Day 25

Write about what makes you feel strong.

Independence and self-reliance. I always feel strongest when I can take care of myself (and now my daughter). It’s very American of me — I don’t want to rely on other people financially, practically, or emotionally. This is possibly not the healthiest personality trait, but it’s certainly functional.

I am the most independent person I know.

I mean, unless/until society collapses and practical skills are important again. Then I’ll just die.

Day 24

Write about a dream you remember.

I remember all of my dreams. I have been told that this is a sign of disordered sleeping — you are not supposed to remember many of your dreams; if you do, it means you’re waking up in the wrong stage of your sleep cycle, which indicates you aren’t getting into the deeper no-dreams part of the cycle at all. I’m not sure how accurate this is, but I am always dreaming when I wake up regardless of how long I’ve slept.

Most of my dreams are just recurrent anxieties working themselves out, so not especially interesting to hear about. I have the same types of dreams over and over.

For example, last night, I had one of my “I’m on the roof” dreams and one of my “can’t pick a city” dreams. The “on the roof” dream is where I’m walking through a crowded city street and I have to go up on a ledge or ramp to avoid some street detritus or something, and without realizing it, the thing I’m walking on goes up to the level of a very high roof and becomes the edge of that roof and suddenly I am 40 stories up on a tiny little ledge and looking down.

I have this dream constantly; I do not know what it means. Often, I get down from that ledge only to somehow find myself on another one, and this continues throughout the night.

In the “can’t pick a city” dreams I’m back in my early 30s trying to decide on a new course for my life, and I’m trying to pick a city to live in and maybe something to go back into in school. Usually, this is a bad situation — like, I will in this dream own a small house somewhere that I’m realizing I don’t want to live in, and also have signed a lease back in NYC and be out of work. Or I will have gone back to school and paid a ton of money to earn a degree that I then don’t remember why I wanted it. Or both. Sometimes in the middle of this dream, I suddenly remember, hey, wait, I don’t need to go back to school at all, I earn enough from this tech job I have now. Like, I’ll be trying to figure out how to fit my real life current job in around some old part-time job like waiting tables and then I’ll suddenly realize I don’t need to wait tables at all, I can just do the tech job.

This is probably a boring post to read, though, because dreams are one of the most boring things you can ever talk about (the other being drug trips). If you’re someone who often tells your friends about your dreams, stop now. It’s like the most boring conversation ever because you are literally describing something that did not happen and has no plot and that you “had to be there” to understand why it even felt significant, and the feeling of significance was a trick of your own brain, so it’s not possible to convey it even if the other person was there. Because of Freud (wrong about everything, a total quack), we all have been misled into thinking our dreams are really significant, but they are not.

I especially hate dream sequences (or drug trips) in books and movies and things. They are completely pointless and such a cheat on the writer’s part because they can literally be anything, it’s totally arbitrary plotting, the laziest. So many times a writer will do some long symbolic dream sequence as a shortcut to revealing some backstory or pushing something forward that they’re too lazy or talentless to work in in an organic way. It’s truly the “a wizard did it” of plotting, I hate it. Plus it’s always so boring to watch. I cannot think of a single good example. If you can, comment with it, and I’ll explain to you why you’re wrong and it is actually bad.

Day 23

Interview a fictional character.

Me: “Hi, Elizabeth Bennet.”

Elizabeth Bennet: “Hello.”

Me: “Which is your favorite Housewife franchise?”

EB: “I do not understand the question.”

Me: “Right. Bye, Elizabeth Bennet.”

Remember what I said last Sunday about how Sundays are for phoning things in? Sooooooo tiiiiiired. Thank god I go back to work tomorrow and can get some down time in.

Day 21

If you could, what year would you time travel to, and why?

I mean, it’s the eternal answer to this dumb question: I’m a woman, so I wouldn’t.

But I guess if the question were “if you were an upper class white man and you could time travel, what year would you visit and why?” I would say…I don’t know, to be perfectly honest, I really don’t enjoy experiencing things physically. I much prefer to read about them. I don’t even want to be in the present day, I just want to read about it from the comfort and solitude of my cozy bedroom.

When I think back over history, all that really springs to mind are just an endless series of wars. And everything would smell and be really uncomfortable and time-consuming. I like modern luxuries and conveniences and having my own income and streaming media and effective pharmaceuticals and queers.

History? No thanks! That’s what I say.

Day 19

Write about something mysterious.

One time, I was at a gathering in someone’s apartment in Chicago and one of the hosts mentioned that there was a building next door that they had decided was a government front. It was a private residential building, presumably, but it looked very weird — it was a big concrete box with no windows and a weird big square industrial-looking front door. This wouldn’t be odd in a warehouse district, but this was Lincoln Park, a cute little neighborhood of traditional looking houses. The roommates who lived next to this box then talked in hushed voices about the various things that led them to conclude it must be a government front.

I was curious, so I went home and googled “weird box house in Lincoln Park” and similar until I dug up what it actually was. It was the first freestanding building in the US built by famous Japanese architect Tadao Ando. Ando is known for designing spaces that safeguard privacy from busy city environments and that use natural light creatively. This house looked like a dark concrete bunker from the street, but on the inside, it opened out into bright atriums and open air walkways.

That was years ago, but more recently an interesting-looking Ando gallery has been built next to the house (which I believe is still a private residence) to host exhibitions on architecture.

