Why Sharing a Home is Hard for Introverts

When I saw Why Is It So Hard for Introverts to Share a Home on IntrovertDear, well, just say, it really struck a chord. As regular readers know, I’ve been struggling with this, like many, since Covid because now hubby and I are both working at home instead of just me. And let me say upfront that he is the only person I can stand spending this much time with. Over 26 years now. Longer than any roommate (really didn’t enjoy roommates), longer than my family of origin, longer than my first husband. We are so compatible.

When we first got together, we often stayed in because we didn’t want the wait staff to interrupt the flow of our great conversations. Our 1-week honeymoon in Maui wasn’t enough time together, so we booked a Caribbean cruise 7 months later. And traveled extensively since. Often shorter trips because you can do more of them. Stretch those vacation days with weekends.

We ended up moving cross country several times and one of the things I enjoyed the most was the cross country drive because we got to spend so much time together. Each move was such an adventure!

But having said that, I’ve been struggling since he started working at home full-time during Covid. He’s now got ongoing full-time remote status. I knew retirement was coming one day and I worried how I would handle that. But we’ve had to face this nonstop togetherness before retirement. At least in retirement, he could always go off and walk on the beach, but, then, I’d want to go, too – lol!

The thing is, I didn’t really like being at home alone all day when he worked onsite. It would have been great if he could have come home in the early afternoon after I’d had my alone time. Feast or famine, I guess.

We’re making a conscious effort to do some things differently. He goes off to his home office as if it’s onsite. I try my best not to pop in, but I still do that, so that’s on me.

I’ve been taking my solo walks by just gathering my things and walking out the door. No big announcements, no stopping in his office first – lol! We’ve streamlined our lunches – sometimes together, sometimes apart. I often get up at first light and sit out on the screened Lanai overlooking wide open spaces, sipping my coffee – totally glorious!

I’ve yet to do an artist date (was supposed to go today but didn’t or haven’t… yet). I don’t really want to drive off. I love my studio too much. Will have to work on this. Plus, we need to set aside some alone time on the weekend, which can easily get overlooked.

All in all, it’s been a pretty good week. I haven’t enjoyed my studio as much as I’d like because I was busy rearranging furniture and getting some things set up. I’m looking forward to working on my projects in my studio next week. So much to catch up on.

Until then…


If I Don’t Tell the Story, Who Will?

Reading the novel Lucy by the Sea (Elizabeth Strout) in the author’s very autobiographical style stirs up all kinds of memories and ideas, not only in my experience with Covid, which was so different from the main character’s (and author’s?) and probably from so many New Yorkers, that I’m driven to write bits and pieces of something that may or may not make it into a book.

One piece sitting on one of my hard drives is called “If I Don’t Tell the Story, Who Will?” Perhaps, it’s on a backup drive because I can’t find it on my newest computer. So I decided to write this new piece:

If I Don’t Tell the Story, Who Will?

The last time I “spoke” to my father was actually through email. I’d posted a photo on Facebook of him (with camera, next to Joe) with Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio, the one he had given me and said I had permission to post on my website even in a book as requested by somebody writing about Marilyn Monroe. Well, he asked me to take it down from Facebook. For some reason, it was a problem for my half sister, the one who was his daughter, not my other half sister, who was my mother’s daughter.

It brought back those heartbreaking memories of when I was a kid and had first heard that my dad was not my dad, that he was Sherry’s dad and I had a different dad. My grandmother (my mother’s mother) had given me a letter and photos, but my mother insisted I give them back, that they would “hurt” my step dad, who I called dad.

So to have my real father so many years later, the one I had searched for and found and met and was doing everything I could to create a relationship with, ask that I take down that photo was just too much! I deleted Facebook for the last time and never communicated with him again.

A year later, I sent him a Christmas card because I didn’t want to part that way but he died the next year and I don’t even know if he got the Christmas card as he was in an assisted living facility before his death. I only discovered my dad was dead when my aunt (my uncle’s widow) saw it on Facebook and told me at the same time that the rest of the world found out. This is why I hate Facebook.

Writing as Therapy

Writing used to be therapeutic for me. I processed a lot of stuff during that time of discovery by writing and blogging. And did I need to do that back then! You’d think I’d be finished by now. But every once in a while, some old feelings are stirred up and become too draining to write them in a book. It’s no longer therapeutic. Besides, I told that story in Myths of the Fatherless (the “cleaned-up” version, I might add… what if I told the whole story…) And that’s the idea behind “If I Don’t Tell the Story, Who Will?”

Even my wip, She’s Not That Good, is giving me migraines during the editing process. My editor kindly suggests I stop the project. But I’m feeling a bit stubborn and want to finish it. But will I have the stamina? Perhaps, one chapter at a time.

