Road trip!

New post is up for Getting Out More!

Our road trips always start off with coffee. Specifically Dutch Bros. coffee. Northern Colorado has finally been gifted with the finest export Oregon has had to offer since the discovery of oregano. My girlfriend, Elise, and I enjoy the upbeat attitude and top notch customer service we get the second we pull up into the drive-thru.

It’s not just getting coffee, it’s like getting a hello and a high-five from some really cool friends to start your day. Unlike other coffee places, their attitude is never sour, arrogant, or dismissive. They remember us from visit to visit and each time we stop by it’s like a continuation of a conversation we might have had the last time we stopped by. The people there are freaking awesome and adorable! 13/10 stars.

This last road trip was to celebrate my birthday. We started the day off…

Click here to rest the rest at Getting Out More!

Leaving it all behind

Yesterday was the first day back for the students at the day job.  For me, it was the 22nd time I have seen the first day of classes.  Four years as an undergrad and now 18 years as an employee at the same university.  Each year brings new things, with a similar theme.  New students, wandering around campus looking for their rooms.  The last good haircut they will have until probably their first job interview or maybe graduation.  Courtesy of their parents.  New clothes.  Pegged cuffs, bell-bottoms. Leggings and boots.  Heels and shorty-shorts.  The hemlines get higher and lower, the waistlines go up and down, from mom jeans to hip-huggers and back again, like the tides, they roll up and down over the years. The young men in their t-shirts and cargo shorts are the constant of the polar ice caps. Dull.  Static.  The “dudes” change to “bros” the “cools” turn to “sick.”

Not much has changed in 13 years in this office.  “Where is room blah blah blah?” or “What does the L mean for my lecture hall class?”  I smile.  I say something friendly, I point them in the right direction.  After the third day, this eases up as everyone become familiar with the rhythm of things here.

This time of year for me is a time of reflection.  Compare and contrast.  How far have I come?

Last year, I had found myself at the beginning of the end of a relationship.  I listened to a lot of old hair bands, I found myself behaving in a certain way which optimized the chances I would get to spend with that person, always fitting myself into her busy schedule, in spite of my own obligations and responsibilities.  It was exhausting.

Now, I don’t listen to hair bands so much anymore.  I have moved on from those days, as nice as the mid to late 80s were to revisit.  That relationship ended and with it so did the flavor of that nostalgia. My playlists are soured by the taste of what was lost. I had suppressed a lot of what I was to be someone I wasn’t.  I started drinking coffee again.

The months rolled by like Colorado storm fronts.  I went to another continent and in a weird way, I had my own Razor’s Edge moment. I went into the Wilderness myself, as I have wanted to do for twenty years or more, and came out again, having found a better understanding of what I want, and what I need to do about that.

I found contentment in solitude.  I found that I was likable, and that I could love myself.  That I was smart, easy going, compassionate, and resourceful.  I could meet people and make friends easily.  I was anything but what my previous sad choices had pegged me as–former relationships.  They never really saw me for who I was.  And it didn’t help that I really wasn’t who I was, but trying to fit a role they wanted me to fill.  You can’t really love someone who isn’t who they truly are.  It’s just chasing illusions.  So, in a way, I cannot blame them.  I blamed myself for a bit.  Then I stopped worrying about it.  I really just started being and feeling comfortable in my own skin.  Making good boundaries.  Listening to my gut again.

I met myself for the first time in a long time.  Then I met someone else.  Which is a big reason the travel blogs have been slow-coming these days, because we have actually been getting out more together.  She has a pretty good idea of who she is, and knows me for who I am too.  We fill the hours with new experiences, and the funny thing is we are usually having such a good time we forget to take pictures or document our adventures.  So, I think I need to get better at doing that.

Travel writing is a difficult gig to get into.  With no shortage of competition, it might be nearly impossible to do, but I keep trying.  I have a goal in mind, to do better a year from now than I’m doing now.  Because a year ago, I was a mess.  Nothing I did was going to fix anything.  And nothing I did should have fixed anything, because it was already broken a long time ago.

And now, I’m feeling much better about everything.

Five years ago, I was on the precipice of starting a new life.  Leaving a failed marriage.  About to start completely over with nothing and only beginning to understand how much sacrifice I would have to make to get healthy and live the life I had always wanted to live.

Looking back gives us perspective to see how far we have come, when there are already so many miles left to go.  And sometimes it’s okay to just let things go. To shed your skin like a snake or one of those noisy cicadas that won’t shut up on a hot summer night.  Because the weight of things is holding you down and its time to try out that new self that was created by metamorphosis.

