It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day…

This morning I woke up to something that I haven’t felt in a long time. I wasn’t sure what time it was and was surprised to find that it was just after 8am. I had gotten to bed at around 1:30 or 2am, after a lot of writing. I was very productive. I woke up to a sense of peace, which is something I haven’t had in a very long time. It was the exact opposite to how I felt on Monday. Mondays are hard, as I have established in the past more than a few times.

This sense of peace was more a matter of the heart. The last four months has been especially difficult, what with the end of a great relationship and the end of an abusive one. The strange thing is that both have occupied similar real estate in my brain. I have been grieving the sudden departure of someone I was romantically involved with, and grieving the loss of a job that I had held for the last 18+ years. Today, I will have been broken up with someone I was quite serious about nearly half as long as we were together. Two nights ago, I was taking it hard. Today, I woke up and felt at peace with it. I don’t know if I am finally letting go or what, but I have learned some things that I wanted to share in the hopes that my experience resonates with anyone reading this.

A couple days ago, I was taking it hard. The grief of the end of a great romance ebbs and flows like any grief. I was missing someone intensely. I visited with a few friends and talked about it. One friend wanted to fix things and the other just listened. The one who wanted to fix things gave me the usual “You’ve got to get back out there! You aren’t pushing yourself to find anyone!” speech. Which didn’t make things any better.

The other friend just listened and because they had been through a similar situation, they told it to me straight. I didn’t need to go out there and find someone else. It felt good to be seen like that. The first friend really just proved what a problem I have had my entire life has been: nobody fucking knows me. I dislike my birthday and Christmas for a big reason: it just proves how nobody gets me or even attempts to make the effort. Ever since I was a kid, this was the case. I have spent nearly 45 years smiling and thanking people for stuff that I don’t even like. It’s not that I’m all that hard to shop for either, but if you talk enough about something you would think that those people closest to you in your life might eventually catch on to what your interests are. The first friend was telling me what they wanted, seen through a lens of how they would have reacted to my situation.

The other friend was sympathetic, knowing me pretty well, and knowing that filling that crack in my heart with someone else wasn’t going to fix anything. So, I guess I should say that I have an elite crew of people who do know me pretty well in some regards. I think that was the hardest thing about this breakup. I had found someone who saw me, someone who accepted me, and really got me. I thought I got her too. I don’t think anyone can possibly understand how rare that has been in my life.

I tend to hold on to people like that, or try to at least. Maybe I need deeper connections, instead of attachments. I thought I had both in this case, and that has been very hard to come to terms with. Combine that with the usual cursory band-aid answer of “There’s plenty of fish in the sea!” and you’ll have a full on riot on your hands.

First of all, there aren’t plenty of fish in the sea. Whoever believes that is an idiot. It’s hard out there. And it gets harder the older you get. It might be the case when you are in your 20s and impressionable and willing to tolerate a bunch of horseshit, but when you are an adult and have actually experienced life, you are less willing to deal with it. This means that your options become significantly limited. Also, the older you get, the less governed by your hormones you become, which further removes a layer of rosey tint from those glasses. In fact, you start looking at some people and wonder how they function in life due to their trainwrecky nature.

Here are my options for dating in my 40s. (These are the normal options too).

  1. Join a club. Full of other people my age, who have joined a club because they have run out of options, either because of themselves or the shit they have experienced. Either way, this club is the Island of Misfit Toys.
  2. Go to a bar. Yes, because all good decisions orbit around the dispersal of alcohol and dim lighting. No thanks.
  3. Join a church. No. I’ve been to church and nowhere will you find a more wretched hive of scum and villany. Church is for people who NEED Jesus. I’m good.
    3a. Plus I don’t need to sit by myself being reminded at the pathetic nature of my own singleness by young people in their 30s who haven’t been divorced yet
    3b. or broken down people who have been utterly destroyed by it.
  4. Get set up by friends. Most of my friends couldn’t pick out a birthday present for me (as I have mentioned above). How do you think they are going to do when it comes to finding someone I would be compatible with…especially given that many of them have even more limited social circles than I do?
  5. Settle. NO.
  6. Online dating. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAA!!!!! That is the most genuine hysterical laughter of my life! IT’S REAL!
  7. In COVIDworld? Your odds of meeting anyone, much less seeing their face, are exponentially more difficult. Impossible. Plus, I’m just not interested.
  8. I’m not pushing myself, because I miss the person, not the role they played in my life. There’s no replacing that.

But there is another option.

I woke up this morning and this is what I chose: I can’t replace what I have lost. So I’m just going to be fine with it.

I got up. I drove to Ft. Collins. I took a 12 mile bike ride. Then I came home and read. Tonight, I will work on my book. I’m going to live out the rest of my days being grateful for the opportunity I had (even so brief as it was) of being seen for who I am. I’m going to thank God for those moments. I’m going to let those carry me forward.

Honestly, I’m done. I know who I am, and I’m not in the mood to compromise that anymore. I don’t need someone to complete me. I did the chasing thing already and realize how much I hate it. I’m too old to deal with drama, at a point in my life where I’m not going to raise any more kids other than the one who is with me, and I really don’t want to be with someone who does TikTok or talks about summervibes or any of that bullshit. I’m not interested in psychoanalizing a potential partner, worrying if I make enough money to be good enough for them (I don’t), and frankly my odds are entirely shot if I do meet someone and they turn out to be vegan, celiac, a drug addict, into Magic the Gathering, swinging, or have cats.

I rolled the dice. I met someone who was compatible, someone who was as crazy about me as I was them, and it still didn’t work out. I’m thinking the odds of finding “the One” are pretty much Zero.

