Posted in Life

Where is this going this time?

I moved last weekend. I signed a fifteen-month lease on a beautiful new apartment. It’s in the center of town, literally walking distance from…well, everything. Including, being directly across the street from Starbucks. That in itself should be enough. I mean, what else could a writer possibly want? There’s also a Target next door, located about fifty feet outside the complex’s main entrance. In the last week, I have spent way too much money there.

The apartment is gorgeous. All white and beige inside, with pristine carpet, and sparkling appliances, new cabinetry and countertops, track-lighting in the kitchen and dining areas, and a French door leading to a third floor patio with a poolside view. There’s even a built-in desk, complete with shelving—an instant home office neatly niched into an out-of-the-way cranny. Could this be more perfect for a writer?

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

If that’s not enough, the complex has a 24 hour fitness center. I have become a regular there, hitting the treadmill twice a day. I have spent the last week, wandering around in shock that this is my home. And, then my next question is…now what?

There’s no furniture in our living room. My roommate and I have to buy couches. But among the things we have to buy for the apartment, couches are near the bottom of the list. So, we just don’t use our living room. It’s still as empty as the moment we moved in. I somehow feel like that’s a metaphor for my life right now. Big, beautiful, possibilities, yet unfulfilled.

My question these last few days, has been…now what? Where is all this going? I’m in something of a new town. My writing is enough to pay the bills, but, it needs new life, fresh energy. So, here I am in the big, beautiful place, and now what?  That’s what I have been asking God. It’s like that Scripture about “enlarging your tent.” My tent has definitely been enlarged. But, comparatively, it’s empty. I don’t even know how to fill it.

I don’t know where this is going. I don’t know what’s going to happen with me over the next year. It’s an odd feeling. What is this all about?

There’s a feeling of elation, freefalling into the next season of my life. I don’t know what’s about to happen, I’m just hanging on for the ride. Then there’s something of a feeling of fear…will I be enough? Can I handle this next part? Will I recognize the steps I need to take? Or will I fizzle? And then in another way, there’s a feeling of gratefulness. I can’t believe I have this place, and I can’t believe that I’m in a place where my writing can pay for it. Then, there’s a feeling of anxiety, dread. It’s as if any moment, the proverbial “other shoe” is going to drop.

Where is this going? And the answer God keeps reminding me is…Trust.

Advertisements
Posted in Life

Apologies

Why is receiving an apology so satisfying, so diffusing, so necessary?

It’s like an admission that we are human, and fallible, and we screw up sometimes. How can we fault a person that genuinely admits that? After all, we know that we screw up sometimes ourselves. We know, more than anyone, how fallible and human we are. So putting out “screw up karma” is in our best interests at some level.

There’s something that identifies with the shame, the smallness, and the indignity that a person must take on to apologize. That’s why it’s so hard to do. But, when we have been wronged, somehow we are not satisfied until we can ascertain that the other person feels that shame. It’s a bit twisted when you think about it that way—but since the Gospel centers around forgiveness, I guess any fault I may find with it has to do with my own understanding. To err is human, to forgive divine.

But, when no apology is offered for a wrong, it eats at you like a worm inside. The hurt. The anger. The sense of injustice. It gnaws at you, getting bigger and bigger. And then, you have to do one of the hardest things—forgive anyway. Forgiveness with no apology is an inner healing thing—at least when it goes that deep. They say people forgive their rapists, or their abusive parents, or kidnappers this way.

I’ve never had any of those things, so in comparison the one-sided forgiveness I’ve had to give is very small. They say it’s for you. So, that it doesn’t eat at you anymore. So that you don’t become a bitter, dried up rotting fruit inside, with maggots swarming about your soul. I don’t want to be a dried up, rotting fruit. But, I don’t understand forgiving with no apology. It’s like saying, “It’s okay that you treated me this way.” But it’s not. Maybe I don’t know the difference between forgiving and forgetting. Can you truly forgive and hold on to the wisdom gained by the offense?

What’s brought this up, is a very small example, but it’s had me pretty upset today. All this week, I had been considering a very expensive purchase. It had a long-term commitment with it, and I spent a good deal of time carefully considering the deal. In the end, I decided to walk away from the table. The merchant, presumably vindictive, had my checking account, and decided to charge me without my knowledge or consent. It was a trumped up charge that I never understood, and they didn’t feel the need to explain. It was mainly just a $300 fee for wasting their time. I spent the rest of the day causing havoc, sending e-mails and voicemails to everyone but Santa Claus trying to get my money back.

