loss and gains

Explain absence. Don’t apologize. Explain coming out, and then losing Peepers. Maybe don’t cry. Maybe do. Explain how hard crying is. How easy it is at the same time. How it’s all you want to do, but you feel like there’s not enough of you to keep doing only that.

I tried to outline everything that’s happened over the last two weeks so that I could tell you, dearest blog, but I don’t think I can. The more I try to explain it in my mind the more confusing and upsetting it becomes and the less I want to talk about it.

So I’ll just say these few things, and hope this sums it up.

First: I came out to my dad and most of my family the Saturday before last. It was nice. It feels freeing. It’s so strange to feel like myself, utterly and without fear.

Second: The same week my oldest cat, seventeen year old Peepers, fell ill. She hadn’t been feeling herself for about a week. It progressed. Diagnostics were run. Nothing came back good. Her last night as home was spent with her sleeping on my chest as I brushed out the fur she had given up grooming on her own. I felt terrible. I hate that our last night was me grieving. The pre-grieve. I hope she knows how much I loved her.

Third: I can’t stop crying. I don’t want to stop crying. My face swells up and my cheeks warm and the water pours from my eyes and I don’t want to stop. Instead I want to sob, and sob, and sob until she comes back. She won’t. I know that. It doesn’t change what I want, though.

I’m sorry this was so sad, dearest blog. But I am sad. That’s just how things go sometimes.

I miss my cat. I hope you all understand.

Not very much at all,
Renee.

Bach, Bach, Bach It Up

A prompt delivered by the wonderful Malena Munford, via her book Just The TitlesIt’s a lovely little thing made to inspire artists in whatever way they see fit, and this specific prompt of sorts spoke to me. This is just a quick one-shot. Unedited and posted as quickly as it was written. Have fun, and I hope you enjoy.

(and even though this is technically posted on Friday and is thus late, I am refuting this fact because I haven’t fallen asleep yet…which means that it’s still Thursday to me, right?)

xxx

People were always telling me that I reminded them of Bach. It was probably because my name was Sebastian, and because I’m a cellist – his cello pieces are some of his most famous and beloved works, you know. People tend to ignore the fact that Bach was an organist, though, if only because they like the other similarities or just don’t give two shits. I would say that the coincidences end there but I would be lying. My parents are German, through and through, all the way down to their brusque accents and appreciation for anything ending in ‘-wurst’. It was for all of those reasons that people had stopped calling me by my given name and some how, I had ended up with the nickname “Jo”.

The final bit of irony was the fact that people called me Joe and not Yo. I tried to correct people at first. It didn’t stick, but the name did, so I eventually gave up.

It’s that name that I hear called now as I stand just outside of the auditorium doors, my cello propped up in it’s case on the wall. I’ve been working my fingers against the palm of my hands to the point where the skin is almost fire engine red. I can’t help it – the nervous energy runs through me and has to come out somewhere. I’d rather it try to escape now than during my audition.

I turn to look at the attendant, my eyes wide as I try to keep my nerves in check, and nod once. They hardly notice me, not bothering to look over their glasses to make sure I’ve heard them. As they disappear behind the heavy door I grab my instrument and begin the journey inside. I’m afraid that the trip from the hallway to the stage will be longer and more strenuous then the audition itself. I worry that I’ll trip and fall and leave my cello in pieces, the cello that I’ve played so diligently for years, the cello that has the grooves of my finger tips in its long and elegant neck. Her name is Sabine. I’d had her since they’d forgotten my name was Sebastian and decided I was Jo – I’d always known that she knew what my real name was. Sabine was the love of my life without question. It wasn’t the music, it wasn’t the composers, it wasn’t the notes or the feeling but the instrument, so well cared for and in tune with myself. The idea – the fear – of her breaking on me when she was only chance at greatness? It was more terrifying than if I went flat.

By the time I reach the stage I’ve tempered my fear, sure that I’ve encountered the most terrifying part. Except for the audition itself that is.

