Seattle Revisited

A letter from the author
Oct. 6, 2016

Hello! My name is Jae and I am the proud Prometheus of Julie’s blog. Now this chapter of her life has come to an end (at least the documented part of it), I wanted to write about why I created her world and my thoughts on the process and progress of her relationship with Alex.

The idea of a dual-sided blog came to me one Sunday on my way home from church. I wanted to create a world in which a character just cannot get rid of a guy, and what’s worse, she cannot pin-point why she can’t stand him in the first place. I follow another blog which has two characters’ point of view, and really like the idea of allowing the reader to see both character’s journals. But where to find the guy?

Luckily for me, I know a fabulous writer who was willing to try something new and write with me. I started with a plot line which left a lot up to the imagination but kept things rolling in the right direction.

mmihplot

I’m going to be honest. I half-assed it. I wrote haphazardly and off the cuff. And Julie emerged as stiff and unfeeling. In the words of the author of Alex, “Julie is a dick.”

And I kind of like her like that.

The format between the writer of Alex and I was thus: I would write first and give him a few days to read it before I published. So every week, Julie’s blog post was his prompt. This greatly relieved the work load of my friend, which was nice since he was volunteering his time to my project. As I didn’t know how he would respond, it was fun seeing Alex’s post every week. I never knew exactly what he would do!

Somewhere in the midst of glancing at the plot line and writing once a week, Julie got away from me. Instead of being mature and articulate in her feelings, she turned out… a little [lot] too similar to me. And that shocked me. I’ve always felt that I could control my characters completely, but now I understand what J.R.R. Tolkien meant when he wrote that he was surprised by Faramir.

So, what did you guys think of it? Should I write more of these? I have another writer/ friend interested in writing with me. What would you like to see from this match made in hell?

Thanks for reading,

Jae

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Before the Internet Turned Men Into Boys

Alex

September 19th

I decided to give meeting Julie one last shot.

Richard and Ellen, the sarcastic couple from the old folks’ home where I volunteer, told me she goes to Discovery Park on Sunday afternoons. Richard told me I should go. I told him I shouldn’t.

Ellen nodded; she agreed with Richard. “You saw the way she looked at you,” she reminded me.

“Don’t be a weenie. This is how men met women before the internet turned men into boys.” Savage. Richard’s eyes bored into my forehead as he said this.

His new idea seemed like a terrible idea. His last idea had fallen flat as well. I started to realize why his son lets me soak up all the attention. Ha.

I gave it a shot anyways.

I grabbed my bike on Sunday and made my way to the park. I figured that in the worst case scenario, I would ride my bike somewhere new and get to soak up the sun while reading Hemingway. It was already better than my previous plans.

Julie arrived and gave me “the look,” as Richard so eloquently put it.  She then changed her mind and did her best not to make eye contact as she passed by. She stopped after I said hi and we made small talk for a minute or two. Awkward small talk.

She finally started to open up and apologized for last week — when she had been hot and bothered that I asked her out after she called me to come well out of my way to help her with something, then conveniently had me show up 45 minutes early to share a meal at her favorite cafe, flirting the entire time. She still found excuses to hold my shoulder or sneak looks at me throughout her apology. I was getting mixed signals again and considered simply asking her how she felt before we were interrupted by a volunteer from the shelter wearing rollerskates. I snuck away at the next opportunity. It was probably for the better that we didn’t have that conversation.

Did I make things awkward or did Julie? Either way, I’m done working at the senior center. Too many awkward vibes. Too much terrible advice from Richard.

There’s always Tinder.

 

Interrupted apologies don’t count

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Julie
Sept. 18

Last week was weird. We had bingo Thursday night and Alex came to help. Luckily I stayed busy calling numbers. I couldn’t bear to make eye contact.

Yesterday I biked to Discovery Park. It’s part of a 20-mile loop I do on weekends. As I was going around one of the bends I found Alex sitting on a bench reading a book looking all sorts of dapper hipster. And I was all sorts of a sweaty mess.

I thought if I was inconspicuous I could bike by without him looking up.

“Hey, Julie.”

Damn it.

So I stopped. What do you say to someone you just blew off in the most childish, inconsiderate way?

“Hey, I didn’t know you hung out here in the park.”

“Yeah, well, Richard told me I needed to park it, so…”

“Ha, gotta love Rick. I remember when he and Ellen first started coming to the senior center. We had a comedy night, if you can believe it. He wouldn’t get off of the stage and Ellen got sick of it and pulled the mic cable out of the sound board.”

“Yup, I don’t doubt it.”

*awkward silence*

“Alex, I’m sorry I blew you off last week. Not my finest moment.”

And right as he opened his mouth I hear this horrible noise: “Juuuullliiiieeee!!!! And Alex!!!! Oh Em Geee!” I turn around to see the zombie coming toward us at an ungodly speed WEARING IN-LINE SKATES. Who skates any more? She skidded to a stop, throwing herself onto the bench beside Alex, knocking the book from his hands and onto the sidewalk. Alex and I exchanged looks as she screamed and grabbed for it.

I sigh to myself. After a few minutes of conversation which can only be had with 120 lbs. of  hyperactivity, I politely said I needed to get moving.

“Oh, I’ll go with you!”
“Sorry, I’m going the other way.”

Needless to say, I went the long way home, but it was well worth getting away from the brain-sucker. I needed the time to think, anyway. I could only hope Alex would forgive me for leaving him with her. Then again, I don’t even know if he had forgiven me for blowing him off.

