Tag Archives: frustration

5x Reject


So while we sit here in limbo waiting for a call to tell us we can finally go and buy our new house — we’re already a day past the day we were supposed to move, and at the moment, things aren’t looking good for the adjusted date of next Monday, either — I get an e-mail.

Ding!

Mostly the e-mails coming in that don’t get filtered out are from our realtor, and those are worth reading right away. So I scurry over to read it.

But it’s nothing so pressing. Just another rejection letter on my first novel. My fifth letter — not that I’m keeping count. (Officially. If you count non-responses, that number is more like ten.) (And I’m totally keeping count. What else can you do?)

So between delays, and rejections, and fireworks scaring the hell out of my dog, and said dog, two days later and for no apparent reason, destroying our mattress pad — you know, because we have it sitting on the floor waiting to be moved — this week is one that, were it served to me on a dinner plate, I would return to the kitchen and head for the exit.

This is all a sign that things are about to turn around, right? It’s all going to mean something, right? We’re not going to just keep getting pummeled, literally and figuratively, forever, right?


Regularity


Been thinking a lot about regularity, lately … or more correctly, the lack thereof. (No, not that kind of regularity. THAT’S NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS.)  Regularity is what made me so productive over the past couple years; it kept me clipping along on my novels, it kept me in good upkeep with my running, it kept me making good decisions with food and working out.

But lately, I feel like that shopping cart with the one gimpy wheel; things are mostly swell, the machinery is mostly functioning as intended and you can certainly still use it to get your shopping done, but there’s this constant pull yanking me off course. It squeak, squeak, squeaks on every turnover like nails on a chalkboard in the back of my brain, it thump, thump, thumps like the fingers of a bemused god on the top of my skull.

And even when I am working as intended, things feel off. Like a bit of gravel stuck in the bottom of your shoe. Like a vacuum cleaner with too much hair clogging the brush. Like that leaky faucet that won’t stop dripping no matter how many times you take the damned thing apart and fix it.

I’m getting my writing done, but not quite in the quantity I’d like, and it’s not coming as easily as it seems like it ought to. I’m getting my runs in, but my pace isn’t what it should be, and I can’t seem to shake off the aches and pains. I’ve fallen off the wagon entirely with my workouts, and my diet … well. My diet has always been pretty terrible, but lately it feels like it’s more terribler than ever.

I just can’t get regular.

I don’t really know what to put it down to. New job? Maybe. Malaise and spiritual indigestion over the election? Could be. The natural ebb and flow of all things? Sure.

I dunno. I feel out of my groove, which is no big deal — these things usually work themselves out. The fact that this particular thing hasn’t yet worked itself out makes me … uneasy.

Not much else to say about it just now. Just trying to give this thing, whatever it is, a shape so I can pick and prod at it.


Wasted Time… Like a Leaky Faucet


Time.

I’m a little bit obsessed with it. So much so that I’m one of those dinks that actually still wears a wristwatch that’s functional, rather than a fashion accessory.

It’s eternal and unchanging, unless of course you happen to be traveling at the speed of light, or taking up residence within the jurisdiction of a black hole. Then again, if that applies to you, you’re probably not here reading my drivel.

But for all that time is eternal, we, sadly, are not. We get only so much time to operate with, and as miraculous as modern medicine is, it can do nothing to stretch that time out. (I just heard a story on This American Life about a cryonics experiment that went… horrifyingly wrong, all because people are determined to extend their time on this mortal coil. It ain’t happening yet.) Which means that it’s up to each of us to make the most of this non-renewable resource that’s been allotted to us.

So why — why, why, why? — are so many people determined to waste their precious time?

I’m not talking about relaxing after a tough day at work, or watching a few reruns of Seinfeld with your wife. Time spent relaxing, to a point, is not wasted time.

No, I’m talking about the in-between moments, the moments not specifically spoken for but bridging the gap between moments that matter. Driving your car. Walking from one place to another. Shuffling zombielike through the aisles of the grocery store. Moments you don’t even consider, but that end up swallowing up so many minutes — or even hours! — of your day.

I’m a teacher, so I see this one every day: students have five minutes to get from one class to another, and they lurch at the slowest pace possible from Biology to Math II. That I can understand, to a point — you’re not looking forward to sitting through another drone about the Pythagorean Theorem — but still. You eat up every possible moment getting from A to B, then you have to take extra time to get your business together, get your head right for sitting through another class… in short, you end up slowing everybody down since you wasted time on what? dragging your feet?

But that’s a student. That’s a kid. Who doesn’t properly understand the significance of the time he’s wasting.

