An Attitude Adjustment

There’s a new employee at my part-time job, and they’ve got a defensive streak that really makes them unpleasant to interact with. This has created unnecessary turmoil in my life lately. Of course, I’m treating it as an exercise in learning how to filter my language to avoid unnecessary drama while still attempting to get things accomplished with difficult people. But more than that, I’m choosing to use it as a lesson in letting go, on a couple of levels – in letting go of expectation, negative emotion, and memories of things that are just not that big of a deal, in the scheme of life, the universe, and everything. In other words, I’m giving myself an attitude adjustment.

The other day, my coworker was nearly 10 minutes late, which might not seem like much, but is a big deal since there’s only one of us at a time. Whoever is manning the desk overnight can’t leave until their relief gets there, which is a problem if that person has a day job (as all of the night auditors at this hotel do). The person didn’t bother to call to let me know, so when they finally walked in, I was already late to Job #2.

On my way out the door, I asked if they had my number and explained that from now on if they’re running late they should call to give a heads up to whoever is working the desk. My coworker immediately started making an excuse about a car broken down, with an offer to show me photos of the car that had broken down, to which I replied, stupidly, “I don’t care.” Not meaning “I don’t care about your problems,” but rather “I’m not your boss, you don’t have to prove that your car was broken down.” It was an unfortunate turn of phrase, and I regret that I didn’t realize immediately that what I’d said could potentially be hurtful.

It didn’t hit me until later that I’d said something that could be interpreted a different way if you didn’t know me, so when I saw my coworker today, I explained myself and apologized for using the phrase “I don’t care” when we were talking. The person rolled their eyes at me and snorted. Awesome.

Of course, also today there were several things that a couple of our newer employees had mistakenly done over the last few days that I had to spend about an hour fixing last night. Part of my job is to fix the problems on reservations, but also let the morning shift know what’s going on. When I let my coworker know what had gone on overnight, they started passing the buck immediately. Keep in mind that this person is brand new. It doesn’t matter if they don’t know how to do something – it’s expected. But instead of “Oh yeah, I might have messed that up,” or “I think that was so-and-so who did that, but I don’t know how to fix it, could you show me?” all I got was “It’s so-and-so’s fault. I was training him and he did it wrong. Etc.” Mind you, I have no clue why a brand-new employee who doesn’t know the reservation system is training another new employee, but that’s out of my control. Also, if you’re “training” someone and they do it wrong, as the trainer, you should be equipped to correct the problem then and there, or at least leave a note so someone else can fix it instead of waiting for the night auditor to catch it in passing.

Oh well. It’s not my fault that this place is crazy, and there’s nothing I can do to fix the crazy. It was that way before I started, and it will be like that long after I’ve moved on. The only thing that is firmly within my control is letting go of the angst I’m feeling over working with people who are not interested in accepting responsibility and taking advantage of the opportunity to learn and excel. This is my part time gig, not my career. It’s not my life, and it has very little bearing on my future, other than helping me pay off credit cards. It is within my power – and indeed, my responsibility – to watch my language, and never say things like “I don’t care” again – because obviously I do, very much. But it’s up to my coworkers to accept apologies, and to volunteer to learn things that will help get the drama and shambles under control.

It is also within my power to spend all day tomorrow looking for writing and editing gigs, so that if I have to keep working these long hours, at least I can do so from home, where I can control the quality of my surroundings and work output.

Anna’s Camino: Day 16 (Part 2) – Villafranca Montes de Oca to San Juan de Ortega

In October and November of 2015, I walked the Camino Francés, one of the traditional pilgrimage routes to the Spanish city of Santiago de Compostela. It was a deeply emotional journey, with far-reaching implications for my life, and I’m slowly but surely capturing the memories and musings here on my blog. Read the entire series at Anna’s Camino.

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Though I believed I’d seen my fair share of the Spanish countryside by the time we got to Villafranca Montes de Oca, this day’s walk was to be a lesson in avoiding assumption. Shortly after leaving town that morning, we entered a large swath of beautiful, undeveloped forest land, and it seemed like there was a new surprise around every curve. I walked down a long, quiet stretch of fern forest, saw the prettiest little flowers, and happily analyzed every new type of rock I stumbled across (sometimes literally). My college geology professor would have been amused at how a girl who’d often slept through class (you can’t blame me – it was at 8am, and you already know I’m not a morning person) would one day grow up to geek out over pebbles.

