Houses of the Broken and Other Stories

Posts tagged “crisis

Sticks and Stones

In Houses of the Broken, Lacey reflects “There’s nothing more pathetic than being dumped by a loser… ”

But, many of you won’t know if that’s true or not.

After nearly 18 months, my ‘indie publishing’ experience has come to an end. I can’t say I’m thrilled, but the thing about taking a leap of faith is; sometimes you fall. Does it hurt my pride? Sure. Do I feel stupid for trying? Absolutely. Did it send me in to a debilitating pit of despair over the past 6 months? Most definitely.

Will it stop me? No.

I’ve thought long and hard about what I wanted to say, but I won’t say most of it. I don’t want to break the internet. (I have a vivid imagination and the vocabulary of a well educated sailor.) But I feel it can best be summarized the classic parent trap: I’m not mad, I’m just disappointed.

I gambled and I lost. It happens, just spend an afternoon browsing Writer Beware. What will I do now? Rally. It might take longer than I like, the Valley of Darkness is long and wide, but eventually it will sink on the horizon behind me. And there it will remain, a wasteland of forgotten times.

I’ve come eye to eye with the worst than can happen. From now on, there is no fear, just some healthy motivation based on spite.

xoxo

-Katherine

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Third Life – Fool’s Gold – Week 2: Don’t Look Up

It only took a couple of days before I realized one fatal flaw to my plan of reinvention. Once you know someone, you don’t look at them. You might see them, and acknowledge their presence enough to hand them something or not run in to them at the coffee pot, but you don’t really LOOK at them.

Short of wearing bells, I’m not sure any subtle changes to my appearance or stance are going to get noticed. Maybe it’s a good thing, since it answers the big ‘what if’ but it seems like a lackluster result.

The dreary cold will not let go in our region. I suspect that until the sun shines for a couple days and we start to see the flush of green, that most people will still continue in their hibernation state.

Wake me in July.


Third Life: Fool’s Gold – Week 1: Gilding the Gauntlet

Is it better to be pretty or smart? Welcome to my poorly contrived social experiment.

As my professional and life experience grows and I become entrusted with more responsibility, I can’t help but feeling more left behind. I’m in my mid-30’s, never been a ‘girly girl’ and most often wore the badge of ‘nerd’ in my academic days. I have a mind for problem solving, and enough social skills to get me through some of the most complicated business meetings (Smiling through clenched teeth should be listed on my resume under special skills or maybe additional languages.)

This bad idea started as most bad ideas do. At the bottom of a glass at the end of the bar, at the end of another long, confusing, frustrating week. “… you know, I have a push up bra too, maybe I need to wear it to start getting some recognition around there…” And that’s all it takes for an idea to bloom in the prickly garden of discontent.

I wish I could encapsulate the montage of identity crisis that followed.

“Maybe I should dress nicer… maybe I should wear make up… maybe I should keep my mouth shut…” this would go on for a few minutes before the angel on the other side chimed in.

“Screw them! Your cup size has nothing to do with how well you do your job. Big hair and bad perfume shouldn’t dictate who gets more attention.”

“But….” the other side would whisper “… it does.”

I was vexed. After some serious rationalizations and my friends evenly dividing between “No, you don’t need it!” and “Do what makes you feel best.” I decided to hit the warpaint store. I don’t even know how to shop for make up right. It all looks the same to me and all costs 3x more than I think it should. My goal, however, was fairly simple. Start testing out new looks. Simple, understated and professional. Going full on clown college was not going to get the right response for my goals. (Well, we may revisit that later…) I am the type that gets funny looks when I show up in something other than boots and dockers. I hate being cold and uncomfortable, and I have to be able to go crawl through a muddy basement or a dusty attic at a moments notice. It’s hard to wear a wiggle dress and climb up on a roof, no matter how dedicated you are to looking fabulous.

While I do sometimes envy the women that can run a 5k in stilettos, I don’t often have issues with the fact that I’m not one of them. (Though being able to wear a pair of heels for more than 5 minutes without an oozing blister or calf knotting foot cramp would be nice.) I do my job, I do it well, and I’m usually pretty well prepared…but… BUT…. not being polished and prissy in the process sometimes holds me to a disadvantage. I don’t get dragged in to extra important meetings (well maybe this isn’t exactly a disadvantage…), and I don’t get invited along to the quick lunches with the clients or consultants when they pass through town. (I’m rethinking this ‘disadvantage’ thing…) And while I hate wasting my time on the social niceties, it still… stings.

So my bargain with myself is thus: Start presenting myself as a stereotypical female, for a month, and see what happens. Maybe nothing. Maybe everything. But then I’ll know.

It was grey and bleak this morning. I took my time getting out of bed, so I didn’t have a lot of extra time on my hands getting ready. My hair was done (takes 5 minutes) and I turned to leave the bathroom.

