After making your To Do list for the day and checking boring, university and work-related emails, you need more tea. Tea to Write By. Go into the kitchen. Pick up fabric tape measure on the way to play with your cat.
Spend five minutes playing with the cat by dragging the tape measure on the floor while he stalks and pounces. This is creative play. This is acceptable. Cat loses interest before you do, however, and soon you’re just a person dragging a tape measure around her house all alone; you realize you are 1. not sleeping in 2. nor reading anything inspiring 3. nor writing, but rather entertaining, not your cat any longer, but yourself with a fabric tape measure at 9:00 a.m. on a Tuesday.
Heed the call of the boiling water. As you stand there, putting teabag, then hot water to mug, tape measure strung around your neck, you realize anew that you are alone in the house. Recall all those episodes of Six Feet Under, which would begin in just this sort of way, all disquietingly-innocent-enough: A humdrum person doing her quotidian activities, only to land herself in some freak accident: getting choked on a fabric tape-measure, for example.
Get back to your desk. Look up “quotidian” to see if it has quite the ring of the mundane that you intend.
Tell yourself you’re not going to check your frivolous, personal email. Check your email.
But your connection’s too slow. Hit Stop. This is a sign. You should be writing.
Look at the cat as he creeps through the room, around the rug that’s too new to yet be trusted. What were his New Year’s resolutions? When you went back to the UU church for the first time in nine months or so the other day, the minister was talking about Tomorrow’s-Gonna-Come-No-Matter-What; How-will-you-arrive-there? And you were enjoying it, the metaphor about being out to sea in your little Schooner (the Schooner of Life), no land in sight, but that land, ho, ho, it would come, yes indeedy. Then on the drive home, the metaphor started to annoy you. Or the fact of it. Because, like many UU sermons you’ve attended, this sermon was: Pick a metaphor and find different ways to riff on it for twenty minutes.
Not to say it wasn’t useful. And the meditation was nice. And the moments of silence and the singing. (Except when they tried to go all gospel for one number. There is nothing worse in this world than a roomful of white liberal people trying to sing gospel music. It makes the heart fold in on itself.)
The people are always nice there, though they’re all your parents’ age; oh god when will you meet someone your age in this town not somehow connected to your freaking MFA program?? Or just some new, real friend, would be nice. But oh well.
So worn is this thought, it’s your autopilot, it’s your I Like Chocolate statement of fact for these three years; sometimes the shoulder-shrug comes first, it’s so emptied of meaning. Like shampoo when you say it twenty times: shampoo, shampoo, shampooshampooshampooshampooshampooshampooshampooshampoo shampoo shampoo shampooshampooshampooshampooshampooshampooshampooshampoo.
Shampoo, Henshaw. Okay, I’m gonna get to work for real.