Posts Tagged ‘Goddess’

Habits are strange. It seems inordinately easy to fall into a bad habit, while way too arduous to build a good one. And vice versa. Breaking bad habits (smoking, over-eating, drug abuse) are a grueling trek akin to hiking Mount Everest, while establishing good habits (exercising, eating right, writing everyday) makes that little walk to the top of the world seem simple.

I bring this up because after two months of complete and utter brainlessness, trying to get myself back into writing – AT THE VERY LEAST – a weekly blog entry is sort of like swimming the English Channel with no endurance training. Yeah, I can swim, but, man, that water is cold and choppy, and the other side seems so very far away… What the hell was I thinking???

Most of the time I sit down at my computer and have no idea what I’m going to say. That’s just the way we pantsers do things. I might have a kernel from a topic in the news or something that happened, or a general (read: extremely vague) thought I want to share. Sometimes all I have is a really cool title. I have several short stories like that right now – really cool titles, and not a word more. Someday the stories will show up. I hope.

Anyhoo, here I am trying to get back into a good habit. When I went wandering around in that great empty space of my mind, I found that there actually have been several cool things that happened lately. On the grand scale, the US Supreme Court (finally!) decided that marriage is a legal right accorded to ANY two adults willing to make the commitment, regardless of gender, sexual identity or orientation. And Iran (grudgingly) sat at the bargaining table with the United States, Britain, France, China, Russia and Germany, and hammered out a deal on their nuclear technology – a diplomatic resolution to a potentially devastating future for all concerned.

Of course, American conservative politicians are frothing at the mouth over both of these, ranting on about the fall of civilization and the destruction of “good Christian values.” Neither of which any of them seem to actually understand, or we wouldn’t be having this discussion. I’ll never fathom why they continually want to run around in fear screaming about the sky falling and needing to condemn everyone else for not doing the same. It seems a lot of wasted energy for nothing. Just think how wonderful the world would be if they worked that hard to actually accomplish something positive? So I have two things to say in response to the fright-right: 1) stay in your own bedroom, and 2) give peace a chance.

I could go on and on about both topics, but don’t really see the point when there are already millions of words on the Internet supporting all the various sides and arguments. Go forth and laugh and point, as you will.

No, I’d rather talk about something far more important that happened this weekend, a combination of events that really helped me feel better in so many ways.

It rained.

And I don’t mean the usual spit-take we’re offered here in SoCal, I mean an honest to goodness, rip-roaring, pouring-assed-rain thunderstorm. It seems there was a bit of a hurricane down off the west coast of Mexico, and the remnants of it splattered ashore here. It clouded up a little on Friday (which had it’s own excitement as a wildfire closed down a major freeway here. See: “Wildfire on SoCal freeway…”), then we had some drizzle and then actual rain on Saturday. My husband and I went out back to enjoy the weather, startling a stray tom that had taken to one of the doghouses for shelter. He bolted off and we laughed in the rain.

Sunday saw more of the same, off and on for most of the morning. And then in the afternoon, the skies opened up and we had a genuine gulley-washer. It poured. It thundered. The rain sluiced off the roof in great sheets. The brittle little nubs of grass we had left in the yard were drowned. For a good while, the water running down the street (what SoCal calls rain gutters, the rest of us call useless) was even with the sidewalk and threatening incursions into the yard. It was glorious!

We stood on the front porch a long time, basking in the thunderous energy. I tried to capture some of it on my phone, but the video quality was poor and didn’t really do it justice. It went on for some time, and then we finally wandered back into the office to get back to our lazy Sunday afternoon of Internet cruising and videos. Something caught my eye as I was about to sit at my desk. I took a better look through the blinds and realized that the stray from the day before was back in the doghouse, nonchalantly bathing himself as if he owned the place. We don’t have dogs right now, so I guess he’s claiming squatter’s rights. I didn’t mind. The Goddess had seen fit to give me a thunderstorm and a feline visitor on the same day. A nice double play if ever I’ve seen one.

It was something I really needed, a pleasant helping of my favorite things to drag me out of my slump. Feeling content, even happy, I’ve been given a reprieve from the darkness. Oh, I know it’s only temporary – such is the nature of depression – but it gives me something to work with and for. It gives me hope.

Here it is in the waning hours of Tuesday, and the stray is still out back. He’s a lovely ginger with beautiful gold eyes, but very skittish and obviously in need of some TLC. Somehow a little canned chicken made its way out there, right next to a bowl of water. I have no idea how that happened (wink*wink). But four days later, he’s come to some level of understanding that this is a safe place to be. At least for now. Being on the animal underground we could be just a way station, or we could be the forever home. We’ll just have to take it one day at a time, just like everything else in life.

