Hatter’s Hat

I am at the cafe with my stack of pages. I’ve decided that what my book needs is more. It needs riffs, and run-ons, and conversation, and twinkle lights. More threesomes. An excess of lovers. Amplification, illumination. More, more, more.

Two people take a table nearby. A lady is on her cell: This is Lauren—Lauren—and I need to reach the home office urgently. Please can you put me through? I need some advice on this deal, we’ve got to run a background check. . . .

I wish I had a home office. I need advice. I hang up crying after talking to my husband and try to assure myself it’s hormonal. Is it hormonal, home office? Will we ever bridge the distance or is this what my life has become, what I’ve let it become: one square mile and a palm tree, water all around. Or is this a pool of tears? Did I fall into the rabbit hole when I put my pen to the page? Am I falling still, end over end, my sky-blue skirt around my ears, soil on my mary janes? If I eat that mushroom, will I shrink or will I grow? Should I try to steal the hookah? Should I wear the Hatter’s hat? We need to run a background check, home office, who are we dealing with here. This is Averil—Averil. The realest part of me is the backside of a clock that runs the wrong way round.

What would you ask the home office?

Photo by Annie Liebovitz

Photo by Annie Liebovitz

43 responses

  1. Fuck home office.
    Do it yourself babe.
    Home office is filled with nothing more than a bunch of ass kissers…although, if it’s a nice ass…nah, home office stinks of ass anyway.
    I’m off to work envying your cafe. Are we never satisfied?

  2. I took a class with Craig Holden who said he once wrote in an old shed in the back yard. Can you price sheds at a home store? Obviously, you wouldn’t have electricity, so you’d have to recharge your laptop and maybe run a battery-powered space heater when it gets cold. But, it would be a small space of your own, and the only voices you’d hear would be the ones in your head…

    • Did you know that Catherine used to write from her chicken shed in Italy? I have always loved the mental picture of that. She’s so exotic already, but the European farmhouse is over-the-top wonderful.

      I actually do have that kind of home office already, happily. (Though it doesn’t have a door. A door would be SO helpful.) But I have found that moving from place to place with my pages is the best way for me to write the raw material. I’m not sure why. Maybe I just get bored sitting in one place for too long.

    • I’m given to understand that Kesey wrote either “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” or “Sometimes a Great Notion” in an unheated, unelectrified shed, but I haven’t been able to pin that down.

  3. hello, home office? hey, it’s me, Josey. Listen, you fucked up. You put Averil and my offices miles and miles apart. yes, we’re clear across the country from each other. I know…I know. that’s exactly what i said, it’s totally fucked up. so when can you fix it?

    ps i love these three paragraphs. you know, you got a bit of betsy going on here.

  4. Averil, you’re a fucking brilliant writer, pure and simple.

    “What would you ask the home office?”

    What is there no place like? Can I get there from here? What’s the weather like? Rain bullets much? And the rent, how much is the rent? Utilities included? Will I get my deposit back after I die? Can I spend those pennies in heaven?

    • This sounds melancholy…especially, “can I spend those pennies in heaven?” I hope Chicago will get a grip eventually. New York did.

      • melancholy abounds. after all, i’m a writer.

        chicago 2013 be way different from new york 1990. nowhere near the city-wide level of intense danger and fear. the bad neighborhoods i stay out of and as far as that goes, i’m not going much of anywhere until i get a job. every penny counts, be it from heaven or hell or any place in between.

        • Good luck with your job hunt…something will surface when you least expect it…I’m living w/in that sort of finite budget as well. It’s so tight over here, I can’t even spare a “penny for your thoughts.”

    • I think the home office would tell you to spend those pennies on earth. They don’t carry over.

      And thank you, Tetman. Flattery will get you everywhere.


  5. What would I ask Home Office?

    The very LAST thing I’d ask them is “who am I?”

    You’ll be alright. You’ll look back on the crazy days of worrying over words, better words, and more better words, like, geez, why was I like that? It on takes a split second…when someone says, “you’re a fucking genius,” and all of it will fall away. For a time. I can’t guarantee it doesn’t come back. I’m sure it does. With every new project. Right? But so will the good stuff. Why? Because I said so. 🙂

    • I never tire of obsessing over words. I’ve almost decided to make up my own language so I can coin new terms at will when the existing ones don’t suit me.

      • And that might not be such a bad idea…you so freaking good with the ones we have…I picture a page of Averil Words… slick, smooth, perfectly nuanced, and as close to perfection as a slice of the delicious blueberry pie you talked about. I wanted to lick my fingers right along with you..

      • “I’ve almost decided to make up my own language so I can coin new terms at will when the existing ones don’t suit me.”

        do it! do it do it do it do it do it! do the language!

  6. I love this, Averil. Beautiful writing. Lauren’s life sounds so urgent.

    “What would you ask the home office?”

    What’s our mission statement? Remind me?

  7. I’d ask the Home Office if our insurance policy covers Imagination C-sections and how much maternity leave I’m entitled to so I can bond with my book before I have to give it over to strangers so I can go back to work . . .

    And also for paperclips.

  8. I have a home office. Four walls, two windows and enough floor space for my writing chair and my two dogs. I talk to it but it never talks back to me. Perfect relationship except, of course, it doesn’t issue me a pay check.

    • My writing chair has room for one little dog, barely. She is squeezed in next to me, trying hard to mind her manners and keep her chin off the keyboard. The rest of the office doesn’t exist for her, only the six inches between my thigh and the arm of the chair. When I move, she sort of oozes in to fill the available space.

      • Little dogs are so good at the oozing. Mine are Newfoundlands–they have to stay on the floor. So they amuse themselves by washing each other’s faces. It’s just so darned cute I can hardly stand it.

  9. Does Home Office come with Judy Dench as “M” because that’s what I need. She could load me up with a fast car, a radar blocker and some loud music screaming out into the unknown.

  10. It’s true I wrote a whole book in that chicken shed and have written whole slabs of another. But now I confess I have home office down pat. Floor to ceiling bookshelf, not too comfy chairs, oh and the piano. NOBODY is allowed inside. Averil you sound frazzled and yes maybe a little Betsy-under-your-skin? I need to take you out for a drink!! Xcat