Sunday, February 08, 2009

Lying Low

The message was clear: Keep your head down, keep your nose out of trouble. Paralysed is good. Action is bad. In effect, I was supposed to lie low and deal.

Arriving at home, exhausted, I thumbed through the last few pages of Ceremony but was too tired to finish. This book cannot be skimmed. It is not a straightforward narrative. You have to read every word or you get mixed up. Halfway through a passage I realise she is not talking about a mare anymore, but a woman. I wonder if the writer knows that you have to introduce a subject before you substitute it with a pronoun. But it keeps you on your toes. So much so that my already muddled head cannot take it. My eyes ache. I need to sleep.

And in the morning, before anything, breakfast, morning pages, morning rituals, I finish the book. Stunned at the violence that comes to a head. It was building up. If I'd paid attention to the markers Francine Prose tells us we have to pay attention while reading, I would have seen it coming.

And I set down the book and glance at my table, clearer than before, but still piled with books I have yet to read, and run my fingers along the various spines, settling on Philip Roth's Plot Against America. Earlier, I thought I'd finish Virginia Woolf's Diary (not the Writer's Diary which I finished sometime in December, but the other one, the compressed rest of her life diary, the one with the gossip and the bitching and all the stuff her husband found nececssary to excise from the demure Writer's Diary). However, I'm now 80 pages or 2 chapters into Roth. And I find the book chilling. Maybe I'll do a happy book after. Do I have a happy book?

And while lying low, there are all these projects which I put on the backburner some 10 years ago, or whatever time it was I abandoned them that I can resume. Finish them little by little while I "deal", while I wait out this phase of my life.

Cleaning my room turned up a lot of stuff. I'd forgotten how much I had, or rather all my "stuff" was hidden in all that clutter under layers and layers of dust. Now I take each object out (or pot of goo) out, dust it off, set it on my table, and use it. Nice.

And there is still The New Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain I bought a couple of years ago that I can dust off. And learn to draw. I drew my last picture sitting on a park bench in Fraser's Hill (actually I think it was a summer house) overlooking some pine trees, in the rain. Sketching, trying to drown that edge of desperation that kept rising up and choking me.

Because I didn't want to be there anymore. And I didn't know how to leave.

But then I learned.

The beauty of life is that nothing is indispensable and you can say goodbye to anything.

Or anyone.

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