Wednesday, September 16, 2015

the place I sit to write

It's been more than fourteen months since the move downstairs. Left behind: the rambling excess of a top floor suite, the unknowable expanse of more than I need, the fifty six windows.

Two of those months I pouted. Artistically I refused to work. I wouldn't set up on the desk in my bedroom, the desk in front of the window looking out onto Market Square, because I don't write from a bedroom, I sleep in a bedroom. And the bedroom's desk is for handwriting: letters, birthday cards, get well wishes, and the such. It wasn't built, or bought, with the idea of installing a computer on top of it and writing anything meaningful.

A child can only hold his breath for so long, or a stupidly prideful fellow, so one day I pushed the L-shaped desk, the one I had to have to work upstairs, flush against the back wall of this tiny windowless box of a room that came with my apartment. The room is one step into the apartment, first door to the left where a coat closet might be located. Coat closet might have been the original intention but then they ended up with a couple yards extra of square space, so the architect said, Ah, what the hell, call it an office.

The first day I sat down to write, I felt the loss acutely. Anyone other than a wretched stubborn bastard  might have weeped. At least broken something, flesh or furniture or machine. Never has a place been so insistent about what it is not. There are no windows, no aesthetic. It is a tight box that squeezes like a powerful but disinterested hand. When I sit, the loss is immediate and constant. Once finished, relief is sudden, like sleep, or perhaps death.

But it's not all gloom and doom. I've learned to adapt. What's gone is gone, now let's see what can be done with what's left. What is left is a gaping tear in a fabric that I didn't know I had. That is not a good metaphor but I don't have a better one right yet, so we'll continue on with it. While the fabric being torn is itself unreal — remember, only metaphor — the tear is quite real. So in this way I consider the force in this room to be quite real, although it only acts on that which is not yet manifest. Silly stuff, no?

On the rare morning I set down my coffee and turn on the computer while feeling playful, I'll write a humor piece this morning, eh, I'll be chuckling to myself before the thought is even completed. But the room doesn't know I'm chuckling, doesn't understand the fleeting nature of mood. The room views mood as thought and thought as action: the man plays!

It was ignorant of me to add the exclamation point. I felt like it fit, but admittedly have no way of knowing how accurate it is. The room plays, but with what level of exuberance I've no way of establishing. It's a troubling admission, similar to not knowing if your sexual partner reaches climax. This is not sexual, that is only an example. We play simple games with simple rules, like Good and Evil, or Destination and Transport. In the latter, I am simultaneously location and conduit to location. Imagine: highway and diner coexisting together in the same time space. Something like that.

I inspected the walls closely before I moved in the L-shaped desk. I don't know why. It's all walls in the same way that a gangly teenager is all knees and elbows, so maybe I thought I should go ahead and have a good look before getting settled in. So I looked closely, took out the magnifying glass I used in the other place for the wall poetry, and saw only Plain, Barren, but also smooth, with not so much as a needle puncture. That seemed very odd, so I looked again and again, but found nothing. Perfectly barren, I decided, if such thing exists. And nothing will be hung on the walls to distort their nature, not even this new cork board thing I bought specifically for this room to keep track of the scenes and chapters in my novel. To hang it on the wall and keep order, but also keep reminder of work getting done or not. It sits off to one side now, away from the desk and the door. I'll do something with it, eventually.

WALL STREET, prominently displayed under the clock at the other place, is stuck into the top of the outside door jamb. It's crooked a bit, which I like and I think Bartleby would like too. Some days it feels like I've found Bartleby's way station. Other days it feels like the dead letter post. On every day that I make time to think about Bartleby I always believe he'd approve of this room and my place in it. I think he'd like standing in the corner, near the cork board thing. I think he'd like it quite a lot, and this pleases me more than it probably should.

In addition to the L-shaped desk I also kept the chair on wheels. It feels comfortable, fits, and yes, it reminds me of good times upstairs. Sliding around on the concrete from one spectacular view to the next. Looking in on my stick men, first from one vantage then the other, then another. I'll admit, some mornings digress into reverie, the hours lost. As if the chair would re-balance the room, pull me back into before. But those lost days are few. Always now there is the counter-current I fumble to accurately portray, my own private low tide, insisting to me each minute is a return to purpose

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