>Life Follows You… even to the Beach!

>I’ve been at Seagrove for 48 hours as I write this post, thinking that I would have written 20 pages on my novel by now, you know? After all, that’s the reason for the month-long writer’s retreat on the beach, right? But what I’m discovering is that wherever you go, life follows you.

I left home on Wednesday, where I had spent many hours over the past two weeks dealing with maintenance problems, including washing machine (3 visits from repair folks and it’s still not fixed), security alarm/smoke alarm (also took 3 visits from technician), automatic gate (fixed once, broke again), and printer (still wasn’t working when I left Memphis on Wednesday.)

As I drove down here I thought, “ah, no more maintenance issues.”

And my first two days have been filled with hours of writing, walks on the beach, and a great time at Crush (in Seaside) at their free wine-tasting and half-off sushi last night. But they’ve also been filled with:

Note on the drier saying a repair man is coming “some time Thursday” because the door won’t stay shut. But I got the door to shut and it runs fine, so I called the owner and he cancelled the service call.

Somehow I managed to pull the icemaker out too far in the freezer and the door wouldn’t close, but I didn’t know why it wouldn’t close. So, my frozen food thawed last night and half my refrigerator stuff got to an unsafe temperature and I had to throw it away… after I carefully shopped for it as I drove into Seagrove Wednesday afternoon. (I’m headed back to Publix tonight.) Dark, bloody-brown liquid started pouring out on the kitchen floor (which smelled strangely like Worchestershire sauce, but must have been something from inside the mechanical part of the fridge ‘cause nothing was leaking in the fridge itself) and I had to keep cleaning it up. Got the owner on the phone (again) and he walked me through inserting the icemaker again and voila! Door closes and everything cooling back off.

The condo has a DVD player, so I borrowed a friend’s copy of Mad Men Season 1, which I’ve been anxious to watch since I got hooked on the show AFTER Season 1, but I can’t get the player to work. Called the owner AGAIN and he walked me through all the steps (which I had already done) and every time it says “loading” the DVD, then it says “no disc.” The owner’s friend, Phil, was here (he owns 2 units in the building) so he came by to help me, but he couldn’t make it work either, so he went to Panama City and bought a new DVD player today and just DROPPED IT OFF. Yes. He said, “I don’t install these things. Good luck.”

So here I am on beautiful Friday night at the beach, headed back to the grocery to replace the foods that spoiled, and then I’ll be crawling around on the floor unhooking the old DVD player and hooking up the new one. No techies around to help. Just me. I’ve learned from watching my husband and daughter do these things that as I unplug each part of the old one, I’ll make a little note on a piece of masking tape saying what goes back in there. Kind of like leaving a trail as you go through the woods so you can find you way back, right? How hard can it be, really?

I am happy to report that the wi-fi has worked from the get-go, and my portable printer is now working fine, after I put it through a series of alignments because it hadn’t been used in a year or two. This weekend I’ll probably head to Office Depot in Destin or Panama City to pick up some more ink cartridges, since I just put my replacements in and it’s only Day 2 of my writing retreat!

So, if you were expecting my blog to say how many words or pages I’ve written each day while I’m here, that’s not my plan. That puts way too much pressure on me. My plan is to write 4-8 hours a day (some days less, some days more) and to get in two hour-long walks on the beach every day. Also to only eat healthy, low-fat foods (no chips, bread, sweets, etc. in the condo) and to limit my alcohol intake. If you’re thinking, “how’s that working for you” I’m happy to report that for 2 days, it’s working great. Even with a refrigerator/freezer crisis. Oh, and I’ve slept 8-9 hours each of the first two nights. I think as the days go on I’ll probably get in a writing mode some nights and stay up late, but the good news is that I can just sleep in the next day. No schedule.

Haven’t had time to get lonely yet… my characters are keeping me company. They are in my head all the time now, especially when I’m walking on the beach. And tomorrow I’m meeting a new friend for coffee in Seaside… she’s an artist that I met in Milan, Italy (yes) and we exchanged business cards. She lives in Destin. I’m going to the Seaside Saturday farmer’s market in the morning and then meeting her for coffee, so I’m taking Saturday morning off from writing. But I’ll be back in the chair tomorrow afternoon.

It’s such a joy to be here, and I’m so grateful to my sweet husband (of 40 years) for “sponsoring” me for this writing retreat! I’m going to see him half-way through, when he meets me in Oxford, Mississippi, where I’ll be taking a break to help co-direct the 2010 Creative Nonfiction Conference. Then I’ll head back down to Seagrove for 10 more days of writing after the conference.

Gorgeous weather today: sunny, high 74. The water is smooth and I saw my first shark! Just a small one, and the folks on the yolo boards weren’t scared of him. They say he’s a harmless one. I’ll just watch from shore, thank you very much.

Perhaps the most beautiful sunset I’ve ever seen. Couldn’t capture the dolphins who were jumping in the sunset. Called my hubby while watching it. Wished I could feel his arms around me.

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