I’ve been pushing out blog posts like splinters. Only when necessary. Other than that, I’ve just been editing and pretending I’m not a writer at all.
My book release opened up a big can of imposter syndrome on me. Now I feel like everything I write is bullshit. Like the whole thing is bullshit and I’m fooling everyone into thinking I’m a writer. It feels slimy, deceitful. It feels like the whole book is a trick. Maybe that’s just because I’m scared of it. Scared of it failing. Scared of it not doing anything at all.
But I did it anyway. I’m terrified of it and I did it anyway. That counts for something. That counts for a hell of a lot, actually. So there’s that. I can look myself in the mirror and say that even though I was afraid, I did it. And I don’t do that much. Even though I wanted to take it all back, I didn’t. And I don’t do that much, either, but now I do.
This is a new skill in my arsenal. I do things that make me want to dig my heels in and shake my head. To be that person feels like summiting a mountain. Because that’s where all the good stuff is, isn’t it? All the little juicy bits in life hide behind the big dogs, the darkened closet doors, the high heights. So maybe it’s okay to be scared. Maybe it’s okay to be a little catatonic when I think about all the things going on in my life. Maybe that’s a good sign. Maybe that’s where the goodness lies.
If that’s true, then everything is going just fine. And that’s a thought I hadn’t considered yet. That maybe there is something beautiful in hiding under the blankets. Maybe it’s not always a sign that we’re broken. That we’re hurting. But that we’re pushing. Growing pains.
I remember them from when I was a kid. Legs that felt like they were ripping themselves apart. And there was nothing to do about it. I just had to wait it out. Had to get excited that it meant I would be bigger one day. And that’s what this is, too. We can get excited that we’re growing, that we’re changing. We can hurt. We can feel it. But that doesn’t mean that anything bad is happening. That doesn’t mean that we are regressing. All it means is that it hurts. But it won’t forever. I promise. Shhh.
This afternoon I went out for Mexican food
Well after the lunch rush
That quiet, empty space between meal times
Sat in a big, bright room alone
A man crooning Spanish over an accordion
played on the sound system
Accompanied by the clinking of ice in my glass and
the sound of my fork on my plate
Behind a curved glass wall
a woman stood making fresh tortillas
When I lived alone in Portland I made tortillas, too
Measured the masa by handful
Added water until I could feel the right consistency
Threw in a pinch of salt
Made balls of dough and
pressed them in that big, wooden contraption
someone must have also made by hand
Cooked them on hot cast iron
Flipped them with my fingers
Just like the Guatemalan grandmothers
on the YouTube videos do
I made piles of them and fed them to everyone
Ate them with nothing but a spritz of lime
Soft tortillas pressed against the flesh of our lips
Cut by the lightest pressure of slippery teeth
We didn’t think about how everything we do is wrong
and it hurts all the time
I catch myself flipping through ten different open tabs in my browser. Rechecking my email. Picking up my phone and sending text message after text message. Staring out the window, pacing around the office. I get up and do a circle. Grab a snack, refill my ridiculously gigantic water mug, talk to someone for a minute.
I’m firing on all cylinders. But not in the way that’s helpful. I’m not zoomed in, hyper-focused. I’m not tossing around the same problem and working it from all angles. I’m overwhelmed. I’m fumbling. There isn’t a starting point and I don’t even know what finishing would look like.
Hours go by and don’t think I’ve gotten anything done. Don’t feel like I can form a sentence to explain why that is or what it feels like. The crawling skin and pounding head that beg me to crawl under the desk, curl up, and cry.
There is nothing tragic happening here. Overall I’m pretty good. Nothing much to complain about. I sleep hard through the night. But my brain is trying to stretch itself out in every direction. Clawing at the inside of my skull, hoping to find a rough surface to latch itself to.
Always looking for traction. I can make the lists. I know the things I want to do, but I have no sense of slow progression. I am a conveyor belt. Want to churn through everything as soon as it is set in front of me. No time for it to dry around the edges. There is urgency everywhere, for everything.
Just get it done. I don’t want to think about it anymore. I don’t know how to just let it sit. Let the pot simmer on the back burner and come back to it. There’s too much I want to spend my time on to offer any of it any room to marinate.
I like to think I could learn to give myself some leeway. Settle into the idea it’s okay for things to take time. To figure out how to be okay with things sitting. Undone. To let them be without letting them unravel me.