Money Mood

•June 19, 2019 • Leave a Comment

If I’m honest with myself, the day started off in a Mood. Nothing was wrong exactly, just everything was Not Quite Right. Woke up too soon before the alarm, put the wrong lunch items in the wrong bag, bad hair day, etc. The world seemed to be especially full of sharp points and hard edges at a time when I seemed to be made entirely of bare feet and tender underbelly.

The biggest issue on my mind was money.

We had just gotten our plane tickets for a four day visit to Chicago to attend a family wedding. We’d known that it was coming, but we weren’t exactly rolling in spare cash- you know money’s tight when you start debating whether buying new underwear is a luxury or a necessity- but we waited too long to get a good deal and now we had to bite the bullet and just git ‘er done.

So we did.

Now I was trying to work out an itinerary of visits for all the family we needed to see and all the places we had to go, and all I could think was this shouldn’t be so hard. I’m a grown woman approaching my late thirties- I ought to be able to travel home to see my folks without resorting to austerity measures.

Which then got me thinking about the state of my income and the state of my job and the state of my saving habits and the state of my home ownership prospects and I worked myself into a pretty good swivet over it.

For all my hopes and expectations, this isn’t where I thought I would be at this point in my life. This is the kind of life I expected to have in my twenties- a few years or of school, still aglow with optimism, scraping to get by, but certain that it would all pay off any minute now! By late thirties I figured I’d be in a career instead of a job. I figured I’d have enough income to be able to consider some of it “disposable”- or, at least, disposable enough to afford new underwear without asking myself if I really needed it. Disposable enough to be able to fly home for a long weekend without spasms of guilt over the cost and a spiral of existential angst about my life choices.

Man plans, god laughs.

Anyway, I seem to have gradually gotten my head on straight as the day went on. The worry isn’t gone, per se, but at least it is down to background noise. So things aren’t quite what I expected, but that’s ok. Everybody has to struggle to make the payoff feel sweet. My job is steady. My work is good. Good things are coming and I can change the things that need changing. It’s all going to be ok.

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Undone

•June 18, 2019 • Leave a Comment

I had a half hour of solitude before I needed to head out the door to get to work. I used the time to put the finishing touches on a chapter of my novel draft, then closed up my laptop feeling proud of myself.

Done! I thought. Another chapter completed!

I got onto the bus and opened my laptop to continue my work, but as I looked over the notes for my next chapter, all I could see was the empty spots from which I had excised several side plots in order to move the story along more quickly.

Don’t look back! I admonished myself. The chapter works- the story can move forward just the way it is.

But all those good pieces! I just couldn’t let them go.

If I don’t put them in in the first draft, they’ll never see daylight. I can always take them out again later right?

But it would mean picking apart the chapter that I’d just finished. Not only that, but it would mean ADDING a whole chapter’s worth of material that wasn’t technically in the outline: I wouldn’t just stop making progress, I’d actually be moving away from my goal…

Maybe I could just, you know, cut and paste a bit and see what I’ve got…

Sigh.

So I did. I set aside the finished chapter and copied the file into a new document. Version 2.0. Begin edit. I put some things in order. Other things began to fall into place.

Crap. I was going to need to add a chapter. I compensated by blending some unfinished material into one of the finished chapters: it didn’t need to stand alone anyhow, did it? Pfft. No. I could shoehorn it in.

So *technically* I finished two chapters today instead of just one, but also technically I haven’t made any forward progress. The journey continues.

Burned

•June 17, 2019 • Leave a Comment

Well, at least the yard looks nice.

“Aww shit. I got a sunburn.”

It was Saturday and I’d spent the day outside working in the backyard: weed whacking, digging up the Bermuda grass out of the flower bed beside the shed, replanting some marigolds and sanding and refinishing the last few pieces of the flowerbed bed. It had been a grit and grime and sweat filled day and I’d been diligent about slathering on the sunblock to every inch of exposed skin: 70 spf, broad spectrum, applied twice for safety.

But I hadn’t thought to put it on underneath my clothes.

In the course of all my bending and crouching and sitting, my shirt had ridden up over the waistband of my pants. I’d spent a large portion of my day tugging it back down again and hadn’t thought much of it. But now I was changing into shorts to go for a run and I was confronted with a bright red streak across my lower back just above where crack met cheek.

“Goddamnit!”

It was even below the waistline of my underwear- a fact emphasized by the pale thong- notch down the middle of the burn dividing it into two red wings.

Redbull gives you wiiiiiiings!

Well, now Redbull had given me a tramp stamp. My buttcheeks were preparing to take flight. And I’d been so careful.

And they itched.

The cooling effects of aloe didn’t help much. Everything became a dilemma of unusual complexity: showering was an exercise in negotiation of water temperature: too hot aggravated the burn. Too cold aggravated everything else. Choosing underwear presented new variables of coverage and contact. Sitting involved being careful not to press against the backrest of the chair. Even slinging my purse over my shoulder in the usual manner meant dangling a large heavy object in such a way that it would strike against the sore spots with every step.

And it still itched.

Sigh.

•June 14, 2019 • Leave a Comment

The last ten percent of the progress takes ninety percent of the work.

