The Right of Way

My last essay of the year was published on Friday!

Remember when I got hit by a car earlier this year? The experience was actually pretty transformative. Sure, I’m a writer, and a memoir one at that, so I write about a lot of things about myself and the weird things that have happened to me, but this was the first transformative experience I felt I could write about in real time. I wrote that blog post about a week after the incident and I wrote the essay only a few weeks later.

I think this is the first time I felt that writing really helped me feel better about something immediate that happened to me that sucked, but hadn’t been stewing for years and years and years. And it felt great to get it out, almost like therapy. I knew I loved writing for this purpose, but I never knew it could feel so immediate.

So, huge thanks to Lunch Ticket for publishing this, my last essay of 2018. Here’s to hoping I’m more productive (and fruitful $$) next year!

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Heavy Voices

Last night, I finished this book, Heavy: An American Memoir by Kiese Laymon, and I *loved* it. I was super stoked when it came out because I’m a huge fan of Laymon since I read his essay, “You Are the Second Person.”

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Me and Kiese Laymon after his Heavy reading at Politics & Prose in DC.

What I love about Laymon’s work is his voice—I honestly feel like he’s talking to me (or, in the case of Heavy, his mother), like from his mouth to the page. I seek to write more like this and gaining confidence in my voice has been an ongoing process. It’s ironic that this is something I struggle with because, as a Writing Center tutor in college, the thing I would tell people most was, “Stop making such a disconnect between the way you speak and the way you write. Good writing sounds like someone is talking to you.”

This obviously isn’t always the case with academic writing. My business school writing professor told me my memos were “too conversational.”

“But I’m having a conversation,” I said. “I’m just doing it on paper instead of in person.”

I just didn’t get why I had to speak differently on the page than I did in real life. It wasn’t like I was using slang in a professional memo. And wasn’t the content of my message more important, anyway?

I think some of that got lodged in my subconscious. Or at least something did, when I started learning to write essays. When I read them, I realized that many sound kind of the same, reflecting on some type of trauma in a voice that’s melancholy. I tried that, and it worked pretty well. But then I realized that’s not always my voice. That’s my grief voice, not my work voice, or my impostor syndrome voice, or my bougie Black Millennial voice.

All that being said, I love that Laymon is brave enough to write the way he speaks, and I pray to God I get to work with him at a conference one of these days so I can talk this issue over with him.

One of my primary concerns is that my voice isn’t heavy enough, that it doesn’t hold traces of my past trauma. You’d be surprised (actually, you probably wouldn’t) at the number of people who’ve told me they thought I grew up in some sort of stable, two-parent, Cosby Show home type of thing. Which couldn’t be farther from the case. Sure, my mom wasn’t turning tricks for rock or anything, and she quite professional and often brought that demeanor home, but I’ve had my fair share of knocks, though people don’t think I sound like I do. Ultimately, I sometimes wonder, especially as I read these great Black authors in this renaissance we’re in, if I’m being all of myself. I know I am, but I sometimes wonder if I should be something else, too, more raw than I really am.

The thing is, every time I went to a new school and thought I could reinvent myself, me always wound up showing up. That is to say that, anytime I think I’m insufficient and try to be something else, I can’t. At the end of the day, who I am winds up being enough. Something pops up that tells me I’m cool the way I am, which is to say, not all that cool. And I have my own way of being that is perfectly okay.

This is why workshops like VONA are so important to me. Of course, I had great experiences at my other workshops, but there’s something about getting feedback on your voice as a Black woman talking about your experience as a Black woman in a very white world (in my case, the South, during my childhood). There’s a level of validation that an environment full of writers of color provides that you can’t get anywhere else.

Of course, I have to remember to be confident in my voice regardless, but these workshops help *a lot.* Looking forward to my next one!

“Think of something to do”: Bringing the Family Together

I hope you all had a nice Thanksgiving! I went to North Carolina to spend the weekend with my family, and we had a really nice time. For the past few visits, my mother has insisted that we do things; normally, we’d sit around and watch television, but she’s been forcing us to get out. Last year, we drove all the way to Cherokee. Not inclined to take a long drive again, my spouse and I had to think of some other things. And we did them! I didn’t take a ton of pictures because I wanted to be fully present, but this trip, we did a couple of new things!

On Thursday night, we went to see Creed II. No spoilers, it was way better than I was expecting it to be and way better than the first one. Given the period of U.S. history we’re in, in which Russia decided the outcome of our presidential election, it was titillating to see the Cold War being played out again. Rocky Balboa ended it the first time; let’s see how it goes now.

