THIS is the trip report. Sorta.

This is the trip report. Sorta. The time between returning from Vegas and writing about Vegas has been filled with report cards and corrections, navel-gazing, organizing family holiday plans and preparing for last night’s school holiday pageant. I’m so tired right now that the best I can do right now is a kind of point form mishmash.

Mistakes I won’t make again:

  • Flying in Friday. Yeah, getting an extra bit of sleep looks good on paper, but it’s not like I actually got any  thanks to the kid-before-Christmas feeling and an early flight. Missing the Thursday night get-together is not something I’m going to do again.
  • Checking my bag on the way home. Of course, it was mishandled and mislaid. There’s no joy in watching them turn off the luggage carousel. Luckily, the bag turned up 20 minutes later, but it was still an hour of my life I’d like to get back.
  • Thinking that I can get my WPBT fix in 2 days. Next year, Thursday to Monday minimum.
  • Missing the opportunity to show my support as Brad, Blood, Dan, G-Rob, Special K and DrChako ran the half-marathon. I am impressed and inspired by what they and other bloggers are doing to improve their health and themselves. Inspired enough to get back into the pool and on the bike. The knee thanks you.
  • Not playing any PAI GOW!

High points:

  • running into Pauly at San Francisco airport. We were on the same flight to LAS, and it was good to get an early blogger hug and chat!
  • laying in bed Saturday morning, chatting with my roomie, Maigrey. Our Saturday mantra of I will not let anyone get in the way of me having a good time today, not even myself proved effective beyond words. I can’t speak for her, but my Saturday was pretty fabulous from start to finish!
  • the group photo.  For one brief, shining, laughter-filled moment, many of the people I hold dear were in one place at one time. Can’t wait to get a copy (hint, hint….OhCaptain? Astin? Who do I need to send alcohol/gifts/etc to?).
  • CUPCAKES!
  • Getting to move something from the “I really want to do this someday” column over to the “holy fuck, that was incredible!” and “when can I do it again?” columns.
  • speaking of things I’ll do again – brunch at Wicked Spoon. While the food was good, the company was way better.
  • watching Iggy wear flashing devil horns
  • watching Brian blush as he said “titties” for the second take.
  • it wasn’t a 15-course meal, but dinner at The Pub on Friday night had me sitting around a table with some of my favourite people. I didn’t have nearly enough time to talk to Special K, Falstaff, and Suzy, but I treasure what little I got.
  • mocking the dealertainers at the Imperial Palace. I know that there is a push to leave the IP behind, but I have to admit I kind of like it. It’s real. Aria might look better, but the IP was livelier on the Saturday night. When things are rocking, I like that I can sit at the Geisha and see/hear my friends at Pai Gow and craps knowing that other friends are in the poker room just beyond them.

 Regrets:

  • What do you get when you combine some unrealistic expectations, unfavourable comparisons, hormones, disappointment, a vague feeling of being excluded, lack of sleep, alcohol and Red Bull? Trust me, it is not pretty. One text was all it took to tip me right into a morass of life tilt. Definitely not how I wanted to end Friday. I owe a huge debt to DrChako for for pulling me back by sitting me down with a well-made cocktail then firmly and gently reminding me that I do this to myself. Thanks babes; I’m pretty sure that was not on your list of fun things to do that night.
  • It’s a known fact of WPBT gatherings that there is never enough time to connect with everyone as deeply as you’d like. The list of people I wish I’d had more time with is long. Too long. I’m making a promise to myself to get to as many smaller gatherings as I can in the next year, make more phone calls and write more emails. I miss you.

File under what the ?

  • sitting in the Pub on Saturday, having dinner with StB08, Chilly, Shelly, and Maigrey when the rodeo opened. The American anthem started up, and without missing a beat, every cowboy in the place stood up, placed hand over heart and started singing. One woman at the table near us brushed away a tear as she sang. Did a quick check, and no, my table mates were still seated and watching football so I didn’t have to deal with the I’m a foreigner so do I still have to stand dilemma and could just observe. It was surreal to say the least.
  • I found myself actually enjoying watching the rodeo.

Poker

  • Played a little NLHE on Friday night at a blogger table, but stopped when I dropped a buyin.
  • Think I finished around 41st or 42nd on the tournament on Saturday. I could have done better if I’d had more faith in pocket sixes, as all three times I was dealt them, they turned into a set.
  • Both of those points only serve to reinforce that 1) I don’t care about poker and 2) it may have been the reason I started going to the WPBT gatherings but it sure as shit is not the reason why I still go.
  • speaking of the tourney, kudos to the blogger babes who ITMed! Every time I checked, half the remaining playing field was estrogen-based, which pleases me no end.

