The kid’s mother was sitting next to me watching him anxiously; she knew her kid was odd, too. She was a bit overweight, had short blonde hair, glasses; looked familiar. At some point, she mentioned that her son’s name was “Robin,” and I clapped my hands, What a coincidence! My son is Robin, too! Not a common name. Etc.
There were two other boys in the playground, too, and they were also our sons. They were both named “Chris.” Wow! Amazing coincidence: We both had sons named Robin and Chris!
Some sort of party was happening. We were all guests at it.
Max showed up from Southern California. “I’ll push you on a swing, Mom,” he said.
And he pulled the swing I was sitting on back so far that when he released it, it accelerated forward really, really fast, and I thought the swing would make a 360° loop. Nerve-racking! Scary!
Then Max and the other mother somehow disappeared, and I was left with the four boys. Max was heading back down to Southern California, and he was going to hitchhike, which I thought was dreadfully unsafe. So, I was determined to catch up with him to—what, exactly? Give him money for an airplane? Drive him to Southern California?
I loaded the four kids up in an ancient Vdub Beetle and began driving. I got to a certain point in the road, leapt out and began walking.
Then it dawned on me, But what about the four kids? How are they going to get back to the party?
Then I started wondering, How does anybody ever go anywhere under these types of circumstances?
But I knew I couldn’t abandon the car with four kids in it on the side of the road.
So, I started walking back to the Vdub. But one of the Chris’s had already locked the doors and was attempting to drive the car. He doesn’t really know how to drive! I thought. And consumed with worry, I was running along the side of the ancient Vdub, beating at its door, and crying, “Stop! Stop!” as I awoke.
This morning, for whatever reason, I am in a state of mild panic.
I have no idea why I’m feeling this way. My life, as I’ve noted many times, is about as pleasant as a life can be given the, uh, interesting times we live in. Nothing about that has changed.
But this morning, I could start weeping hysterically at a moment’s notice.
What has driven my body into cortisol overproduction, I wonder?
My trick for dealing with this in Olden Times was going to the movies.
There was just something about sitting in a darkened theater, nibbling Raisinets, and watching the conflicts of ephemeral, 20-foot high giants unfold on a luminous screen that hit my system’s reset button.
No matter what was going on in my life, I always walked out of a movie theater feeling great.
Now, all I can do is fantasize about drugs. (Would it be so wrong to ask that guy pissing and scratching himself in that Dollar Store doorway where I can score some fentanyl-laced H, hmmmmmm? )
I have been toying with the idea of submitting an application for the Stegner Fellowship again this year.
Applying for a Stegner Fellowship used to be a yearly ritual for me, and one year, I was told, I came very close to being admitted.
But some time around ten years ago, I stopped applying. It may have been a financial thing: The Stegner folks started charging a reading fee.
The only thing I have to submit this year is the June novel. I’ve written no short stories; in fact, I’ve neglected my fiction writing altogether. That writing group I started with my pal Tom? It just kinda trickled away. Writing anything seems such a ridiculous waste of time when the world is ending. (Boom, boom!!! Pound, pound!!!!)
Even keeping this diary strikes me as a ridiculous waste of time much of the time.
But it’s become a habit.
Anyway, I did take the novel out again last night and read through it. Its first two chapters are enough of-a-piece (and a short enough length) to make a submission.
They’re pretty smutty!
But, honestly. Ottessa Moshfegh graduated from the workshop in 2015. Can you get any smuttier than Ottessa Moshfegh?
Plus, for God's sake, the novel is about Henry Miller, the King of Smut!
More to the point: Are the chapters any good from a literary novel point of view?
I was writing it to be page turning from a commercial point of view, and that always involves including a lot of embellishment that George Saunders would pick from his lapel and shudder at.
The Stegner folk are very lit-er-airy.
Well. I will ponder some more.
Also, Nafisa tells me she has signed up to retake the United States Medical Licensing Exam on November 8.
She is worried about residencies.
Knowing what I know about her life, I don’t see how she can possibly pass the exam in three weeks: She has three children under 10, she cares for her aging in-laws, and I learned yesterday that her husband has actually been working in Virginia since March—
“He is mechanical engineer,” she told me, shrugging. “There are no construction jobs here. Covid, you know? So, he goes where the jobs are. Otherwise, he cannot work.”
But, of course, that is not really any of my business.
And, of course, a reasonable command of English in a clinical workplace does not require a high degree of grammatical accuracy! It only requires enough grammar so that her communications with doctors, other staff members, and the court system (should those communications ever be subpoenaed) are not ambiguous.
So, I will do my best to help her.
Though given that we only have three weeks, that may not be very much. Crossposted from Dreamwidth.