Onward

Hey. I’m in Las Vegas airport waiting for my connecting flight to San Francisco/my new home, which is very weird concept. Not sure if that’s because I’ve been moderately homeless in recent months or if, well, it just isn’t home yet. I don’t even have a bus route yet.

But I have a job and new sheets and an elderly roommate. And so I guess now it is my home…

Anyway, I haven’t been writing as I’d hoped to, but I have been tearing my book to shreds in my mind. In a good way. In a way that, I know, makes the story better, but only illuminates how much work I still have to do on this story.

I figure that writing a book is like doing a puzzle. At first, you just put the puzzle together in the easiest way possible. And as soon as you finish the puzzle, someone tells you you have to do the puzzle all over again in a whole new way. So you have to set about rearranging everything as if you’d never solved the puzzle in the first place, but you still want to come to the same puzzle in the end.

So now I’m rearranging my puzzle. It’s a lot to do, but I feel my excitement mounting all over again. It’s almost as exciting as it was when I’d first thought the whole thing up. I’m dreading the work, but I fall more in love with this puzzle every day.

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Sorry, I’m Not Sorry

I realize that I only made it a week through my proposed schedule of postings, but it’s moving week and I’m staring hopelessly at piles of clothing and trying to decide what to take and what to burn in grief.

I am very bad at packing.

So the proposed postings will have to wait. And you guys will just have to forgive me for being a lying little blogger. And I will just have to figure out how to condense matter to my needs. And then we will all be happy.

San Francisco on Friday. Oh, dude, I’m nervous as hell.

Flash Fiction: Keys

Keys

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She slipped the first one off her key ring on her last day of work.

“I guess I won’t need this anymore?” she said as she placed it on the granite countertop and slid the brass monstrosity across the surface to her employer.

“That’s so sad,” her boss stated mildly, looking down at the key kissing the countertop in front of her, but quickly too distracted to pick it up and pocket it somewhere safer.

She guess the key would be lost before the end of the day, forgotten or stolen, and shoved into a toy box for the children to fight over later.

#

To her landlord, she enclosed both her square deadbolt and green door key in a white envelope she’d asked someone to steal from their work supply closet. Her roommate dropped hers, in inverted colors ying-yang to hers, in the envelope too and they both scratched out their forwarding addresses on the front with an old pen, just in case.

“This is stupid,” they both seemed to be thinking as they stood huddled by their front door, unable to re-enter their recently polished apartment. “Why are we doing this?” echoed silently.

They dropped the envelope in their landlord’s mailbox and stood around joking with each other for as long as they could manage before finally the lingering sadness became unbearable and they both got into their separate cars to drive away in different directions.

#

“I dropped by to say goodbye.” She was already on their couch waiting for her friends when they got home from work.

“I feel like we’ve done this a few times already. You sure you won’t be back anytime soon? You keep leaving and then we find you here all over again.”

“Pretty sure,” she replied, hopping off the couch and grabbing her set of keys on the way out the door. “Oh, I almost forgot–” she stopped halfway out the door and started to pry apart her key ring, sliding the colorful–decorated like a puppy–one off and setting it on their kitchen table. “Won’t need this anymore.”

“Wish you hadn’t done that,” they protested as she edged towards the door. “Now it feels so final.”

#

“I’ll walk out now then, if you don’t mind. I don’t want to prolong this longer than necessary and I have to get back to work.”

“No worries. I’ll be gone in the next ten minutes anyway. Just need to take my bags down to the car.”

They kissed briefly goodbye and he set off down the hall. They both tried their hardest not to watch the other leave, but she stuck her head out the door and watched him go anyway.

It took her two trips to get her suitcases from the past month to her car. She still had his keys, but it seemed oddly irrelevant now. She tried to shove them under the door, but the crack was too small. She tried to put them on the top of the doorframe, but the ledge was too thin. She had to unlock the door and put the building keys inside.

She balanced bags filled with dirty laundry and books. A soda fell to the floor with an unsettling fizz. She locked the door again and forced the plain, silver key as far as it would go under the door.

#

“For some reason, I’ve lost my mailbox key, do you have one still?” her father asked.

She looked at her now-dismal key ring. Where once there had been an eccentric collection, now only a small metal family of three remained, and a cheap bottle opener she’d gotten at a street fair.

“Here, sure. Do you want the spare?” she started to pry the key ring apart again to remove the gold mother-child combo, but he stopped her.

“Why don’t you just give me the whole set?” he asked, holding out a large calloused hand to her. “We’ll need the car key too.”

“Oh, yeah. That makes sense,” she muttered, and reluctantly placed her last possessions–two gold, one small, one big, and a gnarly black car key–in his hand, shaking a bit as she dropped them in his weathered palm, the remaining keys jingling. She didn’t quite know what to do with her empty hands. “Guess I don’t need any of them anymore.”

“Here,” he said watching her. After a quiet moment he slid the rings apart and looped the cheap plastic off the ring. “Why don’t you keep the bottle opener?”

Day Seventy-Eight: Living Out of a Suitcase

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It’s been over a month since I’ve last unpacked my suitcase. This isn’t my longest stretch of homelessness, but it is one of my more complicated maneuvers (Unwarranted advice: never bring a rolling suitcase to Europe). Packing, when you live like I do, is more like an art form and sincere practice in practicality. Do I really need a hair straighter for the next seven days? Really? (No, I didn’t even use it in the last 30 days. I never use it for that matter.)

Today I upped the ante, borrowed a bag from Le Novio and packed a Sub-Suitcase. A Sub-Suitcase is a whole new realm of Wander-Champ. The glorious moment of packing a suitcase from out of another suitcase. I’m taking a vacation from my vacation and thus needed a smaller bag.

