Currently // October 2018: A Whole Month of Halloween

And just like that, October is over, but at least it goes out with a bang! At least we get to end by dressing up, gorging on all our favorite candies, and indulging in the sick pleasure of scary movies and ghost stories. If you were lucky, like me, you got to spend the whole month celebrating Halloween. I went to a haunted house, Beetlejuice movie party, and a costume party. I watch some of my favorite scary movies and binge-watched some new creepy shows too. October is by far the flashiest and the most fun of all the months if you make the most of it. I really hope you did.

Productivity-wise, my priorities shifted this month. I had to spend more time on my day job than on my hobbies and passions but somehow I’m not feeling disappointed in the fact. I may not have been productive on the writing front, but a lot of the time I was physically at work, I was mentally brainstorming new possibilities and I am excited to make November the start of big changes.

But first, here is what I am currently:

Writing blog posts, believe it or not. I really wish you guys could see my drafts folder, ugh! It’s full of thought fragments and half-finished pieces. I don’t know what’s wrong with me or why I can’t seem to finish anything I start. I haven’t lost my enthusiasm, I’ve just lost focus. Or, maybe, I’m in search of a focus I never had? This blog, I think, has become too personal and the things I have been posting are no longer what I wish I was posting. I have a solution in mind but it’s not easy to execute. I’m separating myself from my message and writing for one or the other in turn, not both in the same at once.

Making ugly analog collages that I’m too insecure to share. I promise they aren’t all that interesting but I hope with practice they will become good enough to show off. In the meantime, I’m making a new pocket notebook to carry around and staring at my art journal wishing I could think of some art to make in it.

Planning for the new year. I know, I know, it’s entirely too early to even mention the new year. We’ve barely gotten through Halloween, but every year, with all the hustle and bustle, the cooking and shopping, the stress and depression, the end of the year kind of sneaks up on us. I don’t want to be caught so unaware this time. I want to have solid celebratory plans, an editorial calendar that carries me through to Spring, and a plan that sets me up for New Year’s resolution success!

Anticipating upcoming election results across the country! Of course, I am hoping to see the Dems get back some control of either the Senate or the House—preferably both— but I’m also anxiously awaiting the results of some very interesting ballot issues here at home. One, in particular, is Proposition 112, a statewide citizen-initiative to push all new oil and gas development (not on federal land) at least 2,500 feet back from occupied and vulnerable areas. Big Oil is pouring money into attack ads but I have faith in my fellow Coloradans.

Reading The Iliad, still, but making a lot of progress. More importantly, I’m thoroughly enjoying it. I’m still reading On the Genealogy of Morals by Friedrich Nietzsche too. I was enjoying it, but then I wasn’t. I’m getting back to liking it again slowly now that the end is near. I would have finished both of these by now but I haven’t been spending as much time reading as I know I should. The problem is my phone. So, I’m working on a set of new habits to keep me from picking the damn thing up and to make it easier for me to put it back down when I do.

Watching The Haunting of Hill House on Netflix. I actually finished it already. It was so good I binge watched all 10 episodes in one night—from 5 PM to 3 AM the next day. I don’t recommend you do that, but I do think you should definitely check out the show. It’s creepy, of course, but there is also plenty of real-life family drama too. I’m also watching The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina the Teenage Witch, also on Netflix, and it’s definitely a lot creepier than I thought it would be. Both are 100% worth your time!

Feeling a little withdrawn, but not necessarily down. I’m consumed with finding a path for my writing and that’s made me a bit closed off and distant. It’s gotta be this new space I’m slowly carving out. I had been feeling stuck in a rut for a long while now. I’ve been feeling incapable, ordinary, and unimaginative. I’d even been considering giving up since it seemed clear I had no talent, but this new idea is freeing. I feel full of possibility and this place feels like a place of purpose again.

Fearing that I’m not taking care of my day-to-day responsibilities as well as I should. My anxiety is bad and while my health has been much better, fatigue is still kicking my ass and causing forgetfulness at times. Just getting up, working, getting down and few words, and cleaning up around the house is all I can seem to do with my days. Anything more wipes me out. I’m afraid to be a burden to my fiance. I’m afraid to be resented one day.

Reflecting on how I’ve gotten too comfortable with my life. I grew up in a household where nothing ever felt secure or certain and as an adult, I’ve—without realizing it or wanting to admit it—built a life where there is as much security, certainty, and predictability as possible. I’ve worked the same job, with the same scheduled, lived in the same house, and done the same things day after day. I’m starting to see just how small of a box I’ve put myself in and wondering if my comfort zone no longer serves its purpose.

Needing more time. I know we all could use a few more hours a day, and I know that no matter how much anyone ever wished, the length of days will never change. I need to reclaim, redistribute, and repurpose the time I have. I mentioned the issue with my phone. I’ve deleted the Facebook app and all games, I’ve started plugging it in across the room and limiting notifications, but my phone isn’t the only problem. My couch is a big one too. After work and all weekend long I lounge around watching shows and movies, or simply sleeping. All that time, lost, sometimes wasted, but no more.

Learning not a lot right now I’m ashamed to say. I’ve not kept up with math lessons on Khan Academy or my Spanish or German lessons on Duolingo. I would like to pick them back up and add this writing course from the renowned Roxane Gay on Skillshare. If I can get back the focus I had just a year ago and start gaining some momentum, some recognition, and a few paid opportunities I’d love to try one of these writing classes from Catapult as well. A good challenge can be a great motivator and I could really use some day-to-day motivation right now.

