Catching Up and Moving Forward.

Dear Cyber-Friends,

Wow, I’m really bad at this regular blogging thing… So, as I probably mentioned at the beginning of summer, I’m back in Montana until October. My current goals include finishing this draft of the novel by winter, and figuring out what the hell my plans are with my life. The Mansion community life is not for me, despite my earlier enthusiasm (I think I was excited in that post — I honestly can’t remember and haven’t bothered to look.), and one of the things I need to figure out is if, when I get back there this autumn, I’m going to stick it out until the lease expires, or if I’m going to try and find a graceful way to say “I can’t stand living with some of you” and pack up all my stuff again and find a new storage unit. I also need to figure out what I’m going to do for work in the winter. I could probably come back to the ranch, but I’m not sure if that’s a good idea; it feels like asking for burnout again. But if I’m not doing that, the question becomes am I going to stay in Seattle or find somewhere new to go?

I’d planned on using this summer to figure out the answer to those questions, but I haven’t exactly made anything resembling progress on that front. Now I’m running out of time, and the default/easy path is sticking out the lease and staying in Seattle for the winter. There are worse things in the world — this would at least mean I’d be close to my friends again for a while — but I’m not sure that’s the best thing to base my decisions on. On the other hand, trying to be too deliberate with my choices kind of got me into this mess in the first place, soooooo…..

In less indecisive news, I now have an outline for the rest of my novel, meaning the end is (finally) in sight! I need to hammer out some details with the plot and get a timeline of events for each character, and then all that’s left to do is finish writing the draft…and then let beta readers read and comment, and work on the next draft, and start plotting the sequel… a writer’s work is never really done, but there are certain milestones that feel pretty damn major when you get near them, and this is definitely the case now. So that’s pretty cool*.

[*read: sofreakingexcitingomgyay!!!]

I also have a new tattoo, which includes a Hamilton quote, and plans for the next two or three. The next one might be as soon as October, when I’m planning on visiting a certain writer friend in Portland. The friend, and the writing, are significant to the tattoo. It’s going to be amazing. Other than that, and a couple gorgeous hikes, Montana Shakespeare In the Parks, and Music in the Meadows, it’s been a pretty quiet summer. All the drama that always happens around and among seasonal workers (seriously, it is the stuff reality shows are made of.) has managed to not directly involve me this time, for which I’m extremely thankful. The job is relatively easy and repetitive, nothing too demanding, so even after a harder night I can usually be fully recovered for the next shift (mentally, if not physically. The tendonitis resurfaced for a while, but I got it calmed down again without having to involve medical people this time).

I haven’t done any painting yet, despite having brought canvas and brushes and paints. I haven’t worked with either of the tarot decks I brought, or with the OBOD workbooks, or any of the other creative productive projects I’d optimistically packed into my car and dragged along with me. Sometimes I feel like I’m about ready to crawl out of my skin, or find a hole to creep into and hide forever, or cry and not know why, or just run away without a destination, but even if it’s by the skin of my teeth and my ripped off fingernails, I somehow keep holding on. I’m not sure if it means I’ve gotten better at my coping skills for dealing with my¬†depression and anxiety, or if I just haven’t gotten as bad this summer. I’ve still got a long way to go, of course, but it’s nice to think I’m at least starting to get more dependably functional.

So, yeah, that’s pretty much where things are at. Not too much to report, I guess. Mostly just thinking out loud. On the internet. In front of strangers. And friends. And family. And it’s nice that I can do that sometimes, when I need to. It’s nice to have the option, even if I don’t use it as much as I probably should. It’s nice to know that I have friends and family out there who care about me enough to read this. It’s nice to feel like I’m talking to them without having actually talk (thanks for that, Anxiety. And you, Low Self-estimate, don’t think I don’t see you lurking back there, too…). Whatever happens, whatever I decide or put off deciding until it’s decided for me, I know I’ll still have this, and I know having this has gotten me through significantly worse times of my life.

Thank you. I love you. I’m sending you all awkward internet hugs.

Love,

GeGi.

 

 

Writing! All the writing…

Dear Cyber-Friends,

So, you might have noticed an absence of new posts recently. This is just a quick update to let you know that 1) sorry about that, 2) I will eventually have proper new posts again, even if it’s just the Goodreads Crossovers, and 3) tell you why I haven’t been blogging.