On Friday night, we went bowling. My mom set up a date for us during a family beach vacation a couple years ago, so my spouse figured it’d be a viable option for “something to do” while we were at home this time, so we did. I found myself surprised that bowling alleys—like, just a bowling alley, not one in a bigger venue like a Dave & Buster’s, for example—still exist. And they’re still hella popular! It was actually pretty crowded after 9pm on a Friday.

(Prior to bowling, my spouse and I drove around Charlotte trying to find a place to watch #TheMatch, the betting game between Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods. The whole thing was a sham 15 years delayed, but it was nice to go to a part of Charlotte I hadn’t been to before.)

On Saturday, my mom, my spouse, and I went to afternoon tea the Ballantyne Hotel in south Charlotte. I’ve done afternoon tea twice before, once in London and once in Scottsdale, and I love it. It seems hoity-toity, but it’s actually really nice, and unexpectedly relaxing. As you’ve read before, since I live far away from my family and have my whole adult life, I sometimes feel like we don’t know each other all that well. My mom even told me that once. So, I wanted to do something with Mommy we hadn’t done before, something to show her some aspect of what I like and who I am. And one of the things I enjoy doing is having tea and champagne! At the Ballantyne, the champagne didn’t come with free refills like at the other places I’ve had tea, but it was still nice. Mommy enjoyed it, and we got to spend some quality time together, both of which were what mattered most to me.

And on Sunday, after the Panthers lost to the Seahawks in what I can only think of as a repeat of the 2004 Superbowl, we went to an outdoor Christmas market, one of those fake German things with the stalls full of vendors selling random stuff. It was a chilly night, so we sipped hot apple cider and mulled wine as we roamed around, and we ate bratwurst and pretzels. It definitely wasn’t the first year they’ve had this, but I don’t know why we hadn’t been before.

The Bank of America building in Charlotte, lit up for the Panther’s game.

My mom forcing us out of the house was really helpful. It’s easy to get bogged down in a rut of sorts and think boredom is your only option when you’re away from home. But that’s not the case. I also realize that it’s important to do these things that seem so random—they get everyone out of their comfort zone and you start sharing who you are with each other.

This is the longest visit I’ve made to NC in a long time (and the only time I’ve been home all year, unfortunately), and it felt well worth it. My family is changing, as humans do, and it’s high time I took more responsibility for keeping up with the ways in which they’re evolving, especially if I want them to do the same for me. Less philosophically, doing activities might result in some new family traditions. And Lord knows I love a good family tradition.

What are you thankful for this year?

It’s that time of year again, folks!

Thanksgiving is on Thursday, which means it’s that time of year to think about all of the things I have taken for granted and actually thank the Lord for them. So here goes:

I am thankful for:

  • My spouse, who, despite my being one of the most difficult people I’ve ever encountered, insists upon loving me anyway. I am thankful for his calm demeanor; even though I’m frequently annoyed that nothing ruffles his feathers, I thank God for his disposition. That serenity has gotten us through a lot in 6.5 years of marriage.
  • My family. Even though I live far away and sometimes feel a little disconnected, they always find some kind of way to make me laugh.
  • My writing community. I can’t tell you how much going to conferences and meeting all of these amazing people over the past two years has meant to me (actually, I have told you, here, here, here, here, here, and here).
  • My writing teachers, who I think of as a step above my community overall; the women (and one man! I have my first male writing teacher now!) who taught my workshops shaped my writing in ways I could not have even imagined. I hope to thank them formally in my book one day soon: Blaise Kearsely, Kelly Caldwell, Michele Filgate, Rebecca Makkai, Jac Jemc, Stacy Pershall, Laura Goode (who was for pitching, not writing, but gave me a boost anyway), Bill O’Sullivan, Reyna Grande, Anne Helen Petersen, Lisa Page, Julie Buntin, Dana Johnson, and Emily Raboteau.
  • My church and my church fam, both in NYC and DC. National Community Church and Hillsong NYC have played immeasurable roles in my development as a Christian and a human, and I am eternally grateful.
  • My friends, from networking acquaintances to ride-or-die broads who’ve known me for years and years and years. Without them, I could not make a good life decision.
  • Jesus, without whom I would have zippo peace, joy, wisdom, or hope. Even though that last one flags a lot these days, He is quick to remind me that He is all that I need, even when it feels that the world is ending.

Take a minute to think about what you’re grateful for this week. It really helps lifts the spirits!

