I am almost certain I have come to this fork in the road once before, when I attempted to edit my novel in the past. Evidently though I chose not to do anything about it and keep it the way it was, for whatever reason. Maybe I thought, “Well I’ll just fix it after I revise the whole thing.” Which is downright ridiculous because the changes required ripple through the rest of the story. Jesus, I really hate myself sometimes. Past Josh was an idiot, to be quite frank.

Here is my dilemma, my novel takes place in the mountains northeast of Boise, Idaho on New Year’s Eve and there is absolutely no snow.  The things that occur very much show no snow and adding it would make things difficult for both me and my protagonists.

When I was editing my Chapter 9 (‘yay’ for making headway) the question that came to mind is, “Wait, could this actually happen?” In this chapter I describe a broad green valley cut in two by a stream. Green… In January… In the mountains. Naw, girl. That doesn’t sound possible. So I did a quick google search and discovered that snow covered 99.5% of the landscape. So, you’re telling me that there is chance of snow. Then that information made me wonder if there would even be a stream.

Luckily I have a buddy who moved from my hometown to a town in Idaho. So I started asking him these very questions. And that kicked me back to the beginning.

When I originally wrote this book I did not have this particular plot point about an alcoholic father and it being New Year’s Eve.  I added that AFTER the fact to answer another couple questions that arose that needed clarification. However, because of them, this has created quite the conundrum.

How do I solve this issue? Do I go back and add in the snow and change the action to handle the new dilemma OOOOR do I just move the date of the story to a spring month? My one hang up is that it would seem too forced for the alcoholic father to have a HUGE change of heart in regards to his substance abuse. With the “New year, new you” mentality it fits better, in my mind.

The other option I had was maybe move it up to May, and make it a birthday thing. Like “Now that I’m 40…” And it could work but AGAIN another plot point comes under attack in the forms of a character that HAS TO put on a jacket. (That is 100% non-negotiable.) Is she still going to ask for a jacket?

Oh, writer problems.

My husband is such a dick. He’s making fun of me by saying that I’m going to be eighty years old still working on this book. “I just need to add one more thing.”

Anyway, I’m probably just going to go back and put a winter layover. I just don’t want to do it.


The Writer’s Loop

One of the best feelings in the world, for me at least, is reading a chapter from my book and being utterly convinced it wasn’t me who wrote it. Not saying that I am THAT amazing, but more that I am astounded by its prose and tone and have zero memory of ever writing it. Additionally, it gives me an example to encourage myself whenever I start to doubt my ability to get it done. I can remind myself “hey, remember that time?”

I hope I’m not jinxing myself by writing this blog, but I haven’t written in some time and it was on my mind. Lately I have been pleasantly enveloped in the process of editing my book. The fire for such an endeavor has been sparked by 3 specific matches. The first being my overwhelming sense of pride and accomplishment from passing my appraiser license exam (thank you, thank you). With that out of the way I am free to do whatever I choose!

The second is because I have found myself a writing buddy who inspires me to get busy doing the thing that brings me joy. His enthusiasm for the premise of my “finished” novel encouraged me to get back at it. Also, his own passion for the craft is incredible.

The third reason, and the one I find very strange, has been a particular song from the musical “The Greatest Showman.” Whenever I listen to “A Million Dreams” I am filled to the brim with excitement for my book and the prospect of finishing it. (The song also has this nasty habit of bringing about these overwhelming emotions that, for some reason, make me sob uncontrollably. So. There is that.)

Currently I am in the middle of Chapter 6 of 31 and I couldn’t be more energized. I still have my moments of doubt but thankfully because of my “forgotten ability” I can remind myself I in fact can.

As the Gays Say, “Thank U, Next.”

I did it. I fucking did it. I passed my Real Estate Appraiser’s License Exam.

For the past three years I have been in an apprenticeship with my boss and taking the online classes required to be an appraiser. Once I completed my 2,000 hours of experience, my courses, and the application the state accepted those and ushered me to the next step, which was to take an exam. (My approval came last June, to give you some idea.) They give you 6 attempts or a year to complete it for a reason. It is fucking tough.

This success was my third attempt. Even now, after passing, I still don’t think I studied enough. Regardless I completed the second to last hurdle. The next is a review of my work completed and after that I should receive a license.

When I got my results I literally almost broke into tears. But the two testing center clerks were right there, and a middle-aged man bawling over a score wouldn’t have been attractive. So instead I jumped up and down, while I clutched that paper with my grainy photo and the word “Passed.” My husband told me after that he wished he had filmed it because he had never seen me so happy. (“You weren’t even that happy when we got married!”)

