Unrelenting

Tonight there is a space in my heart that aches to be filled. I do even know what could be missing, because there is too much to pick from that I have lost.

Writing a couple paid assignments today was like pulling teeth, but I did get them done. I just don’t know what happened after that because I had time to work on the book but just no motivation. I made coffee at 10pm and in spite of the wake up juice, I just didn’t have any motivation to get the words down. Or even edit. I think my motivation is down on the edits because I feel like I wasted a couple years writing a book nobody will read. Those aren’t the kinds of books people want.

Some days it just feels like more and more weight is getting added to your chest. And that wouldn’t be so bad if you had someone in your life who understood what that meant. More often than not, I am reminded of how alone I am in this world. The ones who have stayed don’t really know me. They know an aspect of me I’ve let my guard down enough to share. That isn’t me. The few I’ve allowed myself to be open with are gone for the most part. And I don’t really care to let anyone in again. What is the motivation behind that when they just go away in the end? You’re left with a lot of empty place settings at the table of your life. You’re left with a lot of memories of beautiful, smiling faces.

Some days are better than others, and though this might be a bit of a down night, just remember what Leonard Cohen said, “You want it darker. We killed the flame.”

If it’s not one thing it’s another. I have a lot of plans and ambitions, but it’s hard to not think that like all the 1001 other plans you’ve had, there is no room in this world for yours.

I just keep slogging on ahead.

Filling the Hours

It’s a quiet night at home and instead of edits, I’ve been watching movies the last couple of days. The price of gas has made travel prohibitively expensive. The weather has been windy and miserable with snow flurries that would make venturing outa chore anyway.

Due to life, in general, I haven’t been motivated to take care of myself all that well the last few days. My dishes are piling up in the sink. Again. I feel guilty about not editing today. I haven’t been feeling all that well anyway. The joys of not having a gall bladder. I’ll spare you the details. Lets just say, you don’t buy lunch, you rent it. By the hour.

I want to feel moved by something, but lately I’m feeling numb inside. I watched Manchester by the Sea in the hopes that something about it would stir something inside, but it didn’t. I’ve been angry for a few days. There is enough to grieve lately that I’m working through. One of these days I’ll talk about it here. Mostly I’m just numb, not sleeping right. Snacking or eating carbs when I’m hungry. Not eating when I don’t want to wash the pots and pans.

I was in a guilt spiral for not editing. I guess I shouldn’t beat myself up too badly, because most people get a day or two off every week. Not me, unless my body and brain demand a shut down for at least a little while.

Don’t get me wrong, there are good days. Great days even, when I feel like the work I am doing is important, and the best part of that is the work is also fulfilling. You see, there have been moments in my life I’ve had enough money to not have to worry about things, and it never really fixed anything that was wrong. In some ways I stressed more about having money because I was just waiting for the moment someone would come and take it away. When you are broke as hell, nobody can take all that much away from you. It’s like finding yourself at rock bottom, yet it is comforting because it is familiar. I guess what I’m saying is sometimes you just need a moment to catch your breath before you pull yourself back off the ground again.

I’ve gotten tired of messing with spambots on Instagram. It used to crack me up with the barely English conversations and I have a hard time believing anyone falls for this crap. It always starts off the same way. Someone follows your page, you follow them back, then the stupid DMs start coming. The conversations are nearly all the same. The progression from “Hello how are you dear?” to “I am looking for someone to hold me day and night and to fill that lonely feeling that I am having. Are you the one I can trust? I have been hurt too many times in the past.” Let me remind you that this whole thing happens in a matter of minutes. Even when I’m feeding them bullshit like questions from the Voight-Kampf test in Blade Runner or telling them I was born over 400 years ago in the Highlands of Scotland.

