Is it me you’re looking for?


So, remember last year when I said I was going to write on this blog every dayand I was going to rediscover myself as a writer, and I think the end goal was for me to prove to myself that I still had it while also somehow accumulating millions of readers and getting a book deal and probably a movie of my moving tale of reconnecting with life through blogging starring Jon Hamm as Ben and me as me?

That obviously didn’t happen. Not even the Jon Hamm part. Like, especially not the Jon Hamm part.

And I don’t even have a good reason why. It would almost be better if I could come back with a triumphant post that was like, “You guys, I know I said I would be doing this every day, but I contracted a totally gnarly disease from a baby bear I held at the IX Indoor Amusement Park, and for a while I lost the ability to speak and use spoons, but I’m back and better than ever and dedicating my life to bear disease awareness!” Then I would ask you all to post brown ribbons on your Facebook feeds to bring more attention to the plight of the tens of people impacted each year by bear disease, and I don’t know, maybe run a 5k or something, but probably not, because I am slow and lazy.

The truth of the matter is, I wanted to take a break. Just a day or two. But then I let a week go by. And then suddenly I became crippled not only by the pressure of delivering an extra-hilarious post to explain my week-long absence, but also by my crushing failure as a human being in general for not being able to maintain something as simple as writing a 300-word blog post every day.

See, things spiral out of control pretty fast over here in the old Kim Oja brain.

So a week had gone by, which I let turn into a month, which because more than a year, and every single day I thought to myself, “I should restart my blog!” And then I laughed and laughed, and then treated myself to an evening of playing Sudoku on my phone and intermittently reminding myself what a garbage-y person I am.

And I really did mean to do it. I mean, I paid the $9 fee to save my URL address. That has to count for something, right? Although really, I think it was set up on autopay, so it just sort of happened, but I didn’t do anything to actively stop it from happening.

But for whatever reason, I just couldn’t do it. Maybe laziness. Maybe depression. (Side note: I feel like literally every female humor blogger is depressed? It might have actually been required in the TOS I signed when I put up this site.) But whatever it was kept me away for a good long time.

Until today.

And that’s not to say that this is some sort of amazing, sun-breaking-through-clouds redemption moment. I’m still probably not going to have the wherewithal to write every day. Nothing has really changed, except I have mustered up enough energy to a) write this and b) overcome the gigantic chasm of dread that stopped me in my tracks on a daily basis for over a year.

Wow, it sounds kind of badass when I say it like that. Yes, that is what I did. Chasm jumping. In a tank top. Looking awesome. Please take note, Jon Hamm.

Amazing and totally legit prompts for blasting writer’s block

I think it’s time to admit it– I have writer’s block.

I was wondering when it would happen. It had to come eventually– there was no way I was going to make it through this project without encountering it at least once. As soon as I found myself writing an entire post about jeggings, I sensed its arrival, a big squat animal blocking the entrance to my creative portal and regaling me with stories about this one time it thought it saw Steven Tyler at the airport, but it just turned out to be a bag lady.

But not to worry– I’ve been here before, and I have a number of tried and true prompts for overcoming writer’s block, and because I’m a generous kind of gal, I figured I’d pass them on to you, in case you ever found yourself in the same spot.

Imagine elaborate scenarios in which I am wronged, but persevere anyway, and everyone feels really badly about it. In most of these creative exercises, I find myself hospitalized for some reason, usually due to an illness that I tried to warn people about, but no one believed me. Well, they believe me now, but now it’s too late. And when I get out of the hospital, I find piles of flowers on my doorstep, left by guilty well-wishers, but I just step over them, ready to go inside and begin a montage of myself weight-lifting and becoming stronger and nigh invulnerable. And when I finally re-emerge, everyone is like, OMG she is so strong for overcoming this disease that she totally warned us she had but we didn’t believe her and made her clean the bathroom anyway even though she said she was dying, and now she’s also super hot from all the weight lifting. She has Michelle Obama arms, and we are not worthy.

Celebrity road trip! Oh, no! Your favorite celebrity’s car inexplicably broke down in front of your house, because for some reason they were in the area and really wanted a scenic tour of The Septic Systems of Geauga County. It’s up to you to get them back to Hollywood! And also convince them that you are a glittering star that burns too brightly for this world! You will probably do this through the power of song, so you have to have the perfect playlist ready at all times. It must include both Dolly Parton’s “Jolene” and House of Pain’s “Jump Around,” but the rest is up to you. Go!

What is Britney Spears doing right now? Is she pooping? My first assumption is always that she’s pooping for some reason. But after the pooping, then what?

What do we get when we die? For some reason, I assume that death comes with a parting gift? Because it seems kind of shitty to make you leave all your cool stuff behind and show up to heaven without even a portable CD player or anything. My personal belief is that when we die, we will be handed a book that reveals every secret detail of our lives– the names of every person who ever secretly had a crush on us, but we didn’t know it, or everyone who just couldn’t stand us, or every time you nearly died but then didn’t, like if you stepped off a curb at the exact right moment to avoid being hit by a bus, or left the one e. coli tainted lettuce leaf lying at the bottom of your burrito bowl at Chipotle because lettuce is stupid. I, for one, am dying to get a copy of this book. No pun intended, although that would have been a pretty sweet pun, had I intended it.

Elton John fan fiction! Daniel, Honky Cat and Rocket Man meet in line to buy cartoon balloons in town. Hijinx ensue.

(Okay, full disclosure. I’ve never actually done that last one. But now I’m weirdly intrigued?)

Any one of those prompts should be enough to jumpstart even the most blocked brain, but feel free to combine them for some added oomph. What if your celebrity road trip ends in a car accident sending both you and Britney Spears to the hospital, where you have a near-death experience and get to read only the introduction to your Death Book (“Introduction: So, You’re Dead!”) before being dragged back to the present, only to be greeted by three bobbing Get Well balloons that appear to have been purchased from Levon?

The possibilities are endless! As is Britney Spears’ pooping, apparently.

Beginning again

So let me back up a sec.

I have known for nearly my entire life that I wanted to be a writer. I started writing my own short stories when I was in second grade, and graduated to horrifically bad novels by the age of 10. I have both undergraduate and graduate degrees in creative writing, even though I was made well aware by both my parents and literally everyone over the age of 25 that there were no job openings listed in the newspaper reading WANTED: SOMEONE TO WRITE DEEPLY EMBARRASSING AND REVEALING PERSONAL ESSAYS ABOUT THEIR OWN SHORTCOMINGS. I was committed to it. I enjoyed it. And I was– I like to think– good at it, or at least good at surrounding myself with people who were willing to lie about it being good.

And now I am an executive at an insurance company. And I don’t write at all. And I want to know why.

There is, of course, the obvious hipster argument about how working for The Man destroyed my creativity and my drive to succeed in the arts. First of all, I was never much of a hipster. While I enjoy their glasses and their ironic tattoos, their music makes me sad, and I look terrible in beanies. And I’ve always kind of enjoyed The Man. I like the smell of copier paper and the fact that I get to sit a lot. And the money. I do enjoy the money.

But I think that having a full-time job sitting in front of a computer does kind of cap that desire, a little. And I think the break I took after graduating from my MFA program– the relief of not needing to record every detail of my life and rearrange it until it met a certain theme, the simple joy of just living something without writing it– developed a sense of permanence after a year or so, and by then it started to feel too late.

That was ten years ago.

But it’s not too late. Right?

That’s what I’m here to find out.