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The Vertigo of Life

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I have an edge. Sarcasm and irony are two of my favorite things.

I am a wide eyed optimist. I love a happy ending.

This is the dichotomy that is me. Lou Reed meets Jack Johnson.

I listen to other people's stories. I cannot leave the house without hearing another American Story. Every day someone tells me a tale of uncertainty, loss and hardship.

I am halfway through a year of writing a blog about walking. Sometimes I share the American stories I hear. But more often than not, I share the things I stumble upon in the world around me. A sunset on the beach. Art on a dumpster.

As Paul Simon wrote, "You don't expect to be/ Bright and Bon Vivant/ So far away from home", but I am.

A friend and I are exchanging emails these days. Her husband lost his job after 32 years and has been bouncing around looking for something ever since. At 56, my friend has landed in a cubicle for the health insurance.

Obamacare has greatly disappointed me. I was so looking forward to it.

Each morning this friend of mine sends me a missive from her Cubicle Chronicles. I have escaped my cubicle, but I was once there and I commiserate. I've lived the stories, I'm listening.

I don't know a soul who's not been battered/ Don't have a friend who feels at ease/
Don't know a dream that's not been shattered/Or driven to it's knees.
But it's all right, all right . ~ Paul Simon

Last night my daughter sent me a series of text messages from Denver:

Midnight Rider by the Allman Brothers is soooo good. Saw a band do a cover of it last month. Seeing them again Friday.

I understand why you and Dad went to see so much music. It's amazing.

It makes life so much easier to deal with.

Yes, it most certainly does. That powerful connection between the listener and the singer telling a story that reaches across the airwaves and lets you know someone understands. You are not alone.

We continue to discuss this topic.

For YEARS I couldn't find Dylan's Lily Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts and finally found it! Reminds me of some nights at home.

This made me smile. YEARS in all caps. She's 19. She loved that Dylan song when she was just 8-years-old. Then I suddenly feel sad. I remember the stereo blasting like the heat from the wood stove, both warming our souls.

She's visiting for Thanksgiving. I tell her I still have the CD. Blood on the Tracks. It made the journey to South Florida.

Very nice! We'll listen to the old dinner music when I'm there.

I've finished a second novel. I have two beta-readers who have read the story and like it. I sent them my revisions. I am waiting on their further input. In the meantime I am making more revisions, then deleting some. My mind goes back and forth.

"I was working on the proof of one of my poems all morning, and took out a comma. In the afternoon, I put it back again." ~Oscar Wilde

My stories, the one I am living and the one I am writing, are American Stories. A tale of people searching for happiness in difficult times in a country so vast and at times so beautiful and full of wonder, it is hard to imagine how we wouldn't find what we are looking for.

I wonder how so many of us got here, confused and forsaken, wondering what went wrong. I write to correct. I am trying to find grace. I am searching for something. My characters are searching for something.

Living a life is like writing a novel. You think about the stories you have lived. The different chapters over the decades. The way you spend your days. You make revisions.

I take a break from writing to read. Andre Dubus' Dirty Love. Hard, gritty stories that bring me to my knees. They are the stories in my head, the stories I begin with. All around me, in South Florida, I see the Two Americas a politician once spoke of. He was wrong about one very important thing, a personal matter, but he was right about the Two Americas. I drive a few blocks, from mansions by the ocean to the Dixie Highway where I roll right into the other America. I suppose there are a few people who live in their wealthy enclave, hiding in their bubble, but it's a very hard thing to do here in South Florida. The two Americas live side by side, a few blocks separate the haves from the have nots. Walk out the door and the stories are there if only you take the time to listen.

I share my self-doubts with one of my readers. She tells me, "Rule Number One. Do not read someone else's work while writing."

For you see, I can't stop trying to find the happy ending. It's the Jack Johnson side of me. "Of the stories across the sky, we drew our own constellations." I am drawing my own constellations, telling my own stories.

I am familiar with the vertigo of life as Lou Reed called it. The sensation of whirling. I have heard the stories of the battered souls and shattered dreams. I too have a battered soul and shattered dreams. But Jack Johnson sings, as I drive across the divide of Dixie Highway.

Clouds keep moving to uncover the scene/Stars above us chasing the day away/To find the stories that we sometimes need/Listen close enough/All else fades, fades away

"It's okay," I tell myself. "I'm writing Fiction." But as I sit at my desk in South Florida, writing, trying to live a dream I dreamt in a cubicle a thousand miles north of here, I am not only writing a novel, I am trying to write my own happy ending. Drawing my own constellations, writing my own stories. Fictions full of hope.