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ROW80 – Messy as Hell, but Beautiful, too

X marks the spot at the boat shop (photo by Tui Snider)
X marks the spot at the boat shop (photo by Tui Snider)

My Rambling Row80 Check-in: A Familiar Squeeze

Lately, it seems like all I do is scramble from work, to home, to bed, to work, to home, to bed, to work, to home, to bed.

Lather, rinse, repeat – that’s it.

Meanwhile, I’m trying to squeeze my own creative life into any spare cracks I can find.

I lived like this for years when I was raising my step-daughter and her father was perpetually unemployed. So, this is not a new type of situation. It is, however, one that I made a huge decision not to repeat after my divorce.

My daughter got married, and moved away (a little too far, but that’s what happens when you fall in love with someone on another continent.)

Meanwhile, I scaled my life down to 22 boxes worth of stuff that I could move by myself, if need be. No heavy furniture, but lots of diaries and books.

I’ve a weakness for books.

As for work, I did insurance transcription and travel writing. My goal was to ditch the insurance transcription once I was making enough from travel writing to pay the bills.


Long story short, I’ve now dropped both of those income streams and am working full-time at my husband’s boat shop. Work is going pretty well. His shop really needed someone to manage the office stuff.

Colorful boat jack at  Nomad Marine (photo by Tui Snider)
Colorful boat jack at Nomad Marine (photo by Tui Snider)

My Artistic Biological Clock

It feels good to be help my husband’s business. I like to be helpful. Plus, I enjoy everyone I work with, get a kick out of the customers (even the grumpy ones) and I’ve actually gotten some folks to pay up on bills they’ve owed the shop for – in some cases – a few years.

All that feels great, and yet…

I’m not getting any younger, and my artistic biological clock is ticking. I’m not in my 20’s anymore. I’m not seeking diverse experiences simply for the sake of experience. I’ve had a lot of diverse experiences.

At this point in time, I’m ready to give birth, metaphorically speaking.

One reason I was so reluctant to have a boyfriend back in 2009 (let alone move 2000 miles away from friends and family to live with him) is that I felt creatively ripe. So ripe that I did not want to let romance distract me. (Plus, I have some health issues that keep me from being as energetic as I used to be, but I’m working on those. Still, it takes time.)

I wanted to live simply, work part-time to support myself, then spend the rest of the time working on my writing and my music.

Music, you say?

Morning sun through fiberglass (photo by Tui Snider)
Morning sun through fiberglass (photo by Tui Snider)

Music in the Mix

Yes, I haven’t mentioned it much on my blog, but I’m musically inclined. I play several instruments and write songs. I played in a small town orchestra for years. I’ve also performed classical and jazz, as well as my own tunes, which I am not sure quite how to describe.

But I digress…

Row80 to the Rescue

As I mentioned before, I’m trying to squeeze my creative life into any spare cracks I can find.

At work, if I’m on hold, I check Twitter. I use Tweetgrid to sneak peeks at who is busy #wordmongering and/or posting to #ROW80. I grab a moment here or there to comment on other people’s blogs. I participate in #commenthour and #storydam Twitter chats each week.

It’s furtive, rushed and hectic, but this online contact with other creative people makes a huge difference in my morale. It keeps me from falling into the abyss of, “Oh, well,” and, “never mind.”

Even on days when I can’t hop onto Twitter, just knowing that this active hive of writers is out there buzzing away, helping each other out, cheering each other on keeps a smile on my face.

Thanks to all you Row80 folks!

Row80 Goals for next week

For several weeks, I’ve been rising at 4:00 a.m. each day to write, but it’s been hard to adjust due to the lack of daylight that time of day. I’m going to look into light box therapy and see if that helps.

Meanwhile, I’m getting up at 5:00 a.m. so that I can write until 6:30 each day. This is working out much better. I’d rather have a productive 1 1/2 hours of writing than a 2 1/2 hour snooze-fest.

My view at Nomad Marine (photo by Tui Snider)
My view at Nomad Marine (photo by Tui Snider)

Boat Shop Artist in Residence

Another creative outlet that cheers me up each day is I love sharing photos of things I see around the boat shop with other shutterbugs online.

Since working at the boat shop, I’ve been posting photos of the odd, interesting and artsy things I see around there. Last week, my pal @Woofmutt, who has known me most of my life, asked on Twitter:

@mentalmosaic Do the guys that work at the boat shop think yer nuts fer runnin around the place snappin pictures of rust, soap, and junk?

