All the mess we’re in…

Writing is hard.

Yes, we’re on this again.

It’s two-something in the morning as I write this and I’m not even close to being tired enough to go to bed. Which is great because I have an appointment at 10:15 and I’ll be good and exhausted for that. I had a surge of bad anxiety hit right before bedtime and…here we sit.

The obnoxious thing about it, is it was mostly innocuous nonsense that spiked the anxiety in the first place. But once I went to bed and tried to sleep, I lasted about an hour before I couldn’t stand to stay put any longer. So I got up and made tea, and I’ve been staring at a computer screen doing nothing productive since.

Par for the course.

Anyhoo.

Writing.

…) I’ve been trapped in the manic phase of the writing cycle for quite some time. I jump from project to project, unable to focus on any one thing long enough to make an impact. I read things I’ve written and think, “This doesn’t suck. Why am I not working on this one?” And then I jump to another folder because attention spans are for schmucks.

…) Basil finally seemed to run out of Tyler ideas and then decided to just piss right off. Because he’s an asshole. I suppose I only have myself to blame for conjuring a muse that’s a damn gremlin.

What?

…) I’ve been mulling over a new idea for the past…week?…or so. Though I don’t think I can really call it a new idea, as it really just pulls pieces of existing plotlines to cobble together a slightly different path for essentially the same group of characters. (Perhaps Basil’s well hasn’t run completely dry just yet.) I’ve felt hesitant to actually work on it, because it’s really just another iteration of the thing I’ve been stabbing at for well over a year at this point. Is this one going to actually work? Only one way to find out I suppose, but it’s difficult to get past the paralysis currently blocking my path.

…) There are two stories I actually really want to be working on. One…we all know which one. The other…has issues. I know what the issues are. I just don’t know how to fix them. I’ve tried to shoehorn half a dozen different subplots into it, only to throw them out after realizing none of them fit. It already has Tyler in it, as this was actually the very first Tyler disaster to hit the page. Part of me is beginning to wonder (and by beginning I mean yes, definitely) if Tyler is actually the problem in all of this. But if I’m being honest he’s actually the most interesting character of them all. By comparison at least. Hannah and Joel, as they currently exist, are just really, mind numbingly boring.

…) So where does that leave me? Here, I suppose. Writing this nonsense instead of the stuff I really want to be working on.

This is my brain and welcome to it.

From the time he learned to talk, it was difficult to get a word in edgewise. He was a social creature, always in the middle of the fray. He never had difficulty making friends or charming every last adult to cross his path. Now rapidly approaching his fifteenth birthday, he was practically mute. He rarely looked her in the eye. It was nearly impossible to get him to smile.

Part of her wanted to attribute it to broody teenage independence, but her gut told her it was so much more than that. His anxiety seemed to spike a lot more frequently and he was often agitated with no discernable triggers. He didn’t strike her as being depressed. Experiences with her youngest brother had given her a pretty solid reference point for identifying the signs. There was plenty of melancholy, but he seemed more annoyed than anything. When she prodded him for answers, he claimed he was fine—if he said anything at all—and more often than not, just rolled his eyes when she expressed her concern.

They’d always had a close and candid relationship. He’d always been able to talk to her about anything, no matter how awkward or upsetting it might be. Now he didn’t want to talk to her about even the most innocuous subjects. Change was inevitable she knew, but the changes he’d gone through were so completely out of character, they’d left her reeling. She had a theory or two, but she wasn’t sure if she was reading too much into things, so desperate for answers, or if the truth really was staring her right in the face, just waiting for her to speak first.

She felt helpless and clueless, in a constant state of worry that she was missing something obvious or doing something wrong. After nearly fifteen years, she thought she’d have more figured out when it came to parenting, but clearly that wasn’t the case. It was absolutely paralyzing. She knew it was futile to keep beating herself up over her struggle to communicate with her son. It wasn’t doing either one of them any good. However, she’d never been very adept at taking her own advice.


Yes. Hello. I realize you should be writing, but I would like some snacks.

What?

Damn these days…

Insomnia and anxiety are great, I don’t know what you’re talking about.

There are so many things I could be writing about, but they’re not getting written because I just don’t have the mental fortitude for it. I write plenty of posts dumping out raw emotions that never get published. They just sit in the drafts folder never to see the light of day. It feels better to purge my brain, and everything I write here, I write for me, but some things just don’t necessarily warrant public perusal. I haven’t kept a private journal in years—I’ve started many, but never maintained—I guess posts that sit unpublished serve that purpose these days. It works, I suppose.

Anyhoo.

Instead I’ve been writing.

… I’ve spilled several thousand words on a dumb fanfiction venture because sometimes you just need to give your brain a little reprieve and focus on something silly. It’s ridiculous and stupid and it entertains me endlessly.

… I’ve been plotting a way to combine two existing storylines into one. Separately they fall a little flat, but together they actually have some substance. But they’ve been tackled from so many angles over the years, I need to make sure I have my characters in order before I start pounding out words, or it will implode before I even really get started.

… It amuses me how inspiration can strike from even the most minuscule details. I read something that someone else wrote, and one, tiny little comment stuck in my brain that rapidly morphed and mutated into an entire storyline (or several, if I’m being honest). And while I thought it was just my warped imagination running rampant with exaggeration, months down the line, I’ve apparently hit the nail right on the head. Some people are just easy to figure out, I guess.

