Helplessness Blues

Can I just take a moment to say, HOLY FUCK? Pardon my French, but I am in a bit of disarray. This morning I received an invitation to “like” my ten year high school reunion facebook page. WHAT?! When did that happen? I mean, I knew I was getting older, it’s not like that thought doesn’t cross my mind on a daily basis, but boy oh boy was this a swift kick to the gut.

Okay, breathing deeply, getting over it.

So what does it matter that I am ten years out of high school? Nothing. It means that it has been ten years since I graduated from high school, no biggie. No reason to go out an get a tattoo or by a sports car.

Still, as I sit here at my local coffee shop typing this (yes, I’m a walking writer cliche) I can’t help but look around and question every decision I have made up until this point in those ten years. It says more about me that the two tables that most stick out to me are the group of middle aged business men in sweater-vests typing away on Ipads, and a group of pretty women my age who are chatting as their babies grab for the salt shakers. Is this how I see my options? Corporate or motherhood? I am neither and sometimes wonder if that is why I so often feel like a failure - a self-imposed label that I work hard to remove.

This is the first time in my life where I have really taken the time to decide what I might want to do. After high school I played it safe at University Near Mom, chose a logical major that only sort of related to my true passion, and quickly found a series of corporate jobs, none of which I managed to stick out for more than two years by my own choice. Sometimes it boggles my mind that I have had so many jobs. I am not that girl. I am the girl with the good work ethic, I do my job well and my bosses love me, the “vanilla” girl who makes smart decisions, never does anything rash. Any yet, some part of me must know I am not cut out for the 9-5 world.

As far as being a mom and making that my life…well that is fodder for a whole blog in and of itself, but the gist of it is I am just not ready yet.

So really, I figure there are two ways I can look at my life right now.

1: I can see myself as a loser. I quit a great paying full-time job as a Technical Writer for a reputable corporation only to futilely grasp at a career in writing. My twenties are fading fast, and I’m “running out of time” while EVERY woman I know has had a kid or is soon to pop out another.

OR

2: I can just stop comparing myself to everyone else. Stop worrying if I made the wrong choice and just LIVE. I can be happy and grateful for the life I have created for myself and focus on my dreams. I do work hard, when I believe I can do something. The problem is I have so much self-doubt, as we all do, that it is sometimes easier to float in this post-college haze, delaying the tough decisions.

I think it is clear which option is best, but easier said than done my friend. On a daily basis I flop between feeling like I have my whole life in front of me and then get slammed with reminders that I am no spring chicken.

There is this a fantastic Fleet Foxes song, that yes, I have already quoted a million times but anytime I feel myself struggling I think of it. “What good is it to sing helplessness blues, why should I wait for anyone else?” Please take a second to listen to it or at the very least read the lyrics here, because I relate very strongly to them: http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/fleetfoxes/helplessnessblues.html

It’s just that there is so much out there I want to do and see and accomplish that it all feels so overwhelming. It’s actually crippling. So then I don’t do anything and then I feel sad and guilty for wasting the time I have. It would be easier to be told what to do, but I know that I wouldn’t be happy either. I do have time. I recently heard this fantastic quote, by Tom Hiddleston of all people, and damn if it didn’t stick with me.

“We all have two lives. The second one starts when we realize that we only have one.”

Now that I have gotten all this off my chest, I am returning to editing my MS from NaNoWriMo. Have a great weekend!

Fleet Foxes, “Helplessness Blues” - duh

Happy Freaking New Year!

Boy, oh boy, it’s a good thing that I’m not a girl who believes in bad omens or signs because I may have had a rude awakening this morning. Why, you may ask, am I bordering between shaky acceptance and full on devastation early on what is the first day of this most brand new year? Because, dear reader, the very first two emails I had waiting in my inbox this morning and I mean LITERALLY, in the most true, non-ironic, over-used sense of the word, the first and only two emails of 2014 were my very first two rejection letters from my very first two short story (non-contest) submissions.

So that’s a real kick in the proverbial nuts.

