The Great American Novel

FOG now accepting donations towards the Fish In Space Fund. (

I don’t need a huge mansion, a fancy sports car, expensive jewelry or a yacht. While I wouldn’t turn down any of those things if someone handed them to me no strings attached, I don’t particularly care about material possessions. Most of the items I own of value to me are worthless to others.

I’m currently wearing a pair of cut-off Levis that I wore as jeans for a decade until the knees gave way, so I chopped off the bottom part and turned them into shorts. Don’t tell anyone, but there’s actually a pea-sized hole in the crotch, so I have to sit like a lady. I wear them anyway. I’ve been meaning to go buy more patches.

When I find something I like, I use it until it’s impossible to use anymore. While other people would have thrown these jeans out half a decade ago, I can mend a hole in the crotch.

Perhaps my frugality is the result of growing up in a house with a Depression era grandmother. Perhaps I get it from my father, who will drive a car until it doesn’t drive anymore and still uses his father’s tools from nigh on a century ago.

I am a mender. My father showed me how to build and fix with tools. My grandmother showed me how to mend with a needle.

In this age of disposable razors, mops, phones and, well, everything, it’s very easy to just go buy a new one. People say that to me: “Just go buy a new one.” Those people don’t seem to understand that it makes me sad when I finally have to give up on fixing something. The things I use don’t have souls per se, but they do have purpose. Giving up on purpose is a sad thing, even if you are just a pair of jeans.

A $250,000 USD ticket to space is, by far, the most expensive thing on my bucket list. Everything else is free or very inexpensive in comparison. One of the things that gives me purpose is writing a complete work of fiction before I die–The Great American Novel, in title case even.

FOG now accepting donations towards the Fish In Space Fund. (
Now accepting donations towards the Fish In Space Fund.

It wouldn’t cost much to write a novel. All I need is this computer, which is a fourth generation hand-me-down. It originally belonged to Male’s first cousin–a celebrity actress whose name I won’t mention, but y’all would recognize–who gave it to her father, because she wanted the bigger version instead. Male’s uncle gave it to him and Male gave it to me, because he hated Macs. All of this handing over took less than a year and I’ve had it for three. I will use it until it doesn’t work anymore, hopefully many years from now, because I am not a celebrity who can afford to buy new iMacs every other month.

Anyway, back to purpose. It occurred to me today that maybe the reason I haven’t been working on The Great American Novel is because, once it’s done, I won’t have purpose anymore.

Right after Male died, I worked on it frantically. The only posts published on this blog were either about grief or another snippet of the book. I published 10 chapters in the first four months after Male died and wrote a few more, including the end.

I never voiced it, not even to myself, but the main reason I wanted to finish it then was so that I could hurry up and join Male in death. I didn’t want him to get too far ahead of me.

I’m not defending that notion, but I will say that grief does funny things to a person. It makes you thought processes murky. My brain in grief comes up with all sorts of silly thoughts that my normal brain would never even contemplate.

In the month following his death, I suddenly understood how people can believe in ghosts and reincarnation. The week he died, I could swear he was in the room with me. I didn’t really believe it, not really, but it was my mind’s way of not letting go. It was a way of slowing the digestion of the fact that he was never coming back.

And then… nothing. On July 11, 2015, I published the last of what I had written on The Great American Novel, and though I have read what I’ve written a few times in the hopes that it would spur me to write more, I haven’t written a thing on it since.

I’d like to say that my fallow book is the result of not wanting to rush to join Male in an afterlife neither one of us believe in, but I don’t think that’s it. It’s not like I have a particular will to keep on living. My continued existence is more out of rote than anything, like having a cup of coffee in the morning or walking the dog. I am alive mostly because I won’t ever end my life by my own hand (unless I’m diagnosed with an painful, fatal disease), and all of the things that have tried to kill me since I was an infant have failed miserably.

Still, there is some tiny part in the back of my mind that tells me that, once I finish The Great American Novel, I can die. Even if I don’t make it into space, having written a complete work of fiction would be enough. But, that part is a very small one. So small that I didn’t even realize it was there.