Vacation Killer

Warm days thaw the mud and thin the snow into small patches tucked in the hollows and north-facing slopes where the sun doesn’t fully shine in the relative heat of daytime.

This last week has been filled with uncertainties. I put in for vacation from my regular job three months ago and intended to spend it road tripping to my homeland of Montana. I haven’t returned there in two years. Then Covid happened and shut down the world. 

What’s the point of travel if you don’t get to see cool places, eat at good restaurants and have a few drinks at a new watering-hole?

Even Campgrounds are shut down because of this thing! I’m sitting at home, or not sitting actually, catching up on projects I’ve not otherwise had time for in the last year and a half, and trying to work into a groove to create some good stories.

Once upon a time, I could venture into an unknown world of my own creation in a moment, spurred by any number of inspirative stimuli. That’s not the case so much anymore. It takes more prep time and active teasing to get my mind in the right groove. My screenwriter friend says I’m hanging on to too much mental baggage, and I have no doubt she’s right, but how far do I have to dig to find the bottom of that pile?

When I start down that road, it turns into a black hole, sucking me deeper and deeper into stark, barren negativity from which no creativity sprouts. Eventually, I reach the point where I no longer have any desire to remain in my own head.

More so what impacts my ability to focus is a constant state of interruption. Despite my “vacation” status, work still calls regularly. “Can you work for so-and-so? Can you take these shifts? Will you cover this vacancy?” What part of, “I’m not available!” do employers not understand? And since phones now have all other sort of communication avenues on them, you can’t just shut them down and have privacy! 

Having the world and all travel shut down at the end of winter, a traditional season of confinement on the North Plains, makes this week more frustrating. Fortunately, I’ll gain the vacation time back and hopefully get to travel someplace. Maybe by then I’ll have won the lottery and can afford to just shutter up in a hotel and write. Which reminds me, I need to check those numbers. 

A few writers have had good success moving forward with projects during this downtime in the world. I did work some on the two novels, but both have stalled out again, victims of my constantly divided attention. 

I’m looking forward to driving the topless old CJ5 and hanging out at the beach in the warm sunlight. Eventually, summer will arrive, but another snowstorm has dumped six inches of heavy wet slop on the hills. Beautiful, but it’s a good thing I’m not going anywhere anytime soon.

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