Monday, May 28, 2012

9am-5pm, Serendipity, and Being an Adult

It's been a really long time guys, but please forgive me. I took an unofficial hiatus to clean up the mess that had become the inside of my head. More talk about this later, though, because right now I want to talk about Serendipity and Being an Adult.

Blog written on 5/9/12

So right now I'm sitting in the computer section at Staples waiting for Bee to get lunch break and I'm having one of those moments of clarity where everything that didn't make sense on their own suddenly come together into something whole and the create a very clear picture.

I'm reading a book right now called Boy Meets Boy by: David Levithan and I think the main character Paul explains this moment of clarity the best. He called it Serendipity: "When all the random pieces come together in one wonderful moment."

I got my first real adult job last week at a call center. When I say adult job, I mean that it was a Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm, I-have-to-go-buy-professional-clothes, they have coffee in the break room kind of job. And I got a cubicle.

If you're like me and you've never had a cubicle and you've watched way too many sitcoms based in offices, then you can imagine how exciting the idea of getting a cubicle is. It was like the ultimate validation that I was in fact an Adult, capital A (much more validating that remembering to buy toilet paper and pay my cell phone bill).

But this is where the excitement stops. There's a reason that most people who have a 9-5 and a cubicle look so depressed and tired when the weekend is over and they have to go back to work. Cubicles are tiny gray prisons and the idea of one is more wonderful than the reality of having one can ever be.

Maybe I'm being dramatic. Not everyone who works out of a cubicle is depressed. I'm sure some people love their cubicles. I'm sure some people love the jobs that they do in these cubicles.

Anyway, I worked at a call center. I was the telemarketer that calls you in the morning and harasses you, trying to convince you that "I'm only trying to help you." You don't believe me, I don't believe me. It's like we have an understanding: you'll tell me to go to hell and I won't take it personally.

I think I underestimated this job and how much it would take from my mentally. I mean all I had to do was recite a script. It wasn't that hard. Right?

Wrong. In the week and some that I worked at this call center, I became one of those depressed, tired we just talked about. Too tired to write, too tired to smile or eat, too tired to do anything but cry.

It got to the point where I was sitting in my cubicle, staring at the gray walls through a film of tears and wondering if I could make it through one more call. Just. One. More. Call.

And that leads me to the computer section of Staples.

Quitting my job was easy. It was the part where I was sitting on the bus heading home that was hard, because then I had to think about how I was going to tell Bee and how I was going to have to call my parents and tell them.

I could already hear my dad's voice in my head telling me "You don't have to like your job, you just do it." And when you're a broke young person living on your own this statement has some merit. I couldn't explain to him that it wasn't a matter of liking or not liking my job but a matter of what I was willing to sacrifice for this weekly paycheck.

Was I willing to sacrifice my happiness? 

Maybe. But then the thought of being able to afford my own apartment without roommates and a bed that looks like this makes me happy. Candles make me happy. Books make me happy. Yoga makes me happy. Bee and my friends make me happy. There's so much happy influences in my life that this one unhappy thing seems very tiny in comparison.Suck it up.

Was I willing to sacrifice my time?

Sure. Did it really matter that it takes me 2 hours on public transportation to get to and from work and I go to bed by 9 and am up by 5 and never see my sister, when I have this weekly paycheck that will eventually lead to my own apartment and a bed that looks like this? Okay, so I can't write. I know you have a point, but my roommate turned up the fridge again and my organic-strawberries-that-I-really-couldn't-afford-to-buy-once-much-less-twice are frozen. If I had my own apartment and my own fridge, I'd be eating organic strawberries right now.

Was I willing to sacrifice myself?


I would not compromise on this. No amount of money in the world is worth doing something that feels like it's stealing pieces of you or turning you into the kind of person you don't want to be. When anything you're doing feels like it's chipping away at your spirit, it's time to start doing something else.

This realization was the serendipity that Paul talks about. That one wonderful moment when I understood that this job was like most things in life: an opportunity for growth, a lesson waiting to be seen. The world would not end if I quit. I would not end up living on a park bench and the fumes of my failure if I quit.

