Hey, sorry I fucked off for a while.

Things have been really weird.

I’m not going to bury the lede: it’s been weird.

Life, I mean.

I mean, first there’s the pandemic, which—despite us wanting desperately for it to be over—is still roaring strong thanks to a Delta variant and a global inequity in vaccine access and health response. So while vaccinated folks like yours truly are safER than we were before, we’re still in this fucking limbo of “what day is it” and “why won’t my brain focus on anything for more than fifteen fucking seconds” and “why is there a deep fatigue in my bones that I cannot fucking get rid of”?

It’s not over, and while some days feel hopeful and optimistic, others feel interminable and like I’ll never see my long-distance loved ones again. Some places you go feel like it never happened (which is concerning in itself). Other times you turn on the news or the web and see nothing but alarming news about surging cases and questions of whether people are trying to lighten restrictions too soon. It’s an exhausting cycle without clear or easy answers and the ambiguity itself is draining.

Then, a couple of weeks ago, you may have seen a thread of mine on Twitter that went viral for about 12 hours before I had to take it down.

If you didn’t see it, the tl;dr is that I was at a coffee shop and overheard (it wasn’t hard) a really terrible date between a really gross guy and a woman, and I took to Twitter as Twitter People do to share some of the highlights of Mr. Wonderful’s gun kink and his exploits at the local Renaissance Faire and the weird tattoo he busted out from under his tank top on said date. He was loud and obnoxious and that little slice of people watching was hilarious to me and many others…including about a dozen other people in that coffee shop. I tried to use my writing skills and and some flair for the dramatic to make it fun.

But according to a select few, it was…not funny? Or not funny that I shared it, anyway. Some objections were polite enough, others were threatening and vile. And even after I took down the short-lived thread in response to said outrage, I went through about three weeks of recurring harassment across multiple channels—email, my website, social media—culminating in one particular person deciding they would actually complain to my employer to try to get me in trouble.

Yep.

Thankfully, I work with adults who were mostly just concerned for my safety and well-being (since this had nothing to do with me in any professional capacity and trying to tell Work Mom and Dad in this fashion was totally inappropriate). So I talked to some local authorities, locked everything down for a while on their advice, went through the agonizing exercise of trying to manually remove followers from my Twitter account who had surfaced during that period, blocked a bunch of people from multiple platforms, locked down my website, and spent a good chunk of what was supposed to be my vacation having to talk to our HR and safety & security teams at work to be sure this didn’t get out of hand.

(Yes, I know who the person is. The appropriate people do also and no I have no intention of making that information public until and unless it’s necessary. But I know. And I won’t soon forget.)

But add that circus of complete fuckery to some other concurrent stressors happening in my world over the past several months and, well. Overwhelm was a fucking understatement. It was sort of that proverbial straw, I guess.

I’ve not had the energy, the mental stores, or the sense of humor to write a fucking thing. Here or anywhere else. I took a break from work for two weeks (one of my own PTO and one of our annual company shutdown over the July 4 holiday). I spent time with my kid and stayed a lot off the internet and completely off my laptop. And I’d love to tell you that I’m bright and fucking sunshiny now but honestly, I’m just…still tired. A little on edge, waiting for that next email or message I have to escalate. Jumping when my text messages ding. Not sleeping well.

The thing about burnout is it usually sneaks up on you.

You’re trudging along fine, mostly fine, okay fine-ish, fine, even peppered in with some good and great and energized. And then one day you’re…not.

I think a lot of people think burnout comes in a burst, like a flash grenade of suck that just explodes in spectacular fashion and makes it obvious to you and anyone else around you that you have reached The Breaking Point.

But it doesn’t happen that way. Bitch is sneaky.

She’s like quicksand. The harder you struggle to get free, the more you get sucked in. Slowly. You often might get a foot or a hand loose and think you’re gonna just hoist yourself right out of the muck only to realize you’re now up to your neck in it. And one day, often with very little fanfare, you just sort of…slip under and then even being upright feels like a Herculean task.

I’m okay. Honestly. There’s no cause for alarm, I have resources and support, and I’m going to be just fine. Nothing keeps me down for long and this won’t be an exception. I’ve already gone from defeated to really fucking mad to sort of fucking indifferent to REALLY FULL OF RAGE and now I’m sort of in…"Sigh, ok that was fun, now what” mode of trying to pick up the scattered pieces of my focus and motivation and paste them back together for the zillionth time. I’m better. And I’ll get better still.

So, I’m just writing to say hi. If you noticed DF was absent for a couple of weeks, now you know why. If you didn’t notice…I apparently have to work harder so you’ll miss me more. Either way, thanks for sticking around and I’ll be back with another edition this Friday when I sift through the rubble and pick something much more fun to rage against.

As usual, the problem is choosing just one thing.

In the meantime, if the burnout bitch is hanging out at your house too, tell her she’s needed…elsewhere. I have a few names for her if she’s interested.

See you soon.

With love and (extra) angst,

Amber