Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Art of Flirting

Before you think you’ve stumbled upon the mother lode…

I cannot flirt.

No flirting abilities whatsoever.

How I ever manage to garner the interest of men without this crucial skill is continually a mystery to my friends, my family and myself.

So if you’re looking for tips on how to snag that elusive mate---well, I suggest you Google Search elsewhere.

But I have a few theories. Ah---a single woman with theories! How astonishing. John Gielgud, take a bow.

First off---I firmly believe that a woman’s ability to flirt begins with her father. What man can refuse the request of an adorable little girl sitting on his lap? And when that little tyke puts her arms around him, smiles her cutest smile and says, “Please, Daddy---may I have that dolly?” Well, she not only gets the dolly, she learns an invaluable lesson: She learns how to flirt to get what she wants.

Unfortunately, my father disappeared from my life early on. My parents divorced. And he was never heard from again.

I suppose that might seem sad. But, from one who’s lived to tell the tale---you don’t miss something you never had.

And that’s the name of that tune.

Sure, there was an uncle. An uncle who, I was told, I could “wrap around my little finger”. But he was just an uncle.

An uncle won’t get you a dolly. Maybe some ice cream. Or the opportunity to watch Heidi when he’d rather be watching the Cardinals game. But for the big guns, like a dolly---I had to go to Mom.

And a girl can’t flirt with Mom.

A story my Mom loves to tell: One Saturday, like every middle-class kid, I sat watching Saturday morning cartoons; this particular morning, with my cousin, Ronnie. As the commercials came on, I paid careful attention to the ads for the latest toys. After every commercial, I looked to my Mom and said, “Mommy, will you buy me that?”

“Okay, honey,” my Mom replied.

Another commercial.

“Mommy, will you buy me that?”

“Sure, sweetie.”

This went on for about an hour before Ronnie finally looked to my mother in amazement and asked, “Are you really going to buy her all those toys?!?”

My mother smiled and said, “No, sweetie. But she won’t remember. I just tell her I will and she’s happy.”

And I was.

She told me what I wanted to hear, and then followed with a lack of commitment.

And they say every girl is searching for someone like her father!

For a request to be granted by Mom, I had to resort to reason. A skill at which, I am happy to say, I’m pretty adept.

But reason doesn’t work with men. You can’t reason a man into asking you out. Can’t say I ever tried it, personally. Just a hunch. But if you would like to spend a few experimental weeks of your life devoted to The Age of Reason---please report back and let me know how that works out for ya.

My second theory is that flirting is simply a matter of confidence.

A few weeks ago, while out with my friend Lauren, she saw someone from across a crowded room and immediately looked to us gals and said, with supreme confidence, “I WILL be dating him.”

And frankly, if this premonition doesn’t come to fruition, it will only be due to the fact that the gentleman in question faltered in some way and she will, in classic woman’s prerogative, change her mind.

When asked if I could quote Lauren on this bit of information, she emailed back, “…sure, use me as your flirt expert…just don’t make me look too flirtatious! Can’t have all those boys thinking they’re not my favorite!”

Spoken like a true flirt.

Lauren not only has confidence---she’s young, gorgeous, model-thin, amazingly smart, devastatingly sharp and funny, super-talented, and she’s just plain fun to be around. No wonder she has such confidence. In fact, for all you pretty young things thinking of coming to New York City to be an actress---this is your competition, ladies! If I were you, I’d think twice before I gave up my hometown beau and my $500 a month apartment.

As for myself, I have never uttered the words, “I WILL be dating him” in my entire life. In fact, I don’t think I’ve bothered to even utter the far more truthful words, “I WILL be pretending like I don’t notice and/or don’t particularly care for him for the next several months till he thinks there’s something wrong with me”.

No, I’m not a crazy broad. Just a little shy and a bit Annie Hall-type quirky. I was recently told by a friend that, “you need to see your lack of style as a style.”

And the confidence needle just breaks off and flies out the window.

