home is where the…i have no bloody idea

(This piece is longer than I had intended so grab a cup of coffee or beverage of choice.)

Dear Internet,

I’m taking a break from working on the “How To Write Fiction” MOOC, and oh boy aren’t I in for a treat.

In the pre-week comments I stated I wanted to strip everything I knew about fiction and if the critiques I’ve received on my first draft are any indication, I’ve got a long way to go. (However the general underlying response was my first draft was intriguing, so I’ve got that going for me.) If I would have taken this class even a year ago, I would huff my work was perfect and the cleansing was not necessary. This time, I am not so angry that I’m throwing insults about “how dare they” around the cabin.

(Or maybe I’m still sedated from the Klonopin I took the night before.)

This is all prep work for NaNoWriMo, which I’m hoping will allow me jump start my novel, get a rough draft done, and so I can feel accomplished. I have plotted out some of the work, wrung my way through other;  fingers crossed I’ve not created a hot mess.

 


I’ve started using marginalia from the British Library’s collection again in the featured image as it is in the public domain, it’s pretty, and because I can.


I’m still sick because my body is an asshole and has nothing better to do. I’ve started week three of a cough I can’t shake, which I think has more to do with quitting smoking and getting rid of the crap in my lungs than being actually sick. Whatever the case I sound like death’s rattle when the coughing fit starts with the bonus of learning how to spit like a man.

Sexy.


We’re now inching towards the end of week two of TheExHusband’s jeep still indisposed. It’s sitting in a parking lot of the local mechanic who, it turns out, is the only mechanic on duty. TEH is adamant of giving the guy business since the shop recently did super minor work for free. It’s frustrating and endearing at the same time, with the lean towards frustrating than endearing. All plans have been canceled as we wait to find out the status of the damned thing, so goodbye East Coast, I still love you.

I’m championing selling the piece of shit for scrap and buying a new/used car from a dealership in Louisville rather than some shady garage (as he did this money hole a few summers ago). It’s a good shot I’ll be driving him down to Louisville once we find out the status of the Jeep (which I’m betting is a goner. If I’m repeating myself it is because it is my every desire the thing is beyond repair).

In the meantime I’ve had TheBassist ship me my winter things because it’s dropping into the low 40s and high 30s. There is a good chance if I’m still here by the end of the month or early November, there will be snow. Literally, winter is coming.


I’m 80% doing okay, taking into factor the most recent meltdown (that was three weeks ago? Fuck. It felt like yesterday.), the sickness, the Jeep bullshit, and other maladies. I’m anxious about the right things instead of jumping off the ledge about others.

It’s lovely to be at Throbbing Cabin in the summer and early fall for a week or two. I could handle a month, but we’re now closing in on two months in late fall and we’re getting close to becoming batshit crazy. The nearest villages are 10-12 miles away and the big city of Traverse City takes 30-40 minutes to get to. Three of the closest villages are tourist traps and after a while you get tired of $15 burgers and trunk slammers from Florida. I often go walking around our area but without a proper coat it gets a little chilly and I can only walk in certain areas thanks to the big hills and little valleys (and the goddamned golf courses).

I’ve completed 98 straight days of meditation. Tada!

Throbbing Cabin is 1000 sqft and surprisingly we’re not killing each other or fighting (just crazy from lack of things to do), which I consider with all the circumstances to be a small victory. TheExHusband turned on internet the first week I was up here, brought up a TV from the old house; which coupled with my Roku means we’ve got loads of things to keeps us entertained. He works all day in the second bedroom which we flipped into an office for him in the summer of 2014 while I work on the breakfast bar in the kitchen. We are more or less out of the other’s hair.

