If we have ever shared a cup of coffee or exchanged more than a few conversational sentences, you are aware I’m adverse to change. As in, the actual skin on my body and my immune system succumb to the notion of change. I want to embrace the concept of change as it is after all the only constant, but the reality is that shit is damn hard to digest. As of late, I’ve been experiencing a good amount of change and of course it has me drawing correlations to the work.
With a new living space and relearning my wants and needs from this life, it also has me challenging my own comfort zone in regards to writing. After a bout of frustration with the work and ranting to Shelley once again that I was sick of it all (this happens quarterly), she tasked me: no poetry for two weeks. No reading it and no writing it. Dabble in another genre.
I thought this might be easy enough, however day two I was reading it. I had already broken the rules, but I decided she didn’t have to know that part (until now). What her task did do was reintroduce me to the joys of writing. It forced me out of my head in regards to the work and who’s reading it and who’s not and if it has merit and all that bullshit we get bogged down by on occasion. It served as a lovely reminder of why we write, why we sit down with walking pneumonia and put our last bit of energy towards the page: the work is a part of us. It’s not a choice we make. It’s a need we have. I’ve been having fun putzing around in essays and flash fiction, and I’m remembering the fun of it all and forgetting the nagging self that is pushing for more and better and smarter.
With that, I leave you with a snippet from Richard Hugo’s “Writing Off the Subject” which I often use to begin my Creative Writing classes:
“Never worry about the reader, what the reader can understand. When you are writing, glance over your shoulder, and you’ll find there is no reader. Just you and the page. Feel lonely? Good.”
There are only two things in this world that get more than their allotted amount of attention from me: shoes and books.
Quite often, I am compelled (usually at inopportune moments) to have the ritual of reorganizing and having private little conversations with each shoe or book as I help them find their proper place. The books have been arranged by color, by subject or theme, by author’s last name alphabetically, and even once I took on the laborious task of trying to create a poem by using the titles of poetry books as lines in said poem. It made for a fun project but it took weeks to finalize and once I pulled a book from its spot, it seemed to lose its luster quite quickly. The shoes have been arranged by color, heel height, season, event and by designer’s last name alphabetically. You get the point.
It’s more than reorganizing. It’s a bit of a ritual this dance I do every other month where I take them all out, make a mess of them on the floor (this of course applies to both books and shoes), let them breath with no rhyme or reason. Then I take a soft cloth and together we move around the edges, in the folds, wiping dust or debris, polishing these little gems. There is a lot of quiet time involved. Silent conversation becomes quite an intimate process. With the shoes I’m thinking of where they were last wore and with whom. The places they took me and how comfortably I got there. Whether they are “sitting” or “standing” or “stomping” kinds of shoes.
Today however, it was books. Today’s discovery: I have a lot of books I’ve not given enough time to. For some of them I’ve reread upwards of a dozen times, and I still feel as if I’ve not given them enough time. As the books are wiped clean, today I’m alphabetizing which I’m sure says something about how my life is craving order right now. Today, I’m thinking that if all else were lost, these books would make me whole again. I toss them around cars and rooms and bags and scribble in the margins and really interact in a way that is authentic and true to what I need from said books. And at the end of the day, it’s a quite revisiting that happens, similar to flipping through old photos of lovers who for a moment in time had a piece of you. Had ownership of a quiet moment that even the best wordsmith can’t capture.
Shoes and books. They get my attention. They get my care.