Saturday, May 12, 2012

Air and Space

written on a tablet...pardon the errors

I'm sitting in the Airspace Lounge at BWI airport (thanks to The Gentleman's roommate who got us in with some sort of platinum travel points, and so far they haven't noticed that I already spilled my glass of water in a terribly un-classy moment) having the first of what I'm sure will be many, many mimosas over the next five days, and I realized that all I wanted to do was write.

Last night was the big benefit for my work that we've been planning for the last six months, and today I am feeling relieved and completely drained. I've worked in event planning before, but that was when event planning was my entire job. Working for a nonprofit and planning for an event means you're doing a full-time job in addition to your regular full time job, essentially. Needless to say, I feel as though the last few weeks of my life have been consumed with work and anxiety and excitement and all of those things that go along with pulling off something really great. A skeleton staff means pulling on everyone to pitch in, and I am so grateful for everyone's help. The Gentleman and his roommate were in the kitchen with me washing dishes after the reception, and it was simple, helpful gestures like that that got me through.

Needless to say, a vacation to the Dominican Republic for a wedding couldn't have come at a better time. I am burned out, exhausted, and in desperate need of down time. Even the city was getting to me this week - there was construction outside of my office all week, and construction near my neighborhood, and the constant jackhammering and whine of heavy machinery dug its way down into my psyche and wrapped itself around a nerve where it proceeded to itch at me like an uncomfortable tag somewhere in you clothes. I don't know if it was exacerbated by work stress, or the other way around, but I was completely short-tempered, totally strung-out, and woke up every single morning with intense jaw pain from clenching my teeth all night. My dentist will be so thrilled.

Last weekend, I had one blissful evening of calm wherein The Gentleman and I sat up on the roof of his apartment building overlooking the Inner Harbor, drinking a bottle of wine, and somehow the conversation shifted to my writing.

I feel as though, somehow, in the midst of my nonprofit career finally taking off, and in the rest of my life beginning to develop a flow and a currency to support the work load, I've lost a significant part of myself. I fall into bed at 10pm every night and sleep like the dead until my alarm goes off at 6am and I'm at the gym on the treadmill thinking about the ten thousand things I have to do that day (week). I come home from work completely burned out and exhausted and most nights, if I'm not at trivia or book club or some other social event, and mostly flop down on my bed and continue catching up on Mad Men and pretty much just zone out.

What's been lost? Writing, for one thing. And that insatiably curious part of myself that is constantly thirsty for inspiration. It tends to get tamped down when so much of my creativity and intellect is required for me to do my job.

And I'm not complaining. Don't misinterpret my exhaustion for fed up-edness. I have worked hard for a very long time to have a career that allows me to use my creativity and intellect in a field that I find exciting, engaging, and endlessly interesting. I just need to find balance between work-me and not work-me.

The Gentleman is endlessly supportive of my writing, which is only part of the reason he's so awesome, and also fully understanding of having a job you love. He loves his job, it involves his passions and interests, and even when he's not at work, he's still researching and learning every chance he gets. We are both lucky to be employed in fields where we essentially get to do our hobbies for a paycheck. Working in Communications for a nonprofit means that I have to craft an image, sell a product, engage communities, and get buy-in from everyone from clients to law makers to staff. I have to write, I have to create campaigns, I have to research and know my shit. It's endlessly fascinating and very much exactly where I need to be right now.

But the problem, as we were discussing over our wine and harbor view, is that when you do your hobby as a living, it becomes less of a hobby and more just actual work. That's not to say you don't still love it, but you come to view it in a different light and drawing the line between work and downtime becomes harder. There are nights when I come home and I can't stomach the thought of sitting down at the computer to write a blog post or catch up on my Google reader. Because I've spent the entire day writing and researching to fight poverty in Baltimore, and my brain is tapped.

I am starting to feel the clock ticking, however. I am starting to want to write a book the way I imagine some women start to look at children and begin to feel pangs of wanting their own.
And I keep making the same excuses I'm sure many women in those circumstances make: it's a big responsibility, I don't know if I'm ready, I think I should wait until my life is a little more settled, or maybe until I have more space and an office that's quiet where I can devote more time, or maybe next year or maybe in two years. And I really do see book-writing in the same light as baby-making. The analogy might be offensive to some, but it resonates as just as life-changing to me because I don't intend to sit down and write a book and just be done with it. I see bringing a book into this world as an incredible part of my life that will take over to some extent and require time and commitment and, hopefully, some major changes.

Now, maybe I've perhaps built this up a little too much in my head, and I'm just making futher excuses to put off sitting my ass down in my computer chair and putting my mind into writing a book. This is fully possible. But what is clear to me at this point is that I desperately need tofigure out a way to balance my career with my other passions so that nothing gets lost. So that I'm not feeling that emptiness that I'm missing some part of my life. It's as though all the other pieces are finally there, and the thing I had to sacrifice was the one thing that has gotten me through every single day of the rest of my life. The urge becomes so strong that as I'm sitting in the airport lounge, mimosa in hand and two books I can't wait to read beckoningin my carry-on, all I wanted to do was write a blog post.

I think I am also taking stock of my life in this, the last two weeks of my twenties. As dramaticas I've made this whole process out to be, it really has caused me to be more introspective and see where I've been, and where I intend to be and what I intend to do for this next decade of my life. I am too thoughtful to not get all heady about this.

The Gentleman encourages me to write. When I told one of my closest friends about our conversataion and about his take-away statement that is still curled up in my heart where it will remain as a source of inspiration: "There are a lot of people who want to read what you have to write, and I can't wait to read whatever book is going to come out of you," she replied, very matter-of-factly, "We've all been waiting for that. For awhile."

Me too.

So the thing is, I feel like the girl who got the golden ticket only to yawn and say, "My, good fortune is so exhausting!" I don't mean to complain. I am happier than I can remember being. I just don't want to lose "me" in the process of gaining everything else. I need to figure out a way to have my cake, and devour it, and enjoy every single bite too. And maybe that's what 30 will be about. Taking all of these parts of myself and making peace with them, pulling them all in and getting them to work in harmony. Becoming a more complete person. Ideally before any other major life changes because, let's face it,  at some point there will be a whole lot more on my plate than just me to worry about.

And so, I will sign off here and drain the last of my mimosa before boarding the plane to spend five days at a resort in Punta Cana. Try not to feel too sorry for my exhausted self. We are heading down with a group of friends for the wedding of one of The Gentleman's friends. My major plans for the next five days are: nap at the pool, nap at the beach, snorkel, read, eat, drink, have more deep conversations with The Gentleman, and rock the hell out of the LBD (little blue dress - more effect than black in the sprintime) I got for the wedding. And regroup. And read some more. And think about this book I need to write. And stop talking about it and just freaking do it already.

And I will. But first - vacation.



Lee said...

I am most of the way through my novel and let me tell you it feels as painful as I assume childbirth is. The only significant difference between the two experiences is that pregnancy requires you to not drink, while writing a book requires you to drink a lot.

Anonymous said...

I used to draw up dream houses in my spare time, but that's really fallen off the longer I've been working. It's still something that interests me, but by the time I get home from work, picking up pencil and paper again is just usually too much. Perhaps I'll use your kick-in-the-ass to be my own too. :-)

Anonymous said...

by the way...that Airspace is a very nice lounge at BWI. Get the citrus salad. it's included and it's excellent.