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Well-Read Black Girl Festival: The Sequel

My apologies for not blogging last week; in truth, I’d forgotten it was Tuesday and was really overwhelmed with election stress. But the good Lord works everything together for our good, including letting Democrats take over the House, hallelujah.

This weekend, I had the great honor of attending the second annual Well-Read Black Girl literary festival in Brooklyn. I went to the first one last year, so I was excited to go again. Glory Edim is doing the Lord’s work in promoting literature by Black women. You can tell this even more when you’re in a room full of them, so many beautiful women of every shade, size, and shape “woo” over authors who look like them.

I arrived to the festival later than I would have liked, thanks to some Lyft Line snafus, so I got a terrible seat.

I couldn’t see much, but Glory looks cute here in the yellow shirt!

Luckily, I could *hear* everyone just fine.

Patricia Smith giving everyone *chills.*

Powerful, award-winning poet Patricia Smith’s keynote address left us all in tears, standing, cheering, and stamping our feet, as her work is wont to do. She spoke about, as a child, being told to be quiet, and how she was being lead to believe that important things were “white” things. She compared this to current events, like the president telling Black women journalists to sit down and that their questions were stupid.

“No, Mr. President, we will stand,” she said, and electricity ripped through my spine.

Next was a panel on the creation of the Well-Read Black Girl Anthology, with contributors talking about some of their biggest Black woman writer influences. I love and hate talks like this, as I get to hear, as a writer, who drove my peers to create their best work, but these things also remind me that I didn’t grow up in an area where reading Black authors was a thing. I didn’t hear the name “Zora Neale Hurston” or “Audre Lorde” until I went to college, and even then, I didn’t get to read their work because I was already behind on my assigned Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte. But I learn so much from these talks and I expand my to-be-read list.

My favorite panel of the day was “Black Girl Magic: Writing for and about Black girls.” The panelists were YA and middle grade authors, but I found the topic relevant to my memoir/literary fiction, too, as I recently have written Black girls/women protagonists exclusively. The biggest thing I took away from it was a quote I can’t remember who said (sorry!), “Write for the reader you are.” This is what has driven me to write for most of my life, but definitely in the past year, and especially with fiction. I realize that my literary fiction has plots and it usually involves a relationship gone messy—because that’s what I love to read. I haven’t seen enough stories about Black women who aren’t struggling, but face somewhat ordinary problems, such as encountering messy situations, and I want to read them, so I write them.

Again, my terrible seat allowed me to only *hear* the greatness on stage. Better seat next year.

And in the last panel I attended, Uncovering the Legacies of Black Women, I learned of even more writers with whom I was not familiar, which again, I feel bad about, but until Doc and Marty McFly come by with a Delorean, I’m going to have to be okay with not knowing sooner.

One thing I always note in these environments in which I am *not* the only Black person or the only Black woman is how different we are and how homogenized literature and pop culture can make us out to be. I loved Nafissa Thompson-Spires collection, Heads of the Colored People, because it broke up that narrative. I believe Camille Acker’s Training School for Negro Girls does the same (haven’t read it yet, but I am so excited to!). These books give me the space to be; they make me feel adequate in a world where I’m supposed to have been drowning and hopeless in a den of drugs and abject poverty, which was not my story. They give me room to tell my story and I am eternally grateful to them for it.

I also, because of this conference, I got to meet up with a writer friend I met online! I love when social media does what it’s actually supposed to do—bring us together. So, three cheers for Glory, Well-Read Black Girl, and Black women writers supporting each other as we show the world who we really are.

Finally—An Insulting Workshop Experience

I’ve heard horror stories of people—particularly women writers of color—receiving really devastating feedback in workshops. Sometimes so devastating that they stop writing for years. I have been very fortunate as a woman writer of color to have been in workshops where I felt understood. No one has ever given me feedback that made me question myself or felt insulting…until last week.

I’m currently in an essay class at the Writer’s Center in Bethesda, MD. My instructor is the great Bill O’Sullivan, an editor at Washingtonian magazine. This is one of those classes for which you have to apply; months ago, I submitted my Catapult essay, the one I am most proud of, and was thrilled to have been admitted.

Bill asked for volunteers to go the first round of workshop. I had an essay I’d been toiling with and had hit a wall with. I wasn’t sure if this would be the right crowd for this essay—in it, I’m exploring why I’m so freaking fascinated by the prep life, preppy things, and, in particular, this one woman who ran a blog about these matters. But it is actually about identity—who I am allowed to be and why are certain styles of dress reserved for certain races/classes. I start it by talking about a trip I took to Vineyard Vines in Georgetown, where I found the vanity sizing to be so egregious, they’d erased thin women like me. When I did some research online about the brand, I found the blogger woman and got sucked into her very fascinating world.

