Happy means different things to different people.

Feet dangling over the bay, “I want to listen to the kind of jazz they play at Barnes and Noble,” which I took to be some sly dig, but toward whom I couldn’t say. “And smoke a blunt,” she laughed.

ON THE BAY BY JONATHAN TROSCLAIR 34THPARALLEL MAGAZINE ISSUE 48


Feet dangling over the bay, “I want to listen to the kind of jazz they play at Barnes and Noble,” which I took to be some sly dig, but toward whom I couldn’t say. I stood behind her, sort of squinting at the sun over the water and feeling my stomach’s not being there. “And smoke a blunt,” she laughed. I thought of how we must look from the bridge. Two boatswomen on the half-rotted pier, imagine a summer painting. A few birds glided down to a buoy. Across the brown and gray water barges either sat or hummed forward looking behemoth like tectonic plates just floating there, bored and fluid and powerful. I looked to the left and saw the river and the bridge over it. I looked back.

She was four years younger than me, and had glasses and faintly blonde hair that darkened a little each year when I saw her at Christmas. A phone call in the night and then she was at our door with bags on each shoulder, a cousin come to stay after her father Danny made two or three deft moves that in a matter of weeks had sent the family unit spiraling in all different directions.

The kids went to the god parents, Sasha with us, Boz with my uncle Timothy uptown. Refugees overnight. Danny meanwhile had gone to Georgia to do god knows what. Six months out of the year he worked there, what had become an accepted arrangement only after a great deal of protest from a family of in-laws that viewed any departure as total abandonment. But he’d bought the house, kept Hildy and the kids awash in that middle-class caste all those years, something the matriarch respected. Our all-seeing grandmother.

It was machine work, the intricate assemblage and testing of pressures and signals that fed information through numberless gauges or otherwise the intervals of darkness between blinking light. Oilfield stuff, he’d say. The esotery of his work seemed to please him on the few chances I’d heard him speak about it. But this was summer. It was not the working time for him and that off-season move more than anything else told us something deep had changed in their family’s balance, an ominous uncoupling for which we had no precedent.

Sasha’s mom, my nanny (her real name was Mathilda, though she despised it as old-fashioned and girlish and everyone liked Hildy better anyway; her face looked like a Hildy) in particular had taken the upset badly. After shipping the children off, she fled first to our grandmother, and then took a motel room for a few weeks during which it was rumored she’d been visited by two men in suits, and now no one knew where she was.

Sasha was being very stoical about it all. She sat there swinging her legs over the bay water neither seeking nor shirking attention. “What about the sunset?” I asked. “You could have the bay, jazz, a blunt, and the sunset.”

She seemed to think and after a while said, “Do I want to push my luck?”

We walked away from the water, back over the wharf and onto the paved and urbanized shore that sloped up gentle until the southern flatness overtook and just played out in every direction for hundreds of miles. We were in a pocket of consumer territory in this burg, a narrow corridor carved through the heart of a totally industrial shoreline. Little food stalls and souvenir shops behind which massive garages and hulls of eviscerated ships loomed upward. A rusty, smoky place where any metal surface was likely to leave your hand coated in grease and any animal you saw was neither domesticated nor wild, but existed in an in-between state of controlled savagery. The lank dogs and cats halfway feral, possums with green iridescent eyes peeking around a dumpster in the dark in a posture that indicated what they sought was not of this plane. Liminal.

Irate birds had even been known to attack the occasional tourist who’d been misguided to this part of the city. Pecking at them, chasing after for french fries or funnel cakes.

Sasha wanted lunch. We ducked into a quaint and dismal diner near the corner of Grafton Street and took a booth. The glittery plastic seats were cracked and curling in tears, taped in some places, and I could see the pale foam beneath like exposed fat. We both ordered coffee and waters when the waitress came. I looked at the table, its chaotic boomerang pattern that seemed to arrest all diners.

“This is almost cozy,” she settled in. “It’s like the seventies. It’s like a place from Cheers, a little corner diner in a blue-collar part of town. Someone named Manny works at the garage there. Bill Chanersky is foreman at a mill and takes his smoke breaks on a stairwell to think about his marital problems.”

I could picture everything she said, the slow extinction of it. “Yeah,” I said.

“I guess you don’t come here much.”

“No, I work in midtown.”

We sat.

“You’re quiet,” she said.

“I’m mostly quiet,” I nodded. “That’s mostly what I am.”

“You never used to be. I remember you’d practically never shut up as a kid.”

