Joan Didion and Progress

Oh, shit.

It’s been one of those days.

Leave it to therapy to shake a bunch of shit loose when I don’t have time to deal with any of it in the moment. The greatest injustice of my life, I sometimes think, is the absolute poverty of leisure time with which to nurture what is most assuredly a profoundly productive and influential inner author.

Or maybe I’m just feeling sorry for myself, and a bit grandiose.

So be it.

Anyway. He said some shit, and then I said some shit, and then he said this one thing that has been marinating all fucking day. Which is neither comfortable nor comforting, as its happening.

Which is the point. I know.

Stupid point.

“You’re trying to control something by writing about it, but it’s not something you’ve ever had any control over.”

Or some shit. Along those lines.

And goddamn it, he’s right.

Still. I don’t think I’m ambivalent to finding another way of processing the experience of having my home raided by the state Attorney General’s office and what felt like every fucking cop in Warren County.

I still think I’m right. I think that’s an essay. A powerful essay. And, I think every person who’s told me I should write a book about that shit (so, so many persons) is right, and I should write a book about that shit.

But two things can be true.

Even if I don’t want that second one to be true.

I do have an essay to write. And this essay will one day comprise the throbbing, bloody heart of a memoir. Publishable or not, that’s happening.

Sometimes you just know things.

I’ve spent a long time trying to dull my intuition. It’s one of those tools that, when it’s well-calibrated and properly scrutinized, is frightening in its precision, but when even a little unsupervised or left to its own devices, has the potential to entirely derail my life.

I blame the executive function issue I have.

Truly. There are times, even medicated, when I simply cannot control the impulse to act. Mostly, I’ve learned to keep it reined in. Mostly, at my age, with as much at stake as I have, it only manifests in stupid but altogether inconsequential choices.

Like pouring a glass of wine when all I wanted was a thimbleful, knowing that what will happen next could just as easily be accomplished if I’d simply liquefy the money I use to buy the wine and dump it directly down the drain itself, cutting the middleman out entirely.

It’s just too easy for me to give in to the impulse to believe that what I want to be true is true because “I’ve intuited it.”

I really think that, had my impulse control issue been managed early in life, I’d be running the damn planet right now.

Pretty sure.

Anyhow. See how we’ve meandered? Even with Vyvanse, I’ve made it halfway to town by way of Calcutta in almost 400 words.


Anyhow, it finally came to me today that I really, really need to stop wavering and just grab it by the tits. Just, you know what? Follow Joan’s structure. Borrow from her mastery at swerving in and out of genres – narrative nonfiction, confessional prose, literary journalism – and fucking try out all those other ways I could be coping with this shit.

One hundred percent.

Just do that shit up good and proper.

Because yes. The day Mike got arrested is the chassis of the collection.

That’s absolutely unimpeachable.


It is not true that without that essay on paper there is nothing else.

There could be plenty else.

I should be taking a Buti class, and simultaneously spending a month researching and writing about Buti as I experience it.

I should be committing to developing that relationship with the deck of Rider-Waites that’s been on hold, because they’ve been shoved in the back of my desk for a thousand years. Finally getting around to legitimizing the role intuition plays in my life, whether I acknowledge it or not, and marrying my intuition with my intellect. Starting every morning by drawing a card from the major arcana and spending the day thinking about what Jung would say about that card, and how it relates to my life. Using them as an opportunity to be mindful and analytical in the moment, instead of later, when it’s (not ironically) too late.

I should be doing all the stupid little fucking things I think about doing while I’m trying to figure out how to place that one stupid day in narrative on a page.

But I don’t agree with him on the point that I should consider that maybe I’ll never write it.


No, dude.

I should still be ending every day by showing up at the notebook, after the kids are down, and my hair is down, and my fractured mind is diligently working its way down from the day. I should still be giving that filthy rat bastard of an essay that I can’t write (yet) the 90 minutes of effort I’ve been giving it for the last six months.

Because goddamn it, this is how I make meaning. This. These. These words. On a page. This is all I am able to create, and stand back from, and look at, and hold, and say “see, I’ve made something. I’ve left something here that matters.” I don’t make anything else tangible.

I make words.

There is my day job. I (try, and most days I manage to) write two articles a day, and a column a week. That’s my big girl job. But I have a second job, which isn’t a job at all, but a lifestyle. It’s just who I am, and I know it, and there’s no getting around it because it’s a fact. I know there’s not way around it, because the past six months I’ve spent actually, actively, committing to that 90 minutes a night, showing up, being present, whether anything gets written or not?

They’ve been the best six months worth of sleep I’ve gotten, in terms of quality. Eventually, the nightmares have faded. Probably, the Prazosin helps. I restarted it about three months ago, I think. Maybe more. Still trying to understand how a blood pressure medication can mitigate my brain’s heinous tendency toward horror and dread in the midst of REM sleep, but whatever.

Actually, “Hidden Brain” had a great segment – Eyes Wide Open Pt. 2 – where they talked about PTSD researchers theorizing that PTSD commonly presents with a nightmare component because noradrenaline is becoming active during REM sleep.

Stupid noradrenaline.

What a bitch.

Actually, NPR allows embedding because NPR kicks all of the ass. UPDATE: But unfortunately WordPress kicks significantly less ass, because it won’t do anything but convert the embed coding to a stupid link. So whatever. Should open in a separate window, at least.

As an aside, I highly, highly recommend this podcast for any nerd birds who enjoy even a little bit of this episode. It’s a really great series with a wide variety of topics, always packing a highly satisfying punch of neuropsychiatric dweebery upside ya head.


Sorry. Ugh. This blog is sort of a way station between the straight-up freewriting of a journal and a more polished effort at understanding myself, and making myself understood, that I might put forward in a column or an essay.


I’m sorry.


That’s what today’s been all about.

And I’m really tired, and I have a headache kicking up in my brain stem. The bad ones always start in the brain stem. Like a rebel army cutting off communication between the people in charge and all the other people.

Stupid rebel armies.

And headaches.

And brain stems.

So I think I’m going to call it a day, take some Prazosin and GTF to sleep.

Like Sammy L. says.

Night night, dorks.

Kiss kiss.

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