So I write & I work with fiber: sewing, crochet, embroidery. & there’s already a lot of similarities between the two for me. You have to pay attention to detail in order for the full piece to work. You have to be steady, do the right amount of prep but still have a feeling of spontaneity to composition. You have to trust that if you run into a snag, you’ll be able to figure it out. That if your story or your thread snarls, you have the determination to find the knot and s l o w l y work the thread straight. As well sa the belief that this effort is worth the payoff.
The main difference for me is that I make clothing for other people & I write for myself. Which sets off another set of nueroses that I won’t get into here.
BUT, the good news today is that while I was editing a work of my own, I discovered the Page Width Zoom function in Word. Y’all seriously, I’m in love. The words are all up close & personal & I feel as if I’m watching stitches form while I’m typing. The main reason I struggle with writing with a computer is that there is actual physical distance between me & my words, which are so close when I write by hand.
Page Width Zoom, I declare here before man & the Internet that I love you & you are the most best feature ever. Do you feel the same?
I was standing at the customer service desk the other day, idly playing choices in Fallen London while I waited for the next person who needed my help. I heard the suck of the wind shift the inner hallway door as the outer door opened. A few seconds later, an older woman in a ball cap & a surgical mask came in & made eye contact with me, stopping just inside the doorframe.
“Hi, come on in,” I said, “What can I help you with?”
She stared at me for a second & slowly started shaking her head.
“Is something wrong?” I said.
She walked forward a few steps, before turning to her left, staring down the bathroom hall, & completed a circle of steps that brought her back to facing me. She shook her head in a deliberate no the entire time.
“Ma’am, are you ok?” I said, debating whether I should walk closer to her, completely unable to tell what was upsetting her. She plucked at her mask as if she was going to move it or adjust it so she could say something. Instead, she walked another tight circle & this time left the exact same way she came. Shaking her head the entire time.
The whole thing took less than two minutes. She didn’t come back, at least not that day.
& if that doesn’t sum up how this month (that’s not even over with yet) feels like, I’m not sure what else qualifies.
Today is Monday: laundry day. Detergent, water, clothes, lingerie bag full of handwashed masks getting another cleaning. Close lid so the machine can do its job without getting nervous & stopping mid-cycle.
Steps all lined up in a row to produce a predictable result. A lot of my anxiety management feels like this. Put actions & resources in place so everything seems normal even though my interior is disordered. Drifting away.
Sometimes I think this orderly domesticity is not just a display for other people but a grounding ritual—a way to arrange the evidence of my life around me as a beacon to bring me back to myself. Does it work?
Imagine a pause here as I consider bookshelves around me filled with novels, stuffed animals, & pictures. A pause here as I consider a mantle full of flowers, small candles, a vintage tea set. A pause here as I consider drawers of writing and fiber work in various levels of completion. The answer: it works when I remember to see. When I remember to breathe my way out of grasp of my thoughs. & my thoughts lately are flat & harsh in the summer sun.
Thoughts that hone their focus down to what’s immediately before me. For so long, I’ve castigated myself for being too dreamy, being someone who easily loses their hold on the limits of a day, an hour. Now, there is no self-criticism; just the matter-of-fact details of a day that stand in my mind as plainly as furniture in an overlit room.
Rent is due; work is tomorrow; I have a letter to write to my niece; the world is different today from yesterday for a variety of reasons. I look at the simple stark outline of my thoughts & balance between anhedonia & assessment. I could succumb to the joyless realization of how insubtantial my life is in this chaos. I could work to make something beautiful & intricate & fine for myself & my loved ones.
This is a tension I love to read in literature but as an actual lived situation the ambiguity makes me vulnerable, linging for guidance. Sitting by a fire in the dark alone gives one some courage against the unknown but sitting with another person always helps reinforce that fleeting bravery.
There are lies we tell ourselves to justify our self-interests.
There are half-truths we tell ourselves about how vulnerable & powerless & blameless we are.
There are narratives that our community, our religion, & our peers tell us we fit into.
There are aspirations & fantasies we create to become another person.
There are memories & experiences that change the more we move through our lives & reflect upon who we were & who we think we are now.
This is why we practice other emotions & other lives through fiction. So we can discern which of the stories above rule us when we decide & act.
I’ve been awake since 5 AM. Woke up in a cold sweat scared about money, about my job, about the general security of the circumstances of my life. Second night in a row. The weird thing is that roughly an hour or more of focusing on my breathing & calming down & feeding the cat & repeating “I am so tired” to myself repeatedly in an effort to hypnotize myself, my mood swung back the other way. I started drifting off to sleep; listening to my husband breathing & shifting beside me; & I thought to myself, it’ll be ok. My brain immediately jumped on that idea & started making plans & outlining practicalities & listing out all the things I can do about the stuff I’m scared about.
And my reaction was, ok, I guess I’m awake for real. Let’s sit down & write about this. Continue reading