aqua fortis

Friday, January 01, 2010

The Zeroes in Prose, Part I

Soon to be followed by the Zeroes in prose, part II, and the Zeroes in pictures. This was an interesting exercise--it's amazing how much you start to forget when you're constantly busy, moving on to the next thing and the next. I feel like I should do this more often, this documentation thing.

I turned 23 years old. Also, Y2K happened and nothing imploded.

We were living in El Cerrito. Rob continued his harrowing grad school experience at the San Francisco Art Institute. I'd been working in San Francisco at, mainly putting together e-mail newsletters about dudely topics like video/PC games, comics, wrestling, and so forth. This was the heyday of the internet boom; there was an IPO party, I got to attend E3, we were encouraged to play video games at work, and I produced immortal gems of quality writing such as this, while still being paid a rather unremarkable salary. It was a perfect distraction from the fact that I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life in the immediate term.

Then the internet bubble burst. In the summer, we took a trip to London, Bath, and the South of Wales. When I got back, there'd been layoffs. The company reorganized and I found myself in corporate marketing; instead of a cool nice-guy boss I suddenly had to report to Scary Bitch Woman; and the whole atmosphere changed. I wrote for the site in my spare time, but I realized I'd never be able to make it an official part of my job. But that got me thinking about writing...

An eventful year. During the early part, I hung on at my job as Rob finished grad school. I enrolled in my first fiction writing class, an online workshop at UCLA Extension. I also started writing freelance articles about Welsh language for Suite 101. By March, I couldn't stand to be at my job anymore, and quit a few months earlier than I'd planned. I went back to temping. Then Rob completed his MFA in printmaking and applied to some teaching jobs. We both agreed that if he got a full-time job with benefits, it would be a good time to tie the knot, since I was now without any health insurance. (Yeah, I know, we're incurable romantics...ha.)

One day that summer, when I was working a temp job at St. Mary's College, I got a phone call from Rob. "Will you marry me?" he said. "YOU GOT THE JOB!" I squealed. We got married (some might say "eloped") with one witness at the Marin County Civic Center, a Frank Lloyd Wright building where the movie Gattaca was filmed. Soon after, we moved to Modesto, and Rob started teaching at Modesto Junior College that fall. I did some more temping, and enrolled in another writing class and a lit theory class at Cal State Hayward with the intention of preparing for grad school in creative writing.

The morning of 9/11, we were asleep, in the rental house we'd moved into just a couple months before, until my mother-in-law called and told us to turn on the news.

We rang in the New Year in Paris—a wedding present from my mom—and witnessed the changeover to the Euro in near-frigid temperatures. Rob continued his first year of full-time teaching. I applied to the only two graduate creative writing programs within reasonable driving distance, a calculated risk, and was admitted to Mills College for the fall. I also got braces, using my new and snazzy insurance. In the late spring we went to Japan on a shoestring budget, staying with our friend Beth (who was teaching in Osaka) and visiting Kyoto, Hiroshima, Nara, Kobe, and Tokyo. In the summer, I was elected to the Board of Directors of Cymdeithas Madog. We also went house shopping, hoping to buy before the market really went sky-high. We were fortunate, and we hadn't spent thousands of dollars on a wedding. I had a small inheritance from my grandfather, who'd died in 1997, which was just enough for a down payment. We moved across town, and I started grad school. During finals week of my first semester, I started getting hives.

The full-body hives (plus occasional random facial swelling) lasted six months, cause unknown. My braces came off in May, a couple of months early because I'd been good; not long after, I took a course of steroids, my second semester of grad school ended and my hives went away. The most likely cause seemed to be stress. In the summer, I went to my 10-year high school reunion, where I was inexplicably voted one of the "Least Changed" since high school. We continued never-ending house renovations. I became Board secretary. I kept writing for Suite101 and in the fall, continued grad school. I took classes with YA author Kathryn Reiss, and a group study on crafting graphic novels. I started working on my master's thesis project. I think this was also the year my grandmother died, my mom's mom; we weren't close. The housing market started to really spin out of control.

The first half of the year I was focused on finishing grad school and writing my thesis project. In May, I had a brand-new MFA in Creative Writing and was officially a Master O Fart, as Rob likes to put it. May is also when I started up this blog in rather unspectacular fashion. That summer I joined a writing group with some other recent Mills graduates. Also that summer, Rob and I dusted off our role-playing dice and joined a game with a few other faculty from the Junior College.

There was some minor travel: I went to Ottawa, Canada; we both went to Mexico City and, from there, to Celaya, Guanajuato, for our friend David's wedding; we also drove 11 hours to Seaside, Oregon to reunite with college friends at a beach house. Rob had a solo art show at the MJC gallery. I did some mind-numbing and poorly paid temp work in environments such as the wastewater treatment facility, while stressing about finding a long-term job and trying unsuccessfully to get published. Somehow, George W. Bush got re-elected. I ran a 5K for the first time...and the second time.


Anonymous said...

I remember how cold it was on New Year's 2002. I was busking in Zaragoza at -5 celsius in the wind (it's possibly the windiest city in Europe) which made -5 feel like minus 15.

A whole batch of Spanish 1 euro coins turned out to have been flawed in their manufacture, so in Jan and Feb 2002 you'd regularly come across coins with the middles falling out of them. Later at some point it was discovered that Thai 200 Baht coins could pass as 2 euro coins in any machine.