Waking up as September ends

Aspiring bloggers, take note! Sit down. Whip out your Moleskines and disposable fountain pens. I offer you the key to my Blogging Empire.

Write this next part on a fresh page. Memorize it. Eat it, so it doesn’t fall into the wrong hands. Your enemies surround you, preparing to dance ’round your smoking carcass. Drumbeats are so loud you feel it in your chest; one word from that guy wearing a big, feathery hat and they’ll step off. It’s like totally dramatic, I will not lie. You could have used all this in a story, only you didn’t heed my warning.

FFS, why do I even bother.

READ THIS SO YOU CAN LIVE. Record my words:

1). Fire off a flurry of posts of varying quality in a short space of time, generating interest and gaining followers.

2). Piss off a few months. Totally ignore the goddamn thing like that dusty, wrinkled sock under your bed next to the mechanical pencil you dropped when you fell asleep writing marginalia.

3). Misspend all your time posting political rants on Twitter, articles on Facebook, pictures of rando stuff on Instagram. Use lots of filters, apply vignette to everything.

4). Indulge in self-loathing – really dig in! Sketch out all the ways you’ve failed, opportunities lost and connections missed.

Make them up if you must!

What am I, your secretary?


5). Poke your face in after you’ve lost your old password and have to re-set it, and, THIS IS THE IMPORTANT BIT, SO CHANGE INK COLOR: promise to do better, then don’t.

6). Order pizza. This is hungry work!

7). Send me money for value provided. My Amazon cart will not buy itself.

Its simplicity is genius. You can, quite literally, pour your Dorito-swollen pandemibody onto the sofa, eat popcorn and binge British crime dramas, and achieve every bit as much as I have. Every. Last. Bit.

I feel waves of admiration radiating. I love you, too, and accept your thanks with open wallet.

Retreat – Stockton, IL – July 2020

Srsly, this last stage of pandemonium has been intellectually frenetic, following that cleansing week I spent off the grid. Over a hundred pages ink-vomited into an ironically optimistic dedicated 2020 journal left me dry heaving and spent. Clarity of mind lasted, oh, a week?

It’s been a trip, innit.

It was the summer of re-reading Faulkner, plowing back through As I Lay Dying and The Sound and the Fury. They ripped out my slimy guts, leaving them throbbing on the floor.

Say it with me: William Faulkner is the single greatest writer produced by the United States. Full stop.

I clawed my fingers into the words, drowned in the depths of their devastating perfection. Analytical skills cultivated from a lifetime passion for reading and writing about reading and extricating allusions and meaning reignited, like a thousand banshees screaming their fury.

It was as if I’d never deserted criticism.

So, yeah. There’s that.

In other news, five years into the divorce my ex-husband and I have begun sharing custody of the family Jack Russell Terrier. I took her in when he found himself in a bind, faced with possible cancellation of vacation plans with his current girlfriend turning him to his last resort – me. I accepted reluctantly. Having a cat who never seemed to play well with others, and a lease stipulating a one-pet limit, I wasn’t thrilled though I love her dearly.

Lo and behold, I felt tearful when he took her home.

At 14, she’s barely slowing down – not that she’s ever exhibited the full-blown JRT personality. Anxiety tempers the in-yo-face exhuberance she doesn’t realize she’s supposed to have, though she Tiggers at walkie time.

Mostly, she sleeps. And at night she grunts and dream woofs, curling up against my back and kicking me randomly. Reminds me an awful lot of marriage, only my ex-husband never peed on my down comforter.

Violet is besotted, rubbing against Lia violently. She stands on tip-toe, takes aim, and heaves herself like it’s a trust exercise at a business seminar. Lia generally takes it well, save two times she literally snapped. On the upside, Lia hasn’t caught her.

I didn’t realize my lard-ass cat could move that fast.

Lia gets me out of the house and walking the neighborhood. Painted lady Victorian-era homes proliferate here; there are hundreds. A sucker for their beauty, I take pictures no matter how stalky it looks. I cannot help myself.

Historic District, Elgin. Painted Ladies.

After a summer spent pandemidating, there’s been a sea change in my whole perspective on relationships. Fifteen men met scrutiny, none fit the suit. Visceral nausea, a literal struggle not to projectile vomit through a mask made me realize what I was doing and why it was wrong: I was looking to recreate my last relationship, to reincarnate that specific man. Each one of them had about three minutes to be him. At that point I hoped an anvil would fall on their heads.

My life is so full. I’m finding my joy again, and trying to meet society’s idea of what I should want is useless torture. Plus, toying with the emotions of other people. That’s wrong, saying sorry, but no, over and over.

There’s been little happening and much happening, depending on perspective. I don’t venture out many places. Only when absolutely necessary. Agoraphobia is an ever-present threat, the pull of the farmers market on Fridays desirable beyond the produce and freshly-baked bread. I pick up groceries, see my adult kids occasionally.

Forcing faith the world will reopen one day, a 2021 trip to homes of great writers is in the planning stages. Beyond that, possibly the UK in 2022. All the stuff I can do because there’s no need to take anyone else into account in scheduling my life.

It’s going well, two steps forward and one back as the November election looms. Barring civil war, the next milestone is the vaccine.

We’re all taking it day by day, aren’t we.

Exhausting. But hopeful. It springs eternally, as it must.