The Green Lounge: Write As You Are


I’ve been a high-functioning depressive the last few weeks or, as we like to call it this winter, a Minnesotan. My compulsion to write was solidly trumped by the pleasure of not writing – just doing and being and making sure I got plenty of sleep and coffee, although not in close proximity to one another. I did a little paid work, volunteered a lot and walked aimlessly around my neighborhood, in the hopes of feeling more centered and feeding my pale, starving cells some vitamin D.

I’m still off-center and we just got snow-blitzed again.

So I drag myself, with some difficulty, to the keyboard. But I know that if I keep typing, eventually I will wonder why I ever stopped.

My old job needed me back temporarily to train a new manager. I met with her in a coffee shop last week. She was put together – groomed, French-tipped nails, makeup, fitted clothes. I, on the other hand, have spent a winter or four devolving into a schlump. But I was on time, despite getting lost on the way to a place where I’d been only a week before. Timeliness seems to be the only level of professionalism that I’ve maintained since I started working from home nearly 8 years ago.

I kept staring at her nails. My hands, dried and split from cold weather and housework, look something akin to a prize fighter’s. I used to try. Now I dress like Mr. Rogers, comfortable, interchangeable, squishy clothes. I used to wear business suits from Talbot’s. I used to wear mascara. I loved my business suits. It was like having a uniform. I’ve always had a thing for uniforms…on myself. Now, if I’d only hear my inner monologues in a sexy foreign accent, I’d be irresistible to me.

April is like a re-set month for me. Long after people have made and discarded New Year’s resolutions, April is a month of optimism. I do have to admit, though, that this year my April optimism is more like that thin layer of fluffy white snow that covers piles of half-melted dirty snow. Looks nice, but a little sunlight melts the pretty snow to reveal the grotty, depressing truth.

I rang in my 14th wedding anniversary by arguing with my husband on the way to a restaurant. Since we rarely argue, this made it a truly special occasion. My daughter will celebrate her first double digit birthday soon and next month, I will officially become a soccer mom. That used to be a thing, didn’t it? Are politicians still falling over themselves pandering to soccer moms? As usual, I suspect that I might be a day late and a dollar short to that political trend.

I’ve been reading a lot, both off and online – a silent reader on many of your blogs. Online reading is sometimes like jumping from shiny object to shiny object like a crazed magpie, so I returned to books. It is virtuous to say that I read for enlightenment, but sometimes it’s detached curiosity about how other people think.

I read intellectuals only to find that personal experience informs nearly every statistical and theoretical approach. In a data-driven world, it’s good to remember that the human experience is always subject to interpretation and the search for truth, for order, for rationality is unending. And even if you are very, very smart, it is unlikely that you are ever completely intelligent.

Offbeat, quirky books caught my eye at the library. I started reading Essays by Wallace Shawn (a playwright, but mostly known for his role in “The Princess Bride”) and have already come upon something to mull over.

“My congenital inability to take the concept of the inviolable “self” seriously – my lack of certainty about who I am, where I am and what my “characteristics” are – has led me to a certain skepticism, a certain detachment, when people in my vicinity are reviling the evil and the alien Other, because I feel that very easily I could become that Other, and so could the reviler. And this has had an effect on my view of the world.”                                                                               Wallace Shawn

I read this shortly after reading an article on Rwanda – a story about forgiveness between a family and the murderer of some of their members. We often hear tales like this and it brings to mind the nature of forgiveness, something I’ve written about here. While compassion should rule the day, I’m not convinced that I could just as easily wield a machete against an unarmed family as be an unarmed family. Maybe a little evil-reviling is okay.

This is a lot of words in which I say very little. So this post is a thank you and an apology. I’m writing again. Thanks for reading. Sorry that I had to do this post to make that happen. It’s a warm up to regular writing. It’s the only thing that is warm here.

35 thoughts on “The Green Lounge: Write As You Are

  1. Welcome back. I’ve missed your posts. If it’s any consolation it’s 0 celsius here today (32). Bloody freezing although in the city, where I live, at least all the snow is gone.


    1. Hi Fransi! I’m in complete denial about the weather. I’m getting ready to go on a bike ride and it’s still only 27F/-2C here! The snow has at least melted off of the roads, so hopefully I’ll come back refreshed and rosy-cheeked and without a broken limb from hitting an ice patch.


