I. The Good.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about making this space a larger priority in my life. These days, so much has been going on and so much has been changing that I’ve avoided writing because any true sentences would probably start and end with “everything is weird and I have no idea how things are going.”
But then I thought it might be time to take up a writing challenge, like writing 100 poems with each line starting with the letter “L,” or a month of daily postings like I did last November, or signing on for this #31Days thing that people are talking about on twitter. It’s good to have a challenge, you know, and it’s good to commit to something that is good for you, even if you aren’t really sure how it will turn out.
And then America was like “Great Idea, we’ll make it super easy for you: just stop coming to work indefinitely.” Thanks, country/employer for verifying that writing more was the right thing to do.
II. The Unfortunate.
It’s so close to the dream, that it is almost hard to complain. As of today, and for an unknown number of days moving forward, my time is completely in my own control. I can write at home or from a coffee shop or from basically any place I might want to go, with no rules and no dress code. If I feel like baking cookies or bread or going for a walk or perusing a Chicago-area museum, I can. The world is mine for the taking – except. Except I am losing my paycheck each day I’m out of work; except the work I should be doing and that I care about very much is not getting done.
So let me tell you right now: this is not the dream I had in mind.
III. The Wish.
I could make a lot of comments about how low-income families need government services or about how government workers need their paychecks because MORTGAGES and TUITION PAYMENTS and FOOD IS EXPENSIVE, but if you already think those things matter, my words here won’t change your mind, and if you don’t think those things matter, my words here won’t change your mind either.
However, my colleagues and friends are facing a serious fear because they don’t know by what amount their pay checks will be reduced, and they aren’t sure they will be able to meet their personal financial obligations. Please try to avoid laughing and belittling that fear the way a Member from my home state just did on national television. I cannot believe the future of our country lies in the hands of those who represent us so well they laugh publicly at our misfortune, and I long for a time when enough people will find such behavior unacceptable that it is no longer tolerated.
IV. The Promise.
Regardless of my feelings about being unexpectedly free to write, I am free and I am going to write. I will not give up this opportunity because it is wrapped in unfortunate circumstances. And so I will be here, and elsewhere, thinking and dreaming and writing. I may bake a fancy cake or learn to knit or sew a quilt or practice scales on my guitar until my fingers bleed. Because while this extended lunch break is certainly not the dream, I’m going to make it count.