Thursday, May 13, 2010

School's Out

I've been doing a lot of reading in the last two weeks, which in turn has let to my doing a lot of Couch Cocktail Sipping, only augmented by the fact that it's been coldish and raining for a couple of weeks, so the fireplace is oh so very delightful, and what else would one do by the fire besides drink and read? Nothing, that's what I thought. In the process of vegging out so hard that my brains have melted entirely and drained out of my rectum and onto the furniture, my Muse has filed for divorce citing, "Smells Like Brain Farts".

I have five books going at the moment, all of them piled haphazardly around my house and car along with ten other books I haven't begun but must return to the library in a week, bobby pins and crossword puzzled shoved in as place holders, all of them are equally wonderful in their own special ways, but mostly they're wonderful because I don't HAVE to read any of them. Which is not to say that I did not enjoy basically everything I did have to read this semester, it's just that the berries which ripen on the Pleasure Tree are ever so much juicer than their Required Tree counterparts, if only because nobody is telling me to pick and eat them.

Well, that, and that I don't have to analyze their juiciness until my head explodes.

I had my first true English major experience yesterday. I was reading an achingly beautiful memoir by Joan Didion (only because I happened to pick up that book on my way out the door, else I might have been devouring a juvenile book about wilderness survival or the end of civilization and a teenager's decision to repopulate the planet) when someone commented, "Joan Didion. That's kind of...high brow, isn't it?" As I was completely unprepared for this question about the level of brow-iness of Didion's book, my only possible response was, "Yeah, well. I'm an English major," as if somehow the fact that I am majoring in English would explain the writer's pomposity. My next inclination was to confess that I also read Penthouse, but somehow (after all, this was my gynecologist I was speaking with) I was able to keep that tidbit to myself.

My dad asked me not long ago what I was reading, and I ran down a laundry list of titles and authors, none of whom he seemed to recognize, then he inquired about whether I'd read any Vince Flynn lately. The answer to that, as it has always been, was "no". I told him I'd picked of Middlemarch because I have chosen to use two different quotes by George Eliot in my wedding ceremony, and I figured I owed it to the author to see what other brilliance he'd written. Of course, I explain to my dad, this was before I realized that he was actually a Victorian she, writing under a male name because that was the loophole women found when they wanted to be taken seriously in that time. I am glad that I am alive now, in a time when I'm just as unlikely to be taken seriously whether man or woman, especially since I have small tits.

I am, as I said, devouring literature like I devour BLT's or Skittles or K-Y strawberry lubricant. At first, I found it unfortunate that the trade off for such bliss seemed to be that I could no longer write. And I don't just mean that I couldn't write anything decent, I mean that I literally was afraid to open my Blogger dashboard because of the sound of violence of the Nothing that would happen. My fingers seem to quiver in fear. My brain remains filled with ideas and words and dreamy images and IDEAS but I am physically incapable of translating them from the existential mush they are into actual keys and letters and words, etc.

I've also begun listening on tape to Anne Lamott's instructional Bird by Bird multiple times in a row, and now I'm piling inspiration and drive on top of my ideas and characters and words, so that the whole lot of them are squishing my attention span into the floorboards of my car, and still I'm unable to do anything about it. For now. It's like everything is organizing itself into piles in my brain - the Funny pile and the Heavy pile and the Characters with Small Penises pile - and once they've been sorted and the floor has been swept, then the tiny OCD Muse who lives in my brain will appear with a tiny desk and a rusty typewriter and then she will begin to work again.

Perhaps it's my spirit's version of spring cleaning. Perhaps it's just the same old fucking procrastination I perfected in high school. It's definitely not the first time this has happened, and it certainly won't be the last. What it feel like this time, though, isn't so much like a well running dry as a runner stretching, lining up in a row across the track, preparing to take her mark.

She is preparing to Go.