8.03.2008

We are at the local pub after work and I've launched another silly question to the group. My specialty, in potentially awkward social gatherings. Feed the girl a Smithwicks and watch the questions spill out.

"If you didn't have this job, what would you want to be doing? What would you want to be doing full-time?"

Two of the boys launch into careers in porn. Conversation tends in this direction for a while, too long to reel the question back, and I let it go. But suddenly, someone remembers. Jen! You haven't answered!

I am bashful with my response, given the hardcore, too-cool-for-school discussion about bringing happiness to people via Pimpdom. I am not cool enough for this conversation; this is the part where I excuse myself to the bathroom, where my Westchester-upbringing betrays me, where my wink-wink-nudge-nudge goofiness errs on the side of gentle.

"Published author," I mutter. Someone points out that this is not a career, that this is a goal, and so I agree to "Writer." Writer, Pimp, Rockstar. We all sit around the same table. Though my bar stool feels miles shorter.

*
There are days when I am sure of it, surer than anything else: I will write. I pack my things and head to Starbucks, where I type furiously all afternoon, a chai tea latte as my company. I imagine holding a piece of finished work, feeling the cover between my fingers. I am unshakable in my determination on these days.

Then, surprisingly, I am tripped up. Perhaps by a successful day at work or a stretch of time distracted by other passions in life. On these days, the hunger is dim. It seems enough to read the most beautiful poem in existence and know that nothing I write will top it. Perfection has been achieved and all there is left to do is bask in its rays.


*
Yesterday, groggy, I turned on my computer. And there, in my inbox, an email from someone I know only through the Internet. She is grateful to have read my piece in the newest NIFW; she is complimentary about what I write. She has found strength in my words when she did not have strength enough to write them herself. And the NIFW project is important to her, as it must be to others, she says.

Sweet reminder that we do not write to a faceless void, that we write to express, but also to send out feelers towards the human race. I am Jodie Foster in Contact, I am Morse coding to the universe. "Is there anyone out there?"

There is nothing in the world like connecting.

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