A morning meeting found me outside earlier than usual. While I hate the pain of waking before the sun does—it feels as if someone is yanking a taut rope tied to my soul—the early hour gave me the opportunity to enjoy a cold, sunny Seattle morning. What I love most about these mornings is frosted grass. I never saw frosted grass before moving to Seattle. At the beginning of winter, when I first spied the phenomenon, I commented to my friend that someone must have spent all night sprinkling fertilizer on the grass. He stared at me attempting to understand what the fuck I meant, and laughed and told me about frosted grass. Dew forms during the warmer day, and when the evening’s bitter cold descends, the dew freezes and forms frost on the grass. The frost crawls up the individual grass blades, forming icy snowflake armor.
While frosted grass is beautiful, there’s more to my enjoyment than its looks. I derive incredible (and probably unnatural) satisfaction from stomping on frosted grass. Each step provides a most satisfying audible and physical crunch. I would stomp all day if my scheduled allowed it. It’s similar but more satisfying to popping bubble paper. When the sun chases the shadows off the icy grass, the frost melts leaving wet and boring terrain. I contemplated a musing with nothing but odes to frosted grass, but realized that such an entry would entertain only me, and leave my adoring public yearning for more.
Today feels of Friday. Technically, it’s a Tuesday, but I fly at 9:04am tomorrow, making today a spiritual Friday. I’m eager to see Doolies and start our Paris vacation. I’ve been to Paris only once, and that was for a two-day work trip. I spent one day wandering the streets, outdoor markets, and river; the fancy restaurants intimidated me, but the street-side baguette vendors more than made up for my lack of fancy dinners. With Doolies claiming to speak French, I should do better with the fancy restaurants this time. The weather report promises cold (Wed-Fri: Snow or Rain, upper 30s; Sat-Sun: Partly Sunny, lower 40s), which means we’ll spend much of our time inside—but when that inside involves museums, coffee shops, and French bistros, I shan’t complain (I didn’t even realize “shan’t” was a real word. Encarta defines it as a contraction of “shall not,” and doesn’t deprecate it).
I read that Martha Stewart was reading Bob Dylan’s latest memoir. I respect Martha Stewart and believe that if her name were “Mark Stewart,” she wouldn’t be in jail. I’ve started listening to Bob Dylan’s music on satellite radio, and I’ve become intrigued. I like music that tells a story, and Dylan’s music seems to do that. I decided to buy an album. Buying music for me online is always a mistake. I usually don’t listen to the music I purchase; instead, it collects dust on my computer or high-fi system (now there’s a name I haven’t heard in a while). As I browsed the music collection, I purchased other albums that will remain silent on the computer. It’s so easy to satisfy my collection desires by clicking a button. I’ve spoken of this addiction before. I buy the music more to complete an imagined collection of “good” music, than for listening. It’s similar to my purchase of comic books to collect rather than read (this was when I was younger—I’ve so far resisted the urge to start up that collection again). I need help, serious help.
I had a wonderful phone conversation with my mother during my arduous commute home. I speak often with my mother, but we don’t always talk. I know that “speak” and “talk” are synonyms, but I’m defining a difference for sake of illustration. While we physical speak often (too often—she is a Jewish mother and if she had her way, we would talk all hours of the day), the conversation doesn’t always move beyond small talk. Frequently this is my fault, as I’m abrupt with her, not because I don’t love her—because I do—but because as a man (or at least someone who plays a man on stage), I want to find my own path and show that I’m not reliant on my mother. It sounds petty and probably is, but it’s an emotional response. Every few weeks, however, we talk about something real, and those conversations are very good.
During our conversation today, we talked about a topic dear to my heart: my story writing. My mother, as a religious reader of sewcrates.com, something only two other people can claim (for good reason), has watched me struggle with my story telling over the past year. She provided advice today, which as always was good, but this time I might accept. She thinks I should stop forcing myself to finish writing stories. Instead, I should write and when I reach a point where the writing is no longer working, I should put it aside and come back to it later with a clean view. She sees when I grow frustrated with my writing, and the frustration comes out in the telling. It does me no good to dwell everyday on a story that isn’t working. I should put it aside, and similar to the problem you “sleep on” to solve, return to it with a fresher outlook a few weeks later.
I’ll use my failed attempt at the science fiction story as an illustration. I spent so much time thinking and dwelling on this story, that my writing became constipated (a close relation to consternated), and for all my ideas, I couldn’t translate them into a story. Using my mother’s advice, I should have put aside that story, and returned to it a few weeks later, with a clearer mind and a less blocked psyche. I’m going to try this technique. I’ve been searching for a way to tell stories, and nothing else seems to work. Maybe more downtime in the writing process will help.
My mother also tried to convince me that editing with a pen—you know, those long, slim devices that spout ink on the remains of trees—and placing drafts in folders (I’m not sure what those are; I understand folders in computers, but she was describing a sort of “real” folder that stores papers), will enable me to put aside the story and return to it at a later date. I tried to explain to her about these newfangled devices called “computers,” but the large words confused her. Suffice to say, I’ll continue with my electronic editing, although I will continue to write in my Moleskine when inspiration clobbers me.
While I’d prefer to keep discharging useless thoughts, I must pack. The next time I post, I will be jet-lagged in Paris, preparing for a wonderful vacation with a beautiful girl, and four friends I haven’t seen in a while.