Brief moment to refill the tanks

Today I picked up three assignments another writer had abandoned. 2000 words apiece on Florida injury laws. All three are due tomorrow at 10am. I have been spending the afternoon writing. Each one takes an hour and a half to two hours to write, but in between, there is a moment I need to recharge, either in mind or with some glucose, or both. This last post is like pulling teeth to write, mostly because I’m feeling a little bit fried. You would be surprised how much brain power you use up with this stuff.

I have the third assignment outlined, but I have to continue to read some really dry statutes on workers compensation laws. As much as I would love to just spend the rest of the evening slacking, I need to get these done. The money doesn’t always flow immediately, and I have a lot of unreviewed assignments that haven’t sold yet. They might not. They could trickle in over the next several weeks. There are no guarantees. It’s like playing bagpipes. You put effort in and it slowly plays out. When work comes in, you pick it up, because sometimes there could be several days when there is nothing.

It might seem a little counterintuitive that I am taking a break from writing by writing this, but I needed to fill my tanks writing my thoughts, rather than writing copy. There’s a big difference. Unless you do this kind of thing, it’s probably impossible to explain. I needed to fill up on some happy before making the final push.

At this moment, I am drawing a blank for the assignment, and I need something to invigorate my brain. Freshly tuna-fish sammiched, Carmello-ed, and watching some YouTube, I feel the brain power meter going back up. Maybe not to full, but at least no longer at empty.

I need to do some reading tonight as well. It has been too long since I have read for pleasure. Lately I’ve been working on photography, reading up on travel writing, and even some new scenes for the next book. I’ve put edits on hold for a bit. The edit brain is different than the writing brain, though you often find yourself rewriting. It is more critical. Right vs. left brain if such a thing actually exists.

The rest of the day has been somewhat productive in other ways. I hung my laundry out to dry. I took Penny to the park and played ball for a bit. Several cups of coffee have been drunk. I also took a vitamin, so now my pee gets to be flourescent yellow for a while. Yesterday I made gumbo from scratch and I have plenty of leftovers. Tomorrow I might make a Marry Me Chicken. I have website stuff to work on then too.

I had better go. I’ve started yawning and that’s not a good sign.

Update: I finished the third assignment, but I’m doubtful as to whether it will sell. They didn’t have any guidelines attached to it and I did the best I could without plagiarism and staying within my word limits. So, three for three today. I hope they sell!

It was a full day, with about 8 hours (counting breaks and food and such) for three assignments.

*Sorry for any typos. I was running on empty.

What is there

One of the things I have always struggled with my entire life has been that need for connection. I am not a fan of birthdays and other holidays because they just feel like another day that reminds you how little other people know you.

The other day, I was in a Barnes and Noble and a woman was talking to her little kid about Father’s Day. “You know what would make your dad really happy? A Barnes and Noble gift card. Your daddy loves books!”

It was nice to hear that someone still reads, but what kinda bummed me out was how she just phoned it in with the gift card. If I buy someone a book, it’s because I’ve poked around and found out what they like, or what they might be interested in. I’m sneaky like that. I ask questions. I use subterfuge. Why is that? Because for fucking once, I’d love it if someone put in the work to get me something I wanted. It’s not hard if you listen to someone. And I love that look on their face when you have gotten them something they love.

I’m sure the dad will be happy with his $20 gift card. He’ll probably buy something he wants. But wouldn’t it have blown his socks off if they got him exactly what he wanted? It’s the connection that is the gift. Not the gift itself.

I once dated a woman who gave me a $30 gift card to King Soopers (the local Kroger franchise) for Christmas. Why $30? Hell, I’ll never know. What did I get her? An illustrated copy of The Rhime of the Ancient Mariner and the Atlas Obscura. One book was something she mentioned she used to teach and really loved, and the other was something to help her push her comfort zones. Her gift to me required almost no thought. When I asked her about it, she said, “You’re always complaining you don’t get to go anywhere. I thought you could buy gas with it.” When I filled up my tank, it cost $37. It didn’t even get me a tank of gas.

