It has been a nice long slow blur.

Unexpected time is weird. I feel like all day long I'm rushing around, praying for time, and then it comes in some unanticipated format and I jump back like it's a cockroach. I think how we spend those moments says a lot about us, and in my case, it's nothing too complimentary. Tomorrow, school is canceled, and most likely will be on Tuesday, too. Hurricane Irma is doing unspeakable things to Florida. I'm still reeling from the Harvey images in Houston. Maybe when we're not bowed over our jobs or our families or our other responsibilities, we're meant to have what's known as "free" time--time free from whatever "oppresses" us, or time that's loose, unscheduled, or both. Maybe we're spending so much time staring at horrific or vapid news on our phones that we're actually getting stunted, unable to know where our reality stops and starts, unable to process it at the rate we're consuming it and so feeling, always, mildly dyspeptic. When I hear myself beginning sentences with "I read a comment on a post about a tweet"--I know it's time to touch someone's face.

*

The other day I did a phone interview with someone who was surprised to learn that I have a job. I guess this person thought I was "set" following the book deal. No, I said. It doesn't generally work like that. It made me think that maybe we need to have more widespread, candid conversations about how money actually "happens" in the writing and publishing realms--this book seems like an excellent start. And it also made me wonder (not for the first time) what would happen to my productivity if I were suddenly able to just focus on one thing. I wonder how much time would get squandered. I wonder if I would write faster, better, more. Time, like money, is a vacuum: often the more you have, the more you waste. But also: dang. What an exhilarating challenge.

*

I want to say this, and it has perhaps very little to do with the premise I'm half working within--I think I'm a far more sensitive person now than I was five or ten years ago. There's the widely accepted notion that growing older means growing jaded, and in some respects, yes, maybe. I have less tolerance for boring parties and boring people, for small talk, for cliched wisdom and sentimentality and rampant Mary Oliver quoting. I don't like being told what to do or how to feel--by people, media, or "art." But I love feeling things on my own, and I do, now, more than ever. We have a little sign taped by the front door that says "What good shall I do this day?", and I want it to be the thing that's etched into my kids' consciousnesses, the thing they eventually stop seeing because they absorb it deep into themselves, the same way I absorbed the little plaque on a shelf in my house growing up that said "I believe in the sun when it does not shine, in God when he is silent." That little plaque might be the bedrock of my entire spiritual life, simply for how frequently I saw it. Anyway. I'm more aware than ever of all the good that needs to be done; I ache with it, I feel raw with all the sadness and injustice of the world. I think I was more jaded at 29, 19, and I feel grateful for how time seems to be working in me, eroding me, not sparing me a single feeling--which goes for the good ones, too.

*

For a lot of years--the grad school years--I read books sort of defensively. I was always looking for the argument, or trying to debunk one, or sleuthing and sluicing out all the bits that fit or didn't fit around a central framework. It was exhausting, occasionally rewarding, but never what I'd call "fun." My critical thinking and research skills got sharper and sharper, but my ability to "get lost" in a book, to be set adrift--was almost entirely stultified. I'm proud to report that I think I've finally--now nearly 10 years after receiving my PhD--re-learned how to read. How to feel my way into a book, how to let it take hold of me. Of course we know how reading builds empathy, expands horizons and experience, opens minds. But how we read is also important. I try to approach an open book like an open book. I'd like to think this has helped me approach people similarly. You can read all the books in the world and still be an asshole. But to feel a certain reverence and curiosity going in--that's the difference.

*

All of which is to say: time is f'ing nuts. I'm growing older and slower and faster and sadder and happier and weirder and more at peace. I'm just getting started. 

 it me

it me