1. Tom came over to my house one day in early march 2003 and took pictures of my left arm in my bathroom. The effects of the bright overhead light combined with the heat lamp made it look orange-y neon. He was going to use his photography skills for an upcoming art exhibit called Flourescence at his friend michaels gallery. By day Michael worked at whole foods in the pearl district but by night he ran an art gallery, called Field at the Everett street lofts.
2. My arm got tired from holding it up. It was funny that Tom was focusing in on my arm. The same one that I broke bicycling when I was ten. He focused the camera on my arm and I focused in on the spot where the nurse gave me a shot and made me count to 100. That needle was in my arm for 100 seconds.
3. After Tom left and he had the gallery he show he told me someone had purchased the arm picture. Some random girl that had the hots for Tom purchased the picture.
It made me jealous.
Some girl had a picture of my arm hanging in her living room.
I sometimes write early drafts in a way that makes sense to me but is confusing for everyone else, including members of my writing group. Case in point: I brought in a first draft of a back and forth piece with Tom this week. There were dates all over the page: 2002, 2003, 2005, 2012 and 2014. No one in the group could follow what was going on. One of my workshop leaders asked if I could start at the beginning and re-write the pages. I nodded my head. I’ve had a challenging time sitting at the computer this week just planting myself. So. I do funny things like write in long hand. Write on the notepad feature of my iPhone. Drive to places where snippets of the story start.
Last night I drove to Montgomery park in northwest Portland. It’s a big office building that used to house a Montgomery ward department store. I met tom there in January 2003 when we worked as temps for Wells Fargo banking services. It was the boringest job in history. Anyway, here’s what I’ve started on today:
It was a windy Saturday night. I drove over to the Montgomery Park building to get a closer look. To look at the bus stop outside. To see if I could see the door where I ran out at exactly 5:00 on the nose to squeeze in a cigarette before the 5:04 #15 bus came to pick me up. Tom and I met at Wells Fargo on the second floor of the Montgomery park building but we really met at the bus stop outside in January 2003.
Where I recall us having our first real conversation. About what I don’t remember. We were sitting in the back. Up the stairs near the back door. What I remember is making it clear I had a boyfriend. Inserting it casually into the conversation. I was dating “b” my half Italian half Greek boyfriend who called his Greek grandmother yaya, smoked enough weed to three people and was negative. At least that’s how I thought of him. I just wanted him to stop talking about quitting smoking. I wanted him to go home. He was always at my one bedroom apartment when I got home sitting in my living room playing that stupid guitar.
Sometimes I struggle to maintain my writing routine. I’ve been trying new things like writing in longhand, revising on my laptop, and just thinking to keeping going. Whether I want to or not I spend a lot of time in my head remembering and writing stories.
Right now I’m struggling to write out a memory/story/string because I’m embarrassed of where the story is in time. I know that’s not very specific and probably confusing. It basically boils down to this:
In early 2003 I was in a relationship with someone who I thought was negative, repetitive and spent a lot of time smoking pot. I was struggling to stay in the relationship. I was struggling to just be in my 25 year old body. I was working a boring temp job and struggling to make ends meet.
I met someone at the temp job who I was attracted to. I didn’t want to betray my boyfriend at the time who was spending increasingly more time at my small apartment. I was increasingly irritated with him. I wanted to come home at the end of a stupid workday and be alone. I’ve always needed a lot of alone time. Even now in my late 30’s.
The person at the temp job became increasingly more attractive to me: he seemed positive, funny and I’ll be honest: attractive. Beautiful.
I ended my relationship with my boyfriend the day before valentines day and started hanging out with the guy from my temp job. I wanted to jump into a relationship with him. A monogamous one.
He did not.
He wanted to date a lot of people.
I wasn’t down with that.
So I ended that and we stayed friends.
But and here’s the part that might be making me feel weird and stalkery. I have to go back and research him. Google.
I don’t have all my details straight. It feels weird to research an ex boyfriend. But it’s how I link the story together. Remember birthdays dates and times.
I guess my other point is writing is a struggle. I struggle through it sometimes to get where i need to be. To see the other side. To question why i did and didn’t do things. To look at why I date the people i date.
“So how was New York?” Julie asked me. Julie was blond hair, jean jacket and laid back Portland cool.
“Awesome!” We were at Mint, what we thought was going to be an upscale dinner place, but was really just a bar that seemed to be losing it’s fancy ness. Julie had a discount through her job at a big corporation downtown.
