The Missing Weeks: Part 1

I’m not proud of the fact that the last blog I posted was advocating guns. I wish I had made time to post a few more blogs between now and then. Like, puppies, or floridians, or literally anything else. Something to soften the blow of an oncoming spring, the end of winter. What’s worse is, I even had things to talk about: a missed wedding, a writing goal reached, a trip to Florida, a tattoo, a publication, books read.

I’ve considered the fact that my subconscious recognized the scent of Rising Action: fear, pheromones, microbes in overdrive, nicotine. Perhaps some part of me whispered wait don’t write because it felt the shake of a climax weeks away; like the tremor of an earthquake so weak, that only if you were on a second story deck, over the parking lot of a flower shop off main street in a small town, would you notice the quick but gentle back and forth. It’s not just in your head because your eyes see the ashtray jiggle next to you, all the cigarette butts shake like a Polaroid. It persists…for minutes, but a google search tells you, you are the only one who feels it.

Cars on main street continue forward. Prospective customers walk into the flower shop with memorial flowers on their mind. Your phone stays silent as you and your snake plants shimmy shimmy, watching birds fly from the Walnut tree to the Magnolia tree and back. Waiting.

It’s also possible, that I was absolutely clueless, and no part of me felt anything coming. I didn’t write for weeks because let’s face it, writing is work. I will do anything to avoid actual work. I’ll wash the dishes to avoid vacuuming. I’ll answer emails to avoid writing the 1,000 words I promised myself I’d prioritize every morning. In a perfect world, I wouldn’t have the emails to deal with at all, but there they are. I might as well get those out of the way, to free up my time for writing.

I watch my husband do it too. I suspect we creatives love to use the excuse, that the day isn’t long enough. That the spinning of the earth, the short cut that the sun takes across the sky, and the man-made clock doesn’t permit our ambitions adequate time. What is adequate? There’s no such thing. Bills have to be paid. Clocks have to be clocked in/out. Houses have to be kept. World peace has to be sought. None of this leaves time for accomplishing those pesky goals that tug at our hearts.

I’m not sure which is true: My body knowing something that I don’t know, or the knowing that my mind and body love to find excuses not to do anything. One of these is the reason, I haven’t posted in 6 weeks.

TLDR: I have a lot to catch you up on.

Let’s start with the day I published my last blog. A friend posted flash pieces for those who offered them selves as tribute–bodies for her to practice simple tattoos. There was a little struck match stick that I thought would look cute on my ankle. I had about 3 hours notice to get my free tattoo.

I was not available, but if you don’t know me yet, I’m all about adjusting my schedule to accommodate others. So I shift around my work schedule and begin preparing for a torture session (eating carbs and drinking water, wearing something warm.)

There is a lot of build up to the actual needle to my skin. I haven’t seen my friend in a while so we’re catching up and I’m eating cheesy bread from the Little Caesar’s next door. Our mutual friend Hannah, a talented and established tattoo artist, steps in occasionally and gives advice; ‘run over this line again, take your time, rotate the gun to angle the other way,’ etc. It feels like no time at all before I have a cute little matchstick on my ankle and despite its weak lines and inexpert shading, I love it. I love that my friend gave it to me and I love that I did not plan the silly thing for months or years. It is cute and that is all.

I have time to go to work afterwards, except, gas from the cheesy bread rumbles and expands in my stomach to the point that I can’t sit or stand or walk without pain, so I go home, farting the whole way. That’s a tricenarian for you.

The next day, I hit 60,000 words in my current project. I could quit and I’d still have a novel. It wouldn’t be a very satisfying novel, but it’d still be a novel. It’s a small thing, that I don’t think I tell anyone. The accomplishment is just a scribble in my calendar.

Two days later, I spend the day with a friend who proposes we go to an open house. There is an older, giant house on 5 acres in a gated community listed for $649,000 with a HOA fee. I assume we are crashing this open house because it is fun and whimsical. Not because there is any part of us that is actually thinking about how its 4,000 square feet could accommodate a family or recording studio in the basement.

We consider a second open house but decide against it. We head to Lexington, for reasons I can’t remember. We eat Pho, then we head to the Lexington Cemetery. I hold out for Cherry Blossoms in bloom, and my Jewish friend holds out for finding the Jewish part of the cemetery.

The Cherry Blossoms are not in bloom, but the Jewish portion of the cemetery finds us. We circle it twice, reading names that only she recognizes and looking at the designs carved or etched in stone. We say hello to the statue of Henry Clay and leave, agreeing that it’s a beautiful cemetery and there was nothing weird about our choice to hang out among the dead.