  2. Please quit it with the apologies. You have every right to write when you wish and to skip it if you care to. As for getting lost on the way to a familiar coffee shop, you need to remember that when every landmark on a path is covered in gray snow, things start to look the same.


    1. Let’s just blame my apology on S.A.D., which is now an epidemic north of 40 degrees latitude. Everything does look the same under gray snow, but it still doesn’t explain my refusal to look at the navigation system…in my car…while I’m driving. I do like the aimlessness of finding my own way, though.


  3. I too have been away from my blog, attributing the lapse to being deep into novel revisions. But I’ve also noted a lethargy. Personally, I’m blaming it on the vegan days I adopted as a Lenten discipline this year—just kidding . . . sort of. Really enjoyed this post and glad you found a way back.


    1. It’s amazing that despite your lethargy, you have managed to get some revisions done. I wish I had even that urge. It’s not just winter, I think. It was a need to get out of my own head and to drift a bit. It helped and I’m chock full of new ideas. Writing is a recognizably cyclical activity for some of us. It’s just taken me several bouts to realize that!


    1. Thanks, Ruth. I’m glad to hear yours as well. I’ve decided that to wait for spring during this strange blizzard/tornado season (locusts must surely be next) is pointless. Onward and upward, even if I’m still wearing snow boots in May!


  4. Welcome back, Michelle. I share your battle with S.A.D. Still up and down for me despite the long-awaited arrival of the change in temperatures here. It’s currently 52F but winds gusty at 25 mph. I’m not complaining, S.A.D. is.


    1. Thanks for the welcome back! We had a lovely change in temperature last week and then it plummeted. You could hear a collective groan across the state. And for those of us who got a little too excited and washed our snow pants for spring storage…very demoralizing! Still, I’ve been getting a little more sun and wow, does that help! Hope your spirits are brightened soon as well.


    1. Thanks, Lyle. I was indeed staggering as I shoveled another 10″ of snow off of the drive yesterday. Today, you couldn’t imagine we’d just gotten blitzed – melted snow, dry roads and sidewalks, beautiful sunny day. It’s a break from the doldrums to hear all the birds excitedly chattering and staking out their spring turf!


  5. Michelle, you need some Arizona sun. That would make you feel so much better. I remember getting depressed when winter went on too long in Michigan (which is a 9 with winters, whereas Minnesota is a 10), but in Arizona, it’s all warm air and blue skies and blossoms.


    1. Ah, Luanne, I think I’m a midwesterner at heart – I’ll complain about the weather no matter where I am! It has been an undeniably harsh season here. The only climate I was completely happy in was central to northern California – just enough fog and morning chill to satisfy the moody writer within, then getting some mild afternoon sun.


  6. I actually love this post. It’s the equivalent of a plumber clearing the pipes. Lots of force and gumption in the flushing.
    Doing *anything* while depressed is a slog. That you’ve forced yourself outside and had the energy to fight with your husband must be considered monster successes.


    1. I didn’t recognize it as depression until I realized I’d been in a stagnant slump for weeks. Still feeling it, but trying to drag myself out into the sunlight. This week looks to be open window temps and sunshine. A much-needed boost to the system!


  7. Happy to see you again. I noticed that you stopped by to read, and I thank you for that. It made me smile. It also made me smile to know that you wear “squishy” clothes at home. Here’s to warmer weather. Cheers!


    1. Thanks, Maggie. I have indeed been a bit of a lurker-reader. While I do enjoy engaging with other writers, sometimes it’s nice to take a break and not have to say anything, but still stay somewhat connected. I’m moving beyond squishy into gardening wear – torn jeans and old shirts, mud boots and a damned happy grin on my face as the snow is melting to reveal rich soil and lots of good compost in the garden!


  8. Happy to hear you again. I had to smile “seeing” you with the polished woman in the coffee shop… Hope the sunshine stays and lights up your mood!


  9. Always glad to see you re-emerge in the blogosphere. 34 degrees here but “feels like” 22 with the wind and gloomy gray sky. My faithful 4-legged companion is itching to get out, though, so we are going to try another couple mile “walk-jog” (our 2nd this week, trying to return to a bit of the running after this long winter of icy walks) as we try to continue shaking off the winter doldrums. Your opening sentence rang so true (with most everyone I know, I suspect)!


  10. Hi, Michelle. I enjoy your blog a lot and am flattered that you’re now following mine. Thanks a million. Peace and best, John


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