A few years ago (okay, okay, 10 years ago) my friend Nicole made me 4 mix CDs of songs to get me through the summer and the start of college. They were pretty typical of that era – Dashboard Confessional, The Starting Line, The Used, etc. – and I listened to them so often that I heard them in my sleep. They got me through what still goes down as the hardest break up I’ve ever been through (sad, but true) and I can still remember the first time I could listen to “Best I Ever Had” without crying. It was a moment.
I’ve been in a weird place musically, probably because I’m in a weird place emotionally. I’m all over the map, listening to blue grass one day, folk rock the next, rap, alt-rock, late 90s girl bands, and, of course, mid-2000s pop-punk. I’m remembering North Carolina, I’m remembering Virginia, I’m remembering Singapore, I’m remembering Thailand, I’m remembering California. The good, the bad…mostly the ugly.
The dissertation is going well enough. I’m on track, but my characters need depth. They need emotion. And because of how I’m telling this story, that requires remembering – vividly – what it was like in all of those phases of my life. It’s unpleasant sometimes, to remember what it was like to be awkward and nerdy and bullied and nervous. But it’s also weirdly empowering. I got through all of that, I get to own it. I get to take it and make it work for me. Take that, middle school!
I’m trying not to think of the hard things. I’m good at pushing them out, at ignoring them and trying not to feel them. But this story demands them. My writing (and in my writing, my life) demands them. It is a greedy beast, it wants to feed on everything. It wants to make a seven-course meal on my emotions, with misery as the main course. I can’t starve it, but sometimes I think I won’t survive. It’s my writing or me. We are the same and we are mutually exclusive, and somehow we’re both at the same time. Just try to wrap your mind around that.
But instead of contemplating this, I’m going to dive back into my story and see what happens. Because if it has to happen, it might as well happen quickly and late at night, right before bed, when I can go into my big, empty bed with nobody to snuggle or make me feel better about things.
On second thought, I could have planned this better.