This was meant to be a post about the kitchen projects I worked on during the early days of quarantine. (I know, I know, you’re mostly here for the kitchen.) Look, I did do some shit…
But it is almost impossible to talk about “quarantine projects” without sounding a little flippant about covid. Especially because I sound flippant about every goddamn thing, mostly because I do not get worked up over shit I cannot control. Also, that’s just how my writing voice sounds (up to and including in the obituary I wrote this summer for my grandfather…who died because of covid.)
I loved that man dearly, but I’m going to ask that we skip the whole condolences thing because then I feel obligated to respond to every damn one of them– I get it, everyone is sad and sorry and thank you for having empathy for me, etc. etc.– and also I just want to talk about building shit for a minute without picking up that emotional weight.
But even in the covid era, I just cannot start a post about my kitchen projects by mentioning my dead grandpa. This story is clearly meant to be about something else.
I need to acknowledge the balancing act that is new (to me) in these strange times. My guiding principle has always been to tell an authentic story. That’s it. And while that often took courage, and a lot of introspection around what the authentic story truly is, it didn’t used to feel so… fraught. It didn’t feel like every somewhat flippant remark required a paragraph of explanation about how “just kidding, that was hyperbole.”
As someone who is trying to write again–trying to find my way back to telling stories–I don’t love the balancing act. And, yet, I also believe things should feel fraught, especially if you’re making a conscious choice to put your words out into the world. These are fraught fucking times. Change and growth always start from a place of discomfort, and people who aren’t doing a little balancing these days? Well. Yeah. Those aren’t my people.
A thing I say often to the people in my life (particularly when they are Going Through Some Shit) is this: A sign of being an emotionally intelligent adult is being able to hold two opposing feelings inside your body at the same time, and still function.
Two opposing things can be true. And we can hold both of those feelings inside ourselves at the same time. And it will be uncomfortable. And in order to get out of that discomfort our brains will tell us “you have to accept one of these ideas/feelings and reject the other right now”. Or, “you have to pick one of these opposing ideas and all of your actions have to back it up, otherwise you’re being a hypocrite/aren’t acting with integrity/don’t really feel the way you say you do.”
I’m sure literally everyone has seen this happen in a relationship in their lives. Where a person does, in fact, love their partner and want them to be happy. Doesn’t want to make decisions or do anything to hurt them. And yet, is unhappy in the relationship. Can’t be happy staying. They might even express that inner conflict through something like “I wish my partner would just cheat on me so I had a justified reason to leave.” Right? (And fascinating that we would want someone to hurt or betray us, specifically to get out of the discomfort of holding two opposing feelings inside at the same time.) Because we don’t tell stories about how it’s okay to feel both “I love this person and don’t want to hurt them” and “I have to leave and know it will hurt them” at the same time. And both can be true. And that’s totally normal.
(That’s not my personal issue, by the way. I’ve turned leaving relationships that make me unhappy into a goddamn art form. And I love all my exes. Have I mentioned them recently? Fabulous dudes.)
I, personally, have a lot of irritation right now at people being “performative” on the internet. Lots and lots of posts and stories about the cause du jour for about a week, and then it’s back to their regularly scheduled programming. At the exact same time, I am irritated by people constantly posting about the cause du jour because just show me your cat pictures, damnit. I am not here to take on the emotional weight of society today, I just want to read about people’s travel adventures and/or house projects for a minute without all the shit.
And I am doing the exact thing that irritates me right fucking now. I’m writing this post, so I can feel like I’ve publicly acknowledged These Strange Times, and then can then go back to writing stories about drinking beer and building shit, where I can make flippant remarks about covid and quarantine without feeling bad about it.
That’s the balancing act. Holding two opposing feelings inside of me, and navigating how my actions (and the stories I tell) align with those feelings. It’s uncomfortable. I am 100% going to fuck it up at times. And there probably won’t be any consequences when I do, because all of you who are here reading my stories will give me the benefit of the doubt. Or don’t care if I acknowledge These Strange Times, because you’re here for the cat pictures anyway.
(The Tiny Angry Badgers have turned into The Very Best Farm Cats, by the way. It’s definitely a story.)
And maybe I’m particularly suited to this time in the world–being uncomfortable, and making the choice to talk about why things are uncomfortable even when I don’t have to–because I have a lifetime of experience (mostly documented on this website) in the good things come out of putting yourself in uncomfortable situations even when you don’t have to. Of doing the hard thing, instead of taking an easier path.
I mean, at the very least it will make you smarter, and stronger, and better able to handle the next uncomfortable thing. Life is full of them.