I am: taking a few days off.
I am not: sure I’ll actually be able to stick with that, but we can dream, can’t we?
The Scene: The Boston Public Library after an intense day at work, swinging through my beloved Wodehouse shelf, then setting up shop at a well-lit table in the mezzanine to to do my first post-project fiction writing. After a madcap year, everything I’d been dreaming of: spare time! luxury! new projects! Closed down my email, opened a Word doc and — nothing.
Well, not nothing. Panic. And then nothing. And then more panic. And then a very long, boozy bubble bath. ’cause, hey, I’m nothing if not consistent.
Turns out I … don’t really know what I’m doing with my life without the project? I remember vividly a little over a year ago, sitting on my Las Vegas veranda with my father at an ungodly hour, a secret cabal of insomniacs, dreaming about what to do with my newly reclaimed life.
“I think,” I ventured, “I think I have a project. Something I need to do. Maybe a few people will read it, maybe not, but it’s right for me.” Going to Boston, I may not have had friends or furniture or a job, but I had one little point of certainty, and that was enough.
I was thinking last night about the fantastic serenity of that moment. The 3am air still hot, velvety and perfectly still the way it can only be in the desert.
Maybe I’m foolishly sentimental, but I think there’s a sort of magic to the desert. All auxiliary life is fire-ravaged; the undeveloped land is austere, unadorned. I read somewhere that at any given time, the sun’s rays have a physical weight of five pounds, spread over the globe. On a desert day, you feel that weight — all of it — draped across your chest and thighs, pushing you down, keeping you still.
I don’t spend a lot of time keeping still. I’m also not very good at knowing what I want. It strikes me that these two problems might be related.
I mean, we are talking about the girl who spent years wanting to marry the guy she didn’t want to marry, who poured thousands of hours into writing apple pie recipes instead of novels, who ended up making such a mess of things that she had to ninja-kick herself cross-friggin’-country to start over. So. There’s that.
In the spirit of continual self-improvement, I think right now’s a good time to get a little still and audit my needs, make sure I’m being good to myself. To wit, the three things that, this time last year, I knew for sure that I wanted:
- To get into a kickass MFA program in creative writing for Fall 2011. I’m almost entirely sure this is still on the docket. I can’t even imagine the luxury of spending 10-12 hours a day writing, without snatching my writing time in dissatisfying pinches on the bus, at my awful job, riding up elevators…
- Not to make any friends in Boston. A year ago, this was incredibly important to me. I’m only going to be there for two years, I figured! Humans are distracting! Sometimes they try to hug you! But halfway through my time in Boston, this incredible city has become my home — and what’s the point of a home without some friggin’ faces around the hearth? Plus, I totally need someone to go to Sox games with.
- To write a blog that someone, somewhere, would read. Sweet, year-ago self! Nailed it! And this blog is still very much alive and — this week’s post-project sigh of relief pending — ready to keep evolving and adding new features. That said, I guarantee you it will remain what it always was: a chronicle of my fledgling attempts at self-improvement and, more importantly, incurable talent for making an ass of myself in public all. the. friggin’. time.
Those are the few things I know for sure right now. But before I get ready to make next steps, I need to take a little time to figure out a few more things. I hate getting still, ’cause it lets me hear every thump of the friggin’ pterodactyls in my chest right now. But even if it’s scary to be quiet, I guess it’s the only way you can hear yourself.
Oh goodness. I’m going to take a hiatus ’til after Labor Day, then, uh, remember that time I used to write funny stories about flashing people on trains? We’ll get back to that.
Until then, though, what do you want out of life right now, dudes? Allow me to cheat off of your spiritual crib sheets!