Tuesday, October 23, 2012

the mystery of a remodel

1. bleu period

I finished Draft 1 of the YA novel yesterday. It’s mind-altering to do in a week what normally takes a month or two. I talked to my dad on the phone and mentioned how spoiled I’m getting here, how amazing it is to be treated like I have something important to say and I should just go ahead and spend the whole day saying it. Also, there’s the immersion factor: It’s the only way to learn a language, and I’m now convinced it’s the best way to learn a language of your own devising too. Apparently, I’ve been doing the equivalent of diligently memorizing vocab lists from my Spanish for Beginners textbook for years.

My dad immediately began brainstorming ways that I can get out of town and write more in the future. “Stop,” I told him. “If I get too spoiled, I’ll have nothing to write about.”

“We can talk more when you get home,” he said mysteriously. I think he was vaguely implying that another residency might show up in my Christmas stocking.

“Or we can not talk,” I said.

Of course I’ve been thinking about applying to future residencies too, or maybe even just camping out at my dad’s house for a three-day weekend here and there when I really need to get some words down, but it pains me that my dad is such a problem-solver. Here I was, telling him something was awesome, and he assigned himself the task of making sure that awesomeness would last infinitely.

What pains me most of all is how desperately he wants me to be happy. It practically oozed through the phone lines from the other side of the continent. That tells me that I haven’t been a portrait of happiness these past couple of years, and that’s made him unhappy. Which makes me unhappy. All the Kleins do is try to take care of each other, which you’d think would put us on the functional end of the spectrum, but it’s also begotten a lot of therapy.

Anyway. Finishing my draft made me a little blue. (At first I typed “bleu,” which has such different connotations. I wish it made me bleu—which I think would involve painting while eating a croissant and wearing a beret.) Partly because now I have to edit the cats-‘n’-Malaysia book, which is daunting, and partly because anytime something I’ve been focusing on intensely goes away, I fill in the space with neurosis, like thunder in the gap created by lightning.

2. where things come from

I walked into town this morning to get some dental floss and candy—now I’m realizing that I could have gotten neither, since they sort of cancel each other out. I noticed how a lot of the old houses along High Street have barns attached to them. Or at least, they’re attached now. I like the mystery of a remodel—seeing the story of the decades in enclosed porches and extended garages.

Here was my thought process, which gives away my urban-ness: A lot of these garages used to be barns. Now they hold cars, but they used to hold horses and buggies. I hope the horses didn’t inhale too much carbon monoxide from the cars.

Then I wondered why the barns were so tall. Horses aren’t very tall. Then I remembered that horses eat hay, and in the moist Northeast, you have to store your hay indoors. It would be like storing all your gasoline in your garage today. I know it’s kind of a cliché to say that the problem with modern life is that we don’t pay attention to where our food and fuel comes from, but I think it’s a little bit true.

I bought my floss and candy at the super overpriced but very cute market, and the checker commented on my UCLA hoodie. Was I recently from California? Still there, I said. He’d moved here two years ago.

From Highland Park, right near the metro station, which is 1.5 miles from where I live. Of course, right?

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