I’ve been in a complete writing slump this summer, not blogging, not working on a book, hell, I’m barely composing text messages and emails these days. The words just aren’t happening. A couple of weeks ago, someone at church asked me if I’d spend some time during a lesson talking about examples of greatness in my life.
“Because you are so good with words,” she said.
I laughed nervously and replied, “Not lately…”
I had an appointment today and someone asked how I was doing.
“Oh fine, just the regular existential dread,” I responded.
He laughed uncomfortably, and I don’t blame him–what is the retort to ‘existential dread’?
When I shared the dread with my parents later in the day, especially concerned that within the next year I will lose my job and the entire U.S. infrastructure will fail, leaving me homeless, my dad comforted me: “We’ll set up the Marriott tent in the backyard for you.”
(The Marriott tent is a giant two-room tent, in which one room accommodates a queen size air bed. Not air mattress–air. bed.)
As I was having this conversation with my parents, my five year-old niece, visiting from out of town, was cuddling me, occasionally interrupting the grown-ups to tell me my eyeshadow was pretty or my lip gloss was shiny. She’s so adorable and has no idea what’s currently happening in the world to have her Aunt Julie considering Ham radio classes and beefing up her food storage.
I envied her, and worried about her at the same time. What opportunities will she have in 15 years? Will she even have access to any education beyond kindergarten? (That’s the dread speaking, not logic or rational thought.) And is there even anything I can try to do at this point?
Anyway, I am starting to realize that my writing issues this summer stem from two problems. First, I’m giving in to my existential dread. I’m entertaining my worst-case scenarios. I’m anticipating a complete collapse of the comfortable life I enjoy right at this moment. This is somewhat unlike me–at school I’m often the voice of optimism, the person who gives everyone the benefit of the doubt, the lone herald of “everything will be fine!”
Second, I’m not writing about the issues giving me existential dread. I’ve been mostly silent on Trump, Brexit, rape culture, religion, patriarchy, and a pending bond issue that could determine whether I end up in that Marriott tent.
So fair warning: in the coming days, the blog might get a bit ranty and political. You might disagree with me, and as long as you don’t troll me or tell me to leave the country, leave comments and let’s discuss (as best as comments on blogs count as discussion). But I can’t allow myself to fall prey to my existential dread for the next month, because come August, my students will deserve a teacher who isn’t quite as hopeless and cynical as she is right now.
Writing will help make sure that gets fixed.