“Well,” I shrugged as she began to laugh.

“You could talk about whatever for like hours, the little card games you played. All those books about Russia. Or the cartoons you watched.”

I smiled for her. She was speaking as if she were older than me. “I was very excitable,” I agreed. “But I learned.” In the street, men in work jumpsuits carried a scaffolding of some kind past the window. We both looked until they had passed. It was like a thing done for us.

The waitress came back with our drinks and Sasha said, “I’m starving and I haven’t even looked at the menu yet,” with a big, mouthy laugh.

The waitress smiled almost just as big as Sasha had laughed. “Well I’ll just come back in a few minutes and see where you’re at, how’s that sound?”

“That sounds wonderful,” Sasha said, giving the woman intense eye contact until she turned to leave.

I stirred in artificial creamer to the coffee and watched it steam. “What’s your major again? Did I ask you this already?”

“Yeah. You asked me at the social security office like twenty minutes ago. Are you spaced or what?”

“I might be a little. Sorry.”

“Well anyway. It’s finance. And I won’t say it again,” in a tone of mock threat.

I remembered having asked her then, sitting in the plastic chairs in the aggressive yellow light of the waiting area. That was the reason we were out here in the first place, for Sasha to apply for a replacement social security card that she needed to transfer schools. Danny never knew where the original ones were kept and Hildy in her haste to disappear didn’t think to distribute them to her children. My mother had called me and asked me in a way so that it was not really a question if I would go with my cousin to the office on Grafton Street. After we’d done the application Sasha said she wanted to see the river up close since we were so nearby. “I’ve only ever seen it from the bridge, passing through you know. I wonder if it’s different. Something about being in a city makes me feel so curious.”

Now she was saying, “It’s that boy isn’t it?”

“What is?”

“The reason you’re so spaced out.”

“I don’t know.”

“Liar. What did he say to you?”

“Something about having to think.”

“Show me the text.”

“I’d rather not,” I said.

“I’ll just bug you about it until you do.”

“That’s not really the kind of person I am,” I tried to explain to her. “I’m not someone who lets other people read my text messages.”

She extended her hand across the table, palm open.

“Didn’t you need to look at the menu?”

“What could be more important than family? We’ve known each other our entire lives, dear cousin Cecelia,” she said this as though she was in a play in high school, giving me imploring and overdramatic gestures. “I say that blood equals trust.”

“That doesn’t make me want to do it any more than before.”

“Hand it over, cuz.”

“Not gunna happen,” I said with some decisiveness that made her eyes change for a second. It was like a flicker and suddenly I thought about everything that had just happened to her. “Fine,” I said.

I handed her my phone and she took it. “Passcode?”

I told her. She scrolled around for a few seconds. “I can tell you don’t do this. Most people will open up the person’s messages for you. Now I can see all your stuff even on accident and who knows what’s just hanging out there.”

I sipped my coffee.

“Here we go,” she said. She read for a few seconds. “‘Not enough’, then ‘too much’, yeah, yeah, yeah. ‘I want things to be simple again’, ok that’s a classic. OK, see here he says he doesn’t ‘believe in your affection’. What’s that all about?”

“He sees signs in everything I do.”

“Signs?”

“They’re never the right signs.”

“But what do you mean signs?”

“I mean that he ascribes contrary meaning to gestures.”

“Hm.” She thought. “I think I understand. Does he do this intentionally?”

“No. I don’t think so. I think that’s just how his brain works.”

“Does he say he’s happy?”

“Yes.”

“Well that’s big.”

“Happy is nebulous. Happy means different things to different people.”

“Maybe.” She went back to the phone. “He seems inclined to doubt you. That’s a problem.”

“Yeah,” I said. “It is.”

She kept scrolling and reading and then just sighed, handing the phone back to me. “I don’t know, I thought I could help but that one is strange.”

The waitress was coming back.

“Oh shit,” Sasha flipped open the menu and put her finger on the laminated creases to keep it from closing.

“We can just wait.”

“No way, I’m starving.”

I ordered first to give Sasha a little more time, then she looked up, grinning wide and said, “I want a shrimp platter and mashed potatoes.” She closed the menu and handed it to the waitress. “So,” back to me, “What do you do now anyway?”

“I work for the city,” I said. “Public housing.”

“Do you like it?” and her face was eager for me to say that I did. Which was a better reaction than I usually got: that side-eyed embarrassment for having asked, as if they’d forced me to reveal some hidden, chronic disease I’d been quietly enduring and sparing them the knowledge of.

