all dressed up. may 21st.

it's a new trend.

cleaning the apartment on friday nights. shave and a shower after. putting on a dress.

and staying in.

i don't know why i clean. i suppose it's just for me. i had to do something. it was getting sloppy again.

also, i emailed the landlord a much nicer email than the one i posted weeks ago.

it will be interesting to see what he says, what he does.

beer number two for the first time this week.

i'm kinda hungry.

i'm hungry for a lot of things, it's true. but i'd settle for a burger and fries.

only it's late, and i don't feel like leaving.

ever was supposed to call me tonight. to discuss leases.

guess he realized that i'm not as dumb as he thinks. that just because he says people are not living there and are not paying rent, doesn't make it the case.

i didn't think about the fact that he also wouldn't have to pay me if he wasn't collecting rent.

he says he is going to the property management company tomorrow morning. he'd better not call and wake me up. i should probably turn off my phone now.

i half expected him to call me around 1030. just to see if i was out or available to talk.

he likes to do that.

i separated out his cds from my four monstrous cases this week. the day before i had my puppy play date.

i took him a bag of his keepsake stuff. and warned him when i passed it off.

mostly it was stuff of his he'd put with mine. things that belonged to his father that he inherited when he died. old pictures of dead friends. things of that nature.

i got the cable for my ipod and a few of the blank cds i'd left at the house. he doesn't realize that it was new when i left him, and that he only gave me a quarter of them. but i'll take it. not worth mentioning.

i have all that i need.

other than these things, my day was insignificant.

i ran around a lot today at work. and came home early to get some things accomplished. which i did.

and then watched tv online.

same as yesterday. or the day before. i can't remember. i had several episodes of lost, the office, and modern family to see. and i did. it felt good to laugh. and cry.

i realized that i missed one or two fringe that aren't up anymore. so i don't want to finish off the season, because i don't want to miss what was in the middle.


loneliness sets in.

a boy from work asked me to go to a play tonight. he knows ever, and the situation. he said that he's happy to drag me out if that is what i need. he went through a five or six year breakup right before i left ever. so he knows.

i guess i was too afraid of it feeling like a date to go. he's a customer, too. so it was easier to say no.

but i should have gone.

at least then i could have dressed up. and had somewhere to go. and someone to talk with.

again. with the thing where i keep myself from doing things that would be fun.

maybe i'm punishing myself.

maybe i am afraid of fun with someone i don't know too well.

maybe i am afraid of boys.

i saw 1111 at work today. i think i wished for the next game of scrabble. second time this week i saw it. i think the first wish was to pass the inspection.

at least i got the first one. and now, for the the third time this week, i'm making a wish.

but i can't say what it is, or it won't come true...

rootless tree.

a short story.

i knew it was wrong.

i knew what it would mean.

but i did it anyway.

to call it cheating is too simple.

because i wasn't cheating myself out of anything.

i was treating myself.

i met her one day, in a park.

it was sunny and cool. she was walking her dog. i was walking my dog.

when we passed each other in opposite directions, she caught my eye. and as if darwin knew what i was thinking, he sniffed out her dog and started to whimper.

she spoke easily, 'hey... i think they like each other.'

she stopped and i stopped, and we let them get to know one another.

i smiled. i was without words. i became awkward, and blushing.

i didn't want to stammer. i wanted to be smooth.

it took half a minute to come up with something that wouldn't give me away.

'this is darwin. what's her name?'

she kneeled down and rubbed her dog's neck, looking up at me, squinting in the sun.

'this is gretta.'

she stood up and held out her hand. a thin red string bracelet was tied to her slight wrist, a gold rectangle dangling from it, glinting in the sun. i hated my palms for going sweaty on me, in an effort to derail my plan to make a good first impression. nervous sweaty guy is not what i was going for.

i took her hand lightly, without shaking it. we spoke at the same time in an effort to introduce ourselves, and both laughed. i was nervous. she seemed completely at ease. i liked her immediately.

'i'm david,' i said.

'hi, david,' she told me her name after that, but i was so entranced with the way she said my name through her smile that i missed it completely. she'd now told me twice, and i didn't catch it either time.

i was trying to think of a way to ask her to repeat it for a third time, but couldn't come up with one.

our pets lost interest in each other, and darwin was tugging hard on the leash.

'i guess i'm leaving now. it was nice to meet you. i'll see you around?'

she nodded and smiled, patting darwin on the head before tossing a smile over her shoulder in my direction. i only knew this because i had turned to watch her walk away from me.

about a block later, we were alone on the street.

'goddammit,' i said aloud, not really to darwin, more to myself.

i always managed to fuck things up when it counted.

we walked toward our house, but i was taking my time.

to say that i was in no rush to get home was an understatement. i'd left in an attempt to cool down. and, opening the front door, the heat was cranked to an uncomfortable level.

mina was standing in the kitchen when i stepped in, kicked off my shoes, and unhooked the leash from darwin's neck.

'you get over yourself while you were out there? your dinner is cold.'

she shoved a plate of cold food across the bar in my general direction. from the look in her eyes, she'd have been happier throwing it on the floor at my feet, hoping the broken glass would slice my feet, just to make a point.

i was at a loss for words. the woman from the park was smiling at me in my mind's eye, but i came back quickly. mina was staring me down with a significant crinkle between her eyebrows. her arms were crossed and her hands were clutching the hem of her shirt on her hips.

'you know what? i am trying. okay, david? i've been trying for a long time to let you have your space when you say that you need it. but it's not getting us any closer to being on the page we need to be on.'

she'd caught me off guard. i stammered, 'i-i'm sorry, okay, mina? shit! i just needed to cool off. i didn't mean to miss dinner.'

as the words fell out of my mouth, i thought about what i had done. we'd had an argument. i left specifically to miss dinner. and then i'd met someone. someone i intended to run into again.

i left because i didn't want to sit across from her. i didn't want to eat in silence. not when she'd be sitting across from me. i didn't have the stomach for it. i stuck the plate in the microwave and reheated my dinner. i took a bite from the bread roll, rendered rubbery. par for the course.

i sat down at the dining room table alone while she rinsed her plate. lately, she'd stopped waiting for me. she'd been eating without me.

glass clinked in the dishwasher as she fit things in snugly. she always reorganized the racks when i tried to help with the dishes. i had since stopped trying to help.

she stood at the counter, looking at me over the bar. her hands were little fists, hard pressed against the edge of the granite. the diamond caught the light and blinked at me.

'i don't want to argue,' her voice was tired and her eyes were puffy.

i talked around the mouthful of food i'd forked in at the perfect time.

'ee neifer.'

she shook her head, so slightly that if i hadn't been staring her down, i wouldn't have noticed. i know she thinks i'm unrefined. i know that it bothers her. i once overheard her tell a friend on the phone that i was her little caveman.

her arms dropped to her side, and she walked toward the bedroom.

the sun was setting. it was too early to be going to bed. we'd taken the tv out of the bedroom at her suggestion to spice up our time in bed. it meant that, more often than not, i was in the living room well past the time she went to lay down, in an effort to put my head to sleep so my body would follow suit.

i finished my food slowly, thinking about the fact that i was in no rush to go to bed. in no rush for the cold shoulder. in no rush to stare at her back. things were slow for me, lately. i was taking my time.

by the time i rinsed my plate and put the dishes into the dishwasher, she was already under the covers with her eyes closed. i knew she would undo it the next day. but better to try than to have her bitch about the dirty dishes i left in the sink.

she wasn't asleep. to her credit, she wasn't pretending to be. she was merely expressing her intention.

i missed her. i missed the old mina. the mina i married.

she was so angry all of the time. i knew a few of the ways i'd disappointed her, as a husband. and i also knew the ways that she disappointed me as my wife. but neither of us ever brought it up, unless it was the part of an argument where we started to say mean things to each other in an effort to end it.

but we were married. and to this point, neither of us took the concept of marriage lightly.

i wished i could go back and remember how it was that i made her happy. how it was that i was excited to see her everyday, not make up errands to run in an effort to spend less time taking the heat.

i didn't care that i was still in my jogging shorts and tee shirt. i climbed into bed and stared at the ceiling.

i tried to stay on my side of the bed. but i felt like that was the wrong thing to do.

i tried to put my arm around her waist. when my hand made contact, she jumped violently, and scooted her body to the edge of the bed. i rolled over, defeated.

