Thursday, October 20, 2011

Jittered, Capped, and Dead Weight

Below are three separate posts from my old blog.  When I first posted it, people told me Jittered was a strong piece of writing, the first compliment of its kind for me.  Fortunately, it wasn't the last one.  The other two posts, Capped and Dead Weight, are meant to follow Jittered.  I love all three.  Jittered accurately describes a stressful day at work where all the men found me insanely attractive for some reason.  Maybe it was because I was wearing a skirted suit.  I love Capped because it's an odd description of complete exhaustion vs. sexual longing.  Jittered might be the best written of the three but Dead Weight is my favorite, especially the end.

Jittered (First Posted Feb. 9, 2006)
At 7:20 am I stood outside City Hall looking for the way in. I ignored that replica Italian dome vying for my attention. The sun was warm, the sky beautiful and it was already a bad start to the day.

I walked briskly, trying to disguise the fact that I had the shakes. I was pulling a hand truck with important documents. Documents that could make or break things, but I didn't care. I still had to get into the building. Something popped in my head. Grove. Street. I walked passed a couple of guys who both said good morning. I've been looking good lately. I feel like hell, but I smile and flirt anyway. Part of the job.

I'm holding the one thing in my hand that I should not be carrying. The one thing that will make and break me: a cup of strong coffee with a little sugar. I haven't drank it yet. When I do, everything will go jittered. My thoughts will scattershot all over the place. Must wait for the right moment.

7:42 am and I'm arguing with security who keeps telling me to go to the door at the end. I try to stay calm, but that shaky inside feeling is getting worse. I finally find the right door. The sun blazes outside. The angry employees are leaving all that warm sunshine for the big dome.

I manage to make it through the metal detector without falling to pieces. The security guard chats away. I thank him and move on. Basement. Okay. Up the elevator now. The men are tripping over themselves to help me find my room. They try to talk to me as we ride up four floors. I long to ask someone what kind of wood is on the paneling, but I keep forgetting. The brain is jumping here and there. To and fro. When I get off on my floor, the men realize they forgot to press their floor number.

I make it to my room and the door is locked. I wait outside with the documents. The hallway is long and wide with gleaming white marble floors. More men in suits show up and they all smile, say good morning. One guy really likes me. He's a hyperactive little shit or maybe I'm just projecting.

I drink my coffee now. I breathe. It's the last breath of the day that will have any effect except to move the oxygen around. In about ten minutes, I can barely keep it together. The morning flies by, a blur of papers and people. I'm sitting for hours on a red velvet chair that's too small. I get cranky. I want to punch the only other chick here in the face. Bitch.

Later I'm wandering through the Controller's Office. Everyone ignores me. I smile and look around waiting for someone to ask me what the hell I'm doing there. No one does. I could steal anything from that place right now because all the employees are sitting around talking about what they watched on TV last night. There are too many exits here, too many side stairs.

Back to my velvet seat. I drank that cup of coffee as quickly as possible. I'm so wired, I can't feel sorry for myself anymore. I try to calm down, but it's not working. I'm still cranky, but I'm kicking ass. I don't know how I do it. The suit next to me keeps flirting. Giving me sideways glances. He smells good.

I wander into the hallway to make a phone call. I stare down to the main part of the building. I look up at the huge dome and then down four floors of white marble and concrete. Alarms are going off in my body, something about not falling and going splat. I'm having a perfectly ordinary conversation and then another one. Each lasts ten minutes. My voice has not started shaking, but I notice it's pitched to a slightly higher octave. Inside my head pounds and my eyeballs start to burn. Tears run down my left cheek. I manage to stop the tears and get off the phone. Now my eyes are burning so bad it feels like I've been blasted with tear gas. I stop and "drop" into the moment. It works, but now I'm in the "moment" eyeballs burning and inside shaking.

Back to my red velvet seat. I kick some more ass. I got everything. You want it now? I got it. I'm ready for ya, baby. Bring it on. I know what you want before you do.

I'm finally out of there. I have to go find a man about some equipment. I spend the next 30 minutes wandering around City Hall while he tells me I can have anything, I just have to ask him. He gives me his cell phone number. I thank him and leave. The security guard insists upon carrying my boxes for me down the front stairs.

Day is beautiful. So am I. Jittered.

Capped (First Posted Feb. 9, 2006)
Safe in my stripped down apartment, the shakes start to subside a little. I'm pushing the envelope with all the wrong combinations. The only thing that would make things more interesting is if I added some recreational drugs. No dice tonight.

I watch a very bad movie. The same message keeps showing up: "The disk is dirty." That's accurate. I have to turn it off after a few clicks of the remote. Brain overload. I need water.

I shake out my thick hair and smooth cream on my soft skin. Floss. Brush. Stretch. I have good, sensitive hands.

Almost time for bed. I'll curl up in my silky cool sheets and dream about all the things I need so badly. I want to whisper softly. I want to tumble and flourish. I couldn't even if I wanted to. The body wants much, but must drop into dreamland now.

Dead Weight (First Posted Feb. 10, 2006)
The trembly overlay stayed with me all day. At least I didn't feel like punching that bitch out. In fact, I didn't feel like punching anybody out. Progress. I had a glimpse, a murmur of what it must feel like when the gangster raps that it was a good day because no one died.

