Monday, December 7, 2009

Hugging The Negativity Away

Right before writing this, I went to kiss my husband goodnight. (I've learned to use my insomnia to my advantage and do my blogging and other writerly business type stuff around midnight every night.) I took in the smell of him, the feel of his arms around me and said, "hug me really tight." He hugged me tighter, stronger and I tried to draw that feeling of comfort and the pure happiness we share deep into me. This is the feeling that matters, more than anything, I told myself. And this is free, no one can repossess it or take it back. You will not fail and lose this. This is yours. Try to focus on that. Wake up and remember it and have a better day.

Sorry to get all self-affirmation on you there, but I've been feeling shitty lately. Surrounded by big black clouds and all that not fun stuff. I feel like I'm turning into Eeyore and I don't want to be.

Last night at work was the fourth really bad shift in a row. Like not making at all what I need to bad and with the exception of Black Wednesday it's pretty much been this way since my wedding in October. And, yanno, weddings cost $. My wedding was not super expensive, but it still led me to take a lot more out of savings than I would have liked. And I'm trying to rebuild that savings so I use it to pay my property taxes next year and buy holiday gifts (I'm really resenting this whole holiday gift thing. Can't spending time with people count?) and to go on a little tiny much smaller than our daydreams honeymoon next month. But the rebuilding is not happening. In fact the normal amount of money to pay bills thing is not even happening. And that makes me think I need to go back to a regular job. And that is a thought that brings on anxiety attacks.

And then there is the whole writing thing which is not going as well as I would like. I have this idea that really means a lot to me. Like as much or more than Ballads a lot. But it's not coming out right and I get frustrated. And I think I am not cut out for this. I am not good enough to write this idea. And even if I write it, well I worked really hard on Ballads and I am not satisfied with how it is doing and I feel helpless to do anything for it. Burned out. Basically I am burned out. But I'm a fighter and I don't want to give up.

Except on nights like last night. Last night I walked into the bar and had one customer. Two hours later, I only had one more customer and my mood grew darker and darker still. And my one customer noticed and she grumbled at me something along the lines of "when you are negative, you attract negativity."

And I started crying. Right there. At work. I started crying. Because I knew she was right. Because that was in fact something I swore by. I whined pathetically, "But I am trying so hard not to be negative. I can't..."

And my customer said, "Oh poor baby come here" And she held open her arms and I ran around to her side of the bar and hugged her. And she hugged me for a really long time and was kind of crying herself and also kind of laughing. And she insisted I watch something she found funny on YouTube on her computer. And I dried my eyes and did and we laughed. And she told me that the full moon was waning and this meant all the negativity was draining away and by the new moon on 12/16 or the day after it 12/17, things would be good. And I told her I would try to believe in that.

And I am trying to believe in that. I'm also trying to believe that when I chant it's doing something. But sometimes I have a hard time in believing in any of that and I need concrete things.

I'd hoped today would be a better day, but again I struggled with the writing. Then I got a frustrating letter reminding me of a frustrating situation with the person who has caused some of the most frustration in my life. I lost my last hour and a half of writing to this frustration. But I went downstairs and had a really strong workout and then I went to writer's group and wrote a semi-decent scene.

I have direction for tomorrow and I'm trying to believe in myself. I hate when I get negative. I hate feeling like I'm being pathetic/whining/wallowing because I know other people have it worse. A lot worse. After all I just wrote this newspaper column about local homelessness. But sometimes you just have to vent, like I did just now. Sometimes you have to cry in the arms of a customer at work as stupid as you feel about it. Sometimes you have to listen to that person about the moon and you have to make yourself believe in what they are saying. Sometimes you have to hug the person you love the most as tightly as you possibly can and remember that your ability to do so is the most important thing and that will give you strength to do the other important things.

So now I'm going to go to bed. I'm going to read beside my sleeping husband for a little while. And I'm reading the book Shadowland by Alyson Noel, an author I admire and consider a friend, an author who didn't hit the NYT bestseller list until her 8th (I think?) book. She's an inspiration and her books are amazing.

Tomorrow when I wake up I will think about her and the moon and the hug and I will write and things will get better even though there is a snowstorm coming which will undoubtedly make my next shift at work really shitty. But maybe not. Who knows. My dead Sunday night improved a little against expectations after that hug. So goddammit, I'm going to keep trying to hug the negativity away.


Annika said...

Oh, honey. I am sending you a big huge two person* hug through the computer right now.

*one is a fetus, but that just can't be helped

Stephanie Kuehnert said...

Thank you for the two person hug, my dear! It's exactly what I needed :)

Anonymous said...

Hey, Stephanie. Hang in there. This writing thing can be total suckage, in addition to the other stuff that life throws at us, too. But yeah, plow on. Plow on and get through the sludge.

I was just thinking this morning that writing is a lot like the snow on our streets today. All white, pretty and powdery when you're looking at it from far away. But if you study it closely, there's a lot of crap in it!


Suzanne Young said...

I always find the random person that gives amazing advice fascinating. Somehow it always seems to hit the right spot. And I've tried the "be positive" and everything around you will improve,and I've found... it doesn't. But it just changes my attitude for a little bit, maybe making me more patient for a little while.

When I'm feeling like this, I take a day and go to the movies by myself--something my husband would NEVER watch--take myself out to dinner and wander Toys R Us. haha. Sounds silly, but it helps. And naps! Oh, naps are wonderful!