… I’ve been mulling over a number of ideas sitting in the active writing folder, seeking inspiration, wondering what I could do to make them work better. There’s one in particular that I really want to be working on. I have some stuff written for it (actual narrative!) that I really like, but the over-arcing plotline is just so boring that it’s really difficult to know what to do with it. I’m a total sucker for the everyday mundane, but this stuff is a total snooze-fest even for me.

… When I’m fumbling around trying to put together character lists or timelines, I retreat to my home architect program and start designing houses for these as yet unwritten stories. Or redesign existing floorplans to better fit the tales they’re intended for. I spend hours working on plans and perusing house plan websites for inspiration. It just adds to the excess of information I have rolling around in my head on any given story project that really has no relevance to the actual story, but it’s there if the need ever arises. And it’s much easier to describe surroundings if I have a visual reference to study.

… Writing. The bane of my existence and the love of my life. Both at the same time.

 

She’s such a piece of work—her husband too. She is totally one of those people that will carry on endlessly about how much she absolutely loves both of her children and she couldn’t possibly choose a favorite, but it’s blatantly obvious that she does favor one over the other to an extreme degree. In her case, she fawns all over her younger son, and her first born barely gets any attention by comparison. They’re always so irrationally harsh with him and I’ve never seen him do a damn thing wrong. I just don’t get it. He’s smart, he’s sweet, he works hard. He’s an amazing kid and his parents don’t see it at all. They’ll totally take credit for it if someone else points it out, but they don’t actually acknowledge that with him.

Really, at fifteen, he’s leagues smarter than his parents and they’re threatened by that. The only way they know how to cope with it is by trying to make him feel bad about himself, which is the one thing they’re actually good at. Every time they put him down I just want to throttle them. I don’t know how anyone can treat their own child like that.

I just want to hug the shit out of him and tell him he’s worth so much more and deserves so much better.

But who am I?

Just some virtual stranger with no clout to help him.

 

Swinging at smoke…

Writing is hard.

It’s a very cyclical thing for me. It moves along in stages. What those stages are, how long they last, and whether or not I recognize them as they’re happening all vary on a case by case basis.

Right now I’m in the JFC everything is crap stage.

It happens.

I’ve spent a lot of time staring at my writing folder—like I do—trying to discern what I should be working on. Truth is, I really don’t know.

Once upon a time I went through and summarized all of my “active” projects. It was a lot more difficult than it should have been. And I’ve been trying to do an updated version of it with the current active list for…a long time. It’s an exercise in brevity and it’s incredibly difficult for someone like me who has a tendency to ramble incessantly, especially when it comes to talking about writing.

I want to write a brief summary of the plot, a few notes on where my brain is at on the given project, and a snippet of text from the actual story. Problem is I could go on for hours about each one when “summarizing” the plot. (I might need to lookup the actual definition of the word summarize, because clearly it doesn’t mean what I think it means.) As for where my brain is at with each one, a lot of it generally comes out as fuck if I know. And when it comes to pulling out a few lines of text…I want to take paragraphs.

And then I have a twenty-thousand word post.

Give or take.

I’ve considered doing an individual post on each one in a series. Then I could ramble all I want. But it’s supposed to be about brevity. And while that’s clearly not one of my strong suits, that’s what I want it to be.

So as it goes with everything in writing, I keep hacking and slashing until it resembles something I’m more or less okay with.

Or I shove it back in the drafts folder and forget about it for awhile.

Fair warning…this whole thing is five-thousand-some-odd words. (The last one I did was 3000+…so…)

So much for that whole brevity thing, I guess.

Hey—it’s fairly brief commentary for each story. But once you pile them all together…

Continue reading “Swinging at smoke…”

Can’t remember all the details…

Writing is a weird beast.

You’d think after two-thirds of my life, I’d learn to just roll with it, but it continually serves to boggle my mind.

I get these elaborate essays built up in my head, but when I sit down to write it out, it’s just an epic disaster of incoherence.

And…I think I just came up with a new tagline for my writing.

Ahem.

Anyway.

I’m writing new things.

And by “new” things, I mean a hodgepodge of existing ideas and characters cobbled together into a plotline that’s been rattling around in my head for a long time, but I never quite knew what to do with it. It has all the proper pieces—a Chance Records artist, a collection of previously used character names, a [different] version of Tyler.

Can I do the story justice? Time will tell. It’s certainly nothing groundbreaking in subject matter, but things are feeling good so far. Which is a welcome relief after so many long months of banging my head against the wall.

We’ll see where it goes.

The Letter…

TL;DR—I’m taking a hiatus from music.

I’ve been told there have apparently been a lot of rumors flying around that I’m in rehab for an addiction problem.

A few weeks ago I was spotted in New York very drunk and then very hungover. Two days later I was spotted at JFK airport and then in Minneapolis. Why else would I be flying to Minneapolis if not to check into the notorious Hazelden rehab clinic? (Never mind they also have a facility in New York.)

I am ashamed to admit it, but the rumors of being drunk and hungover are, in fact, true. I did also fly from New York to Minneapolis that same week, but I didn’t go to check myself into rehab. I flew to Minneapolis because I live there. While I do have a place in New York, my permanent residence is in Minnesota with my wife and son.