The past two-and-a-bit weeks, I’ve been visiting a friend of mine in Portland. We’re both basically unpublished writers, and we’re both working on our first novels, and have been encouraging each other towards this endeavor for, I think, about the past two years. We keep in touch on Twitter a lot, but getting to hang out in person to bounce ideas of each other and cheer each other on is so much better. While I’ve been here, my friend has finished their first draft, and I went from zero words to around 30k words for my second draft/kind of major rewrite.

It’s been amazing and unreal and so very very productive (for novel writing), but it also means I’ve done very little besides write a ridiculous amount of words every day and then tried to recover from the feeling of my brain starting to ooze out my ears a little. On a really good writing day, I have to recover enough to even form proper sentences and find the correct words when I’m¬†talking out loud, because I’ve used up all the words I have for the day in my writing. Those are the days we pretty much end up sitting around laughing at the cat for an hour or so because the cat is hilarious and we don’t have the energy to do anything requiring more concentration. In fact if I seem a bit silly or rambling right now, it’s because I’ve already written over 2k words for the novel, as well as note for the plot. For comparison, NaNoWrMo says to average just over 1.6k to finish a novel-length in a month. I’ve been averaging well over that for less than two weeks.

The thing is, I don’t know how much longer I’ll have this much free time, and I know I only have a few more days here in Portland with my friend, so I really want to get as much done as possible while I have those advantages. Ideally, I think my goal is that by the end of the year I’d like to have this novel done and have started working on getting it proof-read and edited and looking into publishing. It’s been a long time coming, and I’d really like to see this story out there–at least on a small scale, but who knows?

Anyway, I’m not proof-reading this post or anything, and it’s already about twice as long as I expected, so I’m just going to sign off now and go to bed.

Keep chasing those dreams, friends, and stay safe out there.

Love,

GeGi.

Goodreads Review: Anna and the French Kiss.

Anna and the French Kiss (Anna and the French Kiss, #1)Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This felt really cute. That’s the feeling it leaves me with, the lingering taste in my mouth from the sweet fluffy joy at the end. But the reason I liked it isn’t just because of those final pages. I liked it because it wasn’t all light and fluff and falling in love. I remember falling in love as a teenager being huge and kind of scary and confusing and wonderful and difficult and all the things, and this book really seemed to capture the good intentions and bad choices and oblivious moments that come with being young and not having had much life experience.

Anna as narrator felt real and genuine to me. She was multi-dimensional, and she felt like an actual teenager when compared to my own experiences of the age. She fumbled and made mistakes and fell into bad choices, but she also learned from it and built amazing friendships and fell in love and gained becoming her own person. I went into this book thinking I’d just like it. Now that I’m thinking back on it, though, it feels like something I’ll be returning to in the future.

Also, as a side note: the descriptions of Paris REALLY make me want to go there. Like, so badly.

View all my reviews

Travel Log: First Leg.

Dear Cyber-Friends,

Today I basically woke up inside a cloud. With me inside this cloud is the city of Portland, OR.

View from the bedroom/living room window.

View from the bedroom/living room window.

After my adventures in Montana, I took the scenic route back into my old home-state of Idaho, driving on a two-lane highway winding alongside and back and forth over the Clark Fork river. I added several hours to my trip, but it was worth it for the beautiful scenery, the more relaxing experience, and the avoidance of a monotonous freeway.

I took a break from the road in Sandpoint, ID; the next largest town to where I grew up. I walked around a bit, seeing familiar sights and noticing changes from the last time I was there. It’s the first time I’ve been back since I moved out on my own, seven or eight years ago (I think… It might have been longer).

Back in the southern reaches of my old stomping grounds.

Back in the southern reaches of my old stomping grounds.

From here I continued on the more scenic highway until I got to Spokane, WA, where I finally relented to the necessities of time and got on the freeway to cross Washington. I headed towards Tacoma, and made it to my aunt and uncle’s house in time for dinner!

