Slouched on my roof, I watched the swollen moon change from white to black to the blood red that had been promised to us by the news. I turned my back on the beauty to face the skyline, where I couldn’t ignore the precariously tall, starry-bright building the Phlebotomist works in every day, and above it I saw the infinite sky where somewhere hopefully resides my old best friend who was too earnest to survive, and I saw all of the black space around me, where no angel was whispering that everything was fine.
Saturday, July 30, 2016
So I decided to try a different approach concerning my writing techniques. Over time, I’ve changed as an individual and as a creative mind, and thus, my formulas must change too.
Used to be I could just set to writing straight off the back, no guides, no outlines, no preparation. I hated outlines. I hated charts. It all felt so stifling. Word vomit has always been my go to motivator for getting shit done. And this still works, for short pieces. Like short stories or flash fiction. Not so much for the long haul. My days of writing 30+ pages of handwritten prose, front and back of the paper are over.
But, fuck, I hate outlining. I hate lists and bullet points. I don’t want to map out an entire story! When I do that I feel beholden to that structure and then new twists and turns can’t be explored. Of course, I know that’s not how it works, but it’s how I feel. So, what to do?
I like to hand write my first drafts and then take to the keyboard to make sense of all those scribbles and hieroglyphics. But man, my hands cannot write as fast as my brain thinks, but my fingers can type that fast.
Tonight, I tried something new. I created, wait for it, an outline. But not an outline for the remainder of the whole story. Handwritten notes, bullet points, some specific dialogue ideas, and then I set to work on my computer. And guess what. It didn’t take me days or even weeks to finish getting back to my writing. I wrote nearly 1500 words in 2 hours.
This feels good, man. It’s been so long since I felt like I could see the end of a story I started. This isn’t just going to be one of those things I start and never finish. I’m doing it!
For my fellow writers out there who are struggling: don’t be afraid to go back to an old tool you once thought didn’t work for you. Maybe it didn’t work then. You change over time. Your writing changes over time. Your techniques and approaches must change as well. Never remain static.
Thursday, July 28, 2016
It has been over three weeks since my return to Tijuana. Other than working on my latest book, I have been doing absolutely nothing. Well, that is not entirely true. Let me explain:
I am struggling with three decisions. Decisions that one who has been diagnosed with acute manic-depressive bipolar schizoid disorder are causing me lose my fucking mind. 1) I want to stay here (here as in the furnished room I am renting in downtown Tijuana) until at least March and save money to relocate to either Cambodia or Vietnam, attain a job teaching English, save what I can to eventually open my own Bed & Breakfast 2) Locate a great apartment on the beach in Tj and remain indefinitely (at the moment, because it is summer, all affordable places are rented by the vacationers and snowbirds. Assholes. Again, no one to blame but myself. Two months prior leaving Tucson, I accumulated a list of places off the internet through various rental sites but by time I dragged my ass here, they were all taken) 3) Attempt to secure a house through Section 8 in the States like I tried and failed in Tucson. Now, that is tricky. I require a jumping point, i.e. a shelter, and then transitional housing for the long wait and THEN a city which actually has the waiting lists open. After extensive research via the internet, the only two cities which fit that criteria are Provo, Utah or Bismarck, North Dakota. And both seem tasteless to my palate.
So back to about doing nothing. Mostly I have been in a state of paranoid waiting, wondering what to do. I sit in coffee shops, diners, stand on corners in a fugue state chain smoking one Lucky after another trying to make up my mind. The abrupt move here has left me destitute for this month, I have been sustaining myself off cheap coffee, tortas and ramen noodles. I really haven’t been social, actually I have been avoiding contact with pretty much anyone. Why is that? Have the meds prescribed to me altered me that much? I think so.
I have been so preoccupied with the future; I have been ignoring the now. And that is one abyss I cannot stop staring into.
Thursday, July 21, 2016
I’ve been sick. I’ve been lonely. More alone than I’ve ever been and I am more afraid of the things I do when I’m alone. People will say, “I’m always there if you need me.” But they aren’t. That is a façade. That isn’t true. If that were the case I’d be okay by now. This past month I’ve been recovering, but slowly progressing. The reason I’m typing all this is to tell you I am appreciative of the support my readers have given me. This is not a cry for help. Although I need some. This is not a plea for attention. I’m just not okay and I’m okay with that and I’ll be fine soon. To the people who try to call or text and say “I’m there” don’t bother if you don’t mean it. I’m only being honest.
Over a month ago I tried to take my own life. Since then I have gotten help and subtracted a number of people/things out of my life. Everybody (or at least I hope everybody) has been wondering if I’ve been okay and alive and yes, it’s obvious, I have been. I’ve lost a lot this year with minimum gain because I hadn’t taken time for myself to make sure I was alright. I have problems, I’m not afraid to admit it. Right now is not a good time for me.
