I logged onto MySpace just now.
I know. Whoa. Yeah, it still exists. I didn’t really know either. I went on looking for a poem I posted in my blog there a long while back. I felt like dredging it up and seeing if I still thought it was shiny and whimsical. I wrote it sort of in the style of Lewis Carroll — nonsense and bounce and yes, whimsy.
The first thing that caught my eye was this entry. I feel the need to post it here, to share it. I think it deserves that. So I give you the me of two and a half years ago; do enjoy. Some of it’s lyrical. I don’t know if the formatting was intentional or not or if it just happened as a by-product of MySpace re-imagining itself in a vain attempt to stay relevant against the Facebook behemoth, but regardless, I kept it.
stretch, feeling the tug of my muscles, a pleasurable ache remaining.
it’s a reminder of how much has changed this year. 2009, it seems, is
setting out to prove that spring of 2008 was a crucible — the
smoldering coals i had to walk over to feel the cool wet grass under my
the first crickets sing outside my window, their tunes riding on the
fresh breeze of the evening. my breath is measured, even. my fingers
and hands are warm as i type, the muted light from the paper-covered
lamp filling the room with a soft glow. and here i am.
something leaps in my chest when that thought enters my mind. the
breath in my lungs hitches for a moment, and my heart quickens. here i am.
the air is cool, and the sun has begun its downward path,
setting the budding trees and leafy bushes to dusty gold. i am alone
on the greenway path. for once, no passers-by break the silence with
their footsteps and words. no joggers with ipods, no walkers with dogs
and leashes. just me. i pause at the first curve, looking out over
the field. a smile tugs at my lips — something that is happening more
and more lately. a few puffy dandelions grow in the grass. on
impulse, i step off the path and pluck one from its resting place.
there’s a difference in the air this year. a softer note in the
sound of the wind. as i let my mind drift over the events of last
spring, it touches on snapshots. my heart stopping as i read a
one-line email from my cousin matt. “please give me a call the first
chance you get.” dark brown eyes under a shock of shaggy black hair,
darting nervously as my boss informs me my hours have been cut by 40%.
coming home again to find my roommate doesn’t have the rent money or
the bills at all. mocking words. maniacal howling from the other side
of my apartment. walking into my bedroom and feeling someone else’s
uninvited presence. things missing. weariness. driving. driving.
mansions and mansions filled with people, hard faces. suspicious
glances. smiling children and dilapidated buildings playing among cut
gravel and broken glass. a boy’s florid bow as he moves aside to let
my car pass. spanish filters through my open window from neighbors
laughing on lawn chairs, easy banter on a summer evening as my car
moves through their world. the quiet of the office, eight hours of
nothing. from sprawling villas to shoebox dwellings — an invisible
line is crossed, and i drive into another world. the rocky mountains
in the distance. tired. always tired. six o’clock i drive to work in
the morning sun. eight hours of nothing. the sun sets as i drive, the
numbers on my meter move, move. hours and hours. at midnight, i drive
home. i fall into bed. i sleep. six o’clock comes too soon. tears.
the harsh scent of vodka. the sharp sting of lies. snapshots — just
snapshots — that world is no more.
mom always used to tell me not to spread the dandelion seeds. i
pause as i lift the fluffy ball to my lips, my fingertips sticking
lightly to the thin, moist stem. for a moment i feel a gleeful
rebellion as i purse my lips and blow. tiny tufted dancers spin into
space. freed from their resting place, they float through the
air. one lodges itself between my breasts, perhaps afraid to take that
step onto the current of the breeze. i pluck it out and it soars away,
trailing behind the cloud of others that flicker in the light of the
last year’s world is no more. only this year is real. only now. here i am.
again my heart quickens as i glance forward in time. the clock seems
to speed in its place on the wall. soon and very soon. no more
running away. this time i’m moving forward, grasping at newness, at
vibrance. everything about now tickles my awareness of the immediacy
of the present. the pull of my muscles as i stretch, the comfortable
space in my clothing. the smile that tugs at my lips. newness.
i’m alone on the path. i glance around, but no one is there.
my heart leaps in pleasure. the creek burbles over rocks as i cross
the bridge, the soft pat-pat of my flip-flops still audible over the
water. the path seems smoother, more even than i remember, even though
i was there not long ago. i feel the urge to run. what happens is
more of a scamper, borderline bounce. my legs tense, my pulse jumps.
something in me sparkles. without a thought, my shoes are off, left
behind on the pavement. i pad a few steps forward, then i’m running.
