Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Stay Tuned for the Sound of Me Changing My Mind

I spent an unusual amount of time in the past week making words where there were no words before. Creative and critical, nebulous thoughts and hard detail. Exercises for this and that class, exercises on behalf of an accountabilibuddy who's pickaxing through a bad writer's block. I am tired. I'm exhilarated by the possibilities of what I've created recently, but, practically, I am tired.

Art by Annie Veitch

I sense that I'm in a kind of puberty right now. Not like a literal puberty, a writing one. Today I am hairless and divinely energetic, while tomorrow I might be growing spikes out the backs of my hands and sleeping all day, like a lizard on a hot rock. Certainties form and harden, while others crumble. But I barely want to go into it for fear that next week everything will be different.

Here are some samples of what's been coming out of my pen lately.

Carrie gestured to the piles of catalogs, the stacks of boxed figurines from The Dukes of Hazzard and South Park and Terminator 2, the yards of clothes hiding on cheap racks under zippered plastic wardrobe covers. Most of it unloaded from shipping containers in San Francisco or SEA-TAC, smelling of Chinese factory. All of it worthless to anyone on the planet but Mabel McLaurin. “Your things? Your things are gonna be the death of you, Ma. Your things are gonna fall down one day and kill ya.” Twenty minutes in this house and she was already losing her diction. 

  • Drink only alcoholic beverages no one has ever heard of. Order “a sidecar, I guess” when the bartender doesn’t know how to make a Gentleman’s Trolley-Chaser. 
  • Carry a Moleskine around. Stain and dog-ear it until it looks like it’s been into the Brazilian jungle with you. Tea works nicely at staining paper a picturesque brown. 
  • Chip one of your front teeth.
  • Love yourself beyond human comprehension. Love no one else. 

When they caught Sanjay out in the desert, all he had on him of value was the necklace, the turquoise and silver one he'd gotten from Annie the night before. He was raving by then, mad with thirst, his shirt tied around his head, and after they brought him in he told the whole story without complaint.  
"It's not my fault," he said, first and last and so many times in between that the transcriptionist dropped her head on her desk and moaned aloud two-thirds of the way through the interview tape. "It's not my fault. It was the old man. He talked me into it. He was the guy doing it, the entire thing." 

The men's locker room smelled different. More like feet. The eau de human was less yeast and more vinegar. More rust had collected on the shower heads, and the shower stalls had no curtains.  
An obese older man, as naked as a dead tree, stood in front of a locker, toweling his armpits vigorously. He did not notice me, but then he wouldn't. 

I took the stairs down to 89, but Don wasn’t there, and neither was anyone else. Don’s cubicle-mate had a crush on Las Vegas, but all of her snowglobes and postcards and gewgaws were gone. Don’s pictures of us at Machu Picchu and Pont de l'ArchevĂȘchĂ© remained. His was the only desk with a computer sitting on top. 
I went into the other suites. Nothing. The office furniture was well-polished and bare. The trash cans had all been emptied. The shredders were clear.  
Gravity intensified. I sat down on the carpet.  
The elevator doors slid open. --Did you see the firefighters? Don asked. They were looking for you down on 89.  

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