I was beginning to understand what that meant. The closer I got to finishing the draft of my novel, the more drastically the missing pieces changed the story arc. Every problem I solved seemed to have echoing effects on later chapters that were already solidifying.

Done is better than good! I reminded myself as I moved chapters around.

Keep it simple, stupid! I admonished myself, excising entire subplots for multiple characters.

I didn’t get a whole lot of work done today. My brain was a mess of disorganized plot elements and emotional upheaval- somehow all the old emotional push-buttons that I thought I’d finally managed to lock down into the “off” position managed to rearm themselves. I spent most of the day just trying to surf my thoughts across the roiling tide of emotions that I’d been lulled into complacency about. Fasting days were usually calm and even-keeled, but not today.

I was not my best self. I did not do my best work. I spent a lot of time visualizing how I wanted to be feeling: calm, relieved, breathing easy; but by God it was WORK.

Sigh.

At least it was Friday. With luck, a little rest will set me straight.

Three by Three

•June 13, 2019 • 1 Comment

I finished another chapter of my novel, which means that there are only three chapters left until I finish the draft.

By a coincidence of placement, completing this particular chapter meant that I could now join up two additional chapters to the main chronology. So finishing once chapter actually meant that I get to celebrate finishing three- the payoff of some very long-delayed gratification.

Is recently finished off the last of my old bottle of Writer’s Tears, so I got out the new one that I’d been saving since Christmas. The first bottle had lasted for nearly a full year, if the dates on the side were any indication. And while I hoped that it wouldn’t take me a full year to get through the new one, I also didn’t want to start off by drowning myself in three shots of whiskey on a Wednesday night. So I’m pacing myself.

It is profoundly satisfying to see the goal getting closer with each day. The next three chapters are tricky ones with a lot of ground that needs to be covered, but I’m confident that I can make it through, and I’m looking forward to discovering what pieces of the story still remain to be found.

Not A Drill

•June 11, 2019 • Leave a Comment

It was a quarter to quitting time when the fire alarm went off. At first, I thought it was a novelty ringtone on somebody’s phone until I realized it was actually coming from the building.

Ok, that’s the fire alarm… I thought. Maybe it’s a drill? Or a mistake?

Often, if the building knows an alarm is going to sound there will be an intercom announcement to explain it, but no such announcement came.

Ok, so it’s real then. I decided. I wasn’t particularly alarmed: everybody else was just as confused as I was, but we all knew what to do. I picked up my phone and my wallet, then thought for a second and grabbed my umbrella for the sun because it was a hundred goddamn degrees outside and I didn’t need to be getting a sunburn because of a fire alarm.

And then, even though they say not to gather your belongings, I unplugged my laptop and tucked it under my arm. Because I wasn’t going to leave my novel behind, fire or no fire.

My co-workers and I traipsed to the stairwell and slogged down ten flights of stairs. The stairwell wasn’t crowded: no one seemed to be emerging from any of the other floors. When we reached the ground level we stood on the sidewalk comparing notes: who had taken the stairs, who had left early, who was still missing. The elevators, it turned out, were still working, and the Powers That Be descended to earth without the legwork required of the rest of us mere mortals. We quickly determined that our floor was the only one on which an alarm had sounded- which explained the empty stairwell- and that the alarm wasn’t just a drill- which explained the arrival of a fire truck complete with lights and sirens.

The firefighters emerged and went inside and within fifteen minutes we had an all clear and were able to go back inside with the days excitement behind us. In the end it was all a bit of nothing, but it did get us all on our toes.

Muse’s Share

•June 10, 2019 • Leave a Comment

There was an unknown sized dram of whiskey left in the bottom of the bottle of Writer’s Tears, and I didn’t quite know what to do with it. This particular bottle of Writer’s Tears had been my progress gauge over the course of the past year: each time I completed a chapter of my novel, I would reward myself with a shot of whiskey and mark the new level on the bottle, labeling it with the chapter title and the date of completion. I had recently completed a chapter which seemed likely to be the end of the bottle, but when I poured it out there was still a small half-portion left in the bottom: not quite enough for a chapter, too much to just fudge away.

Oh well, I told myself. I significantly REVISED several chapters- maybe I could count it towards that?

I thought this seemed like a good compromise.

I sat down at my desk and poured the dregs of the bottle into the traditional glass: a souvenir shot glass from a Glaswegian friend emblazoned with the Scottish flash. It amounted to about tree quarters of an ounce, and I set it aside, determined that I was going to take my time and really enjoy it.

And then I got distracted and forgot about it and closed up my office leaving it beside my laptop, untouched.

The next morning, half of it was gone. Evaporated, I assumed- the weather had peaked into three digits in the late afternoon, and the room was still warm. The Angel’s Share. I told myself: the poetic nickname for portion of whiskey lost to evaporation during the aging process.

Maybe this was a hint. I thought. Muses like to celebrate too, you know.

Maybe this last little dram was meant to be the Muse’s share: an acknowledgement of their unseen influence which had made these chapters possible in the first place.

I took a moment to concentrate on my gratitude towards them: the whispering voices that had guided me for so long. I raised the glass to them, then I left it on the desk untasted and closed up the office to head to work hoping that they would continue to favor me as I completed the final chapters.

 
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