Friday, August 03, 2012


Her tanned arm to my left on the steering wheel. Her black tank top and jeans.

We are chatting as we drive. I catch her eye and imagine this is a moment when her boyfriend probably tells her she’s beautiful. She has twisted her long blonde hair up off her shoulders and her brown eyes have their cute, pert look.

Often she looks different – efficient and executive, taking her job seriously, frowning, a little ticked off about something that is not going well. 

This evening though she is young and happy that it’s summer and she can afford to go out for dinner. She has handled her modest income well. School debt and car debt paid off. She signed up for the credit card with the most frequent flier miles.

I don’t want to write about work.

This morning I got to Maria’s coffee shop at about 8 and got my table by the wall and the iced coffee with half & half for $2 plus a quarter for the tip jar.

Nothing has to go any particular way.

The last few chapters have been going smoothly. The whole Greece section will need at least another read-through. It’s been difficult and I’ve given up once or twice. But the end of the Greece section moving into the London piece has been fun and easy to re-enter. 

I read the sentences I wrote a year or two ago and I step back into those scenes. Sometimes as I am reading I feel like it’s not good enough, I am not saying enough, the sentences seem so bare, like the skeleton of the scene without its flesh. But unless new words come quickly, I urge myself not to worry, not to linger, to just keep reading.

My boss today asked me how I was. In a firestorm of activity and rushing, she turns and says, “How are you?” and I say, “I’ve gone back to the manuscript. Remember how I told you I had set it aside?” She nods, brightening, easily forgetting the person who is on hold and the email she must answer five minutes ago. We last talked about my writing about a month ago at a wedding, both us drinking wine, making conversation easy and slippery. This afternoon she says, “Good!” immediately and talks about my other book which she liked and I soak up her sweet generosity. 

This afternoon I found myself being angry at a woman who keeps saying with passion and sincerity how much she wants to write and come to the workshops. But she doesn’t come. Or she says she will and then her sink gets clogged or her cat gets sick.

I was having angry thoughts about this woman. And then I thought about how if I wasn’t careful I probably wasn’t going to write anything for the workshop tonight, how I wanted to, but it was going to slip away from me and I was going to let it just like that woman. And it gave me the strength to move like an arrow – straight to a friend’s office to ask for a tea bag, straight over to the cafĂ© with notebook and pen, to sit down with the empty page.

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