(workshop assignment on experimenting with structure)
12th June, 2.45am
I wake up without knowing what day or time it is. But the first question that pops in is, “Am I going to write in the dark again?” I have been writing a lot in the dark these past few days.
6th June 5.30am
I wake up before the alarm rings. I have to pack for Iowa. I have to write to-do lists. I have to take deep breaths before opening twenty office e-mails lined with “Can you pleas-es?” “I am expecting to receiv-es” and “Please inform me ASAP-es” But first, I mentally craft my automated “out-of-office” reply. “I am out of town and I will ONLY reply you when I get back.” If only.
10th June, 8.15pm
I am awake, but just barely. I am drunk with fatigue and a little giggly while talking to Nam Le, an Australian-Vietnamese writer reading at the Prairie Lights bookstore. He’s from Melbourne, my soul mate city. Melanie from Melbourne, he calls me, in a comfortingly familiar Aussie lilt. I almost forget to pay for his book. He makes me feel 25 and in the year 2005 again.
7th June, 4.00am
I am awake, but just barely. Darren is driving me to the airport. It feels awkward, because I am usually the one sending him to the departure terminal as he jet sets around taking fancy pictures of beach resorts and boutique hotels. “Now, I know how you feel when I go away,” he says, squeezing my hand. We’ve always had this dream that someday, somehow, we’d travel all over the world together – me writing, he shooting.
11th June, 6.00pm
I am sipping pre-dinner cocktails with a bunch of people I don’t know. But alcohol has made us intimate confidantes, and we are talking about reproductive organs, adultery and other non-sober topics. I sit between Chilean guy and Filipino guy and they tell me they find it strange my three-month-old spouse would let me come here for this writing workshop alone. “In one week, so many things can happen, you know?” Mr Chile rhetorically asks, swirling his hands through the air of unknowingness. “But don’t mind us, we are such chauvinist pigs,” he qualifies, before remarking that the newly arrived beef kebabs mounted on a pineapple slice look like four dicks sticking out of a vagina.
14th June, 4.45am
At this point, I would have packed and be waiting for the airport shuttle. I would be praying that the weather would not be pre-menstrual and I would be dreading a twenty-hour flight back. I would return bearing stories of angry rivers and Midwestern women who actually live in farms. I would be a slightly different person from the one that came. Yes, many things can happen in one week.