So, I’m just going to get on with my life. I’m going to write my stories, see places, and yes, I will feel lonely sometimes, but I will do my best to just get over it and enjoy the life I’ve got left.

As for mourning my job, that is a whole other kettle of fish. Mostly because of how toxic it was, and how relieved I am to be done with that place. Fuck those assholes. I hope the earth opens up and swallows the entire place whole.

To the one I loved, and lost, I wish her nothing but happiness and a long life. Thank you for sharing some time with me.

I’m going to spend some time now with the person I’m stuck with for the rest of my life: me. Might as well get to know him while I still can.

Trying

Today has been a productive day on the book. My resistance for a few days has been the avoidance of some of the topics of the story. Today, I have been focussing on a lot of the hard elements. I’m trying to come to terms with the fact that not everyone will like this protagonist. And there are many reasons he often hates himself in spite of enough external challenges out there he faces.

Some of the topics are pulled from my own life, and at the advice of a few of my friends, some truly supportive and awesome brothers of the writing craft, I am taking their advice to heart and truly cutting down to the marrow.

It’s not a very nice mirror to hold up, but the story rings truer than any other way.

I don’t know how many words I have gotten down today, but I will say that I have transcribed several notes and scenes and written three or four large scenes today. I’m starting to get tired and so I will attempt to let the brain wind down so this isn’t all I am doing all night long.

When people ask me how the book is going, I am surprised to say lately that it is going very well. There are days it feels like it is writing itself. It’s a story that is demanding to be written, often at the expense of a normal sleep schedule, or reminding me of awful bits of my past I wish I could have forgotten long ago.

Lately I have been re-reading Cheryl Strayed’s “Wild” and am finding that the first read through was a personal story, but now I am reading it from a writer’s perspective. There are moments I stop and open up the notes on my phone and I have to write a scene or a chunk of dialog, because her fearlessness in the narrative has been giving me permission to explore a lot of things that I would have otherwise left buried.

I’m taking the advice of Joe Lansdale to heart when he says “Write like everyone you know is dead.”

I’m not writing a story to make people happy or feel better about the world. I’m writing to break their fucking hearts. Whether or not reading about this heartbreak gives the reader some kind of catharsis is up to them. That is what it has been doing for me at least.

Right now, some decent sleep would be nice.

So, yes, the writing is going well.

Starting is the hard part, because it’s like that wince you get when you expect something to sting. Touching a hot stove.

Saturday Evening Post

Get it? Because it’s Saturday evening?

Last night I was pretty frustrated with myself. Two days and almost no writing. I’ve gotten to the point where I start to get a little squirrely if I don’t write every day. But this is my son’s last week of Summer Vacation, and not a very great summer vacation at that. Last summer, we went to hot springs and swimming and visited grandparents and so many other things to fill his mind with new experiences and broaden his horizons. This year, as all of us know, we blew through Spring and are finding ourselves at the end of summer vacation without having done much other than sit at home and gain weight.

So for the last several weeks, we have been using our time together to ride bikes, go places, spend time together, and not play video games as much as he would like. Much to his frustration and disappointment. $45 at a farm supply store got us inner tubes a few weeks ago, and since then, we have been hitting several places along the river, tubing! It gets us out into the sun, it gives us a chance to exercise, and we don’t have so spend much money, other than gas and snacks for the trip.

This week we did a number of things, which I will write about on my travel blog. Unfortunately we have been spending so much time together and I have put my focus on getting him on a river or a bike lately that I don’t get a lot of time to write. Usually after he falls asleep. The barrier I am running into though is by then, I am tired. If I start writing at 11:00pm, then I know that my brain will continue to keep writing until about 2 or 3am. Then we have to get up, I have to feed us, and the whole process starts all over again. I don’t have the luxury of writing all night in a cool, quiet house when he is around, so I tend to play more with him and work more when it is just me.

I didn’t work much at all for the last few nights, and to my mental state, it shows. The other night my brain decided to work, but it didn’t produce anything. It just fretted over structure and which chapter would come next. I still didn’t have any answers. Then, yesterday, a really bad burn on my right hand delayed my writing for late afternoon and the evening. Just a reminder: if you are using a steel skillet as a broiler pan, just remember it will probably be very hot even a few minutes after you pull it out of the oven. Use an over mitt to pick it up. Not your bare hand.

Raw aloe does help. But it only does so much.

Last night I was up really late, just scrolling through social media, then reading a little bit. I finally fell asleep at about 3:30am and woke up at 10am. I had a series of nightmares which are pretty common to me…and BOOM, that was it! This was the next chapter I needed to write! This was the transition in the story! I picked up my phone and went into Notes and just started Writing!

Tonight, after a cat nap post-inner tubing again, I sat down to visit with a couple friends online, and once they faded out (as people usually do when you are visiting on Messenger), I decided to transcribe notes from my phone into Scrivener. As it turns out, I had six or seven files to move over from the last few days. Mostly little snippets of dialog or a theme for a scene. But the chunk that I wrote this morning was 1600 words. Boom. An hour’s worth of work using just my thumbs on a Notes app.

Today I actually feel good about the writing.

There are some days I feel like the book is demanding that it be written. These sleepless nights are usually the confrontation between an active mind and an exhausted body. In my case, the mind usually wins, but the body is useless and painful when it doesn’t get sleep at night. Sometimes the boredom of solitude gets to be a little too much. There is also the problem of money and what to do when you are looking at quickly running out of it. I have to heed to call to write and put the words down. I can’t worry about structure and plotting and all that because that kind of thinking is actually getting in the way of how the story is asking to be written.

It’s weird as hell.