Searching For Home

In moments of great stress, every life form that exists gives out a tiny subliminal signal. This signal simply communicates an exact and almost pathetic sense of how far that being is from the place of his birth.

– Douglas Adams

Husband and I are on the hunt for a new place to live. Or, more specifically, on the hunt for a town to settle down into on the outskirts of the city we’re now residing in. I end up writing a lot of fiction with location at the heart of the plot (Vacancy is no exception), so I’ve definitely internalized the significance of place, and I have a soft spot for the epic quest which you could call the exact opposite of a location-based plot. As Husband and I visit suburbs and feel places out, I’m finding myself contemplate what “home” is more and more, both where you live and where you’re from. I think I so often like to write my characters as finding purpose in their place by being impacted by it or trying to find it because I don’t know that I’ve ever really felt whatever it is that people experience as Home. In that sense, my stories, like those of so many authors, are wish fulfillment.

I find “where are you from?” a difficult question to answer. “Everywhere,” though easy, is definitely not accurate–there are people who really are “from” lots of places, but for me, listing off the specifics is tedious and really only blog post worthy, and just narrowing it down to one place feels like a disingenuous answer.

I could say I’m from New England. I was born in Massachusetts so technically my origin point, beyond my mother’s womb, is there, but I left before my second birthday. On the few occasions I’ve been back to visit, I’ve gotten this feeling, the “I’m in close range of the place I was born” feeling, but I don’t think that’s the same as Home. I was also raised by people who were born and lived almost their entire lives there, so the culture of the house I grew up in had a very New English vibe.

I could say I’m from Florida. I spent my formidable years there where my standard for everything was shaped. I learned about the world through a sandy lens, truly middle class, never saw–or wanted to see–snow. The suburb I lived in was sleepy but it was certainly not small town, nor was it anything close to urban. It just was. The defining characteristic of that city was that it had none.

I could say I’m from Ohio. I became a teenager there, a college student, an adult. But instead of being molded by the midwest, I always felt like I was just observing it. Even at twelve I found a lot of things fairly odd in Ohio, the accents, the mindset, the jargon, and while I conceptually understood that people from different places were, well, different, I never had to explain to anyone when I lived in Florida that I was not born there. Ohio never extended that courtesy, and I was perpetually an outsider by my own actions and those of others.

Once I was an adult, I moved back to Florida, and there was at the very least a small chance that I was chasing Home. I remembered being happy there and idealized it, but the reality of the state was that is was not the beachy, progressive, sunny place I remembered. Well, it certainly was sunny, but long gone were the sparsely populated beaches and the memories I had of people being happy.

So here Husband and I are in Georgia which is never a state I would have pictured myself in. Maybe we’ll live here forever, maybe it will only be a year. At this point in our lives and in the current economy, we follow job opportunities so that, perhaps, many years down the line, we can follow our hearts. But to where?

There are a couple places I feel like I would probably be happy, might feel like I fit in, couple possibly call Home, but the disappointment that was returning to Florida has really changed my perspective of that. See, I thought when I went back I’d feel like I belonged, that seeing the ocean and escaping what I thought was centralized conservatism would be comforting. That didn’t happen, (to be fair seeing the ocean still makes me cry happy tears, it’s just almost impossible to actually get to), and I realized Florida never really was–or it couldn’t have been–Home.

So maybe I’ll never have that feeling, and maybe that’s okay. My brain has figured out a way to give me phantom nostalgia every time I hear a song by Billy Joel or see a cassette tape, so it’s not like I don’t have any experience with the concept of “happy longing,” and maybe it’s better this way. Home can’t let you down if it never existed, and you can’t really miss something that was never there. Keep your heroes alive by making them fictional, right?

And when the planet gets blown to bits I won’t be nearly as sad as everyone else which puts me in prime position to snatch up the new Supreme Leader title.

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The Need To Be Liked

I talked about the freedom of being phone-less recently, and since I’ve replaced my sad cracked-screen with a much more expensive but narrowly different model, I’ve been trying to limit my use of it. I could do better (damn you, Hogwarts Mystery!), and admittedly it hurts to drop a few hundred dollars on something just to be like “NO, DON’T TOUCH THAT!” but when I am using it, I’m really starting to pay attention to how it affects not just my production, but my mood, specifically my self worth. And it’s…a lot.

