Sunday, March 11, 2012

Recalculating route

Yes, I haven't posted in a while. Let me tell you about that.

On Saturday night, I was standing in a crowded room, wearing a t-shirt that could best be described as "trashy", eating sushi, and talking about Zorg. And--

Actually, let me back up.

The last several years, my life has literally been a story. This has been a fascinating experiment. It isn't often that the new-age-hippie-woo-woo claim that "you create your own reality" is so true. I've really valued the chance to view my life with some perspective, to look for the humor in bad dates, and to get such wonderful encouragement about my writing from my friends. (Since I have never advertised this blog, my readership is comprised of people I know in real life. And some web-crawling search bot from Estonia; that checks in regularly too.)

In addition to the perspective and encouragement, I had something to look forward to. At some point, I'd meet a great guy, and then I could smoothly end the blog and get on with the next phase in my life. Ah, a happy ending to my tragicomic dating dramas.

But no guy showed up, and my real life adventures were significantly more tragic than comic. I didn't want to write about that.

A little pathos makes for a compelling narrative; a lot of pathos is just a wicked downer. And I was pretty tired of bumming myself out by thinking of bad dates; I wanted to do other things with my time.

Right, so. What to do instead? I came up with a lot of options.

  • I could change the format, making the story into a play, free verse, or a novel.
  • I could post every day, even when I had nothing to say, which would likely result in a lot of discussion of what I had for lunch. (A burrito.)
  • I could open it up for everyone to talk about their bad dates, instead of just mine.
  • I could delete it and move on with my life. I have plenty of other things to keep me entertained.
  • I even considered making it into a choose-your-own-adventure game. (Ha ha. I crack myself up.)

The status quo, ignoring the blog and letting it languish, was a pretty lame option. I just wasn't sure what to choose. Decisions have a way of influencing everything you do after. The only do-overs you get are changes in what you do next, not what you already did.

It's like with  my mother's GPS, who huffily announces "RECALCULATING ROUTE, RECALCULATING ROUTE" whenever my mom defies instructions and goes left instead of right. (For the record, my mom then  shouts back at her phone, "THERE WAS A DETOUR, BITCH! DEAL WITH IT.")

I'd spent a lot of time thinking about this lately, so on Saturday night I decided to go to a friend's birthday party and let the question stew in the back of my mind. Maybe the stars would look kindly on me and point to a solution. And as a worst case scenario, I could at least enjoy myself while dressed ironically in a t-shirt that was perplexingly demeaning to both women and electrical tape.

To clarify, this is ironic because I am pro-woman and am very classy. Also, I have nothing against electrical tape.

In any case: It's Saturday, I'm dressed in a ridiculous costume to please the birthday girl, and I'm headed to a party where my friends will appreciate my ironic shirt and help distract me from my writing-induced angst.

The party is already hopping by the time I arrive. There's a guy in a trench coat on the deck, setting up a giant telescope to watch the moon. Stepping inside, I see a crowd of people who have all interpreted the costume theme creatively. There's  an air-brushed t-shirt, some big hair, several programming t-shirts, some jorts, a sparkly disco shirt, a plaid hunting outfit, a ball gown, and a pair of garbage bags.  Though to be fair, some of those people might not have been in costumes. One can never quite tell with this crowd.

"Hey, Jen!" said Air-brushed T-shirt.
"Hey! Good to see you. How's work?"
"It's fine. But your outfit is fantastic! You are rockin' that look. You should dress that way all the time!"
"Uh, thanks, I guess. How's the new house?"
"It's great," he says, but he's too busy doing head-to-toe body scans on me to really answer. I excuse myself, grab a soda, and head up to another friend.

"Hey, Jen!"
"Hey, Plaid Hunting Outfit. How are you feeling?"
"Ehhhh. OK. Not quite better yet."
"What did you have?"
"Ohhh, that sucks. Bronchitis is horrible. How long have you had it?"
"Two months."
"Ugh. I'm sorry. It sounds like it is really sticking with you."
"Yes, like the image of your shirt will stick with me forever," he said.
"Ah, yes. It really dances along the line between good taste and bad taste, and then makes a decisive leap towards utter tackiness, doesn't it?"
"The electrical tape really--"
"Oh, say no more," I said.
"-- goes beyond--"
"No, really. Please say no more."

I work my way over to the food, and run into someone else I know.
"Hey, Jen."
"Hey, Programming T-shirt. How are you doing?"
"I'm doing very well. What are you up to?"
I sigh. "Well, apparently I'm wearing this shirt." I back up a bit in the crowd so he can see.
"Yes," he said. "Yes, you are."
"It's ironic, because I'm so classy," I said, but he didn't hear me because he was staring too loudly. Sigh.

I scan the room for a better option, and see my blessedly female friend Olivata Luna, the cheerful master gardener, who is wearing a fetching sparkly disco top and a stellar pair of earrings. She won't feel the need to cast me in the porn film running in her head. Plus maybe I could get some advice on getting a rat out of my compost bin.

