This is where the magic happens.

I’ve been in my new apartment for about three months now. One of the things that excited me most about the place (other than the beautiful light everywhere, ability to paint the walls, lots of closet space, a garage, pleasant yard, french doors, and great location) was a closet off the living room that had potential to be a fantastic little writer’s nook.

Me being me, it spent the last three months as a closet housing winter coats, paint cans, an occasionally-used box fan, extra blankets (I own no less than 10 blankets. I have zero explanation for this fact), and partially unpacked boxes. I saved this project for a weekend when I didn’t have anything going on.

That weekend finally came around, though it was a pleasantly busy weekend – containing a baseball game, Fox Cities Jazz Fest, dinner at a new restaurant, baking new treats (B-Crox in da house), Lolita-reading in the park, late night whiskey & jazz, lunch with a friend I haven’t seen in months, and vinyl night (True story: I brought Hall & Oates) at a local pizza joint. I squeezed a lot into that three day weekend.

Look at all the Throwback Thursday content! That's only half of it.

Look at all the Throwback Thursday content! That’s only half of it.

I’m now writing from inside my writer’s nook. When this little space came together on Sunday morning, I was instantly inspired. Finally, I thought. This is where all of my writing will finally happen. This is where I’ll write my masterpiece. This is where I’ll return to my fiction-writing. 

I’ve been in here for about two hours. Fifteen minutes were spent writing the above paragraphs. Twenty were spent taking pictures with my phone and camera (gotta have one for the instagram & higher quality for the blog post!). Another twenty were spent on a phone call I had been putting off. A cumulative 20 were spent idly on Facebook. At least 10 were spent trying to find the perfect writer’s nook music (finally came to the conclusion that Belle & Sebastian is boring and cute in the most annoying way). Then another 15 minutes were spent scrolling on Pinterest.

It’s funny how much time I spend excusing myself for not writing. Sometimes I think I need idea books, method books, style manuals, how-to books, or just new books. Even though one of my shelves is dedicated exclusively to books of this sort, I’ll get a new one. Inevitably, I read twenty pages, get a great idea for an essay, but then toss it to the side after a half hour when I think of a clever tweet because I’m all about instant gratification. It’s way easier to write tweets than it is to write a full blog post or honest-to-god memoir.

I’m hoping that at some point during my evenings and weekend afternoons in my writer’s closet, I’ll relearn patience.

Till then, keep an eye on my twitter feed. Every now and then there’s a gem there.

Sign of genius, I'm telling you.

Sign of genius, I’m telling you.

Blizzard Walking

Since most of my readers live in a 30-mile radius, you all know that I survived Blizzard Brianna. I hate when blizzards are named. It’s a snowstorm. Stay inside and you’ll probably be okay. Hurricanes deserves names – they’re massive storms capable of real and significant destruction. The blizzards in the midwest haven’t been very bad for the last few decades.

That being said, Thursday was still a terrible day to be driving, but I went to work anyway. My twenty-five minute commute turned into an hour-long drive, mentally writing my father a thank you note for letting me borrow his four-wheel drive Durango. I joined the majority of the office by leaving at noon. I spent most of the afternoon on the couch reading Calvino. But by about four, I was bored and ready to do something.

While driving to work that morning, I had seen a girl walking in the snow. She wore a peacoat, thick scarf, and a cozy hat. It reminded me of when I lived in Milwaukee. I used to listen to a lot of sad bands like The National. Whenever it snowed, I’d set the discography on my ipod to shuffle to walk the seven or eight blocks to campus. On the way, I’d muse in the most melancholic of fashions – noting how beautifully sad the sagging porches of college houses looked. I would imagine myself going into the Russian foods store and telling the clerk I wanted to try the vodka-filled chocolates I’d heard about. Sometimes I’d daydream about bumping into a handsome stranger at the laundrymat, both of us completely unaware of the obvious meet cute we were part of. Inevitably, these thoughts would be cut off as soon as I remembered they were either disgustingly sentimental or completely improbable. Then I would feel sorry for myself and focus instead on how the singer’s voice sounded the way I imagined whiskey would. Then I congratulated myself on such a clever description.

So I decided to bundle up and take a walk to a coffee shop about a mile away. I made a playlist of Damien Rice, matt pond PA, and Minus the Bear (because seriously, what else do you listen to during a blizzard?). It was a really beautiful experience, traipsing through the snow and feeling the cold sting of flakes pummeling my cheeks.

The coffee shop ended up being closed anyway, but I didn’t mind. The purpose of the walk was to push myself into a happy melancholia. And it worked. I was enchanted by everything: the starry headlights of skating cars, the frosted elegance of tree branches coated in crunchy snow, and the shimmery gusts flying beneath streetlights.

An hour and 1.5 miles later, I was across the street from a thai restaurant, considering curry for dinner, when I realized I lost my debit card somewhere in the snow. Instead of freaking out and telling the world to fuck off, I just called my bank and canceled my card. I’ll just have to wax nostalgic while I write checks for the next ten days.

Bridge

Boots

College ave

Lawrence Chapel

Cozy

It might not look like it, but I was totally okay with having a runny nose.

