Houses of the Broken and Other Stories

Posts tagged “difficulty

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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When the Levee Breaks

When I grow up, and I mean when I have more control over my own destiny and find myself on the other side of the management desk, I intend to turn things around. Tell your friends what we’re like. Tell our competition what we do. If you don’t like something, say it. Don’t leave it a carefully guarded mystery, festering in a cave of fearful doubt.

The world is slammed with non disclosure agreements and expectations. But I want to disclose. Oh, how I want to disclose.

Too many strings make for a heavy burden when you have to keep nearly every aspect of your daily involvements short, sweet and anonymous. No one wants to get bad press, but the more iron clad the agreement, the more you should keep a wary eye to the big, flashy smiles behind them.

Some people *ahem* are good at telling stories. Some people *ahem* love telling stories and some of the best stories aren’t fiction. Does someone need a champion? Someone to blow the chained cubicles wide open? Someone to ask the other minions if they’ve been treated the same? (I hear some people are good at asking all the wrong questions.)

The best way to keep people happy is to keep your promises. Setbacks are reasonable, if not expected. Deception, well, don’t expect that to succeed for long. Ignoring problems also doesn’t tend to make them go away, unless your goal is to alienate and irritate people in to leaving. And those people, aren’t going to recommend you later down the line, even if they are subject to a gag order.


2014 in Review. AKA – Things I never thought I’d do.

2014 has been a strange year. On paper it doesn’t look so bad, but to many of us it has been a mind numbing, soul crushing sequence of days. For me, this year has seen a lot of unrealized potential. Small flashes in the pan that keep a person spurred on, perhaps. While not much came to fruition, there are a number of things I didn’t realize I even had on my bucket list, that I can now cross off.

The year started with a new job. In the middle of the polar vortex. In a very old building. Nothing like starting a new job and immediately having to notify someone that the plumbing was frozen.

In lighter events, here is a simple list of highlights, there are a million emotional roller coasters that happened as each item played out:

  • Started a new, higher profile job.
  • Pitched a reality TV show.
  • Tried to start a business.
  • Joined roller derby.
  • Auditioned for a different reality TV show.
  • Got a book contract for my first novel.
  • Tried to start a business.
  • Survived a season of roller derby and actually played a bout (at my age!)
  • Covergirl for a photography business.
  • Tried to start a business.
  • Got unintentionally published in a magazine.

This was not a year of travel and adventure for us, it was a year of change and keeping things close to home due to such a shaky job market. Realignment of priorities, establishing some aggressive goals, and keeping ourselves sane. It didn’t always work, and it was never really easy, but we’ve made it so far. I’m still not sure where summer went.

Overall, I wish the word ‘perseverance’ didn’t come up so often, but there’s not much of a choice if you want to change your stars. 2014 started the trend of letting go, and I suspect 2015 will include some of the same. It’s a challenge not to give in and quit when things are hard. I’ve dealt with some new people I hope I don’t ever have to deal with again but I’ve also met some new people I’d like to get to know better.

Pipe dreams were chased and many glass ceilings were revealed. Now all I need is a brick.

All I can say to 2015 is – Bring it on.


Seeking Substance – Is something better than nothing?

I was educated in the school of “Less is More.” Simplicity in design, God is in the details, what have you. Only produce and display the most refined product you can. Do not cloud the message with indecision.

While many times I can refine and revise before pen even hits paper, sometimes it puts me in to analysis paralysis. The ideas filter and loop but nothing quite breaks orbit. Then I start thinking: Well, practice makes perfect, right? To get better, you have to produce, produce, produce.

Where’s the balance? I find myself wanting to do everything and nothing, all at once. Nothing has been winning. Time and energy have been finite resources, and let’s face it: Nothing is a whole lot easier than something.

But I have more fun when I do something, even if it’s wrong. Ok… I’ll be honest…. especially if it’s wrong. (The right kind of wrong, of course!)

So here’s an attempt at something, instead of nothing. Now all I need is a kindred trouble maker to keep the something coming.


Third Life – The 7 year glitch.

The more things change, the more things stay the same … thoughts from this time – 7 years ago…

My Year

This is going to be my year. And no, this is not a resolution, this is a lifestyle change. To think it will all change at once is foolish, but over the past year I have been slowly laying groundwork and reevaluating certain priorities.

One big step in ridding myself of negative influences has been my employment switch. The new job may not turn out to be all it’s cracked up to be, only time will tell, but regardless of that I will always have the fact that I looked out for myself and at least tried.

I really have to stop being so afraid of failure. I’ve taken a lot of chances this past year. Reconnecting with old friends, looking to better my career, trying to come to an understanding with my family, traveling abroad in a time of terrorism and uncertainty. None of those are safe or easy things. Some are big and some are small, but all it takes is a chance, and look where it’s gotten me so far: I have reconnected with my friends, and they didn’t reject me, I got a new job and got an offer from every interview, my family is a work in progress… every family is, but I think it’s getting better. We had a great time traveling and had no problems whatsoever, despite a bomb scare on the very flight we were scheduled for not two weeks before.

I think fear is healthy, but it shouldn’t be paralyzing. There are many times when I avoid activities or events because they’re unknown or uncomfortable and I’m afraid I’ll end up looking stupid or embarrassed or somehow fail. I’ve come to peace with that… I will look stupid, it’s what I do. It’s part of my charm.

Yes, I’m a dork, have always been a dork, will always be a dork, but you know what? The best friends are dork friends. They don’t judge you by your hairstyle or the size of your jeans. They don’t get jealous when something good happens to you, they get excited. They’ll be supportive, even if they might not agree with you. And at the end of the day, they’ll just be there ready to talk, or not talk; whatever you may need.