I keep drawing shivery breaths. I managed to stay off the caffeine. I went to my own funeral just now, but left because they were getting ready to put me in the ground. The box is not a good place for me; cremation is the only way to go. Heaven and Hell are two sides of the same coin, two turns in the wheel. My worst nightmare is about to come true: I'm going to be reincarnated as a creature at the bottom of the food chain. A krill, anchovy or zooplankton.

I keep telling myself I should be coming down now, but it's not happening. That's not unusual. I tell myself things all the time and the outside just ignores all my yapping. The brain bounces but then goes back to center and stays for a second. I can't hear anything anymore. A promising sign.

I sat in my car when I got home and closed my eyes. I'd found center again and wanted to stay there. So I stayed for a while. The world went dark and quiet. No dreams. No nothing.

A friend looked me over today and said I looked like I should be reporting the news. "I like it," he said. My arms are trembling a little and I don't want to think about my hands anymore. I am chagrined and sheepish. Nothing new there.

The usual confusion blasts through my head. I'm full of mysteries and cocksure of them all. Everything is complicated because I make it so. Deadweight it all. Need to channel all those stories out of my really really world and onto the page where they belong.

Then I stand up straight. I look around. The stories are overflowing. It's like the water pouring out of the dark apartment, taps turned up full. I'm so shrink wrapped that I can't even see them. I've been slogging through the water and not noticing them at all. Everything is right in front of me.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Writing Life: Class Progress - Part Two

I'm supposed to be writing now, you know, working on my novel but I've been screwing off this evening so I'll further indulge myself by writing this post.  I already frittered away the evening by getting the photos from my Zion trip ready for public viewing.  Who knows, I may email one of my classmates after this blog post is done if my brain continues to rebel.

Nah, I won't do that.  What I'm going to do after this post is published is write.  What I mean by that is I'm going to work on my class novel (this blog post doesn't really count towards my daily quota).  And the reason why is because I have been writing everyday (except this past Sunday when we were hiking the Narrows at Zion) and this habit has ingrained itself into my psyche.

Write everyday, man.  Produce.  It's becoming my new motto.  Write even if I'm sitting in the back of the car, as we scream down I-5 en route to Vegas and then onto Zion National Park.  Write even though I'm crammed in with all the camping gear, luggage, pillows, etc. and there's barely any elbow room.  Write even though it's night at the campsite and everyone else is sitting around the picnic table having a lovely dinner.  I'm eating too but I'm apart from everyone because I have to "work."  The stars are ablaze overhead and the moon has not yet come up.  And still I have my eyes fixed to my Galaxy Tab while they indulge in conversation.

Write no matter what.

We are little more than halfway through the class and my critiques are getting ever more detailed and elaborate.  I don't think this is a good thing though one of my classmates assures me that it is.  I just keep finding more and more things to suggest about sentence structure, first lines, story structure, transitions, characters, etc.  And if someone asks me to answer questions about the story, like one person did, then God help them I'm off on a whole new page of commentary.  I had to force myself to keep the comments to one page.  I think I moved the margins and went down a font size in an attempt to look like I wasn't babbling on.   So fucking embarrassing.

Thing is, going to such measures is a lot of work.  I have to be in the right frame of mind and ready to put pen to paper.  I have to have a large block of time because I do it all in one go so I can keep the story fresh in my mind.  And I have to think, and reach, and keep digging to find more stuff to pull out of myself that might have some use to the writer.

All this effort is making my own writing better.   And I know my long winded critiques are helping at least one student.  And my teacher tells me I'm getting good at picking apart stories.

Rest assured I'm not making all this effort for the other writers in my class.  I'm doing it for me.  I know that if I put an enormous amount of effort into this shit then the benefits will come back to me a thousand-fold.  Or at least ten-fold.  Something like that.

My ability to produce a story quickly out of thin air is getting easier.  Whether the story is any good is a whole other thing.  I'm getting the idea that the novel I'm working on for this class isn't going in the right direction and I'm going to have to completely rewrite it.  Though this can be disconcerting, it's actually huge progress on my part.  Most of the time I get through the entire first draft before I discover the story isn't right and then I sit there wringing my hands wondering what the hell to do next.

I can skip the wringing hands part this time because I know what I need to do.  Progress.

Though all of these things are good, I'm expected to make a contribution to our class anthology Portion Control and I have no idea what I'm going to contribute.  I'm inwardly balking at the idea of including an excerpt of my class novel.  It's going to have to be something else.  Christ, how am I going to pull that off?

Yeah, I did say I can produce quickly but...well, I guess we are going to see just how quickly in the next couple of weeks.
Even with all my bellyaching, this class is one of the best things to happen to me in my writing life.  I'm seeing myself getting better and better, hands getting dirty, ink stains everywhere.  And good habits being developed besides.

I jokingly told my instructor when he was done with me I was going to be carved out of wood.  I was kidding but now I'm sure that statement is true.

Time to work.  On my class novel.  Not on the email to my classmate.

P.S.  Wow, I barely had to edit this post.  I guess I am getting better.

Zion Road Trip 2011

Yes, it's that time of year again. A time to get into the car and drive for 13 hours on Friday, arrive at Zion for the weekend, then hop back in the car on Monday to drive another 13 hours home. Still, it was a lovely trip. The weather was amazing (but a bit too hot for my taste). Gourmet food, wine, and cocktails were brilliant as always. Camping in tents and no showering for a couple of days.

And, best of all, fantastic friends.   Click on the picture to enjoy the photo album.