First order of business the next day — after tea, breakfast, and visiting, of course — was swinging by my storage unit to drop off as much as I could reasonably part with for the next year. After that, I took my car in to get a pre-road trip check-up, and then I was free to just relax and have fun the rest of my visit!

It was awesome getting to hang out with some of the family again; I went to a couple yoga classes with my aunt, went out to dinner with two of my cousins, hung out in the incredible apartment one of them just moved into (and meet her cat!), got treated to lunch by another uncle… I love my Washington-based relations, and it’s always a good time when we get together.

In the middle of my Tacoma stay, I took a quick trip up to Seattle and Bellevue to visit a few more friends. In Seattle, we went out for dinner at Some Random Bar (one of my favorite places — check it out the next time you’re there. Seriously.), and hung out afterwards watching a favorite show back at their home. In Bellevue, we test-ran a tabletop RPG one of the household has created, and had a total blast. That’s got to be one of the funnest gaming experiences I’ve had, and I absolutely want to play again!

After a short week in Washington, it was time to move on. I drove to Portland, OR yesterday, and am now enjoying the hospitality of a fellow unschooler and twitter-friend! Last night we listened to Welcome to Night Vale (the feral dogs episode), watched some Classic Doctor Who (Tom Baker era, “The Brain of Morbius”), and watched the first episode of Galavant. Much geeky fun was had by all (obviously!).

I’ll be here for a couple days, hanging out and exploring Portland. On Friday I’ll be taking off again, driving through Oregon, and meeting up with my brother for the first time since we were all last in Idaho. I’m so excited to visit him! I’ll be spending a long weekend at his place before I venture on into Territory Unknown…

I’ll keep you posted.

Love,

GeGi.

On The Road Again…

Dear Cyber-Friends,

I’m writing this from a cafe several towns away from the Montana ranch. My season there has ended, and I spent Easter packing the last of my things into my VERY full car, and taking a scenic highway route that added about two hours (compared to the freeway route) to the first leg of my month-long trip. The extra time and mileage was worth it; it was beautiful, for one thing, and for another it gave me time to really put some mental space between me and work.

Since I last wrote here, some interesting things happened at work. It happened one morning when I walking into the housekeeping building, and discovered the two co-workers who had been scheduled to open were not there, with no sign that they had ever been there since I’d left the night before. I called the boss, who sent me to wake them up. When I checked their rooms, it was obvious they had both packed up and taken off in the middle of the night, leaving us short-staffed by half our crew. Oh, and this was the weekend our VIPs (the owners of the ranch and a bunch of their friends, plus a few others) were showing up.

After some mad scrambling and last-minute rescheduling, we actually pulled off a very successful weekend for our veeps (fortunately they were really low-key and low maintenance). By the time the dust settled, the three of us who were left (me, the boss, and the boss’s assistant manager) realized that pretty much all the tension and drama we’d been experiencing all season had gone with the two who ran off. Ditto for the tension, drama, and dirty dishes back at the shared housing.

Needless to say, the season ended strong. We all felt more relaxed and mellow, and had a lot more fun. We finished our Deep Cleans of the cabins with a day to spare, while working about four hour days. My end-of-season review with the boss was the best I’ve ever received from anyone — to the point where I’m actually considering returning next winter. And my remaining co-worker and I were getting along so well by the end of it we even went out for lunch together on our last day!

Now my road trip begins; first stop is visiting the family I stayed with on Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve, and hanging out with one of my internet friends. Next, if it works out (I need to make a call and find out if I have a place to spend the night), I’ll be visiting my old hometown in Idaho, which I haven’t seen in seven or eight years. Then on to Tacoma to stay with an Aunt and Uncle, and more visiting of friends (a common theme of this trip). After a short week there, I’ll head south to Portland (another friend), then Grant’s Pass (my brother, who I haven’t seen since we left our old hometown). After that, there’s just a few more confirmed stops (an old friend in Utah, another in Colorado, the one in Texas), which I’ve mentioned in a previous post. It’s going to epic.

I’ll try to post at least semi-regularly throughout my trip. My new replacement laptop/tablet should help with that — it’s smallish, easy to use, has a great battery life, and connects with my phone. And of course I’ll be on Twitter most days, too, at least a little bit. If nothing else, writing a blog post gives me a great excuse to hang out at local cafes for hours, which is totally one of my favorite things to do in a new town!

