Pretend Spring

I dunno, guys. It’s pretty weird out there. Even Eileen Myles, my personal heroine of wedding/welding toughness, vulnerability and smarts, thinks it’s the end of the world. The latest Republican debate might give transcriptionists a seizure, or maybe anyone trying to follow it. We’re all lobbing election-related memes past each other on Facebook. That’s where I follow Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, which lets me know almost daily about a kid the age of mine who has killed or been killed senselessly by an unsecured firearm. Plenty of people are talking about America like it’s jumped the shark. The constant stream of reports about police brutality and debt-driven incarceration mount to a din; my outrage and despair seem only numbed and paralyzed by the frequency. The number of migrants fleeing into southeastern Europe has tripled in the past 2 months, though it hasn’t been cracking the headlines. I’ve had to supplant my afternoon public radio news habit with loud music I can belt along to. There’s only so much one can take.

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If only we all had such good attitudes about crashing.

It feels strange to walk outside and find crocuses thinking about being themselves, chart the diversifying birds daring their way up to the feeder, check the sap buckets, smell thawing earth. How can this be the same world? But it is this world I lean on to rescue me from the solipsism and anthropocentrism of our media diets. We belong to both of these fragile worlds. And each offers glimmers of beauty each day, beauty that is bound up with the struggle, not separate from it.

Read Something Beautiful

The absurd position of mothers in the only industrialized nation without mandated maternity leave is something that felt invisible to me when I became a mother only 7 short years ago. People are talking about it now, loudly, and that gives me hope:

Amy Westervelt wrote this great piece about how Having it All Kinda Sucks

Melinda Gates is talking about unpaid labor and how it affects women AND men in the global economy.

Lidia Yuknavitch writes lyrically and movingly about life’s complications, how “all the beginnings have endings in them.”

Make Something Amazing

If you have even one maple tree in your backyard, you can distill some fortifying sweetness. Practical magic like this is so worth attempting in even the smallest quantities—it always, always lifts me out of headline-induced nausea and back to a state of wonder.

Check back soon for a tutorial on making your own homemade small-batch syrup!

 

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Syrup spokesmodel and fairy princess

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The Plan

The plan keeps coming up again

And the plan means nothing stays the same

But the plan won’t accomplish anything

If it’s not implemented

– Built to Spill, “The Plan”

Coming downhill from the park, my dog Rosie pulling me along at a fair sprint, Doug Martsch’s lyrics and raw, wry guitars blasted in and said exactly what my anxious, thumping heart has been saying these past several weeks. Sure, you have a plan! You’re going to write like you’ve always wanted to write! Your whole career has been building connections and editing other people’s writing, but ever since you were a little kid sitting on phone books in typing class (true story), you’ve wanted to Be A Writer. And lo and behold—the plan, laid out in project management systems, documented in Google spreadsheets, researched, budgeted. Still the heart comes in with its simple terror:

But the plan won’t accomplish anything

If it’s not implemented

My particular brand of anxiety has always manifested itself as paralysis. If you don’t know what to do, do something, and maybe you can work your way around to confronting the work you’re scared of.

I just wrote that, and then sat perfectly still. Terrified.

If I’ve been working toward this my whole life, why does it feel like I’m starting over? I’ve been working remotely for almost a decade now, and I know how to motivate myself to meet other people’s deadlines. How about my own? This struggle, I find, is common to the caregiver set, used to putting others’ needs ahead of her own to such an extent that personal goals are relegated to well-meaning list-making at the end of the day, tapping out resolutions in Evernote between sips of box wine. Geez, even the pathetic vision that presents is a good enough reason to get going and make some things happen.

There. I said so. It’s good to get that out in the open. Now I’m going to open the draft of that essay that’s dogged me all week. Pinky swear.