Saturday, June 23, 2007


Unmoored is how I'm feeling, and that's was the working title of a short story I'm curently working on. This would be my first short story in about 7 years. But something in me wants to write again, and not just law review articles.

Maybe it's the feeling of gratitude I have at feeling somewhat safe again, so now I have to try something risky. It was a 22 hour ordeal coming back from Con Law Camp, but the past couple of days have been nice. I came back to The Nicest Roomie, and to new (very cool, smart, and funny) friends and my most comfortable (newish) home. I read a novel (The Book of Illusions by Paul Auster). I slept, cleaned house, cooked a lot and hardly left the house except to go for quick runs. After 10 days adrift in another state, it is nice to be in one place, especially in so nice a place. It is nice to be in your own home.

Which I will leave again next Thursday to visit my parents in Sunny Suburb. For another 10 days, but this time much more mundane adventures, nothing to blog about--and so I'll probably blog on other things and be a much regular blogger.

I would love to post on the Misadventures of the (Slightly) Creepy Landlord (and my--justified--overreaction to it and how watching Law and Order is a bad/good thing); a book review; restart the Saturday Poet series; and give a final recap of my academic adventures this summer. But I have to do some real work this weekend, since these past few days have been relaxing, and the 12 days preceding it a flurry of non-editing related work for Con Law Camp.

So until Monday, I will leave you with a vignette of a project I can share because I'm not sure I'll ever finish/publish it. I know, not a promising introduction.

During my daily email (it's like IMing but stretched out over the course of 5 hours) correspondence with my friend Hipster Law Prof, I shared with him this poem by Margaret Atwood. It's a thing writers do. We read, and nudge others to congratulate us on our good taste:


I'm thinking about you.
What else can I say?
The palm trees on the reverse
are a delusion; so is the pink sand.
What we have are the usual
fractured coke bottles and the smell
of backed-up drains, too sweet, like a mango on the verge
of rot, which we have also.
The air clear sweat, mosquitoes
& their tracks; birds & elusive.

Time comes in waves here, a sickness, one
day after the other rolling on;
I move up, it's called
awake, then down into the uneasy
nights but neverforward. The roosters crow
for hours before dawn, and a prodded
child howls & howls
on the pocked road to school.
In the hold with the baggage
there are two prisoners,
their heads shaved by bayonets, & ten crates
of queasy chicks. Each spring
there's race of cripples, from the store to the church.
This is the sort of junk
I carry with me; and a clipping
about democracy from the local paper.

Outside the window
they're building the damn hotel,
nail by nail, someone's
crumbling dream. A universe that includes you
can't be all bad, butdoes it? At this distance
you're a mirage, a glossy image fixed in the posture
of the last time I saw you.
Turn you over, there's the place
for the address. Wish you were
here. Love comes
in waves like the ocean, a sickness which goes on& on,
a hollow cave
in the head, filling & pounding, a kicked ear.

--Margaret Atwood

We both liked and were inspired by the last few lines:

Love comes
in waves like the ocean, a sickness which goes on& on,
a hollow cave
in the head, filling & pounding, a kicked ear.

How to turn this sentiment (not too original, the waves of emotion thing) into prose?

My free-exercise attempt:

Adam's body conveyed an awkward restiveness. It could not be charitably described as a "coiled spring," as if his body was always ready for action and his life exciting enough to demand it. It was more that his body conveyed impatience and waiting, like the plank of a see-saw--awkwardly tipped, but suggestive of motion. Adam was perched on the edge of the bench: his legs stiffly stretched out before him, his shoulders hunched and his hands grasping his knees. Other commuters walked around his too-large feet in irritation, but Adam took no notice of them.

He was thinking of Laura, and of the last time he had seen her. They had gone to the beach on a surprisingly warm day in the late fall. She had wanted, she told him, "one last swim, Adam, please."

Adam hated the sea. It reminded him of his exasperating parents, and their belief
that the sea air would cure any one of the many ailments that had marked his childhood with derision and disappointment. The sea was medicinal, and ineffective. The sea reminded Adam of his own deficiencies--his weak and sickly body, and his inability to enjoy certain things that delighted others. But he acquiesced to her wishes, the way he always did. He had been in love.

He remembered that her hair was crunchy with salt, and her skin dry and powdery with the sand that was as fine as sugar. The smell of the sea made Adam sick; he thought perhaps it was the smell of decaying seaweed that made his stomach turn. But the smell of the sea on Laura was strangely intoxicating. Kissing her made him feel at once sick and excited.

Love had come over him in a wave of nausea, filling his mouth with her undulating tongue and her dreadful scent. He remembered that he heard the waves in the background, and he remembered feeling himself unmoored and unable to stand without difficulty. He had felt lightheaded, and strangely hollow. His every orifice filled with the sound and smell of the sea, and the sea was Laura. His senses
were overwhelmed with the intensity of everything that he loved and hated in one breath, coming again and again.

Now all I have to do is figure out a plot--how Adam and Laura arrived here, or where they will go. Or both. Something has to happen, right? Plot was never my strong point, this is why I have never really finished a story to my satisfaction, and why I think I will never be able to write a novel. But I have the sentiment I want to convey, the moment in time. I have a new working title. I think I can build something from here. I think this will be how the story ends. Now I have to find how the story begins, and where it will take the reader.

As the writer, I am curious myself.