“My life, I realize suddenly, is July. Childhood is June, and old age is August, but here it is, July, and my life, this year, is July inside of July.”
― Rick Bass
July wore me out. It chewed me up, used me up, and spit me out disoriented and weak. It took all I had and left nothing of myself to give to me. July tested, exhausted, and stressed me beyond recognition. July was a hard month, but after all of that stress, this July gave me the most beautiful day of my life. This July and every July from now on will be a special month in my heart and memory. This July, after 17 years together, my girlfriend and I finally became wife and wife.
Planning our dream wedding meant that nearly every other aspect of my life had to be put on hold. I had barely enough time to eat, sleep, and shower regularly let alone read or write. I stopped seeing my friends and family. I stopped being able to think about anything but decor, attire, vows, cake, catering, and seating charts. I stopped doing all the things I loved in order to have one perfect day and while I know it was unhealthy but I am so glad I did it. It really was a perfect day.
But now it’s over, and so is July, and now it’s time to return to real life. I’m slowly picking up the neglected pieces of my life and getting back to some old self-care habits. July was supposed to be my fresh start, but it looks like August is when I will begin again. I’ve decided that after the summer I am taking time for me to get back to writing, reading, and learning.
But before I do, here is what I am currently…
Writing essays, really this time. I may have to wait a week or two before the first one is up, but I am determined to work on them every single day, even if I can’t post them weekly as I had planned I just have to work on them for a certain amount of time every day. If I just do that, I’ll be happy. I have a direction. I have a list of topics and a schedule. I’m so excited to get started and I to see where this “essay a week” journey takes me. I’m excited to explore the genre, to improve my skills, and to finally start sharing what I feel and love with all of you.
Making writing friends online and in real life. At first, writing may appear to be a solitary activity but the truth is that support, encouragement, and social stimulation are critical to growth and mastery of the craft. I believe that this (and a lack of will power and ample energy) is what I am missing most in my journey to authorship. I’ve noticed that my focus, enthusiasm, and confidence in writing has waxed and waned with my writerly or creative connections. I feel most stimulated after I have talked with other artists and writers and I am reconnected with my own purpose and passion. I’ve recently connected with a coworker who also enjoys writing essays and poetry, and I’ve joined a lot of Facebook groups for queer/women writers like myself in the hopes that I can get more done by relying on a community to encourage me, guide me, and hold me accountable.
Planning big renovations and projects around the house. For over a year now the place has been falling apart around us and for over a year we have been saying “after the wedding”, “after the wedding”. Now that we’ve finally come to “after the wedding” it’s time to fix up this old dump. The basement, the kitchen, and both bathrooms need to be completely ripped out and redone. The garage door, the front and back yard, the siding, and the roof have all gone into disrepair. We’re looking at loans and a whole lot of work but we are ready to take on a new challenge and begin to build our dream home.
Reading Notes from Underground, The Double and Other Stories by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, still. I have now fallen 7 books behind schedule in my reading challenge and am profoundly disappointed in myself, but even though I don’t expect to catch up (unless I get this Little Black Classics Box Set soon!) I am not giving up. August is when I will begin again and I will pick my nightly reading habit back up as soon as I pick up my nightly habit of going to bed on time again. I may move on from Dostoyevsky as him and I aren’t seeing eye to eye yet and I do have books I’m much more excited to start with them I am to finish with him. Particularly It by Stephen King and The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller.
Watching too many things, sigh. I finished the second season of Big Little Lies, a star-studded dark drama on HBO, and the 3rd season of the nostalgic sci-fi horror series Stranger Things on Netflix. I’m still watching the deeply disturbing teen drama Euphoria on HBO and I’ve just discovered Years and Years, an anxiety-inducing dystopian drama joint produced by HBO and the BBC. I’m trying hard not to binge the last season of the prison drama Orange Is the New Black but so far it’s been so much better than the last and I expect to be done with it in days. My greatest obsession though has been the FX channel drama Pose about the underground Black and Latino LGBTQ ball culture in New York City during the 1980s.
Learning how to learn again. I could go on blaming the wedding and planning for every goal I’ve stopped pursuing in the last month but the truth is procrastination and fear have been my largest adversaries. I have been my greatest enemy. Rather than getting to down on myself or giving up, I’m deciding again and always to simply try again. I think the fact that I want to learn and that I am pursuing learning actively in life is something to be proud of and taking a break, or falling behind is better than never beginning at all. So, in August, I’m simply picking up where I left off with Modern & Contemporary American Poetry and International Women’s Health and Human Rights.