However, all sundry, self-deprecating remarks aside---I AM pretty confident. And I DO tend to see my lack of style as a style. Call me crazy, but I like comfortable shoes. Nothing ruins my evening more than standing or walking around in uncomfortable footwear. I don’t enjoy wearing lots of make-up. In fact, I think the women who DO wear a ton of make-up are the ones lacking in confidence. And I like vintage clothes. No, not the baggy, Olsen Twins sort. And, really---those aren’t vintage clothes at all. Those are over-priced designer duds that even look ugly on 20 year-old, anorexic girls.

But when I walk into a room in my little black leather ballet flats with no Tammy Faye eye make-up and a J. Crew sweater I got for a dollar at a neighborhood thrift sale---I’m happy, comfortable, and pretty gosh darned confident. Barring my continued lack of success, I’m fairly confident as a writer. As for my social skills, well, I’m the perfect cocktail party guest---I’m witty and I like gin. And, currently, my friend Valerie is a little upset because the guys say I have a bigger booty than her. “That’s so unfair that a white girl has more booty than me!”

This confidence is not something that only comes from wisdom and age---I’ve always been like this. That’s why it’s called Style! Snap!

But with age and wisdom comes experience. This is why most women over the age of 28 develop something else---a super amazing bullshit detector. Yeah, it’s not the most feminine weapon to carry in your purse. But then, neither is mace. Unfortunately, sometimes both are necessary.

This is why, after exactly one and a half dates (yes, I only count the last one as a half)---that I’m throwing in the towel, once again. Dating is no way to get to know someone. And frankly, I don’t know why I agreed to these in the first place. But this seems to be my pattern. After a break-up, I go thru an appropriate mourning period, then plenty of Me Time, and then I go on exactly two dates (now downgraded to one and a half) before I realize how uninteresting it all is and then I just enjoy being single again. And then…across a crowded room…

So, with all this self-proclaimed confidence, why is it that I can’t find a decent…job?

Thought I was going to say something else, didn’t you?

To be continued…

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Red Boots and Other Trivialities

Armed with the new “write shorter posts” mantra----I suddenly felt sick to my stomach. Because, to me, writing shorter posts means writing in here everyday.


The mere thought of this, as predicted, quickly descended into banality.

There was the whole idea I had yesterday of writing about my trusty red rain boots---how I love the little dears!

But that had to be squashed.

While ebullient ravings about my favorite Wellies would certainly fit the description of “short”---frankly, there’s not much drama in rubber boots. No matter how trusty, how red or how near and dear.

I did visit with a friend and see his lovely new place. But there was no plot to keep you dangling on the edge of your chair. Just a nice visit and a cup of tea and a long description of the sort of gorgeous place you can have for your very own in Manhattan for around two million dollars.

I did take my wet boots off before entering so as not to ruin the beautiful hardwood floors. But that’s more Emily Post than blog post.

I slept in. But I didn’t even have any sordid, analyzable, Jungian dreams.

In short---I have nothing to report.

And that’s the problem with this sort of blog.

For blogs that offer information or advice, there is always something to write about. The writer of a cooking blog can always make a quick jotting on the delicious smoked mussels pate they whipped up in haste. After all, you have to eat everyday. A news blogger always has news at their disposal. Little Salam Pax kept on blogging and blogging with no electricity, no internet and no media sources to speak of all while the bombs fell over Baghdad, god love him. And then there are blogs of profession like those Literary Agents who simply turn up at work in the morning, open their mail, and suddenly have a week’s worth of material at their snarky disposal.

But I’m just writing about my life. The little things that happen. Things I can take and make into bigger things worthy of a tale-to-be-told. And you don’t get a Beowulf out of goulashes. Although, if the hero did have a magic pair of red boots, I might actually attempt reading the wretched epic for the fourth try.

However, as a creative writer, I should be able to find something worthy of telling that occurs in my life on a daily basis. But it just seems so intrusive. It becomes more of a Dear Diary Dreadful. And frankly, I don’t like you people all that much.

Nothing personal.

I just don’t know you.

And I’m not so Internet-Deluded that I think you’re my friends.

