If I’m posting infrequently, it’s because I’m lost in notes and a dark nostalgia. Something uncomfortable is happening with my writing. I’m changing my approach in an intensely intimate way. Thankfully, the process isn’t too fast, as it seems to be bogged down by research. I’ve been covered in books since I realized the idea wasn’t flash, it was a novel. Well, except for December. Joe came home early in the month, so I had a good excuse.
You see, it turns out I have an agenda. I’ve got this wild notion to weave in some advice on spotting and dealing with people with low empathy, garden variety narcissists and non-violent sociopaths. My theme will be related to recovering from the damage of having one as a parent. My mother was not, but her mother was, and our relationship has been rough because of it. There are traumas my mother now carries that she’s very protective of, wounds she avoids poking, wounds healed so twisted and raw that they became contagious. She also seemed to teach me how to walk right into danger.
My agenda comes from my initial idea hitting a little too close to some personal wounds. I worked it out though, how to express my personal experiences without having to relive them. Before now, I haven’t been comfortable expressing subjects too close to home in my fiction, preferring to hide my emotions in monsters.
So, I worked out a method that would allow me to develop my idea in a more removed manner than something like freewriting about trauma or unpacking memories. I’m sure others have similar methods, I’ve just never let myself think about it before.
I’m researching and using fiction to explore concepts, building characters based on research and setting them free in story, just like I did with serial killers when I read about profiling. I’m fictionalizing the research, not my life. The difference is the research is now about subjects close to my scars.
These topics result in characters with damage that resembles my own. They aren’t a fictional me, but I empathize with them. Then I can put them through what I’ve learned about being resilient, teach them how to avoid danger and how to heal, in the way that writers are prone to do.
It’s not the emotionally nerve-wrecking idea of using personal experience as the root of creative exploration. It’s removed and theoretical, so less bothersome. It’s also a process I’m familiar with, so it feels safer even if the subjects are a little triggering.
I’m not thinking of monsters now, and yet somehow it seems darker. Tears come sometimes, even when the initial scene I envisioned has nothing but a little girl sitting on a couch, watching a family get ready for dinner. I don’t know how I’m going to explain things to Joe when he catches me weeping at my own writing. I try to cultivate a reputation that I can handle myself, despite the fact that I know he knows better.
P.S. – I highly recommend the book The Sociopath Next Door by Martha Stout, and the podcast Understanding Today’s Narcissist hosted by Christine Hammond to any writer, of any genre, and in fact, most human beings.
P.P.S. – Okay, so I will be fictionalizing what it is like to be forced to listen to Dale Carnegie on the way to elementary school, but everything else will be pure b.s., and that part might not even make it into the book. It’s so very unfortunate that I’ve decided to require myself to listen to him again, as he’s instructed a key character in being a better sleaze. I might have to drink for it, he always makes me feel so dirty.
Have you ever met someone and realized they are a living work of art, honed to their specific purpose in such a way that you will never forget them? I hope you have, they are great to keep in mind when you’re writing.
I was fortunate enough in my youth to live on the street, and that isn’t exactly a joke. I mean, sure it sucked, hunger and illness and all that. I wasn’t even there for “the usual” reason of addiction (those quotes are a discussion for a different day), it was a combination of religion, lack of a supportive family, and getting stranded in another state. It was a harsh situation, but I was young, and I ended up in a variety of situations that will provide endless stories and insights into the lesser seen aspects of society.
Like the cat burglar. I doubt I’ll forget him.
I thought of him the other day, when one of those sudden and completely irrelevant and useless type revelations struck me. I realized I was surrounded by police at a party with a possible cat burglar, who may or may not have been laying low for a bit. He must have been shitting his pants. I mean, we all were, because we were high as a kite and surrounded by police, their commissioner, and the mayor of New Orleans. But I bet he was really feeling it.
If you don’t want to year about that particular party, you’re dead inside, but no worries because I already told it right over here, so go take a look when you like. For now, you probably want to know more about the possible cat burglar.
Our little crew was a little different from most of the gutter punks and street hippies around us. We were a collection of street pagans, I was the wandering nature loving mystic and my ex was one of those shock value ceremonialist teenage punks, the equivalent of a republican and a democrat getting married at times. Wingnut was Wingnut, but the point is that all day long we babbled about the nature of the universe like street philosophers, with occasional interjections of Rocky Horror quotes.