Despite the fact that I’ve always worn my wedding ring, it always seems to come as a surprise to people to hear that I’m married. Apparently I don’t give people the impression of family man. I’ve been married for ten years. I’ve been with my wife for fourteen total. We have a twelve-year-old son. I’ve mentioned them before, but they are rarely the center of any conversation relating to my career in music simply to give them a semblance of privacy and normalcy. My wife is not looking for any attention for being my wife and we both want to protect our son best we can from the horrors of a public life.

Over the span of my career, I’ve managed to keep my private life mostly private, and I’ve never been one to publicly air my dirty laundry. But as rumors fly about rehab and addiction, I feel the need to set the record straight. As I said, I’m not checking into rehab. I don’t have an addiction problem. I smoked pot once in college and didn’t like it. I’ve never abused prescription or recreational drugs. I’ve never really been much of a drinker. I know this all started with an episode of heavy drinking and a killer hangover, but it was one significant event in my life that drove me to get shitfaced like I did.

Finding balance between work and home is a challenge for anybody, regardless of circumstances. My situation is not unique. As a musician who travels constantly, it’s easy to just let the road take me where it leads. I have to put in the effort to make time to spend at home with my family, and make sure they have everything they need. Some people find that balance easily. Others, like me, struggle to figure it out. To say I’ve done a lousy job of it would be the understatement of the millennium.

Travelling the country (and sometimes the world) has its perks. Playing shows and getting to visit places I might not otherwise see is a dream job few get to experience. I am grateful every day for this privilege I’ve been afforded in my life. I’ve worked hard to get to where I am, but I haven’t done it alone, and I do my best to give credit where credit is due.

My two biggest supporters (and toughest critics) have always been my wife and son. I owe more to them than anyone else. They are the center of my entire world. I would not be who I am without them. My wife is a brilliant, strong, beautiful woman. She works tirelessly to hold down the fort while I’m on the road, raising our son, and running her own successful business. She loves fiercely, cares deeply, and she does not put up with bullshit from anybody (not even me). My son is nearly a mirror image in personality of his mother—smart, strong, passionate, caring, every adjective a parent could hope for—though he’s also strong willed and stubborn and he likes to argue, which he gets straight from me. I couldn’t be more proud of the person he is growing up to be.

My wife and son are absolutely amazing human beings and I have taken them shamefully for granted. That is the painful, unfortunate truth of this situation. I have neglected my relationship with them for far too long. I have taken their love and support for granted, deluding myself that they will always be there, no matter how much distance I put between us (geographically and emotionally). Over the last few years I have put an ocean of distance between us and created a rift that is not going to be easy to repair.

That is why I’m here now. I have to repair this. It would be easy to throw in the towel and say we’re all better off if it ends, but I know that I would most definitely not be better off. I have to believe that they won’t be either. I’m taking an indefinite hiatus from music to focus on my family, to repair the damage, and heal the pain I’ve caused. It’s not going to be an easy fix. It’s going to take time to rebuild. It’s going to require my entire focus.

I know I’m exposing myself to ridicule and slander by sharing this piece of my private life so publicly. But there are people who are going to concoct their own stories regardless—they’ve been doing it since the beginning—so I might as well put the truth out there for those who are willing to pay attention. There is no sordid affair, no substance abuse, no gambling debt, no domestic violence. There is nothing exciting or scandalous about any of it.

It’s one man’s selfish stupidity finally biting him in the ass.

And because I know the commentary is coming, if this is published on a public forum, my wife and son have read and approved every word written here.

Hiatus is like a four-letter word in this business. It’s often the nail in the coffin for so many careers. I don’t know what it means for my future in music. I don’t plan to be gone forever, but if it comes to that, so be it. Music is vital to my life, but if having a long-lasting career means losing my family because of it—I would chose my family in a heartbeat every single time.

I don’t know how long I’ll be gone. I can’t even guarantee I’ll be back. But until the time comes that I know for sure…

Thank you for listening.

Thank you for your support.

Thank you for everything.

I will [hopefully] see you on the other side.

GK

Can’t remember a warm December…

…wait…

It’s been raining…a lot…so…warm December it is.

Minnesota. Rain. December. What.

Anyway.

No.

Wait.

I just looked out the window and it’s snowing.

Joy.

We took my ring in for its regular six-month inspection and they found a loose stone, so they had to send it out for repair. I am without my wedding ring for over two weeks. I don’t realize how much I fidget with my ring until I’m not wearing it. My hand is naked and I feel all weird and off. I am constantly aware that it’s missing. It’s not fun. At all.

It’s two something in the morning, I’m not tired, and I have an appointment at 10:15 tomorrow…today…whatever. So I’ll be in fine shape when I have to leave the house. I love insomnia. And by “love” I mean: EFFFFF YOUUUUU.

But! After Friday, Bob is on vacation for the rest of the year and I. Can’t. Wait.

I started writing a post about writing and it quickly devolved into indecipherable gibberish. After about a thousand words, I decided I should probably just stop trying to make it make sense. I should probably take that as a sign to forego the blogging and get back to the writing, but…this is me.