One of the biggest regrets of my morning was coming to a huge dip in the road and realizing that no photos I took were going to capture its stupefying dimensions. I’d walked up and down mountains before, but this was something else. It looked like a freefall I’d absolutely hate to take via rollercoaster. I was in awe, but still remembered an important lesson I’d found on my first steep downhill climb, going into Roncesvalles on Day 3. I unpacked my sandals and switched shoes, just in case, to make sure there was no way of hurting my toes on the downhill climb. I might have been masochist enough to go on this stupidly long walk, but no way was I going to lose toenails in the process. (Click here to learn about how I took care of my feet on the Camino Frances.)

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It’s difficult to make out in this photo, but the dark spot in the trail ahead is where the trail drops completely out of sight. The little speck far in the distance on the trail is Natalie.

By the time I got to the big hill, Natalie was already far ahead on the trail. In fact, if you look very carefully in the picture above, you can just make out a tiny hiker wearing orange pants on the uphill portion of the next hill. I spent most of the morning alone, only meeting one other person, a woman pilgrim who was nearly done walking her intended portion of the Camino. She and her husband were vacationing through Spain together via RV, and she had split up from him a few days before to walk to Burgos, where they would meet up again and drive on. I thought it was such a pleasant idea for sharing an experience with your partner without forcing them into a specific travel style that didn’t suit.

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Before getting to San Juan de Ortega, where I hoped to regroup with Natalie, I ran across two things I hadn’t expected. The first thing was situated just before coming to the big hill – an archaeological site and memorial plaque, at the site of a mass grave. I couldn’t understand much of the signage, but was able to understand that this site was the unfortunate location of an execution during the Spanish Civil War (here’s an article about the dig, as well as the possible victims). I took a moment to reflect and offer up a prayer, feeling sadly inadequate – it was striking me how woefully unprepared I’d been to be a traveler here. It felt like the ultimate disrespect, to spend so little time getting to know the ins and outs of the country that was to shelter me.

I did my best on the Camino to divorce myself from expectation, and to be present and aware that it was my job to listen, follow the locals’ leads, and most of all, to be courteous in all dealings. I’m not sure if I succeeded, but I take some solace in knowing that I tried. There was so much history under my feet, and I had so little prior knowledge of any of it. I walked on, sober in the realization that I was completely incapable of showing proper respect to the dead here. As much as I have tried to be open to being a child of the world, much of history is alien to me, evanescent, ultimately untouchable. Of course, this is obvious – none of us are time travelers (if you are, call me!) – but it doesn’t keep me from deep regret. The best I could do was to interpret the scene through a human lens, and understand the tragedy that accompanies any theft of life.

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This “Buen Camino” helped dispel a little of the unease felt on this part of the trail.

The second site I encountered was almost the exact opposite scene – an unexpected art installation, in the middle of nowhere. There were no explanatory plaques, so I still have no clue who made the art, or why, but it was a refreshing find. The path had become flat and very wide, and though the mud was drying, it was obvious that had we walked that way a day before, it would have been the same shoe-sucking muck that we’d encountered leading into Villafranca Montes de Oca. It appeared that there had been some deforestation along the trail in recent history. Where before, the trees had come right up to the trail, here there was a wide stretch of fern growth bordering the path on each side. At some point in this stretch, I began to feel uneasy. The quiet was overbearing. Something about the road just felt wrong. It wasn’t the first time on the Camino that I’d thought back to how medieval travelers hadn’t liked to travel through the woods, on account of the threat of brigands. At times, I felt time overlapping. It’s hard to explain properly, but I was afraid of the past of the woods, not the present. Present me felt no threat – in fact, felt no human presence lurking. But another part of me felt tapped into a primordial fear, like I was stepping into someone else’s feeling-shoes, and experiencing their emotional reaction to being watched from the woods of another time.

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Dat banana tongue, tho…

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Dear artist – if you’re reading this, your beautiful sun/moon/heart/rainbow composition was one of the prettiest things I saw on the whole trip. Thank you! ❤

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Either way, as soon as I got to the magical little clearing where the art installation lived, this eerie feeling passed. Perhaps it was the little burst of happy energy from all of the colors, or maybe I was just instinctively relieved to see signs of other humans nearby. I wish I knew who’d taken the time to leave this lovely little art collection behind, and I hope that it grows along the path, in the way that so many areas of Camino offerings seem to grow and accumulate more cairns and milagros. Soon after, I passed a really nice little km marker that gave me the burst of energy I needed to pick up the pace.

