Just Keep Spinning

There’s a spider that’s moved on to my house. I say “on to” my house because he’s outside. I don’t actually know if it’s a he, but I nicknamed him Pete (as I do with all the spiders I find in my house – I don’t know why) so it’s a he.

He’s living just outside my door on my porch and has chosen the sidelight to build his web. I’m not particularly creeped out by spiders, bugs or other creepy crawlies, but I’m not one for having them so close to me. Especially to my face. But, there’s a nice piece of glass separating the two of us, so we manage to make it work.

It’s been a few weeks since Pete’s moved in and I’ve become utterly fascinated by him. He’s nocturnal, so during the day he hides out just above his web in the framing of the door. He bunches up into a ball and, I don’t know… Sleeps? Hangs out?

Then at night, this happens:

My new friend Pete.

My new friend Pete.

As you can see, he comes down from above and hangs out in the middle of the web. Classic spider stuff. And, yes, he is as big as he looks. I haven’t measured him, but he’s bigger than the spiders I’m used to seeing.

I’m not going to lie, If I saw Pete in the house, I’d be a little freaked out.

After the first week, I noticed one morning that the beautiful web he spun (hard to see it in this picture), was destroyed. Most of the inner circles were gone and the bottom was almost non-existent.

I was sad, but it happens. Circle of life. I figured he was done and moving on.

Except the next morning I came downstairs and noticed that the web was back. Good for Pete, I thought. Another meal will be served.

A few days later, I noticed the web was destroyed again. And, I was sad again.

But, this time, as I was heading upstairs for bed, I saw the most amazing thing. I saw Pete spinning the web!

I’d post the video, but it’s not that great. Pete would walk around the spokes of the web, the webbing trailing from behind him, and at each spoke he’d take a leg and guide the webbing onto the spoke, making it stick in place, walk to the next spoke and repeat, creating the web.

I was utterly mesmerized. At first I wasn’t sure I was sure I was seeing what I thought I was seeing. I couldn’t really see the web as he spun it. It almost looked like he was walking on air. It wasn’t until I looked back at his work that I actually saw what was being created. He would lay the web and move on to the next part, but I couldn’t see what he just spun. The webbing is mostly transparent at first. It wasn’t until Pete was maybe three parts over that the web started to become more opaque and thus, more visible. And each time around the web added a layer and eventually, Pete had a complete web.

He didn’t stop, he didn’t look back, he trusted his process. He just kept spinning.

Watching him do this has inspired me to adopt him as my spirit animal, and I could use one right now. I know a spider don’t seem like a likely choice for spirit animal, but it’s hard not to want to be like Pete. He moved in and set-up shop like it was no big deal. When the web was destroyed, he went back, fixed it and moved on with his life. When the web was destroyed again, he fixed it again. And even though it maybe wasn’t immediately clear or obvious to me what he was doing, it was to him. When I watched long enough, things came into focus for me, too. They became real to me, just like they are to Pete. And Pete keeps spinning.

There’s a lot going on right now. Not just for me, but for everyone. Even for people I don’t know, haven’t yet met or may never meet. And I’ll probably never know what they’re up against, and they may never know what I’m up against. And that’s OK. But, I’d suggest if you’re feeling lost, out of focus, disconnected or just plain blah, find a Pete and watch him spin his web. Because we all need to keep spinning our web, and eventually, whatever it is will come into focus for all of us.

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The End and The Beginning

This has truly been the summer of endings. The job finally, finally, finally, ended. In some respects it was a long, slow lingering thing. We knew it was coming, we just weren’t sure when. And when it was finally done, it was done. I’m sad. It was such a great job. But, that’s life, and it was a job. There will be others.

Unlike the other major ending from this summer. Death. Of a person. In the family. And, much like the job it was a long slow lingering thing. And when it was finally done, it was done. Death is final like that. And, much like the job, I’m sad. Of, course, it wasn’t “just a person.” Their won’t be “other people.”

Dying was easy. Getting the final arrangements done wasn’t. This was the first time I was on the planning side of things. Even with premade and prepaid arrangements, it was a bit messy. Not horribly so. Not oh my God I’m so writing about this messy. But disorderly.

Then, the actual funeral. Geeze. I had no idea the eulogy was the time for airing dirty laundry. Your’s or someone else’s. And that wasn’t the first time I had experienced it! I know people are sometimes grief stricken and aren’t thinking clearly but, yikes. (That could make a good book. All the eulogys in the world that have gone awry.)

white rose

When all was said and done and I finally got a chance to sit down, I got to thinking. When I write, I need to know the ending so I know how to start and how to get there. While I can’t exactly do that in life, what with its unpredictability and all, I can at least try to plan the end so there’s no laundry and no messy. Just something neat and tidy that sort of resembles a happy ending.

