What’s Happening.

Saturday 12th April 2014 @ 12:01 am.

academy blvd.

Things are happening. Days. Weeks. The whole time thing. In its revised and full and polished glory, my thesis is due on Wednesday. One Block remains of my undergraduate career. CC hosted over 200 prospective admitted students onto campus the last two weeks. Open House. Ballet keeps me twisty and happy and sweaty and light. I was accepted to the combined MFA/MA program in Creative Writing & Literature at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. 3 years in Alaska to write and study and teach? A dream. Yet I still don’t know what my answer will be. Seattle is still calling. Thursday, I stepped onto a stage–the lights bright and hot, my mike loud, my legs wobbly behind the podium–and I read from the final pages of my thesis to a very full theatre. I’m out of the house more. One day it’s snowing. The next it’s 72. I wrote 10,000 words this block. I cut 10,000 words this block. Sometimes you try something and it doesn’t work, so you let it go. You try again. I’m talking more. Hugging and smiling and shouting too loud. Last night I danced on a stage with my fellow fellows and sang Britney Spears and Blink 182 and Smash Mouth and I shook my hips like life depended on it (sober and on the clock). I’m trying to not miss a single moment.These people I’ve been living with the past two year, we’re all leaving so soon. Things are happening and it’s good.

open house



Waiting Hours.

Sunday 23rd March 2014 @ 1:36 pm.

So, I’m sitting at John Wayne airport wishing my 3 p.m. flight would delay so Southwest will let me on the 12:40 p.m. flight for free. No way am I paying the one-hundred-something price difference. I want to go home. I want to get back to Colorado NOW NOW NOW but not that desperately. I mean, maybe if I wasn’t losing my income in two months (because I’m graduating and moving 2000 miles away from the school that graciously employees me with two jobs) and if my savings account wasn’t so pathetic (really, it’s bad–like bad-bad) and if I wasn’t twenty-two and planning for a Big Move that I have next to no savings for… maybe then I’d splurge to fast track my journey back home.

Well. Actually. No. I can’t imagine a situation in which I would pay the fee. Being saved from three hours of waiting isn’t worth a month of groceries. That would be silly.

Delays

My sister’s spring break also ends today. She had a flight back to Sacramento at noon. Thus, here I am, because it’d be lame for my parents to drive to the airport twice in one day. Initially, I was pissed–being forced to sit still for four hours. And I’m obviously still antsy, made evident by my delay wishing. But slowly, ever so gradually, I’m remembering that I like hanging out in airports. The limbo land. The white noise. The excuse to spend limited funds on expensive coffee and read indulgently and write with no dishes in the sink or bookshelves to re-organize or wood floors to sweep. Airports are quiet. Distraction free. Unless you consider people watching a distraction, which would be incorrect. People watching is soul-food. Necessary.

But I couldn’t sleep last night. How many times have I said/composed that line? I’ve been an insomniac since I was old enough to crawl out of my bed and knock on my parents door and cry on the floor because no matter how many calming nature CDs I listened to or sheep I counted, I just couldn’t sleep. My childhood shrink advised breathing exercises but they only made me anxious because I was always paranoid I wasn’t doing it right. I was put on sleeping pills at ten. I’m twenty-two now, so, you know, that’s over half of my life that I’ve been swallowing little tablets of chemicals in hopes of it getting my brain to shut the hell up. But even with the pills (and I take a plural of them every night), I still often only get a few hours of rest a night. And that’s fine. That’s cool. I deal. I know how to zombie/push through a day. I’ve become a pro. Here’s my secret: you get up and you do it, just get through the day.

