Portrait of the Anti-James

I wrote the following short story several months ago but only rediscovere and edited it today. It’s almost entirely based on a dream I had, with some logistical hole filling. I sometimes dream about getting mad at James (my amazing boyfriend). I think it’s because I don’t get mad at him very much in real life.

The story might be extremely offensive to some people, but know that it’s a product of random brain cells colliding into each other, not my actual opinions of things in real life.

The story has no ending because it ended when I woke up, and I haven’t thought of a satisfactory ending yet. I’ll just leave it like this for now.

—-

This morning James told me he was going to an “apology party” for some girl at his high school. Her name was Madeleine Algory. As a sophomore, she was persecuted for getting pregnant and trying to keep the baby. Apparently, the PTA almost literally crucified her. Jesus Christ. James explained that this was back in the day when everyone in Southern California was a bigot. Nowadays only an annoyingly slight majority of them are bigots.

So, it’s the 10-year “anniversary” of the almost-crucifiction (again, Jesus!), and they were holding an apology party (I’ve never even heard of such a thing). Only alumni who were in school at the time were allowed, no guests. A very exclusive party. Typical So-Cal.

Before we left for work this morning, James asked me if I’d be willing to give one of my rings to this girl.

He said, “I feel like I should get her something, but I don’t have time to pick something up after work.”

Typical.

“A ring would be a nice, small gesture,” he said.

Small? Maybe in size, but not definitely not in gesture. Jesus, James.

“Are you kidding me?” I said, “Look at my jewelry, James. It’s not like I have a lot. And do I wear them? No. Why? Because they’re all keepsakes. Okay, maybe I’d be willing to give away this skull and crossbones ring. I don’t even know where it came from, and it makes my skin turn blue. But I don’t think it would be appropriate, do you?”

“You’re not willing to give up any of these? I mean this one’s completely fake looking.” He held up a ring with a gold-colored band and a red heart.

I‘d had that ring since elementary school. It came in one of those capsules that popped out of a little gumball machine. That was back when those capsules were only one quarter instead of two.

“Here’s an idea,” I said, “Why don’t you buy her a ring on your way to work, and I’ll walk to work myself.

I stormed out of there. Ugh.

I had a great day at work and came home much earlier than planned. I wasn’t looking forward to having the apartment to myself until James got back from his party, but it turned out I needn’t have worried. I opened the door to my apartment to find James making out with some blonde.

Oh yeah, it was awkward.

“Um, Sonica, this is Madeleine Algory.”

Oh my fucking god, it was that girl. Wow. Just wow. That would explain the ring. I felt like such an idiot. But since when did James have the integrity of a Wall Street suit? The lies, the cheating, the shamelessness. I never would have believed he would do this. Ever.

As she was leaving, I looked around the room to figure out how to divvy up our stuff.

“The couch was about $900 plus tax,” I said. “We split it on two credit cards when we paid for it. So you can pay me $400 for it. I’m taking those shelves and the ones upstairs.”

Yeah, that’s right. That was the first thing I said to him. I’m still proud of that. Way to keep a level head at a time when other girls would have broken down and said things they regretted.

But I wasn’t level-headed enough.

I went upstairs to throw some clothes in my suitcase. My plan was to pack enough for a few days, take refuge in a nap pod at Google that evening, and find temporary housing on craigslist. As I lugged my biggest suitcase into my bedroom, my eyes fell on the jewelry stand. I paused for a second. Then I walked over. Skull and crossbones, check. Ring with small fake diamonds along the band, check. Platinum diamond ring that my dad gave me… Oh god, it wasn’t there. Did he really? Could he have, really really?

“JAMES!”

He walked upstairs.

“Did you take my diamond ring?”

“Yes,” he said to the carpet.

“Oh my god, James. My dad gave that to me. It’s platinum and real diamond. What the fuck were you thinking? Go and get it back right now, or I’m calling the cops.”

“Calm down, Sonica, there’s no need to call –”

He did not just tell me to calm down. I grabbed my phone. “You still haven’t left yet. I’m calling the cops right now.”

“Okay! I’m going!” He backed out and made sure I was putting my phone away, then ran out of the apartment. Fucking asshole.