First, no long lingering anything for me. I just die. The end.

I will write my own obituary. Which makes sense because I’m a writer. I don’t want one of those standard, boring ones. In it, I will talk about what a great time I had while I was here.

I will also write my own eulogy. There will be no dirty laundry. Or clean laundry. Or any laundry. Mostly, I will talk about my own awesomeness and why you were lucky to have known me. Also, it will be the only thing said. No clergy, no anyone waxing nostalgic about me. Not only to avoid the laundry, but because I don’t want anyone to have to experience losing it in front of a room full of people because it’s contagious and then everyone loses it. And I don’t want anyone losing it while you are discussing my awesomeness.

After said celebration of all things me (notice, I did not say “funeral” or “burial” or any thing like that), there will be an after party. Not a Shiva or a wake or a memorial. An after party. Jello shots and champagne will be served. And, I will pay for all of it in advance. Because it’s my after party, which is why you are having jello shots. And why should you have to pay for it?

Super fancy shots. And I like that the container is edible.

Super fancy shots. And I like that the container is edible.

Hopefully, said after party will take place on the beach, but it’s not mandatory. A bar is fine, too. Whatever. I’m just thinking the beach is best because I’m going to be cremated and turned into fireworks. Because nothing says “celebration” better than fireworks.

That's me!

That’s me!

Lastly, when all is said and done and I’ve been gone for a while, random people from my past will start receiving random items in the mail. A comb, ballet shoes. Something totally odd and random with a note: I’m dead. You know what to do. Of course, they won’t. Why? No reason. It just sounds funny.

And, with that, I close the books on Summer 2015. I won’t exactly miss you, but I thank you. For helping inspire me to look as far forward as possible and for giving me new beginnings.

Also, I am looking for a job. Thoughts to follow. But, in the meantime, if you know of any job that is flexible and involves me sitting on the beach drinking margaritas, please keep me in mind. It can also involve drinking daiquiris poolside. I’m not picky.

Apocalypse Prep

For weeks I’ve been dying to get some writing done. Specifically, writing while in front of the warm and cozy fireplace I don’t use very often. Let’s face it, a roaring fire might be the stuff of rom coms, but it’s not very environmentally friendly. Or, from what I hear, that efficient at heating much more than the immediate area it’s by. Also, I know from experience they are a PITA. You’ve got to kindle them, keep them going and so on. More on that in a minute.

Today, through a convergence of dumb-ass circumstances. I got my wish. Right now, it’s 5 degrees fahrenheit outside. I’m sure it was a lot colder when I got up this morning. Don’t remember now. And it doesn’t matter because when I got up it was 62 degrees fahrenheit in the house. Not because that’s how I leave it set over night. But because the furnace decided to quit sometime in the middle of the night,

That’s very rude of the furnace. When I went to bed last night, it was fine. Humming along and working, spitting out heat. But, apparently the demands of heating the house last night was too much and it decided to leave for easier work. Or a better salary. I’m not sure because it didn’t leave a note.

Not that I blame the furnace. It’s been crazy cold here (Chicago) the last few weeks and I think at some point last night or this morning the windchill was something obscene like -22. So, I get it. I’d be pretty pissed to. I kind of am, actually.

As a result, this morning, I found myself in a cold house. Not freezing, obviously. But cold. So, I decided to light a fire, because, why not? I’ve been wanting to write by the fire so, here’s my chance.

Yeah. I know better than that.

While I totally believe the zombie apocalypse will do us all in one day, I’m not exactly prepared for it. I’ve got some stuff ready (like a go bag with some matches and maybe some clean underwear) but I seem to be lacking in survival skills.

See, when I grill outside during the summer, it’s kind of sad. I’m that person that pours about half the bottle of lighter fluid on the coals because I can’t seem to get them to light with a “light squirt” of the bottle. Also, I’m impatient and don’t have time to wait around for all the coals to light in a slow and uniform manner. I’m hungry, damn it, and I want to eat.

Impatience and hunger are not a good combination.

It’s worse when I have to light a fire. I can’t use lighter fluid to speed things up. Well, I guess I could, but I’m pretty sure I’m not supposed to. Actually, next time I grill, I’m going to check the bottle for that information. And stock up for the apocalypse.

