When I sat down to write this, I had a cup of coffee which I needed to drink first. My brain was too tired and moving too slowly to be productive at all. Since I couldn’t write while drinking coffee, I decided to browse facebook. On facebook, I looked at old pictures and saw how thin my face used to be. Then I looked in the mirror to see how round it had become. My eyelids looked heavy (from the lack of caffeine), my skin pale and blotched from acne scars, and my lips were cracked. I was distracted by my appearance. I felt ugly and unproductive, so obviously I had to take a shower. I wanted to feel really good so I took a long time showering. I let my skin soak in all the hot water, then I scrubbed with a loofa until I was covered in milky peach-scented suds. I shaved carefully, using shaving cream and a fresh razor. I returned to my computer in my robe, having decided to let my hair air-dry. But then it gave me the chills so I had to blow-dry it. Then I had to curl it, otherwise it would look bad for the rest of the day.
Since I did my hair, I had to do my makeup, though I did it quickly (powder, blush, mascara). Then I had to get dressed. I wanted to be comfortable, but I didn’t want to have to change later, so I chose a favorite pair of jeans and a sweater.
Then I sat down to write. By then, my coffee had grown cold and I needed to get a fresh cup. My brain still wasn’t awake, but I forced myself to write anyway.
While I was writing, I was distracted, worrying about the weather for the rest of the week. Then I thought about the piece I had worked on a few weeks back and decided to return to that draft. If I was going to get anything published, it needed to be polished and that was the closest complete piece I had.
But I had started this piece and I didn’t want to lose focus, so I continued writing this one, the one about the miss to ma’am business, the essay that’s been floating around in my head for the last month or so. So I continued with this one, though I wasn’t happy with how the setting was described. I needed the coffee shop to come alive. I needed the high school boys to be both vivid characters and essential components of the setting. But I just needed it to get out, I would return to it later, so I moved onto the dialog. The dialog read like the conversation, but there was too much white space.
There’s always too much white space with my dialog. It’s a cheap way to get the page count up, right?
Then I moved onto the pinnacle moment, the point where I cease to feel like a girl and begin to feel like a woman. There’s that moment, not of intersection or overlap, but a vacuum of a moment, in which there is no sense of self, only questioning. I wanted to describe that moment, that void of identity, but I couldn’t do it. I thought of describing the way my toes were squeezed into my shoes or about how I used to wiggle a utensil between bites in hopes that might illustrate the anxiety a girl feels when her sense of self is changing demographics. But it wasn’t working.
So I said I would return to it. I knew what would come next. I knew the strange boy needed to say that thing about my shoes and that the other one would tease him, and that Heather would say something dumb, so I could write that in later. I would return to it. Hemingway would always stop at a point where he knew what would happen next. In a sense, he never had a “complete” writing session, just thousands of them threaded together by thoughts and ideas. Brilliant bastard.
At this point, it looks more like a short story, but it’s not supposed to be. It’s supposed to be a personal essay, so I should be reflecting, shouldn’t I? So I tried to muse a little bit. I mused about femininity and what it meant to be a girl and what it meant to be a woman. The result was a pathetic list of self-indulgent behaviors that made me realize that despite the fact I’m 24, according to my own list of qualifiers, I’m very much a girl and not a woman.
So then I looked in the mirror and saw a girl, and I decided to make myself look like a woman. I tried to put on lipstick, since that’s a thing women do, and found that I don’t know how to apply it. So I watched five videos on youtube about how to get the perfect red lips. I reapplied the lipstick to find that I don’t like how I look with lipstick. And that I hate the way it feels – like a thin layer of half-dried Elmer’s glue that eventually sucks all the moisture out of my lips.
Then I sat and wondered what the harm was in being a girl and not a woman. Girls just want to have fun. Women just want to have babies. Right? Isn’t that the real difference?
Two hours after sitting down with the initial cup of coffee, I decided I had done enough work. I had left off at a Hemingway stopping point anyway, so I would have no problem returning to get some real work done the next day.