Signs of the End Times

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I have a shocking announcement.

“Have you won a million dollars?” you ask. You always were greedy. No, I haven’t won any money.

“Are you going to run for president in 08?” you ask. No. I’m not old enough.

“Are you pregnant?” you ask.

Stop it. This is exasperating. Remember that talk we had? About eggs and sperm? And what has to happen between them for an embryo to form? I’m not preggers, I’m not rich, I’m not campaigning for the presidency.

“What then?” You’re nearly tearing your hair out by this point. The anticipation is killing you. I will not keep you in suspense anymore. That would be cruel.

Here is my shocking announcement: I am sick of reading.

To say that I am unsettled by this realization would be an understatement of severe proportion. Reading is my favorite activity, bar none. I like it better than eating ice cream. I like it better than tuba playing. I like it better than having glorious kinky sex with a harem full of gorgeous people with chains and whipped cream, or at least I assume so.

I’ve just been reading too much lately, I think. For the 16 months I lived in Franklin, where there was absolutely nothing to do, I read like there was no tomorrow. This was easy, because most days it felt like there was no tomorrow.

Then I moved to Wilhelmsplatz and I had plenty to distract me, like a new job and a new apartment and new bills to pay.

After three months, though, I’ve sort of settled in. Kind of sucks. I can’t play the New Girl card anymore. “I am a New Girl! I demand that you take me to dinner!”

So I’m back to my old tricks, which is to say, I’m reading all the damn time. And I’ve finally gotten sick of it.

This had better be a phase.

Seriously. It had better be a phase. If I’m not back to my normal bookworm status next week I don’t know what I’ll do.

I’ve already tried distracting myself with my full repertoire of non-reading pastimes. I repainted my toenails. I cleaned the house. I went to the grocery store. I beat my previous best Minesweeper score of 116; now I’m at a cool 113, and life is no longer worth living. How am I ever supposed to top 113?

Would you like to hear the most drastic measure I’ve taken? You probably wouldn’t. It is too radical, too violent, too profoundly disturbing for most people. Please, if you are pregnant, or if you have a heart condition, or if you are a small child, skip the next paragraph. (If you are a small child, you shouldn’t be reading this at all. Go lecture your parent or guardian about the responsibilities of child care.)

I was so desperate the other night that I picked up the phone and called people. That’s how bad it was.

Unfortunately, the world seemed to have suffered a nuclear holocaust that evening, though I am relieved to report that it was only temporary. Everyone on the whole planet had vanished, ‘cept for me. No one answered my calls. No one returned my emails. No one was online. For reasons I don’t understand, I was the only human left on Earth.

(I would like to take this opportunity to thank our new alien overlords for sparing me. They are welcome to the veggie burgers and Diet Coke in the fridge. It’s not much in the way of a sacrificial offering, but if they wanted tasty food, they should have chosen a gourmand to be the only surviving human being.)

After my beloved books failed me, I became delusional. I started hallucinating. For proof, I offer this example of my dementia: I contemplated what it would be like to throw a party.

No, no, sit back down, you don’t need to call 911. I’m better now. It was a temporary mental condition, that’s all. I believe I was influenced by one of the 9 books I’ve already read this year. (Nine! Books! Arggh!). This dangerous, incendiary volume is by Amy Sedaris, and I highly recommend it. It is about the art of entertaining and it is called I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence.

You may already know and love Amy Sedaris from reading about her in her brother’s books. Her brother is David Sedaris, who I am going to marry if he ever goes straight. Now you can know and love Amy for her own book. Here are two quotes:

"Even though the word ‘entertainment’ is commonly used today, to me it sounds charmingly old-fashioned, like courtship or back-alley abortion."


"The first step in creating a plan is to know what kind of party you will be having. This is often determined by various factors: What time of year is it? What time of day? Is my dealer in town? Do I have a backup dealer?"

Since I do not have a dealer, much less a backup dealer, I guess I will not be able to throw a party, unless maybe I can wrangle the New Girl card one last time: “I am a New Girl! I demand that you take me to your dealer!”

After the alien overlords wiped out everybody but me, and after Amy Sedaris explained to me why I couldn’t have a party, I decided to take extreme action.

“Fuck it,” I said. “I will write fiction.”

Except for a ho-hum story I submitted to the ho-hum campus literary magazine in college, I have not written any fiction since 5th grade or so. This goes a long way toward explaining why I haven’t published a novel yet. This would not be a problem, except that I want to write novels for a living.

Bookish Jet wants to write novels, too. The bulk of our conversations with each other consist of us talking about how we want to be writers, and how we ought to be writers, and how we deserve to be writers, and how we know we’d be very good at it if we bothered to write anything.

So she and I started a writing club. (I swear, amazing things happen when you’re bored.) It is a very exclusive club. Bookish Jet and I are the only members.

The rules are very simple. We each have to write 1,000 words per week and critique what the other person wrote. It is not the type of club where people stand around with cocktails and discuss modern art. There is no dress code. There are no dues. There are no hors d’oevres, though I suppose I wouldn’t object to fruit on toothpicks, provided they were the kind with the pretty colored bits at the end.

