Saturday, December 27, 2014

A Woman Sits Down to Write an Essay. What Happens Next Will *Look over there! An Elephant Dancing With a Ribbon!*

My mind wanders.  I wish it would walk around the little red house on the lake. Instead, as a result of my phone, it wonders why someone named hairypoppins started following me on Instagram, or if I should make a Facebook post about the new private sessions I’ll be teaching in the coming year. I wish my mind would go pet the calico cat I named Poem, or untangle the dreamemoir I’m writing. How it used to love the diptych of the sun and moon, the peak of garage peering through green trees, anagrams. Now it loves the promise of whatever is happening elsewhere. It’s better over there, whatever and wherever that is.

There are a few open documents on my computer, a result of all this scattered brain activity, which is a result of all the glowing apps around me. Not one essay or idea is complete.

The first is an outline for a workshop idea I had - a revelation - that ended with me researching whether or not my bit of genius had been produced elsewhere. Sure enough it had, by another woman with more credentials than I have (older than me, thank the gods), and a really fascinating artistic style. I researched my way out of finishing my idea. My outline ends with the following sentence fragment: “We will cull phrases from our writing that speak to us directly and on a visceral level, and use those to”

Do something. Anything. On a visceral level. God, I hate that phrase. Either everything is visceral, or nothing is.  We will do something, and it will be revelatory, life changing, and will make everything we’ve done previously seem like pure drek. At least that’s the way it is up in my head, because it’s not down on paper yet. I’ve left the whole idea up there in its perfect little cloud of heaving emotional connection. Until I take action, I will continue to sit on the sofa every night drinking mint tea and flicking through an endless scroll of other people’s cat photos.

An essay I began on the train on my way to Philadelphia remains a morass of anecdotal experiences. I really enjoyed the private office space of the train car though. The quiet business everyone attended to on morning trips made me feel like I was part of some sort of evolutionary office space, as if at any moment I’d be asked to be patched into a conference call with the rest of the passengers, and I’d finally be in in the know. Life’s big secret revealed on the Keystone line! So I began taking my iPad each week, with the thought I could definitely get some writing done with the trees and graffiti blurring beside me, and I did. Sort of. I got a few paragraphs out about wrongfulness, the idea that no matter what you say or do, you will always be wrong. Bleak, I know, but I’m angry with the internet and all the sisterly advice videos and articles showing me I’ve been cutting fruit the wrong way forever.

It didn’t help that the place where I stood to wait for the train each week was near a pole that had this nugget of graffiti scrawled on it: “Don’t Think.” My essay on wrongfulness was doomed from the start.

The last open document on my computer starts with this sentence: “It only takes about a day to be completely erased.” I was thinking about the compost heap of social media when I wrote that, I remember. I was probably also multitasking a browse through a friend’s photo album of her post-performance selfies, and a read of a Wikipedia article on the magazine Weird Tales, while simultaneously printing out a copy of a Pear & Gorgonzola Salad recipe I’d never make. Because, let’s face it, everyone knows I don’t peel pears the right way. Thanks to the internet, I’ve learned I’ve been butchering pears all my life, and now I don’t eat them anymore for fear of being judged.

The more I read online, the more I become frozen. All of the articles keep me from taking action. They keep me on the sofa, they keep me in my place. They keep me from getting to the heart of things. They keep me from being truthful.  They keep me from listening. They keep me from making a choice, from starting, and they keep me from finishing. Fuck those articles, every single one of them. Yes, especially the one about fruit.

It will only take about an hour for this post to be completely erased from the feed. That’s not so bad. I'll take my mind for a walk around the red house on the lake.

1 comment:

Melissa F. said...

Love this. Can relate to this so much. Especially with the fruit.