Home was the last place she wanted to go, but if Tyler was involved, Alison knew she had to be there. Her nephew had enough to deal with, with his mother. She didn’t need to put him in the middle of the stalemate between her and her husband.

The blessing and curse of living and working in such a small town was the time it took to get anywhere. Less than fifteen minutes from the time she’d hung up the phone, she was parked in the driveway, staring at the house she hadn’t slept in, in five months. She had just been here earlier in the day, but it still felt painfully foreign. She sighed heavily, throwing the car door open, and climbed out of the vehicle. Looking around, she realized her in-law family was all here too. She couldn’t even fathom what Natalie’s appearance had incited this time.

She headed for the front door, hesitating before entering, and was instantly met with loud barking as Isabel bolted towards her. She scooped up the dog, kissing her snout in an attempt to quiet the noise, and crossed the hall, finding the family spread around the living room and kitchen.

Parker stopped in front of her, kissing her temple, “Thanks for coming,” he said quietly.

“What’s going on?” she set the dog down, looking around the room, seeing her teenage nephew curled up in an armchair, stoic, staring blankly at the fireplace. He was rubbing his ear—a sure sign of stress and anxiety. She walked over to where he sat, leaning over the back of the chair to kiss his temple, “Hey Sweetie,” she murmured, smoothing his hair, also noting that his mother was nowhere to be seen. She stood up straight as Parker handed her a thin stack of paper, hesitant. She frowned, taking the document, and looked at the top page.

     Affidavit of Guardianship

She stared at the header a moment before continuing, confusion turning to nausea as she comprehended what she was reading. She looked up at Parker, finding him cautiously waiting for her reaction. She glanced down at Tyler, heart stuttering, wondering how much he actually knew about this. She turned to her husband again, stomach roiling.

Why?”

I don’t know,” he shook his head, looking down at their nephew, “She showed up unannounced. She said she was in a jam and she needed me to keep Tyler for the weekend. Then Mom found this envelope in their mailbox.”

“Is this a legal document?”

“It appears so. I’m pretty sure that’s a real notary seal on there. But I don’t…” he trailed off, shaking his head, rubbing his chest absently to abate the ache.

“You can tell me she’s not coming back. I know she’s not coming back.”

They both spun around as Tyler spoke suddenly. He was still focused hard on the fireplace, still rubbing his ear, expression pained.

Parker walked around the chair, kneeling on the floor in front of him, “Did she tell you she’s not coming back?”

Tyler shook his head, but didn’t look at him, “I know she’s not coming back.”

“Did she tell you where she’s going?”

“No. She didn’t tell me anything. She just packed that suitcase. She said she was bringing me here this weekend, but that’s all she said. I know she’s not coming back,” he drew in a ragged breath, looking up as Alison stopped behind Parker. He winced, looking at the papers she held, “What is that?”

Parker turned, looking up at Alison, and let out a slow sigh before facing his nephew again, “Your mom signed over guardianship of you to us,” he said quietly, “Liss and I are now your legal guardians.”

Tyler stared at him, silent, save for the hitch in his breath, and slowly shook his head. He pulled his knees tighter against his chest, wrapping his arms around his legs, as if trying to shrink himself. It was clear he was fighting hard not to cry. The utter devastation in his wide, hazel eyes made it feel like they’d just delivered the news that his mother had died. Though in some sick way, somehow that seemed preferable to the reality that she had—by all appearances—abandoned him.

Alison dropped the papers on the coffee table and moved around the chair. Leaning over the back, she wrapped her arms around him, kissing his temple, “I love you so much, you know that?” she murmured, kissing him again, “So, so much.”

Parker reached out, rubbing his arm, “We’re not going anywhere, Ty,” he said quietly, “We got you. You’ve got this whole family here who loves you so much. We will take care of you. We will figure this out.”

I’ve been building a soundtrack for this project that’s been eating away at my brain. It’s incredibly easy to find songs to fit Parker and Alison. Songs about broken relationships are plentiful as it just so happens. The dilemma…if I’m going to make this an accurate representation of the story, I need songs I can relate to Tyler as well. Though finding tunes that adequately fit a damaged teenager from the perspective of his caretakers are harder to find. I’ll have to keep looking, I guess.

(The Truth by Kris Allen with Pat Monahan)

Headache from the night before…

Writer’s block.

Yes, we’re still on this.

… Staring at my writing folder, mulling over projects that have been sitting there mocking me for months, wondering if I start poking at them with sharper sticks, they’ll respond.

… Reading through projects I haven’t touched in awhile, remembering why I loved them so much in the first place. Thinking I should really get back to working on them and…I got nothin’.

… Looking at one project in particular I’ve had a long-running love-hate relationship with (No. Not that one…for once.) and suddenly wondering WHAT IF. What if I changed a certain character to THIS character (causing a complete cast overhaul as a result) and then find myself giggling at the idiocy of it all. Because seriously.

… Jabbing at a project (Yes, THAT ONE. What else?) realizing how much I really miss those characters no matter how much their story drives me absolutely insane.

… Wondering why I torture myself with this writing business in the first place, remembering that it’s the one thing I’m actually good at no matter how sporadic, incoherent, or inane it might be.

This is my brain and welcome to it.

She didn’t react when he put his hand on her back again, but she was pretty sure she heard a squawk of disapproval from the desk they’d just walked away from. He punched the call button and the elevator doors slid open. He ushered her into the car and pressed the button for the twentieth floor.

