I’m sick today.

I hate being sick, a lot. I always get the same kind of sickness: exhaustion, body aches like a baseball bat beating, clammy skin fever and chills. I try to sleep it off. I slept 14 hours the other day, then expected to get up and run out the door — shop three malls and eat twenty hamburgers — but my body said no. It said no today, too. I went to Target wearing tennis shoes and, for the first time ever, bought absolutely nothing there. I was so pissed. I went to Five Guys for a grilled cheese and couldn’t even eat my fries. That pissed me off, too. The guy at the counter kept asking how I was doing, like he was genuinely concerned, and I finally told him I was sick. Now I’m back at home, admitting that I’m too sick to do anything. God, that makes me upset. But I’m too tired to express my upsetness in any physical way. I might watch a movie in a little bit.

I didn’t want to tell anyone that, as a result of taking way, way too much allergy medicine, I’d started having hallucinations two days ago. I couldn’t tell anyone until the loratadine and cetirizine hydrochloride left my system and the hallucinating wasn’t happening anymore. Partially because I hate admitting any kind of vulnerability, but mostly because the hallucinations were very cliched. I saw bugs where there were none. Where there were bugs (we have continued problems with water bugs aka roaches, being that this is Houston), I saw different kinds of bugs in their stead. That annoyed me. The hallucinating and its clichedness, I mean. I also had really vivid dreams. Those were okay. But don’t take a lot of allergy medicine in the hopes of inducing an acid-like trip, you drug addicts who may be reading this. I don’t do drugs but I’m sure there are better ways.

Washington, DC (and Photo Obsessions)

I went to Washington, DC, a month or so ago. I liked it very much. Some guy there asked me what I’d seen so far and I said, “The White House and the Lincoln Memorial. And Chinatown.” And he said that wasn’t really the city. But then I told him I’d walked to those places. I’d walked for miles, through a lot of different neighborhoods, and I’d seen a lot of things that don’t have names on maps. And he said that was better, that walking around was the only real way to see a city. He said he liked to walk in new cities until he got lost. But that’s too much for me. I don’t like to be lost, so I travel with my iPhone very close to my person, and I monitor my position on its GPS religiously. So… DC was very beautiful. Y’all know that if you live there or have been there. The funniest part was, on my last day there, in the cab back to the airport, the radio advised us not to be walking around. The heat was dangerous, they told us. And I had walked three miles that very morning. And the whole time, I’d thought, “It’s kinda hot here today, but it’s so much cooler than at home. I bet people love living here coz they can walk all year long.”

There are a million tourists in DC, too. I might not have seen one native, the whole time I was there. I love when there are lots of tourists because one of my hobbies is taking pictures of other people with their own cameras. I like to do that because I’m a control freak and photos are important to me and so many people take shitty photos of each other. I know that because every time I ask a stranger to take a photo of me, they do a really bad job. I’m good at taking photos, so my narcissistic fantasy is that, when the tourists I’ve photographed get home, they look at the pictures I took and think, “Thank God that woman offered to take our picture. I will cherish this photograph forever.” And maybe they get it framed or whatever.

See also: My hobby of taking pictures of people at weddings, especially weddings where I hardly know anybody. Although I’m no master at that — I’m pretty decent, but my friend Ashley (professional photographer) is the absolute Shaolin Master of candid wedding photography. She took pictures at my wedding, and even the snaps she did with leftover Kodak disposables make me want to cry.

I have Bad Photo Trauma, also, from when I was young. For a long time, I thought I was ugly. But I’m not, and I certainly wasn’t ugly at all as a child. It’s just that I knew a lot of people who didn’t know how to photograph people for shit. It pisses me off when I see someone look at a photo of themselves and it makes them unhappy. You know, when someone’s like, “Oh my God, I didn’t realize I looked that horrible.” Because that’s such a bad, damaging feeling for a person to experience. I swear, if I’m sitting on the bus and a total stranger says that, I will totally butt in and say, “No, that’s just a really shitty photo. No one looks good in a photo taken from under their chin, in that kind of lighting. Plus, that’s the kind of camera that flattens everything. Look at that vase in the background, the way it looks distorted. That’s how your hips are distorted here, too. It’s just a shitty photo. You look nothing like that.”

