From the Bottom Up

This morning, for the first time in perhaps eight months, if not longer, I went for a run. It felt good to have the wind on my face, sun on my arms, and fire in my chest – for all of ten minutes until my breathing gave out and my legs began to cramp. I stopped just short of reaching the quarry in town – one of my favorite landmarks to run past – hands on knees, sweat visibly dripping from underneath the brim of my cap onto the pavement below.


Half-a-mile. I had run only half of a mile.


And I felt like death, my legs numbing, my breath ragged, but it felt good. It felt good getting back out there, even if realistically I hadn’t accomplished much. It was a step (or several) in the right direction.


This is obviously a metaphor for other things in my life, most obviously my writing. I’m not really sure what exactly has been holding me back from finishing any piece of meaningful work, but I’m sure fear of failure is among the multitude of reasons. In fact, that fear has probably been the number one contributing factor to the formation of The Block.


It has gotten to the point where I can barely write a single passage, a single page, a single paragraph without self-critiquing it to the point of hatred for the piece and, ultimately, the shelving or outright deleting of it. It’s like, I’m trying so hard to mold my writing to fit into a place it hasn’t even reached yet – like I’m killing myself to get in shape for a marathon when I can’t even do a 5k yet.


So…let’s start from the bottom again. Let’s pretend I don’t really know what I’m doing – because honestly I don’t. Even if at some point I did, it’s clear I’ve let my abilities deteriorate and fester. So now it’s time to be humble, allow myself to fall flat on my face, and get a good look at the world from the bottom up – and see just how far and high I have yet to climb.


The Ravages of Forward Temporal Movement

Total cliche – after being a twenty-something for a full decade, the millennial panics at the prospect of turning thirty, entering adulthood unequivocally. This is me today. Happy Birthday.

Okay, I’m being a bit dramatic.

Maybe it’s different for other people, maybe it’s the same. I still sometimes see myself as a nineteen-year-old kid discovering myself, my identity, full of angst and rebellion – as a boy of  ten, unsure and beset by the hormonal injections of puberty, learning firsthand the cruelty of my peers and the indifference of the world. Sometimes I am four, full of newness and blissful ignorance, activated by a too-familiar scent, a well-worn image, a sensation burned into my spine.

But now I am thirty, and it does not seem to fit. Four years ago I was living in my mother’s house still, in Chicago, in the city – fours years later finds me in Indiana, smack dab between my hometown and Indianapolis, for all intents and purposes – the country.

Not that I’m knocking it. Though the culture shock at first was jarring, I’ve since grown quite comfortable in my rustic surroundings. Sure, I still live in town, far from the flat-land-wilds of the corn-and-bean-laden countryside. All the same, a far-cry from the roar of the urban jungle, the constant rumble of electrified trains and hybrid public buses. But, I’m losing focus…where was I, oh yeah, thirty.

It’s just weird. I recall an article I read once claiming that domesticated house cats never truly grow up, that they will forever retain their kitten persona under the care of their human-parents. It makes sense, what purpose is there to growing up, to becoming savage, if one’s life necessities – food, water, shelter – are provided free of violence and struggle. I feel that it’s much the same with modern, privileged (first world) humans. We never truly grow up, we never truly become the savage, resourceful survivalists, much less killers, that human beings were meant to be, that we had to be in order to survive in the wild. Thus we remain children masquerading as what we believe adulthood to be – a patchwork collection of behavior learned from observation of our parents and straight copycatting of popular culture…all the more accessible in this digital, streaming, shareable age we live in.

So no, I don’t feel thirty, nor do I know what thirty should feel like. And, just as I felt as a nineteen-year-old throughout most, if not all, of my twenties, I believe that I will spend most of all of my thirties trapped, frozen in time, at this moment as a reluctant twenty-nine-year-old, unready to advance yet thrust into it, trying my best to  conform to a stage of life that I know nothing about, a stage of life that I doubt has any meaning beyond what an individual makes of it.






From out a deep and unrestful slumber, the disoriented creature stumbled into the brilliance of a new day, a cold wind pressing at its back, the heat of the fully risen sun warming skin and sinews. 

For the past three years, I have lived as an adult. That is, without leaning financially on my parents or anyone else, working a full-time job, and inhabiting a domicile run independently by myself and my wife (though owned by someone else). And for three years, I have placed my writing career on hold.

Not intentionally, of course. I always maintained to myself that I could casually pick at my work, my other job, on time off. In this bizarre fantasy world, the momentous stress that comes with adult life in this wonderful capitalistic American wasteland of ours did not, indeed, weigh heavily upon my soul, body, and mind to the point that each day free of wage-mining made one want nothing more than to sink and melt before the comforting divine glow of Netflix and Playstation.

Alas, a fantasy it is.

We have survived near homelessness, several financial crises, one terrible landlord, two terrible roommates, and a move. We also got married, went back to school, got promoted, and rescued a tiny ferocious dog along the way.

And so, as it is with most things, given time and experience and plenty of (un)avoidable meltdowns, we have grown slightly wiser and ever-so-slightly better equipped to deal with the day-to-day horrors associated with “adulting”. So here we are, here I am, writing my first blog post in over a year and a half – my last Blogger post is dated July 2014, the post just before that details my efforts to get serious once again about my fiction/blogging…

I am writing. Not as much as I’d like and not nearly as regularly as I should, but it’s more than I’ve done in a while. So for those who remember and care and even for those that don’t, I am back.