We were at a corner table near the door and street. We ordered a burger (me) and fish and chips (Julie). We thought we would be able to order something fancy besides bar food. We ordered fancy mock tails in sugar covered rim glasses instead. The sign outside was rusting. The upholstery on our seats was fine.
I gave her a mini-synopsis of the whole tom feeding me sausages and sauerkraut/fucking/watching snl/him sending me off with homemade chicken soup episode. I told her I was disappointed we only hung out one time. I gave her the “he was too tired/had a friend from out of town/I think they were fucking rundown too.”
“Look at this woman,” I got my phone out of the coach bag my dad got my for my birthday, brought up Tom’s Facebook page and the friend from out of town who turned out to be a gorgeous blond woman who had tagged herself in several photos with him.
“How do you know they were fucking?”
“I don’t but he was hosting her.”
“You can’t really tell by the photos,” tom was at the cloisters and there he was side by side with her in a park. I had gone to the cloisters by myself and posted pictures of the unicorn wall coverings on Facebook. I wondered if he had seen my Facebook page and decided to go.
“He’s really cute though.” Julie said.
“I know. He’s like the hottest person I’ve ever been with. He remembers you. Here’s what he looked like in 2003 when you would have met him.”
What I didn’t tell Julie: I wanted to convert to Judaism and have babies with him.
I wake up on a rainy Friday and wonder if I will ever get back to my old writing routine. It’s easier to stay in bed and write on my notepad on my iPhone than to sit at the computer and type. The bed is warmer, most importantly. I used to sit on my couch in the living room and type on my laptop covered with blankets. I converted the second bedroom into my home office in may. I use it to do billing and write reports work but usually after I’ve had morning coffee and in the late morning or afternoon.
I spend so much time analyzing and feeling bad about my writing habits instead of looking at the facts:
1. I’m in the middle of three writing projects:
A. The yellow blanket that is nearing completion
B the second manuscript that is in early draft
C the third manuscript that’s really just a fetus at 24 pages
2. I’m always writing in some form or another:
In long hand, on the notepad, editing on my laptop.
3. I read like a crazy person: I read two books in New York and started two more. When i came back to portland on Monday I had a book on hold at the library. I started to read that book too. To be a good writer you have to be a reader too.
4. My writing community has changed in the last six months: I go to a ton of readings around town and meet writers. I’m literally surrounding myself with writing.
5. I have to tell myself: I’m solid. I got this. Writing will never leave me
Back in 1997 I felt like a big fraud riding the subway. It was my first visit to New York and I was freaked out. Big time. Flying into JFK on a Friday night my friend Yoshi picked me up and I was scared. It was the big city. Yoshi had spent six weeks in New York already as an intern for the United Nations. She was from Michigan but has had enough time to get situated. She knew her way around. I didn’t. Yoshi and I spent a day or two looking around: going to Houston street, Barnes and noble and other places I can’t remember. She was living in bayridge and we took the r train into manhattan.
On a Monday she had to go into work and I was supposed to meet up with her later in the day. She had given me directions to the subway stop and I knew which train to get on. She had made the mistake of telling me a priest had been stabbed in the subway just a few weeks earlier. This was mid-Giuliani when he was cleaning up Times Square but it was still gritty. It was mid-Disneyification. I waited at the subway stop terrified I would get stabbed. I made it into the city. Probably getting lost once or twice. She worked across the street from the United Nations and I got there an hour early. She was mad so I went out and killed time. Honestly, I don’t remember what I did. I probably took it very personally. Back in those days I was fragile. I felt out of place and uncool. Everyone on the subway was dressed better than me. I looked like a dolt in my khaki shorts that were probably too big. Back in those days I wore everything baggy. Today I can say I really looked like a dork. Big time.
Tomorrow morning bright and early I leave New York once again. This is my tenth or eleventh trip to New York City since 1997. Every time i come to New York I’ve explored something new: a different neighborhood, museum, food. This time around I stayed in lefferts Gardens right on the border of prospect park aka stroller land. I made my self stay in Brooklyn again. I explored lots of neighborhoods: prospect park, boerum hill, red hook, and Flatbush. Each neighborhood different. I was glad to get away from the pavement land of manhattan. I still heard honking and taxis but the park and botanical garden were nearby. Beauty.
I rarely get lost where ever I go. I know the subways now. Way better than when I stood on a platform in Bayridge, Brooklyn in 1997 waiting for a train to take me to Manhattan.