Tuesday, October 30, 2012

a now-obsolete post written shortly before hurricane sandy killed the internet

This morning my friend Colin, a lifelong Californian who’s doing a book tour on the East Coast right now, posted: “I’m so used to earthquakes that the idea of sitting around waiting for a disaster is really weird.”

At least, that’s the gist of what he said; power is out at MacDowell right now, so I can’t jump online to fact-check. New Hampshire is currently getting the tail end—or maybe it’s the head or elbow—of Hurricane Sandy.

As one of two Angelenos here, I’ve been repeating Colin’s words, although now that I think about it, waiting around for a disaster is exactly what I do, which is why I’m in so much damn therapy. And I don’t even have a really tip-top emergency kit to show for it; I just worry a lot.

This will be my first hurricane, which is kind of exciting, which is just the sort of thing someone who’s never been through a hurricane would say. If I’d been through several smallish ones, I would find them a pain in the ass and know how to do things like board up windows. If I’d been through a major one and lost my house or a loved one, I’d be bracing myself to be re-traumatized (the bracing itself being, in my case, a primary symptom of trauma).

It’s rainy and blustery outside, but as of twenty minutes ago, there was a deer peacefully munching wet meadow grass outside my window, so it might be a little early to call it a hurricane. (I was going to say “full-blown hurricane”; are hurricanes where we get “full-blown”?) Periodically, flocks of leaves lift up and fly through the open spaces. Mist hovers in clouds.

There’s kind of a party going on in Colony Hall’s dining room—I just heard someone toast to Hurricane Sandy—but I’m not feeling ready to make the transition from the quiet working hours to the social part of the day just yet. But I also didn’t want to be alone in my studio, so as soon as the lights flickered out, I packed up my laptop and books and booked it out of there. I also packed a toothbrush and jammies just in case I have to sleep on a sofa here in Colony Hall. And by “have to,” I mean “am too scared to hike five minutes through the forest back to my studio.”

Yesterday I finished my editing project…and by “finished” I mean, “made a bunch of fairly significant changes I feel good about, but who knows what the agent I’m sort of lit-flirting with will say.” That leaves me with a whole week to work on just-for-fun projects; so far that’s resulted in a few pages of a really aimless short story. But I’m giving myself permission to let aim emerge slowly. I’m also reading a book about contemporary Iranian culture, because one of the characters in my YA novel is Persian, and counting that as writing.

I don’t think most of what I’m reading will be very applicable to a sixteen-year-old Iranian American character living in L.A., but reading this book virtually guarantees that I’ll write a scene in which her parents share random facts about life before and after the revolution, only to edit it out later when it becomes clear I was just showing off my newly acquired random facts.

Rain is pouring off the roof in Raging Waters-style jet-streams. There’s one working outlet in this building, and a visual artist from Mexico City just inquired about setting up a really long extension cord. I have a hunch she’s about as equipped for winter weather as I am.

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