Try again.

One thing many would be surprised to know about me is that I am irritatingly organized. For those who would like nothing more than for someone else to handle the details, I am a blessing. For those who are equally meticulous, I am an ally. And for those poor scatterbrained souls who adamantly refuse to relinquish control and just let me organize their lives—for the love of God—I am a fearful apparition who could appear at any moment clutching a fistful of papers while screaming, “How can you live like this?”

And yet I was always fearful of finance. I’d happily organize receipts, but was terrified of filing a tax return. Investments? No, thank you. I’ll stick with a simple savings account. Math is hard.

Bull. Who knew that a low-level obsession with minutiae could make one financially savvy? And here I thought my strange quirk only helped my way with words. So often women are ushered into what is deemed appropriate for the “fairer sex,” are told to let men handle the serious issues. And yet we are more than capable of handling those issues ourselves. We are simply afraid to try.

I was afraid to try, but quickly realized being afraid of something one is already knee-deep in is extremely dangerous. The greater the level of panic, the greater the potential to screw things up. Keep a level head. Relax.

Float.

Instead of letting fears of ending up a destitute spinster freeze me in place, I did some research, took a deep breath, took stock of my future, and opened up a brokerage account. Yeah, I know most of you are rolling your eyes. Big deal. Well, it’s big to me and I’ll celebrate it, thank you! It’s another step towards a different life—and a different way of looking at it.

Anyway, I promised I’d keep the real estate and finance talk to a minimum—and I plan to save for this quick tooting of a horn.

Toot!


Update.

It has been approximately one year since I’ve written a post such as this one. I didn’t plan it—though I find that I ritually take stock of my life twice a year, generally at the beginning of spring and the end of autumn. In fact, I still give myself quarterly life reviews, a practice that is hokey, ridiculous, and essential.

Things are—decent? Yes, decent—with the potential to be quite good in the future! And it is so odd to type that, because when I left everything (New Jersey, publishing, etc.) in the wake of my grandmother’s death I was adamant in the belief that things would never be good and I would simply have to arrange my life to best cushion blow after inevitable blow.

We are so programmed to fear change that we will hammer away at that which does not work rather than consider a new option. Even the changes made in my own life were due not to a flash of enlightenment but hastily scrambling through an exit after discovering that all of my previous paths had been blocked. I didn’t decide to change; I was forced to change—and I was miserable about accepting said change. Later, I was very lucky to discover that the change made was an improvement. But that positive result was completely arbitrary.

I’ve become much more proactive in the past few months, though I haven’t blogged about it. (Talk of finances and lease agreements are a hell of a lot less popular than scathing comments about various entertainment industries.) At the risk of sounding schmaltzy and dipping into Oprahesque tendencies, pick the path that will best get you to the life that you want and take it like you’ve got a NOS tank strapped to your back. There’s an immaculate modern ranch and a dopey looking Labrador named Frank in my future and best believe real estate will get me there. Your path will get you there too—wherever “there” is—even if you have to reroute your course a few times. (The ranch and Frank are mine though, but feel free to select from the wide array of bright futures the universe has to offer.)

C’mon. Let’s go.


Giving.

Selfie

That’s me. Sans makeup. Sans Photoshop. Sans eyebrow waxing. Sans extensions. Sans a decent night’s sleep. I take selfies once or twice a year. I’m not at all photogenic, but I like to mark the biannual pressing and cutting of my hair with a commemorative photo. When I was younger I’d proudly make my way to my grandmother’s house and she’d tug at my hair and measure where the ends would fall. “Oh, sha! Look how long your hair grew!”

I miss her terribly. There are times when her loss hits me and I have to stop whatever I’m doing to sit with the pain of it. And when it passes, I pick up and start again.

I marked all of my milestones by her, good and bad. And I’d know if I was headed down the right path by how she greeted me. But she’s not here anymore. Were she here, I’d tell her that I’d finally got the house. That I’d stopped writing. That I’d started running. That I’d lost a little bit of weight. That, no, I’m not teaching any more. I haven’t for a very long time, remember? And no, I’m not seeing anyone right now, but that’s okay. I’d tell her that I finally had a closet full of dresses. How I’d made the decision to take a trip to Bequia. That I was terrified I’d chosen the wrong career—again. That Georgia had nice weather, and New York had a nicer everything else, and California was perhaps even nicer than that. I’d tell her that things were getting better for us—the collective us—because sometimes a white lie is more palatable than a black truth. I’d tell her the last thing I ever told her, that I loved her. And that I was loved, the last thing she ever told me.


Maps.

