I don't know what to say. No, really. I'm stuck. I've been sitting here for two hours staring at a blank cursor. My heart rate is through the roof, my hands are sweaty and still, I'm frozen. When I was younger and imagined being a writer, this is not what I had in mind. I thought I'd sip coffee in cafés, take long walks at sunset to mull over new ideas and wear a lot of cozy sweaters. The ideas would flow freely, and I would be a vessel to something bigger than myself. Turns out, it's not like that at all.
Last month I wrote my first script for a television show. I had a week to complete it, and I spent the first two days staring at a blank screen, frozen in terror. Most of the scripts I'd written up to now were tucked away safely in a file on my computer. Or, at best, read by Studio Executives who called my agents and said, "We loved it, but can it be more murder-y?"
I've always had an active imagination. As a kid, I believed in all the classics: mermaids, fairies, unicorns, elves. I was even convinced trees could talk. Raised on a small farm outside of a small town, my imagination knew no limits. It was free to unfurl through the wheat fields and shelterbelts, happily leading me on epic adventures of my own creation. One summer, at the height of my imaginings, my cousin, Grant, and I decided to plant a rock garden. (These are the kind of things we did for fun back in rural North Dakota, before cable television or poop emojis.)
Last week I got a tattoo. Wait, Grandma, don't stop reading! I'm still your sweet granddaughter — the same girl you once hugged and whispered in her ear, "I love you just as much as all my other grandchildren." Special words spoken by a true (always fair) Midwest grandma. I hope you'll still love me a fair amount. If not, I'll have to start divulging secrets about my cousins, and I know you don't want to hear that one of them lived with their husband before they got married. Wait. That was also me.
I've always loved the Fourth of July. Growing up in my small town, the Fourth meant three-legged races, watching the parade on Main Street and covering my ears during fireworks. Eating corn on the cob in my flag shirt with butter dripping down my face, I remember feeling so grateful I lived in that exact part of the country that celebrated in that exact way. It was the only America I knew — with rolling wheat fields, pink-sky sunsets, lots of hotdish and wide-open spaces.
Last month I was hacked by the Russians. OK, it wasn't "the" Russians but rather one Russian. He hacked into my Facebook account, changed my password, assumed my identity, and promptly deleted all of my friends. It was my very own Election 2016. When I tried to log in and report the hack, a message popped up telling me there was no account associated with my email. Panicked, I asked my husband, Jason, to bring up his page. He did and we discovered that every photo I'd ever been tagged in had been erased of my name.
Hi Katie. It's me, Jessica. I'm the woman whose article about infertility you responded to in a letter entitled, "A strong faith is all you need to live a full life." Thank you for your letter. I'm grateful to have an open dialogue about such an important issue. I was also so sorry to have read about your miscarriages — a heartbreak no one can begin to understand until you live through it. Thank you for bravely sharing that part of your story.
Last week I froze my eggs. The ones in my body, not the ones in my kitchen. I always considered freezing your eggs something women did so they wouldn't feel pressured by their biological clock while they were advancing their careers or vacationing in Mazatlan. It seemed breezy and smart and modern. But "breezy" isn't exactly how I'd describe it. There were pills, blood draws, ultrasounds and hormones. (Oh, were there hormones.)
Last week I was in North Carolina, crawling on my hands and knees, covered in briar scratches, trying to find my grandma. I don't mean actually find her. I know where she is. She's buried in North Dakota in a shady cemetery next to my grandfather. But I was looking for the woman who had lived. Grandma Lottie Mae was born and raised in rural North Carolina. She met my grandfather during the war, and he swept her away to North Dakota where she traded collard greens for Jell-O salad. She died young, just a year before I was born.
My husband is divorced. Not from me — that would be much bigger news — but from his first wife. I never thought I'd marry a divorcee. Then again, I never thought I'd marry a Buddhist, but life is funny. When we were first dating, I thought about Jason's first marriage a lot. Had he taken his first wife to this restaurant? Had he said those things to her? Had she made him laugh like I did?