LineAnyway, last night I couldn’t sleep. My duffle bag was packed, waiting, by the door. My parents’ guest bed deliciously soft and comfortable. My dog breathing soft beside me, while I was wide awake. I read. I cracked my back. I stretched. I listened to my Speed Sleep meditation track three times and rubbed lavender on my feet. And then, around three, I gave up and I opened my laptop and wrote. When I write after midnight, there’s no hope. By opening the page, I’m resigning to stay awake until sunrise. If I could, I would live a nocturnal schedule. Night is my prime time. Back in 2010, I had this neurology test done. They looked at the chemicals my brain releases through the day and night, and it turns out I’m all backwards. It’s around one in the morning that I get the jolt that the average human feels at ten. I’m in the most likely state to fall asleep around six, and then again around three in the afternoon. Thanks, brain, thanks. I’ve accepted this. The treatment to attempt to reverse the chemical release isn’t close to being covered by insurance, so I’ve accepted that sometimes I just won’t sleep. And thus, last night I wrote a few pages. And tried again, dozing off as my room slowly lit.

I’m not sure what my point is other than that I’m tired and that’s just fine.

Oh, look. The 12:40 p.m. flight just pulled back from the gate. It’s crawling out to the runway now, en route to Denver, leaving me behind. But, really, I don’t think I mind too much. Yeah, I’m tired and I want to get home, want to land in Colorado so I can get the two hour drive south over with and roll into Colorado Springs with enough day left to pick up groceries and unpack and do my laundry and shower and sleep excessively before Block 7–my final thesis block–kicks off and I have to rush to class, rush to ballet, rush to my Writing Center meeting, rush to the my fellowship meeting, rush to finish this thesis thing. But I can wait a few more hours. I can sit here and listen to the kids dancing around the glassed-in sculptures of John Wayne’s mini art gallery, their shoes skidding across the marble floor. I can read my book and I can write my book. I can sit and watch the morning’s fog slowly burn off to reveal Orange County’s smog-blurred blue sky. I’m okay. I need to be forced to stop rushing. Because listen, I graduate (from anything for the first time) in less than two months. In less than two months, I’m already back in California, paranoid about the fault lines, done with the silly golden dream I had in 2011–to attend Colorado–and trying to sort out I feel about the last three years.

Underground

Seriously though, what happened? Am I not still in Humboldt pining for the Admission Office to let me in, to just fucking let me into CC? Did I not just receive my acceptance package, curtesy of Fed-Ex Air, and am I not still sobbing that they did it, that they actually let me in? Did I not just drive twenty-two hours through California and Arizona and New Mexico and up into Colorado? Am I not just running through my first block, History of Modern Philosophy, flailing, failing, eventually succeeding? How can it be that I’m no longer fourteen, that I’m not waiting to board my first flight from John Wayne Airport to Denver International, an unaccompanied minor, excited to see Pikes Peak for the first time, excited for the unknown, with the no clue of the impact that that single flight would have on my life?

Obviously I’m something of a mess these days. No biggie. I’m simply trying to remind myself to slow down and acknowledge these little moments.These absurdly decadent little moments.

West

There it goes. Southwest’s 12:40 p.m. direct flight to Denver just sprinted down the runway and lifted, shooting up and over the Pacific, where it’ll turn around and charge east, over the Grand Canyon, over the frosty Rockies, eventually landing in the pale yellow plains of Colorado. And here I am, left frozen, watching it fade into the smoggy fog through the airport glass. But that’s okay. I’m only a few hours behind. I can wait.

(Oh, and for the record, my flight was indeed ultimately delayed twenty minutes… twenty minutes after the 12:40 flight took off. And so it goes. I made it to Denver by sunset. Happy day.)



I-5 Thoughts.

Monday 17th March 2014 @ 11:51 am.

This is what I think when I’m stuck in Friday 4:30 p.m. LA rush hour traffic:

Stand Still.

The Denver, Colorado to/from Santa Ana, California flight route (preferably on Southwest, potentially on Frontier) is as familiar to me as my weekly drive to the grocery store. Since 2006, how many times have I trekked that portion of the sky? At least a few times a year since I was fourteen. And I always say that’s when my memory kicked in, that’s when I fee like my (independent) life began. I don’t remember much before fourteen, remember close to nothing before ten. So, for me, the SNA–>DEN/DEN –>SNA flight is a more normalized of an event than paying rent.

