It’s coming….Winter is coming

How did it get here so fast!? How could I possibly have ignored it’s looming presence for so long?!

Is it some deep psychological need to bury my head in the sand every year and hope it passes me by like an Egyptian Plague from the Bible? Is it fear that blocks the self-inflicted mental and emotional exhaustion imminent in the month of November? Or have I really been so distracted with other deeply frustrating crap on top of sleep deprivation that I simply didn’t notice the date on the calendar?

(It’s probably the first one. Just sayin’.)

Okay. Okay. Lets say it together folks….

 

 

Rip it off like surgical tape on leg hair…

 

 

NANOWRIMO

 

*shudder*

National Novel Writing Month. I can’t decide if this reaction is from pleasure because I’m a masochist or genuine cringiness. A month of pure writing. Of deadlines, goal-setting, hair-tearing, possible crying, freedom, imagination, accomplishment and satisfaction. It’s the best and worst for me.

NaNo is a glimpse into an author’s life, for any of you who aren’t writers. 30 days of angst, pure creativity and harsh reality. You should try it to get a taste. It starts with an idea. Bright, shiny, maybe a little outrageous. Something you haven’t read before, or thought of before. It latches onto your mind and you poke it to see what squirts out. A unique character. And amazing setting. A flash of the most perfect plot you’ve ever seen. It only takes one thing to get you hooked. A creative drug you will chase the rest of your life.

So you start to massage out this idea. You roll it out like dough in your mind and take some cookie cutters and outline some shapes and patterns. November 1st is coming and the pressure to have SOME SORT of direction mounts. But it’s okay. Just a basic outline because you know that your characters are going to run the show as soon as you get into a groove. They’ll take you in unexpected directions and you can ride their coat tails into plot and pacing perfection.

Protagonist you love? Check. Antagonist you love to hate? Check. Quirky side kick? Check. Love interest? Ehhhh we’ll see what happens there. Basic plot outline and a vague idea of the ending? Let’s hope so! October 31st, 11:59….GO!!

Week 1: Easy. The words are flowing like milk and honey from your fingertips. You post on the NaNo forums and update your word count proudly. You earn badges and maybe even donate to get the fancy halo on your profile picture. You help others with their novels and maybe even join a write in. You’re doing great! Everything going to plan!

Week 2: Okay, a little harder. Kinda like eating a second slice of cake at a party. The first one was delicious and sugary and wonderful. Second slice is harder and you feel yourself start to slow down and get sick. Your eyes stray to the dreaded word counter more and more. Your brain starts to wander to Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, getting a second cup of coffee, laundry, walking the dog…anything else.

Week 3: Suddenly your bright shiny idea looks like sludge. Crap that you’ve seen on thrift stores shelves a million times over. Your protag isn’t unique enough. Your antag isn’t nasty enough. Your ending is dull and lifeless. Life sucks in general. You want to quit. You’re 5K words behind and you feel hopeless. Sitting at a keyboard looking at the blinking bar not moving. You mentally table flip.

Week 4: You find the time and energy to catch up the word count. You know it’s filler. Unnecessary scenes and lengthy dialogue just to get words on your counter. You add in characters for fluff. You take the setting to some place new to give a breath of fresh air to the plot. Maybe you add in ninjas in desperation. But you’re dragging yourself over the shattered dreams from week 1. Just get a novel down. Get 50K. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It just has to be written. You can’t edit nothing. NO! DON’T THINK ABOUT EDITING! That’s a death sentence!

November 30th. You “Select All” and “Copy” your shitty manuscript. Shamefully; hopefully. NaNoWriMo.org, you “Paste” into the “Validate novel” box and with your heart beating fast, you click the button. And there it is. 50K+ words in a month. You made it. You’re a 2018 Winner! The accomplishment of setting a goal and actually finishing is yours to revel in. You have some semblance of a novel. You created something from nothing. BE PROUD. Get that Winner t-shirt. Eat the ENTIRE pan of brownies.

December 1st. Now go sleep for a week and binge-watch Supernatural on Netflix.

I promise you this is not over-exaggeration. Every single November this happens to me and millions just like me. Sometimes, like last year, I don’t even get past week 2. I think I’ve only won once actually. But the point is that I don’t stop trying, as much as I dread the ending days in October.

