on my blog for that project–the other blog is at the link.
Archive for October, 2009
My morning started off rudely.
I was awakened first by the construction noises nearby on another patio. And i drifted in and out of sleep, still needing another few hours.
Then a banging at my door set my heart to pounding. And the person kept banging. I hurried to open the door, my pistol behind my back as usual, (I am a single woman who lives alone. I make no apologies) and opened the door.
The construction guy was standing there with three other guys (already a little daunting for a woman alone) and announced that I had to move my stuff off the patio so they could work on it. He said it rudely. Like he had testosterone poisoning.
My hand tightened around the pistol grip. (okay, just kidding, that was for dramatic effect. I don’t just go around shooting people who knock on my door. Unless they’re from a church, soliciting my soul. Then, yeah. of course. Why wouldn’t I?)
Now understand, that one of my biggest pet peeves is to be awakened rudely. Especially by loud sounds. That’s why I hate alarm clocks. I have an almost epileptic response. And also understand that i have a sort of primal fear of someone knocking on my door. Not sure where that comes from, but it just stresses me out. Maybe because it represents someone trying to get into my home and i don’t know who it is. Weird, i know. But for whatever reason, it’s highly stressful.
So I’m standing at my door, having weathered those two very personally stressful things happening at the same time, and this guy is telling me I have to move stuff off my patio, and I’m still in my pajamas. (Okay, I often stay in my pajamas all day…That’s why I say i have a Pajama Job…but i don’t like being FORCED out of my Pajamas, unless it’s for a good reason. Like one that includes a really pretty woman).
Back to our show:
After he TOLD me what i was going to do, i TOLD him what was REALLY going to happen. “Listen here, Scooter, don’t pound on my door and tell me what I’m going to do. You did not give me any kind of notice, and I am recovering from a ruptured disc in my neck. I’m not moving anything. You should have given me time to make arrangements. And since you didn’t, arrangements will have to be made. In the meantime, you’ll have to go terrorize someone else.”
Dude took one step back. And then he and his boyfriends just walked away. I guess that work i did in my Card-Carrying-Harpy class really paid off. There would be no tearing of flesh today.
SO I slam the door. I felt it was necessary to make my point. But had to grab the mirror hanging on the wall there, so it wouldn’t fall. Damn. Just what i need. Seven years of bad luck on top of the last 7 years i just had. I still can’t remember what mirror i broke last time, but it must have been the size of a billboard.
Anyway. I’m thinking about coffee, which always makes me feel better, and there was no way i was going to go back to sleep anyway. So i made coffee and tried to get my heart rate back down. I called the office and told them what happened, very careful not to be in Harpy mode. Rep said she’d have Mike come over and handle it–i think the head of maintenance. Great, I say. Meaning, Great, another man with testosterone poisoning.
A few minutes later, Mike pecked on my patio door, and I stepped out to talk to him. He was immediately courteous. He completely understood dealing with back and neck issues. He’d had surgery on his. And he said there was no way they should have done that the way they did. They were supposed to give me enough notice. And he said that he’s there to make sure i get the help I need, and that anytime i ever needed anything moved or any help at all, to call him. It was not only his job, but he enjoyed helping. I said, “That’s so refreshing these days. I just wish people would do it because that’s who they want to be, and not becuase of some perceived reward.” (that’s one of my test questions. I always say things like that to see what someone will say, so I’ll know where they’re coming from). He said. “Jae, I do this because it makes ME feel good. So in a way, i guess it’s a little selfish. I enjoy helping people because of how it makes me feel.”
Okay, really good answer but he skirted the religion part. And I’m always afraid they’re going to start preaching to me at any moment and ask me if I’ve accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior, and then it will get ugly because i have so much to say on that subject. But it didn’t matter at that point. I already liked him. I already thought about baking him some bread and giving him a fresh cup of coffee later.
The thing about me is, I can be the sweetest most generous and friendly person in the world if you treat me with respect, but the minute you mistreat me, the claws come out, and i go for the jugular. I guess I’m sort of a Domesticated Harpy.