I’m sure there will be many times when I feel defeated and hopeless. Too tired to care or try anymore and discouraged to the point that I want to crawl in to a dark little hole and never be seen again. It’s hard not to be a self conscious little girl when you’re insecure and afraid. Hopefully I will be encouraged to not give up and have support when I need it. If I remember to listen to myself, that will be half the battle.

There will always be things I need to work on; it’s a fact of life. But I’ve been feeling more centered than I have in a long time, and much of that comes from being true to myself. Rekindling interests of the past, reconnecting with old relationships and the only people I felt ever really knew me, and sometimes just plain putting my foot down and not living my life by someone else’s rules and expectations. If I’m happy but someone else is disappointed in me, that’s their problem, not mine.

That settles it! I’m going to be a roller derby girl. If not now, when?


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 – Manifesto

Why not try for the long shots? There is nothing to lose. Realize what an enviable position that is. Nothing to lose is the best opportunity. You can take any chance you could possibly want to. There’s no one to answer to but yourself. The worst thing that can happen is someone won’t reply.

So few people have these type of chances… Opportunities. From an early age we get trapped… hemmed in… on a path… on a schedule… before we know who we are or what we really want from our life. Slaves to industry and commerce… SUV’s… big TV’s… stuff stuff stuff. Not many people get a chance to start over; to wipe the slate clean. Sure, it can be scary starting from the bottom… especially when you think you should be so much further head. But sometimes dead ends are what you need to point you in the right direction. At least that way you know where you’re coming from and what you hope to find.

There’s nothing wrong with wanting the best for yourself and your life. It’s a natural drive we all have, but sometimes our head gets in the way of our hearts. “The only thing to fear is fear itself.” Fear gets us nowhere. Being afraid to try does not result in happiness. Hesitation makes us weak. Reach out to the instincts that you have, the feelings in your heart that you don’t question. If you feel you’re destined for something better, don’t fight it, embrace it. But don’t sit idly by.

What’s the best that you can arrive at? What is it that you want? A job? A career? A big salary? A modest means and a happy home? How do you want to feel at the end of the day? What do you hope you can do for people and for yourself? DO you want to learn something new each day or do you want to do the same thing over and over, knowing that your task is done and done well? You have to ask yourself these things. Think back on your life and think of things that have made you feel this way. Or, alternately, haven’t. Sometimes starting with the things you don’t want is easier than defining the things you do. It’s unfortunate but true.

It doesn’t matter what you ‘feel like’ you should have… What matters is what you truly want. For example, do you envy people with smiling children because you want smiling children for yourself, or because you just feel like you should… because that’s what people do… that’s how people show progress and stability. Is it the symbolism or the true yearning? Never feel obligated to live your life like everyone else. Life isn’t a kit of parts. It doesn’t make you magically happy when you have what the person next to you has. And chances are, the people that look so happy, really aren’t. It’s easier to fake being happy than deal with the truth and the pain in your heart. I’d rather be around someone who is miserable but honest, any day of the week.

Maybe the sky isn’t the limit, but we must resist the tendency to sell ourselves short. To play it safe out of fear and panic. To convince ourselves that the known evil is better than the unknown trap possibly lurking around the bend.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.”

I try to go in to life and new situations assuming that I can do something until proven otherwise. I can learn. I want to learn. I might not know how to do something…yet. But the knowledge will come. It’s no harder to assume that you can do something than it is to assume that you can’t.

Maybe sometimes the learning curve doesn’t align with the demand, but the knowledge will come. It always does. Sometimes you have to dust yourself off… it’s a rare thing to be perfect. And who would want to be? Insecurity is your worst enemy.  The fear of looking foolish, of failing, of falling flat on your face. Of stepping on the ice and falling right through. There are lumps and bumps and bruises to be taken to be sure. Trials and tribulations exist for a reason… and everyone goes through them, despite the glossy facades they put on.

Don’t let yourself be your own worst enemy. Do not count yourself out before you even try. Do not judge yourself as a lesser person, just so you can beat someone else to the punch. Hurting yourself before someone else can hurt you gets you nowhere. Likewise, hurting someone else before they can hurt you does not make you better than them.

Maybe we don’t all have the divine calling we felt in our youth… or maybe they aren’t meant to culminate the way we imagined and planned. But if you feel it in your heart, it’s there, and it’s real. Hiding it… ignoring it… avoiding it… it doesn’t work. Fighting your own nature only causes conflict and pain. Learning to harness our gifts is a lifelong process. Sometimes there are sparks of insight, moments of clear and perfect intuition. Sometimes the skies are cloudy and gray for a long, long time… but they never stay that way. hold on to the sparks, and the flickers and the beams of light. Keep them close and keep them true.

And with that… my well has run dry…


Dead calm.

When the pressure builds exponentially, and the chaos turns to white noise, this is the dead calm. When the little distractions and annoyances fall away, leaving you with the meat of the problem, a semblance of direction and a path of action, this is the dead calm.

A nemesis identified in the eye of the storm gives you no path of retreat. Surrounded and poised for action, your only option is to dig in and overcome; there is no choice, there is no hiding.

Face it. Take it on. Persevere.

Perseverance has been the theme of the new year. As much as I had hoped 2013 would issue in a phase of ease after the debacle that was 2012, it just hasn’t happened. There have been moments of stumbling, moments of feeling overwhelmed and swallowed up by the evolution of life. But even the spider climbed and re-climbed the spout when it needed to. I could do without the Sisyphean tasks, but I really have no choice.

Onward, I roll.