Today I have squishy feelings because it was nine years ago that I went on a date with a boy I met on the internet. We sat in a Caribou halfway between our respective homes and talked for eight hours. The weather was snow-raining and gray and cold, which is exactly what is happening outside my window right now.
Nine years of my life with this guy.
I say it every time, but it feels like yesterday and a lifetime ago.
We don’t actually celebrate our dating anniversary since we got married, but it’s hard not to at least acknowledge it.
I met him at my absolute lowest point.
He saved my life.
There’s no other way to put it.
Here is a picture of Emerson Mouse hanging from my hair.
This is a highly accurate representation of the goofy-ass things my Robert will do to make me laugh on a daily basis. And especially when it feels like the world is caving in on itself.
Seven years ago I married a boy I met on the internet.
Statistically, we should be seeing a decline in our relationship at this point. The Seven Year Itch is something that actually happens according to research.
I’d say for us, the longer we’re together, the better we get.
Does that make us special?
Plenty of people survive statistics.
My parents have been married for fifty years.
It’s not always rainbows and giggles and arguments with stuffed animals. We have ugly conversations and disagreements. We get stressed and irritated and snappy. But we communicate—even when it sucks—and we tend to talk everything to death. Things are far from perfect, but we’re US.
And I love US.
I can be my whole, awkward, weird, inane, obsessive self, and he tells me he loves me for all of it.
He is my sanity and my saving grace.
I love him more than I ever thought possible to love another human being, and I love him more every day.
I always have these elaborate plans in my head for commemorating our anniversary in writing, but really, simplicity works better.
…to words of wisdom
I could never get myself to understand…
I am in an extremely fortunate and privileged position in that I don’t have to work. (Not that my mental state is really in any condition to, but that’s a whole other discussion.) Bob has a good job that provides us with a comfortable income. We can pay our bills, save money, and budget for the things we want. He is okay with me not having a job. To certain degrees, he prefers it that way because he knows me. I struggle a lot (a-fucking-lot) with feeling like a leech and being completely useless, but again, a whole other discussion.
I have an opportunity to focus fully on the one thing I know I want to do with my life.
I don’t have any aspirations to publish anything—aside from here—but maybe someday if I ever finish something I don’t hate, that plan may change. I really don’t see that, but stranger things have happened. (I met a boy on the internet and married him, after all.)
Writing is hard.
This isn’t some brand new epiphany I’m having over here, but sometimes it slams home a little stronger than others.
For the last…lengthy frame of time…I don’t remember when I really started it…I’ve been making a more deliberate effort to write every day. And by that I mean, sitting down and actually focusing on writing while attempting to avoid other distractions. (see: the internet) It feels like I’m rarely very successful, but I think I have made marginal change.
In my efforts to write more I also decided to make an effort to focus on one project instead of juggling the eight…ish different ones I had been spreading myself over for too long. And I did that…to a certain extent. I did allow myself ventures into other folders when ideas struck or words stalled, but for the most part I was focusing on just one story.
I did get some decent writing done. But spending so much time on it made me realize how many things were wrong with it. And I had no idea how to fix it. I spent a lot of time beating my head against the wall trying to figure things out, and ended up getting incredibly frustrated and burnt out.
That last tweet is supposed to say then Bob but instead it says the Bob, but really he is THE Bob, so it still works, even with the typo.
I’ve been talking to Bob a lot about all my writing woes and the issues with the project I’ve been working on, trying to sort out what I need to do with all of it. The conversation that followed that series of whiny tweets knocked me on my ass.
Maybe I need to just be done with that project.
Be done with trying to fix it.
Put it to rest and let it stay there.
To say I was bordering on a panic attack would be an understatement.
To my recollection, I have never actively stopped working on a story. Yes, I have quit working on countless projects, but it has always happened gradually, fizzling over a long period of time as the inspiration sputtered out and other stories took over. I have never made the conscious decision to just stop.
Facing that decision literally brought me to tears.
It scared the absolute shit out of me.
Bob reminded me that is OKAY to fail. It doesn’t make it suck any less, but it’s okay.
Being the natural problem solver that he is, he made a number of suggestions to help me with my problem, and one of them made me panic even more than just stopping one story.
A writing cleanse.
No writing at all for a week.
Actively stop thinking about it.
Focus on something else entirely.
The very idea of stopping one story made me cry.
I couldn’t even breathe at the thought of not writing at all.
When the writing is in short supply, the mental health takes a tragic hit.
How could I survive not writing on purpose?
