Friday, September 24, 2010

The Writing Sanctuary

"Today we begin Session One, Class One of our MASTER NOVEL class. This is a writing sanctuary. A safe place to try new things, to make mistakes, to get our hands dirty with revisions, and to cheer each other on. We're here for the supreme and delicious goal of getting your novels into publication shape -- no small thing. And we're up to it.

Here's how I picture our sanctuary -- and feel free to add details and images of your own. Even share them on the board, if you like.
Right now there is a little twisty road in the country. We come to it at night, early on a winter's evening, just as darkness falls. At the end of the road is a cozy almost storybook house with arched doorways, stained glass windows, and a light burning in the study window.

You run up six brick and tile steps, aware, though all you can see are shadows, that you on the grounds of a rather elegant estate. You have a key to the arched front door, and you put your coat on the coat rack in the hallway, and grab up your portfolio of pages, because you hear voices from the study to your left.
This is where we meet. There's a fire going in the hearth, lots of worn leather chairs and love seats where you can curl up. You have a favorite place. Set your papers on your chair, and help yourself to wine, or tea or coffee -- or even a glass of champagne if you can keep your thoughts focused. Curl up in your chair -- there's a small table there for your drink. And now we begin..."

I like UCLA's 9 Month Master Class Program to read...have a wonderful weekend...

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Dessert Party Planning

As my new apartment is shaping up--the chandeliers with dimmer bulbs and industrial steel shelves in the bathrooms to house a collection of pretty perfumes and swirled compacts I never use, a tiny gold statue of Buddha I got in Japan, a vase, Sephora bags and sweet-smelling soaps, the leather seats on the brushed nickel stools, the pump to turn the coffee table into a fountain--I have finally decided how I am going to celebrate my birthday. The second birthday since I've had boyfriends where I have no boyfriend.

I'm having a dessert party, and I mean great desserts. I want red velvet, I want cheesecake, I want double fudge, I want apple pie. I'm going to buy it all--cupcakes, cream frosting, chocolate chips and most of all, champagne. Bottles and bottles of champagne and I'm only inviting girls over. It will be a Friday night and it will be girls and desserts and bubbly and I will light candles and wear a party dress and the world will be right.

Now I just need to figure out where to get all this stuff without breaking the bank. Am I allowed to bake a frozen Sara Lee dessert if I throw away the box?

Monday, September 20, 2010


I did it again. I overextended. I have dance class Mondays (6-8) and Tuesdays (8-10) and my young adult fiction class Thursdays (6:30-10) as well as my two jobs every day (9-6 and then a few hours here and there after work), and I just was re-accepted (I bailed last year) to UCLA's Low Residency Master Class for the novel I now loathe.

It is very expensive and time consuming but I must take it, I think. It's for nine months and it's the closest thing I can have to working and being in school at the same time. Except I am finding that now I can never do anything during the week with anyone. I don't think this is bad as it pushes plans to the weekend which I always like filled and eliminates having too many drinks on a Tuesday, for Wednesday morning at work. But it has begun to be the case that someone will want to get together and my answer all the time is "I can't during the week." Whether it's a friend or a date, I just can't do it. I don't want to. Wednesday is my day to do anything, and I like to just come home and grocery shop and clean (or think of these things while watching T.V. in my underwear, split the difference). I am being kind of selfish with my time, but I suppose you have to be when you're writing two books and trying to stay in shape and trying to save money and trying to do a good job at your jobs.

Now the question. I am truly busy. And there is someone who wants to hang out with me. A set-up actually. I have been set up once before and it was wildly good, we actually ended up dating for five years. I remember looking through our college look book and there were two gentlemen with the name of my to-be date for the formal. There was one who was hot and there was one who wasn't. Somehow luck shined on me and I got the hot one. We started dating that night.

So, the set-up. I have seen his picture and just think "eh." I have seen his texts and they just aren't my style. I want to like him, but I already know this isn't going anywhere. And I actually am busy. Even if there was a guy that I liked I don't think I could slot him in any time that isn't the weekend. And now that I have this schedule, it seems weird to set up weekend plans with someone who I know it won't go any further with. A waste of my time and his. People tell me just to go, but I don't wanna. I don't want a free meal or drink. I don't need to "get back out there." I've had my share of flings since my break up and believe I got that mess out of my system. Now it's fall and I have a new apartment and a million new classes and a crazy schedule and I want to see my friends or take time to breathe on my own. I'm not interested in dating unless it falls in my lap. This set-up was done without me doing anything, and it fell in my lap for sure. But I am not feeling it.

What is the appropriate thing to do in this situation? See him once and then tell him no more? It seems unusually cruel not to at least see him. But I can't see him during the week. And weekend nights are so precious, why should I waste my time and his scheduling a Saturday night dinner when I know (and sometimes you just know, don't you?) that we aren't going to date...