She gripped the support rail on the wall, “I thought maybe the claws were about to come out over there.”

He snorted, shaking his head as the doors slid shut, “I have a reputation, but I do not play where I work. Much to the apparent dismay of many.”

“Well at least you have standards.”

“Ever have sex in an elevator?”

Or not,” she didn’t bother refraining from rolling her eyes this time, “I have not, no.”

“You should try it sometime. It’s quite an experience.”

“I’ll take your word for it.”

Been off that track…

It’s after six in the morning. I haven’t slept. The in-laws are supposed to be coming over right around the time Bob has to leave for work so his dad can beat Joel the Obstinate and Cursed Jetta (TM) into submission.

Or hook up his battery charger.

Whichever.

It’s Monday.

I’ve been working on a story project for the past few months that is a very slow slog. I am actually quite in-like with what I’ve written on it so far. One of the issues I’m running into with it (aside from the never-ending writer’s block in general) is where exactly I need to end it. My original plan had a pretty clear cutoff, but the farther I get into it, the less sure I am of where that cutoff should actually be.

Kate’s dad dies. (Yes, another Kate…shoosh.) Her Jewish-When-She-Needs-To-Be mother decides the family (five kids, plus spouses and offspring) needs to sit [unofficial] Shiva following the Catholic funeral. (There’s a reoccurring discussion of hypocrisy in the Baylor family house.) In the time they are together, things come to a head between Kate and her over-critical mother—and again with the even more overly critical grandparents. There is also the issue of the youngest sibling’s addiction problem resurfacing and the strain it’s causing on his marriage. And Kate’s ex-husband is suddenly back in the picture. She called him to tell him about her dad and now things are changing.

Things were supposed to end as life was starting to return to normal post-bereavement. Then the Kate and Ex-husband Marc aspect started to take up more importance. And for awhile I thought I knew where to cut off the story with that—entertaining the prospect of reconciliation. But the more I fill in the story, the more I realize, more needs to be said.

The big question being: how much more?

I could possibly condense it into a…lengthy…epilogue. I guess it would depend greatly on just how much conflict I want to dredge up between them in the process. Marc is the one who ended things and if he wants his wife back, he needs to regain her trust. Trust is something that Kate struggles with beyond measure for many reasons. It’s going to be a monumental feat on both sides of the table and clearly not something that is going to [realistically] happen overnight. But slogging through the everyday mundane aspects of life while that trust is rebuilt doesn’t really make for a very interesting story. I could go so far as to tell it all the way to them living together again, and possibly getting remarried, but aside from intermittent conflict…it would be kind of boring. (Not that the Cliff’s Notes is all that exciting as it stands, but I’d read it.)

I could also divide the story into parts that would make a significant time jump less jarring, but it’s really actually two separate stories. The plan as is, is about the death of her father and how the family copes in the early days. The reconciliation is basically a spinoff of that. The overarching story isn’t Kate and Marc. It’s Kate navigating around her mother, interactions with her brothers, and finding a (new?) place for her ex-husband, all while trying to come to terms with her dad being gone.

At this point I’m probably just over thinking everything and I should really just shut-up and WRITE.

“Mom, relax. Everything’s fine.”

Marc watched Kate as she walked out of the kitchen, phone pressed to her ear. He shook his head, turning to Darren sitting at the counter, finding him eyeing him critically.

“Gotta say, it’s kind of weird seeing you here. This is where she really picked up and started over—new house, new car, new dog. It was when she finally started showing signs of life again. Now suddenly…you’re back…and here.”

“I don’t know if back is the right word,” Marc rubbed his chest absently, leaning against the counter behind him.

Darren sat up straight, “Are you saying this is only temporary?”

No,” Marc’s eyes widened and he shook his head, “God I hope not. I’m just…right now I’m letting her dictate how things go. I don’t want to force anything on her. If she tells me to get lost, then I will. I don’t want to, but I will. I can’t hurt her again.”

“Do you want her back?”

“More than anything.”

“Have you told her?”

“Sort of. I’m kind of afraid to. I don’t want to scare her off.”

“I don’t think you’re going to scare her off. She invited you into her house. She might not be ready to just pick up where you left off, but she’s opened the door to the possibility.”

“And how do you feel about all this?”

“Me? Why should my opinion matter?”

“Because it matters to her. If her brothers aren’t happy with it, it’s definitely going to influence her feelings on the matter.”

“Not as much as you think. But we’re all pretty much on the same page on this so far. If you’re over your selfish-prick-existential-crisis, then we’re cautiously optimistic something good can come from this. Something broke in her when you left. She’s gotten better over time, but she is not the same person she was with you. Since you’ve been around, there are definite changes in her. Signs of the old Katie we thought were long gone. If you break her heart again, we will kill you. But if you’re here to stay—in whatever capacity you both agree on—then welcome back. Believe it or not, we all missed you.”

Marc swallowed hard to dislodge the sudden knot in his throat, “I’ve missed you guys too. I didn’t realize just how much until I saw you all again. I really hate that it took losing your dad to make this happen.”