Finding Inspiration in Nabokov

So there’s not really any secret in me saying that I’ve been floundering for words lately. I’ve been uninspired, depressed, and basically just loafing around my apartment doing a lot of nothing. I’ve spent a decent amount of time and money crocheting so I can feel like I’ve accomplished something after spending the finding what Jon Stewart has to say about the Pope’s twitter.  Because apparently a scarf added to my pile will make me feel good about not reading or writing anything worthwhile in weeks. I was wrong. Completely wrong.

I don’t know that I blamed my lack of inspiration on anything. I didn’t think about it. My writer’s block was just there, weighing down on me, every time I climbed into bed after yet another day of doing nothing. I thought I needed something to jumpstart it. I hadn’t gone out since Halloween, and I figured a good night of drinking, meeting new people, and feeling fun, charming, and fabulous would make me feel better. So last weekend I told Andrea that I needed to go out once she was done with finals.

Well, we went out last night. I hosted a small Christmas party with a few of my friends. We drank sangria and ate some pretty decent food, some of which I was able to have for breakfast this morning. The menu was surprisingly satisfying, so good that I have to share: ever-classy mini wieners in crescent rolls, gala apple slices with prosciutto, and an apricot-almond cheese, blackberries, nutella and sea salt fudge, jordan almonds, chips with pineapple and peach salsa, mini pastries, honey-drizzled cheese with apples and crackers, and holiday sangria (white wine, sparkling apple wine, orange slices, cranberries, and crushed mint). By the time Andrea and I got out, it was around midnight, so we just went to Jekyll’s – a bar that has a reputation for being a hipster bar.

I realized I was surrounded by people far cooler than me – guys in studded jackets who could name 50 Descendents songs at the drop of a hat, svelte girls with pixie haircuts and dangly earrings, and about 40 pairs of ironic glasses. As impressed as they would be, I decided not to disclose the fact that I know the words to most of Taylor Swift’s songs. I made myself feel better by reminding myself that there’s a slim chance any of them have a 401k.

I had imagined the night to be similar to my last nights out – all-out benders that force me to spend the next day in recovery. Because I figure that’s a good relationship to have with alcohol – binge-drinking once every few months.  I just thought I needed a night that allowed me to feel outside of myself since I’ve spent so much time stuck in my head, not allowing it to get out via socializing or writing – the two things that help me most when I go through a depressive period.

Andrea and I ended up leaving around 1:30 and talking and eating cheese and apples till 3am. That ended up being what helped most – it was a reminder that I can, in fact, be honest and open with another person, and that I don’t need to have four drinks and witty quips with unfamiliar faces to feel like my night was a success

When I walked Andrea to to the door, I saw my stack of Nabokov on my shelf and decided I needed to spend the next day with a good book. I needed a paper book too – not my Kindle with its distractions of Pinterest and Facebook. At that moment, I was glad that I finished the night chewing the cherry of a whiskey old fashioned and not chugging five glasses of water in hopes of re-hydration to thwart a hangover.

Gods With my depression gone, I needed to do something about my lack of inspiration, so I pulled out my volume of Nabokov stories and decided to reread my blog’s namesake story – Gods. I honestly think it was the best thing I could do for myself. This post would probably be more apropos for my 100th post (this will be my 95th), but I’m not one to prolong satisfaction. I hadn’t read the story for a few years, but I remember it being a core-shaking story. I remember the language being exquisite in an expressly Nabokovian way.  I remember being moved by the passage I share in my “About” section. But what I didn’t recall was how the story just explodes with color and emotion.

You can read the story in its entirety here, but I recommend reading it in a floppy bible-thick paperback. The story is essentially about a couple – the male trying desperately to comfort his wife over the death of their son while they make their way to the cemetery to visit the grave. He tells her a fable of a hen that was placed in an air balloon contraption, soaring in a gondola by the sunset, and landing in a field, later found by a peasant beneath a heap of silk, having produced golden eggs from the colors of the sunset. Nabokov describes this more beautifully than I ever could: “And no wonder. At the wind’s mercy, the hen had traversed the entire flush of the sunset, and the sun, a fiery cock with a crimson crest, had done some fluttering over her.

The story is absolutely exquisite. I don’t know how else to describe it. I literally found myself in tears reading the last page. I can’t remember the last time a story affected me so strongly. It should be required reading,

My heart, too, has soared through the dawn. You and I shall have a new, golden son, a creation of your tears and my fables. Today I understood the beauty of intersecting wires in the sky, and the hazy mosaic  of factory chimneys, and this rusty tin with its inside-out, semi-detached, serrated lid. The wan grasses hurries, hurries somewhere along the dusty billows of the vacant lot. I raise my arms. The sunlight glides across my skin. My skin is covered with  multicolored sparkles. 

And I want to rise up, throw my arms open for a vast embrace, address an ample, luminous discourse to the invisible crowds. I would start like this: 

“O rainbow-colored gods…”

While I was reading this, I was texting my friend Logan, telling him he needed to read more Nabokov. He texted “I am sitting at a coffee shop trying to be productive but instead I am fucking off and remembering the awesomeness of living.”

And that’s exactly what this story does to me. It describes life in such an intensely sensual way that it’s impossible not to feel compelled to live. And not just live – but to live beautifully. I can’t handle another second of feeling sorry for myself for no reason, because seriously – I’m alive and the world is incredible. The day beyond my patio door looks dim and dreary, but I know that life is flourishing. I know that everything is blooming.  Everything is flying. Everything is screaming, choking on its screams. Laughter. Running. Let-down hair. That is all there is to life.