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My mind has gone in a million different directions the past two months.

Actually, scratch that. My mind has toggled between two opposite directions the past several months, maybe years.

Which path? I cry. Which path which path which path.

I don’t want to regret it, I wail.

I want to love it, I say.

I have this idea for how my life should go. And this year—well, it’s been a hard year. I don’t say that like I’ve had much outside stress. There are many people in this world, in this country, in my own circles, who have had much harder years. I’m just saying, for me, it’s been a hard year.

This year I didn’t laugh enough. I didn’t get outside enough. I didn’t hug enough. I hate those feelings because it’s like I’m not enough. My life isn’t enough.

So instead of focusing on the realities of my situation or, you know, doing anything about it, I went into daydream land. I’m very good at daydream land. In daydream land, I can give you a beautiful interview after I’ve just won an Oscar. It’s very humble and giggly and full of phrases like “why yes, I did happen to get engaged on the same day I was nominated!” (I know.)

I like to daydream. I don’t want to stop daydreaming either. Daydreaming can be magical and creative and immensely helpful to writing.

But I don’t want daydreams dictating my life. I feel like I’ve buried myself under layers of okays and fines and talk laters. I’ve covered myself with interviews on Conan and sappy acceptance speeches (for awards and proposals) and Pinterest boards (the secret kind).

Maybe this is too painfully honest. Maybe this seems pathetic. Maybe it really is.

For once in my life, I’m okay with being pathetic if it means looking it reality right in the face. I don’t want to be lost in daydream land anymore. I want to be grounded in reality, but still be able to daydream. I think that’s called being happy.

The thing that I’m realizing though is that this kind of happiness has very little to do with where I am or what I’m doing or any external factor. Those things are important. I’m not denying that I actually want success as I define it for myself: writing full-time, performing, getting married to a good guy, becoming a mom, showering my ageing parents in love, laughing until I pee my pants at game night with my siblings. I want those things so badly my chest physically hurts when I think about them.

But here, in this moment? I can choose success too. I can choose to be happy and to laugh and to face my dirty room and weird thing smelling up my fridge and facial hair and unsolved problems and still say that I like myself.

I can choose to coax my sensitive heart out from under the covers. It likes to sleep in these days. I made it that way. I let it believe it wasn’t cool enough or smart enough or famous enough or pretty enough or just enough. I let it believe it was stupid and ugly and unimportant.

But I choose to be gentle to it now. I will protect it from well-meaning harsh words and not-so-well-meaning ones. I choose to tell it to have fun, stay awake awhile, love on people, and love on me.

Tell me your thoughts, little heart, I say. I will still love you no matter what, you know?

Funny, I find that the most precious phrase in the world, but I never say it to myself. Today I do. I’ll still love you, I whisper.

Home or here? Home or here? I ask it. I’ll still love you.

My little heart opens its scratchy throat; it hasn’t been used in a while.

Home, it whispers. Home, please.

Okay, I say. I still love you.

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happy desk, happy life

I know the saying goes, “Happy wife, happy life,” but I’m not a wife.  I’ll just work with what I’ve got: a dog and a desk.  Estelle Getty better be happy. She’s a dog.  I treat her like a person half the time.  Be thankful, Estelle Getty.  My desk on the other hand is often… how should I put it?  In disarray? A pigsty? Good luck spending the next hour looking for the checkbook?  I think all of those are pretty accurate. But not for today. No. Today my desk is clean.  This is important because I’m a little obsessed with writing spaces.

I have two desks, kind of.  I really have one corner desk that is always clean and pristine and gets the perfect amount of light for writing.  Something I’ve learned about writing though: the desk doesn’t matter half as much as the chair.  Therefore, I mainly use my other desk *cough* coffee table *cough*  because I get to sit on very comfortable couch.

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I would love to use my spectacular chair I got for last year’s birthday (thanks, Mom and Dad!), but it’s slightly too large to go near a desk, meaning I’m left with only my lap space.

Why do writing spaces matter?  I’d like to say it’s because I spend so much time there, which I do, writing or not. But I think they matter to me mainly because I’ve romanticized them so much.  I romanticize things.  It’s sort of a problem. What things? British accents and Mickey Mouse ice cream bars and handwritten letters and old cars.  Strike handwritten letters. They’re actually pretty romantic.  But, the point is yes, these writing spaces are just spaces, but they’re also personality reflections and creative inspiration and neat.  I can’t be the only one that thinks they’re cool.  In fact, I know I’m not (because my mom likes them, too).  You know who really got the idea of a writing space? Mr. Roald Dahl.  I love Roald Dahl for many reasons, including whizpopping.

