THE LANDFILL CHRONICLES
Finding Happiness In All The Wrong Places
I'm pretty embarrassed that I haven't added anything to my doing "100 New Things" list since January. I have done things, just not recorded them.
Thing number 4 is...well...I'll just say that a friend invited me to a concert. I said yes without even knowing who we were seeing.
It ended up being Brandi Carlile who was talented and wonderful and all that. Her songs were little stories of feelings as such. It made me think of the upheavals in my own life. Still raw from my little break up with you-know-who, well...I pretty much cried through the whole concert.
Lucky for me, I got this crying thing down so I was real stealth about dabbing my eyes and such. Pretty sure no one noticed.
So I guess number 4 is this concert: going artist unknown to a new venue, discovering said artist was singing my tune, then just crying all those feelings out.
8th Grade Joey and I are over.
That was the in-my-head nickname for him because I was never quite sure what was going on. Similar to when you're in middle school and like someone but everything's all mixed up because that's how 13 and 14-year-olds roll. All those feelings and no clue how to act on them.
Anyway, 8th Grade Joey was my post-divorce thing. My first "thing" in 20 years if you count the marriage stuff. It went on for about 2 years. That's a long time to feel like a clueless middle schooler.
I'll spare you the details but I'm the one who walked away. As scary as "alone" sounds, it's better than being with someone and not feeling appreciated.
I won't dwell on it, and I certainly won't whine too much here (I hope). I'm just very, very sad because I know things could be different. But they aren't different, which is why I made the choice to cut bait.
So I guess there's a small victory in recognizing something isn't right and doing something about it. I just wish I didn't have to walk away to make it right.
The good news for y'all is that now I have all this time for self reflection. And that's when things get amusing.
So it's been a busy day. I have a lot on my mind and much more to do. So many things are swimming in my head as I pulled up to my mailbox today and retrieved the stack of mail meant for me.
I quickly scrolled through the junk for important stuff...and noticed an elaborately addressed envelope. Heavy card stock, calligraphy, the works. My eyes scanned for the return address only to realize the intended addressee: my ex's former mistress-turned-wife.
I received mail meant for The Other Woman.
Of course I laughed, because this shit is funny. I know how it happened. Dumbass McCheaterson changed his wife's name (from mine to hers) on a particular account, but didn't bother to change the address to their new love nest. Hence, the piece of mail goes to her name at my address.
Since there's no Emily Post moment for this, what does one do in such a delicate situation? Return it to sender after correcting the addressee to Skanky McWhoreface? Deliver it personally to the happy couple's new love palace? Burn it in a voodoo ceremony?
Really, I want to know. Because it's just sitting in my car right now with all the other junk mail from today's haul.
My first-floor neighbor moved this past weekend, and I was sad to see her go. She was a sweet older woman, living alone with her two dogs. She had a wonderful Southern drawl, porcelain skin, and gorgeous white hair. We often chatted while running into each other outside. Instead of saying goodbye, she always told me to have a blessed day.
Last year she broke her hip and had been using a wheelchair and walker since then. She had been getting around fine, but the event must have resonated with her family because plans were made for her to move closer to them.
She seemed agitated on moving day. I watched her shake her head in frustration. I didn't know if she was mad at the movers or at this new less independent phase of life. I just know that the last time I saw her she was shaking her head, while her daughter was waiting in the driver's seat of her car, not even noticing her mother's frustration.
Now the apartment is empty. New carpet was put in yesterday, and painting is happening today. It's like she was never there. Apartment complexes tend to be for the less-permanent parts of life, but still it's easy to see just how quickly people can be replaced.
So wherever my former neighbor is, I hope she's having a blessed day. Meanwhile I'll be here inhaling paint fumes from her former apartment while wondering who my new neighbor will be.
My industry conference adventure is almost over. It was fun being important for a few days. Tomorrow I will go back to being a nobody again.
There's a big party tonight, but I just can't do it. I need some alone time. The week has been emotional. Inspirational. Over-stimulating. Seeing my friends one last time would be the icing on the cake. But even I know too much icing isn't a good thing.
So instead I'm going to have a quiet dinner, then go back to my hotel room and pack up my new-found conference treasures among my worn clothes. While trying to fit it all in one suitcase, I'll think about the friends I saw and all I experienced. So many people asked how I was doing. They've actually followed my life online and they care. I want to use this anti-social time to let that sink in.
So sorry to those who expected to see me tonight, but I need to be a party of one.
I just met the most incredible stranger, and I think he changed my life.
