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I am a day behind starting. Too much has been going on the last few days, and although yesterday was supposed to be a day off, it was filled with crazy errands. The only thing that got me through the day was my MP3 player and Tom Waits. Music and books. I also have the audio version of "Travels with Charley" by John Steinbeck, and I am just starting it. What a joy to read! Although I am a lover of actual books, the tangible things that I can see and hold in my hand, audiobooks have changed my life!
I am so glad to be back to 100 words again. I took November off to do NaNoWriMo for the very first time. What an epiphany!. I started it not really sure that I would write that much, just as an exercise to force myself to carve time out of each day, which I only seem to allow myself when I have a deadline looming. Well, I finished (and "won" I guess)even before the deadline. I still can't quite believe it, and am buoyed up by the fact that if you just sit and write, the words will come.
I have missed a few days. The Christmas craziness has started and no time in the mornings to write. I am trying to keep up the momentum of writing from NaNo, but I am realizing how bad I am at carving out time for myself and dedicating the time when there is no deadline. A lot of people I talked to did not understand the deadline of NaNo. "You mean you don't win anything?" "No...you get a certificate at the end though..." "Wow. That's great......a certificate." The enthusiasm is not overwhelming at this point.It is worth it!
It may not seem worth it to others, but I have never before carried on a storyline for that many words, 50,000 words and 91 pages. And the story is still not finished yet. I have about another 30,000 to go, I would say. The reason for not carrying on with a story line for this amount of time is not that I was incapable, it was that I would give up too easily. I would think too hard about it, decide it was a stupid story and put it away in a drawer somewhere for "another time".
When I just stuck to it, kept on writing no matter what, I really got into the story, and several times had that experience of getting lost in the world I was creating and not being aware of time. I haven't had that for years. And just telling myself constantly just to keep writing made me work through some of the problems that arose in the story, instead of stopping at that point and leaving it. I knew I would be picking up again the next day, so I would work on ironing out the problems in between writing sessions.
NaNo was so much more valuable than I ever imagined. When I started, I just couldn't imagine writing that much in that amount of time. It just did not seem possible. What would I say? Well, that was another discovery, when you start going with it, bits and pieces of characters and situations pop up all over the place.I couldn't believe what surfaced.Of course there is a lot that was just me rambling trying to find where I was going, but it always led to something. Now, I have to do the hard part and I'm really scared.
Another fun thing about Na No is the Pep talk. I wasn't all that keen on them initially, then found that they seemed to come at the right time, and it really did help you to realize that most of the people writing were having similar experiences, and that you were not alone. I know that sounds like a naive statement, but I come from a very cynical family where such positive things as Pep talks are frowned upon and thought to be silly and childish, only for those who are not strong enough to make it on their own.
Something amazing happened at work yesterday. Lately I have not been feeling as spiritually connected to my work, and for me that makes life very colourless. Some people I know that work in health care can do that, they are better if they remove themselves a bit, but not me. One of our patients that had been on our ward for over 100 days decided she did not want to have any more treatment. She knew the odds of getting better were not great. She had what few people have, the chance to decide when she is going to die.
She was such a character, a person that always directed her life as much as she could, and she didn't shy away from the truth. She had many psych issues that were lifelong, and often this can mean no support, but she had lived in a community of people who cared for each other a great deal. Two days before she died, she got the pastoral care person to help her write out all her Christmas cards. The message was like her, direct and unsentimental."I am probably not going to live through Christmas. Thank you for everything, Love Marilyn".
I am falling behind again. Things have been happening kind of spontaneously lately...a lot of things that I feel I had previous warnings about. When I say that, it sounds crazy even to me, but then maybe if I had more faith in these things, I could understand the world and myself better. Or maybe it's just weird mis-firings in my brain and a collection of easily explainable coincidences. Who knows. The truth is a large part of me doesn't want to believe in the practical explanation. I want to believe in the magic and abundance of possibilities.