For so long this has hung around my neck dragging me down. I was beyond stressed because for once in my life I was expected to actually complete something. My boss took me on with the understanding that I would get my license and be one of his residential appraisers. That was/is going to happen. I didn’t want to fail him and betray the trust he had bestowed on me. (Again, another first.)

In the beginning the pressure drove me nuts. I ended up diving headfirst into one of my addictions that pushed my relationship to the brink of collapse. Luckily I survived that and I found ways to numb the burden of responsibility in other things going forward.

The other dark side of this journey was that it kept me from working on my book. In my mind there was a level of tasks that had to be completed before one could begin. Whenever I sat down to work on it I would think to myself “you should be studying for your exam.” My favorite was “this isn’t as important as your license.” The “frivolous” venture of trying to be a published author was always back burner.

Now, I have no other responsibilities other than finishing up my AA and editing my book. I can return to the things that, for me, matter immensely. Not saying that the thing that is my livelihood didn’t matter. It was merely a means to an end.

So, tonight I got to sit down with my chapters and feel the creative freedom to work without guilt or anxiety. It was heaven.

Obligatory 2018 Reflections

As is customary, I sit on the edge of one year overlooking into the next and I am overcome with reflection. It has truly been one of immense change and growth. It was this time last year that my husband and I had hit a very rough, rocky patch. For the life of me I cannot recall where I was New Year’s Eve. I never do though. More than likely we were at his sisters and we would ring it in after someone happened to notice “oh, yeah, Happy New Year.” (I just remembered, we did exactly this. Then I watched as her and my cousin-in-law got high.)

The months prior to that moment were tumultuous for my husband and I. After catching each other on Grindr, we discussed opening our relationship, as opposed to getting a divorce or separating. In turn, that lead both of us to bring two men into our orbit. He got himself a boyfriend and so did I. Yet we have maintained our relationship since. With this new reality brought a lot of truth to the surface.

In February we took a trip to visit his father in Palm Springs (which I find even more coincidental because it was when he went there during thanksgiving that I caught him on the app) and while out drinking he opened up to me about all of his secrets. Instead of being angry I was so overcome with relief that I treasure that night like a precious stone. My therapist has since said that I do it because it was a moment of vulnerability and intimacy. She’s right. It was something I had craved for so long. We had closed off to each other from any real emotion or truth. Since then it has been nothing but honesty, with me still having to fight old habits of keeping things to myself.

At the tail end of March the boyfriend and I made it official and we weren’t just casually hanging out.

Since then it has been one giant experiment. We’ve all hung out together. Even went on a weekend away in Vegas, for my husband’s birthday. Everything, for me at least, has been good.

I know there are people who question the longevity of this. Me being one of them, at times. What this year has taught me is that nothing is set in stone and nothing is ever what you think it’ll be. I have no idea where any of this is going (especially this blog) but I am thankful for the ride. I have the best co-pilots on this journey. They are the most patient and caring men that I feel I do not deserve. I am truly the luckiest man.

Oh, insanity.

I am moody as fuck and I cannot place the source as there is so much going on right now. All I want to do is disappear. My logical mind says it’s my depression flaring up but then the other part of myself thinks it’s all due to my weird sleep pattern, the over-abundance of sugary foods (and little to no protein), and my low water intake. All of this has put me off balance.

The other part of me thinks it’s situational. All for the new factors in my life and the absolute stress of having to retake my appraisal exam. I’m emotionally overwhelmed. All at once I want to scream, cry, and laugh. It is in that where I feel broken and insane.

I attribute most of these feelings to the test. This is the third time I will take it. I need a 75 to pass and in my previous attempts I earned a 71 and then a 72. Respectively. I’m very nearly there. My entire career hinges on this. It will provide me with more money and freedom for my boss’s wife where right now she’s limited because I haven’t gotten my license to provide an additional MLS access.

I am also someone who takes pride in my intelligence. I have an inflated ego when it comes to that and when I fail from my lack of knowledge I have an identity crisis. My want is to further separate myself from the situation because I can’t take another blow.

The proactive thing to do would be to study my ass off to avoid further failings. However my self-doubt makes me repeatedly tell myself that I am an idiot who can’t do it. It’s all self sabotage. (Aka I am a mess.)

My moodiness only arose when I set my exam date and paid another additional exam fee ($88). But additional factors came into play…

Today I started studying. At the completion of the exam the participant is given a print-out of their score which is broken down into sub-categories, and I began with my weakest subjects. It felt okay but staring my failure in the face sent me into overdrive and I “ran away” by turning off my phone. That provided some comfort from further interruption and ease from my own psychosis, however it caused panic to my husband (as I didn’t divulge what it was I was doing before I did it.) Now I feel even worse.