Loving my amazing friends, who always let me know that it’s okay to be me and that there is plenty of patience and forgiveness for the days when I am not my best self. When I am grouchy, awkward, irritating, angry, or forgetful. People need that. People need to know that their mistakes don’t mean the end of relationships and friendships. You need to know you are loved and liked even when you say the wrong thing, let someone down, or just need time to learn to do better. I’m happy I have that.

Hating the ugliness coming out of the White House right now. The twisting of facts, the outright lies, the dog whistles and the obvious attempts to rile up some of the most dangerous groups in this country. I hate that I feel so unsafe and that I worry so much about not just my rights and safety, but the rights and safety of others too. I hate that I feel so small and powerless. I hate the damage being done to us and how low the price of our collective souls has sunk.

Hoping that liberal voters come through this year and get out there and vote. It doesn’t take much time and your vote could mean a better, safer life for a lot of people if we can bring this administration under control. The recent attacks on the LGBTQ community and immigrants should motivate us all, not to mention the attempted assassinations of high-level Democrats and supporters the Pittsburg Synagogue shooting. I’m hoping for a blue wave and a great sigh of relief come next Tuesday.

So, yeah, all in all, October was great fun, and I am sad to see it go. The winter holidays sound nice in theory but it can be the most stressful time of the year. So, today, for just one more day, I’m going to be a little weird and wild. I’m going to eat all the candy I want, dress up a little, and take time to scare myself some.

Tomorrow the holiday music begins.

But what about you? How did you celebrate the month of Halloween? What is your favorite horror film? (I’m always looking for recommendations.) Have you voted already? Or at least plan to vote on Tuesday? Are you dragging a friend or three down to the polls with you?

Let me know in the comments!

“We were letting go of October, relinquishing color,
readying ourselves for streets lacquered with ice,
the town closed like a walnut, locked inside the cold.”

— Mark Perlberg, The Impossible Toystore

***

Thanks for reading! If you like this post check out my weekly-ish newsletter for inspiring reads + existential musings on life, love, and inevitable human suffering. Or help support what I do by sharing a virtual cup of coffee.

The inspiration for these posts comes from Andrea at Create.Share.Love.

Photo by Altınay Dinç on Unsplash

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Currently // September 2018: Summer is Over and I am Too Late

Summer is over, long over, but I am having a hard time accepting it. These warm afternoons lull me back into a false hope that there is still time yet to make the most of summer but in the evening the golden leaves dotting the trees wink at me mockingly as the cool air creeps in and I am reminded that I am too late. Everything is changing now, the leaves, the air, even my mood and there is no way to stop or slow it. Summer is over and I have to move on now too.

So, I’m trying to find the beauty of Autumn and figuring out what the season can mean to me if I’d let it. I’m preparing for the clouds and the cold, the blowing snow and the sadness they bring. I’m trying, as I do every year, to figure out how I’m going to get through it.

But first, here is what I am currently:

Writing that unknown thing I talked about last month. To be honest I haven’t actually written it any of it anywhere that it can be read. It’s still all in my head but I am working on it and it is becoming clearer every day. Its slowly taking form as a sort of “genetic profile” of trauma. It’s an exploration of the toll that generations of oppression, discrimination, misogyny, abuse, and poverty have had on one life, my life.

Making no progress at all toward creating any art at all. I had pledged to start utilizing my DIY art journal but I let myself down once again. It sits unused and unloved on the “analog desk” of my “creativity room” where I no longer go because I no longer want to face such failure. I hope I can find some inspiration and some courage in October.

Planning for, or rather, preparing for, winter. I don’t far well emotionally over the colder months. Winter is a time of hibernation, and sometimes, death. It depresses me, but this year I want things to be different. I want this winter to be a time to learn to be resilient again. That is what I am preparing for. This year, I will learn to be more accepting of change that makes me uncomfortable. I will learn to face cold, and dark, and dreary with more optimism. Sunshine or snow, there is still beauty in the world. Sunshine or snow, I still have a life.

Anticipating all the spooky goodness October will bring. Halloween is my favorite holiday, despite the season. Well be checking out a haunted house or two, a creepy outdoor mall crawl, and our friends are throwing a small costume party. There are quite a few of my favorite creepy films playing at the Alamo too, including an American Psycho all you can eat cereal party, a Beetlejuice movie party, and one of my girly favs, a Practical Magic movie party. The Shining will be on Netflix starting tomorrow too and I’m always looking for some classic horror recommendations to check out. If you know of any good ones drop them in the comments, please.

Reading On the Genealogy of Morals by Friedrich Nietzsche, still, but a lot of progress has been made. I’m working my way through the third essay but it is proving even harder than the first two to grasp. So hard I had to take a short break and read The Three Theban Plays by Sophocles. The plays were amazing, but I actually enjoyed the introductions and the translation notes more. So much so that I was inspired to The Iliad further up the queue right after The Collected Poems of Emily Dickenson and The Soul of an Octopus which is technically my reward for finishing with Nietzsche, eventually.

