Avian Mating and Taking Up Space
Updated: May 7
When I started to write this, I was going to call it "7 Days of Peaks and Pits". But "days" feels like a reach. As Leandra Medine of Man Repeller and #oneleggedselfie fame put it, time these days is more like a "blob". For me at least, that's dead on.
These last few blobs (days) have been very Monty Python-- I feel like"Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries!" incarnate one day and then like King Arthur the next. I was erring more towards hamsters and elderberries, so I decided to try to incorporate some sort of daily gratitude practice. (Inspired by poet Ross Gay, I say practice and not discipline-- something positive, not punitive. Check out The Poet Salon for more Ross Gay wisdom).
I'm getting distracted, back to my point.
(What was my point?)
Right, seven blobs' worth of peaks and pits-- including, but not limited to-- spring mating rituals, and having mass and taking up space. Am I talking about matter?!
Read on to find out!
So, I got the idea from my friend who apparently got it from an episode of the Kardashians so we're all gonna be okay, alright, amen. Anyway, it's nothing novel, just chart your highs (peaks) and lows (pits) each day (blob). This has been something that has worked for me. I'm not a therapist; I'm not qualified to give you advice on how to take care of yourself, I'm just sharing my experience. I know that thinking about your "pits" might not be the best idea for some. For me, it's grounding (most days).
Without further ado (and with no comforting narrative thread, sorry about it but it's in-character: nonsensical and blob-like)...
The Peaks and Pits of Blobs !! through ??
Peak... I guess... but also Pit: I saw, for the first (and I want to say probably the only time in my life), a very real incarnation of spring: two birds going at it outside my window. I don’t know what was what, but it was a lot of chest-puffing, little dances around on the limb, and then flirty, flighty games of cat and mouse in and out of the neighboring trees. I can honestly say I’d never given bird mating any thought. That said, it was exactly how I would've expected it to be: light, flighty, feathery, puffy chests and disgruntled leaves. It’s an event both so novel (for me) yet so every day that I feel equally obligated and weird about documenting it.
Peak/Pit: I have invested/lost hours of my life watching Too Hot to Handle and anything I could say about the show would be superfluous. So I'll just ask, is it or is it not an extended SNL spinoff?
Pit: My internal clock is taking the lockdown harder than anyone. I found myself up until the wee hours of the morning re-reading (re-skimming, really) William Bradford’s History of Plymouth Plantation. Yeah, that Plymouth. To be honest, I’m not sure what inspired this reading considering I’ve got plenty of physical books lying around, but something about reading at 4AM dictated digital reading. So I opened it up on Google Books and started stumbling my way through Old English.
That said, this isn't a humble brag like "Oh yeah, I read obscure historical accounts when I can't sleep". Nope, it's just strange. I can't even say I read it because I skimmed (parts of) it for a second time, which makes me wonder… Why did I, a laywoman with no particular interest in this period of history, feel compelled to revisit this text? Doesn’t that imply, that on some level, my first half-hearted reading wasn’t enough? That part of me wanted to do it justice a second time around? So why did I half-ass it again? Am I doomed to, in some future dawn, feel the compulsion and blink open my Google Books account for a third time?
Is this a deep, subconscious attempt to return to a reading that reminds me of a much more stable, routine time of my life? Coffee, class, study, library, home, Netflix?
Pit: Low energy day. I had some technical issues while prepping online teaching materials. Plus, and I know it's trivial, but also it's not: we ran out of wine. I know, I can't complain; I am very grateful to have a job right now, especially one that allows me to work from the safety of my home. But that doesn't mean I don't get sour about wine, alright? That chilled glass was what was getting me to the end of a work day that mostly consisted of me recording myself and then having to listen back and edit it...Do you know anyone that likes the sound of their own voice?
Pit then Peak: First big (quarantine) fight with my partner. For the life of me I can't remember how it started. So far we've managed to offset the other's low days by keeping a pretty good subconscious schedule. If I'm low on Monday, he's there. If he dips on Tuesday... you get it. Well, for the first time in the X-ish weeks of this lockdown, our bad/low days coincided.
Things our neighbors might have overheard:
Me: "Don't worry, I'll get one of your dirty mugs from the office."
~Makes sure the mugs clink as I shove past him to the kitchen~
Him: "If these little things are so important to you right now, YOU do them! I told you I'd help LATER!"