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Roald Dahl wrote in a big, comfy chair with a lap desk, big blanket, thermos of hot chocolate, and sharpened No. 2 pencils.  What a beautiful way to live.  See? Definitely romanticized.

The_Elephant_HouseJ.K. Rowling wrote Harry Potter (the first one) at a Edinburgh restaurant, The Elephant House. 1. How cool of a name is “The Elephant House”? Super cool.  2. Writing in a public place everyday sounds… rough.  3. I am so impressed by Rowling’s ability to write an entire book (never mind writing Harry Potter) with her pants on the whole time. Wow.

6a0128760776fb970c0167694c1a26970b-500wiHow could I NOT talk about Jane Austen’s tiniest of tables? And I complain about not having enough room.  How crazy is it that Austen competed six novels on a surface I wouldn’t deem large enough to eat dinner on? Oh, Jane, you’re nothing short of fabulous, even in all of your tiny desk glory.  I’m noticing a British pattern… you know how I feel about the accent.

king-by-jill-krementzStephen King’s room.  If nothing else will sell you, On Writing will make you believe that you have to have a designated, poetically beautiful writing space. Oh, it will also make you realize that you are most likely a very bad writer, but that’s besides the point.  In King’s words: “It starts with this: put your desk in the corner, and every time you sit down there to write, remind yourself why it isn’t in the middle of the room. Life isn’t a support system for art. It’s the other way around.” See? He’s romantic, too.

What I’ve realized (King: “No passive voice!”) through our writing space journey is that the most important writing space has nothing to do with my desk.  It’s that room in my head where I lock everyone else out, especially the fourteen year old who tries to compare me to other people, until I let her come in because I have a fourteen year old character. It’s the place where I figure things out and go new places. It’s the place where I don’t think too much.  I explore.  It’s the place of adventure and fear and frustration.  And most importantly, it’s the place that doesn’t define my life.  It’s the other way around.

I made this post into an article for Lydia: http://www.lydiamag.com/2013/11/where-we-work-study-in-writing-spaces.html#more

Photos via  2, 3, 4, 5, 6

my little mobile home

I call this, "View of Dog From Bike"
I call this, “View of Dog From Bike”

The Santa Anas were in full swing the other day, causing my thighs to burn on my bike as I pedaled into the wind to my trailer. This reminds me…

I live in a trailer, and I bike to and from my car. This is the Malibu life, people.  I don’t say this to complain because I love my little apartment, my bike, and my single bathroom sink that functions as face/dish/vegetable washing station. I get to watch palm trees swing in the ocean breeze as I bike to my car, and the place came with my favorite: a deal. My couch/table/kitchen island combo was all mine for the killer price of $150.  I even have a tiny deck and plastic chair with an ocean view (on a clear day). Ahhh, paradise.

The place isn’t without its drawbacks. It doesn’t have a kitchen, but you should see what I can do with a crock-pot and a blender.  And my sweeper (what Hoosiers call a vacuum) sucks up the berber carpet every chance it gets, and I have nightmares about dropping raw egg or meat juice on that carpet.  Knock on wood, it hasn’t happened in real life. I also have zero yard, but my neighbor did invite me into his kid’s tree house within the first five minutes of meeting me. That’s something, right?

Now, I’m 22.  I’m not supposed to be living like a queen, and most of the time, I feel pretty darn lucky to be sipping coffee on my deck as I read The New Yorker.  I feel like I need to come clean; I don’t sip coffee on my deck as I read The New Yorker.  I sip tea.

Really, I do feel lucky typing away on my couch inside and glancing back at my puppy on the deck as she enjoys the ocean view (no New Yorker in sight). I feel lucky experiencing one of the best scent combinations God ever made: ocean and laundry, which can be experienced any time my neighbors wash their clothes (so bi-weekly).  I feel lucky to have a roof over my head and strong water pressure because those are the things that matter in life.

I do love this little quarter of a trailer (oh, did I forget to mention it’s not an entire trailer), and I love that it has become my little home, the first of my own, really.  Not a bad place to begin, I think.

indiana in 90 seconds

Back home again, in Indiana, blah blah blah blah blah…

Wabash! How I long for my Indiana hoooooooome.

I was in Hoosierland for less than 29 hours this weekend, and the trip was nothing short of an adventure.

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Oh, you don’t think I can climb this tree?
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Yammo going to fall.
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I’m not sure who I take after. Mysteries…

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My friend, Crusty Bee, in between the airplane’s window panes. Miss ya, CB.