It's not so much a bad day. Not an abnormally dark or desolate landscape of a day. Not particularly sunny or bright either. Perhaps that's just what brings it on the hardest... the complete normalcy I feel encased in moments before the chasm opens. And I fall through.
See- these last few summer days for me have been spent connecting with my husband and one kid (the other is whooping it up currently at sleepaway camp.) Followed by attention paid to self detail- the pedicure, the yoga, the gym, the intake of vitamins and more vegetables than usual, the hair appointment on the calendar.. Yesterday it was the high-end food truck fish taco at 4pm followed by a glass of Rose at local Venice haunt- me replete with my legal pad and pen (yes- you laptop toting motherfuckers- legal pad.) Nine pages of writing commenced at the bar.
I've been feeling pretty good about things. One week out from a successful band gig. Three essays now in shambling order toward the long-term goal of becoming something like a "book" eventually or a "one-woman show." One demo whipped up 10 days ago on a whim and sent off to my pal and co-producer in Chicago with a breezy air.
In other words, I am doing my work. I have put my head down and focused on the small tasks at hand. I have mostly stopped complaining, bickering with my poor husband, kicking back three to four glasses of wine a night. I have found some consistent purpose and balance as of late in my "job"- paid or unpaid- as artist. As writer and musician and performer. I'm doing ok! This could be the greatest year ever!
And then all I have to do, really, to topple this hard- earned, carefully cultivated solid ground, is choose to procrastinate for 14 seconds. All it takes is one mildly poor decision. And that is to log onto the WORLD WIDE WEB. I'll type in the Rose-dribbled contents of my weathered legal pad, I'll work on one of those two essay edits from last week, I'll finally begin ONE of the tales for that scary story book I've been orally composing with the kids in our hot tub in Ojai... I'll do all of those things.
Right after I check Facebook.
And you'd think by NOW I'd know not to do this. Because it happens every time.
EVERY TIME- when I choose to log on at this particular fragile moment in the arc of my work, and in the fledgling stage of burdgeoning self-esteem, I will find myself unfailingly, inexorably knee-deep in the most toxic of what Facebook has to offer me.
All it takes is a little "www.fa" plugged in my browser window and the computer knows right where to sling me. I am suddenly awash in amazing papparazzi photos of my old college roommate accepting a 2013 Saturn award for her role in America's most watched zombie television show. I am accosted with my OTHER college roommate's status report on the interview she just gave on one of my hometown radio stations in support of her new book? Webcast? Album? All of the above? she is creating. Another of my high school friends is taking the dream trip of his life across America by train. And probably filming it, seeing as he and his brother are Academy Award winning documentarians. A neighbor is directing her self-written, full-length feature film in Croatia. Another is scaling some mountain in Nepal.
And then there's the slew of mothers I've Facebook befriended who are just yards and yards ahead of me in the parenting game. Women whisking their children away to Africa for three months to take part in a work camp. "Off to get Malaria shots today! Wish us luck!" Others are relaxing in their Montana ranches taking in the fresh air and learning how to milk a cow. A college acquaintance of mine just purchased a horse for her daughter. A. Horse.
And I haven't even mentioned the slew of musicians I know out plying their trade on the road. "So vibey here at LIB!" (Lighting in a Bottle) "Phoenix was awesome- heading out to Sedona tonight to play in the oldest-known western saloon still standing!"
And of course after the bombardment of such VISIBLY SUCCESSFUL LIFE CHOICES OCCURRING IN THE REST OF FACEBOOK AMERICA'S WORLD, it doesn't take much else to kick this dog who has suddenly and completely fallen down. All at once my little, reasonable, daily humdrum win of making a healthy stir fry for my family after a day of pedicure, gym and writing seems vastly, horrifically under-par. Nothing to write home about, much less POST on the Facebook.
It's at these times that even the barrage of photos comprising what folks are eating (which I've never really understood) won't fail to douse whatever is left of my own mojo about my own life. The pics of the aged cedar logs they've just bought for the grill tonight---which they built with their own hands-- and you know because you were privy to the past two months of photos of them showing how painstakingly they constructed it-- these photos are the nails in the coffin of what minutes ago I would have called my happiness.
And--- close the book. Turn off the computer. I am done. I am a huge failure and a depressive freak who at every turn has done nothing beyond undermining her own progress simply because she lacks some "Go-Git-Im" gene every other Facebook friend appears to have elegantly decorating their collective DNA strands.
A fellow local musician and friend of mine, Tom, has over twice the amount of friends I do on Facebook. Maybe more by now since he is a working musician- paying the bills with his music. Which means he's on the road six to eight months out of the year both nationally and in Europe. A few years ago he wrote a song called "I'm Not A Ghost In This Town" about feeling completely invisible in one's own surroundings, which I especially hold dear. And applaud him for penning.
Because I, with access to a mere 1,053 Facebook friends' stellar Status Reports on a daily basis can only imagine what being privy to over 2500 publicly shiny lives might do to me.
Granted, both those numbers are miniscule when you calculate the human world at large. And keeping that in mind, I'd like to think that somewhere in that 7 billion, there are a few more souls like me who are just trying to find worth in the simple small things (that stellar fish taco I ate yesterday, but didn't photograph.)
Ultimately, in order to drag myself up from the bottom of the ego well, I am reminded to put in perspective what Facebook is for. After all, no one is posting the grueling eight-hour traffic laden drive home from picking up their daughter's horse. My TV star ex-roommate has not made mention of that time last season in Episode 4 where the director screamed at her so viciously for missing a cue for the third time, it caused her to flee in tears and hide in her trailer for the rest of the day. Nor the string of bad dates she's invariably had to endure over the years seeing as she is pushing her mid-forties and still very visibly single.
Academy award winning documentarian doesn't find the wafting vomit smell from the motion sick 12-year-old seated behind him on the train worth posting into posterity.
And as awesome as the oldest saloon in America sounds, the band probably didn't take Facebook- ready shots of the seven people who actually witnessed their set because they were afraid the flash might awaken what appeared to be the oldest looking bum asleep at the end of the bar whose incessant snore drowned out even the most lively of their songs.
Facebook is for dressing yourself up and taking yourself out. I suppose we all know this. And somewhere deep in the well of me that houses my flickering self esteem, I know this too. And I can get over it and get back to writing some shit down. Which is what, as a paid and non-paid writer, musician, singer and perfomer, I am invariably drawn to do. In my pajamas. With the dishes clogging the sink. And the bed unmade. And a little sleep crust still in my eye.
There's my status report for all yalls. Enjoy feeling vastly superior to at least one person on Facebook today!