writing to survive
. . . only the retelling counts

What are words for?

Graduate school has had a slimming effect. Between running here and there, leaving the house at 6:00 a.m., a handful of granola with a milk chaser tossed back in the still of the dark night, between the frozen burrito lunches and the nervous energy that will not be quelled, I do not eat as much as I should. It is hard to pack a snack, lunch, and dinner for myself the night before or the morning of. That sort of thing takes planning and food strategizing and my brain has been overtaken by schoolwork and anxiety. It is hard to take care of myself and other people. And the animals. And let’s not talk about the house right now, which is a furscape of dirt and debris (thank you for cleaning the bathrooms, honey!). I have dropped over five pounds in the last few weeks, but it is not from burning off the calories in a frenzy of housework.

I don’t mind it so much, most of the time, the feeling that I can live off of water, almonds, and air, that I am ethereal. However, I need to eat. I need to take care of myself in other ways as well, so that I am not totally wrung out by Thursday morning. But I don’t totally know what taking care of myself means.

Or maybe I do, but I am unclear on how to implement a self-care plan. Sleep – yes. Tough to get when I need to get up before 5 a.m. and also want to interact with my family at night, but maybe for three nights of the week, I just have to accept it: go to bed. My early rising is a form of self-care, a way of having a little time to wake up and caffeinate before I head off to BART. Food and water – well, obviously, they’re important. I am slowly getting better at planning for those long days. I have a lunch bag now and easy to grab snacks and a snazzy water bottle with a straw. It’s a start.

Then there’s writing. Good writing. Lyrical writing. I just don’t have it in me. I am living and creating the life of a literalist, poetry free, with worries about confidentiality policies, school counselor passes, and tomorrow’s presentation on Section G of the American Counseling Association’s Code of Ethics. Still, I am carving out a bit of time to write this, because writing makes me feel better. The laundry and dishwasher can wait a few minutes. The potatoes can bake themselves.

Here I am in front of you, creating, trying to live. Someday the words will come back, dusty and tired from their months on the road. They will exit the steam train, leap off the stage coach, meet me at the gate, ring my doorbell. They will embrace me, old friends who went on walkabout while I filled my head with new things. There will still be room for them.

Just as there will always be room for you.


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