Elusive Connection

Some nights like this I stay up late listening to music in a dark house. I’ve done this for most of my adult life, even when I was married and just needed some nights by myself in a quiet house after everyone had gone to bed. Some of my best memories were of the year in college I lived alone. I would sit on the wraparound porch of the old victorian house where I lived in a tiny studio apartment and on dark, rainy nights I would sit on the stoop and watch the rain on those black streets, the red, yellow, and green of the traffic lights reflected in the wet asphalt.

Those were some of the best times of my life, but also the loneliest times. Strange to say, I’m more alone now, but I’m not lonely most of the time. I have my dog, I have my music, I have my stories. The bastards haven’t taken those from me yet. Oddly enough I have the most time to do the things I have always wanted to do right now and no money to do them. I’m struggling. I’m fighting. Most of the time I feel like I’m losing.

The other day, I was scrolling social media and came across another writer who was talking about the loneliness of being a writer. Even among other writers. Connection is such an elusive thing. It’s ironic that the medium we work in is based on communication, which connects us, but so many writers have very limited communication. It is a strange line of work. You spend most of your time alone with your thoughts, telling stories, and yet you know that most of the time talking with other people can be such a drain on your creativity. The few friends I have are people who energize me. We talk for long periods of time sometimes and solve all of the world’s problems while we are at it. But sometimes you can talk to someone for five minutes and feel like they have drained your psychic batteries all the way to empty.

I tend to avoid those people.

I’ve reached a point in my life where the sound of an empty room no longer drives me crazy. I’ve come to terms with the peace I need in my life. Music playing from another room. A dog snoring in a chair. The hum in my ears from too much abuse on my eardrums over the years. I used to crave companionship. After my marriage ended, I was desperate to fill a void that had been eating at my soul for so many years. I was willing to compromise who I am to fit into someone else’s shoebox. Even the happy relationships I had took a lot out of me. Time. Just having to be “On.” My writing suffered. For me, and I would imagine other writers as well, writing is not something that you can exchange for an equivalent thing. It is integral. Millennials would probably categorize it as being “something you’re going to make your whole personality.” Critical motherfuckers.

It’s about as much a part of our personalities as a lens is the point of a telescope. It’s how we experience the world. In my happiest times of not being alone, I never met anyone who understood what listening to Chloe Dancer/Crown of Thorns by Mother Love Bone makes me smile and why I never have the heart to skip that song. How could they? Unless I put the reason why into word. Many songs catch a moment in time. Even now, as I listen to Disarm by Smashing Pumpkins, I remember autumn evenings working in a bakery, cleaning the place after everyone had gone home. The white blanket of snow on the rugby field outside. The cha-chunk sound of the time-clock as it punched my timecard at the end of the night.

I’ve reached an age where I no longer daydream about what it would be like to be rich enough to own my own castle in Scotland. I’m 47, and though it might not sound very old to some, and extremely old to others, it’s an age where I know that even if I could buy a castle tomorrow, by the time I got settled in, I would be old and dying. There’s too much to do in this world besides sit in a room all day you keep filling up with stuff. All the stuff I had in the first half of my life is gone. Most of it anyway. It served no purpose other than distraction. No one will inherit it after I am gone.

Maybe we aren’t stardust after all, not the way the astrophysicists contemplate. Maybe we are all just stuff. A collection of elements that just gets shifted from one atomic mass to the next. One day, my body will be ash and it will add to the dust that blows across the plain. In two generations, my name won’t mean anything. I won’t have a castle, and I probably won’t have anyone who knows why I smile for certain songs.

I struggle all the time with meaning. What does any of it mean? We just keep running on that wheel until it is finally silent.

It doesn’t matter. It just doesn’t matter. All you can do is dig a hole and fill it. Purpose. Meaning. Maybe I’m short on both these days. Like I said, I have plenty of time and no money. I suppose I have unintentionally followed a monastic path. Austerity. Poverty. Celibacy. Enlightenment. Not necessarily in that order.

I look for connection. I want to share my thoughts and ideas, but I sense the world is fading away. As Stephen King wrote in his Dark Tower books, it has moved on. People rarely read anymore. If you go to a bookstore, it’s a thousand books with the same cover. I think fewer than 10% actually read more than three books a year. TV shows are all filled with the same bullshit stories and intellectual properties that just keep getting a new coat of paint every time they come out with better special effects. Scrolling through TikTok, I only have the attention span for about 30 seconds at the most. Sometimes I just scroll, hitting the dopamine like someone in a hospital bed thumbing that morphine drip as soon as they can.