This is my first class at the Writer’s Center (I took a class online, but that was different), and from my tangential experience with the organization, the students incline a little older. Which is to be expected, in a way; the center is in the burbs and runs classes during the day and at night, and who is likely to take the day classes but retirees, particularly those in their 70s and above. I hesitated to turn in the essay because of this, but I did anyway. YOLO, as the kids say these days.

I was surprised to find that my class is actually relatively young, almost exclusively women who are in their late 20s to 50s. The only “outliers” are one woman who’s in her 80s and a man who is probably in his late 70s.

Our discussion of my essay went great! They gave me some really helpful feedback about expanding the parts about my personal history and how ending the piece sooner than I currently do would really pack an emotional punch.

The man in our class was absent for my discussion, so he emailed me comments. First, he emailed to say that he usually just says what comes to his mind as he reads, so he can come across as gruff. I shrugged that off and thanked him in advance for his comments. And then I read them.

I have never been so insulted in my writing life! I did not read past the first page of his comments. Essentially, he misunderstood my fascination with the blogger woman; as a result, he thought my essay was going to be about my self-discovery as a lesbian (!). He also said I was ignorant for not knowing whether Georgetown the university was named after the neighborhood (which, of course, I knew, I just worded it more voice-ily in the essay for those who are not familiar with the school or the neighborhood). And he basically said that I was dumb if I didn’t know what size I was and was trying on clothes that were too big for me.

I mulled over what to do. My options were (a) leave it alone; he’s an old man, so it’s not likely that he would learn not to be disrespectful, or (b) tell Bill the instructor, and let him handle it as a professional. I went with option B.

Bill was also appalled by the man’s comments. He sent the man a letter explaining that he was wrong and outlining how to give feedback in a workshop. I was super grateful to Bill for doing it, but I also thought, How is this even necessary? Why would anyone have to tell someone in their 70s, who is retired from a very prestigious and high-paying career, not to be disrespectful?

I remain baffled.

But I finally have a notch in my belt of weird workshop experiences. Luckily, I was able easily brush off what he said. I have published enough essays and been admitted to enough prestigious conferences to know that I’m a damn good writer, and no one is going to rankle me about that.

 

I’m Not Scared Anymore

Last week, I went through a version of a very long exercise my friend Carole recommended to me: write on an index card every scene in every chapter of your book; this allows you to move things around, so you can find a structure that makes sense.

I took this one step back—listing the scenes in a notebook instead of on index cards—but also one step forward—writing transition sentences for the opening and closing of each chapter. It was time-consuming (it took 4 days to complete) and exhausting (as going through my memoir drafts always is, as it feels like living my life over again in a truncated timeframe), but soooo worth it.

I’ve been avoiding doing reflection in my book, mostly unintentionally. There were parts I felt speak for themselves; there’s just not a lot to say as I look back on some things my father and sisters did. But the opening/closing transition exercise challenged in a unique way—I had to ask myself a question about the primary “thesis” of the chapter. For example, if the thesis was, “My father made me feel like an outsider by excluding me from activities with my siblings,” then the question I would ask myself was “How did I feel not fitting into my family, or anywhere else, for that matter?” And suddenly, I had so much to reflect on.

Doing this exercise took up most of my time last week, so I didn’t have time to blog. And I’m glad I didn’t force it because going through the exercise took a lot of energy that I’m glad I conserved: after going through my book at that high level, I finally felt in control of my narrative. I’ve felt this way since I returned from Bread Loaf, but I was finally able to put it to the page.

I suddenly wasn’t scared to go into the depths of how I felt at the time, or to guess how I felt at the time if I don’t remember, or to lay meaning on top of events. I was so afraid of feeling false, I assumed the reader could glean the significance of certain occurrences. I believe my reader is competent, of course, but there’s a reason why people read memoir (well, more than one), and one of them is to see what meaning people ascribe to their lives as they look back on it. I feel better able to do that now.

I pray to Jesus that this is the last draft of Daughter of the Most High I complete before I start querying. I finally, *finally* feel confident that I can actually make that so. I’m excited and I’m anxious—not scared, just ready to face it. I feel like I’m going into an athletic match that I know I will win. It’s not going to be easy, but I’m going to come out victorious. Just you wait!

My first short story is published!

