city sky

Once you start noticing something, you can’t unnotice it.  Once you’ve seen, you have a responsibility to continue seeing.

There are many things I can’t stop myself from seeing: My to-do list at work. Homeless people. Tattoos. Old people trembling in their shoes, newborns cocooned in arms, and the lovely young woman jiggling across the street. Plum blossoms in bloom. My family’s moods telegraphed in dots and dashes across their faces and along their limbs. The day’s detritus—dishes collecting by the sink, piles of clothes and books and random bits that grow near our front door. And the crows.

Things I don’t notice: My face in the mirror, gray hairs creeping in at the edges, pills collecting on my favorite sweater. My own messes which, unlike other people’s, make complete sense to me. The slowly growing ache in my bones. I’m straining so hard to read what I’ve written I don’t even hear the phone. I know the schedule for today but don’t ask me what’s happening tomorrow. I’m watching the sidewalk so intently I forget to look up at the sky.

This is why they put blinders on horses– so they won’t get distracted from the road in front of them. With blinders on, it’s easier to put one foot in front of the other, to just keep moseying along. I have just given notice at my work and I’m feeling torn. I learned how to do the job extremely well but the job did not grow to fit me. It wanted all my attention, all my time, like a baby that never grows up, like a greedy mouth that’s never full. But still, there were parts of the job that were perfect, things that I could have kept improving and perfecting, and it’s going to be hard to shift my focus.

Once you start seeing something, it’s difficult to unsee it. The present tense is mesmerizing. But sometimes you have to tear your eyes away and force your head to turn in order to find  a better view. I can say these words and even believe them but still, it feels like an infidelity.  I’m a loyal old horse standing at a crossroads, waiting for some kind of nudge.

How do you trick yourself into moving forward?


About Anna Fonté

Girl in the Hat, aka Anna Fonté, is an author who writes about invisibility, outsider status, everyday monsters, and her attempts to befriend the neighborhood crows. The things she writes want you to look at them.


  1. I’m an expatriate living in Germany, and I can relate with this phenomenon. I remember vividly the day I learned the meaning of the German word, uberraschung. It was said on the radio, aired on television, written on a bulletin board — all in the same day. My brother-in-law even said it to me on the same day no less. I wondered from that point on how often it had been said without my fully knowing of it. I have often wondered since how this may apply to other things in my life. What else am I missing out on? Thanks for jotting my memory.

  2. More time for writing?! Fingers crossed.

  3. takes a lot of chutzpah to quit a job. you pave an admirable path. thank you.

  4. I love the 2nd and 3rd paragraphs of this. the eyes are merely an instrument of the mind

  5. No trick in rolling ones swag up, exploring new council upon the changing road. Traces to one will always dwell in each place about the moments to wait a whiles, the scenes. Perhaps in thought, I’ve a preference to create views, small pieces to places rather than just changing each living/imaginative aspect as time ages its patience. So I pick up the best parts, what I want to take further, to seek out their kin folk for challenges in skills growth, and new perspective inside of scenes. The rest becomes filed under useful, and not so useful.

  6. I don’t have to trick myself. Usually someone gives me a swift kick in the butt and says “get movin’, get busy”!
    Moving ahead is a choice, Anna, and it sounds like you’ve already done it. Just pick the direction that suits you best and go. Best o’ luck to you in new endeavors..

  7. Oh, wow. I’ve managed to put it off for a year, but now I’m back where we both started – the job hunt. For real, this time. I’m afraid, for all the reasons you just quit. And because I’m not good at tricking myself. Let me know when you find the better view (because I know you will. It’s the decision to go looking that’s the hardest part…) xox

  8. gailytr

    good going , girl. can’t fly without stepping off the cliff.

  9. Okay, now I’m tearing up. Your line about having to tear your eyes away to find a better view hit just a little too close to home tonight. Your posts almost always give me something to think about, but this one…wow. I don’t know how to force the change in view, but just knowing that it has to be done is the first, tiny rending. I love the view that’s been before me, and I’m not totally convinced the view to come will be worth looking at. I guess there’s an element of trust in taking that first step,as you have done. I hope that trust is fulfilled and you find what you need.