It’s cozy and we do not lack for anything. I have my coffee maker, there is a working regular stove and apartment sized fridge. The closest of all the villages has an all in one gas station / deli / pizza place/ grocery / video store. They even sell Lisa-milk and GF food stuffs. The village also has a post office, two resturants, a free library inside the bank, a meat shop, a knitting store, and a local art gallery. For laundry and weekly groceries, out to TC we go. The area is pretty much perfect except for the location and the so dark you can slice it with a light saber which does not make even a dent into the denseness. However, lack of light pollution does make for a pretty sky.

The cabin is well heated from several space heaters. While there is baseboard heat, the first winter we were here, and only for 2.5 weeks, the electric bill was $500. For 2.5 weeks. Two space heaters heating up this entire place will run TEH, for a month, around $150. The baseboard heat will only come on when it dips below freezing so the pipes don’t freeze, which if the weather is any indicator is going to be end of this week, early next.

(And my rush to get the fuck out of here is compounded by the storms of 2013-14 bought 240″ of snow to the area. That is not a typo.)

(I know I keep flipping between “we” and “his” when discussing about Throbbing Cabin because of all the work I’ve put in to it, it still feels like “mine” even though TEH got it in the divorce. I declined his offer of ownership as so much work needs to be done, such as $15-20K for a new septic tank and drain field. It’s lovely to visit but I don’t want to own this place. At all.)


I’m 1100 words in and I haven’t even touched the main point of this piece which is “home,” what it means, and how I want to achieve it. (This is inspired by Theodora Goss’ piece on a similar topic on crafting a life.)

Which is a very good question and the apex of my problems since I was born and one I keep struggling with it often takes over my life.

The original plan was to move to the East Coast, retreat for a few months, look for a job, and get a place of my own, preferably with TheBassist. The plan changed. Then it was to Grand Rapids for six months while I healed emotionally and mentally which turned out didn’t happen and it was suggested I couldn’t, shouldn’t, live alone. Then it was to Louisville, then CT. Now it’s at the cabin, then more than likely Louisville, then who the fuck nows. If I end up in Louisville longer than two months, it’ll be the first time I’ve stayed anywhere longer than 1/6th of a year since October 2014.

For all intents and purposes, I am homeless. My possessions, what is left, are at TheExHusband’s house. Some of my things are at TheBassist’s. I’ve pared down my car goods to between 1/3 – 1/2 of what I took to The East Coast last October. I’ve been living out of two small bags and a bag full of toiletries since the first week of September when I arrived at the cabin.

During all of this whiplashing around, the goal and my greatest desire has been a job, financial independence, and a place to call my own.

I’ve applied for, between writing and librarian career tracks, 150 jobs since February of 2015.  I’ve made a grand total of $150 off my writing since August. My day to day living funds ran out in July (TEH has been supplementing me since August). My mental health, while mostly stable now, still has it’s downsides (mostly brought on by pre-menstrual hormones these days). I’ve taken my crazy pills daily since November 2014. I’ve racked up (and half way pared down) nearly $40K in credit card debt within the last year.

These are the facts.

I’m not revealing the minute details for sympathy, understanding, or a handout. This is what it is. This has been the apex of my life since forever and a time ago.

What am I running from or who or why?

I’ve been moving house every two to three years since I was 13. Throbbing Manor, where I lived for four years, has been longest place I’ve lived on my own since I was 24. Prior to that, my mother changed our living locations every 2-3 years from ages 13 – 24. So insofar as actual living space, I do not know what home means.

(When I’ve been at TheBassist’s or TheExHusband’s, even if room was made for me in their space, it still feel like “their” space, not mine. I was just a temporary boarder who happened to be cute. (It should be noted that was never their intent to make me feel uncomfortable, they went above and beyond to make me comfortable, but that is how I often felt.))

It’s been remarked numerous times over the last 20 years I’m running from something because of the shifting or it’s a pathos of my disease. I’ve never known physical space as mine, it was always someone else’s, even when I’ve had roommates. I’ve always felt like a visitor instead of a primary occupant.

(Which is why if you’ve ever visited me at any of the places I’ve lived, there has hardly, if any, decoration to showcase my personality. Decoration was in the form of my clothes, which are cheap and easily disposable.)

