Hey all :).
I’m working on a conference paper with a group of people right now, and it’s amazing. (Especially since I’m not the lead. I’m so impressed that he’s still functioning right now; he hasn’t been getting much sleep.) One of the best parts of this project is that it’s been me sitting down and writing code; but I write code much better if I’m by myself with no interruptions. This, combined with the fact that I tend to drift into late sleep schedules unless discouraged by early morning meetings, has meant that I’m on an absurdly late sleep schedule right now. It is absurd enough that I am taking action, which means I have to go to bed shortly :).
But I’ll give myself a few quick vignettes before bed. (And it ended up being longer than that, but what can you do :).)
I’ve finished telling a light-hearted story; the conversational lead is open to anyone in the circle. Someone jumps in.
“You know what you should do in that situation?” The speaker says, making eye contact with me. “Drive to…”
They tell the story to the group, and their eyes refocus on the others. I waver though, kind of stuck: it’s their story, but the way it’s phrased the words are nominally directed at me. They keep checking back with eye contact, and I look back and smile.
When I glance away, another friend is staring straight at me, watching my response. He looks knowing and kind of amused.
“That doesn’t sound like something you’d do at all,” he tells me in the next conversational gap.
He then turns to the speaker and link the two stories, wrapping the conversation back to my preferences by teasingly exaggerating them, tying it in with the gist of the speaker’s.
[These moments :). No one did anything wrong here, but there were two inflection points; the speaker’s initial phrasing as a story relevant to me, and my friend’s ignoring the speaker to focus on me and later bring it back to my preferences. Just one of many brief moments :).]
I want to write. I want to write I want to write I want to write—it feels like something too happy-floating-gossamer to be urgent, something just out of, just barely in reach.
Want to dream about characters and people, want to project what I know of their selves into the past and to the future, want to see by what sense I know them. I want to write real stories, write fiction, dream.
Soon enough, Monica. Soon enough.
I’m wearing a cocktail dress, to a formal costume party. To be on theme it’s supposed to be artfully ripped and adorned (it’s an apocalypse party), but I put minimal effort into costumes. I’m meeting expectations.
Two women walk up, and one of them gives me a casual once-over.
Uh oh, I think.
She sincerely compliments my shoes. A second woman comes over, does the same up-and-down, sincerely compliments my dress.
Shoooooooooot, I think, I’m overdressed, shoot.
I start blabbering about how it was only $40 at TJ Maxx, it’s my usual formal attire, it isn’t much, really—
It’s been so long since I heard that tone that I don’t know what to do, not that I ever did.
I go upstairs, and a friend sees me. “Ah, looks like you put as much effort into your costume as I did,” she says, gesturing to her own gown, straight out of her closet.
“Yeah,” I say, relieved.
I’m staring at one sentence in the blog last week, trying to figure out who to attribute a quote to. The writing flows much better if I say that I said it, but that makes me look better than I am, and I don’t think I’m the one who said it, I think my other friend probably did—
I change it: write that my friend said it. I wince at the phrasing but it’s not getting better with fiddling.
I spin around in a chair later, contemplating this choice. Wondering if I’m drawing a new personal line for truth and honesty in the blog. I’ve been condensing conversations more than usual, changing the order of things people said, and the pacing of it. It’s common practice for me to add more context to people’s quotes than what they actually said, to assist the reader—and I have a bad memory for quotes regardless, and have trouble remembering them in their own voice. I spin around, thinking.
I think I’m all right, I decide. I think the choice to attribute to my friend was good—if something’s making me look better than I am, I should try to fix it—but I feel like I’m still capturing the intention of what people say to me, and editing for order and pacing still feels okay.
I wonder if it even has to be fully realistic, I think. If everyone’s portrayed reasonably positively, and I give overall gist and rhythm of the conversation, just how accurate does this have to be?
He’s laughing at me, wholeheartedly amused. “You just looked so awkward when you were saying that. You were painting this really vivid picture, and having so much trouble with it.”
“I wasn’t painting a vivid picture! I wasn’t even saying many words!”
“That’s the point!” He says, laughing again. “It was so clear, and you were doing this thing with your hands—”
“I was doing the head thing again, wasn’t I,” I say, shaking my head ruefully. “I know I do lots of weaving and jerking it around when I’m feeling unsure. I’ve been told—I’ve been spending lots of time on Skype, and it’s really obvious when I’m doing it then.”
“Yes,” he says, still so amused.
“I was worried about it for a while because I thought maybe I couldn’t control it, but in formal situations I hardly move at all, so it seems like I know when to do it subconsciously. Well, if it’s not hurting me, I think it’s probably fine, and people seem to find it amusing.”
“Yes,” he says again, so amused. He mimes it a little, and grins broadly at me.