Monday, January 9, 2012

Some days just won't lighten ...

Every now and then, I like to remind myself why I started this blog in the first place.  Initially, I just wanted a place to write.  An unregulated space without word limits or formatting requirements.  A place where I could drone on and trail off if I wanted.  Sort of a "fast food" of writing - where I could indulge a little, outside of my actual writing and my more focused work.  I guess I saw it as a modern day version of Virginia Woolf's belief that every woman (I would argue every person) needs a place to write - a room of one's own.  I always thought Woolf was talking about so much more than a four-walled area inside a building.  And regardless of her inability to imagine the birth of "the blog" (though I somehow think she would be intrigued by the blogosphere, and I would certainly be her most obsessive follower), I do think she was referring to a room in the universe, in the writerly sphere, in the mind, where words happened organically, without restraint of time or convention or life itself.  And that is what I have always intended this blog to be.  For me.

But in spite of activey avoiding "rules" per se, I did want this "place" to have a theme.  A  feel.  And that was when I decided on the phrase "Lighten Up" as a perfect title for this collection of experiences and thoughts and reactions that, while sometimes painful and always challenging, could certainly be seen from many angles -- so why not choose the lighter side?  Perhaps even the funny one?  Because I do believe that humor lives in every experience - sometimes it just hides more creatively than others.  And since my exploration of this possibility came about at the precise moment that someone suggested I 'lighten up" a little - not deny or ignore or dismiss the darker, more painful realities of life, simply turn down the intensity a tad -- I thought the suggestion was perfect, as both an approah to life and a blog title.

Yet now, I am sitting here in Cambridge, feeling weary.  I am at the second of four 10-day creative writing residencies for my MFA at Lesley University. And my energy is absent.  I arrived here last Friday, having done minimal readng, made almost no notes, and generated very few thoughts about the material others had (I was convinced) absorbed from beginning to end like real writers.  I expected to sit side-by-side with peers who had over-prepared (as I did last time) and who had contemplated and pontificated and engaged in all kinds of cerebral actvities that "people like us" are expected to do.

But ... alas ... I am not alone in my fatigue or my disappointment.  And part of me thinks it's less about the dull seminars and lecture-based, discussion-less presentations and more about the inability to recreate a dynamic that existed once, in a time and place, as a foundation rather than a replicable experience.  June's residency was June's residency ... and now is now.  And there is no "repeat" cycle, only forward movement.

So here I am, bummed that I have to drag myself to campus "early" tomorrow morning at 9am instead of 10:30.  For someone who is up by 4am every day (even here) working out, writing, and getting ready for endless work days that usually bleed into afterwork, evening committments, I am finding it difficult to sit in a chair for a few hours in the late morning, then again in the early afternoon, before rushing back to my hotel to write and rest.  Rest and write.  And simply retreat.

Part of the challenge of being here (or of being anywhere) is always food.  But since I arrived here, I have yet to find a "normal" grocery store anywhere near me.  I have been unable to buy a case of bottled water - to the point that I wonder what the prize is for selling everything in individual units at inflated prices; I imagine it's a really cool prize.  Even on campus, I struggle to explain to people that "brocolli" is "brocolli" and I absolutely do not appreciate the "courtesy" marinade or the "you're thin enough to eat cheese sauce on that" comments.  I refuse to see said comments as anything other than invasive, ignorant, and, quite frankly, intentionally off putting and offensive.  But, like I said, I'm weary.  And my weariness tends to permeate every facet of my reactions and responses at times like these.    Add to all that the fact that my little Beckett got very sick twelve hours before I headed here last week.  After some desperate pleas and perhaps a few watery eyed moments, I finally got my vet to board Beckett in isolation (since he hasn't been able to tolerate any vaccinations and can't be exposed to other animals yet).  So Thursday night found me cancelling my pet-friendly hotel reservations, switching to a cheaper Cambridge hotel, and forking over several hundred dollars to board my sick little guy in the hopes that we would both feel ok with my decision to leave him behind.  Incidentally, Beckett is doing well without me - yet his cough lingers on and another antibiotic, a fifth one, has now begun it's slow crawl through his system in an effort to kill the bad stuff and bring him some wellness.  But his Giardia and worm RE-infection should be cleared once again, and going home to him means finding different, more creative ways of keeping him well -- even in the absence of knowing how he managed to get so sick.  Again.

My point, I guess, is that I am having a hard time seeing the lighter side this week.  I see mounting bills, I see a lack of real writing happening, I see a disappointing residency and a lack of food, I see a lot of alone time that I usually only indulge in at home.  I see a lot of heavy, and not much light. 

And that's ok.  Because I realize now that rough days, rough weeks, come ... and eventually go.  And sometimes all I can do is look at them, recognize them, not invest in making them catastrophic dramas capable of destroying me. Instead, I can see them as annoying interruptions in the energy that was moving me forward, and that will move me forward once again.  And I can be grateful -- grateful for my amazing mentor who I believe will guide and support and really help me improve my work over the next five months.  Grateful for the people I have reconnected with from the last residency, and the new people I have met - whether we are all feeling the discouragement and the energy drain, whether we are dealing with it similarly or differently, we are all writers when we sit in a room together.  We are a roomful of writers, owning, admitting, confessing, annoucing that we are writers. 

I guess, more than anything, I can be grateful to be a writer.  Because at the end of the day, when I land in bed at 7pm with a bowl of oatmeal and my laptop, I can at least write my way through the bad day and into the realization that I am writing, in this room of my own, where everyone is invited to read and feel and laugh and cry. Because in this room, there are no rules. In this room, the only bad writing is no writing.

Here's to a lighter tomorrow -- for all of us.

~~ Hasky

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.