Here’s the thing… The thing is… I can’t articulate the thing. I spent the evening at a work-related workshop I got invited to, and I can’t quite capture my feelings. On the one hand, it felt good to be in a space working on my craft. On the other hand, I don’t think I had a lot to contribute tonight. Maybe I was off my game. Maybe the material wasn’t accessible to me. Maybe the writing worked well enough that it was easy to ignore the flaws but not so well that it blew me away. Mediocrity, or something just north of there, is easy to gloss over because it’s hard to correct.
So, instead, I ate chips and thought about whether or not my stuff would land. Would I be mediocre without a solution? I had no notes for the first person, but I honestly thought it was okay. It felt like a scene I’d seen before (do NOT pardon the pun), so it must work because someone has put money behind that at one time or another and it probably met with some level of success. So who am I to say it doesn’t work? It DOES work, it just isn’t exactly what I would want it to be. But who am I?
Should I tell her that if I wrote it, I’d want it to show more push and pull, more fighting, more struggle, more frustration, more lightness, more everything? Or should I smile and nod while eating a seemingly endless bag of chips, which is what I actually did?!
And then there’s that very real moment where I had to wonder – really, really wonder – if what I would bring in is actually better. Or worse. Or the same. Or neither. I listened and I watched and I felt like I was truly being faced with things that needed a lot of work. Great. Let’s work them. But why these are all working writers and directors? What are they doing differently than I am? Maybe they’re not bitching about it online… Hard to know for sure. I don’t know anything anymore.
But then I left my confused state behind in that theatre momentarily when I got a text from my parents bringing me back down to the reality of my life. I hate those texts. I hate that I look at my phone afraid I’ll have one. I hate that I hate hearing from them and I hate that I hate the way even a confused moment can seem “good” in comparison. I just wanted a normal moment where I thought about my career and not about the pain and the struggle and the fears and the deep down awfulness of the rest of everything. Thank goodness for modern technology reminding me that that’s not possible.
Day 64 – I Don’t Know Anything Anymore
If we adapt, does that mean we forget? If we can go on with our lives, does that mean we don’t care? I struggle with this a lot. I am not okay.
There is not a day that goes by where I don’t regret how things went or ever feel like my old self or feel okay in any way. But I also laugh. I think about my future. I take naps and walks and buy clothes I like. I book trips and go out to dinner. I take vacations. I watch Parks & Rec with a smile on my face. I dream of waffles. I do all the mundane things, too. I do my dishes and clean my bathroom and try to remember the last time I washed my sheets. I text my friends about their everyday problems, and I genuinely want to help them even though a second later it all seems so silly. Lose 5 pounds. Don’t lose 5 pounds. Who cares?!
I cry at inopportune times over chicken piccata or walking down the sidewalk. I can’t watch certain commercials (I’m looking at you, Sarah McLachlan) without it ruining my whole day and I can’t visit certain places (so long, Hawaii) without having a mental breakdown. I think in equal parts with a brain of absolute all-encompassing grief and with hope for my life and future. Devastation is like that, maybe. Maybe everyone goes through this. Maybe we have to survive, because we’re animals, and that’s what we do. And survival means adapting. Means moving on. Means ignoring or forgetting. But then we’re humans again, and we can’t imagine that we could ever have moved on.
I think my mom feels the same way, but we don’t talk about it.
Day 56 – Grief and Comic Relief
Oh my lord. I just saw “Eighth Grade” and I swear I’ve never had so many feels. All the feels. The actress and storyline are so essentially relatable and loveable and cringy and cute. I laughed, I cried, I remembered all the times kids were mean to me…
Growing up is never easy. Life isn’t fair. Someone said those things to me on repeat as a kid, usually my mom probably, but nothing reminds you so obviously of that fact until you see a cinematic throwback to experiences that mirrored your own to make you sit up and hate/love the person in front of you as you beg her not to make a bad decision.
I don’t think we ever stop growing up. When I look back on me and my decisions a year ago, a week ago, yesterday, I immediately cringe and try to find a hole to go crawl into. I stay up and night and wonder WHY IN THE NAME OF GOD DID I SAY THAT? THAT’S SO EMBARRASSING. And then I think of something I DID that was actually worse than what I said and all I can think is, AND THAT, TOO? CAN YOU JUST BE NORMAL FOR ONCE?
