A Short List

Of things that have happened in the past twenty-four hours:

1.) We drove three hours through a blizzard to attend a community dinner in Central Maine. This is what you do when you study documentary-making. “So this is kind of awkward, guys,” I said as we buckled seatbelts. “But I’m going to need to grab a pregnancy test on the way up. Cool?”

This is one of my new favorite ice breakers, because it sounds so much more alarming than it really is. I can’t even count how many pregnancy tests I’ve had to take over the past few months, just because my period is going through some dumb unpredictable phase. High five!

2.) I ate a pile of plain noodles. This was more difficult than you’d think, just because of how sticky noodles are in their unadulterated state. What, community dinners at the rural Masonry don’t have vegetarian options?

“We didn’t sleep together in those days, we got married!” the elderly woman next to me cackled. “That’s why I made so many mistakes! Ooo, here comes one of my ex-husbands, I’ll introduce you. You’ll regret this.”

“I dragged that boat all across town to get it fixed,” ex-husband grumbled. “One little diaphragm, it needed. Four hundred dollars. Can you beat that.”

“Get a slice of that cake before it disappears,” she whispered to me, nodding toward the buffet. “I know all the good desserts in this town. The coffeehouse after this, you’ll want the pie.”

3.) I crouched at the bottom of a stage, and took pictures. Sometimes I propped the camera on the stage itself, to steady it, because my hands are constantly shaking (“Drink a lot of coffee?” my professor asked a few days ago, zooming in on a photo. “Ah, no,” I explained, “I’m just . . . usually terrified”). Meanwhile, Madeleine crept into the balcony and shot from there. This actually was not related to our project, but the guy was really good, and we thought we’d experiment with the whole “if you have a nice camera you can do anything” theory. Success. Also, cute musician. Cute musician!

4.) I finally learned how to play darts. It was in the middle of the night, and we were lurking in a bar while the snow poured and poured outside. A 67-year-old man approached us at the pool table, and proceeded to tell us everything we had come to find for our story. So we challenged him to a game of darts. “You’re standing all wrong,” he told me. “Hmm?” I said.

“Like this.”

Fwop. My dart landed in the second inner circle. Fwop fwop. “Oh my God!” I said. “Do you know how many people have tried to teach me that? I thought I just sucked.”

He shrugged. “You were standing all wrong.”

5.) I rediscovered “Separate Ways” by Journey. Jukebox, two pitchers of cheap beer. Secret to happiness.

“Want to play pool?” J asked.

“I would like nothing more,” I said, “than to take pictures while everyone else plays pool.” O camera, perfect, endlessly appropriate excuse; I am wretched at pool.

If he / ever hurts you / true love / won’t desert you! AHHHHHHHGGGHH!

6.) More lessons from old men in bars: PMA, that’s all you need. Positive mental attitude. You wake up in the morning, you look in the mirror. If you don’t think you’re great that day, you don’t leave the house. PMA.

7.) Five people, two double beds, the smell of stale cigarettes. We were going to arrive after the front desk closed, so they left the key in the door. “Christ. There’s going to be like twelve murderers in there, waiting for us,” I said.

“Nah,” said everyone.

It was still snowing. We squished together under the covers, all of us still in jeans, sweaters, clunky belts, and played Two Truths One Lie until we fell asleep: the five of us with our slowly uncovered histories, of arrests, pet trouts, proposals, but not webbed feet (lie).

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  1. im not sure id have called that a blizzard, but it works for theatricality’s sake! this was really fun to read in a self-voyeuristic sort of way!

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