One of the more exciting things about writing is also one of the most frustrating things about writing. One discovery leads to another! My thesis topic began as a research project to discover myths in the American narrative and why we continue to believe them, or not to believe the truths that are often uncovered. What it has turned into, however, is a research project depicting just how these myths are contributing to inequality in America, and how they continue to write this narrative for which our country is almost being despised, at least on a global scale (as Americans seem not to care as much as, say, the citizens of Palestine or Somalia or, even, Canada).
I’m not worrying about this too badly, only enough to know I want to fix it. Although my final pages are due in some cohesive form in about five weeks, I’m totally okay with having to do rewrites. My friend is reading my shitty first draft as is and will let me know which direction I should move toward. And in the meantime, I am staring out my front window waiting for the pizza delivery guy because we are hungry and impatient. Also, it finally looks like Fall is happening, so it’s kind of pretty outside – save for some cringe-worthy overcast skies.
I’ve been sleeping a lot lately. If I am not sleeping, then I am thinking about sleeping or trying my hardest not to fall asleep. A part of me feels like a bear in pre-hibernation mode, except instead of gathering food and storing up fats, I’m gathering a list of vitamins and minerals that I need to present to my doctor so she can write me up some prescriptions. The goal is for me to suffer through the upcoming winter with, well, less suffering. I really don’t want to experience the level of depression that hit me last winter. As I climbed the back steps to my house earlier this afternoon, I finally admitted to myself that as a Floridian, fall colors are a thing we chase during a weekend road trip or possibly make time to plan a vacation around. Some of my extended family take an autumn trip to the mountains of North Carolina. Once I drove to Tallahassee in December just to catch a glimpse of fall leaves.
I’ve decided to stop apologizing for not being able to adjust to this change in seasons. While I had spent the majority of my childhood and late teens moving all over the world, my adult life was spent in Florida. It is where I started college so many years ago. It is where my daughter was born. It is where my grandparents lived and died. It is where I fell in love with my husband. It is where I got married. It is the place I will probably call home for the rest of my life.
I’m not sorry.
Florida has my heart. Anyone who has spent a significant amount of time there cannot possibly leave unchanged. The whole place has a hold on me. There is something about the towering oak trees, the interconnected waterways, the way the sky changes colors before a tropical storm. The Nor’easters that chill you to the bone, the Spanish moss that drapes down from the oak limbs, the way the air smells like salt or fish or a combination of both. I’ve stood in the shadow of a flock of pelicans. I’ve been bumped hard by something in the Atlantic Ocean. Maybe it was a dolphin. Maybe it was a shark. I don’t know. But I do know that I have had the opportunity to see alligators and manatees in their natural habitats. And while I’m sure such places like Illinois or Indiana or Arkansas have their own charming ways, it’s not like someone who lives there can just drive a few miles south to watch a seasonal migration of right whales.
Florida has that kind of magic.
Oklahoma has a certain kind of magic, too. There are bison that roam these plains and, let’s be honest, I can go see them in their natural habitat whenever I damn well please. I like that. I like that I often see cowboys shopping at Target or Homeland. I also like that I can sit for an hour in the Dodge dealership while my Space Rocket gets an oil change and have a gut wrenching conversation with an 80-year old woman who was born a few miles down the road and is still terrified of tornadoes.
I like that my inability to get used to tornadoes as a part of life in Oklahoma won’t affect my ability to enjoy my life in Oklahoma, for however long that may be. Isn’t it strange that I have been waiting for that kind of validation and I didn’t even know it?
Anyway, now that I’m deep into my second year of experiencing a real Fall, I like that I’m still in awe of how pretty it is. There is magic in Oklahoma, too.
But, I must admit, I am ambivalent about her kind of magic. I am so ambivalent that I reached out to a friend of mine asking for advice. It was more like a desperate cry for help, really, and there was a lot of crying. I came out of it with a better understanding of how lonely my parents must have felt when they were shipped off to an air base in Northern Italy. For four years they were too poor to afford plane tickets back home to visit Florida. Things are not so dire for me, but it doesn’t make the pill any less difficult to swallow.
Part of this is because I have been holed up inside for the good part of a year and a half, working through the final year of my bachelor’s degree with a double course load for five straight semesters. As if that weren’t enough, I tend to worry about things that don’t exist or even have no business being worried about. I have been sleeping without the aid of sleeping pills, wine, or the white noise machine to block out other creatures’ snoring spells. All Google searches led to a vitamin deficiency or stress. A few weeks ago, my chest started becoming tight and my heart felt like it was skipping beats. All Google searches led to cancer.
Can I just say this, without having to say any more? Fuck you, cancer. Fuck you and all the stress you have caused me. Can my family just get a fucking break for…oh, hell, a year? Fuck you. (That last one is simply for good measure.)
Let’s go back to the very first line of this blog post: One of the more exciting things about writing is also one of the most frustrating things about writing. My point often changes which leads to other points I feel I have to make. You should hear me tell stories. Oh, hell. I suck at telling stories. Or maybe I’m so good at telling stories that I can tell three at one time…?
It’s alright to rant. It has actually become quite an effective writing exercise for me, this whole honesty thing. Maybe I shouldn’t be so frustrated by it; I should just embrace it. All that willy-nilly nonsense that’s been living in my head for most of this year is out now. If you’re confused by my feelings about leaving Florida, you should know that I am, too. If you’re confused by my feelings about living in Oklahoma, you should know that I am, too.
I am also confused about my thesis. And this entire blog post.