Flickers of Nonsense

I have been watching terrible TV. Yes, amid complaints of not having enough time to write my own fiction I am taking the time out of my life to sit before the flickering box and watch reality shows about nothing. It’s the people in them that fascinate me. I like people-watching and eavesdropping on strangers, says my excuse, but really the fact is that after a morning of writing on deadline and a day of working toward more deadlines and then the subway ride home I just want to lounge around and do absolutely nothing. I deserve as much, don’t I?

This one particular show that I forced E to sit through last night involves a father and daughter. The father is belligerent. The daughter has not spoken to him, until now, for years. Everyone blames her for her father’s behavior—they see him in her; and she can’t get away from it.

I, myself, have not spoken to my own father for years. I want nothing to do with him. But I would probably be seen as his, no matter how far or long I separate myself.

In the show, the father chooses to save his daughter from a game eviction instead of saving himself.

I turned to E and I said: My father wouldn’t have done that for me, would he?

And E said: No, definitely not. He would have saved himself.

And I don’t know why this bothered me—like my father and I would ever be in the same room, let alone on a reality game show together—but it did.

* * *

Speaking of mindless entertainment, I am reading a fun book at work. It is about vampires. Teenage vampires. I don’t tend to read fantasy or whatever-something-about-vampires would be in real life. I like literary fiction. I haven’t even read Harry Potter. (Please don’t reprimand me about that! I’ll read the series someday, I’m sure.)

But reading this manuscript at work has become a guilty pleasure. I am reading it over the freelance copy editor, entering my own edits, prepping it for the editor and author to see. It’s work. It’s due soon. And yet…

And yet all I want to do is read it! I have other work to do aside from it, and I keep getting interrupted with more urgent things, but all I want to do is close the door and keep reading. It’s addicting.

Who am I, this person dying to get to her desk to see what happens to the vampires, feeling sorry for reality-show contestants, not writing anything worth showing to anyone else?

It’s an odd summer.

* * *

I like my new boss. We had a conversation about books once—he was reading Miranda July’s short story collection and I was asking questions because I wanted to read it—and lo and behold he came into my office yesterday to lend me the book. I was excited because I still have it on hold at the library, and with the queue of people ahead of me it’ll take MONTHS before the book is in my hands. To anyone who knows me, really knows me, they will know that I adore short stories. (They are so delicious.) So, borrowing a short-story collection can easily make my day, and this one did.

I’ll start reading this weekend.

* * *

I have goals when it comes to this current freelance project. The comment on my last post was right: I need to stop this. It will be over by the end of September. In the meantime, I have to be focused to make these deadlines. My goal for today is to finish chapter 3.

I have not yet finished chapter 3.

The scene takes place in a circus.

And here is where I’m stuck: riding around in a clown car, juggling sticks of hissing dynamite, unable to get to the next page.

It’s an odd summer indeed.

5 responses to “Flickers of Nonsense”

  1. Miranda July was highly recommended, so when you read it let me know what you think. I’m afraid to read any short story collections at the moment – performance anxiety you see. 🙂

    Oh and the vampire book sounds fun!


  2. I understand your feelings about your father. That is how I am with my mother. As a matter of fact, LK and I were talking the other day and she asked how my mother is going to respond to our relationship in the long term sense. I replied that I don’t think my motehr thinks about me much. This is something I just accept, but something that seemed to bother her.

    As for random flickerings, that is how my whole day has been today. At 10 am, I have already:

    sidestepped financial catastrophe
    traded change with a pan-handler
    annoyed my lover by waking her and got called a “5-year-old”
    caught co-workers lying about their time on the job
    Covered this city from North to south three times

    Not bad for a days work


  3. Niki, I can’t wait to read your book. And I love the title, btw. To those of you who don’t know yet, her short story collection is called 29 Ways to Drown and it comes out soon in the UK. When in the US????
    Slynne, What a day you had. And I’m glad that someon else understands. I realize it sounds cold, but it’s just the way it is; I don’t know how else to explain it.


  4. Speaking of teenage vampires — did you ever read the Weetzie Bat books? Goth teens in Los Angeles — the kind of cool I always wanted to be when I was stranded in the middle of an Illinois cornfield.

    Sounds like you’re doing a good job taking care of yourself. That’s what is most important.


  5. Oh my god, you watch Big Brother. That show is, as you might say, the flickering nonsense of all nonsense…and I watch it too. Even if I’m usually too snobby to admit it.

    You don’t speak to your father. I don’t speak to my father.

    I am getting a bit frightened here. It’s like one day I was doing a search for MFA/writing blogs and came across the me who lives in New York with a fancier name and some dude named E. Where will I find myself tonight, or tomorrow, or next week?

    Yikes. Just promise me you’ll keep writing so I find out how the New York me turns out. 🙂


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