I woke up at 5:30 this morning, intending to meditate before I did anything else. It’s good to meditate first thing in the morning. It helps me start my day feeling healthy and responsible, like I’m taking care of myself and trying to become a more balanced and spiritually centered human being. I just had to check the caucus results first, though, and thus ended all hope of ever getting into a place of quiet calm. Seriously, Iowa, WTF?

I’ve had lots of election conversations recently. All the people that I’m close to are reasonably invested in watching the Democratic primaries, although every conversation basically ends with “anyone but Trump.” I’ve done my best not to get invested in any one candidate, because that way lies… well, not heartbreak, but maybe apathy? I realize that I myself am not the single person who sways elections, but I am the long-term Democratic woman voter who donates & volunteers, but only some of the time.

I couldn’t bring myself to watch the election results in 2016 because for the first time in years, I had done nothing for a candidate: no money, no phone calls, no walking door-to-door. I felt like if Hillary lost Florida and then the nation, it was going to be all on my shoulders, my own apathy dictating the outcome. Actually, it was the apathy of hundreds of thousands of people just like me. None of whom are feeling apathetic this year, I hope, but I’ve been trying very hard not to pick a primary candidate, because I don’t want to wind up disappointed and having to vote for someone I don’t care about. Worse, dislike. All that said, I do have a “Nevertheless, she persisted,” t-shirt and I might have to wear it today, to console myself. Nevertheless, she persisted. It is what we do.

Meanwhile, I am persisting in writing. I’ve had to give up on Cici for the time being. I don’t know why the story disappeared on me and the words weren’t there, but it did and they weren’t. Much to my relief, however, once I stopped trying to force Cici, my imagination decided to wake up again. Currently, it’s telling me the story of Laurel, who is running away from home, and — probably — finding a new home in Tassamara. At the moment, though, she’s on her way to Disney World. A snippet? Sure, let’s have a snippet…

“Siri, where the hell are we?” Laurel’s hands tightened on the steering wheel, a white-knuckled grip of pure frustration. 

Her phone didn’t answer her.  

Laurel resisted the urge to yell at it. What good would it do? But she glanced at the screen again — the map app still showing nothing but a white expanse with light grid lines — and then quickly back to the road before her.  

It was not what she’d expected. Florida was supposed to be palm trees, white sand, and sunshine. This forest that she’d found herself driving through was all wrong. It was pine trees, tall and skinny, with rough bark and tangled undergrowth.

To add insult to injury, it was raining. 

What was the point of running away to Florida if she was running straight into lousy weather? 

Maybe, just maybe, she should have checked the weather report before stuffing the summer clothes she hadn’t worn in months into a suitcase and heading south. Unfortunately, it hadn’t even occurred to her. 

Maybe she should have gotten her car a tune-up before deciding to go for a drive of a thousand miles or so, too. Somewhere around the Florida-Georgia border, after the last time she’d gotten gas, a mysterious orange icon had appeared on the dash. She didn’t know what it meant, so she was trying to pretend she didn’t see it. But the longer it sat there, the more it felt like it was glaring at her. 

She took a hand off the steering wheel and patted the car’s dashboard. “Hang in there, Sadie. We’ll get there. Somewhere. Someday.” 

An hour ago, getting off the highway seemed like a sensible decision. Florida drivers obviously didn’t give a damn about the then torrential downpour — they’d been zipping by at 75 or 80 miles per hour. Breaking down would have been terrifying. 

On the other hand, there were worse places to break down. Like right here for example.

She was in the middle of nowhere. 

She knew it was the middle of nowhere, because there was no cell service. Not a single bar. She might as well be on the moon. 

No cell service meant no calling a tow truck if her car died. Also no using her GPS to figure out how her little local street detour had turned into this expedition into the wilderness. Worst of all, no cell service meant no more music. 

She’d been streaming road trip playlists since leaving Kentucky, everything from the classics — Johnny Cash singing “Wide Open Road”, Springsteen with “Born to Run”, the Eagles, Steve Miller, America — to cheerful modern pop and country — the Lumineers, Sam Hunt, Katy Perry.  But only fun, lively, happy music. The kind of music she needed to distract her. 

Without it, the silence left much too much room for her own thoughts to cycle through the same dreary material. She should be happy. She should be ecstatic. But her brain kept getting in the way. 

All the usual caveats apply, of course. First draft, not edited, might not even make it to the final story. But yesterday was a 2K word day, the first in weeks, and I’m hoping today will be equally productive. And it will be, as long as I can stop refreshing the news results to find out what the hell is happening in Iowa.

Iowa. Seriously, Iowa? *shakes head*