In November of 2015, I wrote a blog called “You Like Me!” I remember being blown away by the fact a couple hundred of you decided to take a few minutes out out your life to read my stories on Medium. Over the past 2 years, I witnessed hundreds of readers turn into thousands of readers and because “YOU LIKE ME” I’ve decided I want to write a book– well, a couple books. In fact, your interest in my little hobby, opened me up to pursue a passion I didn’t even know I had. I owe you all for that.
Here’s the problem– I know tons about making an album, I know loads about how to build a start-up, I know nothing about writing a book. Nothing.
A few years ago, I was slightly addicted to the first few seasons of a podcast called The Start Up– it was a podcast about starting a podcast. Each week listeners followed as the hosts took us on a journey through the more nuanced and emotional aspects of trying to take your idea from a concept to reality.
Here I am now, with my own idea, faced with a host of my very own nuances from the jump. I find myself asking the questions the host, Alex Blumberg, asked himself early on. You know the questions before: “What’s the title of my book?”
How do you write a book? Where do you start? How do I get published? Is my writing even good enough to get published? What are successful authors writing about? What category do I want to write in? Do I need a ghost writer? A co-author?
You see, the reason I’ve been missing from this blog since February is because I signed up for 2 writing courses at NYU. The first was an introduction to publishing and I was thrilled. However, NYU cancelled the course just two days before the first class and I was bummed.
The second class, which did actually happened was a class called “Write What You Know.” This class concentrated specifically on creative nonfiction and was designed to sharpen my writing skills by reporting on personal experiences. We read an array of short pieces and studied the various applications of creative nonfiction. We explored the different ways to construct narrative and examined why creative nonfiction has become one of the most popular, and controversial, literary genres of the last decade.
For the last 3 months, the free time I once use to write my blogs became the time I used to complete homework assignments. I spent time reading some of the most talented writing of the past 75 years. I fell in love with writers like Jamaica Kincaid and Sloane Crosley. I stumbled upon David Sedaris’ pieces I had never read before. I learned that I have a talent for pacing and rhythm in my own storytelling. Who knew?
I discovered that my own writing is reminiscent of Hunter S. Thompson. As my teacher described “It is an energetic first-person participatory writing style in which the author is a protagonist, and it draws its power from a combination of social critique and self-satire.”
The past few months have been incredible and I cannot wait to see how the investment in my craft begins to bloom in my writing with you all. Joan Didion described her motivation to write as “entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see, and what it means. What I want and what I fear.” I couldn’t agree more. So ladies and gentlemen, without further ado, please take a look at a rewrite of one of my favorite stories posted here on my blog, “Hi, May I Speak to Chris?”
Dating in the 20-teens is complex and being single in New York City is ACTUALLY an episode of Sex in The City. I know it’s a basic comparison but most days I feel like Carrie Bradshaw, without the fabulous wardrobe. In a world where my best friends are getting married and/or having babies, I’m stuck in the dating game. The dating game I’m apart of is a bit like Monopoly– the game you either love or hate. There is no in between. You love the game if you land on Park place- it’s rare, but totally happens. However ME? I seem to be playing on the board where I only land on unreturned phone calls, bad dates, and married men. Go to jail, go directly to jail, do not pass go, do not collect $200. While tonight wasn’t necessarily a dating failure, it was certainly another example of the absurdity constantly occurring in my social life.
I have a guy friend who will go by the alias of “Chris.” Great guy. Chris and I met a few years ago– he’s tall, dark, and handsome. No, but literally, he’s 6’5’, chocolate brown skin, big smile, & physically fit. He’s educated, successful, and makes great conversation, but he’s also jaded & his ego is through the roof. Unfortunately for him, his ego far outweighs his other qualities. The thing about Chris is, he’s truly just my friend– despite his constant attempts to make it more. I am completely blown away by his determination to break me down, especially in a day & age where the next woman is a swipe away.