This guy Ducky though, I don’t know what he thought about anything. I don’t know if he believed in the occult (I like to dance from one side to the other myself in an eternal self debate between science and mystery), I don’t know if he ever saw Rocky Horror, I don’t know if he was fond of the 80s songs we would sing to keep our spirits up, or much about him at all. I only remember him speaking once, in this story. I was never sure if he was smiling to laugh at our jokes or to laugh at us.
Ducky was not just quiet. He turned quiet into an art form. We found this out one morning when we woke up in our squat, an abandoned play theater in pre-Katrina New Orleans. This was not the typical squat, rat filled and punk defiled, covered in filth you don’t want to imagine. There were some areas of such, behind the concession stand and in the halls leading to the bathroom. The bathroom itself, one of us wandered in and immediately back out and warned us not to go there, we believed him.
The rest of the place, the auditorium with its red velvet seats and the stage still framed by red sliding curtains, was near pristine, save for a layer of dust. It was admired, special. A small place of beauty that those who live on the street seldom get to enjoy. The centerpiece was a giant chandelier, with real crystal adornments, not cheap plastic.
I know that because one morning Wingnut woke up to glance over and see Ducky sliding up a grappling hook going from the banister to the chandelier, making not a single sound as he gently pried off a couple of pieces and slipped them into his pocket, then returned to the banister and unhooked his shady rope of thievery and returned it to a backpack probably holding abundant pilfered treasure.
Wingnut notified us by waking us up to cries of “HOlyShiT!!!” as he ran over, and we jumped up in a panic, rushing over to find a bashful Ducky, who smiled as he proved Wingnut’s story by pulling out the two pieces and clinking them together.
I looked at him and (here it comes, he’s about to speak) pointed out he was pretty short for a guy. Understandably defensive, he said, “Yeah, so?” to which I replied, “The perfect size to crawl into a window.”
He just smiled. Just smiled and said not another word.
Oh, it all fit together then. The navy clothes that looked like a generic work uniform, able to pass off as a janitor, meter reader, delivery man. The stocking cap was the kind that could be hiding a mask when it was rolled up the way it was, his unassuming manner that wouldn’t draw attention to himself, his desire to quietly follow people more attention grabbing than he was, people who might distract from his presence. Hands to his sides, no flamboyant gestures, never saying anything that would cause him to stick in your mind.
And he clarified nothing. Nor did we ask, it’s not polite to ask questions to people who live on the street. So many people have someone looking for them, questions cause suspicion you might be a private investigator sent by their family, or even a narc. Besides, we knew the kinds of histories people might have when the sidewalk is their pillow. It’s just plain rude to bring up painful pasts as a topic of casual conversation.
But oh, man, the fuel for my imagination to go wild. As I grew older, the possibilities grew a little darker, not everyone who climbs into windows is a loveable type guy. He seemed okay, harmless, but by now I’ve learned how deceptive that can be. Still, I will always admire how he turned being a wallflower into an art form to serve his own purposes. After my little revelation, I’m also amazed at how well he kept his cool when faced with a largish gathering of the local police force.
I mean, wow. He needs to write a book on deep breathing techniques or something. Who have you met, who seems so perfect it’s like they walked out of the pages of a novel?
I miss my flying carpet. I have a spinning wheel, an old friend named Molly Grue. She is an Ashford Traveler, designed to be portable. I named her after a cook for bandits, a fiercely domestic woman with a temper to raise storms and a love of adventure.
At one point in our friendship, I bought a book on the mythology of the stars. Not just the lore behind constellations we grew up with, but also hints of how the sky was seen by other civilizations through history, and a few tips on better reading the stars yourself. It was a story so beautifully told it filled my heart with magic, and I found myself buying five pounds of wool and shades of dye to match the midnight sky.
To the uninitiated, five pounds of wool is roughly two lawn bags full. The wool I bought was “raw”, unwashed, straight from the sheep, because I enjoy doing things the hard way. I washed it carefully, lock by lock, then dyed it various blues and purples, with only a hint of actual black. I hung it in my bedroom to dry for a few days, turning it every now and then, fluffing out bits for better circulation. This phase took me a week or two.
