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For those of you who have been waiting with bated breath for information about my last story in class. Since our class ended up being so small, instead of a standard two stories, we had time to workshop three per student. Thus, after I limp-wristed my first story and then pushed through a second, shorter than the Average Wendy Wimmer Novella of a Short Story, I was a little out of steam creatively. I figured, meh, what the hell, I had a few weeks. I could marinate on it. And then I had freelance stuff. And then Chicago. And then, hooboy, the story was due in two days and I had nothing, not even an idea. Crap.

I thought about several I had simmering on the back burner in my brain, and also looked through some scribbles in my paper journal, most of which were weird prose poems about winter and cold and the harsh, unyielding landscape of January. I started writing, using a setting from one story idea, and then pulled forward a plot from another one, and by the time I needed to leave for school, I had six pages that established setting and main characters. Lovely. And then I got sick, a sneezing horrible sinusy mess. I stayed home from work and slept all morning and then, couldn’t really justify going to class when I didn’t go to work. I wrote an e-mail to my professor and then, as proof that I was currently stuck, I attached my draft in progress as well as suggested that I hand in something else for workshop, something that wasn’t still amuck with verb tense shifts and crazy paragraph transitions (and also, once I left the confines of high school typing class, my pinky finger decided that, as God as its witness, it would never hit the TAB key again, so the formatting was still a bloody mess) and the bottom of the document had a bunch of notes to myself that would mean nothing to anyone. I really don’t know WHAT I was thinking, exactly, but really sort of rationalizing that I didn’t have anything to hand in anyway and that I would sit at home and work on my story instead. Except that what really happened is my professor printed off those six pages and distributed them to the class and told me that I could read the ending aloud in class during workshop.

In my head, I heard a voice’ you just bought yourself several additional days.

Hi. I suck.

As you know, I really hate being late. It makes me want to cry, but at the same time, this creative thing, facing the fear of marring something that is perfect inside your head’ it’s really hard. Oh my god, I just read the last sentence and I can barely hear myself think over the whining.

For the next few days, I worked on the story, got some furious writer’s block over the weekend, and then sorted it out during the hazy moments between the sunrise alarm clock’s yellow glow and its traditional ‘final call’ alarm. When in doubt about a character, kill them off. I would have made a great soap opera story editor, let me tell you. And then it was Tuesday and I figured, meh, I knew exactly how the story would end, and honestly, most students turn in actual first drafts for workshop, not the pretty close to final polished drafts that I end up turning in. If we hadn’t such a tiny and supportive class, I never would have felt comfortable to leave myself open that much, but with this crew, I felt ok about it. Besides, I could just get to school early and finish it up on my laptop. Perfect. Brilliant. No problems.

And then, when I got to work, I hear about the snowstorm. When I left for work, it was crystal clear, and when I walked in from the parking lot, the skies looked a little furrowed but nothing too unusual for December in Wisconsin. However, five minutes after taking off my coat, I looked outside and saw a veil of fluffy white flakes. My teammates warned me about the snow. I checked the radar. There was a giant cloud of ugly that stretched from North Dakota to exactly three feet off away from my office building. Another coworker was watching as one, two, three, four school cancellations popped up on the TV in as many minutes. Clearly, this was not good.

Then my phone rang. It was Steven, telling me to not go to school and that my professor would understand. I was sitting at nine pages by then, mostly because I kept distracting myself by going back and fixing glaring problems within the first six pages and then the subsequent three. I was nowhere near the climax or resolution, but I did have it worked out in my head, which was a good thing. In reality, I didn’t want to blow off the last class. I sort of wanted that finality. I had missed the last class of fall semester in 98, when a gas station rug slipped out from under my feet and I cracked my patella. That had been one of my workshops too. I never did get any of the responses. I still wonder what they said about me. I mean, about my story. Which was me, so same thing.

Again with the crazy writer shit. Sometimes, really, I take myself entirely too seriously.

So when Steven called and said ‘I don’t want you to drive.’ I hemmed. Then I hawed. Then I tried diverting him with my breasts, which didn’t work very well because we were on the phone and I was at work (I am totally kidding because farting and revealing breast twice in one week at work will get you fired.) I finally wanted to get off the phone and devote more time to staring futiley at the big cloud of evil swifting over my route to Milwaukee and said ‘Fine, I’ll think about it.’ In Wendy-ese, ‘Fine’ means ‘I’m going to do what I want anyway but thank you for your concern/anger/confusion’. In fifteen years, Esteban has become very fluent in Wendy-ese, enough to serve as a translator in the UN, if ever the need should arise. He told me this one night in bed, and I had no choice other than to bite him for it.