Sure, a few of you are (and thanks for reading all three of you!). But even my friends don’t need this sort of daily update on my life. If they did, they most likely wouldn’t be my friends. They would be my stalkers. And I don’t invite my stalkers over for tea. They have to stand outside my window at least ten feet away. If you can smell the Earl Grey, you’re too close.

Therefore, while I faithfully vow to TRY to write shorter posts, I can not and WILL NOT blog everyday. Should I decide to start a daily blog on sensible footwear, I can promise that you faithful folks will be the first to which I provide a link. But until then, I stubbornly refuse to journal my daily life.

So, please get the paparazzi away from my building and keep the cameras and reporters away from my section at work and let me get on with my life.

However, if you must follow my every move, take all the pictures of my boots that you like---but my kitty is off-limits!

Friday, September 12, 2008

And Now, for Something Completely Different...

Oddly enough, despite all my complaints and excuses---I actually got something out of my posts last week. What, you may ask?

Shorter is better. Well, maybe.

While I’ve enjoyed playing around with the essay format for the past few months (and by no means do I think I’ve mastered it!)---maybe it’s time for me to switch things up a bit.

As a waitress (and a writer NOT currently submitting) I certainly have a bit of free time each day…

And while I still have loads of epic-like stories ready at the helm, maybe it’s time for me to tighten things up even more.

Of course, the danger there is a descent into minutiae. Fascinating blog posts with titles like” “Today I Bought Some Oranges”, “The Cute Thing My Cat Did”, “Just What I Need---Customers!” and the ever-popular “Laundry---Pts. 1, 2, 3, and 4”.

But I’m a game sort of a gal. Let’s give it a spin!

Today I continued reading The Portable Dorothy Parker on the train. The latter part of the book contains a sizeable amount of her theatre and book reviews. Now this is fun! Catty, snarky little Dorothy Parker writing in 1918 about the theatres in New York City that were closing shows due to fear of the Spanish influenza that killed thousands:

“If you are one of those who must ever go about the world finding good in everything, hold the thought that the Spanish influenza has helped many a play to make a graceful getaway.”

These days, she would have been fired for making such flip comments after a national tragedy.

Today, I shared this little tidbit with my friend Michael who attends pretty much every show on and off-Broadway. Last night, he went to Karen Finely’s show “commemorating” 9-11 at The Cutting Room in Chelsea. Apparently, Finley does a devastating take on Liza Minnelli’s re-emergence after 9-11 when she sang “New York, New York” all over town for months after.

“She had this huge comeback like she was a hero,” he railed. “Please! Liza does not get all dolled up for nothing!”

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

A Week’s Worth of Excuses on Why I Couldn’t Write a Week’s Worth of Essays of 500 Words or Less (In 500 Words or Less)

Excuse #7: I Didn't Wanna Do It

No sooner did I declare my self-imposed challenge and hit “Publish Post”, than I began dreading the next day’s assignment.

Writing anything involves a certain amount of passion. And there was nothing I was feeling particularly passionate about enough to write a well-edited essay of 500 words or less---let alone one everyday for a week.

500 Words is an interesting number. It’s a standard length for magazine and newspaper work---generally about the length of a film review. It’s enough where you should have a beginning, a middle and an end---with plenty of space to strut your stuff within its confines.

But you can’t get too in-depth, either. No space for that. Word choice is key. No time to fob around with long descriptions of the director’s uninspiring chase scene when the word “flaccid” will do.

But passion is key.

When I began writing a blog, I didn’t do it to add to my writing workload. I did it to have a place to play around with ideas, words and thoughts I had no other bin in which to toss. In short, it was supposed to be fun.

The sudden challenge to write seven well-edited essays in 500 words or less just seemed like a whole lot of unnecessary work.

In fact, I wasn’t looking forward to this blog entry. I put it off for an extra day. I was dreading it like a grade school book report on Beowulf. Eugh, Beowulf.

But, in the end, you take a few moments in thought and you FIND the passion you need to get thru the next 500 words.

Writing is not always fun. Dorothy Parker famously said, “I like having written.” Not having read much of Parker’s work, I recently stumbled across a copy of The Portable Dorothy Parker---one of the free books that seem to turn up in my laundry room.

