Mid-life Fun times/ Crisis?

 

Part One: Well, what is it? A crisis? Or fun times? I can’t tell. Mid-life is often described as a challenge at best and a crisis for the rest. So where am I within that spectrum? I don’t know. I honestly don’t really know. Bloody moody though…

Mid-life, yep, I’m turning 50 next month. The number doesn’t worry me. But. What is the “but”? I’ve been restless for a few years now, needing more stimulus than a small village can give me, new conversations, new challenges. So what did I do? Apply for Graduate School. Me? The not so great student of my twenties applied for a masters degree without  telling many. I didn’t want to explain the rejections I envisioned, ego got in the way. I’m glad though I kept it quiet.

Months passed, I worked on my home, finished a new outhouse, painted floors, fixed fences, and planned my escape. Just like when I was a teenager. I feel very much like a teenager again, all grown up and leaving home for new adventures. Sorry, Mum, I’d needed to leave home then. Sorry, Madrid, I need to leave home now.

It’s not an escape, not purely a running away, but with the acceptance to Vermont College of Fine Arts with their relatively new MFA in Writing and Publishing, I’m leaving home. My home that I built, foundations, walls, windows, electric, plumbing, stucco, all of it done by my rough hands and impressionistic nature. I did it. Now what’s next? The thought of spending the rest of my life here doesn’t appeal. In fact, it scares me, there’s such a huge world out there, I can’t stay in one place any longer.

So how did I decide on a masters degree? It was tough, a rough road to map out. The application process is draining yet inspiring. My biggest challenge was finding references as most here know me as a gardener and writer. They don’t know of my educational background, my time at London University, or Freiburg University, or studying spanish in Valencia. The classes I’ve taken over the last twenty years here in Santa Fe or San Francisco. My cover letter focused on a full life of making my own stories, communities I’ve been part of, what I’ve done with myself, self-taught, and productive on a daily level. It was enough aparently, and I’m offered a place at Vermont in Montpelier.

One of the faculty wrote me to introduce herself, praising specific lines and images from the writing sample I’d sent in. Julianna spoke highly of the emotional undercurrent and how it intrigued her, and that she was looking forward to working with me. I wrote back, “But I haven’t been accepted yet, have I?”

“Oops,” she wrote. “Let me check.”

Yes, I was in, a final reassurance and yes, I’m going to grad school! At fifty! In Vermont! Only 2100 miles away, the complete opposite climate to here, five months of snow, bugs the size of black beans, and… well, I don’t know what else. I’m trying to find out by spending hours online researching the area and the curriculum.

I’m moving. Oh wow, I’m moving. When I finally told my friends and neighbours here in Madrid, Andrea squealed, others hugged me and one focused on how she’d miss me. I get it. It’s like I’m jumping ship. I am, but I’m a good swimmer. I’ve been practicing once a week at the Chavez center in Santa Fe.

The logistics though are becoming a nightmare for me. Trouble sleeping most of my life, this level of anxiety and excitement is draining me with dreams of disasters, or rather details. Too many tangents to grab hold of, each with its own alley way to wander down, looking for loopholes and issues. One or two vehicles? How would I take my stuff across country? Do I fill the 4Runner with stuff and have a friend drive it while I follow in my camper van? Or do I drive the 4Runner with my pets and fill a Uhaul trailer?
I look at rentals. Well, not one offers a place for two vehicles. That limits me then. So what do I do with the van? Mary and Stacy will take it, keep it at their place inside a gated yard, with them using it every so often. That’s the latest plan. Open to changes.

My weakness has been for vehicles so it’s not just two: I have four. I need to take care of four. Oh shit. I can’t just sell them. I like them. Well, okay, I’ll have to sell one, I need the money to cross country. The motorbike then, I’ll sell that. Try to. The Land Rover though, I should pass that on. But the day I decided to sell it, five random conversations all mentioned Shorty and how cool it is to see me in it. Damn.  It’s too cool to sell for school. Can I take it? Nope, but…? Nope, I have to store it somewhere safe, off its tires with the hood open, to keep it mice free hopefully. But where? Who’ll keep an eye on it?

Logistics, is this what stops others from making such dramatic life changes? Probably. Finding a home rental is the other biggest challenge. Who wants to rent to someone you haven’t met? I don’t. I’m going through the same problem with renting my own homestead. Sheesh. It’s too much. My days are highs and lows, with numerous naps between tackling the internet and filling out forms. Fun times, fun times, right?