Thank you:

  • Keith.
    I had actually convinced myself that I was OK with not going; he knew I really wasn’t. And he knew how much I was stressing out while I was waiting for the mammogram and ultrasound test results. “Life is short”, he said as he offered to fly me down. As he put it, we don’t know what’s going to happen, but if it only costs a cheap plane ticket to ensure there are no regrets, then let’s throw some money at it. The test results were negative, but it was a reminder of how quickly life could change.
  • Maigrey
    Heather, thank you for letting me stay gratis. I am so happy I’ve had a chance to get to know you better over the last year, and can’t wait to hang out with you again!
  • April
    You make herding cats look easy. Thank you yet again for making it happen.
  • DrChako, Iggy, BrainMc, Pauly, and _________ (I know I’m forgetting people)
    The conversations I had with you guys were among the high points of my trip. As Tom Waits would say, you’re the same kind of bad as me. I love it.

I know I’m missing something, but I took no notes this time and only have 6 pictures on the phone. Every year I document less and experience more, which is great until I take into account the increasingly failing memory.  Middle age kinda blows.

ear worm

I have what is quite possibly the sexiest song ever recorded stuck in my head. It snuck in my iPod shuffle somehow and surfaced while I was out walking. It was fun to have Mark Lanegan purr in my ear for a while, but now it’s just making me antsy and it’s not helping me get my work done today.

tech notes (this is not a trip report either)

I am pretty happy with technology tonight, like

  • Skype, so I can have a chat-and-cackle session with my bff on the other side of the planet, complete with video of her husband doing a bump and grind for my benefit.
  • Twitter, so I don’t have to go through complete #WPBT withdrawal.
  • texting, so I can do some quick hit flirting/convos/questions with far away friends.

But I think I’m going to turn it all off, snuggle on the couch under a blanket and listen to the cat snore while I knit and watch Kill Bill until I feel sleepy which since I’ve been up since 3am, will hopefully be sooner rather than later. Never had insomnia before. Can’t say as I care for it much.

 

 

This is not a trip report

This isn’t a trip report. I told myself I wouldn’t do one until after my report cards are done on Friday.

Maybe I should do one sooner though. I can feel the high of being with friends who understand me slipping away. I’m happy. I’m smiling. I feel more myself than I have in years.

Years.

Today I found myself thinking, maybe too much, that if this life that I have doesn’t make me feel like myself, then what the hell am I doing living it? I know how it happened. Small daily compromises have been made, for comfort, for contentment. Trouble is, I have never much liked the words compromise or contentment; I always used to prefer the words joy and passion.

What to do, what to do. How to slow, stop and reverse this creep of dullification? I don’t think that’s a word, do you? You know what I mean though.

I already know that at least three of you are ready to comment that I am not dull, that I am pretty kick-ass. It’s all smoke and mirrors. And bullshit. I’m in a rut. I’m beginning to feel like the frumpy middle -aged teacher I look like. And that ain’t good.

The truth is, I’m going to bed at 9, 9:30 not because I like being well rested for work (which is good, don’t get me wrong), but because my dreams are better than my waking reality. I am so bored that I can’t even be bothered to masturbate. What’s the point? Lately it only serves to make me feel more sad and lonely than before. The gods must be greatly amused by this, that one who was so sexually active in her youth can now count the number of times she has actually had sex in the last five years on the fingers of one hand and still have fingers left over.

Bet you thought it was more. Well, it’s not. Let’s just say it has not been good for my self-esteem. Nor for any sort of mental calm – my thoughts have an unpleasant bittern edge that is starting to affect the way I interact with people. Truly, I didn’t realize it until yesterday when a student said she was happy that I had a good time where ever I’d gone, and that I’d found my smile there. So am I. Now what I’d like to know is, how the hell did my smile get all the way to Las Vegas without me? Although it was nice of it to wait for me to catch up to it. I had some excellent help finding it; my friends are wonderful to me in ways I don’t quite feel I deserve.

I talked to my brother, who said that it’s just my perception of reality, and that I need to change my perception. He’s getting all zen and reading Buddha’s teachings so he doesn’t lose his mind while his marriage is dissolving. Being zen is not a bad thing. Reading the Dalai Lama’s book, the Art of Happiness, worked once before. Meditating worked before. Exercise, learning new things, indulging in small pleasures, these all worked before. They centered me, helped me find balance.

But you know what? I don’t want to be calm and centered, or at least not all the time. I want to go out and dance until they turn the lights on and kick everyone out. I want to drink and act silly and flirt and maybe even kiss someone(s). I want to blend what I was with what I am.

