Stepping Stone

Stepping Stone

7 September 2018

I previously mentioned a life list, not bucket list, and discussed the reason I call it a life list. In the past week and a half, I have crossed a few more items off my list while adding more.

  • Disneyland Paris-had a blast. I stood in lines reading a book. Effective use of time; if I’m not writing, I’m reading.
  • Return to Paris. I still haven’t taken the stairs up the Eiffel Tower; have walked around it and seen it from a boat. A good reason to return. That, and I would love to go back up to the Bell Tower of Notre Dame and spend more time with the gargoyles.
  • It’s been eight years, and I am smiling because I have returned. What’s not to love…the wine, the gelato; the beautiful scenery, the architecture, rolling hills and the placement of the buildings, the culture, and I simply love the language. I fell in love with Italy at first sight in 2010 and that love has not waivered.

    Our excursion was cancelled so my girlfriend and I slept in (for some much needed rest; again, we don’t get much sleep during committee work), then ventured out, deciding to hire a taxi driver to take us around Napoli (Naples) on Monday (Labor Day in the U.S.). He took us to La Pizzeria da Michele, where the line is at least 40 minutes long. He knew someone on the inside and got us seated immediately. We had no choice but to sit with two other people (four at a table), and eventually struck up a conversation with two young women from Kuwait, working in the oil industry, Of course, with my friend and I being involved with SPE, we plugged the organization while speaking a little bit about some of the people they may have met from around the industry.

    The neat thing about this pizza place was that a signed photo, of/by Julia Roberts, hung on the wall. She ate in the same place during Eat, Pray, Love. I can almost see this trip as part of my EPL, while tossing in a bit of Under the Tuscan Sun. There are pieces missing, but it’s what we make of it, and I’m still on the World Tour of Karen.

Our driver took us to other places that we would have not been able to see on foot. My friend has bad knees (she’s in her 60’s) but is a good sport. Hell, I injured my hip the week before leaving for Paris and tweaked it again in Paris; a minor, yet annoying, setback.

  • Madrid was my first stop. Barcelona will be my second.
  • Swam in the Mediterranean Sea.

As I mentioned before, it’s a new life, new memories and a new passport. I still find myself writing everywhere. Being away from home, I discovered I am writing even more. While I want to say it’s crazy that it happens this way, it simply means I’m less distracted. I can write anywhere.

The balcony is closed off to washing (Tuesday), so I left my friend to retire early, and I am sitting in a sports bar (say it isn’t so!) writing this blog and working on my novel. I’m tucked away in a corner where I can also people watch.

Again, this is the smoothest sailing cruise I’ve ever been on. Ms. Foodie would absolutely love this cruise for not only the smooth seas, but also for the ethnic food around the cities and on the boat. This isn’t the geriatric cruise I was last on, but things do close down early and open after 7am; I can’t go to the gym at 6am because they’re not open! Welcome to the lifestyle of Europe.

Lastly, this certainly isn’t a cruise for single people. There aren’t any singles events and my damn hip is killing me too much to even think about dancing. Despite everything, my friend has been a really good person to have in my life for so many years (12, I think), and she is grateful she had someone of equal fun to cruise with. If we get to meet in Germany next fall, we’re talking of a Rhine cruise, and I’ve already alerted some people to join in on the fun. Life is too damn short to sit at home, and I had zero intentions of letting someone ruin my chance at a future of happiness. Ever since June 2, 2017, I have done nothing but enjoy activities that makes me happy.

I wrote in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius during a sunset on Monday. Tuesday, I watched smoke trickle upward out of Mount Etna. I missed a Pompeii excursion, but it gives me a reason to return. I got some serious beach time, and this blondie is darker than bronze now. I have at least two more days of sun I can enjoy, so I can return home to be the envy of everyone and decide if now’s the time to move into size 10 clothes, shed more of my closet and continue to downsize. Then again, I am traveling most of September, so it may become an October to-do list.