Music as Healer

Instead, I find music more soothing. It keeps me anchored in the present, instead of the past. It conquers the past. it’s like my brain has been rewired from writing to music and can’t really turn back. And if it’s true that you should “put your ass where your heart wants to be,” well, that is certainly where my heart is.

“Lucy by the Sea” #amreading #Covid #Novel

After reading My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Stout (recommended as a novella, but I would say it’s a novel), I was intrigued by the continued story of the main character in Lucy by the Sea. Reading the sample, I was super intrigued as I realized I was now ready to read a Covid story. In fact, it’s got me thinking about my own awareness of Covid and the reactions we had back then.

We’d moved back to Las Vegas from Florida and were living in a rental, although I was missing the Vegas house we’d owned for so many years. It took awhile to sell the Florida house and so we were keeping ourselves busy househunting, although I wasn’t sure I wanted to own another home in Vegas after living through the housing bust and being underwater, anxiously awaiting the market to pick up again so we could leave. I thought maybe we’d rent this time so we could be more nimble.

But the rental sucked! It was in a very nice part of town, super nice neighborhood, and looked nice but so many things were broken and they had no intention of fixing them. The stove top, for one. We used the microwave, electric skillet, and rice cooker instead. They only replaced the leaking toilet and half bath vanity when the water department sent a notice to say there was a leak and must be fixed immediately.

I loved the casita–a separate building where I set up my studio, but the air conditioning wasn’t working and there was no heat. They finally did fix the A/C (law requires it), and I used a space heater in the winter. But then the sliding glass door that led to the casita went bonkers and wouldn’t close completely – at least, only with force that my husband had to administer. So I stopped using it.

We’d left a beautiful home behind in Florida and I desparately missed our French door refrigerator. This rental had one of those small apartment-like fridges. I was determined to have my own refrigerator, even if we had to buy one and squeeze it into that small space – lol! So we scoured the area for a better rental, and were just about to sign the lease, when something made me stop. Instead, we decided to go under contract with a new build, although it was a bit smaller than we were used to, but it was better, we thought, than a townhouse. Anyway, our house would be finished by the end of April.

And we all remember that March, right? Everybody was hoarding toilet paper and here we were living in a rental, about to move out, and we certainly weren’t hoarding anything. I began to use each square of TP with judicious care to make it last until we could get some more (and swore at all those people who were hoarding it).

My husband began to work at home. We were holding our breath waiting to hear if new construction was “essential” or not. What if they stopped building our house? Thankfully, it was deemed essential and we continued to hope that we would be in our own home soon. Having your own home suddenly seemed even more important than ever–to be able to control your own environment was at the top of the list.

Layoffs were happening all over, but, thankfully, my husband was also on the essential list. But somehow our builder rep thought he was on furlough so we had to set him straight right away. Don’t stop working on our house–we’re counting on moving in! We did hear rumblings of appliances being unavailable. Refrigerators, washers, dryers, etc. We opted not to go through the builder for those–otherwise, closing may have been delayed until they could get their supply. No, we went through Home Depot, and though there was a bit of a delay, eventually, we got them delivered. They gave us a refrigerator rental (yes, one of those small apartment-like refrigerators) for a couple of days.

As is true with every new house, it seems you must buy new furnniture to fit the new space. We donated some of our stuff that didn’t fit and bought new stuff, although the choices were limited.

Two years of living in that “tiny house” (the downstairs was the problem–the kitchen and living room were squeezed together with no dining area)–the rest was taken up by the garage. And with both of us working full-time in our adjoining spaces upstairs, feeling squished, and with companies more supportive of remote work, well, all this led us to moving back to Florida. Thankfully, we’ve always been able to have a larger, single story house with plenty of room for both of us to co-exist in our own workspaces in Florida. We took that window of opportunity and sold tiny house at top market value. But post-Covid brought its own set of problems.  I’ll tell that story another day.

In the meantime, I might be inspired to get back to another manuscript I’ve started about living in a tiny space. My editor says proofs for “She’s Not That Good” should be coming within the week and I’m hoping the changes are minor and I can send it out into the world by the end of the year.

The Courage of Making Art

In every book I read about the artist life, one thing in common is the idea that it takes courage to do it. Especially when you’re bold enough to tell the truth. And the truth makes the best art.

I remember how exhilarating and draining it was to write my novel Letters on Balboa Island. I played my Bryan Ferry album over and over again, putting me in the mood. Many writers have spoken of those scenes that break you into a million sobs. This came close. When my mother read the first chapter, she demanded to know, “What’s this all about?” in her usual accusing manner. My father called me and wanted to talk about it because he loved it so much!