No, no I cannot be. I must be weird, it’s my only option, it seems. I must draw awkward and embarrassing attention to myself. I must relive those moments when I’m trying to sleep and get jolted awake again from the horrible memories. I must push people away with my awkwardness and then wonder why I don’t have any friends. Some people have to keep up their perfect Instagram stories. This is just my cross to bear…
Day 54 – Eighth Grade and Growing Up
Ups and downs, baby. Today was a mixed bag of crazy, but in the end, I’m on my couch watching Netflix, so I’m not going to complain.
Oh, by the way, living up to my potential SUCKS. What is with people deciding I have potential? Then I just disappoint them. My mom explained the amount of disappointment today. But I was eating a giant chocolate chip cookie at the time, so all I heard was, “yum, this is so good.” Probably coming from my mouth, but who cares? Life hack.
I remember the glory days when my good grades and hard work and big dreams were rewarded, and I didn’t have to PAY ANY BILLS or WORRY ABOUT REAL LIFE THINGS and then during spring break, SOMEONE ELSE PAID FOR MY VACATION TO HAWAII. Why did I want to grow up so fast? Oh, yeah, living with my family. Well, now I’m being dragged back and there are STILL BILLS and NO VACATIONS so I feel like that did not work out at all in my favor.
I’m not complaining, I’m just saying being an adult is THE WORST. I get the “freedom” to eat whatever I want and do whatever I want. If I can afford it. Which I can’t. So… What exactly did I get out of this? No idea.
Day 47 – Adulting and Potential SUCK
I had a really good day externally, and a really bad day internally, but the important thing is that I checked everything off my to-do list.
I also added things that I happened to do today to my to-do list after the fact so that I could have a longer, more complete list. If you don’t do this, get on it, it’s a great way to look like you did a lot, such as “Shower” and “Brush Teeth” and “Eat Lunch.” I am an expert at lists.
So I nailed that part of the day like a boss. Then came the reminder that I am never very far from the grief. It cycles. Guilt and expectation are big components. Mostly because of my Mom.
Feel guilty. Feel terrible. Feel sad. Feel deep grief. Feel guilty. Laugh at a joke in my head. Feel guilty about laughing. Laugh at another joke in my head. Open up the “Notes” on my phone to write the joke down. Feel guilty while typing. Receive text from my mother mid-typing full of guilt and criticism. Forget what was so funny. Remember grief. Rinse and repeat.
The only two pluses I can think of are that A. My house is now very clean due to stress-cleaning and B. I will probably be able to fall asleep tonight despite my insomnia because emotions and crying tired me out.
Day 35 – Guilty conscience and oh so sleepy.
Well, wasn’t today just spit on your neck, kick you in the throat fantastic? What age were you when you realized that you were a complete and utter disappointment even though you’d done absolutely everything you could not to be one? You went to college, graduated at the top of your class, worked hard, saved money, made good friends, took care of yourself and then BOOM, one day, it hits you. All the snide remarks. All the random texts your mom sends you with links to jobs like “Amazon Distribution Center Manager” and “Personal Assistant” to someone, you don’t know who.
Doesn’t matter that you have a job. Or that you take care of yourself. Or that you are a writer and that’s what you’re meant to do with your life. All that matters, in case you were wondering, is that you did not become a doctor or a lawyer and so, basically, you failed. Already. I mean, you don’t have kids yet SO OBVIOUSLY YOU SHOULD JUST GIVE UP NOW, YOU’RE USELESS. You don’t have health benefits or a 401k SO WHY EVEN TRY AT ALL ANYMORE?! You also don’t have a specific job that she can brag about to her friends SO YOU SHOULD PROBABLY STOP CALLING BECAUSE WE DON’T NEED YOUR FAILURES HERE.
I figured it out a long time ago, forgot, and remembered today. I have somehow been letting her down for years (I believe I started disappointing her in 7th grade when I sat next to a boy to work on a homework assignment AT THE KITCHEN TABLE and she told me later that “it’s not appropriate and real ladies don’t sit with boys like that and what will he think of me?” And I wondered when we landed back in 1850 and told her I didn’t care what he or anyone else thought. That was clearly code for “I’m going to go whore myself out now, see you later.”)
There’s a line in Gilmore Girls, where Lorelai answers the phone to her Mom and says, “Dragonfly Inn, Major Disappointment Speaking.” Nothing has ever resonated with me more.
I DO NOT WANT TO WORK IN A DISTRIBUTION CENTER. WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?
Day 33 – Disappointing Mom since 1995.