Okay. So here’s what’s been going on in my life that has rendered me unable to post another chapter of my novel…
First, I sneezed a couple of times uh… caught a summer cold uh… came down with pneumonia and then spent a couple of days, no weeks, months under the weather…
Okay, here is the real story: An airplane fell from the sky and crashed through my office window completely destroying my laptop, my tablet, my phone, my empty journals, all my pens, a typewriter and lots of light bulbs. Oddly enough. *notices no one is believing that story, either. *
Fine. You win!
I HAVE WRITER’S BLOCK! ARE YOU HAPPY, NOW? ARE YOU HAPPY YOU MADE ME SAY IT? (Dramatically illustrated by the typewriter with a blank sheet of paper and a notebook with pristine white pages in the photo below
It’s just that outside is so beautiful with the bright sunshine, the pretty flowers, the brilliant green grass, the summer breezes. Who wants to write, expressing the darker innermost thoughts of a couple in the midst of a tragedy in their marriage when the sky is so blue? Who wants to dwell on such deep negative thoughts and ideas (even though I know how the story ends) when the house finches and chickadees are clustered around the bird feeder, feasting on the seeds I gave them? How can the world be horrible when the tomatoes are changing from bright green to bright red even as I write?
I will wait for a rain storm or an earthquake in a faraway place or the darkness that come right before the dawn to write another chapter in my novel: The Road of Change.
I didn’t mean to neglect it. I never set out to neglect it. It was not a goal, an aim, an ambition.
1. fail to care for properly.
Life came at me with
the force of a hurricane and what with one thing and another, time slipped away. Time s
eems to pass much more quickly now than it did even a few short years ago. Breakneck speed. Blue lights flashing.
But, what is taking up all my time? I work, sure. So does everyone else. I watch Netflix just like most of the people I know. I eat breakfast, lunch, dinner. I work out 3 to 4 times a week. I do laundry, clean my house… all the mundane stuff everyone else does. So WHY do I run out of time? Where does it all go?
Is it a lack of commitment? A lack of ambition? A lack of care? NO, I shout to myself.
The moment I had been dreading arrived. Barbara retired early. Ernesto and Charlotte went out together and Matt spent some time chatting with Chris and me. Finally, Matt asked if we needed anything and I told him no. He said, “That’s me off, then. You two sleep well. French toast for breakfast. No special time to get up. Sleep as long as you like.” He disappeared into the room he shared with Barbara.
“Do you think you can stand to spend one night with me?” Chris asked.
I didn’t trust myself to speak, so I merely nodded and headed toward the bedroom. I grabbed my pajamas out of my suitcase and told Chris I would be back in a few minutes.
I went into the bathroom and closed the door. I sat on the closed lid of the toilet and buried my face in my pajamas. So many thoughts swirled in my head. Earlier, no time presented itself for me to ponder the things Barbara said to me. I felt properly chastised for ignoring my husband. Chris said it to me when he told me I didn’t spend time with him. Because of my anger, I didn’t pay attention to what he said. He told me what he wanted; me wanted me to pay attention to him.
All day, every day. Big things don’t destroy a marriage. Little things do. My husband and I needed to spend every single moment possible together to get over the hump. Kathy was not the problem in my marriage.
Chris was on the right side of the bed when I entered the bedroom, bedecked in my pajamas. He always slept on the right side of the bed. The lamp on his side was on, so I didn’t bother with the one on my side of the bed.
“This bed is pretty comfortable,” he said to me.
I pulled up the blanket and slid in next to him. The bed was a full size and we slept in a queen size at home. I felt the warmth of his leg beside mine.
“I was kinda dreading this,” he told me.
“Me, too,” I confessed.
“Matt gave it to me with both barrels,” Chris said.
“Barbara did the same thing to me.”
“Matt told me if I wanted you to come with me somewhere, I should just ask instead of waiting for you to invite yourself.”