My day improved substantially after that. We stood on the patio and had a nice chat; He reiterated to call him anytime I needed help and I told him I wished I’d known about him when I moved in. Then we talked about our experiences with Frozen Shoulder, Rotator cuff injuries, Bone Spurs, Disc issues; and then about his daughter who is also a writer, and about his son with Asberger’s Syndrome who can do all kinds of wonderful things, including write, and how we both wish some of the old fashioned things would swing back around: like doctors who tell the truth, chivalry, customer service, respect, and people being willing to help and have compassion. I’m thinking he and his family are the types I’d like to be friends with. Anyone who can take the day I was having, and change it into something so positive, well, they deserve a medal. Or fresh baked bread and coffee.
My friend Justi and I were talking about our various relationships and non-relationships last night–she’s in one, I’m not. Part of the reason i relocated to Denver was so that I could meet different types of people than i have been privy to in the past, and have a better chance of meeting someone I could actually commit to.
My knee-jerk answer was NO.
My knee-jerk answer used to be “yes.”
But as I told her, I know that I simply could not go through a major move again. It was so hard on me. There are two lengthy blog entries (Going to Denver Because You’re Dead) on that experience– and it’s not one I care to repeat. It was supposed to have been my easiest move, because I got rid of so much, and just drove cross-country pulling a U-haul trailer. But in many ways, it was the worst move, for the toll it took on me physically and emotionally.
And I mean, i have moved 42 times in my life. I don’t want to keep doing it. I’m finally in a region I love, which i feel fits me, and offers me everything I could ever need–hopefully that will include a partner at some point. But my reasoning was that if I couldn’t find a partner there, I couldn’t’ find one anywhere, and I would have at least strategically placed myself so that I could have a vibrant life full of plenty of things to do, and interesting people to make friends with. It was my concession to the often cruel machinations of this life. You don’t always get what you want. But maybe you can get some things that make the journey a little easier.
But I know that after what I went through with the ruptured disc in my neck and then barely healing from that and going right into moving all by myself cross-country…I just can’t do it. It’s not even so much that i don’t “want” to do it–Love can be a powerful motivator if you’re ever lucky enough to find it. It’s that I know it’s not wise, in relation to my health. Moving is so stressful for me. Mostly because it’s been done so many times without any help. Another stance of mine that has been colored by too much isolation and not having a partner to help most of the time.
And moving is also stressful in other ways… there’s all this major financial crap–getting my Direct Deposit check switched to a new bank, changing all my EFTs to come out of the new bank, without missing a payment and without incurring fees (that never happens); doing all the unpacking, moving, lifting, rearranging, that inevitably comes from any type of relocation–and this time, I dealt with getting rid of three-quarters of everything I owned before I left–which meant moving things up and down the stairs and carrying them outside to the patio, and having sales, and it was just incredibly physical stuff.
Then there was, this time, dealing with storageI already had in this state, and driving back and forth to that (an hour and a half each way), pulling stuff out, going through it, loading it, unloading it, moving it around, etc….and then the expenses of getting things to replace the things I got rid of; and the unexpected expenses, and the final bills combined with the new bills and the deposits, etc…Holy Harpies! It’s just a major ordeal.
So that’s why my knee-jerk response was NO. I WON”T MOVE. Why do I have to be the one who always does that? If I meet someone special they better be able to afford to move me, and hire someone to do it, or else, they better just be near where I am. For one thing, as I told Justi, I won’t even communicate with anyone who isn’t nearby, anymore. I don’t even want to get into that situation at all.
Then she countered my declaration with a challenging question–as she is inclined to do–she said, “What if you meet some woman who is just visiting, and you fall for her? Then would you move to be with her?”
I took a deep breath and said, “No.” So brave. So crazy.
So she poked those embers a little more. “What if she was local, and you met and fell in love and were together here, sharing a home, and then she had to relocate for a job transfer? Wouldn’t you go with her then?”
This type of dilemma is made doubly hard when you’re my age. Both because I’m set in some of my ways, and because I can’t be doing things that exacerbate any health issues. I want to remain healthy as long as possible. (I have this profound wish to live forever, but only if I can be at about the age of 35 the whole time….I’ve written about that here and here.) But I also don’t want to grow old alone. I don’t want to be without a partner. I thrive in partnership for many reasons. I am not cut out to be single. Some of that has to do with the nature of my work–it’s isolated, so it’s important to have someone to share my life with. Otherwise it’s too easy to just retreat inside myself. —So will the fear of not finding love be stronger than the fear of all that stress and injury, and perhaps being taken away from the friends and environment I’ve worked so hard to have? I can’t answer. And that’s one of my biggest irritations. I want to be able to have an answer. To almost everything.