But hey, at least, I’m like an official writer now. I mean what’s trying to become an author without tons and tons of rejection? And I’ve only gotten two! I have years and years of being rejected ahead of me! YAY!

You know, people say “hey your gonna be rejected and it’s gonna suck.” And you think to yourself, yeah but I’m tough, I’ll take the lickin’ and keep on kickin’? And then you wake up the morning of what is going to be your “best year yet as a writer” to find that big NO THANK YOU and suddenly all your stoic resolve goes flying out the window and you think, what's so bad in maybe just giving up, we gave it the ol' college try.

But no, I will not curl up in a ball under the blankets and say “well I tried in 2014, let’s give it another go in 2015” and spend the rest of this year eating truckloads of ice cream and waste away in self-loathing. No. I will go on. I will submit to somewhere else and be rejected by someone else, because I am a writer, gosh darn-it and I like me - even if nobody else does…yet.

So cheers fine citizens of 2014. Let’s make this year our bitch!

UPDATE: The husband finally awoke and I shared my tragic news with the saddest of faces, his reaction? "Awesome congrats! First of many, you are on a roll! You got this! There will be a ton more. The hardest part is over."  It wasn't the comforting pity party I had excepted but I could use a pep talk that wasn't internal, so WOO!

Current Song:  "Flawless" by Beyonce

Phew!

It’s December 1st and writers across the country are letting out a huge sigh of relief. Actually, I have to say that this year was pretty awesome for me. I powered through my MS for “Nine Cigarettes” like I never have on any other project. Even last year, I struggled to get to my ending in that amount of words; which reassures me that I must at least be growing as a writer a little bit. All said and done this year I wrote about seventy-five thousand words for my MS and that does not include the five thousand I wrote prior to NaNoWriMo. (The meet-cute scene came to me somewhere in September and after I wrote that, I forced myself to wait to write anything else until November. This actually gave me a great deal of time to really flesh out my characters. I didn’t have a strong plot going into it but as often happens, the characters just sort of took the story where they wanted it to go.)

Each day, I would start by re-reading the previous written scenes and add to them and fill them out slightly. Then, I wrote two scenes, averaging about fifteen hundred words each. I didn’t count those additional words added with the re-through while tracking my progress, which I regret because it ended up contributing to my total word count more than I thought. Anyway, I enjoy this story and it’s characters. I still think about them and send myself notes for future edits.

Now, I’m not sure what to do. Obviously, insane amounts of edits. Who knows what came out while writing that fast. I may start on the next book in the series, based on a character who did not yet get his happy ending. I think I have the potential to create a whole series of Romances based in this little world. I like the idea of continuing to write Romances, if only to get published and then once I have some fans and books under my belt switch to Urban Fantasy, which I ultimately want to write.

So in conclusion, this NaNoWriMo was the shit. I love my book and I have a really good feeling about it. Maybe within the year I can at least have made a round of thorough edits, have it read by Beta readers and then MAYBE, just maybe start sending out query letters. The idea still haunts and thrills me.

I’m super proud of WBWW and all my other writer friends who also hit their goals. It’s not easy to commit the time and effort it takes to write this consistent, especially while leading full lives, but everyone managed to kick ass despite any obstacles.

Creepypasta

I have always been a fan of all things creepy - Urban legends, ghost stories, psychological thrillers, aside from crude violence I definitely get into to it all. (Except clowns, I DON’T DO CLOWNS.) As a kid I would devour the Scary Stories books, reading them over and over again. I specifically remember my mom often buying me other types of scary story anthologies as gifts, including some H.P. Lovecraft when I was a Freshman in high school.(Thanks mom!) I loved telling eerie tales around the campfires, I seem to remember my Uncle Paul being especially good at this. And I am always eager to learn about new Urban legends. You know, my cousin’s friend in Ohio, totally saw it happening… This week, I’m thinking do to the torrential thunderstorms we have been getting, I’ve been in an especially strong mood to be scared. It’s been a long time coming, between the scary movies we watch and short stories I write, I have been wanting something to really spook me and inspire me. (According to my BF and strongest critic I write a lot about “viscera and women who have screws loose.” Hey, at least I have a thing, but I’m ready to mix it up a bit.)