I wrote my 1000 words. Bookish Jet wrote her 1000 words. Now we’re each waiting for the other person to respond with criticisms.


Now, gentle reader, I know I’ve traumatized you today. We’re discussed some truly uncomfortable topics, to wit:

  • I am tired of reading
  • I picked up the phone and called people
  • I briefly considered what it would be like to throw a party
  • Aliens came and stole all human life for an evening
  • I stopped bitching about not being a writer and actually tried to do something about it

If you want to stop reading now, I don’t blame you in the slightest. I’m sure you won’t be sleeping well tonight as it is.

But if you are very, very brave, I invite you to listen to one final shocking announcement:

I am no longer a feminist.

See, Charlotte’s tire is low. (Charlotte my car, no Charlotte my coworker. I have no idea about Charlotte my coworker’s tires.) So I drove her (the car, not the person) to a gas station and tried to put air in the tire.

I put my three quarters in the machine. I put the nozzly bit to the tire gizmo. I tried valiantly to put air in.

The tire still looked flat. I put three more quarters in the machine. I tried again.


Am I incompetent? How hard can it be?

There I was, single female in a short skirt (it was really warm, and I look terrible in shorts, so I was wearing a skirt), failing miserably at the most basic of car maintenance tasks.

I feel like an idiot. My tire is still low. I’m going to wait till Friday, when I have the whole day off, and then I am going to take a roll of quarters to an air machine until I get the damn tire to inflate.

You see the real issue, though, don’t you? If a man had been there, my tire would have filled up, no problem. This is terribly, terribly sexist, but fuck it. It’s true.

I admit it. Sometimes I just want a man around to do stupid car shit for me.

Every feminist and/or lesbian in the world is going to renounce me now. I accept the rejection. They’re right, they’re absolutely right. Instead of blaming my sex, I should learn how to put air in my tire and discover the enlightenment of independence.

Fuck it, I just want someone to do it for me. Or hold my hand while I try, at the very least.

[This is my very, very passive way of saying that I would gladly accept help from anyone, female or male, who’s reading this.]

Now that I have embarrassed, degraded, and disgraced myself, I’m going to stop writing and go… go…

Oh shit. Guess I’m going to go read.


5 responses »

  1. Maybe there’s a hole in the tire? I don’t know. That’s just what my man tells me (ha ha). Hope it’s not a hole. I don’t think I’ve ever gotten tired of reading. I did get so bored once that I called someone. That was in 1980. September. I’ve got to re-read your fiction and will get it back to you but not tomorrow. Wednesday, okay? I’ve got to sleeeep now.

  2. I hope there’s no hole. If you were working at J, I’d offer you a ride (I don’t know where you live, but I’d go there and give you a ride) in case your tire does have a hole. If it’s worse this morning, that’s probably what’s wrong. Are you thinking "duh, Bookish," at this point? I’m really trying to think why, if it’s not a hole, would it not inflate. There could be a hole in the air hose or perhaps the nozzle wasn’t pressed up tightly enough to the tire thing. Did it hiss? Have you filled tires before?K has written all over your pages. I haven’t read his edits yet. I was really, really tired all day yesterday (guess all that writing sucked the energy right out of me). His handwriting is very hard to read, so I was going to read his edits, maybe write my edits with a combination of his and give you both copies (in case you can translate his). I’m not sure how that will work, but I’ll work on it …. actually, I’ve got a yoga workshop to attend tonight. I’ll try to work on it at lunch today. Tomorrow I have a bird club meeting. See what I mean about being too busy. I guess to be serious about writing, one can’t continue to use the excuse of "But I do yoga so I can be a better writer. I go to bird club meetings so I can learn about the world, and thus be a better writer." Etc. Still, I’ve committed to that workshop and that meeting, so.You ARE the new girl, so you HAVE to have a party. An apartment-warming party.You really crack me up.

  3. As I was reading about all the things you were doing to entertain yourself, I was thinking of commenting that you should use this as a chance to delve into that book you’ve been meaning to write. And then you went on to say that you were writing, and I LOLed. So basically I have nothing productive to comment other than, *high five* for writing! 😀

  4. The Queen of Claremont

    You don’t know how many times I started the great American Novel, or planned a series of children’s book in my head…next time we talk, I’ll tell you about the idea for a novel I have had for years, but never got around to writing.I get tired of reading sometimes. I think it’s not so much that I get tired of reading, I just get irritated when books drag on and on.I’m reading East of Eden now (my Book Club selection for the month) and I’m skip-reading the last part b/c I just need to get some resolution! When I feel like I’m watching paint dry, it’s not worth it anymore. I figure you are tired of reading b/c you are having to read crap for your reviews and not what you really enjoy. I refuse to do that.Did you pick up the phone and call other people before or after I called you and we talked for an hour? Am I to be included in your list as a last resort? Remember that you promised to visit more often when you moved closer…and a party would serve us all well. I’ll help you with a theme!

  5. We’ll review tire-filling in April. Until then, walk. It builds character.


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