Darren sighed tiredly, nodding, “Dad really loved you. He was devastated when you left. But he was always a strong proponent of better late than never. He would have loved to see you and Katie be able to reconcile. But I think he’ll be able to rest easy knowing that you’re here to take care of her now that he can’t. She’s by no means helpless, but she doesn’t need to be so goddamn independent all the time. She could stand to give up control once in awhile.”

Marc snorted, shaking his head, “She never gave up control when we were married.”

“Fair point,” Darren shrugged, “But she could use a partner to share the load. Even better if it’s someone who knows how to take care of her properly when she really needs it. She’s tough as nails and a whole lot tougher than she gives herself credit for, but she deserves to be taken care of too.”

When I first starting working on this project, every time Kate and Marc were mentioned together (in the story, in my head, wherever) it sounded strange to me. It bugged me for a long time before I finally figured it out.

Kate and Marc are the “famed” Jenkins siblings producing music almost exclusively for Chance Records artists.

They are in…a lot…of different stories.

Seven…if I go through all my folders and find new, old, and stalled projects.

I’m so used to them being brother and sister, pairing two characters with the same names together in a romantic capacity just seems a little weird.

Doesn’t mean I have any plans to change those names.

But weird nonetheless.

Take the long way home…

It started with a song. (Give Me Something by O.A.R.)

Then another one. (Gonna Get Better by Better Than Ezra)

Then a third. (Lincoln Avenue by Train)

And a fourth. (Get in the Car and Drive by Blu Sanders)

I had all of these independent ideas running around in my head and I had no idea what to do with them. On their own, they didn’t hold up to make a complete story. But because the creative well has been dry and barren as of late, the brain went into overdrive fixating on these ideas and what I might be able to make with them. Things morphed and changed and started falling into place.

It’s been a slow process so far, but I’m actually pretty happy with they way things have turned out. I’ll take quality over quantity any day. Anytime I write something that I actually like—not something I’m just okay with, but actually like—is a gaddamn miracle.

Also weird.

“So what’s going on with you and Marc?”

Kate stared up at the ceiling fan and sighed tiredly. She’d been waiting for that question. Lying on her parents’ bed, next to her mother, she’d managed to keep the conversation civil thus far, even if it had only amounted to cheap small talk. Now it was being steered to a place she’d probably regret going.

“It’s just talk, Mom,” she said quietly.

“What kind of talk?”

“Talk. Surviving shiva with Lucifer. Keeping Darren from drugging himself into oblivion. The gaping void without Dad. The colossal mistake Marc made by leaving me.”

Lucy drew in a sharp breath, silent for a moment, “Your words…or his?”

“His. Mostly.”

“He thinks he made a mistake?”

“He thinks he made the biggest mistake of his life.”

“I think we can all agree on that.”

Kate turned her head slowly to look at her mother, “What?”

Lucy looked at her as if it should have been an obvious response on her part, “He did make a huge mistake leaving you. You were good together. There was no reason for him to leave.”

“Who are you?”

“You don’t agree? He made you happy, didn’t he?”

Happy, sure, but—Mom, you hated Marc.”

“I didn’t hate him. I just…like everything else about you, I couldn’t see past my own distorted notions of how things should be. He was good for you. He was good to you. Until he wasn’t…why did he leave?”

“Existential crisis. More or less.”

Hmm.”

“Kind of seems like he’s grown up since then.”

“I certainly hope so. He’s thirty-five for the crying out loud. Does he want you back?”

“I don’t know. Maybe. He hasn’t said those exact words, but…”

“Would you take him back?”

“I…don’t know. I certainly couldn’t pretend he didn’t practically destroy me and just pick up where we left off.”

“Well, he’s going to have to regain your trust if he wants to try again. He still loves you?”

“He does.”

“And you still love him?”

“I do.”

“What do you think your dad would say?”

Kate flinched, the sudden thought of not being able to seek her dad’s advice on the matter hit her like a blow to the stomach. She sighed tiredly, watching the blades of the ceiling fan spin above her, “Keep an open mind and tread lightly.”

“Sounds like him.”

“How can this be real?”

“I don’t know, Baby Girl. I keep hoping I’ll wake up from this nightmare and he’ll be right here next to me. But every day I wake up to the same horrible reality. We were supposed to have another twenty years together, at least. We could have gone thirty. Or more. I don’t know how to live in a world without him…alone.”

“You’re not alone, Mom.”

“I know. I just…it’s not the same.”

“I know. It’s not.”

Emerson mans the playlists while I write.

Though he prefers when I work on his story.

Because he’s vain like that.

Maybe daylight won’t ask me questions…

I read an article somebody posted a link to…somewhere…recently…about how people who write are mentally healthier. I don’t know exactly how “scientific” the studies were, but it made sense to me.

When the creativity is in a drought and I’m not doing much writing, there is an obvious gaping void in my life. When the words are flowing, my brain feels like it’s operating like something that resembles a functional adult in her mid-thirties. (MID-THIRTIES—Let’s not talk about how I’ll be thirty-five in less than two months because WHAT IN THE HELL?)

The creative well has been pretty dry and barren as of late. It’s incredibly frustrating. I still put forth the effort to write everyday, but it’s not always a fruitful endeavor. As long as my computer is turned on, Word is open. I don’t dedicate a specific time frame or amount of time to writing. I do it as inspiration strikes. I tab between Word, the internet, iTunes, the home architect program, and random games all day long. How much time I spend in any given program varies greatly day to day.

