Category Archives: Writing Space

Delayed Agenda

My first week after camp was out, I had so much to do,
but how I’d really spend it, I didn’t have a clue.
Sunday I was resting–staying close to home–
eschewing rituals of makeup, jewelry or comb.
Catching up on sleep and alone time and my blog.
Straightening camp clutter and shampooing my dog.

By Monday I was taking samples to the lab
for a friend who wasn’t feeling very fab.
Taking her electrolytes and medicine to do
what was necessary to execute a coup
on all the small amoebas who’d colonized her bod
and made of her their temple, their dwelling place, their god.

Version 2

On Monday night there was a birthday party for a friend,
but Tuesday brought my social life abruptly to an end
as I commenced a sort of party of my own,
communicating my own pleas upon the phone
for a friend to help me, for I was feeling fragile
and had an urgent need for electrolytes and Flagyl!

Two days at home just running between my bed and loo
left me with no time left for other things to do.
But when at last the meds kicked in, I found that I could go
to execute my errands, to meetings and a show
of kids on ukuleles that I’d committed to–
in three weeks, the third showing of kids for us to view.

So now it is a Sunday. I’ve fed the dogs a bite
and I have come back into bed to finish out the rite
of publishing this blog post and tweaking a few pictures
that I hope you’ll approve of with a minimum of strictures.
I’ll have a swim and then I’ll tackle that job I’ve been dreading
of cleaning all the piles off my desktop and my bedding!

Computers, files, folders, forms, boxes, books and cards.
Bits and pieces, piles and scraps, strips and orts and shards.
For months I’ve just kept piling things that I have just done,
unpacked or started packing–while I am on the run.
Now it’s time to organize, to put away and hide
all this mess I’ve found it necessary to abide.

I wish my life were simpler, my habitat more sparse,
but that would mean a schedule that gets me off my arse
earlier each morning, which would cut into my blog time–
my swimming and my photographing, dreaming and my dog time.
With only so much time each day, I must choose how to spend it;
for time is just not flexible. There is no way to bend it.

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Desk # 1 Cleared off. Check!

So for two months I have chosen to write and teach and play–
to exercise and see my friends and post my blog each day.
And once a week to clear some space–my desk that’s in the sala.
Then I did a week of camp and the final gala.
Then I cleared the dining table of mat cutter and books,
papers, art supplies and pens. ratchets, screws and hooks.

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Desk #2. Cleared of clutter. Check!

Then off again to one more week of art and words and kids
and those mean amoebas that put me in the skids.
But now I’m almost finished with this tedious little rhyme
which means that I have finally nearly reached the time
when I’ll do the final sorting task that I have to do–
of sorting of more desk rubble–the whole motley crew!

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Desk #3. Today’s agenda.

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Desk #4. Today’s further agenda.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Obstacle Course.” Think about what you wanted to accomplish last week. Did you? What are the things that hold you back from doing everything you’d like to do?

Most of the Time: A Serial Tale, Chapter 6

Most of the Time

Chapter 6
(A Ghost Story)

“Where shall we begin?” The fussy little man moved his little mustache back and forth like a typewriter carriage gone slightly out of control. We were off to solve a mystery, Hercule and I, and although I followed along without a clue as to where we were going or what the mystery was, I had faith that this friend I had followed through so many adventures would once again take me to a worthwhile  place.   I had caught up to him by quickening my step, but my legs were so much longer than his that doing so caused me to sprint out ahead a bit until I shortened my stride to match his.  The combined effect of walking faster but taking shorter steps gave me a prancing quality that I’m sure was humorous, but since no one was viewing this daydream but me, I had no sense of embarrassment.

It is only in retrospect that I gain a viewer, but since that viewer is me, I am perhaps harder on my protagonist than an impartial viewer might be.  What does one do when she is the narrator of her own life?  It is an exercise in schizophrenia.  You are you.  You are she.  You are you.  You are she.  When I see through the eyes of that woman, feeling the onset of middle age years before the appropriate time to do so, I understand the need for flight and escape.  What she needed to do was to leave her outgrown marriage, but how many women do?  Instead, they seek to alter a dress that no longer fits–to plump sofa cushions that have grown too matted to plump years ago.