Watching The Sinner, a limited crime, drama, mystery series on Netflix about a young mother who stabs a stranger to death on the beach one day and a messed up detective who tries to help her figure why. I’m also watching The Deuce and Insecure on HBO, and Shameless on Showtime, all solid shows I recommend, but you know what I’m not watching at the moment? The news! Because lately it just leaves me…

Feeling utterly defeated and hopeless. The Supreme Court confirmation hearings and the Republican effort to rush through Brett Kavanaugh is so sickening I’ve hardly been able to turn on my TV. To be clear, I do believe Christine Ford. More importantly, though, I believe that her claims should be thoroughly investigated. I want the truth about Kavanaugh but this is a lot bigger than him. It’s about the process. It’s about stopping for a minute to be sure we are doing the right thing, the thing that won’t keep us all up at night with shame and regret.

Fearing what the doctor will have to say this week. While I was sick this month I took cold medicine that I knew was a big no-no for people with ulcerative colitis—I was desperate!—and now my stomach is all…messed up. So, this week I’m getting another colonoscopy, yay! I’m afraid of bad news, but for some weird reason, I’m more afraid of good news. I’m afraid of wasting everyone’s time. I’m afraid people will think I am faking it, or at least being overly dramatic. I’m afraid everything looks fine and we have to hunt for a new explanation for all the pain I have been in.

Reflecting on free will, inevitable human suffering, and death, as usual. Since I’ve started reading Shakespeare, literature from Ancient Greece, and all the classic novels I missed in school, I’m struck by how much of our art is about how fragile, stupid, and sad human beings are. They take all those big unknowns, the big scary things we cannot face and make them bearable to look at. I don’t for a second think I could ever count myself among them but they do make me feel less alone. They understand. They help me understand better too.

Needing my family to start feeling like my family again. We received quite a few shocks over the summer and we’ve yet to recover from the blows. Thing’s have changed that I don’t think can every be unchanged but I had hoped we could find a new way of loving each other. I had hoped for more forgiveness and understanding, but I’ve been let down. Now, I’m in need of it. Now, I’m not asking I’m demanding. Now, I am being pushed past my own limits of understanding. I need something to get better before even I am too far gone.

Learning German, maybe? I was learning some basic Spanish with Duolingo but I feel like I’ve gone as far as I want to with the app but I miss using it. So, I thought, why not try a whole new language. Well, not completely new. I did live in Germany for a short time as a child. I still remember how to count to 10 in German but I’ve forgotten everything else I learned. I thought it might be fun to see if I can get any of it back.

Loving how focused I have been on my work lately. I wish I could find the same motivation for writing but at least I am doing something, and my day job at least pays, you know? It feels good to focus on what I have to do for a while and not hate it so much. It feels good to go to work and love what I do again. It won’t last, I know, and I still want to take some of that focus and put it where I know I will be most fulfilled but for now, I love doing what I do, every day.

Hating how much time I wasted in life. I know we all have regrets. I know each and every one of us wishes they could go back in time and choose differently. We wish we knew then what we know now, that’s life, I know, but I’m having a hard time letting it go. I’ve come a long way from where I once was, but now that I want to go further I find that on paper I’m not much to look at. I wish I had more skills. I wish I had a degree or two under my belt, and a lot less fear. I hate feeling so useless, stupid, and low. I hate that my self-worth depends so much on decisions I can never go back and remake.

Hoping that we are far enough into the school year now that things will start settling down. We’ve been short-staffed for a long time now, and without enough driver, or assistants, or even enough buses but somehow we make it happen. Somehow, we get all those kids to and from school safely, every day, but working magic like that takes a toll and the morale plummets by the day. I am one of those lucky ones who counts her friends among her co-workers but it’s getting harder and harder to see them so stressed out. I hope relief is on the way soon.

So, yeah, all in all, September was a good month, just really busy. I can’t say I’m sad to see it go but at the same time it going just means we’re getting closer to the cold and to the end of the year. I’m not so happy about that but life goes on, no matter how hard we try to hold on to right now. So, what’s best is to just move right along with it. I’ll go into October as happily as I can.

But what about you? How did September treat you? How did you mark the end of summer? Are you a fan of fall? Any good horror film recommendations? Have you lost faith in democracy too?

Let me know in the comments!

“It was September. In the last days when things are getting sad for no reason.”

— Ray Bradbury, “The Lake”, The October Country

***

Thanks for reading! If you like this post check out my weekly-ish newsletter for inspiring reads + existential musings on life, love, and inevitable human suffering. Or help support what I do by sharing a virtual cup of coffee.

The inspiration for these posts comes from Andrea at Create.Share.Love.

Photo by Jonah Pettrich on Unsplash

Currently // August 2018: Letting Myself Feel Better

And just that quickly, the summer (unofficially) comes to an end. The kids are back at school. The pools are closing and Halloween decorations are already up in stores. Can you believe it?

Of course, the heat will linger and it will be a while longer before we put away our shorts and swimsuits to make room for hoodies and pants but the signs are already there. The cooler nights, and here and there a tree whose leaves have become tipped with golds and reds. Autumn is on the way.

The summer is slowly fading and with it, a little part of my happiness is going too. I’ve never made it a secret how much I hate winter and autumn is nothing but a depressing descent into that cold barren void…but, not yet! For now, there is still some warmth, some green, some life in this world and in me yet.

Here is what I am currently:

Writing a thing? I mean, I’m writing something but I have no idea what it is or what it will turn out to be. I had planned on outlining a memoir for NaNoWriMo but since starting Nietzsche’s polemic On the Genealogy of Morals I’ve wondered if the genre and form might work for me too? So, I’m starting there. I’m starting with essays but I’m not limiting myself by labeling it one thing or planning on it being another. I’m just going to write this thing and see what it becomes.

