Tuesday, September 28, 2010


My tolerance for stress seems to have dropped dramatically. Yesterday I had to send in three cameras for repair: my camera, my back-up camera, and the camera I had borrowed while both of the other ones weren't working. And now all three of them are gone, and it made me feel sort of depressed. The silly thing is, I know you can't really get "depressed" over three cameras being in the shop; that's a gross misuse and exaggeration of the term. So either my life must be really good or I've forgotten what it means like to be depressed. Either way, it's clear that my threshold for pain has sunk incredibly low.

The other day I was the recipient of second-hand stress and it led to a weekend of smoking. I've since gotten back on the wagon, but I think that the little retreat back into nicotine-land hit deeper than I expected. For one thing, I sat down to write this post about writing and how I have been struggling to find an agent and instead I have ended up writing about smoking and all the excuses I have for smoking. Like massive equipment fails and being unable to live up to expectations, your own or those of commercially-minded literary agents.

Like the people I most admire in my life, I secretly believe that I can achieve most anything I put my mind to. The biggest setback for me is that I get quickly disenchanted with many things I want, and decide they are not worth my efforts--like making lots of money, running a marathon, and holding any kind of public office. I was a little worried that this growing disenchantment with an increasing number of things was more of a sign of failure and defensiveness than actual cynicism and maturation of tastes. I thought I would become all down-and-out about the publishing industry, but instead I am just becoming more determined to figure out how to do this. It is both discouraging and encouraging at the same time.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

the waiting game

I have only three things on my mind this month: (not) smoking, (being away from) Marido, and (being frustrated with) my book.

Time moves very slowly when you begin to either measure it or stop measuring it. This month I am trying to do both, which is making it feel like time is standing still.

I am playing the waiting game of passing four weeks while being in love with someone who is approximately 1,900 miles away. It is not so bad because I know that I will see him, and that the wait is officially half over. And while we wait, we are both okay with acting like lovesick adolescents, which also helps. It would be another thing entirely if we were trying to be stoic about it.

The other part of the waiting game is the not smoking, which is strange because waiting and smoking go very well together. And time seems to be going very slowly because of that, too. But it is pointless to count how long I have gone without smoking, because that seems to indicate that at a certain time, I can smoke again. And the point of quitting is that you suddenly begin a new era that is infinite, the era where you do not smoke...ever.

And in the meanwhile, I am supposed to be working on my book, but all I can do is sit around and think about the missing morning cigarette, the missing afternoon cigarette, the missing evening cigarette, and missing Querido.

It is entirely annoying, and does not make for very inspired writing...as you can see.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

evolution and devolution

Something has been happening to my body lately, and I am wondering if any other gals out there have ever experienced the same thing.

My periods have always been very regular and pretty fast: 23-day cycles, sometimes less. It sucks bleeding so much and so often, but one thing that is good that I always know pretty quickly that I am not pregnant, and the window for impregnating me is pretty slim. But ever since I met Marido, the cycles have been getting longer and longer. I have only known him for a little over three months, but my last cycle was 32 days, meaning that each cycle added almost 3 days. This has been throwing me off, but I sort of chalked it up to all the moving around I've been doing. Then this morning I was jogging and trying to coax myself into believing that oxygen is a suitable substitute for nicotine and thinking that I can't believe it's already been a week since I stopped. A week, just like that! I have started to think about how stupid it is to quit smoking. Yesterday two of my parents' friends died in unrelated events. They were both health freaks, and younger than my parents. If I could just drop dead tomorrow, why not smoke? Ordinarily I would cave into these bursts of withdrawal-reasoning. But somehow I have made it through this first smokeless week pretty painlessly, mostly by concentrating how much I miss Marido, which is so much worse than missing smoking. And instead of wanting to smoke to cope with missing him, I am just...jogging and drinking water--which has never really worked before, especially with the I-can-easily-justify-smoking thoughts. And while I was jogging, I remembered my friend Z who told me she quit when she got pregnant and it was not a big deal at all.

Suddenly it occured to me that maybe my body wants to be pregnant. Is it because I am in love? I feel like my body is increasing my chances of getting pregnant by prolonging my cycles. And the relative ease with which I stopped smoking this week also feels like another way my body is whispering "Baby me!" This worries me deeply. I am not on birth control and have not been for about five years. I don't want to go back on it, but I also don't want to be pregnant right now, and since I have never been pregnant before, I feel like I am nearing the end of using up all of my odds. Who knows, maybe my uterus is bouncing around seven eggs at a time now. It is probably like a multiball pinball experience in there right now. Is this what my biology is up to? Even though I am making myself healthier, my body's seeming desperation to pass on my DNA is making me feel like I'm nearing the end of my life span.