I was the sort of person who thrived on lack of sleep. Four, five hours at most and I was springy and awake and with a simple cup of black tea (one sugar, cream for days) I would be able to plow through the day. It must have been the nerves, but the night before the audition I had been a right wreck. I figured I would tuck in early and wake up before the birds, rehearse my piece a few more times until I felt like the muscle memory could play the piece without me if my mind wasn’t there. It would all work out fine. Except it didn’t, because I woke up seven hours later. The sun had risen happily into the sky and the birds were chirping and singing, practically taunting me. I had tried to write it off as something small – perhaps I was staving off a cold and my body needed the sleep. Maybe it was something else. I knew it was the nerves, knew that I sounded like a woman from an Austen novel, but I couldn’t help it. This was going to the audition that defined the rest of my life. Which was funny enough, considering that the audition and the seat that I was playing for wasn’t all that important. What was important was the the maestro. The woman who would be judging me, feeling me out. I didn’t care if I didn’t make this orchestra – it was hardly the best. What I wanted was to make it onto her radar, for her to hear me play, just the once.

After all, we had spent our entire life in the same house, growing further and further apart note by note. It would only make sense that she heard me play…just once.

She had eventually stopped using my given name too, even though she was the one who had given to me in the first place. Maybe she thought I wasn’t good enough to be so openly compared to the great composer, although she had never heard me play, so who was she to say?

I closed my eyes as I unbuckled Sabine’s hefty case. I tried to imagine the bow beneath my fingers before I touched it, tried to feel the vibrations of the strings against my neck and chest. I imagined every single piece of the music before I set it in front of me. There was an impatient tapping of a pen from the auditorium. No doubt she was impatient, ready to be done already, having already heard her fill of mediocre musicians from behind the black curtain that separated us (all in the name of diversity, of course). I wondered what she would think when she saw me take a bow in front of her. She wouldn’t gasp or feign shock. Too stoic for that. Would she raise an eyebrow, would the corner of her lip upturn? Downturn? No, she would simply stare at me. Acknowledge that she had heard it. I suppose that was all I wanted.

My hand found the bow, my fingers found the strings, and with a deep breath that settled into the well of my chest I drew my weapon across the valley of what very well could have been my demise. I was being melodramatic. I felt it fit. A humming, vibrant G rose from the depths of Sabine, filling the room and reaching the rafters, and with that singular note I fell away from the world, forgetting the woman that sat on the other side of the shade. I forgot that I would go home to her and hardly speak more than a few words as she sipped on decaf coffee while Mozart reverberated through the house. I would forget that I had missed her and the way her voice sounded when she spoke, how I often wondered if her larynx was covered in dust or if it was just the mantle in the living room. I forgot the audition felt like it was the end of the world, maybe the beginning of a new one…and instead, I played, like nothing else in the world mattered.

 

 

I’m really bad at this!

I missed yesterday. I had a good reason for missing yesterday, but that doesn’t make up for the fact that I still missed yesterday.

I’m also a little drunk right now and typing is a wee bit hard, but I feel like you all need an explanation.

I’m trying to do my best taking care of myself in the smallest ways I know how. Writing – journaling, I should say – is something I’m trying to bring back into my life. I’m trying to surround myself by what makes me happy. I had this great idea (and I still think it’s a great idea, and it’ll be delivered tomorrow…on time) to write a short, short story for one of my posts. Because I’m horrendous at writing “journal style” entries. Especially because I’ve taken to writing in a pretty black notebook with a purple pen in real life and not on the computer.

You know, I don’t think I like the term “in real life”. I’ll talk more on that later maybe, when I’m a little more sober and a little less remorseful.

Either way what I mean to say is that tomorrow you’ll get a short story and I’m sorry for this whole sucking-at-the-schedule thing. I even thought about it last night…but then I forgot anyway because I did.