Sure, my dad might be disappointed and not understand why I left my job, and Bee would never get that expensive dinner I promised her, and I wouldn't be getting my own apartment as soon as I'd hoped. Not to mention I'd still be eating frozen strawberries.

But you know what, I learned that Being an Adult (capital A) is not about having a 9-5 and a cubicle, it's not about dressing professionally and drinking coffee in a break room and needing these things to validate your independence, it's about making the hard decisions and being able to live with the outcome.

So when life hands you frozen organic strawberries, make a smoothie.

Music: River by: Civil Twilight

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Writing For The Sake Of Reading.

I've always loved and hated in equal measures every part of the writing process: the beginning, the end, the editing, the drafting, the plotting, and everything in between. But something has changed for me. I don't love and hate all parts of the writing process in equal measures anymore.

When it comes to working on final drafts, the scale is tipping precariously close to despise/despair.

 I was talking to a friend the other day about how my writing process has changed and even as I said that I didn't really know how true it was. The more serious I become about my writing, the less indulgent it seems.

In the beginning of the story when there's only a few characters and an idea and I'm stumbling through the dark it will always be completely indulgent, only because I know I can fix it later. I don't think that part of my process will change.

The final draft, though, has changed. It's that promise I made in the beginning to fix the story. And unlike my other books, with BIB I now feel compelled to actually fix it. Now I have to trim away the excess and make a story. Suddenly I find myself laying face down on my bedroom floor, listening to Fleet Foxes and thinking about things like  "Plot" and "Character Motivation" and "Pacing" and "Structure."

Words like that make my head ache. The size of my book makes my head ache. The thought of both finishing and not finishing this book makes my head ache.

Part of me wants to go back to writing the way my earlier books were written: full of needless and excessive details and letting my characters kiss in the rain even though it's cheesy and doesn't make sense since it's summer. Part of me wants to go back to writing for the sake of writing. Writing because my sanity depended on it, because I couldn't do anything else, just because.

Another part of me, a much smarter part, the part that's thinking about "Plot" and "Character Motivation" and "Pacing" and "Structure" is shaking her head because she understands and accepts that I don't write for the sake of writing anymore. I write for the sake of reading.

I write the books I want to read and hope that someone else will want to read them too.

What do you write for the sake of: writing or reading?

Food for the brain. I want to hear your thoughts. Happy Almost-Friday everyone. I'm going to turn off Fleet Foxes now and get to work.

Music: "Helplessness Blues" by: Fleet Foxes BIB book one playlist.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Bullet Points for 2012

Today is the only day in the week where everything moves super slowly, even me. Today I can get away with waking up and 11:30AM (not guilt involved) and I can split my one giant cup of morning coffee into two small cups of morning coffee. Plus, Julia Roberts movies and Nora Roberts movies (that were once books) come on in abundance on this day. It's great.

Gray is so sexy.
But this post is not about all the reasons why I love Sunday, nope. Instead it's the first post of the new year (Happy 2012 everybody!) and I feel compelled to start it out right and there's no better way to do that than bullet points.

  • First, I have to say sorry. There is a long list of open-ended projects and part 1-but-no-part-2 posts that I never got around to finishing and novel months that ended in failure. And I'm neglecting my blog. How can I call myself a blogger when I don't blog?
  • I will fix this. Starting of course, with this post and a not-open-ended promise of more. I may even revamp the blog because really this background is starting to hurt my eyes. 
  •  For those of you that loved Where I Go, it is not gone. WIG is simply on a short hiatus because it requires more attention that I have give at the moment. It will be back as soon as I get my act together and it will be great.
  • 2012 will have more book reviews because I like books and I like to talk about books and so I should probably stop being lazy and start reviewing books.
  • Did I mention that there's an abundance of Julia Roberts movies on Sundays? Runaway bride is coming on right now and I've probably seen this movie 30+ times because when I was little I did not want to be like Barbie. I wanted to be like Julia. Specifically, I wanted to smile like Julia. But poking yourself in the cheeks with unsharpened pencils will not give you dimples, just saying.
  • And Richard Gere gave me a certain fondness for guys who go prematurely gray.
  • And my favorite playlist at the moment.
I'm almost done with small cup of morning coffee #1 so that's all for now. Happy Sunday.