The bots have the human condition down for sure. They have loneliness dialed in. The worst part about it is I can’t help but wonder who thinks the timeline actually works like this? It actually got to be depressing, because somebody out there thinks this is the natural process. It isn’t. Most of us spend significant amounts of time trying to navigate how much we can tolerate about someone else, and in the end, most of us realize it isn’t worth it. Or we’ve been lied to. Most of the time, we go back to being strangers again.

The world is full with enough strangers, thankyouverymuch.

In your 40s, everyone is damaged goods, or else we would be at the park or the beach with our nuclear families wearing our pastel colored Izod shirts and Old Navy sundresses with everything fucking perfect. Swinging toddlers by their arms between the two of us in the sunshine. Most of us have hung up our hats because we don’t want to learn anyone’s middle name or favorite color anymore. We don’t need to have someone’s pets like us. We don’t feel the need to know when their kids’ birthdays are or have that song that is Our Song. It’s easier on the old ticker to just…Not. Tired of the letdowns, the promises of being disappointed in someone that are amply fulfilled, but damn it if we aren’t still wired for connection. An army of Eleanor Rigby wandering around, hoping not to get any feelings stuck to us.

It might work differently for the young, who are still maleable to meet-cute, open enough to go out with someone a few times, spend hours and days and weeks chatting and learning about each other, and then saying “I would love to deal with your bullshit on a daily basis! Let’s do this!” Because I can tell you right now, my stacks of dishes wouldn’t fly with anyone. Nor would my insomnia. Or my grey days when I need to fill the tanks. Or those days I just get in my car and drive to clear my head. I’m not looking for someone to nag me into some semblance of humanity. I don’t want anyone to change me. It’s simply not worth it anymore.

I would be happy with being able to just fall asleep when I went to bed.

Tomorrow, I will write. I will edit. Hopefully tonight I will sleep. Somehow it’s never a problem during the day. Night is a whole other animal.

How I’m Living

It’s kind of weird to have someone else explain your situation to you as they have told other people. Today I had a conversation with my dad about how someone had asked what I’m up to. It was odd, and gave me pause to hear how my dad was explaining my situation to other people. There were bits of it that almost sounded apologetic for my situation.

He told them that I had been laid off from my job and couldn’t afford $1000 per month to live where I had been living before (with bills, rent, and utilities it was actually more like $2400). The truth of the matter is there was a lot more to it than a massive layoff at a job I worked for twenty years. A job that cut over 100 of us loose just before a pandemic to save money.

The truth of the matter is that I decided to follow opportunity to do a number of things I had been putting on hold for most of my life. The layoff was really just the catalyst. The opportunity was having a big empty chunk of house that has been in my family for generations up in some of the most remote country in northern Colorado. Living up here was not a result of getting my ass handed to me by life.

It was a calculated move that I gave a lot of thought to and made a lot of sacrifices for. I lived hand to mouth working for a university for terrible pay, no chance of advancement, and paying out the nose for rent for two decades. In the seven years I lived in the little rental where I landed after my divorce, I paid $89,000 for a house my landlords turned around and sold for $249,000.

I’ve been living for someone else in so many ways.

After my divorce, I got the freedom to make decisions which weren’t dictated by an abusive spouse. I wasn’t happy in the city where I was living, and though I never had any intentions of living there more than a few years, or working that job for any longer than I had to, I found myself stuck there for 20 years. Just getting by. Watching my good years dissolve and thinking my life would have a chance to start when I was 54 and the last of my kids was off child support. Then things fell into place and there was another way that I could work wherever I lived, have affordable rent, and live in a beautiful location.

I’m 46 years old. How many of us can say that they’ve had a shot at their dream? If you did, wouldn’t you go for it? Even this late in the game.

In January 2021, I moved back to my home town and began renovations on the place where I am living, while beginning my career path as a freelance writer. I write content for an agency that produces content for corporation websites, for anything from blogs and white papers to product descriptions and landing pages. When I’m not writing copy, I’m working on my book (or the other way around). Which in two years turned into three books. Though my income isn’t nearly as predictable (or high-paying) as my job at the university, it is fulfilling. I don’t have to worry about someone stabbing me in the back, and I don’t have to watch inept administrators and sychophants climb the ladder, stepping all over the rest of us anymore. I don’t have to put up with literally being yelled at by a supervisor who had absolutely no business managing other people.