It’s okay because I don’t think anyone is really reading this at the moment, but that’s alright. Even if it’s just me I still need to be accountable. Wow, so far I think I’ve succeeded in one full week of proper, on time posting. 1 out of how ever many weeks it’s been is better than none though, right?

Muchly muchly muchly,
Renee

on the absence of anxiety and timeliness,

Today was an all around good day. I woke up, I went to a staff meeting, I came home. I felt – for the first time in a very long time – like I could sit down and genuinely relax. Like my mind was clear, anxiety not bundled in my chest. It was a strange feeling. Of course it was welcomed with open arms, but the embrace was wary. When you have genuinely “good days” as rarely as I do, wariness comes with the territory. I’m like a dog with a history of abuse. I want to trust it, want to know that I can relax and fall into the feeling like a summer camp trust exercise. Ultimately though, I know that most of the time the feeling is fleeting. In fact, the moment I realize and acknowledge the feeling, it almost always disappears.

So today was an anomaly.

I sat brewed myself tea. I turned on my essential oil diffuser. I considered for a moment the pro’s and con’s of getting work done. Then I realized that these days truly come to me once in a blue moon and that I shouldn’t waste it worrying about something like work. For once, on a day where I genuinely felt that I could enjoy it, I needed to take the day for myself. So that is exactly what I did.

I “lost” my phone for most of the day and it wasn’t until the minute I picked it back up that any mention of anxiety even blossomed. It wasn’t until dinner, when I was sitting having a frustrated textual conversation with a friend who wasn’t even at dinner with me, that any other feeling than utter relaxation set in. Honestly, even that couldn’t change the way today went for me.

I cannot explain to someone who doesn’t have anxiety how absolutely freeing it is to be able to see myself and be so utterly content to give myself a well-deserved and needed break. So, today, the only reason I’m sitting down and writing this is because I promised that I would write posts twice weekly. The only reason I’m here is out of obligation and because I wanted to make sure to document this wonderful day. For the record, all I did was drink tea, nibble chocolate, watch Mozart in the Jungle…and spend a wonderful evening with some wonderful people. It was good. I needed it. Thank you, self, for doing well today. I’m proud of you.

Muchly,
Renee

on honesty, and how editing is the worst

Look at me, posting on time. Like really on time – it’s 5:30 PST and I think this is the earliest I’ve written a blog post since I decided I was going to be doing Tues/Thurs posts. Good job, me. Pat yourself on the back.

Really though, I’m only writing this blog because I am doing the inevitable: I am procrastinating. I’m very good at procrastinating, especially when it comes to writing. Or in this case editing. I’m even better at procrastinating for editing than I am for writing because editing makes me want to do a poltergeist-esque head twirl and then scream like a banshee calling for her own death. It isn’t a pretty picture.

I think the reason it’s so difficult is because I’m editing the first draft of my most recently finished manuscript, and it’s almost as ugly as the picture above. If not moreso. It’s a rough one. Quite bumpy. You know how it goes. I’m in the stage where right now I’m merely reading through everything I wrote and trying to decide what I like and what I don’t, where the plot holes are, what bits need to change and what bits need to stay the same. I’m down to the point where I’m feeling like nothing needs to stay and everything needs to go and really I should just start over from scratch and forget that the first draft ever existed. Except I also know that’s me being unreasonable and that while I firmly believe most of this first draft is going to be scrapped, there’s going to be a small amount that won’t. It’s just a matter of finding them.

I like reading my own work, most of the time. This is getting…tedious, however.

So I’m doing my best to find good music to listen to in the background but even that is proving difficult, because nothing fits the proper mood. The music I’m pretty sure would fit my proper mood is nowhere on Spotify and somewhere in the depths of my last laptop which was pronounced dead the second week of November…and would really just lend to me procrastinating some more. Which is a problem in and of itself, obviously. I’m trying to be productive, I really am. We’ll get there! One page at a time! One paragraph at a time! One word at a time! I WILL GET THERE!

