This election, coupled with a number of deeply personal issues and setbacks, is pushing me to limits I didn’t know I had. Recently, I’ve come to know the term “high-functioning depression” quite intimately. I have been a functioning depressed person for most of my life. It’s kind of like walking outside during a light mist, it’s not always 100% awful, but you feel it, you notice it, you kinda wish it wasn’t there because you actually looked good when you left this morning and now it’s all fucking ruined! Anyway, yeah, it’s like that. So, I do a few things when I’m emotionally distressed. 1. I cry at the worst times. 2. I need to snack, a bunch. 3. I hoard books.
As many of you know I work at the University of Minnesota. In addition to working in a super supportive department with awesome co-workers and pay, I get access to the UMN library system. Access to that many books (delivered to my office!) is akin to winning the lottery for me. I’ve checked out about 20 books in the last two months, which is actually pretty stupid since I have an 8 month old and haven’t been alone long enough to read a book in what seems like 15 years. I digress. Today, another book arrived. Simple black cover, red spine with a gold embossed title, Bone Black by bell hooks. At the tail end of my lunch, I opened the book and read the foreword. This section spoke to me loud and clear.
“It is the story of girlhood rebellion, of my struggle to create self and identity distinct from and yet inclusive of the world around me…While the narratives of family life I share can easily be labeled dysfunctional, significantly that fact will never alter the magic and mystery that was present–all that was deeply life sustaining and life affirming. The beauty lies in the way it all comes together exposing and revealing the inner life of a girl inventing herself–creating the foundation of selfhood and identity that will ultimately lead to the fulfillment of her true destiny–becoming a writer.”
I am a writer, I think, above all else. My other roles and identities are seen through that lens. I’ve always written from personal experience, but in a more general way. I think it’s time to get specific. To cut myself right open and say, “Here, look at this.” Or, of course people can choose to look away. That’s fine too. This is about me. I need it to be about me.