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1) Any news?

2) It sucks doesn’t it?

3) Have you eaten?

4) Come to the reading at The Hide Out with me.

5) You’re the best writer.

6) You are.

7) Remember that one essay in The Rumpus about Jesus and Don DeLillo?

8) Didn’t I write that essay?

9) You did! I loved that essay!

10) Thank you!

And Then

the writer quit her job. Her day job. Her restaurant. Not her restaurant. The restaurant that pays her five dollars an hour plus tips. Three days a week. She’s been there four years and now this Saturday is her last day. She turned in her kazoo. She emptied her flare onto the pavement. She fell on her knees.

For some reason they don’t put the mats down during dinner shifts. And she slipped and fell. To her knees. Bruised her knees. Cut her finger. Quit her job.

The writer got an ongoing freelance gig that’s fun and fast and pays about as much as a Saturday on a busy brunch patio. And then the writer remembered her old career as a figure model and put her name on some bulletin boards. And the hourly rate is considerably higher than it was nine years ago while the writer is still paying under a thousand a month for her two bedroom. And the writer has a small part in a small movie that will pay some real money, small. But, real.

There’s a million ways to not die.

It’s just me. No kids. No mortgage. No car.

There’s my husband. He drives a Honda. He has some jobs.

Two cats. Take pretty good care of themselves.

Student loans don’t scare the writer anymore.

Nothing really scares the writer. She’s been to the bonfires and seen all the lights. She’s got salt on the rim of her tin can and she’s eating her lunch out of a brown paper bag.

Caution. Wet floor.

This is not the story

you expected. It doesn’t start at the beginning. There’s no music. There’s no soft opening. There’s no early bus ride through the fancy part of town. There’s no spirit. There’s no idea. There’s no reason to be taken seriously.

She makes a game of collecting sex toys. One from every city.

She has a dull pain down the right side of her body.

She writes about her mother.

She eats banana peppers and quinoa.

She likes putting things down. Putting things down and looking at them is like her favorite thing.

God bless America.

This is the Story

Of last night when Megan (affectionately nicknamed Slim) quoted Amy Poehler of all people. She said,

you have to know when it’s time to turn in your kazoo.

Apparently Amy Poehler worked at some kind of burger joint right out of college. One of those places where you wear funny hats and sing songs into plastic mouth pieces any time a stranger claims it’s their birthday.

The writer knows that

lots of people wait tables. Lots of people wait tables for a very long time. Lots of people make lots of money waiting tables.

Ann Patchett writes of her days slinging fajitas.

The writer spent all of yesterday afternoon at a temp agency; taking tests, and signing dots, and getting hungry.

Temporary office work. Filing. Answering phones. Proofreading.

Kind of like trading in your kazoo for a blow horn.

This is the story that jumps back in time about ten years when the writer waited lots of tables at the adorable cafe on the first floor of The Fine Arts Building on Michigan Avenue.

And one quiet July morning the writer was serving a strange mother and her three beautiful children hot dogs and cappuccinos, and the strange mother looked up at the nice writer and said

you in school honey?

No, not right now. Said the writer.

And then the strange mother looked down at her three beautiful children and said

see kids, this is why you have to go to college so you don’t end up working a job like this.

This is the story

Of a writer who wrote Meghan Daum, Selfish, Shallow, and Self-Absorbed… down in her notebook. She has to read that. And the new Maggie Nelson.

People ask. People have to ask. Just have to ask the writer the question because the writer is in her mid thirties. And because the writer has been married for three years. Because the writer is not destitute. Because the writer seems relatively happy and able bodied.

People can ask. That’s fine. Anyway, the writer presents herself very open and very curious. So

have at it

Do you want to have kids?

(She says she isn’t finished researching all the angles).

This is the story that jumps ahead to this morning when the writer went to yoga for the first time in a while and the writer felt the power of her body.

This is the story

Of a writer at a writerly event, the kind of event where you have to get there late to be on time. The kind of event with complimentary cupcake and complimentary two buck chuck. The kind of event that is boring to a lot of people but gives you a big rush because it is a look at a world that is a world that you might have a place in.

You are tagged with names that say emerging, and former, and student. And performer. And it’s not that you don’t identify as a performer. It’s just that you are tired of performing. Always have been.

And this is the story that jumps back in time about twenty minutes, against the wall. Leaning. Leaning next to a nice accomplished writer probably exactly your age. And she, the accomplished, asks you if you are a writer. And you say, I write.

I just got my MFA?

And the accomplished writer says I think you can start calling yourself a writer now that you hold an MFA.

This Is The Story

of a writer who had an interview this morning. The interview happened on the internet. Two faces mirrored in MacBooks. They were very nice and easy with each other.

This is the story that jumps back in time two months to when the writer took the Rock Island Metra down down down to the Blue Island to see her oldest friend. And they stood together in the snow in the bone binding chill of February and kind of cried right there on the platform about how hard it is to know what to do next. And the friend said to the writer that things will come. She said things will come. And the writer got back on the train.

And vanilla coffee percolates in the writer’s kitchen. And the writer started her morning reading some Ann Patchett. And the kitty who is normally forbidden access to the writer’s office is here with the writer this morning. Special treat.