Tuesday, May 1, 2012

A Brief Interlude

For such a long day I got very little writing done.

I woke up around eight. After a shower I go online and see what the Shock Totem prompt is for this month's flash fiction challenge. As always, it's a good one and I get five ideas right away. I mull it over as I take the bus downtown. Driver gives me an extra long transfer ticket- instead of cutting me off at 12:30, I have until 1:30 to make the round trip. Score! When you're pinching pennies even a free bus trip becomes reason to celebrate.

I get to the library in time to meet up with the lady who runs the adult literacy program. We talk for an hour about what it means to be a tutor. I'm pretty excited about this: for such a small commitment (two hours each Thursday) I could have such a huge, positive impact on someone's life. Plus, as a volunteer at the library, I don't have to worry about late fees. No late fees. So I get to do interesting, rewarding work, help somebody improve their life, and I don't have to worry about a five dollar fine if I keep those Project Runway season six DVDs out for a few extra days? This is great! Sign me up!

It's a nice spring day, so after I load up my backpack with teaching how-to books I go sit on bench. I'm eating my apple when I feel my phone buzzing in my coat pocket.

"Hello, is this Shannon?" I recognize the voice. Last week I had a interview at my old University about being a don. A don is basically like a den mother or an R.A. They live on campus and help out the students living under their supervision. I really wanted this gig. On one hand, I'd be like the most awesome big sister ever to those kids, caring but keeping them in line. On the other hand, it would be like being a writer in residence. As a don you don't get paid, but you do get a place to live and all the cafeteria food you can eat. With my essentials covered, I'd have the whole day to write.Maybe when I was feeling especially whimsical I could pretend that I was the writer-in-residence in Paris living above Shakespeare and Company. When I looked out the window I wouldn't see a boring city street but the river Seine and the Notre Dame. 

But I can tell from the voice that my little daydream is as far away from me as Paris is.

"We all really enjoyed your interview," the voice says. 'Well, I'm so glad I was able to provide you with some amusement,' I snark to myself, then feel bad because I know these people, and I know that they're all good people. I just had plans, that's all, and now I need to figure out what to do.

Once I hang up my phone I lean back against the bench. Not for the first time, I consider moving to Toronto. Living in Toronto is almost like Canada's version of mandatory military service; it seems like every young person has to put in a few years there before they can move on with their life. I actually do like Toronto, and I'm sure there are great things and opportunities there. But I love my hometown. It's not just a matter of all my friends and family being here (though there is that) I just really like this city. I don't want to move.

I put on my backpack and start walking. I head over to my old workplace, a used bookstore. My old boss is outside near the bus stop, smoking a cigarette. I try to look cool munching my apple. I tell him about not getting the don job and my daydream of pretending to be a writer-in-res.
"I guess I'll just have to hitch my wagon to some other star," I say.

"Do you want to work here again?" the boss asks, gesturing to the bookstore.

"Yes," I reply without hesitation, because that is the real reason I stopped by. He says what my hours would be. I run them through my head and quickly figure out that they won't overlap with karate class or literacy tutoring. Perfect. We shake on it.

I feel like crying from relief and I also just feel like crying. It's good to be employed again. Sure, when you're self-employed you're always employee of the week, but there's also no vacation, no sure paycheck. And I do like working at the bookstore. It will be good seeing the regulars again and all the awesome books that flow through the place like flecks of gold in a river. And now I don't have to worry about making rent, about buying groceries, about paying for the trips I want to take this summer. And it's only part-time, so I'll still have oodles of time to do the freelance work I have on the go. It really is everything I need at this time.

But I can't help but feel a little disappointed in myself. I'm 25. I thought I'd be an astronaut by now. Okay, so I maybe I've readjusted that dream a bit, but even if I'm not rocketing off to Mars I still would have thought I'd have a little more direction in life.  

All I can do is keep plugging away. I might not know exactly what I'm doing, but at least I'm doing something. I'm trying to spend my time in a more productive way, I'm trying to better myself as a writer, I'm pushing myself to try new things.

Anyway, the rest of the day was taken up by renting a car (long story), driving it home in rush hour, packing up my books, and writing 375 words for the Shock Totem prompt. Yayz! I is writer!

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