November 2, 2007

NaNoWriMo 2007, Day 2

Posted in Books, National Novel Writing Month, Writing at 11:17 pm by Calico Jack

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I have way too much exposition compared to just about any other writer, don’t I? Of course, I don’t think anyone will be reading this until well after I’m gone, so in a sense it’s rather freeing to not have to worry about keeping things coherent and cogent for any possible readers. This is me rambling to myself, and for the poor unfortunate soul who managed to lay his hands on this manuscript…I’m sorry. This has to be extremely boring for you, reading inane details about perfectly ordinary lives. The impetus to keep reading through the end is somewhat underwhelming, I suspect; and yet I hold out hope that you’ll stick with my musings. Something like this requires far more patience than should be given, but all I can promise is that things will pick up eventually. As for the ending—well, you’ll just have to trust this author that there is a reason why I’m spending far too much of my time right now recounting events of the past several years. As much as it might seem otherwise, I’d like to think I’m not quite egotistical enough to believe that my life deserves its own autobiography. All should be made clear in time. Now back to bacon.

Once the olfactory cue started dispersing through my living room, I obediently rose up from the couch and padded through my front door. Chloe’s apartment and mine share a corner of the building, and our doors are at right angles to each other—perfect for random water soaker fights. It sounds slightly unbelievable and rather juvenile, and you’d be quite correct. In fact, it only happened once last year when the entire city suffered a power outage in the middle of an Indian summer; the entire complex’s air conditioning went on the fritz, and I didn’t feel like curling up in the refrigerator to cool off. Chloe had a pair of water cannons left over from some long-ago campus prank, and she suggested we have a battle to determine the super soaker champion of the second floor. There were only two problems with that idea: one, both of us had rather valuable items close to our doorway (I had to replace a lamp and Chloe spent the next several hours drying out a photo album); and two, both of us forgot that our landlady Ms. Paulsen has astoundingly good hearing for her advanced age of fifty-seven. I remain eternally grateful that the hallway’s carpet dried in record time.

Chloe opened the door on my quick staccato knock, and like every single time I see her, my heart skipped a beat or two. It didn’t help that she was already dressed for work; I think she looks gorgeous in sweats and a ponytail, but there’s something about a sharply tailored pantsuit that tends to give my knees tremors. It would have been nice to just appreciate this image for a few seconds, but the half-cheery, half-apologetic smile I received from her postponed any chances of a quiet reverie.

“Hey Tyler, I hate to do this to you but my boss just called not five minutes ago. We’re going to be running a story today on the governor’s visit, and his staff just messed around with the times for an on-cam interview. Taping’s in half an hour, and I’ve got to run. I left you some bacon if you’re hungry. Make-up on Saturday?”

“Yeah, no problem. Have fun at work, ’kay?”

Chloe just rolled her eyes at me, gave me a quick hug, and practically ran down the curved stairs leading to the first floor’s lobby. It’s times like these when I really appreciate not ever having to navigate a staircase while wearing heels, as running down steps with your body’s balance artificially pushed forward would cause me to wear a bike helmet most of the time. How girls do it without constantly grabbing the railing for support is beyond me.

With Chloe gone for the day, there wasn’t much for me to do before my first (and only) appointment of the day at ten o’clock. I speared the still-steaming strips of bacon off of her kitchen’s small griddle and headed back to my own apartment, locking her door as I left. One might think that neither of us were quite ready to exchange keys to our respective flats, if only because it might signify something in our relationship that wasn’t supposed to be there. But we were perfectly comfortable with letting each other hang out when we weren’t around; Chloe envied my DVD collection, and her refrigerator was always stocked with better food than mine was. I’m not sure if that’s a fair trade; after all, I do get to use my movies after she’s done watching them.