'mina, please. what can i do to fix this? i hate this.'

'you can't do anything, david. you can't do anything.'

she switched off the light. the bed shook slightly as she cried herself to sleep.

she didn't shut down on me in the beginning. she was always shutting down on me these days.

i woke up angry, the same way i'd gone to sleep, thinking the same thoughts. how do you force someone to start again when they shut down? how do you bring them back to the beginning when things were good, and open?

mina was under a lot of stress, all the time. she worked long days, and some nights. there was a time when i would ask her about her day. but that time had come and gone. she eventually told me to stop asking, because she didn't want to think about work once she was home.

at first, it was once a week that she'd get caught late. then it was three.

there was a time when i thought she was fucking around on me. one night when she said she had to work late, i stopped for takeout and carried it to her office. i felt sick, but wore a smile. i was determined to put my mind at ease.

and when i let myself into the suite, she was at her desk, working. no one else was in the office.

and the fake smile became real.

and she was grateful.

that was one of the last things i did for her that was appreciated. one of the last good memories.

i hadn't even picked up anything for myself. i honestly expected her to not be there. i expected to eat what i'd bought. or drop it on the floor in shock when i saw someone trying to 'help' her with her work in the office late at night.

i sat with her at her desk, while she cried between bites. as horrible as it was, watching her eat slowly with a quivering chin, and as relieved as i was, i carried the conversation and made her laugh. she blew her nose every third bite.

when she finished eating, she asked where my food was. i told her i wasn't hungry. it was the first time i lied to her with ease.

she'd proven me wrong. she'd put my mind at ease.

i stopped on the way back home for my dinner. i ate alone when i got home. i hid the trash in the garbage can outside.

i was setting us up.

i followed one deceitful action with a few more.

she called when i was laying in bed to tell me that she wasn't done yet, and not to worry, that she'd be home soon. she thanked me again for dinner.

i told her goodnight.

it was the beginning of the end. i think that she saw through my gesture. because after that, things were not the same.

when i woke up in the morning, angry, still in my running clothes, she was gone. i didn't know how i'd missed her waking or getting ready or leaving.

but she was gone. i smelled her perfume, which was the last thing she did to ready herself before she walked out the door.



it was saturday. i got up and drank the cup of coffee she'd left on the burner for me.

darwin was looking at me expectantly.

'yeah, buddy. i know. gimme a minute, okay?'

he started pacing around the kitchen. he'd sit near the fridge and stare at me. walk to the door and stare at me. we had this standoff every morning. he didn't bark or whine. he knew i'd get up when i was done with the coffee, put on my shoes, and take him for his first walk of the day.

i skimmed the paper while i sipped. i couldn't concentrate on the stories. i was drinking faster than usual.

i remembered gretta's walker from yesterday. my stomach dropped.

i set my empty mug in the sink and put my shoes on. darwin panted.

then i looked down. i couldn't wear the same thing again. i walked quickly into the bedroom, grabbed another shirt, different shorts, and changed quickly.

when i got to the door, he had his leash in his mouth. i latched it, and we left.

i was wondering if i should walk a different way, the same way, or even go to the park. maybe it was best to avoid her altogether today.

after the night i had, and the way i felt upon waking, i didn't want to avoid her at all.

as we turned the corner and headed toward the park, darwin started barking - gretta. gretta and her nameless owner. he tugged me toward her.

'morning,' she said, smiling with her teeth.

it was nice to be smiled at. i didn't realize how much i'd been missing it lately.

'hey,' was all i could manage.

'think it's okay if we let them run a bit?'

'i think so.'

we bent down in unison and unlatched leashes from collars. gretta and darwin sprinted into the field in the park, and took turns chasing each other.

i leaned against the top edge of the wrought iron fence that divided the field from the playground.

she stood close to me. i smelled her warm skin and fought a smile.

'so, what are you guys doing today?' she asked, following the dogs with her gaze as they ran from end to end.

'i don't know.'

this wasn't true. i'd forgotten, was all. this would have been the perfect chance to say, 'when my wife gets home from work...'

but i didn't. instead, i put my right hand on top of my left to block her view of my ring finger.

'he calls the shots. i just do what he says.'

she laughed at my stupid joke.

mina was in the habit of rolling her eyes lately.

if you'd asked me the day before i met this woman, if i was looking to meet a woman, or wanting to meet a woman, i'd have said no. and that would have been the honest truth.

if you'd asked me the day before i met this woman if i would ever, for any reason, ever think of being unfaithful to my wife, i'd have said no. and that also would have been the truth.

but standing next to her, smiling and laughing in my direction, it changed all of that.

it was my luck that someone she knew walked by at that precise moment.

'hey, kate!'

and now i knew her name. i wasn't paying attention to their conversation, and then she was saying goodbye to me. she called gretta, who came running obediently.

i waved goodbye to the woman to whom i was forever indebted.

that morning was short lived. darwin wore himself out chasing tail. in a way, i'd done the same.

as we walked home from the park, i smiled. i couldn't help it.

as we neared the house, the smile melted away. i shouldn't be smiling.

i was already planning a way to see her again.

a couple weeks later, we'd learned a lot about each other. we'd taken to letting the dogs run around off their leashes, watching from a park bench.

she was curious - she asked a lot of questions.

sometimes the questions were light, sometimes they were flirtatious. sometimes the questions were pointed, sometimes they were weighted.

anything that she asked me, i would ask the same of her.

she worked from home. she woke up every morning and went for a walk.

so did i.

she drank too much coffee, she ate snacks in bed.

i didn't, and i wasn't allowed to.

she went for a run every night. and then took gretta for a short walk after, to cool down.

this was my in.

i was in the same habits. how i'd never seen her was beyond me. we practically lived the same life.

'we should go for a run together sometime,' i said, trying to sound casual. 'i usually run from six to seven. i've been wanting to take the new path along the river.'

'i run that path a lot. it would be nice to run it with someone,' she said, winking at me.

i was done for.

the next day, i didn't see her in the morning. but at six o'clock, we met at the beginning of the path.

it was strange to not have dogs to attend to. it was just me and her. all other focus and distraction was removed.

she was stretching when i walked up. i walked slowly, watching her. i wondered if she was doing it for me, only she didn't see me come up from behind.

as she uprighted herself, she turned and faced me.

'hey, david.'

'hi, kate. shall we?'

'i'm not going to lie, david. i run fast. think you can keep up?'

i laughed, thinking of eight things to say that were all innuendos. i settled for, 'i'll try.'

and she took off, but i didn't have a problem pacing her.

halfway through the path, the conversation slowed; we were both winded and sentences were choppy.

there was a crossbreeze grazing the river, and it was a perfect evening for a run. we slowed down to a brisk walk.

'i didn't think this through. i'm getting hungry and we still have to run all the way back.'

'there's a cafe a block from the path. we can grab a sandwich. wanna head back now?'

she stopped, and doubled over, catching her breath. she had her hands on her knees, and a bead of sweat followed her nose and dropped to the sidewalk. even her sweat got under my skin.