I’ve been spending a lot of time staring at my writing folder, wondering if there is anything I haven’t touched in awhile that’s worth trying to work on. I’m not really having much luck. Though there are a couple projects I’ve been rolling around in my head that might be worth dedicating the brain power to. And there’s always Ben and Marina (dead horse alert) because whenever I’m thinking about writing…or anything else…Ben and Marina are right there jabbing me in the brain with sharp objects.

Or Joel and Remy. Because they were an unexpected development in the Kate and Michael story that I am surprisingly happy with the way their subplot has (so far) panned out.

“So…out of curiosity,” Michael elbowed Joel in the side as he stepped around him to the stove.

Joel looked up, waiting for him to continue, “Curiosity for what?”

Michael turned, slight smirk playing on his lips, “Is Remy moving in?”

Remy’s head shot up and he stared at Michael, hazel eyes wide as saucers.

Joel froze, unsure how to respond, “Would that be a problem?”

“Not at all,” Michael shook his head, “I’m just curious. He’s here most nights anyway, isn’t he? You guys are pretty much living together as it is. I’m just wondering when you’re going to make it official.”

“I…don’t know…” Joel shook his head slowly, “We’ve just been…we’ve talked about it. We just haven’t really…made any decisions.”

Remy shrugged, tapping the edge of his laptop, “We don’t know if we should find a place to move into together or if I should just move in here.”

“What do you want to do?” Kate rubbed his back, seeing the rising anxiety in his eyes.

“We’re kind of torn,” he said quietly.

Joel drew in a slow breath, rubbing the back of his neck, “We didn’t know if we’d be pushing our luck moving him in here. Don’t know how long before you guys get sick of us,” he jolted when Michael punched in him the shoulder.

“How many times have we been over this? We’re not going to get sick of you. We don’t even know you’re here unless you’re here with us. We had this same argument when you decided to stay after the headache of your last apartment was over.”

Joel nodded, but didn’t say anything.

“If you want to stay here and have Remy move in with you, that is not a problem. We’re happy to have you both with us. You have been so much less stressed since you’ve been living here and even more so since you’ve been with Rem. Combining the two—you are happier than I have ever seen you. And I have known you for a long damn time. Hell—for the first time in your life you’ve admitted to being in love. We like having you here—both of you. The boys love you. And I feel so much more at ease knowing you’re around when I’m out of town so Katie isn’t alone. If you guys are happy living here, we want you to stay.”

Joel stared at Michael, teeth clamped on his bottom lip, his eyes stinging with the surprising sudden threat of tears. He looked over at Kate and Remy across the counter. She had her arm hooked around him as he leaned against her, his wide eyes locked on Joel.

“My only concern with any of this, is that you guys are going to start to feel strapped for space up in that apartment over the garage.”

Joel turned to Michael again, frowning as he walked out of the kitchen into the back hall and returned moments later with a piece of paper.

“We have space. Neither one of us has much stuff,” he shook his head, frown deepening when Michael unfolded the paper and set it on the counter in front of him, “What is this?”

“This is the basement.”

“What basement?”

This basement.”

“The hell are you talking about?”

Michael turned the paper, tracing the outline of the printed floor plan, “I had Patrick draw this up, it’s just a rough idea, we can make some changes to it if we want. But this is what the basement could look like if we turned it into an apartment.”

WHAT?” Joel stood up straight, mouth slightly agape.

“You’d have everything you’d get in a one bedroom apartment and you’d more than double the space you have right now. Pat mentioned we could use good soundproofing on the ceiling so you wouldn’t be disturbed when the kids are running amok upstairs and you’d have a private entrance with the walk-out in the back down there. You could still just come in through the house if you wanted, but the option is there. Regardless, you still have your own space, just more of it.”

“You want to turn your basement into an apartment.”

“You are correct.”

“You want to turn your basement into an apartment so Remy and I will have more space.”

“That is what I’m saying, yes.”

“Mike—you can’t do that.”

“Why not? It’s my house. I can do whatever the hell I want with it. If I want to turn my basement into an apartment and rent it out, it’s my choice. But the only way I’m going to do that, is if you are going to be the one living in it. And I’d do it even if you didn’t have a boyfriend to share it with.”

Joel stared at Michael, stunned, at a loss how to respond. He turned and looked at Kate again, shaking his head slowly, “Are you okay with this?”

“Why wouldn’t I be?” Kate frowned, “I like having you guys around too.”

“So you’d give up your whole basement for us.”

“It’s sitting practically empty. We’re not really giving up anything. There’s some stuff down there that we can stand to get rid of, but otherwise, it’s just wasted space. It’d be better to have someone actually living in it.”

“People are really going to think you’ve cracked, Mike.”

“Shit, people have thought that for years, Hiller,” Michael shook his head.

“This isn’t exactly…a normal arrangement.”

“Normal is highly overrated. I don’t do anything the normal way anyway. You know that. It took me seven years to get a four-year degree. I changed my major twice. I got a job that had nothing to do with that degree it took me so long to get. Then I quit to start a company nobody can seem to explain. I made the worst move anyone can make in business by hiring all my friends and then I decided to marry one of my employees. And now I want to put an apartment in my basement so my best friend and his boyfriend can live in it.”