Tomorrow I board a 6 am flight from New Orleans to Denver and spend the weekend wrecking havoc on my cousins’ already exhausting life. From there, on Monday, I go to San Francisco for the week to look at two different schools (Only accepted to two schools out of nine applications and they’re both in San Fran. Fate said San Fran, so to the Bay Area I go!). Then I fly back to New Orleans, stay for two days, drive back to Florida where I will swap out my roller for a duffel, celebrate Easter, spend a day on the beach with my mother, and fly to Ireland. I’ll spend four days in Dublin with my little brother, then go to Scotland for two months (and wherever I’d like within that trip!).

That may sound like a lot to do, but then I go to Florida, New Orleans and DC at the end of June. Back to Florida, pack up my things for a cross-country roadtrip and move to San Francisco by August to start Grad School!

So clearly I’m a bit past Sub-Suitcase level here. Wander-Champ Level: Insanity! To be honest, it’s even wore than that. I’ve been on the move almost constantly since I bid the Creative Factory and I’s old apartment goodbye in January (We still miss you, Iberville!).

Actually… come to think of it…. I’ve been on the move almost constantly since I first started traveling. My mind is always on the next place. God, even when I was a kid, I was always plotting my escape from Beach-Paradise McBoring Mountain.

It’s great, getting to move around as much as I do. I don’t mind all the suitcases. Except, I genuinely have no idea where to forward my mail…

But San Fran definitely come August and for at least two years… Phew. That’s a long time to me. Let’s hope I like it.

Now I just have one week to pick which school to attend…Wish me luck!

Day Forty-Eight: Carry On

Happy Mardi Gras! Skipped the festivities to hang out with a small child of epic proportions and then hole up in a coffee shop. No regrets. It was already raining on my parade.

I’m over celebrating… plastic treasures.

It’s been a week since I’ve done any solid writing. Oops. Things are about to get serious… I swear. I just feel about ready to hibernate until I can keep my eyes open without caffeine assistance. It may take years…

I swear I was really enjoying writing this book. I just have an epic hurdle to cross and then I’ll roll right along. Most of my ending is already written.

In hindsight, it was probably dumb to create a blog to promote my writing and make it anonymous. Oops. I believe this is where I make some broad generalization about hindsight.

I’m trying to grasp the concept of honesty… It’s so relative, the line between fear and social etiquette. I wish I could just say something I really, truly mean.

Why can’t I stop philosophizing? I do enjoy it, but it’s not moving my story. Must move story.

Carry on, my wayward son.

Day Forty: Childhood

Let’s start over.

This weekend I passed the half-way point of my novel. I finished through Chapter 12 and about 60,000 words. It’s really perfect timing. I moved to my childhood in Florida about a month and a half ago to live in an old condo my parents own and live off their generosity and my savings. I wanted to write a novel.

I spent this past weekend in my childhood home with my mother helping her set up a new entertainment system. In return she let me dive into the $5 movie bin at Walmart. I found, as if my mother’s presence drew me to them, some of my childhood favorites. The Neverending Story, Space Jam, A Little Princess, The Secret Garden, and The Brave Little Toaster. (I already own Sandlot and Cool Runnings… all I am missing is Little Giants and my childhood movie collection is complete!) I watched The Brave Little Toaster last night with a glass of wine… It’s still as good as I remembered it.

My childhood bedroom, unlike my younger brother (the last of us to move out and, therefore, whose room is still a shrine to him), was piled with beds after I moved out and thereafter the temporary sleeping quarters for my older sisters and I whenever we returned for the holidays. We have lovingly dubbed it “Girls Cabin” and there is something wonderfully exciting about sleeping on a bunkbed in your twenties. It’s like you go back in time and those childish things become exciting again.

The only portion of my old room that remains is my bookshelf. It’s like a stationary time machine. All of my old books… I look at them and I remember so vividly reading each of them. I have this tendency to leave my bookmarks pressed between the pages–just old scraps of paper like receipts or plane tickets that will one day tell the next reader when that book was last loved. It’s one of the reasons I can’t return books to the library. I like to track the progress of the pieces of myself I leave in the pages like a horocrux.

My childhood bookshelves hold so much of me… Strange classes I experimented with in college. My dark 6-year-old obsession with real Grimm’s Fairy Tales, which are bleak at best, and perhaps the origin of all my unromantic notions about Love. My Jane Austen stage, where I learned that maybe I wanted to be wrong. Wayside School, Narnia, Harry, David Foster Wallace, Dumas, R.L. Stein, Hitchhiker’s Guide, Mary McCarthy, everything. My entire literate history is on those shelves.

It seems almost perfect that I’d come back here to write my first children’s book–to my own childhood. Part of me felt like such a failure; quitting my job, leaving New Orleans, coming back with nothing to show for it. I hadn’t had the most wonderful childhood, but I did… I did have a lot. I did get to become me. I’m glad I’m back here to remember that. How wonderful being is a kid is. Even if it’s not… Even if it’s horrible… Even if it’s only the launching pad for who you will become. I’ve realized why they call it your formative years. You’re learning how to be someone.

This week marks the end of my time back in Florida. I’m off to New Orleans on Thursday, just like when left Florida for college when I was 18, for an unspecified period of time. After that, my beloved Edinburgh for two months. It’s as if I am reliving my life so far… going back to every place I’ve ever lived, compressing my life so far into six months. I am retracing my steps in order to move on.

I am trying to contain everything I know from my life so far into such a small place. Into a book.

And then? Grad school… maybe? I applied for an MFA. Somewhere new, at the very least.

All I know is that… maybe it seemed as though I was regressing. But sometimes you have to take a few steps back in order to move forward.

Like turning a page in a good book… I wonder what will happen next.