(Uh oh. Side note. Tuesday was karaoke night in the Sports Bar and I was talked into singing. For any friends back home-go ahead and laugh. It’s the only bar that has an IPA, and the bartenders know me by name.)

…Sherill…where on Earth are you???????  You belong on this cruise!!!!!

What does all of this have to do with writing? Everything. Writing is about life. Life is about experiences. Writing is about experiences. Writing is my life. The karaoke-hecklers (fun group of guys/staff from the Dominican Republic and South Africa) were asking me if I was working. “Yes. My work is writing.” These are the questions that spark conversations. These are the conversations I’m passionate about.

Here’s the funny thing about writers. Most of us are approachable. Ask me why I’m sitting in a corner with my computer, a glass of wine and water. I may look alone, but I’m never alone. Sit down in my area and ask me where I’m from. “No, no family. No, no children.” Ask me what I write, maybe even why I write, and anything related to writing. You’ll be pleasantly surprised. I think the karaoke guys were rather impressed; they stopped by every now and then asking me if things are going okay. Yep. I listen to people sing and continue to write. I told JMP I was going to write until the battery died on my Surface.

As one single person, amongst 5,800 people, in the middle of the Mediterranean, I have tossed the last of an old life overboard (finally), tried speaking four languages I have been studying for long and short periods of time-and really confusing them since I am using 3 out of 4 on this trip; hopped back in a cruise boat, took my first steps alone in a new foreign country, and made a trip to Disneyland Paris.

Not too shabby. I keep telling my friend, “life is good, and I really can’t complain.” I keep writing. I strive to meet my writing goal every day, no matter where I am. I have the best support network who gives me the moments I need to quiet my thoughts through blogs and working on my novels, short stories and poetry. Despite everything: love, loss, trials and tribulations, the curveballs, and praying every day I get to wake up to have Duke with me just one day, I work really, really hard so that I can enjoy life…and have the material from experiences to keep writing.

Yes, this trip has been significant on so many levels. I can’t help but think what else is next. Where the next stepping stone will take me. What I’ll do. Where I’ll go. What I’ll write. The people I will meet. The adventures I will be part of, and how much of me I am more now than ever before. Only time will tell. Or perhaps it will be the next opportunity.

Overall, Tuesday was a good day; it’s been a good trip. This green-eyed blondie needs to keep moving forward in her new chapter.

Thank you, to all of my readers, for following me on this journey. Welcome to my newest readers.

Above: Street of Taormina. Below: Mt. Etna and sunset with view of Mt. Vesuvius (Italy). Copyright @2018 Jade Bookends, LLC

 

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Doesn’t Belong Here

Doesn’t Belong Here

2 September 2018

“X doesn’t belong here” was a strong opinion, recently told to me as a bunch of friends and I were on a boat along the Seine River in Paris. I need to get past this. I can do this. I am on vacation and moving forward is only going to get better.

Ah, Paris. How I’ve missed you. Between the literary scene, and inspiration of Notre Dame, used a setting in my short story, Stuck in the City of Lights, I forgot how I missed the smells of fresh baked goods and cafés along the sidewalks. During this part of my trip, I have: gotten lost along the streets for nearly two hours, trying to find my way back to the hotel (this blondie’s compass has always been broken); got my luggage stuck in a subway turnstile <facepalm>, and not gotten much sleep, as it goes when doing work on a committee. I spent five days in Paris: two and a half days working. Prior to my meeting, my primary dinner was bread, wine and cheese. The bread is so good here, I honestly don’t need anything else. Plus, I’ve had two really good dinners and some good lunches. Because Parisians eat so late and take several hours for the meal (starter, entrée/plat, dessert), breakfast is even more sustainable for me: a pastry and cappuccino. And more cappuccino. I need espresso or straight-up coffee to truly get through mornings as a human.

