Thoughts from the Inside of an Egg

(Yeah yeah I haven’t updated in ages. 2016 sucked, end of story.)

Kinder SURPRISE

No, not that kind of egg. (I wish!)

Of all the slang to come about in the last decade, “no chill” has bee the best phrase to apply to my general state of existence. I’ve always been an excitable, overly anxious person, over-thinking, over-processing, to the point of wild emotional instability. I hide it well, I think. People tell me that I seem really laid back, but they don’t see the cartoonish gears spinning out of control inside my head.

Thankfully, over the last few months, I’ve developed some chill (thanks, modern medicine!). I feel like I’m on the brink of being able to actually navigate the sheer terror I feel every time I think about certain things. It’s nice.

Unsurprisingly, I can spin this into something negative if I look at it too closely. Having no chill seems to have been what made me passionate and daring; having no chill pushed me to try insane creative tactics, to self publish, to put my writing before everything that held no value to me. And by that, I mean my anxiety made me passionate and brave. My anxiety fueled me. Most of the progress I’ve made as a human being has been urged on by anxiety and the existential dread that initiated it–the unsolvable problem of being.

Did my anxiety help me? Sure.

Do I want my anxiety back? Lord no.

I’m in a liminal place (“liminal” is one of my favorite words, by the way). I’m no longer what I was, and not yet what I am becoming. If we’re gonna talk phoenix cycle again (one of my favorite metaphors!), I’m an egg. Out of the ashes, thank god, into the egg. I’m a goopy substance swirling inside my shell, coalescing into an embryonic state. It’s cozy here, even if it is a fragile state of being.

And I do feel the fragility at my edges, that eggshell wall holding me together, threatening to spill me out. But inside, at my core, I’m a sunshine yellow glob of delicious possibilities. What’s interesting about this whole “having some chill” thing, is that I can now experience the idea of that eggshell cracking, maybe even leaking, and I’m not entirely afraid. I can sit with that discomfort, and know I will survive.

Most of the time.

Sometimes, like last night, I think about how hard it’s been for me to write this past year (2016 was a creative failure for me) and the shell caves in around me, threatening to spill every drop of pre-embryonic me out into the frying pan of existence. I think about showing up to residency tomorrow feeling like a total fraud, like a total failure, like someone who has lied to themselves their whole life and is just now realizing they do not have what it takes to make their dreams come true–someone who maybe doesn’t even know what their dreams are any more.

And that’s actually true. I’m a millennial, after all. We were taught from infancy to shoot for the moon and, at worst, we would land among the stars. No one prepared us for the sub-zero vacuum of the light years between.

But I am still a sunshine yellow glob of possibilities. I’m probably benefiting even more from my education than I would be if I were in a solid state. Maybe that’s the secret to finding your chill: try not to be so solid all the time. Experiment with being pre-embryonic. Entertain the possibility that you don’t know yourself as well as you think you do.

Anyway…just some thoughts from the egg.

I’m off to VCFA tomorrow for my second residency/the beginning of my second semester…wish me luck and a stellar immune system!

VCFA: No Voldemort Here

I’m trying to wrap my brain around the residency before it all fades away, but frankly I’m still exhausted from the whole experience (plus a mostly unrelated health issue on my first day back to work :P) so I’d better write down what I remember, now, before it’s gone.

VCFA is magical. They call it “Brigadoon” because it feels like a place that only exists while you’re there (once a semester) and maybe vanishes when you go home. It’s a place out of place, for a time out of time, full of words and stories and craft. But really, it’s basically Hogwarts: there is a magical sorting process for finding your advisor for the semester, an advisor that, much like a Defense Against the Dark Arts professor, changes every term (that observation credit goes to my classmate, Adam Vandergac). During your hours off, you may take a trip down the hill into “downtown” Montpelier/Hogsmeade, where you can get beer (though not butter beer) at the Three Penny Taproom, or used books signed by their authors at the Bear Pond Book Store. You can get gelato in crazy flavors, though nothing like ear wax (chevre and fig was my personal favorite), and if you’re lucky, some chocolate frogs.

But the magic in the halls of the VCFA buildings, in the chapels and galleries where lectures are held, and in the classrooms where workshops take place, is pure and bright and palpable. The traditions make you feel like a part of a family–larger than some, but small enough to feel real, to feel close, to feel true. And as one poet said during the reading of one of those traditions, “VCFA is better than Hogwarts, because Voldemort is not here.”

But there is real magic, and there is dancing, and naming ceremonies, and welcoming ceremonies, and sorting, and laughing, and supporting, and brilliance–everywhere, brilliant words and thoughts and humanity.

Never have I felt so much like I belonged. That’s the thing. That’s the biggest thing of all. I feel certain these are my people. I feel certain this is where I am meant to be in my life right now. And that alone is worth the price of admission.

My advisor for this semester is Tim Wynne-Jones, author of many, many books (and good friends with Philip Pullman!!!!). I don’t know what to expect from the months ahead besides hard work and a lot of reading, but I am so excited to be a part of this school of storycraft, honing my skills as a writer and finding my community in something that is generally such a solitaire art.

(Also, did I mention I have access to the WorldCat library?! :D)

That’s it for now…I have a lot of work to do!