I like to think I’m less easily swayed by what I see on social media than the average whoever, not because I’m superior–of course I feel jealousy like any other human, and when I see an ad for pizza I WANT PIZZA–but because 1) I’m actively thinking about how these things are making me feel, and 2) I’ve put in effort to work past that jealousy stage so that mostly when I see someone who is successful, attractive, and happy, I’m inspired. I’m interested in how people that I follow got their ass to look that way, produced such riveting content, managed to smile after heartbreak. It helps that I try to follow people who are very open about their flaws, but I don’t have that sort of control over everything I’m exposed to, and sometimes I’m left feeling, well, let’s say contemplative.

The path to success is shrouded in mystery, especially when your horse is a creative endeavor and your satchel is stuffed with naught but pencils and a thesaurus. Practice, work hard, risk failure, fail harder. These are some of the trials of our hero’s journey, and don’t get me wrong, they make a great journey, but then you bump into the already popular knight brandishing his shiny teeth and stylish but hollow swordplay, and you wonder: WHAT THE FUCK? His troupe consists of a grizzled, retired mercenary who’s universally loved but misogynistic as hell and frankly devoid of any actual personal development, and a sidekick that’s just like always there, and loud, and why is he always there? But sometimes the righteous and pious and good make it to the top, and you’re so happy for them, so pleased, but it’s still so terribly confusing. Success isn’t wholly unfair, so you wonder if there’s a formula, a way to make it all worth it. I’ve only come to the conclusion that luck is playing a role, and that’s not really just to make myself feel better about failure–I just don’t have any other explanation.

I don’t want this post to come off as whiny. I do think the effort is worth it even if you never go anywhere with your work and you die alone, penniless, rotting away from the plague. It’s, you know, the journey or whatever. Plus there’s always the possibility of being posthumously discovered and your words, your art, your music, reaching someone who cares and gets joy out of it all (presumably you’re producing something in order to bring joy to others). I’m just trying to figure out the how (you can’t bring joy to people without reaching them), and trying to govern my own ego along said journey.

the journey

I don’t buy the saying “Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.” Yes, if you’re doing what you love it’s exponentially less stressful and difficult and soul-crushing than doing something you hate, or something you tolerate, or even something you like, but no one’s creative passion isn’t actual work. If you’ve ever encountered something good, you’re experiencing the result of somebody’s labor and at least one broken mug, a handful of abandonments, and infinite swearing sessions.

It’d just be nice to know it’s all probably leading somewhere.

I see this mirrored in this one weird trick that I’ve been noticing a lot on both Twitter and Instagram. People will follow you, like a handful of your posts, then unfollow you a couple days later. I’m assuming this is done through a bot and they’re doing this to all the users posting under a specific tag and probably get enough people following back and sticking around to be worth it; it’s just so insanely shallow. These are not real views, not real fans, and when I’m trying to promote my actual work I just find it frustrating. Maybe I should be thankful? That’s a handful of likes I wouldn’t have gotten otherwise that might push my post up higher in some reverse-Robin Hood algorithm where the popular get more popular (which is its own bullshit ranty blog post), but it’s not genuine. It doesn’t let me really gauge if I’m reaching anyone, and worst of all these users clutter up the tags we might use to actually reach real readers.

And then I realize I’m guilty of this too when I use tags. Maybe not to the gross extent I’m seeing out there, but if others are playing the game that hard, don’t I need to at least engage to be seen at all? In the end, tags are words, and I love words, and I’m a little pissed at how this makes them lose their meaning.

But in the end it comes down to this, the contemplative self-worth part: maybe I’m just not that good.

That thought it scary and intrusive, but legitimate. I don’t have much else to say beyond that except that I’m actually glad I’m having the thought (not that I haven’t always had this thought, it just takes on a different shade in the world of social media). I think it’s helpful, kind of like seeing a fitspo model’s perfect ass on my Instagram feed. Yeah, I feel bad about my ass, but I might be able to have that ass if I work at it.

Might.

Blogmas: Recognition

A good friend of mine and I were discussing yesterday how when you do good works, they are their own rewards, and then today another blogger nominated me for the Liebster Award, and I immediately thought “fuck that, I am loving this recognition!”