The third part of my trip: a Mediterranean cruise. My girlfriend had me at “balcony” and “Italy” back in February when we had our final meeting date. She mentioned she was surprised how fast I answered her email (less than 5 minutes); she wanted to do this cruise, but really didn’t Mewant to travel alone. She thought of me, and I am thankful. I thanked her for asking me. She thanked me for coming along. So far, we’re having a great time. Unfortunately, I forgot to bring more bottled water, and drank from the tap last night. I will remember water is included with my drink package.

It’s 11:37pm in my time zone. After a day of travel, taking the TGV from Paris to Marseille, and boarding the ship, it’s been a full day. Yet, here I am: without another day at the gym or getting some serious walking time in and I’m feeling my anxiety build up a little. To unwind, I’m on the balcony, writing. Writing helps to clear my mind. It’s helping me to wind down, when my mind continues to whir at an exponential rate.

The humidity has done some great and bad things to my hair. It’s made my skin glow while creating a small minefield on my chin. I tried a new drink tonight, couldn’t figure out why my nose was running until I read the ingredients; gin, and I can’t drink gin. In fact, I asked my new friend to finish the gin I had in my house (back in the US). The sun is bronzing my skin, and this blondie will return ridiculously tan.

I see another cruise ship not far on the dark horizon. In the distance I notice a coastline with lights, faint, but a city is still there. I’m unplugged from my phone until I’m in ports, while remaining plugged in to my music. I can still hear the waves over the music currently playing. This is the calmest cruise ship I’ve been on. And the water, the water is a blue I’m still trying to find words to describe it.

And all day long I’ve been saying, “I can’t believe I’m on a boat again. I can’t believe I was in Paris again. I can’t believe I’m going to return to Italy.” This trip is my way of making new memories. Could I see myself on another cruise by myself?  Perhaps, but why…it’s safer to travel in numbers. I know I can do it; I’ve proven to myself I’m capable of doing anything; I am Wonder Woman. Someone else does not belong here at all!  The most important thing to remember is this is my life and how I want to live it. I still want to do the things I spoke about…it may just take me a little longer to get there. I’m not letting anyone stop me. For those who dare to criticize me, share negative opinions, I’m done-take what you think I should and shouldn’t be doing and shove it up your ass. I’m done!  I’m done with the negativity. I’m done with the criticisms. I’m done with the drama. All of this, too, doesn’t belong here. I’m done letting it enter the space I’ve created for myself. I have no shame in blocking out those once in my life who don’t mean well or are simply too toxic.

Wonder Woman stands for strength, grace and love. She is a fighter, protecting without bias. I still have room in my heart for love, just not yet. This is my time to be selfish. This is my time to be myself or even more of myself than I thought I could become. I’m on a stepping stone (title and topic for my next blog) and only working my way up. I surround myself with people who are happy to see me smiling and laughing again; I know it’s been a long haul; I know where I came from and where I still need to go, but I’m stopping to enjoy life along the way. I’ve lost too many close to me at young ages. I need to take time out to remind myself life is short: here today, gone tomorrow.

Outside: I feel the boat turning. I see another cruise ship out on the water. The coastline lights dimly point the way to where we’re headed Sunday morning. The cool air is welcoming after a blistering NM heat. The calm sea gives me a rhythm to write along with it, slowly relaxing me so that I can sleep longer than 4-5 hours. I have a new friend whose kind, and I haven’t had that kind of kindness in a very long time. I am returning home to do more travel in September before I begin working on Plan B and C in October. The new friend won’t have a place in these plans.

Inside: I’ll sleep in a twin bed as I am sharing a room with my girlfriend; her husband didn’t want to be in Europe or on a cruise, and she has a bucket list, too. There are some attractive men on the cruise, but I don’t think there are many single ones. Maybe I can learn more in the sports bar. The food is spectacular. I was judged by a Frenchman for the amount of wine I was drinking at dinner.  Mr. Judgy Judgerson, you don’t know a thing about me…stuff it.  There are two couples at our table speaking French, not appreciating our efforts to speak the language. They claim they don’t speak English, but I’m calling out “bullshit.” Our waiter speaks Spanish…I cannot believe I came to France to speak Spanish so much!!