Tuesday, July 19, 2016
Too often when we turn on the tv, we hear and see something negative. The proverbial cup always seems half empty. We, as Americans, need to lift each other up more. We need to hold those negative forces that exist among us accountable for bringing the feeling of hopelessness to the front of so many minds. That goes for our politicians, the media, or the friend on Facebook who carries around misguided rage. We need to respond with love, and not get dragged into the trenches of sorrow. This constant divide and infighting amongst Americans, seems to be the new norm, and we must remind each other that we are stronger when we are united. Sadly, our leaders have failed to set this example, so we must use what we do have, our numbers, to reach as many of our fellow Americans as possible. We must remind our neighbors that only we control our fate, our happiness, and if we can come together, the direction of this country.
Thursday, July 14, 2016
For starters, I don’t actually write. I used to write. Then life sapped all the creativity out of me and replaced it with crazy. I’m attempting to get back into it as an outlet for my emotions. I’m not a big talker and I’ve never been a big sharer. I bury things and when I bury them, they go deep.
Why do I write? I write because as long as I exist there are things to be grateful for. There are things only I have seen and done. My perspective is my own, as is my voice. No one can write what I write or be who I am. I’m proud to be me; insecurities, crazy, darkness and all. It makes me who I am.
Like most of us, I keep the real me locked deep within myself rarely releasing him into civilization. Other days, I’m merely playing the part society expects me to play. That has been taking a mental toll on me as of late.
The darkness has been slowly seeping out in everyday life, taking on a life of its own and sabotaging everything I hold close. Therefore I suppose I write to keep the darkness at bay. I remind myself every day there is only one me and if things don’t improve, there won’t be.
Don’t get me wrong. The darkness is a part of me. It always will be. And I’m proud of that. It simply needs to be a part and not the whole.
Wednesday, July 13, 2016
All you know are a hundred godforsaken motels across the country, most of them in the middle of nowhere. Black hair glistening in the syrupy air, and somehow sweat looks beautiful on him in the neon glow of the “vacancy” signs. Lying awake on smudged sheets, wearing each other’s jackets because you aren’t brave enough to share each other’s skin, your fingers desperately snaked through his hair, lips on his pulse so you can measure just how much he loves you. But you are more addicted to each other’s scent than an old man smoking a cigarette, contemplating his imminent death by lung cancer, and so these shared sweaters will have to do. There are rental cars you learn to love more than the Toyota you owned growing up, because it is only in those anonymous vehicles you can roll down the windows and watch the wind play with his hair the way you want to, and brush hands across the glove compartment, and catch a glimpse of his barely-crooked teeth when you try to sing with Stevie when she comes on the radio. Because you can blame it on the little towns, the diner food, on having to share the same motel room when a convention has taken over town and it’s the only one left. Because you can say it’s not your fault that you went and fell in love, because who doesn’t want to break their heart against a steering wheel while “Rhiannon” plays in the background? Who could stop themselves, when he is the most beautiful man in the thirty-two states you’ve run through; because you know what he looks like shaken from sleep in the morning, stumbling to the front desk for a cup of instant coffee; because you know that your heart still trembles embarrassingly even with his forehead pressed against the car window, soft snores filling the silence of a car on a deserted highway. Maybe, just maybe, he will learn to feel the same way if you keep driving long enough, if you try on enough different lives, if you bury your real name just deep enough beneath the surface.
Monday, July 11, 2016
On my doorstep, there was a poem. The paper was a little crumpled, but the writing was recent and the ink was still fresh. I brought it indoors, as if it were an abandoned kitten, pleading me for a good home. I put it carefully on my desk, and switched on the lamp. The paper was almost see-through, except for the solid ink on it.
When you receive something like this, you don’t afford it the careful, delicate touch it requires. You ravage the words with your eyes, going through the note, and then going through it several times, attempting to figure out what it means. And then you realize it’s a poem, and you heave a sigh of relief. So no one’s in danger, and no one’s threatening to burn your house down. It’s simply a poem.
At the end of the eight lines (four on each side of the paper), was a set of initials. I thought about these initials for a while because I didn’t know anyone with these initials. I thought about who might know my address, and not a lot of names came to mind. I went through the contacts in my phones, from top to bottom and bottom to top, looking for a clue, but there was no one. And I certainly didn’t know any poets.
Although I should’ve forgotten about the poem, I couldn’t. It was carefully crafted, and every word had been deliberately placed. It wasn’t the sort of poem you simply fire and forget, no; it had been made for me. Someone written this poem with me in mind, I thought. Who could know me so well? I had no boyfriend or husband. My parents lived on a different continent, and I had no other family that knew where I lived now. The poem had been left here by a ghost.
The next day, I ripped a page from a notebook I had lying around, the kind with the white specks on a black background. I folded the page in two and tore it at the fold. I set my pen down on it (a contraption I hadn’t used in some time now), and began writing.
By the time I stopped writing, I had a serviceable poem sitting on my desk. Fresh ink, crisp paper. I got up and slipped the paper into my pocket, crumpling it in the process. I’m not sure what the poem was about, but I’m sure it could be interpreted to mean something. That’s how poems work.
