NaNoWriMo: Help Wanted

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Help me fight the dreaded blank screen

I need your help with NaNoWriMo this year. In case you didn’t know (because you’re not a nerdy writer) NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month which is in November. It’s a time for celebrating one of the most beloved forms of writing in America and also a time of self-flagellation. Because hidden behind the guise of frivolity is the dark underbelly of NaNoWriMo where some crazy writers attempt to write at least 1,000 words a day, with the hopes that at the end of the month they’ll have enough material for a novel. I’ve always thought that seemed damn near impossible and I laughed and pointed at my friends who attempted the month-long challenge. Meanwhile, for several years during and after graduate school I dubbed November WriPoEvDay or Write a Poem Every Day and took a crack at my own personal torture. April is actually National Poetry Month, but I think poems are better suited to the long nights of November. I did some soul searching and I came to the conclusion that I have no desire to write a novel but I also contain within me the equal lack of desire to write poems. Instead I’d like to write small bits of nonfiction — 150 words per day. And this is where you come in. Continue reading

When the Mask Slips

Rosamund Pike as Jane Bennet 'PRIDE AND PREJUDICE' FILM - 2005
Sweet, sweet Jane, the world is a dark, dirty place.

I wanted to write some long piece about Gone Girl and how much I loved the movie, and how it stayed true to the book while also being an entertaining film, and also something about how much I relate to Amy Dunne, which I know is a strange (and honestly, scary) thing to say about a woman like her, but I really do feel a kinship with her and all women who have been cool girls until they couldn’t be cool girls any more, because haven’t we all tried to be the people others wanted us to be only to fail and disappoint them anyway?

I wanted to say powerful things about societal expectations of women, and blah, blah, fucking blah. Imagine I did express my opinion with such profound ideas, you stopped reading right here to look around seeing the world for the first time. Imagine, I didn’t, because that’s closer to the truth. Amy Dunne, you dark, cynical bitch: I understand you and I love you still. I love myself, too.

And Gillian Flynn, I love you, too. You said the words that live inside so many of us without flinching. Thank you for being willing to put both hands in the muck, to raise the truth up to the light and show us exactly what lives below the surface.

Rain is Not a Reason

The shortcut A few days ago, I stumbled upon a nature trail in my own backyard. My dog, Kokanee, hadn’t been on a long walk in a few weeks and I was feeling the guilt that many dog owners understand. We’d cross the street from my apartment complex to one of the north-end practice fields of Reed College, and reached the farthest point of our usual walk, when I decided to keep going. I’d seen students come up from this little gravel road and I assumed it was a shortcut from one side of campus to another. Midway down the rocky road, I noticed a trail off to the right. Curious, I led Kokanee down, and it wasn’t long before I found a sign that read, “Wildlife Habitat”. I got excited, but before I got too far, I thought about that fact that I didn’t have my phone and no one knew where I was.  So, I led Kokanee back up the path to the gravel road and we headed home.

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Today, we went back. It started  raining last night and has been coming and going all day. When I told friends I was moving to Portland, most of them were concerned about the rain and how I would deal with the long, grey winters. I’ll admit, I am still a little worried about it. But whenever I worry about something I try to come up with a plan with how to deal with the anxiety if, and when, it comes. I asked myself what my biggest concern was about the ran. And the thing I came back to the most was the fear of feeling cooped up. I tried to think about it logically. I told myself that just because it was raining, wasn’t a reason to not go out. In fact, when it was raining, I would force myself to do even more than I would do on a perfectly sunny day. In comparison, I would never willingly go on a hike in the rain in North Carolina and I’ve already experienced one kinda dangerous rainy hike in Washington. But if I had that attitude here, I’d never hike again.

Continue reading

Life on a Dime

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In case I forget here I am in the middle of the night.

In the experiment that has been “Monet & TJ Move to Portland” many discoveries have been made. The biggest and the most impactful has been how we’ve handled our subsistence on one income. We relocated here with $10,000 in combined savings, an amount that incredibly after just one month was gone. It was a month of beer and fine dining. It was a month of plenty. And if I could do it again, our rent would be paid two months in advance and we’d have some money in savings. But that’s easy to say now.

For me, the four months since I left my job at Elon has been the longest period of unemployment of my adult life. Now that I think about it, I’ve never left one job without having another lined up since I started working at my local grocery store as a teenager. I’ll admit that I enjoyed unemployment longer than I admitted to my closest friends.  With all the time, I could read and write and overall be a lot less stressed. But I was raised to work and pull my weight, and it didn’t take long after reaching Portland that I began to feel like a burden to TJ. Continue reading