Next came the blending. Despite a variety of hues piled up around the room, I wanted a solid color, heathered and even; an interesting black made complex by the various tones on the evening horizon. First, I added a bit of mohair for the white of the stars, tossing it like a salad. Then I scattered the wool around my living room in handfuls, the mess came up past my knees. I patted it down and rolled it up, pulling the roll into a rope to break up clumps of color. I repeated the process a few times times.
This did not take an afternoon. It took about a month. After this step came the combing, using two paddles edged with two rows of four inch nails that I keep near the front door in case I need a weapon, but so far I’ve only needed it to comb wool into a fluffy bits like the top of a poodle’s head. The fluff is pulled through a tiny hole in a scrap of wood so that it becomes a rope of compact and even goodness. I rolled this into balls, and it was ready to spin. It took a couple of months.
The spinning itself went relatively fast, not much more than a month. But then I had to knit it. When it was all said and done, it took a year to make, and it was almost the only project I worked on that year. I think I made a pair of socks as well.
That is just knitting, here is the magic that made it a flying carpet.
The entire time, I thought about that book. I was a single mother and a college student, those years were full of late-night study breaks while my son slept. Hours were spent on the porch staring at the sky while I tried to clear math out of my head, then a little time with my wool before bed. This project filled my life with visions of stars and stories that connect all of us, now and throughout history.
It’s a common thing to look at the night sky and feel small. I never really felt that in my youth. I could picture the sky reaching out to eternity, but I felt myself being exactly the size I should be. My amazement was no more or less than when I find a tiny cluster of crystals on a pebble in the road, or discover a green bee.
But that book, I wasn’t just looking at stars anymore. I was looking at myth, legends and stories that guided people through the seasons and across oceans, shapes that held meaning, held culture, were seen by primal man, by honored historical figures, by people I love, by people long gone and will be seen by the yet to be born.
Even better, many of those legends involve spinning. Such a cherry to top off the ever-present wooly metaphors of spinning tales and weaving stories. I guess I am driven by story. Turn the stars into stories, and their weight will come crushing down on me in the low, steady epiphany that drives all the bards wild.
My blanket was circular, like the horizon, with eight spiraling spokes denoting the ever moving path of the stars, shown in those little flecks of mohair. It was thick, warm, and perfect to lay on the ground for some light yoga.
When I sat upon it to meditate, I sat upon the sky itself. I’m sure you can appreciate why it seemed to feel like a flying carpet. You can’t buy metaphors with that much power. It brought much insight and inspiration for a while, until it was lost in one of our chaotic moving fits.
I’ve thought of it frequently lately, as I’ve been too distracted and lackluster for much inspiration. Some time after I moved most recently, I thought maybe a re-creation of the experience might pull me from my funk of moving home, maybe stimulate a few creative juices.
Not the whole blanket, I have other things to do this year. But perhaps a shawl, I could let someone else dye it, but I would spun it and contemplate the moon; a different aspect of the sky to get to know. It seemed an interesting way to stimulate some creativity, so I found a lovely merino/camel/silk blend dyed in a colorway called Twilight. Hopefully, If I pretend hard enough, I will feel bathed in moonlight when it is draped across my shoulders, and it will whisper shadowy stories in my ear.
In the meantime, I have cats to write for, so I also started a scarf in a simple cat’s paw lace, in a yarn I hope Joe doesn’t find the receipt for (the uninitiated are never prepared for the cost of top shelf yarn). Not long after casting on, I decided to listen to “cat lady” music, and figured cat ladies like classical. The combination made me quickly remember a few ladies who may or may not have owned cats, but took in stray children, and a few stray children I knew that never did find homes, and a scene from my childhood with a safe way to express it in fiction. It came to me in a flash that moved me to tears, only three rows into the scarf. That right-brain stimulation is powerful stuff.
These cats may end up opening a vein, as I start wandering through a different kind of darkness, away from monsters and serial killers and closer to subjects more terrifying to talk about, a little less play and a little more drama. Except for the hidden murderess, she could be fun. And there could be a little magic here and there.
