Saturday, December 1st, 2007 • 1 Comment on Unusual Life
I was reminded a few days ago of how very not ordinary my life is. Or my lifestyle, at least. I have the house in the ‘burbs and the two-car garage (if not the 2.5 kids) and the long-term marriage to the first spouse (though that’s not ordinary anymore, is it?) and the middle-class lifestyle that affords me a nice vacation every couple of years and guarantees my pets the best veterinary care plastic can buy. Granted, I drive a Miata and not a minivan and my hair is past shoulder-length rather than the mom-bob, but again, I don’t have the kids which would make those characteristics more likely for a chick in the ‘burbs. (Yes, I know, I’m stereotyping, but someone drives all those minivans and it seems most women past a certain age chop off their hair.)
In any case, my lifestyle appears fairly ordinary on the surface. Dig a little deeper and suddenly I am a peer group of one. There is the writing, of course. It’s been with me since I was six and isn’t likely to go anywhere. I write, I write, I write. Sometimes, I sell. It is a solitary profession/calling/nightmare that keeps me awake nights, makes me stare off into space and leaves me having conversations with voices in my head when everyone else is sleeping in preparation for their day jobs. Then there is what I write. Erotica. Smut. Romance. All the good stuff that no one wants to talk about—but everyone wants to read. That’s not all I write, but I’m long past justifying why I write what I write and I am certainly not embarrassed by anything I write (that name you see up at the top is my real name, after all), but the regular folks with regular jobs rarely ask what I’m writing or if I’ve sold anything lately—much less if they can read my latest sale. Writing itself is a lonely enough job, but even when I’m around other people I still feel lonely. Thank goodness for the legitimate and acceptable teaching I do now, or I’d never be able to talk about my “work.”
Along with the non-traditional writing job is the military spouse who is gone for huge chunks of time at a stretch. Like now. There are plenty of military families, of course, but most of those come with the kids and a day job for the wife (or husband, as the case may be). There aren’t many military marriages like mine. Trust me, I’ve looked around. Those more traditional military families have each other to turn to during those long stretches. Sometimes I wonder if anyone even notices how much my life is affected by schedules I have no control over. I’m caught between being married and being single—with all of the work and none of the benefits of both. I’m not complaining, I’m just sayin’. It can be tough.
Oh, and there was the “teaching” I mentioned, right? College adjunct. Part-time. Not a bad gig, if you can get it and manage your time well. Of course, the point of the job in the first place was to get me out of the house and around other human beings (the dog is getting bored with giving me advice). Guess what? That didn’t quite work out the way I intended. As if writing doesn’t already have me tethered to the computer for a good portion of my life, I now teach online. I can’t say I mind it—too much. It’s flexible, I can set my own hours and it is a medium I’m comfortable with. But there is that little issue of face-to-face human contact that I’m missing by teaching online. Thankfully, I will have a real, honest-to-goodness class next semester (barring a lack of interest in mythology), but for the past four months… well, let’s just say most days my main face-to-face conversations involve the words “grande,” “mocha” and “iced.”
If all of that wasn’t enough to make me a square peg in a round world, I’m 40 years old and a perpetual college student surrounded by other students who are getting increasingly younger than me and, I can finally say, sometimes young enough to be my own children. I’m a diehard liberal Democrat in a decidedly conservative Republican community (not to mention that the military is not exactly known for being filled with hippie flower children). I am contemplating becoming a truly “older” mother—something that, while becoming more and more popular in Hollywood, isn’t exactly the norm at the local elementary school. My friends tend to be just about as opposite me as is humanly possible—from age to gender to lifestyle to personality. I have not one person in my life that is “just like me” or even “very much like me.” I lack a family in almost every sense of the word. My attempt at a self-created “family” is a comforting illusion.
Despite my decided lack of a niche, I have few complaints about the life I have chosen—and, for the most part, I have chosen it. I have no desire to work the 9-5 schedule right now, I do not regret not having children in my twenties when I was busy enjoying my freedom, writing is what keeps me breathing and I will never give it up and the military lifestyle has perks and does not last forever. I will always be a liberal (increasingly so, as the years go by), I will always prefer animals to most people. I have no desire to be in a clique of people “just like me,” no matter how often I wish for a little empathy (if not sympathy) from those who are more traditional. I like my life. I love my life. But there are times, late at night, when it would be nice to pick up the phone and call someone… someone just as unusual as me.