“I do. It’s not exactly what I want to be doing, but it’s related.”

“And what do you want to do?”

“I think I’ll need some more schooling for it, out of state. But I want to design actually affordable housing. I have a vision of houses for twenty-five thousand a piece.”

“Is it even possible?”

“I really think so. They’d be small but nice.”

“That sounds so awesome,” she said. I shrugged and she just kind of beamed at me.

When the food finally came out I had maybe a few bites and worked at my coffee. But Sasha ate with passion, mixing everything and trying combinations of hot sauce and condiments and even utensils. It was an event, and afterward she had this radiant look of satisfaction on her face. “That was perfect. Don’t you love that, when you crave something and then you just get it?”

I couldn’t really relate. It had been that long, I guessed. “Especially when you have to choose on the spot,” lying.

“You know,” she said, “that’s one thing I have. When I’m on the spot like that, I usually always choose right.”

Later on I was picking up Boz to take him to the library. He was fourteen and mostly bones, a skull you could see very visibly beneath his skin and he had elbows that were always banging against the car door or the hallway walls. This was another of my mother’s requests, to take Boz to chess club since Uncle Timothy was always either at work or his car was broken down. The car and work situation had been this way since as long as I could remember, a constant war like cosmic forces irreconcilable on the scale of physics. Uncle Tim refusing to get something new, locked in a never-ending rotation of car parts, older ones cyclically failing at the same rate he was able to replace them. This was how it went. He was in the yard when I pulled up, thrust halfway into the hood of his 1985 Oldsmobile. I got out.

“What say, Chichi,” extracting himself when he heard me, black engine bile smeared on him, his ragged long sleeve and hairless face.

“Hey, Uncle Tim.”

“Give you a hug, but—” he showed me his oiled hands more fully.

“Yeah,” I said. “How’s it coming?”

“Oh, she’ll be up by tomorrow.”

“Boz inside?”

“Yeah.” Then he shook his head. The yard was mostly black dirt and car parts, and Uncle Tim stood there in a vision of perfect belonging. “That goddamn Danny.”

“Yeah.”

“You all still ain’t heard from Hildy?”

“No,” I said. “Grandma said some men in suits were at her motel room. She was spying I guess. But Nanny isn’t at the motel any more.”

He looked to the ground. “That goddamned Danny,” he said again.

“I’m gunna go find Boz.”

“Yeah alright. He’s on inside.” After I went in I looked back through the small diamond shaped window on the front door and saw him still standing there, looking at the ground with his hands on his hips.

I went down the hall calling, “Boz.”

At which a head appeared out of a door at the far end. “I’m here,” he announced before coming out with the rest of his body. Like a framework draped in flesh when he did, and I thought, poor kid.

But what I said was, “What’s up, kiddo.”

“Uncle Tim only has antennae on his TV and no internet.”

“Not much happening, huh.”

“I’ve watched three episodes of The Price is Right today. That’s the most in my life ever.” This seemed to trouble him.

“Well, maybe we can get some books and movies at the library. Are you ready to head out?”

Uncle Tim was back in the jaws of his car and didn’t hear us until I started my own up, so he waved bye from the yard and we drove downtown and it was late afternoon, one of the prettiest ones I’d seen in months.

The sun was casting heavily through the trees and people were out walking their dogs with coffees and earphones. Even the lifeless municipal buildings didn’t seem so much like accidents of history but like centers where service indeed happened. My windows were partly down, at red lights we smelled the corner’s food, seasoned gyro or grilled fish. Baked bread and fried things. The streets alive with pulsing. Nor did the river look quite so poisoned, flashing bright with the sun’s reflection between city blocks as we moved parallel to it.

I was loath to park. We went inside the four-storey library and in the foyer I asked him, “Do you need to sign up for this?”

“Probably. Our library isn’t connected to this one.”

“Well let’s find out,” I said.

After being sent a few different places we learned that he needed to go to the third floor and he’d be able to play after filling out a couple papers. I let him go up by himself and wondered what I wanted to read.

For whatever reason Plath was the first name that came to mind and even though I knew it was probably a bad thing to be reading at this moment, five minutes later I was sitting in a big chair with one of her books. As usual I was dazzled and pierced and unnerved by her. I was near a window and spent whole stretches of time staring out at the traffic, thinking about what I’d just read. Then I’d read another poem and do the same thing. Then, just as twilight was coming on, my pocket vibrated. I reached in and saw that he had texted me. I did the same thing as with the poems, reading it and then staring out the window thinking about it. He wanted to play pool. After a while I responded.

