Nothing To Do But Jump

I am not really an app person, and though my phone is full of all the apps in the world c/o my six-year-old, I couldn’t tell you how to play any of the games on pain of death.

Video games, now – those I like, ever since I discovered the joys of Duck Hunt at the tender age of six (when parents all over the country simultaneously decided that it was a good idea to give their elementary schoolers pretend rifles and let them pretend-kill defenseless little birds). Kendrick and I had a brief (albeit rapturous) dalliance with Angry Birds back when we first started living together. I will happily play Super Mario with my son all night, every night because Super Mario is wonderful. And – just saying – I will take you DOWN in MarioKart (oh, yes I will). But when it comes to Candy Crush and Farmtown (or whatever it’s called) or any of those other app-type games that I always see people posting about on Facebook?

Not really my thing. My phone is for looking at clothing I cannot afford to buy, watching Bachelor In Paradise from my bathtub, and accidentally and horrifyingly butt-dialing exes and frenemies.

So why, right now, am I sitting at my desk knowing that I should really be making my way through my endless, endless list of must-be-returned emails…and staring longingly at my phone, where the little DoodleJump app is sitting right there, all adorable and wanting to be played? I am not a procrastinator. I’ve been working from home for ten years, and have developed phenomenal self-motivational habits. I rarely even take a break to eat lunch; if I’m home and my children are otherwise occupied, I am working, because any second that I’m not working is a second that I am ravaged with guilt and the awareness of un-checked-off to-do lists. (I am aware this is not exactly healthy, but there you go.)

But right now – for maybe the first time in my life – I don’t want to work. I don’t want to do anything. Or at least not anything that matters.

I don’t want to return emails. I don’t want to update my LinkedIn, or fine-tune my resume, or craft compelling proposals for potential clients. And I definitely don’t want to hustle, hustle, hustle. I’ve been hustling for nearly a decade. I know I have to, now more than ever…but I’m just so tired.

Not just tired: exhausted. Physically, emotionally, in every which way. I go to sleep late because I can’t stop refreshing Trulia, hoping some new, perfect place will pop up that somehow escaped me on the fifteen other searches I did that day. All night long, I wrestle my way through dreams that really aren’t dreams at all; they feel more like bad memories and scary visions of the future, all playing in a loop on the movie screen of my closed eyelids.

I wake up early because sleep feels like a luxury I cannot afford, and because the thought of being alone for a minute sounds nice. But I’m still so tired, and so I tiptoe into the backyard, wrap myself in the rainbow-striped Mexican blanket Kendrick surprised me with that one time, and lay still for as long as my children will let me. And every morning, laying there and watching the sun rise and wanting nothing more than to fall back asleep, I think to myself how much I wish I could take it back. All of it. Just rewind time and start again from a place where I can keep telling myself that everything is fine, everything is great, we can go on like this forever. And maybe then, eventually, I’ll believe it.

I know what people say. “Just keep putting one foot in front of the other.” “Baby steps.” “One day at a time.” I know. Except “putting one foot in front of the other” would be easy, if that was all I had to do. What I have to do instead is break up my world into tiny crumbs, and then use my bare hands to mold them back together, hoping they can still cling to each other and make something that looks a little bit like life.

But I don’t want to do that.

You know what I want to do? I want to lay down and hold my children in one arm, both of them snuggled up together and not fighting (this is a fantasy, remember). With the other hand I want to find first the TV remote, and then Spy Kids on Netflix, and then, while the kids settle in to watch, my phone.

I want to scroll through my apps until I find the right one. And then, for a few minutes, I want to be a little green alien with nothing to do but jump, and nowhere to go but up.

  • laurenj79

    sending you good vibes and wishing you strength.

  • loulou

    Refreshing Trulia, what?! Does this mean the house you put on IG is definitely not happening? Bummer if so, loved that house 🙁

    • jordanreid

      well…it’s complicated to explain this without oversharing, but the short answer is I can’t sign a lease until other papers are signed, or I put myself at significant risk. and if I can’t sign today, basically, the owners will have to find another tenant.

  • m

    Oh Jordan. I completely understand, and I’m rooting for you. I get the feeling of wanting to move on and do it all by yourself like the bad-ass woman that you are. But right now, a big move, selling a home, buying a home, company startup, on top of a shattering separation is just waaaayyy too much, for anyone. I guess that is what people tried to say on comments in previous posts. You don’t have to do it all right now, you don’t have to overwork yourself, because what is the point?. What is going on in your life is massive and requires time, effort and adjustment. I guess “one step at the time” also means one thing/activity/focus at the time. Sell your home and see how that goes, hold on on the purchase of a new home, slow down on the new business, maybe even don’t move to LA right away. I know you are working with therapists and you know what is best. But this post makes it seem like maybe, just maybe, all at once is not best.

