January 25, 2009

letter to a friend

...excerpted, which says it better than any retelling I could do.

dear m,

in the past few weeks I've rekindled an old friendship with a high school friend. one night -- last week, I think, or the week before -- we were talking online and in the midst of some dumb story I was telling, he asked, "are you a writer?" it struck me straight in the heart. I am trying to read more, since last year I barely broke 20 books, and lately I've wondered if my lack of reading has a direct effect on how little I am inclined to write; how maybe it's a simple intake/output equation, and I'm not giving myself enough to gnaw on, literarily speaking. the night he asked me, I had no answer and told him so. 'you should write,' he continued on. 'you're really good at it.'

tonight I was trying to plod through the last few pages of my handwritten journal, a journal I have been keeping (not so diligently, it turns out) since july. suddenly it occurred to me that I wanted to unearth my old notebooks, which have been stored in a box in my closet since I moved to portland. there are so many of them. it breaks my heart. It's as though I chopped off my arm and stuck it in the freezer, and then, upon unearthing it years later, suddenly remembered, longingly, how nice it was to have an arm attached to this stump. all of my brain from college, dumped into a box. I haven't even taken them all out. I didn't expect that there would be so MANY, and I didn't expect that there would be some I had forgotten about. I thought I could visualize them. I thought maybe there were five or six. There are at least a dozen, or more.

how do you get back to being a reader? how do you get back to being a writer? I don't know the answers to these questions, and they taunt me. natalie goldberg has a recent book -- did you know?-- or at least one written since I stopped writing. I'm inclined to buy it. I can't help but feel like her edicts on writing are some magical spell I can cast over myself.

this is my life in this moment. everything else is fine, or it's not. money is tight and tonight, doing my taxes, I was overcome with glumness at the realization that I can't keep this up forever, that I am making less than before, that I used to be able to put money in my savings account and feel secure, but now there's not enough. work at the opera is fine. work elsewhere is fine. I haven't ridden my horse much in the past two weeks -- just once or twice a week -- for mostly dumb reasons.

I love and miss you. I've made a marked improvement in my mental state since last summer, but only in the past month have I felt like maybe my depression has finally and completely passed. honestly, I'm afraid to appraise the situation head-on, for fear that looking at it will bring it back. better to glance sidelong.

tons of love,
j



---
dear m,

I just counted. there are 19 notebooks. nineteen.

xo,
j

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