When Boz was done I told him to pick some stuff to check out and we’d get him a card at this library. He went around pulling out WWII history books and chess problems and one young adult novel that he tried to hide from my view, something fantasy-looking. On the ground floor we went to the desk. “We need to get him a library card,” I said.

The woman at the desk smiled. “And how old is he?”

“Fourteen.”

“Ah ok.” She was tapping at her keyboard. “Has he had a card with us before?”

I looked to him. “No,” he said.

“Hm,” she pursed her lips. “Are you his mother?”

“Cousin,” I said. “I have a card here, if that helps.”

“I’m afraid it doesn’t. If he’s a minor his parent or legal guardian has to sign him up.”

He nodded but didn’t seem to be looking at anything.

“Let me just put it on my card,” I said and had to fish around in my wallet (“overburdened” would be a generous term for it) for a good three minutes before I could find it.

“You’ll be responsible for these, ma’am,” she said with what was really too serious of a tone for library books.

“Yeah, it’s fine.”

We both left feeling a little embarrassed. A little dampened.

The city too had turned melancholy over the two hours we’d been indoors. Time fled or time itself darkened to this orange shadow-works we now moved through, the splitting of light into distinct regions, parochial states uneager to surrender the beast of my car and my bad, bad brain to the next block for whatever ransom they could have lost by doing so, to anchor my body here instead and demand payment from the light. I would be suspended. Suspended further. A suspension within a suspension. I thought of the bridge. Why had he done this?

I could already hear his voice telling me months from now about his new life and this hurt me in crucial, animal ways. It was as if my unborn children had been eaten by wolves before me. The overriding sentiment I’d gotten from him was that my role in the world had been recast under a scrutiny I had not prepared for, shuffled out of place to make me nothing but voyeur. I knew it was weak to be bitter, but what the actual hell.

Boz didn’t say anything during the whole drive and when I pulled up in Uncle Tim’s driveway his face looked windowless. “I’ll see you next week for sure, but probably before that. And if you need anything, you just call me. Really,” I said.

He nodded. “Thanks Cecelia,” and got out on his long-boned awkward limbs and went into the house.

The car suddenly seemed bereft and I put on the public radio before getting back on the road. Him and Sasha and me. All that could be said to represent the progeny between Hildy and my mother. Timothy childless all these years. Strange tribe, those three. I recalled faint murmurs of Sasha not really being Danny’s girl. Those things are myth from when you’re little. And families just don’t really exist the same way they used to. That older set of values could not stand up to the way things settled this century, the mobility and the knowledge, the actual hollowness of what built their world before it. But Sasha and Boz I could feel in my guts, vacant as that region was, an unreasonable attachment like something out of the old days. Geez. Border of madness to love like this, I thought.

We all three of us existed in obscure places now, this was simple and could be lived with as long as you didn’t get too specific.

Twenty minutes later I was at the bar, leaning low and trying to walk the two ball from about a quarter of the table. I’d had a double gin already and felt a little aswim in it. I felt on, like a string of Christmas lights. “So where’d Hildy go to?” he asked.

The two ball brushed the edge about three inches away from the corner pocket, came off and slowed to a rest against the back rail.

“Too much green,” he said.

“She’s probably at another motel somewhere.”

“Doesn’t she want to be with them?”

“I remember she did this once before,” coming around the table to get my drink and watch him set up, “both Sasha and Boz had slept over and we played video games most of the night. Of course they don’t tell you what’s really going on as a kid. I overheard my mom talking on the phone to my grandmother a few days after they’d gone back home, ‘Hildy called me to the Motorway 4 to pick her up.’ Then just like that back to normal.”

He slid in an easy two shots and then banked and got another of his in off a combo. He gestured to me. “Not what I was going for.”

I looked at him, it had been almost a week. “But it wasn’t really back to normal,” taking the stick from him. A sinewy rogue-looking boy, dark hair always doing something subtle to the shape of his cheekbones, feathering them with an errant curl or indicating them by contrast. A much-loved artist in the circles he ran with and it did not hurt that he was very good looking. That always tended to let one get away with a lot. He used to say that about me but what did he know about what I’d paid? What I didn’t get away with? He also had a habit of posting things online and then pulling them down a few hours later, strange shadowy pictures of himself insinuating nudity or recordings of his ambient music accompanied by lengthy rambling descriptions, disappeared as if people could be made to forget what they saw. As if they saw you only in the light of your most recent release, which wound up being the light you manufactured with careful omissions and unsureness quaking in every word actually committed. Every hour this happening, a flux of presentation and my heart hurting at this public flail. To be with someone like this is to court precarity itself.

