¶ Prompt from Julia Cameron’s The Right to Write.
My favorite sense.
We are asked to take a moment to note all the sounds in our immediate area. A settling in. Then to write expansively on the following areas: Spirituality, Friendship, Work life, Living space, Vacation / Adventure, and Creative projects. The concept to explore, here, is how sound amplifies our creative outpouring — to first acknowledge how sound affects us by recognizing the immediate sounds, then allowing that recognition to multiply our imagination. Convoluted? I suggest reading the chapter yourself. Cameron writes exquisitely simple. I myself am a bit preoccupied, still, on the advice of the previous exercise titled Containment, which called for writers to steer away from oversharing our work. And yet here I am. To me these posts are like fruits, they simply fall off my branches. Would you like one?
Part one: sound sketching.
A large truck gases past the stop sign at the intersection of my apartment — sound entering through the crack in my window. Two cars honk at the roaring truck. My thermos at my side whistles its hot steam in intervals, hot steam too pressurized to be contain within the limits of its plastic container. A metal ladder is opened, probably from the workshop below, next door. Behind me, my wooden clock, a gift from my grandmother’s brother, ticks away, a solid sixty bpms to metronome my life — a sound I usually tune out. My feet tap, peel themselves from the floorboards, and press against the chrome of the desk chair I sit on. Another truck rolls by, growling as it rolls. Metal pipes are picked up and dropped. Another car honks, while yet another is locked by a remote key, beep. More car noise, lots of car noise this 8:48 AM in Greenpoint. A dog whines. My keyboard clicks. Stops. Clicks. The clock behind me falls in line again. Usually I hear songbirds, but not now, ah, unless I am imagining them for want of them, there they are, a quite tweet-tweet above all the iron clamor below. Another whistle from my thermos. A truck idling on the street corner. Wooden two-by-fours now drop. My roommate crossing the living room. The dog getting up, plops himself down on the grown. That same truck from a moment before, begins backing up, and it beeps. And, there it is, the infamous ring of an ambulance truck in Brooklyn. I pour myself another hot mate. The thermos clicks, water seeps into the gourd, the water rises with the yerba. Any other sounds? Any other sounds? That is enough, all is repeating now, repeating, repeating. (Cameron calls for the following, remaining hour of this exercise to be accompanied by “expansive music” — for this I will play the new BEACH HOUSE album that came in the mail yesterday, smiley face!)
Why I share is because of this element in life — the need to connect outweighs the fear of not connecting; the vulnerability gained vs the pain of sharing helps push me to write weekly; the possibility of helping another writer in the face of total frankness on the page wins me over. I want to connect. I want to be open. I want to help others. These are spiritual qualities for me. I look up, and the sky is silent despite the din of the earth. I open my chest and these words come pouring down. I imagine you reading these words and I am made in your image of me. I say thank you god but refrain from trying too hard to understand what that means. For the longest time now, and by that I mean for the longest time in recent history, and by that I mean there is a pretty good streak of this going, is that I feel deeply genuine. Cameron was right about writing, that when we write we are righting ourselves. I feel sharp and honest with people. I have gone out a lot this week, almost every night, but gotten home at a decent hour, so I can’t beat myself up too much in the morning for being tired, because the pleasure of meeting new faces and shaking new hands makes it worth it. It almost feels like I’m on vacation, but, am really on “business” and that shaking biz v pleasure metronome of back and forth between the two is the isosceles triangle of an old insecurity stabbed in its heartless upper chest. What I mean is, I feel myself despite doing what previously I never would have done: going out. Spirituality, is this, spirituality. I am myself, a spirit, and I meet other spirits, other selves. And people talk. Some seem annoying, but I am reminded of the shortsightedness that used to plague me when someone called me annoying. No one is annoying if I don’t think I am. People are being themselves whether or not they admit it, whether or not they know it, whether or not whether or not not or whether. This is spirit to me, accepting the natural contradictions of life. This is spirit to me, walking into St Patrick’s cathedral on Fifth ave on the way to lunch because you wanted to make sure this was in fact that very thing you walked into on the way to lunch, and when you get there it is the the thing that it is. Spirituality is coincidence before and after nonsense. For example my favorite band Beach House — how I want to write a song for them; how I wanted to write a song for them before hearing this album, and I thought I was clever when I thought “I will write for Victoria Legrand a song with lyrics in French because she speaks French” and then when I get to this album my mind is blown: there is a song with lyrics in French. And I am reminded that ideas come and go at the same time like water lines rise and fall together: imagine all our bodies are wooden posts on the pier of destiny and the ebb and flow of consciousness collectively is the water we rarely submerge ourselves in. Consciousness is conscious with some ness in it. Silly, sully, souly. Spirituality is this. Spirituality is the feeling I had walking home, of recognizing in a stranger the face of a person I once wish we had been strangers — in that moment I felt myself completely full of one thing: feeling. And I thought how being an adult is just that, this feeling but trapped. Why do we stamp down FEELING? because the pain is too great. Well, I want the goosebumps. I want the tingle down my spine. I want to feel dumbfounded and confused. Because underneath it all is the same mud we all tread, in the water we all step, rising and falling like breath.