Making a pledge to start filling pages in my art journal! I made the thing I don’t know how long ago—months maybe?—but I just haven’t been able to bring myself to soil the beautiful pages with my shitty scribbles. What a waste of hard work and creative space though, right? So, in September I am making a promise not to make any more excuses. I’m going to ruin the hell out of that journal no matter what.

Planning a new editorial calendar system. I’ve been slacking here for a long time now. I know it and you know it. I won’t get into the “I’m sorry’s” or the excuses, you’ve heard them already. I’ll just say that I’m going to try harder because I want to, not because I feel like I have to. Feeling obligated only makes it harder. This place is for me first, and I have missed it because it’s the first place, and often the only place where I feel like I am who I have been trying to be. So, I’m going finish these half drafts and then start fresh with a new schedule and focus.

Anticipating doing more of what I’ve been doing, working. I enjoyed the freedom of July, but I may have had too much of it. It’s amazing how motivating a big or restriction and responsibility can be. Its only been three weeks, but it’s been great for my focus and I’m very much looking forward to more early mornings, cups of coffee, stressful days and easy days too. I’m looking forward to Monday through Friday, regular paychecks, and stressing about real things again. I’m looking forward to nothing changing at all, at least for one more month.

Reading The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne and On the Genealogy of Morals by Friedrich Nietzsche, still. It’s not that I’m struggling, it’s just that I’ve gotten so far off track from my reading goals that I kinda gave up for a while. Now I’m trying again and this time instead of focusing on how many books I want to read for the whole year I’ve decided to just focus on reading for at least 30 minutes a day, every day. I can read as slowly as I want. I take as many notes as I want. I can go back and reread chapters. I can spend as much time as I want in the introductions, the preface, and the prologue. I can enjoy the book my way as long as I do it for 30 minutes a day.

Watching Insecure and Random Acts of Flyness on HBO. I just finished up Sharp Objects too and it was by far the most riveting show I’ve watched in a long time. I’m also watching Castle Rock, the new horror series from Stephen King on Hulu and binging old episode of ER and Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown on Netflix, and Avatar: The Last Airbender on Nickelodeon every Saturday morning.

As for the big screen, Blackkklansman was really good. The whole theater was in tears by the end and I’m still reflecting on the nuanced message I believe Spike Lee was trying to express. I finally got around to seeing Avengers: Infinity War and I’m glad I waited because after that shocking end now I cannot wait for the next one!

Feeling better! I mean, I’m still tired all the time and my joints hurt. I’m moody and I’ve been getting these awful headaches. The medicine may or may not be working and I’m anxiously awaiting results on a slew of lab tests, but I do feel better and I’m doing my best to let myself feel better when I feel better without worrying when about how I will feel tomorrow, next week, six months or five years from now.

Fearing my future self. I’m afraid she will just be me, no different at all. Not better, not stronger, smarter, or kinder. I’m afraid of not changing, of not being able to change. I’m afraid that for as long as I live I’ll never get it quite right, never heal these wounds or grow thicker skin. I’m afraid that I will always be this sensitive and needing thing, trembling, mouth open and wailing.

Reflecting on the concepts I linger with and the ways they fade in and out of my life. I started following the poet Topaz Winters on Instagram and one of the first posts was a list she’d made of “concepts of she’d been lingering with lately“. Other poets quickly picked up the idea and made lists of their own and I was deeply inspired. I’ve made a few lists of my own so far, but I’m too shy to share. I’d like make these lists a regular exercise in examining what ideas, emotions, tastes, smells, actions, dreams, objects, people, and words are lingering in my mind. I want to watch the way these concepts change, fade, return, combine, and figure out what they might mean, or what I might make out of them.

Needing for one of these big life goals I’ve been striving for since forever to finally move from the “In Progress” column to the “Achieved” column. It feels like everything in my life, all my goals and every milestone I’ve tried to meet, has been all process and no matter how hard I try I never seem to get reach the end, the result, the completion on “the thing”. I know the journey is supposed to be just as fulfilling as the destination and all, but I feel myself burning out. I need a good stopping point. I need a sense of accomplishment! But, maybe that’s just life. Maybe it’s me and my very human inability to never be satisfied. More likely, I’m not planning enough or following through. Or maybe I just need new life goals?

Learning how to manage my time better! These past few weeks I’ve worked out a compromise between the work I have to do and the work I want to do so that neither is taking up all of my energy and neither is subject to something so unpredictable and out of control as emotion or impulse. Of course, I know this system I’ve put together won’t work forever. My workload will change, my work location will change, the weather will change, my health, my mood, my goals will change and the way I do things will have to change too. So, what I’m really learning is how to balance.

Loving that this August marked the 16th year since my fiance and I officially became a couple. It’s strange to have spent so much of my life with someone else. It’s strange to have spent so much of my life loving, supporting, encouraging, depending on and sometimes fighting with another person all while slowly but surely building a life and making a home. It’s strange to be both a whole being and half of one too. I’m loving it, all the good and all the bad. I’m loving every moment of it.

Hating the return of negativity to my life. Working for the school district, and working through the summer means I got two blissful months of peace While most of the staff was off. Now that everyone is back and properly stressed out moral has taken a nose dive right off of a cliff. I’m doing my best to avoid the gossip and the negativity, but some days I’m dragged down into the thick of it with everyone else and it takes everything in me to claw my way back out.

