Friday, March 26, 2010

Staying awake

The wee hours of the morning are upon me now.  As I think I've mentioned to you before, this is when I come alive.  6pm is my 9am.  Around that time I feel like I finally start to wake up, think about what I'd like to accomplish, get a little excited for my day.  Except it's dinnertime and time to sit down and watch the college basketball tournament.  Round about midnight I get my midday burst of energy--tonight, since cute husband doesn't have class on Fridays, I convinced him to take a walk with me at 12:23am...and it's raining here.

As we were out walking I noticed lights on in a few windows and wondered if they were fellow night owls, or just up late seeing if K-State could pull it out over Xavier.  As we walked, a few cars pulled out of the parking lot and I wondered where they were going--to an overnight shift, or to Walgreen's for a kid with a late night ailment.

In college cute husband had to work an overnight shift one night a week.  At the time we were living far apart from one another and he would call me before he started his shift.  The eight hours of work that lay ahead of him always seemed so daunting because he had to endure them in the middle of the night.  There's something more terrible about doing your work in that kind of solitude.  I would wake up at 3am thinking, he only has five hours left, at 5 am, only three more hours, at 7:30, knowing he was watching the clock, doing the last few things before he could go home and sleep away the day.

When I was five or six, my brother (a baby at the time) had a god awful earache one night and I remember my dad going out at three in the morning to find something to ease the pain.  Even then I remember being worried at the thought of my dad driving all alone out on those dark quiet streets searching for the right medicine.  To six-year-old me, the whole scene was frightening and tragic, my baby brother's screams matched with my mom's worried face as she rocked him.  But in the morning he was fine again--for my parents it was just a mark along the timeline of their hectic lives, for me it had been a huge event, a spectacle that lives vividly in my memory even today.

I admit sometimes there is nothing more nourishing than a good night of rest.  The warmth--the familiar warmth--of your bed, the ability to close your eyes and think, despite every little hassle and tragedy of life, again, tomorrow.   But I have to say that staying awake a few times in your life almost always makes you a more interesting person.  It's a time to hear the strange creaks of your house, the ones that get lost in even the tiniest movements of daytime; a time to work tirelessly, alone with your thoughts, pushing through every urge to sleep.  And at 7am, as you hear the sounds of the world coming awake, you know that you have withstood the scary silence, and too the solitude, that masterful interrogator; you have lived time that others haven't.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

In the mailbag

Ever heard of Powell's Books?  Well, I've never been there, but as a book/bookstore aficionado it's one of my "places to see before I die."  Others wish for the Scottish Highlands, India,, I just plan future trips to famous local bookstores.

Well, since I sometimes spend my evenings just browsing the Powell's website, I recently discovered that you can sell your old books to them online--send them to Powell's media mail for free--and get "virtual credit" added to your online account.  It was a no-brainer.  As much as I love reading, there are always a few that I don't like so much, and a few more that I know I'll never get around to reading, so I do occasionally part with some so that I can have a little cash to buy a few new ones.

My package from Powell's arrived today and I got three new books that I can't wait to dive into ("into which I can't wait to dive?"--the whole hanging preposition thing sometimes seems pretentious to me).  Plus I had an awkward few dollars left over so I decided to go for a Powell's pint glass to hold me over until I can actually go there and buy a tee shirt.

1. World in Half by Cristina Henriquez, 2. The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie: A Flavia de Luce Mystery by Alan Bradley, 3. If You Follow Me by Malena Watrous

Also, the New Yorker illustrators are really wowing me this year with their designs--can't wait to dive into this one, as this week's fiction is by Joyce Carol Oates (that link is to read it online, if you like).  Squeel!

I love holding books and magazines in my hands, knowing there might be a great story contained therein.  I love opening the cover, the copyright page, the title page, the dedication page...eyes scan to find chapter one, and then, the first line.  Sometimes I have trouble getting into it, sometimes it starts off good but gets boring...and sometimes it's the beginning of something great.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Some inspiration

This blog post broke my heart and reminded me that sometimes you just have to pick up and go, and that doing so takes the biggest kind of courage.

This business left me in awe.  To me, the best work out there simply captures some important feeling--nothing fancy, just precisely right.  (Click through the videos on the right side of the site, numbered 1-6).  (Found via honey living.)

And I loved this photo, and the Steinbeck quote that acts as the caption.  Perfect.

P.S. You'll notice that the blog is a little bit WIDER today.  I actually went in and rewrote some HTML.  There may be hope for me yet...

Monday, March 22, 2010

No you are not hallucinating

Well you know it's bad when your little brother--who is swamped with schoolwork and other related college duties and really doesn't have a whole lot of time to peruse the blogosphere--looks at you aghast over drinks one evening and says (and I do mean in all caps), "YOU HAVEN'T POSTED SINCE FEBRUARY 17TH." We were sitting at a table with my parents and cute husband and we were having the "Alison, what are you doing with your life?" conversation. When one of them asked me, "So, what's next?" and I responded with a noncommittal shrug, it was my brother Alex who said, "Well for starters you could update your blog."

As is usually the case, the kid was right.

The main thing keeping me from writing was that I've failed in all of my promises for this blog--the story, the application to an MFA program, and on, and on. During the first couple of months of the year, when I was spending each day in front of my computer screen crying and pulling out strands of hair, I just became completely annoyed with myself for only posting about "the struggle of writing." Ugh, I was boring myself. And furthermore, as I was sitting down to write each day--trying to turn what started, with this blog, as a "regimen" into a "day job"--I got an overall sour taste in my mouth about writing in general. While avoiding writing, I would web surf and find articles about how an MFA gets you nothing in this world, and how most writers with one are about as destitute as the writers without one. And long about the end of February, when the MFA app was about to come due, I realized that writing stops becoming an outlet and starts becoming torture when you begin to think about it in terms of proving your wares to people (e.g. getting published, getting into an MFA program, so you can tell all your friends and so your parents can finally tell all their friends that your life is not a total waste).

Cute husband thinks the answer is in putting myself out there as much as possible, turning this blog into a business where I attempt to interact with other writers, and build up a sort of community that helps one another out in times of writerly stress. I'm pondering this...

My dad thinks I should go to law school because both my husband and soon my brother are doing so, and he has visions of a family business. (And he thinks I'm smarter than I actually am.)

Mom just keeps cheering maniacally from the sidelines--the woman is incapable of giving up on me, which I find really endearing, considering what a flake I can be.

Cute husband's parents (cute parents), too, seem to be indelibly in my corner and send sweet emails on a regular basis saying how whatever I decide will be good.

Yeah, the people in my life are way too nice.

But for my part, I want to just come back to this blog as a place to write about my thoughts, whether they have to do with writing, books, someone that puzzled me out on the street, and other categories that fit into a larger sub-title of "random musings." I feel like I'm at my best and most confident when I'm writing little essays about things, so that, in general, is what I'm going to do. I know I've written here before, saying, I'm back!, only to NOT come back. But my hope is that in letting Promise to Write just BE, with me as your humble author and you as a few nice people who check in every now and again to hear my thoughts, this can work again, and maybe something new and exciting can grow here after all.
Related Posts with Thumbnails