I started writing the book I’m working on in 2014. I had this idea to gather dating and relationship stories from people I knew, and I’d compile them into some sort of essay collection or litter them through a novel…I figured that all people are voyeurs and dating stories are full of scandal and misery, so it would make for very readable material. Friends sent me some juicy and delightful tales, and I stole a few more and changed some critical information…then, I started writing.

The book initially was a friendship tale between two women who co-host a dating and relationship talk radio show- and the stories I’d collected were the call-ins on their show. The hosts are interesting, hilarious characters, one of them single, the other married, unhappily, with two kids and a life crisis. As the story evolved, along with my own life and marriage over the past six years, the friendship and humor remain, but the protagonist became the married woman and the main issue of the novel morphed into the examination of her marriage and herself on the brink of collapse. …

I have nothing poetic or insightful to share, my mind is nothing but checklists and doubts, checklists and doubts. I’m annoyed by parenting (they are ALWAYS HERE) and teaching (we tried to learn ‘whoever’ vs ‘whomever’ today, and I basically told him to just give up because English is dumb). I’m tired, trying to prepare our ancient and filthy home so we can leave it to move across the country (while they are ALWAYS HERE).

Everything is irritating me, and I haven’t even bought paint yet to touch up the places where heads and elbows cracked against walls over the past fifteen years of ownership. It’s on the list. In addition to freshening paint, I need to purge each room and add some lighting, so when we show this place to potential buyers, it looks like a wide open friendly hovel instead of the crowded gloom hole that it is. Oh! And I need to put up a photogenic Christmas tree. It’s on.

My depression feels like a million tiny bruises. It hurts to raise my head. I move in slow motion because the weight of me is heavy. As usual, I’m the last one to know I’m depressed. I gradually get overwhelmed by the simplest tasks. I’m foggy and startled easily- if anyone moves fast around me, talks to me, approaches me, I jump. Including my family, who never left. But I did. I’m deep inside my hurt, and protecting my bruises.

It looks like this:

Mom?” (Pause, coming up from deep inside myself, hearing a voice faraway)

Mom?” (Oh, my God, they want something?! I can’t be asked to make any decisions. I start sweating. They’re going to ask me to make a judgement call on something. I am not capable. They’ll take advantage of me. They’ll bruise me more! Where’s the exit? Where’s the life raft? …

Here’s a little glimpse into the minds of (many) women in heterosexual relationships- a typical phone conversation between friends.

Girlfriend 1: Can I vent for a minute?

Girlfiend 2: Always. Is this a coffee or vodka conversation?

G 1: ?

G 2: Well, if I have to drive to help you bury a body, I need to stay sharp.

G 1: Oh, no. Not yet. You’re good.

G 2: K. (pouring noises). Go ahead.

G 1: So, AGAIN, my husband is pissed at me for being pissed at him. Like he reserves the right to be angry at my disappointment.

G2: Ugh, yeah. …

Well, holy shit I’m in a funk. The only thing that makes me happy is bread.

I really love bread. Do you know they put olives in it sometimes now!? (chef’s kiss)

It’s gray here in the midwest, because of course it’s gray. It’s gray for eight months of the year, and face-hurtingly cold. We’re allegedly moving somewhere not gray or face-accosting, but for the life of me I can’t make the move feel real yet. It seems way too good to be true. And, of course, most of the people we love are in this gray place, so my feet feel heavy whenever I start to walk away. PLUS, so many people I know now are sick. COVID hasn’t been corralled or prevented, so here we are, winters kissing together as this virus stretches out over a full year. Not everywhere. …

It’s typical after an adrenaline frenzy that there’s some raw descent to follow. I’m there. I was big UP when Robb officially got the job we wanted, and after the election results came in, but now we’re in the stunned, falling back DOWN phase…where we start to recognize that both came after months (years) of fear and heartache, and that none of the details are done yet, and there’s so much work to do. It hurts, and I’m tired.

Headaches and exhaustion, hard to focus, my feelings all over the map- that’s where I am today. Good news is, I’m cutting myself more breaks than I used to, so I’m just feeling the roller coaster feelings instead of letting my brain slide in a layer of self-judgement about the feelings. Maybe I should be grateful and joyful, and occasionally I am, but I’m also feeling anxious and sad. It just is. …

I keep hearing from my friends that my texts are hard to digest, because there is too much good news and bad news all packed into one frame. I’m like, BECAUSE THAT’S MY LIFE, BEATRICE. I don’t actually have any friends named Beatrice, but I think it’s a cool name. I’d like to. I might have the opportunity to make a new friend Beatrice soon, because we’re about to move across the country to a place where we know practically no one.

Examples of these texts:

“Well, I accidentally showed my mom my labia over FaceTime today, and we’re moving to San Francisco! …

“Write hard and clear about what hurts”- Hemingway

Sometimes, when I have a precious fifteen quiet minutes alone, I sit paralyzed at my keyboard. Not because I don’t have anything to write, but because I have too much. I can’t decide which is the first most important thing. I remember feeling that way when I had newborns who were finally asleep- almost a sense of panic at my freedom, knowing it was limited by the ticking baby bomb and that there was so much I needed/wanted, to do.

I should be working on my book, I should be working on my website, building a mailing list, and Tweeting, to gain an audience and establish myself as an author…but I just can’t stop thinking about the dangerous country where I live, dressed as an enlightened democracy. …

I am currently reading or have just recently finished the following books, because I can never pick just one, and I am always trying to understand what makes a book good and book-ly. If you have others to add, I’d appreciate it, and if you want to know more about any of these listed, just ask. ALSO, IF YOU HAVE ANY IN THE WOMEN’S FICTION GENRE, SIMILAR TO WHAT I’M WRITING, I’D APPRECIATE IT- NEED TO READ MORE OF THIS!

  • The Heroes Guide To, by Christopher Healy…. the kids and I just finished this trilogy and it is SO MUCH FUN. Highly recommend- it’s the Prince Charming/Disney Princesses tales all turned upside down and there’s sex role reversals, progressive male-male and male-female friendships, so much pirates and giant and pixies and silliness. The author is just really funny and fresh, and we all loved it. …

Bad. It’s all bad. None stars. Stars made of poop. What’s a star.

Or, rather, I wish I’d taken it to heart when I read them, that EVERYONE IN THE STORY except the hero and the hero’s band of merry weirdos is cool with the teeny sliver of sleezy, selfish, cowardice liars at the very top holding all the power and money and moral direction for the rest. I should have known, from reading books like “Ferenheit 451,” “Nineteen Eighty-Four,” “Brave New World,” etc, that people like to be told what to do, and are comfortable assuming that those in power are there for a solid reason and deserve to dictate the terms of how we should live, who should be allowed to thrive. …


Sarah Zimmerman

Find me on Ravishly, The Belladonna Comedy, Pregnant Chicken, & more. Being a human is hard- maybe the kids can help. bigtroubleblog.com, Twitter: @sarahzimzam

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