When your dream chases YOU…and you run away screaming like it’s Freddy Kreuger

Wouldn’t it be romantic and wonderful if you and your dream could prance and frolic in a field of flowers, laughing and singing like Julie Andrews in “The Sound of Music”? It would put a flower behind your ear and tell you you’re beautiful, even when you don’t meet a deadline or happen to be too busy to focus properly. It would massage your aching feet and make you a cup of something delicious and say it’s with you till the end, for better or worse.

Goddamn you Julie Andrews.

*Takes off reality filter*

You’re on your third cup of Bailey’s and coffee, staring bleary eyed at your computer. The insipid cursor is taunting you, winking in and out of existence and echoing like the steady TAP TAP TAP of a school master’s expectant shoe on a sterile linoleum floor. (Yes, it makes noise if you stare at it long enough). Your fingertips are numb from counter-tapping on the desk, attempting to inject a melody against the TAP TAP TAP; trying to drum up inspiration.

It’s 2:36 am and you have to be to work at 7:00. Something falls in the kitchen and you startle so badly you slosh your coffee, your body jerking awake, ready to leap into action. OKAY! You’re awake again! Your fingers tap tap tap on the keyboard for a while and then stab the back space button in annoyance. This happens for perhaps half an hour more. Ridiculous. This is getting you no where. It’s time for bed and you can continue with fresh eyes when the sun is out again.

Your blankets greet you warmly, tucking around your shoulders and snuggling up to your back. Your pillow cradles your aching head and its feathery fingers reach out to pet your hair and relax the nerves. You close your eyes and sigh deeply. Time to shut up and shut off….

*poke*

You twitch and open one eye and survey the room. Nothing but darkness and the familiar shapes of  your furniture. Must be a muscle spasm. You curl your body in on itself and pull the blankets up higher. Sleeeeeep.

heh heh heh heh heh…..

WHADAFAQ? Your ears sharpen in the yawning silence and behind your eye lids, your eyes rotate spastically, trying to catch the sound again. Surely this is sleep deprivation. Your body is trying to keep you awake for a fourth wind. It can’t let go. So much to do and too much worry. You try deep breathing. In two three four. Hold for seven; let out for eight….

JessJessJessJessJess……..

It’s not real! You are still as you can be, devolving back to kindergarten where all children know that if you lay like a dead person, the monster can’t find you. You’re afraid to open your eyes. It’ll go away. It always does. You’re freaking out over nothing.

*poke poke*

OMGOMGOMG!

*POOOOOOOKE* hehheheheheheheheh….

DEFINITELY NOT A SPASM! OMFG it’s FREDDY KRUEGER! Its FREDDY!!! Or Jason! No, not Jason! It’s PREDATOR!!

You throw back the covers and stand on your bed in a crouching position, piercing the void with your suddenly superhuman sight. You grope for a weapon; you grab a chewed up pen from your night stand. Your spine feel likes its electrified and your leg muscles tremble, waiting for another poke to prod you. Waiting, waiting…

Nope. Nope nope nope you’re not waiting. You make the snap decision to move before it can get you, leaping off the edge of your bed (because the carpet has turned into lava and you can’t touch it or you’ll die) and landing as close to your doorway as you can before stumbling through and slamming it shut, locking the monster inside. You run back to your desk chair and you put your feet up onto the seat, pen in hand and now armed with your still hot coffee.

It’s a small eternity of you waiting and watching before you feel safe enough to turn your back to the door way. Since you’re up again and clearly not going back to sleep any time soon, might as well work. You feel a warm breath against your neck and you shudder.

Jeessssssssssssssssssssssssssss.…………………….

You’re doomed. That’s it. Game over. You can sleep when you’re dead, which might be sooner than you anticipated.

An invisible pair of hands grips your wrists and plunks them down on the keyboard and you feel like a puppet being manipulated. First it stabs your index finger down, and then your pinky and then middle finger of your left hand. You squint and try to make out the words you’re involuntarily typing but after a while, you give up and give in to the compulsion. The breath is still at your neck and the weight is on your hands for hours, TAP TAP TAPing away, showing that cursor whose boss.

When you come to, the sun is out, it’s 6:30 am, and when you look at the screen, your word count has jumped up 6k and HOLY SHIT it’s actually GOOD. You look around, neck sweaty, muscles tight. At some point, you were fed because there’s an empty Cheez-it bag to your left and a glass of juice you don’t remember pouring to your right. (Is that juice?)

You turn in your chair and stretch, your eyes gritty from strain and deprivation. When you stand, for a split second you see a form in the shadows and your body spikes with alarm. And then you shake your head because you swear you got the impression that it winked at you and saluted before drifting away and releasing you from its thrall.

And you smile.

Dreams aren’t romantic. They’re goddamn scary MoFos and they come at you like Hell Hounds when you’re least expecting it. They mean well though, you see, because they want to come alive too. They want to live and breathe and take shape and because YOU are their vessel, they have to push you past your comfort level sometimes. Only the really good dreams do this; the ones that hold on to you like a dog with a bone.

The dreams that chase YOU are the ones you need to keep close. Those are the ones worth not giving up on.

(This is a true story from the life and times of Jessica Jordan.)

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The Laundry made me cry, but I’m Still Here

I’m still here.

I’m still here.

After filing for a divorce from a husband I’d been with for 11 years. After moving out (and then in with my mother because CALIFORNIA *insert eye roll*) . After being away from my kids 90% of the time instead of WITH them 90%. After being on suicide watch for a month straight. After making the decision to start a relationship with my best friend (who is 12 years younger in age).

I’m still here.

But the Laundry nearly broke me.

Anybody up to that point would say I was doing well in spite of it all. I took in my husband’s rage and depression and snark. I took in my family’s derision over my new relationship status and my sister’s alienation. I had a stiff upper lip when my children called me in tears because they missed me and couldn’t understand why I wasn’t home anymore. I took in stride my truck breaking down and using every penny of my paycheck to pay for it (and then borrowing gas money to fill it) so I could get to work. Also, up until about a month ago, I was Van Lifing it so my truck was my home.

I was still standing even after all this. I was dry-eyed and straight-backed.

I was standing in my mom’s new house, moving the last few boxes in to her back room. Only the necessary ones. My mother, who had been homeless for over a year and almost got caught in the Thomas Fires while camping, finally got her own place and here I was, invading her because Winter was Coming. (She insisted. I was perfectly happy Van Lifing it). Better than paying $70 a month to rent a unit and I was grateful for a roof and the couch. Plus I love my mom. She’s awesome.

I lifted the last bag onto the last box and I was standing there, looking down at my clothes. They were clean. It was only what I needed; about a quarter of my whole wardrobe because the rest were in storage. I had to put them away…into a basket. My mom walked in to ask me a question and hot salty tears started streaming down my cheeks.

And they wouldn’t stop.

She walked over and held me, shoving my face into her neck and cradling my head with her hand. I wailed and cried and clung to her like a small disturbed child.

The Laundry did me in. The final piece of the puzzle I had intentionally broken and smashed into bits was sitting in a bag, harmless. The end of an Era.

But I’m still standing.

 

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……..

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?

IMAG1416

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!

imag1439.jpg

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.

IMAG1441

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.