Hoping my family can get back to feeling like a family again. We’ve been going through some hard times lately, nothing too bad, and nothing I don’t think we could get past, but my family has a talent for taking a small slight and turning it into a grave injustice. We have a talent for hurting one another, for holding a grudge, and for being too proud and too cowardly to simply say we’re sorry. We’ve grown up, and grown closer, we forget there is still so much growing left to do.

So, yeah, all in all, August was a good month. I worked a lot, but it felt good, and I managed to get back to doing the things I love in a way that makes me feel good about who I am and where I am headed. I’m doing good and that all that matters.

But what about you? Are you tired of the heat yet? Does seeing the leaves change and feeling that chill n the air just fill you with gloom? See any good movies, binge-watching any good shows? I’m always looking for recommendations.

Let me know in the comments!

“We are now in August.
The first day of fall is September 22.
You can hear it in the distance.”

Michael Wade

***

Thanks for reading! If you like this post check out my weekly-ish newsletter for inspiring reads + existential musings on life, love, and inevitable human suffering. Or help support what I do by sharing a virtual cup of coffee.

The inspiration for these posts comes from Andrea at Create.Share.Love.

Photo by Agung Pratamah on Unsplash

If We Were Having Coffee // Half of My Life and One Week Down

Hello dear readers! Happy Sunday, welcome, and thank you for stopping by for a bit of caffeine and catching up.

I’m sorry it’s so late. I was so tired today, and when I wasn’t, I couldn’t bring myself to pull up a screen and type. I just wanted to be here, in my home, in my life. It was nice to unplug for the day, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that something was missing. I missed this chat and I felt I couldn’t end the weekend without a quick cup of coffee with you.

So, pull up a chair and fill up a cup. Let’s talk about last week.

“I let myself go, and made myself some coffee.”

— Anton Chekhov, from a letter to his sister written c. May 1890

***

If we were having coffee I would tell you that this weekend marked the 16th anniversary of my girlfriend’s decision to become begin a life together, us against the world. This year marks the halfway point between the years I have been with her, and the years I lived before she came into my life. Half of my life!

I hope by the time we are celebrating our 17th we’ll be working our way into our first year of marriage, but to be honest, this will always be the anniversary that means more to me. I think spending most of your relationship unable to legally get married changes the way you look at the institution of marriage and what it means to be a couple.  We are more than married already. We’ve cobbled together a happy home despite everything against us and we fought hard to stay together.

The day I knew I wanted to be married to this woman is more important to me than the day we will finally become so on paper. With that being said, I still can’t wait to call this beautiful woman my wife and to hear her call me the same.

***

If we were having coffee I would tell you that we spent our anniversary just outside of town on a gorgeous day hike through Deer Creek Canyon. We both have always loved hiking but there never seemed to be enough time for it. From here to the mountains is a couple of hours and then to hike and then to get back requires half the weekend if you include planning and packing too. I forgot I live in Colorado and this state is all about keeping the great outdoors close enough matter how far into the city you are.

I found out there are quite a few places to hike within half an hour of me, and many that are easy enough that I can keep all the gear at home. Deer Creek was about a 40-minute drive and once we were there and on the trail, I forgot how close were to the city. The trail is nestled just far enough inside the canyon that all you can see is sunshine, green trees, and the red earth.

We arrived just after sunrise and planned to only hike the easy trails and be back the way we came in within a couple of hours but along the way we felt so good we decided to buck up and brave the tougher route to what was marked on the map the “scenic view trail” and I’m so glad we did.

After the hike, we came back home to take long showers and soak our tired feet. We made pot stickers for lunch and drank too many beers before napping the rest of the afternoon away on the couch. When we woke up the sun was on its way down and we decided to dress up and Uber to our favorite out-of-the-way seafood place. We had too much wine and not nearly as many oysters or crab as we should have. Next time we’ll order differently.

***

If we were having coffee I would tell you that last week was the first week back to school for the kids was just as stressful as I feared it would be. I felt for a while there that it might never end and feared I wouldn’t make it but I’m proud of myself and all my coworkers for getting through it. It isn’t at all easy to get all these kids to school, through school, and back home physically and emotionally sound. If you don’t work for a school district you can’t fathom how chaotic and confusing it can be.

Every department has to work with all the others and more often than not they work against each other instead. Each has its own goals, policies, budget, and needs from the others to keep it working smoothly, and they never seem to agree on the best way to get the job done.

One week down, 39 more to go.

***

If we were having coffee I would tell you that after yesterday’s hike I’m hurting bad and if I want to have any hope of making into work tomorrow, I need to go soak these sore muscles, slather myself in soothing salves, and take something that will allow me to sleep.

I hope that your week was less stressful than mine and that your weekend was just as relaxing. I hope you found time to get outside and into nature, or that you at least found time to unplug and escape the pressure, the obligation, and the anxiety of your everyday life.

Until next time.

***

Thanks for reading! If you like this post check out my weekly-ish newsletter for inspiring reads + existential musings on life, love, and inevitable human suffering. Or help support what I do by sharing a virtual cup of coffee.

Written for the #WeekendCoffeeShare link-up hosted by Eclectic Alli

Photo by Goran Ivos on Unsplash

If We Were Having Coffee // Mini Vacations and Pattern Recognition

Hello dear readers! Happy Sunday, welcome, and thank you for stopping by for a bit of caffeine and catching up.