Just kidding, but for real, it is incredibly thoughtful and kind for anyone to reach out and do something like this, and I’m really touched. I didn’t know awards were a thing in the blogging community, but they seem like a really great way to connect us a bit more and to get us access to blogs we would have otherwise sadly missed!

So, first, a huge shout out to T. Shaw for this nomination. She is also doing Blogmas and her blog has some lovely poetry and I’m jealous of her basil plants!

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So the rules for the Liebster Award:

  • Acknowledge the blog that gave it to you and display the award
  • Answer the 11 questions that the blogger gives you
  • Give 11 random facts about yourself
  • Nominate 11 blogs and notify them of their nomination
  • Give these blogs 11 questions to answer.

I don’t know why 11, but it’s a nice number, so let’s go with it. Here are T. Shaw’s questions to the blogs she nominated and my answers:

What inspired you to start blogging?
I started “blogging,” if you can call it that, on MySpace a great many years ago. It was EXACTLY what you would imagine, so we don’t need to go there, but ultimately my inspiration was the desire to just…talk. I used to be very quiet and shy, and I had a lot building up inside of me, and I wanted to get it out. I knew I never could verbally, and most of my life I haven’t had people who really wanted to listen or people I wanted to burden with that, but I thought maybe one person somewhere out on the world wide web might, on their own time, lend an ear (or a set of eyes). So here we are!

What is your blog’s purpose?
My current blog is basically a big ole brand. Yeah, it might not seem exactly like that, but I’m hoping to someday have a book or two for sale, and this blog will serve as a homebase for that #honesty #selfpromotion #ijustwantpeopletolikemeandreadmydragonstories

 What are your goals for 2018?
I just did a post on this!

What was the most memorable moment/event that happened this year in 2017?
We found and adopted Rutherford this year and almost immediately after evacuated for Hurricane Irma. That was a trying time, but it helped Husband and I grow as a couple a realize what’s really important to us.

What is your favorite comfort food?
All of it. Seriously. I have a binge eating problem. It’s under better control now than it’s ever been, but on the whole it’s not individual foods I like, it’s just the act of consuming. It’s fucked up, and I acknowledge that I’m sick and need help. I mean…pizza!

Which actor/actress would play you if your life was a movie? And why?
Not based on looks, but I’d like to think an Ellie Kemper or Emma Stone would be a good choice for me. Ellie because my life is not really leading lady material (I say on my blog dedicated to me) and while I think Ellie could carry a film, she makes a great sidekick and character actress and that’s kind of me. She also comes off as impossibly optimistic, but with a bit of a dark/fucked up side which is kinda true to me. Emma would be able to fully pull off my more masculine qualities, but she’d be playing a me written to be less self-conscious and less fuck-giving which is like fantasy me!

Do you have a Christmas wish? If so, what?
Yes, but you can’t tell what you wish for, right? Then they won’t come true? Let’s just say I’m wishing for happiness.

Do you have any pets?

dibz
Diocletian, who is Bart’s brother, if you believe that.
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Rutherford to the left, and Bart to the right. This photo is a lie, they hate each other for real.

What is your favorite season?
Fall because Halloween! And spooky things! And death! Okay, so not like that, but kinda! I like the part of the renewal cycle where we let things go, and that’s fall. Shedding leaves, calming down, reflecting and quieting our minds, steeling ourselves for what is to come. It’s just like how I love throwing things away!

What are you passionate about?
Writing, animals, fiber, kindness, feminism.

What is something new you’d like to learn?
I’d really like to get more into nutrition and better understand how the body metabolizes foods and processes energy. I’ve been considering going back to school for a few things, including dietitian licensure.

11 Fact About Me:

  1. I’m 30, and I don’t feel like it at all.
  2. I’m a black belt in taekwondo but way out of practice.
  3. My hair is most often purple, but it has been brown, black, blonde, red, blue, orange, pink, aquamarine, magenta, and green. It’s also in dire straights right now, so it’s going to stay purple for a while.
  4. I love music and in a past or future life was/will be a musician. Well, technically I am still in a band that’s on hiatus, but our genius won’t be understood in this lifetime.
  5. I LOVE HARRY POTTER.
  6. Lately, my ovaries have really been fucking, like, tapping their feet and pointing to their watches.
  7. I was a Backstreet Boys fan.
  8. I first got my period when I was 10 years old which is young, but it wasn’t that traumatizing until I had to deal with it at school where I had to figure out how to dispose of used sanitary products when the bathrooms did not have those little trash cans in all the stalls because elementary school kids don’t get their periods, duh!
  9. I love horror movies, but I’m a huge baby and have nightmares forever after seeing them.
  10. I so badly want to be one of those totally zen yoga girls who are just chill and cool and bendy and loving. Someday.
  11. Husband is my best friend.

