# of pages revised: 17
# of agents queried: 3
On New Year’s Day, Paul and I woke up surprisingly early, considering our late night, and went to brunch. Originally, the plan had been to ride the metro to the national mall, but we were feeling tired and lazy, so we decided to drive. Which meant, of course, that we had to play the always-exciting game of where-the-heck-can-we-park-the-car?
When I lived in New Orleans, I was always driving down to the French Quarter for one reason or another. In case you’ve never been, the Quarter is a set of narrow, pot-holed, one-way streets, crowded with drunk pedestrians and horse-drawn carriages. There are precious few legitimate parking spots (often due to the confusing and contradictory parking signs) and a whole fleet of cops who can’t wait to give you a hundred-dollar ticket.
“A parking spot will reveal itself to me,” I always said upon entering the narrow streets of the Quarter. I just knew that there was a parking spot waiting for me somewhere. It was calling to me softly, and all I had to do was listen and follow its whisper. It might take a bit of driving around, but I would find it eventually. Sometimes I found my spot on the far side of the French Market. Sometimes it was on Royal Street near the antique gun store. Sometimes it was by that sketchy warehouse near the river. I even once found a parking space two blocks from the French Quarter on Mardi Gras, which many people would say is an impossible feat. The point is, I never worried about finding spot. I trusted in the parking gods, and because of my unwavering faith, they bestowed their gifts upon me.
Of course, that was years ago, and I’m a little bit older and more cynical now. I’m not sure that I really believe in parking gods anymore. And yet, I tried to evoke some of that same confidence yesterday. “We’ll find a spot,” I told Paul as we drove up and down the streets surrounding the Smithsonian museums. “There’s a spot here somewhere, I know it.”
And then we found one. We got out of the car and studied the slightly confusing parking sign on the street – it appeared that we didn’t even have to pay!
“If we get a ticket, I’ll split it with you,” I said, but I began to have the feeling that the parking gods were once again watching over me.
And perhaps they were. We came back three hours later to a ticket-free car.
* * *
In those three hours we wandered around the Hirshorn and Native American museums for a while, growing more and more sluggish as the day progressed. Paul had only gotten one hour of sleep, since he had decided to work on job applications from four until six a.m. And I had only gotten a few hours of sleep myself.
But still, we proceeded with our New Year’s plan, which was to do something that worked our brains in a way they weren’t used to being worked. For us, that meant doing art. We are both pretty terrible at drawing, but we thought it would be fun to pick a painting and try our best to sketch it.
I chose a somewhat simple painting – “Painting (Circus Horse)” by Joan Miro and sat down on the black bench to study it. I was so tired I didn’t have the energy to get frustrated or anxious, the way I can sometimes get when trying to do something new and difficult. Instead, I sketched and erased on my brand-new pad of creamy-white paper, and I found the process peaceful and restorative. Study the shapes carefully, hold them in your mind, trust that your hand can form the curve on your paper. When I was done, I was very proud of my results.
Paul chose a more difficult sculpture and worked hard to get the shadowing right. I was very proud of him, too. We had definitely accessed parts of our brain we didn’t normally use, and it felt good. I can’t wait to try this again sometime soon.
When we got home, Paul and I took a nap, then ate some black-eyed peas, and then decided to play a game of Scrabble. Opening my Scrabble box was a bit like opening a time capsule of The Boys of Eva’s Past. Because there’s nothing I like to do more with a male suitor than challenge him to a game of Scrabble. It’s quite important when determining the potential longevity of a relationship. After the lust is gone and you have nothing left to talk about, at least you can still play Scrabble.
It was slightly embarrassing to sift through all the old score sheets with my name paired against various lovers of the past. But what was more embarrassing was when Paul noticed that sometimes I had lost. (I suppose I had been talking pretty big earlier about how badly I was going to beat him.)
And it’s true, I haven’t been totally on my game lately when it comes to Scrabble. So as we chose our seven letters, I started thinking back to the time when I was really good at Scrabble.
It was when I lived in L.A. Back then I refused to play any word that was less than twenty points because I was so sure, on every single turn, that I would be able to play a high-scoring word. “A spot will reveal itself to me,” I thought. I just had to look hard enough. Just had to shuffle my letter tiles enough times to see the perfect word that had been hiding there all along.
And the thing is, it was almost always true that there was a high-scoring word for me to play. I trusted in the Scrabble gods — that they wouldn’t have given me letters that didn’t have any place to go. Or, maybe, I trusted in myself –that no matter what letters I was given, I could make a twenty-point word out of them somehow.
And so, last night, with Paul, I tried to evoke some of that old Scrabble magic. I didn’t worry about my rack of terrible letters. I would find some way to use them. And, for the most part, I did. It was a very close game, with both of us breaking three-hundred points.
When it comes to Scrabble and parking, there might be a spot for you and there might not. And there’s nothing you can really do to change that fact. But if you believe in the Scrabble Gods and the Parking Gods, it gives you the energy to keep looking when you might otherwise give up. And not only that, it gives you confidence, which in turn makes the looking more enjoyable.
I didn’t end up winning the Scrabble game against Paul. But I had fun playing because I wasn’t worried about whether or not I’d have the perfect spots for my killer words. I felt confident that I would.
I got another rejection today from an agent who had requested my full manuscript. But I am now choosing to believe in the Agent Gods. I am not going to worry about finding a place for my novel. I am going to have confidence that there is the perfect spot for my killer words. I just have to keep looking. One day it will reveal itself to me.
Do something that works a part of your brain you don’t normally use.