I have no wit, no words, no tears;
My heart within me like a stone
Is numb’d too much for hopes or fears…
I’m in that post-production process of cleaning up all the little scraps of paper littering my work table, bits and pieces that have to do with my last manuscript. And, as usual, I am profoundly depressed. Since being the editor of my school paper as a high school senior, I have known this about myself – that when I put the paper to bed, I had to go to bed myself. I’m grateful to this day that it was only a quarterly paper; the weekly rag was mostly gossip and fun, no real effort, but the one that went out to parents and board members and constituents – oy. That one took it out of me. Kinda like novels do.
I went to a wedding this weekend, which was in itself bittersweet and depressing (specific to this event, #NotAllWeddings), and my introvert soul was in rags after smiling my way through three and a half hours of reception with a sit-down dinner. I knew I’d be wrecked before I went, and planned accordingly; Tech Boy worked from home Monday to hang out with me, I scheduled a visit to the chiropractor, I literally only got out of bed on Sunday to use the bathroom. (These little crashes always work so much better if you can get someone to agree to feed you, and I ache for my sisters and brothers who don’t have that luxury. I used to drag an electric kettle next to the bed and eat a lot of things like instant oatmeal, before Tech Boy. Now I get tamales. This is a distinct improvement in Profoundly Depressed Meal Plans.)
This morning, I’m staring at the keyboard. Literally. I have had just… long stretches where I come back to find myself… staring. At nothing in particular. I feel like I’m all out of stories, all out of thoughts, all out of …anything but echoes in my head. “I have no wit, no words, no tears…” Even aside from the deeply religious/Easter themes of this poem, Christina Rossetti encapsulating her existence in the metaphor of a desiccated autumn leaf sounds about right. Even though I rather like desiccated autumn leaves, most of the time, they clearly have only one job, which is to lie still and be crunched into the tree-dust that feeds the soil so need trees can grow. I have stuff to do, though; can’t lie down and be crunched up for anyone else just yet.
It seems I’ve written my well dry – so it’s time to fill it up again – in whatever way I can. Other than being patient with the process, knowing that the current mental fog is made up at least in part of disgust for our national conversation and dismay at the constancy of stupidity, what does one do when in need of refilling mentally? Do you see a play? Go to a concert? Take a class? I’m open to suggestions. Christina Rossetti suggests throwing her broken pot into the first to start over — and while that is dramatically Victorian and surely possible, I need some realtalk options. What do you do to get your vessel-self ready to hold water again?