Removing myself from the daily life I have in New Mexico, I am really focused on enjoying a vacation I deserve and worked so hard for. I am not the same person I was in 2016 or even 2017.  There are things that don’t belong here with me, and I metaphorically just threw all of it overboard.

I am going to retreat to get, what I hope is, a good night’s rest. There’s more sun and fun to be had tomorrow and many days to follow. Even though I may be sleeping, the writing never stops. I’m writing in my mind, on my Surface, on my phone, in a special notebook and on napkins. Inspiration strikes every day. Bon soir!

Dinner Cruise along Seine River. Copyright 2018 Jade Bookends, LLC

Eiffel Tower Background

 

Choosing a Path

Choosing a Path

31 August 2018

The very first stamp in my passport was Madrid, Spain. Not France, not the United Kingdom, not The Netherlands, not the United Arab Emirates, not any country in Central or South America or any other country I’ve visited in the past, and a past that included a form of “we.” There is no we here.

With an eight hour layover in Madrid, on my way to Paris, I exhausted myself to try and sleep on the overnight flight, to be ready to explore a new city in a country that is my first as a single woman, but there is so much more meaning beyond this simple trip…and the remainder of my time in Europe.

Madrid was an interesting city. I went on a two-hour free tour, visiting some of the highlights, but not stopping to enter anything specific. I did the tour because I would learn something about a city I’ve never visited and could get some local tips. I did; hot chocolate and churros at ChocolaterÍa San GinÉs. Yum. The churros, unlike those we get in New Mexico (or anywhere else) had a tinge of salt in them, and I’m not a salt fan. For lunch I found a tapas bar for tapas and a cervaces (beer). I used my Spanish around the city and at the airport.

Then the language barrier went to hell. By the evening I was in Paris and couldn’t switch my gears fast enough to go from si to oui. We speak Spanish here and there around the state (NM), so it’s more or less ingrained. I really wanted to use my French; I didn’t study it for two years (three years, according to the state of New York) to not use it. I used it four years ago between Paris and Grenoble. It took me nearly two days, and a 14-hour marathon at Disneyland Paris, to get into the swing and begin using the language a little more.

That’s right. I took a small holiday, arriving in Europe early to “play” which meant finally going to Disneyland Paris…because I could. My original plan was to spend two days at the parks, but the weather on Wednesday was forecast to include rain, so I decided (at the last minute) to spend one very full day between both parks. I regret that I didn’t get to spend more time at Walt Disney Studios, but had the chance to immediately hop on Tower of Terror (the couple next to me thought I was crazy holding my arms up, cheering, and laughing) and Aerosmith’s Rockin’ Roller Coaster ride.  The Phantom Manor ride (Haunted Mansion in U.S.) was closed for refurbishment, which was a shame because it was another ride I was looking forward to experiencing, especially since there is a story attached. This is a great reason to return, but in a couple of years.

I was the last one to leave the park, and it was intentional. I wanted a picture of Main Street…empty, and it didn’t take a lot of effort or loss in sleep. I also have one from Disneyland (CA). At some point there is a plan to create some type of collage.

By the end of the day, I was ready to fall-no, crash, into sleep; the motto of my life. Into a world where the boundary lines between reality and another world are transparent.

The rain fell on Wednesday. Lightly, but enough to make me think it was a good day to transfer to the city; an hour’s ride away from the magic that steals my heart and captures my imagination. But my adventures in the City of Lights were only beginning and stories will continue as I write my way through Europe.

