Putting It Out There

Vic offers pristine advice at the height of my anxiety: “Choose differently. And if you can’t choose differently, then pretend you can for a while and eventually you will be able to.”

We are talking about men which means we are also talking about writing, and how men effect my writing and how I hate it and love it all in the same breath but how lately I just want to make it all go away. I go to bed determined to wake up with the mantra: Writer, writer, writer rather than Lover, lover, lover.

Which is why, at 6:57 a.m. my internal alarm goes off and I begin repeating this to myself, Writer, writer, writer, even though my mind already wanders like a puppy, Lover, lover, writer, lover, writer, lover. But today I decide I will have the leash and make a compromise, setting my mind to: Love writing, love writing, love writing.

And because I am determined, albeit still tortured by the stresses of my own making, I get dressed for my day and pretend my way through seventy-five pages of Didion and sixty pages of Melissa Bank’s The Wonder Spot. I pretend that I am not thinking about how Riley is scheduled to come over tonight, how he broke up with his girlfriend two weeks ago (a fact recently confirmed by the source himself), and how after he leaves, my house will smell like tobacco and sweat and dirt and I will like that; but again I falter. Love writing, love writing, love writing.

By afternoon I am ready to begin new creative work, a series of essays loosely based on the theme and more universally based on emotional maturation of the narrator. The theme, perhaps unfortunately, is kissing, and it begins in 1989.

Lover, lover, lover. WRITER.

I fade for long moments into flashbacks, flashforwards, and hot flashes of the non-menopausal variety, and before I know it my muse it at my doorstep. Four pages into the first essay I click save, answer the door, and pop the top off two beers. We are supposed to go to a movie but never make it; the conversation is too good (“What do you look for in life?” the writer asks, “Wildness and beauty,” the muse replies, and the writer’s eyes grow soft, romantic, deluded, penetrating), the day a little too hot and humid, his attention a little too charming, his smell undeniably biochemical, unrelenting, mountain.

And when he finally leaves, the sun stretched long below the horizon and darkness swallowing the sounds of the forest, I might have new paragraphs to add to my kissing essays but always, I follow the night into its confusing ambiguity, eddies of thought swirling in my mind-stream before Riley’s car even gets to the bottom of the driveway. Love writing, love writing, love writing.

Really, it should be: Love life, forgive yourself your wantings, breath in wisdom rather than regret, fear not your unsatisfied heart – hold it up to the sun every morning, throbbing and ready, willing to pump life into the beauty and pain of each breath. Kiss the hemlock tips as if they were a lover’s lips and use their needless for your pens. Be where you are.

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