I’ll be honest, I’m not in the best mood today. The suffocating summer heat has returned and so has the wildfire smoke blowing in from as far as California. I’ve got a strong batch of cold brew to help with the heat but my runny nose and itching eyes and throat are making me miserable. I’m hoping that some good company and conversation to pick me up though because it’d be a real shame to waste the last of the weekend this way.

So, pull up a chair and fill up a cup. Let’s talk about last week!

“and we drink our
coffee and pretend
not to look at
each other.”

— Charles Bukowski, Luck

***

If we were having coffee I would tell you that last week was my first week back to working my normal, non-summer schedule and even though I struggled with it—getting up on time, arriving to work on time, and staying awake through what has been my nap time all summer—I actually loved it. I’d forgotten how good it felt to wake up and have to be somewhere, to have things I have to and people who expect me to show up.

It’s weird but I’m just one of those people who thrives under strict schedules, clear expectations, and hard boundaries. I like to know what is coming up. I like to plan ahead and prepare emotionally for the day, the week, even the month ahead. It’s an anxiety thing I’m sure. A lot of my friends think it sounds boring, but to me, it sounds safe and efficient. I can have fun and do wild and crazy things. I can surprise myself and learn something new all the time, I just like to plan for it, that’s all.

I got to meet the new kids coming on to my route since 9th graders have a special orientation day before the official start of school. They seem awesome and I’m confident we’re going to have a fun year. I was sad to learn that one of my favorite kids from last year moved back to his home state and won’t be riding with us after all. He will definitely be missed.

Tomorrow all the kids I had last year are going to see me again for the first time since May. I can’t wait to hear all about their vacations and see just how much they have grown over the summer. That may be my favorite part of my job, watching kids grow up into young adults. It’s why I bid middle and high school routes exclusively year after year. The rapid changes these kids go through is so mysterious and fascinating to watch and I feel privileged to be a part of it, no matter how small.

***

If we were having coffee I would tell you that the weekend was a relaxing one. Friday night we stayed in but made the night special by grabbing a pack of hard cider and picking up some hot wings for dinner. We watched Extinction on Netflix, a sci-fi alien invasion flick that wasn’t really worth the time I took to watch it.

Yesterday we went had lunch at our favorite sushi place and ended up getting marvelously daytime tipsy after a couple of ginger beer, lemonade, and grapefruit vodka concoctions. Afterward, we walked to the Alamo Drafthouse across the street to see the new Spike Lee joint, Blackkklansman. Now that is a movie worth every minute of viewing time and every penny paid to see. I highly recommend it and make sure you have some tissues with you. The entire theater was in tears by the end.

***

If we were having coffee I would tell you that Saturday was such a good day, and so was that the Saturday before. They were so good that I’ve decided to do my best going forward to spend every Saturday doing something new, fun, or interesting.

It’s like going on a tiny vacation. You unplug, get out of the house and away from your day-to-day grind to get a new perspective. Doing this, even for a few hours a week has profound effects on your mental health and productivity. It’s even had a profound effect on my relationship.

These past few weeks my girlfriend and I have had to deal with work bleeding over into what was once time we set aside of one another. We haven’t been able to eat dinner together, go to bed together, or talk much during the day, but these past couples of Saturdays have given us a chance to catch up and reconnect away from those responsibilities and worries.

This coming Saturday we’ll actually be celebrating our 16th anniversary. It’s a big day but we’ll keep the festivities low-key, just a nice dinner at our favorite out-of-the-way seafood place. We’ve never been big on gifts but I did get her (us) something small, a beautiful copy of the Scott Pilgrim vs. the World soundtrack pressed on beautiful red vinyl.

***

If we were having coffee I would tell you that I’m going to try something new this week. Last Friday I listened to an episode of the Sketchnote Army Podcast featuring a thought-provoking interview with my favorite creative, Austen Kleon. In it, Kleon outlined a compelling writing strategy he’s been utilizing.

Basically, he carries around a pocket notebook and uses it religiously. The pocket notebook is for fragments, thoughts, aha moments, and quick notes and logging. Later, the fragments and bits are expanded into journal entries, blog posts, essays, pitches, poems, and then as they pile up, a year or two out, maybe later, maybe sooner, you start to see a pattern.

That pattern is how your mind works and contains the things you think about and the areas of life in which you have opinions about the way things are or the way they should be. You find out what you are trying to tell the world. You find your big idea.

***

If we were having coffee I would tell you that I guess I’d heard about this way of writing before and just never put much stock in it but the way Kleon explained it made me think it might make sense for me. I already take notes on everything I hear, see, say, and think, but those notes are wildly disorganized, lacking context, and easily lost. If I manage to hold on to them they are usually indecipherable by the time I decide to sit down to articulate and share what I had in my mind only hours before.

So this week my goal is to write more of these fragments and to commit to organizing them and expanding them in my journal or here on the blog every evening. My hope is that a new system will lead to a higher quantity and quality of work not just here but in others areas of my creative life.

***

If we were having coffee I would tell you that the rising temperatures in the house have me ready for a cold shower and a nap, so, I have to cut the conversation short.

I hope you had a productive week. I hope you learned something, made some small progress, or at least made it through with minimal stress and little to no tears. I hope your weekend was relaxing. I hope you were able to make time for you and if you weren’t I hope you know there is still time.

