I’m sitting on a fourth floor balcony overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. I’m looking at the beach, listening to the waves, but I haven’t stepped foot on it yet.
I haven’t stepped foot much of anywhere this weekend. It’s after 3:00 on Saturday afternoon and I’ve left my hotel room exactly once to steal coffee from the continental breakfast and take pictures of the property for the review I’ll be writing later on UpTake’s hotel blog. I did stick my head into the hallway to decline maid service and request two extra coffee and Splenda packets from the cleaning cart. I have a gift certificate for dinner at a nearby hotel, but I haven’t decided yet if I want to leave my nautical themed cave long enough to redeem it.
And this weekend is all about what I want to do.
Ironically, I hadn’t thought about my marriage at all until I stepped into the shower and began to take stock of what I was thinking about. And realized it wasn’t that.
To be fair, most of what I’ve been thinking about has been Jen Lancaster and Barbara Weibel – neither of whom are married to my husband or in the middle of a basically one sided separation.
The first thing I read upon checking into my king oceanview suite was the about page on Barbara Weibel’s blog, Hole In The Donut. She’s one of the travel writers on the Hotel Blog I “edit” – and I use quotation marks because what I do there in no way reflects what that verb suggests – and she writes hotel reviews that read like Hemingway novels, if Hemingway wasn’t a bitter hack with a bizarre aversion to plot lines.
I went to her blog after reading a recent post she’d written about a beach in Vietnam and wondering “what in the hell does this woman do for a living that she is constantly traveling to these exotic places?”
Turns out, what she does for a living is travel and write about it. And take pictures. Although, come to find out, “for a living” is a subjective term that doesn’t necessarily reflect things like income and net worth.
In Barbara’s world, “a living” is about what you do with your life, rather than how you fund it. The funds come as they may, and sometimes it’s enough and sometimes it isn’t, but the living is the means rather than the end.
Of course, it wasn’t always that way for her, as she outlines in her About section. It took a debilitating illness and a whomping savings account for her to reverse the mechanics of “doing for a living” – but the point is, it took. And she’s doing it.
I exchanged a few emails with Barbara and then opened my new copy of Jen Lancaster’s first book, “Bitter is the New Black”.
I didn’t buy this book earlier in the week because I gave a shit about the story. In fact, I had no idea what the story was when I made the one-click Amazon purchase with my gift card balance. And I didn’t buy the book because I was fan of Jen’s blog and was dying to hear more of her voice. I don’t even read her blog. (To be fair, I don’t read the blogs I read lately, either.)
I bought her book for the same reason I started reading Danny Evans’ blog a few months ago.
I bought her book because Jen Lancaster was a blogger, and now she’s an author.
And I’m kind of an asshole.
Ah, right. The dots. Let me connect them.
You see, I have this incorrigable belief that if you can do it, so can I. It doesn’t matter what it is, because I’m fucking fantastic. If you can sell, I can sell more. If you can keep two dessert options on hand at all times and maintain a dust bunny free home, then I can make my baseboards fucking sparkle while the cookies bake.
I have never once had a problem in my life that stemmed from my inability to do it. My problems, if you can call them that, come from my tendency to master said it before getting bored and moving on. We’ll come back to that.
My point is:
Anything you can do, I can do. Better.
So if Jen Lancaster can parlay her blog success into numerous best selling books and a career as a real live writer, well, then, so can I. Naturally.
I just needed to do a little research.
So, in the name of research, I got my hands on a copy of the book that started it all. And that’s how I came to spend 12 hours holed up in a hotelroom on the beach reading “Bitter is the New Black” from beginning to end.
Come to find out, the only thing Jen Lancaster and I have in common is that we are both kind of assholes.
While getting immersed in her story about a wealthy executive who “lost everything and found herself”, I agonized over the strength of her voice. She was funny. She was confident. She was fucking brilliant.
And she was completely different from me.
I found myself wondering for the first time in, well, ever, if maybe I couldn’t do what she had done. At all. Let alone better.
And then I got to the part of the book that details how Jen came to be a writer in the first place. I read about how her husband, Fletch, offered to support her while she worked on her writing career.
And for five whole minutes, I thought about my marriage.
Maybe, I thought, I can call Jared right now and tell him this entire thing was simply misdirected frustration over what I was doing with my life. I would tell him our marriage was fine and that the real problem was that I was a tortured artist trapped in a fully employed body. I would beg him to come home and passionately explain that what I really needed to be doing was focusing on writing and getting published. I would beg for his forgiveness and assure him that everything would be fine, if he could just maybe find a way to support me and the kids while I gave it all up to pursue my passions.
Really. I should not be expected to clarify my assholishness to you people more than once in a post.
And to my credit, I didn’t call him. And I mentally kicked myself very, very hard for even allowing that thought to run naked through my brain. I promise. There was much mental flogging and flagellation. (Although, in my defense, it was just a thought and you cannot be judged for having thoughts so much as you can for sharing them.)
Anyway, I finished Jen’s book and stepped into previously mentioned shower where I thought about having not thought about my marriage except for that one thing I thought that didn’t really happen or count.
But more importantly I thought, what now?
What the hell is it that I want?
And, do I really?
Because I have been adamant about what I’ve wanted in the past. Numerous times. See: “dust bunnies” and “Betty Crocker bake offs”. See also: “account executive”, “stay at home mom” and “business owner”.
I have pleaded my case more than once that this, this right here for real this time, is exactly what I want and need for my life. I have been sure. I have been certain.
And I have been wrong.
And now see also: master and jump ship.
The thing is, I know that my reference to that jumping ship thing is complete and utter bullshit.
My fear is not that I don’t know my gut. I have become intimately familiar with the voice of my gut in recent months, and I know when your cells speak to you that you should listen.
My fear is not that I don’t know what I want.
My fear is that I have bills to pay and children to support. My fear is that I don’t know exactly the next step. My fear is that I still have 27 fucking pages of this nonfiction book done and I can’t get an outline or proposal together to save my ass and I don’t even know which one I should try to do first. My fear is that I know the beginning and the end but the middle has big huge gaping holes in it because for the love of God it’s hard to remember what happened when I was 21.
My fear is that maybe, just maybe, I can’t.
People have dreams they can’t realize all the time. And while everytime that doubt is whipsered in my ear my instinctive response is that “I’m better than that”, my very next logical response is “that’s what they all think”.
So again I ask, what now?
I fantasize about a fairy godmother who takes me by the hand and points out each next right thing. I obediently do, because I know that each step is the right one and that all I needed was someone to show me the way. Bippity Boppity Boo. I have clarity and confidence. And time and money to hold down the fort in the meantime.
Do you hear me, God?
I NEED A FAIRY GODMOTHER!
IS THAT TOO MUCH TO ASK?
And still, here I sit. On a fourth floor balcony overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, listening to the waves.
And I haven’t got a clue what now.