Thursday, February 2, 2017

Unchained Memories

by Giselle Renarde

I know this week's topic is self-publishing, but I don't feel like I have anything to say that hasn't been said or that I haven't already written about over the past few years. So I'm just going to unload some feels on y'all.

It's been a rough few days.

I'm not American, but I am America-adjacent. So it's been hard to ignore what's going on down there. I've tried to not let it break me but it has. It totally has. Oh my god, I can't even express myself in words. Can you tell?

The other day some shit went down that shut me down. My emotions turned off. I felt dead inside. If you have chronic depression, you might be familiar with this phenomenon: entire days where all you really want to do is stare at a blank wall. You can't get to sleep at night. You can't get out of bed in the morning. What's the point?

My girlfriend is so sweet. She bought us theatre tickets and she was SO EXCITED and I felt like I was letting her down because... my mood... I just couldn't get it up. Intellectually, I knew getting out of the house would be good for me. I knew I needed to be around other people. The theatre is good for that, for being in the same space with other people, for sharing an experience with a whole bunch of strangers.

We had a very enjoyable evening together. I spent almost twice my weekly food budget on a nice dinner. We had a wonderfully romantic time.

When we left the theatre, there were an astounding number of homeless people around. I live in a big city so it's not unusual, and any time I'm asked for change I give it if I have it and if I don't have it I wish the person a good day or good night. The last thing I want to do is walk on by without acknowledging another human who has just asked me for help. If there's one thing we can give each other it's kindness. Why so many who have so much need to be incredibly shitty to those who have less, I'll never understand.

Anyway, one of the people who asked us for money tonight was a very young man, probably just a teen. He didn't look in great shape. But I did what I always do: looked him in the eye and, from my heart to his, wished him a good night. He wasn't having a good night. He told me that. He was having a terrible, terrible, terrible night. He told me that too.

All at once, my emotions turned back on. I went from zero feels to ALL THE FEELS.  All I could say was: "I'm so sorry. I'm so, so, so sorry." And I felt that sorry from the bottom of my heart. I care very deeply for people I don't know. Probably because I come from a family that's emotionally-stunted, I find it easier to feel deeply for strangers than for people I know well.

And then there's the part of me that feels guilty for spending so much money on dinner when that money could have been put to better use. But I don't dwell on that for long, because for a low income individual I give a lot of money to organizations that help marginalized communities. Before I burned out (and burned out HARD), I also donated a lot of my time as a volunteer, particularly working in the shelter system.

Anyway, I haven't stopped thinking about this young man who was having a terrible night. In this moment in time, as I sit here on my couch with a roof over my head and food in my fridge, I don't know what I can do to solve the world's problems. But I'm not exactly back where I started. My mood has evened out a touch, and hopefully when I wake up tomorrow morning I'll feel I have a reason to get out of bed. Often that means a new book: a dedicated collection from which all profits are donated to a given organization.

So maybe we're back on the topic of self-publishing after all. Now that I self-publish most of my work rather than submitting it to publishers, I'm free to publish a collection tomorrow if I want to and say hey, I'm donating all my profits to such-and-such.

I wish I had a neat little bow to tie on this post. I'm writing about stuff that just happened, and I'm processing it by putting it here. Here's hoping that, when I wake up tomorrow, I'll find a reason to get out of bed, and that reason will serve humanity in the best way possible.


  1. Sending you a hug, Giselle.

    And the young man, as well.

    None of us can save the world alone. We can only spread the light in our own neighborhoods.

  2. You are not alone in your funk, Giselle. Momma X was in a daze from election day until my appendix attack just after Thanksgiving, which event changed the daily dynamic, such as it was. We all have to get used to a new way of thinking--where cause and effect have no relevance.

  3. I. can't. even. (I never thought I would stoop so low as to use that hackneyed phrase, but there it is.) I live in possibly the most liberal state in my country, and one of the most liberal areas of that state, and even on Facebook just about everyone I know shares my beliefs, but the bubble of shared beliefs has become a bubble of shared anxiety. Still, there are things we can do, actions we can take, and once in a while a crumb of success. And spring is coming, and my flower and vegetable seeds are arriving. So maybe I can, even. I'm not hurrying to renew my vastly out of date passport. I have too many responsibilities here to leave. And roots.

  4. Oh, Giselle, we hear you. I hope you have enough pleasure and comfort in your life (from your Sweetie, as well as from friends) to help pull you out of the pit of despair.


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