“Butter the toast, eat the toast, shit the toast.”
Mark from Peep Show’s words have been resonating in my head a lot recently and not just because I’ve been watching it on repeat daily — a kind of comfort food for the eyes. No, it’s the monotony of daily life he’s referring to that strikes such a familiar chord.
It’d be slightly incorrect to say I’ve been in a bit of a funk since COVID because in reality, I’ve felt this way for awhile now. I’ve been playing career hopscotch for the past few years, trying out different fields, considering different degrees, only to realize that what these jobs entail in real life have no actual appeal to me. Maybe it’s the creative in me that has the ability to romanticize every prospective career I dream up. I do think I could succeed as a nurse or a lawyer or a teacher (all directions I’ve started down in the past 12 months) but when I sit myself down and ask, “can you see yourself in the day-to-day that this life will require?” the answer is always a resounding no.
“Where are your blogs?” came the single message on Instagram from Jason, a former South Baltimore publican with a penchant for banning me in my younger days. Where are my blogs? I wondered, unable to think of a good reason for the months’ long neglect. I find that I both love and hate writing. I love the idea of it, the satisfaction I get from finishing a piece, receiving a compliment. But I hate it for my lack of discipline and inability to dedicate the time to it that it deserves. I find excuses to put off doing something that brings me a great amount of joy and I can’t understand why.
My childhood, and now adult, best friend Bethany sent me a book right after I moved back to Madrid. The gesture in and of itself was immensely thoughtful as she knows how much I love books, but the choice of title showed her attention to the inner struggle that I had voiced to her on several occasions. How to Write an Autobiographical Novel by Alexander Chee addressed a lot of the same feelings, shared by a published author, and offered ways to get around the self-doubt, inaction, and downright fear that comes with producing a creative work. I felt a newfound confidence that I could do it, whatever it was. Whether that meant writing a novel or just being successful as a writer in general. Any yet, I still did nothing.
In recent history I’ve told myself that switching things up, moving somewhere romantic will light that spark that I need. If I move to Ireland, I’ll write. If I move to Madrid, I’ll write. Maybe if I get a job and move to New York City, I’ll find the inspiration to finally write. I still feel this compulsion on some level. But I’m not convinced the location is any sort of lifeline. It’s just another excuse keeping me from doing what I need to do.
So as the monotony of the daily, endless grind bears down on me, I decide to stop playing career dress-up. To strip down to the days of penning the beginnings of a play set in England at the age of 7 on a legal pad in the basement of my childhood home. I’ve spent my whole life avoiding pursuing the study and eventual career of writing because I told myself I shouldn’t focus my energy learning about something that comes naturally to me. Asking myself, why go into a writing-focused career when I could shake things up and study medicine or law or psychology?
But also, why not? I hope to finally find that out.