Feeling stressed and depressed. Even though the wedding is over and there is no more planning to be done or decisions to make the worry we’ve carried over the last year has been slow to fade. To make matters worse, we have other bog changes on the horizon too. After over 13 years of working together at the same location, my wife is moving on to another school district much further away. It isn’t the biggest deal in the world, but it is a change and change, no matter how small or good, has never been something I cope with very well. Besides my anxiety, I will simply miss seeing her throughout the day and getting to ride into work and back home together. I’ll miss hearing about her from other coworkers and getting to witness firsthand how amazing she is at her job.
Anticipating some time to enjoy the last of summer for a while. I spent so much time planning the wedding and worrying that I haven’t gotten a chance to enjoy myself at all this summer. I haven’t gone swimming, hiking, or camping once! I doubt I’ll get to do anything much before the school year starts and I’m back to my usual work schedule but I hope to get at least a few good trails in before the temperature begins to drop. I’m looking forward to some warm days downtown and night’s spent on bar patios with good friends. I’m looking forward to the sun, green trees and flowers, and freedom for at least a month more.
Reflecting on my relationship. My wife and I might have only just gotten married, but we have been together for quite a long time already. In August we will be celebrating our 17th year together and embarking on a life where we have been together for more years than we weren’t. I will have spent most of my life with the same person and I’ve been wondering about what it means to two people to grow as close as we have. Where do I end and we begin? Are all parts of me known to her, and her to me? Who would I be without her? How much of me is me and how much has simply molded to her? Does it matter?
Fearing driving, though less and less all the time. Since my wife and I are splitting up professionally we won’t be riding in together anymore which means I can’t rely on her anymore when I’m struggling with my driving anxiety. I’m afraid but this is honestly probably the best thing for me. I shouldn’t rely on her so much and I should be stronger, but I know I won’t be until I have to be. That is how anxiety, fears, and phobias work. It takes more than hard will. It takes having no other choice. It takes your life coming to a standstill, or the threat of life falling apart. It takes living with your fear becoming worse than the fear itself. I have to work and I cannot let my wife down. Not working and disappointing her by not working are worse prospects than my any outcomes my fear of driving has put into my head and so it’s time to face it.
Hating the current Democratic party presidential candidate pool. I don’t mean that I hate the candidates themselves. I have quite a few favorites, candidates whose viewpoints and priorities align well with my own, but the field is far too crowded and the interparty attacks are starting to ramp up and, in my opinion, damage our mission and chances. We’re beginning to pull each other down. We’re beginning to sound like Republicans. More than that, I want the field to thin out to give each qualified and truly potential candidate space and time to reach the American people. The problems we are addressing and the solutions being proposed are complex and I hate that the details never reach the American people.
Loving the current Democratic party presidential candidate pool. I know what I just said and I stand by it but I can’t help being a little proud of my party for dreaming big. The field might be crowded but only because so many people want to do the work to make this country a better place for people to live. It feels good to see people debate how to help the vulnerable, the downtrodden, the underprivileged, the forgotten, and those this country has exploited. It feels good to hear so many people give voice to the pain that so many of us experience every day. I feel very fortunate to be alive when I am to witness such political courage and love.
Needing help. I’ve been working on recognizing my patterns and I have seen the good and a lot of the bad I do naturally and the ways I react both positively and negatively to the world around me. I can see where I am failing myself, but I recognize patterns is only the first step to correction and the next stepu201—building new habits, getting rid of what hurts, what distracts, and what holds you back, and find what works, what you need, and what you love—takes more than what we are made of alone, especially in a world where we have so much freedom, choice, information, and entertainment at our fingertips. I’m working on solutions to procrastination and building good habits. I need strategies, apps, and hard truths. I need more than what I can give myself.
Hoping that the coming school year runs more smoothly than the last despite all indications it will actually run worse. I hope we get these open positions filled, and that moral goes up and stress levels come down so that we can get back to focusing on what really matters, the kids! I may complain about my job a lot but it’s only ever the other adults who frustrate me. The kids give me purpose and joy and they all deserve the best version of ourselves we can be. I’ll be the first to admit that I have not always given my best. I’ll be the first to admit that the grownup world sometimes sees into the world I try to make for my students and I struggle to give them back what they give me. I want to do better this year, and I hope that the people who are supposed to help me give my best to the kids get back to giving their best to me.
So, yeah, all in all, July was an absolutely beautiful month! I don’t care how hard it was, how stressful it was, or how much I had to sacrifice. It was all worth it to stand up in front of my closest loved ones, say my vows, and then celebrate my love. I realized one of my greatest dreams this July. I will never forget it and it will be a long time before I achieve or experience anything that will top it.
But what about you? How is the summer treating you so far? Have you taken any trips, gotten any camping, hiking, or road trips in? Have you made or realized any grand plans of your own? Have you found yourself distracted and doubting? How have you managed to pick up the pieces and move forward?
Let me know in the comments.
“[JULY IS OVER AND THERE’S VERY LITTLE TRACE]”
— Frank O’Hara
The inspiration for these posts comes from Andrea at Create.Share.Love