03/30/11

how I spent my writer’s vacation.

Look how cute. Sorry my 95 Saturn isn't a riding animal.

I live in Montana; it’s fucking stupid beautiful. “The last best place,” important writers have said. You can rent a cabin in the woods at Lolo Hot Springs with a weird bunk bed and an electrical outlet for 35 dollars a night. So I cancelled my Wednesday morning class and I fucking drove myself out here and here I am.

“I think I’m in the wrong place,” I told the woman behind the counter at the hot springs. “I have a reservation for a cabin.”

“You’re not,” she said. She was around 40 and pretty. “Cabin 12.” She showed me a map of the layout of the cabins. Remember No Country For Old Men? It was just like that. (Also Psycho: twelve rooms, twelve vacancies…)

pretty deep into that bottle by the time I got around to writing this blog post, not gonna lie to ya.

“How many?” she said.
“Just me.”
“Oh. Just getting away for awhile?” she said, consolingly.
I tried to decide in the moment if telling her I was a writer would somehow make it less weird, and decided it wouldn’t.
“Yes,” I said.

She gave me a ticket for the hot springs behind her, like at a carnival. It said “admit one.” ‘Are you kidding?’ I almost said, but didn’t. She explained that the natural pool was to the left, and the other one, you know, with concrete and lawn chairs, was to the right. She apologized for the chemicals in the pool on the right, which I found touching. Another thing I almost said: ‘Could I have cabin 13 instead? You see, I’m a writer and I plan on scaring the shit out of myself tonight with dark fantasy.’

Look how tiny. Look at the weird bunk bed.

Whatever, there’s already a couple staying in cabin 13, but man, you should see cabin 12. And you will, for I took pictures. I hate bunk beds. Sleep on the top and you’re suspended in space, the dangers of which are obvious, but the bottom bunk feels like the beginnings of a pressure chamber. I’ve been on a kick recently and everything reminds me of Edgar Allan Poe: pits, pendulums, and people encased in walls. The room has a closet. Tentatively, I opened it, and found nothing inside. No dead bodies, no black cats, nothing. I have no one to blame but myself. After all, they didn’t know I came here to write.

misguided optimism.

The conditions are too perfect. I mean, there’s a fucking babbling brook just outside my window; I can hear it still. I’m writing this at 10pm. I got here around 6. Here’s what I’ve done so far:

  • I made house. It took about 9 seconds.
  • I went outside to check out the river but the weather is pretty shitty. Driiizzle.
  • I took some pictures of my room and myself. The pictures feature a room full of promise and a girl dreading her future.
  • There could be no more delaying. I started to write.
  • More precisely, I read everything of the story that had come before. Tonight I am focused on revision of this terrible, bleak tale stuffed with pathos. Incest, suicide, betrayal, you know, a greatest hits kind of thing.
  • I finally started writing. I’d say of the four hours I’ve been here I’ve eked out about an hour and a half of solid writing. Unless you count this blog post, which I don’t.
  • The story’s still not done and it makes me sick to think about it. The original draft was about 14 pages. Workshop made helpful suggestions like “revamp this entire character” and “add a hundred more scenes” and “make fundamental changes to the stories overall arch and structure.” Did I mention my friends are assholes?
  • The story is now 24 pages and I’m only just now approaching the third act. I grew weary. I decided to take a break
  • I decided to take a line break.
  • Whenever I start to feel a little uneasy about writing, I like to pick up the short story of an author I respect in order to really bring the feeling home. Without trying it always turns out to be just the right story to elucidate whatever it is that’s gone terribly wrong with my own piece.
  • I read Joy William’s story, “Substance.” I find often whenever I read one of her stories that I am so moved by the experience I want to get up and tell somebody all about it. This is almost never a good idea. It’s almost as bad as when someone starts telling you about something funny they saw in a television show. Actually it’s probably worse. What I admired about the story was the weight of it, and yet it’s told so swiftly. She reminded me how unswift my 24 pages are and still nowhere near the finish line. The story is on my kindle and it’s impossible to guess how long it actually is in “microsoft word,” you know, the unit I measure my life in.

It’s 10:30 now. I woke up at 11 this morning. There’s no Internet and I am so very alone. This is what I paid for. There’s nothing to do but go back to the writing. Anyway. God help me. I’ll be back to wrap this up later.

sober determination.

Epilogue:

  • I finished a draft of the story before bed, which is to say, I ended it abruptly. 26 pages, suckers. It’s called “Get Well Soon.” And I hope you do.
  • I came to learn real values.
  • I never used my free hot springs pass. Maybe if I had someone with me, but electing to take a bath by myself with a bunch of strangers, I decided, takes more courage than I could muster.
03/2/11

games people play.