Joel snapped his mouth shut with a quiet huff, mind spinning.

“Joel—you are one of the most important people in my life. I have known you for half my life. And we’re not exactly young anymore, my friend. You drive me absolutely crazy and there are days I consider having you committed, but I wouldn’t give you up for anything. You and Matty were my godsends when my life was in shambles and I could never fully repay you for all that you’ve done for me. But if I can provide you with a place to live where you’ll be comfortable and happy? I will do it in a heartbeat.”

In other non-news…

You know, I think one of the things I really love about this band is the rasp in Marc’s voice that hits certain lines that gets me in the gut every gaddamn time.


(O.A.R. … Heaven [live on Red Rocks])

Also…the line all I want to do is know you…GAH.

You know…if you have seven and a half minutes to kill on one song.

The first half of the song is just instrumental (even on the studio track) but damn…


(O.A.R. … Give Me Something [live])

And can we all just take a moment to appreciate Chris’ hair? That curl is fantastically ri-god-damn-diculous.

Wrecking ball came crashing through…

1.) WordPress updated to version 4.0. I haven’t found anything significantly FUBAR’d…yet. I’m sure I’ll find it soon enough. Because there is always something. (And I still haven’t figured out how to fix the formatting of the “now playing” line since WP FUBAR’d that.)

2.) This morning as the neighbors were loading into the car to go to school, I noticed the mother speaking at a human volume with a pleasant tone. Then I realized there was an extra person getting in the car with them. Lady, you need to have company to impress at all times so I (and the rest of the damn city) don’t have to listen to you SCREAMING at your kids.

3.) I’ve been asked to bake a cake for a four-year-old’s birthday party with two days notice. In all my kitchen experiments, a successful cake is not on the list of Hey it worked! So…right then.

4.) Somebody I went to school with followed me on Instagram…I…what? Hi? (Yes I do kind of hate myself for having an Instagram account.)

5.) The same band keeps favorite-ing my weekly Last.fm stat tweets that auto-post to Twitter. They seem to really like the fact that I really like Andy Grammer. Also…I’m assuming it’s some sort of ploy to get me to listen to their music. (It worked. I did. It’s not bad.) I’m suddenly having myspace flashbacks.

6.) Apparently 40,000 words is a cursed number when it comes to writing.

I get to that point in a story that’s going well and…

Nothing.

I stare at the blinking cursor and produce exactly zero.

The idea well hath run dry.

Head.

Desk.

So I go back and read through what I’ve written. I fix typos and cull the borderline psychotic volume of commas. I love some of it, I hate more of it, and am on the fence about most of it. I write side story and back story and what-if future story, none of which has any actual bearing on the current story. And then I start poking around in different project folders and that generally doesn’t end well.

Or I just keep rereading the current project hoping the words will somehow magically manifest on the page.

This writing thing is the love of my life and the bane of my existence both at the same time.

Hallie watched Emery sound asleep on the couch, her mind reeling. When she’d left the house in the morning, she knew her life would be forever changed by the time she got home. It had been building for months—or really since she was nineteen—and as the day inched ever closer, the magnitude of the situation grew increasingly more overwhelming. It was terrifying and exhilarating and exactly what she (and Ryan) had been hoping for, for so many heartbreaking years.

She was a mother.

Ryan was a father.

Emery was their son.

It didn’t matter that he didn’t share their DNA or that he was mere weeks from his sixteenth birthday. Today he officially became their son. Today they officially became parents. Today they officially became a family of three.

In truth, they had been a family since the first day they’d brought Emery home. They might not have fully realized it at the time, but in hindsight it was easy to see. Hallie and Ryan had each had an almost visceral reaction to meeting the teenager. There was something distinctly different about him from any of the other children they’d taken into their home and it had nothing to do with his age. It hadn’t taken them long to completely fall in love with him and realize that he was the one—destined to be theirs.

And now he actually was theirs.

Officially.

Legally.

Forever.

As she watched him sleep, tears slipped down her cheeks, grateful and elated and relieved. She wanted to wake him up and cuddle him and tell him how happy she was and how much she loved him. And while she knew he wouldn’t resist the gesture, she also knew it would be better to let him sleep. He needed it. They’d had several late nights in a row with the stress and anxiety over their court date keeping him awake and sick. Now that they were on the other side, it had all caught up to him. They had barely been home long enough for him to get his Wild hoodie and his mouse before he was dead asleep on the couch. She would let him rest for now. She could smother him with hugs and kisses and I-love-yous later.

She looked down at the phone in her hand and the picture on screen she’d taken minutes before of Emery sleeping. She attached it to the waiting message and hit send to the prepared list of family and friends who were anxiously waiting to celebrate with them.

     Emerson James Hale Kincaide—officially ours forever. <3

7.) And then I go back to compulsively listening to O.A.R.


(O.A.R. — Place to Hide)

Still want to canoodle with Marc Roberge. Or Chris Culos. Or…the whole band.

(Not all at the same time. Individually. Cripes.)

8.) Also Andy Grammer.

(Both the compulsive listening and the canoodling.)


(Andy Grammer — Holding Out)

Only AG can write a song with a reference to p0rn and loud-neighbor-disrupting-sex and make it sound adorable.

Seriously.