I’m phone banking for the No on 8 campaign, and the organizers have set a few of us up on CallFire, this online system that connects you to voters through the power of the Intertron. You hook it up to your cellphone, and then the names of people it’s dialing for you appear on your computer screen.

Reader, last Sunday CallFire connected me to Zach Braff.

Image description: Zach, a handsome dark-haired man in his thirties, stands in front of a green background that reads “2006 MTV Movie Awards.” He’s dressed in a collared shirt and jeans and smiles at someone off camera.

Image description: In a scene from “The Ex,” Zach, sitting on a couch and wearing a faded tee shirt, laughs and looks off camera.

Image description: Zach walks a small terrier on a busy sidewalk in SoHo, wearing sunglasses and holding a soda cup.

…and he didn’t pick up his phone!

Awww. Reader, I’m sorry. Here you scrolled all the way through those pictures, anxiously awaiting the story of my conversation with Hollywood’s favorite Jewish heartthrob sweetie-pie, and he wasn’t even home! I bet you’re disappointed, huh?


(By the way, anyone who feels tempted to remind me that it’s possible there’s more than one Zach Braff living in Los Angeles can suck a lemon.)

(No on 8!)

So the potted plants in our dining room window are infested with fungus gnats, so I bought yellow sticky traps to deal with them. They’re exactly what they sound like: sheets of sticky yellow paper that you prop up in the pot so that bugs will mistake them for leaves and land on them. Well, today my cat landed on one. (Oh, by the way, we have a cat!) When I got home, the trap was nowhere to be found and my cat’s right thigh was matted and covered in goop. I checked the trap box, and it said that the glue could be removed with vegetable oil.

“Have fun oiling the cat,” Tom called as I headed for the kitchen.

Oh, I did, reader. I did.

On Acephalous: So much for my career in academia…

I left Amsterdam fitter than I’d been in seven years. I didn’t change my eating habits much there, and I didn’t walk all around a different European city every weekend. I was in shape because for four months, wherever I went in Amsterdam, I biked. Sometimes I biked when I had nowhere to go.

I felt great. I thought I’d found a healthy new habit I actually enjoyed. I’d take biking back with me to America to fill the fitness hole in my life, left when I stopped playing sports.

But that didn’t happen. In six weeks in the States, I went from my lightest weight since adolescence to the heaviest of my life. Whenever I tried to reignite my interest in biking, some new obstacle blocked my way.

What I didn’t recognize was that I slid so easily into a biking lifestyle in Amsterdam because the city is designed to accommodate it. It’s a bicycle paradise. The American cyclist faces impediments, inconveniences, and dangers that don’t exist over there. To my mind, there is one crucial differnce between the bicycle cultures of America and Amsterdam, and I have one simple way to narrow the gap.

The rest of the essay is here.

Your support really helps.

I’ve decided I need to step back from the job situation emotionally. I’ll continue to do my best for the students’ sake, and I’ll finish out this semester at least, but I can’t keep investing so much of myself in trying to excel at it. Not to be dramatic, but freshman composition is an abyss. You look into it and it looks into you. You can’t be both a healthy person and a part-time (de facto full-time) community college composition instructor. You can try for awhile, but it won’t last.

So I’m done. (Soon, I hope.)

After thinking about it for a few days, I’ve decided not to pursue another agent for my first book. I just don’t have the energy. Obviously this doesn’t mean I’m burning the manuscript, but I really don’t see myself putting more effort into it after this. I haven’t written any fiction lately, and I can’t bring myself to care. I’m sure I’ll go back to it eventually, but I’m not going to keep killing myself trying to get other people to read it. There are signs that you’re headed in the right direction. My classmates have all gotten at least one; I’ve gotten none. I have to be realistic.

I got a letter from one of my department chairs saying that they’re cutting 30 sections of English next spring, and that they’ll decide which ones after they finish in-class evaluations. Right now I’m working on the assumption that after December, community college teaching will no longer be a viable option. (Looking at Rate My Professor and seeing that I had a profile, and that my average score was 1.8, didn’t help matters. I enjoy teaching. I thought I was doing okay.) I’ve been considering getting a K-12 credential, but the starting salary for California teachers is $33,000 a year. I can’t do this again. I can’t put myself through another year or more of training and then find myself broke and exhausted and unhappy.

I realized recently that all my working life, I’ve had this idea that I need to prove that the investment my parents put into my education – I went to what has become one of the most expensive colleges in the US – was worth it. But that’s not just going to happen. I am a wasted investment. I should have gone somewhere cheaper.

My earliest memories are of not being wanted. All my life, I’ve known, on a very deep level, that I’m not wanted: that I have to prove myself worthy of friendship, that I have to help people overcome their initial disgust of me, that given a choice between me and another person (as a friend, as an employee, as a writer) anyone would choose the other person, no contest. I’ve always let myself be manipulated by people; I’ve never understood how to negotiate, how to trust myself, how to take charge. (This is part of what makes me so unemployable.) In college, I let my boyfriend rape me without even realizing that I had a choice in the matter. (No, I’m not talking about violent assault – just a casual entitlement to my body, regardless of whether I wanted or enjoyed it.) Abuse feels normal, and it’s only later, when people comment on it, that I realize that I didn’t have to allow something to happen. I have never felt like I’m of use to people. It’s something that’s so ingrained in me that I doubt I’ll ever overcome it.

I’ve been running myself ragged for years and I’m still in the same place I was right out of college. The only thing I’ve learned is that there’s little correlation between trying and succeeding. Every path I go down leads to a dead end, and that’s the way it’s going to be, no matter what I try to do. Other people know how to make themselves into something meaningful but I don’t. Being here gets so tiring. When I’m playing a video game or writing a story and it gets so difficult and pointless that I’m putting in more energy than I’m getting out of it – in other words, when it becomes obvious that success is unlikely – I just stop and do something else. But what do I do here? When I have to make money? When I have to eat? I spend every day feeling worthless and ridiculous. I have to make money. I hate myself so fiercely and so often.

In my dream last night, it was a cold, misty day and I was getting ready to teach my class. It was a social studies class or something, very elementary school, and I was trying to do the reading I’d assigned – that day’s topic was New Jersey, and I figured I’d make a joke about how boring the class would be – but I couldn’t concentrate in the adjunct office, so I decided to get a cup of coffee and go work in my classroom. When I got to the coffee kiosk, the guy working it commented on how popular coffees were on rainy days. I didn’t usually buy coffees because I didn’t have any money, but it was so wet and cold out that I decided to treat myself. (Besides, I was teaching a class on material so boring I had to force myself to read the textbook.) A sense of melancholy pervaded everything, and I had a Gillian Welch song in my head. The warm drink was comforting.

Last night I emailed my agent to terminate our relationship, and this morning she emailed me back to wish me luck with everything. (I was firm in my decision, but damn, it would have felt good for her to protest a teensy bit. For long-time readers, yes, this is the same agent I’ve had the dysfunctional relationship with for the past 3 years. Once you’re trained to take abuse, that training sticks with you for life.) I guess I should find someone else? I don’t know. I’m applying to at least one master’s program in education policy. I have an essay in make/shift magazine. I don’t have much energy left for trying to publish fiction. I don’t know if I’m going to do this again.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.