“Barbara told me I should get you involved in projects like getting you to help me make dinner.”
“Please don’t make me do the dishes,” he said. My first knee jerk reaction was to get angry with him until I saw the smile on his face.
“You don’t load the dishwasher correctly, anyway,” I told him.
He was silent for a few moments, then said, carefully, “Is it really that important how the dishes go into the dishwasher?”
I looked at him for long moments before I said, “No, not really.”
“Maybe we should listen to Matt and Barbara. Maybe,” he said, “We need to get to know each other, all over again.”
I held my hand out to him and said, “Hi, my name is Anne.”
“Chris Archer,” he said as he shook my hand. He held onto it and didn’t let go. “It’s very nice to meet you, Anne,” he whispered. He kissed my lips, slowly and softly. Then, as I felt the panic rise in me again, Chris said, “Sleep well, Anne Archer.” He released my hand, reached up to turn off the light and turned onto his side. Just like he always slept. How odd to be so familiar with him and to feel like I was in bed with a total stranger. Of its own accord, my hand snaked over his belly as I spooned him from behind. Just like it always did. Habit. Chris grabbed onto it. Out of habit. Soon, he snored. Just like always.
It’s quite simple, really. I have been working from home and writing and developing my online crochet business. So let me break it down…
Working from Home
I have a job that I work at a few hours a day. I am a scheduler with a Mystery Shopping company called A Closer Look. Plus, I also still do random mystery shops on the side. Scheduling normally takes 4 – 6 hours a day 6 days a week and consists mostly of emailing, calling and texting existing shoppers and recruiting new shoppers.
I am still working on my novel that many of you have been reading: Road of Change. Do not despair because more is coming soon.
I have an online craft store on Etsy where I post my crochet creations for sale. I also post them on eBay although I don’t have an eBay store front… no matter. I can still post items for sale.
I also post on Facebook’s Trash and Treasure and on Pinterest.
Those tasks take a minimal amount of time compared to actually creating the crocheted items.
Reading and Journaling
Additionally, I still read quite a bit. Every day. And I write n my journal. I make to-do lists and reminders and thoughts and ideas.
Needless to say, I have a pretty full day. I have found I am busier now than when I was working 40 hours a week at a job I absolutely detested. Retirement didn’t come quickly enough for me.
Now, working from my office, I have a wonderful view out of a window of a city street, my postage stamp sized back yard that has a bird feeder and bird bath, a chicken coop, rabbits living under my tool shed and a yet-to-be-planted outdoor garden. I can watch cars, weather, people walking, wildlife, trees and the neighbor grilling his chicken every afternoon when he gets home from work.
After wrestling with the blankets all night and waking up so tangled up that I could barely get out of bed, I realized it is Sunday. Sunday and I can sleep without an alarm. Sunday and I can make a tasty brunch. Sunday and I can just be lazy and happy. I can do what I want.
I read an article about being resurrected. I browsed through Facebook and even made a couple of posts. I waited to put on clothes, preferring my pajamas and no bra.
I felt like a cat who finds a spot of sun to take a nap. I felt like a stack of pancakes. I felt like journaling in a hammock.
I felt like experiencing the silence you find in an empty church building.
I didn’t post anything yesterday because I just started a new WORK FROM HOME JOB. Yes, they are real and they are legit. At this point, I am in training and I am not certain how much of my day will actually be required once I am up to speed. For now, however, I am plugging along.
I have worked from home before and I know it takes a lot of discipline to not get distracted by day to day events–hobbies, TV, friends and neighbors. Before you decide it is a great way to live, you must understand that working from home requires a monumental amount of discipline. Also, you will probably find that you work more and harder when working from home. Deadlines are more clearly defined and must be adhered to and tolerance for continually missing deadlines can cost you money and perhaps even your job.
It is very nice to start work when I am ready and not when the boss says I must be there. It is nice to take a long lunch break, if I want to, or to nap if I want to. It is nice to walk out of my bedroom and directly into my office to get going. I save money on gas, wear and tear on my car, work clothes.