I think I’ve figured out what this little blog is going to be about, and I suppose it was the obvious choice. I’m just going to document my writing, my editing, my process here. It seems like a good idea for me to keep track of myself and to keep myself honest. Someone’s got to. It might as well be me, right?

Muchly,
Renee

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on late night epiphanies (or not)

It’s one in the morning on the west coast. For some reason I’m wide awake all of the sudden, despite the fact that I work first thing in the morning. Despite the fact that I’ve been preparing myself all day for tomorrow, knowing full well the chaos that will await me as soon as I walk into the clinic. Maybe it’s the anxiety of walking back through the double doors and into the insanity that’s keeping me awake. Maybe it’s the guilt of wasting another day. Maybe it’s the blue light from my phone and computer screen. Or maybe it’s something else altogether. It doesn’t really matter because I’m awake, and I almost forgot my blog post.

I’d been in bed, actually, when I remembered it. I was suddenly set on writing. I hadn’t been all day. I’d kept getting online and watching other writer’s talk on twitter and so on…but I couldn’t manage to do it myself. I read and finished the book I was reading (Red Glove, by Holly Black – the second novel in the Curseworker’s Series, which is definitely worth the read). I watched an episode of the show I’ve been waiting for anxiously (the 100 – although binge watching seasons of this show is much more satisfying than one episode a week, I will say).

I don’t think it’s the need for me to keep a schedule that got me up to write this post. I just think I needed to write. I think I’m feeling clogged up and bogged down. It’s been awhile, unfortunately. All I’ve been doing is reading, and editing, which in this phase of my writing is basically just reading…and while there’s nothing wrong there, it doesn’t make for a productive me. It makes for a lazy me. It makes for an emotional me. It makes for a lot of things that aren’t very good. I should start writing again. I’m going to start writing again.

I still have no idea what direction this blog is going to go in. I’m okay with that. For now.

Muchly,
Renee

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on strep throat, and bad scheduling

Okay, okay, less bad scheduling and more being bad at schedules. Which I will admit are two different things. One sounded better in the title though, and I was ever one for vanity.

I swear I’ve got a reason for not posting for the last week and a half despite the fact that my last post was talking about how I was bad at this but was going to get better, etc, etc, etc…Bear with me. It’ll take time. I’ll get the hang of it. Not like there’s currently a ton of people sitting down and reading this with me anyway, right? I’ll get better as time goes on and I feel like I have more things to talk about. In the mean time, this is kind of just my “open journal” to myself and because of that I’m being more lax about it than I should. Hey, look at me acknowledging my flaws.

Anyway – here’s the actual reason which I’m using as an excuse for my week-and-a-day absence: I came down with a sinus infection and strep throat last Monday, and didn’t go to the doctor until the following Sunday. It was a rough week. One that consisted of trouble swallowing (which you forget is something that’s REALLY nice and REALLY convenient until you can’t do it anymore) and also random hive break outs. In fact, there was only one consistent thing about these breakouts: that there would be a full-facial-flare up at least once a day for three consistent days. One day I woke UP with hives. It was great. Definitely great. I’m never letting a sinus infection/strep throat go for that long again without going to the doctor. Before you ask – the hives started prior to the antibiotics. The night before, in fact. They were the little hint that made me think “huh, maybe I should see someone about this going away.” Sore throats I can deal with. Hives, not so much.

Otherwise I don’t have much of an excuse. I was bed-and-benadryl ridden for three days, but only one of those was a writing day (this most recent Tuesday – so yesterday, I guess). The week prior was just me being lazy and sickly and sad about my life. Now I’m back though, which a vengeance! Hopefully! We’ll see! I’m not even posting on the correct day but that’s really just in an attempt to get in two posts this week, since that was the plan.

