|Posted on October 3, 2019 at 2:30 PM||comments (0)|
Over six years ago, I left a job I thought would be a perfect fit. I turned down an opportunity to work in a grueling catering position—one that could further my burgeoning career—to work in publishing. A great deal less taxing physically, working as an assistant editor sounded ideal. A marriage between food and books, where I could sit on my duff at a desk instead of massaging my sore knees every night? Sign me up.
After a few years there, my situation went from blandly tolerable to appalling, and my motivation tanked. Pulling into that parking lot, dragging myself up four steps and wending my way through cubicle town felt like a heavier burden every day.
For more than a year, I was assigned next to nothing. Co-workers refused to look in my direction when I passed, and ignored me when I said hello. I was in such terrible standing with my team leaders, yet, they refused to let me go. My reviews were nearly perfect every year. A more confusing, defeating situation I could not imagine.
The worst part is the shame and regret that remains to this day. Quitting jump-started my motivation to write again. But it took six years to write the MS I'm querying now, squeezing in words during lunch breaks and on weekends. When I think of how I could have had a completed manuscript had I not squandered that time, zipping around the internet waiting for an opportunity that would never come, I still feel a little sick.
Driving back from a research gig a few weekends ago, I noticed a fence around the old building. The company moved to a neighboring 'burb a few years ago and the property had been vacant since. Nothing fancy, it could have been transformed into any number of businesses. Instead, it was in tatters.
Slamming on the brakes, my heart rate picked up speed, giddy with excitement. I whipped into a side street and tried to enter the parking lot through the secret staircase in the alley, but that too was destroyed. It didn't stop me from ducking between and under the fences to get a better look. My breath halting as if I stood in cold water.
The canopy over the front door hung in rags. Part of the roof had caved in. Pipes jutted out of the remaining walls, and twisted wires dangled motionless despite the breeze. The few remaining windows were reduced to jagged shards.
I peeked into what used to be a rather spectacular vestibule. The tropical fish tank was long gone. A pile of rubble filled the waiting area, a pristine porcelain sink upended like a hat. And hanging above it all, the crystal chandelier, perfectly intact.
I haven't met a ghost and don't intend to seek them out, but I felt a presence here. The fences were tall enough to keep noise out and me from being seen from the street, yet I had the sense of being watched. A single plastic blind hung in an empty frame and snapped against the metal. From the surrounding condos, I wondered if anyone noticed me from their second-story windows. Or was I as invisible as I was six years ago?
I felt a strong urge to find my department again. Touch the column that separated my file cabinets. Witness my space stripped down to a bare floor. Breathe in the absence.
I wanted to smash the remaining windows until the parking lot glittered like diamonds.
Asbestos remediation warnings kept me from venturing closer, as did the uncertain stability of the roof. The last thing I needed was a rusty nail jamming into my sole or a shard of metal slicing my calf.
Though the outer walls were depleted, I could see where the art design room used to be. My "office" was on the other side and one cube row north; I could still walk it in my memory.
The side door was propped open by bricks for some reason; I wanted to reach up and gently close it. The building might be half down, but it would be me who shut the door for the last time. But I settled for hovering around the site, leaving no proof I was ever there.
The company lives on elsewhere, which is good; I still have a friend there. Knowing my old workplace was on its last legs, bones poking through the mangled flesh, was enough. I haven't driven by since; that's the way I want to remember it.
Soon it will be like The Purple Hotel a half mile north, shuttered after so many scandals, nothing more than a foundation and a handful of stories.
|Posted on August 22, 2019 at 5:00 PM||comments (0)|
I generally love Lit Hub, but I was disappointed after reading Temple's article. I'm one of the few people who didn't understand what all the fuss was about with Roupenian’s "Cat People", so when I caught wind of this, I was excited to see a similar mindset or a dissection of what I was missing. Instead, after a delicious build-up of important issues and ideas, it ends with a thud:
'The reaction to this story—a work of literary fiction, don’t forget—has been overwhelmingly “me too,” and while I haven’t seen “#metoo,” that is unmistakably the landscape in which we are operating. Is that a bad thing? Is that a good thing? Does the fact that people love this story because they relate to it mean that it is not great literature? Does it mean that it is? I suppose everyone will have to decide for herself.'
Well...great. I already have my own opinions, thanks—I was hoping for the author of this piece to delve into hers. Instead, we get a collection of commentary from around the internet (oh good, I had no idea how to find tweets otherwise) and a tossed off quip passing for an ending: 'If a single non-reader stumbles on “Cat Person” and decided they’d better go read Bad Behavior, I’m ready to call it a win.'
Yeah. I guess.
Anyway, not sure we ever discussed literary pieces here, but if you read "Cat People", what did you think? All views are welcome, I love to hear different perspectives on stories.
|Posted on August 20, 2019 at 3:00 PM||comments (0)|
I promised...many posts. They're coming, I swear. My brain is a mite disheveled.
Rather than catching you up chronologically, I figure posting equally haphazardly is just as good.
Last month I met with a few of my fellow scribes for a retreat, then spent the night in a nearby B&B to write. I do that now and then; the complete change of venue and lack of obligations clears the mind.
It was the perfect place for a writer to escape: dead quiet, coffee available 24 hours a day, perfect size/height table and chairs for typing 'til all hours, wifi, and a lovely porch that overlooked the woods, with a gazebo and picnic tables nestled within. I would have loved sitting out there late into the night, writing by the light of my laptop and a few citronella candles; in fact, that was part of the allure. I brought my traditional 4-pack of tiny chardonnay bottles and was all set to get down to business, until I saw the humidity rise to 100%. Did I mention the beauty of the room and the coffee in the lobby?