It’s always been like that.

I’ve been lucky enough to where I’ve gotten gifts that did mean things. My last serious gf spoiled the hell out of me. She would buy me Dutch Bros. tumblers, hoodies, cigars, scotch, etc.. The next woman I dated…ish, would randomly send me Dutch Bros. coffee. Birthdays, Father’s Day, or just because. It was sweet, but I never had the heart to tell her the reason I loved the DB merch so much was because of Leslie. It helped me stay close to her even though she was gone. It’s why I still try to go every month. It reminds me of happier times. One of the rare times in my life someone actually listened to what I liked. But, I think the moment that charmed me the most about that one was when she ordered my coffee and remembered that I like Americanos with three raw sugar packets and one cream.

I remembered that she loved Van Morrison, Dave Matthews, and nobody had ever bought her flowers before when they weren’t trying to make up for mistreating her. So I bought her flowers. Daisies, because they were some of her favorites. The last thing I bought her was a hard cover copy of the Princess Bride. I gave it to her on Christmas, even though I bought it as a birthday present. I knew things were ending, and I couldn’t stand having it in my house for another three months.

‘Ere the bonny boat was won as we sailed into the mystic…

I’ve walked away from friendships that just made me feel lonely because they only saw who they perceived me as, but never took the time to get to know me. I’ve had a lifetime of that. I have no desire to waste anymore time on surface connection.

Lately, if someone flirts with me, I just phone it in. I’m not there. I know how to make the words, but my heart is no longer in it. I do it just to lose myself. They don’t know me. They only know this facade that I’ve put up. This shadow of someone I used to be. He’s gone. He died a little while ago. He dies a little bit more each day. Eventually, I’ll forget where the bones were buried. He was for someone else. It’s not fair, but sometimes I have that glimmer of hope that I will be able to feel something. Anything.

There’s nothing left though.

I keep seeing TikTok videos that talk about “Where are all the good men with beards and dad bods and tattoos?” Some people blame women for screwing them over and they have given up. I think for me it’s different. I opened myself up too many times, sometimes to the person I knew wasn’t right for me, but they were better than nothing…which is almost always what I’ve had. I just don’t think I have it in me anymore. I’m tired. I am tired of learning favorite colors and middle names and all of it just for it to disappear again and for us to become strangers. I’m happier just remembering the perfect slope of someone’s nose or those smoky eyes or the adorable way they sneeze or getting lost in their kiss.

It’s lonely up here in the mountains, but I’m here for good reasons. Nobody is going to fix me. Nobody is going to carry me. I’m here to do that on my own. In opening myself up, I also know that I rely on others too much. I’m happy to let a version of myself make it look like everything is fine when it’s not. This experience is a spiritual journey to become a true version of myself who no longer wants that.

Maybe one day, someone will come into my life again who rekindles that fire in my heart to find a companion. Right now though, I’m not good for her. I know this. And what if no one ever comes again? That person who gets me and I get them? The person who matches my energy and my values? The one who isn’t afraid to be loved passionately, unconditionally? Women ask where all the good men are? Where are the women who will be vulnerable enough to be loved like that again?

Maybe in another life. When we are all young again and not calcified by all the damage we’ve hardened ourselves against.

I guess I miss those few times someone actually got me. Or cared to try. Like I say, I don’t write happy stories.

This clip comes from one of my favorite bands. In a weird way, they are hard to watch because the lead singer looks very much like my former gf’s sister. Seeing her reminds me of the first night we all met. It’s another one of those bittersweet moments that won’t mean anything to anyone one day. I miss them all. I live in the past, it’s true. The past has carried me through some of the toughest times. I trust it more than I do the future. I guess it’s just one of those nights.

Daughter, “Youth”

Set adrift

Most mornings start with just trying to wake up and get motivated enough to start the day. Today, I woke up shortly before I needed to go to my weekly allergy shot appointment. I got showered, made a coffee, and then let my dog out. My dad was working in his shop, but he was talking with someone, and rather than go pee for the morning, Penny decided to bark at these people she didn’t know and make herself a general pain in the ass. I didn’t have enough time to deal with this, and this was the first moment she demonstrated that she doesn’t think she needs to listen. She pulled this kind of thing a couple more times today, and spent time in her crate as a result. She also ate the rest of the bathtub plug. She’s been a royal cow today.