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As I’d hoped, Natalie’s pack and hiking pole were waiting in front of a little cafe in San Juan de Ortega when I arrived. I happily dropped my pack and went in to find her, only to realize that she had been waiting for awhile, and was impatient to leave again. Before I’d arrived, she’d taken a short tour of the monastery, checked emails, and had a leisurely cup of coffee. Though we were both relieved to meet up again, I knew that our speeds were no longer aligning, and got the feeling that she had something new on her mind. It felt like the distance was more than physical, and I began the emotional practice of reconciling myself to what was to come, another Camino “break up.” But it wasn’t to be today. She waited with me for a little while, so I could grab an Aquarius and a slice of tortilla, and we took a look at the maps to confirm our plan to march on to Cardeñuela Riopico that afternoon. After my short break, we strapped on packs and headed off towards Ages, chatting happily about the things we’d seen so far this morning.

Click here to read about Day 16 (Part 3). 

Fur Faces

Just like humans, cats’ faces change by the second, reflecting their various moods and whatever point they’re trying to get across at the moment. Of course, no one likes to get a camera stuck in their face by surprise, and knowing that I was bound to tick off a whole house full of cats tonight, I chased everyone around to get in their business and see what kinds of shots could be taken. I feel pretty good about catching everyone in a natural pose.

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Isabel, who turns 10 this year, is typically solemn and a little suspicious (she takes after the human in the household). Here, she stands on my lap and asks what I’m doing waving my iPhone in her face. I’m sitting on the bed, and everyone knows that the bed is for cuddling with Izzy, not for taking crummy snapshots.

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Munky is 7 years old, and spends the majority of his energy seeking out kibble and affection. This is him trying to look nonchalant while also making googly eyes at me in hopes that he’ll get a butt rub. He did.

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Charlie’s still a baby, not even a year old yet, but already Isabel’s size. He’s all muscle, and spends most of his time running amuck. He plays fetch, and he makes little turkey gobble noises as he throws his body around the house at top speed. At night the house sounds like “GOBBLE! THUMP, THUMP, THUMP, CRASH! THUD. GOBBLE! THUMP, THUMP, THUMP…”He’s also just learning how to be a proper cat, and is experimenting with cuddling for hours, purring for a second or two, and finally understanding the thrill of catnip. Don’t let this look fool you; he’s a maniac.

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Kuzia is an outside cat who technically belongs to my neighbor, but spends a lot of time on my front porch. He rules the neighborhood, and has his own barstool at a bar down the street. I feed him wet food when he visits, so it’s not uncommon to be walking back from the grocery store and find I’m being escorted home by a fierce little cat king. He seems to be composed entirely of bad attitude, and will consent to exactly one light body rub or two head kisses before he gets bored with you and walks away. This is him asking what the hell I’m doing interrupting his beauty sleep.

This post was a response to the Daily Post Photo Challenge prompt, Atop.

You’re Killing Us

I heard a song yesterday that spoke volumes. I listened to the song probably 10 times on the walks to and from work, and fell in love with the lyrics. Then I got home, and decided to watch the music video, to see how the story unfolded in images. It was a total shock, because the story I heard (and still hear) in the lyrics is not at all what was shown in the video, and on top of that, all of the comments seemed to be from people who had also heard an entirely different story than I had.

Of course I understand that sometimes lyrics are nuanced, that there can be multiple variations of a message being told. But what I heard and what everyone else heard are so wildly different that I couldn’t wrap my head around it. Finally today, after listening a few more times, I decided that I don’t have to wrap my head around it. I hear what I hear, and I don’t hear what they’re hearing (I mean, kinda? But it’s a total stretch. Maybe I have a tumor or something…)

Here’s the song with lyrics – not the official video (which I’m putting a little farther down the post, to let you hear it and make up your own mind about the story):

The song is called “Saving Us,” by Serj Tankian, of System of a Down fame. I love System of a Down, and have found that listening to them really improves my mood. So I expanded a little to Serj’s stuff, and found that I enjoy him a lot, too. I get strong spiritual vibes out of System of a Down songs, so I was a little surprised to listen to “Saving Us” and hear the story of a normal breakup, written by a guy who could see the beauty of the situation, even through the pain.