We have dogs, but I am secretly a cat person. I’ve had close to twenty (all indoors). When poverty prevented vet trips, I became petless and stayed that way until I met Joe. Joe hates cats. He keeps saying they are noisy, due to once upon a time being kept up by a stray cat in heat. I keep telling him the dogs are a thousand times louder, but then he starts talking about smells, and what if they attacked his dogs, and so on.
But he’s not here, he still works in New York, so I stared feeding the strays.
We have a cat population so thick, they’ve made their own trails running under storage sheds and between our houses, burrowing under and and leaping over from place to place where the cat ladies feed. I’ve become one of them, but I have an end game. I am gaining their trust and keeping them close.
There are no real birds to speak of here, only a handful in the entire neighborhood have escaped the cats. When I first moved in, I was delighted to find a few snakes and a turtle, signs that wildlife migrates through the area from nearby railroad tracks, and I got excited at the chance to nurture a little urban diversity.
But, the cat colony kept growing. There is no diversity here, just cats and the few birds that have learned how to avoid them. I haven’t seen a bunny in over a year.
There are dogs though, the large, aggressive ones that people in shabby neighborhoods keep to protect them. When I first moved in, I thought the cats had Manx blood and were inbreeding, until I noticed the ones whose tails had healed permanently mangled from narrow escapes. Now I see the limping, the scars.
I love cats, and I love nature, so I want to act, even if I only manage to help a little. I know no-kill shelters are overrun, and I know many of these cats aren’t likely to be adopted, so working with a catch-and-release spay and neuter program seems the best option.
Now, Joe is currently making a comfortable amount of money. However, because of our mutual goals, I’m on a small allowance while we finish paying way too much for this place, so we will be allowed to move it to land (which also means we need money for land). There is no way the cat-hating Joe will help me with this goal, unless I’m also contributing my own funds, then he might think about it.
My own funds being limited, this will be a slow process that might not help much, unless I do the weird thing all the people with real jobs are doing and earn my own money. In my current situation, the best way to do that is with my writing. It will still take patience, in the meantime I can continue doing what I can with my own money to help.
Obviously I can submit my work and use that money to buy the vouchers I will need, but I’m still at the stage where I don’t have much material worthy of submission. I’m working on correcting that right now. In the meantime, I still wish to keep up my fiction blog, and my uninterrupted writing time is short.
Here is where I need your feedback. I could simply do my normal weekly flash, working hard in the background on a novel that features a cat, then self publish and then use those book sales to raise the money. In essence, leaving my blogging out of it, but the project would result in my first novel, a simpler story than the one I will talk about below.
Or, I can blog the occasional cat-related flash with a donation button in the P.S., and possibly weave that flash into a flash novella, occasionally making one of my little films to illustrate some of the flash to promote novella sales. If I did that, the novel I work on could be the idea I already have, character sheets and all, but it has an aspect that I would find challenging as a writer. It’s a little intimidating, and I’ve been either working to developing my skills or been procrastinating, I’m not sure. Both projects would be more complex and challenging this way.
Maybe I won’t be able to raise any money in a decent amount of time, I might end up just paying out of pocket until we eventually move, but I can continue to donate to the cause. Any money I make from either cat project would be donated, forever and ever, amen. It might not end up a huge amount, but I will be doing what I can.
My experience with photography started with me purposefully taking bad photos to correct them in photoshop, or to find things to play with trick photography. Having a lousy camera never held me back, because it was all intended for the web. Or at least, that’s what I told myself to make me feel better. My limited equipment is really probably why I only ever dabbled in it occasionally over the years.
Now I have a 4k camcorder that takes still images clear enough to enjoy on a large screen. My eyes limit me more than my equipment. I can actually approach photography/videography as a hobby for it’s own sake, even if it’s just to capture things that will illustrate my fiction.
This is all to let you know why yesterday was the first time I’ve ever tried limiting myself to shooting in black and white. I mean, I figured if I wanted a black and white photo, I could just edit a color photo to suit what I wanted.
I so wish I tried this sooner. I’ve been in such a funk every time I look around me and try to find something to photograph. This time of year, the grass is patchy where the summer heat sucks the life out of everything, temperatures in the hundreds over plains full of hard-packed, clay filled soil. Then autumn brings some rain, and a little flush of green, but mostly everything is still a dull olive fading to brown and everything looks a little frayed around the edges.