I had to laugh, because the mechanics definitely notice me taking photos of engine parts, Texan insects and anything else that tickles my rather ticklish fancy throughout the day.

Surprisingly enough, they understand.

At first, I tried to hide the fact that I was photographing things for my own amusement. Since I post things on eBay for the shop, I would try to make it look like an, “official,” photo.

Guess I wasn’t really fooling anyone, though, because one day, while contorting myself to catch the best light on the glistening, oily, but oh-so-interestingly-rhythmic patterns of a crankshaft, one of the mechanics snuck up behind me and said, “Taking pictures of weird stuff again?”

Caught in the act! Since then, I’ve decided that I am not merely the secretary/receptionist for the boat shop, but its official artist in residence

I love that job title! Makes me feel akin to one of my musical heroines, Laurie Anderson, who was once the official artist in residence for NASA, of all places. Cool, eh?

The photos in this post are ones I’ve taken at work with my iPhone. As you can see, the boat shop is messy as hell, but it’s full of beauty, too.

Row80 Linky

That’s my rambling Row80 check-in, folks. I’ll try to be more focused next time. Here’s the Linky List to other ROW80 writers out there in the blogosphere:

Tui Snider
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Published inTravel Photo Essays


    • Tui Snider Tui Snider

      Thank you, Patty! :D I certainly love taking them, as you can see…

  1. Thanks for telling more of your story. Life, for me, is turning out to be a winding road. It reminds me of a Discworld book. (paraphrasing) There is a curse, they say “May you live in interesting times”.

    • mentalmosaic mentalmosaic

      Hiya Susan,

      Yes – that’s a classic curse. Ancient Chinese, right?

      I am enjoying the roller coaster ride, even though an angry customer reduced me to tears today. Yikes! I’d forgotten what that was like. I guess my formerly thick skin needs some toughening up – lol!


  2. Music too?! You are multifaceted! I am musically inclined as well, but not to your extent. I played the flute for years (have been considering taking it up again) sing (not as well as my daughter, but con gusto) and took hammered dulcimer lessons (which I can’t find in Arkansas). My latest thing is to re learn the ukelele which my dad and I used to play.
    I’d love to hear some of your music. And it goes without saying I love your pictures.

    • mentalmosaic mentalmosaic

      Heya Jyllian,

      Take up that flute again, I say! I don’t have much of a singing voice, but I don’t let that stop me. ;p

      Very cool about the hammered dulcimer. I made an Appalachian dulcimer in shop as a kid.

      After the May writer’s conference, I’m definitely going to find a way to record some of my tunes.


  3. Heidi19 Heidi19

    I love the way you captured those awesome photos Tui! Great vibrant colors and i love the resolution of your camera. What camera do you use? Thanks for sharing this with us!

    • mentalmosaic mentalmosaic

      Hi Heidi,

      These photos were all taken with my iPhone 3G. I used to sneer at the idea of cell phone photography, but I’ve been really impressed with my iPhone’s capabilities.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  4. Love the photos Tui! I decided to get a little creative with photos in my check in, which I haven’t done in awhile. (either the check in or the photos) I am feeling like you felt before, wanting to pare down my stuff (of course most of it would be books) and write; forget about everything else for awhile. At least I have these days at the lake house. We shall see what comes next.


    • mentalmosaic mentalmosaic

      Hi Morgan,

      I love your photo essay. That lake house looks tranquil and gorgeous.

      Thanks for stopping by!


  5. Born27 Born27

    That’s stunning art photos. Well, my dad is a mechanic. When he works, its really messy and dirty. But when its done, it’s just so perfect. :)

    • mentalmosaic mentalmosaic


      Glad you like the photos. Sounds like you can appreciate the beauty of a mechanic’s shop.


  6. Hi, Tui! Thanks for stopping by my blog. Yours looks really interesting, and I’m going to bookmark it to come back to the travel stuff when I get a chance. And I know what you mean when you say you’ve got a creative biological clock – it’s just time to do it! Sounds like ROW80 will be great for you. Is this your first round? (it is for me)

    • mentalmosaic mentalmosaic

      Thanks, Jennifer!

      It’s my second round, actually. I started in the middle of the last one. I really enjoy the energy and communication between Row80 folks – such as you! :)


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