second base

by Sandra

Blog stats are creepy things. Weeks will go by where nary a soul will take a peek at this blog and then suddenly traffic will spike for an unknown reason. Who exactly is Googling “Sandra Vahtel” 20 times? Do I want to know? Care to drop a line?

I’m up late, watching a DVD copy of Vanilla Sky that keeps skipping and pausing. I suppose that’s what I get for buying it used for like six bucks. I’m actually up late ’cause I’m helping my friend/landlord/roommate Helen edit together a book of words and images from her time in Argentina. We meet every couple of weeks to discuss progress, and I am not the most “on top of things” as I could be. This is because during our last meeting, we reached a kind of creative breakthrough and instead of capitalizing on the synergy, I coasted on the high of artificial achievement and have slacked off for the past two weeks. Ho-hum. Creative energy comes, creative energy goes, but one thing’s for sure, it’s much easier to maintain when you continue to feed it.

Anyway, I’ve been unemployed now for a month. I have yet to update my resume. However, I have used this time to make significant headway on my novel. Am I making progress? Well, I’ve been more productive this month than I was during all of last year, so I’d say, “yes, that’s progress.” Whatever I have left to write hardly matters compared to my burgeoning feelings toward the material. I’ve drawn closer to the project, and strangely I feel even more committed to it, as if we’ve reached a level of intimacy not previously felt. I like to say that me and my book are at second base.

Feelings of course are tricky and fickle and don’t usually reflect reality. My reality is that I’m unemployed and despite getting money from the State of California every couple of weeks, I don’t have any other kind of income stream; I don’t have health insurance. Sure I feel secure now, but what about when the money starts to dry up? I’m trying not to think about that right now, a decision that nags at the back of my brain as being irresponsible. Whether it is or not, I’m just trying to get as much work done on the book while I still can.

Despite all the uncertainty, no matter what I “should” be doing or “should not” be doing, I have learned something critical to my development as a human being, and that’s the importance of having choices and making decisions.

You want to do something and you do it. That sounds like a simple concept, but it’s a fact I missed during my 20s. I think I thought that things would just happen in life, be it a career or relationship or writing a book or whatever, but I’m beginning to learn differently. I spent an entire decade having fun but essentially floating about, waiting for things to happen to me, never realizing that I had a choice in my life’s direction. That’s not to say that I know what’s best for myself all the time or that I’ll get what I want, but I still pilot the ship. Me, not others or the outcomes of their decisions.

I could easily spend my days trolling job boards and emailing resumes, that’s an entirely valid choice, but one that’s counter to what I want to do at this particular moment. Right now I choose my novel, and with it financial uncertainty and a denial of some of life’s creature comforts. But at least it’s my decision and not anyone else’s.

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