“I think a lot about existential meaninglessness. Like when I realize it’s Thursday instead of Monday and that even if it was Saturday it wouldn’t matter because nothing is different about this day of the week or that one. In two months, probably a year, I will be doing what I did today. […] What is the point of this? I wonder. Nothing is ever going to be different. I’m just killing time so that time will be over, not so I can get from here to anywhere else. […] All I really want to do with my life is make other people’s hearts hurt less. Not a realistic or measurable goal, but I do have a few specific hearts in mind. Yours is one. I’ve been given a whole lot of love I don’t deserve, enough second chances to exonerate a serial killer caught in the act, and that kind of thing shouldn’t stop with me. The phrase pay it forward grates on my nerves, but it’s an accurate description. […] The truth is that existentialism doesn’t really apply because the world we live in isn’t absurd or meaningless. Sometimes it seems like it is when we can’t see past what we’re taught is the big picture—the one that just involves our lives—to the real super-big picture of all the lives ever.”
For those of you who can’t view the image, this is a picture of pure love and support. For those of you who can’t view metaphors, it’s a picture of my new computer.
Near the beginning of the summer, my old computer began having what people in the tech biz refer to as “freak outs.” The screen would go black and the Caps Lock key would start flashing, which it turns out is really bad. (Don’t worry. This isn’t a horror story about losing tons and tons of files. After the first twenty times my computer freaked out, I wised up and transferred everything from my computer to a secure location.) Last month, my computer finally gave up the ghost for good.
Now, it just so happens that September, October, November, and December are the only months out of the year where all of our biggest bills are due, the months when we actually plan to have no money and scrape by eating all the weird stuff that accumulated in our freezer and on our shelves over the previous eight months.
But this year, not only did we not have the money we planned not to have, we also didn’t have the money required by several surprise things that popped up. Replacing the bald tires on our truck, getting a new part for the furnace, and so on. No matter what kind of fancy fund-work we tried, there just wasn’t a way to replace my computer until Josh got his Christmas bonus.
Four months without writing. In the self-publishing world, that’s a death sentence for your career. In my world, that’s a death sentence for me. Writing is how I live. It’s how I cope with reality. It’s how I measure all of my self-worth.
For a while, I tried to figure out typing on my phone. After that, I went back to my high school days and wrote in a notebook. (Imagine!) But not being able to write the amount that I’m used to writing in the time I’m used to writing it in a good ol’ fashioned word processor was killing me. I didn’t complain or throw any overt fits, but Josh noticed I was depressed, upset at myself, and entirely at loose ends. When you share something as deep and meaningful as a nightly tour of Skyrim, it’s hard not to learn to pick up on your spouse’s moods.
Last Tuesday, Josh came home and slapped a check on the counter.
“We’re buying you a new computer,” he said.
“What?” I said. “How?”
“I asked if I could work the next four Fridays and get paid up front,” he said.
To fully understand this, you need to know that near the beginning of the year, Josh started going in at five every morning and working through lunch every day so he could come home at three and have Fridays off. He did it so he could spend more time at home with the boys and me. For him to sacrifice four of his Fridays to buy me a stupid computer was too much.
All I could do was ask him why.
He shrugged. “I want you to be able to write.”
Q: When is a computer not a computer?
A: When it’s physical proof that I’m loved and supported by one of the best men in history, a man who is constantly sacrificing for my dream. Something I already knew, by the way. But now you know it, too.
The actual process goes something like this: Wake up in the middle of the night, scared to death? Imagine you live in a world where you’re only awake at night and you’re not scared.
Why is the world like that? Because after the revolution, dichotomous political parties came to power and the country has been in a tense power struggle ever since. At present, things are so divided that they’ve literally become night and day for the people aligned with the opposing parties.
Why are you, specifically, awake (and not scared) in the middle of the night? Because I’m a former child soldier who still takes contracts from the general who was my commanding officer during the revolution. The whole country can feel another war coming, and right now this second, I’m helping smuggle kids out of the country before the outbreak under cover of darkness.
Does your former CO know? No, he would want the kids around because if they’re trained young enough, they become the most effective killers, like I did.
Then why are you doing it? Because the girl I love wants to protect as many kids as she can from turning out like we did.
This coping mechanism/method of calming myself down/story builder works for me because:
1. It has nothing I’m currently trying to avoid (monsters, nightmare stuff, etc.).
2. It pretends that one of my enemies (the dark in this case) is actually my friend.
3. It has all of the story elements I like (an unfamiliar world, danger, romance, and a main character who is a badass).
Is this a healthy way to deal? I don’t know. All I know is it helps me go back to sleep and it’s one of the reasons I never worry that I’ll run out of stories to tell. Heck, I have a 10,000-story backlog from childhood to now, all I have to do is pick one.
Whether or not I’ll be able to do those stories justice is a whole other post.