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Saturday, August 04, 2012

Failing better and other things I hope to do next time

I'm having one of those days where I wish I could disappear, I hate myself that much. Things were going so well, until all of a sudden, in a flash, they weren't, and it all feels like my fault. Poor planning, overload, lack of decision-making, guilt, stress, layered in and around each other, until all I want is to sleep until it's over, but I have trouble with that too. Sleep feels indulgent, at a time when I already feel like I basically said to the universe, "Money? I've got plenty so I can toss it around so freely I might as well burn it." That is not the message I should be sending, considering my level of debt. I should be telling the universe I'm ready to dig in, work hard, and when I do spend money, to appreciate it, to value whatever it is I'm buying rather than neglect it, treat it as an afterthought.

I don't know how to escape that suspicion bordering on knowledge that whatever choice I make is a mistake, a flaw, a sign that I am dead wrong. Sometimes you only realize you're making the wrong choice after the fact. I've known for a long time that I have a tendency to want to do everything, to be everywhere at once, which often leads to impulsive decisions. The difference is I thought I had it all under control. I thought I had a carefully coordinated plan, and when it fell apart, so did I. I've probably gone through half a tissue box and cried enough to feel empty inside, not because of any one single thing I did or didn't get to do, more because I feel wasteful and immature and basically like a loser.

I started going through my Nook looking for something to read that maybe I'd downloaded and overlooked, and came across Naomi Shihab Nye's There Is No Long Distance Now. In the introduction, she writes, "Thank you, lives we did not lead, might like to lead, might still lead." In the first story, "Stay True Hotel," she writes, "Sometimes after long sadness, you needed a new thought. Hold it awhile. Stay true to it." I have a lot of trouble not trying to peer into those lives I did not lead, trying to backtrack and try to basically lead that one I didn't along with the one I did. My boyfriend basically said, just make a choice and stick to it. Instead, I agonized over it, trying not to let it ruin a meal that I wanted to enjoy but couldn't help feeling like, again, I'd been wasteful about. I get that we all make mistakes. We all fuck up. Part of me feels like maybe things worked out the way they were meant to be, that rather than turning into someone I hate, who thinks the world revolves around her and should always get her way, I had to take a step back and realize I can't get everything I want, when I want it. Or maybe the lesson is don't carry so many damn bags and you won't have to worry about lugging them around and preventing yourself from doing what you want.

Maybe it's just that that long sadness needs to be given its due, not pushed into a happy face or coddled or exorcised, but simply taken for what it is, for however long it lasts. Maybe it needs to be appreciated, to remind me that it doesn't mean I'm a worthless waste, that if I'm stuck with projects, or people, or situations, or a body, or actual physical stuff, that aren't giving me what I need, I am the only one who can make changes in my life so I can not have a repeat of this situation. I have no idea what the lesson is. At the same time, I got notified of an opening in an Alaska writing workshop I was on the wait list for. I know I need instruction, guidance, dedication to my writing as if it were a real job rather than a throwaway stupid thing I don't really believe in so I don't have to actually risk anything devoting myself to it in any way that counts. The more I dig in, the more I realize that the retreat is not actually as easy to get to as I'd thought, and I know that should be a sign that there's all the more reason to go, to push myself, if only to prove that I can get there, so that I value what I learn all the more, so that I promise myself that it won't be like this trip, that I will be a better, more organized person. I've skated by with the bare minimum, and I have the pile of discards to show for it, the black marks against my name that, if I focus on them, feel so heavy, like they are pressing on my fingers, urging me to give up give up give up, you'll never make it so find something better to do, something you can actually succeed at. But my fingers are hopeful, always. They keep going back, they keep wanting to succeed in spite of my worst instincts, in spite of all the fuckups and failures and messes and mistakes. They want to imagine something new, or simply get out, onto the blank screen, the old ideas that I have talked myself out of endless times. I know there is a lot on the horizon, a lot crammed in to these lists I keep making and remaking, as if that means I will actually follow through. It's hard when you feel like you can't even do one simple thing correctly; if I can't get myself to our nation's capital, how will I get to Dubai?

I know that's the worst part of me talking, the worst part of me that is always there, somewhere, inside, telling me that I will fail, even as I send out acceptances for an anthology, even as I have a new idea for a story, even as I pick out a dress to wear to a party I'm covering and plot out how to go about venturing into new territory. Maybe I had to fail this time, to fall on my face like I did the other day in Union Square, to prove that I can pick myself up again, that I can keep going, and not let it derail my journey. Even if it's a journey with an unknown destination, with new goals and dreams and hopes and possibilities lurking with every sunrise, with every time I let go of all those self-imposed obstacles holding me back from even the tiniest flicker of the fantastical, the utopian, the that-couldn't-possibly-work.

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