In Georgian culture, at least what I gathered from reading their Knight in Panther Skin, Friendship is more important than love. Friendship keeps us steady. Friendship is kinship is being lord of the people and orbits and the… let me be frank! Friendship is the key to our past. Friendship is the ode of who we are. The people who surround you are your value personified. The people you attract are reflections of you. The friends you have are the opportunities to be yourself and to witness deeper others. I have friends to watch movies with. I have friends to read books with. I have friends to go to events with. I have friends to feel bad about myself with. I have friends to feel good about with. I have friends who don’t deserve to be friends. I have friends who are too good to me. I have friends who call. I have friends who don’t call. I have friends I don’t even know are more than friends. I have friends I wish I were more than friends with. I have friends. Friends are family members without obligation. Though friends don’t require obligation, they require duty. I have a duty to my friends. I love my friends. I would name you all if it weren’t awkward. Yes friends make you feel awkward, their image makes you stronger. Friends are the colors on the palette. Friends paint my weekends and my late nights. Shares and recommends music a good friend — key inverted. Nostalgia too. I want to go deeper with some friends. With others pull back. I only have open for those all. Hard it is to walk the walk when the talk itself is so hard to do about friendship.
Only in America would these two words be so close together. My life comes first, work is only a means to keep pace with the world, as Gibran once wrote. Work is tedious, work is annoying, work is hard, work is toil, though toil is hardy for a man’s soul. Work is your digestive system picking apart a delicious meal in your stomach. Work is the grind that makes you sharp. Work is that thing that gives you green. Work is necessary, and can be fun, but only as labor, labor is fun, though laboring is hard. Life? Life! Live. Live life. Love? not there yet. But Work life, if I were allowed to dream: would be this: what I have been doing this semester. I have lived a perfect work life this semester: writing every morning, meeting once a week, events once a month, exercise daily, producing like mad, like fun, and yet always feeling hungry at night to help me wake up in the morning. My work life, is a life of work, working for a body of work, that I can embody and that embodies me. I never want to retire. I never want to stop writing. I never want to stop working if working is this thing that makes me happy and that keeps me in pace with the world. I always want to work if work is that which others need me to do because they need it. I don’t like busy work because being busy is a plague. This blog is not work, this blog is graffiti on the walls of the internet, walls along my name, walls along your browser, walls that come and go like tabs deleted. Work life should find balance. I found a balance. I want others to find a balance. I want balance with you. I want to balance with you, work life. A special person asked me if I really wanted some rich fancy home off the High Line when I said I wanted it. I felt shallow and silly for wanting something of luxury. But then I realized I can want what I want, and that is what work is for too, to get the thing that you don’t need. You don’t need to work to eat. You just grab some food and eat. You don’t need to work to drink. You just drip in some river. You don’t need to work to have shelter, aren’t there homes for that? One dude was crashing in our hallway, even after I asked him multiple times to leave. Shitty shelter and shitty food and dirty water is available to all and all the time. But clean water? But full meals? But bougie artistic houses on the top floor of a new building on the High Line? Ah! Then you need to work. Stoicism comes in handy. The human body needs so little, needs so little work; one would do better to spend his days caring for his mind and cultivating his spirit and defending himself from the seesaw of good and bad fortune. Work life, scoff! You mean that thing that does well one year and poorly another? Nay, keep it. Give me life! Give me practice! Give me toil, but on soil — the things that stay and need me to need them.