I tend to already have an active imagination, as you may have picked up on. The fact that I would chose the week my husband is out of town to get so freaking obsessed with being terrified highlights the fact that  I may have a few screws loose myself. I have been researching a lot of scary stories, and asking online for good books of horror to satisfy my craving. This morning while browsing through Reddit, I discovered something called “Creepypasta.” Because I am not up to date with a lot of online lingo I had to Google it. So if you are like me and didn’t already know, here is the def:

“Creepypasta are essentially internet horror stories, passed around on forums and other sites to disturb and frighten readers. The name "Creepypasta" comes from the word "copypasta", an internet slang term for a block of text that gets copied and pasted over and over again from website to website. Creepypastas are sometimes supplemented with pictures, audio and/or video footage related to the story, typically with gory, distorted, or otherwise shocking content.

Creepypasta varies greatly in length and quality, though many of them follow a few set formulas:

-Anecdotes. The narrator remarks on a scary legend, news story, or event from their own past.

-Rituals. A list of instructions for the reader, claiming that if they go to a certain place at a certain time, and perform specific actions, something remarkable and/or horrifying will happen.

-The Lost Episode. The narrator tells the story of a never-before-seen episode or scene from a famous TV show, typically a comedy or children's cartoon, where the audio and video is heavily distorted and characters begin acting strangely or violently, killing themselves and/or each other.”

(All of this was taken from here: http://creepypasta.wikia.com/wiki/What_Is_Creepypasta%3F)

Let me tell you in the few short hours I have been awake I have become OBSESSED with Creepypasta. It was serendipity. One of the top voted response to “What is the scariest "creepypasta" in your opinion?” was this story called Ted’s Cave. http://www.angelfire.com/trek/caver/ Have you heard of it? I had not. I started reading it and couldn’t stop. If you have a little time, I highly recommend it.

Most of the Creepypasta legends I have read about usually end up with “people killing themselves upon watching.” To that I say pishaw! Urban legends, through word of mouth or through copy/paste are always the same. Though admittedly I think I will wait to click the links until my hubby gets back.

I can already see myself at the next social gathering asking annoying questions like “Did you hear about the video of Squiward killing himself? Or Slenderman? What’s your favorite creepypasta?”

On a side note the term Creepypasta is hilarious to me. I imagine a bowl of spaghetti with angry eyes - something very R.L. Stine - oh yeah, I read a lot of him growing up too. Don’t hate - Fear Street was da bomb yo.

Anyway, looking forward to some really weird things coming from this experience. In the meantime tell me your favorite story: real, fake, urban legend, creepypasta, WHAVEVER I want to hear it!

Current Song: “Banquet” by Bloc Party

UPDATE: How has it taken me this long to learn about this? I feel like a schmuck - there are a ton of websites dedicated to it. I'm gonna go ahead and claim that I already knew and only forgot somehow. Perhaps it was blocked...maybe I learned too much last time...

Murphy’s Law

Not to sound like I’m starting a poorly written college paper, but Murphy’s law states: “Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.” To say that the hubby and I experienced a cold dose of Murphy’s Law last night may sound extreme, but I struggle to find another term that accurately fits the serendipitous series of events that lead up to me soaking wet, mostly naked, covered in dog crap, and breaking and entering.

Let’s start from the beginning shall we?

Most Sunday evenings around our house are generally saved for relaxation and mental preparation for the work week ahead. Rarely do we ever leave the house, however this Sunday we had a very important little person to meet, who just made her grand entrance into this world.*  We traveled to the other side of town while angry, monsoonal clouds collected over the city. Soon thunder rattled the house and we were treated with a torrential downpour*. Treated, I say, because we live in the high desert and are going on record for a twenty-year drought.

