The Year of Writing Ferociously

Blog forgive me, it’s been fourteen months since my last vacation. Today did not start off too well. Inanimate objects aren’t obeying my mental commands. I’m clumsy. I spill coffee on the floor. My shirt slips off of the steamer. I drop the steamer wand on my foot, prompting an under-the-breath invective of words I “must not use in front of my nephew.” I’m not going to shave. With this level of gracefulness, a razor in hand isn’t a good idea. I overslept for the third day in a row. My allergies prompted an inaccurate nose-blowing which results in a change of shirt and another round of steaming. Then it’s time for a game called “Slayton has lost his wallet.”

This is not a game of “David lost . . .” because I am not the originator. My brother Bonner began this game in his early twenties, when we both lived with my Grandmother Dyess. Every day Bonner would come home for lunch from his job at Sears and every day he would lose his keys. This would prompt a near rabid search by everyone to find his keys and get him back to work, usually late. It drove me nuts, even then, that he couldn’t just put the damn things on the hook by the door and there they’d be when he needed them.

Last year I began to experience a similar, daily crisis. Determined to not repeat the behavior that had driven me so crazy in Bonner, up went a hook, a habit was formed, and the problem of David versus the keys is solved.

The brain is sneaky, and I knew what my brain was about. I wasn’t losing my keys because I was absent-minded. The game isn’t about that. It’s about being a bit overloaded and stealing time. It’s about “I don’t wanna.” By losing my wallet this morning, I’m subconsciously saying “I don’t wanna go to work today.” I find the wallet, inexplicably, in the bottom of a basket of clean clothes. It’s managed to crawl to the very bottom. My wallet in pocket, my shirt snot-free, and three cups of coffee drunk during this debacle, I’m out the door.

One of the best things about exclusively taking public transportation is that you have to give up your sense of control. The wallet game has cost me a window, forced me to take a later bus, and therefore forced me to breathe and calm the hell down. The bus is on time today, and the driver is beyond polite. He explains how the drivers vote today on the routes they get and he hopes to keep this one, the 20, and thanks the passengers for riding with him.

The train cuts through the campus and as always, provides me with the best possible people watching. I’m late for work, which is a problem. I’m going to owe my job some time tonight, shaving a few more hours off of studying and trying to work through Eastlight’s plot problems. My inner child won his fifteen minutes, but the wallet game has put me behind.

This is the most challenging semester I’ve had in a while. Fortunately it is also one of the last in my undergraduate career. I knew that finishing my second BA in English Literature was going to make 2007 a challenging year. I knew that my writing time would be greatly impacted as I balanced the studies against my likeable, and unfortunately interesting, day job. But I also knew that the courses I’m taking and the papers I’m writing would ultimately make me a better writer. I set out to thicken my skin against rejection, and I think it is working. Guthrie took second place in my school’s annual writing contest and I’ve finally learned what the hell a dangling participle is. Vacation, research in Greece, is in three weeks. And I have 2008 to look forward to.

I’ve made a decision to take 2008 off from my perpetual college career. This is unusual. I’ve gone to school, on a part-time basis, for most of my adult life. 2008 is about three things: catching up on the popular reading they don’t assign in Literature classes, burning my accumulated vacation hours at writing conferences, and churning out more deliverables in the writing department.

At the moment, avoiding another sneeze, scratching my beard stubble, and trying to think happy thoughts, it sounds like paradise.

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