'alright. let's go.'

whether it was the initial slower pace or the pause that gave her the energy, i didn't know. maybe it was the sandwich waiting at the cafe, but we made it back in half the time.

i held the door for her, a bell chimed when it swung open.

we stood in the path of the air conditioning vent in front of the menu board. i was eying the pastrami, it had been a while since i'd had one.

'i'll have the pastrami,' she said, without hesitation.

a breath escaped my mouth.

'a woman after my own heart... that's what i was going to have.'

'well, maybe you should reconsider. i'll give you half of mine. get something else.'

'what else do you like, kate?' i was being forward.

she turned her head quickly in my direction. a smile crept.

'well, david, i don't see it on the menu.'

there was no margin for error - she was flirting.

after a pause, while my heart rate recovered, she said that she liked almost anything.

'i'll have the club, please.'

we fanned ourselves with printed menus while our sandwiches were made.

i pulled cash from my zipper pocket, and bought our dinner.

kate pulled cash out, but i pushed her hand back toward her pocket. the deflection was the first contact i'd had with her since the handshake that wasn't a handshake. i recoiled.

as i paid, i wondered what mina was having for dinner. another late night at the office. probably cookies from the coffee shop on the corner. she'd make a sandwich when she got home.

we drank water and swapped sandwich halves. the majority of the reason i wanted to take the path was to get farther from the house. out of my neighborhood. away from my neighbors.

i ate the club first, saving the pastrami for the end of the meal.

we were too hungry to eat slowly, and the fact that she was eating faster than i was turned me on. i dated mina for three months before she ordered something other than a salad. it used to frustrate the hell out of me.

the meal was silent.

i kicked back my chair and stretched my legs in her direction when my basket was empty.

'that?' i threw my napkin into my basket for emphasis. 'that was fantastic,'

she was wiping the corners of her mouth with the back of her hand.

through a mouthful of food, 'yeah,' and a sip of water, 'that hit the spot.'

she pushed back, and we stood up, collecting our trash.

walking back outside was an awakening.

it was dark, the streetlights were on. it was warm and humid.

'thanks for dinner, david. you didn't have to do that.'

'it was my pleasure.'

we were walking slower than we'd ever walked.

'well, i'm this way,' she threw her thumb over her shoulder.

'do you want me to walk with you? i don't mind.'

'i'm fine. thanks, though. i'll see you around.'

i thought for a second about whether it was appropriate to give her a hug, when she stepped toward me. she put her arms around my back, and squeezed me for a second. i didn't have time to register the information flooding my synapses. by the time i was raising my arms to hug her back, she was already breaking away.

'night,' she said, looking backwards over her shoulder at me.

i was glued to the sidewalk. i could not make my feet move. i watched her walk briskly away from me, caught myself staring, and turned to head home.

i don't know what i was thinking the short blocks home. there were flashes of her playing in my mind. kate stretching, kate shoveling food in her mouth, kate smiling, kate laughing, kate's pigtail swinging when she walked away from me.

i saw the two of us from the outside for a second. i must've looked like an idiot standing with my arms at my sides when she hugged me.

i wondered the rest of the way home what she thought of me.

did she know? did she sense it? did she feel it, too?

i was thinking about the ways that i could end up where she worked. or the ways she could end up where i worked.

i couldn't picture her in the house. i pictured myself in her apartment. only, i couldn't exactly ask for a cup of sugar.

as it turned out, i didn't even need a plan. there wasn't a chance for that.

mina went away for the weekend. i stayed home, trying to beat a deadline of my own. i had motivation to stay on task and finish my assignment: we were running the path again.

we met at the start.

half a mile in, a guy on rollerblades lost his balance and ran into me, full force. his momentum combined with mine made the two of us drop to the sidewalk.

'oh! david! jesus, are you okay?'

i was embarrassed, but said, 'yeah. i'm okay.'

the guy on the rollerblades hopped right up and apologized. he looked ridiculous in all those pads and that helmet, but he wasn't bleeding, so he won. the older guy was still dazed on the sidewalk. things started to hurt immediately.

i had fallen forward, but couldn't catch myself entirely. my knee and forearm scraped the asphalt of the path. when i stood up slowly and brushed myself off, i wasn't prepared for the amount of blood seeping from my knee.

she helped me up, and we doubled back the way we'd come.

'are you sure you're okay?'

'yeah, you know. it's just pride.' i was limping. i wasn't exaggerating.

she shook her head and laughed.

'come on...i'll get you cleaned up.'

i perked up as we walked toward her place.

she let us into the building, and led me down the hall. luckily there were no stairs to navigate, she lived on the first floor.

she unlocked and swung open the door, tossing her keys haphazardly onto the table just inside her door.

gretta didn't move from her napping place on the overstuffed couch in the living room. she raised her head, and put it back down, as if she wasn't interested in me at all.

'in here,' she said, walking toward the bathroom. she closed the lid on the toilet.

'sit,' she commanded.

i did as i was told.

she fished in the medicine cabinet for things you use on a man in his early middle age, who's scraped his knee.

'really, kate, this isn't necessary -'

she cut me off.

'david, i'm going to do this. sit still and try not to cry.'

she cut her eyes at me as she knelt on the tile floor, with a smile.

i pictured myself pushing her against the wall.

she put a cotton ball on the bottle of peroxide and inverted it.

'alright. ready?'

i nodded. she had no idea.

it stung. i'll admit. i bit my lip.

'son of a bitch!' as the blood started to fizzle and foam. she blew on my knee with her eyes closed.

she dabbed on some greasy ointment, very tenderly, adding a band-aid.

she barely touched me. she lightly touched each side of the band-aid to attach it to my bruising knee.

she stayed on her knee, with one leg bent under for another second, and smiled, brushing her hands.

'all better.'

she stood slowly, and stretched her hand out to me, helping me up for the second time. the palm of my hand was on fire from catching myself on the asphalt, yet i didn't flinch when she grabbed it.

'can i get you something to drink?' she offered, leading me to her kitchen. her place was not at all as i'd expected it to be, or imagined.

i knew that if i didn't leave soon, i'd start to make bad decisions.

'maybe just a little water.'

she poured two.

'ice?' she asked, opening the freezer.


i drank quickly, in one continuous gulp.

while i had my head tipped back, i didn't see her moving. she worked very quickly. she poured two scotch rocks.

the sex was incredible.

i walked home with my head down. i'd get a shower. i'd go to bed. i'd wait for mina to come home in the morning.

we pushed the boundaries. we pushed our luck. we were running together three nights a week for two months. we were warming up for the run, almost every time.

i only ran with her when mina was working late.

one night, i came home from a post-warmup run, soaked in sweat as the spring was turning to summer.

mina was sitting on the couch when i walked in.

i nearly dropped my keys on the floor.

'hey,' i said, calmly.

'hey,' she returned. there was something in her voice that told me she was onto me. but she didn't mention it.

'did you have an okay day at work today?'

'yeah. i got out earlier than i thought i would. are you hungry?' she asked. there was something in her voice that made my stomach instantly sick.

'i am. what are you thinking?'

i was avoiding her eyes, pouring a glass of water. i wasn't thirsty. i was perpetuating the image of coming in from a long run.

i needed a shower desperately.

'i'll throw something together.'

'i'm gonna grab a quick shower. do you want to go out?'

when i looked at her over the top of my glass, she was staring at the tv blankly, unresponsive.

'mina, are you okay? what happened today?'

she didn't answer.

without looking at me, she said, 'i went for a walk.'

i had to grab onto the edge of the countertop. i set my glass down carefully. how to proceed?

'good. you should do that more - clear your head. you don't get enough exercise. i think you'll find that-'

she cut me off.

'who is she, david?'

i knew the color drained from my face. i wanted to make eye contact, as if it would help her to believe what i said next.

'who, kate? we go running sometimes. i bumped into her at the park with her dog one day. darwin liked gretta. she's a runner, too. so we go on runs together sometimes.'

she didn't look away from the tv. she didn't reply.

