After being sick with the flu all of Christmas week, I got knocked out of my blogging groove. This was not a fun flu. I had a constant headache, was throwing up, nauseous, dizzy, and my whole body was in pain, especially my lower back. I could only lie in one place for an hour or so before having to get up and go somewhere else. Most of the time I spent on the recliner, unable to deal with noise or light, and I couldn’t read or draw or write because those activities only made my headache worse. It ended on Christmas day, which I spent alone, doing the last edits and rewrites of my novel, Ramblin’ Fever. I finished completely last night, and sent a copy to Erica, who’s offered to edit, and write a good synopsis and agent query. Hopefully something’s in the works by the time I get back to Berlin, January 11th, but no pressure. I’ll never rush to publish a novel again. I learned my mistake with Fortuna Berlin, which could’ve been so much better if I’d let the story sit and cure for about three or four years. My plan for 2018 is to either rewrite it, or start fresh on something similar. I also plan to keep up with this blog, and write some poems, and maybe fit some short stories in there too.
One thing about dividing your time between South Florida and Berlin is that wherever you are, it seems like you belong there and only there. I could be happy living full-time in either place, truth be told… IF… I had my loved-ones with me. The problem is I miss my son and Erica when I’m here, and I miss my family that’s in Florida when I’m there. The first miss is worse than the second, but I make my money here. I get paid minimum wage over there. I worked too hard from 1995-2011 establishing my business here to accept full-time minimum wage work over there. So I will keep coming back to South Florida, just long so I have enough to scrape by over there. Living is cheap over there. With all my travel and vacations and child support payments and trips to the bar and dinners out, I spent less than $20,000 last year. But I’m a minimalist, let it be known. All I really need are the bare essentials, plus my art and writing materials, and books. And beer. Though this year I’m going to try to drink more wine. That’s my New Year’s resolution. Force more wine down my neck.
Here’s a poem borne out of my recent one-night vacation to Key West:
Bone Island Elegy
The first time I visited Key West
was over thirty years ago.
I have been back almost once a year ever since.
There’s something about the place
drawing me to it. Something in the glow
of the jade waters;
something in the salt winds
and bleached conch shells washed up in the sands;
something in the shadows of the swaying coconut palms
and the dreams of the derelicts sleeping under them.
It’s a kind of mysticism, but not without a touch of deep,
raw, almost palpable melancholy.
It’s always there, but you feel it most late at night,
after all the bars have closed, and the music’s gone out to sea.
A faint, almost imperceptible trembling in the silence
of the island.
something alive but in great pain.
Something that never sleeps because it can’t.
Its breath cuts into you.
Maybe it’s the ocean bounding in on all sides.
Maybe it’s all those Indian bones under the island
or the warning signal of some ancient prophesy.
Or maybe it’s just the curse of beauty.
That soft curse
that lets you know
you’ve found it, that you are someplace
precarious and holy.