One day will come when I don’t care about the first day of classes, because that is no longer my world.  Maybe I’m long past due.

The Journey of Being Creative

I was feeling a little bit down today.  This hasn’t happened like this in a while.  Maybe I can blame the clear blue Colorado skies, the thunderstorms in the distance at night, the hum of the cicadas outside my window.

I can blame the day job, which is more or less a lesson in redundancy and a monumental waste of time.  Work comes in.  I do the work.  A few days later another request comes in to change the whole damned thing back to how it was.  There’s a lot of entitlement in the Academy.  If a prof wants a four day weekend, they will move their times to Tuesdays and Thursdays, at a respectable hour, and I have to figure out just where the hell they can teach when there are hundreds of others doing the exact same thing.

There’s a lot of blame going around, but like Jimmy Buffet says, it could be my fault.

Today I hit the realization that I haven’t been writing for myself much.  I’ve been working and catching up on paid blogs.  The fascinating work of tree removal, boats, and HVAC companies.  The work has slowed down a little bit with the writing gigs, which isn’t good.  I rely on that income to make sure I can do things like pay the light bill or buy gasoline for the week.

It has been over a week since I’ve written something for myself, whether it is the travel blog or here on my personal blog.  This morning I chatted with a friend of mine, the only woman who has inflicted more pain upon me than my ex-wife; and we are still friends.  She’s my dental hygienist, and she is also a creative.  Not only does she do a mean scaling and root planing, but she also paints amazing watercolors.  When we visit, we almost always talk about the Work.  Not scheduling or cleaning people’s teeth, but the work of being a Creative.  It usually gets me fired up to write something, which is great.  Today, that sorta fell flat for me.  With two posts to write about boat epoxy and dinghies, I didn’t feel creative.  I felt overwhelmed with deadlines and suddenly wondered why she had concerns about my teeth grinding.

Another friend of mine was venting on Facebook today.  She is an award winning horror writer, and today hit her hard too.  She was feeling rough and though it felt good to try to lift up a friend, I thought the struggle is very real when you are trying to make a name for yourself in writing.  There are a lot of truly talented people out there who are your competition, but also a lot of jackasses who phone it in and seem to be doing much better than you.  Why even bother?  As a creative, the production of writing, art, and just about anything else always seems to be along the lines of entertaining for others, but “don’t quit your day job.”

Of the three creatives I encountered today, the last is my lovely and talented girlfriend.  She is a self-taught graphic artist and writer.  She is also one of my biggest fans, and I cannot begin to explain how much enthusiasm and encouragement she gives me everyday.  I am blessed to know her.  Today, we were talking about places we want to travel together.  Also we discussed Comic Cons and getting inspiration from other writers and artists and creatives.  It dawned on me why I was in a funk.

How many creatives I know do the work as a side gig?  How many never get a dime for doing something they love?  At the end of the day doing and redoing and redoing work you are just beat to hell and really all you want to do is sit back and watch the sky go from blue to pink to deep blue and throw wishes out at shooting stars. Only you have learned to stop wishing because they rarely ever come true.

Sometimes it is hard to keep going, to keep motivated when life happens and things get in the way like bills and kids and back to school and child support and Cub Scout meetings and sometimes it seems like everyone has a piece of your day.

Time is the only non-renewable resource, and unfortunately we all think there is plenty of it.  Days like today, a whole week passed me by without engaging my brain and doing the Work and I could feel it, like withdrawals.  My London trip occupied so much of my creativity, and with the final post done last week, I felt an emptiness.

With a few days left to go on the deadlines for boat blogs, I decided I needed to dust off the creative part of my brain and get these words down.  For me.  For my readers. For anyone who is feeling a little lost on a hot summer day and they are watching their days slip past them, marching towards the inevitable.

Sometimes our muses remind us who were are.  I might not be in a place where I can write full-time just yet, but I do have a goal in my head.  I want to travel and write, I want to dream up new worlds and write, and I want to fall asleep every night knowing that I didn’t waste a minute of my day fussing with someone else’s bullshit, so they could sleep in and have four day weekends. And still make three times what I do each year.

At some point, you get tired of working for someone else, when there is real Work to be done.  So, for now, I keep punching the clock.  I keep my heading and my course as true as I can make it in spite of the waves and wind.  I have a good crew with me and hopefully I show enough gratitude for them.  But the important part is continuing on with this voyage until I reach my destination.

Steady on.

Thanks, boat blogs.