11 Questions/mini-topics for my nominated blogs:

  1. Why do you blog?
  2. Which Friend are you and do you agree? (Don’t worry, this one won’t tell you you’re Mike.)
  3. What film have you seen the most. Is it your favorite? If so or if not, why have you seen it so many times?
  4. Favorite book and why.
  5. Someone who has been influential on your life and why.
  6. When’s the last time you skipped? (either skipped out on something or physically skipped like down a sidewalk)
  7. What holiday do you celebrate in winter, if one at all, and what does it mean to you?
  8. If you could retire tomorrow, what would you do?
  9. How’s your digestion?
  10. What’s your favorite mythological creature?
  11. What do you think is waiting for us after death?

If you’re really at a loss, you could just use those as blog topics for almost a fortnight. Damn!

I know not everyone will want to take part in this, and I will in no way be offended if you do not, so take this as an official “you’re off the hook!” Also, I don’t know anyone that well on here, so I apologize if this isn’t your cup of tea. I may not even notify the blogs below, just let the universe bring them across their names here, if they’re so inclined. And the nominees are…

Kaz818
GingerEffect
me
BiffSockPow
DGGYST
kaylaannauthor
Sam
Saranya
whatareyouonblog
driftingforward
Anachostic

And a little music while you peruse the above:

 

Things I Just Don’t Fucking Understand: My Own Worst Enemy

I know I probably come off as a pretty angry person due to these posts, and you probably imagine me yelling at people a lot in real life, but, Dear Reader, I promise you, I’m actually pretty chill. Some might even call me nice. Too nice. Nice to the point where I let people walk all over me on occasion. And so nice I will walk all over myself.

Someone was on the phone while in the bathroom at work today. The public restroom. Talking. I really want to not care what people do, but I wish people wouldn’t try to hold phone conversations in echo chambers because I am such a spaz that I insist on being extra quiet so I don’t disturb them. How fucked up is that? The answer is: totally fucked.

And it’s no one’s problem but my own, I acknowledge that wholeheartedly, but this is the person that I am, and if bitching about it on the internet is my only reprieve then just let it be, okay?

So someone’s in the disabled stall on their phone having their conversation, and I’m being extra dainty in my stall, not that anything I’m doing would make that much noise, mind you, since I don’t shit at work. But I’m being delicate and quiet nonetheless.

It’s also the first day of my period, so I’ve got a tampon in my pocket. I pull it out extra quietly, and I open the wrapper even more quietly than I would normally because gods forbid the other women in the restroom know what you’re doing in the privacy of your own stall which happens to also be the only fucking place you could possibly change a tampon anyway.

So in taking extra care to be quiet, I inexplicable also am very soft-handed, barely gripping the plastic applicator. Don’t interrupt the woman speaking very loudly about her child to someone who is not doing a very good job watching them, I hiss at myself, disposing of the wrapper. And then, tragedy. A perfectly good tampon slips out of my hands and onto the disgusting public restroom floor.

I binned it, of course, and since it’s day one I had to create a makeshift toilet paper pad and waddle back to my desk where I decided to wait it out til I had to pee again which was inevitably less an hour later.

It ended up being totally fine because whatever, that’s life, right? But I’m really amazed at myself here. Amazed at the idiocy. Why did I let that happen? Why can my grip be so easily influenced by some stranger who I know, logically, would not care if they heard me fiddling with sanitary products and even if they did care THAT’S RIDICULOUS AND NOT MY PROBLEM? Why is this who I am?

I pondered this for way too long today. It even depressed me a little. But then, THEN, there was a tub of chocolates left out for our department and honestly, it mattered so very little after that. I almost stopped asking myself why I do this to myself.

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