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The Year of the Germ photo

January 7, 2023 – Logged into my blog for the first time in six months. Changed the name to urban germ.

January 9 – Shrinking house story was rejected.

January 15 – Lab-grown cow story was rejected.

January 26 – Checked my email first thing this morning—rejected.

January 30 – It was almost funny when I heard the film festival I worked for had to cut a million dollars from their budget. A million? It was hard to believe they ever had that to begin with. But I had a job before and now I don’t.

February 11, 2023 – Trombone story was rejected.

February 12 – Oh, no way! The zoo’s hiring?

February 14 – Overnight, the fruit flies erected an entire civilization in the half-eaten Siggi’s yogurt cup I left on the counter. I watched them hop around for awhile, feeling jealous. You guys have it so easy. No rent. Party all night. Probably celebrated the holiday with someone special.

February 19 – Finished reading Stoner by John Williams and wept like I never have for a book before.

February 21 – Hungover. And sometimes that’s good. Sometimes the brain needs to be pressed down on a little. Twisted like a rag. Used to sponge up the dishes.

February 24 – Got in a dispute over a slice of missing cake which revealed a much deeper, underlying problem in the relationship. Like how he didn’t want to be in one with me.

February 27 – Latest favorite hobbies include calling and emailing the unemployment office, snail-mailing cryptic messages, donning a ski mask and pulling a rifle on the nearest government building. Where’s my fucking money?

February 28 – During my fourth consecutive night of total, unreprieved debauchery, I attained a kind of out-of-body, video-game-view of my life; saw a trampy fox cartoon, running around in squeaky boots, running her mouth, relentless and alone.

March 1, 2023 – I need a job.

March 25 – I got a job at an arthouse movie theater.

March 31 – The backlogged unemployment check was deposited into my account.

April 20, 2023 – Happy 4/20. Smoked weed and hid in the bar bathroom for an hour. Asked the people I was with to talk quieter and also not talk to me at all. Told the comedians they weren’t even a little bit funny. I will try again next year.

April 22 – Checked my email.

               – Honestly? Fuck karaoke.

               – I will not send out anymore stories for awhile. I will focus on the blog.

May 6, 2023 – Started working on a story set in Idaho. Drove to Idaho in a stolen car.

Just kidding. Paid a visit to my mom and begged to borrow it.

In Coeur d’Alene, I checked into the RV Airbnb and then took a tour of The Museum of North Idaho. They had a whole trifold dedicated to beavers. “The beaver is a large rodent that lives in rivers, ponds and lakes,” the plaque said.

Afterwards, I went to the bar. Smoked indoors. Got drunk with the locals. Forgot about the story. Put the story to bed.

May 9 – Not only will I stop submitting stories, I will also stop writing them. I will revisit Amy Hempel, again. I will focus on the blog until I figure out how to write something good.

May 20 – Tried ketamine. Thought: Why would a horse do this? 1/10.

May 29 – Blogged for a long time for the nth time about heartbreak. Did not write anything good. 0/10.

May 31 – After a few dates this week, I concluded that some people just don’t have a whole lot going on upstairs. Not everyone’s much of a thinker, it turns out.

June 1, 2023 – Making my way through every book by Denis Johnson.

                         – Learning about baseball.

June 15 – Went to my first baseball game.

July 2, 2023 – Saw a notification that my shrooms had arrived in the mail. I took a microdose and fell back asleep. Later, I went to the park. I ate a chicken sandwich. I cried while I brushed my teeth. I went to bed tired.

July 21 – 100 subscribers on my blog! :)

July 28 – Received texts from three different dental clinics wishing me a happy birthday.

I ate the last of my shrooms and decided that the world was made up of soldiers, angels, and vampires. I took my shoes off by the rocks at the pier downtown and let the mice run right underneath them.

I texted a friend: don’t spend any money. Then followed up: we’re gonna need it. He said: Hahaha for what? I locked my phone and put it away, sneering, “for what?

Not everyone’s gonna fuck with the vision.

For three hours, it felt like I had all the answers, but as I sobered, none of it made sense. The vision of what? What “vision” are people not gonna fuck with? I had no money, no ambition. I wasn’t even good at writing. I’d been staring at the water and watching the sailboats go by all afternoon. There was no vision.

July 29 – Spent most of the day watching Mad Men. Ignoring messages. Eating string cheese in the dark. I didn’t want to do anything. When was I gonna get around to doing anything?

I texted a friend: i think i should start taking adderall again. They responded: That was your big shroom revelation? More adderall?

July 31 – Dreamt of the color black taking off in all directions. At two a.m. I woke up and did not sleep again. I was afraid. When I closed my eyes, I could still feel the darkness expanding.

