A piece of writing

I’ve been editing and re-writing for the past three weeks.  It’s been a little quiet on the blog since I decided to apply to graduate school, Pinewood Table is back in sesh and work is super busy.  Here’s a snippet of what I think is the first chapter to my second manuscript.  Enjoy!

Here’s what I remember about the last day the boyfriend/non-boyfriend and I hung out. It was April 28, 2013 – about 8:30 am. I was sitting on the white/cream and gold flecked sofas with him in his living room that overlooked the busy corner he lived on. 

I loved those sofas. 

Rush hour traffic zoomed by outside his two story Cape Cod. It had started to rain.

We were sitting close but not touching.

We had been fighting about the house.

“You can still back out of this and look at some other houses,” he held his small coffee cup. He only drank half a cup in the morning. I was sick of him telling me that.

“I know,” I was sick saying it. My coffee was in a giant mug that someone had gifted him.

“Alright, kiddo. I gotta go to work,” he got up off the sofa.

“Ok. I’m gonna finish my coffee.” There was still half a cup left. Outside cars and bikes lined up at the light at 32nd. I stayed on the sofa a few more minutes and looked out the windows. The steakhouse where we had gone on after breaking up and getting back together again in the very very beginning was caddycorner from his house. It was closed but janitorial services were finishing up their cleaning.

In the beginning we would go out to dinner, watch a movie, have sex, go to sleep, wake up, have more sex and drink coffee on the couch. I would bike back to my house 13 blocks away and got ready for work. He went to his home office where he spent a few hours each day purchasing software for various organizations. Our four year and a half year relationship had deteriorated down to me going to his house at 8 pm once a week, having a conversation on the sofa in his living room, going to bed at 10 pm, having sex, sleeping, waking up the next morning to sex, him making me coffee in the living room, and leaving for work.   We might occasionally watch an episode of Mad Men or The Game of Thrones at night but that was it. It would be some episode in the middle of the season that I could never follow. It was a once a week thing when we were together. Never more. Never less.

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About the boyfriend/non-boyfriend:

1. I wanted a “normal” healthy relationship where both parties shared equally in a healthy way.

2. We communicated in sound bites of text messages. I kept hoping and dreaming and living in a fantasyland that he would read between the lines and want to be with me in a “normal” way. Beyond sex.

3. I kept trying to manifest a relationship with someone who was emotionally checked out. I shared and made myself vulnerable.

4. He shared very little of himself with me beyond sound bites about how he had anxiety or was neurotic. I kept wanting him to share more about what was below the surface but it never happened.

5. The “relationship” was pure insanity. I was doing the same things over and over hoping he would change. I kept going back thinking “this time” he would want to be in a relationship. Would want me to move into his two story house on a busy street.

It never happened. I think it’s really taken me 17 months to really get down to the nitty gritty details and figure out what was really there. I needed to get down to a basic level to learn what worked and didn’t work. I always forget/don’t give myself credit for the following:

1. One of my good friends died from cancer. I bought a house. I moved. I ended the relationship all within the space of a month in April and May 2013. Those are four of the most difficult things to do. I jammed all of those things into a tiny time frame. I really am an overachiever. Maybe I needed time to sort through everything before i was ready to write chapter one.

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What if my memoir is a status update?

Recently, there was an article going around Facebook about blogging, twitter, and other forms of social media serving as a memoir.  I actually didn’t read the article.  Something about the title irritated me.  It got me thinking that maybe my blog is more like a status update?  I post little snippets of writing here and there.  People read them.  They change.

Here’s the crux of it:

I use this blog as a way to try out different forms of writing.  Sometimes I’ll take a blog post and completely tweak it two weeks after I write it.  I won’t tweak it on the blog.  I’ll copy and paste it: either onto a blank MS word document or back into whatever memoir I’m working on (there are three memoirs at the moment – all in various stages).  This blog helps me with my process.  Speaking of the blog, it’s four years old thing month.

I’ve also been seriously writing, editing, and workshopping for four years.  Well, if you really want to go back in time I have been writing since I was 16.  My junior year of high school I wrote 700 really shitty poems.  I can’t bear to go back and read any of it.  It’s that bad.  Well, it’s not all bad; but 80-90 percent of it is horrid.

I didn’t mean to start this blog post discussing social media, status updates and memoir – it just happened.  What I meant to say was thing:

1. Pinewood Table is back and I’m ripping apart the first chapter of my second memoir and splitting it in two.  Chapter one is now Chapter one and Chapter two.  Chapter one is difficult writing.  I’m writing about the last days and weeks with the boyfriend/non-boyfriend.  I’m going back in time and looking at my motivation for staying with him, the arguments we had in the last days and how I physically had to buy a house and move out of the neighborhood I was living in to get away from him and the relationship.  We used to lived 13 blocks apart.  To be honest, I haven’t spent a lot of time thinking about him lately.

