Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Notes from a year named Thrive: September II

I took my first vacation this year to return to BC for the week of my birthday.

I spent the last of 34 walking along a beach that is often underwater, my toes in sandbar pools and the edge of the river, with my family's dog chasing sticks and a ball. It was perfectly quiet aside from us, except for a raven croaking as we climbed the banks to return to the car. A throaty, consistent sound that might have meant home, home; a moment held when I wondered why I had moved away and then passed when I remembered it was because there aren't jobs in my field here.

The family came over to my parents' house for cake, and I went to sleep feeling if not accomplished then at least at peace. Renewed and restored in a way that only time among mountains, and trees, and so much sky manages. (It was good to stay in western Toronto; it was smart to find somewhere more residential with old trees and quiet streets.)

My actual birthday was spent in the car with my mom, heading out of town to go shopping. Shopping I could do in Toronto, but the point was the time with my mom in the car. Mountains and trees passing outside the window as we talked about everything and nothing. We ended up way past where we needed to be, but found a Mink Chocolates and had one of the best mochas ever. Eventually we got back to High Street, which is the closest Sephora and H&M.

The day was also sprinkled with greetings and well-wishes from friends coming via text and social media; it was a good day. A reminder of all the people waiting to celebrate some more when I returned.

I was worried that I hadn't accomplished what I set out to do last year, so I went back and read the post I'd written last year to see what goals I'd set.

"I'm going to get a new job." And I did—it's not the job I thought I'd get, and I'm not sure it's the job that I'll have this time next year, but I got it.

"I'm going to finish a writing project." I didn't—the one I applied for grants for, and completed it even without receiving them. Last week I got feedback from a reader, which validated that there's work to be done but it wasn't a waste of my life to stubbornly keep at the draft.

"I'm going to travel outside of the country before my passport needs renewing." This ended up being to Florida—a state I'd never been to—for work instead of to Tennesee for a writer's retreat, but it happened.

"I'm going to learn to make tortillas and be unstoppable." Making tortillas is actually the only goal I didn't accomplish, but there's nothing stopping me from learning to make them this year.

"I'm going to be brave. And I'm going to grow. And I'm going to keep conserving my damns for myself and the people who deserve them." Well, the people who deserve them didn't turn out to be who I thought they would be and being brave and growing meant having to leave things behind.

Despite the challenges and things not being set up to be easy, I have done well. I have grown. I live in my own place now, on my own, and that is something I'm looking forward to getting the hang of. Most of the time I really enjoy it.

I asked about my birthday, and the Tarot cards gave me the Two of Wands—a card of setting goals. That is traditionally what I do, so here we go. Before I turn 36, I will return to Los Angeles—whether it's for YALLwest or not—and travel to Iceland. I am going to get this manuscript ready for querying and successfully get an agent. I'll finish drafting another writing project.

I'm going to get to know the other people who live in the house that I do. I'm going to spend more time with my friends. I'm going to attend more book clubs and book events. I'm going to live my life and do things despite that I sometimes work long hours and have the weirdest job ever. I'm going to thrive and do magic and make the impossible happen—because it's what I've always done. There's no point stopping now.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Notes from a Year named Thrive: September Part I

Back in August—two weeks before the biggest show our team does—my manager gave her notice. She's gone at the end of November or sooner if she finds another job. And, oh, didn't my heart whisper "not this again." Because I have been in this situation before—hello, 2013—and I had no desire to rinse and repeat.

As even as I thought but if you close your eyes, does it almost feel like nothing changed at all, I realized it didn't. Everything had changed. People I counted on for support last time, whether they realized they were offering it or not, weren't there anymore. I had a warning this was coming and time for the company to do something about it. It wasn't going to fall all on my shoulders. Most importantly, I knew that I could go get another job if that's what I wanted to do.

So we pushed on, and the team finished the show. It went really smoothly, which did not mean it was easy by any means, as it was still the first I'd done. It went smoothly, but it did not go without an emotional cost to me, and I was grateful for the lieu days I had afterwards.

