After the crazy/amazing/inspiring/exhausting ride that was AWP Writer’s Conference in Boston, I came home even more determined to write and create, but also more frustrated by the little things in life somehow blowing up to become these all-consuming beasts. I woke up last Tuesday so tired, I didn’t know how I’d make it through the day, and I barely did. My body suddenly felt useless; after being sick and pretty much eliminating all common sense concerning food and exercise during the AWP whirlwind, I felt like I lost all my physical strength. Feeling physically weak almost always results in my emotional and mental health suffering, and I was definitely sinking. Tuesday ended with me eating carrots and Goldfish crackers for dinner and having a minor meltdown in bed.
And then, there was Wednesday.
I woke up deciding that I couldn’t feel this terrible about life anymore. I had a lot of shit to be happy about, so many accomplishments and opportunities that I should be excited about. So, I check Facebook, and my awesome friend Melanie (who was also a gracious host during AWP!), posted an article from Buzzfeed: 25 Things To Do When You’re Feeling Down. It seriously changed my attitude. Seriously, how could you not love an article that encourages you to tell yourself that you’re a badass bitch and no one can fuck with you (tip #2)? So, I did it. I made myself a lovely breakfast with avocado, or “nature’s butter, bitch” (tip #3). I gave myself mental high fives and wore my comfiest sweater, which has kind of become my security blanket. I listened to a lot of Frank Ocean, particularly
I took a walk. Now, in Delaware, people find it really fucking weird that I like to walk. Look, I grew up in Brooklyn. We were broke. Bus fare was a luxury. You learn to love walking when it’s the main way of getting around, come to appreciate all it does for your body and mind, what stinging air can do to wake up your senses. I don’t like relying on others to get around, to do what I want. It’s obnoxious to expect people to cart you around. So, I walked around, picked up a few things for a wedding I had to go to, and then wandered into the dollar store. There’s a book section there, and I like checking it occasionally, though I usually don’t find anything great. Sometimes, I’ll find a silly novel for a buck. Well, I was just about to give up when I saw a slim white book crammed in between two larger ones with the word BLOCK emblazoned on the spine. The word “Wasteland” was scrawled in script. I literally gasped and pulled out the book, in complete denial. There’s no way that in this place, on this day, did I find one of the few Francesca Lia Block books I did not own.
I literally hugged the slim paperback to my chest. It had a little tear in the back cover and a tiny dent, but that made it even better to me in a way. It was perfectly imperfect. I left the store with tears in my eyes. It wasn’t just about finding the book. It was a reminder that this author, my favorite author, had seen the value and beauty in my work at some point. It was a reminder that I had a tribe of word warriors that always had my back. It was the universe reminding me that pain and uncertainty is fuel for art. It was about the power books have to comfort and inspire.
When I was at AWP, I met the amazing Cheryl Strayed, who radiated warmth, serenity and a fierceness that is hard to put into words. She told me to just live my life like a motherfucker, and that is exactly what I intend to do. That night, after finding the book, I went to Zumba. Once again, the universe blessed me, this time with a little bit of British pop music just as I felt myself flagging:
I wish I could say the entire day completely erased any meltdowns from my life, but I had another one the next night, over my clothes, about how to express myself through fashion when I felt like so much of my clothing doesn’t really reflect who I am. I’m a fashion whore, so it’s hard for me to feel like I’m not expressing to people who I am with my sartorial choices. Again, the universe was there, through the brilliant plus sized clothing company Domino Dollhouse, who posted another Buzzfeed article: 18 Fashion Rules from Beth Ditto. Beth is my fashion icon, my body confidence goddess, and this article was exactly the kick in the ass I needed to remind myself to work the fuck out of whatever is in my closet, that I am a fucking force, that black eyeliner is a gift from the cosmetic gods. I felt a little bit of my old swagger returning and, as I applied my gel liner to create a bitchin’ cat eye, I winked at myself in the mirror.
Welcome back, kid.