Can't write.

Or rather, I can, but it's in pen. On paper. Kind of like the Egyptians and papyrus.

You see, I have a project that I started, which I like to think of as my side project. I call it my side project, because then I don't have to face it like it's a very serious project.

Actual projects are very scary, and after years of running away from serious projects mid-production, I have developed a fear of not finishing stuff. This is very silly, I know, but here I am.

I have a side project that I am pretending is not too scary. We hooked up a couple of months ago and have been happy pretending that neither of us means very much to the other ever since.

I think I will name my side project, because we've become close enough now to operate on a first-name basis. I shall name her Andrea, and Andrea shall be her name.

On the surface, that seems to be a seriously strange thing to name one's side project, but I assure you, it makes perfect sense. When I was about five, I found out that some kids in my age group had imaginary friends when my mother asked me if I had one. Twenty-seven years later, I remember that day so clearly. I was sitting on the couch watching "Mr. Dressup" wrap up another episode, and my mother walked into the room and asked me if I had an imaginary friend. She looked kind of expectant, as though it would be like revealing a secret and like she wanted me to have this new-fangled imaginary friend. Children are known to give answers that meet the needs of their perception of the desired response, and I was a kid, so I said yeah. I was wowed by the concept that I could just make up a whole friend for myself. My mother asked is it a boy or a girl?. I answered girl and immediately wished I had said "boy", because my best friend was one. What's her name? she asked. I cast about in my brain for a name that didn't belong to one of my friends and offered up Andrea? in the form of a question.

After that, I trotted out Andrea whenever my mother asked me what I was doing. Andrea became really handy to have around, because my mother always acted suspicious about the amount of time I liked to spend alone. I think that even though Andrea was a convenient fiction, my mother took my fake childhood delusion to be an indication of at least a small desire to be more social.

Looking back on this now, if I wasn't me and already well aware of how decently I have turned out, I would be terribly worried about this five-year-old Schmutzie pawning off fake imaginary friends so she could spend more time hiding out alone in the shed under the deck.

I'm fine now. Really.

Except for the fact that there's this new Andrea. But no, that's all fine, because this new Andrea actually exists as my side project, which makes her fine.

If it helps to ease your concern, I don't talk my side project and say things like Oh, Andrea, where have been my whole life?, although maybe if I did, I could get sick leave from work and spend more time with her.

Oh, Andrea, where have you been my whole life?

Nope, nothing. I'm still here. Do they send out the guys in the white coats anymore, or did that go out with the 1950s?


Dammit. Maybe I have to make more of a production of this thing, like make out with her in public places, slavering over her pages and wincing fondly over the occasional paper cut.

Or maybe I will have to be all grown up and keep going to work and paying the rent, and my side project will have to be content being more of a part-time lover with italics privileges to prove my love for her.

Oh, Andrea, you knows I loves ya, but momma's gotta pay the bills, baby. Times are hard. You know how it is, honey.

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"Poem" by Mary Oliver

That House