And then…without even realizing I was doing it…I took a break…
I didn’t make the conscious decision to take a break. I just…did. I opened Word. I opened files. I stared at them. But I didn’t write anything. I did read through some things. I spent a hell of a lot of time thinking about all of it. I even found another story in the archives to shoehorn ∞Tyler into. I didn’t write anything on it, but I spent plenty of time brainstorming it.
It wasn’t exactly a cleanse.
It wasn’t even a full week.
But it was far more than I was open to trying, even if it wasn’t entirely on purpose.
It was absolutely miserable.
It was a really shitty four days.
I cried a lot.
(Though that has also been heavily influenced by the horrific state of the world as of late.)
By Friday night I was in such a bad place. Bob and I spent several hours talking through it while I cried even more. (It wasn’t just writing at that point. There’s other shit tormenting me too.) We didn’t find much resolution, but unloading helped immensely. Snotty, weepy pillow talk can be incredibly cathartic all on its own.
Have I mentioned lately that my husband is fucking fantastic?
Because he is.
I don’t have a damn clue how, but I really did hit the jackpot with him.
Maybe if I had done a true cleanse things would have been less miserable, but I don’t know. Past experiences have me inclined to believe it would have been just as bad or even worse. I’ve gone long stretches without writing. Those were miserable times I don’t care to revisit on purpose.
At the time Bob and I were having the initial maybe it’s time to stop conversation, I had music playing—as I do. (Nine Days on repeat.) Somewhere during that, the song Star started playing—the life and struggle of a musician trying to make a career out of the trade. Not exactly something I can relate to, but a line stood out that so perfectly fit my mindset at that moment (and in general) and caught me completely off guard.
But if I give up I’m afraid I’ll disappear…
If I don’t have writing, what do I have? Putting all my eggs in one basket isn’t the smartest move, but I really like that fucking basket and it’s the only one I have. Writing is such a significant part of who I am. It has been my one true passion since I was twelve years old.
The ridiculous thing about all of this is it’s really JUST ONE STORY.
Nobody told me I can’t write anymore.
Nobody told me I have to give it all up.
It was just a suggestion to put ONE project to rest and stop torturing myself with it.
But this is how my brain works.
One little thing goes wrong and suddenly everything is in CRISIS MODE.
I KNOW it’s ridiculous.
I KNOW it’s anxiety being a royal dick.
But there’s very little I can do to control it. It’s incredibly frustrating and absolutely exhausting.
So I cry.
I unload my woes on my saint of a husband.
I wrap up in blankets and cuddle my stuffed animals.
I listen to the same music on repeat.
I will survive.
This will pass.
Things will get better.
I’ll sit down in front of my computer and write.
I don’t know which story it will be, but I will love it and hate it and fight with it and obsess over it and things will be okay.
Sometimes I find myself falling into the abyss of reading old blog posts. I’ll go to look for something I wrote and suddenly it’s six pages of posts later. And in the process I usually completely forget what I was originally looking for in the first place.
Par for the course.
Most interesting to me are the posts about writing.
A lot of my writing about writing is pretty much just me talking my way through (thinking out loud, in a sense) whatever project is currently eating my brain. I reread posts so many times before I actually publish them, by the time I finally hit that button, it’s all just a blur of letters that may or may not spell actual words. The surprising thing is—things I’m pretty sure are just absolute shit are actually a lot more coherent than I originally thought. Not all of it. But far more than I expected.
What makes me wonder, is how much sense does any of it make to some random stranger who happens to read this stuff. (Though I can count on one hand the number of people who visit this place and I don’t need all my fingers.) (I am okay with this.)
It all makes sense to me…to a degree. Sometimes I read things and have no flipping clue WTAF I was talking about, but I’m sure it made sense—in some bass-ackwards sort of way—at the time. But since I know all the details of whatever story I’m rambling aimlessly about, I don’t always see what does and does not make sense from an outside perspective.
If it comes off as absolutely incoherent drivel, that’s fine. I write for myself here. If other people choose to read it—hey, I appreciate it, but I won’t be offended if you run screaming and never come back. If I had any aspirations to be social with people, I might seek out actual feedback from kids who are not wholly familiar with my demented little brain.
But we all know that ain’t gonna happen.
Guess it’ll just remain a mystery.
The past six months (Already??? WTF???) worth of writing can pretty much be summed up in two tweets.
(The fixating is a whole lot more than just writing, but right now we’re just talking about writing.)
I started a story dubbed Lightning. Why Lightning? Your guess is as good as mine. It was a mix of old ideas from various projects and some new[er] inspiration from a few different sources. It took some finagling of the character names, but I was mostly content with the way things were playing out in the early pages.
Scout was intended to be just a pile of Scenes Without Stories, providing me with an outlet to purge some of the crazy rolling around in my head. It’s since been reworked into something entirely different, that may or may not actually make a complete story. The reworking probably belongs under its own code name but…ehh…logic.