How about this? You’re in the grocery store, waiting to check out, all your precious foodstuffs on the belt, and the person in front of you is watching the groceries go into the bag, or watching the numbers on the display tick slowly up… and then the cashier tells them, that’ll be entirely too much money, please. This isn’t even an old person, most of the time. It’s a thirty-something guy who looks perfectly ordinary, you know, not like an idiot. Or a twenty-something woman texting on her cell phone. Anyway, the cashier tells them, you know, it’s time to pay, and THAT’S when they reach for their purse or their wallet. As if it was a total shock to them that there was input required from them in this transaction. As if you’ve never been to a grocery store in your life, and you never thought that you’d have to lift a finger to get the food to your house so you can cram it down your beak.

How can you not be prepared for this? Sure, it’s a few seconds, but those seconds add up, and they’re not just your seconds, either — those seconds of your own hesitation get pawned off on everybody in line behind you.

I’m at the soccer match the other night. Match scheduled to start at 5:30. It’s 5:25. Teams are both on-hand, warmed up, ready. Officials are on-site and ready. Scoreboard is set for the start of the match. And everybody is standing around looking at one another. 5:30; nothing happens. 5:35; more milling about on the sidelines. 5:40; finally the teams line up to have their starters announced. 5:45, the match finally starts. Fifteen minutes late. For no reason! The fault could lie anywhere — maybe one of the coaches had to run to his car, maybe the on-site administrator had to deal with an issue and wanted the start of the game held, whatever. But that’s 15 minutes that a stadium full of parents and friends, two teams of players, an additional two teams who play after, can’t get back. For nothing!

We live in a society where, for better or worse, everybody overlaps with everybody else. I cut you off in traffic, you take it out on your husband later that day. You don’t notice the light changing and cost me the traffic light, I assign extra homework for the 90 students I teach. The repercussions of our every action echo outward like ripples in a pond. Yet again and again, I come across these people letting their time — AND MINE — dribble out the corner of their mouths like so much drool. Distracted with something else. Not paying attention. Just not at all motivated to put any pep in their step.

I want to grab them by their collars, shake them until their bleary eyes snap into focus. Impress upon them, somehow, the fact that while they shuffle through the hallways, while they blunder through the aisles, while they dodder at the stoplights, their time, like sands through the hourglass, is slipping irretrievably into the past.

It only takes a half second to look up from whatever’s right in front of you and remember that your actions impact the world all around you. Is it so much to ask that we do so? In fact, if you are alert and aware and moving through your life with purpose and vigor, you actually gain time… what would have been wasted can then be applied to other, more important things. Is it ridiculous, then, to expect the people around us to act with a little urgency, to behave as if time matters to them?

And at what point would one become a total jerkstore for demanding that they do so?


Broken Ankle at the Finish


I know, okay? I get it.

It’s become too much of a motif around here, this procrastination, this failure to complete, this inability to batten the last hatches. If writing my novel has been a marathon, I’ve snapped an ankle in the last mile. Or maybe sprained it. Or maybe I just tripped and fell and I’m only really really tired, and every scratch feels like a gash, and every shallow breath is a gasp. But that’s no excuse for not slogging myself across the line.

There isn’t much left to do. There really isn’t. I can only belabor the point so much. I can only pretend for so long that I’m stuck on an issue — this character isn’t working out so well, or that plot turn doesn’t feel quite right — before the truth bubbles to the surface like an eyeball in your soup: that I’m not stuck on an issue within the novel, I’m stuck on finishing the novel.

Because that’s all there is. This first edit has drawn on like an endless summer, and I’m bogged down just a mile from the finish line. The car’s blown a tire and there’s no phone service, and even stepping foot out into the sun has me sweat-soaked and exhausted. The prospect of knuckling up and walking it out to the finish has me dreaming of shade trees and ice-cold lemonade.

The last issue is this one character. I don’t know what to do with her, and I could conceivably go back and write her into a few more scenes or write her out of the novel completely… it honestly makes no difference to me at this point. I’m almost ready to hand the manuscript off to some beta readers (a term that never made sense to me… I mean, I guess I’d be the alpha reader, but does that really make sense? Anyway…) and just let them tell me what to do with her, but then I know it’s probably not a professional move to hand off a work with glaring, unresolved issues and expect other people to fix them for me.

But even more than I’m frustrated at my block about finishing this thing, I’m even more frustrated at the prospect of not finishing it. I didn’t come this far; I didn’t write 90,000 words and then re-write about a third of them; to give up now. I can smell the blistered pork of the hot dogs, taste the swirled sticky sugar of the cotton candy. (What? It’s totally gonna be a carnival when I finish.)  No, I’m going to finish this damn novel if I have to crawl across the line dragging two dead, broken legs behind me.

And sooner rather than later. Because I’m a little bit burned on it.