As I hear the song, I hear him singing about breaking up with someone whom he really loved, and realizing that through making the hard choice to say goodbye, in a way his lover is saving who they were together. The goodness that they shared can live on through exiting in a thoughtful way, and yes, it hurts, but in the end it’s the right thing. The lover is both “killing us” and “saving us.”

It’s great. I’ve dated a lot of people, and I’ve broken up with a lot of people. Most of the time I was the dumper, but sometimes I was the dumpee, and no matter which side you’re on, it really sucks. It sucks when you’re feeling like the relationship is failing, it sucks during the actual breakup, and it continues to suck after everything’s said and done. Sometimes for months, other times for decades, maybe forever, but I can’t speak to that because I’m not dead yet.

When your relationship was pretty casual, it’s not that big of a deal to break up, but when you’re codependent (or whatever the healthy version of that is – I don’t know that I’ve ever truly experienced whatever that is yet), breaking up with someone is like cutting a piece of your heart out and throwing it away. Or having that done to you, depending on which side of the dumping you’re on. Either way, the cutting, tearing, killing, and saving are all things I’ve experienced. The relationship – the “us” – is, in its own way, a separate living thing that you have created together. It’s not something you just close the door on and walk away from. You have to be careful. If you’re very, very cautious, you might make it out of the relationship with fond memories attached, and maybe even a friendship, at some point in the future. In this song, his lover is making the difficult choice to cut ties now for the sake of their love, rather than holding on to something that’s going to destroy them.

So, that being said, here’s the actual music video:

As the videography and all of the comments underneath it would seem to suggest, the video is actually about world issues, and being kind to one another. Which is fine, but actually less interesting.

But maybe I’m just a romantic.

That Voice

It’s been years now since I last heard your voice. It was a nice enough voice. I enjoyed hearing it say kind things, calling me by pet names, cooing while giving the cat belly rubs, stuff like that. It was a perfectly fine voice, and for some time there I believed that it would be a voice I’d wake up to for the rest of my life. But we know differently now, don’t we?

I’m not upset with the way things turned out. I do wish that I’d set you free sooner, so that we could both have moved on with our lives, but it seemed a waste to just give up, and before I knew it, a full-blown algae bloom of dissatisfaction was floating under our bridge. In the end, I called it quits. It was not pleasant for either of us, but it hurt you more, I think, the seemingly abrupt ending. I’m realizing now that we were living around each other, but our lives didn’t really touch. It’s no wonder that you didn’t see it coming. I should have cried out in the open, instead of going to bed early to shield you from what I considered signs of my weakness, my inability to try just a little bit harder.

I’ve heard that you are happy now, and that makes me happy, too. You deserve it. But I wish that your wholeness in some other town, in some other state, would take away the pieces you left with me – especially your voice.

On Saturday mornings, your voice made me feel guilty for not waking up early enough and getting to work on doing the dishes or cleaning the bathroom. On Thursday nights, your voice made me worry that I should be trying harder to force myself to go out to drinks with you and your coworkers on Friday afternoon, even though I was bored to tears when you guys talked work, and though I didn’t have anything in common with them aside from my (unused) master’s degree. Your voice belied a hidden desperation over my lack of appropriately sexy behavior, and dismay at my lack of culinary prowess and less than stellar housekeeping skills. Your voice frequently remarked on my insufficient paychecks, and need to apply myself and make more money, even when I was making more than most people in my profession in our area. It was most likely never your intention, but your voice often made me feel “lesser than.”

And it still does.

The part of me that hates myself wears your voice these days. When I feel fat, or lazy, or worthless, or am worried about paying bills, the voice that expresses disgust is yours. I know that it’s not really you, and when your voice pops up in my head, itching to make me feel lesser than once more, I calmly tell it that it has no place ordering me around.

I look forward to the day when this false guide will take its cue and leave. In the mean time, I remember pet names, and enthusiastic descriptions of food, and patient instructions for doing tasks you thought commonplace. The good voice will have to outweigh the bad for now. Maybe if I’m lucky, one day there will be no reason for any voice to stick around. We’ll see.

 

Sunday Picture Show (Keeping Afloat)

I’d typically be calling this my Photography Friday post, but since I’m two days late, we’re trying something new. This week’s Photo Challenge prompt is to share photos that exemplify what “afloat” means to us, and I’ve taken quite a few lately…

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My workouts at Iron Tribe can be a bit intense, but I love every minute of it. Even better than feeling strong and capable is the fact that a hard workout every day keeps me happy and relaxed. These are the blisters on my right hand after a kettlebell workout earlier this week.

