If you read last week’s post, you’ll remember that I stressed myself out to the point of actually making myself sick. Well, with everything that’s gone on since then, I haven’t actually gotten much better. I can breathe through my nose, now, but only as a result of a steady application of DayQuil and tea. I’ve been sleeping more and resting way more than usual, but the flooding happening in my area has erased a lot of the benefits of the rest I’ve been getting.
Thankfully, I’m completely safe. I got a little water in the basement and was unable to go to work for a few hours, but that was it. What’s been stressful (and I recognize this is an extremely privileged problem to have during a natural disaster like this one) is trying to figure out how I feel about everything that’s happened. People down the street from me had to rip all the carpeting out of their basement because they had standing water. Go less than a mile away and there are people whose entire basements filled with water, people who had to be evacuated from their home, and streets that have been destroyed. There’s even a bridge that’s been half washed away. And I’m fine. I live at one of the highest points in the area so I escaped entirely unharmed. the biggest inconvenience was the loss of power while I was trying to make dinner on Monday night.
There’s nothing I can do to contribute to the flood relief efforts because I’m sick and my depression is at its worst so far this year. I can’t contribute money because I’m basically broke and I barely have anything useful to spare in terms of item donation. I replace most of my crap by asking for it as presents. I wish I could help but I’m effectively powerless other than writing something about it and even that isn’t working very well because I spent all night and day trying to come up with something for today’s poem post but ultimately failed to finish anything because I feel like all my creative energy has dried up. I feel like I’m scraping the bottom of the barrel and nothing I can come up with is any good. I’ve got five stanzas of something that’s clearly unfinished but I can’t even tell what’s wrong with it because my insides shrivel up every time I look at it.
Poetry is about emotional expression to me. Something I’m feeling captured in words and brought out where I can look at it outside of myself. Right now, I can’t even figure out how I feel. I know I’m feeling something and that I’m feeling it strongly, but every attempt to confront it or start processing it accomplishes nothing and leaves me more drained than before. It’s like trying to lift a heavy lead blanket off of something when you’re already so tired you can barely keep standing and you’re only this tired because you’re carrying whatever’s covered in the lead blanket.
I think it’s partly because I feel powerless to address what’s going on in the world. There’s nothing I can do to effectively contribute to the flood relief going on where I live, and there’s nothing I can do to address the severe weather that’s contributing to (and possibly causing) the flooding because global warming is a problem for all of humanity to address but all the people with the power to do anything about it are busy fucking around with their heads in the sand. The current administration of the US Government is literally marching us further and further toward destruction, they’ve abandoned the rule of law, they stand for nothing but personal gain, and just thinking about everything that’s happened in the past three years has made me want to vomit. Sometimes, it feels like the world is ending and I can’t tell what point there is in fighting it since my only weapons are words almost no one sees.
So much has happened since I graduated from college and moved to Madison and it’s all been a daily reminder that I don’t really matter and the power of words is ephemeral and fleeting when it can be felt at all. My old job, some of my relationships, old roommates, the current government, people leaving, the reasons people leave, and natural disasters that feel surreal because my life hasn’t changed but a guy has died and thousands of people have been evacuated from their homes, all of which is happening only a few miles from me. For the most part, I feel like my life is just a thing that’s happening and all I can do is try to keep my head up as it carries me wherever it goes. I know that feeling isn’t entirely true, but it’s hard to push that feeling away when my birthday present to myself is using the money I’ve saved up to pay off my car loan so I can start putting more money toward my other debts. Paying off my car loan is great, but all the extra room it creates in my finances is just getting sucked into my other debt. It’s exhausting to be working toward something for half a decade now and feel like I’ve made almost no progress. It’s exhausting to look at the enormity of the world’s problems and know that I can’t change anything unless everyone else agrees that we should change it.
I’m tired. I’m going to go to bed early and rest up this weekend. Hopefully I’ll be able to sort out my emotions over the next few days so I can finally get back to feeling productive again. This blog might not do much in the grand scheme of things, but my words are all I’ve really got and I believe that I can eventually effect some small change even if it takes me banging my head against a wall until the wall breaks. I’m not going to give up trying to change things, but it’s hard to keep hoping I’ll eventually be able to change anything when I look back at the past five years and can’t figure out what’s changed for the better.