It is, I think, integral. 

First anniversary

So, turns out today marks my first year since I registered with WordPress. I got an achievement for it and everything.

This blog has changed a lot over the year. At first it was deep and depressing and then it was day to day and then it was A to Z and then it was a bunch of things and now it’s…whatever this is. I guess just whatever I’m feeling, approximately once a day.

Jeez, not the best blog theme, is it?

I’m sure I will start up Conversation Starters and Short Fic Friday and other stuff soon. I’m just in a weird place and not ready for that sort of thing yet. It’s been a time. Not necessarily a bad time or a good time, just a time. And that time has required a lot of energy.

Anyway, before the notification that I’ve spent a year here, I was going to write a post about happiness. I’m writing a novella around the theme of happiness. What makes us happy, how do you find happiness and keep it, etc. I am working on it because it’s a problem I’m working on in my personal life as well.

I find it frustrating that my happiness is dependent on my surroundings. I wish I had an inner peace that could just let the outer stuff go. I want to go to sleep generally happy no matter the circumstance. Maybe that’s a lot to ask, but I find myself overly emotional (both positive and negative emotions) over events, people, etc. in my life. Minor things can make or break a day for me. I wish I wasn’t like that.

How can I make my happiness independent from the situation that I’m in? Is that even possible? I guess I don’t mean happiness, just peacefulness. I want to be peaceful.

Of course, I’m about the worst candidate for “peaceful” ever. I bounce my knees and move my hands around constantly. I can’t stand silence, because I get tinnitus, and I don’t like darkness, because I get visual snow, which I just recently learned isn’t something everyone has. Meditation makes me jittery. I’m even stressed out in my sleep–I grind my teeth so hard I’ve broken four night guards.

I guess it’s a good goal to strive for, anyway.

This blog has always been tied someway or another to introversion, and this is no exception. Introverts spend a lot of time doing introspection, and maybe this is what this new leg of my journey is about. Introspection, concerning happiness and peacefulness and a general sense of love. Not a bad new year resolution.

If only

I’m writing a novel wherein all the characters quantify their future happiness by what they will achieve. They think that they will be happy if they could only get that job, only find they right person, only do this, only do that…

That doesn’t work. I know that, I’m writing this book about it. And yet I don’t apply it to my own life.

Part of the reason I took a break from blogging is that I became slightly obsessed with views and likes and follows. Charts and stats don’t make you happy. I forgot that blogging was supposed to be my way to keep writing every day, even if I didn’t particularly feel like it.

I do it in other aspects, too. I’ll be happy in the future if I could only get a book published; that’s one I have said a lot. But if I push myself to think beyond the moment of publication…I won’t be constantly happy. I will want it to get more recognition, I’ll want better reviews, I’ll want to publish another book.

There’s something innately human about never being satisfied. One could always be better, stronger, faster, smarter. That drive probably kept our species alive for so long. It’s also likely tied to individual humans’ demise.

Maybe this is just another “if only.” If only I could just accept things and be happy!

I go through stages in life where the most important question to me changes. For awhile it was “what is the meaning of life?” Now, it’s “how can I be happy?”

The strange thing is, I should be happy. I am, a lot of the time. I’m also not, a lot. Is this okay? It’s hard to tell what’s right. It’s hard to know if what’s right is right, or not. All I know is, I’ve done the “right” thing a lot, but bending the rules has gotten me a lot as well.

I guess this new phase in my blog, this “three weeks before Europe” phase, is a heavily existential one. These are the kind of posts I’ll look back on in a few years and roll my eyes so hard they hit my brain. So “emo,” aren’t they?

Ah. I’ll be okay. Maybe it’s not happiness that one should chase, but contentment. I am content, so I am okay.

Infodump: The Musical

I love the sound strawberries make when you cut off their top. You can hear their hollowness. They’re so rubbery.

I’m eating strawberries as I write this, for the full picture. I think visuals are important, especially in a musical. I’m calling this post a musical because it’s going to be like one of those montage musical numbers, when they build the barn or train for battle or Simba grows up while walking across a log or whatever.

Hi. I know it’s been awhile, so, hi. What have I been up to, during this summer of non-blogging? I’ve been working, writing for a local paper. I’ve been cooking a lot, I’ve been getting better at ukulele, I’ve been DM’ing a Dungeons and Dragons campaign for my friends from high school, I’ve been playing Pokemon Go, I’ve been enjoying these rare months being in the same state as my boyfriend, and, somehow, I’ve been writing fiction in between. I’ve also been knitting, sewing, crafting, reading. I’m reading Lord of the Flies now since I never did in school and, my, it’s (unsurprisingly) amazing.

I leave for the Netherlands in three weeks. I’ll be travellouging a bit on here I’m sure, as I said I would. I’m thinking of also doing a separate travellouge for my family. I’m also also thinking of doing a travellouge in the voice of Bojack Horseman.

The Netflix series Bojack Horseman is one of my absolute favorite shows of all time, and I thought it might be fun and soul-searchy to write a blog as if I were Bojack. I made a little Bojack doll out of old shirts. We’ll see what happens.

What else? I went to Newport Folk Festival, what a wonderful time. I got into wearing sunhats.I feel like every sentence I write could have been a blogpost, so this musical idea kinda works.

I missed venting to the internet.

As for my head, I’ve been managing myself alright. I’m nervous about having to make new friends overseas, but I’ll manage. Somehow, I’ll manage.

For now, I just have to say goodbye to my boyfriend (again…again) and pack, and in three weeks I can worry about the “friend” business.

The strawberries are gone. The music fades, just like summer.

Hi. This is Introvert Playground!