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Month: May 2012

Evening Gatha

Evening Gatha

Let me respectfully remind you–
Life and death are of supreme importance.
Time swiftly passes by, and opportunity is lost.
Each of us should strive to awaken–
Take heed. Do not squander your life.

Found written in a composition book from 2005, when I was studying Buddhism.

Snapshot of life at age 30

Snapshot of life at age 30

We’re moving soon, and I’ve started to sort through some things destined for either the garage sale or the trash.

I’ve always kept journals. I’ve thrown most of them away, unfortunately–I wish I still had my journals from high school, and my twenties. But I don’t, for varying reasons: some of them made me deeply uncomfortable, and some of them became a weapon used against me in the second-worst relationship I ever had. So I mostly stopped writing on paper, once the cloud became available.

But every now and then I decide there’s something valuable about writing long-hand, and I give it another guarded try. In sorting through stuff this weekend, I found one of those attempts.

You guys know what my life is like now. John, brilliant kids, buying a house, a handful of publications, lots of friends, conventions, financial security on at least a for-now level. Here’s what it was like in 2003. This was written in the comfort of a double-wide trailer in Santa Barbara, CA:

January 28, 2003

D– and I have been out of work for six and a half months, and our savings is going to run out in two (end of March). I am very afraid of how things could go.

We’re taking steps. D– continues to look daily for jobs; I’ve started growing vegetables, making laundry detergent, and generally tightening the belt; our landlady gave us a temporary rent reduction for February and March; I registered with WIC and will be taking my resume to a temp agency on Thursday. We’ve taken a lot of good actions. But I’m still afraid.

There’s a positive undercurrent in all of this, though. Our lifestyle changes have been positive–without television, Danielle plays outside, which she never used to do. We’ve simplified so much. And we have both been home to watch Grace during her first six months.

This has been a big week for the girls. Danielle finally broke up with G–, the boy she’s been “with” since last year. He had taken to calling her “fat” and “tub of lard” and fortunately she thinks too much of herself to tolerate that.

Grace started scooting this week, and has said “night night” twice. I’m going to count that as her first official word, spoken January 27, 2003.

Hand is cramping. More later.

There are only three entries in this one, and the next two are full of pain, but I’m so glad I have this. I didn’t even remember what Grace’s first word was. And Danni has grown up to be a strong woman who will never tolerate that shit (she was in fourth third grade at the time)–I’m so glad I have this memory of when that young woman first emerged.

No more throwing these sorts of things away. I’m safe now.

The ultimate deadline

The ultimate deadline

Man, I’m a terrible blogger, aren’t I? I often think about how neglected this thing is, and then I think I have nothing really to say. Which is weird, because there’s always stuff on my mind–I’m freakish about journaling, I talk to myself in my journal all day long. But I guess I generally think that what’s on my mind is unworthy of you guys. Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t, but either way I think I need to get better about blogging–about staying in touch, even in this kind of removed way.

Yesterday we were all faced with one more horribly unfair, untimely death of a very young artist, MCA of the Beastie Boys. He was 47, according to most sources (Rolling Stone at first reported that he was 48, but the official statement said he was 47). Cancer. (FUCK CANCER.) Ridiculous. Seven years older than I am. Do you know how much–and how little–can happen in seven years?

This is on my mind all the time. The knowledge that time is SHORT is always there, sitting on my shoulder like some cartoon shoulder demon. Or shoulder angel. I’m not sure which one it is. What’s between angel and demon? Human, I guess.

My tiny Shoulder Human sits there eating chicken wings with a salad fork and goads me on, reminding me how little I’ve done in the time I’ve had so far. Sometimes that’s inspiring, sometimes it’s a source of self-loathing. Much of the time it makes me resent anything in my life that is not directly related to family and friends, or creating. Some days it makes things like earning a living or doing the dishes nearly unbearable. If this had been the last day of my life, I think more often than is probably healthy, it would have been completely wasted.

There are so many days when I can’t do much for my writing. There’s a LOT to do. I’m making my way through this stack of research books, and that takes time. I’m thinking, thinking, always thinking about the story problems that I haven’t solved yet. I’ve always been a pantser, but I’m outlining things now in an effort to become more efficient as a writer, because I always feel as if I’m running out of time.

I scroll through my bibliography, which was nonexistent two years ago, and I think It’s not enough. I plan for the rest of the year: I can get six more stories done. Two novels. A novelette. If I only have seven months left, if I only have this year, I can maybe make that list of publications a little longer. It’s not much of a legacy, but it’s something.

Mortality: the ultimate deadline.

What I should be doing is prioritizing the things that will extend that deadline: Setting up my standing desk again (taken down after injuring both ankles a few weeks before the wedding); exercising daily; eating better; drinking less; becoming more efficient in my dayjob to reduce my stress levels. Instead I resent those things, because they are taking time away from writing.

Which is not to say that I spend every spare moment writing. I don’t. I’m often too burned out, too stressed out, or just plain stuck on whatever I’m working on. Then the sense of urgency turns into panic.

Back to the subject of being a terrible blogger: I’m bad at knowing how to wrap up blog posts. Like this one. I have no answers. I’d love to end it by saying I will now go for a walk and then write like the wind for an hour before spending an evening of quality time with my family, and make every minute count.

But that’s probably not what’s going to happen. Maybe, but probably not. And if I run out of time, it’ll be my own fault.