What a trash week to be alive. Everything is on fire and everything is terrible. (My therapist really wanted me to emphasize that everything isn’t terrible and I should try to find things that make me happy but it’s my party and Imma whine because I’m a water sign. We love that sh*t.)
Aside from the trash fire happening in Congress, this hasn’t been a great playwriting week for me either. I had to turn down yet another opportunity and, frankly, I was struggling to congratulate my friends (who totally, totally deserve it) on a different opportunity I didn’t get. I was starting to feel like my career was DOA and it was all my fault for switching jobs (again). Basically, the pity party was in full swing.
So mix in being a sore loser, a bruised ego, and literal PTSD flashbacks….I needed to get the fuck* out of town.
But where? I thought about Kansas City first since I love that city and it’s only 3 hours away. But turns out, the universe had my back & one of my best friends was staying in Miami, OK which was only 30 mins from Joplin which was only an hour away from me. Done. Got a hotel room on payday and started packing.
We ended up having an amazing time. She stayed in a hotel called Buffalo Run Casino and Resort. Which, not to be cruel, shouldn’t be called a resort. So, reasonably, she was itching to get out. She and her co-worker and I all went to Club 609 which for the record isn’t a club but a really fun place to hang out. We talked about politics, literature, and hip-hop. We drank a couple of bottles of wine and just really had a good time. Our server was both amazing and a mess which is my absolute favorite kind of person. And in the morning, we got brunch at the Bruncheonette where the food was PERFECT. It was just nice to talk and just be.
My friend asked me something I’ve been thinking about a lot: When’s the last time I went somewhere because I wanted to?
(Picture of the inside of 609 at literally 1 am)
I love traveling (obviously. I have a whole blog about it) but I’m not…rich. I’m hilariously poor. I will never be the kind of person who can fly to the city (which could be New York or Chicago depending on who you are) for a weekend. I sure as hell won’t ever be able to fly to Italy for a week just because I felt like it. And my brain often times works in those extremes. I assume that because I can’t just fly up to Chicago (which is the city by the way; fight me) that means I can’t go anywhere so I feel trapped.
And it wasn’t until my friend pointed it out to me that I realized that feeling of being stuck is self-imposed. Yes, I work an absurd amount of hours. Yes, I’m behind on playwriting. Yes, I’m frequently busy and poor. But that doesn’t mean I can’t drive to Eureka Springs (about 1 hour away from me) just for the day or see a movie in Bentonville (about 30 mins away from me) instead of Fayetteville just to shake things up.
Am I poor? Yes. Do I have a car? Also yes.
I think we as artists often take time to take care of others but not ourselves. I read somewhere that we’re the most reliable when it comes to paying off loans and paying our bills but we’re not mentally well. We’re exhausted. We’re drained. The idea of taking day off means losing money and we can’t afford to lose money.
But what good is any of that if we’re also dying on the inside?
I’ll be the first to say I’m a straight up hedonist. If there’s a good time to be had, Imma have it. Usually at the risk of my bank account (and my continuously non-existent savings account). I used to say “I’m going to die young anyway. What do I need to save for?”
Well, I need to save for mental health trips. I need to save so that when I do have a free weekend (and I don’t have a lot) I can take a short trip and try a brand new thing. Experience something different. Have wild conversations with strangers.
If you’re an artist, find time to take care of yourself. Make that small, foolish purchase. Drink the $20 bottle of wine instead of the $10 just like every once in a while. Take yourself to dinner. Go on a long hike.
For me, personally, I can’t create work when I’m depressed. Right now, I need to finish a play called The Field, I need to edit Of Mice, and I really, really need to edit Well-Intentioned White People. But I haven’t had the energy to do any of that.
I hear a lot of people say “my spouse makes me stop working” or “I wish I had a partner to tell me when to take a break.” My therapist has a great response to that. You are your first priority. On an airplane, if the plane is going down, you save yourself first and then you help others. So make yourself a priority. Don’t depend on a spouse or a friend. Teach yourself now how to care for yourself.
And maybe it isn’t a trip. Maybe it’s buying a new fancy face mask and a fun movie and having a night in. Where you don’t guilt yourself for not working. Where you don’t stress about how you’re going to do x or how you’re going to make it to y. Meditate. Eat some popcorn.
Take care. It’s important. Not just now. Always.
On my drive home, I stopped by this. It was this gorgeous water park. I pulled over and took a picture from my car. And I kind of just sat and listened to the water a bit.
Self-care, y’all. It’s important.
Seriously, if you’re ever in Joplin, stop by the Bruncheonette. It’s AMAZING. Because it’s so packed, they really try to clear tables after you’re done eating. So ask for a cup of coffee + another drink. Save the coffee for after you’re done eating.
*I try my best not to curse but the emphasis was necessary here.