This life fits me now. I don’t have to go out when the weather is bad. This week has been wonderful because I didn’t have to drive in the snow. I don’t have to deal with angry drivers. I don’t have worry about dress codes or make-up. I don’t have to worry about a lot of things people deal with every day in the work force.
There are some downsides, however. I have already mentioned productivity. If you want to keep your job, you have to work. You cannot play video games or solitaire. While, you don’t have a micromanager, there are people watching what you do. Sometimes, you will be watched closer because now you are accountable for every moment of your time. You get daily goals and you can get them done in 4 hours or drag it out for 8 or 10 hours.
But if I want to get to my hobbies, my reading, my writing, I will take the 4 hour a day route and not get distracted by life in my house.
The biggest downside I have found is that Starbucks does not deliver and Uber-eats is expensive.
I complained about Chris to her that day. We sat in her sunroom, drinking strong coffee and she said, “Anne, my dear, Chris was a spoiled baby, a spoiled child, a spoiled teenager and a spoiled man. He is the reason Matt and I kept going after Mr. Archer died. We raised him together and gave him everything he wanted. He grew up feeling very entitled. He grew up thinking he didn’t have to work for anything. You, my dear, have made remarkable strides with him. A couple more years and he will be a human being.” She reached across the coffee table and gave my hand a pat. “I have watched the two of you grow up together. You were so young when you married him. In many ways, Chris was very young, too, even though he is ten years older than you. Try to be patient with him.”
“Patient, you say? He is seeing a woman he works with.” I blurted out the issue between us. I meant to keep it quiet, feeling somehow that I failed him. If I was a better wife, he wouldn’t need the company of another woman, right?
The woman who spoiled him terribly gave me a sad smile.“He is not perfect, Anne. Christian Matthew Archer Junior is as flawed as his father.” She took a dainty swallow of her coffee that she served to us using her Royal Doulton’s Old Country Roses coffee set. “I think the two of you need to spend some time together. You have a daughter who became your sole focus when Trip died and now she is nearly ready for college. That’s just a couple of years away. You and Chris both forgot to love each other because you both hurt so badly over the death of your son. Things will be alright. You’ll see.” The cup rattled on the saucer when she set it down, possibly the first sign of frailty. A sign I missed at the time, so wrapped up in my own hurt and anger.
That day Lillian gave me a handkerchief so I could wipe away tears. We spoke of only pleasant things after my grand confession. We walked in her garden and she told me how she cares for her roses. She showed me the new birdhouse she built from scrap lumber and her well-used power tools. She pulled some offending weeds away from her roses then made me promise to see her the next week.
I kept my promise by sitting by her side in the hospital room. Lillian, the glue that kept my little family together, slipped away from me while I held tightly onto her hand, never opening her eyes.
The monitor beeped loudly and a nurse entered the room. She checked Lillian’s vital signs, turned off the monitor, then told me the doctor was on his way.
A man who didn’t look old enough to drive entered the room, checked Lillian’s vitals and then announced she had passed. He squeezed my shoulder and said, “You can spend some time with her.” He walked out of the room just as Chris walked back in.
Chris watched me for a moment, then drew his own conclusion. “I was outside smoking when she died. Smoking. A thing she hated because it killed my father.”
“Don’t beat yourself up, Chris. There’s no way you could have know she would die right then.”
Chris looked down at his mother, said, “You’ll have to take care of this. I just can’t,” and he left the room. He left me alone to deal with her remains. He left me alone to face the hurt on my own. Just like always.
I have just joined a writing challenge to write 500 words a day for the next 31 days… January is my new writing month. If I were writing a novel, that is 15,000 words already. I have some novel ideas, I have story ideas. I just don;t take the time to write them down. What is wrong with that picture? I have a note on my phone that is called “My Idea Bucket,” where I put clever ideas for writing and guess what? It is empty.
