Dear Journal: Feeling Gray

imageDear Journal,

Have you ever had one of those days when you feel like everything you do is just clouded over and worthless? And I don’t mean like being depressed, because I know how that feels too. I mean like just feeling down. I think if you have too many of those kinds of days in a row it can lead to depression, though. Luckily I seem to just get isolated days like that. This is one of those gray days.

I’m not even sure where it comes from either. I’ve been doing relatively well lately, on an even keel, not necessarily buoyantly happy, but not sad either. I guess you could call it “existing,” and I think I’m pretty good at that. There are the pretend smiles, and no one is the wiser, except maybe my best friend, and there are the corny jokes, too, the ones that mask as well as anything else can mask my mood. But I think I went through too many of those fake days in a row and I have no energy left for it.

It reminds me of 2008 in many different ways, this malaise, but it’s just one day, not a year of my life. I haven’t talked out loud in fifteen minutes, and I can’t even remember what my voice sounds like, and I’m watching TV or maybe it’s just watching me. If I were a drinker I would probably be drunk by now, but instead I’m nursing a hot mug of coffee, curled up in the quasi-fetal position, feeling washed out.

I don’t say any of that as a plea for sympathy, dearest journal. It’s merely a statement of fact, an acknowledgement that everything is not alright, that I don’t know what’s wrong, but that I feel it’s transitory. It’s an exercise in admitting some things to myself that I would generally just ignore. Maybe I’m growing up after all.


At Dusk

They take him at sundown
In shackles and chains
Face shielded from the rain
As it falls down in sheets
That frame his tousled hair
In a requiem of sorrow
Feet shuffling slow as sin
Waiting to be let back in
Stars rising like the tide
Far above his infamy
Straining to be free
But he looks at his feet
Moving forward against his will
The endless solemn march
From cradle to the grave
As night falls heavy as snow
Thick with a melancholy
So complete it permeates
In the rattling of the chains
And the tilt of bowed head
A silence that stretches thin
So many butterfly wings
That never touch the ground
Except in fevered dreams
As the sun fades into shadow
And death takes its prize
In the closing of his eyes.


Brown Thursday

As the rush came around the corner, past the TVs and into Toys and Electronics, I saw the look in their eyes, the one that said, “I have not been having a good day. You will give me what I came for.” I just wanted to tell them that it wasn’t worth it, that they should have stayed home in a turkey-induced coma instead of fighting the traffic, and being herded in like sheep outside the store for several hours, just to get a cartful of beats by dre headphones (maybe they saw that A.J. Green commercial) or all 9 seasons of Supernatural. I wanted to let them know that I understand their decision, though, that I know what it’s like to want everything for our family members, for our children, and yes, also for ourselves, but doing the Brown Thursday dance just isn’t worth the hassle.

They all start to look the same, too, as the night goes on, those zombies with carts, going through the motions as if they know they’re supposed to but they aren’t quite sure why. They’re the same ones who live and die for deals, who give up their time for discounts, even if they neither want nor need whatever is being discounted. They’re the same ones who fought over Cabbage Patch dolls, who camped out for the Wii, and who bring huge binders full of coupons to the store every single time they shop. They want the stuff because it’s there, and because it’s cheap, and because everybody else is doing it.

I looked into their eyes on another Brown Thursday and I saw my own staring back at me.


The Sorry List

apologies-inDon’t be sorry. Change your actions.

I’m probably the sorriest person you’ll ever meet. Believe me, I say “I’m sorry” at least ten times a day, but what am I really saying? I think most times I apologize it’s for something I have absolutely no control over, so it’s an expression of sympathy rather than of remorse. When I really am regretful about something I’ve done I don’t generally apologize. I usually instead try and do something to make it right, because actions truly do speak louder than words.

But sometimes there’s nothing I can do to make it right. Sometimes all I can do is apologize and look at the experience as a lesson so I won’t do it again next time, if I’m honored enough to get a second chance. And on today, the day we’re all thinking about being thankful for what we have, I wanted to list what I’m honestly sorry for in my life, the things I would like to change so that this time next year I am thankful for the changes.

I’m sorry for:

  1. not speaking up every single time I see an injustice
  2. not keeping in touch with my family often enough
  3. not always questioning my motivations
  4. saying negative things about others
  5. focusing on irrelevant things sometimes
  6. not always appreciating what I have
  7. setting my expectations low more often than not
  8. not always believing in myself
  9. keeping secrets from those who love me
  10. yelling sometimes when I ought to hold my temper

But the biggest thing about the list is not just typing it down in my online journal; it’s that now I can go back to it every single time I let one of those things happen again, so I can change my actions, because it’s not about being sorry. It’s about doing something to make a shift in my thought patterns, feeling better about me so that I can feel better about my decisions and about my interactions with others.

I look forward to crossing each one of these “sorries” off my list one by one during this next year and being a happier, healthier person for it.


50,000 Words

nanoWhen I tell them that I’m participating in National Novel Writing Month their first question is invariably, “does that mean you are writing an entire novel in 30 days?” I don’t really know how to answer either because the answer is both yes and no. It’s yes because a novel is technically 50,000 words, and one of the goals of NaNoWriMo is to hit that mark, which technically means I have a novel then. But it’s no as well because a novel needs a beginning, a middle, and an end, and I am hardly able to completely flesh out all three in the span of 50,000 words.

This year has truly been a labor of love because life interferes as it often does, so the goals I set for myself, while difficult at the outset, become even more fraught with a frantic dash to get each day in with a feeling of satisfaction. Does it wear me out? Indeed, but it’s a war of attrition, and I’m in it for the long haul, from the promising start on November 1st to the grueling completion on the last day of the month.

I just hit that imaginary yet still satisfactory line of 50,000 words today, a full five days before the 30th of the month, but I’m still not finished my novel so I’m soldiering on. I have a beginning and a middle, and I’m just starting to approach the final portion of that triumvirate with a solid horizon in sight. And I want to thank every single person who has listened to me this month moan about it because it is still an accomplishment, and I am so glad I kept pushing forward, and that I keep striving to accomplish my overarching goal.

To get that novel done. In 30 days. 5 days left, but yeah, that 50,000 barrier is still good to smash through.


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