Etiquette question today that needs advice...

Saturday, September 11, 2010

I Just Said Goodbye

I am a person who usually cannot say goodbye to people. I feel too much, I miss too much, I love too much, I believe, deep down, that I have the unspoken power to crush someone with all this emotion, like I am a giant child, grabbing tight and holding long, I can't feel someone beneath me push away until they are gone.

I don't know where I got this from. It takes a long time for someone to get my affection, but when they have it, they pretty much have it forever.

I feel this way about my ex. I love him. I miss him. We are not right for one another, this is clear. But I feel so strongly about him, and he does about me (so he says). But we are who we are. People do not change, not really. We can't get to a new place. We've been officially broken up for nearly six months, but we are still going through it, all the time. It's the longest I've ever been semi-single, and I have enjoyed much of it and been undeniably broken for some of it. We are still texting, still calling, still say that we love one another, still make plans, still break plans, but we are not together, and we are with other people much, much more than we are ever with each other. This, friends, is brutal.

I can't do it any more, it's not me being single properly, it's not me moving forward. It's a new season, a new apartment, and unless he wants to try to fix things and does something remarkably different instead of continuing to prey upon the fact that he knows I love him deeply and simply dip his foot in when he wants to and takes it out when he wants to, I've got to say a real goodbye.

I just sent the email, it was three lines long. It said I loved him too much to keep doing this halfway, so please do not contact me any more. And it said bye. Now I'm going to clean my room and go be in a wedding and not care that I don't have a date.

I'm me, and that will have to be enough this time.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Why Be Normal?

I haven't been on this blog in a month. I haven't been writing. This is an awful shame. Where does the creativity go if you don't pour it from your fingers and let it slip down and hit the page? It gets re-absorbed by the body, perhaps. It is lost forever, maybe. I don't believe it makes me a better writer the next time. It makes me worse. I become stiff, regular, normal. It is bad to be normal. When I was eight years old, I went to sleepaway camp and I had a bumper sticker above my bed (I had the top bunk). It said, Why Be Normal? I looked at it, staring into the pink and white of it before I would go to sleep as the girls slept soundly around me. It bled into my brain. It was the best mantra, the only mantra that always rang true.

So I'll ask this of you today, why be normal? Usual, the same? Any time you get too comfortable, jump to something uncomfortable. I'm not saying I do a good job all the time or even most of the time at this, I'm not saying there isn't something to be said for routine, I thrive on discipline in spurts. But I am a binge person. I binge on being movable. Stillness is not a move. Not for you, not for me. No moss. No cobwebs. Keep it moving. On to the next.

I've been off being weird, making moves. I have been neglecting things here though, and that's going to change right now. Where the heck have I been? I look out the window and down at a rumpled pile of clothes, a sunburnt nose, an empty wallet, ticket stubs, stick sandals, handprints on the wall, and I'm not sure I know. I don't know where I am right now. I don't know where I've been or where I'm going. I'm not a tourist though, I am an observer. I am a collector. I collect lives and try them on to see which one will fit for me. I have feet that work, half a mind, a nickel in my pocket and all the rest.

I am holding this summer until it fades like colored paper, until it becomes light and brittle in my hands and eventually, only dust like all the rest. This summer was hot and cold, bright and dark, thrilling and lonely, alone and surrounded by too many people, expensive, draining, invigorating, inspirational, scary, but never dull. That is something. There is always something.

Filled with flings and things, packing, leaving my beautiful, comfortable, nested, lived-in apartment for one brimming with light and bare walls, full of promise and too much white, too much sun, too much heat, much too much but then I am binging again and when you binge, too much is never enough.

I don't know why I did it. It isn't cheaper. There aren't trees. I guess I needed a change. I always need a change. I am a banana, I am an avocado, I get squishy when left in the same place for more than a few days. I am fruit salad. I am perfect in three hour increments. I am not everyone's taste but I am pleasing enough. I am palatable. I am watermelon. Fill me with vodka once in a while. I'm still good, I swear.

I was in the Catskills this weekend and I went to a square dance. I heard my friends have sex all night. It was so cold I could see my breath as I shivered under the blankets. There was a lot of steak. The morning brought an even colder snap and the sun reflected onto the glassy expanse of water until it looked like the end of the earth, this blue-gray expanse, it seemed all the problems were absorbed by the wind. I thought but did not say out loud, I want to be the ocean. Change, churn, slosh forward and retreat only after going fast and far. Twist around bends. Take the shape of anything, a tub, a glass, a straw, I will move like liquid if I can, wherever I can. I will be weird. I hope I can be weird forever.