I’m at home now writing this, and I think I’m over this journaling thing. All it has done is point out how messed up I am. Since Alex shares the same interests, I presumed he shared the same flaws. Which scared me. I suppose I’m scared of myself. And for that I humiliated myself and deprived myself of a good friend, if not something more. I suppose I’ll never know, will I…

 

 

“The Look”

Alex

September 14th

Julie and I really hit it off on Tuesday at a potluck at the old folks’ home. I hadn’t planned on going but she said she needed the help so I bumped my night of pizza and netflix to Wednesday. The sacrifices I make…

She finally came out of her shell that night. Laughing and joking with me, then “accidentally” holding my hand while I held the door open for her. She blushed and looked away immediately, but couldn’t hide her smile.

She contacted me again Friday to help move some donated supplies to the old folks’ home. I was the only one there with her. Coincidence, I’m sure.  She also had me arrive 45 minutes early and happened to know a quiet diner just down the road. Another coincidence, surely.

We learned that we had a lot of common interests, mostly in books. We disagreed on everything that Paolo Coelho wrote after The Alchemist, but her other tastes can be forgiven. After 45 minutes of lunch we loaded the truck and headed back to the senior center.

Ellen and Richard caught it as soon as we walked in. Ellen told me Julie was still glancing at me and giving me “the look.”

“What look?” I asked her.

“Are ugly and stupid?” Richard scolded me, “She’s giving you the look. Grab your nuts and ask her out.”

So I did.

I felt that it would be fun to go to a folk music festival nearby. She felt the exact opposite. She made four excuses not to go and then left in a huff.

Keep that thought in Kirkland

 

Julie
Sept. 11

Friday I had to drive to Kirkland to pick up a truckload of donated food from a grocery center. This happens every once in awhile, but this time it was on short notice and I needed someone to help me. I shot an email out to my volunteers and everyone was busy. Except Alex.

We arrived 45 minutes too early for them to give us the donation so we headed over to a Dick’s Diner and grabbed an early lunch.

We started talking about our favorite books and before I knew it I was laughing and trying not to choke on hamburger.

After getting the donations loaded into the senior center’s bus, we headed back and got everything put away. As we were leaving Alex said he was going to a music festival and invited me to go with him.

I stammered, “As a date?”

He confidently replied yes.

“You know, Alex, that would be nice, but I really don’t want to mix work and my personal life.”

“Come on, it’s just a music festival.”

“No, Alex, I really shouldn’t.”

“What if I found another senior center to volunteer at?”

I fumbled with my keys and got my car door unlocked. “No, please don’t. Just… I’m sorry. I’ll see you later.”

And just like that I was in my car heading nowhere. I somehow made it to the docks where I used to fish with my grandpa. I sat there wondering what is wrong with me. Why did I balk? This wasn’t about mixing my work and personal life, it was about me and… I don’t know. When I see Alex I see a reflection of myself and… I don’t like what I see.

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Just add more cheese

Julie
Sept. 8

I hate funny people. Especially funny people whom I don’t want to like.

Alex is a funny person.

We had a potluck Tuesday night, which is always interesting. The elderly aren’t always the best cooks.

Alex walked into the kitchen right as I was extracting a wooden spoon from Mrs. Edna’s corn casserole.

“Well, wasn’t that sweet of her to bake that in there! We all need a little extra fiber!”

I asked him to carry the casserole out to the buffet table.

“Sure, but when people ask why this casserole is maimed, I’m going to say that you were hungry.”

“Don’t you dare!”

And that is how Mrs. Edna’s casserole got an extra layer of shredded cheese on it.

 

Befriending Coworkers is an Outdated Relic

Alex

August 30th

I volunteered again at the senior center this weekend. Richard, not to be outdone by my dad jokes from last week, came at me with a vengeance.

“Hello again Alex, I remember you had some fun jokes last week.”

“Yeah, they weren’t my best, but I tried.”

“Want to hear a good joke about paper Alex?”

“Sure.”

“Nevermind, it’s tearable.”

Sigh. “So Richard, how was your week? What’s new?” I asked.

“It was great. On Wednesday I watched a program about beavers and it was the best dam program I’ve ever seen. Should I keep going?”

“No, you win. Your jokes are better than mine,” I told him. I saw his wife Ellen out of the corner of my eye, smiling. “Are y’all playing bingo tonight?”

“Do dogs bark?” Richard asked me. I assumed that meant yes. His shtick quickly went from endearing to obnoxious so I found Julie, the volunteer coordinator and resident ice queen and helped her set up the bingo game. She was wearing a cute top that was probably a size too small (but I’m not complaining) and had gotten her hair did like she had someone important she was meeting. The stare was the same as I remembered it though, equal parts impatient and magnetic.

She was more talkative tonight than before. Not to me so much, but to the rest of the hall: she was the one calling out the numbers. Last week I learned that her name was Julie, she had no facial tattoos, and she was from Seattle, but I learned much more this week; I learned that she has an affinity for blue shirts, no tattoos below her elbows, and that she has the same pair of New Balance shoes in two different colors. Maybe next week she’ll be so kind as to tell me her deepest, darkest secret or at least what she does outside of volunteering and what kind of music she listens to.

After bingo I told Richard to get ready for the Armageddon of unpunny puns that I would rain down upon him the next week and headed back to my apartment. I jumped on facebook while watching a preseason football game and looked up Julie. I felt that someone I volunteer with would be a good person to be in touch with, ya know? Julie felt the exact opposite. She told me that she doesn’t mix her volunteer friends with her actual friends.

Today I learned talking to coworkers outside of work is an outdated relic of the 20th century. Bah humbug.