Pardon my absence last Tuesday—it was my 33rd birthday, so I had to let myself breathe, treat myself to a tipsy lunch, and wander around a suburban mall. I couldn’t have asked for a better kick-off to my Jesus Year.

But this week was made even better by the publishing of my first short story, “I Help You,” in Cosmonauts Avenue!

Well, technically, it’s my second. I guess my real first was when I was a senior in college, published in the spring 2007 issue of Georgetown’s on-again-off-again literary journal, The Anthem. It was called “Shine,” and it was weird and trying to be subversive because I was in college and that’s what you do when you write in college. (I still have the hard copy floating somewhere among my boxes of mementos.)

The one thing my current first story has in common with my original first story is the theme of trying to escape one’s past. In “Shine,” the character fell victim to a generational curse without noticing, it seemed; the protagonist in “I Help You” is significantly more aware of what’s at stake. Cici in “I Help You” is older than the main character of “Shine,” whose name I can’t remember, but I believe Cici’s awareness has more to do with my maturing as a writer. I’m more aware of what a character needs to know about herself, and also what readers expect to know about her that she doesn’t know. I’m also more mature as a person and know what it is like to create one’s own expectations of oneself rather than doing what you’re told.

Even though imposter syndrome tells me that “I Help You” is silly because it’s about a girl chasing after a boy, I’m infinitely proud of this story. In a workshop, someone said it was “well-plotted,” which I think this person meant as sort of an insult, as if to say the story isn’t “literary” enough. The perception is that, in “literary” stories, nothing actually happens; characters just “be.” But when do people ever not actually do anything? I mean, sure, on vacation, sitting on the beach or by the pool, do people just languish in their thoughts. But literally every other day in every other life circumstance, people do. They move, they act, they show how they love, hate, think, believe. Also, the definition of literary fiction is that which is driven by the character, not the plot. Cici and her desire to live a different life drive this story, therefore, it is literary, my friend.

I am so stinking happy about this story, I just don’t know what to do with myself. I pray that it is the first of many, many more. At least enough to fill a collection about Black women thriving in white spaces. Fingers crossed tight.

In case you missed the link above, you can read “I Help You” in Cosmonauts Avenue here: https://cosmonautsavenue.com/vonetta-young-fiction/.

Me and the Gentleman’s Game

Confession: I love golf.

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Me, about to hit my best drive ever, and on a beautiful hole, to boot.

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Me and my spouse at the Quicken Loans National last year. That’s Ricky Fowler in orange behind us.

I took up the sport when I started business school, complying with the “white guys make deals on the golf course” trope, but also because it seemed like a really complex sport, physically, mentally, and emotionally challenging.

I started watching men’s golf on TV really consistently when I was working at my old job in NYC. Every Sunday afternoon, anxiety would paralyze me to the point where all I could do was sleep. So I turned on golf to keep me company (my spouse was usually working). Since it was relatively quiet, I found it relaxing and it helped soothe me a little bit.

Watching the sport every weekend became a habit, one I’ve kept up since then because golf is, by far, the most fascinating sport on the planet. Let me explain:

Golf is widely known as the “gentleman’s sport.” It’s a game of politeness, rules, order, and snazzy dressing. When you play on a course, there’s a dress code and clear way of comporting yourself—most places require a collared shirt (at least for men) and for you to play in a certain amount of time, to be respectful of those behind you. [Further example, if you’re going slowly on a hole and a group comes up behind you, it’s custom to allow them to go ahead of you, to “play through.”]

Of course, golf is also known as the whitest sport imaginable. I can’t think of another activity that encapsulates every race and class problem in the world than this very sport. Golf clubs are insanely expensive, even the cheap ones. On top of that, it costs at minimum $25 per person just to play the game on a terrible course, and greens fees on nice courses can be well over $100. (And that’s on a public course, not a private club, where greens fees are even higher, but seem lower because of the thousands of dollars one is paying for club membership. But anyway…) On top of that, courses are usually in places not all that accessible by public transportation, making playing an even more expensive venture for those who live in the city.

The combination of these two things—its gentlemanly veneer and its unabashed white privilege—is what fascinate me about golf. They allow for instant conflict and tension!

The male players have historically touted themselves as family men who live squeaky-clean, boring lives (a la Phil Mickelson), but that’s literally never been true. Phil, allegedly, had a gambling problem for years.