It has been a decidedly long time since my last post. Since then, my life has changed dramatically. This certainly isn’t an excuse for the absence of posts. I’ve been active on Twitter, discussing topics such as Remender’s comments regarding his work on Uncanny Avengers, the role of the “strong black woman” in American fiction, Rick Ross’ departure from Reebok, and how African American Vernacular English has changed dramatically depending on region and proximity to other racial and ethnic groups. So, I’ve been talkative—just not publicly.

My grandmother, my family’s matriarch, passed recently, devastating everyone who was lucky enough to be blessed by her presence. I took two very important lessons from her death: share one’s creations with the world; do not be afraid to accept what the world offers in return.

Live life.

I’ve chosen to do so, but it is extremely difficult not to retreat and indulge in overly cautious behavior. I like lists, detailed strategies, patterns, carefully reasoned hypotheticals—but it is dangerous to simply plan and never act. One steals one’s life away preparing for it.

I’ve prepared enough. I’ve given notice at my current place of employment and plan to pursue a career—one that allows for greater diversity and creativity—in the field of publishing or advertising. I am moving at the end of the month and will to use my nest egg to purchase a home in an area where said career can flourish. Plane tickets have been purchased. Possessions have been sold. Contingency plans have been made.

Kelly Sue DeConnick (an amazing woman—if you don’t know her, get familiar) posted about the importance of having a biannual review to assess one’s accomplishments, goals, and strategies to achieve said goals. At the close of my first quarter, the first day of April, I went back and looked at the goals I had set for myself the first day of 2013. Three months later, I had met every single financial goal, one of my fitness goals, and none of my career goals.

Problem.

I am at the start of my second quarter and the problem has since been rectified. I was able to meet all of my financial goals because I wrote detailed plans as to what tasks I needed to complete to reach them and when I needed to complete those tasks. I relied on habit to achieve my fitness goals; the result was minimal success. I was at a loss in regards to attaining career goals; I felt achievement of one’s goals were dependent upon the whims of others. Working harder afforded me no career movement. I have decided to establish clear-cut career-oriented tasks to be accomplished and place myself in an arena where those accomplishments will be rewarded. Will it work? Ask me the last day of June.

This post is a turning of the key. The engine will start next—emails will be sent, questions will be answered, stories will be written—and I will embark upon that long, winding path to the destination waiting for all of us.

The trip should be fun though. Feel free to come along for the ride.


The choice.

I am approaching the same topic, the creative community, from two different viewpoints—the personal and impersonal—so please bear with me. The creative community that I am only tangentially a part of deals primarily with storytelling, be it the life of the protagonist of a video game, the saga of a comic’s champion, or the adventure of a fantasy novel’s heroine. I am surrounded by world-builders and artisans who trade in fictional people. Some of them draw, some of them write, some of them design code. Some of them assemble the audience, some of them edit the script, and some of them critique it. The community is vast, but the subset I admire is small—and close knit to the point of being impenetrable.

The community is a happy blend of virtual and corporeal. There are physical hubs—some as small as three people and some as large as one hundred strong—within the cities: New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland, etc. These physical hubs are virtually connected through websites and social media. And therein resides the problem for me, for I am virtually connected, not physically. I am merely a ghost hovering on the fringes. I am a specter. I am a spectator.

I’ve been thinking a great deal about this community, how a small section of it banded together to provide a memorial for Robert Washington III. It is the type of community to which I long to be a part. But I remember Washington’s final words as well: “Have a back up plan.”

As much as I ache to be an actual physical part of a creative community, I would like a nice, quiet home in a safe and progressive area. And I would like a commute that is less than one hour in order to be part of said creative community. And it is impossible to have all three—or even two. And so I must think very carefully about what I must give up.

For me, to embrace the creative community is to fully embrace poverty. Without a job in the higher echelons, moving to a city will result in substandard housing in an unsafe area. What life can one build with a salary of $28,000 in New York City or Los Angeles? Yes, interesting work abounds. Yes, one is surrounded by creative compatriots. And all one must do is give up safety, cleanliness, and quiet.

However, if I merely desired material goods, I could eschew the creative community entirely. I could live in a beautiful home in the “red area” of a “red state” with racist reactionaries, mind-numbing work, and soul-crushing loneliness to greet me daily. But again, I’d have a quiet and lovely home to return to each night and enjoy on weekends. It is not a fair trade, but it is an available one.

At the moment, I have attempted to scramble down the center of the fork in the road and have failed miserably. It has resulted in a shabby, cramped, noisy apartment on the outskirts of a pleasant and progressive (and expensive!) suburb on the outskirts of New York City. I am afforded only the rare chance, after a hectic commute, to physically be a part of the community I admire. I am massively dissatisfied with my living situation and my creative contribution. I am being pulled in two different directions by comfort and culture.

I can only follow one.