Until next time.

***

Thanks for reading! If you like this post check out my weekly-ish newsletter for inspiring reads + existential musings on life, love, and inevitable human suffering. Or help support what I do by sharing a virtual cup of coffee.

Written for the #WeekendCoffeeShare link-up hosted by Eclectic Alli

Photo by Hussain Ibrahim on Unsplash

If We Were Having Coffee // Losing Hope but Hanging in There

Hello dear readers! Happy Sunday, welcome, and thank you for stopping by for a bit of coffee and catching up. The weather this weekend has been gloomy, and by now the gloom has worked its way right into my mood. I’m tired, and all I want to do is crawl back into bed with a good book and a hot cup of tea for the rest of the day. BUT the weekend is only so long, and I know that doing nothing at all won’t make me feel much better, so I’m up, I have my smoothie, a cup of cold brew, and you, to cheer me up.

“The morning cup of coffee has an exhilaration about it which the cheering influence of the afternoon or evening cup of tea cannot be expected to reproduce.”

― Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that yesterday was World Inflammatory Bowel Disease Awareness Day and I celebrated by staying home, resting, and writing. I posted some thoughts on my fight so far with this disease. I tried to convey some of the things that I go through that go deeper than the symptoms and the medication. I tried to help people understand the way it’s affected how I relate to my own body.

Like most things I write here it was written as a reminder to myself, but like all advise we give ourselves, it’s hard to remember and harder to maintain. Just hours after I wrote all that about acceptance and loving myself I had a breakdown. There is so much guilt I have for not being able to be the best me I can not just for me (e.g., not being able to write, to exercise, or go place and do things I enjoy) but for other people too.

It isn’t even the bowel symptoms that are making life so hard! It’s the fatigue and frustration that are forcing me to become so introverted and irritable. I feel myself crawling back inside and away from people, not out of anger but out of exhaustion. I feel bad that I can’t be the sister, daughter, friend, or fiancé that my loved ones need me to be. Of course, they are understanding, but I can see the sadness there. I know that just because I am sick doesn’t mean they stop having needs to and I have no idea how to get back to them.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that as soon as I begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel, it moves. I’m starting to believe the light is an illusion and to fear that the tunnel goes on and on forever.

This week I was feeling a lot worse and was finally forced to contact my doctor. I was trying so hard to hold on and hang in there until I started my new maintenance medication on Tuesday, but what I was getting so bad I was worried about how much damage I was doing to my body by trying to toughing it out instead of trying something else. So, I called the doctor who then put me back on what I’ve learned is referred to as the “devil’s tic-tacs” in the IBD community, Predisone.

Neither of us wanted me back on that crap. It works miracles, at first, and then it wreaks havoc on the whole body and takes months and months to recover from. But okay, it’s what I need to do, so I felt hopeful I would feel better right away, but she put me on such a small dose it’s made only the smallest dent, enough to keep me working. Then I was hopeful that the new maintenance meds would help right away, but that probably won’t happen either. I’ve gotten so bad that it will be another month or two before I know whether this course of action is right or not.

So, I’ve stopped hoping. Now I’m just hanging in there. I’m going from day-to-day, sometimes hour-to-hour, doing what I can and resting when I must.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that writing was slow this week. I just couldn’t get my brain to stay on task. It was drawn to scrolling Twitter and commenting on Facebook group posts. I did my best to redirect my attention though by remembering that I had pledged to get back to reading more this week.

My girlfriend surprised me with a bit of spontaneous book shopping this week to cheer me up after all that bad news, and I settled on The Girl With All the Gifts by M.R. Carey, a creepy, heartwarming, and thought-provoking zombie apocalypse story unlike any other. It was the perfect book to get me back into regular reading. Well written, attention-grabbing, and easy to read and follow. I highly recommend it, and the movie too!

This week coming week I’m going back to The Odyssey. I love this book, but I’ve never been able to actually finish it! Too much detail I suppose. My brain just shuts down, and my eyes start to glaze over and close after only a few pages. I end up having to reread so much of it but I’m determined to finish it this year, so I keep plugging away.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that the coming week is the last of the school year and as you might imagine the atmosphere at work has been tense. There is so much to get done. Graduations, field trips, bidding for summer school routes, bus and equipment cleaning, evaluations, and training. It’s a bittersweet time. We’re saying goodbye to the kids and as relieved and excited as we are we’re all a little sad too.

You get close to these kids, preschoolers and high school seniors alike. Some of my kids are graduating, and some will be moving away over the summer. Even if I get the same route next year, I won’t see them again. Next year new kids will be moving into the district, and many will be moving from elementary to middle school, or middle to high school. There will be new schools opening and routes will be rearranged somewhat and the training department I work for in my off time is moving and hiring new people.

Everything is changing and much of next year is up in the air. I have a little over two months to try not to panic about it.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that the sun is trying to peek out through the clouds and if I am going to get to spend any time outside of the house this weekend, I had better get up and get going now. I need to look at something other than these walls, hear something besides all the bad news on TV. I need to move my body and be around people. I need to feel that sun and smell the spring air.

I hope you had a productive week and that your weekend has been a relaxing and revitalizing one. If not I hope next week will be better than the last and that you find time to do something just for you before the weekend is over.

Until next time.

***

Thanks for reading! If you like this post check out my weekly-ish newsletter for inspiring reads + existential musings on life, love, and inevitable human suffering. Or help support what I do by sharing a cup of virtual coffee.

