bright lights

My writing's been so stiff lately, I get cramps reading it.

It's natural to recognize mistakes in the text while re-read⁠ing—that's what editing is for. I also consume a lot of Emily Nussbaum, Megan Garber, etc., so I have a general idea where my frustrations on quality are coming from.

But none of that changes the fact that I neglected writing regularly for so long. All because I suffer from a condition where attempts at writing summon the “ghost” of the elusive perfect piece. It's an illusion that tells me I should achieve perfection, but everything I do will be less than. The ghost renders me too spooked to function.

On good days, the paralysis is surmountable and I remember the whole point of writing is to find a way out of not-knowing. There's comfort, too, in knowing no writer has ever said exposition is easy.

The difficulty is part of what pulls me out of my navel-gazing trances. I'm forced to slow down when I write. My ideas make perfect sense inside my own head because they're attached to context forged by my personal experiences. But when they're out of range, on a computer screen, they have to stand on their own and make sense to other people.

I usually catch my pretensions and faulty reasoning on a published post precisely because it's a detached space. Thank god for the edit button.

My 29th birthday came and went without much internalized fanfare. A far cry from all the agony of my early 20s, when I thought parties, trips, gifts were directly proportional to a person's worth. It was stupid to diminish myself just because my family didn't have the luxury to observe these traditions, but that's exactly what I did.

I refused to celebrate my birthday for years. It started around the time my dad slipped up and told me he only remembered to greet me when his phone notified him. My neurons immediately fired the words at my greatest insecurity: being an unplanned birth. He said it exactly once, but the words struck a nerve so violently I'd remember it over a decade later.

In retrospect, “because I'm an unwanted kid,” was how I rationalized most of my folks' imperfect parenting. My so-called independence was born from a demon—one that made me feel like a metal ball chained to somebody's ankle.

But here I am, at an age where my old definition of birthdays and worthiness have lost their grip on me. Though every now and then I still catch myself making patchwork out of whats and whys that have nothing to do with each other—an occupational hazard. My current state of mind tells me meanings and rationalizations are almost always created after the fact; they don't come soldered together.

What I contemplate and plan for these days is the annual contract-signing for my apartment. It overlapped with my birthday this year and I was forced reconsider my priorities. I think acquiring the freedom I have now has been my greatest investment and achievement so far. I love my so-called independence.

But being born was pretty good, too.

Take a snapshot and your brain will delegate the task of remembering to the camera. The act of taking a picture is an anti-memory.

Lately, I've only been half-remembering my days and it's not because I'm suddenly into photography—I will never be into photography. I just haven't been present enough to remember. Working in physical isolation means I rarely have to explain myself to anyone, but now I don't even bother explaining myself to myself. My mind is littered with half-remembered thoughts, lingered on but never fully understood.

I need new illusions; the old ones must be captured and wrestled onto a page. I need to break reality out of the patterns I've imagined, over and over again. I know I've done it before because I've forgotten. Writing has always been my anti-memory.

It's no exaggeration to say that I've been thinking of what to write here for a whole month. Pushing out one personal post in a long time feels like passing a kidney stone the size of a golf ball. The buildup has to be removed by surgery.

There's no doctor, but I am paying for the service. Nothing motivates me more than having bills to pay.

It's my first post and I offer no epiphanies; only a stone.