2009 is a new year. i felt it with the ticking of the clock as
december became january. it’s new in every way. the gentle ache in my
muscles gives me a moment of triumph. my body is newer, smoother, yes
— slimmer. i feel good. i feel healthy, energetic. when i look in
the mirror, i grin. i think of what i’ve done this year, in the months
that have passed since the sorrow of last spring. focus,
determination. effort. i’ve fallen down, but there have been hands to
help me up. and here i sit. i am ready.
i come to a halt where the path turns to grass. i look out over
the field beyond where it ends, see the rolling, tamed grass of the
golf course and purposely turn the other way. a small meadow is
nestled in the crook of a curving slope. a few insects flit across the
path in the sun. the breaths i take as i turn back toward home feel
like a drug. the smile wins, and i feel my face light up. when i
reach my shoes, i pick them up. the plastic, warmed from the sun,
dangles from my fingertips. my arms swing at my sides, and i revel in
the cool air that passes over my skin. my earrings jingle as i walk
silently on my bare feet. right now, at this moment, i am utterly
carbonation bubbles in my veins as a thrill passes through me. my
skin hums in anticipation. soon. an electric edge is on the air,
seems to hover around me like an aura. this time there is no
trepidation, only certainty. clear, crystalline certainty.no running away this time. no desperation, no stumbles and sobs. only
an abiding quietness and a tugging smile. a sparkle, a glimmer.
raindrops patter on the ground outside, and a fresh-washed scent floats
in on the evening breeze. the crickets have been put on mute, gone for
cover from the rain. inside in the glow, the world is spread out
before me. i’m the tiny dandelion seed, and i’m finally ready to
launch myself off that cliff, to take the plunge. till then, i’ll
smile to myself, i’ll keep these sweet secrets dancing at the corners
of my lips. till then, i’ll look out over the world spread before me.
till then, i’m her. i am ready.
I can’t help but love that.
In writing and film, a MacGuffin is a plot device that gives the characters a catalyst for action. It can be an object to quest after or a nebulous concept, but it makes them go. It’s like my gorse bush.
Right now what’s making me go is my writing. I feel good about my story and the people who have so graciously volunteered to help me edit my monstrosity of a manuscript and prepare it for submission. I’m coming to the end of draft two, and I’m excited to get it going with the polishing round.
Writing has been a dream of mine for so long, and now that I have a completed novel and another one almost done, I feel like I can move forward. It’s the career I want. I’ve been pretty deliberate about my steps, trying to make sure that I put the effort in on the front end to save some time and heartache later. I don’t know what to expect once my work starts spiraling around the ether, but we shall see.
That’s my MacGuffin right now. The wedding is in two weeks, and I’m starting a life with my fiance. We’re both the classic broke twenty-somethings. We’re both creative types. The driving force for me is getting my writing out there, because at the end of the day, I write for an audience. I want others to read my work.
The past month has been very busy. I’ve been writing in every spare minute. Sometimes in those minutes I can’t actually spare. I’ve been blogging and building, tweeting and grinding my teeth. I’m painstakingly digging a foundation for a career I hope will encompass my life. I want to show agents that I’m worth the risk of taking on a new author. That I’ll make us both money doing what we love: producing new books for people to cuddle up to.
A lot of the past month has been borne with frustration that I have to work fifty hours a week at another job. That’s fifty hours I can’t spend writing and honing my craft. That’s why I want to make writing my career — so that I can focus on getting better, push myself to creating more vivid language, sharper imagery, characters people long to read over and over again.
I remember how I felt when I discovered that by Jo Rowling’s timeline, Harry wouldn’t be the age of Dan Radcliffe — he’d be my age. That all of this took place parallel to my generation. It made it so much more powerful to me to think that Harry was my peer. I will love those books forever. I will never duplicate the Harry Potter phenomenon — nor do I want to — but I want to make that connection to readers. Make a place in their hearts where my characters will live as their friends.
