This might get a little stream-of-consciousness. Consider yourself warned.
I went to a play today. It was Wakey Wakey, the last performance of the last show at Manbites Dog Theater’s physical performance space. I’ve always been sort of Manbites-adjacent; I remember when they had a space in a different part of town than they do now. I have been friends with or worked with many other people involved with them. The art they have made over the years sits in this beautiful space - a sort of off-Broadway space - that is not beholden to the commercial, but is art explicitly intended to inspire conversation, as opposed to the let’s-put-on-a-show vibe of many theatre projects (including all the ones I’ve ever produced). Being in that space - reading the program - and most especially smelling that small theatre smell of painted scenery - made me feel keenly how this is a piece of my life that I have let go - certainly since having my son, but in some sense extending even farther back - to when I began college almost 19 years ago.
And yet the theatre is in me.
Wakey Wakey is a good show for making you think about the parts of you that are with you and in you that maybe you’ve been neglecting.
I started to think about Sarah Ruhl, and her book 100 Essays I Don’t Have Time to Write. I haven’t read it. I want to. I want to read everything Austin Kleon recommends on art and motherhood.
Last week I had a frightening dizzy spell. It started as I was going to sleep Tuesday night. I thought, “Probably I’m just tired. It’ll get better overnight.” It did not. Wednesday morning I was genuinely afraid to go downstairs. W. was out of town, so it was just me and toddler M. We walked across the hall into my home office. I popped him in front of the TV with some Daniel Tiger and ate some candy I had on hand. At the end of the Daniel Tiger episode, I felt better enough to venture downstairs. I called in the grandmas, and my mom came over so that I could engage in enough self-care to try and get better. I thought maybe I was having hypoglycemia, because I’d only eaten a scone and cheese for dinner. Then I remembered that my hormones were acting all wonky in a way that maybe was leading to anemia. I thought maybe the intense nursing that M. has desired for the past couple weeks was leaving me dehydrated. Over the course of the day, through the careful application of food, water, and caffeine, I got mostly better. Thursday I wasn’t dizzy anymore but I was exhausted. Friday and yesterday (Saturday), I was basically a lump for most of the day.
I interpreted this episode as my body telling me that it was time to contract. Time to replenish. My mom said to me, “Please don’t let yourself get more depleted,” and I thought, “Yes, that’s the word.”
I was the opposite of replete. I felt like a jack o’lantern after the emptying and before the carving and lighting up. I felt scraped out. I genuinely felt as though my life force had left my body in very physical ways.
Today I started to feel better. I’m beginning to get a handle on it.
I unsubscribed from all my newsletters with Unroll.me. It’ll be easy to add back the ones I miss.
I unsubscribed from all of my RSS feeds.
I unsubscribed from all of my podcasts except The Hilarious World of Depression and Self-Service.
I lay in bed reading novels and playing mobile games.
I decided to let the Self-Service podcast be my guide. And it led me to water. Literally. An early episode is called “Stay Hydrated, BB,” and I decided to let go of the idea of calling things in for the next year of my life except water. I’m calling in water: for drinking, for swimming in. For making magic.
I was listening to Cinderly’s Mermaid Podcast months ago (I definitely want to pick this one back up!) and in one episode the host visits the Weeki Wachee Springs mermaid camp. One of the experienced mermaids tells her, “The water is a teacher.”
I have held that thought in my mind ever since.
Water changes its shape to fill the vessel it is in. Water can be solid, liquid, or gas. Water can carry things. Water can erode things. Water water water water.
I wasn’t kidding when I called this a blog post about everything and threatened stream-of-consciousness, y’all.
Being a mother feels like being a piece of kintsugi. It shatters you and puts you back together. You are shinier and more beautiful than before. You are disconnected from yourself, but all the pieces of you are still there. It’s easy in the early days to think they’re gone, but they’re not.
Some months ago I told W. that I felt like I needed a side-hustle because my research assistantship doesn’t bring in a lot of money, but that I simultaneously was struggling to do what I have to do now so I couldn’t really take on more.
“You’re a full-time mom and a full-time grad student,” he told me. “I would encourage you to consider one of those to be your side hustle.”
It was only this week that I realized mom is the primary gig and grad student is the side-hustle.
I’m feeling pretty silly right about now.
I kind of want to read Chris Guillebeau’s book Side Hustle and see if I can apply anything from it to how I organize my schoolwork. I told myself that I can buy it once I finish turning my concept map for the current chunk of my comps lit review into an outline.
It’s important to recognize that when you are caring for loved ones, even minimally, it’s going to impact what you can do elsewhere. It’s important to give ourselves grace and permission both to take a break from caring for others in order to care for ourselves, and to accept that the rest of life will move slowly when care is our number one priority.
Back in April, I did a lot of massaging of my online identity to make it fit a job I was applying for. I did want that job, and I do want to be the person who would get that job… but I didn’t want that job right now, not really, and I didn’t get the job, so that worked out well. (It’s the kind of job that isn’t available very often, in that it’s one particular position in one very specific organization, so I decided to go for it even though I wasn’t really in the place where I was ready for it, because I don’t know how long it’ll be before another chance comes along.)
Anyway, the massaging I did of my online identity has left me feeling a little dissatisfied, a little inauthentic, so I will probably be doing some reconfiguring of my bio everywhere, and my pictures and everything, to feel more like myself again.
I’ve recently started to allow myself to call myself a writer.
I wonder if I’ll ever be comfortable calling myself an artist?
How are you doing?
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