All of this could be further soothed if I was taking my anti-depressants, I imagine. Though the fact remains that every time I take them I turn into a zombie. I feel like I’m walking around in a daze and then lack any kind of passion for the things I enjoy. I medicate to basically exist. Yet it is in these erratic moments that I wish I maintained a constant dosage. I don’t want to be insane and in turn drive those around me crazy with my mood swings and irrational behavior. It is here where I sometimes think I should be alone. All I do is cause people stress and that’s not fair to them.

Tales of Medications

Already it’s happening.

This morning I wanted to write a piece about how my Vegas weekend with the husband and our boyfriends went, but I lost the desire to do so without even opening up a word document. I thought to myself, “why would I want to do that?” And it is all because of anti-depressants.

I started taking them last week because I was stressing about the upcoming weekend. I was worried how it would turn out, plus I had little to no sleep that week, work was(is) slow, my diet had turned into a parade of sugary pastries and bread, and the weather was total cloud cover for 5 straight days (in a community that rarely, if ever, gets rain). In my infinite wisdom I thought I should start taking my meds again, and here we are.

My mental health has been a constant battle since I started taking them at 18. The doctor deemed them appropriate because I just happened to see him after a break-up from my then boyfriend. Of course I was depressed. I immediately started taking Lexapro and that seemed to work for a while. I didn’t write anything in that time frame, at least none that I can remember. But I don’t remember it taking away my personality. For whatever reason the doctor removed me from those and thus began the sampler platter of medications. Each one more misery inducing than the last. The final one was sertraline, which I have copious amounts of, even though my doctor has removed me from all medications some time ago. I keep them around for moments when I think my depression is flaring up. However, this time I am not entirely sure it was emotional but rather situational. That’s the biggest problem when it comes to drugs. I think we over prescribe them when in fact it may just be a change of lifestyle.

My fretting for the weekend was for naught though. Everything went absolutely fine and it was a really fun weekend; other than me having a freak out on the 4 hour drive home, because I have been trained to give the driver attention and when I in-turn don’t receive the same I get irritable. But, instead of voicing my concerns in the moment I stew in them until I am unpleasant to be around and make everyone uncomfortable.

The only thing this weekend taught me was that Vegas fucking sucks. I use to love going, but it has gotten entirely too expensive. They’re pricing out the average vacationer who goes for a fun cheap weekend. Those days are long gone. And for me, so is Vegas.

Writing Through the Depression

Writing has always been my outlet, ever since I was a kid. Primarily because I am (what I have been described as) a very cerebral person. Living in my head is a dark and dangerous place and putting it into written words always gives me some sense of peace I could otherwise not find elsewhere. I typically don’t speak my thoughts because they are random and I easily get lost trying to find the right word, especially if I am speaking to someone (I talk a lot to myself). I have discovered that most take what I say as gospel and that is not how my mind works. I’m constantly working things out. Which is why I choose writing more than anything else.

The only problem with my writing is that it gets me into trouble sometimes. I always assume whatever I write on my blogs will be lost to the depths of the internet, but sometimes it finds its way into the hands of others. It’s irritating but the nature of the beast, and more often than not it doesn’t ever get discovered. I find that comical for a few reasons but the number one being I have shared my site with others in the past but no one can be bothered to ever look. Unless of course they’re mentioned in the thing and then all of a sudden it’s a hot commodity. Otherwise no one gives two shits. It’s like inviting a friend to the play you’re in, or the stand-up show you’re doing at the local open mic, or if you’re performing anywhere. People can’t be bothered. In my younger days I would let it bother me, but now I just shrug and realize that’s the gamble no matter what.

Yesterday I was feeling way down. I got to the point that I wanted to isolate from my entire life. I liken it to “running away.” The very thought of just leaving everything behind and hitting the open road crossed my mind but unless I’m carrying cash that isn’t going to happen. Plus, how would my sudden disappearance affect those in my life? It’s always that thought that keeps me grounded.  It’s hard pushing against the current of my depression but I know I have to make an effort or suffer the consequences of severe depression.

Last night I returned to my “finished” novel to restart the process of editing. For once in a great long while I did not get upset. When I found myself spinning my wheels, I told myself to just start back at the beginning and re-read again. It was nice. Then whenever the voice of my inner critic attempted to creep in, I ignored it and thought “I can do this.” Even this morning I told myself (as I doubted my efforts) that I am just out of practice. To get to a better place I have to keep trying. It’s like that lawn mower that’s been sitting in the garage for months. It takes a couple pulls to get it going, and even when you do get it started you have to let it run for a bit to get it to where it’s able to do the job it was designed to do.

For my own sanity I am not going to make any grand pronouncements of finishing my novel by a certain time-frame or even at all. It always ends in misery and self-loathing. Instead what I will do is feel proud that I got to the task and am content with the results.