The dream is there. The drive is there. The will and determination are there. Even with the wedding coming up a mere two weeks from now, writing is the pulse of my life.
Perhaps this entry belongs more on my other blog, but perhaps not. It applies to my life. It’s a shift that has occurred subtly over the past few years, and it’s starting to materialize. I’ve gone from sheer terror to hopelessness to confidence to resolve when it comes to my career — now that resolve is moving my feet forward into a new world.
A couple days ago, as I pulled out of the driveway of my apartment complex, I almost hit a turtle. He was a small turtle, maybe six inches across. I managed not to hit him, but as I stopped at the light half a block away, I watched him in my rearview mirror as he plodded along, narrowly avoiding the F-250 that followed me out of the drive. Such a little guy, but his hard shell won’t protect him from cars. I wished I could have stopped to pick him up and truck him to the other side.
As I drove to work, I pondered how he even got onto the road. The curb is bigger than he is, and yet somehow he’d already made it across one lane. I hope he is okay and that he made it across the road. The world of Maryland suburbs isn’t made for such a small turtle.
Some days I feel like that turtle. I am trying to cross a road in a big, big world with all these large things that whiz out of nowhere, and it’s all I can do to plod one more dogged step after another. The only real motivation I can think of for a turtle to try and cross a busy road is that he’s looking for food. He needs to survive. If the road is dangerous, well, so is starving. I suppose sometimes we have to take risks if we want to get where we need to be.
I get asked fairly often at work why I’m working “in a place like that” and not doing something else. The underlying meaning of such a question is that I’m wasting my time, intelligence, etc. by being a server, and that I ought to be doing something more “useful.” I resent that question as much as I resent complete strangers asking me if my hair is natural. I don’t go around asking all the platinum blonds that question because it’s rude — but because my hair is red, that somehow makes it okay? Growl. Okay, I digress.
The point is, my current job serves a purpose. I enjoy it, and it suits me for now. I don’t have to get up at an absurd hour of the morning, and I’m making decent money. It’s a means to an end, and I’m happy there. I like my managers, and I get on well with my coworkers, so what’s to complain about? In the meantime, I’m revising my novel, trying to establish a presence in the world of the internet to promote said novel, and generally enjoying life. I’m about to marry a wonderful man. So when people ask me that question, it frustrates me.
I am that turtle in the middle of the road. Yeah, there are other places I could have gone, but this way seemed like a good idea. Each step gets me closer to the other side of the road, and when I get there, I won’t forget how I did. I will establish myself as a writer as a career, and while I might never make buckets of money like Stephen King or Janet Evanovich or JK Rowling (who probably make a teensy bit more than buckets), I will be able to support my family. That’s why this turtle is crossing the road, for god’s sake.
To get to the other side.
The more I think about life in all its complexity, the more I realize that it’s all a matter of making it happen. There are things that ebb and flow through its tides, but if you sit around waiting for something to wash up on your shore, you’ll be wading through a lot of driftwood and abandoned toilet seats before you find that message in a bottle. If you ever find it.
If there’s something you want to do, do it. No excuses. If you want to write, be a writer for god’s sake. If you want to paint, go get a brush and an easel and do it. If you want to travel, get your passport. If you want to go back to school and get your MBA, enroll. Make it work. Make it happen. No one is going to do any of those things for you. If you want to learn to play the violin, do it. Try. You don’t know how much time you have here, and why on earth would you want to waste it doing something that doesn’t fulfill you? Why would you stay in a stagnant swamp when you can be floating down a river toward your destination?
I’m not saying it’s not complicated. What I’m saying is this: people find a way to buy new clothes or new shoes. They’ll spend hundreds on a new computer because they’re sick of their old one, even if it works fine. They’ll spend hundreds on a new bike. Or a new car. They’ll keep upgrading their lifestyles instead of saving and living below their means. And when you ask them why they haven’t taken that trip to Spain or Greece or Mumbai or Antarctica, they’ll say they can’t afford it. Of course they can’t — they orchestrated their lives so that they can’t. Make choices now that will get you where you want to be five years from now, ten years from now.
