Dear Diary, Here I Give You a Break-Up Letter of Sorts

WRITER’S BLOCK: a never-ending story littered in excuses and various appeals. I’ve spent the past few months doing what I’ve always done: asking people to help fix this. Give me solutions and easily applicable tonics, serums, elixirs and pomades. Metaphor after metaphor and still not a word.


My mom used to tell me to write about everything/ write everything down. A perfectionist, I taught myself to only write down or at least consider writing down anything that I could craft into what I considered a “passable”(see: meticulously dense/poetic/ adjectives) sentence. And now I’m starting to think: maybe I’ve missed out on my life because I didn’t think it was important enough, that my observations weren’t special or nuances enough, that the fucking sky wasn’t blue or black enough. Well… fuck enough!

Nothing has to be special or good. I decided that I’m breaking up with writer’s block, which is actually ok for more than just the fact that I can get back to the serious business of expression (I used to be happy when I wrote something? I thought that maybe it was good???) but because a break up gets to be messy.

So maybe I should start with the first thing. Breaking up with this feeling that I can’t write. Because that’s really it: I feel my hand clench into a fist or like my fingers don’t know where to fall in relation to each other on the keyboard and I am holding back from deleting everything this very second…

“It’s ok if your writing is shit” I keep telling myself. “It’s ok for now” I remind myself.

I feel like I’ve gone into a time machine and I have reverted to my former teenager writer self, excep I have my current opinions and sensibilities which creates a somewhat hilarious clash. It would be a patent lie to deny that my teenage self thought she had my opinions and sensibilities. And for that, I guess I have to hug my selves.  This is more than just breaking up with my writer’s block (rather, I’ve decided, there is no other choice. Either I do this now or I risk doing what I’ve always said I hate and stagnate into a swamp of talktalktalk and no praxis… I will not be Artex, goddamnit!)

What I have really come to hate the most about writer’s block is the unrelenting feeling that I am a hypocrite. How can anyone ask my opinion on anything they do what I can’t even do what I thought of as the only viable skill in my repertoire? And this feeling is nagging in the same way that a bad habit is: you know you can do something about it, but whatever right? Really easy to brush off because you’ll get to it anyway. Procrastination is writer’s block’s favorite fuck buddy and after that nothing need occur as they embrace each other and smoke your lungs and mind into rot.

I’m not buying it anymore, so in a moment of intensified narcissism, I present to you: Stories of My Recent Life.

It’s been really cold these days which means everyone is sneezing and coughing (seriously, the other day I thought a woman was going to collapse next to me or at the very least cough herself into a vomiting spell). Nobody want to go to work and everyone’s muscles ache and oh-have-you-heard-so-and-so’s-on-a-new-diet and check-out-this-insanely-rigorous-workout-regimen. All fo that good old-fashioned nonsense. I started to read and article about how women are more likely than men to trust (Believe) in their horoscopes because they’ve internalized the sexist myth that they, as female beings, have no control over their lives and as such we should bank on the stars because it’s an ancient practice. My commitment to reading the whole article was exhausted by the third paragraph as the voice in my head shouted “BUT WHO AM I TO ARGUE WITH THE STARS?!”

It’s been cold enough and polluted enough and I’ve been tired enough to not see stars. So where are they? If they want to fight I ask them to please present themselves to me (and I’m sure they know I’m the one hiding, and in turn blaming them for my woes).


I am an Asshole and My Garbage Is Still Worth More Than Your Life

It’s been getting colder here. I think today it was around 20 F. I’ve started to get into a routine on Thursday. I wake up at 6:30 and then I either think about or actually accomplish doing some exercise. Then I run. Catching the bus to work is pretty easy, but you really don’t want to risk it if you want to make sure you get to the University on time. Teaching usually goes really well on Thursdays because I’m not to tired and after I treat myself to some baozi. Last week my friend who lives in Beijing was going to come visit. For some reason, I didn’t follow through with my routine. I changed it to Friday. Then why did I tell you about it? Probably because I want to prove that I’m real; I want to prove that I live in a city, have a life, do things and maybe, stuff.

Friday I went to the grocery store further down the block first. After I went and bought myself a new coat. I lucked out and the coat, a puffy stretch down UNIQLO piece of awesome was on sale. I enjoy being employed. I enjoy buying things, especially if they are going to keep me warm and make my complexion looks nice or something like that. I bought bacon at the store for my friend and I because I love bacon and it is the only thing anyone should ever care about in ever. I decided to walk back via the scenic route, something I don’t typically do, but hey. Spontaneity is good, right? Then I check my phone.

“Hey homegirl. Some bad news. I can’t make it———” 

I don’t even bother to read the rest. I’m just upset. My face reads “WHATTHEFUCKMAN!IWASLOOKINGFORWARDIMADEPLANS!!! I BOUGHT BACON.” 

Right, I fucking bought bacon for this guy and he bails? What gives. Walking with an added stomp I begin to notice things and start being a total Scrooge about what I’m seeing. Well, sort of. I’m not like going up to people and telling them “Bahumbug! Fuck off! Ohhhhh you’re happy? Well let’s see how long that lasts!” 

I’m just grouchy. And then I see this man maybe twently feet outside of the gates to my apartment. He’s a Chinese man, probably from another province who from some series of events ended up in Shijiazhuang. He ended up on this street, cold in winter. I don’t know how but he’s learned to delicately pick garbage apart and eat it. And all I could think about was how upset I was my friend was going to have to come visit another weekend. 

I was upset I was going to have to eat bacon alone while this poor man ate garbage. My garbage. I was upset about my plans being delayed. Man, I don’t even want to know what he’s upset about. I considered giving him some of the food I was carrying- but would that make me the cartoon of a colonist? Extending some charity out of pity for this man? Oh by my whiteness I do declare, here you poor soul taketh from my cornucopia! Did I ignore him?Was my trash really feeding a person? Would that make my waste their sustenance, one of the things keeping someone alive on this stinky planet? How could I make someone else’s life about me; about my value? That make me a colonist. Was I really the superior Foreigner casting a disapproving glance at this Other, a Lazy Native?  

This dude was obviously cold, homeless, hungry and friendless enough that eating out a garbage can on his knees in the “nice part” of town (Jucai Street is home to luxury hotels, famous schools, and new apartments) was a good option.  And I knew better than to watch. Nobody would bother him. He could eat all he wanted. This was not unfamiliar; it was natural.

It was routine.