Did Coronavirus Break My Brain or Was It Already Broken

I thought I was having a decent day today. Talked to two sources on the phone. Came up with some potential ideas for stories. Took a shower. Smoked a cigarette. Then I had to video chat with my therapist. After we hung up, I spent 15 minutes retching into my toilet and an hour lying on my couch trying to get my cat to sit on my chest. She refused. Thanks for nothing!

This is not the kind of writing that I like to do, but here I am doing it, because I feel stuck and I would like to come unstuck. Maybe this will do it? We’ll see.

Last night Jamie and I talked about professional jealousy. There aren’t too many people whose careers I am consciously jealous of, though that is mostly because the media industry is in such disarray right now that very few people are able to consistently do the kind of work that I would like to be doing. But there are a couple people who are responding better to this moment than I am—more productively, more creatively. Clio Chang and Lauren Kaori Gurley are doing incredible labor reporting for VICE. Caitlin Dickerson and Miriam Jordan on immigration for the Times. Everyone should read their stuff. They’re very good.

While they are “knocking it out of the park,” I feel like I am about to “go down looking.” (This is a baseball thing. Baseball is not my favorite sport by any stretch, but for some reason I find that whenever I am talking about my feelings it is baseball metaphors that I reach for. It’s bizarre! I mean I played as a kid, but I played soccer too, which is a sport that I continue to care about. What’s up with that?) The pandemic has brought so many of the issues and questions I have been grappling with for years to the forefront of the public consciousness, or whatever, and I just… don’t know what to say about it.

I am finding myself caught in a loop: I have an idea, but I don’t pitch it to an editor because I think it’s not good or clever or original enough and they’ll think less of me for sharing it with them, which means that I’m not getting published, about which I feel angry and ashamed for not being up to the moment, for not being useful, for not fulfilling my responsibilities as a journalist and a writer, which makes me feel like I need to come up with the perfect, un-rejectable pitch, and the cycle begins anew. It’s not great!

I suspect that one way out of this may be to make things as simple for myself as possible: find people to talk to; listen to them; learn from them; write down what they say; share it with an editor; shape it into a story. Let someone else think about what it all means. Maybe I am not up to that task! I would like to be, but so what if I am not? Not every piece needs to capture the totality of life under capitalism and a pandemic. Just a part will do.

Part of the experience of these feelings is guilt over having them at all. How frivolous, how bourgeois. Kim, there’s people that are dying. Then again, I didn’t write this, so it could be worse.

Anyway, it was raining very hard when I started writing this blog, and now the sun is out. That is another metaphor. Play ball!

One thought on “Did Coronavirus Break My Brain or Was It Already Broken

  1. Your entire feeling, and perhaps (yes) I am projecting here, is best summed up as “it was raining very hard, and now the sun is out.” Yes, the rain returns, the rain always returns. But then, the sun.

    Liked by 1 person

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