Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Time Passages--Do You Recognize Your Own Life?

Warning: navel-gazing ahead!!

I’ve been thinking a lot about time lately. Not just that lost hour of sleep for Daylight Savings Time (am I the only one still trying to adjust?), but the passage of time and the marking of milestones. Sometimes I look at my life and wonder: how the heck did I get here?

Ten years ago in August, Hurricane Katrina turned my world upside down. How can it have been ten years when certain images and songs still make me cry? At the same time, can it only have been ten years when I look at how much my life has changed since those long, black months after the levees failed?

Fifteen years ago, I took in a starving, mangy 1-year-old stray dog with heartworms. His life expectancy was 12. How is that now, he’s about to turn 16 and I weigh on a daily basis whether his quality of life is still good enough to go on another day. And I wonder on which day, when I ask that question, the answer will no longer be a tentative “yes.” It will be soon.

Ten years ago, my mom sold the house she was no longer able to take care of and moved in with me, less than a year before Katrina. I thought we were so different we’d end up killing each other, yet somehow we haven’t. Now, she’s almost 90 and housebound. I somehow have become the reluctant adult.

Eight years ago, I left New Orleans—something I never anticipated doing. I moved back to my native state of Alabama—something I also never anticipated doing. I settled down in Auburn—something, as an Alabama alum, I certainly never anticipated doing. I still miss NOLA. I still consider myself a New Orleanian. But drive-through pharmacies are cool, and I don’t miss the traffic or having bullets dug out of my roof on a regular basis.

Five years ago, I thought about writing a novel. Maybe urban fantasy. Maybe something to do with Hurricane Katrina, from which I still was experiencing some level of PTSD. I typed the lines that would become the end of that novel, then went back to the beginning and told a story.

Three years ago this month, my first novel was published. ROYAL STREET turned my world in a direction I could never have anticipated as I caught the writing bug big-time. I joked that there wasn’t much else to do in Auburn. It really wasn’t a joke. Later this month, No. 13, PIRATE'S ALLEY, comes out. (Throws confetti!). I just signed contracts for Nos. 15 and 16 in a new series. (Throws more confetti.)

Time brings change; in two years I hope to retire, so I have to ask:  What will the next few years bring?

Does your life look different than you expected ten years ago? Five?


Roger Simmons said...

What great news that we will see more books. Congrats on the new contract. I retired 10 years ago so yes things are much different than I expected. In my book world I expected to reread my Carter Brown books. Instead I discovered Urban Fantasy. Guess that was a good thing. Except my TBR pile is too big.

Heather said...

I am convinced you have your own private time machine that infuses each day with more hours to allow you to accomplish all that you do. You are amazing. Love your books - keep writing :)

Suzanne Johnson said...

Ironically, I scheduled this post on Sunday night. Yesterday, my daily question concerning my precious dog turned from "yes" to "no," and now he's gone. Rest in peace and without pain, Tankboy.

@Roger. Thanks! I, for one, am very glad you discovered urban fantasy! And I hear you about the TBR pile :-)

@Heather. LOL. Thank you! It's not a time machine. It's a daily calendar in a three-ring binder I call OZ THE GREAT AND TERRIBLE (because it's gonna take a magician to get all this s**t done). I keep EVERYTHING in it, including the daily to-do list. Maybe I'll blog on that next time!

Ali Hubbard said...

Time creeps me out. Just saying. Whenever I think about it too deeply, I get a serious case of the heebie-jeebies. lol. I think, "ok, this second it's spring break and I'm thinking about time and it's slipping by and now it's Christmas." *insert existential dilemma*

Congrats on your contract. Totally deserved. And thanks for sharing all your lovely knowledge with us. I love your generosity with aspiring writers!!!!!!!

I know what you are saying about your pooch. I lost mine last year and I just don't have it in me to get another one. I still want her! I don't know if that ever goes away. But I focus on the life she had with me. The good life, that so many pups don't get to have. And what she gave me in return.

Thinking back 10 years, my life could not be more different now. I have a lot more responsibility for others. I left a 20-year career I loved (automotive) because other things took priority. And that's ok. I never would have started writing otherwise. And I still consult when I miss it too much.

In 10 years? Who knows! I don't want to creep myself out so early in the morning! ;-)

Suzanne Johnson said...

I know what you mean about creepiness, Ali...I'm fast approaching the "Will I still be alive in ten years" age. Talk about creepy.

Heather said...

Y'all best spit on the ground and turn around 3 times with all that talk. Do it. NOW!

Suzanne Johnson said...

LOL. I just did it. (I hope my coworker didn't see me.) You can't be too careful!

Ali Hubbard said...

Spitting and turning and making that gypsy move grandma used to make. Lolol

Rashda Khan said...

Thought provoking post...hugs on Katrina and Tankboy, cheers on working out your relationship with your Mom (yes, I'm navigating a similar terrain) and for your writing career, congratulations on living a good life. I'm going to have to sit down and think on my own life now....

Louisa Cornell said...

What a great post, Suzanne. I have my Katrina rescued dog sitting at my feet. It is hard to believe he has been part of my life for nearly ten years and sometimes it seems he has always been here. Boudreaux is twelve now and still in good shape. Like Tank had, Boudreaux is having a good life, one he might not have had otherwise. And the last act of love we must perform as pet parents is letting them go when the time comes. And it hurts like hell.

Ten years ago I had not yet started to write again. I started in 2007 and I've been working at it ever since. Your success awes me and it gives me hope.

I am still working at Walmart and that is something I didn't not expect to be doing ten years ago. I hope to figure out a way to get out and write full time very soon before they cart me out of there in a white jacket with a butterfly net over my head.

Still I am closer now to my goal than I was ten years ago. And in the next ten years I will be there.

Jillian said...

Great post! AND yeah, life is def. about change and mine is not where I thought it would be either even though I live in the same town.

Suzanne Johnson said...

Thanks for all the comments, and yeah, thinking about passing time isn't always a good thing. But it's kind of amazing to look back and see profound changes you didn't realize were part of something profound at the time. And Louisa, I hear ya--counting the days until I can move beyond the day job! Hang in there!