Badly composed photographs are one of the scourges of our society, I swear.

The most beautiful thing I saw in DC was the two fountains outside the… Federal Reserve, maybe? Or the Treasury? On that long avenue/boulevard that connects the Monument to the Lincoln Memorial. I’m no professional and no artist, but I set a goal for myself to photograph those in a way that would convey their beauty to my husband. I took about 30 pics of each one, discarded all but three of those, and I think I accomplished my goal. We want to take a family trip to DC in October, maybe, when the cherry trees bloom.

“Post Partum”

A lot of writers say they experience “post-partum” depression after finishing a novel. I guess that’s what’s been happening to me for the last couple of months. A lot of writers get over theirs by hurrying to the next book, but I don’t like to do that. I can’t. I have to read other people’s books, watch other people’s TV shows (Mad Men and True Blood and re-watching Freaks and Geeks with my youngest son), view other people’s art for a while. Feed myself stimuli or whatever. Fill the tank. And then I feel lazy and rusted for a while. And then I feel afraid to get back on the bike and start again. But then it’s really easy to write something small, like here on this blog, isn’t it? I tell myself, every time, that it’s okay if I choose never to write another book, never to write again. Because it is okay. And once I believe myself saying that, it’s easy to begin again.

Right now I really wish everyone could hurry and see the work I’ve finished – the novel I recently finished, the kids’ book I finished more than a year ago that has really beautiful illustrations, and the YA mystery short story I’m kinda proud of. They’re all coming out this spring. Then, the spring after that, I think, you’ll get to see the last kids’ book I’ve written, which I hope gets really beautiful illustrations, too.

Right now I have exactly three kids’ books that I’d like to write — that I feel are really important that I write. I have one YA novel in mind that I’d like to try to do, if I can strike the right tone in it. I’ve always wanted to do YA, but I never wanted to rush into it and do a sloppy job, you know. I have one idea for a whole mystery novel, now that editor Sarah Cortez got me hooked on mystery, but I’m not sure if/when I’ll do that. And then I have this one novel (“literary fiction”) that I’ve been writing in my mind for about ten years now. My dad keeps telling me to do that one — he’s the only one I’ve told any of the plot to. I’ve been holding off on that because… of fear or whatever. But maybe I’ll start it right now. I’m trying to decide. I’m trying, at least, to decide to write exactly what I want, and not what seems the most commercially viable. Oh, and my sons want to do a book, too, a non-fiction piece, and I told them I’d edit for them. That’ll be fun. I think we need to go out of town and write that one in a hotel, because that’s how they came up with the idea in the first place.

That’s all for right now.

I wish… First I always wish I could tell y’all how happy I’ve been, lately. Then, I think that feels like bragging without purpose. So I wish, instead, that I could somehow type something that would make y’all feel as happy as me. Like an instruction manual. Like “Take your family to the Sabine Bridge on a nice day and listen to their jokes and then take pictures of each other posing as ninjas.” Like recipes. “Go to Washington, DC, on business. In your spare hours, follow the walking tour I’ve drawn on this map. Eat these noodles while this restaurant’s proprietor gets into this couple’s business and makes you laugh.” “Remember that it’s almost fall. Get excited.” “Eat a tamarind snow cone with chili powder while listening to your favorite songs.”

But that’s not possible, is it? So I’ll just wish y’all well. I hope anyone reading this, and anyone else, is doing well and being as happy as possible in this world.

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Posted in Uncategorized on 09/02/2010 01:30 pm
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  1. I think it is funny that you say DC has pretty architecture. So many people just focus on the 70s style concrete buildings, which can be pretty yuck. And there is a height restriction so we don’t get tall fancy buildings like other cities.

    I’m excited that you enjoyed DC (and the tourists!). If you do come back please let us know so I can offer a bunch of bossy advice about art museums and tours and stuff. I have a friend who is a historian and has given some pretty fancy tours and knows a lot about the city.

  2. Great update Gwen! Please take care. Hope you feel better soon and can quit hallucinating just so you can breath better.
    I cant wait to read all your new books coming out soon, I never realized the time span between an author being done writing and when we the reader can purchase our own copies!!!

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