Rebooted reboot

I know, I know, I know…

I popped back in from outer space on January 1, all ready to reboot this blog and get back to opining about all sorts of things about which no one asked my opinion, and then… *crickets*

So, a funny thing happened on the way to that reboot. Not “haha” funny, but unusual and highly distracting. I realize that “highly distracting” means almost nothing coming from someone who darts off after the first “Squirrel!” but this time, I think these things will qualify even for those with the most steadfast spans of attention.

I was waiting to really get going on blogging again until my book cover was done and I could swing down that path. Because yes, people, Squirrel or no, I did manage to complete my first book last year and all in all, I am pretty damn pleased with it and myself.

To kick off my celebration of finally accomplishing something, I attended the annual Pagan convention, Pantheacon, in mid-February and went to Llewellyn Worldwide’s author gathering, and saw my book cover for the first time! What a surprise, and what a peak experience that was! I was over the moon. So yes, “The Elements of Horse Spirit — The Magical Bond Between Humans and Horses” is happening, my friends! I have photographic evidence, and also heard that it went to press two weeks ago. It’s available for pre-order on Amazon right now! How cool is THAT!

I returned from Pantheacon all set to shine a spotlight on the next leg of my life’s journey and got slammed with an unexpected surprise. After many years of relentless arm pain and restriction, it turns out I had not only a bone spur under the end of my collarbone, digging right into the nerve that runs to the deltoid muscle, but also two rotator cuff tears — one partial, and one a full thickness tear, the latter of which being the truly troublesome part.

After consulting with a surgeon, a specialist, and my own dear doc, the opinion was unanimous: The rotator cuff must be repaired before the severed ends scar over because at that point, it will no longer be repairable. At that point, I’d be looking at a shoulder replacement. And ANY replacement of ANY body part weirds me the hell out, so that was incentive enough to make my decision easy.

In February, the surgeon gave me a window of six months to repair the damage. Initially, I wanted to do what all good journalists do, and push that surgery out to the last possible moment… let all that good old deadline energy propel me through. However, both the specialist and my doc said, “Do it NOW.” I have to wonder if both of them knew that coronavirus was heading our way, and if I stalled, there’d be a good chance my surgery would be denied as “non essential” during the midst of this pandemic. Thankfully, whether foresight or conservative medical opinion, I did as they said, and had my shoulder repaired on March 3.

I went in for surgery, and the world was relatively normal, albeit caution about hand-washing and being aware of activities that might spread the virus was floating around. I came out of surgery, and the entire world turned upside down. Within one week, the shelter-in-place orders went into effect in California and we were all thrust into a new, unfamiliar reality. And possibly not a temporary one. We will likely be living this way until a vaccine is found, and that could take as long as 18 months, so, well… maybe invest in a bidet because that’s a LOT of toilet paper that we don’t have, my friends.

What does this all have to do with your alleged writing reboot, Debra? Jeez, get ON with it.

Well, it’s this: I imagined that even though I had to wear a bulky arm sling 24-7 for the entire first month, I’d still be able to write. I imagined wrong. Sitting at the computer with that thing on required uncomfortable contortions that made focusing on writing pretty much impossible, and my hand and arm were as weak as a newborn kitten. Beyond the physical discomfort, I discovered that following general anesthesia, plus extreme sleep deprivation due to the sling and only being able to sleep (or attempt it, rather) in a recliner, I’d lost my words as if someone locked the room in my brain where they all are. Locked out! I struggled to find the exact word I was trying to say, and to even finish a sentence. For someone who lives in a world of words, this was most unsettling. I said a lot of things like, “I need to go get that thing to do that… thing… ” and sometimes I’d hear a sentence come out of my mouth and my ears would detect that I didn’t use the words I’d intended to. That was upsetting all by itself.

And then the coronavirus tsunami washed over us all.

It didn’t take long before my good old pal Anxiety roared back into my life, further paralyzing my ability to write anything longer than a snarky Facebook post. What irony, right? Suddenly I’m gifted with endless time to write, and between physical discomfort and psychological anguish over our impending collective doom… I’m unable to write a damn thing. And so… I gave up on writing for the rest of March, and on into early April, until I could get the sling off. Just completely furloughed my brain and decided that epic hours spent playing Candy Crush and watching reruns of The Office was forgivable under the circumstances. “Just heal,” I told myself. “That’s all you need to do.” And so, the days wore on, just an endless cycle of changing from P.M. pajamas to A.M. pajamas and back again.

Until this morning. Today is the first time in nearly six weeks that I’ve been able to sit at a keyboard and use both hands without pain, AND have enough psychological bandwidth to write something reasonably coherent. Milestone, people! Yes, the whole coronavirus thing is running like a ticker tape through the back of my brain, but as I said… this is now our reality. I must teach myself to write again in spite of it, because this is where we’re stuck, and this is where we’ll stay. Thank Goddess it’s totally comfy to write in PJs, which ironically was always my ultimate dream. Somehow, I didn’t quite imagine it this way, but this is what it is.

And here we are, all the way to the end of a column! Hopefully my writing Muse has been kickstarted! This may not be my best work, but hey — it’s SOME work, and that’s more than I’ve done since January. It may contain typos because my post-surgery anxiety-saturated brain is still struggling a bit, so apologies in advance. But hopefully, my reboot is officially rebooted! Now if we just could go awhile without anything else funny happening. (Note to the Universe: No more surprises, please. Enough’s enough. You’ve made your point: Control is all an illusion. We get it. Don’t be a dick and hammer it home. Nobody likes a dick.)

