Monday, May 23, 2011

Multiple Personality Day

Strange day today. Happy, restful, but also sad and frustrating. Productive in some ways, maddeningly not in others.

I mentioned the other day that I'm slowly putting my life back together. What does that really mean? There's a list--not written down because it's too long, but in my head--there's a list of stuff I need to take care of. Long list. And over the last couple of years, since I made the Biggest Mistake of My Life, that list has done nothing but grow as poverty and severe depression put me into near stasis. Mail piled up unread, trash didn't get taken out, the yard grew wild as debts accumulated and bills fell behind. I might occasionally take tiny stabs at the list, but they were brief.

I've been gradually pecking away at small things on the list for a couple of weeks now. Cleaning things up here and there, catching up on utility bills, working in the yard. And I'm starting to cook more, improving my diet to lose weight, and even thinking about working out again. I'm still a L-O-O-O-O-O-O-O-N-G way from catching back up to where I was two years ago, but I'm taking small, positive steps, and more than I have in ages. So that's had me feeling good today. The smell of red wine and garlic from the steak I fixed for supper (a small, cheap cut, but still a steak) makes me smile every time I walk past the kitchen.

On the other hand, my wife and I went to the bank and signed quit claim deeds for each other's houses and cleared out our joint safe deposit box. And I guess we're close enough to the end that it doesn't really hurt the way it did, and I guess that's a good thing too. The only time I came close to crying was when I was looking over some extra prints of our wedding pictures that were in the box.

There was a time when we were so in love and eager to discover life together. Now it all seems sad and empty.

Other than that, it was strange, the stuff we saved in it. Some old rings of hers and mine. My high school class ring (which I got through my dad and not through the school's official company, so they misspelled the name of the school). Another ring my dad gave me right about the time I proposed so I could get used to wearing a ring. My birth certificate and my mother's. My wife's international drivers license, which she got just in case she ended up being able to come visit me in Korea. Negatives of our pictures. A bunch of paperwork related to our first daughter. The mortgage agreement for the home we bought as I was going to Korea for my last tour. A forgotten savings bond that had been a wedding present from a college friend of mine. Every item had a story.

Then came the frustration. I set myself a deadline of June 1 to finish putting together Digger Breaks Through, the short story anthology, but the rewrite on one of the stories is totally blocking me. It's another "Digger tells a story in the bar" story, and on a line-by-line basis, it feels pretty good. There are good moments in it. But overall, it just seems dead and flaccid on the page, and I'm not sure how to rescue it. I may just have to leave it out altogether.


Anonymous said...

You want me to look at it? I'm a pretty good structural editor and it sounds like you need a fresh eye.

TheyStoleFrazier'sBrain said...

I know pretty much what the problems are. There are no stakes and there are so many things I want to introduce for later in the story that it takes me forever to actually get into the story.

I think my reluctance to work on it is related to the bigger problem that, taken individually, even the bad stories are reasonably entertaining. But taken as a whole, all the first person and endless banter just all seems so one-note.

Anonymous said...

I think you underestimate how funny your writing is, which will allow you to get away with a lot.