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My Isabel. I love my cats – there’s nothing like having a good cuddle after a hard day, though Izzy isn’t prone to being that affectionate unless it’s bedtime. When I was sick and feeling miserable last week, she came and napped with me on the couch.

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One of my favorite things to do is walk around New Orleans and take photos of the things that capture my attention. Street art never fails to captivate and stir my imagination. I take a lot of photos of cool graffiti around town, but this one struck my fancy last week. Let me find out, indeed.

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Small details help keep me grounded (or afloat, whichever turn of phrase you prefer). I love that looking for little things helps keep me mindful and “in the moment”, and while I’m walking around town, I try to capture these moments in photos if possible. This is a shot I took of water droplets collecting on a newly painted front stoop the other day. I loved how the water was pooling, and was pretty satisfied with the colors of the shot in the end. The stoop was a brilliant shade of teal, but the shadows gave a purple sheen.

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The idea that I’ll be leaving for the Camino in six months is definitely keeping me sane and happy. I walk to and from work (about 2 miles) each day, and on the way to work, I cross over Spain Street. Each time that I notice the street sign, I can’t help but be reminded of how lucky I am, and how amazing it’s going to be to finally get my boots on the ground in Spain this October.

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You, you amazing man. I don’t know how I made it this long without you in my life. You’re everything I’ve been looking for for all this time. Thank you for making me so much stronger, and giving me the strength to realize that I didn’t need a man in my life to be complete – but having the right one could make everything that much sweeter. You make me laugh, you make me think, and you’ve helped me make myself whole. Your encouragement and faith have pushed me to new heights as a person, and I only hope that I can return the favor. I love you.

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Photography Friday: Abstract Orange

I must not take a lot of photos incorporating the color orange in my day-to-day. In general I’m really not a fan of the shade, so wondering if orange things just don’t catch my eye that often (kind of the opposite of how I go gaga over purple objects). Today’s photo challenge asks us to share a photograph that features the color orange, but a brief look through my phone shows almost nothing of use. However, I love this shot that my camera took on its own one day on a trip to the mall, and it’s orange enough, right?

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A Constant Reader

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When addressing his audience, Stephen King often writes to his “Constant Reader”. Instead of saying “Hey crowd of millions, here are a few of my thoughts” he crafts notes that appeal to each individual reader in a way that creates immediate intimacy. This suggestion of closeness is woven through the rest of his writing, as well. Sometimes, I’ll finish up a King book and feel like it’s something that was written just for me. The stories often feel like campfire tales – while I’m reading, I’m safe inside the circle of firelight, but as soon as I put the book down, I feel ill at ease. Anything could get me. Closet doors should stay shut, and under-the-bed should always have plenty of boxes to discourage monsters from camping out. It creates an urgency to read the book faster and close the circle, lest the monsters get out of the story and into my apartment. I especially love that I can feel deeply connected to his writing, like I’m the only one reading, yet have gotten into deep conversations about King’s work with perfect strangers on airplanes and in line at the grocery store. It’s rare to meet a real fan – a Constant Reader – of King who doesn’t feel in some way personally connected to the man.

I realize that there are a lot of folks out there who believe King’s work isn’t worthy of as much respect as they’d give to less prolific, more “serious” authors. Every now and then I run into a person who hates his books, not because they’re not a fan of horror, or because they don’t like his style, but simply because he’s constantly churning out new books and always at the top of the bestseller list. It comes off as pettiness, but because book snobs often regard this kind of bigotry as an attempt to somehow preserve literary culture, the viewpoint is widely accepted, and fans get relegated to the geek corner. If being a geek means I get to read great books without wondering if I’m going to lose the respect of someone I didn’t really care about anyway, that’s fine by me.

Non-King fans also tend to dismiss King’s writing style as being a factor in his fans’ enjoyment, and place a lot of the weight of his success on his subject matter. For me, this isn’t the case, and I’m relatively sure that there are a lot of folks in my camp on this one. I’m not the biggest fan of horror lit (ghost stories are my favorite, but I tend to dislike reading about aliens and monsters, which make up a sizeable chunk of King’s subject matter), but King’s approachable writing style never fails to drag me in, despite whatever topic misgivings I might have. He tells stories of real people, having real crises of faith in extraordinary circumstances. It’s supremely easy to identify with his characters, and in doing so, I’ve found I’m able to open up my imagination a bit more with each read.