I know I’ve romanticized where I want to live. Do I want an adorable apartment in a big city? A home of my own in a quaint little village? A flat somewhere in Europe? This parallels the kind of life I also romanticize. Jet set traveler? Famous writer? Raconteur around town?

I want to be everything, live every place, and be every person.

This, obviously, throws a wrench into daily life plan and reality, most which seems to blur together into one grey line.

If home cannot be about a place, then what about being with a person? If i could not feel at home with the two most important relationships in my life, TheBassist and TEH, then how does that bode for me? What does that say about me? I’m too frightened to forge a relationship with anyone, romantic or platonic? Why do I destroy everything that should be the best of my life?

If home is not about a place, or a person, what about the material things? I have my cases and cases of books, 50-60% I’ve now donated. My clothes, shoes, and accessories which I’ve significantly pared down and donated the rest. Personal objects or things I’ve picked up over the years, donated.

I’m cast adrift with no thing, person, or place to call my home.

If it’s not a place, or a person, or things. Then what is home and how do I get there?

xoxo,
Lisa

P.S. Don’t want near daily emails or can’t make it here everyday but want to keep up with what’s going in my world? Subscribe to A Most Unreliable Narrator, a monthly-ish newsletter roundup of what’s happening. Bonus! Comes with GIFs!

 

This Day in Lisa-Universe: 2010, 2001

giving birth to the world

Dear Internet,

When I gave birth to my first self-published book, The Lisa Chronicles: Vol 1: 1998, in January, I experienced a divine feeling, for that is the only way I can describe it, when I hit “publish.” Here was something many years in the making in which I was able to clean up, organize, and present as my baby.I knew it wasn’t going to be a big seller as the singular goal was to give it life.

Sales have not been spectacular but I want more of that feeling. I want to give birth to writing things and even for just a little while, feel like I am queen of the world.


I want to say the last year has been one for self discovery and I want to believe I’ve learned a thing or two along the way. I want to believe all of this is worth it, all the pain, the smearing of my reputation and name, the rejection from several communities has been worth it. I swore to anyone who would listen that I had to sleep with me at night and as long as my conscious is clear, that’s all that mattered.

But at what price does “doing the right thing” come?

I keep talking about my exhaustion levels. I keep mentioning how this lifestyle I’ve jumbled together from bits and pieces is tiring. I harp on how this is effecting me. Underneath it all, all I feel is I must do something with this life of mine. I must take what has happened and create some kind of purpose or meaning. If this doesn’t happen, I feel, then I beat myself up over and over and over again for being a failure. A loser.


I stare at my screen, that taunting cursor winking at me. A million and a half ideas and nothing is coming forward from my brain to my mouth to my hand. My sketch book is a mockery. I cannot get it out of my head if I cannot make a living at doing this, wha then will I do?  This thing, this writing, chasing that dream that so many have gone before me and so many of them magnificently failing. When editors tell me they love my voice and my writing, I am convinced they tell everyone the exact same thing. How is my voice unique and how can it make matter?

What if everything I’ve been telling myself is a lie? What if this is all there is?

xoxo,
Lisa

P.S. Don’t want near daily emails or can’t make it here everyday but want to keep up with what’s going in my world? Subscribe to A Most Unreliable Narrator, a monthly-ish newsletter roundup of what’s happening. Bonus! Comes with GIFs!

This Day in Lisa-Universe: 2014, 2013

in the woods, late at night

Dear Internet,

Everything is delightful at the cabin.

The tree guy came out and 10 trees need to be removed either for some tree disease, growth problems, or were hit by the storm. TheExHusband (TEH) is here to chainsaw and chip away at the pieces that are easily chippable and chainsawed. He brought up a TV, the argument being if he wants to rent this place, there are things that renters are going to expect: Like a TV with some kind of DVD appliance and a working upstairs bathroom. I think TEH’s goal is to get most of the reno and repair work completed by the end of 2016 with renting beginning 2017. So if anyone wants to rent a cabin in Leelanau Peninsula, mere minutes from Lake Michigan and cute as balls towns, just let me know.