Me, seeing the cover of my book for the first time at Llewellyn Worldwide’s authors party at Pantheacon in February 2020!

 

 

Knocking down the cobwebs

Pffft… pffft… pfffffffft….

Dang, there are cobwebs all over this place, aren’t there! Dust everywhere you look! I’m almost ashamed to admit that I haven’t made a single post since last May.

Almost.

Because it wasn’t simple garden variety laziness or lack of organization or—squirrel!!! (this time)… I had a super good reason: I spent most of last spring and summer working on my first book, “Elements of Horse Spirit – How Horses and Humans Heal Each Other,” to be published by Llewellyn Worldwide in June 2020! Yes! I finally achieved the one milestone I always wanted: to write at home, with neither boss nor employees, and preferably in pajama pants all day long! Cocktails by 4 p.m.! The dream is alive!

The reality of that lifelong dream, however, is that I wrote this book on a fast-track, suggesting an absolutely preposterous timeline (two months for the first draft), and then set out to meet it. And I did. But it wasn’t done there… revisions and editing followed, and the book wasn’t done done until Labor Day, and that’s not quite true either, because the manuscript has moved on to another editor, and within the next couple months, the draft copy will be proofread and copy-edited yet once again, until it goes to press in March.

It was an incredible amount of work, and I’m beyond thrilled that this is finally happening (I turned 60 last year, so I’ve taken “late bloomer” to the next level), but the upswing of all that work is that I squeezed all the words out of my brain. Nothing left but a chalky, haggard husk, except a few TV theme songs rolling around in the dusty corners. Nothing left but an endless loop of “... love is all around no need to waste it…” But, yeah, temporary cognitive depletion notwithstanding, it looks like I am, in fact, going to make it after all! Somebody get me a beret to toss in the middle of town square!

Why am I feeling a splooge of confidence about that? Well, Llewellyn has given me the green light to start on my second book, which will be especially for the Pagan-curious, and those interested in a little guidebook about discovering their feral side and exploring the Pagan world; a Pagan preschool primer of sorts.

Yes, Pagan. In fact, both books are of the Pagan slant, which may or may not come as a shock to some. Those who recognize my Pagan core, recognize my Pagan core. The rest just assume I’m some old tree-hugging, whale-loving hippie who owns too much silver jewelry with weird looking symbols, and has a bad tarot addiction. After many, many years of (badly) hiding my true Pagan self, and with print journalism far in my rearview mirror, I can finally be completely congruent. Whew. It feels great to exhale.

Why did I pretty much stay in the broom closet all that time? Simple: Paganism didn’t pay the bills.

And yes, it’s true: I am just done with journalism. For multiple reasons. That ship hasn’t just sailed, it’s hit a coral reef, ripped its belly open, and sunk to the bottom of the sea, where happy little seahorses and clownfish and crabs are repurposing it into a sweet little underwater condo.

Honestly, it was never my goal to be a journalist or an editor anyway, and I was never particularly interested in newspapers either. It’s just what happened while I was busy making other plans.

Oh, life… you are such a scamp!

All that said, I did have a passion for writing opinion, and that was the hardest piece to release, but here we are, a year and a half later, and I can count all the columns (I suppose I should more appropriately say “blog posts” now) that I’ve written on one hand in that span of time, and I just don’t really care. I sort of lost interest in the whole opinion gig. I went internal, shared my opinion on social media here and there, but even that has become a bit “meh” to me. I’ve realized, in retrospect, that I never succeeded in changing people’s minds, let alone the world, but holy crap, did I try. I became very accustomed to a 360-degree “fists up” mentality all the time, and became quite the verbal scrapper over the years. Yes, kitty had claws, and she wasn’t afraid to use them. But the more time that elapsed between my official last column and the present moment, the less interest I had in continuing the constant shit-disturbing. War, even in words… huh – what is it good for? Absolutely nuthin’.

Except endless arguments and flaming social media threads that ultimately accomplish even less.

Evidence: Hillary did not win in 2016. And Kellyanne is still talking.

And so, I sat on the banks and let the endless river of potential column topics just float on past (and wow, did the current occupant of the White House float plenty of jetsam downstream). Some looked mighty tempting, but all in all… I just let it drift on by and got reacquainted with myself instead. I didn’t even produce a pithy column on turning 60, as I had when I turned 40 and 50 because… does it really matter? It’s a number. It’s also a lot of judgment. Are we done with “OK, Boomer” yet? That’s about as five minutes ago as “five minutes ago.”

Other than the joints in my hands having some pesky arthritis from all that tapping on a keyboard for nearly 30 years, what’s the point obsessing over that number? Is 60 all that different from 59? (Here’s a short story on that: No.) Besides, it’s not about the time you’ve spent on earth as much as it is about how you spend the time that’s left. And what’s left is pure gold, and must be spent wisely. I’m not squandering it on tempest-in-a-teapot mudslinging anymore, whether in print or online. It’s just sad and tired, and does nothing to improve anything. I’ve lost the urge to prove that I’m right. It’s good enough that I know that for myself. All of y’all will have to figure it out for yourselves.

All that said, I’ll try to do a better job of blogging (good Goddess that sounds so weird and wrong… it’s like a new haircut… I guess I’ll get used to it) here and there. I’ll aim to do a better job of dusting and knocking the cobwebs down from time to time. (Disclaimer: I’m a shitty housekeeper.)

Anyway, onward to a new year, a new decade, and a new trajectory!