They live in fantasy worlds of ladies luncheons or afternoon movies or midnight novels.  They simply neglect to fix the thing that needs fixing or to leave it behind for a new set of life problems. For it seems to me from the vantage point of my sixties that that is what life is–a series of puzzles that we can either confront and try to solve or merely overlook and seek distraction from.  Fold up the paper and use the puzzle to swat flies or form it into an origami bird  or party hat.  Use it to wrap up garbage and count on someone else to carry the problem away for you.  All the different solutions we invent in response to our problems is the point of life.  We are all our own choreographers, doing our version of the dance. So I try to be more patient with Susan than I want to be, calling forth more sympathetic narrators.  Susan at 40.  Susan at 35.  What would Susan at 20 have to say about me, I wonder?  Stretching my mind to this task sends me off in a different direction, to tell a different story.

A woman lies in bed in her short purple cotton spaghetti-strapped nightgown.  She shows upper arms too heavy for showing outside of her own room.  She lies typing, which is true in more ways than one.  For when she writes in the very early morning, as she has said countless times before, she writes from a different part of her brain than that which guides her actions during the day.  She writes more about the present, with spare bits of the past popping up as well, as they do in dreams.

That whole part about Peter is imaginary, but where did Peter come from? Is he a manifestation of something she really was trying to escape at the time–some dream lover she might have in fact married in her twenties if she had not in reality been off pursuing the life she described as a metaphor in her initial chapters?  This whole hierarchy of selves is getting so complicated that even I as the real person narrating this story cannot keep track.  How did Doris Lessing keep all those separate selves straight in The Golden Notebook?  By compartmentalizing. Other writers do it by splitting themselves into separate characters, but I’ve never been successful at that.  I write best as myself and somehow can’t make the jump into dividing myself into the parts of myself.

When I split here, it is my whole self being presented at  20, at 35, at 45 and at 67. It is so complicated that the plots become intertwined, but since this is what they want to do, I’m going to go along with them.  Like Alice down the rabbit’s burrow, I will swallow bitter pills and grow and shrink–but in my case it will be in age as well as size.  Let’s see where this acid trip of imagination takes me. No doubt some readers will drop away, but at this point I think this has become an exercise more for myself than for any viewers who are free to jump on and off this slow moving platform at will.

“We have arrived at our destination,” my twitching little companion tells me, his prissy voice cutting through my reverie.

“And what is our destination?” I ask him. “I’ve never known where we are going.  I’ve just been so busy trying to get in step that I never asked.”

“You don’t recognize this place?” he asks, as he swings open a wide door before us.

I step into the view on the other side.  It is a large golden yellow house with rose pink domes.  Two dogs rush up to greet us–obnoxious dogs that jump up and bark and then rush out the open door behind us into the street.  They vanish in seconds up the big hill that we, too, might have climbed if we had not taken this detour. The courtyard of the house is full of flowering trees and bushes and succulents and palm trees towering or contained within  pots.  As we walk, the door to the house opens.  Inside is a table and a computer, but we keep walking to another door, open it to see a woman in a purple nightgown lying on her back in bed. Typing on a laptop. Lying in two different ways.  I take off my coat and shoes.  Lie down next to her.  Roll over into her, and we are one.  And that is why, dear reader, when you ask me the question everyone inevitably asks, I admit that yes, “I believe in ghosts.”

The opening and closing lines today are from  “Orphan Train” by Christina Baker Kline. Thanks, Patti Arnieri, for furnishing me with your second prompt.

You may find Chapters 1-5 of this tale in postings made over that past 5 days.

 

 

Eight Months Wait

Eight Months Wait

Today’s the day I’m leaving to spend two months at the beach
to try to write a novel that‘s been just beyond my reach
since I wrote the first three chapters when last I spent time there;
but since I returned home, I’ve just been tearing at my hair
searching for the next word—the next turn in the plot—
in vain for though I’m waiting, the words seem to be caught.

And so I’m going after them. I’m driving there today
to see if at a different spot, I’ll have something to say.
I don’t have any friends there, or any obligation.
Understand, I’m going to work, and not for a vacation.
I’d thought to start two weeks ago, by joining NaNoWriMo,
but couldn’t figure out the site, though I knew where to go.

And so I’ve just kept writing my daily blog instead,
deciding that with just three chapters done, the book was dead.
That may be so, but nonetheless, I guess I’ll try once more
and so within the hour, I’ll be walking out the door.
My alarm clock didn’t function, so I am already late,
but I could not let you wait in vain for our daily date.

Will I be here tomorrow? My mind is most conflicted.
I really shouldn’t, but I fear that I’m badly addicted.
I get up early at the beach to dodge the morning sun.
By 8 ‘clock, my daily two hour walk is always done.
Perhaps while I am walking, my book will find me there
so I will find the plot again—and grow back all my hair.

