REPORT A PROBLEM
Start with a question or an exploration in mind.
Don’t save ideas for later, write them out as soon as you can.
Let the reader in on the action, tell them where they are.
Use appropriate technical language to establish authenticity.
Write opening lines that introduce a narrative.
You can build around a moment, there’s usually a story that can be told.
It’s great when a fictional narrator gives a strong sense that the author has lived the experience of her characters.
Don’t get bogged down in the responsibility of reporting what actually happened – use fact to stimulate creative associations.
Waves of annoyance pass through me like a series of short fuses. Damn that car in front of me turning right from the left-hand lane and boy did I want to hang up on my friend who just called me and was talking to someone else in whatever room she’s in when I answered the phone and said hello. There’s a volcanic pimple swelling on my back. I had a deep belly hunger craving carbs (or even better, hunks of cheese) that I filled instead with spinach. Then I replaced dinner with a movie. I better wear black panties tomorrow.
Months ago now I made a decision to change my life and day to day lifestyle in a big way by applying to the Peace Corps (In some way I’m following Jules footsteps although I’ve never met her). I had my interview today. I’m very excited about the possibilities my unknown future hold. It’s going to take several more months to play out. So I find myself spending my excited energy mulling around what I know, my things. What is worth keeping and what I can relieve myself of changes day by day. It’s all I can do right now.
In celebration of our independence I spent the day driving seven hours across part of the country I’ve never driven through before, finally landing in a daze of motion in Flagstaff Arizona where we will not be watching any fireworks due to a dry season heightening the danger of wildfires. We’re staying in the room behind the white door without a number between 109 and 107. I’m sitting at a plastic picnic table surrounded by closed up tents from today’s craft fair and a 40ish fat women in a Navaho poncho is signing Van Morrison covers. The local hot spot.
I turned $1 into $160 in just a few surreal seconds. Magic fingers. Hold the 2 Aces. Press the draw button. Flash. Everyone around me is telling me I’ve just won big. $160. I’m often lucky the first time I try things. Then I sit wondering what the fuck just happened. I wouldn’t want $160 in Laughlin Nevada to overshadow the purpose of this trip. In and out of the sauna of my car to glimpse the vast Grand Canyon at the various angles washed out by the high sun. We had a refreshing swim between the canyon and slots.
As I was heating up the old jarred pasta sauce and pouring in the remaining crumbs of feta, something smelled funny. But I stuck my nose into each thing and on their own everything smelled ok. Not necessarily fresh, but ok. I mixed up the pasta and heated it all up real hot. It tasted fine, like a lazy dinner with the sole purpose of filling my belly. It only took 20 minutes to pass through me. Something was definitely off. I’m drinking water and feeling better. At least that old jar of sauce isn’t sitting in the refrigerator anymore.
Intangibles. Everything today is so immediate in my mind and so removed from my reach. Stagnation. What feels like stagnation so rarely is truly stagnant. At least I had the power to voice my fears and desires. My future is so huge, daunting and exciting. I’m numb with desire. Dwindling desire for an unavailable person, growing desires for a new career, a new body, a new place to live, old friends, fresh ideas, positive energy. But right now my biggest desire is for a more comprehensive string of words. But the ideas are all intangible and my mind is stagnant.
People get caught up in their own storylines. Trapped in them really. Really trapped. What will happen to me next? How will I react? And assuming nothing unexpected happens today, they plan the next expected move.
There is a different way to live, as my friend pointed out narrating my history back to me. I love that I have thinking friends who can give me different perspectives on the significance of my actions, on things that I’ve also thought a great deal about. It’s cool to have someone point out the mastery of my carving as I randomly change paths.
I woke sluggish, allergic and a tad hangover with sore legs from yesterday’s visit to the gym. I slipped right into a busy morning at work buying sample for interviewing in Taiwan and checking an online questionnaire. The Sarah called from Paris and got me talking about the Peace Corps. I was beaming. I spent sometime this afternoon looking into a photography class and by 5 my head was packed with projects and ideas. I spent the evening having dinner with friends and Dianna made it clear that I need to be prepared to leave sooner than I’ve been anticipating.
It’s normal for me to have energized days full of activity, ideas and plans that end in a melancholy daze of apathy. I don’t get it. I couldn’t wait to get home to write down my ideas and start organizing packing and look through the years of images I’ve collected and get ready for my trip this weekend and go shopping and research computers. But instead I came home and piled things up and sat down to look at it all. I can’t figure out if I’m in a hurry or if I have plenty of time. I’m somewhat overwhelmed.
The bomb dropped today. I could smell it coming but I’m still sitting here in shock. My boss is a spin doctor. The tone of our conversation during which he gave me a month’s probation was very telling. I challenged him on my dedication and he said there was no questioning it. Then I said, so you’re saying that I can’t manage my projects? He complemented my abilities. So if I’m not working 110% to move forward I’m not worth having around? He found that hard to agree with as well.