In my dreams, sometimes I run into people I haven’t seen in a long time. I miss them. I think of them and they haven’t thought of me. I keep writing a book no one will read. No one will publish. And only I care. This week I hit a point where I didn’t care either. I’m so gunshy with my writing lately. Second-guessing myself. Trying to write everything perfectly so I can make a sale. Casting my pearls before swine. People who buy the paid work I do are like people who hand a picture of dogs playing poker and say “I don’t know art, but I know what I like.”

Let the robots write for them. Nobody cares. The world is moving on.

Things got really dark for me yesterday. It was hard to think of the things I have instead of the things that will never be. Having my books read stepped into the latter category, and for a moment I was fine with that. I read an article online the other day that was so horribly written and about as surface as you could get on a subject. The writer was someone in their early twenties. Nepo baby, I’m thinking, because I’ve submitted to that magazine and can’t even get a response to a query. I feel like I’m walking in a desert and all the water has become dust. I’m sure they aren’t haven’t a hard time paying their bills. Some people get a whole other set of rules from the rest of us.

Anyway, none of it matters if you look at it through geological time. Though sometimes I think it would be cool to see the continents merge back together again. I just keep doing what I can. It’s all any of us really can do. Hope for a break in the clouds and blue skies for a little while at least. Sometimes we have company to experience that, and sometimes we don’t.


Knowing what you want

To finish that sentence, knowing what you want can be a lonely experience.

Lately I’ve been working much more towards how I want to build my life, in particular how I make money. Much of that learning curve is at a near vertical pitch. I research marketing, media, and content creation until my brain is cooked and all I want to do is nap. For the travel writing piece, a big requirement lately has been knowledge in platforms such as TikTok and YouTube. So I’m watching lots of videos to figure out how to do this, how I want to tackle this kind of thing and flounder as little as I can on it.

I’m still trying to scrounge up paid work when I can, but the agency I’ve been writing for over the last several years has been turning up next to nothing. I’m getting a little panicked on how I’m supposed to make money. The economy is in the shitter and my main debtors don’t really seem to acknowledge that. After all, the courts never experience an economic downturn. They just put more people in prison and hire more judges to compensate. It’s a growth industry.

I’m struggling and I know it.

So, lately I’ve cut out a lot of distractions however much I can. I’m not a lot of fun these days, as much as I crave distraction.

I’m not looking to date anyone. Hell, I couldn’t afford a social life right now if I tried. My resources are drained and I feel sooooo close to making everything come together. I’m at the point where I don’t really need a relationship either. I have a couple close friends. That helps.

I don’t want to date. I don’t want a FWB situationship either. Sometimes that makes me feel a little cold and heartless. As the song says, “don’t think I don’t get asked to dinner…” The thing is that I wouldn’t be able to dedicate any of my time to dating someone, much less have the funds to go anywhere or do anything with them. I don’t miss it so much. I miss individuals who used to be in my life. I don’t miss the role they played when they were there.

What I do need is goals. Though I can’t come anywhere near affording it, I was looking at motorcycles today. It helps to daydream a little bit when you are procrastinating writing content for bloodsucking lawyers. Sure, it pays, but it isn’t what I want to write anymore. My quality is reflecting that. So I looked at Triumph bobbers and dreamed of taking the turns on winding mountain roads on a summer morning.

I still think of places to travel, but the slump in work has curtailed that for the immediate future.

I’ve been writing down all sorts of pitch and query ideas, but sometimes it’s hard to balance the other work I need to do with that. I’m trying. That’s all I can do.

I’ve thought about giving it all up and applying for other jobs, but there is nothing nearby and job hunting is literally the same thing as pitching story ideas to magazines, with the exception of IF (that’s the big if) a company ever replied to an application, I would be giving up my autonomy. I love working for myself, though right now the pay sucks. Like I said, I feel so close to things coming together. Looking for an hourly job could take months to yield anything. It’s the same as pitching articles. At least they respond some of the time.

