The only time I spend at my desk these days are when I have a cup and it’s filled with something. Coffee, wine, or water, essentially. I have an architect’s desk, one side lined with office supplies, notebooks, and books that I’m reading, have read, or bought and plan to read eventually. When I have a cup full of something, I sit at my desk and I stack the books covering it all the way to the very edges so that my cats can’t get up on it. They hate this.
They loathe me and they meow when I do this.
They paw at the books and the books fall and I say, “Oh my god!” and I throw my hands in the air and I get up and I pick up the books and I stack them right back up to the edges so that I can be alone with my cup and I say, “See?” to the cats and the cats just sit there and stare at me like I’m nuts. But I have my cup. And my notebook. I left that part out.
I sit at my desk with my cup and my notebook (Sometimes it’s a digital one. Ahem, this one. That I’m typing in. Now.). I sit at my desk and think:
No one reads my blog anyway, so why don’t I just fill it with words?
I pick a book up off the floor that’s fallen and I put it back and then I write down my first thought:
I exist in a world where I am convinced that no one reads what I write.
My second thought:
God, I’m so insecure.
But I ditch that, and go back to the first:
It’s a safe place where I can pet my cats without feeling guilty; without wishing I was doing something else; knowing that the swirling thunder of thoughts that make little to no sense inside me will stay there, brooding, until I spill my guts passionately to a friend when we meet for a drink 6 months from now (and won’t ever meet again because I can’t control myself, verbally… “Yeah, it was fun, I guess, but I don’t think Andrea gets out much.”).
All this, curable with writing. How do you operate? I wonder.
Since no one is reading this, I won’t feel guilty talking about how I operate (because I do feel guilty, and it’s a problem… because I’m writing a memoir).
The world makes better sense to me when I type it out. When I journal it out. When I yell it out, with words, onto a page, or a document, of course. Every day I remind myself that I am trying to live an efficient life, which is what has brought me back to my blog after months and months of silence that you had no idea happened. I did, though. I thought about it… at least once a week.
I am living a more efficient life. (Sometimes I forget.)
Last Friday I received a letter from a friend who is in the middle of their military training. It’s the training that every single member of the Canadian Armed Forces (to my knowledge) must go through in order to be admitted onto the force and it sounds really hard. It was a huge deal to me to receive a letter because of all the fantastical ideas I attach to receiving a letter from someone in the military (not to mention a friend), but also, more suited to the topic at hand, because someone wanted to read something that I would write back to them.
I thought about writing back all night on Friday as I streamed Gilmore Girls (again), from the beginning. I thought about it all day Saturday, too. I went to yoga and to the movies and out for drinks thinking about how exciting it would be to write back. On Sunday I slept in really late, worked on my short film, went to the library, and met my friend Margot for dinner and drinks, in anticipation of writing back. On Monday, I woke up early to pen my letter and loved writing about how I would do so in my journal as I drank my hand-ground aeropress coffee and ate my farm-fresh fried eggs, avocado, and plantain breakfast (that I never make myself because it takes too much time in the morning).
I brought the letter to work with me thinking I might take my lunch break to write back, if it wasn’t too weird to handwrite a letter at work (where I handwrite virtually nothing).
(Oh my god, one of my cats is trying to get on my desk right now. See. Photo.
I never got a chance to write back at work, not because I didn’t take a lunch break, or think that I could fit it into my day, but because I was so excited just thinking about writing a letter that someone would read, I just… I didn’t write it.
I went about my day thinking about how I have a bottle of my favourite red wine at home and how I’d fill my cup, sit down at my desk, and pen a letter to my friend in the military. Then I’d pen a letter to my friend Clare in the UK who is actually fantastic at writing letters to which I take forever to write back to. I also decided to pen a letter to an inmate named Rauch at the San Quentin State Prison who I recently learned of and really appreciated while listening to episode 3 of Ear Hustle, a podcast I’ve been enjoying as of late.
But my day took a sharp, left turn.
In the afternoon, I received two phone calls that sent me spiralling, emotionally. In short, I was let go from a volunteer committee because I strongly advocated for the addition of a female voice in what we were presenting. I was silenced for speaking out and, while I did my best to be the bigger person, I was still very upset about it.
So what did I do?
I went home and typed a 6 page letter to my friend in the military.
I typed it.
I even changed the border ever so slightly to fit more words on each page.
Ain’t nobody got time for happy hand-written letters at a time like this!!
I needed a blank document and a receiver who would read to the end. I really hope that my appreciation upon receiving their letter came through in my response. I really hope they don’t mind that over half of my response was about the day I had, my experience on the committee, and how I felt I’d been muted for being honest, which was really, really hard for me in the first place.
It took a lot of control to not mention Weinstein and C.K. and my summer.
It took a bubbling up inside me and the sure fire fact that I would have someone reading what I had to say to get me to write back. To get me to write at all, really. To get me to write about what has been settling inside me for months. To write about how it feels to keep quiet, to speak up, to be silenced, to be kicked out of the club.
Andrea in her twenties would not have kept this in, I am currently thinking as I bite my lip, wondering how I want to end this.
Well, more accurately, I argue with myself, Andrea in her thirties… (I just turned 30 two weeks ago), … Well, Andrea in her very early twenties would not have kept this in. Andrea come 24, 25, 26 and definitely 27-29 would keep a great deal in. But Andrea in her thirties is a different womxn. Andrea is really letting her pen pals know all about her anger, her frustration, and how badly she feels for ranting for 6 pages instead of sending back a super personable and positive handwritten letter to her (NEW!) pen pal who might be experiencing the most difficult, regimented training of their entire life.
I thank you, friend, for listening. I’m sorry if it’s not what you wanted to hear but– NO. I have learned from this VICE article, surely.
I thank you, friend, for listening. It got me to my desk with a cup full of something and I, next time, if you decide to write back, I will write you after meditating with headspace, or after petting my cats because I feel no pressure to get anything in particular done. I promise.
Do you want to read the letter I wrote to my friend? Well, my memoir will come out soon, and that’s where letters go so please stay tuned.
p.s. I know you read my blog and I’m sorry for not acknowledging this earlier. I appreciate you. A lot.
p.p.s. I’m always looking for pen pals. Let me know if you’re interested!