Not that that’s not glaringly obvious or anything.

*Removes cobweb from eyebrow*


Heeling / Healing


It’s no secret that my blarg is about as focused as a toddler with ADD. I write about what occurs to me, and while that’s usually writing, occasionally I stray into the muddier waters of product and television reviews, or sometimes into the less-muddy, more-poopy waters of parenting, and still other times into the not-so-muddy-at-all but rather likely totally uninteresting waters of my personal fitness.

I can’t help but wonder if my blog might garner more views if I chose a focus and stuck to it. Then again, I phrase a doubt like that and then the Ego-Writer chimes in and reminds me that on a personal and intellectual level, I don’t really give a sharknado about my views and follows and likes and all that other crap. So what if my drivel reaches ten people, or a hundred, or a thousand? (Spoiler alert: it hasn’t.) It’s all so many droplets in the ocean, so many swirling grains of silica in a desert sandstorm.

I don’t care about views really; I care about giving vent and voice to what’s on my mind, so LindaGHill’s stream-of-consciousness prompt for this weekend is timely. It’s heal/heel, which is funny, because this week I’ve been particularly concerned with the healing of my heel.

No, really. Back in the early days of this blarg, I tweaked something in my left heel, and since then I’ve had a long road of injuries culminating in a similar but entirely different and more treatment-resistant issue with my right heel. Maybe it was my Vibrams, maybe it was the fact that I pushed up too quickly after my injury, but my feet have been fargoed for a while, and I’ve had enough of it.

Now, when I’ve had enough of feeling unproductive on my book, I can force myself to sit down and work on it. When I’ve had enough of being behind at work, I can sit down and grade until my fingers curl up like burned spiders and get caught up. When I’m feeling too much like a sloth, I can haul my blubbery self out for a run or a workout. When I feel like I’ve had one too many chili dogs (okay, I don’t eat chili dogs, but feel free to insert slices of pizza or cheeseburgers or scoops of ice cream) I can starve myself the next day. I can fix most problems of excess by realizing the excess and shutting it down. Not so much this excess of pain.

I shouldn’t say excess, though. Since visiting the podiatrist back in October (I think) I’ve had varying levels of discomfort, but nothing that could really qualify as pain. I get tweaks and twinges and aches, but nothing that keeps me from walking around, nothing that keeps me from getting out for a run, nothing that I wouldn’t feel silly classifying as “pain.” That said, even on the best of days, I’m aware that all is not right with my heel; it’s always there, nagging at the edge of my consciousness like a burn on the roof of your mouth or that faint whiff of baby poop whenever I pass my hand in front of my face. (Seriously, I washed my hands MULTIPLE times, where is it COMING FROM??) It just won’t go away.

It’s so persistent, now — I’ve been dealing with some level of this ache in my foot for the past six months now — that I’m wondering if it’s not just something I have to live with. Like, I’m almost 35… well past the time when I could, for example, sprain the sharknado out of my ankle, then eat nothing but Cap’n Crunch and occasionally rub a piece of ice on the affected area and bounce back like the goldfingered rubber band man. I want to believe that I can shake this off, but I’m starting to wonder. I’ve been afflicted with this thing for quite a while… so long it’s just starting to feel normal, which frankly is not something I’m okay with.

I think it’s doubly frustrating because I’ve been redoubling my efforts at fitness in other areas and I’m making strides at a ridiculous rate. I’m pushing up my reps and my difficulties. I’m doing a ton of extra walking (my wife is partly to blame for that, since we compete now with our little step-tracking-gizmos. “Compete” is the wrong word. She stomps me in this “competition” every day). I’m losing weight again, faster than I have any right to. All of which is fantastic.

But I can’t shake this thing with my heel.

It’s troubling. Partly because I feel like my ability to run regularly and for long distances has kind of become part of my identity, even though I’ve only been doing it for three years. Partly because I feel like just about every challenge I set for myself lately, no matter how insurmountable it seems at first, feels like little more than a speedbump as I coast past it. I mean… in the past year alone, I decided to write a novel, and I finished a first draft in less than six months. I gave up sodas over the space of three or four weeks. But I can’t overcome this thing with my heel.

Tomorrow’s another long run. If form holds, the heel will feel shaky as hell for the first half mile, then loosen up and feel great for three or four or maybe five miles, then tighten up as I head into mile six and seven.

I really don’t know how to end this post. I usually like to end with some sort of turn toward optimism or at least some cheeky snide aside, but all I can muster on the issue is doubt. This issue is such a small issue in the scheme of things, but it’s still hanging over my head like a set of particularly heavy storm clouds after so many months.

Anyway… this post is part of Stream of Consciousness Saturday.


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