distraction no. 99: 2006 in Review

I started posting sporadically in this blog in 2006. I started by carrying some older posts from another anonymous blog over here as a tease. Then I deleted that anonymous blog and stayed here for good. Now, apparently, I can’t stop. So here’s to a new addiction, or, I should say distraction… I tell you—it’s loads better than watching TV.

Both Litlove and Charlotte inspired me to dig through my archives to see how this blog followed me through the year of 2006. Here are snippets from the first post of each month:

January 2006

In Which the Universe Revolves Around Me: I was telling a coworker today that I think I am being tested. She leaned in, eyes wide, By who? she said.

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February 2006

Today: is my birthday. Today is also the day I received (via email, via the account of her assistant) a rejection for my novel from a prominent agent who I had tangled myself up in hope thinking perhaps-maybe-you-never-know-i-could-be-lucky that she might like the thing this time.

*

March 2006

Something to Make Me Laugh: I came home to a rejection letter in the mailbox. This one to a short story. Which one, who knows, I haven’t checked yet. Anyway, it’s one of those tiny little slips, like they squeezed as many as they could onto one sheet of paper and cut it up again and again.

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April 2006

There Must Be a Metal Plate in My Head: Or a scrambler. Or some kind of forcefield around me that blocks radio waves. Or [insert scientific explanation here]. Because apparently telephone calls do not reach me. People must not be calling me back because they cannot call me back. If they do, the messages are eaten by the black hole that surrounds my body. And everyone knows that once you step into a black hole, you fall endlessly in nothingness and can’t get out.

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May 2006

View from My Desk Last Year: This was my desk a year ago, when I spent a month at the MacDowell Colony, an artists’ colony in New Hampshire and, I suspect, the most incredible colony in the entire country. My studio was much, much bigger than my apartment in Manhattan. There was a chandelier that couldn’t fit in this photo. Sometimes I paced the large red carpet in the middle of the studio, trying to find my next line. Then it would come and I’d rush behind the desk to write it down. Also, there were spiders, and I was afraid to sleep in the total silence at night—I missed the horns honking and bar noise of Manhattan—but I look at this image now and remember only how productive I was. Will I be that productive again?

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June 2006

It Rains: Thunder directly above our building, cracks and flashes in the airshaft. Then the patter of water hitting the air-conditioning unit; when it gets heavy, I wonder if it will fall. I love the rain.

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July 2006

After Running to 6th Avenue to Catch the Public Library Before It Closed: I came away with five books. Here are the first sentences of each…

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August 2006

The Life Coach: I was witness to a life-coaching session at Starbucks this morning. Sitting beside me was a woman and her coach, talking openly about how to move forward her life and her career. I know she needs an apartment (that’s step one). I know who she needs to call for dismemberment insurance and for a job. I felt like I was hiding in the curtains during a therapy session. Then I wondered, might the coach know my own next step and who should be on my list of people to call?

*

September 2006

Jumbled Thoughts on a Saturday Morning: It’s raining faintly, the kind of rain that’s just wet enough you think you need an umbrella but also the kind that when you put the umbrella up the wind grabs it and turns it inside out so really it’s better to get barely wet with no umbrella than think you’ll stay dry through the struggle. I once lost an umbrella this way—it flew away. Someone could have gotten hurt.

*

October 2006

Finished: I finished the 1st draft of the freelance novel late last night, emailed it in to the editors, and then opened the file to find a mistake on page 1: I’d noted (X words) on the front in big block letters to announce the word count, and forgot to fill in the X. Oh well.

*

November 2006

Something Different: I’ll be attending a literary writers conference starting tonight. No, not hack writers who write for tiny bits of cash under fake names, but real writers, the kind I’ve always wanted to be.

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December 2006

Urgent Announcement: *Seems I Have a Double!*: I took myself out to lunch at a place I’ve been to before. The waitress saw me come in and looked at me strangely. She said, “Sit anywhere you’d like.” So I took the last table along the wall of windows, even though a discarded tip and old water glass was still there, and I stared out at the street for some time.

*

Finally, here is my first-ever post on WordPress, titled Sunday Morning:

Out walking Sunday morning before most people are up. Few cars in the streets. The firemen spray the sidewalk in front of their firehouse with a hose. A broken bottle on the corner maybe from a drunken fight last night. The park is being cleaned by women in matching blue T-shirts and garbage bins on wheels (some kind of community service?). They discuss men as they wheel the bins around, commiserate with each other. The fountain is on and a few silent people sit watching. On the bench beneath the knotted tree a man and woman sleep, a giant suitcase by their side. The man sleeps sitting up, slumped forward over his knees. The woman sleeps sideways on the bench, her head as close to him as she can get it without actually touching him. I saw them yesterday morning, too, same bench, same grubby suitcase. The man was yelling at the woman yesterday, telling her to listen, did she hear what he said? Now, this morning as I pass they both snore. Wonder if they live there on that bench, have nowhere else to go. This is the same tree under which some mornings people meet and shake hands a lot. Don’t look too closely, don’t want to know what they’re handing off. Past the park, every restaurant is closed. Chairs up on tables, gated windows. Two boys swaying drunkenly as they walk down the block, passing me loudly, their night not yet over. The newsstand is boarded up. The light is green when I reach Broadway, but there are no cars so I cross through the Don’t Walk sign. There is no line at the coffee shop. In the display windows of the clothing store all the models have had their clothes removed. They stand there, posed plastic, naked. One window contains only naked torsos, perfectly smooth, blank heads. The others show the naked bodies reaching out toward each other, saying nothing. An old man walking a dog stops and looks. In the far window, a store employee slowly dresses the models. She has three more wide windows to go. I reach my building, sign in at the guard’s desk. Each morning he watches a movie on a tiny portable screen, doesn’t even look up. This morning he has let a strange woman use his telephone. She cries. He looks at me helplessly, as she is holding his pen. I sign in with my own pen, up the elevator, and here I am.

 

Today, as it happens, is Sunday, and I am in the same building as I was then. I want just what I wanted then: to have a good writing day, simple as that.

Now a whole new year is set to begin. I hope to keep writing in this blog. I hope to keep writing, period. I hope to look back on the year 2007 and feel like I accomplished something meaningful, whatever that may turn out to be.

I won’t make a “resolution”—not out loud, not yet. I’ll just hope for things, and keep moving ahead.

Thanks for reading me. Happy 2007!

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