Posts in 20 Lines A Day
Day 8/90: Twenty lines not really about the bal masqué
  1. I’m sitting here nursing a glass of pinot noir, pretending to be a writer who enjoys a glass of something when they’re working. 

  2. But now I’m not really working.

  3. I’ve just spent over half an hour searching for images of heart-shaped fletchings on heart-tipped arrows, like for a Cupid costume—a good one, preferably, but a cheap Halloween one would do, too—which is the image I wanted for this post because tonight I’ve been working on the bal masqué scenes.

  4. What do you think—silk brocade?

  5. This morning I started Aaron Sorkin’s MasterClass, and I like that he immediately admits he’s better on paper because it makes his super-awkwardness less awkward. 

  6. I totally didn’t expect him to be at all awkward.

  7. I feel better about myself.

  8. A couple weeks ago after I finished all the seasons of GBBO, I needed something new to watch so started Dark Matter.

  9. I sent this clip from the groundhog day episode to all the people I know who might like the show.

  10. I love Android.

  11. God help me, for some reason after I finished that I started The Vampire Diaries.

  12. I’m on episode 30-something, having specifically chosen the show because it has 170-something episodes and I wouldn’t have to pick something else new anytime soon, but yeah, lol, what is this show even.

  13. I’m never going to get to 20 lines.

  14. I’m never going to finish this glass of wine.

  15. I can’t believe Reiny is still alive and seemingly happy and healthy and still jumping on the bed and running around and stuff.

  16. I mean, she’s really old, way older than Boo.

  17. Today J and I, full of ironic but real-enough angst and ennui, totally uninterested in our lifestyle blogger burglar-murderer novel, started a new story we actually like.

  18. It started out as a joke about how I’m a ghost that can’t shake vampires or zombies because they just keep coming, for years, decades even, but also there are boa constrictors, and a guy in a bison costume, and a cabin explosion. 

  19. We are winning at this writing thing.

  20. Cheers.

Here Are My 20 Lines for the Past Few Days

I didn't write 20 lines yesterday, or the day before, or the day before that.

It's stupid how this actually bothers me. Like there aren't actual tragedies to be worried about and responding to in meaningful ways.

So I guess — I have no idea what's possessing me, or where I'm getting this energy — I'm going to try to make up the lines here, now, but I don't want to deal with the hassle of counting so I'm just going to write. Which is the point, really, right?

It's snowing. Again. Meanwhile, my dad sent me a video of the largest flock of ibises I've ever seen not giving AF as he walked toward them and then made his way into and amongst them. I sent him a video of all the snow that's fallen already since I tried to shovel it all away only like an hour ago. I need to book a flight. Big white birds that DGAF and Dad and sunshine and my tree are all calling. 

I'll be honest — for about twenty minutes, I considered walking away from this writing thing and I looked into career opps with the CIA. Listings are here. Why the CIA? I have no idea. Seriously, it makes no sense to me at all why that's a thing I would look into in the chaos of this "what am I doing with my life" moment. I think I ended up there after Googling: "how to run for local government" and realizing I have zero interest in running for local government because that's just not me. If for no other reason but that it takes me like twenty years to finally realize that aha! moment when I can say: Oh! Yeah, that's what I should've said! I'm still trying to figure out what I should've said that day in pre-school when Cowboy sneezed all over me. 

So then I think I was like, Oh, but, hey! I could sit at a computer and analyze the crap out of stuff all day long! And I really do miss living in the DC area, and then I told myself that maybe working in government is bigger than working with or for any single administration, right? So then I saw I actually have the min. qualifications for a few different jobs and then I probably closed my laptop and went and made soup and grumbled about how I'm old and shoveling snow is liable to give me a heart attack in my middle age but then decided who cares anyway and wouldn't that be a fitting way to go and so shoveled a path for the dog to go pee and then came back inside and forgot all about all of that until just now.

