Sunday, November 19, 2006

Writing, Hormones, and Curtains

An eerie Sunday morning, although I don't know why. I woke up at 4:30, didn't really fall asleep again. Tried watching tv, reading, lying in the quiet dark, nothing helped me sleep again and so I rolled out of bed at 6:30, which isn't any different than other mornings, but for some reason, as I stood in the kitchen waiting for the decaf to finish, everything seemed quiet and other-worldly. As if I were standing in my kitchen at two in the morning. Maybe because the traffic is nearly non-existent: no garbage trucks, no buses (yet), few cars. Not even the wrenching sound of stores rolling up their metal security gates. For me, no early morning tv (the weather is gray and dull, I can see that) or NPR (yet.) Just me, my iced decaf coffee, a peanut toffee buzz Clif Bar, the light jangling of the radiator, the soft hum of the fan, and vous.

I need goals. I need to start forcing myself to write one page a day, not here, not in my head, but on paper. Crap or inspiration, doesn't matter, as long as I write something. I have many little notebooks (I collect them with the same obsessiveness with which I buy pillows - yes, I'm warped) so just need to adapt one.

The writing class I'm in now is a disappointment. Tired of my saying that? Why do I keep taking them? There's always something positive about them, and enough so that I think that this next time all of the good will come together and it will be fabulous. This one has a dedicated and timely teacher, but it's a Master Class, which I didn't realize meant no teaching. There's no homework exercises, which were always optional in the advanced classes anyway, but I liked being given writing tasks that were outside of my comfort zone. I wrote some decent pieces for those assignments in other classes.

The biggest disappointment, though, is that there are no lectures. The instructor posts a paragraph or two about some aspect of writing, more philosophical than practical. ("Virigina Woolf wrote that she wanted her writing to "encompass the whole of human life." Discuss.) I suppose this is the nature of a master class; we are assumed to have mastered the technical aspect and can now explore the theory behind, but I find it doesn't inspire me to write better, or much at all. The discussion that follows has been limp at best; students check in and write an obligatory comment, then disappear for the week. In other classes, a weekly chat helped form friendships (I still correspond with some of those writers), but in this class, when I attempted to rally some to join me at the scheduled chat time, I was met with dead silence. Depressing.

I did receive some helpful comments on the first story I posted for feedback, and my next is due next week so I'll take advantage of that by posting a story I've been struggling with for a long time. Maybe they will help me see what is missing from it.

Yesterday was a bad day, although I apparently was missing the signs that it was a hormonal thing until this morning. (I hate getting older; you can't calendarize these things.) In the morning I spilled a glass of water all over my desk; quickly grabbed the laptop and moved it to safety, but then had to wipe off everything else (pen cup, paper clip tray, mouse pad, bills, etc.) Later I went into Manhattan to drop off two bags at the thrift store and, theoretically, buy new curtains for my kitchen. (I finally threw away the old ones, which were much more ragged and dingy than I'd thought; now my kitchen, even with only the mini-blinds, looks bright and new.) Bed Bath & Beyond was a bust. They have tons of long heavy drapes, then cutesy little cafe curtains, and that's it. Am I unusual to want something long (tall windows in this landmark building) yet not floor length (one window is above a radiator), cotton but not frilly? Maybe I'll try Target or something.

Anyway, I left the store and could not think of another thing I wanted to do in Manhattan (though now, a day later, I can think of several I should have done.) I started walking south, passed one subway station, then as I passed the next, went down the stairs, still not sure what I wanted to do or where I wanted to go. Aimless, frustrated. I came home and passed the movie theater to find that I had 30 minutes before the next showing of Babel, so you know what I chose to do. More on that later.


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