Lessons I Taught Me (and vote)

Don't make excuses. Just do what fills you up.

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Photo: My dog Effie in a peacock costume staring at a bobo jack-o-lantern.

I've been doing a personal project where I take all of my old journals and scan them. Why? Basically, they take up too much space in our tiny apartment, and it seems unnecessary to keep the dramatic ramblings of an old life around for no reason. Really, what do I need these for? But still, I have the occasional sentimental side, and I don’t want to lose them altogether. What if I wrote something brilliant that I can use one day? Ooh! What if I go missing and the journals become the key to figuring out the grand mystery of my disappearance?!

Really, it’s simple. By scanning them, I can destroy the hard copies and still keep the rich noodling of my little brain for purposes of nostalgia neverending.

One of the best parts about this project is that I get to revisit the journals' bits as I scan them. It is crazy insightful to see how many things have gone through my brain over the years. The people I crushed on or the monologues I labored over in acting school—the task-lists I made and never completed. The doodles I doodled and the mangled handwriting I can’t decipher for the life of me. Touching back to these musings is like watching a movie on television that I’ve seen a thousand times; it’s comforting, familiar, and deceptively difficult to turn away from.

Even better are the parts which reveal how few things have changed at all. Some of these pages could have been written yesterday…today even. And it’s a bit shocking if I’m honest. It shouldn’t be. I still do a daily writing practice now, and, of course, it is quite common for the same things to pop up each day. So I shouldn’t be that surprised. But looking back at these journals - most of them from when I was in college and just after - it’s borderline jarring to see in objective ink that I have been writing about some of the same things, in the same ways, for over a decade.

It is both hilarious and depressing. And hilariously depressing.

One great example. Lately, I've been identifying the ways that I can actively participate in making/keeping myself healthier and happier. You may even remember that I wrote a couple of weeks ago*** about starting therapy again and taking a few self-care actions. And this week, as I was working through one of the journals from 2007, I found this:

Photo: A page from my journal
“2. October. 2007
I love…
Because I am making the choice to.
I feel happy when I am productive.
I feel good when I exercise.
I like life when I eat well and get sleep.
I am good when I have friends around.
I love to be dressed up.
Let’s do all of this more often.
David Kimple”

I was nineteen years old when I wrote that. Earlier that year, I had broken up with my first love and high school sweetheart. I then spent the Summer going through one of the biggest identity crises I’ve ever gone through. And by October, I had recently come out of the closet, gotten a second tattoo, and had my first (underage) beer in earnest. But I was still very much confused about who I was; I had a case of the sads. I listened to a lot of Jamie Cullum’s album Twentysomething (which still slaps), and I was looking for other things that I knew would help me feel grounded and powerful. I guess I wrote a few of those things down in my journal…

Now, I’m thirty-three and, though many of the details of my circumstance have changed, those things I wrote in 2007 all remain on my list of evergreen tools that help. Looking at them, it almost seems silly that one would even need a reminder. They’re not exactly prophetic. I think most people feel better when they do things like work out and sleep. But, though I wrote it thirteen years ago, I am obviously still learning these lessons anew every day.

In fact, in April of this year, I exclaimed to my husband that I had discovered something about myself. A revelation. A big discovery! “I feel really good when I am truly productive.” He literally laughed. And I know that most of you are rolling your eyes too. It’s a big DUH that I get off on being productive, but sometimes some things hit in just the right way, and it’s like brand new information even if it is not.

I love…because I am making the choice to. I feel happy when I am productive. I feel good when I exercise. I like life when I eat well and get sleep. I am good when I have friends around. I love to be dressed up. Let’s do all of this more often.

And sometimes those things are easier said than done. We all know this. And that’s exactly what I thought when I found yet another pearl from another journal. This one is from cir. 2008 (exact date unknown).

Photo: A page from my journal, “Don’t make excuses. Just do what fills you up.”

Is it just me, or does young and emotional David have solid advice?

Election Week. This is a section about voting.

It’s the week of the election. FINALLY. Oh god no, make it stop. Yes, I can’t wait for it to be done. Dread dread dread dread terror nightmare fuck.

Soo…this election has my nerves totally fried. I’m sure that most of you feel the same way? I want it to be over so badly am truly at a loss for adequate words.

But, because this is the last gangletown before final votes are cast, I want to make sure I’ve done all that I can to encourage folx to vote. Everyone eligible to do so - yes, even those who might be voting for the Tangerine Toddler himself - should be voting if they haven’t already. I mean, if you want to allow more temper tantrums, bald-faced lies, and casually racist Twitter rants to rule our news cycle for the next four years, then that is your choice, and you are still entitled to your vote. Make a plan and check out vote.org for non-partisan information on voting in your district.

On a personal (and more pointed) level, I believe that you should vote for the Biden/Harris administration with my whole gangly heart. No one wants a lecture or op-ed from me on this subject at this point, but (as short-windedly as I can manage), here is why.

The country is deeply broken in several ways right now, and, frankly, the Trump administration does not have the capacity to fix it. He cannot and will not bring the country together. To start the healing process, we must elect new leadership and hold them accountable to a higher standard. The Biden/Harris ticket is the best step forward based on the options we have.

The final day to vote is Tuesday, November 3rd. Please vote.

***Also, in that recent edition of gangletown, I wrote about some of the things I would be doing specifically during election week to keep myself in a good place.

In addition to the plan that you put in place to actually cast your vote, make a plan for how you’ll emotionally navigate what is sure to be an intense week (or more). You can revisit my list here if you’d like some starting inspo: “Take care of yourself, David.”

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