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Top dogs

On Sunday afternoon, after seeing most of the con attendees off, Lisa-Marie and I decompressed by feeding ducks at the wildlife sanctuary (who were unexpectedly not very interested in our corny offerings) and then coffee at Sbux. We had made loose plans for something to do, but we were both so tired we decided to just have a quiet night (translation: go to sleep early) on our own. We made arrangements to meet in the morning and I went home, washed the weekend off my face (hello two new stress zits!) and found myself in comfy boxers and a t-shirt before I even realized what had happened. I was out by 8 pm, like I was living in a convent or something. Esteban came home and tried to talk to me at 10:30 but I could only murmur ‘Umhuh’ at him. He was sort of sad about that, because we didn’t get to see each other much over the weekend and he would be out of the country until the following week, but try as I might, I could not rouse myself from my coma. I had ignored my exhaustion for too long and my brain was no longer in charge. At my standard 5:15 am wake up, I actually had to concentrate to open my eyes. So tired. Eyes were slits. Thank god I had scheduled a day of vacation that day!

I headed out to pick up Lisa-Marie and was greeted with more snow and blustery winds. Sure, a picture-perfect weekend and then back to GB weather as usual. No one is going to believe me that the weather sucks here! It’s 14 degrees as of this writing! Really! Lisa-Marie rescinded her original plan to move to Wisconsin, in light of this new weather situation, and practically threw herself into the plane to escape back to California.

I drove home, where I found Esteban sulking on the sofa. He didn’t want to go to Europe. Poor little Esteban, with the free trip to Amsterdam and Hanover! All that chocolate and dark beer and spaetzle. All of the vendors trying to suck up to him. His diamond shoes are pinching as well.

I then made my seventh trip to the airport that weekend and dropped my husband off. From the utmost of social weekends, to utter and desolate aloneness. Not to say ‘loneliness’ because I’m not lonely. I’m just completely and totally alone. Save for the cat, I guess, who is all ‘Pet meeeeee! Love meeeeee! Adore meeeeeeee!’ I thought cats were supposed to be aloof. This is one of the reasons why I don’t have children. I’d be like, what, you need a hug? I just hugged you last week! Can’t you see that I’m trying to watch America’s Next Top Model?

I probably should have just gone straight to bed, but I gave The Grudge another shot (got about half an hour in before I got really bored, but at least I did see SMG now, so I don’t feel like a total loser) and then read and critiqued the stories for class, wrote my update, and then sized and uploaded pictures before my eyes just didn’t want to work anymore.

Work was crazy the next day. Annoying Coworker made a bitchy comment about not even knowing that the previous Friday was normally my hell day. Honestly, it’s on the calendar, but I hadn’t wanted to point it out because in August, I had taken off on a hell day to go to Journalcon and when I got back, she stood above me and announced that I would not be allowed to take vacation days during an update, because she didn’t even know what to do. I had calmly looked at her and asked her what she’d like additional training on, and then she shut up, which is probably a good thing because I had half a mind to make all my vacation days coincide with hell days, just to be contrary. I had been so stressed out last week that I didn’t feel like spending my entire day listening to her act as though she’s doing me a favor by covering my very self-reliant seven clients as well as her dysfunctional train wreck single client (gee’ what a coincidence) who actually didn’t even call once during the time I was gone. I had a full in-box waiting for me, but that’s another issue. It doesn’t matter though. She was irritated by the mere possibility that she might have had to take one of my clients’ issues. Never mind the fact that I take about 15-20 of her issues each week. Sorry, ranting. I may take Jake’s suggestion, though, and fill an empty coffee can with dried beans and shake them when she starts talking. And yell ‘Fooey’ which was also his suggestion. Not because I think it would do anything, though, just because it would be funny. Some words spoken loudly in cube farms are funny, and ‘Fooey’ is definitely one of them.

Then I was off to my class, listening to swag mixes and wondering where the nearest McDonald’s was because man, I totally needed some Diet Coke or I would never make it through the night. And then I stopped at my favorite little Caribou coffee because I was still feeling a bit zombie-like. I got to class a little early and then reread my own story, which was to be workshopped that night, and decided that it was either really good or really sucky, definitely not middle-of-the-road. At least I’d burn out big, if it came to that. The good side of this was that I was so tired and still recovering from the stress of planning the weekend that I had almost no stress about workshopping my story until the actual workshop started. However, I noticed a definite switch in the attitudes of the people who didn’t know my writing. Before, they had pretty much ignored me and I got the feeling that they weren’t really listening whenever I’d make a comment, but suddenly, one guy knew my name and another guy laughed when I made a stupid little comment, and then a third guy, the one who had seemed very pompous in the beginning, told me that I was sharing his scotch and then also carefully picked a hair off my sweater. So something was up. It was either a newfound respect or perhaps pity. They are often hard to distinguish.