The funny thing is, I’m about 350 pages into it, and I see the passion---but I don’t always see great writing. Some of it’s brilliant. A lot of it is pretty banal.

Dorothy Parker was definitely a hired gun. Reading some of her short stories, you can actually see her trying to find the passion to complete the task. But a lot of the time, you can tell her heart’s not into it. It made me sad. Like a whore pretending to like her John---the John knows it’s all fake, he just doesn’t care.

Most of her stories just sit on the page. Flaccid.

No wonder she liked having written. Some of her Johns couldn’t get it up. She was simply looking forward to her post-editorial cigarette and the bedside cash.

As for me? Well, I’m a waitress. I’d write greeting cards if they paid my rent and got me away from Europeans who pretend not to understand the American custom of tipping. Of course, I’d prefer to write those Labors of Love that everyone gushes about. Even whores dream of finding love.

Word Count: 500 Words. I am good. Damn good.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

A Week’s Worth of Excuses on Why I Couldn’t Write a Week’s Worth of Essays of 500 Words or Less (In 500 Words or Less)

Excuse #6: That Whole “Well-Edited” Thing

One of the criteria I set for these essays was that they not only clock in at 500 Words or Less---they had to be well-edited.

Yes, I could certainly pull off the task if my JOB were to write 500 word essays. But that is not my job. My job is to wait tables 8-10 hours a day. And, despite the notebook I always have handy in my apron pocket, sitting down to write an essay at work would be frowned up. After all, they’re paying me a whole $4.35 an hour. They expect my absolute attention.

Back in the days when I interned at a weekly paper, there were all sorts of things that kept you on track---the first being that you went to work to WRITE. Wow. The wonder I continue to have for people who have jobs where they can actually go somewhere and be paid to WRITE is…well, it’s like looking at The Pyramids for the first time: How did they do that?

As an intern, I was often given time to write.

Suddenly, there you are. In front of a computer screen. You’re expected to come up with an original 50 word blurb describing a play opening next week. You haven’t seen the play. But you’ve got the press kit in front of you. You’ve got 20 minutes. GO!

As you strain to come up with words, busy editors scurry past, photographers rush in, phones ring, faxes spurt, and all manner of chaos surrounds your big moment to shine in 50 words or less.

But somehow, you do it. Because you HAVE to. You race your turbid words to your editor. As he begins to read, you wait to see the smile on his face as he spots your sparkling wit coming in around word thirty-three.

“Okay, this will work,” he says with a serious face. And then begins cutting, pasting and re-writing your carefully written 50-word blurb.

You feel like a failure. You can’t even write 50 words without help. But the more you write, the more you start to see what he’s doing. And the more you eventually are able to do it for yourself. But even your editor has an editor. The speed of the writing demands it.

All professional writers have editors. You can’t do without them. It’s like a surgeon trying to operate without nurses, residents and anesthesiologists.

I, on the other hand, am performing surgery without a license and in my own home. No nurses. No sterile instruments. Just me. And a few patients who need some adverbs removed.

Due to my primitive methods, I have but one thing to guarantee the operation’s success---time. Letting a piece of writing sit overnight (or a few days to a few weeks for longer works) is the only way to get the proper distance. Sure, in my case, there’s no potential for a medical lawsuit---but I like to think I’ve taken my own Hippocratic Oath: Write No Wrong.

Word Count: 500 Words. Prognosis Positive.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

A Week's Worth of Excuses On Why I Couldn't Write a Week's Worth of Essays of 500 Words or Less (In 500 Words or Less)

Excuse #5: My Social Life---Or Lack Thereof

Despite my rigorous 40-hour work week, and my constant output of words-to-paper---I do enjoy having a bit of a social life. If you want stuff to write about, you’ve got to get out of the garret every now and then.

After a particularly grueling break-up last year, I decided to take some time for myself. And just as I was getting back “out there” as they say…I fell and broke my jaw. Dating would have to wait.

Not that dating was something I was looking forward to. I’ve never been good at it. I never seem to know what actually qualifies as a date and have often found myself in a restaurant thinking, “Is this a date? Because I thought we were just eating?” It’s all very confusing.