Gerb said...

Huge, huge cyber hugs, Stephanie! FWIW, You can and will rock that important book. I admire your writing and truly believe in you!!!

Heather said...


I so wish I was in a closer proximity to hug you, Stephanie. I know I could definitely use a hug and I have a feeling you can too.

Things will get better (hopefully for the both of us)! I know it. We just have to hang out and ride out this wave. :)

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Count me in the "need of mutual hugs" category. Too bad I'm not nearer, either... Especially 'cause I baked brownies over the weekend, and brownies conquer much.

Alyson Noel said...

Stephanie- I was so touched by this post- not because of the nice mention (though I do thank you for that!), but because I've totally been there. And at the risk of sounding cony, or, gawd forbid, oversharing- I'll just say that a few years back I was at my wits end. I'd lost three people I loved, my husband was just diagnosed with leukemia, my career was so-so, and I felt like my world was crashing down around me.

And so, not knowing what else to do, I sunk down onto the couch and turned on the TV, hoping to immerse myself in something--anything, when Wayne Dyer appeared on the screen (the TV had been left on PBS) and in that exact moment said: When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.

I sat there, totally gobsmacked, wondering if it could be true, if it were some kind of message or something. Then I decided to try it, figuring it couldn't hurt, and that it definitely couldn't make anything worse. So I did it. Instead of seeing myself as a victim of circumstance, I became grateful for the chance to learn and grow (yep, that's the corny part!), but damn if it didn't work.

They say that the teacher appears when the student is ready--and that lady in the bar was your teacher. She didn't tell you anything you didn't already know, but sometimes we need reminders.

I hope you know what a beautifully, talented writer you are, and how much you touch people with your stories.

I also hope that the sun will soon clear for you, and each day will be sunny and bright (I know you're in Chicago, so, metaphorically speaking anyway!).

And you're right, at the end of the day, it's our relationships which matter most, and it sounds as though you have been blessed!!

Keep on writing--we need more of your books in the world!


Stephanie Kuehnert said...

Thank you all for all the hugs. I can't express how much the mean to me.

Cynthea, I definitely appreciate your snow analogy. The only time I truly find snow pretty is when it begins to finally melt and the crocuses appear through it. I'm trying to focus on this image. The crocuses/good writing will appear dammit!

Suzanne, thanks for the suggestions of what helps you. I have a lunch with friends and shopping by myself day planned for Friday, so hopefully that will help refresh me.

Gerb, it means a lot to hear that you admire and believe in me because, well back at ya babe!

Mutual hugs to Heather and Susan, we will get through this lady. And yes Susan, I do wish I had brownies.

Alyson, thank you so much for sharing that with me. It was not at all corny, but inspiring and exactly what I needed to hear. I really do admire your fighting writer spirit and look up to you. Thank you for saying such wonderful things about my writing because it means so much coming from you. The sun will begin to shine soon. I'm sure of it.

John said...

Hang in there. Ballads and Joey Ramone are two of the best books i've read in so long. Both touched me on a very personal level, and i'm not even it's target audience I don't think. Ballads changed the way I thought about addiction and drugs, which is great considering i'm usually way opinionated. Joey Ramone is the only fictional band book that doesn't come off as corny. Besides King Dork. Joey Ramone is so authentic that I thought you might have been in a band before you wrote it.
It seems like alot of people don't take YA lit very seriously.(cough*dad*cough)which I think is stupid. Catcher in The Rye and The Bell Jar would be labeled as YA if they came out now, but since they are old books pretentious people like to think it's not YA and is above everythnig else.
They should make Ballads required reading in high school.

Bee said...

Hey. I feel kinda weird doing this, since you don't know me, but I'm currently reading Ballads of Suburbia, which I HAD to read right after I finished I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone. Honestly, I think its an amazing book, and so I wanted to help you with your little dilemma and say you need to write another book, 'cuz seriously, I'm in love with your writing. I think the creative juices in your brain will eventually lead you to a very happy place for you next novel. :] Hope I help, even if its just a little bit.

Stephanie Kuehnert said...

John, thank you so much for those major major compliments about my books! Seriously, I would love to see books like Ballads required in high school. I wrote it because it was the kind of book I *needed* in high school. This really cheered me up.

Bee, your kind words also definitely helped. I'm glad you are enjoying Ballads so much and IWBYJR inspired you to get it right away. The words are flowing more easily. I hope to have new books for you soon :)

prashant said...

Thank you for the two person hug, my dear! It's exactly what I needed

Work from home India

Natalie (Mindful Musings) said...

I know this is a little late, but I just started following your blog after picking up Ballads and came across this post, and felt the need to say something.

Life isn't easy. Anyone who says differently hasn't truly experienced life. I know you know that, because you couldn't have written such a touching book as Ballads (which I'm halfway through and loving!) without that knowledge. But the fact that you're trying to get through the difficult times speaks volumes for you. I've known several people who've (unfortunately) given up when they just couldn't take it anymore. You're still fighting, you're still trying to focus on what's good in your life, and that's inspiring.

I really hope things get better for you and you continue writing. I'm super excited to see what else you come up with.

Hang in there! :)


Erika and the Underwear said...

Might as well grab one of your titles! Sounds incredibly interesting.