Plunk. He groaned. These shoes had come in the mail just yesterday, after weeks of waiting, and he hadn’t treated the leather yet. Not wanting to appear petty, he took a few more steps into the water, submerging the tops of the boots and feeling the flood of cool water over his feet. At least this was storm drainage, he thought, and not sewage, a common but fortunate misconception that was probably the main thing keeping vagrants and vandals out of this place. Continue reading “An Unedited Excerpt From the Thing I Wrote Because Some People have Asked”
About a year ago, I started working at a spice shop.
At first, I couldn’t get enough. I had never been around so many spices in my life, and in such quantities- it was beautiful. I’d gaze into a massive pile of Persian Lime Curry, full of tart Omani black limes and maple-scented fenugreek leaves, and with a tiny metal scoop fill jar upon jar until I had filled hundreds, lined up in military neat rows, little canisters that contained a full sensory experience compressed into one half-cup glass jar. We made thousands of jars of everything in the shop, which was ground fresh on the spot in a tiny, hot room in the back and delivered to us in massive silver mixing bowls the size of sleds, like various fragrant piles of sand.
The smell, yes, was almost always phenomenal, but what amazed me was how sensual spices are. I wanted to plunge my entire hands, up to the wrists, into the piles of spices that I was working with and really feel them. I wanted to pack together handfuls of sticky, ground sumac and build sandcastles. I could see every grain of granulated garlic as it interacted with every other grain of granulated garlic as I poured thousands and thousands of them together and watched the way they fell into jars, watched their current, their speed, their viscosity.
…and I’m late again. I really need to start setting a reminder in my phone, because this is a thing I don’t want to miss.
Since I finished NaNoWriMo on the 28th, I haven’t looked back at my novel. The truth is, even though I made it to over 50,000 words, it didn’t feel done. It wasn’t resolved. If I were actually going to turn what I wrote into a novel, with copious amounts of editing, it would still only be the first part of a much larger story. Even 60 or 70,000 words wouldn’t be enough to complete it.
Today I’m conjuring the courage to look back. Last week I started anti-depressants, and this week I started my old retail job where I’m now just a holiday helper until the end of the month. Both have helped, the meds with the energy and the job with a sense of purpose and a distraction. But still, both are ways that I’m looking back into places I thought I’d left behind. I decided to go back on anti-depressants, specifically a medication I’ve taken in the past, and I decided to go back to a job that I don’t necessarily love to do full time but that will accept me and feels safe for now. It’s reminding me that I don’t need to burn every bridge that I cross, but it’s such an interesting experience coping with trauma while also learning to leave the door open just enough to let the more positive things in if it makes sense for them to come back. I guess that’s why people install cat doors instead of just leaving their front doors open all the time.
At the same time, I’m still waking up in the mornings replaying bad scenes over and over, and the tapes won’t stop playing until I get up and get on with my day. As much as I try to ignore it, my past is always with me, and I hate it. I’m enrolled in a self-defense class right now, and much of it focuses on psychological and emotional boundary setting. This is training I wish I’d had when I was young, and that I never got. It is a painful thing to encounter not only because of its difficulty, but because I am standing in a room of full-grown women, myself included, who feel they need a class to teach them to protect themselves, to use their voices, to say what they mean. It says something about all of us. It says we are strong, yes, but it also says that it’s very likely many of us learned the hard way that learning to protect ourselves is valuable. As humbling as it is to be surrounded by women whose values align with mine, I can sense that for many of us it’s like reopening a wound that’s only just started to heal, and asking it to heal again, but better this time.
I often use repression and denial as coping mechanisms, and when they get out of hand it affects everything I don’t want it to affect: my ability to stay on top of things, like emails, cleaning, bills, and appointments, and my ability to finish projects that I start. Going back into a piece of writing that was, at times, incredibly painful to produce in order to reflect on it and shape it into something better feels…unsafe. But I’m understanding that it’s ok to look back sometimes, and not only that, it can be necessary.
and I am going to call my book “Depression can Suck it” because I am depressed as shit and I still wrote a novel in 28 days.
It’s a meandering, nonsensical story and I didn’t even get around to the main event, so if I were to keep writing it would become much longer, but even if the plot sucks some of the writing isn’t too shabby if I do say so myself. And most importantly, I hit 50,000 god damn words tonight and I am closing my computer for now to finally take a shower.
Edited to add before my shower: I also dropped out of grad school right before I started this, so it has a lot of meaning for me. I proved I can still reach a goal or two without being in an MFA program, and it’s helping me forgive myself for a decision I know was right, but that I still have guilt about anyways. Suck it, guilt.