I never told my friends about the house’s actual story, because it would spoil the fun and if they wanted to know, they would have googled it themselves. So this is a good example of how (a) I am driven to ruin mysteries, and (b) the actual explanation for mysteries is frequently more interesting than the speculation (at least I personally found the actual explanation for this one more interesting).

Day 17

What is a superpower you’d love to have?

Common answers include flight and invisibility; however, neither of those are actually useful imo. For flight, you just think “ooh, soaring through the air!” but it’s physical activity and probably really hard, like swimming or running. Plus, it’s cold up there! If anything, the fun part would be free-falling and then pulling up. But I do think that would eventually get old, and it’s not a practical skill. With invisibility, I just don’t see how any advantage you’d get out of that would be ethical. The older I get, the more I appreciate being left out of shit that isn’t my business.

The thing is, this question does not pose that your life would change in any other way. So the question is really what sort of power would be of most use to you in your actual life? Super strength might be nice in some rare situations, but I don’t really need to be able to lift a car.

There’s really only one answer that I can see: apparition. I don’t travel anywhere near as much as I used to, but I would if I could simply apparate. Think of how much better your life would be if you never had to physically travel between any two locations ever again! Never entering an airport? Never driving anywhere? Your whole life would just open up. I can hardly conceive of how much better everything would be. There are all sorts of wondrous implications for adventure and fun, but it’s also a practical cost- and time-saver for your actual life.

Right now, I’m trying to determine when I will be ready to travel again for work. If I could apparate, it’d be no issue at all. I could simply zap myself home during breaks and after dinner and be with Edith, then be back again for the next meeting.

Day 16

What is a cause you’re passionate about and why?

Well, reproductive rights, but I certainly do not have the energy to write about that after a long weekend of parenting.

In fact, as I stare at this blinking cursor, I’m finding I do not really have the energy to write about anything at all. I can’t even think about what I would write about if I did have the energy.

So, here are the last five Tweets I faved:

One cause I feel strongly about is phoning it in on a Sunday night.

Day 14

Write about a challenge you faced and overcame.

Is it possible I have never faced a challenge? I can’t really think of one. All the examples that spring to mind fall under these categories:

  1. Being out of work and needing a job.
  2. Forgetting my wallet somewhere, or not having local currency. Weird travel snafus where everything’s closed and I don’t have somewhere to stay, or nowhere takes cards and I don’t have cash.
  3. Figuring out some complex adult process.
  4. Getting kicked out of (or priced out of) my apartment unexpectedly for various reasons.
  5. Having to perform under various unenviable conditions (like losing my voice or busting my knee or something).
  6. Having to go about daily life without the use of my non-dominant hand for a few months.
  7. Annoyances, like being ghosted by a moving company day-of or realizing my one appropriate dress doesn’t fit anymore ten minutes before an event.

All these things seem so distant now from relatively stable middle-age, and anyway, they weren’t especially high stakes or interesting.

I feel like a “challenge” would be like, a mathematical proof I couldn’t crack, or developing a vaccine under pressure, or growing up in poverty.

I think I’m not important enough to have challenges.

Day 13

What does your ideal day look like?

Well, this is awkward, because in every version of my ideal day that I can think of, I do not have a baby.

One thing I think a lot about is the different varieties of happiness and how reductive and simplistic most conversations about “happiness” are. I have read that people who have children tend to be less happy as a group than people who don’t but also experience more profound joy, and that sounds right to me. A meaningful life is not necessarily a happy one, and merely being happy is not everyone’s primary goal. At different times in my life, I’ve optimized for getting quite different things out of life. There’ve been periods where I’ve optimized for adventure or inspiration or ambition, and if you’re optimizing for those things, you have to do a lot of things that make you very unhappy. You experience a lot of extreme ups and downs. Then, there’ve been times when I’ve optimized for contentment and pleasure and absorption. That sort of life leads to a lot of gentle, uninterrupted happiness — many peaceful days, but no ecstatic ones. These days, I’m primarily optimizing for meaning and joy, which again doesn’t necessarily equate to short-term happiness or comfort.

That’s a bit off topic to the prompt, though. My ideal day would be go for a run on the beach in the mild sunshine with my dog first thing, effortlessly write something truly brilliant in the morning, swim in the pool in the early afternoon followed by five hours of uninterrupted reading in the hammock, dinner with friends outside in the charming little town square (all walkable). Same as probably everyone’s, I’d imagine.

Day 12

What emoji(s) do you like to use?

I don’t like to use any emojis; I would love if my life were such that I never had to use another emoji, and one day when I am very old, it will be so.

However, I am driven to most frequently use the rage face and the cry-laughing face. Also the grin.

Mostly, writing this makes me feel sad and hopeless, because it highlights how many of my friendships (and all of my workplace relationships) are now 100% virtual and how long it’s been since I regularly hung out with a group of actual people in physical spaces. Physical proximity is more of a rare treat now, a cause for great celebration. I think it’s making us all deeply mentally and physically sick and broken in ways we are largely pretty unaware of, but it works really well for capitalism and it’s also easier for us personally (in the way that staying in bed is always easier and more comfortable than doing something), so we’re all willingly allowing ourselves to be convinced it’s great. And that was before the pandemic.

God, we’re all so fucked.