"You Sure About That?": Where I've Been Since November

Sunday, December 13, 2015

A builder working on the ranna ghor (kitchen) at our village home.

I set out at the beginning of November with the intention to prioritize myself over my worries, and the universe replied: “you sure about that?” A few weeks ago, I made a chart of what has been pulling at my attention. It takes up the full 8.5x11” sheet and I’m pretty sure that it could take up even more if I let it.

The whole month, I felt very scattered. I had to concede defeat to NaNoWriMo at around 20,000 words. I went to my family’s village for a few days. I took a 10 day trip to Kolkata for my first time in India. Project As[I]Am released its fall issue, Unpalatable, and submitted a grant application (fingers crossed on that!). I’ve felt alternately drained and guilty that I haven’t been doing enough. If you took a look at my internet history, you’d see a slew of bookmarks for self-care interspersed with those for productivity tips. I’m not quite sure what I’ve been looking for, but I’m devouring advice.

Once I had made up my chart, I started putting things into categories: creating, absorbing, reacting, practicing, and completing. I started noticing some things. For instance, it’s hard to ‘practice’ personal rituals when you’re heavily focusing on ‘completing’ tasks. A lot of my energy this past month has been spent ‘reacting’ to personal circumstances – these events can be positive or negative, but they take up energy nonetheless. Hoping that Kolkata would be something like a reset button, I took some much needed time away.

While there, I started turning on my audio recorder as I walked around the streets. I picked up the sounds of fireworks and drums for puja, people chatting outside of parks, rustling papers in an archival library. And street traffic, endless street traffic.

I’m adding these recordings to the stockpile of bits and bobs that I’ve got lying around. Chronologically, I’m at the halfway point in my stay overseas and my creative output really reflects that. When writing for NaNoWriMo, the middle is the biggest slog for me. Beginnings and endings are deliciously dramatic by comparison. In the middle, I make lists of things that need to happen, but won’t for quite a while. I’ve been sleeping more during the daytime and staying awake at nights. All of it has been gathering and more gathering, as I try to condense my focus into a few larger projects rather than spreading myself thin.

So, if you haven't heard from me in the past month (or several...), then know that this is part of my re-commitment process. There may not be leaves on this tree now, but wait for summer and you'll see!