My first Stephen King book was The Regulators, written under the pseudonym Richard Bachman. I read it as a teenager, and haven’t stopped collecting new King tales since. Just saying “the regulators” in my mind as I type this fills me with a delicious dread. If you haven’t read it, I think it’s an excellent starting place. There’s a matching book called Desperation, involving all of the same character names, but in an alternate universe where their lives have been subtly (and not so subtly) different. That concept blew my mind back then, and it’s a testament to King’s creativity that it still kind of does. My latest King read was Doctor Sleep, the long-awaited sequel to The Shining, and as a work, it perfectly fits the point I’m trying to make here. You find out that Danny’s family history has had a profound effect on his life, and that it hasn’t all been sunshine and roses over the last few decades as he’s grappled with his psychic abilities and addiction. It’s a fantastic read. I also adore On Writing, which is half memoir, half guidebook to becoming a writer. I’m probably blowing half of the rules out of the water with this post, though. Oh, and will someone (hint, hint boyfriend) please buy me Joyland for Christmas?

There are a few other authors on my “favorites” list – folks whose books I will always pick up, even if I don’t know a thing about the story. Neil Gaiman is at the top with King, of course. Tom Holt, Bernard Cornwell, Terry Pratchett, and Douglas Adams & Ariana Franklin/Diana Norman (RIP) are up there, as well.

Anyone sensing a pattern or two?

Besides the obvious – all but King are from the UK – they’re all also fiction novelists. Gaiman, Pratchett, Adams and Holt are all authors of fantasy fiction (and tend towards humor). Gaiman, Cornwell, King and Franklin/Norman’s works are often heavy on detail. I began reading Gaiman after seeing a review blurb by King, in fact. I trusted my favorite author, and the trust was paid back in full with an excellent recommendation that has changed my life in many ways. Gaiman helps me believe in magic the same way that King helps me believe in goodness – but aren’t they kind of the same thing?

(Which reminds me, on the off chance that you’re reading this, Neil, please do come and sign books at Tubby & Coo’s Mid-City Bookshop in New Orleans. It’s a brand new shop that fills a long-void niche for our community, and the owners could really use the business that your appearance would bring in. Not to mention that I’m quite selfishly hoping to have you sign a poster I picked up after seeing you a few years back in Chicago.)

Click through to find out how you can help bring Neil Gaiman to New Orleans!

Click through to find out how you can help bring Neil Gaiman to New Orleans!

Cornwell is especially adept at creating realistic battle scenes – I’ve squelched through fields of blood, mud and piss with him quite a few times over my reading career, and never would have had a proper understanding of strength it takes to be a longbowman without his careful examination of the profession. Also, you’ll probably notice that Franklin, Cornwell and Pratchett all have medieval themes in their works, and while Holt and Gaiman tend to place their stories in modern settings, there are definitely elements that a medieval history enthusiast can get behind. If you count Adam’s work in Monty Python, and King’s Dark Tower series as an homage to medieval themes, we’re all in. Also, all of the writers tend to talk about spiritual matters, including religious history, reincarnation, afterlife/ghosts, gods/goddesses, universal connectedness, 42, etc.

Above all, my favorite storytellers have the gift of making me feel like the story isn’t something they’re telling me, but rather something I’m experiencing firsthand. This can either be through letting me identify with/as the protagonist, or in the case of writers like Holt and Adams, encouraging me to laugh my way through the book. The best authors craft passages that create a visceral reaction for their readers. From what I’ve experienced in talking with die-hard Chuck Palahniuk fans, his works really resonate on a gut level with readers. Unfortunately, the three books that I’ve read by him came off as highly revolting on a gut level, so it’s obvious he’s doing it right, even if it’s not my cuppa. The point being that I’ll just assume that some of you who’re reading this will consider one or many of the authors I adore to be not so great, as well. It’s all personal opinion – isn’t that the fabulous thing about being a Constant Reader, no matter whose?

Thank You Loopy Brain

I’m having the worst time trying to write today. There’s a lot of random crap circling around in my brain, and none of it will shut up long enough to let me concentrate on just one thing. I’m feeling like there’s so much work to get done that doing something for pleasure is out of the question. However, the part of me that’s still sane is like, “It’s Saturday! Loosen up! Enjoy yourself – it’s your day off!” Right now, both of those voices are just yelling at each other while I type away, trying to get just one small written work out before I lose my train of thought again. Too late, it’s already happening. Ugh.

