James T. Green is a conceptual artist, radio producer, writer, and educator from Chicago, Illinois, and now in Brooklyn, New York.

thoughts + feelings

87: Week one of NaNoWriMo

The following is a piece of unedited fiction I'm working on for National Novel Writing Month. I'll be using this newsletter to share the progress of the story through the month of November.

I miss Clippy, he was my best friend.

As I stared into the blanking computer screen, the ideas began to stutter. I thought about my past and my future. I thought of what to mention to my therapist. Monday was the day where I was to finally embrace the release of letting my emotions out into the open, to fully be myself and to embrace the world around me, to thoughtfully think about why I had been emitted into the hospital nights ago.

Clippy was the only person I chatted with on those late nights. Those moments when I had no one to talk to, I stared into the corner of that screen, my insomnia keeping me from truly focusing on one task. The gentle coaxing of action created accountability. I’ve always wanted to be a writer and I thought I would be great for that, but the fucked up sensibilities of my mental health always kept me back.

“Derrick, you need to come downstairs, you’ve been up there all day.”

The cursor blinked on as I tried to get my words out on the page. Therapy was only a day away and it’s been anticipating me. College has been rough. Pills were popped to grab my pain, and I was struggling with the idea that I could make money as a writer. I was told that life isn’t shit for those that create, that we must suffer for our work, and there really isn’t much else out there. Regardless, I shuffled my stuff and headed downstairs. Command+Q to quit the blinking page and Clippy disappeared. Sadly, this was a euphemism for how I saw my life.

“Derrick, I’m really worried about you.” My mom said with concern. My mom was a very gentle soul and always made sure to stay by my side, especially through the intensity of my mental scars. She was one of the first people to truly think that I was….well…normal.

“I’m fine, I’ve just been really tired.” It was fall break and I was visiting home before the start of the next semester. My episode had happened right before my RA checked my room. Walking in, I was on the floor, empty bottle to my side. Rushed in, I was pulled on a stretcher to save myself from the disaster that awaited me. It was then that it was realized therapy was the only option, the only way to realize that I was, in fact, okay. I was nervous but it wasn’t just what was going on in my mind, but it was what was thought about in the community of mine. Black folks didn’t have anything wrong with them, we just needed to let “the devil out of us.” Therapy was merely a “white person thing”.

Sundays are always hard. Since my episode, I’ve been coming home on the weekends. Mainly because it’s much easier for me to not abuse myself with the surrounding of family on the weekends. Luckily, I decided to go to a school only an hour away from my mom. Perhaps it was the attachment issues. Maybe I didn’t want to leave home. I just wanted to write. I just wanted to get thoughts on the page, perhaps that would be my escape. It’s the excuse of an artist right? I blamed myself for that. I made it okay. My brain was racing as I sat across from my mom at that plastic lined dining room table, my feet shuffling across the running boards that reminded me of my youth. My mom and I had an okay relationship, especially after dad left. I was really close to him, the only difference is he didn’t really understand what I did as an artist. He lovingly supported me in what I did but from a distance. He had no idea what I called myself, but was proud to call me his son. At least, what he thought of as his son.

My toes ran across the running board and I shuffled the mashed potatoes across the plate, back and forth, parting the spuds like the red sea. My mom’s attempts at small talk were pitiful but worthy, much like the kind of fake care you’d get from a parent that you only see on the weekends. I felt bad for her, because I’m not going to let her in. I’m not going to let anyone in. How dare someone think they can enter back into my heart.

The food ran cold. My mom’s conversation ran staler than the loaf that graced my unseasoned plate. I just wanted to get back upstairs and write, to meet my fate with Clippy, to surround myself in a sober escape, one to run away from my feelings, away from this piece of shit world that was dropped into my lap.

“Are you nervous about tomorrow? I know you’ve never seen anyone before,” she said as she dug into the stale loaf.

“A little.” I lied, tremendously. I was nervous, a lot. I didn’t care.

We stared at each other, silently. I knew she cared with all her might, but it was hard enough to see her kid like this. The prayers to her god went unanswered, her kid was not the normal one she had hoped for when she found out she was pregnant. All the expectations vanished once she found himself more interested in dresses and words.

I couldn’t take this pressure anymore. I excused myself from the table to lock myself up in the room. I didn’t want to think about what tomorrow would bring, what would come up in this session with this strange man as to which I would supposedly release my darkest feelings with. My anxiety drove to a high as I fled up the stairs and slammed the door.

Option+S, M-I-C-R-O-S+return key. Clippy greeted me with a smile. Even though I was at my home, I finally felt at home.

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Support The Studio Visit Letters

Thank you for reading issue #87.

These letters take roughly 24 hours a month between writing, editing, fact-checking, and adding items to the archive. Consider sending a one-time donation and becoming a member starting at a dollar a month.

A wonderful and heartfelt thank you to the 16 supporters this week:

Nick, Ben, “Michael”, Stewart, Molly, Alexandra, Jennifer, Joelle, David, Jessica, Chad, Will, Eboni, Jayson, Subi, Allyson, and Revision Path.

You keep this boat a float. Only $198 to go before making this month’s goal of $250.

Thanks for reading, and see you next week.

-James

James T. Green