People of the Internet, I don't know what's happening to me. Has turning 37 shaken something loose inside of me? Am I having some kind of delightful crisis? Has my brain finally had enough with all of the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad things in the world and instead decided to focus all of its energy on the tiny lovely things? Am I finally taking enough probiotics that my microbiome is spilling over and filling in all of the tributaries of woe that have heretofore made up my alterna-circulatory system? Do you need a reason to suddenly realize that for a long time when you thought you were smelling flowers you were only smelling their shadows, because now… NOW… you can smell the flowers and they smell about 10,000 better than they ever smelled before?
What is happening to me?
Granted, I'm not floating around like Rose in Big Business, using my scarves to make leashes for rescue dogs. I mean, I'm still cranky a lot of the time. And the kids drive me fucking insane everyday from 4 to whenever they decide to go to sleep which some days feels like never plus infinity. I'm also filled with angst over writing projects and perfectionism and never knowing what to cook for dinner, and then burning whatever it is I finally decide to cook because I can't stop thinking about the writing projects that are not as perfect as I want them to be.
I mean, these newfound moments of glee haven't totally replaced me wanting to scream into my fist whenever Texas politics comes on the news, or wanting to toss a handful of sharpened golf balls at the cars that use turn lanes as their own personal "just driving down the middle of the road to get to Walgreens" lanes. BUT. BUT. For the time being, I am not overwhelmed by these things. And that is huge.
I'm going to attribute this surprising sense of general feeling good-ness to a handful of things.
1) All three kids are in school so I actually have quiet time in the day to work and think and eat and go to the bathroom with the door shut and take an uninterrupted shower and on some days, DO ALL OF THOSE THINGS IN A ROW.
2) I'm writing a lot. A lot of it is terrible. Most of it doesn't live up to what I want it to be. Some of it does. But I'm doing it. I'm doing it because I like it and because other people like it, too, and they've asked me to do it (with nice words and with money sometimes). That makes me feel good.
3) I'm reading a lot. Specifically, I'm reading things I don't always read, or only sometimes read. I've broken out of the "this is what I always like so I will always read it" mold and am trying new things. I've also gone back to some old favorites to re-read over and over. I'm reading a lot more poetry. And before you scoff, you should try it. Poetry makes me so fucking happy, I can't even. Look at this:
"And I love trailing my hand
over the smooth membrane bond
the intelligent little trinity
of my fingers gripping the neck of the pencil
while the other two dangle below
like the fleshy legs of a tiny swimmer."
That's from Billy Collins' poem Drawing Class. Little snippets like that… they just take my breath away. They make me want to be a better writer. They make me want to stare at small moments until the beauty of those moments shoots out of my fingertips in blinding light. They make me want to stare at a discarded lego on the sidewalk and write a poem about where it came from or where it might go. They make me burn dinner.
4) Exercise. People say it makes you feel better. These, I thought, were always crazy people. But I guess it turns out they're right. Forty-five minutes on the treadmill everyday, and I feel like an entirely different person sometimes. A sweaty person, but a somewhat more fulfilled person.
5) Bad television. It gets hard to be a snob, you know? It's tiring to be trendy. Not that I don't love a well-written TV show or movie, because I do. But sometimes, you just need to give in to not thinking anymore. You just need 42 minutes to watch beautiful people do ridiculous things because a writer who no longer gives any fucks has put those ridiculous things into a script. The whole thing is just so… brainless… that I love it and want to write fanfiction about it and think about it all day because WHAT. WHO VETS THIS? THE CHIEF MEDICAL EXAMINER DOES NOT SMELL A DECOMPOSING HAND ON HER VERY OWN DESK, BUT CAN SMELL A BODY HIDDEN IN A STATUE FROM TWENTY FEET AWAY? I say again – WHAT. And yet, this is all OK! None of the details of the story matter at all because the chief medical examiner is wearing a gorgeous Herve Leger dress and that's all I care about.
6) New music. And old music that seems new again. Bob Schneider's song The Effect gets played about 150 times a day around here right now. That and Tarantula. And, yes, even Katy Perry's Roar is getting a lot of airtime in the kitchen. I am over being a snob about these things. If it makes my butt shake, and it gives me a little burst of "let's stand up and dance and write at the same time" then I am all for it. If it makes the kids stop fighting long enough to wrestle-dance, then awesome. Thank you, Matt the Electrician and Celia Cruz and the Good Lovelies and Ida Corr and Swedish House Mafia, and sometimes even the fighting robot noise of Skrillex.
7) It's month two of taking a beta blocker so that I don't feel like a hamster having a heart attack all the time. I guess maybe when your heart rate is normal you calm down a little? Shocking revelation!
So. I know this post is probably going to have some kind of tsunami bad luck effect on me and cause all of life's terrible things to crash onto my head. Before the end of next week I'm sure there will be wrecks and mayhem and illness and injuries and maybe a tumor and all of the most horrible things you can think about when you worry that admitting you feel good will bring about some kind of karmic retribution. Kind of like that swelling feeling of "oh wow, I feel so much better" that sometimes happens a minute before you puke all over the backseat of a car. Well, fine.
It's just that people don't always blog or write Facebook statuses or whatever about how good they're feeling, you know? It's always, OMG, terrible this and can you believe that, and ARE YOU AWARE OF [horrifying thing that you want to not be aware of, but are aware of, and feel incredibly guilty for trying to not think about], etc. So I just wanted to say, you know what? Sometimes, even when people are grouchy and feeling mildly panic attacky for no discernible reason, they are still kind of happy about things. They are finding beauty in the backyard bird noises even while the neighbor spits loogies and the mosquitoes exanguinate their toes. Sometimes, feeling good is… good.
I feel good.
I feel extremely weird, and now worried, about admitting it, but there you have it.
Now I am going to eat a piece of chocolate and write a poem about bad television.