What no one heard because we didn't say it, but probably should have:
Me: "I even envy the pigeons trudging through shit on the sidewalk outside, I wanna trudge through shit. If our neighbor's voice doesn't drop an octave...and fast, I might Kool-Aid man through the wall and put a muzzle on her...Am I a psycho? Will I, being a psycho, be able to find a new job when this is over? Will my mom ever be safe to go back to work? What will her new reality look like? Should I go home and take care of her? But what would that even look like? Am I a bad daughter?"
Him: "I'd been at this new job for two months when this started. The last team meeting they said my department is what they're depending on to get us through this period but I'm still finding my feet. Found out yesterday I've got a meeting in French on Monday, haven't really spoken French in seven years, merde. Why are we always out of Nutella?!"
Both: "We just moved to this new place, will we have jobs in a few months to be able to keep it?"
Given the circumstances, we weren't expecting to get through this without any blow-ups (or through normal life, for that matter). Fighting is normal, but now...
There's. no. where. to. go.
We both pouted in our respective corners of the house. Even then, I could still hear him angry humming the Legend of Zelda soundtrack (don't ask me which, I don't know). I meanwhile had made a point to make up some annoying breathing exercises that he'd be sure to roll his eyes at.
Cut to eight hours later.
I was trying to annoy/freak him out with more intense breathing (I don't know why but it makes him uneasy) when, on one of my exhales, a big ol' booger flew across the room and hit, SPLAT, on the parquet. He happened to be passing by humming, mid-Link's adventure. We made eye contact and then jointly dropped our eyes down to my lil' mucus baby.
"Good thing I hadn't mopped yet," he said, smiling.
UOIWENFOWLASKDFA-- it all came out. I started crying, he wanted a big old bear hug... We sat down on the couch and stared at the wall ahead (we don't have a TV), hands overlapping.
"It'll be alright," (I don't remember who) said.
Peak: I joined a (virtual for now) writing group. We spent three hours diving into each others' work, but more than that, we spent three hours together. It was my first time to meet any of them, albeit virtually, but there was a sense of intimacy we might not have had had we met in-person under pre-quarantine circumstances. It was an unexpected, very human moment with people I'll probably only talk to once a week on Zoom. I'm here for it.
Peak: I had a breakthrough while sweating it out. I’ve been trying out various at-home streaming workouts (if you have any questions about which, what, my opinion, just ask!) Anyway, I was moving with The Class by Taryn Toomey. To be honest, I often tune out a lot of the soul searching during the class because it can feel a little too GOOP-y for me (if I'm honest, I like a little introspection just not every other rep). BUT I do love the workouts. My friend Ali said it perfectly, "It's like Western intensity meets the spirituality-yogicness of the East."
Anyway, for whatever reason, I was jumping and flinging my arms around when I tuned in, "Take up space." I’d heard it before, I’d nodded along. But today, after deciding to try to build my blog and really, for me, putting myself out there, I heard it. Like TAKE UP SPACE EMILY! (Be your own wind keeper, Rachel!--Remember that?)
Even though I love writing, I’ve been hesitant for years to try to grow any sort of blog for fear of what people would say; of making mistakes; of, if I’m being honest, being seen. But within the last couple of months, thanks to lots of support and a bottle or two of wine, I did it. I am taking up (virtual) space in this world. And I'm excited about it. I know it works on other levels as well. In your body, whatever shape, take up space. Unapologetically, own it. Take up space. Whodathunkit?
Take up space
Peak: We were finally able to get outside! We went out around 9am with the rest of the world and crowded the streets. It kind of had a race day vibe with the number of people out. Despite feeling uncomfortable (and wondering if it makes sense for all of us to go out at the same time) it was a really great release. I ran for the first time in months. Just a mile because my body is used to sitting in a chair and watching things like Too Hot to Handle. But it was, on the whole, a really positive experience. Despite (what felt like) all of our neighborhood being out at once, everyone was respectful and mindful of each others' space.
Peak: It depends on how into homemade condiments you are, how profound you'll find this. While this one didn't happen to me, I still count it because I am one of those people that considers sauces a major food group.
...After years of trying, my badass friend finally👏🏼 nailed👏🏼 homemade👏🏼 mayo. And we made dirty jokes about immersion blenders and it was magical.
I'm not sure about the count, whether that's really 7 peaks and pits, but that really doesn't matter. I do know that there were more peaks than pits, which, as far as outcomes go, is as ideal as I could have hoped for. So I'm going to keep up my "Peaks and Pits" practice, hopefully past the conclusion of this temporary "new normal".
So what do you do to combat ticked off Zelda humming or passive-aggressive yogic breathing? Asking for a friend.