And last Monday, I flew from Denver to Orange County for the last time. And a week from yesterday, I’ll make my final trip from Orange County to Denver. (Okay. Not necessarily for forever, but potentially. I don’t intend to live in Orange County longterm again, nor do I anticipate any returns to Colorado in the immediate future.)

In May, I’ll leave Colorado via the I-25.

This is weird. The idea of Colorado Springs not being my home, or a home, or the place I’ll return to within the next four months, is weird.

South.

The last place I’d want to be during an earthquake is on a under-construction crumbling bridge in Los Angeles that sits above a dried-up concrete river of a reservoir waiting for a rusty Amtrak train to pass. Naturally the only way to distract myself from the horror of sitting on said bridge in said situation is to take a photo of another bridge.

In similar news…

Last week I asked my mom if it’d be crazy of me to stay home through next autumn so I could experience the season’s potential fires. She confirmed my suspensions by saying yes and I agreed that, yeah, that’d be silly, and that was that, and so now it seems the most likely place where one will be able to find me in September is Washington state.

Maybe.

This possibility makes me happy.

While last year I thought I wanted to attend graduate school, I now know I most definitely do not want to attend graduate school (at least not in the immediate future). It doesn’t feel intuitive. It feels intrusive. Sitting around in a circle, arguing over literary analysis, straddling the woes of workshop etiquette, considering the world from a liberal arts mindset–it’s a blessing, yes, but I need a break.

And though seeking out a career, an office job, a something-something seems to be what is expected of me, I rather work a night job on my feet. I rather serve food or drinks for a year or two or three. Is this throwing away my degree? The last three years? No. I didn’t go to college for a career. I went for my education, my growth, myself. Me. Not you or him or her or them. And right now, I need to do what’s best for me.

This is what I know:

I’m far less inclined to write-write after a day of sitting in a chair and blinking at another computer screen. I can produce incredible copy, edit material until it shines, master graphic design, rock whatever industry, and I have the resume to prove it. No doubt there. But that’s not where I want to put my energy right now. I’m happiest when I’m deep in fiction. When I’m writing or revising the work I write for me. And, from experience, I recognize that I’m more productive in that arena when I’m not expending that part of my brain for other forms of writing.

Does that mean I’m resistant to a desk job forever? Absolutely not.

It’s what feels right right now. That’s all.

Crawl.

If high emotions manifest more potent memories does that mean emotional people have better memories than those more prone to apathy?

Just wondering. Really.

Last week, when I was sprinting towards my Wednesday thesis deadline, I realized a critical aspect of the plot no longer fits. It feels wrong, forced, but I couldn’t figure out why. I went on walks. I cried in bed. I drank too much coffee. And then, yesterday, I collapsed on my parents’ living room carpeting and it hit me that, in this rewrite, my characters (and their relationship) have evolved so dramatically that the action that I once thought was the crux is no longer true to their nature or their story. It wouldn’t happen. Not like that.

Which means I have to go back and critically revise what I just rewrote and that, really, the only similarities of this book and the book of last summer is that there is a wildfire.

A fact that is horrifying as it is exciting.

North.

I should stop taking photos while driving.

Spring Break is refreshing. California (90F degrees in March!) is not.



Senior Fictioneers.

Wednesday 05th March 2014 @ 11:44 pm.

I haven’t slept much this week and tonight is the night I planned to sleep, sleep, sleep. Or, well, sleep until my alarm chimes at 7:15. But it’s already 11:33 and tomorrow is Thursday, and I have an information session to present to 80 high school students on behalf of the Admission Office and a novel to finish and a reading to attend and coffee to drink, so can I just ever so quickly say that I kind of absolutely feel so terribly blessed to be apart of this absurd group of writers?

CC Senior Fiction Seminar.