Five minutes later, I received an e-mail.

‘If you are going to be a stubborn mule about this, you will at least let me drive you down there. I worry about you but if you’re going to die in a ditch, at least you’ll have me there with you.’

I do not even want to hear anything in the comments section about what a sweet man he is. He’ll only get an even more inflated head. And also, he called me a mule, he does not deserve your praise.

I responded and said ‘Fine! Get ready, because I’m going to leave early and try to beat the worst of it. If we get there early, we’ll park in a Starbucks and work.’ Then I packed up my stuff and headed home. Already the roads were getting greasy. I got home and listened to him make several additional ‘This is stupid, you’re stupid, we’re being stupid’ comments until I told him that I didn’t want to listen to his ‘I told you so’ for the rest of the day, so if he wanted to come along, then he had to stop being annoying, since he wasn’t going to change my mind. I was leaving exceptionally early in deference to the driving conditions and I wasn’t willing to allow the beginnings of a snow storm completely stop my life. I am, after all, a ninth generation Wisconsinite. Stupidity is intertwined betwixt my DNA.

We got on the highway and yes, the roads were sort of nasty, but not nearly as bad as I drove a few weeks earlier. Esteban and I cranked our seat heaters up and plugged in some good music on the iPod until we passed the ginormous flag after Sheboygan, which is when the alternative radio station comes in. The snow petered out after Manitowoc, so my plan to beat the cloud in the south was a good one. By the time my professor called to tell me that she hadn’t heard that classes were cancelled but maybe I shouldn’t drive down, we were already exiting in Mequon to visit the Caribou and the frou frou grocery store. By the time we got to the Starbucks near campus, the snow had started in earnest, so we found a nice little table in the back, sat down with some hot tea, and I started tapping out the rest of my story, while Esteban worked on his analysis whatsits and whonows.

It was a very pleasant way to spend the early afternoon. There was some annoying chatter between grad students (typical Muffys squealing like they were 18 rather than 28) and one fuckhead who was taking up three spots at the laptop table and didn’t even have a laptop that needed to be plugged in (very annoying and I can see why there is Starbucks rage). I typed and typed and typed and whenever I got stuck, I could look out and watch a branch making a swooping pattern in the accumulating snow. It was exceptionally wonderful. So wonderful, in fact, that the words accumulated along with the inches of powder, and by the time I had to get ready to leave, I had eighteen pages and a finished draft. Nothing like the threat of deadline to stoke the creative fires.

Steven parked, content to wait for me in the comfy Bux, and I hopped back into the car and drove to campus. Class went well, and I had to read the eleven additional pages aloud, but luckily, it went really quickly. There were some verb tense problems (I had this urge to write it in present tense for some reason, but kept lapsing into past tense’ which tells me that I think it needs to be in past tense, since I kept reverting) and a few sections of clunky writing, but in all, I felt pretty good that the bulk of what was inside my head made it onto the page. Or, rather, screen. The class had a mixed reaction, coming up with some very good suggestions and questions that I need to sort out before taking the story anywhere, but in all, I think it went well. The professor excused me after my section was done, as she was very worried about my drive home, and I was off to retrieve Steven from the Bux.

As it turned out, she was correct to be worried. Normally my drive home takes a little under two hours, but it was nearly double that. The visibility was crap and the roads weren’t great, but once we hit the northern counties, the roads weren’t even plowed. Steven tried going around a car at one point and came excruciatingly close to sliding back into it. The semis were blasting by at 75, but then we’d watch them suddenly slide two feet to the right or left as they’d hit chunky spots in the road. It was rather nerve-wracking and we were glad when we finally hit the plowed area of the Green Bay city limits. At some points, I was seriously wondering if it had been worth it, but since I have now learned that my 4.0 GPA is secure for one more semester, no harm, no foul.

A few nights ago, I had another sleep talking incident. Apparently, I sat straight up in bed. Steven asked what was wrong and I replied, ‘This is my bedroom. And this is my bed.’

I didn’t remember it until he told me about it, but then I only half remembered it, like a dream. However, it made me start laughing so hard that I passed out for a few seconds again, the whole time thinking that it reminded me of something that a two-year-old would say. If I know our sleeping arrangements, Steven was being a bed hog and I was trying to reassert my right to the bed.

Even in my crazy sleep talking, I’m all about challenging the patriarchy.