I’m also going to try and write more on my sci-fi novel. I’ve been taking a break from it, because my old laptop had a bit of an accident which shorted out the keyboard (hence the new replacement), and using an on-screen keyboard when it isn’t a touchscreen is a MAJOR pain and very time-consuming. Obviously, I could have kept writing with pen-and-paper, but my writing style — my “voice” — changes with different mediums, and I wanted to maintain consistence. A forced break can be good, though; I’ll be seeing the plot and characters with fresh eyes and a replenished well of ideas.

Adventures await…

Stay safe out there, friends, and happy travels on your journeys — even if it’s only your journey through Life.

Love,

GeGi.

 

Travel Log Update: Seattle To Montana.

Dear Cyber-Friends,

I have left Seattle, and am now settling into my winter job in Montana. New job means I probably won’t be online as much as I was during my off-season. My new roommates and I are already talking about how we want to hike all the trails and learn to ski/snowboard during our time here. I’m so insanely happy to be back among snow-covered pine trees again, and am already looking forward to having a white Christmas like it almost always was when I grew up. We’ll see how I feel by the end of my four months, of course, but for now I’m remembering all the reasons why winter was one of my favorite seasons.

LMR day one

The months I spent in the city went by so very quickly. Despite having all that extra time as compared to past vacations, I still felt I barely got to see most of my old friends. That, combined with the fact that one of my favorite people there is getting married in the middle of next summer, makes me tempted to go back sooner than I’d planned. For now, though, the only thing I know for certain are where I’m spending my winter, and that I’ll be road-tripping in April. Beyond that, I’ll need to start job hunting again.

The drive from Seattle to here was a good test run for those future road-trips. For example, I discovered that when driving long distance by myself, the only thing that really helps with the drowsiness of freeway monotony is singing along to music, preferably musicals soundtracks. Being the kind of obsessive and fickle fangirl I am, I indulged in the chance to listen/sing to the newest musical to cross my path — the four songs from the 200th episode of Supernatural. I have no idea how many times I listened to it on repeat, but I’m sure anyone else in the car would have been ready to kill me over it. I, on the other hand, now know all the words, and still get a case of feels listening to it.

I broke up the trip into two days, and I spent the night — Thanksgiving — with a family I met through Airbnb. I arrived around 6pm, fully expecting to get shown my room and left alone while they celebrated the holiday together. I was utterly wrong, and couldn’t be more delighted about it. They immediately welcomed me in, invited me to eat with them, and to join them in making music and playing games for half the night. Conversation flowed easily, and I felt like I was part of the family, or that they were a long-lost branch of mine. The welcome lasted into the next morning, where I joined them for breakfast, got invited to see the restaurant they were remodeling, and asked to come back anytime.

This is the sort of thing that makes me want to travel. Friendship can spring up at any time, in any place. There are so many amazing people out there, so many chances to be welcomed into a new and awesome family simply because you happen to be passing through at just the right time. If you don’t get out there into the world, you’ll miss so many adventures and experiences, so much laughter and joy, so many peaceful quiet shared moments, so much pleasure and new inside jokes. There’s endless possibilities out there. Some days, I just want to dive headfirst into all of it.

Love,

GeGi.

“A scar does not form on the dying. A scar means, I survived.”

Dear Cyber-Friends,

Most of the time, I try to be pretty cheerful and positive on this blog. This is not always an accurate picture of who I am in physical life. (I prefer calling it my physical life instead of my “real” life, because the internet can be just as much a real part of life as the physical bits.)

I’m sure that’s pretty true of most blogs; still, though, I want to talk a little about why I make that particular choice with this blog. However, first I want to mention why I’m going to talk about it.

Over the past year, give or take a bit, and especially the past month or two, I’ve become part of an online family of friends. Two in particular — real life sisters — have been through a few ordeals of their own recently. They have been amazing through the parts of it I’ve heard about. The vulnerability, honesty, and openness that they have shown in dealing with trauma is nothing short of awe-inspiring bravery. Their strength has encouraged me to start sharing a little more than I normally do.