'mina,' i said, with an urgency in my voice. i wanted her to look at me.

she didn't.

'mina... hey.'

she turned her head; puffy eyes.

'what is it? what's wrong?'

'you know exactly what's wrong, david.'

the conversation spiraled downward from there.

'i'm sorry i didn't tell you. it's not a big deal. i didn't think-'

'exactly. you didn't think. how could you do this to me?' tears followed.

'mina. come on. i didn't do anything.'

i'm a horrible liar.

she wasn't remotely convinced.

'i'm not stupid, david.'

'i don't think you're stupid.'

she turned back to the tv.

'remember that day you brought dinner to the office?'

'yeah. i do.'

'well, i know what that was about. you were checking up on me. i didn't realize it until you were leaving. you were surprised to see that i was alone and at work like i said i was.'

i shook my head. but a few seconds later, i admitted that i was checking up on her.

'late nights at the office are the oldest excuse. i'm sorry. i realized that i was wrong for thinking you would do that.'

'not as sorry as i am that i didn't think you were. the way you felt when you left that night? that is the opposite of how i'm feeling right now. i came home early to check up on you. and as i was walking down the block, you were leaving. and you were smiling, david. i know that smile. i used to see it every day when i first met you.'

i didn't say a word.

she looked back to me.

'how long has this been going on?'

i didn't know if she had followed me.

'what, the runs?'

'is that what you call it?'

'that's what it is, mina.'

she shook her head.

'how long have you been going to her apartment, david? this is not the time to lie to me. i know you're fucking her. just be honest with me. i need to know.'

'mina,' i said, desperately. i was losing ground, i was losing my cool. i had gotten sloppy and now i was busted.

'do NOT lie to me, david. how long have you been fucking her?'

i didn't want to say it. i didn't want to admit it.

'i started running with her a month ago, maybe? maybe two. i don't remember.'

'okay. how long after you started running did you start going to her place?'

'i don't know, mina.'

'stop lying. please stop lying.'

'i'm being honest with you, mina. i fell down when i was running. i told you. that was the first time i went to her place. nothing happened. she just helped me clean up.' at this rate, what's one more?

mina threw up into her hands, and ran into the bathroom.

she had packed a suitcase. i hadn't noticed it before, but now that she was in the bathroom, it stood alone, sadly, in front of the muted tv.

now i wondered how i'd missed it.

i wanted to go after her, but i was frozen. i stood, dumbfounded and paralyzed, until she walked back to the couch and grabbed the suitcase.

'fuck you, david. i hate you.' she said coolly as she walked past me and slammed the front door.

i didn't eat. i didn't sleep. for three days, i didn't sleep. i tried. but i could not. mina hadn't called. she hadn't come home.

i didn't know what to do. i didn't know what happens when your wife catches you with another woman.

i didn't know how long i was supposed to give her. i didn't know if we'd speak again. i didn't know if she would come home.

i wanted to go to her office, later at night, after everyone had left. some nights, i started walking in that direction. but i never made it. i got pretty close, one time. but i couldn't go in the front door.

every time i tried, i went right back home.

i didn't know where she went. i didn't know where she was sleeping. she hadn't taken much, so i had a feeling she'd be back.

i didn't leave the house, except to go on my failed attempts to try to talk to her. i walked darwin at off times, so i wouldn't bump into kate.

i hated myself for missing kate.

i hated that i wanted to run. i wanted to run for miles on end.

it was a full week later when i noticed that some of mina's clothes were missing. i couldn't figure out how she had gotten things without me noticing.

i waited until seven that night, and walked to her office.

i hadn't planned what i was going to say. i didn't know what to say. i didn't know what she would want to hear.

i walked into her suite. the light on her desk was on, she was sitting in front of a thick file.

i looked around. no one seemed to be there with her.

'mina?' i asked, quietly. she looked up from her paperwork, eyes wide.

'you look like shit, david.'

'i feel like shit, mina. i can't sleep. i can't eat. i need to talk to you. i don't know what i want to say. but i just need to talk to you.'

'well you picked a bad night. i'm stuck here with this case. and what makes you think i want to talk to you? don't you think i would come to you if i was ready to talk to you?'

'i don't know that either of us will ever be ready, mina. i'm just trying to tell you that i am ready. if you want to beat the shit out of me, that's okay. if you don't want to see me again, i understand. i'm sorry for coming here. i didn't know what else to do. i didn't know where to find you.'

'yeah, well, i don't know what to tell you. when i'm ready to talk to you, i'll come home.'

i nodded once, slightly, and turned to walk out.

i kept waiting for her to call me back. but she didn't. so i kept walking.

and i walked past our home. i walked past the park. i walked past kate's. i walked all the way to the end of the path. it takes five times longer when you're walking.

i sat down on a bench. and i started to cry. i couldn't remember the last time i cried. it was probably at my father's funeral.

i held my head in my hands, elbows on my knees. i saw the scar from my accident with the guy on rollerblades. i cried harder.

i was sorry.

it didn't help or change anything. but i was very, very sorry.

mina came home a week later.

i was laying in bed. i'd put the tv back in the bedroom the first night, when she left, thinking it would help me fall asleep. or that it would hypnotize me into a state of relaxation when i couldn't.

i was watching the news and i heard the deadbolt turn and click.

i threw the sheets off and walked toward the kitchen. her suitcase was by the front door.

i just stared at her. i was going to pay, that i already knew. i started paying before i did anything wrong. so i knew i was done for when she finally came home to hash things out.

she was in the kitchen. it didn't make any sense to me, but she was going through the refrigerator, throwing away things that were no longer fit to eat. darwin was at her feet.

'mina, what are you doing?'

she looked at me with the refrigerator door open.

'what does it look like i'm doing? i'm cleaning out the fridge. what are you doing?'

i walked toward her. i wanted to hug her, to hold her. i didn't know if she was going to let me.

'i was laying in bed watching the news.'

'oh. did anything else change while i was away?'

she was like a striking snake. i waited a second, then said, 'no. just that.'

i was standing next to her. she shut the refrigerator door.

'listen, david. i came home because i thought i was ready to deal with you. but now that i'm here, i just want to leave again. i don't think i'm ever going to be ready.'

'i know. i know. please. just - yell at me. anything. just tell me what you're thinking. i've missed you. and i know that we will never be the same. i just want to get this out so we can talk again.'

'david, i don't even know where to start. i can't get any of this out of my head. it's all i think about. all day every day. and all night when i can't sleep.'

'well, just start with something.'

'i don't know how to start.'

i knew that she was sitting on an arsenal. i knew that once the floodgates opened, there would be no holding back. a barrage. dare i put the chisel to the wall and tap?

'alright. well, i know that it won't mean anything. but i am sorry. and i love you. i did something that was really stupid. and i know that you might not be able to forgive me. but i don't want you to leave again.'

to lie right now was not a wise choice. but the truth was, i did want her to leave. i wanted her to leave because i thought she wanted to leave. i wanted her to leave before all of this. everything that had been between us before i met kate pointed toward mina's exit.

i felt like she didn't love me. i felt like she wasn't happy, and i felt that she wouldn't be happy with me. it was why i thought there was someone else when she started working late. but i hadn't seen kate since the day mina left me. i hadn't left the house, except for the trips to her office, i'd been letting darwin out back for the most part, i only took him on a couple walks in the beginning. the thought of seeing kate terrified me.

she didn't know where i lived. and i had to assume that she knew i was caught when i disappeared. we'd never talked about 'what would happen if', and i think we both thought we could stay how we were and get away with it. we never talked about mina when we were together. it was as if my marriage didn't exist, only she knew it to be a fact because of the ring on my finger.

she hadn't spoken yet, when i realized how lost in thought i was. i came back to the table, where i was sitting next to her. i reached for her hand. she was still wearing her wedding band, which was a relief somehow. i put my hand over hers. she didn't move.

i stared her down.

i was surprised that she wasn't crying. she was a blank slate. she probably felt numb, as i did. when you go through all of these things in your mind for days on end, for two whole weeks, there is nothing left.

finally, she spoke.

