oh my god i’m so tired and my brain might be a little busted up right now :( :( :( :(
I was decidedly anxious as I walked through the gates of The Redd for XOXO’s opening party. All that sense of not-belonging did, miraculously, vanish after about half an hour, and I rode that feeling for four days. It was weird. I have not had fun like that in a long long long long time.
Contrast with this afternoon as I stepped off the train in Seattle, towed my luggage back to my tiny apartment, grappled with the junk mail that had piled up, and finally in an anxious fit threw all my things down on the living room floor. I’d been feeling the tickle of mundanity since I woke up and checked out of the hotel. Stepping back into my apartment, though, was like getting hit in the face with a brick.
That was also weird. I think this might be a quintessential grown-up experience, a little bit.
Man is this a downer or what. I don’t mean it like that! Because XOXO was truly strange and exciting and (I hate this word but it is apropos here) inspiring. I met way too many people. They were way too smart! (That’s a good thing.) We talked about opera and clean water and art and literature and oysters and musician business models and roller derby and feminism and that’s just what I can remember. And they were all making their thing and that was terribly—inspiring.
In the last few hours before this year’s festival closed for good, I started asking people, “What are you going to make now?” One person turned it on me; I thought I had an answer, and I didn’t. I froze up for a second. Awkward! I made some vague sounds about writing more, or expanding the kinds of media that I work in. And yeah, that’s stuff I want to do. But it occurs to me, as I decompress and sort through all these feelings of inspiration and excitement and (yes) anxiety and (yes x2) sadness that I am just about as liable as before to get stuck in the same rut. The tarp might come off and I wouldn’t have learned anything. I mean, the tarp is kind of the whole reason I went to XOXO in the first place, right? I didn’t go just (“just”) for creating; I already like the things that I make, as trivial and slapdash as some of them are, and that’s not a new feeling. But getting a brick’s worth of mundane sadness—actually, maybe that is the most important thing I’ve gotten out of XOXO. And I don’t like feeling like this, all boring and sad, hitting the social media like a crack pipe. You know. For a momentary jolt of interconnectedness.
I read half of Gilead on the train back and I must have held my breath the entire time. I don’t know how much that plays into this current melancholy, but to read (half) a book about staring death in the face, well, it’s a hell of a comedown.
So, then, what am I going to make now? I have no idea how, but I think I’m going to make myself happy. My life’s work. Here we go: