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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.

i
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
feet.
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
afternoon sun
.
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
beautiful.

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.
fumbling toward ecstasy

I can’t help but love that.

The MacGuffin

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.

Why Did the Turtle Cross the Road?

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.

Forces of Destruction

Another insightful prompt from the folks at WordPress. I wouldn’t respond to this one, except it ties into a lot of what I’ve been keeping on the ponder burner all week about my characters. In writing, characters motivations are what make them believable. There’s more to it than that, of course, but if readers can’t understand what a character does or even predict what their next move might be from knowing that character, they won’t read till the end of the book. They’ll get frustrated.(You can read more about my novel writing process/progress here.)

I’ve been thinking a lot about motivations this week. For good or ill, motivation is what drives people. It’s what plunked me down in front of my trusty constipated dinosaur of a computer to write today. It’s what drags our butts off the couch to the gym (or in my case, the living room where my weights live). It’s what makes people mug someone on their way home or donate to charity.

What is the most destructive force of humanity? I would say it’s one of humanity’s largest and most powerful motivators: greed. I’m not talking about Scrooge McDuck polishing his piles of gold coins before diving into them in a sparkling splash. Such a cartoonish vision doesn’t do it justice.

To me, greed is the sense of wanting more than someone else has regardless of who it hurts. The qualifier I tacked on the end there isn’t actually separate from the desire to have more, because ultimately the desire for more will hurt someone. It’s why employee benefits are often the first things slashed when a budget gets cut. Not salaries at the top of the chain. It’s why people resort to stealing. It’s why people fight over resources. Not because they think it will make them have enough. It’s because they want more.

If there’s anything I’ve learned on this earth, it’s that people very seldom think they have enough. I’ve heard people complain that they don’t have enough money when they make over six figures every year. If you were to follow them home, you’d see a Lexus in their driveway, which is attached to a million dollar home. Very few could successfully make the argument that they don’t have enough. I think that someone living in a one room shanty in Peru might have a better grasp on what “enough” means than most of America.

Every day I’m thankful for my toilet. That might be a very strange thing to be thankful for, but I grew up without one for many, many years. We had a five gallon bucket with an old toilet seat attached to it that we kept in our kitchen. Yes. You read that right. Kitchen. It was my job as a young teen to empty this bucket into our outhouse, which I dug myself. As a Caucasian American, I understand that I am in the very distinct minority for having had this experience as youngster.

Having grown up with a lot less than most people in this country, I am always very baffled (and I’ll admit, less than sympathetic) when people who have a safe, comfortable home with their own bedroom, a car, food every day (more than once a day), and a pot to piss in that flushes think they don’t have enough. What greed stems from is a lack of perspective.

Recession or not, we live in a golden age. We are utterly dependent on technology for everything from heating our homes to doing our banking to finding knowledge. I always wonder what would happen if we lost that. I see what happens when the power goes out for a matter of days. We have no idea how fortunate we are.

Greed poisons us. I’m guilty of it as much as anyone. I want to provide for my family and give them things I didn’t have — though from my perspective, I don’t have to do much to exceed what I had as a child. In spite of that, I want to raise my children to know that for every one of us who has water, food, shelter, family — there are millions who have to fight every day to have a fraction of what I have.

A sobering fact that I think of often is that if the wealthy of the world really wanted to, they could probably wipe out world hunger. If we weren’t so concerned with financial profit, we could invest in people who have so much less. It wouldn’t be a quick turnaround, but the world would be a better place.

Just to clarify, I don’t think greed exists only on Wall Street or in the upper classes. It exists everywhere, like a noxious weed. People kill each other for clean water when they could probably find a way to share it. At it’s heart, greed is taking for yourself what you could share with others. Everyone might have a little less, but everyone would have something. As children, we’re taught that if we have two of something we should share. We’re taught that sharing is caring. That it’s the nice thing to do. The right thing to do. I feel like we all cling to our resentment of sharing until we’re adults and we can buck that dictate from our parents and finally say no, what’s mine is mine.

Greed is the most destructive element of humanity, because it cannot exist innocently. It always hurts someone. On a wide scale it destroys nations. On a small scale it hurts someone’s feelings. In The Kite Runner, the protagonist’s father remarks that all sin is theft. You take something that doesn’t belong to you, or you lie and steal someone’s right to the truth. You murder and steal their life.

I’ll close with a quote from Shusako Endo (paraphrased). “Sin is to talk brutally over the life of another and be oblivious of the wounds left behind.”

Bad News Bear

It has been a week of it. I got back from my bridal shower (which was lovely, by the way) to find out that my move-out situation from my old house has hit yet more financial snags, my mother is in the hospital again, and someone close to me is getting a divorce. I guess bad news really does travel in threes. Ugh.

In spite of all of that, I have endeavored to get into my writing some more, and I have succeeded in getting a solid twenty pages of revision done this evening. For more information on that, I suggest you check out my writing blog.

The reason for the late night is an ill-timed three hour nap I took with my fiance. In spite of the poor timing, it ended up working out in my favor. I have been needing and itching to get work done for a while.

Speaking of my fiance, he hunted around to find me some useful Gaelic learning material and downloaded it for me. I get warm fuzzies thinking about it. He also asked me about my desire to learn the language and listened when I prattled on about it for some time. I can’t wait to start working on it more.

The wedding is six weeks away. I cannot believe it is so close now. What a trip. Married. Me. John’s parents are coming into town next weekend to go over some more wedding stuff with us. We’re getting into crunch time now. I’m starting to get the calls about flight times and questions about sleeping arrangements and all of that. John and I definitely need to book some of our tickets for the honeymoon and secure our rental car. So much to do, and an ever-decreasing amount of time to do it in.

Phew.

Okay. I think I am going to see if I can get a few hours of sleep before my double tomorrow. I still have a bit of a long weekend ahead of me.

Life, love, and the pursuit of happiness.

Autumn is flirting with September in a dance of revolving heat, rain, humidity, and crisp breezes.  Soon I know autumn will have her way with the world, and I couldn’t be happier.  Flickers of yellow and orange and red begin to appear on trees, and the temperature actually drops at night.  All in all, I’m waiting in anticipation of October.  As it approaches, there are a lot of things on my mind.  Not the least of which is what October brings with her as she arrives.  A year ago, I was waiting.  I knew what I was waiting for, but I had no idea how long my waiting would continue.  This week last year, I began to see a few glimmers of hope, a few warm tingles.  And then as October 1 turned to October 2, after a gleeful two hours of zombie-filled revelry, my waiting ended.  A man I had fallen for over the course of a year and a half invited me into his life, and we started down a road together.

Given the context of emotion this week holds for me, I suppose it’s only natural for me to think about love.  To ponder that thing that drives us so much through this world.  I think the silver screen presents us with many unrealistic views of romance and love.  (<–Understatement.)  Frankly, the few chick flicks (aka rom-coms) I’ve seen lately have been so far away from reality that they’ve left me wanting to repeatedly bang my head against a board.

What is love?  What really makes a relationship work?  If I could answer both of those questions succinctly, I’d probably win the Nobel Prize for Peace.  I’m just sayin’.  Go to any Barnes and Noble and you’ll find sections littered with books trying to explain love and fix relationships in 200-400 pages of easy step-by-step instructions.

Do soulmates exist?  Is there that magical moment where you just know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you have found the one person who can make you happy?  I might disappoint the world’s movie-going rom-com fanatics by saying this, but no.  I don’t think either of those two things really exist in the way they’re portrayed.  Relationships don’t follow a flow chart of:  meeting –> spark –> blossoming love –> conflict –> happy ending/sunset + horsey + castle.  Relationships are messy.  Why?  Because you’re taking imperfect people and smushing their lives together.  To expect perfection is naive at best.  However, I think the reality of love is more charming and beautiful than simply following a formulaic interpretation of easy happiness.

If there’s anything I’ve learned in the last two or so years since I met John, it’s that communication cannot receive a higher commendation in the world of love.  And before you can communicate, you need to know and be happy with yourself.  If you’re looking for someone to complete you, you’ll never find that.  But I digress.  I don’t think love happens like in the movies.  Or at least if it does, it’s not even close to being the majority.

I think a lot of the time people get caught up in this idea of the magical moment that will make everything clear, make everything easy.  There’s no quick fix for anything in this life, in love especially.  I still think the guys in Thrice said it right when they said that love is a loyalty sworn, not a burning for a moment.  Relationships take work–they don’t just work because you want them to.  Sometimes they take sacrifice and selflessness.  Both of which have to go both ways.  While I think that two people can experience an initial click or chemistry, I don’t think that two lives just slip into each other without a ripple.  People have different dreams and ambitions.  To me, the mark of the best relationships is the ability of the couple not to expect their lives to poof into perfection, but the willingness to build something together.  A family.  A home.  A life.  Whatever that may look like.  That’s where the beauty is to me.

That’s what I honestly love about my relationship.  Looking into the future and knowing that each of us will build something together.  That in the two years behind us since we met, we have begun building a foundation.  We’re two adults long since launched from the families that raised us, and in the last year, we have begun a new family.  A small family for now, just the two of us, but with strong ties to the families we came from.  Something to build on together into something that fits us both.

I can’t think of a truer love than that.

Two More Days

And then Friday!

My fingers are cramped up.  If you know me, you know that my right pinky finger is crooked, forever prohibited from straightening by a wonky tendon that decided not to grow.  I’ve just spent an hour and a half writing, and that little deformity of mine is in serious pain (I’m right handed).  I had an idea last fall, something to do as a gift that never came to fruition.  Now I’ve begun, and it really is beautiful so far.  It’ll take quite a while to finish at this rate, but I do have a few months left before it needs to be done.  The exciting thing about it is that it meshes rather perfectly with both a new development from today and also with another idea I had as well.  I would be more specific, but that would be telling.

After being stuck somewhere in the space-time continuum where there were constantly 6 weeks left of school, suddenly we’ve gone through a wormhole and there are only three.  Words cannot describe my joy at this.  I have a lot to do by the end of the year, and I might get into some trouble because this injury has made me miss so much work, but at this point, I can’t do anything about that.  It’s only been six weeks since the accident, and though I am feeling somewhat better now, by the time I’ve gone through half the day, I am a hot mess of ouch.

Well.  Three more weeks, and it will be over forever.  I just wish I could get rid of this horrible sense of trepidation that has plagued me all year.  I never should have taken this job.  Teaching is the perfect job for those who can give 110%.  I can give that to my writing, but not to teaching.  Maybe that’s selfish.  I don’t think it really is, though, any more than I would think it is selfish for people not to join the volunteer fire department or become a police officer.  Jobs like that require certain kinds of people who are willing to live and breathe their job.  I think that most of us have something we’re willing to do that for, but it varies from person to person, and for me, teaching is not that something.  Are musicians being selfish for making music?  Artists?  Accountants?  My thoughts about careers:  find what you love, and do it well.

That’s all I can ask of anyone.  Work is a huge portion of life — if you’re miserable, that just plain sucks.  And I’m miserable.

Sigh.  Time to try and sleep.

Two more days.

Scotland, ho.

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.

You Say Financially Questionable, I Say Necessary

Just a quick update to say that I am going to Scotland this summer! It was kind of a snap decision on account of me finding a good fare a solid $400 cheaper than anything else I had found, getting to see Julia, and taking a solid retreat into my favorite place in the world.

I cannot wait.  It’s been three and a half years since I was last there, at Christmas 2006.  So much has changed since then, but one thing’s for certain:  this is exactly what I need.

follow your bliss

This morning, I asked my student to reflect on the following:

“The privilege of a lifetime is to be who you are…follow your bliss.   The heroic life is the individual adventure.   There is no security in following the call to adventure.”  (Joseph Campbell)

I figured that since I am trying to keep up my average of words per day, I would complete my own assignment. (I already hit 1,000 working on my novel today, but a bit more never hurt anyone.)

I’m going to break this down sentence by sentence and see what comes pouring out through the cracks.

The privilege of a lifetime is to be who you are…follow your bliss.

I heard once that up until about puberty and a few years after, you spend your life trying to fit in, blend with others, be like everyone else.  In high school and the years after is when people become desperate to delineate what separates them from the rest of the world, to be an individual.  But how far do people really go to do that?  So many people spend their lives doing things that make them unhappy or at the very least, bored.  They spend their lives with people who make them unhappy.  They follow the status quo because they feel some sort of obligation to do so or need security in some way.

It took me a long time in my life to come to terms with who I am, and in a lot of ways, I’m still on that path.  It has taken a lot of failings in order for me to get to where I am now.  I wrote not long ago in a letter to someone that I feel like years ago, I was perched on the edge of a chasm.  I could see where I wanted to be on the other side of it, but I had to make choices to decide how to get there.  The first route was the tried and true slow descent down one side and up the other, maybe on a burro.  I could plod doggedly down and up and eventually get to the other side, but I knew that if I took that route, I might end up miles down from where I was aiming.

The other route was the most direct geometrically.  And it stretched out directly in front of me, a rickety rope bridge with punky boards full of dry rot and tattered ropes holding it together.  I gritted my teeth and stepped out onto the bridge, with nothing but those flimsy boards between me and a long drop with a sudden stop.  Looking down at the well-trodden safer path below, I could see people’s mouths agape as they watched me take my fumbling steps out on that bridge.  Some even yelled up at me, “You’re crazy!  You’re going to fall!”

I haven’t fallen yet.  Granted, there have been a few close calls.  A couple of those boards were rotted through and disintegrated beneath my feet like crumbling clay.  Occasionally, circling vultures would swoop down and attack, seeing I was vulnerable.  But each time, I clung to the most solid things I could find and held on tight.  I’ve made a large number of big decisions in the last few years, and they have all propelled me forward.  And the farther forward I go, the closer I get to the other side.  I can’t see the other side from where I am; I have to focus too much on putting one foot in front of the other and staying alive to get there, but I know it’s there.  I can sense solid ground in the distance, getting closer every day.  I don’t know how many steps remain before I get there, but I know there is even more adventure awaiting me after my feet touch the earth again.  And the only way I’ll get there is if I keep following my bliss.  This journey truly has been amazing, and making the choices I have made really are the privilege of my lifetime.

The heroic life is living the individual adventure.

I feel like it would be way too arrogant to call my life heroic.  I could say resilient or bold and maybe go as far as intrepid, but regardless, I feel that my life has been full of adventure.  In spite of all the moves (or maybe because of them), I’ve managed to hold onto some semblance of cohesion within myself.  Sometimes I feel stuck within the confines of what society deems normal, namely the need for money (ew), but I have still managed to get where I needed to go, regardless of how rough the road got.  For that I am both proud and thankful.  Proud that I haven’t completely had a nervous breakdown yet (although I’ve gotten close this year…sorry, John) and thankful for the people who have been there along the way to hold out their hands and help me along.  I wouldn’t be here without them.

I’m certainly not done with this adventure yet.  In fact, I might be setting out on another leg of it shortly, depending on what I decide in the next 24 hours.  There is a big wide world out there, and I haven’t seen enough of it yet.

When I think about it, I often tell my friends that they are heroic for following their bliss and doing their thing, so perhaps I ought to do myself the same courtesy and bestow the label upon myself as well.  I do have a tendency to be much harder on myself than others are.   I should be more mindful of that and stop Emmie-bashing.

There is no security in following the call to adventure.

This one rings so true — I think about the people I know who are pursuing the things they truly love, and very few are actually making any money.  Of course, money isn’t the only way to measure security, but I think that is sort of what Joseph Campbell was referring to.  That and the fact that the term “starving artist” did not evolve without some sort of precedent.  I’m okay with being poor.  I’ve never really had any money, so I actually tend to just give it away when I do have it.

Anyway, all in all, I think it’s clear that I have to do some things for myself. Dolly Parton said to find out who you are and do it on purpose.  I’m not one who usually looks to Dollywood for wisdom, but I won’t turn it away when I come across it.  I know a lot about who I am, but I need to make some purposeful strides into really letting that person shine through.

On that note, kiddies, sleep tight.  Bite the bedbugs and smile at your neighbor.