Being Better

The last few days were heavy writing days with the paid work. I have a little bit of an obsessive personality, which means that when I get focused enough to do the paid work, I tend to fixate on it until I nearly drop. In the last few days, I wrote nine assignments. Four on Wednesday, four yesterday, and one at 10pm on Friday. Friday was a little bit of a wash, since I was feeling a little bit of burnout from writing those first two days. You just get to a point where it feels like you are pulling teeth and the work creeps to a standstill. Today, I went to breakfast with my mom, played with the dog, cooked lunch and dinner (I made authentic English chips on the stovetop) and took a nap. I have been wanting to write all day today, but there has been something blocking me. At 10pm, I found an assignment I knew a lot about and cranked out 1000 words in about 20 minutes. I’m hoping they buy it. It gave me a little bit of a feeling of accomplishment for a day that felt mostly like slacking.

Tomorrow I have a few more paid assignments, but hopefully I can get through this block and work on edits or maybe do some new writing. I’ve been needing to do some actual writing for a few days. There’s something about it that is nourishing to the soul.

I think the block that I’m feeling is post-book letdown. There is a part of me I have discovered as I edit that thinks the book I have written is a complete and total waste of time. So there is that resistance that says I am complete crap at something and need to stop. There is also that part of me that just is tired. I mean, I wrote a giant ass book. Sometimes you have to just sit back and catch your breath. And then of course, there is that space between the two of them.

I have been thinking about starting a YouTube channel, but between the imposter syndrome and the anxiety caused by the learning curve on that, I got about ten minutes into a tutorial online and decided I needed to take a nap. I wonder about things like storyboarding, how I want to say things, how I want to film these things, and even what I would even say. Honestly, what contribution would I have? And then I remember that people get views just for opening their mail. I have almost no experience at vlogging or videography. I didn’t even like videorecording times I spent with my kids because it was better to be in the moment than documenting it. So, like I said, the learning curve is steep, but the idea of doing this is interesting and might be a good creative outlet.

My podcast was short-lived for a few reasons. I discovered too late that anything longer than 20 minutes of a podcast was going to cost me money in storage fees. I only ever got a few dozen hits so I didn’t think that $30 per month was worth it to continue, but I do have sound equipment and now a decent camera, so maybe I can try my hand at YouTube. I know the format isn’t what it once was, but it could be fun.

Anyway, the point of tonight’s post is that I hate myself on days that I don’t get things done. I need to be better. I need to work through the Resistance and feel somewhat productive. There are just days when I want to do something else, I suppose. Lately with the wind blowing down off the mountains and gasoline being so expensive, I think I’ve been in a bit of a funk and instead of wishing for something to change, I need to work with the time I’ve got keeping me at home. In other words, if I can’t afford to go anywhere right now, I might as well work. Sometimes the old brain can only produce so much content until it needs a break. But I do still need to be better at managing my time.

Mothers’ Day

I’m going to talk about the things I did today (Friday). Yesterday was hard. Another day of pointless court. So, I had a few drinks and stayed up too late. I woke up with a headache this morning at about 10. My mom invited me to lunch, and instead of going to the bowling alley in town, we drove to Laramie. My mom and I have a good relationship where we often chat about life for hours. When I was out of commission after my gallbladder surgery many summers ago, my mom helped take care of me for a few days. We might have had the TV on for a few hours and the rest of the time we just visited. I’m lucky that way. It wasn’t always that way with us. When I was married, I was made to choose. Nobody should ever have to make that decision.

We should be allowed to love all of our family, otherwise it isn’t love. Anyone who forces you to make a decision like that doesn’t love you. My mom was out of my life for five years. And her grandkids were out of her life too. They still are, as they are out of my life too. But the powers that be don’t consider things like that in their infinite wisdom. And I say that with sarcasm. Like I said, nobody who makes someone choose really loves them. Like me, my mom has a lot of love to give, and hasn’t always had the opportunity to give it. And there is no justice in a system that keeps children away from those who truly love them. If they don’t like me saying that, then maybe they should do better. Maybe they should think about what they are doing, because it is going to affect people for generations.

Today, we drove an hour to get Chinese food. I’ve been down for a little while. Lately, I had forgotten what I wanted to do and instead have been focusing on what isn’t happening in my life. It’s a struggle. I am working on getting my career going as a full-time professional writer. Some weeks are better than others with pay. This last week, I have been sending out queries to literary agents for my book. I’ve sent out 12 so far. One rejection has come back already. It made me think that the work I spent the last two years on isn’t good enough, even though I know that isn’t true. But it’s hard to not believe that sometimes.

At lunch, my mom and I ate lo mein and General Tso’s chicken. Our waitress was in her early 20s, and she hung out with us as we ate. She was telling us all about her trip to China with her university’s study abroad program. I think she was surprised that we were so interested in what she had to say. The way she lit up about the whole thing was adorable. She was continuing to learn Chinese and had a very good accent when she spoke. It reminded me of someone I knew…me. Back when I was that age and had so much enthusiasm to get out and see the world. She was fearless (even though she admitted to having social anxiety). We chatted with her about her adventures, and I mentioned some of my own. My mom talked about her growing up in Southern California. We had a new friend for about an hour and she comped us some chocolate cake from the kitchen at the end of lunch with a hand-written “Thank you!” on the lid of the box.

