Writing Practice – 10/12/2018

AFAR, September / October 2018, p. 85

Remember the rules? There are no wasted nights on this trip.

Remember? I wrote the fucking things. And I know that rules are stupid and meant to be bent, to be broken. I can do any goddam thing I want, and still “follow” or “obey” the rule, if all I have have to do is to define “wasted” appropriately. Word games, the crime of passion of the intellectual class. What fun. What great distraction from real life. What great waste fo time, what great signal that we have excess resources and need not worry about our subsistence, our existence. So there we were, hanging in a dive bar on Mercadero De Panteleon, with six or so of our new friends, drinking whatever vile-tasting but amazingly euphoric concoction these locals love to put down. Two of us, gringos, fat and stupid Americanos, and all the time we’re laughing and talking and slapping shoulders with them, and they listened to us patiently for about three minutes when we first [illegible], and then they just started in with, “hey, padre, no worry, ok? We talk English now, okay? You no understand our espanol, and we don’t get yours neither!”

That brought out the big laughs, the first of many, and this could have easily been a scene from virtually any other Hollywood “coming of age” move in which the two friend bond again over their new companions, and wonder just why it was they had to travel 5,000 miles just to put their differences aside.

But it wasn’t that. Somehow, something changed. An hour in, guffaws resounding through the bar, twenty or more empty glasses scattered across this their table, with at least a dozen propositions to the table of senoritas across the way having flowed from us, and at least twice as many derogatory insults about the miniaturization of our new friends’ members coming right back, something in me switched off. I would say snapped, but that implies a break. A disappearance, or a situation which could be repaired. But that wasn’t it. It’s not like there was a rope holding me in there which suddenly split; it’s like there was a current, flowing through my body, a goodness feeling of pleasure, and power, and contact, that, all of a sudden, in a moment shorter than it took for my friend Rashawn to stand up to go get the next round, something simply dropped off. Dropped out. Just – quit. As if my body itself had suffered some kind of disconnect. I sat, on the stool, with my new friends all around, partying, laughing feeling good, and all of a sudden I just wasn’t. My laughter stopped. My drunk stopped – evaporated in a moment. I was sober, and I was tired, and I was gonna get out of there.

I stood up then, and said a total of zero words to every else there. I turned and walked out the door. Behind me I could hear the confused questions from around from my table, and table of senoritas too, about what the fuck was happening? Was I ok? Where was I going? Hey, come back! The party’s just getting going! Man, I’m missing all the fun!

But it didn’t matter. Somehow I just knew I needed to be out of there. To leave. To just go, so I did. Fuck the rules that say everyone parties till we all pass out. Fuck rules about “wasted nights.” Fuck rules about going off by yourself, or prohibiting that exact thing. Fuck all the rules, because I, at that very moment, had just one rule, that I was going to follow.

“No.”

Not even a rule. Just a feeling. No, not that. Find something else. Anything. Nothing. Just “No.”

So. I left. And I hav never seen Rashawn, or those padres, or the senoritas, again

Writing Practice – 8/7/2018

Write about paperbacks…

Okay, confession time. I was originally not supposed to write about paperbacks. If I had followed my rules for deciding a topic, I would have done something different. I opened the notebook, to the list of writing topics I had done once, and the first thing I saw was “write about wetbacks.” Now, according to my instructions for myself, I’m not supposed to judge a topic – just go. But today I felt it. I felt a hesitation, a fear, an apprehension I can’t write about that, or maybe, I just don’t care if [illegible] I’ll be racist or I’ll try not to be but it will show anyway, or maybe my misperceptions will all come tumbling out, so I won’t be able to pretend that I’m not racist any more. So I skipped it. I went right to the line above, which happened to be “write about paperbacks”, which seemed safe, seemed okay for a Tuesday morning in a strange place while my kids are sleeping, seemed like I wouldn’t have to dive very deep on that one, so I bailed out. I pussied out. I felt the urge to go hard on something and I chickened out – I forgot my own instruction, my personal mantra of “no judgment”, just let the writing flow as it does, and I judged. I judged the topic, I judged what I would write about, I judged my readers who would eventually see what I’d written and then perhaps also my [illegible], I judged my person [illegible] insufficient to carry the weight of such a subject.

So – paperbacks, huh? Real, weighty, important stuff there, eh? Ah, no, that’s bullshit. Paperbacks is a cop-out.

Why do we call it a cop-out? Why don’t we call it giving up? Why are giving up and giving in the same thing? Why don’t we have a simpler English language, one in which words mean what they mean, not something in one context, “house”, and something else in another context, “house”, but it’s completely unrelated to one another? Okay, “house” is a bad example of that, but I can’t think of another example on the fly like this without thinking, getting logical, which are two things that are part of the rules of writing Practice that I’m not supposed to do.

and I usually follow those rules. The Rules of Writing Practice, I review them every session. Every. Session. it’s part of my ritual each time I write. I start with the date, and a topic, then review the rules, then do a mental preparation exercise, and then I write. I always follow those rules. The rules say to let go. I often do. The rules say to go for the jugular. I do. The rules say to ignore spelling, punctuation, Don’t worry about margins or lines_ you should see my notebook. It looks like an epileptic chicken got a hold of a swirly pen and went to town.

Boy, that took a turn for the weird. Glad I’m not trying to read this afterward. I’d wonder whether I need to be in a sanitarium. Perhaps I do. Perhaps I do.