My Habitat

Do you know that place you see in a movie with that milky translucent plastic hanging up everywhere and covering the counters and the doors and the walls and you just know whoever lives there is going to be murdered? That’s where I am right now. Add in the sound of sledgehammers smashing into the floor and shattering tile and you’ve got it exactly right.

Repairs from the big flood are still going on. I guess this can be seen as a metaphor for the revision process in writing, but mostly it’s just distracting. I chewed a whole pack of gum in four minutes. Tile shards are everywhere, and the dog didn’t listen to me when it was time for it to go outside and instead alternated between trying to herd me and running away from me.

I am trying to edit in a murder house.


People Watching

Whenever I’m feeling low on inspiration, I go to a public place and observe. Nowhere too busy; that can get overstimulating. 


I settle down. I am a creeper. I listen to snippets of conversation, jot down what people are wearing, their distinguishing features. The way their voice sounds, what they remind me of, similes and metaphors I can wring out of the world around me.


Within each person is a multitude. Endless worlds within worlds. Universes of potential living between their synapses, down to the smallest choice, which Is the result of a myriad of other choices and their lives blossom out like fractals. 


Listen. Watch. Remember that people are as varied, complex, terrified, insecure, ecstatic, exhausted, furious, and disinterested as you are. The characters will follow.

How to Make an Introvert Cry in a Gas Station in Five Easy Steps

First: Be an eight year old girl who says, indignantly, when you guys pass within a foot and a half of each other, “She didn’t even say excuse me.” The introvert will brush it off, eighty seven-percent sure she at least mouthed ‘Pardon me.’ The introvert is too busy thinking about how to write about the apocalypse to give it too much thought.

Next: Bring your large, loud mother into the gas station to confront the introvert, who is in line to buy a Diet Sunkist, having decided that it’s economical and the day is hot.

Third: When the introvert tries to say something close to an apology, your large, loud mother with three gold teeth that the introvert can see clearly as she speaks, says that she must have a guilty conscience because she was just talking to her daughter (they have nothing to buy but they’re standing in line, talking about the introvert, pointing to her; the introvert’s face begins to heat). The large, loud mother says that some people have no manners.

Fourth: The introvert knows she should shut up but she keeps trying to make the situation better. The mother and daughter storm out with the self-righteous bearings of a superhero and sidekick.

Fifth: The introvert still has to buy the drink and try to smile and act like a human while everyone who has ever been born is staring at her, including the people who are there with their luggage waiting for the bus.

Okay, so. Not my proudest moment. I have to change the sign hanging on my bedroom door to ‘0 Days Since My Last Major Social Humiliation.’ I measure my self-worth based on how long it’s been since I’ve cried in public, which I do not do because I’m sad but because I’m frustrated or embarrassed and my eyeballs like to vent their frustrations/embarrassments in the form of salty water no matter where I am and how much it will compound my discomfort.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. I can see this as a point of pride. Because I am the way I am, I have a greater consciousness of what people around me are going through. Because I am the way I am, I have more patience with the people around me. It makes me a better writer. It makes me a better human. So instead of feeling ashamed of myself, from now on I’m going to see moments like this as what they are: reminders that humiliation isn’t always bad, sometimes it actually does build character.