Nevertheless, I have lately found myself being continually pursued by unwelcome advances. Everything from the Spanish guy in my neighborhood today who yelled out, “Hey sexy!”---to being cornered by Boring Man, who seems to have set his eyes upon me months ago.

Honestly, I have no idea why Boring Man keeps me on his radar. I have shown no interest in Boring Man. Yet Boring Man still keeps popping up.

I guess Boring Man is an okay-looking guy. One of my gay friends said, “Come on, I’d do him! I’d bet he’s got a huge one.”

And I’d bet it’s BORING!

Boring Man has many long, boring stories and is always boringly flattering. Still, I’m pleasant to Boring Man and politely make boring small talk. This alone, seemed to make Boring Man think we were dating. A while back, he became jealous of some of my male friends.

“Wow, those guys really seem to like you!” he said haughtily.

And Boring Man is Crazy.

So recently, when I encountered Boring Man, I could sense the dreaded Ask Out about to occur. Luckily, I was in a bit of a sour mood. And I suddenly discovered the Perfect Turn-Off to avoid the Ask Out---just act like The Most Miserable Woman in the World.

No man wants to ask out The Most Miserable Woman in the World! It was perfect! Oh, I hated everything! Everything was horrible! No boring topic he brought up could even begin to lighten my mood. I was determined to sound like the biggest bitch ever.

“But your hair looks nice. I really like how you changed it.”


I literally had to run away from Boring Man---seriously, RUN! What was wrong with this guy? It’s exhausting!

And that’s how I feel about dating in general.

I went on an actual date last week. Not with Boring Man. Someone else.


And there’s a date with another Someone Else next week. Found a killer new (used) skirt at a neighborhood thrift sale today. But I’m already dreading the small talk. I’m a waitress. I can only take so much of the small talk. Especially on my night off.

Oh well. The skirt’s nice.

Word Count: 497 Words.

Friday, September 5, 2008

A Week's Worth of Excuses On Why I Couldn't Write a Week's Worth of Essays of 500 Words or Less (In 500 Words or Less)

Excuse #4: I Was Filing a Complaint Against My Boss

While not the sort of issue I’d generally bring up in either a blog, an interview or a first date---yes, I was busy filing a complaint against my boss.

Old Fish Eye has been my nemesis for months. Where he developed this long-standing dislike of me, I have no idea. The other two managers think I’m more than competent at my job and we all enjoy working together. But Fish Eye is a whole other kettle of…well, mal pescado. His behavior towards me and several other employees has bordered on harassment for months. A few quit. A few pretty much got their backbones removed. A few others decided to pretend they were his friend. And then, a small minority of us quietly rebelled.

Years ago, I heard someone say that their criterion for friends was: If we were in Germany during The Holocaust---could I trust them?

Yeah, it’s a pretty tough standard. But when you think about it and you look at your friends…well, you start to realize the shortcomings of the human race. Let alone your lame-ass friends.

Most people go thru their lives just trying to protect the status quo. This is what I have. I’ve earned it. Don’t touch it. And as long as you don’t touch it, most people will gladly give you whatever you want. This explains the appeal of the Republican Party.

But Old Fish Eye touched it. And kept touching it. And wouldn’t keep his hands off our own, carefully cultivated, status quo. Not only that, but he was doing things that I knew the main office would NOT be happy about. Frankly, we all knew it. And why no one spoke up about it before is beyond me. Apparently, none of these people would have had the moral fiber to hide Anne Frank. Or maybe they just didn’t have a Secret Annex.

But it’s a funny thing about power…men who are comfortable enough to abuse it also wind up being comfortable enough to fuck it all up.

Only the comfortable swimmers risk the deep waters. And the more comfortable he got, the more he fucked up. And fucked up to the point that I was able to take my serious complaints over his head. And, while big companies like a manager who’s a bit of a hard-ass---they certainly don’t like one who fucks up the way Old Fish Eye did.

Is the problem solved? No. But it does seem that my complaints are being looked into. And Old Fish Eye does seem to have calmed down a bit.

