It’s April already, can you believe it? But because gas is $4 a gallon, I didn’t go to Dutch Bros. to get a coffee and stickers.

April Fools.

I got Dutch and my stickers today. Come on! It’s sticker day!

One of the nice things about Dutch is how friendly the barristas are (Bro-istas). Today was no exception, and though I only get there about once a month now, I’ve once again become a regular at two other locations. What’s cool about what they do is in starting conversations with people how come through the line. For five minutes, you get to tell them your story and they listen. The crazy thing is that they listen, and then a month down the road, they will ask me how things are going and remember where I left off.

What is this wizardry?!

Today, I told one of my friends (she moved over from another location where I was an everyday regular) about the book. She wanted to know how it was going, so I told her I was done with the first draft. She was stoked for m. It was actually pretty cool. So on my next Dutch stop on the way out of town, my next Bro-ista asked questions about why I was down from Walden.

I told her it was to get coffee and stickers. She wanted to know what I was doing all the way up here, so I told her about refinishing the house, writing my book(s), and with each thing that I brought up, she looked like one statement after the next was more interesting than the last.

“You are amazing!” she said.

I’m not going to take that compliment as some sort of ego build from someone half my age. You see, I am taking it as what it really is. I take for granted a lot of what I do. There’s not a lot of positive reinforcement for what I do. Sometimes it’s really tough to push on because I just see myself as sitting here and spinning my wheels. It’s good to be reminded of what I am accomplishing from someone on the outside looking in. I take for granted my skills and achiements, I downplay what I do because of Imposter Syndrome, or also because I don’t have a lot of peers doing what I do.

Writing is a lonely life, after all.

I’ve tried joining writing groups and that has made it worse. These folks are still just starting out, and I’m in need of someone to talk about the existential crisis of writing, instead of worrying about commas and shit. I’m not Maya Angelou or John Grisham by any means, but I’m a little closer to that than I am just starting out. Not to be a dick, but those writing groups made me feel like Andre Agassi playing pickleball.

So, it was good to see the look on a couple people’s faces when I said I wrote three books in two years. It’s hard to have a metric on exactly what you have achieved when you don’t see yourself achieving much. I’m taking it as a W and the ten minutes of conversation combined was well worth the drive.

Plus I got coffee and stickers!

Progress today

I’m going to talk about all the stuff I did today, just for reference purposes. Because damn, some of it has been like pulling teeth. It was a day that things were achieved.

This morning I wrote copy for a photographer. Hopefully it sells. Then I gave the dog a bath. She hasn’t had one in about a year, since we were at the beach in Oregon. Today was the final straw when I accidentally drizzled her in pork chop blood.

Afterwards, I took few photos on Main Street (I guess I was inspired by the content I had to write earlier). It was chilly, but the weather is warming up and we had some beautiful blue skies. So of course I did mostly black and white. I’m trying to get the hang of depth of field and focus and forced perspective. So, pretty much half of photography. I’m hoping it helps with travel writing.

I got an aura in my left eye so I took a nap to see if I could shake a possible migraine. I don’t get them often, but they happen.

After I woke up, I wrote three more posts for another client. They were shorter posts, only about 300 words each, which was like pulling teeth. Sometimes it’s easier to write one post for 1100 words than it is to write smaller posts. The amount of research is usually the same, and for me, the output is just about the same. The difference is the return of investment. Why write three posts for half the pay when it takes as long as writing something longer? The answer is that sometimes you have to write the small posts because there aren’t always bigger jobs.

The bummer is everything is on spec, which means none of them are guaranteed to sell. It’s the risk you take as a freelancer, but it still beats the hell out of sitting in an office all day watching the clock tick away the moments of your life. I don’t miss working for the university at all. The amount of fuckery and ineptitude going on there was staggering. The only good thing about it was the regular paychecks that came in. Granted I could (and did) get 90% of everything I needed to do for the week in the last half hour of work on a Friday afternoon when everyone was gone.

So, I finished the posts. And now I’m mentally shifting gears, drinking some coffee at 9pm, and going into edits for the book. I got chapter one done of the second draft the other day, so it is moving along.

Anyway, here are some photos I took this afternoon. I’m off to do some editing!

It’s better this way

Two years ago today was the last time I saw my last girlfriend in person. We continued to talk for another six weeks, but the pandemic would have other things to say about that. It’s hard to believe it has been two years. I think many of us feel like those two years have been robbed from us.

That isn’t why I’m posting tonight. I decided to post for other reasons, but I looked up at the date on my computer and noticed that it was March 13th.

