Sunday, May 1, 2011

It's called over thinking, and I do it quite nicely, thank you

And on other days, life is so pretty and banal and ordinary.  I wake up a little too late. I decide I like a song on the radio and then I never find out who sings it. I root around in the kitchen for something to eat. I complain about traffic. I wait in line at the post office, the bank, the grocery store, the DMV. I and everybody else.

And I'm petrified to write about it. What if my run of the mill existence is found out?  Two days ago I spent an entire afternoon trying to write a story about a disappointing experience involving a Starbucks cake -pop. I tried writing that saga from every possible angle and I still came up short. Somehow, I just wasn't able to evoke the truly raw emotions that I felt at the time. So, I'll just boil it down to the moral of the story: Don't ever bite into one of those things. I don't care how pretty and pink they are. Just don't.

When I'm spending an exciting evening comparing toothpaste prices at Bartells after completing a fulfilling day  vacuuming my car and eating ham sandwiches, I can't help but wonder: what if this is it? What if I've used up my lifetime allotment of adventure and exploration and comical humiliations at the grocery store? Then what do I write about?

In the last week, I filled out the standard Washington health questionnaire so I can later on be denied insurance because of childhood acne. I applied for a job I really really really want. I left a pan in the sink and had an argument about it over text with my brother in law. And I had a devastating experience at Starbucks involving a birthday-cake-cake-pop.

The weekend came and I sat in front of my computer, wishing I had at least thrown up or something, so I'd have an event to write about.

And then, as I was sitting in the green bath tub at my house, something dawned on me. I'm a writer goldang it.  I read a lot of books and endured a lot of workshops and payed a lot of money to learn how to take every day ideas and make them, somehow, unusual.

The essence of writing is transformation. Every word and phrase has been used before; every idea has been done so many times that the television industry gave up and went Reality. Therefore, writing is less about big, brand new ideas, and more about taking the ordinary and finding a way to make it fresh again- clever, creative, concise, ugly, morose, whatever.  Unless you're Murakami, Kafka, or whoever wrote Geek Love, your job as a writer is to make your been-done-before ideas interesting enough to warrant the time and attention of strangers who could be watching television instead of reading your novel blog.

That’s why literacy devices were invented.  To make prose out of the prosaic. (Which, in case you didn't go to school five years to learn big words- means boring.)

So when it comes to sprucing up the daily routine, writers have a leg up. I may not have money, insurance, job security or a fancy juicer or a shot in life, but I can identify traces of the macabre and the divine in my normal waking hours and express them in a witty manner. Yes, that feeling you're feeling right now? It's called envy.

Take, for example, the green bath tub. This tub was created in the 70s when the interior decorators of the world were either colorblind or carried a vendetta against all-who-dwell-indoors. This is where I sit in the evenings, soaking, and wait patiently for Hollywood to call me for the movie rights to my life. It is the most coveted spot in the messy house I share with my sister and brother in law. We've nearly come to fisticuffs over who gets to take the 7pm post-work-day bath.

I thought by now I'd be living in a funky older house near the park with big windows and a whole room to write in with wall-sized white boards for my overflowing, effervescing multitudes of ideas. Or maybe a nice little up-town apartment. Somewhere with chrome appliances and a nice, normal, white tub. With jets. At the very least, I'd have a shower curtain that wasn't  filthy with mold.

I can't afford any of that right now. But I do have a sharp, well-trained brain that is practically a ninja when it comes to literary devices.  Tell us! Don't make us wait any longer! What does the tub represent? Why, I'm so glad you asked. The tub is representative of the cluttered bathroom, is representative of the messy house, is representative of the shabby neighborhood. It's all representative of the Amazon job that fell through. The boy who didn't return my affections last fall. The big bright city that refuses to give employment to a smart girl like myself.

In effect, the tub creates a stunning contrast between the house of my dreams and the house of my reality. (House qua life.) Add to that the indisputable fact that I am lucky to live there and have no earthly clue of what I'll do when Anna and Brooks move away in September and I'll be homeless, and it all swirls into one big metaphor for what a worthless pile of shit I feel like sometimes.

And yet, in an ironic twist, I'd still rather be in that bath tub right now reading US magazine than writing this.

Speaking of the infinite imagery of the world, it's spring. Spring represents everything.  Spring is one big allegory, an amorous, alluring, anxiously anticipated alliteration. Spring represents sweetness and sex, birth and rejuvenation and life, but I can't go on because my mother reads this and I've said too much already.

I've started running. It's my desperate (I hate running) attempt to gain some control and find some predictability in my life. Some people develop eating disorders, I arrange my Patagonia underwear collection by color (prints, stripes, solid colors, in rainbow pattern) and run in circles. Three miles around the lake, listening to Bad Romance sung by the full Glee choir on constant repeat because I want to and I can. See?

At the very least, it makes the dog happy.

A good way to gloss up the ordinary things is to have good company while you do them. Whenever possible. I've started meeting my friend Day from the climbing gym at a coffee shop during the week. We work for hours on our own separate stuff, taking a break every half hour or so to talk about climbing and clothing and the impossibly wide chasm between men and women. It makes working so much better.

What else? Since we're on the subject of word play my friends and I have become even more excited about climbing, now that we're actually getting outside, and we've added a new holy day to our week. Welcome BBBF: beer, bouldering, burgers Friday.

 Lately, these ordinary days have at least been very productive. We've got a few trips in the works: Orcas Island and Smith Rock, birth place of sport climbing. I wrote and sent out all my thank you letters for people who have donated to the blog. I've made a few new friends. This boy took me mountain biking and I'm sure he would have taken me again but he crashed and broke his hand. But I think he might like me.

Yeah, I've got your attention now, haven't I? 


Anonymous said...

I love the photos in this one. Spring indeed! Sounds like you've got a keen sense of humor about life, I applaud you.

Sebby said...

Wait, woah, hold on, stop the presses.

You write a whole post about having nothing to write about except writing itself, and then leave it at the very end with the "oh yeah, and this boy might like me" bombshell?!?!?

Grrr...we want details dammit!

Erin said...

I want to know why the starbies cake pops are so bad!