Posts Tagged 'Overwhelmed'

Getting Organized

Time Keeps on Slipping, Slipping, Slipping...

My least favorite part of having a mental to-do list is that I haven’t yet compiled it into a written, tangible to-do list. The penultimately worst part is knowing there are so many things to do that aren’t on my immediate to do list, so that they get relegated to the larger, long-term to do list that makes me sigh with frustration. For each time I silently wish for a full week of nothing to do but my to-do list, I have to make a mental note to wish for an additional week once all primary to-do’s are done so that I can get to the second-tier.

I have things that don’t belong to me: books borrowed from people that I’m not going to read or that I have read, including an entire comic book run (how do I transport that back to Kansas City for Christmas? Do I bite the bullet and mail it?), DVDs I haven’t watched in months and won’t watch for another few months. There are shelves sitting beside my book case that I meant to hang a year ago and another stack of smaller shelves in the closet that I bought but haven’t set up. And where there are un-hung shelves, there are pictures and knick-knacks and clutter, much of which should just be discarded anyway – yet another thing to do. There is my grand-parents’ typewriter that I want to get working again; old clothes to be taken to Goodwill; serving the community I keep wanting to do with my church; an impending oil-change; organization of financial records.

But this is the way these things go, you never get as much done as you want to. I’m notorious with myself for trying to pack usefulness into every spare second of the day and failing without fail.

But now, between now and the end of the year, I see some very achievable things to be done that almost always make my to-do lists. By the end of the month, I’m going to finish reading Freedom (almost to page 400 now), finish writing a screenplay, continue looking for a job – I have multiple leads in a few wildly different job markets – and continue daily devotionals, which include praying, reading in both the Old and New Testaments, and occasionally journaling. These things are doable.

Looking a little further ahead, which gets a little more dangerous, I’d like to complete two more short screenplays by the end of the year, totaling no more than 40 pages total, and have definitive plans to make one of three different short films in the first quarter of next year. The big goal right now, though, is, and has to be, getting a job. An industry job would be ideal and is possible, but any of a few different things will do. I’m getting antsy. My bank account is by no means dwindled, but neither can I describe it as full or robust.

Time is my problem. Organization can be a fickle friend. But things will happen and before long I’ll be longing for the ability to stay up until 3:45am writing a blog on a whim that was definitely not on today’s to-do list.

Be Overwhelmed

Sometimes things just get you, you know? They move past the effectiveness of their particular medium and take hold of you personally. They feel like they came from and were made for a certain part of you. That’s been this week for me. With movies and literature and TV and tonight music. Maybe I’m just in that place right now, that’s possible. But whatever the case, they’re finding their way to me and I am happy for it.

Let's Play

Let's Play

Many people read “Where the Wild Things Are” as a kid. I didn’t but sure wish I had. The movie evoked so much in me (I wrote a full review of it here). Scenes of its main character playing alone. Playing in the snow. His rage. His recklessness. His love. All of them smashing into each other. The powerful line KW says to him: “Don’t go. I’ll eat you up, I love you so.” The way the movie embraced danger in the same way I daydreamt about it as a kid; how much fun it would be to be in such a situation. I wanted it desperately. I fantasized about being a superhero who fought crime at night and did amazing things. I created storylines in my mind and replayed them alone on the bus. I was totally pre-occupied with them. This movie made me miss being a kid.

I love the late writer David Foster Wallace’s way he seems to smile sometimes through his pages as he plays with words. Sometimes it advances something, sometimes it’s just a treat. Other times, he nails turmoil so staggeringly that you hurt for him, even though he might be describing you. Here, in Infinite Jest talking about time and withdrawal:

Poor Tony once had the hubris to fancy he’d had occasion really to shiver, ever, before. But he had never truly shivered until time’s cadences— jagged and cold and smelling oddly of deodorant— entered his body via several openings—cold the way only damp cold is cold—the phrase he’d had the gall to imagine he understood was the phrase chilled to the bone—shard-studded columns of chill entering to fill his bones with ground glass, and he could hear his joints’ glassy crunch with every slightest shift of hunched position, time ambient and in the air and entering and exiting at will, coldly; and the pain of his breath against his teeth.

Also, HBO’s “In Treatment” for the way it confounds your expectations and reminded me that you can have effective drama with just two people, sitting in a room, talking. We watch them fail and learn and cry and get angry. More than any other show I can remember, it looks at the way people look while they listen. How communicative the eyes can be. 43 episodes of it and I was riveted.

decemberists___hazards_of_love_by_monavxFinally, The Decemberists. I’ve seen them many times before, I’ll see them again. But tonight was the only time I ever saw them alone. I didn’t like that part of it. It’s harder to share it. But oh how it felt like seeing old friends. I have a relationship with the music now. The animated Visualization of “The Hazards of Love” was stunning, but the music and the band’s own performance made me breathless. I felt lucky. I got to see it twice and now it is done. Never again to be performed live after this tour. How could it be? It’s over. But I saw it. Perhaps it was the animation or I don’t know what, but I kept noticing how emotional this album is. Can a thing be ornate and raw at the same time?

The feeling starts in my chest and rises— slowly at first, but increasingly fast—to my face. I instinctively smile when it gets there, which is partly my way of acknowledging it and partly my way of stalling it for a moment while I accept it. And in each case, the form of the thing, the way it is packaged in its particular artistic medium is part of the joy. Wallace’s words or Spike Jonze’s playful style; the daring simplicity of “In Treatment” and the immensity of The Decemberists’ sound. They’re like little presents, these things, that the artist cannot help but give. They come from a desire to share, to show for us. Even when they are dark, they seem prepared lovingly; with humanity. And they connect us to something outside and above and something paradoxically larger than ourselves but that is also within us, aching for us to see it.

intreatment.533For some reason, the last week I’ve been seeing it. I’ve been feeling it. Art reveals itself to us in the hope of helping reveal parts of ourselves we may not be aware of; that we forgot we had; that maybe we hoped were gone but aren’t; that we can’t believe; that have been waiting for us; that we desperately need even if we don’t think we do or can’t see why. It can help us get out of our own way. It can challenge us, even anger us. Anne Lamott puts it this (much better) way:

This is our goal as writers, I think; to help others have this sense of—please forgive me—wonder, of seeing things anew, things that can catch us off guard, that break into our small bordered worlds. When this happens, everything feels more spacious.

I read those words just before the concert started. Afterwards, I stood outside on the lovely UCLA campus, watching people filing away, down large staircases. I wrote a little about what I saw, how at home I felt on a college campus in the fall. And these things came trickling back to me. It feels good to be overwhelmed like this. Life does feel more spacious. Certainly not everything will make you feel this way, and most things that do aren’t trying to do that in the first place. It just happens sometimes. But it’s good and right and important to me to know that it can and be willing when it does.


It Has Come to This

May 2017
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