A Hemingway Day

Day 5 of a 7 day self-imposed writing challenge to write about my day in less than a thousand words

In which I write a lot then drink a lot and end up borrowing a lot of fun from tomorrow.

The day in bullet points because I’m sick of paragraphs and all their formalities

Day 4 of a 7 day self-imposed writing challenge to write about my day in less than a thousand words

  • at the coffee shop choose green tea, wonder about the girl with the non-fat milk sticker on her laptop, was she once an almond? does it kill her to see her fellow nuts milked and poured over vegan granola macadamia clusters?
  • make bacon brussel sprouts. I think my oven is a terrorist. the pilot light is itching to blow up more than this appliance.
  • write an eleven page synopsis detailing the details of my next book. it’s very poorly written but it’s written
  • break a glass with my own absentmindedness, cut my pinky finger open (good. the pinky is my least favorite finger)
  • reserve a place for myself in Hell, i.e., CrossFit
  • make a yogurt, kefir, flax meal concoction in the blender because I heard probiotics make you happy. you know what else makes you happy? chardonnay.
  • wonder if legally blonde will be on again tonight. try to decide if that prospect thrills or depresses me
  • at another coffee shop choose another green tea. remind myself anxiety is not worth milky espresso heaven
  • see a girl with Bermuda shorts walk by. wonder if Bermuda shorts are back in or if she’s cool enough not to care about in
  • use the bathroom at the coffee shop and considering stealing their toilet paper, but since I did that last week figure I should just go to target later
  • attend CrossFit, die at CrossFit, come back to life as a girl with a tomato for a face
  • crawl into bed at 9 and try to predict my dreams, they end up being about tempeh which I would never have predicted even if I were clairvoyant, wake up wondering if this is a vegan sign, but alas, it’s no longer today
  • p.s. forgot toilet paper

Best Good Samaritan

Day 3 of a 7 day self-imposed writing challenge to write about my day in less than a thousand words

When I was drunk at Urban Outfitters last summer I bought a maroon romper. I was going to steal it but every so often reason penetrates the stratosphere of intoxication and I manage to keep myself out of jail. I haven’t worn it since then, when I was working in publishing and going to parties with too many Jello shots—you know, thoroughly hating myself. (The hate I harbor for myself now is reserved for things about the size of my pinky finger, which is chubbier than the others). The reason I wore the romper today is I’m trying to show up more in my own life. Meditation is on the horizon, but getting dressed in something besides yesterday’s leggings is a good enough start. I put eyeliner on too, even though ever since I saw Margot Tananbaum I knew I could never do justice to eyeliner.

I can’t be depressed if I keep trying, right?

The kindest thing I did all day was give a car a ticket. I didn’t initiate the ticket – I have not become a meter maid in the last 8-12 hours – so I guess it’d be more accurate to say I gave a car back it’s ticket. I was headed to my apartment when I saw the orange slip of doom blowing across the sidewalk. I wanted to keep walking – bending over is a great effort since I started CrossFit – but then I remembered nothing interesting had happened to me yet today and I was going to have to write about something. I put the ticket on the car it was closest to, confirming the license plate and my status as best good Samaritan. Even though the Lexis owner with the ACK sticker is going to be pissed off, he/she is not going to be as pissed off as he/she would have been had they acquired a late fee in addition to a ticket they didn’t know they had. It’s always the cruelest twist of fate when you’re punished on top of being punished, which is how I feel every time I quit coffee: The punishment for drinking too much caffeine is jitters, poor sleep and anxiety, but the solution – a morning without coffee – is certainly its own hell. Sigh, green tea, sigh. If there’s a way to win in this world I am not playing right, or so I think until I enter the online heaven that is Urban Outfitters. I am not drunk but I do buy another romper because I can’t resist making a day come full circle. This one is bright yellow, on sale from $98 to $24 and comes with the promise of turning me into a banana. They’ll probably never call me Chicky Chiquita but that’s because they’ll probably never call me at all.

Joan Didion Cried in Chinese Laundry Mats and Later Was Very, Very Successful

Day 2 of a 7 day self-imposed writing challenge to write about my day in less than a thousand words

It is stupid to be crying on a public bus and not surprising because I am stupid. Reincarnate me as a houseplant. Turn me over to God. Give me a haircut. When I visited my grandmother earlier she had a certain joie de vivre about her, sitting in her Lay-Z-Boy with the Globe at her feet. “The first thing I do in the morning is read the obituaries and if I don’t see my name it’s a good day.” Then she lit a cigarette with all the ease that comes with being so close to death you can relax about killing yourself. I was sweaty and jealous and depressed. Why can’t I ever seize the day, just grab it by the throat until it chokes up a breath mint? There’s no reason for me to be crying on a bus. Sure it’s Monday, but being a writer I can’t tell the face of the weekend from the ass of the week. Two hours before I’d done some work on my second book while sitting outside at my parent’s house. It was hot and windy and I felt excited about the book—the pilot of inspiration was ignited and burning well. Now I’m sitting next to this woman with too many backpacks moaning internally about how I’m not emotionally resilient enough to be this young. I wipe tears from under my sunglasses and imagine I’m returning from a harrowing divorce that was just finalized on Martha’s Vineyard. He was a kind man, but he thought I was dramatic. Luckily kindness doesn’t have much to do with love. (If nothing else, I chose the right industry; making shit up suits me).

