Oh, the … well, not irony. But I guess kind of irony in a colloquial sense.
When I started Duke Duke Goose I was a full-time student, full-time intern, but I was living at home and my job was honestly not terribly stressful, my money was mine and only mine except for my car payment, and I was desperately, desperately lonely and in need of some escapism. Home was not easy when I started this blog, but this is not the place to get into why, it just wasn’t easy and romance was such an easy escape for me.
Romancelandia, as it is known, really did welcome me with open arms. I hope it’s because they could sense my very sincere enthusiasm, the genuine admiration I had for the authors, and my strong desire to promote the genre for the wonderful body of work that it is. But even if it was just because I seemed pretty pathetic at the time (I was in many ways), I am ever grateful for the place I’ve found within its virtual walls.
When I went to RWA in July of 2015, so much of my life got totally flipped on its head. Things that I thought I knew about myself turned out to be much more grey than black and white. I had some pretty epic experiences that I won’t spell out just for the sake of them involving other people and that being tacky and well, then you have to ask permission to talk about it and then it’s like OH FUCK IT HAS TO SOUND COOL and you get the drift.
Then I moved. I moved from Louisiana to the suburbs of Chicago, Illinois to start my “dream job”. I’m actually not sure where the quotation marks should go in that previous sentence. It was the dream job for someone in my field, but I realize know, and pretty much knew then, that it wasn’t actually my dream. To be fair, accounting is not my dream. The thing about dream jobs is that they’re hard to get and hard (maybe harder) to keep. They’re for the Elite in their field.
Here’s something I learned about myself this year: I don’t want to be my job. I don’t want my entire life to be consumed with my job and to have very little to nothing left for myself. I don’t want to be virtually alone in a city I don’t know in a job that is slowly killing me. I double-checked her bio to be sure people knew where she lived, YAY it says so, but I lived very near Sonali Dev. I saw her maybe 3 or 4 times the 9 months I was living in the area and the last time I saw her in May of this year, she just said, “You look more and more stressed and worn down the more I see you.” Which is a very polite way of saying, ‘You look like shit.’ And I did. I was so worn down by this juxtaposition of having The Dream Job in a Dream City with a Nice Apartment and a Nice Car and there was nothing of me. Nowhere was I present. I was surrounded by people that did not get my life experience, and was actually told by a boss, “You can be really fucking weird, but you memorized my coffee order so you can stick around.” And here I thought I was being on my best normal behavior the entire time.
I started pushing in May of this year to please, please, please transfer me. Please. Please at least let me not live alone in a strange place anymore. I pushed and pushed and pushed. And then the hammer got dropped on me. I was “terminated”. So not only had I lost so much of my identity, of my joy, of my hobbies, of my friends, of people that I was forming relationships with, then I got told, “It’s all for nothing and you’re not good enough.” THAT WAS FUN. I hadn’t read more than 4 books in 9 months (compared to the 110 I read the year before). My body was broken (kidney stone, gallbladder stone, whatever the precursor to carpal tunnel is, panic attacks, insomnia), my heart was broken, and frankly in a lot of ways, my spirit was broken.
Through it all, through me at my lowest, through me at the point where when I got fired the people that love me eventually confessed to being relieved because they were that worried about me, there was Del. Del was my touchstone who lived 1600 miles away from me, but who kept me sane. Who was always there when I had to sneak to a bathroom or a deserted hallway and cry and scream and hate everything, including me. And so, oops, we fell in love. So like, I can’t review Del Dryden’s books anymore, but I figure that’s an okay tradeoff for what I have now.
To bring this all around, I had to scramble. I had no money saved up (hey, Chicago is expensive, and so is working from 8 AM to midnight and not being able to cook and having to eat out and having a million allergies and), bills that kept piling up, and a list of people that I hadn’t been able to keep track of, that I had let down on the friendship level, and that I had been isolated from, including members of my family. I had nothing to show for it other than an extra 15 lbs and some maxed out credit cards.
So, I applied for a job where Del Dryden lived (uh, we talked about it a lot first, it wasn’t like I showed up on her doorstep all, ‘I’ve been hiding under your porch because I love you. Can I stay?’). And oh hey, I got the job. And now we’re living together. But in the past 2.5 months I’ve had to moved long long distances twice and I’m still mentally recovering from the huge blow I was dealt and from the 9 months preceding that huge blow.
I still haven’t finished a book in a while and it’s weird. And I do feel like a part of me is missing because of that. I feel like I left a piece of myself in Romancelandia and I need to go and find it and stake out some terrain again and make a little hovel for myself (and Del) and enjoy my passion again. I want to have a passion again, for God’s sake.
Luckily, my new job is … dare I say it, normal. With normal working hours. And normalish people. And I’m somehow making the same amount of money for a fraction of the stress, and I get to come home to the woman I love at a place that is already feeling like a home. My hope is that this all results in me actually reading a book. And maybe having thoughts about that book. And hopefully, posting those thoughts here.
I just can’t promise when I’ll be there again.