I ripped hangers off the rack by the handfuls and dumped the clothes in the suitcase, hangers and all. I never understood why, in movies, people packed things with hangers still on them. It was so space-inefficient. But now I understood completely. It was time-efficient. When you just want to get the hell out of there, and you were coming back for the rest of your stuff later anyway, you didn’t bother taking the hangers off.

Two posts in one day? That’s unpossible!

I’m applying to some freelance writing jobs, so I need to post a sample of my writing. Here’s a relatively short piece.

Ch 12: A Blind Eye

“Why doesn’t Simon ever put his tray away?” Anne asked Pennie. “Not that I mind,” she added as she grabbed an unfinished chicken leg from his plate.

The three of them had gotten into the habit of sitting together. At first Simon claimed that he sat with them because he enjoyed the rumors. But novelty wore into habit, and soon it was their place at the Mess Hall.

“It must be a nobility thing,” said Pennie, “Putting away a tray is servants’ work. I haven’t been able to figure out why he never waits for us to finish before leaving, though.”

Anne had her own suspicions about why Simon left early. It was a hard-earned lesson about nobility that she had learned many years ago.

It had been late in the evening, and a hungry, eight-year-old Anne had found a large clump of freshly thrown out rice in a garbage heap behind the Mare’s Mane. The rice was still moist and fluffy and perfectly good, aside from bits of hair at the edges. Instead of taking her prize and hiding somewhere safe, she remained in the back alley of the inn and ate it with one hand while digging for more with the other.

The wrath of the innkeeper’s cane. That was the price she paid for her carelessness.

Someone must have found her unconscious body and carried her to Mam Sheva’s hut. When she awoke, she cried furious tears, not from the beating but from the injustice of it all. Why couldn’t she eat the rice if it had already been thrown out anyway? It was hateful and cruel, and, worst of all, it made no sense.

Later, Mam Sheva told her, as she patched her up, that the nobility threw their food away because the idea of sharing with commoners — or worse, animals — was considered disgusting. Unsanitary, even.

“Even though they’ll never see the food again?” Yes, even so.

It did not make any sense to Anne, but Mam Sheva scolded her as if she should have known.

“If any-wan else found you eating that rice, silly chile,” Mam Sheva said, “de Mare’s Mane could have lost all deyr customers.” She gave Anne a stern look with her one good eye. “You were lucky you got away wid just a few broken bones.”

When Anne was able to walk again, she kept away from nice inns. The shabbier ones fed most of their leftovers to their pot scrubbers and resident musicians, but Anne decided she would rather take her chances there than risk getting caught at a place like the Mare’s Mane again.

For the first few days after Pennie, Simon, and Anne began to sit together, Anne didn’t touch any of the food Simon left on his tray. But as she watched Pennie, who seemed to have no problem pilfering his unguarded leftovers, Anne’s hunger soon overcame her caution.

As she thought about it more, she decided that Simon was being extremely considerate, in his own way, by turning a blind eye.

Hello again!

It’s been a while! I just reread my latest post and laughed out loud :) I didn’t know I could be snarky. *snark snark*

So what have I been up to lately, and why haven’t I been writing? No excuse, really. Except I did travel several times and got more obsessed than ever with reorganizing my apartment. I know this isn’t a home organization blog, but let me just say one thing: The secret is to find a home for every single thing you want to keep, no exceptions. “A place for everything and everything in its place” truly begins with “a place for everything.”

So now that I’ve found a place for most things and a temporary place for everything else, tightened my final screw from IKEA (hopefully for a long time), and generally become less enthusiastic about cleaning (after a several weeks! It was a good run), I’m finally picking up the pen again. Figuratively, of course.

My friends have been asking whether I’m still writing, and I’ve said, “No, but I’ll pick it up again as soon as I’m done with cleaning.” In previous writing droughts, I’ve always felt guilty, like a quitter, when saying no to that question. This time, though, I didn’t feel (as) guilty because I was confident I would pick up writing again. And I was patient about picking it up again. I hadn’t abandoned it. I simply decided to work on something eles that I was more interested in at the moment. I’ve come to accept that I just have to take advantage of my cyclic obsessions because that’s just how I am. At least this is the most optimal solution I’ve come up with so far.

