Last week's late pants points report

I'd like to say I forgot to do this last Friday, but the truth is I couldn't be bothered to go and get my date book, which is where I record all the scores, so I didn't have the numbers to report.  (Also, I didn't want to bother adding them all up, which contributed to my desire to leave it until today.  And I wanted to write the post about leggings.) Last week's score was 283/350, total so far 1633/2000.

That week includes quite a few days of relative high scores compared to my apathy -- it does not include the fact that, on Friday night, I went to sleep fully dressed.  It was kind of an exhausting week.

And while I'm on the topic of my life on the scale of weeks, if this year's Clarion email comes at the same date and time as the one I got in 2010 letting me know I was on the wait-list, it will come, this Friday, during the sociology class I wrote about last Friday.  I have an IFTTT trigger set up to text me whenever I get an email from either Clarion or the Clarion foundation, so I will know as soon as the email arrives.  If it isn't convenient for me to check my email during class, that may be a very un-fun hour.

It's shaping up to be a long, drawn-out week, which sucks, because I'd love for it to be one of those short, punchy ones that goes by so fast you feel like you've wasted part of your life.  Anything to get to Friday, really.  (Oh glob, I really hope the email does come on Friday.)

ART! And mental health.

I'm not very good at doing art just for the sake of art.  I mean, like, I can do art for the sake of the creation of the art I'm working on, but I have a great deal of difficulty doing art for the sake of the activity, regardless of its product.  This is a topic I cover frequently with my art therapist. Today, we talked about the difference between creating art in order to get 'in the moment,' and creating art without a concrete purpose in mind.

The first one, I can do.  I'm comfortable with it.  I'm comfortable with it even if I ultimately fail to create the product I'm going for.  The trouble is, it's not easy to find specific, concrete reasons to create art.  There are a surprising number of conditions that I need met:  I have to have a specific goal I'm trying to achieve, and there has to be something I'm going to do with it when I'm done -- someone I'm going to show, or somewhere I'm going to post it, or something.

If I don't, that's fine.  Maybe I don't like it at the end.  Maybe it's outside my abilities.  Maybe I decide that the whole project is a waste of time.  But if those two conditions aren't met, I find it nearly impossible to even get started.

the other kind of art we talked about involves both of those conditions being unmet.  Not having a project, not having an audience.  Just trading ink and paper for an emotional state.

That activity makes me really uneasy. It makes me uncomfortable, and the fact that I can't handle that discomfort is probably a pretty big part of the reason I have a therapist.  I should be learning how to cope with that discomfort, because it's the same kind of discomfort that I have to figure out how to cope with when I go in for job interviews, or wait for acceptance/rejection letters, or submit stories to magazines for publication.  It's the discomfort that is the default state of a progressing life, and the fact that I can't deal with it is a huge problem.


But this post isn't about how I'm going to start facing that problem, head-on, every other week in art therapy.  This post is about how I'm going to start making art there with the intent to post it online.  Sometimes I'll probably post with an explanation about its significance, sometimes I'll just post the art, without context, and sometimes, when I don't think it's good enough, I won't post it at all.

Sitting with discomfort is productive, but it's also sort of an all-or-nothing activity, and I can do it on my own time, not my time with my therapist.  So I'm going to need to start doing that.  But I also need to find ways to connect my art that has emotional significance with my art that I can actually convince myself to do.

John Green is gonna talk to the President -- also, I'm scared of meeting awesome people, too


John Green is gonna ask the President about pennies!

Also, in this video, John talks about anxiety about meeting people you admire.  He points out that it will never be normal, that you're always going to be hyper-conscious of everything that could go wrong.

Obviously meeting the President is a little bit bigger than meeting, for example, John Green.  But this discussion reminded me of the multiple layers on which I have this anxiety.

Layer 1:  I don't want to say anything embarrassing, because I don't want to make that moment, in that moment, awkward or uncomfortable.  I care about preserving the integrity of what will be the memory of that moment, and I also want to be able to enjoy it as far as is possible while it's happening.

Layer 2:  I don't want to stick out, because I don't want someone I admire to remember me for being in some way deeply and memorably creepy or unpleasant.  I know that's vanishingly unlikely, but still.

