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Erica Jong writes, in Fear of Flying: “You don’t have to beat a woman if you can guilt her.”

I have repeated this quote at least three times in the past two days.  I have said it in other ways too–in apologetic emails that I’ve replied to later than I’d like, in the way my breath gets caught halfway into my lungs and can’t seem to go much further.  I was telling some folks last week, I know I’m going downhill when I start thinking of mean things I want to say to babies.  Like, Those people don’t love you. Your pants and jacket clash.  I thought that, on the subway, in the direction of a baby.  A really sweet baby (who was wearing bright pink pants and a horrible red plaid jacket, for the record).  Having that thought pleased me because when I’m feeling this frantic, I’m a monster.

I can’t seem to figure out how to get my hands around my to do list.  Even the little notification that tells me I have a Facebook message floods me with guilt and I avoid it completely.  If you’ve sent me a Facebook message, I probably haven’t read it.  Maybe I never will.  Fuck Facebook, fuck all the notifications.

Right now, I am awake again, after having gone to bed at 1030 or 11 pm.  I had a dream that I was sitting quietly with some friends, feeling this I should get up and go feeling and when I stood up, the legs of my pants were stained with little commas of blood from some insects that had bitten my legs while I was still.  I don’t think this was one of those dreams where my brain is working something out.  Quite the opposite.  This was a dream of my brain being a sizzling, quivering, mess because I feel like I should constantly doing something other than what I am doing/what I want to be doing.  But here’s this electricity buzzing between my skin and bones. Deadlines everywhere.  All of them are make or break!  Could change my life!  Shouldn’t my life change?!  Make a decision about everything!  Also I need a haircut!  My kids are getting older!  There is no bread in the house!  When was the last time I called my uncle?!  He’s keeping track, I’ll hear about it if I call him!  Should I just get one of those mustache/nose/glasses situations and go into hiding?  And emails! Why won’t the emails stop?!

Oh, hello panic, my old friend.


Usually at this point in the post I take a turn, offer some rediscovered wisdom and grace about accepting my limitations, encourage you to do the same (maybe I’ll get to that next week).  I am going to do the things that I have to do: make lists, keep shuffling priorities, drink emergen-c and take ibuprofen.  You, on the other hand, get to choose your own adventure with this prompt.

  1. If you feel like you want to allow yourself to be mean (in words on the page only) to babies and other creatures who have been annoying you, you may choose the poem linked here, Elegy for My Mother’s Ex-Boyfriend, by James Kimbrell.  Write an unkind elegy for someone who annoys the hell out of you.  Be ruthless.  Do not show it to them (unless it’s about a baby–most babies can’t read and so won’t mind chewing on your poem).
  2. You want to read something really beautiful and holy and glorious and ghostly?  Check out Erika Sanchez, Six Months After Contemplating Suicide. Respond how you like.  What is it that moves within you and saves you?
  3. If you want to emulate incredible form and use of language and space, Blackbody Curve by Samiya Bashir is where to go.  See what she did there.  Do a version of it yourself.

Also, starting tomorrow, The Split This Rock Festival starts.  It’s a biennial poetry festival featuring incredible voices from all over the country and evening events are free.  Get there if you can.

Look!  I got “Write a blog post” off my list!  Take that, panic.  Also, isn’t that picture at the top weird?  I kind of want to print it out and stick it in random books at the library.  Like I’m peering up out of books when you flip through.  That idea is at the very bottom of the to do list, but make no mistake, it’s there.

Love you guys.  We’ll get it done.  We always do.

2 thoughts on “Guilt&Panic

  1. As always, love your words and your messages. This is the first thing I read this morning but again brought me back to a message that has been evolving over the last few weeks. First, it was about drawing boundaries around ourselves (an imaginary circle often helps) to protect against toxic people, toxic expectations, toxic requests. Toxic because it saps us of our wonderful and amazing energy. Energy and passion that is needed to do the real work, the real tasks of our life here on earth. Yesterday that message morphed into we need to draw a boundary around ourselves to protect our selves from the crazy social expectations. The expectation to do it all and be all things to all people who seem to have some thought that they have the right to create a toxic world for us either with their demands, expectations, their toxicity. Hopefully we all can put the crazy expectations, the tasks that do not create or add to our magnificence in a box outside our imaginary circle and tightly lock it shut!

    • seemareza

      I kept trying to reply to this last week, Deeanna, for some reason I couldn’t get it to stick. Thank you so much for this. The boundary circle image has stuck with me, and I’m trying to be more conscious of what I can give in a particular space. It’s hard because, of course, there are far more things that I want to do than I have time to do, but I have to make choices, keeping myself and my family at the center. You’re such a gift.

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