Sour words and hearts of thorns

Heart? Is it you?

It’s noon on a Sunday (well, 12:02 to be precise — I can’t escape the paranoia that someone will catch my exaggeration and leave a note in the comment section), and so far I’m spending the day feeling morose and sad and dissatisfied. Sometimes no amount of the Headspace app or reading or Ativan can pull you from a mental fug. Again, I ask myself why I don’t just “write, dammit,” as I like to tell myself, as the object of my life’s passion and out of which I want to foster a fulfilling and supportive career and everlasting footprint.

But today, hence why I’m here, I had a different mental image to pair with my daily question. Because a new voice slipped in with a new suggestion: that my words had turned sour.

I’m developing something of a “quarter-life” crisis. I thought the term mock-worthy. I used to think that, in today’s world, only a sliver of mid-twenty-somethings had established any sort of foundation upon which to develop a crises. We’re not buying homes or cars or phones — and likely as not we’re sharing 2/3 of those with friends, roommates, partners and even strangers. I lease a car, lease an apartment, leased my first phone and am lending time toward trying to crawl out of the crumbling petrichor dirt pit that is debt.

That said, the year 2016 wasn’t my kindest. I gained and lost a job I grew to love. I gained a second job I thought I could grow to love faster — though maybe it’s too early to tell. My partner broke my heart. I had to go off medication before I was ready. And with the arrogance and naïveté of someone too young I felt that because my pain is drawn inward and strapped to my heart, I couldn’t write anymore. That my words are now too sour.

The mental image came next: thorns and brambles, not wrapped around my ribcage but reaching out from it, turning to Vantablack hands with claws ready to scratch and scrabble at my keyboard. My words don’t read“good.” I feel unseen, misunderstood (hello, 2004) and so under-confident that apparently my subconscious thinks everything I touch will wither. Perhaps because this year, it has.

Now that I’ve rendered myself an emo pissbaby, you might wonder why I’m typing now. I’m curious, too. On the one hand, I think the mental image piqued my interest and I wanted to create an experiment and see if, well, Amanda? Are your words poison fit for apples handed to unsuspecting virginal girls in the woods? But this is dangerous; an experiment prepares the mind to seek a result, which translates in the creative world to seeking validation. Validation should only come from yourself, whisper the self-help books lining my makeshift shelf.

On the other hand, I liken my discontentment to a rocket rumbling on a NASA platform, counting down to liftoff. With each passing year since 2009 I thought, surely I can’t be more discontent than this? And while the sentiment has at times dissolved away completely, in the past year my frustration with myself, my inability to climb out of my self-imposed trench, my mental illnesses, my losses and my faults, are starting to boil over. But energy of this kind has always led me to action (if not reckless action at times; see 2012, where I walked off my first job as a booth jockey hocking cleaning products due to stressful working conditions and an undiagnosed anxiety disorder).

So, to answer my own question, I’m sitting here typing because my red-numbered digital clock has counted down to zero on this day.

And if in life the same clock signals liftoff without scrubbing, I may be driven to doing something reckless with my career again — but hopefully send my rocket into the stratosphere in the process.