Disneyland Paris-Main Street. Copyright 2018 Jade Bookends, LLCIMG_1601

 

Redefine: A New Chapter

Redefine: A New Chapter

27 August 2018

“For too long your power has been taken away…take those mental shackles off and throw them away…When they’re searching for you they will find a force they aren’t ready for…They weren’t ready for you to be strong…They weren’t ready for you to prove them wrong…” Are You Ready, Disturbed.

If you’re a regular reader, you know I incorporate music into my life. I am a long follower of so many bands and Disturbed is not exempt from this. The last song to really resonate was Shinedown’s Get Up. Now, Disturbed’s Are You Ready came at a perfect time when I’m restructuring my playlists, ditching songs that bring back final memories I want to leave with the past. I need to keep moving forward.

Today is another day of firsts for me. I’m traveling solo and to both new and familiar places outside of the U.S. Since I was used to having access and everything taken care of for me, this is truly a new adventure.

I have a new music playlist, synced for writing and putting my feet to the ground. I decided not to recycle other playlists for this. This trip is rather important to me.

2018 is my new year after 15 months of hell, ending in March. It’s a new year for: a new home, new life, new friends, new job, new adventures and a new passport; while remaining grateful every day I wake up to say good morning to Duke and watching him wag his tail at me and saying good night to him at the end of the day. He always gets a ‘good night’ from me with a belly rub.

For a dog who’s at the nine month mortality mark for his nasal adenocarcinoma, he’s being a trooper! Earlier this week I grew worried that I would have to deal with his decline in health before going on vacation because he stopped eating. Then he began to eat once again. I would love to have him with me for, at least, another year, but his breathing changes regularly and his sneezes turn into bloody messes. My reality is on a day-by-day basis when it comes to my beloved pet. At this point, I pray I don’t receive a call somewhere in the Mediterranean…God only knows I’ve lived through worse in a different ocean. But, like Sadie, losing a pet, a member of my family, is absolutely heart breaking.

Why this trip is so important is because I’m making my own memories. I’m on my own agenda, I get to do what I want (and not be told no) and enjoy the travel adventures that I love-because I get to write about them; because I get to experience life outside of a culture I was raised around, and because something at some point becomes an inspiration for me.

So, as the plane wheels gear down, and we are slowly descending into a new country and a new city, I am beaming with excitement because I have figured out a few things on my own (the planning and logistics was always my responsibility-now I have financial responsibility added to the mix). As a writer, we are constantly aware of our surroundings. In any city, any country, including ours, I am equally aware and know how to remain safe.

Thus, begins two more weeks of adventures that will somehow turn into written life experiences and stories.

 

 

 

Baggage

Baggage

26 August 2018

We all have that proverbial emotional baggage in our lives. For those who don’t, congratulations, but most people do carry this heavy weight or burden.

I’m certainly one of those people. I’ve recognized it a little more over the past two weeks when my anxiety and depression came to the forefront for various reasons.

I have been spending a few spare hours of my evenings (after writing) with a new friend…the one who’s not sustainable…and I try extremely hard to keep my baggage out of conversations. First of all, my space is my safe space; it’s my cozy space; it’s my quiet place void of drama and other negativities. Point-blank, my baggage doesn’t belong in discussions in my house.

I’ve developed something called empathy while continuing to be careful along my new path, and always watching my back.

Oh boy, this blog is full of clichés today. Sorry folks.

In a recent discussion, I wasn’t an active listener. At one point I didn’t keep my mouth shut and the flood gates opened. I was challenged. I was questioned. Then the “where is this going?” words flew out of (not my) mouth. My answer, “Why does it need to go anywhere?” The baggage of another person was out in the open.

I guess vacation is coming at a good time…

My emotional, physical and mental well-being is still my number one priority. My writing ranks up there because it helps with everything. From these past two weeks I’ve learned that I need to keep some of my baggage away. I’ve also realized that some people haven’t gotten the hint that I’ve axed them out of my life. The good news is baggage discussions have become less of me. I talk less about my life shredded instantly, Duke and I abandoned, blah, blah, blah. I don’t have time for any of this. I have better things to talk about.

