28. Shave

As eager as I am to destroy my hair over the bathroom sink with an electric razor I bought at Wal-Mart three years ago, I hate shaving. Of course it’s occasionally necessary, the easiest way to clean up, especially when your strong middle and long sides refuse to connect.

There is always one more hair. Whether on your body or the counter. You will always find one if you look hard enough.

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26.

Proficiency in language is an admirable pursuit, especially in one as meandering as English.

25. Saturday Night Meditations (IV)

They will never care about you until you get them what you want. You are as replaceable to them as the face they saw a half hour ago. The existential crisis of graphic wounds. No one dies clean. The Somme. Numbers mask the scale and make it objective. The clock will never pause for you. Get back to it and wait.

24. Delete? No.

I think we all have at least one folder somewhere in our hard drive that we can’t get rid of. I didn’t know I did until I tried working on my computer this afternoon. Been having trouble with it, wanted to see if the old laptop could kick and spurt its way through some word doc searches. In between all the genre specific writing folders – the only organization I’ve been disciplined enough to use in the time I’ve been doing this – was one I haven’t touched in almost five years.

“College Essays,” it says, and indeed it contains them. Five at most, the amount I was required to submit in order to major in this craft at a university I would be accepted but never go to. Three of them were recycled from an English course. One of them I enjoyed writing. All were painstaking. Looking at them now all are amateurish. All could use another round of editing before being sent off again. I don’t have time to look over them. I don’t want to have to look back that far unless I have to.

As useless as they are now, I can’t get rid of them. They are there as a benchmark. A sign that my life has changed drastically in the four years since: some for the better and some for the worse. I have survived this long. I have continued to write if in fits and spurts. I am 22 years old and I have supported myself since I was thrown out at 18. I have survived. And I have written. All the while some college essays about how I admire a fictional character whose books I haven’t touched since or the one about a year in homeless shelters that my mother kept telling me to tear up less it shame her (what haven’t I done to shame her) sat in a folder on a laptop, silent witnesses to it all.

They are there because they serve as a reminder that things have changed but I’m still here. I don’t know if they’ll sit forever, or if I’ll delete them one of these days, or if I’ll ever put them to use again. We will wait and we will see. That is the debt some words a 17 year old kid wrote on a school computer are owed.

23. On Hiatus-ing

One week ago I lied to myself.

I lied to myself and said that I was ready. I lied to myself and said that I was ready to tell the story whose holes were still in my flesh and caked in my blood. I lied to myself and said that it didn’t hurt anymore, that I was numb to it, that now that This Person was gone I didn’t have to worry about the repercussions. I was free to write, I thought.

The first line wrapped itself around my head for the longest time. It begged to be released on page. It took its time. It gnawed on my brain until I took up the courage and began to admit what had happened. A page went down in one sitting and for five minutes I was free. I was at work. I got up to refill coffee and clean my lobby. I came back to the desk ten minutes later. Whatever momentum I’d had was lost.

Seven days later and I am yet to continue that story. I am not the type to abandon things halfway through: either I get it all done or I don’t do it at all. The philosophy applies to life. The philosophy applies to writing. There are no halfwritten drafts scattered about my room because whatever I start I complete. I am determined when I want to be. I am stubborn.

But I’m not foolish. I know when something needs to rest. I know when there are other stories I need to tell. Stories that have sat longer than This Person’s ever did. Stories that have been waiting an awful long time.

I am going against all instinct. The story will not leave me. It will beg to be let out as all the other ones have. In due time I will let it.

There’s a little note I left myself in the margins that’s as important now as ever.

Tell the story again.

From the beginning this time.

By the time I read it again, I’ll probably already have written the first draft in my head.

19. On Word Counts

I never said how long I’d make these.

I rarely know myself as I write them.

I don’t fuss much about word counts, ever; and that’s probably why I’m in the rut I’m in. The last thing I wrote outside of here was a story about a part of my junior year of high school. Lasting only 50 days of my life, it burst out as 26 pages. I don’t know if it’ll sell, ever. If I’ll bother even trying to edit the thing. The wounds on it aren’t painful anymore but they still aren’t pleasant to look at. It’s like looking at a scar and remembering the blood and feeling a twinge before realizing that it is all in your mind.

Word count doesn’t take priority. Story does. At the end of the day you must tell the story. Give it every detail it needs and nothing more. Never rush or extend. Never waste a thousand words just to fit it into a magazine or cut out three thousand words of heart because it refuses to belong. Save your work. Move on. There could always be a home for it somewhere else.

(17) 13: An OCD Thing

It started with FIFA 15, because all the horrible things do.

I play on Amateur. I’ve been around the game long enough to master the basics, but I can’t dribble for shit, and I like scoring goals. I scored some that day. 13. The seed was planted. It sat in my mind, waiting.

Something Bad happened that weekend at work. It’s been too long now. I can’t remember what. But Something Bad happened. It may not have been major. It may not have been consequential or life-changing or fatal. But Something Bad happened and that was all it needed to be.

The fact that I scored 13 goals in a video game was the reason Something Bad happened.

So I had to stop at 12 in the weeks that followed. Or rush desperately for 14. But it wasn’t enough. Something Bad could still happen. It spread from there.

No 13 pennies in a drawer. No clocking out at 7:13. No leaving a room at the 13th minute of the hour. No words with 13 letters. No sentences with 13 words. Avoid thinking of combinations of numbers that add up to 13. You have to keep the Bad Things away. You have to keep the Bad Things from happening.

This is the part where I say I don’t do this anymore. I can’t lie to you. I still do. It will go away eventually. Maybe I’ll be symptom free then.

It won’t last long. The disease will sit in my mind and wait until something else comes along. The Bad Things will have to be kept away again.

One day I want a tattoo. Maybe my right forearm. Maybe my leg. The Roman numerals for 13. No explanation. Until you know the story it will mean nothing to you. I’m perfectly content with that.

The X and the III will be spaced apart. You can’t be too careful. I refuse to allow Something Bad to happen because of what I choose to put in my skin.

14.

I have to stop kicking myself.

I know I won’t make 30 days in a row of this. Maybe I promised it. Maybe I’m breaking hearts. I know I’ve had streaks. I know I’ve broken them, already, for three days. I’ve been busy. I work, and I usually type these there, because it helps keep me grounded.

I have to stop thinking of how I’ve failed. I have to start thinking of how to succeed.

I survived a punch. I have to pick myself up and shake it off and keep hitting.