So, I ran out this morning, (not because it was cold but because of other things) then came back and, much to my disappointment, the furnace had not magically started working agin. Time to light a fire.

I grab some wood from the garage and bring it in. Then, I make a bed of newspaper in the log holder thingy (I’m so technical) with the wads I’ve been saving and collecting for weeks. I stick the logs on the bed and try to arrange the logs in such a way that they will catch fire easily. Preferably instantly.

For some reason, at this moment, I’m thinking of Tom Hanks in “Castaway” when he’s stuck on the island and he has a sudden epiphany and yells to Wilson that the fire needs air. Or something like that. I try to arrange the logs so they can breathe.

Then I light the paper and it ignites right away. Flames are burning bright and high and I’m warm for an instant. They burn quickly. Then they are out and the logs didn’t catch. For a brief moment I wonder how houses are able to catch on fire so easily when I can’t make these logs burn intentionally. I try again.

I twist up the paper, shove it in between the logs and light again. The paper catches easily and burns and starts to shrivel. As it does, it falls off the log holder thingy and does nothing to help with the wood.

Not one to give up even when I should, I try again. Shoving a ton of paper in there and lighting it in as many places as possible. It’s a pretty sight and a touch warm. It’s so bright in there, I have to look away for a second and when I look back, the paper has burned out and…

Success!

Sort of.

image

And that only took about 15 minutes, which is a new personal best for me.

The problem is that that’s not enough to keep it going so I shoved even more paper in there and lit again and finally got more to catch. Then I poked it with the poker a bunch of times and it’s going OK now. It’s burning on its own and I’ve got a little bit of heat.

I could almost, maybe, possible, cook a hot dog in this. I’m not going to, (mostly because I don’t like hot dogs), but  it’s nice to know that if the apocalypse happens right now, I’m ready for it.

The Hungry Stomach

Today, I’m getting the oil in my car changed. You’re jealous, I know. I got here (yes, I’m still here), and they told me it would take about an hour. Which to me translates to hour and a half, minimum, but probably closer to two. Fine. No problem. I brought stuff to do. Like the WIP and some other minor housekeeping items. And I brought my water bottle and a snack. 2 hours? I’m good.

But the car isn’t. Let’s just say it’s going to cost me another $500 or so I hadn’t planned on spending today along with another 2 or so hours I hadn’t planned on sitting here.

While I could easily work on the WIP for a couple of hours, I don’t know if I can do it while I’m hungry. I figured I could make do with some of the snacks around here – like goldfish crackers and the like. Not great but at least it’s food.

However, this lovely couple just walked in and took a seat across from me. And opened lunch.

Sigh.

I shall comfort myself by telling my stomach the food looks gross and probably tastes bad. And my stomach will respond by telling me, “Whatever. I’m hungry.” Which means I won’t get much work done.

So, I’ll try to read a book I found on Amazon. And by try I’ll mean really try. It’s an indie and I like the idea of giving indies a chance, but… Win some, lose some, I guess.

I hate the idea of trashing an inide author, but I just can’t seem to get through it. I’m trying. I mean really trying, but the first few pages of this aren’t great. Not awful, horrible, oh my God how could this happen bad. But, not good. And I can kind of get why a traditional publisher maybe wouldn’t have wanted it.

But, who am I to judge? Really, who are any of us to judge? Judges, maybe. Ok. But, the rest of us? I remember when “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” was popular. I started it and almost couldn’t get through the first 70 or so pages. It was just a lot of crazy backstory and set up. Everyone said, “Just get past the first 2 or so chapters and then it’s really great!” And they were right. It was. But, man, those first few chapters were tough.

I learned from that, though. To keep trying and really give a book a chance. So, I’ll try. Since I’ve read through this post and wow, I really need to eat. My muse gets quite cranky when it’s hungry.

Channeling it Into Writing

Fair warning. What follows is a fairly whiny and scattered rant. I’m writing it in hopes of expelling the negative energy.

I had a big writing plan today. Big chunk of time to myself, plenty of ambition, just enough coffee. It was almost perfect. I say almost because I haven’t seen the sun in about a week (I think. I’ve lost track). Not that it’s perpetual night here in Chicago, but it’s been overcast for days and when I’m working the day job, I’m in a windowless room so even if it does come out, I’m not there for it. This has definitely brought the energy level way down. That and eating nothing but marshmallows for lunch. Don’t judge me. It’s the weather’s fault. Not mine.

But I was feeling it today. Big time. So, I fired off one angry email this morning, honestly assuming it would go nowhere (since everything else surrounding said email has gone nowhere. It’s a long story about a battle I’m fighting. I’d say more, but don’t want to mess it up. Social media is a surprising powerful thing).