A good example is my short stories that I’m trying to move out in the world. Every rejection that comes in, I’m sending out the next query. I’m not stopping.  I wonder if that should be my new mantra. I’m also talking more about my life as a writer.

I can see where baggage can take over a character’s development. I saw it with Natalie. Kiki has some, but pales in comparison to what Darius does to her and what he carries.

Yes. Much writing to be had. I have been writing. I have time blocked out on my calendar once again now that I feel semi-solidified in my life. Semi…

This is a fairly short blog, but the recurring thoughts about baggage plagued me over the last 48 hours. I have better blogs to produce. More loaded with fun. With adventure. With a flair that adds to my, as JDF has written and coined (trademark, if you will), “bad asserie.”

Overall, I can’t let this baggage take control of me. I need to continue moving forward, and if writing is what it takes to persevere, then the pen is mightier than the sword.

And that is the last of the clichés…

Portals

Portals

16 August 2018

Today is a day where I feel like I’ve been here, there and somewhere in between and somewhere entirely different.

I’ve had a whirlwind of two weeks. So much has happened. I continue to live a life that I enjoy. I started a new job that I am having fun with as I learn new things and apply my writing and communication skills. As of 2pm on my first day, I was correcting grammar in documents during a team meeting. Because I didn’t have a computer yet, I was sent to a training class the remainder of the week that also involved field labs, so that I could familiarize myself with the material. After being in this town for 17 years, I finally got to see a few demonstrations of things that go boom! My new job isn’t a secret, but everything else I am doing in my position is classified for the purpose of training. I can’t go into details outside of the scope of my job.

It also feels like a fresh start. I’m working someplace where only a few people know my history. I can be myself, not have to answer questions, and continue to keep my life private without bringing up a past life. I can focus on my new job and the work I have to do, and at the end of the day focus on my environment and writing. I do mention Duke though; early morning and late nights are times he has blood trails around the house. I can’t leave for work knowing there’s a small pile of blood.

Also on my first day, I left at the end of the work day to go to another rock concert in Albuquerque.  I sang with the bands, danced in my seat, and really had a great night. A woman in front of me told the man she was with, “She knows the words to every song and is rocking out. I want to dance, too!” It was late returning home, but worth the moments being out supporting the music industry. After all, I am constantly listening to music: when I work, when I write, when I drive, when I travel, when I workout; when I walk Duke, when I am at home doing chores, when I’m falling asleep, when I wake up in the morning and prepare for the day ahead of me; nearly 95% of the time.

My week ended early and I took Duke to Albuquerque on Friday afternoon. That evening, I was at a social event and met a new friend-someone who expressed interest in hanging out with me. Before everyone gets excited, it’s not sustainable for a very specific reason I prefer to keep out of the blog, and I won’t allow it to go anywhere. Besides, I’m not exactly there yet, but it is someone who enjoys watching a movie, talking on the patio, and gives a ton of compliments.  Additionally, I’m going on vacation soon and it will be a good time to get some distance, as a close friend put it. I’m not playing games. I am simply enjoying the alone time I have come to embrace, and I still block out 7-9pm for writing, and this new friend respects this space I have for working (as I call it), and works around my schedule. It’s nice. I’ll take the kindness.

And then I hit a wall this week.

August has become one of those hard months, and today I reminded myself that I need to take care of myself, and get a therapy appointment scheduled before I go on vacation. At first August was the month I lost my brother (7 years ago). Then there was a loss of remembering today; a former anniversary. I am still struggling with ways to deal with an anniversary after divorce. This is my second one. Last year the divorce was still fresh and raw. I want to create new traditions, but don’t know where to begin. So, instead, I find myself on the patio as soon as dinner was over/dishes done, hugging a tissue box, writing and just feeling the emotions. I can’t do anything else, and it’s damaging to try and control them. I had another good friend reach out to me today; to check in on me. It was thoughtful of her, and I had to quietly leave my desk after she said they still thought about me and worried about me, whether I knew it or not. It struck a cord because it means something when it’s friends and family. They say divorce is like a death. The only difference is the other person is still alive.