2. I’ve decided to apply to graduate school: Pacific University in Forest Grove has an MFA program that I have been thinking about applying to for the past few years.   I used to be one of those people who would tell you they were never going back to school.  “I have my undergrad, no thank you.  That’s enough for me.”  Well, it’s stopped being enough.  I want to teach classes at conferences, at the community college level, etc.  I need a master’s to do that.  I also feel like this is the motivation I need to make a career change.  I’ve been a social worker for over 11 years. It would be lovely to find something else to do professionally.  Pacific is expensive, but they have loans and scholarships.  They have a rolling admissions process and classes, if all goes as planned start in January 2015.  If Pacific doesn’t work out I’m going to apply to Portland State University.

3. I’ve decided to take a break from looking for any type of romantic relationship.  For so long after the boyfriend/non-boyfriend and I broke up I tried online dating to no avail.  I closed my account.  “I’m going to meet someone in the real world,” I told myself.  It was as if I had a deadline hanging over my head: I put sooooo much pressure on myself to find someone.  Everyone I was interested in real life steered clear of me –or so I thought.  I don’t really know.  Honestly, I didn’t really try THAT hard.  So, I’m taking the pressure off and just not looking.  I’m waving the white flag.  If something happens awesome.  I don’t need to search so hard for a partner.

4. Besides, if I get accepted to graduate school it will become my boyfriend.  I’ll be working and studying for 20-25 hours a week.  Good gracious!

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Park. Writing. Lemonade. Bike shoes


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This week has been

1. Getting over this stupid cold

2. A 2.5 hour long training bike ride with my friend Julie. I signed up for a 75 mile bike ride at the end of the month. Time to get down to business

3. Back to my weekly critique group, the pinewood table, where I’m taking pages in each week from my second manuscript about relationships and all things weird about Portland.

4. Thinking about applying to graduate school at Portland state or pacific university for mfa. Debating.

5. Getting yet another rejection letter. This one was highly personalized and encouraging at least. It’s been a solid year of rejection letter after rejection letter. It’s part of the process.

6. Teaching another class at the attic on 11/9. Sign up here: Intro to Memoir

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Stupid head cold still here

I’ll be back soon. In the meantime there’s this:

Being sick is like this: sitting in bed, staring at Facebook, watching your feed and seeing that everyone but you is writing.
You’re doing the bare minimum to get by: billing, writing reports and checking on that one client that lies to you and his supervisors constantly. You have to check on him constantly. You’re billing like a mad woman to maintain the mortgage, car payment, and make healthy quarterly tax payments. Even though you feel like ass.
You drink some coffee and lemon echinacea throat coat tea just to push through. To kick the cold to the curb so you can go to a jazzercise class.
Next week you say. The weekly writing critique group will be back in full swing. You’ll get your pages ready for the group and push through. It’s ok to take a few days off you tell your workaholic brain even though the last time you did that was at the Fishtrap writing conference in July 2013. Still you watch the feed and despair. That one woman who keeps getting essay after essay published makes you mad. “Envy is stupid you tell yourself. It’s ok. You’re working on basically three books right now. Your time will come.”
You just don’t know when.

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Renting space

The boyfriend/non-boyfriend still rents so much space in my head. I keep thinking I’m over him. I am over him in a lot of ways but in other ways he still lingers. It’s been 16 months since we last hung out. I can tell you about the last day we were together.

April 28, 2013 – about 8:30 pm

The distance was there.

I was sitting on the white/cream and gold flecked sofas with him.

I loved those sofas.

We weren’t touching.

We had been fighting about the house I had put an offer on.  He told me I was foolish for putting an offer on the first house I looked at.  I looked out the window past his eyes at the steakhouse across the street mid-argument. I didn’t care. I didn’t like that word foolish. I thought it was old timey and ridiculous.

I thought he was ridiculous.


Recently, I had back to back dreams about him on the same night.  I don’t remember what I was dreaming about. I never remembered my dreams.  The boyfriend/non-boyfriend remembered his dreams. We’d wake up in the morning whenever I spent the night at his house and he’d tell me some elaborate psychedelic like dream he had just had. The traffic would woosh by outside on Burnside. Motorcycles would rev their engines. He’d yell “Goddamn motorcycles. I hate those things.” It wouldn’t be until I owned my own house on a busy street that I would come to also dislike motorcycles: the constant engine revving and packs of them that would rip up my street at 11:30 pm on a hot Thursday night. My cat Billy would be in bed with me.  Her ears pinned back from the loudness.  I gave up on yelling at them.  They couldn’t hear me over their stupid engines.  It didn’t really seem to do any good. That lingering feeling of closeness was there when I woke up from the back to back dreams of him. I wanted to reach out and send him another text message that he would never ever never ever respond too.

I got up and made coffee, went about my day, listened to the motorcycles outside and didn’t yell.


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