You see, I'm at a conference of the industry variety, filled with the usual things I expect in my field. However, yesterday I met a person and made a good contact. Then today, when I was hanging out with my new friend "good contact," I met "random stranger," who is delightful and energetic. Mr. Stranger is a "brand." I'll admit, it's a pretty good brand, different from the others like him. I'd totally subscribe to his message if I had young kids.
Anyway....Mr. Stranger and I were chatting at a conference mixer. I commented that I overheard his elevator speech today and I loved it and was in awe of it. That got us to talking about how he knew *this* was his thing.
The more he and I talked, the more I realized we were cut from the same cloth. We were two different people in two different fields, whose paths just happened to cross at this event.
I told him what I was doing in life, versus what my life was telling me I needed to do. He'd been there, done that. He told me what I needed to start doing, like getting a website. Bingo. And a social media presence. Bingo.
We talked and talked, until someone came up to borrow his time. That was ok. This random stranger gave me the message I needed to hear.
Just another example of being in the right place at the right time. Life has a way of putting you in the places you need to be so you can hear what you need to hear.
Thank you, Random Stranger. If I get nothing else out of this conference, my chance meeting with you was worth the trip.
And P.S. he said I should totally write the book. Totally.
I finished chapter 4 of the second draft today. It's hard to rehash painful times, but it needs to be done to properly tell the story. I don't talk much about this process in person, because I don't want to deal with the skepticism and doubts.
No, it's not a libelous hate book about my ex. This is my story about me, though I suppose credit is in order since there would be no book if there wasn't a cheater to start the narrative. I do think I can put a unique spin on an old autobiographical tale. This book isn't for the people around me. It's for those I haven't met yet who will go through the same fire. I want them to know they'll come out ok on the other side.
I have so many doubts that I don't need to hear anyone else's doubts about my work. I don't know why I'm suddenly moving this project forward at such a clip. There's a drive coming from somewhere, but I can't identify the location. I just get up each morning and move the book forward because the spirits/forces/wind/voices in my head tell me to do so.
My memoir game feels weak (as does this post) so I'm revisiting Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird. I read it years ago. I recalled her chapter called "shitty first drafts" as I completed my own horrible first effort. It's bad, and that's ok.
Now I'm revisiting Bird to get inspiration for the second draft. So far it's working. This process won't be pretty, but I will see it through because this story is telling itself for those who need to hear it.
Today I wrote 1,717 words. I completed chapters 1 and 2 of my second draft of the book I'm writing about my divorce. It's been in the works for a while, always getting pushed aside when life gets in the way.
Well now it's been given top-priority status. The first draft was finished over the summer of 2016. As with all first drafts, this one stunk even by landfill parameters. It was my story told blandly, without any voice. But you know what? I finished it, chapters and all.
I started on the second draft in October 2016. I expanded on the boring story, adding descriptions and dialogue in the right places. It's still not fabulous, but I can see my voice in it now and that's what was missing from the first draft.
You'll be surprised to know that "the story of my divorce" is not a hate-filled rant about a cheating ex. In fact, he plays very little in the narrative and nothing at all since then.
But back to today. 1,717 words in five hours isn't great, but it isn't horrible either. Given the fact that I was revisiting the worst part of my life, I think I was pretty damn productive. Onward.
New thing number 3: I sold a house I didn't even want to horrible people who deserve to have said dwelling tightly rolled up karma style and shoved up their asses. That horrible.
But it's done. Praise the Lord and this bizarre horse girl; it's done.
That's all I'm going to say about that. Onward.
I've ordered myself to try 100 new (to me) things. This isn't a new-year resolution. Rather, it's a gentle nudge to move and grow, all while getting out of my comfort zone. There is no deadline, because that's not how I do life. It ends when it ends.
Technically, my first new thing happened before Christmas. Since it took some effort on my part, I figured it was a good way to start the list.
1. Catch an exhibit at the fine-arts museum. I've never been to my city's fine-arts museum. That's kind of sad given how long I've lived here. That all changed when I saw an impressionist exhibit was there. I got there at noon, treated myself to lunch and spent some hours wandering through the exhibit all my myself. I have no problem with the solo thing. In fact, I preferred it in this instance. I could enjoy everything at my speed. It was a good "new thing" to start my list.
2. Go out on New Year's Eve. (to a stranger's house! Ack!) - I don't like going out on New Year's Eve. Mostly because I'm 100% positive everyone on the road that night is drunk. This time, however, I made an exception. I went to a party and was the designated driver for the night. This was ever so slightly out of my comfort zone because the NYE party scene is not my bag and I wouldn't even have the social crutch of booze to get me through it. What ended up happening is that I had a ton of fun and got my cargo home safely. If everyone on the road was drunk, I didn't even notice.
Ok, two down, ninety eight to go. LET'S DO THIS!