But three years bound to someone and your brain has to readjust, no matter what.

I bent over and could feel gin crisp in my breath and on my teeth. The green felt on my fingertips, the dusty smooth chalk with the stick flying in my fingers’ nave, their dusky ravine, I sunk the one and then the six, went for a flashy combo when I didn’t have to, made that and then went back for the easy shot. I scratched afterwards on the seven and hopped up on the bench that ran along the walls around the tables. I sipped at my glass of ambrosia, limeless, beading water.

Arms like a deer’s legs, again he banked. Stood, surveyed the land.

One of the first things I’d learned about him was that he liked Hemingway, and I know that’s pretty damning, but really it shouldn’t be taken as a mark against him. Because, you see, what he found brilliant in certain of those books and stories was not the posturing, or even the style nor the tragic myth of the man, but the pure, inherent dysfunction of the masculine that pervaded and lapped up over those common, hard themes of death, love, and loss in a spillage as of out of some fountain.

This the real golden gift of Paris. This was the art in Hemingway (he told me, drunken, years younger) the only thing that redeemed him and what in fact did transform him from pathetically comical to tragic, striving. He recognized the bravery in that, the facing of a fear. And I’d been wooed, little knowing.

And to look now. Yes Cecelia, a long time ago indeed.

He missed.

I missed.

He lit a cigarette for us to share and stretched his upper body over the table again.

Still, he was not disingenuous. His art could be startling and true, he just didn’t know when it achieved this and when it did not. Old enough as he was, long as we had been together, he never had been able to decide on what way to interact with the world. Even I could have told him that to engage with the public as an “artist” was fundamentally false. Either you do it as a person or you don’t do it at all and both are fine. But this in between. You become a stand-in caricature for what the audience thinks it wants. There is such a thing as too-available.

These past few weeks I’d come to envision us as an obelisk, coming apart in measures of dust and spalls. Seeing him like this made me want to fall in love with someone else then have morning sex until my brain hurt.

“What will we do?”

“We?”

“We,” he said.

“It’s you who needs whatever this is right now. This space. This pause.”

“But it wasn’t only me.”

“Yes it was.”

“You were just, what, happy?”

“I was fine. I want companionship. I want to make houses. Nothing else matters.”

“No one can possibly feel that way.”

“To be known is something rare. I’ve always felt like you were younger than me.”

“Can you really say that just being known means something?”

I dragged and handed him the cigarette. I wanted to say, you do not even know yourself. “See you’ve already messed up. The artist should never admit to limits in imagination. What is possible.”

“Well I can’t imagine what comes next. What can fix this?”

I took the cue from where he’d leaned it against the wall. “You could leave me,” I said. “We could be apart and this would just be over.” I got the seven and only had the eight left. “It’s not a good feeling but it’s simple.” I bent back over and lined up, I had not even planned the angles. But I called it and it went, spinning rightward to ricochet from the rail and glide back to the corner pocket, the faintest insinuation of a spiral. I was tired. “I wish you’d just figure yourself out,” I said.

A look of impatience from him meaning: what do you think I’m trying to do?

My stomachlessness. My vacuous gut. Sasha was awake, watching TV on the couch when I got to my mom’s apartment. “I thought you’d be all night,” she erupted, and jumped to grab my hand. “Come on.” We sat out on the balcony, this old part of town. I did not live here any more but before I knew it I’d looked up from the road and saw the chain link gate. Mother was away tonight. She played bingo at the hotel casino on Wednesdays and I had the distinct suspicion that Nanny Hildy was with her, the two of them plotting deeply over the rattling of the cage, whispers almost gleeful.

Sasha had of course known I would come. She had the blunt all limp and funny in its stages of varying thickness and we smoked and I put on Mingus to leak out to us through a crack in the sliding glass door. “This is better than what they play at Barnes and Noble.”

“I think I’ve heard this there before,” she said.

I laughed. “Twenty-first century. Probably so.”

We sat staring out on the dead city, only its brackets lit, the limbs pulsing with the fervent leaving of it. Articulated joints. We sat silent for a long time. “How’s Boz,” she said.

I thought she might be crying and I didn’t look at her. “He’s alright. We got him some books at the library.”

“Yeah.” Then she said, “Dad called.”

