Boo, I heard 1 of 4 people there get eaten by polar bears.
Stating the facts for my friend, who’s visiting UC-Boulder this weekend (and apparently loving it). He’s trying to decide between Colorado and UW-Madison for his phd program.
I may be a little biased, but I mean, mountains? meh. who needs mountains when you’ve got this?
Do you ever have to trick yourself into writing?
Some days I’ll stare down a list of To Do’s, but all I “do” is everything in my power to avoid setting in on it. I suppose that’s always the problem, isn’t it? It’s not that I don’t want to, but it’s much easier to simply remain prostrate on the couch and watch an episode of Modern Family you’ve already seen than actually exert some effort, whether mental or physical. I think this is the case with anything that’s good for you, but requires a break with inertia. I imagine it’s harder to commit to an exercise program than it is to, say, take up drinking in the morning, or enter into an affair. The first you trudge into, the latter you slide.
It doesn’t mean I don’t love writing. Or love how I feel in the middle of it - or even better, after. Just that it’s easier to remain at rest, unchallenged. Knowing that anything worth doing is worth doing well, and sometimes doing something well just feels like too much to ask of oneself.
To get the keys under my fingers, I make little bargains with myself. Slipping sideways into writing. I tell myself I’ll “just sketch a rough draft.” I ask of myself only bullet points. One paragraph, one page. Whatever. Open a new document, expand the page (or don’t - a small square of white space being somewhat less intimidating than a full screen of the judgmental shade). And start. Start typing. Start drafting. Start pouring thoughts out from the far reaches of where I’ve been hiding the thoughts that will eventually become an essay, an article, a post, a musing, a rambling.
Then soon, I’m just…writing. It’s not scary, it’s just what I do. A lot like when you confront a long run with a sluggish body, the getting going is the hardest part. To coax oneself out of not doing anything at all, you tell yourself, fine, don’t run five miles today, we’ll just run two. you slowly pull your shoes on, your thermal, your tights, and stumble out the door. It’s the third mile of a run when a song on your ipod ends and you suddenly look around, wondering how you got from the first block to the fiftieth.
And then? And then you just keep running.
- Me: ok, i have to go. But thank you very much for being there.
- Him: no prob
- Me: in like, LIFE. ...No, just kidding, just this morning right now
“Are you feeling spontaneous?”
My friend Evan sent me this interest-baiting question Wednesday night. My initial response? No. No, I’m never feeling spontaneous. And as a freelance writer who’d just finished covering New York Fashion Week, I was exhausted and ready for a little West Wing on DVD/nachos/early bedtime combo for the next..well, few days at the very least.
But I’m nothing if not a glutton for punishment, so I wrote back. “Why…?”
A social studies teacher in Florida, he sent me a long-winded message about how he was taking his high school Model UN team (or MUN, as I would soon learn) to Washington DC for a tournament, and the female chaperone had just gotten sick and bowed out. Could I fill in?
Now, I come from a family of strong female teachers. My mother works with learning disabled fourth graders. My sister runs the gifted program at a middle school. My aunt goes all Dangerous Minds with ‘rap as poetry’ lessons on her eighth grade reading class on the regular.
But I am not a teacher. I never wanted to be a teacher. I watched “Mr. Holland’s Opus” and felt nothing, apart from a grateful, good for that guy. Recognizing how f’ing hard the job is, and how much patience working with children demands, I knew it would just be a race to see if I’d kill a student or myself first. I’m just not good with kids. I was the youngest in my family. I never babysat. I like staying behind my computer all day, and socializing exclusively with grownups at night. Apart from my niece, I don’t really know what do around children. And she’s only one and a half so she can’t even tell me how I’m doing.