The problem is: He knows I can outsmart him.
It just hit me that I’m running on 2 hours of sleep, an excess of coffee and a whirl wind of emergency action plans. A perfect state of mind for a road trip to Las Vegas with 65 year old twins, a good friend and her boyfriend. The car is packed tight but we’re all talkers and balance each other well. Five odd characters darting off through the outlet mall in different directions. I’m in good hands. We’ll be in Vegas soon. I think I need a nap, some food and a plan for the immediate future. Vegas Baby Vegas.
9am: Wow I’m blank. It’s first thing in the morning and I’ve slept well.
11am: Swimming in sunglasses
1pm: Starving confronted with an endless buffet listening to an outrageous conversation
3pm: Trapped in endless mazes with a guide who knows all the exits.
5:30 pm Back in the pool
8:00 pm I get drawn into the slot machines, I cash out 30 quarters of winnings and feed them back in, win another 100…
10:pm yummy dinner finally
3:40 am: Slot machine bells going off in my head as I lay to sleep.
Ding Ding Ding Ding.
Walking, talking, gambling, gawking.
I am so beat. We swam several hours in the Lazy River at the Mandalay Bay before packing, checking out and hitting the fabulous buffet. We then explored the Flamingo before hitting the 15 South. It’s great to be worn out from a long weekend. The trip to Vegas really did help me get away and sort some things out. I’m afraid about returning to work in the morning but somehow in the last hour or so enthusiasm and optimism have seeped back into my state of mind. I can make it through this and leave everyone (including myself) smiling.
I’ve learned that nothing I say, feel, write or share exists in the absolute. It’s just me in that moment on that day. But once I share something, maybe on a whim, slight of hand, whole heartedly or even without really noticing – that exchange remains in the absolute. These words are a perfect case in point. I’ve read back and been amazed at the developments and the circular themes over the months. I’ve shared this link with some old friends and some passing acquaintances with whom I had no idea how much of myself I would actually end up sharing.
I keep writing “June” but it’s July already, mid-July in fact. Almost my birthday actually but somehow that’s the furthest thing from my mind. Labor day feels like it’ll be here next week and I have so many things to research, decide and plan before then. I’m looking into graduate schools and writing programs and student loans. When and how do I want to leave my job? Do I want to stay in California for the year to come or spend time living with family in Ohio? Could I afford to continue to live by myself here in this apartment?
The day isn’t long enough. I remind myself that my life isn’t guaranteed to be long either. I grew up waiting to live. It’s odd how you can spend a lifetime being constructive and in the end be left with a hollow construction.
My feet the past few days have been hot and bothered (& itchy, red, irritated)
I was worn out and mentally exhausted today, feeling empowered by staging my defense and remorseful at the necessity of the battle. It’s the calm between storms, gathering strength and resources, saddened reviewing destruction of the past, encouraged by the rising winds.
I’m bursting with plans, ideas and options. It feels very all of a sudden but it’s actually a long series of small ideas that are probably always stirring in my head. Exciting, scary, insecure. If I only had one or two decisions to make or only one or two options I would’ve sorted it all out by now. In the past I’ve been blinded by knowing in theory that I can do anything. But now I’m working on detailing quiet dreams and remaining practical while I process the endless scenarios of what I can do with the next 10 months.
My cheap, funky silver sunglasses sit a little off center on my face. Hell my whole persona is a little off center – enough so that acting on spontaneous intuition I invited a boy out on a blindish date. feels completely natural but in fact I’ve never done that before. Nothing to loose, life to live.
Guts. Whaat takes guts?? DDDeath takes guts. Watching someone die takes gutss, Old people. Does honesty take guts? Yes unquestionabllly I haave too much toooonguee, or I give too much tongue, eeitheer waay haaaappyy hour turned inrro 345am. crazy enough to make even me react.
It’s my birthday and I can cry if I want to…. The day started with an obscene hangover, like I couldn’t move my head because there were several oceans inside all being pulled by different tides. Woken by my mom singing Happy Birthday into the phone, it took me an hour to get to the Advil and Gatorade. Yeah one of those. Now a whole day of activity has passed and I’ve been out all day (lunch with Carol, the beach, pedicure, Maffe for dinner, sleepy drinks with Terry) and the bars are closed again and I’m ready for sleep.
I have to figure my shit out. I don’t really want to. Small obligations, like piles of paperwork and a few bills sit like a small film over the larger budget considerations that are at the core of deciding bigger things like what to do with the asses I work for and when I have to move out of this apartment. Cleaning and organizing my apartment is a string of chores distracting me from the real issue of what material stuff is important to me, where I want to store it and how I should get rid of the clutter.
People drop out fast.