“Did he?” This dad who might be no dad of hers.

“He’s coming back.”

“Oh.” From her voice I could tell she was younger than me again and I was probably not processing the full gravity of what she told me because of the booze and the pot. “That’s big. Are you okay with that?”

“How would I even know. They just do things and then we have to figure it out on our own.”

“Well, how do you feel?”

“I don’t know.” Cars crawled steadily over the bridge. “Like it’s really different this time.”

“That’s going around,” I said.

“What are you supposed to do?”

My sight was spinning, not out of control, just a little blurred. Sort of pretty that way, dragging streetlights out onto the water and the bridge buckling over the still barges.

“I don’t know,” I said. “You just have to do things. I want to go back to school and get a better degree and build houses.” She passed me the blunt, the oversweet grape and damp thing, filmy on my fingers. I coughed. “You answer your own questions by doing things. That’s all there is. Do work you care about and maybe one day you can share it with someone. Getting a finance degree. Getting good at chess and history. Life is made out of that.” My little speech.

Cecelia, you aloof and loveless thing. You selfish, plying creature.

I passed back to her. She hit then tossed the roach over the balcony. “Can we go see Boz tomorrow? They shouldn’t have split us up.”

“Yeah. I’ll come snag you after work and we’ll go to the bay or something.” The lights below us, we both felt hugely alone. Together and alone. I knew then that I’d have to leave this place. “They shouldn’t have split you guys up,” I agreed.

JONATHAN TROSCLAIR

Most of my favorite writers have at least two things in common: they form obsessive relationships with language and they mythologize the familiar. On the Bay is more than anything a reflection of that. The metaphor is excessive, the characters are sympathetic, the back story slightly overwrought. Cecelia herself is a mythmaker, repeatedly aggrandizing her rejection. But probably we each do similar things in our real lives as well, to give gravity to what might otherwise remain mundane or unrelatable. Or because our lives simply feel this big to us.

Lofty statements. But at 25 years old I try to remind myself often that I don’t know shit. The human experience is diverse and translation remains an imperfect science. You nod to the discord, the incredible esotery, while trying to figure out your own corner. In a lot of ways even my own life feels untended. Things happen. Sometimes you simply end up places. I just moved across the country (as well as over some serious cultural lines and away from certain things that definitely didn’t feel “finished”) and find myself thinking this way a lot lately.

Which is not to say that l’ve lived recklessly. Far from it in fact. For most of my life I’ve lived too cautiously, attempting to out-plan chance and to stay aloof from the currents that afflicted everyone else. This perhaps suited a writer’s lifestyle, or how I thought one ought to look like. Only recently did the self-defeat inherent in such a posture become apparent to me. Since then I’ve been much happier, but also, yes, a little more reckless, a little more unsure. The more you stay involved, the more you intimate you become with uncertainty.

Where I am now, it’s become a constant tension between necessary routine and good work on the one hand and dipping into the excess of social life and small chaos of change on the other. I consider both to be necessary. And a similar tension exists for me in writing, that of the strain between the need to simply do good storytelling and the desire to give into a rather self-indulgent aesthetic. This is an issue I don’t think I’m anywhere close to resolving, but like anything else, you get better at it by doing it. You learn when to pull back and when to go in for more. You get closer to an instinct by making your brain exist in that mode of thinking as much as possible.

And that’s really the only hard and fast rule I have about writing. I write every day, even if it’s just for fifteen minutes. Even if what I write is unusable and I never read it again, I always try to sit down and push words out at least once a day.

Part of the reason for that rule is I knew if I wanted to do this thing, I’d really have to learn what putting in the hours would be like. The ultimate goal has always been to fill my cup through words. I want to write novels. I want to write cycles of bad poetry. I want to read both deeply and widely. I want to wake up in the morning and know I can spend hours doing that. I just completed a second draft on a novel and I am already making notes for two more. The list of books I need to read has become simply unfeasible. Time is the issue more often than not. There are too many things to do. Between half-heartedly chasing a music career, working a full-time job, making sure a very rambunctious pup stays happy, and keeping up with the people I’ve been fortunate enough to have around me, the daily experience often feels overwhelming.

But honestly, this a good problem to have. I know what I want and the work is rewarding. On the scale of things, that’s probably pretty lucky.

My writing has been published in the Southwestern Review, Scarlet Leaf Review, and the e-zine Beguiled. In 2012 I won the Judge Felix J Voorhies Award for Creative Writing while attending the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

jjtrosclair@bellsouth.net.