'i don't know what to do now. part of me wants to tell you it's over. and leave. and go on with our lives. and part of me wants to forgive you and try to rebuild, start over. i don't know that i will ever trust you again. and that is not something i can live with. i cannot be married to a man i do not trust. and if you said you'd never do it again, i would never believe you.'

i nodded. i didn't want to say anything.

'i do not understand how you could do this. really, i cannot comprehend it. i remember when we were dating. we talked about this. you said you'd never be in a relationship with someone who had cheated. and you said that if you ever felt the desire to cheat, you'd get out of the relationship.'

'i know.'

'part of me thinks that this is my fault, part of me thinks that i set you up to fall. i was miserable. you were miserable. i was tired. i wasn't meeting your needs. i know that.'

i didn't move a muscle. i was squirmy, but held it at bay.

'but really, david. i mean, being unhappy is one thing. fucking someone who is not your wife is something else entirely. you never talked to me about being unhappy, you never told me that you weren't getting what you needed from me. you gave up. and you went somewhere else.'

'i know. mina, it's not your fault. it just happened.'

something flashed in her eyes.

'i HATE when people say that. it just happened. fuck you, david! sex doesn't just happen. it happens because you want it to happen. it happens because you let it happen. it happens because you take actions that ensure that it will happen.'

'i didn't mean-'

'yeah. i know. you didn't mean to hurt me.'

'that's not what i was going to say. what i was going to say was that i didn't set out to do it. and it didn't happen right away. it was just friendly.'

'until it wasn't just friendly.'

'i know it doesn't make sense. i know it sounds stupid. but it's the truth. i just made a friend. and one day, some time later, it wasn't that simple anymore.'

'the thing is, i picture you with her. and the thought of letting you so much as touch me with those same hands? i cannot even fathom it. i don't know how we can continue to be married. i don't know how i can ever have sex with you again. i don't want to. not ever.'

against my better judgment, words followed that i immediately regretted.

'well, mina, would you notice any difference?'

i put my head down. i knew it was wrong. but i couldn't help it. being attacked and worn down with her words had elicited a reaction. it was involuntary.

'how dare you.' she said. her words dripped with venom. she'd spoken through her teeth.

'i'm sorry. i didn't mean it.'

'you're getting pretty good at not meaning it.'

'please keep talking.'

'i don't really know what to say. i went to a psychologist last week. twice, actually. and she kept pointing out decisions i've made. and she asked me if i wanted to save our marriage, and i told her i didn't know. she asked me why i wanted to, and i couldn't come up with an answer right away. i do love you. i am your wife. we used to have fun. we used to be fun. now i hate my job, i hate my life, and i hate my husband.'

'hate is a strong word.'

'well, it's only a hint, in regards to how i feel toward you right now. hate is putting it lightly. i'm not happy at work. i'm exhausted. my heart isn't in it any more. i just do what i have to do everyday. and there is no break for me, no relief. because i come home and you're not happy to see me. because you're too happy to see someone else instead of me.'

she had finally started to cry. we sat in silence. i stood up from my chair, and stood next to her with my hand on her shoulder.

'i don't hate you, mina. that's not why i did this. i'm sorry. i'm sorry,' and then i was crying with her. and i pulled her up to hug her. because i hoped that if nothing else, this show of affection would remind her of how we are when we're together.

she let me hug her, she even hugged me back.

i held the back of her head. i held her hair in my fingers and rubbed her head. i rested my hand in the small of her back, and pulled her toward me.

we stood there like that until she had stopped crying. she pulled away to grab a tissue, and i kissed her. it was not as short-lived as i had expected it to be. she kissed me back, but caught herself and pulled away from me.

'i want to lay down.'

'ok. whatever you want.'

i watched her walk to get the tissues and thought about how beautiful she was. how beautiful she is. she didn't deserve this. i got into bed. darwin was already in the bedroom at the foot of the bed. he always hid when we argued.

she climbed under the covers in her work clothes. i wondered if she's been sleeping like this since she left me. so much stress makes you do crazy things.

sometimes i think she only stayed with me after that night to punish me.

to make me work hard, without any payoff.

to keep me honest.

to make me feel bad.

we had a few good days. days when i told her that i loved her. when i accompanied her to her shrink's office. days when we said we would work on it, work it out.

we had bad days, too. more often than not. days when she would be fine one second, and then burst into tears. fine one second, and then beating on my chest and yelling at me.

she made my life hell after that. she didn't want me, but she didn't want to let me go, either.

she didn't want to share me with kate or anyone else, but she didn't want me for herself.

i understood why one day when she was at work. i hadn't noticed that her suitcase was gone again.

there was a knock at the door late that afternoon.

a man in a uniform handed me an envelope.

in it were the divorce papers.

i sat that night, staring them down. i had been staring at them all day, and now all night. and it was dark out, and i hadn't gotten up to turn on a light. i was still staring at them, in the dark, when i couldn't even make out the shape of the papers on the desk anymore.

without thinking, i walked to kate's apartment. it had been a few weeks.

i rang her bell, and she buzzed me in, without knowing that it was me.

i stood at her door before i knocked. i could still leave. i could still walk away and not do this.

but i couldn't make myself.

i couldn't make myself, because i had no reason not to go in.

a new story. may 20th.

so i did that rtw exercise.

and just as before, i had an idea.

only instead of it taking 12 exercises, this time it only took 1.

so what i have decided to do, in an effort to stretch my comfort level and to try to write outside of my experiences, is to take a song. and essentially write the story behind it.

i've had damien rice's rootless tree stuck in my head for a full week now.

though the emotion in the song screamed things i was thinking, what the song is about is different.

so i thought i'd write the story that inspired the song.

i wrote it from a man's perspective, and tried my best to keep it as short as i could, while trying to include a lot of details that would lead to the emotions he wrote into his lyrics.

what i decided, as i started this story, is to attempt a collection of short stories. all of them based on songs i can't live without. or songs that are gestures. i want to paint the masterpiece.

in any case, i don't know if i'll succeed or fail. after giving the novel away, some feedback i got was to give stories away in chapters, so if there is a flaw, you don't have to go all the way back to the beginning. so by switching to short stories, maybe there is a way to get more feedback more quickly.

i need to get back to the novel. i'm putting it off, but i don't know why. i think because i only have a few edits. everyone else still has their copy. nate read the whole thing, but didn't edit as he went, so he's going to go back and re-read it.

that's that.

in other news, i bucked up today and went to the house to pick up my puppy daughter for some quality time at the dog park.

it was nice. it was hot and sunny, and there wasn't enough shade. we stayed for almost an hour.

ever's taking her tomorrow to get her hair and nails did, as we call it, for her birthday. her birthday is the fourth of july, but i guess they're fast-tracking it.

his birthday is in a couple weeks.

i'll be home for hers.

also, i looked up the info for the dark sky park trip i intend to take with kit.

there's one coming up in june and one in september. i think i'm going to buy a tent and try to go to both, if the one in june is awesome. i'm really excited about it. it's twenty days away!

i cannot wait to see the sky through astronomer's fancy telescopes. it will be a first for me. which is a little surprising, as into the sky as i am. i mean, i had a telescope back home when i was a teenager, but it was of the shitty variety, so i remember being in amazement of the moon, but that was really all that i could see with any detail.

what else is there?

this week at work was brutal. it was health inspection time, and i had a pop in surprise visit. once i managed to calm down from the initial panic attack i was fine. the girl was really nice, shockingly, and was joking around with me. which never happens.

