I’m zipping up my coat as I say goodbye and I laugh, I think, at something you say, throwing my head back, a dull whack against the door frame. It hurts, but the surprise stings worse. Much like a child who stumbles and cries belatedly at the realization of losing control, the tears form and start to roll, though mine are cathartic—perhaps more a desire to collapse than not. Your bewildered face pleads for a different course of action. I walk into the bathroom where I give myself 30 seconds to fall apart and pull myself back together. 30 seconds, as it turns out, is an eternity for melodramatic rebirth. I emerge an entirely different person, one with slightly smudged eyeliner, but a sharper resolve to at least keep my shit together.
I’ve been in a reading slump for awhile now, though it’s hard to say why it persisted for so long. Earlier in the summer I embarked on a necessary professional transition, which is to say I wasn’t happy in my position and I did the thing where you update your written list of credentials, send them off for consideration, and then hope you get to talk to someone else about something else. I did, they were, in fact, considered, and now I’m here, though in the excitement and newness I forgot how unsettling it all can be. It’s not so much the taking on of new responsibilities that’s most daunting, honestly. It’s getting comfortable in one space, good or bad, and then feeling uprooted and exposed in your dailiness. Walking into the office with wet hair after a morning run, learning the accepted etiquette of eating at your desk (or not). Feeling like you have to sit in your chair until 5 o’clock on the dot, whereas before 4:45 was an anomaly. Though, most of all, simply feeling unknown and waiting for those little crumbs of acknowledgement and acceptance.
I’ve struggled with what to say/think in the wake of yet another horrific mass shooting, referring, of course, to the events that unfolded Sunday night in Las Vegas. I’m sure I’m not alone in my growing frustration with the vacuous choruses of “thoughts and prayers” that seem to ripple through social media. While it’s useful on some level to participate in the collective mourning, “thoughts and prayers” really only beget more “thoughts and prayers,” or maybe worse just a crying/angry emoticon. Fortunately I am not the only one to experience this burgeoning awareness; as I was sitting here pecking this out, my phone burped a news alert at me from Slate with the headline “Guns vs. Thoughts and Prayers.”