A cascade effect is an inevitable and sometimes unforeseen chain of events due to an act affecting a system.
We have been experiencing what I have come to think of as a cascade effect. I like to think of it that way because it seems a quick and easy way to explain everything, and it comforts me to think of it as a natural process, that just needs to be waded through.
But we’re story tellers here, so I have to tell it as a story, but non-fiction.
Recently I was driving our daughter to her new school for registration, for getting her books, for that whole magilla. We are living as close as we could afford to be to her new charter public school (the place we moved to get her to) and that affordability caveat also means we’re not that close to it, so it is a bit of a ride, so she and me, we, have time to talk.
I asked her, in between when she was texting her new friend as all teenagers must do, how she feels about where we are now, and life in general. Most teenagers do not like to move, right? It’s like the worst thing anyone could do to them. But this move seems to be going very well for her, which is all we had hoped for. She reports great satisfaction with how the dust has settled post move. Yay! And there’s still so much dust….
I said to her that, in the before times, as people often call the pre-Covid days, I don’t think I took the time to stop and ask me, or her, or any of us, if things were working, if things were okay. As an adjunct teacher, I was mostly jumping in the car to go to another college, teach another class, and trying to grade papers in between. I was overworked and underpaid, and I had no time to think about whether or not it was working for me as a career, or a lifestyle.
I learned, during lockdown, that it was not.
The pandemic brought us all not-good-things, but for our family it also brought a pause in all of our “normal” activities. And then, slowly, over year 2021, things got back to “normal.” And I think, for me, the pause, and then the slow return to all things as they were before, gave me a clear vision that things weren’t as I would like them to be for me or my family.
My first concern was our daughter, as I wrote in an earlier post, and so we made getting her a better and more art-focused situation our first goal, and figured we’d then slot the other things in around that. And we have done that, and school has begun, and it is wonderful.
But between the realization back then and our daughter in a new school now we have had to ride the ride that is the cascade effect.
For all three of us, but especially for Dave and I, as soon as we made the decision to change things up, we entered the cascade effect. To do the new and better school, we would have to move. To move, we would have to sell the house. To sell the house, we would have to empty the house. Then pack. Then drive. Then find a place to stay, and so on, and so on. One thing touching another, and, like the domino runs I used to build with my dad, it all starts falling down, but more like sliding, like an avalanche, one big slide from one life to another.
I am an optimist, so, of course, I saw the glass half full, and I thought it would all be quick and easy, and neat, and controlled. It was none of those things, though I am still glad we did it. It was surprising how “none of those things” it was. For a example, we’d had our local mechanic weld a towing basket onto the back of each car, to hold extra boxes, luggage, etc., and on our very first day driving west, in March, in the middle of the night, in the wilds of the wealthy part of Virginia, we ended up leaving one of them on someone’s front lawn after it broke off just after we had driven over the Bay Bridge. Luckily we were the only cars on the bridge, and the stuff in the basket did not fall out, as the basket miraculously held on by a metal thread until we could pull over, unload it, and tie all the contents onto the roof. We didn’t intend to be driving over the Bay Bridge post-midnight, but everything takes longer than I anticipate it will, and… bang! bang! scccrrrrrrrape, someone awoke to find a big piece of metal on the front lawn the next day. My apologies for that, but the lawn did look like a lawn that had its own butler, so I forgive me. Our second day driving, exhausted from the day before, we got caught in the “freedom convoy” leaving Washington DC. There was also a strong thunderstorm, and I really feared the freedom folks would run us off the road. They were neither nice people nor able drivers. They were dangerous, and angry, and I hope I never experience anything like that again. In Arkansas a man with a “If you don’t like the flag get outta my country” shirt kindly asked if we wanted to sit with his family at breakfast; he made room for us, Chinese daughter and all. In Texas an imposing woman called me a Karen when I was checking us into our hotel because I’d run in from my car, because some of us needed to get into our room and pee. She’d come in after I’d given over my credit card, and began yelling at my back that I’d unfairly beat her to her rightful place ahead of me at registration. She did a lot of yelling about me and the hotel clerk, while I signed my credit card receipt, grabbed the electronic key, and rushed back out to the car. From the time she walked through the automatic doors, until my transaction was done, she’d had to wait at most two minutes. We were in that particular hotel for about 12 hours total, and I never saw her or her husband again. After Texas we treated ourselves to a double night stay in New Mexico, where we loved a kids’ place called Meow Wolf. We spent another two days in Arizona, and saw the Grand Canyon, which is still as gorgeous as it was when I last saw it, in 2003. At the end of the long trip, we ended up in Los Angeles at bedtime, in an extended stay, and then, weeks later, in another one, for extended periods of time for each one while we looked for “home.” Everything we had even a slight interest in buying or renting was bid up and out of our price point immediately. All of our stuff was in a warehouse in MD. We had nothing, we had no place, and we had no people either. Just us, in a crappy one-room (the price of traveling with pets I think, so hard to find a reasonably priced place that allows pets and is not gross). And us was three humans, one dog, two cats, two guinea pigs. Hotels don’t take guinea pigs at all, nor do they take more than two pets to a room. If you attempt something like this, you gotta be willing to leave out some details when you book, and sneak in the cage after midnight. And pay. And pay some more.