By exposing the parts of ourselves that are most wounded, perhaps we can start to heal. By telling our stories, perhaps others will feel less alone in their own. By recognizing and naming the bad, perhaps we can start to build the good.

My own family hasn’t been the greatest at doing this. They kept a lot of secrets that I had no clue about, stuff they just didn’t talk about. For example, I didn’t know depression was prevalent in both sides of the family females until I was breaking down weeping after years of silent struggle. Imagine what a difference that could have made, if I hadn’t felt like something was broken in me for so long, if I hadn’t felt so alone in my pain.

Not talking about the negative things isn’t healthy, and it isn’t helpful. If everyone else keeps the bad stuff hidden and not talked about, it just leads to feeling isolated when we go through it ourselves. Those who have the strength and courage need to drag it kicking and screaming into the open, point at it and proclaim “this is real, this happens, this happened to me”. Only then can those without the strength begin to do the same.

So, on to my personal story…

This blog has become a kind of therapy, giving myself an exercise to find positive things to say and to think about. Here is why that is so important for me:

I struggle pretty much daily with anger and depression. I have for, well, about as long as I can remember. Even as a small kid, I had a lot of anger and a short temper — ask any of my family and they can tell you the stories.

Looking back, I can recognize the isolation and frustration I felt then, the fears and worries, the things that were just part of life to me. I didn’t know how else to be, what other options there were. I didn’t have any control or channels. Those things came much later, and with much deliberate work.

Teenagehood made things worse in a lot of ways. It’s always a difficult transition for anyone, I think, and it was no different for me. The depression got worse as the isolation and frustration got more prominent. The resulting anger turned more inward, bursting out in not-always-expected directions. And there were other things — like my best friend and first love dying — that made everything more intense and difficult to deal with.

The first part of my twentiesomethings were spent living alone, in a city; two things I had no previous experience with. I won’t say I wasn’t ready for it, because I don’t think I could really ever have been ready for it without actually having done it.

I made a lot of choices that I look back on as stupid mistakes, but I recognize that they were part of a learning curve. They made me the person I am now. I am lucky that nothing worse happened, and I recognize how much worse things could have been. For the record, I like who I am now. Mostly. Basically.

Still, I eventually hit my own personal rock bottom. I was in a living situation where I felt unwelcome and unsafe, in a relationship where I felt unappreciated and used, isolated once again from friends, and working at a job that was stressful and miserable. I was being emotionally abused and tormented, to the point where I couldn’t recognize what was true or not, and conditioned to blame myself for all wrongs. I was seriously considering killing myself. I needed help, and I needed out.

Two-and-a-bit years ago, I got those things: I moved back to living with my parents. Not in the house or even the state I grew up in, but in a place that I was still familiar with and felt like a second home. I spent some time recovering, having the safety and freedom to start to process all that had happened while on my own, good and bad.

Then I started to push myself in new ways. I started making long-term commitments to projects, like my photo blog and massage school and bardic training, that I would never have seen through before. I started finishing those things. It was a first, and it felt good. Unreal, a little, but good. I’m proud of myself for those things.

I went back to the city to visit friends, and started to realize how much I’d changed, how far I’d come since I left. I started to feel whole unto myself, for the first time that I can remember.

It’s a struggle, almost every day, to hold on to those positive feelings. There are always things to trigger old thought patterns, years of behavior and social influence, that hurt me. It is so important to have tools to counter those things: good friends, healthy habits, outlets, distractions, commitments with positive reinforcement. This blog is one of my tools. I didn’t realize it for a while, but I recognize it now.

It’s so easy to slip back into being negative, into being harsh or depressed or scared or apathetic. There are a lot of reasons out there to be that way. Sometimes it can even a healthy choice to be that way. It can certainly be a reasonable one.

But for me, for now, it’s a healthier choice to stay positive and reinforce cheerfulness here on my blog. It gives me a chance to practice having an up-beat voice in my head, countering all those worn-out endless loops of criticism. And I have other places to let out the occasional rant and rage, or breakdowns and depression. This place is not for those things.

I hope you all have a positive, cheerful experience in your day, and healthy outlets for dealing with the rest. Whatever your situation, I wish you care and safety.

Be gentle with yourself, and take time to smell the flowers!

Love,

GeGi.