Written for the #WeekendCoffeeShare link-up hosted by Eclectic Alli

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

 

A to Z Reflections: Part I // I’m Writing It the Long Way

Yes, that’s right, this is part one of my Blogging A to Z Challenge “Reflections” posts.

See, I’m not actually finished with the challenge yet, but instead of quitting after the race is over, I’m just going to go on running even as the other participants head home. I still have just over half the alphabet to go but I thought I’d at least share my thoughts so far, and, being sure I will have further thoughts after I cross the finish line, I’ll write “Part II” on the theme itself in a few weeks.

And still, even after all that, I’m want to take the challenge a step further, and with extensive editing, some additional creative writing, and a little art, I’d like make something real out of all that work, something I can hold in my hands. Something you can hold in yours too, and I’ll share my thoughts on that in “Part III.”

So far all I can share is my thoughts on the process. Writing, all kinds of writing, are a daily lesson not just in the craft itself, but in reflection, introspection, observation, and self-awareness. Writing teaches you how you feel about a lot of things and writing every day, or trying to write every day teaches you a lot about yourself too.

I’ve known for a long time that the kind of writing I naturally gravitate toward is a very slow kind of writing. I’ve known this, but I’ve worked hard to try to change it. I’ve read a ton of advice and tried a ton of strategies to “get ahead of myself” and even on good days when I spend every free second I have on words, I still can only get through a half a post at most.

My writing process is made up mostly of reading, gathering facts, ideas, and inspiration. I also enjoy brainstorming and drafting by hand. I like for writing to feel more like an assignment, a task, a very serious endeavor. I’m not sure that will ever change but I know that if I want to it, I have to start by trusting the process first. Maybe I have to just go with it for a while and write the way that feels right to me?

I also realized I’m still not a very good writer, but it’s okay! I wouldn’t expect to be a very good writer yet. I work a full-time job, and I don’t read nearly as much as I should. What I mean to say is, I’m not a good writer because I lack the capacity to be a good writer. I’m not a good writer because I don’t do the things I need to do to be a good writer one day.

I’m aware that I am long-winded and repetitive. I want to learn to either keep my word count but say what I want more clearly, so that I might say more, or, if I have less to say, learn to say it in fewer words and save us all the time. I’m sure I make a ton of grammar and spelling mistakes, many I catch only after hitting “publish.” Maybe my readers would be willing to read my posts with a more critical eye and share my mistakes with me?

Finally, I learned that blogging is hard to prioritize for a writer like me, a writer who has only barely begun to solidify their relationship with the craft. I have very little to show for all of my effort except what I have here on this little unknown and, I feel, unimportant corner of the World Wide Web. It’s hard to feel important when you can see the looks people give you when you talk to them about what you do.

Of course, I know it is only me projecting my own insecurities into the minds of others. In my mind, people only understand one way of writing. I expect that they are disappointed not to hear I am on my way to publishing a book, or a poetry collection, or that I have many articles in popular magazines. I’m sure they want to hear that I’ve written something they have read or something they might want to read someday, or now if I happen to have a draft to share?

I often think blogging isn’t real writing, this challenge reminded me that it most certainly is if I believe it is. If it’s important to me, it is important. My opinion is the only option that matters on the subject, well, and the opinion of my readers of course.

Which brings me to the last thing this challenge taught me this year, I am not very good at engagement.

If there was anything I felt disappointed in myself for or wish I could have done better, it would be commenting and sharing. I’m trying not to beat myself up too much over it. I did the challenge for me. My writing is for me first, always, and with being so sick lately and with work getting in the way, I had to protect my writing time by making cuts to other areas.

I did read every comment posted here, and I replied to many. I still plan to reply to the rest. I’m finding the time to comment on other blogs too. I know engagement is critical here and I know that I give up a lot by not making it a priority. There is still time to make those connections since the master list will be up for some time longer. I will do better.

There are other bloggers I follow and admire who don’t even allow comments on their blogs and instead move to social media to engage their readers. I like that idea considering places like Twitter and Instagram are places I spend most of my time, but I’m sure no one likes little old me enough to open another tab and type their thoughts into yet another text box.

As for the challenge itself, I have very little to complain about. The hosts do a great job of keeping the participants motivated and on track. I only wish the lists provided for each letter stayed open a little longer so that other bloggers like me who fall behind can still share our work with the others. I still plan to participate every year that I can at the very least come up with a theme and a subject for all 26 posts.

I hope you all will continue to follow along while I make my way, slowly but surely, to the finish line. I love my theme, and I have no plans to give up before I’ve written every post I promised myself I would.

Thank you all for your support so far, for every kind or encouraging word. Congrats to everyone who signed up for the challenge, whether you wrote all 26 posts or none, I’m proud of you for at least trying and I want you to know that is enough.

See you soon for the rest of the alphabet!

***

Thanks for reading! If you like this post check out my weekly-ish newsletter for inspiring reads + existential musings on life, love, and inevitable human suffering. Or help support what I do by sharing a virtual cup of coffee.

Written for the A to Z Blogging Challenge Reflections link-up. Check out my theme “Bleak Realities of Human Existence,” and my posts for the 2018 challenge so far, and, please, follow along for the rest! Even though I failed to finish on time, I am determined not to fail to finish at all. 

Photo by Tim Wright on Unsplash