Sometimes I wonder if sadness is a cruel act of remembering everything we’ve ever lost: grocery lists, the family dog, the family’s other dog, a childhood knickknack. But instead of recalling the things themselves we recall the feeling, and it gathers force inside of us until it forces us to tears. Dams be damned. I hate buses. Probably I’m just withdrawing from caffeine and what I need is not a different life, but a good night’s sleep.

When I get off I walk from the station to my apartment through the Boston public gardens. A baby chases a duck, a man with no shirt preaches to glass windows. There’s nothing particular about the day. I would’ve forgotten it and still might if I hadn’t promised myself I’d write about it. In doing so I’m forced to pay attention, to muck around a little less in my own emotional shit pit and experience the world around me. Walnut trees. Gardenias. By the time I get in bed I’m exhausted but not sad. I write on a Target receipt Take your moods less seriously, then put it someplace I’ll remember. It’s the thing I seem most likely to forget.


Buddhists in the Kitchen

Day 1 of a 7 day self-imposed writing challenge to write about my day in less than a thousand words

On Father’s Day I woke up in gin. My fluids had a proof to them. I shuffled to the bathroom, to the coffee shop, to Target. Initially I was at Target to buy toilet paper, but then I had to poop so I pooped in the family restroom and didn’t buy toilet paper. The day didn’t get better at my parents’ house. My half sister was there whom I think of as my cousin half the time. I know her birthday and her birthstone. I think she smokes pot. I don’t know what she thinks of me, if anything at all. She brought her boyfriend of thirty years and we were supposed to have dessert but they hadn’t had dinner yet and neither had we. It was six p.m. Who planned this evening? It was determined that my sister and I would go pick up food, not as a forced bonding experience, but because we hadn’t been alone together since she babysat me that one time when I was three and she was twenty-eight. That’s how I ended up sending the text “Kill me. I’m at lobster but.” My iPhone didn’t recognize the restaurant voted Plymouth’s best seafood, couldn’t know about the long line of fathers waiting to place an order at the Lobster Hut counter, how the food came up on bright red trays and paper plates, with lobster salad so pink it was corny, french fries so pale and identical you thought of ethnic cleansing. And the people inside, well you know exactly what they looked like. The one exception was a younger man with grey hair who I doubt knew where he would be eating dinner when he put on his light blue shorts with the tiny dark blue lobsters all over them. Printed shorts on men are an automatic fuck you to the lower classes, but the joke was on him now as he was eating among them. I watched him retreat with his red plastic tray. Lobster Butt.

At home my sister and I laid out the onion rings, clam strips, fish and chips. We were given tartar sauce, but no ketchup.

“Could they get any cheaper?” My sister asked, as my mom took the Heinz from the fridge and shook it and turned it upside down and tapped it hard on its back like it was an infant choking. Nothing came out.

“Don’t worry about going out again,” my mom said, though I hadn’t entertained the idea at all. “I’ll ask Barb next door.”

A text was sent. The conversation turned to caterpillars. My sister hates them and this year she finally convinced her boyfriend to have the trees sprayed. By the look on her face, it was the best thing he’d done that decade. By the time the neighbor responded that she had ketchup, we were done with the fried portion of the meal, which was the entire portion of the meal save for coleslaw, those slivers of cabbage gasping for breath in a mayonnaise swamp.

“I guess I’ll just run over there,” my mother said.

“But everyone’s done eating,” I argued.

“It’s not worth having to explain the whole story to her.”

I blinked. “Couldn’t you just say we’re done eating?”

My mother shook her head and returned with a small Tupperware of ketchup, which I suppose will come in handy the next time we attend a BYOK cookout.

My contribution to the dessert spread was going to be whipped cream that I whisked by hand and served atop local organic strawberries, but everyone was so pleased with lobster but that I thought my efforts would be unappreciated. Also it was too much work to whisk it by hand so I poured the heavy whipping cream into the electric mixer where four minutes later it turned clumpy and yellow. When I am in the kitchen not a single food reaches its potential.

Over store bought pastries my sister’s boyfriend mentioned that my sister hides peppermint patties around the house.

“I love them,” she said, “And you ain’t getting any.”

Her tone wasn’t playful. You got the feeling that she would stow the mini Yorks in the litter box sooner than she would let Gordon have one.

“We have a candy bowl in the kitchen and they’re never in there. The only reason I knew she had them is one day I brought the groceries in.”

“Blehhhh,” my sister said and opened her mouth wide to show him the chewed up cake on her tongue. “Blehhhhhh,” she said again and he rolled his eyes as all childless couples do whenever their partner does something infantile that reminds them both how right they were not to have children.

By the time they left I was ready to join the compost bin along with the days scraps: egg shells and a moldy lemon. As I dumped them into the buggy contraption I thought that compostable items are the Buddhists of the kitchen, so smug about reincarnation, asking if that’s soil under your fingertips or a coffee ground. Trick question. We are all light.