Haven (versions 2 & 3) spawned after I started looking at an idea I’d recently stuffed in the Stalled folder. (Code name Haven, in case it wasn’t obvious.) It was short lived on both versions as something wasn’t quite meshing with the [new] characters. Which was fine because a certain creature shoved a wrench in my face in the form of a Train song.
Lightning v2.0 kept a few elements from Haven, but shifted in an entirely different direction with the core characters. Why I named it Lightning 2.0 is a mystery (though it’s slightly more fitting to this story than the first) but I haven’t come up with a different code name for either version so…it stays.
Next Gen is a little muddy how it was spawned. I can’t pinpoint anything specific, but there were pieces that I really liked so it grew rapidly into a full-fledged storyline. And aside from the characters, there’s not really much for overlap with other stories, which may or may not have everything to do with why progress has been very slow on this one.
Trust Fund v2.0 came up while digging around in the Stalled folder in a bout of writer’s block and frustration. I started mulling over the original story and a plot point that I had considered in the beginning, but ended up cutting out. I put that piece back in and it ended up changing the entire story considerably, giving it a level of substance it didn’t have before.
Pictures stemmed from a separate trip into the Stalled folder, pulling pieces from other ideas that warranted revisiting. Certain parts make it largely similar to Lightning v1.0 with a role reversal, but digging deeper into the story, it’s different enough to keep both.
Fleet is just an outlet to purge the crazy from my bad-addled brain. It’s not meant to be a complete story. It’s just a series of conversations between characters that don’t fit in anywhere else. Writing this kind of stuff is surprisingly effective in clearing the murky waters Basil stirs up when he’s on a rampage.
Every single one of these “stories” falls under the Stephen Tyler marker because every single one of them revolves around a group of characters that can be largely interchangeable from story to story. It’s repetitive and confusing and I’m okay with that. The circumstances vary from story to story (mostly) but the core characters all largely stem from the same inspiration point. This is how my brain works. I’ve stopped trying to figure it out. If I just go with it, things eventually fall into place in a way I can actually work with.
I’ve been beating my head against the wall over all of these ventures, knowing that if I’m going to have any success at all, I NEED to focus on just ONE AT A TIME. Balancing all of these attempts simultaneously is never going to work no matter how hard Basil tries to convince me otherwise. Some of them belong in ye olde Stalled folder, but they’re staying put just to keep all of the inanity of Stephen Tyler together.
The other night Bob and I spent a good chunk of time talking through all of this stuff. He challenged me to summarize each story and tell what I liked and didn’t like about each one. We do things like this every so often, especially when I’m spinning my wheels at the bottom of a hill. He’ll be the first to admit he really doesn’t know anything about writing, but hearing the details of a story as a potential reader, he asks a lot of questions and gives me some perspective I have a hard time seeing as the writer who knows all the useless and dirty details. I had to keep clarifying which version of ∞Tyler I was talking about (because seriously) but when all was said and done, he gave his opinion on which story I should focus on, and when I step back and look at them all from a distance, I think he’s right.
Doesn’t mean I won’t still keep stabbing at all the others when the inspiration strikes, or the blocks interfere. But my primary focus needs to be on ONE.
I was rifling through some old files recently, falling into a rabbit hole of bad web design and a whole lot of writing notes for stories long forgotten, and I found a blog post. I have no idea if it was ever actually posted. It would have been on my Live Journal, but I’m too lazy (and frankly, too avoiding-bad-memories) to go through and look for it.
It’s nothing terribly ground breaking. It’s just a lengthy ramble about being with Bob, moving in together, and how unfathomable it was that everything was falling into place so easily and so fast. I had just [recently] moved in and I had yet to get fired from the Toxic Shit Hole. It’s a lot of waxing on about how awesome he is and how much I love him and how happy he makes me and…pretty much everything I still wax on about now.
But what caught my attention was the end of the post…
I did some math the other day…I’m nuts, I know…
Since the day we met, we have spent every single weekend together.
From November 18, 2007 to February 1, 2008 is 76 days.
Of those 76 days, we have spent 57 days together. (including the days when it was only a few hours coming or going)
That makes 19 days apart. And those all involved lengthy phone conversations.
This is how we’ve grown so close so fast. This is why nothing feels rushed.
I made my “official” move in with him on our 2 month anniversary. (Give or take a day or two.) From the day I moved in we have spent exactly one night apart.
It’s been seven years.
According to an internet calculator that’s 2,558 days since our first date.
2,497 days of living together.
1,887 days of marriage.
And we’re still the same clingy koala bears we were on day one.