It was much longer and tougher than we expected. Which is okay, because had we expected it, we probably would not have done it, and the school situation is worth absolutely all of it.
And so we came through. It ate up a huge amount of time, a huge amount of resources, and a huge amount of personal energy, and, frankly, ruined our sleep for a good six months.
And now, we’re settled. We’ve been “indoors/non-homeless” for a few weeks. Things are now trending upwards.
We’re still living under the cascade effect, meaning that if I try to use a notebook to write something down, seven or eight things fall off of the table when I pick the notebook up, or they fall off the dresser, or the “what have you,” because we’re surrounded by boxes and mess. We’re working as quickly as we can to get ourselves organized. And we’re still pretty exhausted. And the transformer for the complex blew-up last week, taking Dave’s plugged-into-a-surge-protector laptop with it.
And all this time we’ve been thinking about DPP, Dave and I, about what we want to do with it, and if we want to still do it.
And so we’re working as quickly as we can to put things in place to continue.
Instant Noodles, that should have come out in April, drops this weekend, once we get the last little proofreading done. I know waiting for publication is not easy. We appreciate you, authors and artists; we appreciate your patience.
The rest of you DPP-people, make sure to check the issue out. There are somewhere around and about 60 pieces in this issue, and it is, as the title, “Pathos,” suggests, very emotional. I am overwhelmed by the art and the writing. It’s such a joy for me to make this magazine. I just love reading all the pieces, seeing the artwork. I feel very lucky every time I put one together.
Next on the list is the Solstice anthology. We’re starting on that next week.
Our full-length contracted writers will be getting a schedule update in the month of September for their books.
After that is settled and moving forward in a good way, we will look to open submissions again. I would expect that this might not happen until closer to the winter. We do not want to add any new piece to our “to do” until we’ve given our good efforts to the pieces we have waiting for us.
As you probably know, Dave and I work day jobs. We would love to get to the place where all we do is DPP. We would even love DPP to someday be an employer. To that end, I’m going to start offering editing services and workshops. I really love helping people finish their damn novels, and those who’ve worked with me have found the way I edit particularly helpful, and they’ve all gone on to win awards for their work, all of them. Editing can be pricey, but I’m not trying to do that to people, so I’m starting slow and low. We’re just trying to keep the press afloat, and get me out of dead-end adjunct work for good. It’s not all ready for prime-time yet, but if you think you might like to take a look, and could use some editing or a workshop, you can find that here. I’m also going to be live (in November) here, and I’d love to see you if you’d like to attend. Running a press is not cheap. Running it better and better is even less cheap, but our hearts and our disposable income are both in it. If you can use my style of editing (details will be soon posted here), consider trying it to help us continue our mission. Or tell a friend about us. Or maybe pick-up a t-shirt. And if money is tight, I feel you. You can always help just by reading Instant Noodles, and sharing it with a friend: free to submit, free to read.
Well, dear readers, if you haven’t made any big changes in your life recently, that’s perfectly okay. We made enough for all of us, lol.
And I also recommend, that you, too, stop, take a long breath, and consider what you have going on in your life, and if it is working for you. For me, raised as I was with a very Puritan work ethic, I always think I can work harder, and that more joy will come from that. (Ummm…. we know this, correct, you writers, artists, people who get in “flow,” working harder does not lead to more joy. More flow, more doing what we love, more finishing our damned novels, and more time with loved-ones, those things = more joy.) So, take a moment to reflect. I bought a sticker for the new fridge that says, “When shall we live if not now?”
Dave and I have usually worked on DPP projects sitting at our kitchen table, a table that could easily seat 12, in our kitchen that could easily hold 2 or 3 of those tables. Now we’re in a dwelling that has 1300 feet total, and very little of that is available for kitchen table. Why, this move has literally brought us closer together! Big space, small space, doesn’t matter, we have always enjoyed running DPP, and we can’t wait to start the presses up again after all this time.
In the meantime, you can still buy the books. Help a fellow writer, boost your bedside pile, give a great gift, and help the presses start going again.
Thank you for your time, faith, hope, kindness, love, and patience, as we worked our way from one coast to the other, and as we crank up the motor again now. Without you there is no DPP.
Keep writing! When shall you live if not now? Finish that damn novel!
Love~ Dianne (and Dave too)
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