The blog hiatus I declared in November is more apparent now. That book isn’t going to write itself, not with a day job. But I feel I should write here. It feels easier and established. We go where we’ve always gone, sometimes.
Last Saturday I take the Bainbridge ferry. On the other end is a friend and breakfast. He has sympathetic but not codependent things to say about my anxieties, which three days after their early morning roosting have receded. He trains executive bureaucrats for a living, and his tip is: negating polarization. (Instructing bigwigs requires ostentatious names.) Instead of black-and-white thinking (the habit of hierarchies and depressives), figure out how to simultaneously get the maximum positive qualities of both poles. Sit in the middle and be at both ends. My therapist said the same thing about a year ago. I wonder how many times I hear things before I really understand.
The big anxiety of a week and a half ago was completing that day’s writing and realizing we both felt convoluted, half-asleep, and dead. Plodding ahead on Chapter 1 for six weeks is a definition of nowhere. I went to bed disgusted and woke in the early unplaceable dark–not morning, not night, all orange sodium streetlight–and felt despair. It was the usual: why am I doing this, why bother, who cares. I felt guilt about the divorce. All this very sharp: no rumination, nothing to dwell on, every feeling immediate.
Then I had an image of a robot waiting for a train. Then, the robot powered by tape, 8-track carts. The character stuck in my then-current Chapter 1 left a hotel room–where I had not really given him anything to do–and moved to early morning not-sleep in his Seattle apartment, the day after losing his job, the day before taking the train to New York. It felt natural and obvious, and the images kept coming as I didn’t go back to sleep, gave in and got up, had something to eat, got the bus. At work I started writing it down on a string of numbered postits.
I missed the writer’s group my professional writer acquaintance holds and write her to apologize. Reward yourself, she says. Set little goals. Be easy about them. If something looks interesting, follow it. She said that before. I had a rush of postit ideas before. It feels thrilling, like before, a long time ago. Some returns are healthy.
I write the next evenings and feel better; the weekend is two-three solid hours each day. I’m making a habit of writing at the library downtown Fridays after work, and after morning with my friend I do this Saturday afternoon too. We have purpose, the quiet homeless and I–they with hefty paperbacks of a Great Work, others peeking from their dufflebags. The sun is out. It helps us both.
Monday work imposes itself: someone has seen something and gotten excited. Overtime is approved. My high energy goes to anxiety for the deadline I’m paid to meet. Writing is brief. The postits feel heavy and are aging. I whine on the phone about it. I don’t have enough time, energy, concentration. I remember that too.
Friday comes with snow, which I stare at with dread. But the day goes well. There is the smallest of disasters, but I know this only in the end–the problem is never knowing that result beforehand. We are in good shape for Monday, the deadline Tuesday. The weekend is not required. More stress than I needed–stress I allowed–but much less than would have come before. Leaving in the early evening, the sun’s echo beams up into the clear west. It is cold and all right. Stopping at a friend’s birthday, the bar upstairs is warm, and she and the other women wear thin summer dresses and flowers in their hair. That is warm and all right.
Saturday was brilliant, clear, the northern spring’s almost warm. I write for a couple hours and clear two of five postits. I remember doing this too, a long time ago. Everything takes a while to get into.
I see a strange, brief performance art piece. A young man with big ideas pulls me into a half-lit space. Someone lights a light. I’m going to give you some important directions. North, south, east, west…. Then I’m pulled away.