It was especially hard to tell my story in Myths of the Fatherless. Back then, we still sent out Christmas letters and I almost sent my father a different version, omitting the part about publishing that book. In the end, though, I realized that if I was going to have the relationship I hoped for, I would have to tell him about it. And so I did. He told me he read it twice right away. After that, he became “dad.” After that, he read everything I wrote.

A friend said I was courageous to look for my father and to meet him. When I told him that, he said, “It’s not courage, it’s normal.” I think both may be right. My normal desire outweighed my fears. The courage came from admitting that desire to myself. But I do think it’s courageous to reveal parts of ourselves in our art, either through words or music or paint or whatever it is that makes us feel vulnerable. A comment on social media. Even this blog post.

Anyway, the inspiration for this post today is that while I await my editor’s feedback on “She’s Not That Good,” I’m starting to organize my other wip, working title: “Burying the Dead.” And it’s killer. The truth always is.

Top 10 Playlist for #NaNoWriMo

While I haven’t signed up officially to do NaNo this year, I have committed to finally finishing She’s Not That Good this month. I’m in the final editing stages of this particular draft (I’ve lost count), and should have it off to my editor next week. And then the next round begins… will this be the final draft before end of year release? I doubt it – lol! But each draft brings new clarity to the story.

So, if you’re doing NaNo and even if you aren’t, I’ve got a recommended playlist for you. This artist, Wolf Kier, is currently my favorite. His songs – lyrics, guitar, bass, drums, and vocals – really stand out for me. The first few times I heard him, I thought “David Bowie.” So check out my top 10 favorites on YouTube.

Pink Fur Collar

Like a Fool

One Day Out of Memphis

Bury Mary

Mrs. Wilson

A Girl Like You

She Brings Me

Miss You More

Love’s Exquisite Mystery

Then Comes Five

Oh wait, there’s one more favorite I can’t leave off the list. Consider it a bonus – lol!

Real This Time

And then there’s Summer Number One

See if you can find your favorites!

Switching From Music to Writing (#amediting #amwriting #amreading)

Now that 50/90 is officially over and Rocktober is winding down, it really is time I get back to editing “She’s Not That Good.” And I am – yay! For some reason it takes me all day to warm up to opening up my wip, whereas with my music, it’s so much easier to get started – just bang out a chord or play a loop and you’re off and running!

Reading helps me get started writing. Shorter rather than longer seems to be my style. So I’m seriously thinking this book is going to be a novella – it seems to suit the story and shorter novels are more of a thing with digital books. My last book (Raining Men) is a novella.

Here are 3 books I’m reading on writing:

  • Writing the Novella by Sharon Oard Warner
  • The 90-Day Novel and The 90-Day Rewrite by Alan Watt
  • The Plot Whisperer by Martha Alderson

What I’m reading for pleasure and for inspiration:

  • My Name is Lucy Barton: A Novel (although cited on one site as a novella) by Elizabeth Strout
  • Sorry Not Sorry by Sophie Ranald (similar to the style of “She’s Not That Good”)
  • Baby On His Hollywood Doorstep (example of category historical romance) by Lauri Robinson (have enjoyed her flapper novels)

I’d really like to finish this book by the end of the year. Fingers crossed!

“She’s Not That Good” Goes Cruising…

I just returned from 7 nights on the Carnival Panorama still in her inaugural year that was cut short due to, well, you all know. She’s a beautiful ship, the cruise fare was a bargain, and no flights were required. Besides all that, I was hoping that freshly back from a cruise experience, I’d be overflowing with ideas on how to finish She’s Not That Good. I think I’ll have to wait. Why? Too much reality interferes with my imagination.

What I will say is that my favorite part about cruising, besides being at sea, is being able to casually drop in and listen to a live band. Our favorite this cruise? The House Rock Band that played in the Ocean Plaza Bar, the best kept secret onboard the Panorama. We grabbed a couple glasses of wine and sat outside where we could take off our masks and still enjoy the music. I listened to the beats and my muse can’t wait to get back into the studio to write some new music.

But first we kicked off the cruise by indulging in the tasty “Orangesicle” (think “Pina Colada”) at the Tides Bar in the aft pool area.

The other favorite spot was actually the Atrium, a redesigned space on the Panorama that I wasn’t too fond of at first. Until I had a Tequila Sunrise, an old favorite cocktail from my youth, at the base of the Atrium. The atmosphere was much better, to me, lower rather than higher.

And I think that’s another favorite thing I like about cruising, Carnival cruising, in particular. I feel young again. And now I may be inspired to get back to writing. What do I mean “I think?” Of course, I am. And I’m almost finished editing She’s Not That Good. Stay tuned to Screamie Birds Studios here at screamiebirds.com for the release date.