What would you call a flock of caveats? An “apology”? A “press release”? A “special message to my fans”?

I didn’t sleep well last night and that’s part of this. There was no end to the tossing and turning and limb pain and just general shifting about that I think I managed about an hour of sleep total. But this isn’t about that, thought that may be the start.

I pulled into the grocery store parking lot with tears in my eyes. It’s a short drive from my home, about a mile, and in that time I took the dismissal from my mother about my sleep issue and transformed it into a meditation on my general sense of malaise. Where had the motivation gone? By the time a slid into a spot near the carriage return, I understood and I was ready to cry.

There are two types of people in the world: those who separate the world into two types of people and those that don’t. Normally I don’t, but in that long street strewn with Trump signs and autumn flags, I changed my mind and decided to binary the crap out of this. This isn’t about Trump, though he’s part of it.

There are two types of people in the world: those that express their feelings and those that reserve their feelings. At the very least, we tend to skew one way or another, and I fall into the reserve category. This causes two problems for me: I don’t get the help I need easily and, well, the “express-os” tend to take all the air in the room, and the energy from me. No, I’m not sub-tweeting you, though that’s part of it.

I composed myself, as I do, and did the groceries, (obligatory “like the good capitalist I am” statement that recognizes I willfully take part in a disempowering scheme in order to have turkey and coffee creamer – only humanities majors are required to write this caveat). I came home. I went upstairs to my office. I did no work.

In doing no work, I had to find something to distract my brain, so I found an audiobook to listen to, giving me the illusion of production (“there’s that creeping capitalism again” disclaimer) while meh-ing myself down to meh-town. I’d first picked a book on narrative, but this isn’t about that book, though that’s part of it.

The book I settled on is Write No Matter What by Joli Jensen, all about dispelling the myths of academic writing and developing a healthy habit of scholarship. It’s great and I ended up buying a hard copy too because I found it helpful, though it didn’t actually get me to work on my writing. I did stop partway through to post the upcoming week’s work for my composition class. This isn’t about teaching, though you know the pattern by now.

What brought me to tears, to reserves, to meh, to here is the fact that I’m totally fucking lost when it comes to my PhD program. Pandemic aside, though that’s part of it, I feel like I need some hand-holding right now. Yet I also feel like the department is just waiting for me to finally flake out and quit. That’s unfair to the department, but not to my feelings, which I generally keep to myself. The colleagues I normally talk to about this are gone. I didn’t get to say good-bye. That’s not fair. That’s why I was crying this morning. I’m gonna cry again.

Hold up…

I am reserved and twice the age of my colleagues and there may be an assumption I know what I’m doing and part of that comes from me. I have no clue. I don’t know how to even start a discussion about my comprehensive exams. I don’t know how my language test will work now nor how I’ll pass. I don’t know what I should focus on. I don’t even feel like I have anyone to talk to about it and even if I did, I don’t know what questions to ask.

Hold up again…sorry…

When you don’t know what to do, all the problems seem huge. I know how it feels to help minimize something into workable chunks for someone else, someone who is overwhelmed and anxious. I just have a terrible time trying to do the same for me. And that pandemic, the one that’s part of this, doesn’t help me prioritize my needs, particularly when I’ve spent a lifetime being told to minimize them. This is edging into territory that I don’t want to get into right now, though that’s part of it.

I suppose I could end on an optimistic note, something you can take away with you. A life-lesson learned. A bit of advice. A quick little pep talk that says “it’s okay to fight for you, ya know.” Then we can part ways and you don’t have to worry about me because in the end I realized my problem wasn’t that big at all, really, it’s loaded with privilege, right? I mean, there are larger problems in the world I probably haven’t read the scholarship on and “fuck off with your bullshit, Karen.”

OK. You’re right. It’s fine. I’m fine.

I almost ended this there, after “I’m fine,” like some postmodern bullshit essay that wants to leave you questioning the purpose of the whole piece or some amateurish attempt to make you self-reflective about judgement and priorities and now I’m mad I’ve used bullshit (italicize that crap) twice so close together but I’m not changing it.

The fuck am I doing? I am thinking about (worrying about) the audience for this piece, knowing that I’ll put it up on Facebook (with another caveat) to be read, but generally it not being read, or if read, not reacted to, and I’m not lamenting though I am using the language of lament. I am not fishing, I am just frustrated.

I don’t know how to ask for help.

I can feel my fingernails hit the keys on my keyboard so I’m writing this in a sustained sense of the heebie jeebies. But this isn’t about that.


During my writing group meeting this morning, I wrote roughly 1200 words in tears. I didn’t know what to work on so I just started free-writing about my feelings, thinking that somewhere in those 30 minutes I would find a thread to one of my projects. Apparently, that project is me.

But now I don’t know what to do with it.

I had planned to write a post today about my need for invisibility, the ability to just exist without much comment. I had pretty mediocre examples of what I meant (one involving my desire to wear mascara without someone saying “you’re wearing make-up”) and dove-tail that into some larger discussion, but I’m pretty sure I’ve built a much smaller cabinet than expected.

I’m trying really hard to not mix metaphors anymore.

So now I have 1200 words of what I think is deeply personal but important writing about myself and I don’t know what to do with it.

I don’t even know what to think of it now, 20 minutes later. I’ve edited it, fixed some spelling. Is it still authentic? Raw? Real?

If I post it here, what am I expecting? Am I fishing? If I link it on Facebook or Twitter, am I asking for comment? Am I looking for sympathy? How can I remain invisible and still get clicks? What is my goal?

When do the words stop being feelings and start being text?

Let me know in the comments.

I understand there are more important concerns in the world right now. I am learning and writing about how I’ve stumbled about and how others just took large dumps on the discourse. This post isn’t about that. This post is for me and it does what it says on the label.

I took to Facebook this morning knowing that last year’s post for my one-year anniversary would be highlighted under Memories. I appreciate that Facebook has become the archivist of my entire life. It is the archivist for you as well. For the whole world. For everyone. What Facebook says happened, happened.

And, just like last year, I went off on a rant about the evils of Facebook and how we’ve all sold our narratives into some algorithmic carnival to sell us hand-stitched face masks, sustainably-sourced coffee, and those weird bendy shoes that repel water.

Actually, I don’t really know what Facebook is selling you. Oh but they ARE selling YOU!

Oops, I did it again.

Like I mentioned in the last year’s post, I didn’t quit smoking. I’m a smoker who doesn’t smoke. And it does work for me. After several family health scares, a house fire, and the first half of 2020, I haven’t had one cigarette. Not a puff, not a drag, not a whiff. Zero.

But I will. I will somewhere down the road if the winds of life allow me that chance. I will. I will probably never be a habitual smoker again, but I will smoke. I will take pleasure in sliding my fingers down the paper, straightening out any wrinkles in the wrapping, feeling the firmness of the filter in that fleshy part between my fingers, the spongy sensation of it pressing down on my bottom lip as I secure it in my mouth, the raspy click (or click, click, click) of my lighter and the teeny heat it brings like an atomic sun. That first drag will be indescribable.

But that’s in the future. It’s been two years since I’ve had a cigarette and with life throwing me all these mini-boss battles, I certainly hope I make it to three.

God help me if I’m in the Water Temple.





*There’s nothing to see here. I just felt that ending the title at “smoking” had poor rhythm. I haven’t smoked anything in two years, so you can stop smirking now.

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