But I don't want to procreate at the moment, because I have other things to do--the biggest one being getting rid of this goddamn novel. I have been working on my completed novel, by un-completing it. I am not sure if this is a good idea. I feel like I am making it better, but at the same time I kind of just want to seal it up, let it go, and continue sending out pitches. The more I work on it, the less I like it. I really need another good editor to look at it and tell me exactly what it needs. But I keep cutting things and adding things and I am reminded of these cherry-orange-walnut muffins I made last week, and how long it took me to make them with all of these special ingredients like almond paste (which I made) and orange juice (which I squeezed and zested). The muffins were fucking terrible. And then a few days later I made blueberry muffins with about seventeen less ingredients and they were delicious.

But, artistic integrity aside, what I really need to do is sell this goddamn thing. It might not be the best it could be, but I think it is publishable. And I think this because I have read some terrible books in my life. On the other hand, I definitely don't want to add to the pile of awful published jetsam out there.

Who am I kidding? Being published in any form would be so awesome that I can't even think about it. Maybe that is why I keep revising--so I don't have to think about the publishing aspect.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

cigarette cigarette cigarette

How many times do you have to do something before you A) stop trying or B) do it for REAL? I was thinking that today when talking to my friend who is maybe trying to break up with her boyfriend. And also with me and smoking. I sort of quit quitting a few years ago. It was getting to be bad for my self-esteem. Yet here I am, 2 days in again, and all I can think is "This is good for me cigarette cigarette cigarette because I was getting all out of shape and wheezy and cigarette cigarette cigarette will make this better."

This time I am doing it cold turkey. No patches, no gum, just me and my bitchiness locked in my house for three days.

I am okay with the withdrawal headache. I am okay with hacking up gross shit for three days. I am even okay with the constipation, constant thirst, and munchies. What I'm not okay with is the weird mind games that start playing out during the Critical Time when Logic and Addiction collide. That is a truly frightening battlefield. I basically have to not listen to anything that is happening in my brain for the next few days, things like "You would probably die from something else anyway, like a car accident," "Do you really want to never smoke ever again?" and "Even though your risk for lung cancer is tripling, it is still relatively small." No, it is best to just loop the quit mantra in my brain. The quit mantra, by the way, is: I don't need to smoke. This craving will pass. And until it does, I will not smoke.

But talking about quitting is boring. Lately I would rather talk about love, since I am in love, and somehow being in love makes quitting not such a big deal. It actually feels very selfish to quit, because part of me is just hoping that I will live longer so I can be in love longer. That should be reward enough, but actually I need some intermediary reward. In the past I have liked to buy myself nice things for achieving quit goals--a nice jacket, a nice pair of boots--but then I start smoking again as soon as I have my coveted object.

Changing your life is hard. But I look at the people in my life who are going out of their comfort zones and I feel inspired. And thirsty. Very goddamn thirsty.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

the score

I am back in the Middle West. The summer is ending, the driveway is covered in leaves, and every morning I awake to the sounds of lawnmowers, the lack of Marido, and the somewhat panicky thought "What now?"

But I don't want to panic. Panic and anxiety are gifts that I don't open anymore, and so instead I concentrate on how every thing that seems wrong is actually right. It is an exercise in happiness, really. I started to think about this when I was listening to various people complain about forms of ownership--making renovations, moving, all these inconveniences, and it seemed to me that the real thing that was being lost was that they have this beautiful thing that they wanted. For me, I don't have a home, but I had been stressing over how to take care of this new thing that I had acquired, and stressing over the maintenance was obscuring the fact that I am in love, which is a great thing, and not something to be taken lightly. Even the days when we are apart are good days.

Marido and I continued along our particular accelerated course, which is possible due to advanced experience and exceptional communication skills, mostly on his part. He really is a divine beast. And I was able to articulate some things to him, some things that probably surprised both of us, about what I need and what I expect and what is really unimportant to me. It was terribly unromantic, really. We talked about things like finances and sex and monogamy and timing, and although it was kind of a buzzkill, it was also really great to have everything everything EVERYTHING out in the open. And when you think about it, what is more romantic than wanting to be intimate with someone, not wanting to misconstrue anything, and entering from a place of reality rather than a place of false hope?

Then again, being in love is so weird. It does feel unreal. At times it does feel completely false because it is so shiny and unexpected that it seems too good to be true. It also feels mildly addictive, because yesterday (our first day apart in about a month) we both reported headaches. I wanted to write yesterday, but really I just milled around silently and thought about him and anticipated his arrival here tomorrow. It all makes me feel very dumb and mouth-breathy. I think my biggest challenge with him will be not to turn into a drooling pile of mush in his presence.

I haven't been in love like this for a long time. I hope it never ends.