My Life as a Character

This is a writing exercise from the Right to Write where you write about a day in your life as though you are a fictional character.

Diana has long suspected she has Jewish heritage. First, there’s her last name: Rajchel. Rachel. That seems pretty undeniably matriarchal, and both her paternal grandparents having women’s names as surnames seems even more identifying. Whether or not she’s right about the truth of her heritage, she does seem to keep to one particular habit: to her mind, the day starts at sunset, not sunrise.

As her partner watches TV in the evening, she picks out clothing for the next day, usually basing her guess on the weather of the day before. She lays this out on her vanity chair, a green and pink polka-dotted thing she grabbed in a vintage sale a few years earlier. House guests often cannot parse her owning that chair; more than one has asked who it really belongs to, assuming it was borrowed or is part of a prank.

They see the skyline artwork, black furniture and Asian lines and assume it’s Diana. It’s not. She put those in place for the comfort and aesthetic preferences of her husband. She simply hasn’t gotten around to adding herself to the room, beyond the pile of pillows on the couch that drive Mike to distraction. Diana herself is the green and pink polka-dot chair, the plants that grow on the shelf behind the kitchen table and an awkwardly handmade tray from the Arabic deli, covered in Sinfest cartoons and mounted on the wall.

The clothing she chooses is usually based on where she plans to spend her morning. Usually, that’s at her computer in the next room. So sweats or loose pants are laid out, except on the rare occasion she intends to meet anyone for lunch. This does not happen often. Mike has the car for work during the day, and really, people don’t invite her out much. While this sometimes makes her feel a bit lonely and rejected, Diana is secretly glad of this. She has trouble switching from the introverted mindset necessary to write back to a more extroverted/friendly mode necessary to be social, and she’s terrible about stepping on taboos or tolerating the banal.

Some of the people that want her attention the most are among those she likes the least: they talk about themselves, which is normal, but then it crosses into something not-normal. She has a good inner sense of a conversation where there is a real exchange, a real relationship, and one where she is simply a receiver for the face the other person wishes to promote. She feels guilty about it, but she avoids people that have young children sometimes for fear the entire conversation will be about their kids rather than an acceptable 20-40%, and she has become increasingly averse to women who are immersed totally in mainstream culture and trying to be “normal.” One stupid comment about how girls are “supposed” to act or how raising boys is preferable to raising girls (or vice versa) and she will quietly want nothing to do with you ever again.

She realizes people feel frustrated when they try to connect to her: most talk about themselves in hopes she’ll interject with her own anecdotes, which she often sees as narcissism for narcissism, and the relationship having no more quality than toddlers playing side by side. She’s been rebuffed by persons quite intent on talking about her/himself exclusively a bit too often to really be willing to risk it with a person she doesn’t know as well who might not be so self-involved. A too-determined person may try asking her direct questions, and depending on the question or the nature of the question, this can immediately put her on her guard. Usually it’s her relatives who do this, fully believing they’re entitled to the information despite making no effort whatsoever to contact her outside of the funerals she attends where she is subjected to these interrogations. Most questions revolve around why she doesn’t want to see these relatives, and explaining that the interrogations and less-than-subtle demands and guilt trips makes her want to NOT see them tends to register as though she speaks only Russian.

She also is very slow to share her phone number.

It doesn’t help that she rarely has money for lunch out or even drinks. So she can hit her writing goals and deal with her home in a comfortable inner mindset, or she can be social and then end up fretting over what she did this time to offend a person, or whether she has money left for something she needs and doesn’t want to ask Mike for since his supporting her, while necessary, wounds her pride.

This slows her down significantly.

This is also what defines her daily life, and why she lives so much of an inner life and so little of an outer one.

When she wakes in the morning at any point between 5 am and 10 am, she writes her morning pages sometimes before, sometimes after breakfast. She may watch a television program Mike dislikes while she eats; she never watches the program to the end, just for the duration of her meal. Then she goes to her computer and begins on her writing minimums. Right now that consists of rewrites to her book Divorcing a Real Witch. She only does a section at a time, having learned that short bursts create better quality from her. She then writes a blog post. In between she may read bits and pieces on Facebook or Twitter, preferring Twitter, but mostly she focuses on her own work and Tweets as a sort of acknowledgment for the job started or just completed.

She breaks for lunch when she feels hungry or spacy. This may involve actually eating, or going for a walk; she also generally concludes her work by performing a series of Ceremonial Magic rituals that suit her life at the moment. She might load the dishwasher, or meditate. It depends on her energy that day.

In the afternoon, she checks her professional writer’s message board and pulls up the writer’s chatroom to have going while she works on a menial task in the background. In recent weeks, it’s been updating her blog Fat Chic on the back end. She’s hoping to start writing posts soon, but she keeps finding more and more pages to update and change in the Catalog, and she’s resigned to doing that work.

At around or a little after 4, Mike returns home. After exchanging a few words and necessary communiques not done via Gtalk during the workday, Diana takes the car to the YWCA downtown and attends an exercise class. Twice a week it’s water aerobics, where she can enthusiastically talk about Doctor Who with another classmate. On Tuesdays, it’s Pilates; most of the class consists of her gamely doing modified exercises as her large body will allow, and trying desperately not to fart on her classmates every time she raises her legs in the air. On Fridays, she hits the treadmill and watches the parade of people up and down Nicollet Mall and around Peavey Plaza, some of whom also watch her.

She returns from class to find Mike back from his own workout time, usually standing at his desk, coding while tracking multicolored dots on one of his screens: it’s his half-hour of thesis work. If she has the energy, she fixes dinner; if not, she declares dinner a free-for-all. She and Mike then watch television. Sometimes she clears the table and works on crafts while they watch, other times she has the computer up, but this is never satisfying for her. She’s terrible at splitting her attention that way.

Then, she showers, and the night cycle begins. If she did not do her rituals during the day, she takes up her athame and does them before bed. She also tries to sneak in reading a chapter or two of a book before she goes to bed. Lately, she’s been going to bed, still feeling overwhelmed by all she’s obligated to do.

Filed under: Tasks