Sunday, October 31, 2021

The Grace of Giving Way

Hi Invisible Audience,


Yesterday I took my two kittens to the vet. One of them has been throwing up, but I’m not completely sure which one. I made an appointment and the vet available was a new one I’d never seen before.

I explained that I suspected Oso was the one throwing up and named various reasons why I thought so that I won’t go into here that have to do with the content of the vomit. (wince) But the discussion turned inevitably to their food, and I said Oso won’t eat dry food and he goes bonkers over wet food. 


After some more discussion, this vet suggested that both my cats should be switched to dry food—a kitten kibble, different from the one Hetty currently eats.


He said I should slowly transition the dry food by mixing the new kind with the old.


“Should I do the same with the wet food, then?” I said. “Like, give them less and less and leave the new dry food out for them to eat?”


“No,” he said. “Just stop feeding them wet food. Cats are like kids. If they see they’re getting the food they want, they won’t make the switch until they’re forced to. Just take away the wet food. He’ll probably throw a fit for a while, but you just have to stay strong and eventually he’ll be so hungry he’ll eat whatever you give him.”


My first thought—which I kept to myself—was, you don’t have kids, do you?


Ok, I don’t have kids either, but I have enough friends with kids to know that kids are stubborn as shit and you do not simply starve them until they conform. 


I nodded my head and thanked him for his time, and left, pondering what he’d said. Not, mind you, pondering it because I was going to do it, but pondering it because it had rung a strangely familiar bell in my head and I was trying to figure out why I recognized the sound.


Eventually I figured it out: I used to be like that.


I have no idea how old this vet is, but if I had to guess I would say he’s younger than me. I’m not sure this is an age thing, but I can say that his way of using sheer force of will is something very familiar to me, and it’s something I did especially when I was in my twenties. 


I quit a job I hated and gave myself a year to get a book published. I laugh gently at that Morgan now—now that I know it can take a year to even find an agent, for crying out loud, and a year all on its own once a contract is signed with a traditional publisher before you’ll even see your book in print. When I decided to compile and self-publish my cookbooks, I risked my health and my emotional stability to finish each of them in a year, and was so burned out by the time I got the second one on the shelves that I had no energy to market it. 


I just recently got diagnosed with Lyme Disease, Invisible Audience. I also have the markers of someone who is fighting off mold sickness, and I have an appointment tomorrow with the doctor to go over other lab results that may reveal I’ve been dealing with even more than those two things, which are already a lot. 


As shitty as it was to get these diagnoses, it also shifted my perspective rather sharply. Instead of constant, mystifying illnesses and strange sensitivities to nearly everything—both emotionally and physically—it became clear that there have been large, looming, underlying issues that have made my life feel like a huge Sisyphean trek up a hill for more than a decade. Even if neither of those pieces are actually what caused me to feel so much like shit for so long, suddenly I could see that pushing myself makes me feel worse.


If that seems remarkably obvious, let me just point out to you that until not very long ago, people with chronic fatigue syndrome were prescribed cognitive behavioral therapy and told their exhaustion was all in their head and that they needed to exercise more. Now modern medicine knows this just made their symptoms worse. 


Do you see, Invisible Audience? It wasn’t even all that long ago I thought pushing through the pain or the fatigue was the way to go. Our whole damn culture is built on this idea that you can have whatever you want if you just work hard enough. Therefore, how could it possibly work to do better when I do less?


And yet it seems to be the case. The less I try to use sheer force of will, the more I let myself relax into the inevitability of the truth that is standing before me, the easier it goes. 


I recently finished a book that I started working on 14 years ago. Once I let go of how productive I thought I was supposed to be and just let myself settle into a routine based on how much I could actually do—usually about a half hour, two or three days a week—I finally got the damn thing done.


When I got home from the vet, I started mixing wet and dry food together for the cats. They’ve both been eating it, and no one has thrown up since.


Love and easy does it kisses,



Thanks for reading, Invisible Audience member. Interested in reading more and supporting me in the process? Check out my profile on Patreon. Pledge as little as $1.50 a month to get access to more of my ponderings and become one of my Semi-Invisible Patrons.  

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Fraudulent Me


Hi Invisible Audience,


Can I confess something to you, Invisible Audience? I feel like a fraud. For two weeks now I’ve loaded a bunch of notebooks into my car with a suitcase full of worksheets and sharpened pencils and wet wipes and hauled them between my home and Leavenworth and Cashmere to teach kids Spanish. Certainly I am teaching them things. Certainly they’re having fun—or so most of them and their parents tell me. And yet I feel like a big fat fraud that will be found out and punished. Despite the fact that I’ve done this for 5 years now. Despite the fact that I have nearly 80 students total. Despite a B.A. in Spanish and long periods abroad. Even most importantly, perhaps, despite having read the entire Harry Potter series in Spanish, which of course is essential for teaching kids the magic of language.


I feel like a fraud in a lot of ways. As I’ve mentioned, I adopted a couple kittens. I keep thinking someone is going to stop me on the street and say, “What exactly do you think you’re doing? What makes you think YOU, of all people, can support other life, let alone your own?” I feel like a fraud sometimes when I do adult things, like I’m still a kid that liked to play house but didn’t know that adults are supposed to play for keeps.


The funniest small things make me feel like an adult. Going to a drive-thru car wash. Leaving a big tip. Arranging meetings with sales people. Being nice to a customer service person whose help I need. Paying someone to pay my quarterly payroll taxes. Remembering to offer someone something to drink when they get to my house. Getting my teeth cleaned.


Those small things make me feel like an adult, but there are many things that I feel like I do because you’re supposed to as an adult but they don’t necessarily make me feel adult-like. It’s as if I’m waiting for someone to notice that I’m not there yet; like I’m waiting to be thrown out of the adulting club.


I talked about this related to dating in another blog; about basically not feeling worthy. About not being able to take it in when someone complimented me. About not feeling like I deserve good things.


Good gracious, Invisible Audience. Being in my head is exhausting. Not only do I have a lot of physical tasks to do, I carry a huge weight around that can only be described as “shit I can’t figure out how to put down.” And this is one of those things.


I recently heard a podcast on paradox—on holding two conflicting ideas in your head at once. Although I don’t feel like I’m very good at paradox, I nevertheless deal with it every day. Each day, I proceed as if I know what I’m doing. Each day, I feed my cats and make sure there’s enough food to last and buy more before it runs out. Each day, I prep more things for kids to learn. Each day, I load string cheese, snack packs and apple slices into a cooler to cart around in my car with all my other Spanish class stuff to make sure the kids are fed before I teach them things. Each day, there’s gas in my car because I put it there. Emails that require answers get answered. Action items I’ve said I’ll get completed get done. My rent is paid. My hair is clean. My shoes are tied. My mask is on.


So really, the only place I’m failing is in my head. That feeling almost cost me my Spanish class business—I felt like such a fraud that I almost didn’t pick it up again after the pandemic.


But you know what, Invisible Audience? I have felt like a fraud in all my jobs. I have felt like a fraud pretty much my whole life—imagining that if anyone realized how unsure I was, or how I looked naked, or how much of my mental space is taken up by dark imaginings, they would run for the hills screaming. So I kept leaving first, before they could.


Well, here I am. I still feel like a fraud, but I’m not running anymore.


Love and not-so-fraudulent kisses,



Thanks for reading, Invisible Audience member. Interested in reading more and supporting me in the process? Check out my profile on Patreon. Pledge as little as $1.50 a month to get access to more of my ponderings and become one of my Semi-Invisible Patrons.