August 14, 2023 – Summer was ending early this year. I went to an electronic show over the weekend and felt sure of it. Something about the texture of the air.

Or maybe it was in the dancing—slower, restrained somehow, no sense of release. You didn’t see anyone “bust a move” like they did in the early days of June.

Even the sunset was different. I watched it disappear behind the boats and cranes on the waterfront—vivid with autumnal hue. Not a color but an attitude, emanating from the dipping sun. A kind of permanent departure.

August 23 – Dreamt that I gave away all my belongings except one black robe in a shade so dark, it looked like nothing. Like a pothole. Like a void. I put it on. Then I laid out in the street, and just listened.


September 17 – Flew to L.A. with the guy I’ve been seeing for a couple months. Spontaneous vacation. We drove around downtown in a rental, then to the ocean. Road the rollercoaster. Sat in the sand ‘til dusk. Sunk our feet into the new terrain.

September 24 – Broke up with the guy I’d been seeing. Kept coming back to this moment, sitting on the floor of the Los Angeles Public Library at eight a.m., copying down DeLillo passages to try to emulate, and feeling him out there, at the hotel, just waking up, waiting for me to finish whatever the hell I was doing so I could return to our room, and fuck him. Like a dog.

September 26 – Worried I’d been cruel and impulsive. Was I overreacting? What if I regret it? What if it’s all downhill from here?

September 27 – Spent my day off pacing the perimeter of a quarter of Seattle. Ordered some tea.

October 10, 2023 – Shroom Notes:

                                – drank tea at 17:05.

                                – walking around town laffin about my secret knowledge.

                                – ok.

                                – i’m confused.

                                – ok laffin again.

                                – can’t believe there’s people out here “with a take.” that like, “have a take.”

                                – feel like a DFW character (derogatory).

                                – took shrooms just to feel weird for a couple hours and think every oncoming person is my therapist.

                                – can’t see my ideas anymore.

                                – the shrooms told me, no, we can’t tell you. you haven’t been good. the shrooms said, come back when you’re ready. the shrooms said, you can’t just get the secrets every time, and i sat my ass down and listened.

                                – all i wanna do now is go to the movies and you’re telling me there’s no movie playing???

                                – the shrooms were like, you’re not gonna like it. the shrooms were like, can we say something without everyone getting mad?

                                – the shrooms are having takes.

                                – idea: sitting in the center of my apartment watching a movie with all the lights on.

                                – doing handstands in my apartment like, ya, still got it.

                                – i don’t have a plan. i don’t know what’s next.

October 13 – 300 subscribers :)

October 15 – Found the password to my elementary school email. Reread threads with my sixth grade crush. We had a longstanding correspondence where he’d send me videos of Slender Man and I’d respond, “I’m too scared to watch,” or otherwise click through them fast with the sound off. At school he’d ask me about them, “You get my emails?” and I’d say, “Yes,” or “No,” and that was it.

We were twelve. The correspondence went on for two years. We never exchanged more than a few words in person, but in the emails we found a linguistic freedom. We could include every part of the story. We could talk around a point or go straight through it. We could be direct. We could invent. We could say what we meant. Writing has always felt that way to me.

October 29 – Submitted my first story since February to Muumuu House. It had started as a blog post.

October 30 – Tao Lin responded to my Muumuu House submission.

November 10, 2023 – Went out with a guy who “hates reading” and had more fun than I’ve had on a date in a long time.

December 3, 2023 – Visited a friend in New York. Felt disoriented and underwhelmed. The reality of the city betrayed my memory of it.

The only other time I’d been there, I was eleven, competing in a gymnastics meet.

I went with my dad and we did all the tourist stuff. We went to the bridge. We went to the terminal. We went to Times Square. He took a picture of me holding up a giant chocolate bar in the Hershey’s store. Then he took another picture of me standing next to someone in an M&M costume outside of the Hershey’s store.

We tried to go to the Statue of Liberty but we got on the wrong ferry and rode right past it.

“Well, there it is,” my dad said. Then we got on another boat and turned back.

I had the window seat when we flew out. The buildings looked so tall, even up there. I asked my dad to play “Empire State of Mind” on the drive home from the airport. I pulled the peacoat he bought me off the backseat and put it on.

I was really proud of that peacoat. I wore it everywhere.

December 7 – “Casino Sunrise” was published in Muumuu House. I texted my mom and emailed it to my old writing professor.

December 24 – Submitted stories to two more publications.

December 31 – New Years Eve. Drove to a beer town in the mountains with the guy who hates reading. We shared a soft pretzel and danced all night.

In the morning, he shook my shoulder gently.

“Happy New Year,” he said. “It’s snowing.”

Driving home, it felt like we were in a car commercial—the brumal wind and empty roads and white bluffs, and the rows and rows of evergreens, ascending into the clouds.