Taking the dreariness out of our landscape by only seeing it in light and shadow was awesome. I mean, I like dreary, when it has atmosphere. But a color photo needs a little something interesting about those colors, and that’s been a little scarce lately.
Being able to ignore color completely freed me; I began to enjoy interacting with my surroundings. My lousy little trailer (so disappointing a subject after spending the summer in a small mansion) started looking gloriously shadowy, and my lousy housekeeping started looking interesting and expressive instead of embarrassing. That’s fucking magic, right there.
I took my daughter to the park for some fun shots to send to daddy, and the ugly landscape and scenery this time of year didn’t hold me back. I got a ton of great photos of her, and the cracked pavement and tattered buildings were fun to collect along the way. I’m looking forward to more outings with my camera now, and it’s definitely eased my funk.
All in all, I have decided black and white photography is cheating a little, by making the medium simpler to use. And that is fine with me.
It’s October, so naturally I must write again. I mean, there is nothing about this month that is not cool in some way. It’s full of entertainment for families, for lovers, and so many fans of things that slink in shadows. Creative types are allowed leeway in expression in their film, stories, music, and oh the beauty of those who break free in expression through costume, bless your talented souls.
If your imagination does not stir this month, you are dead inside. Which, this month, should stir your imagination.
This year, best of all, someone had the brilliant idea to fill a gap, a spot where writers have been wanting. If you’ve admired #Inktober or #Drawlloween on Twitter, now there’s #GrimList2019. When I first saw it a couple of days ago, it seemed fortunate as some of my Long Island carnival footage kept popping into my head and I wondered what to do with it. There it was, in the first prompt: “carnival”.
I took two and a half days to finish the first prompt, but I had to learn to edit the pitch of my voice for I sound nothing like a teenage girl, and not quite like a man (but close). I’m an amateur, but I’m learning. The written story is already on my fiction blog.
Which brings me to this post. Not only was it fortunate that I had a little carnival footage, it was also quite pleasing to see the next prompt was “cemetery”. I kept thinking a tour of the local bone yards might be just the thing to lift my spirits about leaving New York, as a tour of cities for the dead was on the wish list for Long Island.
In Staten Island, I saw gravestones made of clay to mark the dead of the first settlers to the Dutch colonies. Their names were crumbling and falling away, on headstones made of clay topped by hand carved angels. My camera is much higher quality now, still too much for me to handle with a great degree of skill really, and I hoped to find nice treasures to illustrate and inspire my fiction.
Our graveyards aren’t quite as rich with history and atmosphere, they reflect more of the prosperity that even early Tulsa had. This town was built on oil and art deco. Even so, there were a few stones crumbling beneath colorful lichens to keep me happy. I could see some angles probably looking lovely in the fog.
Unfortunately, the day was pleasant. There were a few fairy rings and withered, dead trees around though, but there was still the backdrop of a highway and the nearby (comparatively wussy and boring) skyline. Sorry, I’ll shed this “good-bye New York” chip on my shoulder soon, I swear.
We picked Oaklawn, the oldest cemetery in Tulsa, if you don’t count the one that no one talks about under the BOK stadium. The one that apparently people slacked off on when moving the bones, some still being found in construction sites to this day.
The kids had fun. I put Lacy in her hotpants because I didn’t want her disrespecting the graves, but I still I felt odd taking a puppy and a toddler to a graveyard for tourism.
It didn’t feel odd to me when I went alone in Staten Island, even though it was for photographs, just like today. I mean, it’s one thing to be a tourist to the dead, but to bring a toddler who climbs on the fallen gravestones, and a puppy, and actually walk across the bones of strangers? In Staten Island, I took respectful photos at a distance through the iron bars.
Except, it was interesting when I stepped out of the car. This is only emotions I’m going to talk about here, nothing more than a wave of sudden emotional responses filtered through a creative mind (right?), but it was interesting when I finished getting the whole family out of the car and we started walking over the bones of those who have gone before us.
First, there was the probably to be expected feeling of relief at being alive, among so many dead. Similar to walking by a row of homeless people when you’ve been through shit yourself, but are far removed from the struggle now. You know; the relief that comes tinged with guilt and even more guilt when you realize there is nothing you can personally do to help the disaster of a life you are blithely waltzing by.