I walked past a few buildings before finding one with no guard on duty. I walked in, making sure I looked like I owned the place, pressed a button on the elevator at random, and played eenie-meenie-minie-mo with the doors in the corridor. After settling for one, I placed the poem down before the door, being careful to make sure it was facing the reader. I rang the doorbell, and disappeared down the stairs.
Tuesday, July 05, 2016
I had luck locating a furnished room to rent for the month between Madero and Revolucion on 5th street downtown. A modern and clean joint for $260 a month. Packing my shit, I left the San Jorge and hopped a cab to settle in.
It was the 4th of July weekend and I was leery of finding a spot on account of the massive influx of Americans clogging the streets to celebrate Independence Day. It worked out in the end. After unpacking and chatting with the kind landlady, I made my way to the Praga Café nearby and sat drinking the best coffee ever. Sat and thought. And thought some more. What the fuck was I doing here? I have actually grown weary of Tijuana and all the diversions it has to offer. Oh shut, how I have become such a recluse. I debated simply booking another flight and flinging myself up to Provo, Utah to await public housing and wither away unnoticed until my old age.
Instead, I began to form plans within plans. Perhaps to remain in TJ and finish that book. Afterwards to rent a place on the beach or continue on to South East Asia. I don’t know yet. I feel so lost.
The following day, after showering and getting dressed, I took a clunky bus out to playas and walked around. The sea was so pleasant and the sounds so soothing. Funny note: I stopped to munch on some fish tacos when this old hag plopped next to me and attempted to seduce me with her feminine whiles. I dropped the fag bomb which ruined her entire scheme. She mentioned that she used to know another American, another writer who lived on the beach named Robert Smallwood. “Yeah, I used to know him.” I said. She then went into a passionate soliloquy on her undying love for this man. I stated I hadn’t seen him for years, last I saw he was in Cuba or Spain. She continued blathering about him and I couldn’t eat my tacos fast enough. I paid and left.
At the Praga, I came into acquaintance with an American getting teeth work. An independent film-maker named Randy Atkins. He did a film titled ARSENAL OF HYPOCRISY, made a name for himself. We both sat and chatted. Talked of film and writing. Seemed a good guy.
I excused myself and returned to my room. I lay in the darkness mired in indecision and anxiety. I really have no idea what I want. If I want anything at all.
The following morning, I ran into Randy once again and we both toured around the beach talking of interests and such. I really put on a pleasant mask, because my only desire was to lay down and stop breathing. It has become that dire. I really am done with this whole mortal coil thing.
Friday, July 01, 2016
Grown weary and discontent with the rut and series of disastrous letdowns which had accumulated during my stay in Tucson, I packed my shit and did what I do best: I hopped an early flight west. After a bumpy and slightly nerve wracking flight (I do not particularly enjoy flying – nothing that big and heavy should be in the air I am prone to saying) I touched down in San Diego around 10:30 in the morning. The stewardess or flight attendant or whatever they are referred to nowadays alleviated my anxiety with calm patter and a flight pin. A little winged trinket which was offered and did, I must say, calm my nerves.
As I was saying, landed in an overcast San Diego and made a bee line through that prestine metropolis direct to the border. Clacking along in the trolley, I was utterly exhausted from the trip and the insidious insomnia from the night before. My plan? What plan – I’m winging this shit. No more plotting, no more dashed hopes of comfort and normality based on middle-American ideals. My vague thoughts are to first rent a monthly room – furnished – and figure the fuck out what next.
Taking a taxi to Centro, I first hit a hotel I always rented from in lieu of their cheap twenty a night rooms. Walked in and the sassy bitch took me for a greenhorn tourist and quoted fifty dollars up front for that windowless trap. Fuck off. I dragged my suitcase out onto the curb where an awaiting schlep driving a cab informed me of another joint for twenty a night and he wasn’t lying. The hotel San Jorge on the corner of Constitution and first, right around the corner from the Plaza and kitty corner across from Club El Torino. Not too shabby.
I settled in and took a much needed nap. Afterwards making my way to the Plaza under the stolid gaze of rent boy and hustler, I munched a much needed meal of a juicy carne asada plate with all the trimmings. Cheap and delicious. I explained to Eduardo, the friendly old bitch who runs The Boys Café my interest in renting a room monthly and he offered to help. “Come back tomorrow morning, I am certain I might have something for you.” Righty-oh.
I located a building I knew of on the corner of eighth between Madero and Revolution which offered furnished rooms and good wifi for $240 a month. I guess that will be my digs until I get my shit together. Returning to my hotel, the old ego was boosted by the smiling eyes of some waif rubbing his crotch at me while sitting in the lobby on it's tattered couch. Too exhausted, I simply trumped up the stars, pounded this shit out and called it a night.
All things considered, I am glad I am back where I feel most comfortable.
All things considered, I am glad I am back where I feel most comfortable.