Funny I spoke above about the imaginary home, and we will do that again, but before let us calmly enter this living space here, the one with the whistling thermos and the quiet ivy plants, and the dream beats of Beach House expanding my consciousness. I, well, truly, have all my belongings in two spaces: my intimate little alcove in Greenpooint, and the room now bequeathed to my brother in Houston. But mostly, all the things which I use and need fit into this room in Brooklyn. I have a library, two shrines, a stack of empty notebooks, pens, a mate collection, and gadgets here. Intimate I said to not say tiny and cramped. I don’t feel cramped. I know the exact locations in which to do certain stretches. This room is a puzzle: you have to touch it to feel it, and figure it out. To get down the loft ladder you have to step in a certain order and in a certain pacing. I have sticky notes which face me, and sticky notes that hide away: my living space has different messages for me for specific moments. — Just took a pit stop of a break to “survey” the restroom. It takes six lengthy strides to reach the toilet. The rest room is just big enough to hold out both your arms, but too small to spin around without hitting some wall or other. Sitting down on that circle tiny throne, the window to the right frames a portrait of the street below. Sitting down one fears being viewed as a thinker, nothing more, but standing up one must be careful to close the window or else the street gets a frame of the pelvic area. Looking out, all the noise of the world rang its cacophony, my thoughts tuned to a few of these very sentences, a few images I wanted to write when I returned — here I am now! — all the while I saw a small tree shaking in the wind, but I could hear not its rattle; not a shame, but sad to hear it downed out among so much city. Living space. This living space with a home made theater system, with a kitchen / living room combo. This living space, three bedrooms. A cramped little homey home so cozy it makes me want to stay here forever. My roommates want to leave. But I want to stay. I wonder what would happen between us if I let them leave and I stayed. How can I make that work, I wonder? All these work life questions. I would take the bigger room, my current room would be a study, and the third room would be a library, a sexy library full of the things I love and full of the useless things too. A boy can dream. And my dream would be to stay in this big ole (for one person) apartment for a little while longer. How can I make $2000 more a month to hold down this apart-? Alas, these are work life problems, and I am moving on even beyond this living space bubble.
Vacation / Adventure
Today is the 18th of May. But when this post posts it will be July. Today I am dreaming of my summer abroad. But the today of this post posting I will be abroad. Let me explain. I am excited, but not planning. I am pumped for this summer but I am not talking much about it. It comes out here in this bubble because, well, I should probably plot something of this trip. Money, uff, that thing again, how does money seep into these bubbles! But I don’t know what I will do because I don’t have but a ticket out and in of the Old World. What kind of hustle will it take to enjoy my vacation abroad? Few meals, little meals. Cheap hostels, bench nights. Something will happen, someone will come, things will coagulate, the future will come with a stretcher, and what I really want is to sit on the beach in Barcelona and watch a rising run, that ole thing that makes me so happy it lasts five years. I haven’t been to Barcelona in five years — and the last time I went I wrote a whole freaking book. Those, well, these trips really set one straight. What an American needs to feel at home here is to fuck off for a bit to Europe. And I don’t mean American as in USA I mean American as anyone born in the New World. We need this! We are an adventurous breed. We are colonizers, sure, but we are also pioneers, inventors, artists, conquistadors, and explorers. If the USSR sent dogs and men to space because they were in a race with the US, we in America put a man on the moon for a more primitive reason. We were not in a race. We were on an adventure. We reach final frontiers. This book, Soviet Space Dogs, which I am reading, makes me kind of pissed at governments that lie, but we can escape all that drudgery. We vacation to escape. We adventure to fuck off. I have been quietly content here in NYC the last two years. I have been silently burrowing roots in this city. Now I would like to send the dandelion seeds of who I am scattering across this vast pale blue dot. I want to explore England with my family. I want to explore Russia with my brother. I want to explore Croatia with my good friend. These are the set destinations on a trip that will mark 2018 in my mind forever. But then what? One whole month I’ll be roaming a la Descartes, flight out of Lisboa at the end of July (“this” month). And something tells me it will all be all right, all right.
The solar system of my dream keeps developing. I have a few things up in the air and juggling is the act that preoccupies me. I just finished my thesis, They Lived They Were, that must be submitted to Altiva, Narrative, and the Miami Book Fair. Hoping for a publication of it. My project, The Summer Abroad, is under consideration with Restless books. I should have heard back by now, I submitted in September. But if that falls through, because, hm, the project isn’t perfect, then it’s back to the lab, and I will finally enter all the corrections I made in red pen last week, resubmit it to venues… and well, shit! Just that. It is the project furthest along, the one that sings my voice, the one that I feel will make sense and make people happy if they read it. Then, I entered a residency, the Kerouac Project. A three month residency “de la puta madre” where I could rewrite a novel I typed years ago. In three months I could produce a suitable draft for editing consideration. That book seems so far away to me though, it would be a fluke if the residency accepted me solely based on a ten page excerpt. They only accept writers knee deep into their writing career — and yet who am I? I have two toes and an eye on the water, that same subconscious. But, say they are good foresters, and they see the potential of my sapling-sized writing career: in that case I will rewrite this “mature” story about a poet and his best friend a photographer experiencing an existential crisis. But no matter what residencies, publishers, or contests say or do to me, no matter what, the next project I will work on is the long awaited Anabelle Zena Martes. Poor girl. I’ve been trickling her chapters for the last five years. She is the character that has been stewing in my mind for the longest time, before the novels, before the short stories, before the MFA. And I think I know why I’ve put her off. Becuase I don’t want her to fail. Alas. She has to come out. She is ready. She is my next project creative.