Yesterday, I wanted to be a professional fisherman. Or not even a professional. Just a half-ass, novice, part-timer fishing for my dinner. I’ve been known to fall victim to “grass-is-always-greener” type thinking and these past months have been no different. I think it’s safe to say, that with my book finished and almost all subsequent marketing efforts put to bed, I’ve been a little depressed.
I’ve been warned about this. I remember my writing coach talking about it. It’s a real thing! Look it up. A kind of postpartum depression happens. It’s even listed in Urban Dictionary as Post-Series Depression for readers. But if readers can feel sad about an ending and miss the characters, then just imagine how the writers who gave birth to them feel! Granted, I didn’t create my mom, Frankie or myself, but the kind of self-examination required for memoir writing can leave you with a little self-doubt at the end of the process. And, much the same as anyone prone to even remotely deep thinking, I’ve been going through a “what’s-it-all-for-and-what-the-hell-is my-purpose” thing.
Yes, even me. Who, on most good days, feels my reason for being put on this earth is to impart my innermost neuroses and embarrassing foul-ups through the written word so that my readers (whoever remains anyway) can feel not so alone. Trouble is lately, there haven’t been all that many good days. Hence, my record-breaking hiatus from writing and daydreams of becoming a fisherman. Err … fisherwoman.
In the beginning of this unpaid leave of absence, say around May, I simply decided I needed another project. I dwelled on an idea for a children’s book starring a particular Pekingese pup, but that never got any traction. Then, I wondered if it was a relationship I was missing. And while my foray into the world of online dating provides lots of humorous inspiration, I’ve decided most of those mishaps are unpublishable under my real name, even for a self-deprecating writer like myself.
Then, in July, my mother took a tumble, hit her head and temporarily lost her mind. I mean for real lost her mind. At one point, she couldn’t have told you her name or how many kids she had. Long story short, it was a urinary tract infection. Turns out they can make older women crazy. I had no idea. Google it. Drink your cranberry juice, people.
Needless to say, my depression lifted. I now became consumed with hospitals, rehabs, medications and moving. The tables had turned. Or to borrow another cliche’, we had come full circle since my own debilitating ordeal. Now, my mother and I share a three-bedroom apartment. This is the important thing to remember about depression. It’s pointless. It’s futile to worry about the current state of affairs because things can always get worse.
I’m hopeful we’ve gotten through the worst of it. My mother has gotten most of her marbles back, but as many of you know, she wasn’t exactly playing with a full set anyway. And before any of you start feeling outraged on her behalf, just know I have her complete consent to write what I want. Which is good because there are some funny stories from rehab – where my mother, cooly and above it all, remarked from her wheelchair, looking at all the other old people in wheelchairs, “this is not my crowd.” She knows she is my greatest muse, just as I know and am grateful that she’s my biggest fan.
But as her fog lifts, mine begins to return. Truth is that aside from handling her finances, managing medications and removing the occasional dirty dish from the pantry, there isn’t all that much to do. I like the way my friend Matt theorized about it. My smart mind needs stimulation!
And as I gazed at the fishermen and took in the whole scene, I realized I was trying to come up with phrases to describe the way the sections of tattered seawall served as cutting blocks to their bait. Or to explain the impossible way the sun glints and sparkles off restless water using an analogy other than stars or diamonds. And so it came to me. I don’t really want to fish. I want to sit here and take it all in. Frankie relaxing on the park bench, snapping at unseen bugs, sniffing the coffee-filled breeze that rustles through the trees, the occassional train whistle or ambulance siren piercing the air.
So, I’m writing again. For now. And maybe it’ll help.