    • It will be worth looking at. I have to believe that. And if it’s not right, we’ll keep tweaking and pushing and fiddling until it is, until one day we look around and think, oh– oh!–wow. xoox

  10. I burn my bridges—sometimes even the bridge I am standing on. I’m really fucking good at that.

  11. Difficult crossroad, I’m sure. But when you removed those blinders, you freed yourself to write more, a thing you do so beautifully! Don’t look back, but keeping looking around.

  12. aubrey

    “I learned how to do the job extremely well but the job did not grow to fit me.” At your next interview, you will be asked why you left your previous job. This is the perfect answer.

    How do I get myself to move forward? This dangerous pause could be both physical and mental: in both cases I imagine myself at the end, or at least after the next step. The mental jolt encourages the muscles – whether of mind or body – to continue on.

  13. I once had a dream that I was at a transitional time in my life and I went to visit a favorite high school teacher. In the dream, I was so afraid I was crying because I didn’t know what would come next. My teacher told me to stop trying to do everything perfectly, that I should focus on the things that mattered most and let everything else be just good enough. When I woke up, I knew exactly what to keep and what to let go.

    What’s most important to you? I imagine we’re similar in that regard: family, friends, writing. xo

    • Laurel! You know just what I want. Family, writing, friends. I need a dream where a wise old mentor wraps her arm around my shoulder and tells me exactly what to do next. Isn’t it funny how we invent ways (dreams, stories) to tell ourselves what we need to hear? If we already know the answer, why do we have to invent an exterior source?

  14. Todd

    Yeah, blinders… mesmerized by the present, that’s it. I’ve been in a ten-year mule stupor, tending a demanding bitch of a job that devours every iota of time it can tear from my grip. I’m glad you can break the trance and bolt for a new reality. Every December I put “quit job” at the top of my resolutions… but every January I just get back behind the mule and plow. I’ll be that “no one”, the dumb-ass who does lay dying, wishing he had spent more time at work. Do it Anna! Smash the glass. Tear a hole in the sky. Invent a new scene and anoint yourself queen! If you have trouble I recommend walking into work seriously trashed and hurling on the boss’s desk. For some reason, the raging hangover after a major booze bash makes my mind really lucid and what I need to do becomes crystal clear.

    • I know it’s much more elegant to step neatly from here to there, but there was no way for me to work full time and find another job and do all the other things I have to do every day. Don’t know if it’s good or bad but I really had to change before I got trapped. So many crazy things are happening now, Todd– as soon as something gels, I’ll let you know. Thanks for the encouraging words.

  15. I feel validated by your list of the things you can’t stop yourself from seeing — I thought I was the only one. I love that one of the tags you added to this is an imperative sentence: “quit your job”. Moving forward is always a mystery. As one of my friends often tells me when I get hung up on too much planning, “We make the way by going.” Living is an act of faith — faith in our own ability to succeed again when we’ve succeeded before, faith that our soul knows better than our mind where we should go and what we should do and that if we allow it to, it will lead us to the next right place.

  16. Thanks for following me Girl in the Hat, and thanks for your wonderful words xxx

  17. The trick I use to keep moving forward is one that relies upon impressions. That’s the thing here isn’t it? That there are these things that impress upon us so much so that we become trapped in their image. But they don’t have their own image really? Do they? Just like you can’t know how the crows are going. It doesn’t matter how they are or are not. They are there now aren’t they?
    This is how I manage to tear away from my fixation on objects. By reminding myself that the only reason I persist with eye contact is because the thing of interest is familiar enough for me to engage, but not so familiar that it becomes dull. Therefore the only way the potential of this object can be converted into value is in the head of the viewer. Me. Direct engagement with the object will now only serve as a distraction. You must walk away with the impression so that it can run along and play games with the rest of the impressions.

    But that just may not make any sense.


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