but she approved our store, and i felt great. until she said she was going to see the others.

panic attack number two.

i ran ahead of her to the next store she was going to visit and made sure things were on the up and up and warned them that she'd be there soon, and to do their best.

so they did. and just like with me, she was joking around with them and didn't close the location, even though she should have, on a technicality. my employee who is 'in charge' of the location had his first vacation days in several years, so he wasn't there when she came through. oh, the timing...

so i ran to the third store, as she was on her way to the second one. panic attack number three, the worst one. i really had to tell myself to calm down, because i thought i was going to pass out. i thought, 'you're going to be of no use to anyone if you pass out right here on hamilton walk. pull it together.'

i got where i was going, and cleaned with lightning speed, and got out anything that would complicate the inspection.

sent the girl home who was working, about ten minutes before she was supposed to leave, so no one would be there when she came through.

i guess she couldn't find it, because she never showed up.

anyways... it was a narrowly escaped DISASTER.

but at the end of the day, on paper, it appeared to be a success.

so now work takes on a whole other meaning, as i dig into the next phase of the initial location. we're adding a lunch menu, complete with paninis in the next week or two. and business should double. or at least increase quite a bit.

and finally, there's scrabble.

scrabble with coffee.

keeping it simple. keeping it light.

i thought about letting him beat me the first game, so he'd play again.

but in the end, i didn't want to fake anything.

i did use some 'strategery' when i changed my picture to be one of me, from the trip home in december, that nina took. looking pretty darn smiley in front of the place where i met him. i didn't even think of that until just now. i just wanted the cute smiley pic.

the game was neck and neck. we were only ahead of each other by a few points each round. and i couldn't help but to think, 'see? it's a good matchup.'

and let my mind wander. he played 'moan'. never got those k-i-s-s tiles i wanted. or m-a-k-e-o-u-t.

but i hope he plays me again. starts a game. i don't want to instigate the next time.

it would be nice to have this as a reason to meet up with him when i go home.

'wanna play scrabs in person? i'll be home and would like a good challenge.'

not to mention, a game of scrabble, when it's a good matchup, can take up to two hours. that's a lot of time to drink a lot of things with alcohol in them, to ask little burning questions.

and for the record...

i beat him. not by much.

but i beat him with my last five tiles, and one l already on the board..

i beat him with the word 'lonely'.

correspondence. may 17th.


today was a brain breaker.

i feel okay right now. but i came to realize something today, in writing to the writer.

and it's not okay.

i'm not okay with it.

i don't know how it started. but we were writing notes back and forth.

and somehow i started talking about how leaving ever meant leaving the business.

and i blathered on about all the ways it has bummed me out, and all the ways it has changed the world that used to surround me.

i've written about that enough, but for some reason, i was going into more detail with him. i don't really know why.

but then something happened.

i was at work. today was graduation, so no one was around. they had catered the event. no one buys things where there's a building full of free stuff.

but i was stuck working, so i spent the majority of a day, between customers, piecing together a message to him.

what it came down to, in the end, was this:

i'm not so sure that i want the same thing that i think i wanted.

this is a general statement. obviously, it was true in my marriage. and now, i mean it in a different way.

i was explaining my dream.

the dream i've had since i was nineteen. since nina got me hired on at the coffee shop she worked at. for thirteen years, i've wanted my own cafe.

but in detailing it to the writer, as i was writing the words, i started to wonder if all of my coffee energy has been given to kenna's company.

and that, in three to five years, when i'm financially set to do my own thing, i might be completely burnt out. on a life filled with coffee.

i already feel myself heading in that direction.

i don't know what it was. something about the way i was explaining to him that i don't know where i want to be. i don't know where i want to live. i don't know what it looks like anymore.

i guess that as i've grown up and changed, so has my dream.

i'm going to cut and paste here, because it's easier than paraphrasing the thing...sorry for a lack of context, but i don't want to include his words here.

the business was his dream, not mine.

i was happy to help him, like i said - i loved it until i started to resent it.

because my dream is different. and from year two, he promised that every year he'd be set up in a year to let me have my turn with my dream. and every year, it would be another year. it was another factor in my decision. and he likes to tell people that i left him for a coffee shop. it's insane.

i waited for so long, with total faith that it would happen. but it never did. and in the meantime, a friend of mine left the company i work for to do what i wanted to do. and won best of the city awards every year since. it was heartbreaking, because she was only taking the business approach, she was in it for the money. on the other hand, my heart was in it, and it made me feel that it should've been me. that was four years ago. i've been holding a grudge ever since, because i wanted my turn.

but i know how awful it was to not have my dream, so i wouldn't ask him to give up his and go to a clock-in job so i could have my shot.

i have wanted my own cafe for almost as long as i've been working. since i worked with nina back home. pretty funny... it's all her fault.

the idea of my cafe has taken different shapes over the years, first i wanted it to be a venue where bands could play.

when i was doing angsty spoken word at nineteen, i wanted a place where people could do that, but i'm over that now.

i spent years at this one coffee house, and that place was exactly what i wanted. it was like being in a place where my dream was alive, and realized. but i was young, and it changed.

when i started working with ever, in my mind my cafe became a place that was a combination of things. a record store, a bookstore, consignment stuff, too. a multifaceted approach.

now, it's different. honestly, now i don't know what it is anymore...

the other thing, the MAIN thing, is that i don't know where i want it to be. i feel like my dream died to keep his alive, and now i am coming back to it.

i don't know if it will survive ultimately. i am afraid that by the time i get to it, i will be burnt on it, and won't want it anymore.

i think now that i'd incorporate craft beer into it, because that's what i'm into. at several points along the way, i wanted a coffee bar. i guess i'm back to that again. uppers and downers.

i have a new five year plan now. because when i finally do it, i'm going for it completely. i want to set myself up to be financially independent of it, in case it doesn't work. one of the things about doing this for someone else is that i've seen three stores i opened shut down, because they failed. and when it's my money, i can't lose everything if the unforeseeable happens. and in ever's case, his venture was less a business, but he didn't see it that way, so i have that experience under my belt also.

in any case, this city is pretty saturated. if i decided to stay here, i'm sure that i could make it happen. but this town feels small, and i feel like i'll always be in his shadow if i stay here. i'm committing to living here a year, and then i'll think about what i want to do. i have a feeling i'll be ready to leave in a year.

sometimes i think about living in new york, because i have a lot of fun when i go there, but i don't know if it's for me. it might only be fun to visit, like tahoe, but not to live.

when we got hitched and left home, i said i was never going back. i can only think of a couple reasons to go back on my word and move back. and i don't think they're worth it. it's stale and unchallenging, and it's not a city.

i moved here without ever having visited, i just left and trusted ever. and i do love it here. but if it weren't for him, i think i'd have been on the west coast again. he refused to even try life out west, so we came here. i lived in lake tahoe for a year when i was 21, and hated it. it was beautiful but boring and there was nothing culturally happening there.

but i fell in love with san francisco, only i don't know that i could afford to live there. if i had my way, i think that's where i'd live. it has everything i want, except seasons. but it isn't perpetual summer. anything is better than that.

so i need to travel. see what i see.

when i travel in the fall, i'm going to see my old roommate in tahoe, and my friend in sf. i have loose plans to see my friend in portland who has an organic farm of miniature vegetables with her girlfriend. and sacramento to see another friend.

i've never been to seattle or canada. though, in terms of coffee, i couldn't choose a worse location that seattle. i'm afraid when i go to either place, i won't want to come back. i felt at home on the west coast, despite being bored with the town where i lived. i never got to travel around, and i am finally making time for it now. i need a city, though, and sf/seattle provide that.

i guess that now i just want a place where people can be comfortable. i've been with the company i'm at now for seven years, racking up experience.