I have many stories in me that want to be told but I’m a perfectionist. I want a full and complete product to come out of me on the first try. (HAAAAA talk about unrealistic expectations!) The best pieces of advice I’ve ever seen on Pinterest were these:

“The first draft is just you telling yourself the story.” ~ Terry Pratchett

“First drafts don’t have to be perfect. They just have to be written.”~Caroline Mitchell

They are my biggest writing challenge to meet and it is something I’m striving for every word that comes from my fingers onto the screen/paper. I have to embrace imperfection and be willing to commit to taking this turd of a first draft and make it a turd sandwich that looks like chocolate and biscotti.

Commitment sucks. But it’s a cornerstone for a writer. Nano is a small exercise I can do to help that. So, alas, 7 days and approximately 11 hours till D-Day.

Come join me friends. It’s fun!! Haaaa……..

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Heart Plea

I don’t know what to say.

Or rather, I don’t know what to say first. It’s all blurred and sharp and neon-colored in my mind. Too bright to look at sometimes and other times so dark and toxic I feel the gravity of it pulling me in like a black hole. Alarm bells go off every time you or I walk out the door. Every strange number that calls my phone makes my heart speed up in anxiety. Every time I leave the girls with you, I fear that they’ll walk in on something traumatizing.

I can’t do this anymore. I can’t. You know why but you won’t admit it. I have to break free for both of us. You have to stop. You know what I mean. It’s not healthy. It’s not even sane. And it makes you weak and pathetic. I know you’re grasping at straws. I know you’re struggling to find your footing. It’s why I stayed. But there’s only so much I can do for you. You’re in deep denial.

This isn’t even the beginning of the end. That already happened. This is the End of the end. End of an Era.

For the first time, the way is clear for me. I can see farther than the end of my nose and my view is expanding rapidly. I see past the eclipse that has been You this entire time and my eyes burn with the possibilities available to me. Love. Marriage. Travel. Experience. The things we failed at, I see now how I can make them better. I acknowledge that it wasn’t just you that failed. I failed too. The mess we left is too big to fix though. I have no strength in me to do this with you anymore. So instead of moving backward, I want to move forward, which means I have to move past you.

I’m ready!

No, it’s not a glamorous entrance into Independence. I’m still homeless. I still need to use the system. I still need financial help. I still need the self-confidence to find a better job; one that I’m worthy of. I have to learn not to be selfish and stingy if I want to be a better partner. I’m willing to do the work. But you need to allow me to do it. If you love it, let it go maybe. Clichés are often right for a reason.

I’m moving past you. I’m sorry I keep hurting you. I can’t help that because you want me to stay and I only keep telling you the Truth. I am moving on. With the divorce. With my new relationship. With a new house and plans to travel. I wish happiness for you though. You’re so good when you’re happy. I want you to be Brave and stand up on your own. Take Pride in being strong and living. That’s what I want for you.

A Purpose worthy of you. One that is not me.

I can be here as a friend because I know you better than anyone. But I cannot be what you want or what you need. Let me live. Let yourself Live. Find a different way and be a better man.

Word Sprints #9 “Reflection”

(Parameters— Subject: Love, Format: Poetry, Media: Text message, Time limit-1 minute)

The dim light of my soul shines on your facets, pale but brave in your presence.

You absorb my light and build it up with the poetry of your voice and the welcome embrace of your body. You mold it into diamonds and reflect it back at me and my face runs with liquid stars. The feeling is warm like fleece and fire.

 

Mirrored in you, I am beautiful, fierce and eternal.

Word Sprint #8 “Irritation”

(Parameters: Subject generator: “Irritation”, Format: Poem, Time limit: n/a)

“Irritation”

You don’t know,

You don’t care,

That you make me want to pull out my hair.

 

You laugh when I yell,

You roll your eyes,

It’s enough to make a grown up cry.

 

I deal with your attitude,

And I bite my tongue

When the words from your lips sound really dumb.

 

Your mouth needs a smack,

Your ass needs a kick,

You really are an unbelievable prick.

 

So I don’t harm you

by word or by deed,

I walk away and close the door on my need.

 

Just you wait though,

There will come a day,

When karma will cash in on the price you’ll pay.

She’s a Bitch that way.

#Vanlife Scary Curves and Fluffy Bunnies

This was the first weekend where I was completely out of the house. I worked late Thursday, had Friday off, worked late Saturday and early Sunday and then met my kids in the morning for school on Monday. It was painful not seeing my girls all weekend. I was worried they felt abandoned. I don’t like to bring up the separation or divorce up to them because I know it makes them sad but this is reality now. Papa doesn’t want Mama around because it hurts too much so Mama has to go elsewhere on the weekends. Now I am working on a plan where I can take them out regularly for swimming or something so we can do things together and Papa can have his own alone time for whatever. Just need to get the funds and the plan for it first.