I am writing this after the fact. I wanted to record the events of this day as they happened, but I was engaged with people all day, and had no time. I wanted to talk about Diana's sister having a stroke, about visiting my Mom, and the strawberry milkshake incident. And Mom's neighbour across the hall, Bunny, who offered to pay me to take her out of there. She also related a story about the head master at Sooke High School whose name was Wilkinson, and they used to call him "Old Wilkie"- he was apparently a real party pooper.
I don't even know what I was jabbering on about last entry. It has been a few days since then, and a lot seems to have happened, even if it was only in my head.I wrote an email to my brother recently and told him that I spend most of my time inside my own head, in my imagination. Before I had actually said that out loud, I hadn't really understood how true that is. I really spend an awful lot of my time fantasizing or daydreaming (yes,that is what other people call it), dreaming up other possibilities.
The thing is, it wasn't actually until NaNoWriMo that I was re-aquainted to the fact that I have so much going on in my head all the time. A kind of back story to my life. It is actually like I am living two lives. So I had been struggling to write for a few years, censoring or not even listening to what was already in my head, and trying to write like other people. When I stopped thinking and let things go, I then found that there were so many bits of story just waiting to be released.
I have been reading the letters that my brother send to my mother once a week. She has dementia, but he writes her of his life each week, and my other brother reads them to her. I used to think his writing was so great, that I did not have near that talent that he has, but I don't know anymore. I don't know if he is as talented as I thought, I don't know that I am as talentless as I thought. I have lived my whole life based on stories that I thought were truths. I believed them.
I once sat with my four siblings at a Keg restaurant, and after much drinking we talked about what we thought each persons contribution to the world would be. It was my second oldest brother, the writer, who was making the predictions. He went through each older sibling with predictions that we pretty much expected of them, positions in the family that they had already attained. As the last I felt that all the good things had been taken. When he got to me, he said, and Lucy is going to surprise us all. I didn't know what he meant.
Years later, sitting eating sushi with my oldest brother, I recalled that earlier meeting of the siblings and mentioned what my other brother had said. My oldest brother then said, "he probably didn't know what else to say". That was the same conversation when he said to me that I was not really a writer like my other brother because I did not need to write. He said that my brother, the writer, had to write or he would die (?).I on the other hand was just a hobbyist. Who was he to assume that he knew what I needed?
Just a random entry after Christmas. My husband is sleeping, he had a terrible, painful night last night. I slept some, but wanted to take advantage of the quiet in the house to write some entries and to take the first tentative look at my NaNo novel. I am so surprised to read it and see that it was not the piece of crap that I thought it was...it's not great, but when I realize how quickly the words were put down, it is amazing to me. I know I have already said this in earlier entries, oops sorry.
But the number of times I have written about my amazement is a testament to how much I learned in that process of writing...just banging out words without knowing where the hell I was going. I am so, not proud, but happy that I didn't turn away from the challenge as I have with so many things that scare the hell out of me. The thing with NaNo is that you have complete freedom to write utter crap if you want to. You could write 50,000 words of nonsense and it would not matter. I needed that freedom.
I learned on the last visit to my Mom's that one of my brother's recently had a heart attack, and they put a stent in one of his coronary arteries that hopefully will keep it open for awhile. How did I find out? I happened to pick a random letter out of a stack of letters he had written to our demented mother. Apparently my other brother read the letter and then emailed him to get further details. He was told not to tell anybody and definitely not to tell our demented mother the seriousness of the situation. I know.
So who are these weekly letters to my demented mother for if they are not in fact meant for my mother? She can't read them. She understands very little of what is said in them, if anything. So my brother tells my other brother not to tell our demented mother how serious his health problems are, and then promptly writes her a detailed letter about the events that she will no really understand, but his siblings are likely to read. And he tells my other brother not to tell anybody else about it. Family dynamics are crazy beyond words sometimes.
Why do we do this to our families? What is his purpose in telling my brother not to tell anybody else in the family? IS he embarrassed? Does he not want us asking questions? Is he just being dramatic? Knowing that siblings love to gossip about each other, and therefore will be ecstatic to have an exciting piece of gossip to spread around? Well, I guess he didn't count on my other brother being somebody who sticks to his word. HE didn't tell a soul, not even his own wife. And my husband doesn't understand my problem with sharing information.
