The Red X

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I am sitting at my desk to type this post.  I am going to sit here and type the whole thing whilst on my less than comfortable chair.  I am not going to pull the laptop back to my lap and sit back on the bed.  I bought this desk for a reason.  I think I am becoming Quasimodo, hunchback-wise (his most salient descriptor, I suppose, aside from the ugliness we conflate with hunchbackery) and I think it’s unhealthy.   I know it is because it causes me pain in my shoulders as they wrap around me. I feel the straitjacket of my own ribcage, my own arms protectively surrounding me, squeezing my heart.   There are no breasts, there is no body, there is just a shape.  The shape that holds the phone up to the face and takes in cat videos and shimmies fingers to set timers that are inevitably ignored.  The inertia is profound and negligible.  When I can’t, I don’t.  There have been so many days when I don’t, though, that I stop asking whether or not I can.

I will stop when it hurts enough.

I am noticing today how much better my mind feels when I read, when I listen to intellectually provocative material, when I engage myself in an inquiry not just of self, but of the media I take in.  When I push.  Laying/sitting/reclining in the bed day in and day out has some sort of knock-on effect of relaxing my ability to coalesce thought.  I am not treating my writing as the honorable, necessary exercise that it is.  As the lover I love, who loves me so desperately that he calls to me at all hours, murmurs in my ear, pets my arm and says “Let’s just try, it’s only just for us.”  In response, I shift and turn my back and say, just one more video, just one more act of creative voyeurism, the release of looking at worlds made and projects lifted up to the light.   I know the muse feels the coldness, I know the muse feels regret.  We could be so good together if I could just let it in.

Every now and then, though, I sit up and I say.  Okay.  I say, if you’re sure we’re not going to make this a big deal.  If we’re just going to play.  The pilot light bursts forth in a shroud of heavenly blue, the shoulders release, the dancers stretch their legs.  The muse and I climb beyond the bay window and walk down to the water and watch this far-distant ship slowly turn and bring itself into the harbor.  After what feels like hours of waiting, it finally drops anchor and all of the pirates jump over the the hull and swing ropes onto shore.  The dancers emerge and guide them up off the beach and in the rough-hewn, thatched-roof cantina, we drink with them and listen to their adventures.  Their hungers, their thirsts, their old shanty songs and we take notes.  They don’t mind us eavesdropping, not so long as we let them dance with the dancers and drink all the mead.  Eventually, they drop, drunk, exhausted and drained of all their stories and we crawl away so as not to wake them.  There are only a few hours left until sunrise and they won’t be here in the morning.

Every now and then, the notes are readable, they make a sort of map.  And every now and then, the muse and I climb up over the bluff, and eastward, and south-south-eastward, and look for the stand of three threes that reach up as if in prayer.  We use branches and invented shovels, and sweat away just at dawn, just as the sky moves from its groves of oranges and violets to that first breath of heavenly blue and dig at the red x.  Deeper and deeper into the sandy soil, until there is a thump.  We’ve hit something.

Every now and then we open the chest and it is not empty.  It carries in it another map that the water and acid of the soil has not tainted.  And every now and then, though our arms are tired and we’re keen for a picnic, the muse and I will follow that map to the next.  We will go until once in a very great while, when we’ve forgotten the clever pirates’ great claims of riches and spoils and are only concerned over discovering the next Red X, and we’ll use our dirt-stuffed fingernails to claw open a chest that holds no map.

It will seem empty at first.  But we’ll sit still, blinking at it and at each other for a very long while.  It feels different, the muse will say.  It does, I will say. It feels like an ending.   Satisfied, aching, under a heavenly blue made dark save for its map of stars, we’ll head back to the shoreline and try to sleep.

Mean Santa and his Whipping Stick

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What is needed?

Listening to Star Talk, currently an episode where Bill Nye is using that hilarious euphemism of his, talking about “interacting” and doing it “hard and often.”  My childhood just curled in on itself.

So, I have been quibbling and considering if I can get some more story words in today, but I think that will have to be the cherry on the top.  This will take long enough as it is, even if I am now in a better mood for the moon having broken through both the window and my body.  Someday, I’m remembering, we’ll get through this.  We have to, if only just to get to the end.

I like that I know enough about my friends to know what makes them grin or enough to know what troubles are foremost in their minds at the moment.  Last night, a few of us were able to chat and while I had some idea that we were on similar wavelengths with our anxieties, our personal and professional woes, I forget how it is to just have people there to talk to about it.  I worry that I try and deflect my own foibles, the darkness, the negativity and helplessness I feel in response to my problems and theirs with this over-exuberant quasi-therapeutic self-help book sounding tripe.  It’s not tripe.  I believe it, and therapy has put some helpful stuff in my head that’s quick to hand, but I don’t want them to think I think I have all the answers.  I mean, how could I with everything so incredibly…less than optimal. (That’s me correcting for perfectionism.  It ain’t perfect, it ain’t shit, it’s just less than optimal.)

It would be nice to have them all around a table, drinking mimosas, eating french toast speckled with powered sugar and puddled in syrup, or sugared berries and moist, floury shortcake and coffee with a nutty aftertaste that settles on the tongue. Sunlight, of course, glass windows as though it were taking place in a conservatory.  As it is my imagination, it is certainly taking place in a conservatory.  As green inside as through the windows because my conservatory could only be situated so as to overlook a vast garden, verdant and lush as though it just woke up from a night of heavy rain.  Straining to burst with chlorophyll and capacity to grow.   Very English, but a bit of Florence in the furnishings.  Maybe the coffee is instead espresso.  So we are all able to pay our best attention at 10:30 in the a.m. some easy Sunday morning when we’ve all gathered together.  It would be hard to suffer in such an environment.

I think that’s the lesson.  You need to give yourself environments where it is hard as hell to forget happiness, to let the joy muscle start moving.  That’s gross.  But true.  And poorly worded.  But true.

Listening to Stardust by Artie Shaw and His Orchestra.   Thinking of A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the CSO.  I don’t care who you are, Mr. Future, I want to feel the way I feel now when I’m with you.  Free, and soft, and with a pliable mind slipping on the peels of dreams and never falling.

N