Our professor declared that we would start the stories in the order that he thought they were written on the workshop sheet, which involved the two other stories first and then mine. This was, by the way, wrong, as I was among the first people to pick a workshop date, but whatever. I did well through the first two stories and then we took a break to order food and use the bathrooms, and as though on cue, my hands immediately went ice cold. The only time my hands ever do that is when I’m on deck with writing. It’s bizarre. I’m sure that the armchair analysts out there can read something into that, but I’ll spare you the conjecture and move onward.

The professor opened the floor to discussion and there were some good tips and discussion about some of my concerns. Then the professor opened and explained all the reasons that he shouldn’t like the story (internal narrator, nameless characters, complete lack of dialogue, gimmicky point of view, formulaic first sentence, the fact that there are so many dreams in it, etc) and yet, he doesn’t care and he really liked the story. He suggested a few places where I had a great line and then followed it with another less great line (my tendency to strike the verbal hammer one too many times and rub the reader’s nose in things) and that final paragraph that I struggled over and tweaked and rewrote and reordered so many times? He suggested just completely deleting it and I have to say that I agreed with him. Two people compared it to Lorrie Moore’s stories (I was probably going more for Amy Hempel but I’ll take it) and one commended the story’s dark turn. Some of the class suggested a huge rewrite, involving more scenes and further dissention from the subtlety and then the professor disagreed with them, stating that because it’s so carefully balanced right now, to add anything would probably throw off the pacing and tone and it doesn’t need anything else. And then he said that the previous stories workshopped that evening were raw, but this one was very close.

After the class, the guy sitting next to me told me again that he felt the story was ‘literature’. I mentioned my concern that it was too girly and touchy-feely, especially with the ‘lovemaking’ section, and he said ‘Bullshit. Literature transcends genre.’ Or something equally deep and grad-studenty. And then he took a shot at one of the other stories workshopped that evening by someone in the program clique, which just makes me laugh. Writers are such utter bitches. We are a truly shallow lot.

I think the thing I find most entertaining is that every workshop I’ve ever attended (and this goes for online diary things too), the writers are very aware of where each stands in the hierarchy. I find that a bit offensive, in some ways. Being a good (or popular) writer does not necessarily make you a person that someone wants to hang around with, and vice versa. They didn’t see the need to value my opinion when they assumed that I was a mousy fat girl with ambitions to write romance novels, but once the writing comes into play, suddenly the world tilts on its axis and wow, Weet, I just noticed that we’ve never really had a chance to talk. That’s offensive as hell. For instance, I met someone at an early function who summarily ignored me in efforts to schmooze with the in crowd. Then at the next function, when I had apparently made her radar, she sent me an email telling me how she just couldn’t wait to meet me in person. Oh please.

I probably shouldn’t take such issues, as while I try very hard to be inclusive and not pay attention to whatever caste system is at play in any given situation, I am sometimes unintentionally rude myself. And certainly I have friendships with people which blossomed when I noticed their writing ability but I’d like to think that it happened because we share the same ideas and aesthetics and not that I would have ignored them in person until I figured out what a genius they are. I guess I’ll never know, but I can also tell you that while I enjoy the aforementioned Lorrie Moore’s writing, I wasn’t impressed with her social skills. But then, I’ve not had any personal notes from Ms. Moore, exclaiming how much she is looking forward to getting together, so maybe the feeling is mutual. She’s probably joined Sherri S. Tepper in writing slash fiction about Peg Atwood and Louise Erdrich and could seriously not care less.

So anyway, there it was. They liked my story and apparently I’ve been accepted into the pseudo-literati now.

In other news, I have figured out a way to download a new ring tone to my finally-working third new phone, and now I feel like the most clever girl in the world when it rings. Welcome to my world, where it’s still 1999. Except that I just don’t care, because now my screen saver is Jess at the Bad Bar, a glowing drink thrust up into the air in salute, and the phone rings Mr. Brightside and what could be better than that? Nothing, I tell you. Not one damn thing.

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