Ladies and Gentlemen, may I present CC’s senior fiction majors complete with our ever patient prof Steven Hayward and our block’s guest of honor Rawi Hage (his eerie novel Cockroach is currently in the final battle of the 2014 Canada Reads competition). Sadly three of our people were in bed when this photograph was taken, but so it goes. Writers like their beds.

I never laugh like that in photos. It must mean something.

You know, I may whine and moan and cry about workshop. About my doubts. About the cost of my education. About thesis. About graduating. About this whole bloody thing. But, seriously, dude, look at that photo. I am blessed, buoyed by a stellar collection of misfits nudging me to my (tentatively) final page.

And when we leave our warm campus and open quads and snow-crusted Pikes Peak, when we leave mandated workshops and required parties, I can think back and remember the day we stumbled outside to take a photograph in front of the tree. I can think about how, so genuinely, I was happy.

I graduate in two months. Take my word for it: college is rather lovely.



Roads.

Monday 24th February 2014 @ 11:07 pm.

I want to retreat. I want to hide. I want to do what I did in August 2011, when I put up a virtual wall and didn’t nudge a single brick until 2013. Like every second semester senior I know, I’m knotted and bruised–horrified and excited and proud and out of my damn mind. We’re less than a week away from March. Two weeks from Wednesday, I fly home for Spring Break and quality puppy time. And then April will sweep in, quickly followed by May. Halfway through May I walk on a stage, and then I drive away. I’ll drive to California and I don’t know what will happen after.

And that’s okay.

But, you know, I can recognize it’s okay but still feel like my skin is being pressed to a flame, right?

the 25.

My rewrite isn’t a rewrite. It’s a rough (roughroughrough) draft. I don’t know how this happened. Back in November–or was it December?–back in that holiday mass, the original plot was pushed over the edge. Nine years and rejection and senior year and a professor urging me to write something new and an idea clucking at my ears, and I was ready to shove this absurd story aside. Ready to close a drawer, lock it shut, and open a new one. I cried a stupid amount. Like cried-cried. But then, within days, something clicked and a character was eliminated and a new character added in and the plot shifted, and suddenly I was rewriting and all was (relatively) okay.

But then this past weekend, I cried and cried and cried. Lately, it feels like, in my attempt to make the book better, my attempt to follow the urge, I broke the book. It’s so new. It’s so raw. It’s so doesn’t resemble anything it once was. It’s Scary Land. Last on Friday, finally, I hit a low, and I (again) cried and cried and cried. I told my mom I was done. It’s over, I said. But on Saturday–like in November or December–on Saturday, at approximately 6:57 PM, when I was reading and sweating on a treadmill at 24 Hour Fitness, a new thought arrived–a new thought that somehow gives me hope, two ideas that might just pull me through the end of this draft.

This new draft.
This rough draft.
This book that holds distant traces of the old, but, in truth, is ultimately new.

golden to boulder.

I want to hide. I want to retreat. Because I’m in new-new drafting mode. In this mode, the last thing I want is exposure. Which is hard when you’re in senior seminar–in workshop with fifteen other writers, fifteen other well meaning writers yacking and analyzing and mocking and praising my fresh pages. Beautiful intensive workshop, when all I want is to put up my walls and write, write, write. I think it’s good. The challenge. The vulnerability. So I’m going with the flow, giving and receiving for another two weeks (surprise, my draft’s deadline is in two weeks). I’m in limbo, flailing in this odd place, the 130 page slump, flailing and trying to dance with the workshop, to listen, listen and take
it in and set it aside and not let the praise and hate stump me. I can do it. If I try. I can love it. If I let myself.

I meet Zadie Smith tomorrow. That’s cool.

So yeah, my mind is retreat-hide-retreat land, and my life is EXPOSEVULNERABLEEXPOSE. And I’m dealing with it. I’m dealing with it with pizzazz. I’m, you know, driving these raw roads, pretending to be a pro. Funny, right?

Right now, that’s all I have to say.

Happy almost Tuesday.



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