Two months before getting on a plane to go to Warrenton, Virginia for the Wordsmith Workshop retreat, I stared at my computer contemplating whether or not to cancel the whole damn thing. I mean, what was I doing? I’m not a real author. In rare moments when I’m off my guard, I sometimes unexpectedly think to myself, “You’re a good writer, Pa.” It’s often a whisper followed by an eye roll and an amused chuckle--like I’m telling myself a joke. In that moment in front of my computer, all I could think was: who am I to put myself in the same group of people who go on five-day writing retreats? Who am I to spend that much money on myself? On a hobby?
Literally. There is shit all over my black boots. The chicken kind, to be exact. It’s dry and green, brown and yellow, all the pretty colors of the shit rainbow, and it’s screaming at anyone and everyone proudly: I ammmm poooooop!
I pause in the middle of the lobby in the building where I work. My boots look like a mistake against the pristine floor. I look up. No one has noticed. Everyone is too busy trying to get to their respective offices. For a moment I think about driving all the way back home. I think about calling Alex and asking him to bring me another pair of shoes. I think about all the ways I could’ve dressed this morning, about the black pencil skirt hanging in my closet and the green summer dress that hid all my tummy fat.
Then I thought, “Oh, piss off inner voice. I’m proud of the chicken poop on my boots.”
I’m weird. At least that’s the message I get from “normal” people when I start talking about Lord of the Rings, X-Files, Star Wars, The Matrix, Fringe, Star Trek, Avatar, Stardust, Babylon 5, Farscape, Battlestar Galactica, Game of Thrones. Even Harry Potter sometimes. They either roll their eyes or make an UGH noise or both and start to turn away. What they don’t understand is that my obsession with science fiction and fantasy is what informs my conceptual and creative thinking. And it’s science fiction that helped me to create the one reflection activity you’ve probably never done before.
Once, during my freshman year of college, a friend and I decided to take the bus home—my first venture into public transportation. We caught the bus at the transit center downtown, climbed in like kids going on a field trip and made our way down the aisle to the middle. The seats were hard on our butts, but neither of us complained because we were in air conditioning. We watched people get on and get off and on and off. The light above the bus driver’s seat flashed and I heard the ding that signaled him to pull the bus over, but for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out how this was happening. In the end, my friend and just watched our street pass by. We sat there as the bus took us all the way back to the transit center, where the driver parked it with a lurch and stepped out for his break. Then we quietly got out off and walked home. Neither of us spoke up, neither of us asked for help, and to this day I still don’t know why.