On Friday, I went out to visit a friend who rents a 100 year old farmhouse with a spectacular view of Mulmur county and the most sky in all of Ontario. On Saturday, I got my brain back to the point that I started writing something new. I also smugly thought I'd escaped catching the dreaded conflu, but on the way home on Sunday I started to get sick.

Everything is the worst when I'm sick, and I'm full of fight because I'm trying to keep going when thinking is that much harder. Tuesday night, I had insomnia. I haven't had insomnia in months—and I don't remember the last time I had it so bad that I could not actually sleep. Wednesday morning, I got out of bed and I went to work. The true disappointment of being older is now when I don't get any sleep and then manage to complete a work day, I don't even feel proud of myself. I only feel a weary longing for it to be the last time I have to do it.

In this sleepless haze, my manager informed me that my old specialist job at Indigo had been posted and she had applied for it. Yesterday I looked and it wasn't all of my old job—it was a few of the things I'd done with a bit of new added. But in it was IndigoTeen. The thing I built. The thing I stayed way too long for. The only thing I ever miss. And it took every bit of my magnificent restraint not to apply for it.

Even when sick my anxiety is very specific—it's concerned about being late for things. It's insistent that if anything goes wrong or someone is unhappy then I must have done something to cause it. It's very certain that when I do eventually do the thing that makes someone unhappy, they'll just vanish without ever telling me.

But sometimes, when it feels particularly cruel, it leans in with a low whisper of "you'll never want anything as much as you wanted IndigoTeen." A sword right between my ribs; one side edged with I don't want anything enough to make it happen and the other edged with my best work—my dream job—is done and behind me.

Last night for a moment, maybe an hour, I considered that it might be right. I might not ever want anything as much as I wanted IndigoTeen. There may not be anything that I feel as fulfilled by doing as that. I left almost two years ago, because—among other reasons—there was nothing left at Indigo I wanted to build. And it was never, ever going to be my job to only do IndigoTeen. There was no more onwards for me there. Not in a direction that I honestly wanted to go.

I'm building something at my current job, but it's not what I wanted to be doing. It's what needed doing. So I did it. And I know how millennial it sounds to say I left to do better things than this, but it's how I felt with less than a week remaining in my 34th year and sick enough that something like my old job being posted could lay me low.

Until I remembered that I do have something: I want the time I spent getting a draft ready for other people to be able to read to not be a waste. If that's the only tangible, lasting thing I built these past two years, then I want to do the work to get that manuscript into an editor's hands. Because it may not sell, but I worked too fucking hard on it and me to not even try.

Friday, September 09, 2016

Bastille's Wild World

What a glorious day when we now live in a future with a second Bastille album. That's not hyperbole, as it's been three years since Bad Blood was released and my life was changed forever.

Here's the secret to a Bastille album—because they're so wonderfully dedicated to being whatever genre they want for that song only, the albums grow with each listening. It's usually the second or third time through that it all clicks and you can hear the flow.

The standard version of Wild World is 14 tracks and they're all great. The Complete version—because who are we kidding, there's no way I wasn't going to get every song—is 19 tracks, and the two songs I feel lukewarm about on among those five bonus tracks. Oil on Water and Campus aren't bad songs, but they're not as strong as the others that made the 14 track cut. Way Beyond, Shame, and The Anchor are great and worth getting individually to round out the experience.

Strangely missing from the album is Hangin', which was officially released from the band last year. I had also heard several of the new songs via concert footage or terrible quality audio shares that were floating around Tumblr/YouTube. (Thanks, Stormers!) Snakes has been pre-album release favourite, and I was waiting for it (im)patiently. But at the end of the day, it's Send Them Off! with its badass brass and utterly unapologetic mashup of Othello and The Exorcist that's the one I love the way I love Pompeii.

Wild World is a wild ride through genres, interplay with movie and literary inspirations from Weird Science to a legit true crime tale. It's melancholic joy and gleeful sorrow, political and escapist, a well-crafted balance that was absolutely worth the wait.

I did a lot of living and writing with Bad Blood as a soundtrack, and I am incredibly excited for the stories that will have Wild World as part of theirs.