Shouting Into the Void

Since 8 November 2016, I haven't felt quite right.

I had invited a few friends over to watch the American election with me. I had snacks and a smile. It was supposed to be a monumental night as we welcomed the first female President of the United States. Instead, everyone left early, needing to process what was happening on their own terms.

The next day, I cried at my desk. I flew into a fury as my fingers typed insanely, pounding out my feelings at an undeserving male coworker who chose the wrong day to make a sexist joke.

I joined in the online outrage at first. I retweeted pictures of protest signs and I got involved in the political fights I had previously successfully avoided on Facebook. I read endless think-pieces and I engaged in lengthly and loud conversations with other people who were shocked and sad and outraged. They often ended in tears.

As I checked Twitter one day in early 2017 to see what fresh hell had been unleashed on this planet, something snapped. I closed the app and deleted it. I signed out of Facebook on my phone. I cancelled my subscription to The New Yorker.

I just couldn't do it anymore.

I couldn't really articulate why I felt so exhausted and outraged and disassociated all of a sudden, until I saw Tina Fey's sketch about the Sheet Cake Movement on SNL. She took a lot of heat for that sketch for a bunch of reasons, but unfairly, I think.

In the sketch, Tina tells people to buy a sheet cake from your local non-white owned bakery and just start screaming your feelings into the sugar as you stuff your face. What I took away from that sketch was a perfect translation of how it feels to exist in a reality where you feel you have no power to do anything. Peaceful protests are met with violence and/or indifference in equal measure. The environment is melting and people are still shipping pineapples from Mexico to Alaska. Hashtags on Twitter are just screaming into the void.

I stepped away from my blog for half a year because that's what writing felt like to me: screaming into the void. There are so many truths I feel deeply need to be shared, but I feel like, what is just one more voice among the millions who are already saying way too much? Am I just adding to the noise?

I've found ways to replace this creative outlet and find moments of peace and hope, like by

reading. A lot. I've been listening to audiobooks and reading fiction and essay collections and rereading stories I've long loved. I've been reminded that this isn't the first time in history when everything was terrifying, and nothing instills compassion like reading stories of suffering and triumph.

bullet journalling. I started drawing and taping and highlighting my own little journal/agenda, and the quiet and repetitive work of measuring lines and counting grids and cutting Washi tape has as calming power.

podcasting. My friend Jenn and I started a podcast called Next Segment with Jill and Jenn. It's a complete self-indulgent form of creative expression and I love it so much.

I've often thought about coming back here and writing. I've started so many posts and left them half-baked in the unpublished folder. I haven't had the emotional commitment to stick it out. But I haven't forgotten about this corner of the internet, and I'm not done with having my say.

There's nothing wrong with shutting up for a while, though, either, and listening.


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