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Caricature

Kawasaki Backflip by Dogleg

will you be the fire or the wind?

will you be the fire or the wind?


Whenever things get bad, I feel like I become a caricature of myself. I’m not actually Brady, I’m just someone who goes in and fills the gaps until he can show back up. I stretch myself thinner than butter over stiff bread, as a religious Bilbo Baggins fan would (possibly?) say. It’s not about making sure you can go in and perform all your duties - that’s not sufficient. You have to go and make sure that they are so confident that you are, in fact, you, that there’s no question. You’re not just surviving, you’re thriving! Obviously it’s not true, and for some people it’s probably clear that it requires more work, not less. But for those who really know, they get the kernel of truth buried inside. Maybe someone, somewhere will leave you alone for that brief moment. Maybe I can dig deep enough into that corner to create an air pocket large enough to breathe in.

I have three posts sitting in my drafts. You won’t be surprised:

  • 2019, by the numbers
  • The 10’s by the music
  • This Year: Same but Different?

If I’m lucky you might see one of the three. Immediately after the new year started, I got slammed in the face with a large work assignment. It has been sitting there, latent the entire time, but it finally rose up. I want to go back and undo the statement I started - “slammed” is such a generic word. I felt like I was doing my best to organize an elementary school street crossing when a stranger showed up and decided to practice their uppercut on my jaw. I have physical and mental bruises decorating my body. I hope you can’t see either of them.

I am burnt out on myself. People can get burnt out on lots of things, but they should never get burnt out on themselves. If you are going to be the person who will happily turn it up to not just 11 but 12, stop pretending and just admit that. Stop stating who you are; begging for empathy and then being frustrated with sympathy. It’s not working anymore. You can’t pretend to be the person who can crank out 12 hours of heads down engineering work, 2 hours of management work, 2 hours of cultural support, an hour of pretending to zone out, an hour of transit, an hour of eating, then sleep for 5 hours. For seven days in a row. Until it’s done.

Some people think you can go until the tank is empty but that’s hilariously false. You go until the desert is wet. You go until every single grain of matter has been sucked dry of moisture. A gas tank never really empties out, it just sputters until you can’t pull anymore. The fire will burn on your charred remains.

I had a real mental breakdown a few weeks ago. I have no advice there. My reaction - call it quits and start drinking on the roof - moved me forward and got me out of it. Calling it a success is more optimistic than the political campaigns I donate to. Regardless of how true this is, I am supposedly at an age when I should be a professional role model? Where’s the book on how to break down responsibly? Who should I follow to teach me how to translate the “angry at Twitter mob” conversations to the “we’re not a Twitter mob” people? What space can I create that’s safe for myself yet also welcoming to others? Which bar can I enter and trade my money for eternal sunshine, rather than brief alcohol-induced cloudy nights?

And now there’s a virus? I know history will judge me poorly here, but I just put it so low on my priorities. How can I possibly deal with all these things: personal problems, financial problems, professional/work problems, home problems, social media problems, social justice problems, fitness, cooking, goals, balance, work, life, did i say it yet, because it’s not working, did I tell you I’m trying, no well we’re not holding up, WASH YOUR HANDS WASH YOUR HANDS IT’S NOT GOING TO BE GOOD.

NOT GOOD? NOT GOOD.

NOT. GOOD.

NOT! GOOD!

GOOD?

… GOOD.

Anxiety saturation. Overload. Caricatures. Who am I - the person who goes out and buys extra hand sanitizer at midnight on a Monday, or the person laughing at them? I am finally stretched thin enough to realize I can only pretend to be one, not both. Only the artist knows what they look like. Whatever, bounce back, see you at 9AM sharp.

Maybe 2021 will be easier.