Stuffy Head and a Bonus, Too

My head is stuffy, which tends to make my brain fuzzy, but I wanted to stop by and tell you that I’m okay. The increased dosage of depression meds is helping just enough to make me realize what bad shape I was in before the increase. Some of that may also have to do with the sinus infection I’m trying to ward off. Did I mention that my head is full of snot?

I told my therapist I had increased the dose from 50mg to 100mg and she was surprised I had only been on 50 until now. She said she doesn’t know of anyone who got any relief  at such a low dose. Awesome. I guess it’s a good thing I’m planning to increase the dosage again next week.

One thing that did not surprise her was how long it took me to realize the extent of my depression. I try to manage and anticipate everything in my environment and I’m almost always last on my list of priorities. Also, I could see a time when things would get better, so I just put my head down to push on through. It didn’t occur to me that there was something I could do to feel better now. Or that if I depleted my reserves to nothing that I would no longer be able to manage my environment at all.

I know there was a time, not very long ago either, when I was able to exercise, eat a healthy diet, and manage my stress better. But then push came to shove and I reverted to my old ways. I can get it together again. Theoretically. Here’s the thing, though. I know I have the capacity, but I’m afraid I’ll never have the focus to do it again.

There’s something in my nature that makes me a black-and-white thinker. Not about everything. I’m very tolerant of other people’s beliefs and opinions, provided they in turn are tolerant of others – I have no patience for intolerance. But when it comes to myself or my relationships with other people, I’m an all or nothing kind of girl.

♦♦♦♦♦

I wrote all of the above last Thursday and intended to post it that night after I’d written a little more, but I didn’t get around to writing it. Reading back through, I realize I want to do several posts on the all-or-nothing thing. I think it’s a pivotal hurdle for me. A recurring theme at the very least.

So I’ll come back to that, but for now I will tell you that I’ve started writing again. Our assignment in class over last week and this week is to write backstory for at least three of our characters. I procrastinated on it all last week. I haven’t written fiction in such a long time. But on Sunday morning I managed to get started. I wrote a scene for my protagonist. In it, she’s a freshman in college meeting the man she will marry for the first time. She divorces him two years before the book even starts, so this clearly won’t be in the book, it’s just for me to get a better feel for the characters.

And because you all have given me such unconditional kindness and support, I’m going to post it here for you to read if you want. One caveat: no criticism, even the constructive kind. Save that for when the first draft of the book is finished. Rip it apart then to fix it.

One thing I’ve learned, in class and through personal experience, is that the writing process at this stage is very fragile. It doesn’t take much to kill the creativity during the first draft. That’s one of the reasons people say to write the first draft as fast as you can, no matter how crappy it seems. Just get it down on paper (or computer screen) so that maybe you can out run your internal editor and all her snarky comments about your stilted dialogue or the gaping holes in your plot.

So, if I’ve mixed up character names, just go with it. If you find a typo, don’t tell me. I already marked where I changed the point of view from third person to first person and I didn’t bother to change it because it doesn’t matter. It’s not going in the book anyway. It’s just for me. And now you.

Oh, and if it totally sucks, don’t say anything at all.

But do feel free to tell me anything you like about it. Anything at all.

Kaylee Meets Richard

Kaylee sat in Victor’s Coffee Shop drinking in the atmosphere. As a Freshman at Freiburg University, she shouldn’t have known about this place. Victor keeps it notoriously non-trendy so as not to attract students. The professors who frequent the place don’t want to mingle with them and, besides, Victor can’t stand the sight of their fresh, earnest faces. Except mine. Possibly because it’s not so earnest. Or it could be that I’m just grandfathered in because I’ve been coming here forever. Or at least as long as I can remember. At first with my parents, both professors at FU, and then on my own as I grew older and their sabbaticals grew more frequent.

(Okay, so this morphed into first person without me noticing. Huh.)

I was sitting in my regular spot, in the corner by the bathrooms. Hey, it’s close to the barista area so Victor can keep me stocked in mandarin mochas. Plus, it’s a good place to stay out of the way. I can see people as they come in, but they can’t see me unless they’re looking. Not that my math professor mother or European history professor father ever came looking for me, but you never know.