Meanwhile, the toddler next door is wailing at the top of his tiny-yet-powerful lungs, which certainly isn’t helping things any. I live in a six flat of 450 sq. ft. studio apartments. Each one is good for one person – two if the couple isn’t prone to bickering. The guy next door has a live-in girlfriend, and on the weekend his two young sons come to visit. They’re cute kids, but by the time night rolls around, one or both is usually losing his shit and screaming like a banshee. Whether it’s the threat of bedtime or bathtime, or if dad’s just feeding them junk food and they end up crashing by 7pm, I’m not sure, but the walls aren’t that thin and I’m still presently hearing every guttural howl emanating from my neighbor’s apartment. Ugh.

Also, my cat’s been farting next to me for the last ten minutes, so there’s that. Little squeaky farts, a tad bit bubbly. But if he’s sleeping, it means he’s not trying to pet me, which he does the entire time he’s awake. He’s one of those cats that tell you they’re ready to receive a petting by dabbing at you with their paw. He’s constantly looking for love, typically by gently scraping his paw (claws extended, of course, because why not) across my face or arm. It was adorable for the first couple of years. Now, not so much. Most days he gets about a solid hour and a half of massage time, begs for more for another hour or so, then resorts to annoying his sister for another hour or so before passing out on or near my lap. And apparently farting. Yay.

The apartment is really messy. Even when it’s totally clean, it still feels messy. I just feel like there’s too much stuff in here. Ideally, I’d love to minimize my belongings to the point where there was still some character, but not as much crap laying about. I’m just not sure how to achieve it. Maybe I’ll spend some solid time tomorrow just taking more stuff out to the street corner. My street corner has magical powers. Anything at all that I take out to the street corner will be gone within an hour. Of course, I’ve left some juicy tidbits out there – books, workout equipment, random knickknacks – but some of the stuff I’ve left out there is just utter crap, one step up from the junk pile. But no matter what, it ends up disappeared within the hour. I even left the remains of my old air conditioner out there once, and by remains, I mean that the thing was in many pieces after we had to dismantle it to get it out of my window. It wasn’t working, and some of the pieces were obviously broken/missing. It was carted away within the hour. Who takes the things? It’s not the trash collector. It’s someone that also thinks I have a magic street corner. They think that they’re just in luck, that this street corner always seems to be accumulating rare goodies every time they pass.

Still haven’t painted my St. Francis statue, and I also really want to paint this little side table that I bought at a yard sale a few years ago. I think maybe tomorrow I’ll try checking out the local hardware store to see what paint colors they have in stock. It’s a small store, so I’m sure the collection won’t be as nice as it would be at a bigger place, but who knows – maybe they have the shade of magenta I’ve been dreaming of.

I paid off another credit card, but had to sign up for health insurance soon after, and of course I didn’t have that amount of money in my bank account, so it went right back on the stupid credit card again. I hate that. What I don’t hate is that starting January 1st, I’ll be able to go to the doctor again. I can’t wait to go and get my first decent checkup since college. I’m going to get a full health exam, all the trimmings. Yes, I’m excited about going to the doctor. Guess I’m getting old. Plus, I’m really ready to get this thyroid thing figured out and get on meds. Especially since I seem to be growing out of my current size jeans. Last time I checked my weight I was up by a lot. Part of me is horrified by the amount of weight I’ve been putting on, but I can’t help but also think it’s kind of funny. I guess I’m also just relieved, in a way. I’ve always hated my body. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been grossed out by how fat I was, and the way my cellulite looked, etc, etc. Now, my real self is starting to match the mirror self that I’ve always seen. It’s weirdly comforting. I’m not saying that I want to stay this way. It’s just that suddenly I’m finding it exhausting to keep hating myself. I think maybe I needed to just break myself in order to figure out what it was that needed to be done to get put back together properly once and for all.