We got coffee and took Penny to the park to throw the tennis ball for a while until Penny ran out of steam and we headed back into the mountains. I’m lucky to have days like these with my mom. Even though times have been hard sometimes. It’s a work in progress.

I have been thinking about all sorts of things today. When I got home, I didn’t take a nap, but instead I busted out a cigar I had been saving for the first nice day of Spring. Today wasn’t it, but it was close enough, and as the sun went down, the wind died down. My fingers got cold and I held that cigar in my left hand as I wrote, nodding to passing cars and waving passengers. I rarely smoke. The scent of it helps conjure up memories, because scent is powerful when it comes to rekindling things we’ve nearly forgotten.

Lately I’ve been thinking about the past. My kids. My former girlfriend who left two years ago this week. She had her reasons, and they were valid. It was a memory heavy week. I did many of the things that reminded me of her over the last week. I got Dutch Bros. Went to Fuzzy’s tacos. Drank some Bread and Butter cab sav. And tonight, I finished off the ritual with a cigar and a coffee. Just like we used to do every Friday night.

As I smoked my cigar, I wrote in a leatherbound notebook someone else had given me a little over a year ago. I’ve nearly filled it up. I thought of her too. I thought of how Mothers Day was hard for her because she had to make a choice that nobody should have to make. But she made the right choice, even though I think it still rips her up every Mothers Day and always will. But she made the right choice, because what she went through wasn’t love. She’s trying her best to do right by her own kids.

I told a story in my notebook tonight. The words that I wrote were clean and true. I decided to stop worrying about whether or not my book is good enough for an agent. It’s good enough for me. I’ve been pushing ahead with the support of some very important people in my life. I’m not an imposter. I know this. Maybe the agents and publishers are the imposters because they don’t know a good story when they see it anymore. 😉

Unlike yesterday when I was in a dark place, today I found a lot of spots of sunshine. I was reminded that things aren’t always going to suck. That I still had passion for my dreams. That I have family who loves me and I get to spend time with them again. I have good friends who are caring and supportive and put up with my shit, even on my really dark days. And as a dad, there are other ways to be a good dad and I am doing them.

This weekend was another anniversary. In 2014, I got into an argument with my soon-to-be ex-wife. I drove three hours to spend time with my folks and just get away from a house that had no love left in it. At my folks’ house, I got snowed in. The roads were closed for three days and I couldn’t go back home and start that honeymoon phase with the wife all over again like all the other times we had fought. My mom gave me money to use to help me get the hell out of that marriage. It was all she had saved up in a secret stash. I used the last of it to file my divorce papers a few months later.

The following Monday after that Mothers Day weekend, I checked out of my hotel room in Estes Park (having spent another night away from that house I dreaded going back to). The mountains were dusted in snow still and I sang along with Nina Simone. The sun was shining that morning as I drove to work in the Thompson Canyon.

It’s a new dawn
It’s a new day
It’s a new life for me
It’s a new dawn it’s a new day…
And I’m feelin’ good.

My life was just beginning again. I had my mom to thank for that. My life is still beginning. Changing all the time. Sometimes it is hard to navigate. Sometimes you just feel so alone.

I got to spend the afternoon with my mom today. A lot of people don’t have that luxury anymore. I’m lucky.

Remnants

One of the hardest things about social media is that for whatever reasons, someone building the sucker thought it would be a good idea to give you little reminders of things that happened on that day over the last several years.

I keep opening up these things and finding little reminders of people who are no longer in my life. Pictures. Comments on my posts. And even the negative space of likes or reacts that still show up in the tally, but since the person is blocked, there is nothing there anymore. You see three heart reacts and only two of them are attributed to anyone, you know damn good and well who the third was. And you miss that interraction with them.

You miss that time shared with them. You think of them, and doubt they think of you anymore. Unless it’s to tell their friends how awful you were.

I guess it’s fine. Whatever they have to do to get through the day.

The other night I had a hard time falling asleep because I had forgotten the name of someone’s kid. It bothered me. The name was just a blank in my mind owned by a smiling face. Is that what happens? Little moments like that are just taken away, like standing on the shoreline and watching the ocean eat pieces of the land until one day it will all be gone?

In that moment I had a flicker of thought that said “You could just text them and ask.” No. You can’t.

Thing is I’ve woken up years and years later and wondered what the hell I was thinking to push people away. Jeez, I thought I had it all figured out. Now I just have a few trinkets or pictures to remind me of them. It isn’t the same. But, not everyone was meant to come with us on our journey. Sometimes we lose them along the way. Maybe we get to carry with us the memories of them.

I’d rather be reminded of them from a moment that sets a memory to living flame in my mind, rather than be beaten over the head with it on some algorthimic anniversary, reminding you how much further away from that last time you were happy is from now. And it just keeps drifting further and further. Until one day, it will wink out like a porch light on the horizon.

Those days you wish you could share something cool with them you’ve seen or experienced. Telling them a joke you heard that you knew would have made them laugh.

All my life I’ve watched people go. I think about them still. I doubt they even remember my name. Those who do probably wish they didn’t. But I still think of them. I hold onto those times like those stories might be the only thing keeping them on this world. How easy it is for some people to just let go.

That’s not me. I weave them into my stories so they have a place to live. Long after they are gone.

It’s okay. It will pass.