So what did I do on my glorious but painful weekend of freedom?

I got lost. Again. Or rather, I continued down the road I got lost on previously.  Spreading my baby baka Nomad wings and being all self-sufficient and stuff.

As I sat in my truck after the Ex came home, I felt the vastness of freedom closing in around me like water rushing into hole. I could go anywhere. Do anything. I had a full tank of gas (thanks mama!) and an endless list of possibilities that didn’t include the internet, snacking on junk food, arguing, or cleaning. I could go to Barnes and Nobles or the library and read. I could go for a walk on the pier. I could go thrift store shopping and get an ice cream for dinner if I wanted. I could go to sleep early! Whoaaaa!

But none of these things sounded appealing. What I did want, however, was silence. Peace. No cars. No people. I knew I should not be driving too far and conserving my gas because pay day isn’t near. I had to be mindful of my budget. So I decided to retrace my steps from the day I got lost with my kids (read the post HERE). Not too far away and I knew the way back in the dark if I got caught up. I did offer to share the trip with my little sister but she ignored me and so I went alone.

I rolled down the windows. All of them; even my sun roof window. Probably for the first time ever since I got the truck. I picked a playlist on my iPod and set it to a moderate volume. And I drove. Thoughts came floating in to distract me and I gently pushed them out again. I paid attention to the way my arms moved the steering wheel around the curves of the road and the cramp forming in my hip. The squeak of my flip flop on the pedal. The smell of the sage on the wind.

Freedom.

It’d been a long time since I’ve had my thoughts to myself. It was a little odd not to have to worry stuff. I was always on guard for the next argument by phone or in person. I was primed for stress every time my phone went off, living in fear for the next disaster. Mile by mile I felt my brain unclench and my lips stretched into a gentle smile. Maybe this is what they meant by “stress management”. This was nice. Reminded me of drives with mom as a kid going camping in the mountains. We probably even took this very road and some part of my brain was triggered the childhood joy.

My thoughts snapped into focus when I blew right passed my turn out by the lake. So much for no stress. OH CRAP. WHERE I AM GOING? WHERE DOES THIS ROAD LEAD? I don’t have any money if I run out of gas!

Ok….ok….calm down. We’ll just find a place to turn around. It’s okay! It’s one road, two lanes. Can’t get lost. Okay…except there were no more turn outs. And there was a cliff side to my right and double yellow lines to my left. And people behind me that clearly knew where they were going and are riding up on my ass. The road went down hill. My truck is heavy and without my foot even being on the gas pedal I was going 45 around turns I was not familiar with at all. I had both hands gripping the steering wheel and I was thinking “Slow down, calm down” like a broken record in my head.

Look for a sign. Where are you? Where are you going? There’s a turn out! Let these people pass, take a breath, get a drink and turn around. I can’t turn. I can’t see around the curves. Someone could smash into me. OH MY GOD.

Suddenly freedom was pulling me inexorably forward around scary ass hair pin turns toward a place I had never been in my life. #VANLIFE??!?!!!???

I nearly passed out from light-headedness when I finally saw a city limit sign and then almost cried real tears when I saw that the half hour drive ate up a quarter of a tank of gas. HOLY CRAP. Okay, keep going. Keep going. You’re fine. There’s only one way back. Literally one road. Just find a spot to turn around.

I did eventually find a large enough turn out and a straight piece of road that would afford me a decently fast turn around without fear of a crash. But then through the open windows, I smelled the ocean. What the hell? I was going through mountains! How do mountains spit me out near an ocean? Now curiosity out weighted the panic and I continued driving. Not even 5 minutes later there was a little parking lot and a full expanse view of the coast line. I turned into it. Here’s what I found:

IMAG1421

 

It was beautiful. Exactly what I was looking for when I set out that day to find peace. I didn’t bring my iPod or my purse or even a book (SHOCKING!). I only carried my keys and my phone. I called Owen for a little while and let the happiness his voice brought me well up inside. I filled my lungs with salty sea breeze and softly pungent herb smells. I took a sage leaf and tucked it inside the pocket of my phone as a memento. The trail I took was networked with little path ways across a field and I had fun choosing left, right or forward. Metaphor for life eh?

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Eventually the little trails converged into one large pathway so I followed it from one one end to the other. Probably two miles or so.  There were train tracks right next to me and one went by while I was standing not even twenty feet away. Brought back memories. (I lived in front of train tracks for 14 years.) I took pictures of plants along the path so I could play the “WHAT’S THAT PLANT?!” game with Owen (he loves plants and coastal ones are fascinating to him since he’s never been to California).

