Saturday, March 06, 2010

Great Day for a Pilgrimage

Spring days like this remind me of college, especially the years that I read the Canterbury Tales, which, looking back, seems like every year in college. I was in college for eight years. And what do I have to show for it?* Hahaha. Oh the humor, oh the enormous student loans.

If I could go back, of course I'd NOT take out student loans. But hey, who I am today has been shaped by the weight of those student loans. Right? It's a compression chamber. I'm stuck in it and I'm looking beautiful. The gray hair, the wrinkles, the advanced old age and I'm barely thirty! (I can still say that at 31, right?)

Well anyway, it's an awesome day and here I am at the a coffee house working on a short story, that is, I'm not outside enjoying this absolutely GORGEOUS day. I've been extremely absent from blogging and at this point, I don't feel like a moron when I tell you that it's largely because I've spent every spare writing minute working on a novel. And now I have two novels, and it only took me . . . three years to get to this point. Three? Or two? I'm not about to try to figure out the exact length of time on that, but you'll understand when I say that spare time doesn't just happen. A person has to rob other parts of their life to get it, and when one does that, whatever one uses that time for better be for a good cause.

Maybe it was different for you, but when I was in elementary school, there was a spot on my report card for a grade regarding time. It read like this: "Uses time wisely." And I think we were given a number grade, like 1 for good, 2 for ok, 3 for "thinks eating paste is a good use of time." I never stop hearing that terrible voice in my head (your report card didn't have a lording tone to it? Hm. Weird. Mine did.), "Uses time wisely." And I'm constantly being judged. I can't even sit down to play Assassin's Creed II on a Saturday morning without hearing the damning echoes of the elementary school report card all around me. Back in elementary school, I think I always got 1s on "Uses time wisely" because I ruled in elementary school. If only it had carried over into the rest of my life.

But it didn't and that's why I'm using one of the most perfect Saturdays of the year to sit indoors and finish a short story. I could be halfway to Canterbury Cathedral by now. I could be laughing my pants off at the Wife of Bath and her gap-toothed smile. I could be spinning my own tale of tragedy, romance, or heroism, and maybe I could win. Well, I guess sitting in a coffeehouse, writing a short story is the closest any of us will get to a story-telling contest on the way to a holy shrine.

Yes, I'll sit here while others laze about in the sun, soaking up the rays and reading the paper, and others roll leisurely by on their bicycles. I'll just pretend I'm going to win a contest. I'll just tell my story-telling guts out. Maybe I WILL win and this day won't have been a waste after all.

*Just this:
Whan that Aprille with his shoures soote/ The droghte of Marche hath perced to the roote, / And bathed every veyne in swich licour, / Of which vertu engendred is the flour; / Whan Zephirus eek with his swete breeth / Inspired hath in every holt and heeth / The tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne / Hath in the Ram his halfe cours y-ronne, / And smale fowles maken melodye, / That slepen al the night with open ye, / (So priketh hem nature in hir corages: / Than longen folk to goon on pilgrimages, / And palmers for to seken straunge strondes, / To ferne halwes, couthe in sondry londes; / And specially, from every shires ende / Of Engelond, to Caunterbury they wende, / The holy blisful martir for to seke, / That hem hath holpen, whan that they were seke.

Beautiful? I know. Thank you, Geoffrey, thank you. Worth eight years of my life? No argument there.

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