She and her parents and brother were supposed to drive to Tucson to see her son, who was in the Air Force. It was the beginning of lockdowns and I had been invited to go, but they weren’t supposed to come back until the middle of the following week. I was expecting my son to come back and I didn’t feel comfortable with letting his mom keep him for another couple of days. Give her an inch and she’ll take a mile.

As it turned out, my ex-wife kept him for another two weeks because she convinced herself that he had Covid. Back then, it was called Coronavirus. Of course he didn’t have it. Only a small percentage of the country had it back then. It was supposed to be two weeks to “flatten the curve.” She just had a convenient excuse to fuck with me. Probably the only thing that ever motivates her to get off the couch.

My former girlfriend and I had to cancel our trip to the UK that May. The 1940s Ball was also canceled. She had just bought an adorable dress from British Retro. It was a Way Out West with a flamingo print. We broke up on April 30 after a couple very long phone calls. She didn’t see any other way around it. There was a lot of drama in my life. Right person. Wrong time.

The last night I saw her in person, we watched TV together. She lay her head in my lap as we sat on the couch and I brushed her hair for about an hour. It was getting late, and she had an early morning to get up and drive a thousand miles to see her son. It was starting to snow that night and she knew I would worry if the roads got bad; it was an hour drive home for her.

She learned that lesson the hard way when she had driven home one night from my place and didn’t call when she got in. She had gotten intercepted by her parents (she had moved back to Colorado and was living at home again) and didn’t have a chance to call me to let me know she was home. She wasn’t picking up her phone either. An hour and a half had passed and the weather was getting bad. So, I got in my car and started driving down to her place. About halfway there, I got the call from her, apologizing for not calling me right away. I told her I was glad she was safe. I turned around and drove back home. I would have driven all the way to her front door, looking for her car in a ditch the entire way.

I’m that kind of boyfriend.

This night, March 13th, 2020, as the snow fell like slush from the sky, I kissed her one last time through the window of her car and watched her drive away, those red tailights winking out as she turned the corner from my house, headed to the highway. I never would have thought that would be our last kiss. We talked on the phone every night for the next six weeks. At the end, I could feel a change in us. She began to pull away. She had her reasons. Reasons that it has taken me nearly two years to come to terms with and accept as valid.

It still kills me that was our last goodbye. One of the last things we said to each other was “I love you.”

My life has been an adventures since then, with many changes. People coming into my life and leaving again. I have tried to open my heart again since then, but it didn’t work out. I’m sorta done, to be honest. I write my stories. I work on my career. My mental health. I’ve been published since then and moved. The place we had our last kiss is now someone else’s house. The park bench is still in front of my old house where we used to smoke cigars and listen to music in front of the firepit.

Tonight, melancholy has its grip on me, but in a good way. After all, I write stories that will break your heart. I remember one day, she had read one of my blog posts from 2019, writen just before we started dating. She had gone back and read almost everything I had written by the time. She knew me in ways I would never get to know her back. At least she knew my writing, which has a certain measure of artistic license. It is an aspect of yourself. Personal in some ways, and total bullshit in others.

She told me the post she had read made her cry. I didn’t look at this as a way to throw on the brakes, but as a good sign that I had touched someone emotionally, deep down inside. She told me it was beautiful, but heartbreaking. Maybe I shouldn’t have written it. In getting to know others, you leave yourself vulnerable to them. You risk handing them a part of your soul and maybe one day, that last long kiss farewell turns into goodbye and you don’t even know it at the time. They keep that piece of you, and you keep a piece of them.

I wonder at what point will I give everything away of myself and have none left. Tonight, I think I’m coming pretty close.

The last time I kissed someone was July 4th Weekend, 2021, and I made a fool out of myself. I kept coming back for one last kiss until she finally told me to get in the car and go, scolding me a little bit and trying not to laugh. I had a long drive to get back home. It was the last weekend where anything made any sense. I won’t get into it tonight, but after that, the rest of my world came crashing down. She was gone too, not long after.

The world is full of nightmarish absurdities, regrets, last looks, and such clarity of hindsight.

I don’t have much hope for finding someone anymore. I’ve been lucky to have loved hard and with my whole heart, even if it didn’t last. To live in that moment is something that words cannot capture. And I should know, since my job is to catch dreams with words and make them tangible.

If there is a Heaven, and I’m lucky enough to get in, I could think of a few perfect days I would like to live over and over again. Maybe that is what I’ve been doing, since even during those last moments, something deep inside of me was whispering “Enjoy this, Clinton, while it lasts.”

The rest is just filler, preamble, to let you understand and appreciate those moments that get to last forever.