A quiet night at home

Lately I haven’t been feeling like myself. My writing has been put off for over a month now, other than the occasional notes that I feel compelled to put into my phone. Those cannot be helped, since they come upon me suddenly, in traffic, watching TV, at the store. For a few days now, I have struggled to sit down and even put a single word down. This bothers me as I sit and stare at the screen, once again sucked into the triangle of social media, flipping and scrolling: Facebook, Instagram, Email.

The days go by. The things that felt so important to write over a month ago feel like they are fading. The emotions that were driving that have become almost rote. At some point, I got to the point that the things that I have let go of a lot of the things that used to cause so much anguish in my heart. They no longer bother me. And that bothers me.

I have other battles to fight now, other storms to endure on dark choppy seas. I have decided to make a major decision in my life, and unfortunately the last court hearing has taken some wind out of my sails here. One of my posts was used as an exhibit in court. I feel almost violated by this tresspassing. It has caused me to censor what I say here because someone is always watching. You would think that would eventually fade, but it doesn’t. I don’t like being stalked. I don’t like having to suppress my voice because someone can go through a million words and cherry pick what they want and pull something out of context to use against me. My own words, things that I have chosen and put down for others in a writer/reader relationship…it just leaves me feeling dirty inside.

I’m moving. After 20 years (plus another four for college) in the same town, it is time.

So that has been on my mind lately, as are the expected reprecussions of my decision to do so. There is very little holding me here, and if you are somewhere you aren’t valued, then you need to go somewhere you are. So the expense, the ensuing calamity, the timing, and all the work to be done still are weighing heavy on my mind. Am I moving forward or failing? Right now it is hard to tell. In the meantime, I need to be Dad, I need to make money, I need to hold everything together as best I can. This year has been like stress BINGO. At this point I’ve almost got Blackout. Throw in Christmas and of course COV1D, and I’m feeling the weight of things.

Tonight I was visiting with a friend. She echoed my sentiments of how heavy everything was these days. The weight of having to always be strong. Not only for her kids, but for everyone else. It is exhausting and it never stops. We weigh ourselves down with how we are supposed to be to others on the outside that her idea of a perfect day could have been taken as selfish. Just a day to herself, isolated, relaxed.

As parents we are told by other parents how we can’t have a minute to ourselves. If we do, we are judged. Probably because other parents want so desperately to just be left the hell alone for a day or three. To not have to hear “Mom! Mom! Mom! Mom!” or “Dad, can you drive me someplace?” or “Buy me that!”

As single parents, we get no help. We get no sympathy. Our kids get bored with us too because we are tapped out. We don’t want to play the board games, we don’t want to fix the toy. As awful as it sounds, sometimes we don’t have the energy for our friends either. The ones with the relationship problems (at least they have one that is driving them nuts), the others who are just bored and always know we are available to entertain them.

I could relate to her fantasy. Just a day for someone else to take care of her and then leave her alone. There is nothing wrong with that at all.

My fantasy was similar, but echoed one of my own experiences. I wanted a day and a night of just walking around a city I’ve never been to before. It is drizzly, like a Dashiel Hammett novel. I’m warm and dry in my wool coat. I just walk the city and observe. I feel the ideas soaking in. Filling my mental tanks again. I don’t think about moving, money, loss, the future, making meals for my son, uncertainty of the years ahead or the years long gone, sex, death or any of the things that occupy my thoughts these days. I am just taking everything in and being present in the moment. That is selfish too.

As parents, we are expected to be focused on being parents all the damn time. So many of us lose sight of who we are ourselves. I am more than Dad. She is more than Mom. Why then are we made to feel so guilty when we want something for ourselves? When will people learn that we show our children how to take care of themselves by letting them see us take care of ourselves?

