Thankful for 2020’s Roller Coaster

2020: What a long, strange roller coaster ride it’s been for all of us.

We collectively entered the queue together in January and followed the long path that snaked through February. We stored our belongings and removed our glasses, hats, and shades and reached the front of the line in early March. We sat next to each other in neatly arranged rows and locked in our seatbelts and harnesses. After a quick safety check, the car pulled away from the loading zone and rounded the curve to ascend the first massive hill.

We didn’t realize each click-click-click upwards represented a faction of life as we knew it being left behind us.

It became more difficult to see what was ahead of us the higher we climbed.

We reached the top, looked down, and…..bam.

Insert appropriate expletive here.

The drop was immense, like nothing we ever experienced before. Our stomachs were left 230 feet above us as we screamed in futility. Some of us worried, some of us cried, some of us laughed, some of us got sick, and some of us were unimpressed, claiming the drop was nothing, no big deal. They taunted, “Is that all you’ve got?”

The closures, the orders, the face coverings, the scrambling for necessary items, new rules and regulations, the rise of the essential and front-line workers, honk parades, eating outside in tents, sanitizing the whole shebang…everything its own hill with its own form of up-and-down-and-loop-and-invert.

However, if we looked hard enough, we were able to find a number of hidden silver linings along the metal tracks.

The coaster’s trail evened out a bit during summer and briefly morphed into a straight line. Smooth sailing, but we had to scramble mid-ride to leave the seats to our left and our right empty.

We expected the ride to end, but instead, found ourselves at the bottom of another enormous steel-tracked hill that looms even higher into the sky.

This is our location right now, today, on Thanksgiving 2020.

We’re ascending speedily yet ever-so-slowly and are currently near what we hope is the middle of that second, massive mountain with no hand to hold on either side and the path ahead completely obscured.

It’s dark. It’s cold. And it’s no longer fun.

Everyone is screaming, but nobody is listening. We scream louder and louder until we drown each other out and all that is left is white noise.

Some are still worried. Some are still crying. Some are still laughing. Some of us are sick. And some are still taunting.

We have no idea when we’ll reach the summit or accelerate at top speed on the downside while descending towards terra firma, or how many bumps we will encounter along the way to this bizarre ride’s finish line.

For me, the paradoxical roller coaster of 2020 has certainly had its ups and its downs, pun intended. Love and loss, gathering and isolating, fear and calm, laughter and tears, beginnings and endings, empty and full, lost and found… the full gamut of the human experience is thriving in 2020, that’s for sure.

In all honesty, I am most grateful for those ups and downs this Thanksgiving, for they have shown me what truly matters:

  • My loved ones…family, friends, colleagues, students…staying connected and relishing the time I am able to safely spend in everyone’s physical presence, especially my nieces and nephews.
  • My daily life and the glorious moments of sheer awareness and indescribable beauty that I’ve experienced as a result of slowing down. I am no longer a slave to a “to do” list but mindful, awake, and enlightened.
  • My true self… embracing the person I am becoming and becoming the person I am meant to be. I don’t believe I would have found her if the coaster was closed for maintenance or never constructed at all.

I am most grateful for the wisdom to never again take anything for granted, especially my health, and for all that I have and all that I am.

Hopefully, we will soon reach the end of this unsettling ride and emerge from its tunnel as unharmed as possible. I don’t know when that will be, but I DO know that next year’s Thanksgiving is going to be one hell of a shindig.

Wishing you good health and the happiest of Thanksgivings wherever your table may be this year.

 Thanks for joining me on my journey. I’m glad you’re here.

With gratitude,

Jill

“Thankful for 2020’s Roller Coaster” was posted on jillocone.com and on soulseaker.com on November 26, 2020. Views and opinions expressed in this post are solely those of the writer, who was not endorsed or compensated in any manner by any entity; views do not represent any employer. Copyright 2020, Jill Ocone. All rights reserved. Contact jillocone@gmail.com with reposting, licensing, and publishing inquiries.

Status Update for “Chapter One-A Novel”

cropped-triskeleA few friends have asked me lately what’s going on with the novel I’ve been working on for four years now and counting.

My answer is: A LOT!

My keyboard has been working almost three hours every day as I re-craft Chapter One-A Novel‘s entire story with my fifth major revision/overhaul, which is, by far, the most complicated revision task to date.

I had a massive existential crisis teeming with frustration when my heart realized C1 needed and deserved both a completely different point-of-view and a much stronger voice.

Melt-down?

Yes.

Crying?

Absolutely.

Walking away?

Thought about it, but not a chance.

I’ve learned through the workshops and conferences I’ve attended that revising (sometimes five to ten times) is all part of the process. With the insight, suggestions, and encouragement from fellow writers and teachers, I can finally see the light, no pun intended, as I re-craft C1 with the reader as the focus.

And as sung by the immortal James, Brown, I feel good. I know that sounds hackneyed and trite, but I do.

I’m more confident and sure about my writing and can’t wait to see where it takes me. I never would have trusted my voice had it not been for the wonderful support I received from my Yale colleagues and know that the universe sent me there to learn from not only the best but from like-minded fellow storytellers. I’m also lucky to have close friends who provide me with honest feedback and the inspiration I need to keep moving forward.

The development and re-crafting of both Kelly Lynch’s story and her strong yet funny voice has taken even me by surprise, and I’m more in love with my main character now than ever, who is NOT me, by the way.

I expect to resume querying agents and publishers with a completed manuscript in early September, and will be looking for some beta readers once I am finished. Please let me know if you are interested!

img_6414In other news, I am pleased to announce that I will join other contributors to the 2019 American Writers Review and read my published poems on August 31 in Neptune, New Jersey. It’s the first time I will take part in a public reading of my published works, so I’m pretty excited about achieving this milestone.

We’re finally settled in our temporary home and I don’t have to box or unpack anything for a while. In between writing and moving, I attended both the summer Teacher Ambassador Workshop for ProjectWriteNow and a board meeting for the Garden State Scholastic Press Association last week. I’ve enjoyed becoming acclimated to my new neighborhood and to laughing and making memories with my nieces and nephews. I’ve got some side project going on too, including creating an updated writing portfolio with all of my published newspaper and magazine pieces from the mid-1990s which surfaced in the attic purge from my soon-to-be demolished former abode.

I intend to enjoy each August day, especially next week when I am traveling to Baltimore with a treasured friend, seeing Jimmy Buffett with tickets I won (I waited 48 years to be “Caller 10!”), and a super-secret, surreptitious 36-hour trip to the south…more to come about that soon!

I wish you an awesome August and a splendid rest of the summer. Thanks for joining me on my journey. I’m glad you’re here.

With gratitude,

Jill

Copyright 2019 – Jill OconeThis entry was cross-posted on both jillocone.com and SoulSEAker.com on August 1, 2019. Views and opinions expressed in this post are solely those of the author who was not compensated in any way by any entity. All rights reserved.