I will say there’s been one great development this week: I got myself a new desktop. I’m typing on it right now, and I want to love it and kiss it and take it to bed with me..but I don’t actually, because the screen is so nice and clean and everything runs so nicely, and I really don’t feel like fucking that up anytime soon. So for now it’s going to stay on my desk. I’m going to fawn over it. We’re both going to squeal together in excitement every once in awhile because I’ll make it make weird noises and then I’ll get randomly excited because I haven’t had anything more than my Chromebook since the first week of November. That’s a long time, if you ask me, whose face is constantly glued to a computer screen. Ugh, so happy. So much happiness.

I’m going to end this here, because we started with sadness and pain (strep) and ended with happiness (‘puter) and I feel like that’s a good transition.

Night night kiddos – don’t let the beg bugs bite, see you in the morning light.
Muchly,
Renee

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on forgetting, already

It’s not even the first week into this “routine posting” thing and I’m already forgetting-slash-procrastinating. I don’t think that bodes well. I also don’t think I care.

Today was another hard day, but not until about halfway through it, because I started getting stressed out after a phone call I had earlier in the day. It’s stupid stuff, stupid little stuff that shouldn’t have mattered, but it’s getting into my head and makes me start having thoughts that keep cycling and cycling until I’m stuck wondering what the hell I’m doing. Then I end up sitting on the couch – or in this case my new recliner which I never want to get out of because it’s so fucking comfortable – and watching television and getting lost in other worlds and storylines for just long enough that I forget my problems exist. Then the credits roll, and I remember.

Having this stupid anxiety shit sucks. Some days it’s easy to live with. Most days it isn’t.

I shaved the back of my head because I thought maybe it might change things, even though I knew it wouldn’t. The thought still lingered. It’s been three days since I did it and I wonder simultaneously if it was the worst or best decision I’ve made. Fuck it, though. It’s 2016. This is going to be it. The year things change. The year that I make decisions and that I accomplish things. At least that’s what I keep telling myself in the back of my head. Maybe that’s why I’m nothing but a big bundle of anxiety. Maybe, just maybe…I’m doing this to myself.

Of course I am, though. It’s my chemicals that are unbalanced, it’s my brain that’s like this. Of course I am doing this…to myself.

Which means I can dig myself out the same way I dug myself in. And I guess that’s why I forced myself to get up out of the recliner, ignore The L Word for just a few minutes, and post this blog. I just had to. I’m done not trying.

Muchly,
Renee

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on resolutions, and new beginnings

The notion of a resolution has always been a little bit uncomfortable to me.

You see, I have no issue with people attempting to better themselves. Attempting to live fuller lives, enjoy themselves more, doing their best to revel in each day as much as they can…except I’ve always felt there was a bit of a lie when it comes to resolutions.

Resolutions are less like promises to better yourself and more like promising to promise yourself that you’ll better yourself. If you get what I’m saying. I suppose what I mean is, resolutions are the promise, flimsy and sometimes unattainable. They can be anything from “I’ll go to the gym five days a week every week” to “I’ll start eating healthier”. “I’ll spend more time with my family.” “I’ll take the dog out on one extra walk a week.” The promises are almost always quantified with some sort of justification of success. As if there’s some way to really succeed by having some personal goal you’ve set for yourself. As if the promise becomes a goal with a reward and prize at the end, a finish line where people are waving flags and throwing confetti and screaming your name.

Except, there’s no finish line. No horns, no chorus of chants in your honor. When you cross the finish line – if you ever manage, because as we all know many people drop their resolution’s like a hot potato a month after they make them – there’s no one there but yourself, most days. That can be a little disappointing.

In the months of October and November of 2015, I did something I didn’t realize was possible for me to do. I finished two novels. The first – finished a week before November, and a week before I diving into the madness that was Nanowrimo – had begun last November. Two weeks before National Novel Writing Month I’d started working and planning, painstakingly so. Thinking of nothing but this new novel with this heroine wandering around in my head, fulfilling some secret destiny I hadn’t even properly thought out for her yet.

