I decided yesterday that it's somewhat possible that a portion of the drama I experience in life I inflict upon myself. Note my strategic use of words like "possible" and "portion." I'm still somewhat in denial. Whereas I used to believe that I am simply a magnet for chaos and scandal, I'm starting to think that I might be encouraging it without meaning to. It's something I intend to work on.
With that in mind, I decided that the time has come to diversify my leisurely activities. Methinks that drama follows me around because I spend a lot of time tipsy, interacting with similarly tipsy individuals. Many of whom are boys. It's probably also time to bid adieu to these individuals, as I'm sure that even engaging a little bit in the whole "will guy who I did x,y, or z with a week ago ever call" game is no doubt bad for one's soul. I need to come up with a new system for emotionally managing my expectations of men. Probably being more judicious about who I get involved with would be a good start.
Normally my weeknights consist of either going to the gym and getting home kind of late, or hitting a drinking-related event and getting home kind of late. I used to be proud of this routine, as it signaled a healthy interest in self-maintenance and that I have a lot of friends because I can almost always find somebody to have an adult beverage with.
But in all honesty, I think I'm in a rut. Doing the same two things five days a week after work gets old. So although I have no intention to stop working out or to cease my hours of happy, I have decided to throw some new activities into the mix. I came to this decision late yesterday afternoon and decided that there was no time like the present to implement my plan.
Rather than going home and flopping down on the sofa to watch Tivoed episodes of the OC (Soapnet, holla!) as I had planned because I was still burnt out from the weekend, I instead headed over to Olsen's in Dupont Circle to watch and hear Marisha Pessl read from her novel Special Topics in Calamity Physics. This book has been on my to-read list for a while. All the major literary critics have been fawning over it and her (I'm sure it doesn't hurt that she's quite young and pretty), comparing her to David Foster Wallace and Jonathan Safran Foer (future husband of Hey Pretty, btw).
Pessl talked a bit about her inspiration for writing and her life before she became a full-time novelist. Apparently she worked in a soulless corporate job in a cubicle she referred to as a "veal fattening pen", and used to spend several hours a day there furtively working on Special Topics until she eventually quit to give it her full time attention.
As a young writer who has kicked around the idea of writing fiction for a while, Pessl's little talk was inspiring. She spoke of two failed novels she wrote in college, and how she was finally able to write Special Topics because she had a clear plan for what it would be about.
Now that, I envy. On any given day, about a million independent mini plot lines for stories kick around in my brain. I can't seem to find a common thread to unite any of them, nor can I really elaborate on a full plot. When it comes down to it, I have no idea how to write fiction.
Following the reading I purchased a copy of Special Topics, along with The Paris Review Interviews Volume 1, and one of the 33 1/3 series of music history books, this one about the band Love.
Although I have yet to finish my book club book, I tore into the Paris Review Interviews when I got home. Reading what Dorothy Parker and Truman Capote had to say about their craft was reassuring. It seems that all writers are hampered by doubts and sporadic battles between id and ego. Good to know. I was also reminded that Parker is best remembered as a short story writer. She never once tackled prose in a longer format. Which got me to thinking--why overwhelm myself trying to write a novel if I can instead try my hand at short stories. After all, I have never been much of a long distance runner, but my sprinting skills are rather impressive (well, they were at one time).
With summer basically here, I foresee my schedule shaking itself up with more and better new activities. Tonight, I will attempt to re-introduce my creaky old joints to the concept of yoga (I've been on an I-hate-yoga-kick for a while, but maybe I can shake it) and in just a couple of weeks, we'll experience the glory that is Fort Reno.
Here's to a creatively productive and calm summer in DC.
Oh, and if any of you can recommend some nice, safe hiking paths in Rock Creek, do let me know. I want to go hiking this weekend, but I'm still a little freaked out about Chandra Leavy (yes, I know it was almost a decade ago....)