So. I have been jotting down notes and ideas for the last several weeks, on a variety of notebooks (as they say about chocolate covered pretzels, you can’t have just one! …at a time). So my first task is to consolidate all my notes. It’s a daunting task. I have four drafts of the piece I used for workshop in July. I wrote down a list of revision TODOs in at least three different places, but I can’t seem to find them all.. and I’m sure I won’t be able to figure out what some of the tasks on the lists mean anymore.

So instead of starting right away, of course, I procrastinated and asked Google for help on organizing novel notes. Most the results are about actually plotting a novel, but they’re still more compelling than digging into my notes. Here’s a nice, short article on novel plotting with lots of outlinks:

http://wordsharpeners.wordpress.com/2009/09/02/planning-outlining-and-organizing-your-novel-or-not/

I identify 100% with the paragraph on Creative Flow. That is exactly how I write, at least for now.

Books I’ve come across:

Walking in High Heels – Skipped around. The writing reads like chocolate, but I’m a little disappointed by the lack of original or insight ideas. Still recommended.

The Power of Habit – Reading the Kindle sample. Very interesting so far, and very inspiring (trying to develop the habit of writing now!). It’s not so much psych studies as it is packed with stories. And this guy really knows how to tell a story. Highly recommended so far.

Confessions of a Shopaholic, Shopaholic Takes Manhattan – Ripped through both books. Highly entertaining, but not sure if entirely worth it. The first book was better than the second. The ending of the second book was inspiring, though.

The Once and Future King – I started rereading it (I don’t remember it well, alas) but then had to return the book to the library. Why doesn’t Amazon sell it on Kindle??? I need the digital version because there’s a lot to reference. If you’ve never read it, you should wait until it’s blizzarding and snuggle in with a copy and hot chocolate. At least that’s how I’d like to read it. There’s a beautiful leather-bound copy of it on Amazon that’s hundreds of dollars. wtf?

Hitchhiker’s Guide – Almost done. Much better than the movie. I didn’t find the movie funny at all, and now I know why: the humor isn’t in the plot. It’s in the narration. Don’t know why they even tried.

Walking in This World

Haven’t written in several days because all of a sudden I have to give a presentation about computer science to some high school kids in Brazil. wtf. One thing that most people don’t know about me is that I need a ton of rehearsing and pacing and prepping to do a presentation. I can’t just wing it. When I’m in front of people, my mind goes on vacation. So I need my mental index cards in my mouth, like muscle memory. I think this debilitation is from years of brute memorization for piano recitals, coupled with an Asian standard for perfection. And an Asian inability to improvise. yeah. When all else fails, I blame Asianess.

Currently reading Walking in This World. pretty interesting.. Am giving “morning pages” a try. So far very good for relieving anger. Not sure about producing creativity, however.

Reading Like a Writer

I bought a book with this title over a year ago. It was really good, but I stopped reading it a couple chapters in for some reason or other.

What has actually helped me read differently is critiquing all the pieces for the workshops. Right now I’m reading an online PDF of a published work (legally provided by the author himself, in case you were narrowing your eyes), and I keep getting this twitch where I want to get a pen and mark something in the margin. It’s really well-written, but now that I’m paying a lot of attention to the little details, I’m finding little things I like and don’t like… It’s like I can feel myself growing as a writer. :D

I keep forgetting to read my manuscript out loud as a proofreading step. Gotta do it!

Too busy writing to blog

haven’t written in a while. rest assured, i’m writing more than ever! i have a huge excerpt to turn in for tuesday, so i’ve just been scrambling to make my nanowrimo excretions presentable. i’ve finally managed to pare it down to a handful of scenes, but it’s still too long… and awkwardly worded for the most part.

i’ve really enjoyed and benefited from this class. I think I’ll take another one either next semester or the semester after, give myself a few months to absorb and practice what i’ve learned. :)

Synecdoche

I’ve been searching for this word in my mind for weeks now. Today I finally found it online :)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Synecdoche

Here’s an example from — you guessed it — Name of the Wind that got me started trying to find the word in the first place:

“Besides, everyone knows they squeeze the nobility twice as hard as you lot, bleeding us dry as stones.”

. . .

“Maybe things would go better for you if you didn’t go in there looking like a peacock.” Manet said. “Leave off the silk when you go through admissions.”

There are few things more satisfying than synecdoche. So little says so much. I need to figure out how to use it more! I should start by finding more examples…