I’ve seen people with nothing manage to build lives so spectacular, so rich and fulfilling, that it brings tears to my eyes. I don’t mean financial success, though sometimes that’s the case. What I mean is personal joy because they followed their bliss. Ask anyone who retires after thirty years of a job they hated. They’ll always have regrets. Always. Never be that person with a wistful glimmer in their eyes saying, “I wish I’d done that.”
I always ask myself if I will regret something more for doing it or not doing it. The answer is almost always the latter. If you try and fail, at least you tried. At least you went for it. And “failure” doesn’t mean you can’t make it work for you.
Your life is an earthen vessel on a potter’s wheel. You are that potter. You shape it, mold it, touch it as it spins. If you let it go of its own accord, it’ll spin into a misshapen lump that looks nothing like you imagined. If you grab hold of it and firmly direct the curves and flows, you’ll always know that you had a hand in it. You made your life what it is.
Take the clay and give it form. Make it happen.
I’m in Scotland.
I’m again confronted with the ever-familiar waves of knowing and not-knowing. I know the fresh, washed scent of rain cleaned air, of chill breezes and the golden honey warmth of sun. I know the hill that holds Stirling Castle, and the Black Isle that peeks through the window from across the Moray Firth. I know this building, but the view out the window has changed, and the flags that hang of St. Andrew’s cross, the lion rampant, the jolly roger, and St. George’s cross seem oddly disparate, though they grace walls which still hold familiar photographs. Lone Tree on Rannoch Moor. Buachaille Etive Mor. Pap of Glen Coe, Eilean Donan. Inchkeith Sunset. Familiar names.
The people here are now alien. No Jordan or Julia or Nicole or Keith. Instead there is Andres, Sandra, Howe. Unfamiliar but kind. As a former hostelite, they welcomed me with warmth and shared food and even tucked me in when I fell asleep on the familiar cushion of one of these black leather sofas, covering me with a fluffy duvet as I slept in a group of strangers.
The maps are well known, from John O’Groats to Skye to Aberdeen. The voices are unfamiliar. No Polish do I hear, but French and English accents. It has been…a long time. The giant gulls call out their thoughts of the town and the surf. Cars rumble across the Firth bridge. The sun hides his face behind an oddly stagnant sky.
A whisper flits through me, a startling revelation. Inverness feels like home no more. Perhaps it is the lack of sleep. Perhaps it is the staggering mix of old and new. It could be either of those things, but I think what it really is goes much deeper than a superficial makeover. I’ve got a home. Not even a physical home; that’s in flux. But there is someone rather than somewhere I need. And he is very far away. He has become my family, and where family is, so home is too.
More than anything, I wish he was here to share this place with. Even shrouded in clouds, she has a glory and a cleanness that surpasses anything I have ever known. There is wisdom in her aged glens, peace in her silver-smooth lochs, strength in her heather-clad mountains, and humility in the rushing of her surrounding sea. I think if she could speak, she would tell me that she will always hold a place for me here. And that the next time I return to her, not to come alone.
Turns out, it’s actually a bit of a workout. Go figure.
After literally six weeks of laying around on my arse, I decided it was about time to get off it and try to lose some of the weight that made itself known to me as I attempted to pour it into a pair of shorts yesterday. This pair of shorts was a size bigger than what I wore last summer. Needless to say, the swells of flesh that so stubbornly prohibited my arse from fitting into the denim made their point. They’ve made themselves at home, and I think I need to evict them.
Hence the workout.
I have been a bit scarce for the last few days. At least I think I have. Time has gone all wonky. I really think there is some sort of rift in the space-time continuum, but that’s neither here nor there. It is Memorial Day weekend, I suppose, which may excuse any of my scarcity (but would not excuse a rift in the space-time continuum).
I’ma go to the beach! It’s for a whole two days, but still. Beach. Me. Go. Picture me, the whitest white girl in white-onia, slathered in SPF 100 so as to look even whiter, lounging in an olive green bikini, feeling self-conscious whilst squishing my toes in very hot sand and trying to think of ways to get my boyfriend to make out with me under the boardwalk. Yep. That’ll be me tomorrow. And I’m serious about that boardwalk thing. I’ve wanted to do that ever since I heard Bette Midler pound out that song in Beaches. My boyfriend’s plans consist of eating lots of pizza and…sandwiches. (If you are a How I Met Your Mother fan, you will know precisely to what I am referring by the latter.) I have only a few things on my agenda:
1. Play a round of mini-golf.
2. Eat some Dippin’ Dots and see if they are as good as I always hoped they would be as a child — I was never allowed to get them.