I am hoping this will get me into much better writing habits. I mean, I am retired. I don’t have a lot to do during the day, but I find myself reading, or watching TV. What a wasted day when all I do is channel surf. I am not a lazy person. I am just uninspired. Maybe setting a challenge for myself is a good way to develop a habit. Actually, I have heard that it takes 60 days to fully develop a habit. So, if 31 days is accomplished, then I will give myself another goal: 29 days. Or maybe more.
So, what is this novel about that I am going to write over the next 31 days? It is called, tentatively, Road of Change. It is a Lifetime Movie type story of a husband and wife who are estranged, then his mother dies and leaves them a 3 million dollar house. The stipulation to get it is, Anne and Chris have to drive a Porsche Cayenne to Chris’s brother. Sounds simple, right? Well, they have to drive through every one of the contiguous 50 states to get it there.
So right away they have problems, when Chris wrecks the Porsche on the first day of the trip. Anne and Chris snipe at each other, get angry with each other, yell at each other and finally learn to get along.
On the trip, they have their dog with them, a German Spitz named Snow. They leave their teenage daughter with Anne’s sister.
During the journey, Anne and Chris relive moments in their lives and finally discover the reason for their drifting apart.
This novel is somewhat autobiographical in that I am reliving many parts of my own life and some of it is made up. The scenery isn’t important on the journey, just the interactions between the two people. The setting isn’t important. The time of day isn’t important. It is an opportunity to watch two people fall in love all over again and for them to remember why they are together to begin with. This is definitely a love story, sometimes sweet, sometimes bitter sweet.
I hope that is reading this new creation, you will fall in love with my characters, too.
This is a bit scary for me, writing a story while essentially naked. I am allowing the world to watch the story unfold, step by step. There will likely changes made along the way. Some of what I write may be deleted and a new scene written to take its place. At the end of this experiment, I hope to have a novel.
Love is actually everywhere you look. Most of the time it is not earth shattering or even remarkable. Most of the time it is those tiny moments when we are struck with the simplicity of the emotion.
If you look, and not even very hard, you will find examples of love flowing in lives. Touching each of the senses. Some examples:
I stand in line in the check out at a department store and a woman in front of me is on her cell phone. Not an unusual sight these days. She gets a particular smile and her face and then tells the phone, “I love you, too, sweetheart.” My imagination takes over. Was she talking to a husband? Boy friend? Maybe a child. Hearing love is true music.
I sit at a stoplight, eager as everyone else for it to change so we can progress to the next stoplight. In front of me a man is driving and a woman rides shotgun. He leans over and kisses her, tenderly and slowly on her lips, passing the time until they can proceed.
I approach the barista and ask her if they have Kenya Coffee. She smiles and says yes, hands be a bag of coffee beans and rings up my purchase. All the way home, the scent of the best coffee in the world fills my car. I get home, open the bag and inhale deeply, allowing the scent to overwhelm me. Coffee Love. Perfect.
Everyone has a favorite flavor. For many it is chocolate, or bacon or oranges. The happiness that happens when something touches our tongue and awakens the sense of taste is delightful. It is love. How often do we say, I love dark chocolate or I love lasagna. Food is love. Taste is love. Sharing food is love. Just ask any chef.
The tactile sense is overpowering at times. I find myself walking through a store and gently caressing the clothes on the rack, or the yarn in the bin. Judging the textures. Enjoying the feel. Did you know you have nearly as many nerves in your feet as in your fingers? The best feeling is when I take off my shoes and caress my feet with the carpet under me. The motion is deliberate, moving my feet to and fro. I allow my toes to clutch the carpet fibers and relaxation washes over me. Love.
What the world needs now is love, sweet love. Love makes the world go ‘round. All you need is love. Love is a many splendored thing. When I seek love, I find myself smiling more often. I am calmer. I am happier. Love, love, love.
I challenge you to find love. Every day. Everywhere.