When the lure of football took him away from the conversation I just walked, letting the sounds of nature and the feel of the sun on my skin melt over me and soothe my ruffled feathers. I loved up some friendly dogs and found an amazing memorial along a cliff side.

IMAG1423

Someone was loved very much.

One end of the path led me to a large park where along the edge of the field, there were bushes. And about a dozen fluffy bunnies and Squirrels. They were out enjoying the grass and the coolness of evening setting in. I’d never seen so many in one place! I sat on the field and watched them because I could. I had that kind of time and no kids or friends saying “I’m hot/ bored/ tired/ hungry/ need to pee”.

Once I’d had enough of nature I made my way back and at the end of the trail I finally discovered where I was.

IMAG1437

And as it turned out I came back just in time. There were tow trucks pulling into the parking lot as I climbed into my truck. The park closed half an hour after sunset (which that day was at 7:30). It was 6:45 but they looked ready to jump the gun. PHEW!

The ride back through the mountain was no less scary for me, even having driven it two hours before. It was getting dark and I had more cars behind me pressuring me to go faster or move. I moved. It scared the heebie jeebies out of me puling over because a lot of the time there was no guard rail between me and a thousand foot cliff. But not having head lights and impatient drivers glare at me through my rear view mirror was worth the small risk. I just didn’t look and I prayed a lot.

When I got to my little turn out that over-looked the lake I was a jellied pile of grateful baka Jessie. I took a moment to rest and closed my eyes. It had gotten chilly being in the wind tunnel the lake and the mountains created so I made my dinner inside the truck. My first Gypsy Nomad dinner!

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Classic right? And doubly delicious! I rolled down a window and ate and watched the moon come out. The clouds around it turned pink and the mists rolled in like some scene off a Scotland postcard.

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I really wanted to stay there for the night and wake up to an amazing sun rise but I had a feeling the Po-Po would be cruising along soon to shoo me away. Bummer. So I came back down the mountain (got lost AGAIN on a twisty unfamiliar road) and popped out in between cities at a little RV/VanLife stretch of road. It looked safe enough and there were large gaps between trucks that I could sneak into.

Well. Don’t mind if I do!

I turned my bed down (literally just unfolded it) and washed my filthy feet with a baby wipe before crawling in the back and calling Owen again before bed. It was some of the bed sleep I’d gotten in a while. I woke up to the sight of a light blue sky and trees in my back window. I took my time getting out of bed, enjoying the slow warmth of the sun baking the air in my truck and munching a granola bar as I watched the sky turn into morning blue.

 

It seemed like an ordinary day but for me, it was a day worth writing about. My true first day of choosing my path and following it, baka Gypsy Nomad style. And I didn’t get dead which was a plus! This day, subtle as it was, gave me a boost of confidence that, yeah, maybe this really was the right decision and maybe I can find peace after blowing up my life.

Just what I needed.

Word Sprint #7 Hufflepuff at Hogwarts

(Parameters: Random word generator Use as many as possible, Format: Letter, time limit: ten minutes Partner: Owen <3)

WORDS: herbs, skinny, offend, broom, badger, planet, fragile, addle

Dearest mother,

Hogwarts is the coolest place on the planet! I live in a castle! Can you believe that! A Mainord in a castle! The first thing we did was get sorted into our houses. They put this smelly hat that talks on your head and it tells you where your aptitude is. I got Hufflepuff, who’s animal is a honey Badger. We get to have dorms right next to the kitchens and as I understand it, we’re the “Support class” house. But I don’t mind. You know I love being in the kitchen anyway.

My favorite class here is Herbology. There are so many different other herbs than the ones they sell in London. Some are poisonous. Some we have to wear ear muffs for. Some we can eat straight away and they do funny things to us! One stupid guy ate some Hortense herbacia and he addled his brains for a week. He’s never going to live that down, I just know it. I like working with the fragile herbs the best. Even the teacher commended me on my steady hands. She said that I would make an excellent Potions master some day if I could survive Professor snape.

I’ve made a friend already mum and it’s only the first week. She’s not what you think though. In the kitchens, we have creatures called house elves. They make the food and clean up the rooms and stuff. If you sneak in after hours sometimes they’ll even bring you sweets and tea. Huffles have the advantage of being so close to the kitchens so naturally we’re regular visitors. Well, I came one night to get some tea for my insomnia (I found an herb for that!) and a skinny house elf holding a broom came to my elbow and started asking questions. The other elves seemed very offended with this but I insisted it didn’t bother me. I liked the company. Her name is Willa and she seemed very young.