I’ve had a couple nibbles, so I am not entirely discouraged. But I’m nearly out of money. Last week I had four assignments for a couple new potential clients. One assignment was pulled as I was outlining it. The other three were rejected. That was a 5000 word day, whoosh. Evaporated. No money to show for it, and I can’t even recycle the content. It knocked the legs right out from under me. I even had to fight for those jobs. I’m not the only one writing for that agency having problems like those.

I just have to keep working at it, doing all I can, and hopefully something will give. I’m just about sick of this winter bullshit too, I might add. Only two more months of it to go.


Sometimes I just don’t want to be around anyone. My dog is good enough company, and as I write this I’m even fine with her being in the next room, sleeping on her doggie bed. The house is quiet right now except for her snoring. I am just enjoying the silence. Sipping coffee. Letting my thoughts marinate.

I have assignments I need to write this week. Money is getting low and I have bills coming up soon. I had the chance to socialize this weekend, but I’m not doing it. I am not obligated. I don’t want to people (verb). The idea of being social tonight almost makes me angry.

This is a month of many anniversaries. October is neck and neck with April in being my least favorite month. My oldest kid turned 21 this month. Happy Birthday, kid. The time has slipped by. I haven’t seen him in six years. I haven’t even had a conversation with my daughter in four years. A year ago this week, a judge determined that my youngest son needed to live full time with his mother. So, when people say parental alienation isn’t a thing, I will say “fuck you.” Not only is it real, but the courts assist toxic parents in accomplishing it. They must have a vested interest in filling prisons and rehab centers, because that is usually the result.

Honestly, I’m tired of talking about it. I’m getting on with the rest of my life. Or trying anyway.

Eight years ago I took the first step at doing this. I began researching how to get out of an abusive relationship and how to file for divorce. Eight years. Really, with the exception of one year off, I have been in court for most of this time. My ex-wife loves to remind me what I was getting out of. She’s probably reading this, because she continues to stalk me online. She needs to get a life. When I see my analytics list her city as one of the places with the most hits on my blog, I know who it is reading my stuff. I don’t know what she is up to with her life. I don’t care. I haven’t cared for eight years.

Being who she is, she probably loved seeing that reference to her. Ugh. Gross.

That’s not why I’m writing today. I just needed to get that out of my system. Like a yearly colonic to remind me how far I have come–and how far others have continued to sink.

I’m doing okay. Really. Tonight is just quiet.

This time of year brings back a lot of memories. Good ones. Like the time I got invited to a Halloween party by the deaf interpreter who had a crush on me. Later I found out she threw a party in hopes that I would come and we could hang out. She dressed as Galadriel. She wrote me poetry. I didn’t really know at the time that she was interested in me. I was seeing someone and didn’t think much about anyone else.

I think about the Halloween parties my friends and I went to together. I remember when my girlfriend at the time won a date with Darth Vader (David Prowse) and we got to hang out with him at a five star restaurant in Denver. He did not like George Lucas. Hell, her birthday is in four days. I still remember after all these years. One of a handful of people whose birthday I do remember. Happy birthday, you’re still a fish.

I think of the way the weather would get cold and the first snows would come. We wouldn’t see leaves on the trees for another eight months. This time of year makes me think a lot about the past. It is a transitional season, a time for changes as summer becomes winter, the dead stir from their rest for a time.

A year ago, I was in denial. I had lost someone and I wanted them back in my life. I fought hard. I did everything I could to win their heart. It’s the last time I am going to fight for anyone like that. You shouldn’t have to fight for someone like that. They should just want to be in your life if they are worth it. I should have just let it be. Let it die a dignified death.

The theme for a lot of this is that need to be wanted, isn’t it? Tonight, I realize that a lot of loneliness stems from a need to be wanted. A fear of missing out. I can’t think of a better place to be right now than a quiet house, watching Netflix, maybe drinking a glass of Ridge wine, and hanging out with my dog.

Not too long ago, I would have been climbing the walls that everyone seemed to have somebody and I was all alone. Not only does it not bother me now, but it feels pretty nice. I don’t have to check in with anyone, I don’t have to do something for someone else, I just get to live my life at my own pace.

Tomorrow will be a work day. I have to get caught up on some assignments. I have a couple projects in the works too. More than enough to fill my time. For now, I’ll take listening to music from another room. Coffee. And that eternal neeeeeeeeee in my ears from tinitis.

Enjoy your life on your terms, my friends.