Foggy and Out of Step

Chicago Skyline Aerial

It’s taking me a while to get back into the swing of things after being gone.  GRL was wonderful and so was the time spent in downtown Chicago.  I desperately needed those two weeks to unwind and recharge. But now that I’m back I feel … off.  Like I’m not synced up with the world and am half a step out of beat.

After two weeks of not writing and barely checking in on social media, it’s hard to get back into the routine I had.  I don’t know if that means I need to find a new routine or just be patient while I adjust to real life again.

I am back to writing; in fact I had a great breakthrough on my novel and am finally making progress after I stalled for way too long. Being at work is tough though and I can’t seem to get back into it.

I’m sure the time change for daylight savings time isn’t helping, but that’s not it either.  I just wish the foggy, surreal feeling would go away. I don’t like feeling like I’m not present in my own life.

Anyone else feel like this?

p.s. The photo above is not one I took of Chicago although I have tons of photos from there that I still need to edit.  Hopefully I can tackle them in the near future.

 

Excitement and Anxiety

I’d originally written this blog post about a week out from the start of GRL and my trip to Chicago.  Well, I kept forgetting to post it, and when I finally did go to post it, I couldn’t find it anywhere.  *sighs*  That tells you exactly where my brain’s been all week.

So here we go.  Take two.

When I signed up for the GayRomLit Retreat last winter, I was really excited.  Some time off work, a trip to a city I hadn’t been to in a long time, a chance to meet friends I’ve only talked to online, and an opportunity to learn more about writing and the m/m romance world?  Awesome!

When I decided to take two weeks off work and turn it into an extended vacation that was even better.  I’d get to spend some time with friends outside of the writing world then meet my husband and parents downtown and enjoy the city. Yay, vacation! Even more awesome!

But now, it’s not awesome.  Now it’s just terrifying.  Now it’s like the first day of a new job and school anxiety combined with vacation logistics all rolled into one giant clusterfuck of panic.  I want to curl up in a little ball and cry and have someone pet my hair and tell me it’s going to be okay.  The stupid thing is, I know it will.  I’ve done way crazier shit than this.  At nineteen or so, I hopped on a Greyhound bus with my best friend and we took it from Lansing to Manhattan to meet a couple of guys, one of which I only sort of knew.  About a year later I flew to New York by myself (to see one of those guys who I wound up dating for nearly a year). I’ve gone to Paris twice.  I’ve lived through an apartment fire.

I can handle shit, I know that.  Once I get there I’ll be fine.  The anxiety will ebb away and I’m sure I’ll have a blast.

But right now it doesn’t feel that way.  Right now it’s the kind of anxiety that twists my stomach.  If someone offered me a full refund on the conference I would take it.  If I could back out without losing money and disappointing everyone, I’d jump on it.  If I could quit without feeling like I’d let myself down, I would.  Except, I don’t want to be a person who lets my fears get in the way of awesome things.  I want to be brave and do things that scare me.

So for now it’s just one foot in front of the other as I check things off on my To Do list and try to keep the panic to a dull roar.

I leave tomorrow for Chicago.  It’s about a four hour drive from here.  I’ll head straight for Roger’s Park where my friend lives.  I’ll probably hang out at a coffee shop for a bit while she finishes her work day.  I’ll have a little time to decompress and then we can spend some time together on Tuesday and go to dinner which I am really looking forward to.

GRL starts with a Writer’s Workshop on Wed. and the rest of the retreat is Thursday through Sunday.  Sunday I’ll meet my husband and parents downtown and we’ll stay until the following Friday.  We have plans to go to the museums and aquarium and check out the downtown.  Doesn’t that sound wonderful?

Now if only I could convince my anxious little brain of that.

p.s. Oh, and that cry I needed? I got that.  A friend sent me a really lovely, supportive message just as I was finishing this up and it made me cry.  Just a quick, hard cry but it helped a lot.

I can do this.

Stratford, Ontario

I’ve pretty much been going non-stop since last December.  Work and writing don’t leave much time for relaxing so I made a conscious choice before I left for a long weekend in Canada.  No phones, no internet, no laptop, no writing … for three whole days.  The idea was painful.  Forcing myself to leave my laptop at made me twitchy.  I love writing.  Deeply.  But I know if I’m not careful I will burn out and that won’t do me any favors as a healthy human being or as a writer.  So I loaded my tablet with books, turned off the internet, grabbed my camera, and headed to Canada!

Stratford, Ontario  is a beautiful town.  It’s home of the Stratford Shakespearean Festival, an amazing series of plays held from April through October in the four theaters in town.  Primarily performances of William Shakespeare’s plays, they also perform musicals, one man shows, and other interesting dramas.  Starting when I was eight years old, my parents took me every year.  Once I met my husband, he came as well, and with few exceptions, I have seen at least one, often two, plays there every year.

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Lake Huron, crossing the Blue Water Bridge from Pt. Huron to Sarnia

Normally, we go in September or October and after going at the end of June this year, I can honestly say I much prefer going in the fall!  It was in the high-70’s and muggy that weekend and I am much happier when it’s 65 and drizzly.  Still, I had a wonderful time and I am eager to go back next year.

 

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Festival Theater

The performances are always incredible.  This year we saw King John and King Lear, neither of which I’d seen before.  King Lear was especially heart-wrenching and we decided we might need to end the weekend on a high note next year and see a musical!  It’s difficult to turn down the opportunity to see Shakespeare’s tragedies performed so well though.

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Guest House

For many years, we’ve stayed in a pretty little guest house in town.  It’s like a bed and breakfast (without the breakfast) and it’s a charming little place.  The room is comfy, the shower is nice and roomy, and it’s a fantastic price.  The owner was an elderly woman who, sadly, passed away this spring.  Her daughter is still running the place and although we’ll miss the owner, her daughter did a lovely job.

York Street Kitchen (not my photo)

Since breakfast isn’t included, we always go to a cute little restaurant called The York Street Kitchen.  The photo above is from when it was located on York St.  It has since moved Erie Street but is every bit as delicious as ever.  It’s a funky little place that I absolutely adore and I can’t believe I didn’t take a photo of it!  We’ve probably eaten everything on the menu at least six times but it never disappoints and we always go back for more.  One of my favorites is the H.M.S. Pinafore, but anything with smoked salmon is a winner in my book!

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We were there Friday through Sunday, so in addition to the plays we went out to dinner.  Raja, an incredible Indian restaurant where I had sweet chili spiced duck, is NOT to be missed and neither is Pazzo Taverna, an Italian place that we ate at twice because it was so good.  Incredible mussels and thin crust pizza, along with a cucumber herb martini that I would really like to re-create at home.  In addition to eating our way through town, we strolled the gardens, shopped downtown, browsed antique stores, and checked out an art festival.

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We went crazy at a wonderful tea shop and I stocked up my usual bag of black currant black tea and tried out a new flavor of green and white tea blend flavored with grapefruit.  I also picked up a few bags to give as Christmas gifts, which felt a little odd since I was shopping in June rather than September.

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Oh, and if you ever get a chance to visit, this shop is a little slice of heaven.  They have dozens of infused olive oils and vinegars to sample. Chocolate balsamic vinegar and green chile olive oil is incredible together.

There is plenty to do in town, and one of these days, I am going to take a tour of the backstage and costume warehouse.  My inner theater nerd is so geeked by the idea but I’ve never managed to squeeze it in.

Oh well, there’s always next year.

Lake Huron, crossing the Blue Water Bridge from Sarnia to Pt. Huron.