There is a band in the world called Staind, in the same way there is a band called Hoobastank, because no one said no.
You hear their songs in shopping malls, in grocery stores in resolutely suburban areas, in restaurants with light-up buzzing coasters, and in rideshares with drivers named Jeff.
They have one song in particular I think is called, “It’s Been Awhile” (I refuse to Google it to confirm, because I have boundaries) and every single time I say this same phrase—more than you might think—I sing it after I speak it.
“Wow, they redesigned the whole interior of this coffeeshop. I guess it’s been awhile. It’s been a whiiiiile….”
I can’t seem to not do it, just as I can’t banish “Smooth” by Santana ft. Rob Thomas from my head when people mention “it’s a hot one.”
I call it the double curse of Crossfit Rock.
But truly, as I write this, I have to say: it’s been awhile.
I’ve written (and deleted) things on and off here, but couldn’t quite figure out what this space should be.
I’m not actively self-marketing, I’m not a writer or humorist of public note, I don’t have a book coming out, and I’m not really a blogger anymore, though I was for 11 or so years, a few years ago.
What could I say publicly that I couldn’t just tweet, or post on Facebook, or… not say?
That’s the problem, though: I wasn’t saying anything I couldn’t just say on a social network where approximately two people would spot me in between avalanches of memes and celebrity RTs and urban legends emblazoned with “LIKE IF YOU AGREE!”
I write all day long, in some way or another, but they’re not my words—though I still choose them with love and care. They are for other’s purposes, for audiences that aren’t mine, and in service of goals that have been expressed to me, rather than invented by me. I love this career, truly, because it fulfills my curiosity, my desire to pull stories out of the air, and my need to help.
But when I write for myself, building on the ideas that live deep, deep in my brain, those ideas get bigger and better, like sea monkeys.
And lord knows, the internet needs more sea monkeys.
So, four thoughts to close out this post (the title of which will cause me to sing that three word refrain every time I see it, in a move of self-punishment up there with attending neighborhood council meetings pretty much anywhere) because I don’t have a crisp ending:
1. I moved. An hour away from work. I still commute, but what I’m realizing is that I’m actually far better at not carrying work stress like a polite albatross when I have actual, real distance between who I am, how I live, and what I do. Do I still do work from home? For sure. Do I still answer emails at all hours? Sure. But there’s a subtle change in the air around me… and it’s not just pollen.
2. Having autoimmune issues is a lot like driving around in a car with all of the ALERT! light-up icons lit, all of the time. “Wait, what does that mean? Hold on, am I about to fall apart? Oh man, I’ve never seen that one before, what do you think it is? Oh gosh, I have half a mile left in the tank?!” On the outside, the car looks like it’s fine, and you’re staying in your lane, doing your thing, going where you need to go. On the inside, something is pinging like an air raid siren, there’s the smell of rubber, an icon that never used to blink is now blinking, and that tiny wrench could mean you’re about to be mugged by a plumber, or that you need maintenance.
3. My biggest writing pet peeve is the overuse of “that”… and that all I can see is the “thats” when I end up in a paragraph where that’s the problem. (See, how gross was that?) Now that I see all these “thats”, I have no doubt that many of my past professors and editors felt this agony looking at my own “that” overuse. That’s a terrible thought.
4. “Self-care” is pretty good, but I’m actually partial to “self-awareness” as my favorite “self-”. When I talk about how much I love self-awareness and value it in others, too, people say to me, “As long as it doesn’t end there. Self-awareness is kind of useless if you don’t work on the things you become aware of.” Well, yes, but it’s interesting that our first concept of “self” is what the hell is wrong with us, and what needs to be fixed. If that’s all you’re using your self-awareness for, girl, let me fling open the door to realizing your talents, your gifts, and how good you are at making the hummus hosts actually want brought to their party.