“Oh… shit… that’s right…” I stared at the medicine cabinet longer than I should have, trying to dismiss this whole idea as silly so I could just be on my way. It only takes a few seconds…the other voice chimed. “Fine.” A few swipes of neutral eyeshadow, enough to claim I did it.

The gauntlet has been thrown.


NaNope

This is National Novel Writing Month… a month that has been sacred to me for years now. It’s a special time when all of my friends and family know to bugger off and leave me alone while I WRITE STUFFS!

It’s been good, it’s been bad, it’s been ugly, but I’m proud to say that over the past few years, despite life being life, I’ve managed to at least hit 50k when it was down to the wire. I work good under pressure, and I know it. And usually, I can buckle down. Usually…

I’m fairly certain I’ve been writing about 5,000 words a day. The problem is, very little of it has been ‘fiction’. Life turned topsy turvy on me in a very short amount of time. I thought the trip west was going to be my biggest obstacle in this year’s process, and I anticipated having to ‘dig out’ once I got back home. Little did I know, that would be the least of my worries. Long distance travel, jet lag, an ill timed sickness… and that was the easy part. The month was young, I still had time. I could have pushed myself, but I didn’t want to burn myself out too early.

And then…

No job. Just like that. *poof* It’s gone. Well, shit.

I’d love to tell you that my book (Houses of the Broken) was doing well enough that I wouldn’t have to worry about being a cube monkey any more, but that’s not yet the case. Working a day job, finding time to write, blog, promote, live life, sleep, eat, bathe occasionally… it takes a toll. And I’m tired.

Now that I sit with more time on my hands, I still can’t find a moment of peace. Suddenly I’m in a scramble to take care of all the things I didn’t have the chance to fit in to a 24 hour day. Meanwhile, I have to evaluate if I’m ready for a permanent career change, if I’m stuck in a career change whether I like it or not, thanks to the lack of current jobs, or if I just want to throw caution to the wind and do something… different. Really different. Flying without a net different.

*spoilers* I’ve always been the conservative one. Even talking about this makes my heart start to tense up ever so slightly. *thumpthump* Ack.

I should be writing right now, but not writing here. That’s the other part of the problem. All this adversity just makes me want to blog, and talk about life and things, and the plight of Generation-X. And maybe wear flannel two sizes too big… I’m feeling nostalgic. I rocked the flannel.

So, this year I get to accept failure. Failure at being an adult, and failure at NaNoWriMo. I’m still chipping away at it, and the good news is, even deep in personal strife, I’m still stacking up the words… just half as fast as usual. I want to just quit, I do… it would be easier. I want to quit everything right now, take my ball, and go home. Maybe hide under the covers too, at least it’s cozy there. I could go for some winter hibernation, hiding from my problems and the difficulties of the real world. Maybe, crazy enough, I will even let myself have some ‘down time’ and not feel guilty about it. Nah. That won’t happen.

At least not until December.


Third Life – Generation X-employee

Again. Seriously?

I almost laughed as my boss handed me my walking papers. “Not enough work,” he said. “Effective immediately,” he shoved a box at me.

Yeah, I know. I’ve heard that before. Two times before actually. This layoff was the least impressive to date. The last time I had to find a job in this market, it took me 6 months, and someone had to die for there to be an opening.

The market has not improved since then.

That same week, reports rolled in from my friends. Laid off. Laid off. Laid off. Five of us in a week. Lord have mercy. This doesn’t even account for other personal disasters. November is a hell of a month.

I can do anything and nothing all at the same time. All of the project lists I’ve been staring at and revising for the past year can now come to fruition. And I have no income. I can finally ride my horse and get back into shape! And I have no health insurance. Forgive me if I don’t want to tempt fate.

I come home to my spouse, ready with a hug. He’s home mid-day because he was already laid off earlier in the week. Second time in my life this double hit has happened. First time with this spouse. Things have a way of going in cycles. We meet up with my parents and do what any good family does: We drink.

It’s Monday morning now, and I’m watching the coffee pot bubble and brew. The coffee pot I bought during my last layoff, because I finally had time to make myself a pot in the morning. The $15 has been well worth it. There are a million things I could be, should be doing, and I have no idea where to start. I’m on borrowed time, never knowing when the next shoe is going to drop, never knowing when the next opportunity is going pop up.

At least this time I’m fairly sure I won’t end up in my parents basement. Small victories.


Third Life – Compression.

This life, while well intended, was a matter of necessity and a good bit of dumb luck. My marriage ended badly, as most marriages that end are prone to do. In a classic case of when it rains it pours, this put me in a difficult position at work during a rocky economic time. I tried and tried to make the best of the situation, but as soon as I was almost done jumping through the hoops to get my life back on track, I was downsized. Before I know it I’m joining the growing throngs of thirty-somethings retreating to the safety of their parents basement to regroup in a time of distress. This arrangement never works well for any of the parties involved, as people who have had to live back under their parents wing all well know.

