Post-Election Coping Mechanism #1

Tuesday was plain awful. I think we can all agree on that. In light of the hellfire that is the election results, I’ve found myself really craving community and companionship. I live with Kowalski (my beloved asshole cat) but no other humans, and that can get lonely. Over the year and a half I’ve lived in this area, I’ve gotten really involved in my UU church, my church choir, and swing dancing. I do a lot of group activities that are good for my extroverted heart, but I don’t spend much one on one time with friends. 

So I decided to change that. There’s a woman in my church & choir who I think is just the bee’s knees. She’s the mom to two friends of mine who just left for college, but I didn’t ever spend time at their house so she isn’t relegated to “my friends’ mom” in my head. Yesterday, I texted her to ask her to lunch tomorrow. 

I’ve never been so nervous. 

But! In a miracle of miracles, she said yes! She even invited me to her house instead of going out. I’m really excited but it’s scary, too. I have a hard time trusting that people want to be my friend, or that I have anything to offer as a friend. I’m almost in tears just thinking about it because I am so nervous

Part of that is the anxiety of turning a situational friendship (i.e., a friend I see at church and choir) into a more general friendship. And part of it is that I’m not really used to intergenerational friendships. I’ve been friends with professors but that was still within the context of school. I feel like a kid, like an eager student trying to be the teacher’s pet. It’s hard to figure out how to come to this on equal footing. I feel like a kid, but I don’t want her to see me as a kid. You know?

Regardless, I’m plunging in headfirst tomorrow at noon. Wish me luck ❤

today’s song: i don’t need anything but you // annie (1999) soundtrack


The Pope’s Daughter

Happy November! Today is the first day of National Novel Writing Month (hereafter referred to as NaNo) and I am so excited. I did NaNo successfully for 7 straight years but the last two, I’ve gotten a day or two in before collapsing under the weight of depression and other obligations. The first year I “failed” was especially tough because I hate breaking my duck. But I survived, as one does.

This year, I have a gentler goal and a little more time and energy. I’m cowriting with my best friend L (which technically makes me a NaNo rebel) and our novel is about a lesbian lady who’s getting married to her partner… in the Vatican. Officiated by her biological father, the Pope. It’s fun! 🙂

L and I have tried to write together before, but never with much success, although we’ve plotted a handful of other ridiculous stories. I’m feeling good about this year, but I also know that I have nothing to worry about if we don’t make it. Our friendship will not be in jeopardy. I actually cannot imagine anything that would put our friendship in jeopardy, barring unrealistic changes in personality.

After all, when we were freshmen in college, I wrote her an extremely embarrassing letter confessing my romantic feelings for her and hid it in her bag just before she left for spring break. And even though she absolutely did not return my feelings (especially since, you know, she identified as straight at the time, which should have been a clue to me), our friendship didn’t falter. She’s basically my platonic life partner. I text her more than anyone, even my gentleman caller. We are best friends the likes of Mallory Ortberg and Nicole Cliffe. And we are going to write a kickass novel this month.

If you’re joining us in NaNo, good luck to you!

today’s song: silver lining // cheryl wheeler

Dried Beans

Art is hard. I know that exercising my creative bones* is good for my mental health — and God knows my mental health hasn’t been in tip-top shape recently — but it’s tough. I’ve had a string of really challenging weeks, and the apathy/inability-to-complete-tasks symptom of my depression is hogging the spotlight. I’m tired. I’m lonely. And my soul is drained.

Enter art. Visual art, especially, ought to be helpful because it’s something to do with my hands. I suppose writing uses my hands too, but the imbalance in favor of brain-creativity is often too much for me to handle. But I’ve got a lot of baggage around making art; maybe you do, too. I can’t draw. My paintings look silly. My sister is the artistic one, not me. I don’t have good ideas. Hello, monster in my head. You’ve been practicing.

But I’m not just a tangled knot of excessive question marks and unnecessary exclamation points. I am also a teacher of small kidlets. We do art together daily: sometimes free time to draw and paint, sometimes scheduled projects. A mosaic of dried beans. A bat made from a toilet paper holder. A superhero in only primary colors. Et cetera. They’re silly. They’re fun. They’re exercises in texture or color or fine motor skills. 

And for me, they’re safe. 

I can be creative without panicking at the infinity of options. I can create something without ever needing to step off the path of the instructions. (In this, the exercise of metaphorically coloring outside the lines, my kidlets surpass me every time. But such is childhood.) 

My favorite project we ever did was the bean mosaics. Square inch by square inch, I covered my cardstock with liquid glue and dried beans, each pressed up tight against its neighbor. The goal was completion, to fill the page. The result, unexpectedly, was a piece of art that is not only visually pleasant (and appropriately autumnal), but also a satisfying sensory experience when I need to get out of my head. I run my hands over the dried beans, and it feels good, and that’s really all that matters. 

*yes, yes, you don’t exercise bones, let it go

today’s song: hammer and nail // the indigo girls