Again, I don't know what I was writing about last entry. I don't even really know why that matters. Why do I not just see this entry as an entity in itself. A little island of words amidst a sea of thoughts. Sometimes I am taken by an entry written by someone who I can tell is very young, and I end up reading a whole batch of their entries. It is so beautiful to hear their fresh and curious voices, reaching out to see if there are any wavelengths they can connect with that understand their angst and confusion.
I want to say to them "someone hears you", to send them the courage to carry on. But then I remember that I don't even have enough of it for myself, never mind enough to give away. I recognize their agonizing honesty, but know from my own experience that what they think is honesty at 16 or 17 doesn't come close to the truth of being 48 or 50. Yet do I think I am more honest now? Do I not still shrink from the task of, what my mother used to refer to as, "calling a spade a spade"?
I can't stop myself from these obsessive thoughts. Any time my mind is not occupied by the task at hand (and even sometimes when it should be)my mind drifts to this place that does not exist, that is populated by people that are amalgamations of people I know, none of them real. Nothing is real, yet I can inhabit that world more fully than I can this one. This is where I am honest and true, and I have little fear of loss or abandonment. And there is one person besides me that travels between these two different worlds.
On this fine Christmas Day (the rain is coming down in true Vancouver style)I wish to declare how much I love and appreciate 100 words. It has been a place of beauty and sanctuary for me for the last couple of years, which have been trying to say the least. I can't actually even remember how I ended up here, and when I started I was so nervous, I couldn't imagine actually putting down 100 words each day. But entry by entry it has brought me back to a world of words that now I cannot imagine living without.
I am going somewhere today that I hope will fix this obsession of mine for good.Ha! But I know it is not so easy. I wish it was just like a quick shock of a defibrillator or ECT without the after effects. Just a quick jolt and it would all be over, and I would be like the dead woman walking again. It's not that I really want to be numbed, to be cursed into a lifelong equilibrium, but this obsession, as beautiful and painful and sometimes embarrassing as it is is, could possibly be the end of me.
But the problem of this obsession, the thing that stops me from cutting it off like an incessant and troubling wart is that it brings me so much beauty and creativity, more than I have had for many, many years. The dead years I call them. Or was I just sleeping? Because now I have been awakened in a way that I almost don't have the ability to deal with. My heart has melted and a small crack has opened up and things are leaking out of me that I never knew were there, or that I put away safely.
The highs are so high that I feel like I could do anything. But when it comes crashing down, and I realize that it is all ridiculous and a crazy illusion that I have created in my head, I think I could not possibly live another minute in my own skin. I just want to shed it and search around for one that is perhaps a little thicker, and maybe while I'm at it, a little less wrinkled. I then feel like a silly old woman carried away in her own dreams, always expectant of something that will never happen.
The experience was much more like being zapped with a defibrilator (a soft spongy one) than I had expected. It didn't in fact rid me of my obsession, but it did put it in a perspective. One that I already knew, if I had the balls to listen to my own counsel instead of running to others to get them to help me, to make sense of the world for me. This was not that sort of experience, it was more another human being looking into my mind and telling me the things I already know. Just what I needed.
Sometimes I know things are going to happen before they do. Often they are sad things, quite often it's somebody's impending death. I have tried to ignore them lately, as I feel sometimes that my prophecy is actually putting a curse on people, which is of course ridiculous. Who do I think I am that I have that much power? I knew my friend's sister was going to die, even at the moment that she had received good news about how well she was doing, and I was waving goodbye to her at the hospital when she went to visit.
I didn't realize I only had one day left to finish December. I am thankful only because my time is limited today. This new situation of working four days a week instead of five has been such a blessing. So far though, the days off have been filled with errands, medical appointments, etc. Which is a good thing as well. It makes our life so much less stressful. But soon I will be able to use them for a 'higher purpose', whatever that entails. I need to remember this. I need to make sure that I do this for myself.
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