It’s okay though, waves of emotions had my back. There was an immediate expression of gratitude at the presence of life, of joy at a visit, even if it was the equivalent of watching a cute family ramble down the sidewalk by your window, when chained to your home by ill health. I know that emotion, I’ve had that chain, that’s why I recognized it. And… well, it felt like a response.
I mean, I’m not saying it wasn’t an expression of my subconscious, a way to deal with the presence of death. I am saying that when my daughter started sitting on graves, I started nervously telling her to get off of them, it was disrespectful (while snapping pictures quickly because fairy ring nearby and why didn’t I dress her in something white and flowing?) But, I had the feeling that someone nearby had that “stranger at a distance enjoying your children” (in a good way) attitude.
You know, the one you get when someone’s kid nearby is being a little rude, but they mean nothing by it and it’s kind of adorable, and as you watch the mother’s embarrassed panic you heart just grows warm with memories. Also like walking through a nursing home with a little one just learning to walk, the feeling of those eyes.
It seemed a strange emotional reaction to my own daughter running wild. Yet, I had to recognize that I just brought a cute puppy in pink pants and a little barefoot tomboy to the home of those who would have pleasant memories, if their minds were still there to have them. So, I guess next time I’ll bring a picnic, and maybe a ball for the puppy to play fetch. Because even if it’s my own imagination, it’s still worth having a picnic with.
When I said I might post here sporadically, I did not mean with this much time between posts. I should have knocked on wood to not tempt the fates, but here are the reasons. Let’s see how ladylike I can express my frustration.
They could be called good reasons, if you look from the perspective of a woman with an adventurous heart suffering crushing disappointment, but that’s the view of the young. I’m middle aged. I can tell you with the wisdom of my years that it’s a flat-out temper tantrum which the unprofessional writer has the luxury of throwing, but it certainly won’t help my goals.
My goals, like any writer, include to shape the world by sharing my lessons learned, so I will share with you the aspects of my recent non-adventures as they have impacted my life as a writer. Let’s fucking grow together.
That welcome post I did? And the Instagram game? The mind of a writer likes to get all fired up during major life events, and these posts showed that. I had new environments, pockets of culture, and that recurring dream I have that makes me think perhaps I know a little of why Anthony Bourdain was into travel.
And now, I am back in Oklahoma.
I thought I would be in Long Island about a year, or at least through the school year for my son. Nope. And while I was in Long Island, I started a handful of multimedia fiction writing projects, as well as a few non-fiction things related to travel and nature writing, like journaling my attempts to draw crows to my yard and mapping out a series of trips to all the cemeteries on the island to find the most hauntingly beautiful.
I worked hard on a favorite multimedia project that had a plotline where the protagonist ran away to New York. I suppose I can rewrite the project so that the protagonist didn’t run to a new city (because I’m not sure I could pull off a reason to run to Tulsa). The thought is just massively disappointing because I had this vision of a series of flash connected by postcards linked to the story, and it would all feature videos of the old growth forest and saltwater marshlands around Long island, and hopefully some scenes in the city.
I mean, here in Tulsa, we have a lake or two nearby, and a bunch of hard clay and tall grass. Who wants to do a video project of that? Not someone pouting about being yanked around the country, that’s who.
This isn’t the first time I’ve gone to live “about a year” in New York for a sudden return. By sudden, I mean twice Joe told me we had to leave that day because of his work schedule. We had four uncomfortably long road trips in way too short a time with a toddler, a teen, two dogs, and two adults. Twice, we only had one four door sedan. Only a couple of months passed between each move, giving me just enough time to settle in and start acting on plans to make the best of things before uprooting again.
This time last year I was in Staten Island, where I learned that when you move to a city, tourism might not happen frequently. Life stuff can get in the way, but I still allowed myself to use my writing time to daydream of voyages into the city as soon as we had the chance. I did research, drew maps while listening to podcasts of local ghost stories, and threw myself into the words of Poe. When I did get to see where I wanted to visit, I would be able to seize every nuance of atmosphere to fuel my muse.
When I learned we weren’t going to be there a year and would be leaving very soon, frustrating barrier after barrier meant I never got to see Poe’s banister, or walk the streets he walked. I would not drink with the legend of Dilan Thomas’ ghost, I would not walk the bone-laden grounds of Washington State Park, immersing myself in the shadows of a city thick with history and culture like few other places this world has to offer.