And while in the heart of the emotions today, I joined other friends in celebrating the life of a good hearted professor who suddenly passed away Monday night. When I got the message that same evening, I just looked at my phone. We’re all stunned. My heart bleeds for his wife; I’ve seen what losing a husband can do to a woman. I don’t think my mother ever got over my dad’s sudden passing. During these times, the new widow is surrounded by friends, family, and a community whose lives were touched in profound ways by this man. Students stood up to say a few words, and we could hear it in their voices, see it in their faces just how much of a difference he made in their lives. The good ones are taken from us far too soon.

Once again I am reminded how short life is. I stopped taking it for granted after my dad died, then forgot until my mother followed ten years later; then it was my brother. I have to work even harder now, but I make it a point to do the things I enjoy: eating at a nice restaurant, going to the movies, going to rock concerts, going to plays, going to Disneyland/Walt Disney World, going to football games; traveling and I have zero problem doing it alone. But, I don’t have to do anything alone if I don’t want to.

Tomorrow is another day. I’ll be dealing with an emotional hangover. I’ll be thankful to see Duke wag his tail when I wake up-grateful for another day I have him with me. I’ll be talking to friends, and getting ready for another weekend; of which Sunday we have plans to gather. I’m taking a special bottle of wine to share so that we can toast our dear friend we’ve lost.

Most importantly, I’ll remind myself that we are only here for a short time. Every day, every moment, every experience makes up our being. What we do today does have an impact in the future. Our lives are full of portals, but once that door closes for the final time, that’s it. We have to embrace the best life has to offer here and now.

Privacy

Privacy

5-12 August 2018

While exciting times are ahead, I’ve faced a few moments that have rather angered me these past three weeks.

When someone gives notice at their current job, no further information needs to be provided other than the standard “two weeks or one month with an end date of…” and, maybe, a thank you for opportunities. For any opportunities I had with the soul-sucking job I am leaving, it was immediately taken away. I joked I was in a dungeon; I wasn’t really joking.

I was the first admin to not receive a thank you for those I am there to support on Professional Administrative Day. After 13 years and 10 months of service, I got a “we’ll have to throw a thank you party for you when everyone returns.” I’ve heard this before. I’m not holding my breath.

There was zero professional growth available in my position, and though some tried to upgrade my job and salary, they (didn’t try hard enough) were blocked by someone who equally angered me when that person stuck their nose into my business the minute they heard I was leaving. They went as far to call HR to inquire…of which HR called me to inform me. I was furious. “It’s not any of their business! They don’t need to know.”

In small towns, some lives are so mundane that people hang on to the word of gossip. It’s in small towns. It’s nearly everywhere; there’s no escape. However, when I have been trying so hard to make a better life for myself because I won’t ask for favors, or sleep with anyone to move up the ladder; because I now have to make a living to pay the bills while I continue to write, this all goes back to my private life. What I do, where I go, and where I live is really nobody’s business.

And because I chose to remain quiet about the new position, only telling my close friends who have stuck by my side through everything. “Where are you going?” is what I’m constantly asked. I’m around. I’m still at the university.

For God’s sake people, respect my space during this life transition!

I have finally been given the chance I only asked for. I’m equally excited I get to use both of my Masters’ degrees that involves technical writing and using those English skills I’ve been using all of my life.

There are really some exciting times ahead. I’m equally excited that my short stories are officially out in the world of queries, in hopes they find a home.

In the meantime, I remain quiet as an old life has officially been severed. I did what Shindedown sings about, “Cut[ting] the Cord.” Sure people are going to find me eventually, but this next transition in my life is another stepping stone moving forward towards a life I want to have.