birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.


Recently, someone I know gave me half of a banh mi that he'd picked up for himself that morning. He had such a big smile on his face when he gave it to me that I knew the gesture pleased him.

Then I got home and left it overnight in the bag I'd used that day. By the time I realized I'd forgotten it, it was inedible. I felt terrible knowing that I'd squandered this kind gift. And I also felt sad that I wouldn't get to eat the sandwich, because it looked really delicious.

Today I discovered that I'd left a container of blueberries on the floor of my car for a couple of days. They must have fallen out of my grocery bag, and since I didn't realize they were there I guess I didn't exactly forget them. I felt sad about those, too. Maybe I'm making this forgetting food thing a habit.

I often forget birthdays. Part of this is because I left Facebook for a year, and Facebook made it awfully easy to keep track. Now that I'm back on Facebook, I sort of resent how easy it is. It felt special when I put people's birthdays in my calendar and remembered to reach out to them on the day. But it also made me feel bad if I forgot, as I did with a close friend in March.

I think the most profound thing I've forgotten is the sense of creativity I had as a child. I used to love writing. I remember writing a mini-book about American presidents in green felt pen at maybe age seven. Even in elementary school, though, I was conscious that I was taking a risk every time I was creative. I don't know why my inner critical voice showed up so early. Maybe it was just that in my family, creativity wasn't especially valued. It was easy to feel squashed.

Saying that doesn't give my mom enough credit, really. She was impressed with my creativity, and I think it delighted her. My dad, though, just did not have the capacity to notice those kinds of things. His energy was so overpowering that my mom's delight didn't register as much, at least on a conscious level. Negativity bias, I guess. He often got tired of me practicing the piano, especially if he was watching TV. In high school, I very much enjoyed playing loud, big chords like the ones in Rachmaninoff's Prelude in C# Minor. I only realized it recently, but maybe part of the reason I liked playing that piece so much was because I could play it louder than my dad could yell.

Drawing got squashed too, by a friend who thought my cartoon owl drawings were weird and by an art teacher who was critical of my work.

In recent years, I've invested some time into writing more frequently, I've taken a couple of one-off art classes, and I am lucky enough to get to play a beautiful piano on breaks at work. Being in a creative space helps me experience reality through a slightly different lens. I'm so glad I've found it again.


Remembering Child-like Effervescence