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It’s done.  The monster that has haunted me for so long found its end with the closing of January.  It was a bitter fight, but I managed to prevail, if only by the barest of margins.  It took me a while to recover from that marathon.  After sweating about it for so long, it left me empty.  My husband opined that I was suffering postpartum depression, having birthed my baby and handed it off to the real world.  Sometimes he just annoys the hell out of me with his insights.

I’m talking about the novel, of course.  Finally finished the writing after fifteen months and now it’s off to several people for critique.  Once those comments come back, I’ll do a final polish on it and start sending off query letters to agents.  If I’m repped I have a better chance of getting published at one of the “better” publishing houses, not to mention probably a better advance and overall contract.  Yeah, there’s a growing market with print-on-demand and self-publishing, but, despite the struggles the publishing industry is suffering, it’s still the gold standard.  I figure I’ll start at the top and work my way down.  You only get to the moon if you actually shoot for it.

Ironically enough, I finish the writing and the job market starts to open up.  I’ve actually had a real interview for one job, and finally got a top-tier placement company to notice me, after I-don’t-know-how-many applications I sent in for jobs they had listed.  Got to talk to an actual person face-to-face.  Blew the doors of their tests and left the placement counselor baffled as to why I was still unemployed.  Right there with you, sister.

But it also opened up a whole ‘nother can-o-worms:  I don’t wanna.

The thought of going back to the land of 9-5, power suits, office politics, thermostat wars, and whiny execs who can’t find their own butts in the dark has actually made me nauseous.  It is a visceral, physical response the likes of which I have never experienced.  The logical mind understands it for the anxiety attack it is and tries to work past it.  But the emotional mind just bull-dozes it all and I find myself wondering how to get my big fat ass under the bed to hide with the cats.

I was side-tracked for so long in cubicle-ville and so unhappy for most of that time.  Yes, I’m good at being an administrator.  Damn good, in fact.  And I can partition myself so those at work will never know just how much I don’t want to be there.  Once given a job, I don’t know how to do it half-assed:  I can only give it the best I can all the time because that’s the work ethic that was instilled in me from my parents.  But it’s a good thing the average person can’t read minds, ‘cause some of the evil fantasies I’ve had about some of the people I’ve worked with would scare the likes of Stephen King.

All those years I was a good little soldier in the fight for the American Dream, I was miserable.  My bills were paid, my chores were done, I kept up with the Joneses, but I was crippled creatively.  I was so mentally exhausted from dealing with the office bullshit and the sheeple that perpetuated it I couldn’t do anything that entailed tapping into that right brain stuff.  I found myself rotting away from the inside out, losing more and more of who and what I really was and turning into another empty shell just going through the motions.

Two years ago I had a good job with a well-respected firm.  I actually liked most of the people I worked with, and I enjoyed being financially stable enough to not have to worry about how the bills were going to be paid or if we could afford to hop out to the movies one night.  But I was dead inside.  A putrid cancer rotted my soul and I realized that had happened because I had stifled the real heart of me.  I found myself having a serious conversation with the Goddess, wondering where I needed to go, asking for guidance, a hint, a bat up-side the head, something.  A week later I was let go.

It was oddly liberating.

The logical, practical side was scared to death, even with the nice severance package and the coming unemployment.  But the creative, intuitive side was overjoyed at the opportunity.  Within a few weeks I had returned to my natural state, up until the wee hours of the morning and sleeping until noon and doing all those creative things that had been so hard before.  For those two years, and despite the perpetual fight with my chronic depression, I’ve actually been more at peace and happier than I’ve been in a long time.  I know it probably sounds oxymoronic to be a happy depressive, but trust me on that one.

But now it looks like I’ve been told my time is up.  The unemployment is ending, I’m not making any money as a writer yet, and my husband can’t carry the bills by himself.  I have to get back to The Office.  Not that I haven’t been trying for the last two years, but now it has become a red-alert imperative.  It means shelving the creativity and hoping the metaphorical cancer that has been in remission doesn’t explode into full bloom again.

And then there’s waiting for the commentary to come back on my novel.  The wonder at what the readers will say.  This is the first time anyone outside of family and class mates (and a couple Hollywood types) has read any of my stuff and I find myself worried.  Not if they hate it or love it.  Those extremes can be dealt with in their own ways.  But what if it’s just okay?  What if it’s just ordinary?  What if there’s not anything really special about it?  It’s not failure or success I fear:  it’s mediocrity.

For awhile I had my dream, but now it looks like the nightmare is back.  I just want to know who I pissed off in one of those past lives, that keeps me from being one of those people who gets to make good money at something they love.

Damned if I do and damned if I don’t.

I was hoping I deserved better than that.

(c) 2011  Cheri K. Endsley.  All Rights Reserved.

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