Finally, I was told I would be sent a refund check for the full amount. I should be happy. But I’m not. I’m still mad. Very mad. I’ve been trying to figure out why. I think it’s because the entire ordeal is lacking an apology. An admission of wrongdoing. A resolution. The carefully worded e-mails I have from the merchant are conspicuously devoid of an apology or anything of the sort.

And, I know I will never get it. I don’t expect it. But, without it, it still doesn’t feel like the wrong’s been made right. I guess I’ll just have to settle for a check.

 

 

 

 

Posted in Writing

When Your Passion Becomes Your Bread and Butter

I am sitting in Starbucks today, trying to write something. Anything. For once, I have a break in the things that I “have to write,” and have an entire day to write the things I “want” to write. And what is that? I feel like I don’t remember anymore.

I have spent the last hour going through old projects, and making new notes over old ones, just trying to get somewhere. And I’m getting nowhere. And it’s frustrating.

I spent an exhilarating decade going through my starving artist period. I lived out of suitcases. I ate instant oatmeal three meals a day. I held a series of part-time odd jobs, and slept on couches, all so I could indulge my unhealthy addiction to coffee and Microsoft Word.

It was a great time, and I am so grateful that I even got to have those years. So many people get snatched right into the corporate world, and never get to pursue their passions until their golden years.

Or, that’s what I kept telling myself every time another one of my friends got married, had a baby, or closed on their first mortgage. I am doing exactly what I want to do with my life, I told myself. I get to write. This is the price. Now, I am no longer a starving artist. I am certainly not ready to close on a mortgage or anything.

But I can afford to buy a car produced within the last ten years, and my answer to the question, “What do you for a living?” isn’t precluded by that cliche post-collegiate-millennial response, “Well, right now I’m…” No. My answer is a one hundred percent truthful, and simple, “I’m a writer.” And I’m so incredibly grateful for that. Don’t get me wrong.

But yet, somehow, by monetizing my passion, I’ve found as of late, I seemed to have sucked the life out of it. So much so, that I can’t find the part of it I truly loved. So, here I am in Starbucks, trying to find my passion again. And all I can find is the work.

It’s my day off, and I choose to spend it sitting in the same coffee shop I frequently work out of, and typing away on the same word processor. And the familiarity blocks my creativity.

I’ve never understood people that would rather not spend their entire lives pursuing their passion. It’s never made sense to me. Now, I get it. Not that I would want it any other way at this point. I couldn’t see myself doing anything else in this world for money.  Or at least being happy doing it. But, maybe, in retrospect, they had the right idea.

There’s this song, a fairly cheesy pop song, that says, “Every time I run you’re the one I run to.” I think that line describes how I feel about writing. There’s a part of me that wants to take a break, and “get away from it all.”

 

But, when I envision what this blissful, heavenly break would look like–it looks just like my daily grind. Just maybe with some waves in the background, and a different coffee shop. So what is that?

Maybe I’m just uninspired and need a hobby. But, there is something about making your bread and butter out of the one thing that truly makes you happy. I haven’t got it all worked out yet, but I wonder now if it’s an entirely good idea.

I guess I can say this now that I’m there. If I weren’t in this place, I’d probably be sitting in a darkened room, sobbing, and drowning in Jack Daniels, while lamenting on why God gave this passion and never gave me the opportunity to use it. I’ve been there.  It’s no fun, and your eyes get sore, and you’re snotting everywhere, and maybe slobbering, and your face is all sticky. Nah, no fun. I think I’ll have this problem instead.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Life

We’d Like to Think We Are Better Than That…

When I was a kid and I learned about the Nazi Holocaust in school, it amazed me how such horrible things could go on, right in front of people, and no one did anything. I would imagine myself in Nazi Germany, saving Holocaust victims, or red faced in front our own presidents with the horror of human rights violations.

Surely, our Congress, our people, would do something about it. I remember in junior high, reading books from concentration camp survivors, and thinking that we are so much better now. We wouldn’t stand for such atrocities.

But, here we are again. The latest pictures coming out of a Syrian military prison, show the same thing, chilling in similarity. Not to mention, what’s going in the Muslim refugee camps. The starvation. The rape. The child abuse. The misogyny. The death and violence. The nightmare of life for these people. Not unlike the Nazi victims.

And yet, in our culture, we are so much more informed than any other civilization that has ever occupied this planet. We literally have the world, complete with all its photos and videos, in our back pockets. A scroll, and a tap, tap…and there it is. The shame and degradation of people groups. The genocide. The horror.

And what do we do about it? Nothing. We live our lives. We pretend it’s not true. We downplay it. We rationalize. We politicize it. Anything to cope with the feeling of being overwhelmed at the atrocities. Because honestly, there is nothing we can do.