and since i came back to writing, now i'm thinking about self publishing my own stuff, as a side project. and if i can find a way to incorporate that with my other dreams, i think i'll be alright.

i hope i still want to do it by the time i'm set up for it. it might only take three years, because we'll sell the house in two and a half, and already have a ton of equity from buying it as a shell and gutting it. it's too bad you didn't get to see it. that house was one of the things in my life that i was most proud of. we kept as much of the original woodwork as we could salvage. and the kitchen i left behind still makes me cry.

thanks for listening/reading all this shit... it's making me think of things in different terms that i do when i just write about it without input and inquisition.

honestly, it's making wonder if i even want what i thought i wanted anymore.

yeah. fuckin a.

it's a bummer.

he even said it was sad.

what if a big part of why i left was to break free from his dream for my own, only to find that i abandoned that, too?

it was the thought and feeling behind it. he never made my dream a priority, and i made his dream my priority for seven years. in the beginning, it was every day. in the end it was once a week. but there was a constant flow of people into the house, so it affected almost every single day for the last year.

i'm not bragging. but everyone knows that he wouldn't be where he is without the help i gave him all those years. i think that the fact that he's carrying on without me and growing exponentially is probably going to bother me more a little down the road.

it's like building a plane by each individual component. and taking something like six years to put it together. it's not that you intended to fly it personally, but you at least thought you'd take a ride in it.

and then, the day it's finished, you realize there was only room for one seat, and you never equated that to you. and you don't have a pilot's license, so you can only admire it from afar. and you'll never get to ride in it, because you gave up your chance to learn to fly so that you could build the machine.


i don't want the glory. but would it fucking kill someone to just say, 'hey, tea. how are you doing? i've missed you. just because things didn't work out, it doesn't mean i can't still be your friend.'


maybe i need to even think about it, one step further. if ever's business was the plane, and he was the pilot, and i was the person who built it, what does that make my dream?

somehow giving up my dream meant that his came true. does that make it the fuel? no. the atmosphere? no.

what does that make my dream?

the writer was right. he said it was bittersweet. without the sweet.

that makes it bitter.

that makes me bitter.

at least i'm also honest.

i think i've got some thinking to do...

rtw 176. driving forces 5/16/10

i am plot-driven.

the character is almost always me, so that is not it. and where i feel i need most work is in character-driven storylines. i feel that my characters, when seldom they aren't me, fall flat.

sometimes i fall flat, too. because i recycle, repeat, and reuse.

and i'm not trying to find my place in the world, so my writing isn't universe-driven.

i write to clear my head. i write to tell my story. i write because i want to help someone. even if it just means that they don't feel abandoned and alone in their problems.

to succeed as a writer, i want to be relatable. i define success as someone saying, 'the way you said that? you put it perfectly. i have been there. i have felt that. reading your words took me back to that place.'

beyond that, to have a physical effect on someone is important to me, too. i want someone to laugh when i write something funny. to cry when i'm heartbroken, and my words reflect it.

to create a pit-of-the-stomach feeling in another body.

i've been told for years now that i'm not good in the communication department. but the thing i keep thinking is, 'what if you just weren't good at translating? what if you were such a shit listener that you just didn't hear what i was saying?' i think i word things pretty well, but usually only in writing. when it comes to dialogue, i am lacking.

i walk around all day, every day, with words swimming in my head. dreams, too, on occasion.

and the way i feel when i wake from a dream, if it is a good one, is the longing desire to keep the dream going. to do something to make it happen in real life, so that the dream can die and then live in another way.

one of the things i fear is that my writing will be compared to someone else's. because i'm suceptible to influence. if i'm reading something dark, i might start writing something dark.

if i'm enjoying the voice of an author, i might start using words they used.

it happened when i read post-birthday world. i read that book so intensely that i heard the narrator's voice in a british accent.

and my thoughts while i was reading, and in the week or so following, were in a brit accent. i didn't write anything other than the blog at the time, because i didn't want to borrow.

upon reading cruddy again, i see how similar my voice is to hers. i mean, she puts things in ways i never could, or would think to. but she NAILS it. and now i think in terms of 'freaking me completely' and 'freaking out' more than i did before i went back and read it again.

i guess what i lack is inspiration. i mean, the novel was inspired by late night sleepy thoughts, as i was drifting. and as it developed, it was purely drawn from my own dreams and my own life.

music is something i can't help but to let influence me. i'm writing in silence now, but it's only because i don't feel like getting up out of bed to put something on.

i just want people to have the feeling i feel when i read a good book or hear a song that alters my existence. when i think, 'god i wish those were my words. i've had those feelings, and said them in so many different ways.' but to condense words accurately into a line or two? that is a gift.

and i believe that if i practice, and try to stretch my boundaries and move outside of my comfort zone, maybe i'll get there.

maybe a place to start is to take a song and write a story about it.

because i can't come up with ideas for stories on my own. i keep hoping that if i do eleven more exercises from rtw, that a novel will pour out of my head again.

though i don't want to re-create the circumstances under which i wrote that book, there's something to be said for a perfect storm. i was so longing, so desiring, for a different situation to call my life, that i created a story.

i just want to be a vessel again. there are not words for how incredible that felt. i just started writing, and literally could not stop.

if the song that is stuck in my head serves as my muse, then that is something.

but all my favorite songs are heartbroken anyways, so am i really straying?

i fear not.

also, i depend on people to affect me in that way, too. if there is a boy to write about, i'm a well. but if there is not, then i find that i have nothing to say.

because i'm secluding myself romantically from boys right now, maybe that's where the dried up feeling comes from. not that i'm a romance novel writer, but i tend to not stray too far from matters of the heart.

i have always believed that i'm only good when i'm heartbroken. i'm only inspired when i am writing about how someone makes me feel, or how i want someone to make me feel.

i need to change this belief. i don't know how to do that.

olfactory. may 15th.

the way i feel is an audible groan.

annoying neighbors across the street (not to be confused with the glee club next door) threw a party. first sign of trouble was a girl screaming, repeatedly for ten minutes, 'i don't have herpes. stop telling everyone i have herpes. stop spreading rumors about me. i don't have herpes.'

yelling at the neighborhood that you don't have herpes doesn't make it so. dumbass.

later some girl was saying 'shut UP!' and not in the way that would've been intended to silence someone. in the stacy whatshername way from that makeover tv show. i can't stand her. but makeover shows are a guilty pleasure. i always wanted to be one of those ambush makeover people.

anyway, some girl was squawking 'spread your legs more. oh my god! how long has it been since you peed?' to her friend.

someone was peeing. on the sidewalk. in front of the house. allegedly.

i wouldn't have believed it, but then some guy was yelling 'what are you guys doing out here?'

and the girl bragged about peeing on the sidewalk and showed him the puddle.

i didn't see anything. i didn't have my glasses on. and the streetlight was making it so that everything was shadows. this was all being yelled. right outside my bedroom window. painting an unfortunate picture in my brain.

i fucking hate retarded drunk people. screaming, yelling ridiculous conversations. just to hear themselves speak.

don't get me wrong. i'm giggly when i'm drunk. but drunk stupid people are the worst. and people three blocks away can't hear my laughter.

anyways, i'm awake again.

too much on my mind. despite distractions.

i spent a lot of time tonight reading the writer's blog. it's older, different from the photography one that is easy to keep up with, thanks to facebook.

there are so many short stories. i read them until my eyes burned, saved my place, and got into bed.

i would kill for an ounce of that talent. to write stories that are fiction.

i don't know. i guess my fiction is still me, for the most part.

i just want to write something that isn't me at all.

to separate.

i don't know how.

i was also thinking, pouring a glass of water in lieu of a second beer... when i read a story he writes, or when i read a story nate writes, i always picture them as the character.

