The first thing I did this morning after pulling back the blinds to find not warm ways of sunshine streaming through the window, but light and chill, was check my flight status. It's a silly little game, because those can and do change at any time, but it's what I do, to try to get information, to try to figure out if I'll get home after what's become a two-week Texas trip. Anything I think about being here is tempered by the knowledge that so many have died, crushed or drowned, are without power, soon without gas. I have people who've told me their neighborhood looks like nothing happened, others frantically charging their phones anywhere they can, my pregnant friend without power and not able to contact me too often.
The next site I checked is the MTA, where there aren't so many ominous "Suspended" lines, but the ones I will need to get to my boyfriend are not running. He warned me not to come visit, that I wouldn't like the cold and dark. Surely not, but I don't care. What I've learned this week is that all the stuff that's littering my home, that I think I care about, is pointless. I can live out of a suitcase. I can earn a living from my laptop.
I've had some amazing discussions about just that, about this living I'm earning, or not earning, about whether I undervalue myself, don't truly believe I'm worth it. We've talked about Manisha Thakor and Money Zen and next on my to read list is Ask for It: How Women Can Use the Power of Negotiation to Get What They Really Want. I've found a new cafe, one with free coffee refills and delicious frittatas and friendly customers and staff to park myself at to work, but I've been forcing myself to ask some deeper questions: why do this at all? What's the next level? Why do I talk myself out of so many goals? It's National Novel Writing Month, aka NaNoWriMo (want inspiration instead of my doom and gloom? Multiple NaNo winner Marianne Kirby has it in spades!) and every time I contemplate it, it's like fear thickens in my blood, tells me stop, you won't make it, you suck, you failed once so of course you'll fail again. It tells me so many things, so loudly, so repeatedly, I have trouble hearing any other voices, but the peace and quiet and warmth here in Texas have helped with that. On the opposite end of my crazybrain, I have 2 novel ideas and 1 novella idea, plus an actual contract for a short story collection I should be making my number one most urgent priority.
Yesterday I worked, hard. Instead of waiting for Very Cool Travel Site to get back to me, I submitted the piece to Huffington Post. I got almost done with an anthology that I've been almost done with for a while. I wrote a short story. I cupcake blogged. I learned that my bank has a kickass app for depositing checks from your phone. I brainstormed. I read Grace Coddington's amazing memoir, making me feel better about lugging the giant galley in my suitcases. I surrendered any semblance of control and any travel savvy I ever thought I had. I learned not to travel broke, and it's made me ask myself some hard but necessary questions as I go forward, as I embrace what is possible, as I figure out whether this is all just a hobby or something I can sustain. It's not something I can answer in a day or a week, but I am grateful to have been safe and warm and cared about this week, to have been given the chance to ask myself those questions, and plenty of other ones, and know that I have so much more growing up to do, no matter what my age is.