I don’t wake up every day wondering when I’m going to be released from the monotony of an unlived life. Every day I wake up I get to choose what to make of my life.

I’ve been watching YouTube videos of others living a fulfilling life and I came to the realization that I was enthralled by their lives…not realizing what I was doing wasn’t much different. It’s not a conventional life, and some people might not understand it, but it is a life.

Since my rent is covered by the amount of renovation I’m doing on this house–a lot of which hasn’t been touched in decades–I get to follow my dream to write full-time. I couldn’t do it without the opportunity to live in this old house. I have an office, a big bedroom, deep old timey tub, and I am surrounded on all sides by some of the most beautiful mountains in Colorado. I don’t have a dishwasher or a clothes dryer, so I have to wash dishes by hand and hang clothes on the line. Sometimes the house is cold, but the same is true for everyone living up here. We don’t have a Walmart or a Kroger within an hour drive. The worst part of living up here is the isolation.

Which isolation for a writer…jeez, a lot of people pay good money to go on writer retreats to get a fraction of this isolation. It’s good for me. It keeps me out of Target too, which is easier on the bank account.

For the old house, I’ve put life into it that it hasn’t seen in a very, very long time. There are lots of things about this place that are very beautiful too, and over the last year, I have made so much of it my own that it’s barely recognizable as it once was. But like I’ve said, I’ve made some sacrifices which were unimaginably hard. Maybe I’ll talk about them one of these days.

But I’m writing. I’m teaching myself photography and webdesign and pitching to publications for travel articles and I am currently surviving. Sure, I’m broke as hell, but living in the city, there were months after I paid child support, bills, rent, and put gas in my car I would have $8 to get me through the rest of the month. The big difference here is I’m no longer miserable, working for someone else. A place which replaced me less than a week after I was laid off. I work for myself. My alarm clock is whenever I wake up. I work as late as I want. I don’t have traffic to fight. I don’t let myself feel guilty anymore about taking a nap or drinking too much coffee.

Does it get lonely? Sure. But I have a couple good friends I talk to regularly. I have my yellow lab. I get to help my folks out whenever they need me. And when the weather is nice, I can always get in my car and go. I am less than twenty minutes away from hundreds of thousands of acres of forests and mountains I can hike and explore in the summer too.

And I get to write.

For a very long time, I was criticized and persecuted for writing. Now I get to do it for real. For that, I have plenty of wealth in ways many people cannot imagine. I get to have peace in my soul because I’m finally doing what I love. Do I worry about my next paycheck? Yes. Don’t you? If COVID has taught any of us anything it is that life comes with no guarantees. Do I get bored or lonely? Absolutely. Don’t you?

I might not be a professor or an electrician or an account manager or a mechanic, but I get to do what I want to do. Someone I once knew told me that I didn’t have a lot to offer when it came to relationships. “Women need security” she told me. My thoughts on that are one would hope that someone wanted a partner who was content. I can be broke and a little bit panicked as to where the money is coming from, but I’m very secure in how much joy this path in my life has brought me. If nobody wants to share that, then there’s more for me, because who needs someone so shallow anyway? I’m not sure where men were told that our happiness depended on how well we could take care of someone else. Having to carry someone else my whole adulthood has not been fulfilling. Why would I care if anyone thought what I had to offer them was attractive or not? If that isn’t some Patriachial shit, I don’t know what is.

My life is taking me places right now. My only regret is that it took so long to get here. The learning curve can be steep too. And it’s sometimes hard to make anyone understand what it is I’m doing. I followed an opportunity to leave the rat race and take off in my own direction.