The guest blogger strikes again

There have been allegations that my guest blogger, Nick Fox, and I are one and the same person. I assure you that not only do we write very differently – we look very different as well. Especially when you consider he is a boy and I am a girl. Here is his most recent (low-tech email newsletter) update and following it is a picture of the two of us together, to put these allegations to rest once and for good. 🙂

Greetings from Florida. I feel that opening should have a postcard attached with palm trees and flamingos and a couple frolicking in the surf. So just imagine that, if you would. Big pink and green letters saying, Wish You Were Here, and pelicans in the background.

The background as I type this is my grandparents’ new place . I’m looking out the window right now at Sarasota Bay, where a small speedboat appears to be towing a crane across the water. It’s the strangest damn sight. I’m going to go get a photo of it.

(moments later)

Got my photo. See attached. There’s your postcard. Have a look at the floating crane and just imagine the Tijuana Brass Band a little Bob Barker announcement that YOU have won a trip to FLORIDA!!!

Florida is a good place for weird, and growing up here has had an effect on me. Now, when I’m in New Orleans, I walk through the French Quarter and see two cowboys standing on a corner with miniature horses and shrug and go, “Eh. Whatever.”

But I digress. I have a story about digression…

ERNEST HEMINGWAY: Get to the point or I’ll punch you in the mouth.

I’m in the breakfast nook of my grandparents’ new place. They moved in less than forty-eight hours ago. This is supposed to be a retirement community, but if it is, I’d like to retire now.  The place is stunning. When my grandmother walked in two days ago, her first reaction was, “Oh my God! Oh my GOD!”

That was the dialogue for the next thirty minutes. My grandmother (Jabe) and my grandfather (Zaz), going back and forth like this:

JABE: OH MY GOD! I don’t BELIEVE this!

ZAZ: This is too good for us.

JABE: I don’t believe it! Oh my GOD! (pause) OH MY GOD!

ZAZ: This is for royalty, not for schleppers.

JABE: Oh my GOD!

So. Yeah. It’s a nice place. Which is good, because the transition was intense. My grandparents have spent the last couple decades going back and forth between Dayton, Ohio and Sarasota. They’ve been in the same house in Dayton for fifty-one years. The same place in Sarasota for twenty. And they just gave up both at the same time. I can’t imagine making that kind of a shift at the stage of their lives they are at, and it says something to me about their resilience that they can make the transition. But here they are, and they should be joining me for breakfast shortly.

I’m not sure how to talk about things these days. My friend Logan shot me a missive from Bogota a while ago where he said his life “was so busy being lived that words have a hard time keeping up.”

So now that I have some time and the desire to get back in touch with everyone, I’m sitting down to make the words keep up again. I’ll try to tell this in snapshots. It’s been two months and a lot of upheaval and more to come.

Two months ago, I found myself off my track. The mule-driving job had become extremely difficult for me due to brutal heat and an increased insanity out on the square. I was also running a poetry slam that I didn’t have the energy to keep running. I was worried about money, worried about saving. I wasn’t writing at all. Often tired. But the worst thing was that I was constantly staring at maps.

This is a pattern of mine. I love maps and I love travel. The issue for me is when I start planning trips that I am in no position to take. I’m staring at travel guides for Hawaii and maps of Mexico when I need to be writing, or working, or just living the existence I am actually in. When I’m planning what I’m going to do way down the road and obsessing over it, I take myself out of the present moment. The result is that I don’t enjoy my life because I’m not living it. I’m waiting to live something else, something I’ve made into a fantasy. This is a signal to me that things need to change.

So here’s the change:

I quit my job. I gave up the show. I started writing every morning (more on this in a moment), and I got a new, highly portable job as a copy editor. This is ideal work, not just because I’m pretty good at it and it uses my degree to earn me money (imagine that!), but because I can take it with me anywhere. I can work on the road, or I can work from home. And I don’t have to feel as bad if I glance at a map once in a while.

And what am I copy editing?

Bible study guides.

Yeah. I don’t believe it either.

The even better news in all of this is that I’m working on my book again, writing my second draft. I’ve developed a solid pattern with it. I get up every morning and ride my bike through the Bywater, over the tracks at Press Street, and park at a little coffee shop called Sound Café. I order a pot of Earl Grey tea, sit down and work on my book for three hours. Every day. Punch in and punch out. And I’ve also got a rotating crew of friends who come down and join me to write. Rhe, Jonathan, Zach, Andy, Aaron, Corina, and others will show up at various hours, sit next to me and get to work. The place has become our collective office, and it’s rare I don’t see somebody I know working during my time there.

My days in New Orleans open with this routine. Afterwards, I usually go home and make myself some lunch, then get to work on the manuscript I’m editing, if I have one to edit. I’ll play guitar for a while. I’ll go out in the evening to listen to live music and dance whenever the opportunity comes up. Then I go to bed, get up and do it again.

And that’s it. That’s pretty much my life right now. I talked to my grandparents about this yesterday and said the best thing about my thirties (so far) is that I’ve managed to create a life that is exactly the one I want. I also told them that they were a massive inspiration for that. My grandfather just celebrated his 90th birthday (complete with family reunion and musical entertainment), and my grandmother turns 90 in April. They’ve been married 65 years. I want to feel I’m living as full a life as they have. This year, I’ve felt that.

I’ve got some travel coming up in the next few weeks. I head back to New Orleans on Saturday, then leave a few days later for the west. I’ll be in New Mexico, Arizona and California for two and a half weeks. Albuquerque, Flagstaff, L.A. and the San Francisco Bay. That should wind up the summer, which has been a tricky season. New Orleans can get nasty in the summertime, but the heat and intensity is starting to break up. People are coming home, and more and more I’m hearing people say to each other, “Hey, when did you get back?”

I’ll be back in mid-October. Just in time for my birthday (which will mark two years of these updates), Halloween, and Dia de los Muertos. Right now, I can’t say what I’m more excited about; traveling, or coming home.

I think that’s all I’ve got for today. Life is being lived. And like Logan said, the words are having a hard time keeping up. I’ll send word from the road. And hopefully some good pictures too. It’s been four years since my last trip to the southwest, and this will mark my first visit to L.A. to see my sister’s new life. Details to follow.

Be good, and I’ll talk to you all soon.

All the good songs,

Nick

It's not the best picture of either of us, but it does prove we're not the same person.

It's not the best picture of either of us, but it does prove we're not the same person.

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Filed under Friends, New Orleans, poetry, pop culture

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