My Return to the Journey

It has been a while since I have posted, and even those were more a source of information for my gaming groups than for blogging or about writing. I would love to tell you that there was some great pressing life need that kept me away, but in reality it is the mess that is real life that brought me back. If you are following me in social networking sites, this may not be as confusing as it sounds.

Just over a week ago my father-in-law passed away. Many of my online friends as well as my proximity compatible friends offered my family their well wishes. It renewed my faith in why am I on such sites. It also reminded me how I sometimes feel strange offering similar condolences to online friends in similar situations. These past couple of weeks have reminded me that it is far more helpful than awkward. But that is not the real reason I decided to dive back in, the real reason was my visit to Starbucks that night a week or so back.

Thursday July 14th I got the call from my wife. I’ll spare you all the details, but he was fighting serious health issues for a while. At the same time, we weren’t expecting “the call” that soon. Robin told me she didn’t need me there, so I finished out my day clearing my plate as I knew we would need several days to make arrangements and such. Also, I had been out the first three days of the week for when the Italian exchange student staying with us got into town. So not only did we have a house guest, but I had three days of work piled up. I managed to get everything to a holding pattern by only staying a little late. The starting of the migraine told me that coffee was required.

Once there my friend Lex was working the barista station but there was a new woman at the counter. I’m not sure how new as I have cut most coffee stops from my budget recently. Not familiar with me she was making small talk while my drink was being made. My answers were likely more curt than I had intended, but it had been a rough day. Then, when I mentioned work she asked, “What do you do?” I froze up trying to answer.

She didn’t ask where I work, or who I worked for. She asked me what I did. I gave the expected answer of who employs me, but my mind was repeating the real answer for me. I’m a writer.

Don’t get me wrong, I like my job and even with the political fiasco of being a state worker in Wisconsin right now (including the near $400 cut in pay every two weeks), it does afford me the ability to do what I do. It give me the flexibility to be a writer. Unpublished, sure… but a writer none the less.

Part of the disconnect I was feeling is the number of writer’s group meetings I had missed recently. Also I am one of two people in the group who are still unpublished. At the same time I have a number of short stories that could be put out for submissions with a little critique and edit from the group. I knew there was no way I was making group that week, but I intend to go the week after. For those keeping count, that is tonight.

Either way I was braced for what was likely to be one of the hardest weeks I have faced in a long time. Since I don’t have the energy (or the time) to work through it all, I offer you the highlights…

  • purchasing food and drink for the post funeral family feast (thank you Costco)
  • getting together chairs, table and the standing cooler that is older than I am
  • watching my wife go through photos upon photos for the arrangement
  • making a DVD for the player at the funeral home
  • driving around picking up various photos and the like for the funeral
  • getting clothes/shoes for grandchildren to wear to funeral
  • adding in another cooler and flat of water for the cemetery due to the danger-invoking heat
  • the day itself
  • purchasing/mounting the flag case for the flag/shell casings from the funeral
  • various projects to help around the mother-in-law’s house with the wife the day after

During the course of that 4-5 days I learned a few things. Or at least I was reminded of them again. The first of which being that military funerals and I have a love/hate relationship. I love the ritual, discipline and honor in them but I really hate sitting through them. Also, while parts of this state are really pissing me off this year, a unit out of Madison came all the way to Wales, Wisconsin, waited for the funeral procession to arrive (30 minutes late as they did the cemetery service at the funeral home due to extreme heat) and performed the honors, providing the flag and marker for the grave at no cost to the family. And they did it during one of the most absurdly hot and humid days of the year in full dress blues.

Also it seems to me that family tragedy brings out either the best in people or the worst in people. If at any point in time I display the latter, please feel free to deliver a punch to the lower lumbar section of my spine. I will have earned it at that point. Of course I am also not the person who will deliver said spinal punch to someone else. And yes… I do see the hypocrisy in that statement.

My wife went out for some alone time this past weekend to enjoy one of the things her father gave her – an appreciation for the outdoors. I took care of things at home and took our houst guest with my father and son to Festa Italiana in Milwaukee. (Not for long though as the heat was still in the dangerous levels.) I did however make an oath with myself to compete in Camp Nanowrimo this August. (Anyone want to race to 50,000 words?) Everyone deals with life in their own way, even if for some it is avoiding the whole sticky mess that most of us know as real life.

My challenge for the Journey this upcoming month is to not back away from real life or my dreams, to meet both head on and beat the holy hell out of them. Of course, that also includes the side challenge of being able to afford the cost of real life this coming month (which includes GenCon tickets that are non-refundable).

What are your plans for the next month? Is there some aspect of life you have been putting off as well?

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