Now roughly called “Claire & The Wolves”, once called “Georgia & The Wolves”, it’s nothing like originally planned. It took me a year to finish it. A year of angrily hating myself and hating my writing and hating my characters and feeling like I had forgotten how to do it. Then…I did. It happened quickly and all at once, like a flash, the last words suddenly on the last page and it was like the world stopped for just a few seconds as the reality came crashing in on me. I’d finished it. I’d finally finished a novel. Years of dreams in the making, years of me pushing myself but never pushing hard enough. It all happened with one little world and one little punctuation and…there was no finish line, no choir of chants, nothing but the deafening silence that was my own mind.

Fuck, I thought. You did it.

I had. And besides a box of cupcakes and some candy thrown at me by a few friends, no one cared in the world but me.

Then I got over it, told myself I had another novel to start – because once again, I was diving back into Nanowrimo – and insisted that I would start editing in December. January at the latest. November was like a whirlwind. I’d already gotten a good repertoire with my writing schedule from the nonstop work that I’d begun in September and October, and so sitting down every day and writing a minimum of 1,667 words was nothing. I wouldn’t write on my work days, so three days of out the week were null for me, but the rest I made up for. Most days I wrote upwards of 5,000 if I could, because 1,667 felt like nothing to me. Not a single dent. I was finished a week before November came rolling around – 50k was easy to hit, and the last words were penned – no, typed – on Thanksgiving. It felt lackluster. Felt uninspired. Felt…under appreciated.

Except there was really no one else around to appreciate it except for me, and I was doing all of the under appreciating.

Since then I’ve taken a break from both stories, knowing full well that they need to be reworked and reorganized. I’m not sure how I plan on going about it. I’ve got a binder full of pages, a bag full of highlighters, and a Sharpie that’s ready to do the work. I’ve got two chapters done and twelve more taunting me. But I guess I’ve done it. I guess I’ve started.

The new year is kind of meaningless, if we’re honest. It keeps track of time – something we could all do with losing more of. Despite the fact that I don’t believe in resolutions I always have the slightest inkling that perhaps I should fall in with the crowd and make some of my own. Maybe I should focus on something. Maybe I should have some goals.

After everything, all I can say is this: I think my only goal is starting something. Starting, and finishing, and seeing where it will get me.

The only reward I’m going to get is the ending, and for the first time, I think that kind of feels like enough.

works in constant progress

I’m a constant work in progress. There’s nothing about me that will ever reach it’s final stage, not until I’m long gone and buried in the ground. Even then I’ll always be changing, decaying, my physical body becoming one with the Earth and turning into something new. Perhaps my soul and spirit will find itself elsewhere, living another abundant life. Changing again. I don’t think we ever really stop changing.

I have a novel that I’ve been working on for almost a year now. I started it in November of last year. It was supposed to be my project for National Novel Writing Month but due to a bout of depression that left my unable to gather myself from my couch and a work schedule that demanded what little attention I had left to give, I was unsuccessful in my endeavor. The book is all the better for it at least – it’s reached different incarnations I never would have imagined. A new main character, more fleshed out and explored than the previous, a new ending, a romance that will end differently than expected. A plot that’s thicker and deeper and darker than I intended. It’s blossomed and flowed into something much bigger than I imagined. I’m what I’m considering three-fourths finished. Of course, I won’t know “finished” until I write the last words and I feel at peace with the draft, but ultimately, in the way I have things planned…I’m three-fourths finished.

Things keep changing. They keep growing. They flourish, some wither, some disappear. I’m trying to stay organized. Organization will cause fruition. Routine helps anxiety. Anxiety is spurred by my need to perfect and my fear of failure.

How can I fail when I’m the only one to judge it? Perhaps I’m my own harshest critic, as the age old idiom foretells. I think I’m going to drink my tea and mull over the ideas that are rattling around in my head. A personal project is done – soon to be followed by another, but not for awhile, surely. Time to work on my own work, truly personal work. Soon, perhaps my heroine will find her temporary ending, and she’ll walk off into the sunset with her hands held by her best friend and lady love. Or maybe…well, I don’t know yet.

I suppose we’ll see. Things are always changing, after all.