Traveling with two dogs and a cat. Finding a rental. Finding a renter for my home. Vehicle madness. Yard sales. Craigslist. Scholarships. Funding. Moving. Packing. Decisions one after another. Where’s my dad when I need him? I crave sitting at the dining room table with my notes and brainstorming with him over a beer. Or at the kitchen table with Mum and a glass of wine, playing with ideas and options.
I’m not a teenager after all. I miss their help.  I miss my mum and dad.

 

 

 

LUCKY FIND (2014)

PRESS FOR THE SECOND BOOK IN THE LUCKY SERIES, AGAIN THE THEMES ARE STRONGLY CENTERED ON FAMILY, GENDER AND ANIMALS ALL SET WITHIN A ROADTRIP THROUGH THE SOUTHWEST!

The novel opens, as any good novel does, with a cliffhanger that leaves the reader wanting to know more about Lucky’s circumstances:

“This is going to hurt.”

“Not as much as it did to kill my dad.”

Dr. Fletcher almost drops the needle in his hand and stares at me. I smile.

“Joking. Well, not really. But what were you saying?” I smile again, trying to reassure him. I’m not sure of what.

“Care to explain?”

 

Lucky and Mike, best friends since childhood, travel through New Mexico and into Arizona, accompanied by Blue, a collie mix. Looking for Lucky’s newly discovered half-sister, these friends search across the Southwest, including visits to Las Cruces, Bisbee and Flagstaff. The clues they follow begin resembling something an undercover genealogist might dream up. Over the weeks Lucky unscrambles the past, one that challenges stereotypes of family, friendships, and gender and lays a few good secrets to rest.

Meanwhile Blue, being a most generous dog embarks on her own search and rescue mission, finding a needing-to-be-bottle-fed pup aptly named Peanut. It’s the two dogs–and soon Blue’s tiny kitten foundlings–that give this archetypal hero’s journey a mixture of heartbreak and comic lightness.

In her previous novel, the award-winning LUCKY SHOT, author Sarah Leamy questioned the role of identity through Lucky, her protagonist, a character whose gender is ambiguous. Leamy also examined the meaning of family and how families constantly reinvent themselves, especially after loss. LUCKY FIND continues with these characters and similar themes in more detail through the humor of all those four-legged critters that keep turning up on their road trip.

In both novels, Lucky’s journey reflects universal themes of love, loss, and self-discovery. In the end, family and friends are what matter.

The connections Lucky makes—the characters who make LUCKY FIND so memorable—are what remain:

“I looked over at the photo of my dad. Henry William Phillips. I looked at this family of mine: Chris. Mike. Susan. They were chatting about other Christmas holidays they’d had over the years, laughing at Mike’s tales of Europe, and drinking the wine for breakfast. In this warm, cozy home of mine, I realized: I’m Lucky. Lucky to be alive.”

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http://www.amazon.com/Lucky-Find-Sarah-Leamy/dp/1625166397/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1395680716&sr=8-1&keywords=sarah+leamy

http://www.bokus.com/bok/9781625166395/lucky-find/

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First tempting read of the new book! A chapter at a time…

LUCKY SHOT

PART ONE


I started out with nothing. I still have most of it left.

Dad had met my mum in the sixties in the San Francisco bay. He was a 21-year-old army boy, she a street kid, following the hippie myth all the way from Higginsville, Missouri. One night. One kid. A lucky kid. That’s what they’d told me.

Dad did the right thing. Mum didn’t. She died when I was ten. That wasn’t part of the plan. Dad kept me. For a while. And then he couldn’t.

They call me Lucky. My parents that is, they called me Lucky when I was a kid. Anyway, there I was, in my late thirties, wondering what the hell to do with myself. My dad, my girlfriend, my dog, my job, and my best friend; all were gone. For one reason or another, I’d lost them all. I stayed in Santa Fe. I tried to work, to keep the homestead fires going, but, well, like I said, it was a rough year. I packed my bags, threw everything into the crew cab of my 1983 Nissan truck, and prayed she would take me further than Eldorado, the one in Santa Fe that is. With camera in hand, I looked for a new life.

Is this what they call a mid life crisis?