Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word

I’m feeling bad right now because I haven’t posted anything here in weeks. MONTHS, MAYBE.

I know it doesn’t really matter. Nothing was riding on this. No one was staging a hunger strike to get me to write, or holding people hostage, or sending me threatening notes. It’s not a big deal, or even a little deal. In fact, the word deal should not be brought into it at all. Nevertheless, it’s hard to look my blog in the i’s, especially since it turned five in September and I wasn’t even there for it.

Only 13 more years until it's out of the house!

Only 13 more years until it’s out of the house!

I’m like the absentee father in a Creedence Clearwater song and I feel awful about the whole thing. I am consumed by guilt.

As usual.

I don’t know if it’s a characteristic of anxious people, or if it’s because I was regularly in well-deserved trouble as a kid, or if I committed a horrific crime in a past life and this is my punishment, but I feel guilty all the time. If I’m not feeling at least a low level of shame I assume that I’m either very sick or forgetting about some terrible thing I’ve done.

Things That Should Make You Feel Guilty

  1. Stabbing someone in the jugular vein with a pen
  2. Introducing someone to hard drugs and ruining their life
  3. Kicking animals
  4. Stapling your gross tarp to your neighbor’s fence
  5. Enjoying Paul McCartney’s solo music
I wanna punch him right in the smug, elderly mouth.

I wanna punch him right in the smug, elderly mouth.

You’ll be happy to know that I’ve never done any of those things. Instead I feel guilty about crazy stuff.

Things I Feel Bad About Right Now

  1. Wanting to punch Paul McCartney right in the smug, elderly mouth
  2. I think I’ve been paying less attention to Winston since I brought home a kitten and I’m not sure he knows I still love him
  3. I never had to take out student loans. I’M VERY SORRY ABOUT THIS
  4. I’ve never lost an extremity in a factory accident and I feel bad about having so many body parts
  5. I’ve never had to work in a factory
  6. Sometimes I identify with Bruce Springsteen songs about factories and I clearly have no right to do that
  7. I haven’t worked on that project that I physically can’t discuss
  8. I watch TV on my computer all the time but sometimes I say stuff like, “I don’t own a television” without mentioning the computer part and IT IS THE WORST and I’m sorry people have to listen to me
  9. I never answer my phone because I’m afraid of it
  10. I whine about stuff all the time and it’s only slightly less annoying than bringing up how much I don’t have a TV
  11. I raised my eyebrow in a passive-aggressive way in a meeting today and I should have just said the mean thing I was thinking instead because at least it would have been honest
  12. I still don’t know how to play piano
  13. I had a conversation in high school that makes me cringe to this day

That’s just a small sampling of the little stuff I feel bad about. I’m not even going to get into the big stuff, like guilt over being born with certain privileges, or how I don’t have every part of my life together, or how I have hair and some people don’t. I will never run out of things to feel awful about. Anytime I feel like I might not be wracked with guilt, my messed-up brain actively seeks out new things to obsess over. It’s sick.

Hey, look! Crazy Brain is back!

Hey, look! Crazy Brain is back! I did not miss you, Crazy Brain!

On the other hand, it’s also motivating. If I can get past the initial hurdle of feeling so guilty that I can’t even think about the thing that’s bothering me, I’ll work for hours to fix it if I think it will help me feel better. I’m sure a lot of people are that way. I’m willing to bet that the caveman or cavewoman who invented fire did it after a sleepless night staring at the cave-ceiling, feeling cave-bad about how undercooked food and cold temperatures kept killing the other cave-people.

So after four weeks in a row of not posting anything, I wrote this. And I hate it. I feel like I could have done better. I’m sorry to have wasted your time. I feel really guilt—

Aw, man.

What Are Words For?

Last summer I came down with a mean case of Why-Certainly-I-Read-Classic-Literature-itis and I cracked open Anna Karenina. I went into it sure that the 10,000 Russian names, many of them variations of each other, would be too much for me, but I came out the other side a little shell-shocked. Mark my words, that Tolstoy fellow is going places.

There are a lot of important lessons in Anna Karenina. “Wow, tuberculosis is bad,” for example, and, “Perhaps we could all be more careful around trains.” But the one thing that really affected me is how every single main character is trilingual. They switch between Russian, French, and English without notice and no one ever says, “Hold up. I actually only speak one extremely complicated language.”

At least, not in my translation.

At least, not in my translation.

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Smells Like Teen Spirit

Everyone has nights where they lie awake thinking of every mistake they’ve ever made and cringing at the ceiling. I had one this weekend, thinking of something that happened when I was 15. It was 3am and Rational Brain — the part of me that should have said, “Look, Stephanie. That was 10 years ago. It might be time to let it go.” — had gone to bed at a reasonable hour, so it was just me and Crazy Brain hanging out in the dark, regretting everything.

Crazy Brain, as crazy brains are wont to do, decided that it was vitally important that I track down the journal I kept from ages 14 to 15 to find out what my teenage self had thought about the incident in question. Immediately.

Don't listen to Crazy Brain. It's crazy.

Don’t listen to Crazy Brain. It’s crazy.

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Under Pressure

After a long day at work last week, I picked up my purse, shut down my computer, and turned the lights out in my office. When I say it had been a long day, I mean it had been one tiny fragment of a streak of long days in bunch of long weeks that have made up the many long months of one long year.

I patted my pockets down in the hallway and realized I’d left my phone on my desk. So I turned back to the office and immediately panicked. I could not see anything. I had gone completely blind.

As soon as it happened, I knew there was no coming back from this. I was instantly, permanently without sight and I knew exactly why. I once read that while Terry Gilliam was directing Brazil, he got so stressed out that one morning he just couldn’t move from his bed, and that must have been what happened to me, too. Stress had taken my vision. I tried not to scream while I flailed around. No need to increase anyone else’s stress by causing a scene over my sudden and irrevocable blindness, I thought.

I'll just feel my way on home now. Don't mind me.

I’ll just feel my way home now. Don’t mind me.

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Let Me Get What I Want This Time

Some children know what they want to be when they grow up, and then grow up and become that thing and enjoy it. If you are one of those people, please never talk to me or look at me. I don’t understand you and I don’t want to see your gross contentment.

Not only do I still not know what I want to do when I grow up as a grownup, I don’t even know what I want to eat for breakfast or what kind of toilet paper I want to buy. I’m not sure how you’re supposed to tell. How on earth are you going to decide what you want to do for a career, or who you want to spend the rest of your life with, or where you want to live that life? How does anyone know what they want?

When I was a kid, everyone said it was important to have goals. “Yes,” I agreed. “I want to be an astronaut. And a writer. And a turtle. And a princess. I want to be an astronaut writer turtle princess.”

“But you can’t be all of those things,” people said. “You have to pick one.”

That’s where they lost me. And I was never seen again. To this day, you can see my ghost wandering the hills, asking itself, “What exactly am I doing here with my ghost self and is it the right thing and have I adequately explored all the options? Boo-oooo-oo!”

Sorry. That got weird.

Sorry. That got weird.

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