What is the dream? Whatever it is, it’s way over there.
The things that make our lives are so tenuous, so unlikely, that we barely come into being, barely meet the people we’re meant to love, barely find our way in the woods, barely survive catastrophe every day…
Even decay is a form of transformation into other living things, part of the great rampage of becoming that is also unbecoming.
—Rebecca Solnit, The Faraway Nearby
I am currently in a liminal space. Another way of saying this might be that I am in a waiting room, or in limbo. I am in a strange world between worlds.
I speak frequently of the folly of making plans; even knowing this, I began to make plans for 2015 in late 2014; and perhaps unsurprisingly, most of those plans have not come to pass. In October I’d already become increasingly physically ill. I reached peak exhaustion at the JFK airport on my way home from speaking at a conference, needed wheelchair assistance, and developed pneumonia later that week, which meant canceling my November speaking gig at the Bullish Conference (registration is open for the 2015 conference). Since then, I’ve hit peak exhaustion a handful of times as the Lyme disease I was diagnosed with in February flares again and again. I do not know what today, tomorrow, or next week will look like. I spend most of every day in bed, which is as glamorous of a situation as I can make it. (I still wear red lipstick. I am wearing, today, a white Edwardian dress over a lace slip.)
So there is that in terms of being held in suspension (in suspense).
There is also the liminal space of a creative expedition and being on the brink of good news, which I have been unable to share because the good news is not yet cemented, and until it is cemented, it remains in a place where it can suddenly shimmer and reveal itself to be a mirage.
Last night I made a list of Things I Have Accomplished in 2015, which is an exercise I recommend if, like me, you have productivity anxiety, but also have the tendency to forget that you’ve actually done anything of note. The Internet is a good place to see others doing remarkable things, and then to compare yourself to those other people—the other people who definitely have their shit together more than you do, are perpetually having five-figure months, and are LIVING THE DREAM. What is the dream? Whatever it is, it’s way over there. The Internet is wonderful, but it is also a finger that prods my various bruises these days. How is it that I’m not LIVING THE DREAM yet? Didn’t I work hard enough? Aren’t I good enough?
(You are. We are.)
A round-up of links to consider while in your own limbo state (or, if you’re on terra firma, congratulations and enjoy):
- Writers of Color, a directory. “Don’t you hate when editors use the ‘I don’t know enough writers of color’ excuse to back up the homogeneity of their publications? We do too. Here’s a fix.”
- Mother, Son, Schizophrenia (The New Yorker) Sohrab Hura and his photo journal of life with his mother, who was diagnosed with schizophrenia in 1999.
- I was interviewed by wellness provocateur Grace Quantock for her Trail Blazer series, in which I spoke with her about creativity and healing.
- In Her Room is a podcast about “women writers on life, craft, and changing the world.” An interview with me features in Episode 7.
- Well, now—I seem to be all over the place, podcast-wise. Michelle Ward interviewed me for her new podcast, Grown Up Gigs (worth listening to for the original ukulele tunes alone). Listen to me tell the long and sordid tale of my career path here.
- Don’t Mistake Your Best Friend for a Mirror: On Sophie and Frances Ha (Jezebel) “My best friends and I spun stories that took all number of twists and turns, but always traced one life lived by two. Mapping out my life alongside a best friend relieved me of half the burden of becoming someone; I was only responsible for writing half of the story. This was deeply appealing to me, as someone who was chronically unsure of my own potential but never unsure of my friends.”
- The Man Who Makes the World’s Funniest People Even Funnier (New York Times Magazine) “At the bottom of White’s Avid interface was a jagged waveform, representing the scene’s audio. White says that even with the sound off, he can intuit whether a scene is funny by simply looking at this waveform.”
- On What It Takes (Dani Shapiro) “After all, she had been working on the manuscript for ten years. She had poured everything she had into it. But her work wasn’t done. And as we began to talk about it, she told us she was trying not to cry. And what I said in response was perhaps not the most teacherly thing I have ever said: I cry every day.“
- Who Gets to Be An Artist? (Rachel Hills) “[I was thinking about] what makes an act ‘feminist,’ and whether it is more ‘feminist’ to be able to be fully financially self-sufficient, or to write and research a feminist book.”
- If you’re not following me on Instagram, you’re missing out on a lot of mini-blogging and art-sharing. Which is fine! But if you like, I’m right here.
- So Much Time Spent in Bed: Gloria Anzaldua, Chronic Illness, Coatlicue and Disability (brownstargirl.org) The terrific Beth from Little Red Tarot shared this with me in the comments section of a recent Journal piece. “This is my body. This syndrome is new/old and ongoing, unfolding. It changes as we find new ways to think about/see trauma, our bodies, embodiment, environmental racism, and sickness.”
- Why Being a Debut Author Isn’t Exactly a Dream Come True (Buzzfeed) “Let’s start out with the pre-publication period, or, as I like to call it, When You Lose Your Friends.”
- Piggy Gets Warm Bath (YouTube) I am obsessed with this video. I shared it with a million people. It made one of my best friends cry.