3. Make out under the boardwalk.
4. Walk. A lot. Preferably on the beach. This is part of my whole fat eviction scheme.
As you can see, Item 1 has suffered a setback. The setback is that I am broke, and mini-golf is seldom cheap, particularly in a high-frequency, high-tourist area such as Bethany Beach. (Why, yes, gentle viewers! You now know where I will be this weekend.)
I don’t think I will have the money to eat, which is okay because of that whole fat eviction thing. It’s only two days, anyway.
Also, I think I have found a new Emmie home! I hope. Here’s the ad I think it placed looking for renters:
Quirky five bedroom full of awesome seeks young tenants for lounging patio barbecues, sprawling living, and unique closet arrangement. Stuffy and pretentious dwellers caught up in matching color schemes need not apply.
It’s pretty much perfect. Right down to the varying color schemes and oddly placed closets (some aren’t even in the bedrooms). Wish me success!
On that note, I am off to be a nerd and play Fable 2 whilst pondering my story and waiting for the boyo to get off work.
It’s less than two months away now, and I’m really getting more and more excited. For one thing, a conglomerate of my lovely European friends is getting together to descend upon Edinburgh purely for the pleasure of my company while I’m on their side of the Atlantic. For that I am grateful to the point of delirium — never before have I had such friends who would hop a plane and come see me like that. I hope I’m that kind of friend. I did jet to New York City when Karsten and Daniel flew over from Germany for New Years a couple years ago, which at the time was nearly across the entire US of A.
I’m lucky to have people like that scattered across the planet. Makes me feel special. 🙂
This is going to be a busy summer, but I hope it will be a good one. I think it will.
In other news, tonight I engaged in an epic battle lasting two hours and several rounds: Emmie vs. Phone. After many hair-pulling moments, almost tears and recriminations, I emerged victorious. This came about because of a bit of a mishap that befell my old phone last Friday, in which it sustained significant injuries that couldn’t simply be tended to with a trip to the corner between bells — no, this involved the necessity of complete renewal. Replacement. The old phone was down for the count.
However, it didn’t surrender without a fight. Determined to take with it all 167 of my personal contacts, it fought tooth and nail as I wrestled with the Backup Assistant that was supposed to be on my side. Little tramp.
Instead of sneaking into the old phone like a veritable Trojan Horse to unbar the way to my contact list, it instead shrieked at me, “INVALID PIN! YOU HAVE ENTERED AN INVALID PIN!” which I had most certainly not.
My pin was valid.
Imagine my fury. I called in the Big Guns. The Big Guns goes by the name of Ben, from Verizon. With his help, we had the old phone and the traitorous Backup Assistant on the ropes in no time at all — and we even managed to suitably cow the new phone, just to ensure it doesn’t get any ideas from its predecessor.
Yes. A victorious day. A glorious day.
Emmie vs. Phone: Emmie Stands Triumphant.
Yes, I’m lazy. Yes, I am copying this title directly from my other blog. Am I okay with it? Yes, yes I am.
I’m okay with it because I have just spent literally ten hours doing virtually nothing but writing. I have written about 20 pages and well over 11,000 words in one sitting, and so I think that allows me to justify using the same title for two blogs. So there.
I’m feeling the fire, feeding the desire. To write, to create, to pursue this dream and follow my bliss.
And after this long night, as the sky brightens and I finish the last seventeen minutes before getting up to go to work on this Friday morning, that’s all I have to say about that.
…Actually, I prefer hypnopompic rebel. Simply said, I don’t think people should have to be confined to the sleep hours prescribed by the 9-5 grind. I have never been a morning person, I cannot adapt myself to that schedule despite years of trying, and I sincerely doubt that I ever will be a morning person. The only time I’m okay with seeing that godawful hour of 6 a.m. is when I’m looking at the back of its head. Its bright blue eyes staring me in the face are the absolute last things I want to see when I wake up. Ugh.
