Grape-Drinking Spiders

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

It’s almost dangerous for me to be drinking this coffee. I don’t know what happened today, but after finishing my first meeting this morning, I found myself in a wonderful mood, the type of mood where my motto, “super great and getting back,” actually rang true. Part of it is thanks to the beautiful spring weather we have today in Seattle (supposedly, this will be the only beautiful day this week—we’ll see, I don’t trust these weather people anymore). Another part must be the delayed onset of P.H.D. (post-headache day, of course). I woke this morning still feeling a bit headachy, but after foreswearing the internets (thanks to Chuck’s last post—not that I haven’t tried this before, but it’s always nice to be reminded now and again), to working rather hard, I now feel great. But I said that already, and I’m trying not to repeat myself too many times, too many times.

Outside the crime-ridden streets of Island City, the masked hero is planning a surprise for the caped woman.

Okay, that idea didn’t pan out. I originally thought, wouldn’t it be cool to have a superhero asking a woman to marry him (working off my engagement theme, which I will somehow turn into a story). Obviously, that was the wrong angle. What I came up with during my walk and dinner (see below) I think is much better. Now, if I can only take the vague notes and ideas and turn them into a story, something I have not done in a while (the turning into a story part, not the story part), life would be grand.

***

I sat on the rocks overlooking the lake. The rocks—really cemented stones—walled in the water from the grassy park and trees, which line this part of Lake Washington. Mount Rainer loomed majestically (as if mountains can loom any other way) in the break between the house-covered hills and the watery horizon. I studied the rocks and brown mud through the clear, shallow water, which gave the rocks a wavy appearance.

Two girls sat on the rocks to my right. One was tattooed with slicked-back short black hair and a white muscle t-shirt over a black sports bra. She held a blue ball catcher, which consisted of a long blue arm and a small catcher cup on the end, and a squeezable handle that opened and closed the cup to clutch a ball. She used the catcher to fish a tennis ball from the lake and throw it far into the lake for her white dog to fetch. She wore black cargo pants and a black bead necklace with a greenish stone hanging over her neck.

Her friend was a chubby girl with short-cut hair and a red, puffy vest made of the same material as ski jackets. From where I sat, I could see an oval expanse of skin between her black parachute pants and black undershirt.

A boat, anchored halfway across the lake, played classic rock while turning slowly in the gentle wind-powered waves. Schools of ducks floated near the rocks to my left. The lake smelled of the rotting water moss and the duck feathers, which both floated over the lapping water.

Another pair of woman walked by and tugged a miniature dog behind them.

The white dog enjoyed his game of watery fetch and snorted as he dog paddled to shore, chewing contently on the tennis ball.

***

I order a glass of Chianti in the neighborhood Italian restaurant. I take my first sip and find something stringy like a tiny twig, at my lips. Thinking it’s a piece of cork, I pull it out of my mouth to examine it. It looks familiar, like something I’ve seen recently. As I continue to examine it, I remember what it looks like: the rolled up spider struggling in my sink on Monday. I fling it on the floor before I have a chance to verify its identity, and order a replacement, Chianti, hold the spider.

This is clearly a great neighborhood restaurant. As I sit here, munching on my salad, freshly baked bread, and sipping my glasses of Chianti and water, Ed the waiter comes over and asks if he should put in my order. He sees me scribbling away in my Moleskine and tells me to take my time, there’s no rush, he’ll put my order in when I’m ready. I eat my salad slowly. While I’d like to spend more time here writing, my mother called, and the phone signal is weak in the restaurant. I want to return her call before it becomes too late in NY. I ask Ed to cook my dinner. I know I’m using my mother as an excuse, when, really, I fear that my inspiration will run out and I’ll have nothing to do while they cook my food. I guess with all things being equal, I might as well eat first and worry about the details and the walk home later.

I finished half my dinner and my entire glass of wine. They’re boxing up the rest of my spaghetti and Chicken Marsala, which was okay, if a bit bland—surprise—and too sweet. I will eat the leftovers tomorrow before video game night. For the record, last night was an impromptu video game night as well, which was another reason I didn’t get around to finishing writing the Goal last night. We played until midnight. I think I mentioned that in my posting this morning, which were the remnants of what I tried to write last night added to all the excuses I came up with this morning to explain my absence.

I’ll resist dessert tonight because I’m not sure how it’ll treat me, viz., will it bring me down emotionally or keep this great day going. Whatever was in the warm air or breakfast this morning, this has been a great day on all fronts. There was a bit of a down time this afternoon after I drank my coffee (see the first paragraph), but that worked out for the best. Had I written at the end of work instead of in the park and in the Italian restaurant, I’m not sure I would have come up with the good material. And, of course, there’s always the thinking and walking I did before the writing (which I’ve been yelling at myself to do for a long time). I planned much of the underlying story for the serial I plan to write during my walk. I asked myself: what is it I liked to imagine myself as, and why the hell hadn’t I written a story about that before? I disregarded that my idea was childish and I concentrated on what excited me about it, remembering that any genre can be used to tell a story that touches people. Look at Lord of the Rings. Look at Peter Pan. They both have important themes that the authors get across in exceptional (and arguably clichéd) genres. It’s not the genre that’s important but the characters, story, themes, and messages.

Switching to the Moleskine, and, of course, the walk to the lake on this perfect night, was one of my better ideas in a long time. When I drank my coffee at the end of work and stared at the blank computer screen, I didn’t want to write anything. Escaping to the comfort of the pen on Moleskine paper let me get back to a warm place. I should have applied some of these diary/voyeur words to the story planning, but you know how I am: digression is my middle name, and word count is my other middle name. Now that was clever.