Not to belabor the weird thing, but I try not to make conversation with people in the food service industry because I’m so weird and I assume everyone is like me in that they don’t want to be talked to. I should remember that 70% of people are extroverts and in fact, connecting with one another is what we’re here for and all of that. I don’t know, I guess I go back and forth on the issue. When it comes to business transactions I aim to be friendly but brief.

Cody takes me to asian restaurants and asks the waitstaff questions. He wants to know everyone’s name. There’s this book from the sixties I like a lot called Games People Play. It measures social gestures into measurable units called “strokes.” Actually just watch this Curb your Enthusiasm clip and then we’ll continue.

Dude saying hi to Larry equals one stroke. Larry saying hi back returns with a single stroke, but the first guy has this expectation of more strokes. I swear I have a point.

I like to cut off most conversations after a few strokes. Honestly I think I’m afraid of rejection, or of boring the other person, or I glimpse my own future boredom. I don’t know, I’m not a doctor.

It’s weird for me to hang out with people who aren’t afraid of stroking but I do it often. And I’ve formed a hypothesis about it: food service industry people take about 2 or 3 strokes before they soften up and let their guard down. So it goes something like this.

“your green curry is amazing.” (1 stroke)
“yeah, thanks.” (a cordial but wary reception.)
“No really, I quite enjoy the curry.” (2 strokes)
“I too enjoy green curry…” (still suspicious but coming around…)
“Your setup is beautiful. Have you had this place for long?” (stroke 3)
“About a year and a half and I am now won over, sir!”

And suddenly the guy is telling us his life story and giving us free drinks at noon on a wednesday and I am proven wrong once again.

Then I said something weird and cody said I was awkward and I cried in the parking lot. I told him, through copious tears, that I knew I was overreacting. We smoothed it over. When we got home I picked up my guitar and played a few chords. Cody told me I was holding the pick wrong and I started crying again. After that he was nice to me and told me over and over again how great I was. I got really good results from crying. I might try it again later.

08/24/10

Tits.

6. A Conversation on a beach in Provincetown, MA:
I asked a gorgeous, sun-bathing Enriques Iglasias-looking man to watch my bag while I went swimming. Upon emerging, a brief conversation ensued.
Gay dreamboat: Did you have fun swimming?
Molly: It was amazing! I’m from Michigan. It’s been years since I swam in the ocean.
Gay dreamboat: You have lakes.
Molly: I know that.

9. In my notebook on an airplane:
The first thing you do is change into something less comfortable. Wear it on the wings of the most expensive bird you can find and then sing to it. Never give up. If you love someone and they love you and it’s meant to be, don’t worry. You’ll play their favorite song on the jukebox, they’ll text you a line from some obscure poet who defined you in high school, and you’ll know. Forget about where your birth certificate is – remember the archetypal mother. Suck from her breasts without blushing. Do everything and then come back and show me how.

08/23/10

Coffee, Ohio, The Holocaust, etc.

I went on vacation. I didn’t keep a journal, per se, but this mind of mine? A steel strap. (Typo, I’m keeping it.) I’ve also been reading that the Internet is filled with MTV babies who don’t want to read long things. I understand. I’ll go you one further: I don’t want to read anything. So, after the fact, I recreated some memories in list form, and I figure every day for the next little bit I’ll post an item or three from the list.

4. At a McDonalds in Boston:
I asked for coffee in my travel mug. They brought a paper cup full of coffee to the counter, poured its contents into my mug, and threw away the cup right in front of me. It was like in the holocaust when Nazis would shoot a mother’s children in front of her and then leave her there to live. It’s like that in kind but, I’ll concede, not scale.

8. In route from Ohio to Michigan:
How many hearts can one woman shatter in the span of fourteen days? Answer: At least two. Possibly four.

3. A park in Brooklyn, New York. Specifically, Williamsburg.
Let me preface this by saying that hipsters are not bad people. Also, the truth is, I sort of like fashion. I like it best on others, and I like noting regional differences. New York is different from Montana. The men: tight shirts, cut off shorts. The women: high waisted shorts, tank tops, superfluous belts. I attended a picnic. I saw an older man, late 50′s, a large belly hanging over shorts, pulled up socks, a polo shirt, and a red, earnest face. I saw him walk by once with a plastic sack full of water, then I saw him walk by a second time, and this steel strap of mine took note. The big reveal: the man was watering a small, dying tree in the center of the park. What a man! How lucky to be alive to see it, and indeed, all things.