When I was a young’un, I used to stay up until 2 or so in the morning simply reading by my nightlight. Of course I got in trouble for it, but that never stopped me. Going to bed at 9 never worked for me. I clearly remember being in 4th or 5th grade and watching the lime green digits on my alarm clock keep on turning and turning as the hours would pass. I feel like I’ve been tired my whole life because the world simply is not built for people like me.
I’ve tried drugging myself. I’ve tried staying up all night and all the next day. I’ve tried getting up early even on weekends. It. Never. Works. Here it is, at ten till 2 on a Monday (technically Tuesday now) night, and I am bright eyed and bushy tailed. I would stay up all night again, but I have stuff to do tomorrow.
I read something a few months ago that talked about sleep habits being governed by genetics. My mother is the same as me. Her normal hours to sleep are somewhere between 5 a.m. and noon. I function just fine on 6 hours of sleep, sometimes as little as 3 or 4. However, that sleep is ultimately more beneficial to me if it falls between 3 and 11 rather than 12 and 8. I don’t know if that makes any sense at all to anyone but me, but there it is. My boyfriend is the same way.
My sleep schedule is one of the largest reasons I was hesitant to take my current job. And finding a job conducive to my schedule is going to be a prerequisite when I start hunting again. If you know anyone hiring in Rockville for shifts between 11 and 8, do let me know.
My schedule isn’t really that different from someone who works a 9-5. I still like to get up, go straight to work, come home, and have a nice evening. I just do it on a delay of several hours, in which breakfast (if there is one) is around noon, lunch is at 4 or 5, and dinner is at 9 or 10. I then go to bed at 3 or 4 and wake up again at 11. It works just fine for me. Normal. So why is the rest of the world so different? Sigh.
I’m not going to take any of my meds tonight. They leave me far too groggy when I wake up, and on Friday, I was so groggy I turned off my alarm clock. Hardly surprising when I only got 2 hours of sleep, but still. Not particularly endearing to the bosses.
Well. On that note, I’m off to see if sleep evades me or not. For me, going to bed at 2 is like the average person hitting the hay around 7:30 or 8. But we’ll see if I can make it work. Going to bed before midnight makes me feel like I’ve completely lost my evening. Night is such a peaceful time. It’s quiet and comfortable. I’ve always liked the night. It only makes sense that it’s my natural habitat.
i honestly have no idea why i opened this blog. hm. possibly to open the floodgates of my current stream of consciousness? could be. could be.
aha. i remember the first little spark i wanted to fan into a blazing flame (i’m cooooold, goddamn it). i feel lucky. it was something rather simple that triggered it, something that, to many people, might seem a bit odd. “i love that you love zombie movies.”
but really, that simple statement was really quite touching. to know and be known. not just accepted, but enjoyed. i’ve had it before in other senses. friendish senses. but not this way, and for that i feel as though i’m holding something rather shiny and pretty in my hands, and i can’t stop staring at it and marveling at how it got there.
so there’s that. i also feel rather…odd. not-quite-gone-with-the-grain. i feel like that little whorl in a bit of wood that has a small eddy around it.
i keep thinking i know what to write tonight, but then i realize i really don’t.
what i’m thinking about right now is starlight. it’s this soft silvery color, like strands of webbing that pulse with a quiet glow. when i was younger, i got on this kick where i had to find out everything i could about astral projection. all i wanted was to be able to leave my body so i could go explore the stars. see the colors in the nebulae. all of that. i don’t know if astral projection is actually possible or not; all i know is that my goal was way out in space.
even though i don’t have a set path, i do know that i want to write something.
i truly love fall. every year about this time, i seem to get a new lease on life. the wiccan calendar ends at halloween. samhain is the pagan new year. in a lot of ways, that has always rather made sense to me. it’s the death of all the growth of the year; trees turn, plants go dormant, animals hibernate, i wear fuzzy sweaters and drink excessive amounts of tea. maybe that’s why halloween is one of my favorite holidays. the new year is reborn from the old, sort of like a phoenix rising from the ashes of a fiery death.
but really. fall is awesome. sweaters. cuddles. jackets. leaves. crisp air. halloween. pumpkins. candles. warm smells.
so tonight i feel thankful. i feel lucky for having all of the above. what a glorious thing. couple thoughts for tonight:
we accept the love we think we deserve.
everyone is trying to be more or less than who they are, and it’s a violation either way.