Distract Me

Truth be told, I’ve been depressed. Just a smidge. I’ve got that dull film over my eyes that makes everything seem soggier and uglier than usual—nothing to cause alarm, nothing to write home about. Still, I’m not in the mood to skip down the street or anything.

I remember I’m maybe-depressed when I have nothing much to do, which is why keeping busy is a cure better than vitamins and should be focused on at all costs. Problem is, then I remember I am so busy that I am overwhelmed by busyness and deadlines—all my fault; I took on too many freelance projects and three things are due in about a week; did I say this is all my fault?—and then I collapse into this numb ball of dazed anxiety on the couch, but at least I’m too tired then to be depressed so either way I win.

What saves me from myself are my various distractions:

A busy day at work, going through a satisfying pile of jackets all with clear expectations—make sure no typos, make sure ISBN is correct, change Canadian price (again), check copyright year and names and titles and photo credits and review quotes—and next to which I tick off tiny checkmarks and then sign my initials in the bottom righthand corner and log it into the system and into my private (no one should see or they will think I am obsessive and crazy) color-coded Excel chart. There’s something to be said for this job when you are sad: such systematic work can be, to some people, of which I guess I am one, soothing sometimes. My heartbeat slows. I feel better. I reached the end of my to-do pile on Thursday and felt okay. If only my real life were so clearly defined.

A magazine on the subway, which last night was The New Yorker‘s Winter Fiction Issue, which can be easily held aloft while balancing with one hand on a silver pole in the midst of a crowd of cranky people. One ride home = one short story.

A spec fiction project I am working on for no money, and no assured reward, and I don’t even know if the editor who wanted to see it will even like it. (And I was supposed to give it to her before the holidays… I’m a week late.) But if you must know, I like it so very much. I am having fun with it. I would rather be writing it now than all the other things I have to do. You know what? I hope she likes it, but if she doesn’t I don’t want to give up on it either.

I have five days off from work, an upcoming holiday that causes great anxiety, and three deadlines. There is no time to be depressed, see?

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