I mean, I also spent like three hours tumbling down the Grimm wiki rabbit hole because I was pretty thrilled with the ending of season 4 and then when she returned in season 5 I was like, What? Really? No! Whatever, though. She's much better as a bot than she ever was as a human, right? Except she's not a bot. They should've just written her to be a bot, and then revealed that she's always been a bot and that that's why she always seemed like a bot.

Yeah, so, how else have I distracted myself?

I repotted some plants. I bought plant stands. I've been decluttering, one day at a time. I moved my desktop from one room to another and tried it there for like two hours before I moved it back. I moved the couch. I put it back. I got real curtain rods and installed them and rehung my curtains instead of using those tension rod things. 

Let's see, I also went to AntiGravity for the first time in maybe over a year? It was good. I thought I'd cry because I always cry at AntiGravity when I've got all kinds of pent-up tension trying to get out, but I didn't. Which was surprising. I'm not overthinking it though. I just re-booked my classes for next week. Also, I tried "Cocooning" for the first time and it was rad. I fell asleep. It's the best sleep I've had in as long as I can remember — since my last deep-tissue massage, maybe two or three years ago, after which I came home, took a hot bath, went to bed, and passed out for like a weekend.

All of this is because I really don't know: what is the point of living, of claiming to be a writer, if I'm not, actually, writing? The problem is: WTF do I write about now? There was a time, right?, when a writer could write about the fucking flowers and be like, Hey, I wrote a story! About flowers! And it matters because I wrote it! But you know what? It doesn't matter and it never did! And nobody cares! And nobody should! And shouldn't writing be about shit that matters? 

Probably.

But maybe, also, no?

After Cat Person, when I remembered how I was taught, as a very young writer, that "good short stories" aren't about college-aged girls "because college girls aren't interesting" or "complicated enough to carry the weight of a good short story," I went back into my old files and looked for a story I wrote called "Three's Your Limit," about a girl named Vicki. It was first published online at Word Riot. It's not online anymore. But I reread it. It's too long, overly tedious at times, a bit precious in other places, and yet, it's about a college-aged young woman who is tired of all the shit and she's angry at the world and everyone around her, and she chooses all the wrong people to be in her life, and then someone good comes along, and she botches it because everything else has always been botched and she doesn't know anything but a life of botch, and the story ends with her lying in a puddle of peppermint schnapps-scented vomit, with one roller skate wheel spinning in her face, and the 9-1-1 operator on the other end of the line repeatedly asking, "What is your emergency?" and she's unable to answer because isn't it all, always, an emergency and yet at the same time isn't her own emergency so pathetically unimportant in the grand scheme of real emergencies that Jesus, what a fraud!, and who cares anyway.

Listen. College girls are interesting. Their lives are complicated enough to carry the weight of a "good short story," whatever that means.

Like this even needs saying.

If we've learned nothing this past week, I hope we've learned that high school-aged children are demanding our attention, in control of their own narratives and this nation's, and they will be heard.

Maybe the real reason I'm not walking away from this writing thing is because, actually, it's the teaching part of it that I can't walk away from. I keep wanting to help my students find their many voices, to help them find the ways to tell all their stories. I read them. I listen. I don't stop. 

Here Are My 20 Lines for Today

It's snowing. For no good reason, I redecorated my apartment. Again. It's snowing, and I put all my spring and summer stuff back out? And yesterday, I reshelved all my books. Now all my dissertation research is in the other room. Most certainly a mistake. My coffee is cold. These aren't problems. These are the things I'm doing because on Wednesday, when I see them again for the first time in a week, I will need to talk to my students. About living and dying. Surviving. Persevering. Believing. Dreaming. About writing and why we do it. I gave them Kathy's "Collective Nouns for Humans in the Wild." I gave them Kathy's "Collective Nouns for Humans in the Wild." I don't know what else to do. I gave them Kathy's "Collective Nouns for Humans in the Wild."