What I’m left with, then, is to avoid meeting anyone who isn’t local. If that means that I meet someone and have to ask if they are from here, and if they’re not, don’t pursue romance, that’s what I’ll do.
As for the other thing–being in a relationship, and then something happening so that we have to move–all I can do is hope I never have to deal with that scenario, should I find that woman.
Last night, while lying in bed, I found I couldn’t focus on the book I was reading. And I stared at the ceiling–while this odd, frisson of sadness tingled inside me, thinking about how much I wished the other side of the bed wasn’t empty. And I felt a little panic.
Digital Painting, “After You Go” (c) Kelli Jae Baeli
I was recently asked (again) for words of wisdom regarding being a writer and seeking publication. So I thought I would just blog it.
I have some strong opinions about writing and publishing, springing from my own experience over 20-25 years of pursuing it, and numerous blogs, articles, essays, and having written and rewritten 33 books; added to this is also webmastering, book cover design, typography, editing, and publishing. I wanted to learn all the aspects of completing a book.
My most commonly offered caveat is this: don’t fall in love with your words; fall in love with your craft. That’s when you will begin the process of being a quality writer.
This subject is voluminous, and I can’t do it justice in just a few paragraphs, but the other words of wisdom I will offer are these:
The competition to be a published writer is fierce. The dream of getting published has been overly-romanticized in the media so that many beginning writers think not only that writing is easy, but that they have a good chance of getting a contract from a major house. The odds are, realistically, one in a million–maybe worse than that. We hear about the success stories, not the ones who spend their lives toiling for that dream, to the exclusion of everything else, only to wind up poor, alone, lacking in social skills, and profoundly jaded that life has passed them by. There are so many unpublished writers who pursue this dream, and publishers and agents have had to crack down on the criteria to even LOOK at work sent. And it is very expensive for a writer to submit manuscripts, what with an ink cartridge costing around $30 and then adding the paper cost and the mailing costs, and that’s just PER MANUSCRIPT. Common advice tells us that we must do this hundreds of times, and continually if we ever hope to get traditionally published. You have to pour lots of money into the endeavor over a period of many years, sometimes. And more often than not, this investment does not return.
Often, then, self-publishing is the only option if a writer wants to get her work out there. There’s little point in spending your entire life hoping, while your words stay in a drawer. I believe as writers we are meant to honor that talent, and share it, otherwise, what’s the point of having it? Fortunately, we live in an era where technology allows us some autonomy and some tools to make this happen. So, do whatever you have to do to get your work out there. If it’s good, it might eventually get noticed and picked up by a major house or agent–that frequently has more to do with who you know, than how much you submit your work. So cultivate connections. And also try to go small or medium press. If you get a contract from one of them, you can use those books to woo larger fish.
Additionally, a writer who aspires to be published traditionally, needs to make sure she has a dependable source of income other than writing. And she needs to have other things and people in her life that bring her joy and satisfaction. This makes the journey pleasing, rather than a chore. And anyway, without a vibrant social life, you run out of things to write about. You must feed the well with people and events and experiences in order to keep your writing vibrant.
Changes are desperately needed in the publishing industry. Old School is just not working in our modern society. Publishers should be more open to self-published submissions. There is still, however, a haughtiness and arrogance among the Industry Insiders, and this does nothing to advance the cause of bringing great writing to the reading public. The process has been politicized by the Bottom Line.
Also, while there’s a pretension in the publishing community, this is also true of the writing community, which is that if you self-publish, you must not be a good writer. This is not always accurate (though, admittedly, there ARE writers who self-publish but have not mastered their craft in any way). Still, there are many quality writers who self publish–they are among all the other writers who strive to see their work in print and available to the reading consumer. You might have to dig a little, but they can be found. And you can be among them if you really want to share your work.
You have to ask yourself what’s more important: The prestige of major-house publication, or honoring the talent and sharing it? I take a more humanistic view of all this, as you might guess by now. I think it’s more important to get the work out there, than cling to it against overwhelming odds. Writers usually are good at living inside their own fiction. This is fine on the page, but doesn’t work so well in the real world.