We go to Half Priced books but don’t want to be there. We go to World Market instead and walk out with international candy options we can’t find in our prospective small towns. This is all fine and we both seem to be mutually exhausted. We laugh because we both have reached a point that perhaps we don’t need to go home, but we don’t have the energy to think of what to do next. So we decide to call it, and she takes me home.

I can’t remember what we talked about on the way home, but when she parks outside my home, we don’t get out of the car. The conversation meanders and carries on until it reaches the topic of my last published blog: guns.

A part of me thought she hadn’t read it yet. That if she had, she would have found it funny, and me clever. This is not the case. My friend expresses her adamant belief that more guns is not the solution. I make the mistake of playing devil’s advocate.

I’m exercising my mental muscles. I’m thinking outside the box. I think of guns like I think of mosquitos. They are a nuisance and they have the potential to kill us, but they are still food for some part of the food chain: Something would die without them. If nature has a way of balancing itself out, then how do guns play a role in it? What if guns are the balancing agents for something on the other side of the scales? I toss around the idea that maybe guns are preventing something worse, like bombings. Yes, guns are too easy to get. Yes, mass shootings are too easy to execute. But a mass shooting is stoppable, the moment it begins. 4 people might die, but we can prevent the 5th.

If a mentally unstable person wants to harm a great number of people, I think, there’s no way to stop them. If they didn’t have guns, a quick google search would give them a garage built pipe bomb. Would we rather have mass shooting or pipe bombs? Bombs can’t not be stopped. There is no preventing that 5th death.

My friend disregards this argument. Says the thing about guns is, you can make a bad decision before you have time to think better of it. You can pick up a gun and go to a public place, shoot masses, and never second guess your self. No one can build a bomb in the heat of the moment. Two guys at a bar aren’t going to get in an argument, and walk away to build bombs. They will, however, reach into their glove box and pull out their handgun.

This goes back and forth a couple of times. New arguments are brought up but we circle back to this essential argument: Time. There’s not enough Time in a world of guns. I don’t disagree with her, but we’re still combative, and unusually heated for two people who mutually don’t like guns. I write it all off as me being a dumb-ass for arguing for guns in any capacity, and both of us being exhausted.

The next week is not good. I can’t describe it, because it is as confusing now, as it was then. I chalk it up to depression and fatigue. I try to tone down the ambitions that scream at me to be more productive. I try not to take it out on my husband. I try to acknowledge that I’m not mad that I’m cleaning out the cat’s litter box. I’m just not self-soothing. I have some eternal issue to address and it has nothing to do with the cat or my husband.

Saturday afternoon, my friend emails me and says, “hey, did I piss you off?” I rush to assure her that no, no, no. I love her. There is no part of me that attaches to a disagreement with a loved one. Especially after the Trump presidency. (I don’t tell her I was born and bred in a family that argued passionately. Other families prayed and thanked to lord for their blessings. My family debated. Our blessings were winning an argument.)

Instead, I apologize. She probably picked up on the beginnings of my weird week. I describe to her my feelings of insignificance and my self-sabotaging week. I tell her, it’s wild that she knew something was wrong. She has great intuition.

She apologizes for giving into a fear that her friends will grow tired of her and move on. I laugh out loud, because I sympathize so much. She also confesses she has some news but she can’t tell me yet.

I think about her selling her house, buying a house, being pregnant, or maybe her husband has picked up some recording project with an affluent artist and they never have to worry about money again. All things we have talked about openly, wished for each other, and debated with each other. I can’t imagine any of them being so secretive she can’t say something now. And then I reason, they all could involve some official stamp: waiting until an offer is signed, waiting until an ultrasound, waiting until a non-disclosure contract ends. I almost immediately decide there’s no use in guessing. She’ll tell me eventually.

The day of this email is too busy for its own good. An acquaintance in my screenwriting class has just published a book. Her book release party is that night. The same day as a friends’ wedding in North Carolina but my husband is playing a show somewhere far away. What I should have done, was go to the wedding (a 6 hour drive to pick up my husband, and then a 2 hour drive to the wedding.)

No, no. That’s not something you decide the day of. What I should have done, is sent a gift and an apologetic and congratulatory note to the bride & groom and gone to the book release. Here is a fellow author who has self-published her first romance novel. She’s doing the dang thing. I need to see what this looks like. I need to support her–take notes.

No, no. What I do instead, is have a panic attack in the Kroger parking lot before I pick up some extra shifts at work to fill my evening. Cause what better way to get out of actual obligations than to say, shucks, I had to work.

Hold on to your hats, dear reader. There’s still Miami, frigatebirds, my first publication, and a series of hospital visits.

Until next time.

For the love of god, take care out there. There’s something in the water.


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