Saturday, January 7, 2012

Epitaph: She Was Interrupted

Interruption. Here I am at 6 in the morning, getting ready to write, girding against what will intrude.
I know I only have a few hours before I have to stop and do the to-do list.
The dog is snuffling behind me on the bed; can't be helped. The cat is sitting right next to my computer and will need to be stroked periodically--a given.
Cars are roaring past, and every few minutes, an eighteen wheeler. That's life. Coulda, shoulda bought a house on a quiet street. Who knew? It sounded like a tomb compared to 96th Street.
Now I prepare.
1) Clear off the desk. Get everything out of sight except the grey wall. All my books are behind me. I am allowed to keep one book on my desk. It varies. Usually one I know well and can lift and drop. The criterion: good sentences.
My talisman
2) I suit up: fleece socks, Superman fleece pants, a fleece top. Warm slippers. Hair up in a clip. (Note: try to remember to change clothes before going out.)
3) Plug in my blue "fairy lights," as Sarah Englishly calls them. I have them strung around my room, for happiness.
4) Put my talisman next to me.
5) Get my supplies ready and in the right places: a notebook, the right pen, sharpened pencils, a yellow narrow lined legal pad, cat food, a pitcher of water, a cup of coffee, a blanket.
6) Light a candle.
7) Do breathing exercises for 10-15 minutes.
8) Write down the scene I am going to work on for the first stretch. Write down what it needs to do. Write down how it needs to feel.
9) Make sure I'm ready. Settled.
10 ) Turn on Freedom for 120 minutes.
11) Set timer for first session, 25 minutes.
12) Turn on noise cancelling headphones.

Now I begin.

Interruption is the theme of my life, I see that more and more clearly. I have a memory from when I was about eighteen months old, sitting on the beach in Cape May, looking out at my favorite grey ocean rolling toward me, thinking, thinking...I was thinking. Then someone picked me up. Who? I can't remember. Father, Grandfather. Lifted me off the ground, out of my thought, into their impulse to grab me. My thought was lost. I don't know what it was. I was interrupted. I am left with that memory of the vulnerability of my private life, how easily it could be whisked away by the needs of others, and how helpless I was to stop that. I still am. So much interrupts. I have learned to interrupt myself, with thoughts that are unessential and feelings that want to control other feelings, and so on. To write, I have to return to being the small child on the beach looking at the ocean. I know that. I know that in the space between what I thought and what I saw that day was my true mind, my self.
This is the beginning of an essay. Not what I am writing this morning. What I needed to think about to get ready for now, for finishing this story. The one I am writing now.
I often pause to write something like this, a blog post or a diary entry, just before I begin, to be in touch with one of Dicken's ghosts, the future or the past, before I sit in the present.

1 comment:

  1. Magnificent. Thank you so much for writing this, Alice. What a gift.