You take the red pill you stay in wonderland….

In mid-November, I took the red pill. I hit some sort of internal landmark where I had to choose to follow the habits I have always followed or do something new. It was about that time when I stopped talking about “if I finish this book” and started talking about “when.” It wasn’t just positive thinking. It was utter certainty. I had decided, and the mark that effort of will left on reality would be a book.

But you can’t untake the red pill. This last month has been fraught with roller coaster drama, the stuff that my life is normally made of. As the ride reached the highest peak and prepared to take me through the yawing drops and slamming turns that I am accustomed to, my red pill asserted itself and I stepped off the roller coast.

Michael has been laid off. No crime in being laid off. But he had plans to seek work in his usual fashion; to skim the want ads, apply for maybe half a dozen jobs in ten days, arriving at prospective places of employment with torn jeans, t-shirts, and inch long nails. The normal pattern is for me to offer advice, be ignored, and become the pressure membrane between an 18 year old that does not wish to become an adult and a wife that does not wish to support a grown child forever, while having my own issues with the situation – I want Michael to go and become who he is, not remain stagnated and alone. My habits in this situation are well established.

But there’s that red pill.

The agents of habit and domestic conflict rose against me. They were many, and had always been invinceable. But there, at the roller coaster’s highest point, wind threatening to drag me off by my billowing leather coat, I set my jaw, found my photomnipotent pose, and, as the camera man swooned with my puissance, I made the little “c’mere” motion with my outstretched hand.

The agents never stood a chance. Domestic unrest has been laid out flat amongst the wreckage, bruised and broken as the roller coaster now is.

What I said to Michael after he had looked for work in a lackluster fashion for a week: “You may not take three months to find your next job. [recount his history here, omitted for my boredom] Start doing better. Dress for the task. Exercise the methods of hygiene. Clip your nails. Apply for everything you can do, not just what you want to do. Get a job, and quickly, or I will kick you out of the house. You will probably have to live with your sister or grandmother, which will destroy not only your friendships here but your relationship with your girl friend. I like her, but I will do this. I am ruthless enough, and my reticence has been harming us both. I will kick you out, and I will do it soon.

“The ugly truth is that, while you want to approach this in a certain way, that way isn’t working. The world doesn’t care about what you want. People don’t care what you want. The world only cares about what you do, and what you are doing demonstrates that you don’t care. People say they care, but they still stop acting like they care when you don’t give them what they want, so their caring is interesting, and nice, but useless. I care, for instance, about what makes you happy, but I don’t care enough to act like it by supporting you for the rest of your life.

“Or even three months. Make your decisions.”

This last week he clipped his nails. He seeks work in a dress shirt. He shaves regularly. He applied for over 40 jobs in four days.

Take that, agents.

****

I underwent one of my periodic fusspot sessions. I had said mean things to Michael. I had done for everyone else, but nothing for myself. I had not written, so I was a bad person and needed to die unloved. Shannon was prepared to be warm and snuggly and loving, but when I get self-hating I don’t permit people to be nice to me. It’s stupid, it’s self-defeating, I hate myself more for doing it to me.

So I didn’t. I didn’t talk it out, I didn’t wrestle with it for days, I just —

— stopped.

Another agent’s ass kicked.

****

I was unable to write more than 6,000 words in December; too many things happening, too little time. It happens. My will was good, my situation was bad. This month is different, but I have been fiddling instead of writing. Yesterday I looked at and realized that I was still in Nanowrimo, trying to write something as quickly as possible.

Nanowrimo has one useful goal: prove you can write a novel.

That’s it. You don’t get a life that month, you don’t get to edit other things, you don’t get to do anything else. There isn’t time, if you work for a living. But that is a useful goal, and I needed to achieve it. I know, and have demonstrated, that I can write a novel.

Now I need to write novels while having a life, and editing ones that I have already written. has for a goal 750 words a day, less than half Nanowrimo’s goal, less than a third of what I was writing most days. If I write only 750 words in a day, I am a bad person and a failure and don’t get ice cream because I suck.

Red pill says that was an agent talking. Ass kicking time. Watch the bodies fly.

I am making progress, I will be done in a timely fashion, I will be writing four books a year at that pace, which is a fine professional pace. I still wanted to fuss and self-hate.

*shrug* Bored. Screw that. I’ll just write my three pages daily and edit written works and do some work around the house and snuggle my wife and have a life, instead.

That was one hell of a red pill.

12 thoughts on “You take the red pill you stay in wonderland….”

    1. Mine does. Or did. His new owner says that she is just as pleased they are short; something about safety concerns under intimate conditions.

    1. *blinks* I’ve been under the impression for years that you have a heaping bowl of red pills with milk for breakfast each day.

  1. Fourty interviews in four days?!? Michael?!?

    Four books a year should be a snap compared to that little bit of mountain-moving. (Don’t get me wrong – I like Michael. But ten interviews per day on average? Wow.)

    1. No – – forty applications in four days, 27 of those throught he unemployment office. Much more reasonable. BUT, it is a record that I would be satisfied with, if it were me.

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