News from the Trenches

trenches1
I’m feeling a little bit overwhelmed over here but what else is new, right? You know how when you move into a new place, you manage to keep it perfectly clean and orderly for about a year and a half. Maybe it’s a month and a half for you, but you know what I mean. You have some sense of control over your environment because you just moved into a new place and you unpacked everything to go exactly where it’s supposed to go?

And then after that honeymoon of everything being so fresh and new, you start to let go of control a little. The carpet isn’t always vacuumed everyday and your daughter tracks in bits of grass and the laundry isn’t quite folded the exact same day you washed it and the tracks in your shower door are starting to get moldy and gross and the grout in your kitchen tile is starting to collect coffee grinds…bla bla bla…?

No?

Maybe it’s just me. I’m having one of those everything-is-gross-and-I’m-really-super-hyper-aware-of-it moments. Like I drank too much coffee and I need to pick at everything kinda feeling. I hate that. Life can be a little too vivid sometimes. I need to dial my awareness back a notch or drink two glasses of wine instead of the usual one.

Anyway, I just wanted to check in and say hi before I have to slap up another sponsored post. You guys are going to start thinking I only blog for money these days. Sad. Pathetic. What happened to my life where I blogged every little fart that passed?

So what else is new?

I dabbled in a little online dating this week. Of the free variety. What a crock!!! Oh my goodness. You know, there are a lot of creeps out there. I started chatting with three guys and all three of them turned out to be scam artists. In fact they may have all been the same scam artist using three different profiles. Thankfully, I caught on before I gave them my social security number and credit cards. Sheesh! Maybe the magazine-quality bio photos should have been a red flag? Hmmm….. I may be lonely but I’m not that lonely. I have met two real people who seem to be interesting. It’s kind of scary and fun at the same time. I’m not sure how I feel about it.

I just hope they are as old and hopeless as I am. Or that they aren’t as old and hopeless as I am. It’s scary meeting people that you don’t know. You advertise your best self and then they are disappointed when you show up with a few extra pounds and a double chin or you under-advertise and you end up meeting whackos who are so insecure you have three online fights with them over whether or not you are really interested enough to meet in public. Maybe meeting someone at a bar is not so bad after all. I’m starting to think I do need to be drunk to date again.

But don’t worry. I’m fine. It was just something fun one day when I was bored and Bug was away on vacation with her dad. I am not becoming one of those moms who goes out every night. I probably am not going to meet anyone until I’m 60. We’ll have a hot shuffleboard date.

Secondly. I’m a little bent out of shape with amazon.com lately. Have you noticed my book is out of stock every single day? I thought it was because it was so popular it was flying off the shelves. No. That is not the case at all. I sold about 37 books. Seriously.

They are just not printing them. Some kind of distribution battle between the actual printer and amazon. I’m just over it. If you want to buy my books, I say click over to Barnes and Noble. They don’t seem to have a problem keeping them on the virtual shelves.

In other book news, I will be reading at the Mesa Verde Library in Costa Mesa this Thursday the 12th at 7pm. I plan to do a little craft too and I don’t have anyone lined up to read the French parts for me so that might be a little piece of entertainment for you locals. Come listen to me make a fool of myself!

What’s new with you, pussycats?

You’re Really Talented but you Lack Focus

wayback

I remember a long time ago one of my friends, a guy who I really respected but we treated each other like peers, wandered into my office.  You’re really talented, he said, but you lack focus.  Those words have haunted me a long time, probably over ten years. I know he’s right but I still to this day have not figured out how to fix this problem.

He worked in a cube, diligently. Every morning he’d show up a half hour before work and read the paper. I think it was the New York Times or the Wallstreet Journal or something.  I asked him why one time. Why didn’t he just stay home and read that paper in the comfort of his own breakfast table? He smiled and said something about not giving everything to “the man.” I think I got it but I was the kind of employee who snuck personal time all day long. A half hour before work was hardly selfish in my book.

I had a luxurious office recently handed down to me by the president of the company because he felt guilty about something. I’m not really sure what. Maybe because I’d been with the company a really long time and wasn’t properly compensated or maybe because I was going to be sidestepped for a promotion. I don’t know.  Office politics were always tricky at that company. I was just happy to be upgraded from a cubicle by the bathroom (that stank!!) to a spacious office, even if it didn’t have windows.

I was good at my job and churned out all kinds of mock-ups that got sales people fat commission checks so it wasn’t that I was a bad employee but I did spend a lot of time fixing up my office (best office in the whole place by the way) and making rocket ships out of the cardboard boxes that piled up outside the IT department. So I guess I get what the guy meant when he said I was really talented but lacked focus.

But how does someone who is creative focus? That is the eternal question of a freelancer.  It’s been dogging me for years.

Stress and deadlines are effective but they lack staying power and they wreck havoc on your life. You end up hunched over a computer with posture like Quasimodo. Everything hurts because you drink too much coffee and you sleep too little. Finally your body rebels and you end up having some kind of breakdown or you rebel and blow everybody off for three weeks (not that I’ve done that).

So then you set yourself up with a strict schedule. You vow to wake up at five am and work until three without even so much as a lunch break. I’ve used timers and highlighted calendars. I’ve worked at friend’s houses and asked them to be strict with me. But in the end you are your own boss and you rebel. Next thing you know you’re typesetting a cookbook for your mom or creating a dollhouse out of cereal boxes, schedule be damned.

I recently took my entire weekend off and read the whole first Outlander book. You might say, How nice. You needed to relax. No, I didn’t. I relax all the time. I’m forced to work poolside after all.  It was stupid and gluttonous and I’m going to be paying for it all week. I’m sick of myself. Not to mention my kid ran wild, eating taffy for dinner and who knows what for lunch. I was a horrible mom and I vow to never do that again.

Why do I do things like this? I love to escape into a series on Netflicks or lose myself in books but then when I’m done I’m left looking at my life like a druggie about to go into rehab. How did I let things go like this?  Of course everyone is fine. Don’t worry. My bills are paid, my kid is mostly well adjusted and I usually snap back to responsibility right in the nick of time but why? Why can’t I be like my friend who came in a half hour before work and get my personal time in small doses? Why do I need to throw caution to the wind and lose myself in fantasy?  Is my own life that boring? No. Of course it’s not. I love my life.

I’m rambling.

I speak for myself but as a creative I am my own worst boss. Or am I?  As soon as I set rules for myself I break them.  Is there a way to harness creative energy in such a way that we can support ourselves and not deplete ourselves?  This is obviously not a well-thought-out rant but I lack the time to be more concise. My boss, who is me, is getting after me. Focus, Brenda, focus!!

photo: me back in the day circa 1999 I think.