It’s been A Year. Again. Next year looks to be more of the same and then some. But this isn’t one of those “how about that 2021?” Happy Fucking New Year type of posts.
I want to talk about not talking. Or more specifically, not writing.
Something has happened to me over the past couple of years. Something I can’t seem to put into words. Because that’s the problem. My words. They seem… broken.
We have all been playing this fun (not actually fun) game over the interminable eternity of this Fucking Pandemic. The options may be different on each person’s list, but the underlying multiple choice shuffle is the same.
Why am I like this right now?
- Chronic Medical Issue
- Chronic Mental Health Issue
- Chronic Societal Dysfunction
- Chronic Interpersonal Dysfunction
- (waves hands around) All This
Maybe your list features things like Pandemic Parenting, or Death of a Loved One, or Financial Instability or Loneliness. Also, everyone has a different definition of “like this.” But it feels impossible to pin the crime on a single perp. It’s like trying to figure out which biker smashed which bottle in a barfight and in the end it doesn’t really matter anyway. Because you’re still left sweeping up the glass and wondering why you bother either way.
For me, one of the strangest manifestations of All This has been an inability to put words together. Seeing as this skill is not only my job, but also the core definition of who I am, it’s been… well… bad.
If I’m not a Person Who is Good With Words, then who the fuck even am I?
This is not to say I haven’t been writing at all. I’m writing this, aren’t I? I’ve been able to outfox the problem to some degree by switching up the medium, like a stutterer trying to trick their brain by singing instead of speaking. I’m proud of the comics I’ve written during these strange times, and I’m still able to juggle an erratic patchwork of bite-sized work for hire gigs. I’m lucky to have work during a time when so many others are struggling. But I still feel broken. Not myself.
And it’s not just writing, it’s speaking too. I often find myself inexplicably unable to explain things. Unable to say where a thing is located. Unable to say how I feel or what’s wrong. Unable to make conversation. Unable to communicate. And anybody who knows me even casually knows that I talk a lot. Too much even. At least, I used to. Now, if I talk at all, it’s mostly just talking in pointless circles without ever actually saying anything that matters. So why am I like this?
For me, the biggest, baddest biker bitch at the pandemic barfight inside my brain is Menopause. But how much of this wordless wreckage is her fault? How much is the fault of my chronic vertigo or existential dread or the long, twisted roots of grief or…? Who the fuck knows. The end result is the same regardless. A profound dearth of prose output and a lot of loved ones who are sick of hearing me say “fine” when they ask how I’m doing.
Writing about it like this is good and I’m glad I’m doing it, but it’s barely scratching the surface. I’m going to keep doing it anyway. Keep writing around the edges of this fucking void. Keep working. Keep telling stories any way I can. Maybe it will change. Maybe not. Maybe I will change. Maybe not. Uncertainty seems to be the only thing that we can count on these days.
I wish I had a cool, insightful wrap up to all this, but I don’t. I do know that we are all dealing with shit right now. We are all trying to keep our own little dive bars up and running and hoping they won’t get trashed too badly this time, even though we know they probably will. And if all you did this year is survive, I feel you. If you haven’t written a book, or a symphony or painted or baked or what fucking ever, if all you can do is just keep hanging on from day to day, I get it. When you say you are fine, I know exactly what you mean.