Sometimes, especially when reading, I look up and am shocked to find myself where I am. So transported by the world I have entered through language that the "real" (what I'll contend is not-as-real) world has dropped away. It is also like napping in an unfamiliar place, dream state to new sometimes equals a moment of surprise. Who needs vacations? Okay, I do. And will be taking one soon.
In my studio I nap on the hard indoor/outdoor carpeting, my head on some rolled up piece of fabric I've snatched from studiomate Lisa's vast shelves. In those few moments upon waking I'm not sure if I'm paralyzed, in grass, underwater or what.
Yesterday I was in the co-op (in Mount Vernon!) and I wasn't sleeping. I was reading (re-reading) Stacey Levin's Frances Johnson. I figured it was re-released, I could read it again. New to me! Not so, but it's been awhile. It's a good book, strange. What I'll call the Seinfeld school of novelling. A novel in which nothing really happens. This is also what my most recently completed (and recently begun circulating) novel is like. Something happens towards the end, but it's not big. What happens big is internal. This, I think is more how our lives really are. No one I know has ever been shot. (Wait, I don't think. Though I did see someone get stabbed when I was a kid. He survived! It was OK!) And wild romance isn't really that interesting. I couldn't write a murder mystery (the ultimate SOMETHING happening) or a thriller or, well, no, maybe I could, but it would be an alien thing. The book and the experience. Maybe I'll write a mystery. Really most of the world (and the internal workings of everyone, myself included) is a mystery. So any novel--
Anyway, Frances Johnson. Like this (this is where I was going), this is how I feel: "Immediately, she fell into a hapless, jagged doze, only to wake moments later, frightened back from the horizon of unconsciousness, for she had seen a turtle there" (12). This is what it's like to read in public.
It doesn't always take so long to get to a point. Sometimes it takes longer.
It's kind of how I feel in opposite though. It's not the turtles I'm afraid of. Maybe falling brick. I've been dreaming about earthquakes again. (This morning I walked past a house in my neighborhood with a sign out front advertising that it had been retrofitted for earthquake proofing and had a number to call. In my usual overzealous panic I thought, should we do this? we should do this. But our house has been standing for a hundred years. I trust it. As much as one should trust a house.)
Like the day C's father died and I had just woken from a dream in which an earthquake occurred in a hospital room and the nurse and everyone in the room was freaking out and he was in the bed and said, why is everyone so upset; everything's okay. We're all fine. And then we got the call he had died. In dreams lately it's no one I know; sometimes it is, but rarely. Last week before seeing Deb Poe I had a dream about Deb Poe and Karl was showing me around their house at what they had done.
So the book's out. Luckily I read everything, Kate Greenstreet's blog interviewing poets about first books, some other personal accounts, and talked to people I know, C and others. All of this was kind of like reading What to Expect When You're Expecting. I didn't expect my life to change and it hasn't. Except this month I'm letting myself off the hook a little about submitting things and writing new things (which means I am writing new things, but relaxedly). The time off's been nice. And next month the train. I was going to give myself time off then as well (at least I can't really do submissions), but I'll make that decision come the first of the month or so.
I'm working the earthquake dreams into the new stuff I'm doing, trying not to make it at all about dreams though, but real things that happen. Backdrop of a city, buildings coming down. Not coming down, because the earthquake is mild. But enough shaking that people start thinking more concretely about a "big one."
(Read about tsunamis from a thick blue book. Read about the Big Ones, the ones that killed, the causes, how many dead. Read about velocity and volume, then go down to the water.Walk the beach, feet tipped in low waves. Imagine every tremor an earthquake—waves, birds beating quiet wings, a waterfall—then shiver as you watch the horizon for the swell.)
The above is actually from a poem in Money for Sunsets, but every time I say or think "big one" that's what runs through my head.
So I'm relaxed, sort of.
I'm also sending the book places, which takes some time. Who knew 5-line cover notes could take so long?
How else the book has or has not changed my life: holding it. I understand it's possible. That the others can find homes. That maybe I'm a Writer. Also that no one can take this away from me. Maybe I am still that younger version of myself with the threat of heartbreak in its varied and maniacal manifestations hanging over me. Any floor can drop. But this one I can walk on. I feel like a teenager who has just given birth so that someone will always love her. How's that for mixing metaphors? MFS, be a good little child.