Speaking of changes, I’ve also started to play my first real video game. I’m playing Portal. So far I’m finding myself utterly incompetent, and having trouble not getting aggressive with the computer when I screw up. I think that might be what guys like about gaming, though? I’m not entirely sure. There are other games out there that I’d probably understand a little better – story-driven games, more likely. But I really like puzzles, typically, so I’m starting with the game that everybody and their brother has assured me I’d love. I’m trying to get past years of fear and confusion, and get around to a point where I’ll be comfortable. Gaming seems uniquely masculine to me, though. I’m not sure I get it. But that’s what I thought about comic books, and I just went to a comic book convention today for the first time ever, so things change, right?

OK, I’m pulling the plug on this drivel-y post. My guilty pleasure is inane chit-chat. I like to empty out my brain a bit from time to time. It gives me enough space up in the old brainpan to do something relaxing, like watch terrible horror movies or do a little bit of origami. Or maybe just go to bed early. Mmmm, that sounds lovely.

Stop Wasting Your Time

Today’s Daily Post prompt asks us to discuss the concept that “good things come to those that wait.” As I start to cobble together my thoughts on this subject, I can say for sure that the first thing happening in my mind is a general feeling of disgust and irritation. It’s not that I don’t like to wait, or that I don’t see the benefits of taking your time and thinking through your choices. I’ve been known to let people cut in front of me in traffic without batting an eyelash, and I often read hundreds of reviews before pulling the trigger on making an important purchase. OK, “often” is an understatement – I feel a compulsion to read all of the reviews I can get my hands on, to have a handle on positive and negative potential outcomes – but that’s not what we’re talking about.

Overall, I am completely certain that in the past, one of my largest and most outstanding personality flaws has been my weird mix of patience, cowardice, and stoicism when confronting personal changes. It’s a deadly cocktail that’s kept me in place for far too long, waiting for just the right conditions to strike so I can finally make my moves. While the last bout of waiting hasn’t caused my life irreparable damage (at least that I can see right now – who knows what cracks are hiding under the slightly-banged-up surface?), it hasn’t done me any favors, either.

Throughout my life, all of the best things that have ever happened to me did so when I just went with my gut and took that leap of faith.

People with kids often say that that if you’re waiting to have a baby until the time is “right,” you’ll keep waiting forever. There’s never a right time. I think that’s something that those of us who’re more cautious, planning types should keep in mind. There will never be a perfect time to end a long term relationship, or move to a new city, or blow all of your money on that vacation you’ve always wanted to go on. But you’ll know when the time is decent enough. Take that chance. You might never have it again. In fact, you won’t ever have that particular chance again. Sure, there might be another opening that’s just as good, but really, you should be utilizing them all. Why have just one adventure? Why do just one thing that excites you, and expands your horizons? Why not aim for them all (or as many as you can, anyway)?

I just spent almost a quarter of my life waiting for life to begin. I let someone else tell me what I should be planning for, and what dreams I should just tuck back into my imagination and let wither and die. I should be saving all of my money for a house and children. I should be working a regular 9 to 5 job, to have time to spend with my family after work. I should learn how to cook because it’s something that everyone loves. Trips to Europe without money for nice hotels every night of the stay were a ridiculous expenditure for only half of a vacation. Trips anywhere at all were a ridiculous expenditure when I should be concentrating on saving for weddings and kids and mortgages. Spending money on nice meals in restaurants was utter stupidity when the same money would cook a week’s worth of food. Going to the movies was a waste of time and money when a DVD was the price of one ticket. Working for a non-profit wouldn’t make enough money to pay for a house, so helping people was probably out of the question. Why stop at being a marketing coordinator when I could run a department one day and be respected and make money to pay for a house? A house. Kids. A mortgage. A car. All things that I could want one day, but didn’t want then and don’t really care about now. (Although I’m getting tired of walking everywhere, so maybe a car might be cool sometime soon, I don’t know yet.)

Bottom line: I like to travel. I like living light. I don’t really care about money. I like having it, but I only like having it because it’s fun to spend. Sure, paying off bills and saving for retirement is smart, but putting a hold on your travel plans for the next 30 YEARS because it’s expensive to have children????? I’d rather go to London every year and just not have babies, thanks.

Good things can come to those who wait, yeah. But it’s a big fucking chance you’re taking at sitting back and hoping for the best, while ignoring all of the beauty and opportunity laid out before you. TAKE A CHANCE! LIVE! STOP WAITING FOR THINGS TO GET BETTER AND GO MAKE THEM BETTER NOW.

Stop wasting your time. It’s finite, you know. We’re all dying. We’re in a race to the end, but the end point is invisible. Live a little before you hit the finish line.