is that normal?

it doesn't matter much what the story is or what's happening. but in my mind's eye it plays like a movie, and it is always the author who is the character.

maybe that's why i want nina to illustrate my novel for me. so it eliminates that possibility, if i'm not the only person who does that.

because i have a clear picture of what charlie looks like. not really anyone else. they're more mixes of people i know.

i wish the thing was done. i wish i was in production mode. because i cannot wait to build the books. hold it in my hands for the first time. touch the fabric cover and flip the pages.

i want it so badly.

i want it to be good.

i don't know that it is.

i want to send everyone copies of it.

i want it filed on my bookshelf.

today was a strange day. i keep saying that. writing that.

i had a ton of laundry to do. from when my family was here staying with me, and just from living these past two weeks since i moved out of my-your.

my next apartment is going to have to have laundry. this is too annoying. that was too convenient.

kit's away, so i took all the laundry over there in the car. the stackable there is tiny, you can't wash much at once.

and until today, when i figured out the lint catcher, it would take like six cycles to dry.

what i pulled out of the lint catcher was unreal.

it was scary.

but i was proud of myself for figuring it out today, because i couldn't in the two months i was there. and kit didn't either.

and i looked. more than once.

anyways, so i started the first load. and turned on her tv. and started flipping channels.

it felt good, in a way. because i think i needed a mental break, to just zone out in front of the tv.

and i accidentally found a movie. all of three minutes into garden state, i found it.

and parked it.

i remember loving that movie. but i only saw it once.

i remember loving the soundtrack even more.

and even though i remember the story of zach braff discovering the shins and making their music part of the movie, i forgot that he wrote it.

i forgot a lot about it.

and rewatching it definitelly affected my mood.

i was already feeling odd. i woke up late, drank a bunch of coffee, and sat online for a while. then went over.

but seeing it again, it made me wistful. it made me want to meet some random boy and see what happens. i'm silly. he's squishy. i'm a prude. he gets attached. he goes to leave. i get left behind.

sounds pretty familiar. sounds an awful lot like my days with the sun.

i remembered them being on top of a truck. but didn't remember them screaming into the abyss. and i've been screaming lately. i love that it was in the rain. i wish i'd been dripping wet, screaming in the rain. how poetic.

and i didn't remember him kissing her then. but that was my favorite part, i think.

i remembered the little funeral in her yard.

i forgot the end completely. i forgot his story regarding his mother. i forgot about the drugs, and the filming of the scenes where he sits still and everyone else is moving at light speed.

the end did kindof annoy me, but it also made me cry. so it was effective, if nothing else.

i'm glad that my memory sucks, most of the time. i write down what i want to remember. everything else can seem like a surprise later. i have a horrible memory for movies and books. i blame it on my adhd that i've never been formally diagnosed with, but suffer from.

i took jonathan strange with me, to see if i could read more of that. i didn't think to go to the bookstore until i was watching the movie and well into laundry. i hate not finishing a book. especially one i'm 450 pages into. but i just don't know if i can make it. it's so slow. it's so long. whine, whine. and yes, i'd like some cheese with that.

i read only a couple chapters, during the baseball game i watched from start to finish - all four hours of it - after the movie ended.

so i guess i was there for six hours. maybe seven.

it was a long time.

i got a lot done.

and then i came home, excited to get online. only no one was there for a while.

i guess today was lonely for me. after that movie, i wanted a boy to curl up with in my bed. tangled feet. his hand on my bare belly, spoons.

and i just didn't have that. not even a contender. not even a thought of where to start to try to find one.

i guess that's the thing about this whole being-alone-for-six-months thing.

it's not that it's gonna be okay.

it's that it's okay to feel.

it's that it's okay to have fun again.

it's that it's okay to want someone around.

i wish i had a friend who did that for me. i kindof think of rob in that way.

the guy i'd be curling up with and falling asleep next to.

but you can only do that for so long and keep it platonic.

i know myself well enough to know that i'd be tempted to nuzzle. and it's all downhill from there. which is why i cannot.

reading cruddy, she talked about boy smell. in a good way. not in an ever-forgot-to-bathe-for-the-fourth-day-in-a-row way.

i miss boy smell.

i miss boy deodorant.

i miss the slightest change in a room when a boy has recently passed through it.

it's not even a cologne thing. i mean, i went through that phase. but it hasn't been a factor in many years.

it can be as simple as shampoo. or laundry detergent that isn't what i use.

my sense of smell has always been keen. i smell things before other people. i smell slight variations in scents.

so if a boy has passed through my space, i am aware of it.

and no boy is passing through my space.

and no matter how much time passes, i can remember what each boy in my life smelled like.

and to this day, when i smell those scents, i am transported back to them again.

the sun smelled like tea tree oil sometimes, because he put it in his dreads. but he always smelled like speed stick. the clear brown one. i have used it on and off since before i met him, just because i love it so much. but he smelled like that.

coffee smelled like pantene. and i know he liked sandalwood. and burned a lot of champa. but who didn't, in that circle? i used to burn it in my car and my room. everywhere i went, i wanted that smell. i bought champa oil so that i would smell like that, but it just wasn't the same.

it is my absolute favorite smell. vanilla is a close second. coconut might tie vanilla.

the bartender smelled like clean laundry, but it was his cologne. joop for men. i worked with this boy who wore it years later, and it used to make me crazy.

chris smelled like aspen. it was high school. i can be forgiven.

my dad wore cool water forever. i liked it so much, i used to wear it.

what can i say? i've always liked boy smell. so much so that i often partake.

i broke from that a while back.

forever my favorite perfume was angel. but i can't afford it. well, couldn't. so i stopped wearing it. before that, briefly, i liked rush. but it was too sweet, and too many jersey girls here smell like it, so i'm now completely over it.

a few years back, i discovered egyptian musk. nina had me hooked on china musk since nineteen. she had a bottle in her car that was green oil with a white lid. that was the best one. henry honda smelled like that. on the same token, my car has a bottle of egyptian musk in it, which spilled out, so now my car has that smell.

i alternate now between a warm amber perfume that is spicy and comforting to me, and coconut vanilla musk, which smells like a day at the beach: warm skin, suntan lotion.

i found this bottle of sandalwood oil when ever and i got married and moved up here. we stopped at south of the border, and in their gift shop, they had this oil. it smelled fantastic. it was the best sandalwood scent i've ever found. but the lid wouldn't seal, and now i have two boxes of bathroom stuff that smells like the oil, and no bottle anymore. i don't know if it can be replaced. but the first couple years i lived here, that is what i smelled like. something about it reminded me of my grandfather. the hair cream he uses. top brass. love that smell.

at kit's the other day, i found a bottle of sandalwood perfume that she has. but it smelled much better in the bottle than it did on me.

everyday i use sandalwood soap that i buy in chinatown in high volume. i've learned that a bar lasts anywhere from two to four weeks. i wish it stayed on my skin, but it just doesn't. the smell when i'm in the shower is one of the best things about getting out of bed in the morning.

other than my own smells, and boy smells, there are other smells i love.

the way my favorite aunt's house smells for instance.

the way my clothes smell when i'm home and do laundry there.

the way my car smells when i remember to buy those cans of coconut scent that only last for a few days.

the way my apartment smells after i clean the floors.

i love the smell of breakfast cooking, minus the eggs, despite the fact that i never eat it.

i love the smell of a hot oven, with sweet things baking inside.

from the time i was little, i loved the smell of pumping gas. i always used to leave the windows down when i fill the tank. but i think i'm outgrowing that one.

there are a lot of things i love the smell of.

it's after two.

at least now i'm tired. i have to go to bed early tomorrow night, because i'm up at 530 on monday and tuesday.

i hate thinking about work on sunday. i hate having to prepare a day early.