Mid-life crisis? Maybe. Maybe just bored? Perhaps. Definitely very tired of saying I used to be fun, I used to be sexy, I used to be desired, I used to be active, I used to be fiercely passionate, I used to be somehow just more.

And this is where the commenters say, you dolt, you are sexy, you are fun, you are desired. What the fuck are you talking about?

So maybe my brother’s right. I just need a shift in my perception. Or a smack upside the head. Or a night out dancing until they turn on  the lights and kick everyone out.

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And to think that all I meant to write is, I’m busy with report cards and will do a trip report when I’m done.

50,116

I did it! I’m a novelist, bitches!*

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Excerpt:
She set the last suitcase down by the door, and did one last walk through this house she had grown up in. The small post-war bungalow looked so much larger now that it was empty. It had seemed to expand once she replaced her parent’s heavy pieces with spare modern pieces; now it had grown again without anything for reference.

Her footsteps rang hollowly on the bare hardwood floors and echoed in the harsh space left behind now that the chesterfield, curtains and carpets had been removed. The light streamed in through the uncovered windows, illuminating the dust motes that swirled in her wake.

She caught herself thinking how Hayden would love this empty space with its unfiltered light and stark angles. He could see potential in any blank canvas.

She sighed. When would she stop thinking about him? She hoped it would be sooner rather than later, but suspected he had become a permanent resident in her mind.

She trailer her fingers along the edge of the fireplace, remembering the stockings that had hung there ever since she was a child; three for Mother, Father and her, and then two and then finally just one. Even when it was just her at Christmas she had still hung the stocking on the middle nail and secretly hoped that someone would mysteriously fill it with small treasures.

She moved out of the living room, and was walking through the dining room when she noticed what looked like cracks in the plaster at the bottom of the wall that had had the enormous sideboard  pushed up against it for as long as she could remember. She had no idea how the moving men had got it outside. She had wanted to get rid of it when she sold all her father’s furniture but it had proved to be too heavy.  One day she had even gotten to the point of getting a crowbar and a hammer from the shed in a furious desire to remove it from her sight, but in the end she just couldn’t do it. It had been her father’s mother’s and she found herself unable to scar this physical manifestation of her history. She had stared at it for hours wondering how to make it work and in the end had made do with painting it a glossy white enamel.

But now it was gone, leaving an unpainted void in the wall where it used to stand. Jane went to look at the cracks, wondering if this was something she needed to tell the new owners about. As she bent down, she could see that it wasn’t cracks that ran along the plaster above the baseboard, but several wavering lines of tiny handwriting, too fine to read. She frowned at it for a bit, then went back to the front door to get her reading glasses out of her bag and came back to sit on the floor in front of the wall.

She lay on her stomach on the floor, chin in her hands, close to the wall, and the writing came into focus.

Jane, the writing began, you will read this when you are ready to journey. Remember me and the lessons I taught you. Or not. Although it`s probably better if you do. Remember them I mean. Eventually. I doubt you even remember my name right now; adults are so dim. So here it is. My name I mean. Take care of yourself, and I hope to see you again some day. Love, Roy

She read the lines again, hoping that this time they would make sense. They didn’t. Who was Roy? And how did he write behind the sideboard that was too heavy to be moved? She read it a third time. How did Roy-whoever-he-was know she was going to be travelling? And why he sound a bit like a teenage girl?

She sighed and mentally shrugged putting the questions in the increasingly fat file folder in her head entitled “weird things I might will think about later”. Before she stood up, she pulled her phone out of her back pocket and took a picture of the writing on the wall. Just in case, she thought.

She brushed herself off and went to the kitchen to wash her hands. The movements were so automatic, reaching for the soap to the left of the sink and then the hand towel hanging on the oven handle. They weren’t there in the places they had been the last 28 years. It was jarring, a reminder that everything had changed now, and the habits of a lifetime were about to be replaced. She stood in the middle of the kitchen, hands dripping, turning around her now former kitchen, trying to think if she had left behind even a half roll of paper towels. No, she had packed it all, she knew it. She grimaced as she dried her hands on the back of her pants and opened the back door. She walked through her garden, and started pulling weeds from among the beans and tomatoes out of habit. She pinched off a bit of dill and holding it under her nose imagined the dill pickles she’d be able to make come fall. She looked at her garden and began to calculate how many Ball jars she was going to need for her canning this year and trying to recall how many she had in the basement.

Oh, she said with a small voice, remembering what the empty house meant. I won’t be here. 

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*I mean novelist in only the most general of terms. At best, my output over the last 30 days can be called a shitty first vomit draft. Now on to significantly less fun task of editing. Yippee skippee.