She asked how it was to do magic and take classes and have homework. I told her that magic was scary because it was a big responsibility but also fun when you master it. You can use it for entertainment and protection and even cleaning (she gasped when I performed a simple charm to clean up the tea I spilled on purpose). She is very sweet and charming and I am happy to share my evenings with her. I asked her about her story and how she came to work at Hogwarts but she doesn’t trust me enough yet. It’s okay. I’m patient. You said I could make friends with anyone and now I’ve made friends with an elf!

Well the tea is setting in now mum. I’m getting sleepy. I will write again soon. Ta!

#Vanlife Look and Find, Baka Gypsy Nomad Style

When you’re a kid, you don’t notice cars unless they’re flashy or about to run you over. You perception of the world is very narrow, focusing on your toys, your family, the park, the cute fuzzy animals. I got lost a lot as a kid because I would be in my own head and wander off, not paying attention. I ignored street signs and reached for stray dogs before asking if they would bite me. Walking two blocks to the grocery store for ice cream felt like a million miles.  Kids will be kids and self-awareness is not their forte.

As teenagers learning how to drive, suddenly your perception shifts. Instead of being the pedestrian, you’re now watching for them as you accelerate metal death machines down the road. You are hyper alert for balls bouncing from out of now where and kids running after them. Cats streaking from one side of the street to another. Idiot drivers not looking before pulling out into traffic. Parking places. Street signs. Buildings. Street lights and traffic cameras. Speed limits. You have to re-learn how to get everywhere in a car!

The mental maps shift in your brain. Instead of going down three blocks until you hit the yellow house with the German Shepard in the yard and then turn right through the alley to get to the store, now it’s go straight from Hemlock Street for two blocks, make a right onto Oak Street and a direct left onto Acacia Ave. You have to know where the turning lanes are and make sure you’re in them beforehand. You have to learn to merge and go onto scary freeways. You have to navigate parking lots without doing bumper cars. You have to have your brain engaged at all times because YOU CAN’T TRUST ANYONE to be a rational and logical driver. Defensive driving.

As a baka Gypsy Nomad, I have to adjust my thinking a little more drastically than just “being aware” now. I have to dig into the finer details of driving and paying attention to my surroundings. My mind map is already set for my town so I can get pretty much anywhere with ease and not worry about it much. What I have to do now is search for potential places to rest and sleep and use facilities.

As I drive down familiar roads and through industrial blocks, instead of thinking of my to-do lists or crafting dialogue for my current story, my eyes search out potential camp spots. I look for “No Parking”/ 2 Hour parking signs. I look for RV’s on the side of the road and Vans or Trucks clumped together. I look for street lights and hidden alcoves where I could squeeze in without being noticed by the local Po-Po. it’s kind of amazing how quickly my brain adjusted to finding these things. But for urban camping, 24-hour parking lots are still best. I slept in a Winco parking lot this week and was relieved it went without incident.

For residential living, I try to find places that are underneath a tree by the side of the road or along a long fence line where I’m not immediately in the home owners line of sight. I’ve found two spots like this that I feel safe parking at so far, one very near my kids’ home and one near my old home. But I acknowledge that this is only acceptable because I know this neighborhood and this town. This would seem fool-hardy traveling into unfamiliar areas, which is why VanLifers always advocate WalMarts while traveling or aiming for a friend’s driveway if you can.

ALWAYS stay in your car and observe a place you’re thinking about staying before you start your nightly routine! Listen to your gut and then move if you don’t feel safe. There were several places I tried to park in one night that turned out to be bad decisions so I had to move. They had the right conditions but things didn’t make me feel safe, like, cars were driving too close to my truck and they would shake me in their passing. Or there was a kids park and field  too close to my spot so there were a constant stream of night-lifers coming near. A pair of dudes even used my truck as a shield so they could smoke a bowl. Yeahhhh. Too close for comfort and now I know.

But I can find places to camp pretty quickly now, which definitely helps with the actual sleeping. I’m managing at least 6 hours of sleep now rather than a spotty 3-4 because I have the criteria of “relative safety” mapped in my brain. There’s always room for improvement of course, especially when I travel outside my town, but for now, spreading my baby nomad wings is what’s important. I got nothing else but my truck or a homeless shelter so I’m making it work best as I can.

I asked for this when I blew up my life so every mistake and failure will only act as a learning experience. I am #Vanlifing the best way I know how.