Loopy, Happy Thoughts

I feel really happy today. It’s kind of grey outside, a bit humid, ready to rain. I got to work early and took a half-hour break around 9:00 to sit at my little two-person booth at the Mediterranean Café down the street and write. Lately it seems like the words are just pouring out of my pen. They don’t seem to be building to anything in particular, but that’s okay.

I think I know what’s going on. The binds are loosening. Now that the last day of work is nearing, I’m feeling more relaxed. More relieved. All these frozen, bottled-up words, thoughts, ideas, and stories are starting to thaw. I didn’t realize how stuck and motionless they were until they started squirming in my brain a few days ago. Now they’re starting to leak out of my pen, out of my fingers on the keyboard, and things are coming out weird, in pseudo-poetic half-lines, mixed metaphors, and made-up words. Half-conscious. Uncertain. Like squinty-eyed moviegoers coming out into the theater lobby after a long movie has ended.

So many beginnings of things have turned out stillborn in the last year and a half. I’ll start an essay, or a story, or a song or novel. And then the weekend is over, and I’m back at work, and all of that creative activity and motion slows and hardens, as if it’s just been drowned in a smooth, white lake of Elmer’s Glue. It stays that way through the week, through the business day and the tiring commute; even the hour or so of “free time” between dinner and bed, when I practice scales, arpeggios, or bits and pieces of Mozart or Dett, isn't so productive. What results, creatively, is a week of nothing—of robotic slow-forward movement, of mentally telling off my co-workers when frustrated, of trying not to fall asleep in my cold cubicle as I write bland, dry instructions for the software as it is expected to work once the bugs are fixed.

When the weekend comes around again, I try—sometimes successfully, sometimes not—to revive those promising beginnings of the previous weekend, to squeeze some life out of those first paragraphs and harmonic sketches before Monday morning creeps back in its quiet, sinister, punctual way. Sometimes it works—usually at the price of not seeing my husband all weekend, or neglecting the house and laundry—but only sometimes. Other weekends, I don’t worry about the writing and music projects I started the week before, and I just set off on a new trail. Again, the promise—a turn of phrase, a harmonic progression that just leaves me wondering at its beauty, a metaphor—and again, the halting stop of Sunday evening sleepiness and Monday morning work.

I don’t know where life is going to take me after I leave this job. I don’t even have health insurance in the works (something I need to check on, and soon!). I hope to get a teaching job; that would preclude my having to seek “permanent employment” this summer, as well as require that I brush up on the wonderful world of literature and education. I do need to make a bit of money, though. I’ve already contacted newspapers and local magazines, most of which have expressed an interest in paying me beans for freelance work. I’m also going to put signs all over creation, offering to do editing, proofreading, and tutoring in English for a small fee. The idea of this excites me. I like the concept of working for two hours on a for-pay project, then taking another two hours to write or work on music—the truly valuable activities. No boss. No cubicle. No you-have-to-be-here-from-8-to-5 requirements. No more.

I’ve led a life like this before, a freelance life without regular work. Usually, I’m broke. But I get to write. And I get to work on music. The money always comes through, somehow, and it will this time.

If I do get that teaching job, then I’ll have nine months of a paycheck, and then a summer of hiking waiting for the Hubster and me at the end of spring semester ’06. That, too, will a new adventure, full of life and promise—and material for making up more stuff with pen, paper, and piano.

Life is good. Things are going to work out, even if they don’t work out the way I envision them to. I just know they will.

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