So it’s adieu for now, perhaps. We’ll see how I will do
at writing words for chapters that I fear have been too few.
Just how it will all wind up, I do not have a clue.
All I know is that I’ll sorely miss the lot of you.
Pine for your fine company and all your ideas, too,
I’ll miss my daily visits to this lovely WordPress zoo!

The Prompt: Waiting Room—“Good things come to those who wait.” Do you agree? How long is it reasonable to wait for something you really want?

Too Much, Too Many

The Prompt: “Perhaps too much of everything is as bad as too little.” – Edna Ferber. Do you agree with this statement on excess?

 Too Much, Too Many

Lately, I’ve taken to having panic attacks late at night as I’m trying to fall asleep. When I’m having one of these episodes, I suddenly feel as though I’m not going to be able to breathe. It’s not that I can’t breathe at the moment, but a feeling that I’m soon not going to be able to breathe. Sometimes it helps to use an inhaler, then to substitute one pillow for two and to lie on my back rather than my side, as I usually sleep; but more often than not, the only way I can stem the rising panic is to go outside in the fresh air and to sit for awhile, or walk.

This doesn’t happen every night, but it happens too often for comfort. I live alone, and although from time to time I miss company, these late night episodes are the only times when I fear being alone. Perhaps a vision of someday being old and vulnerable is what prompts them, but I know the reason why that fear is expressed as an inability to breathe is because of a TV show I watched over a year ago wherein a young boy was bound, blindfolded and buried alive as water slowly filled up the tank he was buried in, eventually drowning him after 24 hours of torture during which he was aware of his eventual fate. I can think of no more horrible death, and I would give a thousand dollars not to have seen that scene. I no longer watch the show but its damage has been done and it is that scene, along with an earlier scene where I was trapped underwater and came very close to drowning that fuel my conscious nightmares during this time.

In my daylight world, I have a similar fear of being buried under things. My main problems are tool, art supplies and papers—many of which are equally worthless to me. (Closets full of too-small or too-large clothes I just might shrink down to or grow into again, my husband’s stone-drilling tools that have resided in two large cupboards in my garage for 13 years and never used, my income tax returns and receipts that go back to 1964, a lifetime of letters  and drawers and shelves of art supplies and collage items I’m fairly sure I’ll never use.) Yet, I have an irrational fear that the minute I rid myself of them, I will need them. I also have paintings stored in every closet as well as under a high rise bed I had made in my upstairs guest room—a bed with a drawer that holds 20 paintings—some by famous painters, some by myself. I would not hang my paintings, but also cannot throw them away or sell them. Nor can I throw away any of the probably 50,000 items that fill every shelf, drawer, bag, surface and hidden spot of my art studio. I make excuses for myself. I am a collage artist. I teach classes and I may need them to share. They have sentimental value.

My house is not messy (except for desktops and my studio) and there is generally a place for everything. It is clean, thanks to a three-times-a-week housecleaner. When company comes, I usually finally organize my desk, file the papers and cover those I don’t get filed with a beautiful scarf or sari, but I know there is a clutter hidden in a drawer or under a beautiful cover, and this disorganization chokes me as surely as my night panics.

My grandmother was a hoarder and so was my oldest sister. I tell myself I have this in control more than they did; but occasionally, when the piles on the built in desk that covers one wall in my bedroom spill over onto the chair, I start to fear that the family curse is taking me over. And in the dark, I can sense it growing nearer, its arms stretched out and its hands aching to encircle my neck and to choke me, shutting off my air slowly, over the years, leaving my middle sister (the uncluttered one) to finally do what I have not been able to do: to rid my house of too much, too many—the irony being that I will be the first object they will have to remove to enable her to do it!

 

Bed Head

Bed Head

First thing in the morning, when I’m fresh from dreams,
this is when the new ideas seem to come in streams.
If I want to capture what is in my head,
It’s better if I do not try to leave my bed.
Luckily, my laptop’s always right near by
and so I pull it over and rest it on my thigh.
And lying on my back with pillows ‘neath my neck,
I pull up to my word bank and write a little check.
Spending all my riches stored up in the night,
I write and write and write and write and write and write and write.

The Prompt: Writing Space—Where do you produce your best writing — at your desk, on your phone, at a noisy café? Tell us how the environment affects your creativity

This is a shorty this morning, so read on for a poem posted in the wee hours last night, when a random sentence Skyped to me by a friend created an immediate pingback, (whatever that is.)