Wherein New Feelings Emerge. Or Old Ones.

June 22, 2011

When I started working at the Company-that-Must-Not-Be-Named, I went through a lot of changes, physically and mentally. This is to be expected, considering this was my first job in the Real World, away from academia and without all of my friends and comforts surrounding me. When a year later I was looking in the mirror and seeing someone completely new, I wasn’t all that surprised. Some of these changes were rather subtle, like my mood when it went from relatively happy-go-lucky to extremely-short-fuse. Or my change in weight, when I just kept losing more and more. This would be a good thing if it were due to diet and exercise rather than lack of sleep, stress, and not eating. Even my memory, once able to hold on to thousands of mundane, daily facts, now barely able to remember what happened yesterday. But these changes, while vast in scope, were slow in speed. I didn’t know I was embittered by insomnia and hellish morning commutes until I was already snapping at people for ridiculous things. And I didn’t know about the physical changes until I realized I really needed a belt for my regular pants. Nor did I realize just how much I was forgetting until my boss started asking me questions about work I’ve done that I could never recall actually doing.

What I did notice quite immediately, however, was a certain listlessness towards all things creative. I used to write. A lot. Most of my stories never got to see an ending, but I was able to crank out pages upon pages of prose and dialogue, all leading to something vastly important, if only I could figure out what that could be. I never considered myself to be particularly good. Ok, when I did get to present my work, it was to a group of writers who always had something good to say, even as they gave me constructive criticism. But while that was all well and nice, I never thought of my writing to be any better than any others, except for one or two students who still had a lot to learn yet. The act of storytelling for me was never borne out of some misplaced sense of my own importance, but almost out of a physical need for release. The pressure of words and characters and conflict building up inside me until one night, usually in the wee hours of the morning, when I would sit at my computer and type them all out until all that was left was a feeling of satiation. It was a rush that I always found somewhat erotic, only without the sexual component. I loved that feeling, craved it, wanted more and there was never enough for me.

Becoming a sales assistant at the Company-that-Must-Not-Be-Named earmarked for me an extended period of creative frigidity, or impotence. I couldn’t get it up, so to speak, to finish even a short, 1000-word story. And yes, I’m done with the sex metaphor. I wasn’t doing anything at all, just coming into work, staring at an Excel spreadsheet (I know, the horror of it all), and then fighting the rush-hour commuters until I got home long enough to shower and pass out by 10pm. Occasionally, I would throw on a television show I had already watched, or some music, so I could have the sound to keep me awake during the day. I was not a good person to be around, snappish at one moment, sluggish the next. It had gotten to the point that my best friend Heather sat me down and told me, with no less tact than is her usual way, that I am stagnating where I am and it’s making my brain dribble out of my ears. I think I already knew that, hell I’ve been seeing a stress counselor once a week for almost a year, but hearing those words really brought it home. And the worst part was: knowing didn’t make it better. I couldn’t find a solution to the problem.

That year, which I believe was 2009, the holidays approached faster than I was expecting. Without any ideas on what to get those I love most in the world, I turned to something new: crafts. I sewed (badly), and made jewelry (not as badly) and people enjoyed their gifts. I found I had a knack for figuring out designs for necklaces and the more I learned the more I wanted to try. In a way, I got my mojo back, though it was displaced to a different medium. Later the next year I signed up for grad school and began life again as a full time worker/student in the Media Studies program at The New School. This past semester I actually did a little writing in the form of half-assed scripts for class projects as well as this blog, and the weight in my chest grew lighter. I got into horribly girly things like fashion and while it was more superficial, it became yet another way to express myself. One romantic relationship ended and I began another one a few months thereafter with someone who tries to cultivate my creativity. I was becoming a person again, not just a flat shadow in front of a computer screen.

Things aren’t perfect, no. I still slip back into my old, two-dimensional ways, and things haven’t gotten 100% better. But it’s a start and the best part? I’m starting to feel that build up again, of characters and places. Scenes are beginning to form with a clarity that mimics reality for me. There are so many stories I could tell and so very little time to tell them. I just hope I can bring myself back to that place of perfect release. Which, I suppose, is why I’m writing this post. To prove that I could actually finish something for once and that I can push those words through like I used to. It looks like I can. Hopefully that’s a good sign.

Though I’m holding off on the afterglow. I am at work, after all, and there is a time and place for such things.

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