"Hey, Olivata!" I shouted as I wove through the crowd.
"Hey, Jen!"
"How's the garden?"
"Great!" she said, then said a bunch of Latin that was probably plant names but sounded like "epithelial sarcophagus pachyderm".
"Excellent!" I said, and nodded as if I understood. She's a much better gardener than I am. I mostly plant pretty flowers and hope they live.
"How have you been?" she asked, still smiling. Ah, so nice to see a friendly face.
"Good. Tired. Working hard. You?"
Her face fell instantly. "Eh. I'm shutting down my online dating profile." She curled her lip in disgust.
"Oh. No suitable suitors?"
"No. Not even. No." She shook her head vigorously.
"I'm sorry. A wonderful guy should find you and treat you--"
"Not like a total jerk?" she said.
"Yes. Not like a total jerk."
"Could I also get one that bathes regularly? Because my luck so far has been poor."
" My luck hasn't been much better. And it takes so much timeto date. I just needed a break. My profile is on hold, but not deleted," I said.
"So, if you aren't dating as much," she smiled devilishly, "then you have more time for writing."
"You haven't posted in a while…"
"…and I always enjoy reading it." She looks hopeful again, her star earrings dancing in orbit.

I sigh. My dilemma spills from my mouth in one incoherent and whiny whole.   "I want to write, but I don't know what to do. I'm thinking I should change the blog somehow, but I have a lot of choices and I'm not sure which one is best. And what if I choose wrong? Or what if I do something different and then give up? I might give up! And then the whole Internet would mock me."
"They aren't going to mock you."
"Easy for you to say. Your dating life isn't published for all the world to see. Maybe I should switch to writing fiction. Then I could control what happens."
"Yes!" she said as she grabbed both my arms for emphasis." You make your own reality, you know."
"Oh! You should make it a choose-your-own-adventure game!"
"You know, I've actually thought of that," I said.
"Do it!"
"Did someone say 'choose-your-own-adventure game'?" said Plaid Hunting Outfit. "Because just the other day I was reading about a Zorg generator."

Which, as I said earlier, was not the weird part of my evening. I stayed at the party a bit longer, meeting new people, catching up with old ones. After a while I got tired of being jostled, of being pushed to and fro by the crowd. So I found a quiet bedroom and sat on the edge of the bed, listening to the party through the wall. How does that poem go? Something about "only the gods know the path of the stars"? No, I'm pretty sure I'm misquoting it.

But perhaps I am philosophically  correct nonetheless. There isn't any way to know what is going to happen. I'm trying to make the right choice, and there really isn't a "right" choice, just a next choice.

I got my coat, looked at the moon through the telescope for a while, and drove home. I have to choose something. What should I choose? I have to choose something. What should I choose?

Once home, I greeted the dog, let her outside for some fresh air, and checked my phone one last time for the night.

Which is when the weird thing happened.

There was an e-mail message from Blogger, where I host, telling me that someone had left a comment. That's odd. Only one person has ever left a comment before. And--No, wait. Really?

The comment was from someone I don't know, who found the blog by searching on Google.

Does that mean that people are reading this?

Oh! Hello, Internet! When I addressed you as my readership before, I thought I was just being ironic. I didn't think that anyone was actually paying attention.

Geez, I should really post more often.

Okay, fine, Internet. I'll make you a deal. If you are actually reading, then I'll actually write.

  1. Add a comment to any post. Flattery is good.
  2. Suggest a phrase ("rental goats", "fluffernutter and pumpernickel", "space ninjas") or a situation ("hanging from the balcony", "at the coffee shop", "while ogling Olympic swimmers") and I'll pick one to incorporate into a future post.

I have no control over what you suggest, and you have no control over what I do with that suggestion.

Ha! You don't know the paths of the stars either, do you? No, you don't, because from now on, I'm writing fiction.


Roy G. Biv said...

Woot for writing fiction!

I'd like to add "eaten by a Grue" to the list of things to write about. :)

Jonathan Turner said...

You are full of awesome. I giggled through the whole post. I celebrate your return to the blogosphere. :)

My phrase: "young lycanthropes and jello pudding."

~L said...

I'm so glad to hear that you're planning to continue the blog in whatever form. :-)
Here is a sentence for you. You'll never guess where I copy/pasted it from!
I think it is important for people, especially women, to be illiterate because then they could be able to get jobs and communicate with their co-workers, so that when they learn the alphabet, they can read the letters aloud to others, to read men and women's bathroom signs, knowing what street signs say.

"...inside-out socks"

Jen from Halfgods said...

Thanks for the encouragement, Roy, Jonathan, and ~L!

I've started a list with your suggestions, and I'm already working on the next post.

katem said...

My phrase is "ice cream puppy". Go!
(Also, I know I owe you an email. I am working at reforming myself.)

Joe Black said...

Well if you're changing the format I think we should renegotiate the bet we were never able to form before.

There could be a dinner somewhere fairly nice in it for you.

Montgommery Mt. Tain said...

Fiction, excellent choice! Can't wait to read what comes next.

I choose the phrase "I don't remember leaving that there"

Jen from Halfgods said...

Katem, Joe, and Montgommery:
First, great job on the pseudonyms. You people are more creative than I am.

Thanks for the phrases. I can totally work with that.