Rule 1
Morning greetings should be quick

Don’t go on tangents about last night’s dream and trample fresh ideas that crystallize in dawn’s light. Morning revelations have the lifespan of snowflakes. Forget craft; VISIONS must be catered to.

Note on Rule 1: Under no circumstances mention the coverage terminology we must learn to replace our existing car insurance because of our shady, fluctuating bills.

Rule 2
All post-morning greetings should
be kept to brief utterances.

Nothing more than cordial nods or supportive smiles—as any two colleagues crossing paths at the office might do.

Note on Rule 2: This is no time to overreact to a terse greeting (a Rule 2 violation in spirit). If I’m blunt, I don’t mean to be. I’m working on perspective: 1st person, plural? Omniscient untrustworthy? I cannot see you. You may be my sister, plumber, neighbor, a departed person, or some monster I’ve worked for, clawing into short-term memory, reincarnating as my antagonist.

Rule 3
Respect the closed door.

If you open the door and I am unable to lift my fingers from the keyboard (unless you are bleeding), I will say, “Let me get back to you. I’m riding the wild sea lion.” This is my signal to gently pull the door shut. If you slam it, violation of Rule 3. If truly an emergency, say, “Something catastrophic demands your presence.” I will take a break.

Note on Rule 3: Should we communicate at all? Yes, indirectly. Eons ago when we were unfathomably young and living in our first apartment, we came to realize that strategic bits of data—household thoughts—were a cornerstone of cohabitation and needed a corporeal posting while the better half was on the toilet or lounging in that crappy backyard we shared with six other renters. It being Christmas, you unswaddled a spanking-new Fisher-Price magnetic scribe for kids, the Doodler (now Doodle Pro, changing with times, maturing with our bodies, careers—a metaphor?) Doodle Pro still works (it’s not electronic.) No need to halt my word processing of compelling dialog (which, as writers, we know is forgery for not being monosyllabic and dull) or to frighten off my elucidating apparitions to announce you’re heading out to the gym. Let’s face it, you’re not heading out; you’re going to pee. You may check the Internet once more, walk to the car, forget something and come back. Then you’ll skip the gym altogether and knock on my door to explain your reasoning. Why? At day jobs in the city we never abandon ourselves to that mad, codependent love we’ve found so snidely amusing in others. Take Roger, my coworker whose lonely partner rings ten times before lunch. We’re logical; we call to coordinate evening TV, a night at House of Blues, that looming weekend reserved for imprisonment at your parent’s condo. We don’t call the moment we leave our cubicle for a smoke (we don’t smoke, but a point is made). Why not consider our home as a kind of fluorescent-rich office building overlooking the 134 Tarzana exit? We could fill out time cards. It might be fun.

Another note on Rule 3: Don’t get me wrong, I cherish your gym time. How many of our long-coupled friends have come to realize that they are loved just as much even if they are obese? Mind is body! You knew this before I did. You know more now, because I am not currently enrolled in an establishment like Curves, which I understand is for women. If I emerge from my writing space and Doodle Pro says you’re working out at 2:10 pm, that’s all I need, for I will be comforted in knowing that you are sweating and firming for writing longevity. I will chew my toast in peace, knowing where to find you if your mother breaks a hip tripping over her trio of Jack Russells.

Final note on Rule 3: I realize young people are laughing, snickering at our dependence on an embarrassingly un-digital Doodle Pro. Fuck them. Look who’s flying through a Scion windshield, typing on Facebook like my grandpa with two thumbs and jacking up the freeway death toll; their crowning, banal monkey-speak preserved on a schoolmate’s Motorola chip. I don’t go for incessant, beeping alerts when I compose, fretting over which room or coat or car I left the smart phone in. My final testament will tower over these lazy unsociables and etch the lasting dreams of our sad, analog generation.

Special supplementary note about kitchen nook: The absence of writing material does not mean we are merely eating. If one writer approaches, the other should raise his/her hand to indicate presence of a “creative space.”

Rule 4
Don’t get sucked into the gravitational pull
of my bullshit when I have writer’s block.

I am weak. I am human. If stuck, I’ll emerge from my space and buttonhole you with fascinating high-concept notions we could pen together (so good they “write themselves”), but only after I finish the insurmountable or even shitty idea I’m currently battling. Jonesing to blab yourself, you must shun me. I will decode the wonder of a Faulkner novel in potboiler sound bites—riveting studies of white-trash barnburners and the mercurial Colonel Sartoris. Run! My catfish antennae have hit rock bottom; trolling classic lit for inspiration, reckless if seeking rural stream-of-consciousness for currency. Beware! I’ll probe your writing with stimulating questions. It will hook. Once my sail fills, I’ll leave you high and dry. Unjust, yes, but as the girded Odysseus discovered from his mast, the Sirens of conversation are irresistible. I will finish the potato chips. Coerce you to bed for talk and touch. Seduce you with hophead blather and a quick trip to the Norton Simon Museum because we deserve enrichment. I will pick up sandwiches at Oinkster and toast the end of afternoon (or morning), spinning five-dollar words in joyous run-on sentences as I did a million years ago to avoid nursery naps. Rule 4 is for you, my darling. Arm yourself. Be vigilant. And good luck with the writing.