In the aftermath of that disappointment, I did the thing I do and found a way to make it feel better by doing research on some of Tulsa’s darker history, planning on finally getting out and seeing the city. When I moved here, I was limited to the bus system for a decade. For those of y’all in proper cities, let me tell you, out here in the boondocks the metro bus system might take you two hours to get somewhere you could get to in fifteen minutes by car. Sight seeing becomes something you do while waiting for the next bus, and all the sights are parking lots. That was then though, and now I have transportation and pocket change.
I learned the downtown Tulsa bus station was bone-laden itself, as a nearby corner was the site of Tulsa’s first official cemetery. Also, somewhere in the area where I used to walk, there is supposedly still a hanging tree from the days of the old west. I found out why Cherry street is named Cherry street, and how the prostitution and bars in the days of the old west supposedly scattered a few ghosts through the area, including in a local new-age bookstore that I’ve enjoyed a few times.
This made me feel better. I even started visiting the grounds of the supposedly haunted Tulsa Garden Center when my laptop crashed, and it had been a couple of months since I backed up to the cloud. I lost all of that research, video footage, and the solid beginnings of a novel.
My disappointment was short lived, because I found out I would be going to Long Island. Instead of recreating my work, I switched gears to planning for a move. We’ve covered how well that turned out. Did I mention that Joe went back? He’s in the same house, just pays less rent because we aren’t there.
In short, I’m a little frustrated. Especially since this bouncing around has not just affected me, my toddler has become beyond a handful, my son’s school year was screwed, and I’ve been left with an amazingly short amount of time and energy to write. Chores are piling up from our homes and lives getting shuffled around. Preparation and recovery from a move are slow with fibromyalgia and a toddler underfoot. Every aspect of my life is showing signs of wear and tear from exhaustion.
I know I can pull it together, I’ve done it three times before in the last year after all. But, I think scaling back on my attempts at writing needs to happen for a little while. I need to focus on my family and home first, so that when I start letting my head roam around, it will be in an environment that’s a lot easier to focus in.
Besides, my muse has been interrupted multiple times, and she’s licking her wounds. It’s time to pull out the bullet journal and pour my creativity into reorganizing my life, maybe dust off my inner domestic goddess. I promised you lessons, and that’s one I’ve stumbled upon. Bullet journaling is not to be taken lightly.
I thought it was a distraction eating into valuable writing time, but it turns out that stuff keeps me running a tight ship better than writing reminders on the bathroom mirror. If I can plan meals and maintain a shopping list for the entire week ahead, I spend less time running to the store. Meals are eaten on more of a routine, often earlier, so my toddler goes to bed at a more reliable hour.
Scheduling tasks means I spend less time fumbling around wondering what all it is I have to get done, a distraction when I’m trying to daydream about protagonists. Little things like that add up, small efficiencies that you don’t realize were helping until they are gone. The “time wasting” part of it is the decorating, and that’s optional (but relaxing).
I’m not sure yet what lessons I’ve learned regarding my writing. I won’t say I’ve learned to stop yearning to seek out and express exotic environments or experiences. I’m not sure I could be disappointed enough for that to ever happen, now I’ve tasted certain possibilities and awakened memories of youthful adventures. The desire is pretty strong.
Besides, I’m unfortunate enough to be cursed with undying optimism, possibly an affliction that many hard core daydreamers must endure. I imagine I’ll just dust off the old ideas of pursuing creepy Tulsa while I look through my aborted projects to see which ones I feel like adapting and carrying forward with as my disappointment fades. I’m used to facing disappointment, it’s part of the curse.
I might even find a few things to film, I really have been enjoying the multimedia inspiration thing. It’s just going to be more of a challenge to find something interesting in the land of flat, dry, and boring. I’m sure I’ll be able to pull it off though. Right after this research about dogs while I play with my puppy.
P.S. – The apple belonged to the people who owned the house we were staying in, it was a discarded, forgotten, battered wax apple that would likely be tossed if they ever got around to cleaning out their storage rooms. It seemed to me to be the perfect metaphor, and I kept it near my writing area until it inspired something. It inspired nothing until I decided to steal it.