Tiger Woods blew through as the Black guy who would be the best ever to play the sport. I loved that he was knocking down barriers and didn’t even care to knock them down because he just wanted to win. He was a clean, nerdy, athletic Carlton Banks, and when I was in middle school, he gave me hope that my male counterpart existed, that there were more clean, nerdy, athletic Carlton Bankses out there and that I would find one and that he would love me. When Tiger became the poster child for the “good on the outside, icky on the inside” thing that every white male golfer had always been, it was extra hurtful to me. I didn’t care that he wasn’t who he’d made himself out to be to the world; it felt that he’d lied to me personally and tried to shatter my dream of love.

Everything about the sport of golf ultimately sets itself up for failure—the gentleman’s game that supports racism, sexism, and classism, none of which are at all honorable, as the definition of “gentleman” denotes.

For example, while my spouse and I were playing on a course in the Dominican Republic while we were on vacation a few years ago, I hit my best drive ever, WATCH:

I saw where my Callaway Solaire ball landed, a little to the right, but on the fairway. An older white couple came up behind us, and we let them play through, first the woman (who hit a sweet-ass drive) and then her husband. Her husband hit his ball off to the right, into the palm trees. He went in that direction to hit his second stroke, but then he stopped—he stopped at my ball. He hit my ball. HE HIT MY BEST DRIVE EVER BALL because he was an entitled old white man who figured he could never hit a ball off to the right, into the palm trees. I was livid. But all I could do was drop my ball around the same area and move on.

Clearly, the sport mimics a lot of the themes of real life.

To me, golf is a literary writer’s gold mine for narrative tension and character dynamism. I’m working on two short stories involving it in some way. For my Black women protagonists, this world should be inaccessible to them and to me, and that’s why it’s so intriguing. Stay tuned to find out how they turn out!

And congrats to Tiger on PGA win #80. Only needs 3 more to officially be the greatest golfer of all time. Let’s see about that…

Do you remember the 20th night of September?

I caught myself feeling down a lot the past week. I’ve been tired and a little teary and just plain glum. I couldn’t quite put my finger on the cause. I thought maybe a bunch of things were finally settling into my bones:

  • It’s “unofficially” autumn (though not for real until Saturday), so summer and all of my travelling and writing and meeting new people adventures are over. I still can’t believe everything I did this summer! I told myself I won’t do three (one, two, three) workshops again because it actually was too much. Throwing in a trip abroad that wasn’t to a beach compounded the exhaustion. But I had an amazing time doing it all, so no regrets!
  • It’s time to get back to work on my memoir manuscript. Given the feedback I got at Bread Loaf and from a couple of other readers, this round of edits will be pretty extensive. I’ll be making significant structural changes, especially to the beginning, which I’m still not happy with. I start to feel good about my book at Chapter 7, which is entirely too late to start to feel good about something.
  • I’m still submitting a short story around that I wrote last summer and have workshopped a couple of times. I got some positive feedback from a journal (a goal publication!), but I need more clarity on how to make it better. Otherwise, I’m still going at another short story that’s been pretty difficult. (I swear, I saw the protagonist on my plane to Ft. Lauderdale—yes, my fictional protagonist, in real life, on my plane. It was fine until she spoke to me. She asked if I had any lotion. It was weird giving my protagonist my little pink bottle of Vaseline hand lotion. Then she would smell like me, too. It was all very odd, and I still wouldn’t be sure I wasn’t hallucinating if my spouse hadn’t seen her, too [she was dreadfully pretty, so I had to make sure he didn’t look too hard].) Both are causing me their own versions of angst and making me a little tired.
  • I’ve got new material to get on the page. Inspired by Bread Loaf, I’ve got two essays and a short story that I spent some of past week drafting. The essays were short and easy to get out; the story, like the two above, is causing me some trouble. I think it’s because, though it’s a fictional story, it is based on real life, and that’s always weird, lying about things that actually happened in some way or another.

Ultimately, I reminded myself that this time of year is always weird. Even without consciously thinking about it, my body knows that it is the three-year anniversary of my father’s death. The weather in DC hasn’t been helping, staying nice and gloomy in the remnants of Florence. I still don’t miss my father, per se—not in the way people who had great relationships with their fathers do—but I think, every year, my subconscious acknowledges the implications of his physical absence from this planet: I’ll never get the acceptance or the love that I wanted and needed from him. I’ll be feeling great and then, suddenly, boom, this sadness comes out of nowhere, and I’m always confused as to why, until I think about it.

One day, I hope September returns to being just the introductory month to my birthday at the beginning of October. Three years later, it’s still “that weird time of year when my brain remembers that my father died.”