I’ve been doing all kinds of writing while I’m up here. I woke up the other night with two lines stuck in my head, ending with writing 1K words on paper before falling back to sleep. When I transcribed it the following day, it wasn’t half-bad. Not awesome, but not too shabby for half-asleep notes.

One of my problems is organizing the ideas. I get it, I’m a librarian. I’ve been known to organize my underwear. But this is a hot mess. Here is what I’ve been doing AND is working for me: I’ve created a project in Scrivener that tracks stories in progress, stories completed, pieces I’ve sold, and so forth. I use a Google spreadsheet to track markets/submissions/payments. But ideas themselves, fiction and non, live everywhere. I originally bought my Filofax as a proper planner, finding I could not keep track of things digital (strange, no?). But the calendaring was insane (putting the same event on paper and digital), so I ripped out the calendaring pages and turned it into a one stop project/writing book.1 Once I organized the beast, trascribed the ideas and notes from all the other places into the appropriate sections, my writing life is much more manageable and easier to transport.

My non-fiction work has been selling, which has been awesome, but to non-paying/token markets, which has been frustrating. I am keeping to my guns and not submitting to markets I would not personally read. It’s a weird balancing act: One group proclaims: “Get your name out there, submit everywhere and everything” and there is my side which is to submit to only places you would read or want to read. I’ve been told it’s about building a  personal “brand,” which makes me squeamish. Dude, all I ever wanted to do was write not worry about this “branding” bullshit. I am tenacious but also stubborn as hell about such matters.

My fiction has been a struggle. A big struggle. It’s not for lack of ideas or writing the beginning but for getting past the beginning and finishing the damned thing. My novel is so stalled right now, I can’t even joke about it anymore.

I can create pretty great flash fiction, but anything beyond 2K words is eluding me and it, unsurprisingly, frustrates me.  Because I’m broke as fuck, I’ve signed up for the free MOOC from U of Iowa, How Writers Write Fiction. The two big writing cabals to hone your chops are the U of Iowa’s MFA program for fiction and Clarion SFF, both of which I cannot afford, so this MOOC has been a benediction from the gods. (There is a whole argument on whether to get a MFA. Or not. I wobble back and forth on what to do but for now the idea is just shelved.)

Other MOOCs of similar ilk are more generated, I found, on teaching people the inner workings of writing, such as how to construct a sentence and so forth. Stuff you find in high school composition class. I was/am not opposed to heading to a community college (cheap, local) but I’m not in a place long enough to actually attend the classes. Internets for the win.

I’m traveling again at the end of the month and as I said to TEH this morning, what I am taking with me keeps getting smaller and smaller. When this whole journey began, Jeeves was so jammed there was barely room for TheBassist: And he was driving. Now the amount of shit I’m carting around is 1/3rd of that. In fact, for the last two weeksish, I’ve been living out of two, medium-sized, bags for clothes, two baskets carrying my books to read and other writing miscellany and lastly messenger bag which holds my laptop, cords, and Filofax (see above). Teddy is always in the house with me; what more do I need?

I can easily answer this question: A home, a place for my books, and a world to call my own.

I am exhausted.

xoxo,
Lisa

1. How I organize my writing/projects: Front matter is that week’s-ish TODO list, the tabs (stories, books/freelance, jobs/classes, misc) bought from Etsy, extra paper also from Etsy, and last but not least, my beloved erasable gel pens.

P.S. Don’t want near daily emails or can’t make it here everyday but want to keep up with what’s going in my world? Subscribe to A Most Unreliable Narrator, a monthly-ish newsletter roundup of what’s happening. Bonus! Comes with GIFs!

This day in Lisa-Universe: 2000