The bacon was delicious as usual, even if I felt fat cells in my body multiplying exponentially as I ate each strip. Throw a bagel in the toaster, munch on a banana and take a few swigs of orange juice (straight from the carton; it’s one of the privileges of living alone), and I was set for breakfast. Afterwards I spent some time writing an email to my parents back in Seattle, since our schedules are too different for us to call each other with any regularity. Most of that’s my fault, I guess, but I do the best I can with the restrictions placed on me by work. My parents weren’t thrilled when I walked away from my old job and took up my current occupation; they saw more of a future for me in the former than I did, and for a while it caused a fair amount of tension between us. But my thrice-weekly emails gradually assuaged some of their disappointment once they discovered I had no intentions of becoming a soulless corporate drone. Honestly, I don’t think I could have quite survived that kind of transplant; most likely I would have killed myself out of sheer boredom.

The problem with writing emails several times a week is that unless something drastically exciting or significant happens, you run out of things to say rather quickly. I couldn’t really go into details about my job due to confidentiality agreements; and as much as my parents would have liked to think otherwise, Chloe and I were a non-item (is it too hopeful to add “at the moment” to the end of that sentence?) So my emails were generally light and breezy, filled with inanities and random observations about life in greater Los Angeles. I don’t think I would have qualified for a “Son of the Year” award because of those emails, but my parents appreciated them anyway.

Unfortunately, when I finished writing I still had half an hour before I had to leave for work. I think half-hours are the worst possible amounts of time to have on one’s hands, as they are so worthless as to be little better than having no time at all. Thirty minutes are too short to watch a TV show or movie or even read a novel for fear of getting too engrossed in the story just as the time is up; and even doing something productive like cleaning a room takes far longer than a mere half-hour. But the one redeeming thing about this block of time is that it’s a perfect length for playing a few rounds of Halo 2 as a mental palette cleanser before the daily grind. Not that I fit into the traditional 9-5 repetitious job, but I’ll take anything that gives me an excuse to justify the amount of time I spend on leisure activities.

Two matches and thirty frags later, it was time to run. I slipped on a fitted button-down and grabbed a double-breasted blazer from the hall closet before heading out the front door. The weather was about average for L.A. this time of year, perhaps a bit nippy, but the blazer was slightly overkill for the temperatures. Regardless of the weather, though, I prefer to wear a double-breasted one if at all possible. Paired with a dress shirt, it is much more stylish than the casual “open blazer over rumpled band T-shirt” combination that seems to have swept the nation during the past few years. When every third guy on the street is aping that style, I think you leave an impression by bothering to put a little bit of effort into your attire. People notice, and I’d rather be known as a natty dresser than a slob. The one thing I don’t usually budge on, however, are ties. I have a few, and on rare occasions I’ll put one on, but I’ve never found the reasoning behind giving others a perfect opportunity to pull on a piece of clothing and throttle you. It’s the only piece of business clothing that has no practical purpose, and the sooner our culture moves away from using a tie as a staple of office wear the happier I’ll be.

I passed Ms. Paulsen on my way out of the building and greeted her with a quick smile and a wave. We don’t get along all that well personally, but she hasn’t raised my monthly rent in over two years, so I never pass on the opportunity to leave a good impression with her. I think I’ve almost erased her memory of that water fight last September, but I can’t afford to give her anything else to hold against me. There’s a rumor that has circulated in our building as long as I’ve lived there which suggests that Ms. Paulsen (if she has a first name I don’t know it) keeps a running tally of all of her tenants’ transgressions on a whiteboard in her back office. What she does if someone’s check marks become too high nobody knows, but I’m not interested in finding out. I’ve lived at this address for two and a half years, and I seriously doubt I could find anything better in Santa Monica for what I pay in rent. Three miles from the beach, a relatively crime-free neighborhood, and easy access to the 405: what more could anyone ask for? And I live next door to a girl who more than makes up for whatever small deficiencies there might be in my living arrangement—like having a slightly grouchy retired librarian for a landlady who thinks that all of her tenants should follow the same rules as library patrons: keep the noise levels quiet, no horseplay in the hallways, and pay your fines (rent) promptly. All in all, it could be a lot worse. And if that isn’t a prescient comment, I don’t know what is.

Next chapter ->

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1 Comment »

  1. […] in Books, National Novel Writing Month, Writing at 11:57 pm by Calico Jack <- Previous chapter […]


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