Was this fun? God no. It was the last thing I wanted to do. I put up with his behavior for MONTHS before I finally made a complaint. Frankly, I’ve got better things to do with my time.

But after it was over, I felt this tremendous sense of relief and realized the amount of stress I’d been under the past couple of months. And it really interfered with my writing.

Word Count: 500 Words. On the dot.

A Week's Worth of Excuses On Why I Couldn't Write a Week's Worth of Essays of 500 Words or Less (In 500 Words or Less)

Excuse #3: I Was Working on Other Things

Unlike some bloggers, this little blog is not all I write. Yes, I do try to do my best for these little pieces. But frankly, I didn’t spend all those years reading Chekov, Joyce and Gorky so I could become a better blogger.

This blog is way down on my list of priorities as a writer. Why? Because it’s A BLOG!!!

It’s like a writer spending all their time on their diary and not focusing on any real work. Which leads me to one of my Literary Hatreds: Anais Nin.

I am continually seeing this wretched woman paraded to the forefront of every feminist literary website by people who know virtually nothing about her.

I will enlighten. Anais Nin was supposedly the first female writer to explore female sexuality honestly and openly thru her diaries and short stories.

My opinion: Her writing stinks. It’s stilted, self-important, and (worst of all) boring. The so-called “female perspective” was really written mainly for the eyes of men for an "anonymous collector". Yes, it’s slightly more delicate than male pornographic writing---that was the whole catch behind hiring a female writer. Like amateur night in a titty bar---even men get bored with the raw. But the intended audience was always men.

The women who sing her praises, first---generally know nothing about her and have read little of her work. And second---especially enjoy singing her praises in front of…you guessed it…men. Drunk women in a bar discussing Anais Nin are one Cosmo away from French-kissing their best gal pal for attention.

For those of you still clinging to the myth: Anais Nin was a mentally unstable, cold-blooded narcissist. As for those “secret” diaries---well, they were not really all that secret. The woman carted her diaries around for YEARS trying to get someone with connections in publishing to read them. And, in those diaries, she detailed an affair she had with her father---no, not a childhood rape, not even a weird, one-time freak thing---an affair. With HER FATHER! You can read it in her diaries. And she writes about the break-up. Break-ups are uncomfortable enough without it being YOUR FATHER! I’m sorry, Dad. It’s not you, it’s me. As if the holidays weren’t awkward enough. Ick!!!

And then she discovered that she was pregnant and the baby either belonged to her therapist or HER FATHER and she decided to have an abortion. Now, I’m a feminist myself. And I’m certainly Pro-Choice. But I have never been as disgusted in my life as I was reading her nonchalant description of her abortion as if she were going out for a cup of tea. It was so cold. And all about her. Everything in her life was all about her. And she treated people horribly. I have never read a biography in my life where I just kept thinking, “Wow, I hope they die a horrible death.” And when she got a horrible cancer, I couldn’t help thinking there was some circle of karma in this world. She was a horrible, horrible person.

And a terrible writer.

And so am I. I went over my word count.

Word count: 524 Words

Just this once. I really hate Anais Nin.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

A Week's Worth of Excuses On Why I Couldn't Write a Week's Worth of Essays of 500 Words or Less (In 500 Words or Less)

Excuse #2: I’m Trying To Quit Smoking

Lest you think (due to my previous blog) that I’m living the life of Amy Winehouse up in here---I’m actually a pretty healthy gal. I eat right, exercise, drink in moderation, take vitamins, drink loads of tea and eat organic when possible.

Yes, I’ve been eating french fries more than I should. And sure, it’s that time of year when your friends want to go out for drinks to “catch up”. And then there is my love for bacon---mmmm, bacon.

But all of these things are within my control. Except the smoking. It’s my one truly bad habit. Yes, I have an addiction to books, tea and hot bubble baths---but these are happy addictions. The smoking---not so much so. Despite the fact that I’ve been told by non-smokers that if they could look as cool as me when they smoke, they might take up the habit…well, I don’t think it looks “cool” at all. At least, not on me. On James Dean, it’s still blazing hot. But he’s already dead, so he can smoke as much as he likes.