My days are getting harder to summarize in 100 words. I drop and rebound so fast. Each day is chock full of conflicting events, a variety of cold hard facts, dreamy distractions, if.. then… scenarios, fleeting pleasantries, common accomplishments and support from friends. Yes life can be fleeting and I’m trying to concentrate on the importance of making sure living to the fullest is in the plan. In the backdrop my Dad needs a pacemaker and he’s in denial. My friend suffering her residency reminds me, people drop out fast. I need to get him covered.
I’m drowning in words. Words of my defense. They aren’t too hard to come by, the problem is actually that they flow in abundance. The tone is also something I worry about. If they aren’t sassy or defiant than they’re righteous. But after hours of typing I still don’t have it all in the hard drive. Each piece I add disturbs the construct of the argument. I get off on the ultimate mastery of it. It’s my final work of art for the bastards. While one objective is potentially working things out I secretly hope they tell me to go.
Today I suffered the obvious physical signs of stress; a light fuzzy headache from lack of sleep, abundance of coffee and an overload of strategy and cunning smart ass phrases. My head was asking for slow motion. My stomach was turning ever so slightly. My body light and numb from lack of nourishment. Sure I have answers for everything but that doesn’t change his make-believe deadlines. I was made for better things. I’m so looking forward to the coma my bed will offer me tonight. I’m sure everything will look completely different tomorrow, as they have every morning this week.
Iwant towrite 2hundred wordstoday. Justbecause Ican. I’ve figuredout howthat ispossible. Itfeels creativebeating thesystem. Howmany peopleout thereget offon beatingthe honestsystem? Irealize it’s probablyonly ascheme toget attentionbut inthe endwhat harmis inthat? IfI haveto stretchmy brainand becreative inorder todoso. ButI feelbad wonderingif I’m tryingto getattention ortrying toexpress myselfcreatively. Itshouldn’t reallybe amoral dilemmanow shouldit? Afriend saidto mewhile wewere layingin thedark inseparate bedsin ahotel roomin Naplesin April,oh writingfor youis liketherapy. Alittle drunkenand outof myelement Iprivately tookoffense. Ithought tomyself … it’snot atherapy, Ihave moreto writethan therapeuticwords, expressionis morecreative, moreimpulsive. Butnow Iknow itcan bemany thingsand itdefinitely istherapy. It’sstrange howthe truthspoken froma friendis insightfuland wellintended andcan feellike anoffense.
The day started with a true desire to just walk out the door but I stuck to it and sorted out the immediate mess. I am ready to walk but I’ll hang in there and go through the motions. By the end of August I’ll be jobless. I want that. My brother called with a good suggestion that actually ties together my ideas and lists with a larger perspective. Do nothing. Hit a resort town, or a shack in the woods and find a brainless job. Do nothing for as long as I need to let my true desires surface.
My late night drinking, munchie food has changed over the years. I only mention it because I’ve just come in and had ripe avocado smeared over rye toast, lightly salted with melted Swiss cheese over it. A bootie call online. I picked out a cute guy by the pool table and watched him flirt with someone he knows but has never slept with. He became even cute-er. I liked the way he flirted with the little girl. I remembered the days when each advancement needed an alternative motive but was rightfully noted. They were both having fun, secretly on fire.
I’m not prepared for tomorrow. I haven’t finished writing my response, I have messy projects to deal with – plenty of shit to do and an appointment on Tuesday. So I will sleep tonight and wake early and full of positive energy and everything will eventually work out. My faith that I can live properly through this week is dwindling. God I’m drowning in dread. I quit tonight cuz the anger and confusion was rising, bitter. I don’t really want to fight. So I put things aside and I’ll let then set – just like jell-o – I expect the consistency to change.
My life right now could be in shambles, from the outside at least, from the inside possibly but this afternoon I felt grand, content, happy at peace. I string the words together because none of them fit exactly but the point is I felt good and among the midst of potential shambles that felt a tad grand. The odd part is that I realized how small I am in the world and that feeling gave me comfort. I’m not really sure why. Maybe because it means that my troubles are also small in the grand scheme of things. GRAND small
It’s not yet 10 pm and I’m going right to bed. Now I’ve said it I have to make it happen. Since it’s 9:56 I’m cutting it close. My sleep was so good last night and I’m not even very sleep deprived but I want a nice long night of sleep and I want to get up early so get a brisk walk in before getting an early start on the day. I’m going to crawl into bed with my book and relax. It’s been ages since I’ve done that.
Even with the repetition and the ands still not 100…
Is it really July 31st? Today was one of those days that got eaten up by work and the work isn’t even all done. Nope it never is, not even on probation, especially not on probation. I stayed late to monitored interviews conducted in Mandarin taking place in Taiwan. I don’t speak Chinese. Yup, one of those days. Home after sun down. Whipped up some tasty pasta. … Vacation at the family cottage on the lake with all my siblings awaits me. In 24 hours I’ll be on vacation from work. In 48 hours I’ll be going through airport security.
The Tip Jar