Here I am, stressing about how bad I think my story is, and how I should’ve outlined the plot instead of just making it up as I go along, and I keep forgetting that I’ve never written this many pages of one piece before*.
Even if I don’t hit the NaNoWriMo goal, it will still have been a personal record. And even if the story is bad, and makes no sense, it’s still something to remember: that I’ve never committed to a single story like I have this month.
*coffee in the morning and wine at night
If all of our souls met at a bar, today my soul would be the one in the corner seat waiting its turn to ask for a shot of the strongest whatever you’ve got. My soul would be eyeing your soul’s aromatic elixir, and the beautiful way the absinthe makes your translucence glow a pale gray green, like the way the ocean looks up north where it’s cold and uninviting and the froth of sea blends into the fog. That’s the way my soul likes the ocean best.
I would like water, your soul would say to the bartender, and I would, like water, spill you onto the floor and lap you up if I hadn’t come here already attached. Instead, my soul would be murmuring to the beast that holds it between tenacious jaws, asking if she wants brandy, or whisky, or something else completely, darling, it’s all on me, just please, please loosen up a bit, you’re killing me.
I dropped the ball on this month’s IWSG, but I promise I have moderately decent excuses. First of all, it was my birthday. Second of all, I was at Disneyland, and if there’s one thing I take seriously it’s Disneyland. I’m what you might call insufferable when I get the chance to go, and my poor boyfriend had to witness me at full Disney force. I practically dragged him through the park, and he was an amazing sport and didn’t complain once while I navigated us at full speed, charging through crowds and dodging strollers to make sure we made the most of our one day there. And I must say, we did it. We managed to do and see everything I had hoped to see, and had a fantastic time in the process. He even created this amazing scavenger hunt for me that started the day before, when we drove down, that led me to surprises throughout the park, then culminated after our day was done. It was really special, and I don’t know if I’ve ever had such a wonderful day on my birthday. (I want to describe it further, but I might do that in another post.) What fell the wayside during our 5 days in LA, though, was naturally my writing. Funny that it’s the first thing I always let drop when things get busy, but I’m positive I’m not the only writing-person (using “writer” today feels undeserved) who has that problem.
I have one foot in NaNoWriMo and one foot out, and while I haven’t networked or outlined or posted anything on social media I was hoping to participate anyway. And I was good at it, for a few days before we went down south. Luckily for me, I’m recently unemployed and a grad school dropout (winning combo, I know) so I’ve got plenty of time on my hands to catch up on what I missed. It’s been a busy week or so: just before Halloween, I dragged my boyfriend to my cousin’s Napa wedding for two nights. With all these fun(ish…the wedding was more obligatory) trips and events I haven’t really sat down to focus on my next step. I’ve applied for a few gigs in immersive arts, but nothing so secure that I’d be set financially even if I did get them. They’re more the pursuing-your-dreams, less the pursuing your future finances or ways-to-get-your-family-to-approve-of-you type things. I’m wishy washy and have a hard time committing to one path, and a harder time finishing what I start. Which is why it’s hard, right now, to convince myself that NaNoWriMo is worth my time when I have some pretty big obstacles in front of me, mainly getting a job and figuring out which grad schools I might want to apply to for next year.
Losing my job, which also functioned as much more and dropping out of school in the same week was really hard. I was already depressed before, but I’ve slunk into a pretty rough state as of late. I’m really hoping that working on this novel, or whatever the hell kind of thing this is because it’s turning out to be very, very strange, will help me feel like I have some purpose, or even just offer an escape for the time being. Hell, I’d almost rather take the escape. And going back to the past week, I am still a little weirded out at how much of a 180 I did as soon as I got a day at Disneyland. I just turned 26, not 5, and while I understand there are Disney freaks of all ages, I always thought I was way too much of a cynical nihilist to be one. But my boyfriend saw it, and it was real: the depression I’ve been battling, the anxiety and the bodily fatigue that makes it difficult to get out of bed or do anything, it was all alleviated for that one day. I felt like a powerhouse. Now, as someone who tries to be socially conscious and understands how fucked up the Disney mentality is, I feel kind of ashamed of this. I grew up in a wealthy suburb where perfection and blindness go hand in hand, so I know better. But still, god damnit, going back to Disneyland made me feel great for one day. I even got a free birthday churro. So thanks, Disneyland, and thanks, sweet, wonderful Boyfriend, but now I must go back into my writing cave of obsession and anguish as I catch up on all that I’ve missed.