I had this idea the other night when I couldn't sleep, that the dog, with her head pressed up against mine, was actually trying to soothe and ease my thoughts. I'd worry about money or the future, or I'd just be remembering the Spanish word for something, or thinking of an article I wanted to write, and she'd burrow her forehead into mine a bit more and I'd go marvelously blank for a bit. I needed that. A warm pug mind eraser.
The problem with having a good memory, is that everything comes back to you from time to time. The problem with being a writer, is that you suddenly feel like you should write something about what is suddenly coming back to you.
Over the weekend, I read this wonderful essay in The New York Times (T Mag) about two writers meeting, falling in love, and parting at a well known writers' colony. I have an idea about who the man is in the essay, and it felt both exhilarating and wrong to be reading about the intimate details of their relationship. I also had this overarching concern: What if all of us writers suddenly started writing about what goes on at colonies? (Beads of sweat. Dry throat.)
I've long believed it's best to keep some secrets. I can be confessional to a fault for sure. Hell, I've kept this blog for almost a decade now and most of my life can be skimmed through by scrolling down the sidebar. But, some things I vow to stay silent on. Until, perhaps many years have passed or a new door opens in the mind.
I loved the story of these two writers, the colony, the aching, painful beauty a new heartbreak gives the world. I guess what I'm saying is, it made me want to share some of my own. But, let's be honest, most of my relationships have already been pinned like the butterflies and beasts they are to the pages of my poetry books. What more can one say?
A lot. That's the thing. When you get into a writing jag, nothing feels off limits, or over; everything feels ripe for the plucking and thick with sticky wine only the years can perfect. But when do you hold back? When do you stuff your old losing tickets back in the drawer where they belong (because we would never actually throw them out, nothing gets thrown out)?
For now, I guess my sometimes loose lips are zipped and old flames and flickering wicks can live on in their shadowy world. Besides, it's almost dinner time and we're going out to a friend's house. My man is getting ready and I am too. I'm sure, at dinner, we'll tell some secrets, that not even The New York Times could pull out of us.
Friday, June 20, 2014
One of my best friends is a girl who likes to sit: at parties, at bars, at antique stores, whenever the occasion calls for standing, she’d like to do the opposite. She came to visit recently and an old college friend of hers said, “Oh we used to say that all the time, ‘H likes to sit.’” He waved his hand dismissively as this was apparently old news. "H likes to sit." She had never really thought of it before. At least not in the way that entailed heavy thinking about ones own habitual behavior.
My first thought, when she sends me one of these pictures is, “I need to sit immediately.” I know, I know, there are the recent studies about the dangers of all-day sitting and the articles about how “sitting is actually killing us!” (I own a bike desk that I love, and I regularly use a standing desk, so yes, I know.) But sometimes one needs to just stop moving, stop thinking, stop doing, and just sit down.
This is where I’m at right now. I would like to sit. I survived the winter (believe me it felt just as “Game of Thrones” as that sounds), and now I’m of a mind to take a clue from my favorite take-a-seat-girl, and sit, stare out at nothing, and do the work. Time to make progress on the new book (it’s going, moving, rattling along), time to write more articles, and time read and write more poems. The time of sitting has come. Grab your lawn chair, picnic blanket, bar stool and join me.
And if you’d like to read while you sit, you can sit and read a new poem of mine that came out 18 days ago (but who’s counting) in The New Yorker. It goes good with bourbon. There’s also this poem which was just recently given a Pushcart Prize. Hey, good news comes to those who sit. Now, if only I could write a poem that scratches off lottery tickets for me.
In the meantime, the world and the weather is saying, sit down, stay awhile.