Several months ago I set out shopping for a netbook. I’d wanted something light-weight to carry in my small backpack, specifically when commuting on my bicycle. The computer didn’t need to be powerful, since I already have one for work that’s plenty beefy, and weighs a ton, for the processor-heavy-demanding projects on my task list each week. In particular, I wanted something on which I could use Scrivener, my writing software, which has been a great purchase, along with the netbook I eventually found for a pretty good deal.

If you followed my posts over at Say What You Will, then you know I’ve been pouring my writing energy primarily into a book, a sort of memoir, which sounds odd, since memoirs are typically written by celebrities. Perhaps I’m thinking of myself more highly than I ought. In some ways, writing a book is easier than writing blog posts, because I can go on and on, knowing the editing process will weed out the self-indulgent passages. Whereas a blog post requires one edit—or none at all—and the deadline, for me here at M.E., is once a week. Since I’m not contracted, nor have I ever been published, I have no deadline for the book.

That to say, I’m running behind on posting here, which seemed improbable when I returned to a once-per-week post format. (I can’t believe I used to write so much at SWYW. Of course, I wasn’t working on the book then.) I do have some ideas for book recommendations, but I’ll hold on those, since I’ll eventually tap out of book reviews, due to my recent slowed pace of reading. Therefore, what I thought I’d do today is post a snippet from the book. Keep in mind, I’m still in the draft stage, what Anne Lamott refers to as “sh***y first drafts.” This, if it’s kept, would be a sort of prologue. The memoir centers on a time beginning roughly in August 1994 and ends somewhere around April 1996. This scene is smack-dab in the middle. The reader is unaware at this point, since it is a prologue, of all that’s going on, but it’s a nice preview, I think.

Summer 1995

The choppy, repetitive strain of “Master of the House” still drumming in everyone’s ears, I take my seat back at the table. She sets down the goblet amid the others, chooses a bit of gruyere, and, leaning into me too close for my comfort, discreetly asks, “How’s he doing?” before sampling the cheese.

“Well, he has good days and bad,” I say. “Today is a good day. He would hate to miss this. It’s what keeps him going.”

She nods in agreement and says, “You’re a good friend. I’m glad he has you. We all are.” Then she takes my hand in hers and pats it the way a grandmother might. Though she is old enough to be my grandmother, she isn’t, and she is nothing like mine from Arkansas.

“I do what I can,” I tell her, “which doesn’t seem like much most of the time. But I can’t imagine going through something like this alone.”

“Not everyone could do what you’re doing. Most kids, self-absorbed as they are, would simply leave him for dead.” She has no idea how many times I’ve thought of doing precisely what she is describing, or why. “Young man, you’re older than your years.”

She is right. I do feel older, much older than eighteen, which is old enough to buy a pack of Marlboros, a lottery scratcher, or a Play Boy, though not old enough to drink the Beaujolais from the glass she picks up again. Nonetheless, I don’t care for reds, which is why I am drinking White Zinfandel.

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