Anyway, I struggled for most of the afternoon to get the motivation to either do some paid writing or work on my book. I came up with a big goosegg for motivation. At some point, I put together some samples I got for a website shop I am building for someone and photographed over a hundred shots of product. The pictures turned out great! I was surprised at how well they turned out. But the experience of positioning, staging, and shooting was also pretty exhausting. As I was sorting pictures, I ate a whole bag of Haribo gummies and wound up taking a long nap. I slept so hard I dreamt and it was hard to wake myself up for the rest of my day.

Though this sounds productive, it didn’t feel like it. I have dishes stacking up in my kitchen and no motivation to wash them. Without dishes, cooking is a pain, so that’s why I had gummies for dinner. Later, I ate some roast beef and cheese with mustard. Nothing else even sounds good.

Lately I feel like I am drifting. Some days I feel like I am failing. I know there are plenty of things I need to do (like the dishes) but days like today, it’s all I can do to do things. Taking pictures was a creative outlet, and it felt good once I saw the proofs after I downloaded them. But up until then, I couldn’t help but wonder what the hell I was doing. I submitted edits last night for a paid post and also another post. I’m hoping they sell. I get tired of submitting stuff only to have it ignored for weeks and weeks.

Today was one of those days I feel like I came up here only to be forgotten. I don’t have many friends anymore. Sure, I talk to people in town I encounter, but for the most part I feel anti-social. I don’t have a lot to look forward to, and since money is tight, I just don’t make any plans to go anywhere and cure this wanderlust right now. I’m working for other people right now, (other financial obligations), and have to dedicate my resources to that. Without any hope or end in sight. Just another reason I want to shout at people who talk about absentee fathers when they discuss family law. Some of us work our guts out for children we never get to see, or worse yet, children who have been conditioned to hate us or fear us. But we still have to pay. As though trying to bring life into this world is an unforgiveable sin we have to atone for.

Just a few years ago, I had little things to keep me motivated. Little trips up to someone’s cabin, a hot tub weekend under the stars, hiking, road trips, adventures, weekends with my girlfriend, and even a grand road trip to meet someone I had gotten to know very well over the years. With gas prices nowadays, my stunted income, and being so isolated right now, I don’t have a lot to keep me looking forward to making plans. It’s halfway through May, and I can already see the summer barreling past, back into Winter, and then Spring.

My friends keep telling myself to be nicer to myself–and I’ve told them that plenty of times too–but it’s less beating myself up and just being apathetic. Like I hit the high-water mark of my life somehow and it wasn’t all that great. Right now, I’m just drifting. Getting by. I’m tired of just getting by, but some days it is like pulling teeth to find the energy to get that extra hussle that would put me over.

I spent twenty years in a workforce that gave me no skills. I just became more efficient at stuff I already knew how to do. I marvel at twenty-somethings who can fly airplanes or build things. They honed skills. I wrote. Though I am making some money from it, I lack marketing skills, I want to be able to do other things too, and just feel like a shitty marriage and a dead end job left me at the bottom of the hill again. I get so tired, trying to push up that hill.

Tonight, I make coffee at 10pm and started work on the next book. I got a good scene down and I wrote down the story and a sorta plot. Yeah, I know I complained I didn’t get good at anything over the last twenty years. Writing is different. You can be good at it, but some of the best writers in the world probably have books rotting on their hard drives that will never be published. It’s hard out there. The state of publishing right now is ridiculous. Everything has gotten so niche that nobody will probably take a chance on the stories I write.

Self-publish, you say? I tried that. I made $150 on my first book. Over the last eight years. It’s rough. Sometimes I feel like my whole life is shadowbanned.

Anyway, I’ll keep writing because it’s all I’m good at, and all I really have going for me right now. For now, anyway.