If I’m Not Out There, Where Am I?

It’s one of those weeks where I feel as if I’m preparing for a lot of things, on the work front. I’m still doing a lot of things, but most of them are behind the scenes and not for public consumption — a chunk of this week is actually being spent helping out someone else on their project, entirely behind the scenes, which feels like double-plus not for public consumption — which is something that always leaves me filled with a strange nervous energy, as if failing to produce something that’ll be read by the internet at large is an actual problem that I need to correct as quickly as possible.

Objectively, I know that’s not true, of course; there’s nothing in any of my current contracts that suggests that I have to produce a certain amount of material to be published on a daily schedule. (I do, however, have a lot of deadlines on a number of things to write over the next few weeks; eight or so, by last count, which means that I’ll have to buckle down and make things happen sooner rather than later. But still.) And yet, I’m in recovery for being an internet writer who grew up in an era where daily publication was a must to stay alive and keep a career going. Years later, I still feel as if something has gone wrong if I’m not putting my name out there, day after day.

I assume there’s some kind of study that’s been done on this by someone, just as I assume that I’m not the only person who’s gone through this. After all, there are generations of writers, online and print, who’ve transitioned from daily deadlines to something more relaxed; with that many going before me, there’s no chance that I’m the only one who’s experiencing these kinds of jitters. In fact, maybe I could look into that and then turn that into a story to write for someone. That could work, couldn’t it?

I’d Like To Thank The Academy, I Guess

I was talking to Chloe earlier about what we described as our shared inability to accept compliments, but the more we talked, the more it dawned on both of us that the problem was, perhaps, that neither of us were particularly good at even recognizing when we were being complimented in the first place.

The conversation started upon seeing mutual friends take credit for comments that weren’t, necessarily, compliments aimed in their direction, all the while taking great pains to ensure that everyone knew just how humble they really were, of course. It was something that amused both of us, not only in how obvious their egos were, but in the fact that both of us realized quickly that we lacked whatever DNA we needed to do the same thing.

Instead, both of us have something that could, at best, be described as an anti-ego: something that hears a comment about us and immediately assumes, if not the worst, then at least the most bland and generic. We could both receive compliments that seemed on the face of them to be sincere and wholehearted, and instead either hear them as half-hearted attempts in the name of being polite, or else subtle sarcasm intended to suggest that we’re actually the very opposite of whatever was actually being said.

Such an anti-ego can be both a blessing and a curse — although mostly the latter. There is the upside of it preventing either of us from getting a big head, which is always a preferred outcome… but then there’s the fact that neither of us are particularly gracious in the face of people who genuinely are trying to compliment us, because we simply don’t quite believe what they’re saying. Instead, we both just have developed the impulse to mumble semi-gracious thanks before desperately trying to change the subject as quickly as possible.

Thinking about it, it’s good that neither of us have won any kind of award. Just imagine how bad the acceptance speech would be.

Whither Nom Nom Nom

I miss eating out.

That’s not a euphemism; with one single exception, I haven’t eaten at a restaurant or cafe or coffee shop or, basically, anywhere that isn’t in the same place where I’ve been sleeping since lockdown started in March 2020, and it’s been long enough that I can admit to feeling really kind of strange about that now.

It’s not that I’ve not eaten food prepared by anyone outside of my immediate family in all that time; I’ve ordered more than my fair share of takeout in that time — what can I say? I really like both fancy American fusion food and McDonalds, and see no real reason to deny myself either as long as I can afford it and don’t overindulge — and eaten some pre-packaged snacks and frozen meals across the past 24 months, as well. But I haven’t actually eaten a meal anywhere that isn’t my house.

(Oddly enough, as I’m writing this, I’m wracking my brain to imagine if I’ve even eaten anything as much as a candy bar outside the house in all that time, and I don’t think I have. That can’t be right, and yet, I have the horrible feeling that it is.)

We’re at the post-lockdown point now where everyone seems to have just… accepted the pandemic as a fact of life and an acceptable risk, with seemingly everyone around me wandering around without masks and the various restaurants allowing sit-in custom again. I have to confess, I’m tempted to just throw caution to the wind and eat out for the first time in two years, just for the thrill of it. Imagine the decadence you’d be feeling!

Except… except, as I said before, there’s one exception to all of this: a birthday meal for a family member at a restaurant, last summer. For the entire meal, I felt anxious and nervous, as if this was the moment when COVID would get me once and for all. I could barely enjoy the food, or the company, the entire time.

Maybe I’ll stay in the house for now. But maybe I’ll order some food in, and pretend I’m being fancy, at the same time.