When I went to London in 2019, there was a night I got on a double decker bus and just let it take me all over the city. It had been raining, and the raindrops were lit up on the glass with the blues and reds of the city at night. I got off the bus at Marylebone and walked and took the tube back home. I walked all over that city and had never felt more exhilerated, lonely, and even at peace until then. I was forced to think about only THIS moment. That night, the city was mine and everyone else around just dissolved into that damp night. I didn’t think about the relationship that had vexed me, or that I was alone in another country. Or that nobody else would ever want me again. I was nervous about venturing out, but as the night progressed, I felt comfortable in my own skin.

I miss that these days. I hate moving, but I need to. This is a move upwards, instead of just hunkering down and hoping the wrong people forget about me and finally leave me alone. Or that I am right where someone else left me so they can come calling if it suits their whim.

There is so much more to life, and I’m tired of living for other people. I’m tired of not taking chances for the same reason I didn’t for the last twenty years. I didn’t have “permission.”

It’s time to get on that bus and see where it takes us.

The challenges of small humans

My son isn’t as small as he used to be, but he’s still little. Things that are important to him are TV shows, Among Us, video games, snacks, his friends, and informing me of every minute detail in his life as it happens. Usually abruptly and without warning. Hugs. He is a big fan of hugs.

So when I try to work on something in my home office throughout the day, on the weeks he is with me, I usually get most of the work done after he has gone to bed. This is why I have such a weird schedule that is alien to most of the rest of the population. At night, without constant interruption, either from my son or anybody else, I can get something done.

Today, he is playing Among Us, which is basically the party game, Mafia, which is a little bit like clue only you already know who the murderer is and it’s cute little animated astronauts who also have to do other tasks. The drawback to the game is it allows a bunch of homebound ten year olds to play together online, and they spend most of the time picking on each other and ganging up on each other. The stuff that comes out of these kids’ mouths too. It’s like every jerk from a YouTube comments section decided to play a video game together.

Every five or ten minutes he expresses his outrage in his outside voice so I am sure to know exactly how unfair everyone in the game is being. Sometimes he gets so worked up he starts crying, at which point, I tell him to sort himself out. Either turn off the device, or don’t cry about it. It’s a process.

The whole thing is very distracting.

I still miss the hell out of him when he isn’t here though.

Plans

I have the whole week ahead of me, which should mean lots of writing, lots of working on projects, and all of that. But it’s Monday, which usually just entails getting my bearings and trying to get my life together. It’s always hard to see my son go back to his mom’s for the week. You can’t help but wonder if you have done enough, and it is exhausting dealing with his needs, school, keeping a ten year old mentally engaged enough to not be bored out of his mind. Especially since right now he has no friends, and the schools seem to be concerned only with making sure the state and the Department of Education recognize that the teachers are earning their cut. Hence the Zoom meetings peppered all throughout the day which demand that you are sitting in a chair, interacting with the general chaos of the classroom online.

There is no middle ground.

When he is gone, I miss him like I have lost a part of myself. The house is too quiet. That takes over for about a day and I experience a sense of loss until the evening when I can actually feel productive. Throughout the day, my body becomes an experiment in equilibrium. Enough caffeine to keep me moving, then enough food, protein, sugars, fibre, etc. to keep my moods in balance. Too much sugar and I want to sleep and then I get depressed. I gain weight too. Too much protein and I’m always hungry, and protein isn’t cheap. I only eat a couple meals a day anyway. When you are alone, meal prep is time consuming and pointless.

This week, my plans, once I get going again, are to try to write ten pages per day, seek out leads for travel writing, post at least a few times here and on my travel site, and hopefully get a podcast in. I have been paying for extra time and indexing on my podcast site, but with everyone on lockdown, I dislike the idea of sitting around talking to myself for any length of time.

Sometimes it feels like writing is just sitting around talking to yourself too. As with talking to yourself, you start wondering if you are crazy, if you are saying anything worth saying, and are you wasting your time.

When I did almost nothing during the day at my day job and they rewarded me with money, that was such a weird experience. Now I work my ass off, and not getting paid.

I also have that fear that once this project is done it will just reveal what a complete prick I really am. And nobody will buy it. And I might as well have been sitting around eating paint all day instead.