So some of you may have heard me mention some life changes in social media over the last few months. I needed some emotional distance before I went into it. If you’re just here for the writing advice, feel free to skip this. It gets a bit long. Also, the words I’m sorry are stupid and please, save yourself the comment.
So Nanowrimo and I have a long history. I’ve failed more nanos than most people have even tried. I’ve been doing it annually to the point where it’s more of a tradition to me than Thanksgiving. I was ~3k out from the end at Thanksgiving, and closing in on the end when I get a message from one of my best local friends, C. We work together, he was literally the only person I knew in Philly when we moved here, and he’s become basically like my slightly younger brother over the years.
His fiance, A, partner for the last several years, was in the ER, with what was intially thought of as a Problem but not a Crisis related to a genetic liver issue he’d had diagnosed a couple years ago, but the effects stretch back to his young adult life even. Then the MICU. On life support.
And then I was there when A died.
Throughout the weeks that led to A’s death, there were ups where we thought he’d make it, and downswings where death seemed imminent. It was a roller coaster, and A’s family completely checked out, leaving the entire burden of decision on C’s shoulders, even at the last hours. I couldn’t let him face it on his own, so Owen and I made sure to do whatever we could to help. A handful of other friends did as well, but it’s so small vs what A meant to him, that I still don’t know to answer when people ask me how he is. They were as close as Owen and I are, and that mirroring is painful.
I warned my dayjob boss that with all this, I was likely to be short on patience and needing a bit more tolerance and patience with, as customer service calls it, soft skills. For those lucky enough to avoid working any customer service jobs, soft skills are things like word choice (Don’t say the wierd way they’re claiming their medical insurance works is unusual, just ask “what do you mean by that, because “they might feel judged”), tone (which is mostly sexist bullshit. I can say the exact same words as the guy next to me and be judged more harshly because if I have any inflection in my tone, it’s considered a flaw, not a feature), and other emotional markers which are, as a whole, biased towards the straight, white, male expression. My dayjob has a known issue (someday I’ll link you to their glassdoor reviews) with this. They give a lot of lip service towards transparancy, accommodation, and wanting people to succeed. It’s not reflected in their actions, with me or others.
Any death is going to shake you. Watching someone die, even in a controlled medicalized environment, is an experience I both wouldn’t wish on anyone but one I’m grateful I was there for. I can’t take solace in faith. I wasn’t raised with much of one, I consider myself agnostic pagan at best. But my mind inventoried so many details. The way the hospital staff acted before, during, and after. The way the body slowly turned cold and turgid. The way the equipment was handled. Despite asking for a priest or chaplain or other clergy of the appropriate faith, because of the time and day, no religious official was able to attend, and my friend was faced with losing the love of his life, the first really stable relationship he’d ever found. And I know it’s cheesy, but they were an amazing pair. They had what Owen and I have, that utter trust and reliance. And then, it wasn’t there.
A few days before A’s death, C moved into my office. It was intended as a stopgap. They were living out about an hour away in a New Jersey suburb apartment. Their lease was almost up and they would normally have been looking for a new apartment anyway. It made sense given that A would, at best, be in the hospital in Philly for a while and then maybe in a rehab and then maybe requiring frequent specialist visits, for C and A to move in with us. And mind you, this is a couple that, in retrospect, I would have been happy to have as roommates, especially knowing what I learned after the fact about how much A’s liver issues were impacting the day to day household stuff for them. Part of me regrets not having asked and pushed more, but C and A are both very private people, and so I also can’t blame myself, because they’d always only said what was relevant to situations at hand.
Now, it’s for the foreseeable future. Because of C’s health issues, he isn’t comfortable living alone. And frankly, right now?? I wouldn’t want him to. He’s, as you’d expect, devestated. They had wedding plans, even a finalized guest list. There are few things more tragic than what might have been, and never will be. There are so many things that, in the aftermath, I’ve gone, well damnit, why didn’t I know? And I know that part of grief is anger. The anger at what could have been and never was. Knowing things intellectually doesn’t make it less sucktastic in the meantime.
All this led to my examining my life, as death often does. And I realized, I have been on cruise control over the last few years, and not really working on building my life into what I want. I want to be a full time editor, and I’ve spent the last, oh, 15 years, forcing myself into the customer service role that chafes badly. I am not someone who can obsequeiese to nonsense. I had a woman tell me recently that “A doctor batman, it’s short for something but if you google dr batman and dehydration it comes up…. says that disabilities are caused by dehydration and my son is autistic and getting him to drink more water may cure him.” …Yeah, that abelist crap is utterly unscientific and moronic.
So I’m doing a few things. First, I’ve got a doctors appointment later this month to do the overdue health checkup on me and to also attempt to document the ADHD that I’ve suspected for a long time I’ve had but was never diagnosed when I was younger because I’m also high IQ (the two are actually linked, but back when I was originally evaluated, having a high IQ gave you a pass for ADHD, because the interaction of the two was not understood). Once that’s officially stated in paperwork form, I can get this PA form of medicaid called MAWD, and then I don’t need to have the dayjob to maintain health insurance. So I can, in theory, quit the dayjob, and have medical insurance covered. I am in a fortunate position where, if I ask them to, Owen and C can take on a lot of the day to day expenses. And I can focus on growing my business for 3-6 months, based on what I have saved and the effects of marketing when I have tried.
TL;DR: If you’ve thought about hiring a freelance editor, or me specifically, now is the time. Once I start doing the marketing, I plan to book in 2-3 clients per week, and while I always try to give existing clients priority, I can’t promise I’ll have the exact spot you want. I’ve dreamed for a long time about being able to hang this shingle without the limitations of a dayjob. I’m very much in favor of referrals, if you know someone who might want my editing services, please point them my way! I have a rare chance here to chase my dreams, and I’m going to do so while it’s available to me. In the long run, gods only know what will happen. But real talk, I’ve never been more ready, and it’s worth a try. I might fail, but I might fly, and worst case scenario, I get another dayjob.