I finished my NYC Midnight story in less than 24 hours. My prompt was weird and I hated it immediately.
Then I started googling around to find out about some unusual inaugurations and found something that worked with my brain.
This is the prompt I had to work with:
Genre: Historical Fiction
I mean, come on.
Historical fiction? Wtf am I gonna do with that?! This is almost as bad as the time I got science fiction.
I had a dumb amount of fun writing this.
And researching it!
With no help from hotel life at all.
We have upstairs neighbors now and I am 99% sure they are elephants.
I’ve never heard someone throw themselves around a hotel room like these folks.
And it’s constant.
8:34 am? They must be slam dancing!
1:34 in the afternoon? Working on their boxing, I think.
4:47pm? Tap dancing with no shoes (to be respectful of course)
7:04 in the evening? Aggressively making dinner.
11:43pm? Fuckin’ directly on the floor. With paddles. And they keep missing the intended target and hitting the floor instead.
Actually I am forming a theory that it is actually an animal. Maybe large dog or small horse for some reason (not a pony though, that’s just silly).
When I got my prompt, Mickey was already sleeping, cause he’s started the new job and working and stuff and has to get up at a set time in the morning. So at midnight, he’s doing the sleep thing.
I normally am too, but, I knew I was getting my prompt at midnight so I had some giddiness happening.
That deflated the minute I saw what I ended up with.
So, I went to sleep with a loose idea about what I wanted to do, based on a couple stories I read about Lincoln’s second inauguration. The part of the story that interested me the most was the drunken speech the VP-Elect Andrew Johnson gave before being asked not to speak for the remainder of the event.
So my thought was I’d do something, like, from the perspective of the help in the White House – scrambling the morning of the inauguration to sober Johnson up with (what else?) a bowl of oatmeal.
Then I had an excited middle of the night conversation with Mickey (that happens sometimes – we’re both awake at 4am, why not talk?) where we both kept remembering things about Andrew Jackson instead of Andrew Johnson.
Look, it was wrong, but it was enough of a discussion about the idea to let me know that it was not a bad one.
Then we went to bed, because even I had to be up at a certain time the next morning – we were getting our first maid service since living at the hotel.
Y’all remember my experience when I got locked out of the room? And how helpful the front desk was?
Well, Wednesday, when we were heading out to Ann Arbor, I descended upon the front desk and said something like:
“Hello, we are in room 107 and have been here for a bit and are gonna be out today, so we thought it would be a good time to do the maid service thingie.”
And then the front desk human said something like, “Oh, we have you on the schedule for service on Saturday! Would that be okay or would you like it sooner?”
Autistically, I did not want to disrupt their already existing schedule, so I said, “Okay, Saturday is fine! Have a great day!”
And waved what I felt like was jauntily and went off to explore Ann Arbor – which was fantastic, honestly, but I do have a story about my experience at the “oldest dispensary this side of the Mississippi” that I will share with you, but I’m still kind of processing the oddness. And more of it keeps popping up the more Mickey and I talk about it.
So, I woke Saturday and started googling about Andrew Johnson from the comfort of my hotel bed, but fully dressed with my backpack ready to go at a moment’s notice for when the maid showed up.
I had three pages of notes when I knew how I wanted to write it.
Like, I know more about Andrew Johnson now, than I ever forgot about any other president I think.
And there were some weird parallels that kind of weirded me out in that, “Holy shit y’all we are definitely not learning from history one damn bit.”
But that’s not what I was writing about that day. I was writing one one drunken morning before a very important Presidential inauguration.
And I was ready, so I stopped waiting on the maids and gathered up my supplies and headed outside.
It was Saturday, I had literally nothing else to do (not even ‘keeping up the house’ chores), so I had one of these adorable lil joints, and got high and wrote this thing.
And, I love it. I love it in a way I never expected to. I immediately scoffed at getting assigned historical fiction and thought to myself, “Damn yeah, I am NOT gonna move forward with this piece of historical fiction, ugh.”
But then this voice in the back of my head reminded me that my favorite teacher of all time was my history, government and civics teacher. He taught me critical thinking that has served me better in life than almost anything else I’ve learned.
He also taught me that Idaho was not a state, but that is a story for another time.
I loved, like, discovering a story that already happened, something that already existing it and just bringing it to life? I dunno what I am trying to say.
I made it accessible to me? To my brain? Like, I know I will never forget this story for the rest of my life and I don’t give two shits about Andrew Jackson – except I think he was a pretty terrible human who fell prey to the same thing many blustery men do even nowadays – trying to live up to daddy’s dumb standards blindly, not thinking or questioning things for themselves.
But now? I’ll bust out this little presidential gem every chance I get. Next time I see you? I’m telling you about how Andrew Johnson got drunk on three tumblers of whisky (every single article I read about the incident insisted on this) and gave a 17-minute drunken rambling speech to introduce the new President, open-mouth kissed the bible when taking the oath of office, then was rushed off the stage and asked not to speak the rest of the day.
That really happened.
It was so fun to write about it. And my brain likes challenges on challenges so it tried to include as many true facts in it as possible, but still giving it a bit of a fictional spin.
Ugh this was fun. And it was like, when I started writing it – I started from the middle!
And alarms didn’t go off in my brain. So I just trusted myself and wrote it how it worked best for me.
Which, in this case means I finished it before I even started it.
All told, it took me about four hours of completely focused writing to “finish it” finish it.
I cannot remember the last time I singularly focused on one thing for more than thirty minutes, much less four whole hours. In case you didn’t click the link above, here is the story if you would like to read it.
After I’d finished writing, I just chilled out on my lil porch area that I have claimed as my own and looked at the clouds (the simulation is killing it in Michigan, honestly) and continued listening to a playlist I made called “The LeftZolas” which is, you guessed it, a mish mash of “The Leftovers 1+2+3” and the soundtrack to “Zola”.
I wanted to think about things but then also occasionally shake my booty, okay?
Then I got the tummy rumblies and remembered I had leftover Culver’s in the room and walked back “home”.
As I turned the corner to the hallway with our room, I got a little bit of excitement because I saw the maid cart – right next to our room – pulling away!
I couldn’t have timed things better, I thought to myself.
Then I opened our hotel room and starting unpacking my lil backpack (I’m a backpack girl now, y’all) and notice the trash is still full. I didn’t think much of it, figuring I did something wrong and was supposed to, I dunno, put a note on it saying “This is trash, please throw away!”
Then I settled onto the couch to watch the saddest part of “Orange Is the New Black” that I knew was coming next when I noticed our bed was also still all rumpled and the stuffies were still in a cuddle puddle.
Then I went to the bathroom and noticed nothing had changed in there either.
Like, I wasn’t mad, but I just wanted to know when to expect to be out of the room so they could have free reign or whatever. You know? Make things easy on them.
So, I went to the front desk and asked, “Hey, we are in 107, do you know what time we should expect maid service? I just want to be able to give them their space.”
They replied, “Oh we don’t do maid service on Saturdays.”
So, I relayed the previous conversation I had with the other front desk person, to which this one replied, “They did not know what they were talking about. Would you like me to schedule you for a full service tomorrow?”
YES YES I WOULD PLEASE.
Next time I am bringing one of those elementary school carpet sweeper thingies with me… if I ever live in a hotel again.
So now, I’m outside writing again in the hopes that when I get back to the room, it will be cleaned with nary a nacho crumb in sight.
Wish me luck. Bye.