And that’s how they must have felt in the 1930’s. How do we handle it? What do we do? We live our lives as if the world isn’t falling apart just beyond our shores.

We’d like to think we were better than them. But we’re not.

Posted in Writing

Poem: Closeout

Into the spinning vortex we travel
Shutting doors and sealing portals
Another here, another there…

Deeper and deeper we plunge
Closing out what took us
All those years to build

Like divers into the sea we go,
Another door discovered,
Yet another window shut
So many, so many

Levels and levels we go down
Now we’re breathing on tanks
The air is scarce down here

We’re nearing the vortex floor
It’s dangerous to go this deep
Here lies bare, raw, exposed tendons
The very flesh of the human soul

This kind of mystic depth
Is where only God and his angels
Are meant to be, and even they
Are sparing with the key

We shouldn’t be this far down
We know, no mortal man
Should ever aim to comprehend
Let alone traverse, this sacred place

But here we are
And even here,
There are doors and windows
All of which must be closed

In silent reverence, we tread lightly
Daring not disturb, a single cell
We shut, we seal, we closeout

And we erase…the past.
And that which we held so deep
Now never was.

Posted in Writing

Pajamas Aren’t All They’re Cracked Up to Be: Thoughts on Working from Home

Everyone paints working from home as this idyllic picture of waking up late, going to work in your pajamas, running errands at will, and “being your own boss.” Don’t get me wrong, it can be all of those things. But, in reality, it’s not always everything it’s cracked up to be.

You do have to work–well, that is, if you want to make any money. So, the sleeping late part, and running errands during the workday, ehhh…not as much as you would think.

Your specific schedule all depends on the job and the company. Some jobs simply give you work and a deadline. Whatever hour of day or night you get it done, is up to you. So, in that sense, yes, you can run errands and sleep late.

But, it will catch up to you with some wicked late nights before deadline. You learn pretty quickly that regular office hours are probably a good idea. Other jobs, require you to be available during regular business hours, and expect certain productivity levels throughout the day. Late mornings and errands, have to be snuck in with “artful explanations.”

The truth is, whoever is paying you–be it an array of independent clients, a company down the road, or in my case, a virtual boss whom I have only ever spoken to through a corporate messaging service—they know the market value of the work they are asking you to do. And they are going to pay you accordingly. Therefore, you’re still going to have to work as hard as you would if you were doing the same job in a regular office.

As far as pajamas in the workday, sure. Knock yourself out. But, the truth is, how a person is dressed effects their attitude. Chances are, you’re not going to be inclined to behave as professionally, when you’re working on your couch in a tank top and underoos, while endless episodes of The Office stream in the background. (If you can, kudos to you).

I have found, it’s best to get fully dressed to start my work. That is, jeans, and a casual top, socks (because my feet get cold), no make-up, and haphazard ponytail. Otherwise, I start to feel gross when it’s two pm and I’m still in my sweatpants from last night. It does something to your head–especially day after day.

The being your own boss part–somewhat. If you’re self-employed, your clients are your boss. So, you do answer to them in some respect. But, if you’re just telecommuting, then you still do have a boss somewhere. Granted, they’re not bothering you all day long, but they’re still there, just an e-mail or phone call away.

I have also found it gets pretty lonely working from home all day. It’s just you, and your work–for the most part. Some jobs have messaging apps that allow you to communicate with your virtual colleagues. That helps to some degree. But, you’re all working for the most part, only available to make random comments here and there.

Now, if you’re in a client-based position like sales, it may be easier. You’re constantly out meeting new people. But, if you’re the type that just does work and turns it in–it can get lonely. And boring.

I do love working from home. No commute, and it saves on gas. It also saves on food, because you’re eating from your regular groceries instead of going out all the time. It’s healthier too. You can make nutritious meals, as opposed to processed food on the go. There’s also no dry cleaning or expensive business attire to keep up with.

In a creative position, you can take advantage of all of your gimmicks and tricks to get your creativity going. You also don’t have all of the co-worker drama you would have in an office. That’s a plus.

I love it. But, it’s not everything it’s cracked up to be. Sometimes I miss co-workers. I miss getting up, and getting in full business dress code and heading off to join the world. I miss the energy of business, and the vigor of new people coming in and out.

So, I have to remind myself when I’m working from home, that I am still in the middle of the business world. I am creating files, that are used to fill web pages, that someone somewhere uses to whine and dine advertisers and investors. I am very much contributing. I am still generating and exchanging new ideas, and people are still connected to me through my work. I just can’t see any of it.

It’s just a weird way to live.