We spoke yesterday and he asked if I had some free time tonight. I took a look at my oh-so-busy social calendar. I was free. Ha! (The 20-year-old me really turns her nose up at the 30-year-old me– what a dud.) Chris decided he was fine with traveling from Philadelphia to NYC just to take me to dinner. To me, driving 90 miles seemed like a bit much. To him, he wanted to show me how important it was to him to spend some quality time with a special friend he hadn’t seen a long time. A part of me knew I could be giving him the wrong impression by taking him up on his offer but I never turn down free dinner! I’m a walking single girl stereotype. Cooking for 1 totally sucks. My diet usually consists of frozen pizza, ramen, & leftovers, although my Instagram feed boasts green juice, acai bowls, and fancy fruit salads. This free dinner will be just enough to eat tonight and for lunch tomorrow. I convinced myself that I wasn’t stringing him along and once he read my friendly demeanor, he would be reminded that our outing will be just that– a friendly dinner.
8:40 PM: Ruth Chris. The same Ruth Chris I walked into 2 weeks ago for a date and my ex-boyfriend’s mom and sister were sitting at the bar– next to my date. I know. I know. Why did I even come back to this place? I digress. We walk past that now infamous bar to the back booth. Before I could get my coat off, my phone begins to ring. I don’t recognize the number, but I’m not one of those people who has a VIP rope on who I answer the phone for so– I let the UNKNOWN CALLER right in.
“Hi, May I speak to Chris?” It’s a female voice. I look across the table. I’m sitting with a Chris, but figured it was a total coincidence.
“I think you have the wrong number.” Click. I took my coat off, got comfortable in my seat, & casually mentioned it to Chris. “So funny, someone just called looking for a Chris.”
His eyes started shifting and this cloud of anxiety came over his face. I could tell he wanted to reach for his phone but before he could……BULUP. My phone went off with that classic Apple iMessage sound.
UNKNOWN CALLER now had a number. Her text read, “You know Chris Wade. Don’t play with me.” She’s using his government name. She means business.
I shoot back “Who is this?” I have about one million other questions but I’ll keep my wits about me.
She couldn’t wait to get the next line out– BULUP! “His girlfriend.”
Hmmphf… So UNKNOWN CALLER doesn’t have a name after all.
Here’s the moment of truth, I could let her know Chris is just a friend of mine, there is no need to worry, and I would love to meet her sometime. But let’s be honest, she probably won’t believe me. I could make it interesting– I could make her sweat? Play games? Tell her she has the wrong number?
The mature 30-year-old side of me took over. I did not reply. Instead, I leaned in and showed Chris the text. I hoped my calm demeanor would open the door for him to have an open, honest conversation with me. I was wrong. He started to stutter and somehow managed to get out a request to see my phone again. As he held the text in his hand, he looked at it as if it was in a foreign language. He coupled an instant denial of having a girlfriend with a look of sheer guilt. He furiously grabbed his phone and read aloud as he texts UNKNOWN CALLER a whole slew of messages about being insecure and invading his privacy.
Chris’ thumb started stumbling all over his iPhone settings looking for a way to deactivate her access to his account. Every time I would try to bring up a topic, he would somehow end up apologizing about “stalker girlfriend.” He tried to start a conversation but faded off mid-sentence and ended up with his mind lost in his cell phone. This dude is a mess.
I couldn’t help but laugh. Here I am, innocently out with a friend who took an almost two-hour ride from the city of brotherly love to take ME to dinner. I’m excited about the stuffed chicken and a glass of Chardonnay while his girlfriend, or maybe not, sits behind some Apple device with a copy of his iCloud stalking his digital footprints. I started to wonder how long she had been aware of our dinner. How much of our conversation had she read? Did she have my address? He did pick me up. The poor girl was surely convinced that we were on a date and her boyfriend was cheating on her. I’ll admit it– I felt bad for her. I was once a slave to Apple security codes and passwords. It’s an awful feeling not to trust your significant other and Apple makes it too easy to snoop.
I have a feeling Chris is lying to me as he tells me that UNKNOWN CALLER is his ex from 3 years ago, but I’ll let him pile on the lies as I stuff myself with stuffed chicken. This isn’t the time to forfeit my free dinner, in fact, there’s never a time to do that. I’m switching my Chardonnay order to a mojito and going to pound them back as I watch him tirelessly squirm in his seat. I’ll never know what Chris’ intentions were in taking me out to dinner tonight, but I do know one thing– this unfortunate night is over before it could even begin.