I haven’t really slept in two days. It’s cool outside–late-October brisk–but in my bedroom it’s inexplicably stifling. There are no comfortable positions. My back hurts. My head hurts. My legs hurt. The cats howl intermittently. (I’m beginning to suspect they don’t like the new food I bought them.) I start reading my email, which you shouldn’t do if you can’t sleep. The light from cell phones is blue, they say, though I can’t see it myself, and blue light encourages your brain to stay awake for reasons that aren’t clear to me. Still I can’t stop bringing the phone into the bedroom. Still I can’t stop reading the things I shouldn’t be reading, over and over. Still I can’t stop composing answers, on the screen, in my head, out loud even, though when I realize that’s happening I button my lip. But who am I trying to impress? What does it matter if I talk to myself? It’s a soliloquy, let’s call it that. It furthers the narrative, contributes to character development. My character could use development. I think incessantly, but has it made any difference? I think I’m probably saying this out loud. I think, in my heart of hearts, it’s in iambic pentameter. I think, deep in my subconscious, I’m wearing a crown and carrying a sword. The man I love and the man I hate are both in disguise and I’m not sure which is which. I describe my confusion to the audience. I can’t see, the stage lights are in my eyes. Or is it sunrise. Or is it the flash I spent my childhood awaiting, the one that would mean the end of the world, the one I still see in dreams sometimes, throwback dreams with mushroom clouds in black and white. What it’s like to not sleep all night. What it’s like to want to answer someone who isn’t there. Sometimes it’s stream of consciousness and sometimes it’s something else, a dream, a story, a conversation. I’ve never cared what anyone called it. I don’t usually have clear names for things, doing it seems more important than naming it, that’s all. But yes, tonight it’s a stream, a deep cold one, I wish it would carry me away, I wish I could float in it in a manner that took the weight off my hips and allowed my neck to rest at a comfortable angle, I wish I hadn’t read anything you wrote, I wish I was so young I hadn’t had my first nightmare and sleep was just what happened to you when you lay down and there were just a few words, just enough for your daily needs, not enough to force any difficult choices or cause any confusion, milk, mama, bed, light, bye.
another planet’s sun
in the morning
a little bit taller
It’s been an interesting week. I’m on a weeklong train trip, and I didn’t bring any art materials with me but that didn’t stop me wanting to make art so I had to find art materials instead. I shouldn’t congratulate myself, it’s not hard. Everything is art, it turns out.
I thought words would be enough art for me this week but apparently not, apparently I’ve entered a new, slightly inconvenient and mildly feverish stage of needing to have colors and shapes with my words, which seem very gray and dull by themselves. Words don’t seem adequate any more. They’re just not up to the job. Black and white, two-dimensional, only 26 letters…what is that all about? Why did we ever give up hieroglyphs?
So I sit in my hotel room and deal loteria cards out on the table, and I sit in my train compartment and rip up pieces of paper, content to have everyone walking by think I’m a madwoman.
(Being on a train, by the way, is like being an actor on a stage which is being continuously trundled past the scenery. Someone needs to write a play that takes place on a train and has a continuous projection of moving background. Someone do that.)
I’ll be back home in a couple of days and I’m almost dreading it — what will I do for art materials when I have a house full of art materials? That sounds overwhelming.
I’ll be back tomorrow, probably. It turns out this is a wide country, and it turns out that space is time.