    • jordanreid

      I completely hear you. it’s a slightly more complicated situation than I can explain online, but here’s the thing: I am very good at logistical planning. staging a house, selling a house, planning a move, negotiating school schedules and leases and applications and such – all of that is very much in my wheelhouse, and I’ve done it before, all by myself. I actually enjoy it, believe it or not. but picture doing all those things, again, all by yourself (but add in physically renovating your house to the mix, staying up until midnight grouting and tiling and painting baseboards and such)…and then being set back to zero because of circumstances beyond your control. and then picture doing all those things again. and again. and again. and continually being set back to zero. that’s the part that’s simply too much – this inability to put concrete measures in place to make sure that my children and myself are in a positive, stable situation.

      • shilpi

        I actually think that maybe that’s what this commenter is trying to say: even if it was just a divorce, there are so many moving pieces (not all of which you can control) that it’s hard to know which other pieces you can move. So it may be worth taking it slowly just out of necessity, so you can figure out what is stable before making another change.

        • m

          I agree, and that was my point. I wanted to voice my concern about all the big changes happening in Jordan’s life, most beyond her control, some because she wants them. And I understand her answer, she is so good at this, has done it before successfully, why not just continue doing it? (but her situation is so different now) My advise is to maybe stop trying and trying and just stay… at zero? for a little bit? The selling of the house seems the most immediate need financially speaking. Focus there. Finish the grouting and tiling and painting. Don’t over-stress with house hunting flights with its negotiation and leases. Stay put in the area you know. Eventually you will have the strength to take over the world again.

          • Jenn

            I think the main issue is that the area she knows is super expensive, one of the most expensive in the US right now. So it’s not a matter of wanting to move but needing to in order to afford to live. That’s my understanding based on recent posts.

          • jordanreid

            ding ding ding. it’s also not exactly a hub for the kind of work I do and, more importantly, am trying to branch into.

  • Laura

    Hi Jordan, I’ve been a daily reader since before your son was born. I understand these feelings totally, and I want to tell you to indulge them and it’s ok. Last year I went through a breakup and also discovered app games (“I love hue” if you’re curious), it is the literal dumbest game in the world, but when my heart and brain were melting I could focus on it and be peaceful for a moment. I spoke to my therapist about this, thinking it was a bad idea (“I shouldn’t just escape these feelings! I should deal with them so I can move on!”) and her response was that maybe for the time being my goal should be to have as many moments of peace in my day as possible even if it’s by avoidance.

    Play the dumb games, snuggle in your blanket. Eventually the moments of peace you get from distraction will bleed into your day and become peaceful days. The thing is, I think you know this – you’re the author of a series (!) of activity books. I hope you allow yourself the things that you’re enabling for others. xo.

    • jordanreid

      My dad literally said that last night: you talk the talk about taking time for yourself, being strong, etc etc…so, you know, walk the walk.
      it’s easier said than done, but I’m trying.
      (monkey wrench is also phenomenal, btw – I played a few rounds at 3AM this morning, haha.)

  • Olivia

    This made me cry.

    • jordanreid

      <3 <3 <3

  • Tara Starwalt

    When I finally finally finally got separated (a very positive move in my life at the time), I spent that first night SURE that my world was going to come crashing to earth, every light blinking red, radio stations down. The next morning I, too, ventured outside for some alone time and I realized something important [to me]: the sun still rose and the planes were still flying. I figured if they could withstand such a blow as my impending divorce, then I would withstand it, too.

    Maybe not good advice, maybe it doesn’t even apply to how you’re feeling today. it just helped me to remember that even though something good (or “good” in my case) is gone, there is so much good to come. You’re just waiting your turn. And DAMN you wait your turn stylishly!

    Sending so many warm thoughts and energies your way!

  • Valerie

    I’m a big believer in doing what you feel you need while you’re going through heartbreak, cry all night, binge a million hours of netflix, party with friends, hook up with strange, whatever you want in that moment. So play those games girl. Work can wait. (Not forever, but maybe it’s okay for you to have clear and minimal work hours in your day right now.) You’ll get through this <3

    Also, may I add, your writing lately has been just phenomenal. This piece is beautiful.

  • Katie Kornstein

    Love you, you’ve got this – and a tremendous support system here for whatever you need. Call me anytime to chat, vent or just whatever. Love you!

    • jordanreid

      love you too <3

  • momtobe

    I found when processing my one bigger break that it was as I made decisions inside about my future direction that things started to go forward. I had to buy time to make those decisions, to get comfortable facing the questions and coming to terms with the answers, and I couldn’t have said what exactly the decisions were until a year later sometimes, but things got better as each piece fell into place. I played a lot of games (online Settlers of Catan) or similar things, but in the background, I was getting closer to taking those steps. Only if that is relevant or helpful in making things feel more ordered. You’re so amazing and it has been an inspiration and comfort to me to see your voice get stronger and more confident, and I look forward to seeing how that continues if you wish to share it.

    I hope this isn’t presumptuous, but I always want to nudge others away from what I ended up going through. I would caution you against losing your momentum for too long. It’s precious to be engaged with your work like that, and it can be delicate, more delicate than it feels when it’s naturally such a big part of you…I know you’re still doing a ton that you didn’t describe in this post but it’s also good to nurture the part of yourself that gets excited about what you’re doing and feels like it all *needs* to be perfect and great, even when that suddenly does not feel natural at all. While the other side of you is totally on fire, that side of you has to stay alive so on the other side you’ll still have it.

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