I only neglect to reveal the name of this utopia because it may be haunted. I moved a lap tray off the bed and saw this.
It appears the alleged ghosts did nothing but look over my shoulder and laugh, so I gave the B&B a good review. Any ghoulies who can respect the process are cool by me.
|Posted on March 7, 2019 at 1:55 AM||comments (0)|
Monday was definitely a Monday.
It's been awhile since I forgot my car in a tow zone, so Life decided to give me a flat. It was a result of hitting one of approximately 8 million potholes left by salt, rampant temperature variances, and snowplows. For days, my car's "low tire pressure" light nagged at me. I was certain it was just the cold causing a false indicator, until I left work and saw that it was flatter than a Keanu Reeves line reading.
Since I'm not much stronger than I was in my 20s, I called for roadside service. The dispatcher's lovely Irish accent was the best part of this experience, because as soon as the shockingly under-dressed mechanic appeared to change the tire, I discovered I had no spare. I must have gotten a flat some other time and forgotten to replace it. Better yet: thanks to staying late at work writing, it was now 15 minutes after the close of every tire store in the area.
I should have brought the kid a thermos of Tullamore, because as soon as this transaction was complete, I was hitting that shit like a punching bag. Sharing is caring.
Loosening the bolts was always the hardest part; the rest is pie. Once he did that, I sent him on his way. $74 (plus $20 tip for the inconvenience) to loosen some bolts. Two more fingers, neat, please!
One problem remains: getting a new tire home without paying for yet another assistance call. They only weigh about 20 pounds, but they're unwieldy.
Firestone is only 2 miles away.
The solution is clear. Wish me luck.
|Posted on February 12, 2019 at 3:05 PM||comments (0)|
The polar vortex is still huffing and puffing in our direction. The worst is over, despite the promises that we'd be buried under ice this morning.
Last night, rain hit the window in pellets, freezing solid in an icy braille. This morning, cars looked like sno-cones, and we swept the slush off in crinkling sheets.
I live in an unfortunate area lined with strip malls and traffic. And on a day like today, there was a lot of the latter. Drivers inched along for fear of slipping.
We tend to obsess about the weather here, fascinated by the abrupt changes. The roads were de-iced by the friction of hundreds of tires, leaving little to fret about.
Until I reached work, I didn't notice the beauty behind this perceived treacherousness. Overnight, the trees had turned to glass. The entire campus is an ice forest, solid-white honey locusts dangling right outside my window.
|Posted on January 25, 2019 at 6:25 PM||comments (0)|
I'm coming for you, old man.
When I was a kid, I hated you. Chilled by the slightest breeze, I dreaded your arrival and yearned for your departure. Now that I'm an adult and have a little more insulation than I used to, you're not so bad. 20 degrees? Bah! Builds character!
Knowing the days get a little longer after December 21 makes you easier to take. Even if you like to hang around past March 21 and influence spring. (Spring was always a weak-minded floozy, let's not kid ourselves.)
But -3F with a windchill of -21F is taking things a bit far, don't you think? Especially since our lazy populace can't be arsed to frickin' shovel a walking path after a lousy four frickin' inches of snow so there's a layer of ice literally everywhere we step. But never mind that.
The real issue isn't slip hazards. It's not the threat of frostbite. It's literacy. You know full well I'm reading three books at once. One at home, one on my lunch break, and one on the train.
Which I'm not taking now. Because everyone knows when the temperature gets stupid low (ahem) you shouldn't leave your car sitting dormant for days at a time. So thanks to you, I'm behind in my reading.
I did not enjoy pulling every muscle digging out of Snowpocalypse '11 (and again in '15). I didn't even *dream* of bothering you with a letter campaign. I mean...I did get two days off work each time.
It seems you and Mr. Groundhog might have some sort of agreement?
Not that I'm suggesting anything, you understand.
I'm merely lodging a complaint. I'd rather not go to your superiors. I'm sure we can work something out without ever getting them involved.
I hope you come to the right decision.
~Chilly in Chicago
|Posted on August 20, 2017 at 6:20 PM||comments (0)|
From Facebook post 1-14-17
I'm cheating. I may cheat for a little while, too, until something comes to me.
I'm attempting to write two reviews. But when it comes to stuff I like, it takes forever to figure out how to express myself. I'm trying for a much less stupid way of saying "this book is like...SO good, guys!" but the thesaurus only does so much work for you. In person I'm even worse; this is why I don't talk much.
Anyway, thanks to my ineptness, I always appreciate a good dialogue scene, whether in print or on screen. The first thing that comes to mind is the dinner scene from the vastly underrated Star Trek 6: The Undiscovered Country. It's quite possibly the best of the original series after Wrath of Khan (except for maybe The Search for Spock. Ranking is a tough call). I feel for the crew of the Enterprise; it must be tough to make conversation with a Klingon. I'd be all, "What's the weather like on Qo'noS? Nippy? It's no Rura Penthe, I bet...that's a joke, son...more ale?"
Enjoy! The Hamlet and Hitler jokes are killer. (7:02)
|Posted on October 7, 2015 at 7:40 PM||comments (0)|
“We've all heard that a million monkeys banging on a million typewriters will eventually reproduce the entire works of Shakespeare. Now, thanks to the Internet, we know this is not true.” ~ Robert Wilensky
Maybe so, but I'm willing to give it a shot.