Restless sleep. Ambiguous mornings. Daylight that does not differentiate- wet and gray, so gray I have forgotten any other color. Occasional sunclouds, the storms churned into piles of whipped-cream and floating in golden caramel. The heavens can be rainbows, pink and blue, molten gold? Surely not. My dog takes three cold showers a day (that is how often we walk). We go to the park and I throw the ball in the mud. The other dogs, at least fifty pounds larger, do not bother her. She exudes calm-assertive energy. She telepathically claims her space in a non-confrontational way. On occasion, she concedes to be the rabbit.
Frozen marionberries and decaffeinated tea. Writing in great bursts, tenaciously grasping hope, becoming frightened. Looking at facebook on my phone while my non-English-speaking Latina neighbor gathers cans and bottles in the rain with her two small children. Locking the deadbolt on my apartment and trying to have a conversation with her, and not knowing what to say. I am aware of how stupid I look, stepping out in my gore-tex rain jacket with the mini-chuckit under my arm, small dog barking. Her two strollers sit in the rain, piled high with bags of cans. Her small daughters, in their pink Dora the Explorer jackets, cry.
I wish that I spoke Spanish, although I am not willing to do the work it takes to learn Spanish. My partner, who knows Spanish, talks to my neighbors at length, learning everything about them. She tells me, so that I might befriend them, too, and I immediately forget. I am an introvert and a coward, and I subconsciously avoid interactions that happen outside of my comfort zone. I am a textbook gentrifier.
Meanwhile, my book becomes an arena in which to battle my demons. They enter what I imagine to be a school gymnasium one by one, huge talons swinging, acrid smoke curling from their nostrils. I run at them with a rusty kitchen knife, knowing that I cannot possibly fight them and live. Somehow I jump quickly enough over their flailing barbed tails that I live long enough to stab them in the face with my knife, and they crumple, one by one. If I gloat for even one minute, though, they come back to life and stomp me into the ground. Even writing this might count as gloating.
Corinne is back, and I am reading all her New Yorkers. There is an article in the back of the March 21st New Yorker about a therapist who councils blocked screen-writers in Hollywood. His advice is essentially what I have read in Pema Chodron’s books, only filtered through the culture and language of southern California. Here is what he prescribes for writer’s block:
Imagine yourself falling backward into the sun, saying “I am willing to lose everything” as you are consumed in a giant fireball, after which, transformed into a sunbeam, you profess, “I am infinite”.
And this advice for facing something you’ve been avoiding (like writing), because facing that thing is painful:
Imagine a cloud of pain. Silently scream “Bring it on!” while pushing into the center of the cloud. Once in the cloud, say “I love pain,” and then, “Pain sets me free.”
Writing a novel requires a lot of growth. In order to grow my ego must concede die, again and again, and be reborn. Death, of course, is painful, and we try, above almost all things in this culture, to avoid it. The goal, I think, is to not to avoid death but to become better at it, to run towards it with a kitchen knife, or nothing at all.
I love pain. Pain sets me free.