I’m sitting in a coffee shop around the corner and I’m the only one unplugged. I have no computer, no ear phones, just pen and paper and I’m fascinated by my ability to grab onto an idea and shape it into something tangible, something real. (I think I saw it breathe.) And I’m struck by how my computer is so like a doorway in the fall with leaves blowing in, and how information is so like the leaves, and how I am, constantly, gathering and scooping up the leaves but they all slip out of my hands. Transient is the word that comes to mind. But not today. Today, I can hang onto the ideas and study them and lay them down, one next to each other, and measure them against themselves. And I have the time and the space and the permanence of pen and paper to make decisions about which are the prettiest, the most golden, and I throw the rest out. These are the ones that remained.
You may have noticed that I’ve missed a few days over the course of the last six weeks. Four of them, to be exact. Today, I reclaimed those days in haiku, which, inspired by The Yawp, I tweeted. Six haikus to make up for today plus four with one to grow on.
You’ll have to catch my writing in my Twitter feed (@public_frog) as I left my computer charger at work and have had to resort to awkwardly posting from my iPhone. More tomorrow!
Ruthie helped me make salad dressing tonight—nothing fancy, just your basic vinaigrette—and over and over, every time we poured the next thing in, she kept saying, It’s just so beautiful, Mama. And, really, it was. But I was struck more by how original my child’s thinking is and how I was totally going to rip her off and write about it tonight. Why? Because I’ve had a wonderful week, and I always find it much more difficult to write when things are going well.
The good life never fails to water down my writing: It’s a beautiful day, I love my coffee, coffee is so good, and don’t you just lovelovelovelove days like this?! I can think only in generalizations and Facebook status updates. Plain. Unoriginal. Boring.
And I think the issue has mostly to do with the fact that I take myself too seriously. When I’m frustrated or sad or enraged, I don’t have the presence of mind to censor what I’m writing, and my senses are magnified, so my writing comes out raw and crisp and biting. Tomorrow’s assignment: Learn how to bite on a good day.
This morning I went out for breakfast, and afterwards sat in my parked car sipping my coffee and nibbling beignets, captivated by way the leaves were moving in the wind like fur on a sleeping monster’s back, and all I could think was Don’t wake up.
marsh-mellows in her lunchbox
left on the counter.
I woke up this morning to an orange-pink sky:
Made coffee, made lunch, made the bed.
I’m too sensitive. I want
to leave the house not for work.
I want to leave
for a place where I am a stranger.
Where people don’t know me so well
that they can call me a bitch
and be sure of it.
Where someone else
makes the coffee, makes lunch, makes the bed.
Where I can get by on
wit and good looks.
A place where there is no history
unraveling itself at my feet.
Instead, I sip back tears
with room-temperature coffee: nothing worse
than a pack of fifteen-year-olds
watching you cry.
I send an honest email and immediately
regret sending it: I care too much.
My raw little soul tapped into
the keyboard, onto the screen.
I see myself too clearly,
know myself too well.
Six hours of interstate brought me to this bed and I can already feel the sting of Monday slapping me in the face. The last two hours of our trip home were spent in the dark and my mind felt cool and clear. I was granted the eerie blessing of an Alabama interstate at night: three crosses on a hill lit by the halogen floodlight behind the Sneaky Pete’s, the Mattress Man’s van parked next to the abandoned gas station whose pumps have been consumed by kudzu, the metal carcasses of abandoned cars cold and empty in my headlights, the reflectors humming by on railings close enough to make me tighten my grip on the steering wheel, and the white dotted lines on the road that merge together into the distance to form one long glowing thread to follow. The sound of nothing–of space, time, air–rushing past us, over us, around us. I steeled myself against thinking about tomorrow or yesterday and was met with a great deal of resistance, but my mind was generally quiet. I wore alone like a costume made out of scraps of memory that felt like panty hose on my skin.