Me, On The Screen: Race in Animal Crossing: New Leaf
I’m sitting on my bed for the third day in a row.
I’m waiting for 5PM to hit so that I can finally close my 3DS. I’ve been ‘tanning’ my avatar in the latest entry of Nintendo’s long running Animal Crossing series, New Leaf. I put ‘tanning’ in scare quotes because the method doesn’t match my intention. Yes, I’m doing the the thing the game calls tanning, but my objective isn’t just darkening my avatar’s skin tone, it’s being able to see in the screen what I see in the mirror
Clean Bed Sheets
This is the part where you undress.
Say “I love you” with a mouth full of food.
Spit out the words like a loose hair.
Wipe the corners of your mouth.
Tell everyone you went further than you did.
Ruin her reputation like her bed sheets.
She can no longer sleep here alone.
She fills your side of the bed with
condoms and other boys and clean bed sheets.
Convince her that she asked for it,
remind her you did nothing wrong.
Tell your friends that it was easy.
She unfolded like a dinner napkin.
When they ask if she was a lady,
tell them you have never heard the word.
Convince them you only speak boxer sweat.
Say she is fluent in keeping her mouth shut.
Wash your hands before you eat.
This is the part where you get dressed.
Gather her things from the foot of the bed.
Say “I love you” like you bit your tongue.
When she asks if you are grown,
Always answer “Yes.”
you treated your body like a prison for so long, you forgot you had the key.
Even if I write petal words on paper and place them on flyblown rosebushes, you would not have chosen to pick them up. You held scarlet letters in your hand that you’d rather stitch them in your flesh like sewing an old rugged doll and giving it to an 8-year old kid with an amputated leg. The first time somebody filled your mouth with wine you spat it out and said No, but he said he was your maker and he wanted you to taste good. And I’m sorry if no one was there beyond the steering wheel and the windshield to have held your body like a home instead of a wine auction. Your bones are first prize plane tickets around the world and for once, I wanted you to have that same feeling you had, whenever you make snow angels out of plain white things. Turning them into something other than cold, other than melting flesh and bones.
One of these days, you wouldn’t care about the population of China, or the number of times somebody made you feel like an empty fountain. The fifty pound suitcase on your head will be nothing but paper boulders. You will lift them with your hands like Atlas and the earth, and memorize the beat of your heart like a nursery rhyme or a song by Billie Holiday. You might even believe that in an alternate universe you’re realizing life over a swing set, somebody is holding your hand even if your arm’s-length away from each other. But in a world of beginnings and endings, and wasted apologies on broken things and broken hearts, you can be happy here too. You just don’t know it yet.
This is the first time I’ve written anything in three months.
I’ve tried to dissolve into the wasteland beneath
the body I weighed not in pounds but in hours lost,
amongst the snow as spring approached.
Whispered to everyone who wasn’t listening
that I wasn’t ready to bloom.
I’ve cut off my pigtails and sliced up my skin because that’s what bad girls do.
I’ve broken rules and my own heart.
I’ve lost my mother in wine glasses and our mutual neuroses.
For three months I have had nothing to say.
Now it’s four months past my birthday, and I think I’ve finally grown into my knobby knees that don’t quite know where they’re going.
Now I know enough to say that my life
flows more like the gravel under my blistered toes than warm molasses in all the small towns where I feel most at home,
that it is not a poem that simply begins and ends,
that I’m not a very good writer and, instead, a much better dreamer.
It’s been three months since I’ve wanted to die, and maybe that’s a reason for a not-very-good writer to write something not very good.
“Imagine a good gambler who is playing an important poker hand, the way he lays his cards down makes all the difference. With a certain number of cards, a certain number of the enemy are falling off their chairs, so the sequence of the cards can often determine who wins the hands. A writer needs to play his hand very carefully; he doesn’t need to play fifty-two card pickup with the reader and throw the whole deck in his face just because he’s got control of the deck. That’s not playing cards at all.”—Thomas McGuane
The problem of a social life
Whether you have dozens of party pals (that’s a thing, right?), a few close buddies, or a printout of your favorite fictional character attached to a teddy bear with safety pins, you probably place a high value on your time with friends.
Sometimes, your friends will cut into your writing time. It’s important, as a human being, to have relationships, so what can you do? Not all of these might work for you, but hopefully something will click.
- Write while you talk. My friends are used to me having my laptop out during conversations.
- Reduce the amount of occasions you spend with them, but make those occasions amazing.
- Make writer friends and do writing things together.
- Reserve a specific time for writing and hang out with your friends outside of that time.
- Eliminate your other activities (watching TV, hanging out on Tumblr, taking walks, etc.) so that you spend all of your free time on either friends or writing.
- Configure your sleeping schedule so that you can write while your friends snooze.
- Blow up the world so that nobody can bug you.