Layer 3:  I want to be a successful writer.  Relatedly, nearly all the people I really admire are successful writers.  I want to eventually be in a place professionally where the people who right now make me nervous -- so nervous  that at least one literally thought I might have been sixteen because I was trying so hard to shrink into the floor -- are my peer group.  So I'm not just afraid that they're going to think I'm weird and creepy and unpleasant, but I'm afraid that I'll never get to a place where I can deal with being around them and not being so giddy I can't talk.

I mean, it's not like I want to stop admiring them, or stop being a fan.  But one of my many weird fears about success is that becoming a successful writer will put me in an incredibly alienated position where I can't be around any of the other professionals in my trade, especially the ones I most want to.

slow brain day

I'm having a slow brain day. Does anyone else who reads this blog sometimes have days when they just can't get their brain working as smoothly as they wish it would?  Part of it is that it's too hot in my office right now, part of it is that I have a little bit of a headache and I slept at a bad angle last night so my neck hurts.  Part of it is that, though I know I should be paying attention to my schoolwork right now and writing for the school paper, I mostly just want to think about the D&D game I got invited to this weekend because I haven't played in a very long time and I'm nervous.

I don't think there's any one big thing, down at the bottom of all of it.  I think it really is that my neck hurts and I'm distracted and it's a little uncomfortable in this room.  My ankle hurts today -- I wonder if it's going to rain soon.  My day planner is a little bit overloaded.  I have a new story idea, but I don't know how to start writing it.

Philip DeFranco posted a video today about self-worth, and about having a sense of purpose.  I've reposted it below.

I get my sense of self-worth predominantly from my intellect -- I'm more comfortable believing that my thinking skills are valuable than anything else I'm able to do, and when they aren't working very well, it's emotionally difficult.

So I'm grasping around trying to find something stimulating enough that it inspires me to create new content, but nothing's working as well as I'd like.  I've got thirteen tabs open right now, and I keep opening new blank ones trying to think of something new to type into the search bar.  More than once, I've opened one blank tab, then, frustrated, opened another, as though that first blank tab was failing me and I needed a fresh start on blankness to get to a more substantial place.

It's even hard to figure out what about my present state of mind might be worth reading from someone else's perspective.

It'll get better, though.  I'm sure it will.

John Green on Brushing Teeth

I'm writing this here because (a.) it's a question-and-answer on John Green's Tumblr, and you can't reblog question-and-answers on Tumblr, and (b.) it's really good advice about the nature of stress. John answered a question on his Tumblr about brushing one's teeth.  This is a topic he's discussed before, and he's experienced in the field of discussing dental hygiene failures.  The whole post is quite good, but I want to draw attention to a particular segment:

So here’s the best way to overcome [your mental block] in my experience: You have to acknowledge that the thing you are about to do, even though there is nothing technically difficult about it, is extremely hard for you to do at this particular moment. You know that it is extremely hard because you have failed to do it on many previous occasions.

You don’t need to think about why it is so difficult; you just have to accept that it is difficult.

(I have to do this all the time when it comes to doing the dishes, which is not a hard chore, but I get very anxious about it and overwhelmed and my brain just says THE DISHES WILL BE THE HARDEST THING THAT EVER HAPPENED, and I have to tell my brain: Okay. You are right. The dishes will be very hard. But I am going to do them! I am going to do this very difficult thing!)

So then once you have accepted in a non-judgmental way that for whatever reason this thing you have to do is very difficult for you, you can then psych yourself up to do it, and then you do it: You’re brushing your teeth, and you spend a solid minute or two brushing all the surfaces, and then you spit and rinse your mouth out, and you have just done a really difficult thing.

[emphasis John's]

John really nails, in this post, what it's like to have anxiety.  When it's light, there might be only a few things that feel overwhelmingly difficult.  When it's bad, it can feel like almost everything is prohibitively hard.  But, the important thing to note is that it actually is difficult.  You're not just imagining it -- well, okay, you could probably characterize it as imagining it.  But that fact, because you can't un-imagine it, adds genuine difficulty to the task.