After a brief sentence in the basement of my youth, I took on the daunting task of making the old family homestead once again habitable. Trying to breathe life into a house that was never particularly nice or well constructed ended in futility but succeeded as a stop gap.

Distraction!

I have a million different things on my mind right now. I can’t focus. I did not get the job. I do not have to move in four weeks or less. I still have to give my kitchen a makeover and now my family is fulling embracing my new significant other. Some days I swear I slipped into a bizarro life when I wasn’t paying attention.

I’m getting ahead of myself. I tend to do that. Often the brain works quicker than the fingers or mouth will compensate for. As a result, most days I only get to express every third thing that actually comes to mind. It’s just easier that way. I find people who aren’t used to my… energy… tend to glaze over and reward me with nothing short of the feeling of beating my head against a brick wall. I’ve taken the time to communicate with you, the least you can do is smile and pretend to listen. It’s the pop quiz at the end that always gets them…

Sometimes I’m evil like that.

I had expected this month to turn out much differently. Yes, I’m only five days in, but it’s amazing what a difference a day can make.

My first honest attempt to leave this town behind has been thwarted. This was not pleasant news. The job market is thin at best for my industry and missing out on an honest opportunity is daunting at best. I guess my shock and awe at not only being called once, but being called back a second time should have been a good indicator. Always listen to your gut. Always.

In many ways, I’m breathing a sigh of relief. The acquisition of that job would have meant a month full of frenzy and a winter full of angst. A quick temporary move up to my home town with enough clothes to last me and my pets riding shot gun while simultaneously trying to wrap up the home improvements at my actual home several hours away, list it on the market and wait for it to sell as I start the renovations on an old house I just couldn’t help but get myself in to. Which is not habitable, of course.

I’m sensing a pattern.

Indeed, I was mentally steeling myself for life once again on the open road, mid winter, through the heart and soul of the snow ridden hill country. I was organizing my closet in the slow hours at work, debating what things would be of critical nature to take for the new job and wondering if they had a dress code that would force me to go shopping. Again.

I hate shopping.


Third Life – Liquid Lunch.

I pull off my mirrored sunglasses and pink Harley jacket and sit down at the bar for lunch. It’s only Tuesday but I need a break.

The effeminate bartender in front of me stomps his foot and declares across the bar, “I hate women!” Looking over just a second too late at his new patron.

“Oh, sorry…” he smiles sheepishly.

“It’s o.k., I hate women too.” I flash him a grin and a wink and order my beer.

I shouldn’t be here now. It wasn’t supposed to be like this. Though ‘this’ isn’t really a bad place to be. It’s the two year anniversary of the split from my husband and honestly, I don’t need solace or even a shoulder to sniffle on. This makes me smile.

I take a glance around the bar and wonder why everyone in this town has to look like my ex mother in law. A healthy dose of paranoia has kept me looking over my shoulder for the past two years. In truth it was mostly unfounded, but old habits die hard. Every trip out in public starts with a scan of the crowd. Every venture in to the mall veers me far away from her favorite stores and the family’s known haunts. And I don’t go to Wal-Mart unless I absolutely have to. It really doesn’t inconvenience me much, and at this point it’s become a matter of habit. Most days I hardly even notice.

I’ve never seen her. And nowadays I’m not quite sure what I would do if I did. Visions of hair pulling and assault charges danced in my head for the longest time; initiated from either side of the fence. Some days I wake up and hear her being quoted on the local radio. Yeah, that’s a lovely start to the day. She practically runs this town, and I do my best to live under radar.

I take a deep breath and remind myself that all of that unpleasantness was twenty four months and thirty five pounds ago. A bold cropped haircut, some new clothes, and a revived inner confidence that has brought the sparkle back to my smile and I’ve practically put myself into witness protection right before my very eyes.

It was unintentional, I swear. Mostly.

I’ve carved out a nice little life for myself really, despite the odds.  Sometimes I don’t give myself enough credit. Other times I probably give myself too much. I practically have the American dream. A nice house, built in the twenties, with built ins and beveled glass as far as the eye can see. A spunky, not so little, lab pup waiting at home for me that likes to keep me on my toes by chasing her down for my favorite shoes. Or socks. Or deodorant. My two cats, who at this point have become my longest standing adult relationship, lurk on the radiator boxes at the window sills waiting to watch movies with me or get a belly rub if I feel so generous. When I walk into the kitchen they twist themselves around my ankles and pretend it’s an option for me to walk away.

There’s even a nice little vegetable garden in the back yard that out produces anything I could possibly eat by myself without turning orange from tomato overload. On the weekends I mow my lawn, do my laundry and head to the local butcher shop for a little bit of meat and a lot of gossip.  What more could a girl ask for?

And what am I thinking as I sit here? I. Want. Out.