Shockingly, said email resulted in a response, which I had to respond to. So, now that’s off my plate since I know (because of what was said) it will go no further today.

But, it’s really not off my plate. It’s still eating away at me. Bugging me. I said what needed to be said so it’s not like there’s any nagging, “Oh, I shoulda’ said this!” bumping around my brain. And it’s not like I was smacked down. In fact, it was the opposite. I smacked the other side down (sort of. And, I’m not proud of it. I hate it when I have to do that and can’t work with you as a partner. But, it had to happen, unfortunately). It’s just sort of still sitting there. Hanging around.

In part, that’s my fault. I got worked up and anxious. Not like I was scared or worried but just revved up and ready to go. Ready to battle. Maybe I should have done my primal warrior call to ease the tension. I don’t have one, really, but maybe I should get one. Anyway, the anticipation combined with coffee, never a good thing for me. My heart is still thumping away and shows no signs of slowing down even though it’s over. For now.

Anyway, I find myself unable to write. I know what I need to do in the WIP. In fact, I delete the beginning of Chapter 2, that’s how sure I am, but I can’t seem to find the inspiration. I’m pacing the house, thinking, thinking, thinking. About nothing, actually. I’m just pacing, letting my mind wander and feeling my heart thumping in my chest. I’m deep breathing, I’m doing this blog post, but I’m still a bit crazed.

And, I hate it when that happens. People wonder why my day job is not that of “writer.” I find it hard to explain that I only have a certain amount of creative in me per day. I have no idea if other creative types have this problem, but I do. Once I’ve used up my creative for the day, that’s it, I’m done. If I’ve given it all to a client (or steady job) I can’t do for myself that day.

While technically I did nothing creative this morning, I did have to thing creatively and craft the right response. Angry without being condescending. I think I nailed it. But, as a result, I’m creatively drained right now. Which makes me angry. I had to waste all my creative on something stupid. Well, not stupid. It’s important, but I shouldn’t have to deal with it because it shouldn’t have happened to begin with.

So, I’m using this blog post to vent today, in hopes that I can expel negative energy and get back my creative. See, my fear now is that this negative will end up in the WIP. While that could be a good thing, it’s not really where the MC is in the story and I don’t want to write 2000 or so words today only to have them in the trash. I know that happens a lot, but if I can foresee it happening and avoid it, I’d rather do that.

Or, I could try to use it to my advantage. Maybe the MC is angry today about stupid stuff. Maybe I can channel this into something awesome. Would that mean I have to thank the people that pissed me off today in the book? We’ll see what happens.

ETA: It worked. I got the negative energy out and pumped out about 1500 words today.

Holiday Madness

Yesterday, the conversation veered toward Thanksgiving plans. Makes sense since Thanksgiving is next week. When I was asked about my plans, I paused then said, “I think we’re going to do absolutely nothing this year. It’s just too much trouble in our family to deal with it and this year, I’m out.” Some at the table were in agreement, with one commenting that she wondered when it became such a traumatic nightmare for some families to be together on holidays (something like that).

Ignoring the incredibly awful commercialization of the holidays (I mean, really, who needs to go shopping for gifts at 6AM on Thanksgiving Day?! You can if you want to, I suppose and if you have nothing better to do, it’s something to do, but this holiday creep is insane) I’ve really come to dislike this time of year.

There’s the feeling that this time of year is supposed to be about being with family and that everyone is supposed be together and happy. If that could happen for everyone, that would be amazing. If you could be with your family – however you define it – and everything were as cheery as it seemed on TV, I think the world might be a better place. And if you have that, I envy you. Really, I do.

Because there seems to be this pervasive feeling that there’s something wrong with anyone who can’t get it together long enough to be around their family for the holidays. Even though, deep down we all know that not everyone lucked out in the family lottery and can’t have that. It makes great fodder for movies, the family torn apart by something, but by the end they’ve solved their problems, come together and are all enjoying some eggnog around the fire. Together, united as one big happy family.

We all know that doesn’t happen in real life, yet many of us pretend that it does. Or we suck it up and don’t say anything.

And those that do say something – for whatever reason – get “the look.” The one that says you’re the one with the problem. Or worse, you’re told “but, it’s family.” That may be true, but if being family were enough, would the problems that drove them apart exist? If being family were the be all and end all, why are there so many problems?

It’s like saying being biologically related trumps anything and everything else. Like just because you share some common DNA (or are married or adopted or however your family came to be) everything else that’s been bad about the relationship doesn’t mean anything.