Anyway, that’s where I was sitting when Richard Barber walked in.  I’d seen him in my biology class, of course. You couldn’t miss Richard. It’s like his chiseled face is magnetized or something. You’re just compelled to look at it and can’t manage to pull your eyes away. His eyes could bore into your soul and manage to simultaneously convey caring and heat and compassion and confidence and sex and…OH GOD! I think I had an orgasm just looking at him. And then the edges of his mouth turned up into a grin. He’d seen me staring at him and…and everything. I jerked my eyes back to my biology text book and tried to concentrate on making the floor open up and swallow me whole. When that failed, I hoped he would at least have the decency to take his coffee and go.

He didn’t.

“I feel like we should share a cigarette or something.”

“I don’t smoke,” I said, feeling my face heat up. I glanced up at him, making sure my eyes didn’t go past the top button on his shirt. Unfortunately, I could see the outline of some very nice pecs and my eyes got stuck. As I sat there, mesmerized by his chest, he leaned down and looked directly into my eyes. My face went from toasty to broiling in zero point two seconds.

He grinned again and said, “Me neither.” Then he pulled out the chair across from me and sat down. “So, how do you like Koogan’s biology class?”

“How do you know I’m in that class?” I’d never seen him so much as glance in my direction. Not that I was watching him or anything. Much.

He raised his eyebrows and nodded toward my text book.

“Oh. Right. Biology.” I cleared my throat and said, “Well, what Dr. Koogan lacks in field experience, he makes up for in the lab. The genetic theories he discussed in the last lecture were pretty basic, but I hope he’ll take the time to go into more detail on the current sequencing methods they’re using for the…” I could see his eyes starting to glaze over, so I stopped.

He managed to focus on my face again and nodded. “Uh-huh. I was thinking something more like what Dr. Koogan lacks in style, he makes up with his complete lack of personality.”

I snorted orange-flavored coffee through my nose. Ouch. My heart stopped as I saw him take a napkin from the table and begin to wipe the coffee from his sleeve. Oops. Well, it was nice talking to you, Richard.

Except he didn’t leave. He took a deep breath and let it out while staring at the table, but then he looked back up at me and smiled. This one was tighter than the grin, but it was still a smile. He said, “Seriously, I’ve fallen asleep in two of his lectures already this week.”

“Oh,” I said, deflating steadily as I  realized why this handsome, charming guy was still talking to me after I had just upped his dry-cleaning bill. And what kind of college student wears shirts that need to be dry-cleaned anyway? “You want to borrow my notes.”

“Oh no,” he said. Birds began to sing in my head. So loud that I almost missed his follow-up comment that he didn’t think he could read my handwriting. “I was thinking you could just give me a copy once you’ve typed them up.”

“Sure.” Why not? At least I’d get to talk to the guy again, right?

And I did more than just talk to him. I married the guy and worked all hours in a laboratory to put him through medical school. But that was before he stole my research and left me for a woman I worked with named Genevieve.

Now he’s back in town and wants to meet me at Victor’s to talk. Oh, we’ll talk all right, but this time I’ve got an agenda of my own. I don’t want money or a thank you and I certainly don’t want that smarmy scumbag back. No, Genevieve can have him; they deserve each other. What I want is an apology. And he’s going to give it to me.

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8 Responses to Stuffy Head and a Bonus, Too

  1. Rob says:

    I like Kaylee.

  2. Lulu says:

    I like Victor. And I like that Kaylee snorted coffee on Richard. And that he still had to play nice since he wanted something.

  3. KarenB says:

    I like Kaylee, too. And I really like that you can do this in spite of the black dog of depression sitting on your shoulder and the snot-filled head. I’m impressed. I can’t even complete sentences with the snot monster at work. I want to read more.

  4. robena grant says:

    I love your voice, this piece has good energy. Keep on doing what you’re doing. : )

  5. lunarmom says:

    It has such power already, and it’s only the backstory! Awesome, just simply to the point and gutsy and awesome. (Is that how you spell gutsy? Why does it look so wrong?)
    Julie

  6. Judith says:

    OK, I’m in. Love the humor. Can’t wait to see where this goes.
    Judith

  7. Julie, you can spell gutsy however you want! 🙂

    Thanks for taking the time to read and comment everyone!

  8. Love it Michelle! I can’t wait to read more!!

Comments are closed.