July is the month we say goodbye to writers who are retiring or moving on to new adventures, and this is Mary Margaret’s last post. She has been writing with us since the very beginning in July 2013.
I have a confession to make. I’ve lied to you, my dear readers, every month for the past seven months. I have told you over and over, as if wishing made it so, that I was twenty-nine years old.
This is not true. I am thirty. I am a day walker. I shouldn’t be here.
Obviously, I should have seen this coming. I have a mortgage, I take Metamucil, and I am continually perplexed by TikTok. It’s clear that I am no longer one of “the youth.” So you may consider this post to be my fond farewell to this wonderful blog. That’s right, I’m leaving, and someone else will be writing to you on the nineteenth of the month from here on out. I don’t know yet who that person will be, but I wish them all the best.
In parting, and as a way of giving myself some closure, I wanted to do a broad overview of my time here at the post calvin. I love to capture data visually and make sweeping assumptions and correlations out of information that at least appears cogent and applicable. And if you know me at all, you know without me telling you that I did, of course, make a spreadsheet to help me do this.
First, some hard numbers. I have written eighty-five posts for this blog. “Eighty-five! But Mary Margaret, that is not a multiple of twelve! How can this be?” I’m glad you asked, because I had actually forgotten the answer: I wrote two posts in May of 2015. One was my typical post for the nineteenth, and one was posted in one of those last three days of the month that didn’t have a set recurring writer. It was a review of a movie I’d found on Netflix. I clearly just had to get that off my chest.
I went back through all my submissions and categorized them with my own keywords, descriptions of the tone, and emotional memories of writing them, all so I could tell you that 35 of my 85 little essays were light-hearted, 17 were somber, and 11 were at least meant to be funny. 28 of my stories included personal anecdotes or were entirely relating to events and feelings in my personal life. 24 of them dissected and discussed the struggles, either of individuals or of life in general. 20 were about human nature and 12 were about change. These numbers serve the dual purposes of categorizing my contributions to this website while giving a snapshot of what it means to come of age in the past decade. In my twenties, I thought a lot about myself (who doesn’t?), but I was beginning a new trend of seeing myself within a broader structure and community. And, in my way, I wanted to do that positively, optimistically, light-heartedly, and humorously, where possible.
Something I’m not proud of is just how many of my posts could be described as “rushed” or “last-minute.” Many times in the past seven years, the eighteenth of the month would roll around and I would swear loudly as I looked at the clock at ten o’clock am, realizing I had to cobble something coherent and at least a little interesting together in a couple hours, usually around class or work or some family event. When I break it down even further, the last-minute posts tended to be light-hearted: they didn’t try to analyze myself or the world or make any revelatory declarations about life or humanity. I didn’t have time for that. Often I think I would just think on the past couple of days and vomit onto the page some vaguely elaborate thought I’d had more than once in that span. Nothing profound. Nothing controversial. Just surface thoughts with surface effort. Sorry about that.
According to my spreadsheet, I am more likely to rely on form when I am feeling rushed or indecisive: you can especially see this in my lists, such as “25 Things About Turning 25” and “You Already Time Travel.” And according to my spreadsheet, I try to keep my reviews, such as “Trainwreck: A Smash Hit” and “The Cycle of Grocery Stores,” light in tone and, if I can, as funny as possible.
When I got lonely, I would express that feeling by writing about geography, current events, and my personal life, outlining the ways those forces contributed to that loneliness. When I experienced change, I would write about those experiences with nostalgia and warmth. All this to say, I am a human.
2017 was my most somber year, while 2018 was almost exclusively light-hearted. I was most likely to try to be funny in December, while I was most likely to be concerned in March. I was most rushed in May, and throughout 2017. I was happiest in 2014, which is unsurprising given that I got married that year.
When my tone got dark, it was a good sign I was depressed. When I wrote about struggle, especially in regards to the crushing reality of our continued existence, I was most likely depressed (obviously). I was most depressed in 2016, which should surprise no one.
Going back through and analyzing all of these posts and how they represented my orientation to the world, I’ve come up with a short list of tips for whoever writes on the nineteenth of next month, and all the months to come:
1) You will procrastinate and even sometimes just forget that you have a post to write. That’s okay, but try to do it less than I did.
2) You will sometimes have to write at times when writing feels like the last thing you want to do. When you look back at those posts in the future, they will mean the most to you.
3) You will have the most fun when you force yourself to write about something you only kind of know: when you have to research or follow imposed constraints, you will feel more creative.
4) Keep at it. It will be hard. It will feel like no one is listening. It will make you vulnerable. It will be worth it.
5) If not the rule of threes, then the rule of fives.
Mary Margaret is a 2013 English, history, and secondary education grad who went rogue and became a Social Worker in Pennsylvania’s Child Welfare system. Specifically, she works as a caseworker in the Statewide Adoption and Permanency Network finding families for children and educating the masses about foster care, adoption, and permanency planning. She made it over the grad-school hurdle with gold stars and warm fuzzies and is on to the next big adventure: the unknown of adulthood. Her major writing dream right now is to finish her science fiction novel that explores the concurrent futures of child welfare and artificial intelligence.