Shouldn’t being related (however you are related) trump the other stuff? Shouldn’t being related mean you work these problems out? Or that they don’t happen in the first place? When did being related become and excuse for piss poor behavior? Piss poor behavior that you’re supposed to ignore because “it’s family”?

I’d love to see a movie, advertisement, even a Hallmark card that more accurately captures the essence of the season for (I’m suspecting) a lot of people out there. Perhaps Hallmark needs to have a line of holiday cards that express the sentiment of “Yeah, we’re family. So what?” (Note: new freelance idea to pursue.)

So, for all those who don’t have a loving family to hang with this holiday season, I feel you. There’s nothing wrong with it. It is what it is. I hope it gets better, but, if it doesn’t, that’s OK too. Because sometimes being family just isn’t enough.

What’s the Hurry?

And now for something a little different. A small rant I need to get off my chest.

Psst. You. Yeah, you. The one tailgating me and getting mad that I won’t speed up.

Slow down.

Seriously. Slow. Down.

Let me tell you why.

I don’t know if you’re aware of it, but school is back in session. Really. Around here, it’s been that way for a few weeks. Here’s how I know. I’m going to share this information with you so you don’t keep making the same mistake day after day after day for the next nine months. All those kids on the sidewalks. See them? Yeah. Put the phone down for a second (since it’s illegal for you to hold that up to your face while you’re driving) and look on the side of the road. All those kids. The ones with the backpacks? See them? They’re walking to that building over there that says “Elementary School.” That’s my first big clue. The second? The signs on the side of the road that say “Entering School Zone.”

Short of that, I don’t know how else to get it across to you that we’re driving in a school zone. And that you need to slow down. Way down.

I get that it’s a pain in the ass to drive through this school zone. Because it’s not really one school zone. It’s two school zones sort of squished together. Three if you count the high school, but that’s not marked as a school zone. It’s confusing and the speed limits change every 30 feet. It’s 35 MPH until the first zone, then 20 MPH then back up to 35 then back down again. And the high school isn’t a school zone but they have crosswalks in odd places and it’s not well marked. Plus, let’s face it, the street we’re driving on is kind of big and kind of major and it’s screaming for at least a 40 MPH limit. Maybe even 45. It’s wide, there’s nothing there – except those darn schools – and you’re in a hurry.

I don’t know why you’re in a hurry. And, truthfully, I don’t care. Because that’s not really the problem here. That speed limit sign applies to you, just like it applies to me. That’s why I only go 20 MPH when we’re in that zone.

See, I’m not in a hurry when I’m in those school zones. Even on the days that I am, I’m not. Know why? I don’t want to get a ticket. Because if I did get pulled over, I would be late and pissed off and I don’t like having those kinds of days. Especially when it’s avoidable. If you want to get a ticket, be my guest. Just don’t say I didn’t warn you. The cops love hanging out on that street. Love. It. There’s a couple of great places for them to hide so you can’t see them until it’s too late and they nail you.

When you’re driving up my tail pipe (I take my foot off the accelerator when you do that.), get mad because you can’t intimidate me into going your speed, give me a dirty look as you pass me, then blast through the school zone, I’m just guessing here, you think the rules don’t apply to you. Or you’re late. Or whatever. Doesn’t matter.

Getting a ticket, well, that’s your choice. But, when you’re speeding through a school zone faster than the speed of light while yapping and/or texting on your phone, weaving around all us slow pokes, you’re not just making a choice for you. You’re making a choice for the rest of us. One that you may not be able to undo. In my car, I have air bags and crumple zones and whole bunch of other shit to keep me safe. If something goes wrong, I stand a chance. Plus, I’m driving defensively, keeping an eye on you and avoiding you. But, a kid on the street? No air bags, no crumple zones. No nothing. Just a backpack, which I’m guessing doesn’t function quite like my airbags do.

Listen, I know a whole bunch of other people are doing it, too. But, like Mom said, if they jumped off a bridge, would you? She also said, two wrongs don’t make a right, so, by my calculations, your two wrongs of speeding through the school zone like a maniac and using your phone while doing it don’t add up to right.

So, for the rest of the year, could you maybe, just maybe, slow down? Plan ahead and leave earlier for where ever you need to go so when you do slow down, you aren’t late? Or, take a different route? I’m sure there’s more than one way to get to where you’re going. At the very least, stop tailgating me. It’s not going to get me to drive any faster.

Thanks. I totally appreciate it. And so does everyone else.