Soon, as we cooed and coddled the new baby, we learned that the power was completely out in the area of the grid that was our neighborhood.* Worse things have happened. Sure it would be hot, but we could open all the doors and windows and get some air. Living with the world’s most prepared man had its perks in times like these. We had roughly twenty flashlights stowed throughout the house at any given time, and not that long ago Hubby spent a day in the garage making forty-hour candles. Some food may spoil, but hopefully the power would be on before we had to worry about that. Theoretically even it was the End of Days we’d be good for at least a few weeks.

After a nice visit, we made our way back home around dusk, driving through a post-apocalyptic cityscape where the power was gone and only lightning lit the sky. Incidentally, if you ever really want to worry about the state of mankind, turn off traffic lights and see how people handle four way stops - not very reassuring. We made it home safely, but it was just about the we were turning into the driveway realized we had a bigger problem.

We were locked out of the house*.

How, you may ask, do two grown ass people, one of whom is a well-known prepper for any and all unlikely situations, get locked out of their own home? Well I won’t go into the hairy details, but because we took my car out (which we rarely ever do*) we had no keys (because I recently took the spare out of my car*) so our only way into the house required power*, which we still did not have. Well I guess that’s the all you need to know. We sat in the driveway in dumbfounded silence just staring at the garage door. Rain continued to bang against the roof of my car, mocking us. I  pressed the garage door opener every couple of seconds, thinking maybe this time it would work, much to the chagrin of my hubby.

"Do you have your car keys? Maybe there's something in there we can -"

He stopped me, "Babe, if I had my keys we could just go in the front door*."

"Right. Want me to break in through a window?"

"We turned off the swamp** before we left*."

"There's got to be a way in."

"This house is a fortress. You have no idea how many hours I spend imaging different ways someone could try and break in and then correct those flaws*."

"Maaww" I gave him a smooch. "You’re so good.”

“Too good, it seems.”

We sat and thought for a few minutes more, until I saw the lightbulb turn on above his head.

“I have a plan.”

I was given explicit instructions not to give the Internet a detailed plan on how to break into our  house but I will say this, it required a lot of awkward maneuvering around pokey bushes and McGyver like engineering skills.

Tools acquired:

-One flashlight from the glovebox of my car.

-One spatula left out on the grill.

-One creative husband

-One soaking wet wife

(I forgot to mention that I was wearing a new skirt and top, which may not seem like a big deal but I NEVER shop and if I do I RARELY buy anything, so of course this would be the day I wore an outfit that I actually gave a shit about.*)

We jumped out of the car and into the ran as we made our way to the side gate. Our neighbors were out sitting on their porch watching the rain. We reassured them that we in fact lived there and were not breaking in. As we rounded the corned into our own backyard we discovered the once dried out sand pit, was now a muddy swamp strong with the scent of re-hydrated dog -

“Crap!*”

“It reeks back here.”

Every step sent my thin soled, sparkly sandals a little deeper into the stinky “mud.” I rubbed my arms for warmth, shaking like a wet poodle as Hubby manufactured a way into the house.

“Here, babe can you fit through here?”

I squared my shoulders and stuck out my chin, I was just the woman for the job.

“I can do this. Just push me up a little. Oh and I don’t want to ruin my new skirt.”

I started pulling the skirt over my head and felt Hubby assisting me. The skirt got caught for a moment, then popped off. I looked down to discover that I was now topless as well.*  The look I gave Hubby was one he was very familiar with. Here it is as represented by an emoticon " :-| ".

“What? I wanted to make sure your shirt didn’t get ruined.”

“Sure.”

Moments later after struggling against sharp stucco and gravity, I fell into the house, muddy, scratched, still cold and still wet, but in! I felt my way through the darkness, tripping on confused doggies, and piles of laundry until I reached the back door.

“We made it.”

It was SECONDS after our congratulatory high-five that the lights flickered back to life*.

Whatever we did to upset the balance of life has hopefully now been corrected.

 

Current Song: “Oceans” by Jay-Z, Frank Ocean

*Indicates a leading event

**For those who don’t live in a dry climate, a swamp cooler is used in place of air-conditioners. Air is sucked through a pad soaked with water, outputting cool air that is blown throughout the house. Swamp coolers are rendered useless in rain and humidity.