Why did I start smoking? Well, I blame it on a little thing called Brideshead Revisited. That damned Anthony Andrews in the PBS mini-series---He was so charming and so British as he sat with Jeremy Irons declaring that Turkish cigarettes went so well with strawberries. And I wanted to be charming, too. So I marched my fifteen year-old self into the local Tobacconists (yes, an actual Tobacconists) and asked the man for a tin of Turkish cigarettes. Now, when I was 21, I once passed for twelve years old. So I must have looked like a babe of about seven when I asked for the imported ones, please. The man didn’t blink.

It wasn’t until a week later, when my Mom bought some strawberries, that I gathered up the courage to try one. I waited till my Mom was at work, cracked open my bedroom window and lit one up.

They might have been delicious with strawberries----if one actually smoked. But I didn’t. I smoked about half the cigarette and ate all the strawberries.

Over the course of my high school years, if I were feeling a bit rebellious---I would light one up. But that tin of 10 cigarettes lasted me for over two years.

These days, a pack of cigarettes doesn’t last quite that long. And, more and more, I find that I need cigarettes to write.

I know this is all in my head. But taking a thoughtful drag off a cigarette does seem to clear away unnecessary adjectives. And does make me feel more like… Well, a writer---something you have to keep reminding yourself of when you feel more valued as a person who wears an apron and pours coffee.

But I’d prefer that my writing remind me of being a writer---not the cigarettes. I’m trying to quit. But it sure makes it hard to write.

Word Count: 497 Words

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

A Week's Worth of Excuses On Why I Couldn't Write a Week's Worth of Essays of 500 Words or Less (In 500 Words or Less)

Excuse #1: I Couldn't See.

Writers often describe the agony of staring at a blank page. But when you have an ulcer in your eye---staring at the 96 Point Super Bright White blank paper is actually physically painful.

And that’s just what happened to me.

Actually, a whole mess of things stepped in and interrupted my good intentions of writing a daily essay of 500 words or less.

And one of them was the fact that I literally COULD NOT see. After almost three days of walking around my apartment in the darkness like Audrey Hepburn in Wait Until Dark, I finally got in to see the eye doctor.

Yes, the ulcer was back. But what was causing this strange behaviour that now appeared to be in both of my eyes? I suggested a possible allergy to my contact lens solution---after all, the problem went away entirely over the months I was wearing my glasses. But the eye doctor seems to think it unlikely. She simply replied that my eyes appeared to be suffocating behind the contact lenses. Hmmm. Okay. But why now?

She prescribed some more drops to put in my eyes and told me to come back in a week.

I was not satisfied with this answer for which I paid a hefty $15 copay. So, no sooner did I get home that night than I consulted Dr. Google.

Dr. Google is not always the most comforting physician. In the past, Dr. Google has led me to believe that I might have anything from scurvy to The Black Plague. And every symptom seems to lead to the possibility of some rare, incurable form of cancer. Dr. Google is the modern-day version of Dr. Roberts. Only when you’re down, he’ll bring you downer.

But in this particular case, Dr. Google simply led me to a virtual waiting room full of other red, dry, oxygen-deprived eyes like mine seeking answers online.

The good news? Dry eyes don’t seem to be a symptom of any form of rare, incurable eye cancer.

The bad news? Dr. Google advised that I seek the advice of a medical professional.

In the meantime, I began my own form of self-imposed care. I figured it this way---if my eyes are suffocating, then they just need more moisture and oxygen, right? So I took a long, hard look at my diet and lifestyle and tried to find the culprit.

What I discovered was a whole police line-up of scoundrels. Stress, not eating enough fruits and vegetables, fried foods, drinking, smoking, not exercising enough, caffeine use, pollutants in the air.

In short, I was possibly suffering from Oxidative Stress.

Yes, this is a “disease”; and yes, I took the Oxidative Stress Quiz on Google

So tomorrow, I will be presenting my medical theories to Dr. Eye and essentially saying to her, “Yeah, I know you went to medical school and have a degree and experience and a practice and everything. But I was on Google the other day…”

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