Tuesday, July 28, 2009
More of the same
I have been relocated. My usual perch at The General Store has been usurped by “paying” customers (apparently, paying $1.75 for a ginger peach iced tea will not guarantee one’s spot in the dining room come lunch time when hoards of hungry tourists arrive ready to empty their pockets for larger meals), and so I am now sitting in a dimly lit bar known as The Shed. It is the hang-out spot for most American Players Theatre staff members at a long day’s end and, when I stop in, it is usually quite lively. At two in the afternoon on a Tuesday, however? Three different news channels muted above the bar hum methodically against the muffled clinks and clanks of pans in the kitchen. A few middle aged men are huddled at a table behind mine, talking about sports and local government. Aside from these noted aspects of my surroundings, I am alone.
There is a stark contrast between these two locations, even though (by day) they serve the same basic purpose. But it is obvious that they cater to a different group of people. I don’t think I’m in the mood to completely dissect the difference between these two groups, spaced only three small-town blocks apart, but I do delight in people watching.
However, it would be helpful if there were people here to watch. At The General Store, with crowds of people coming and going, I could disappear completely from the radar as I watched frustrated mothers with their overenthusiastic children trying to order food, get hands washed, and find a suitable table without losing an arm, an eye, or even an entire child. I could listen to the older women in the corner gush about their grandchildren and boast about the plentiful gardens they’ve planted this summer (and how their husbands, of course, have taken no notice). Here, though, in the low, yellow lights of the bar, I am too aware of my presence. It is too quiet, and it is too dark. The swaying stained-glass lamp above my table provides an unwelcomed lime light for my afternoon of introspective solitude.
Also, my coffee is burnt.
My afternoon set-backs aside, “things,” in general, are good. In the last few days I have visited with old friends, taken a brief-yet-exciting jet-ski adventure on the Wisconsin River, found pants that fit (one of the most arduous journeys of my life, I assure you), and have experienced many a great night of reading and writing.
The latter activity, writing, has been a source of great challenge, but never anxiety, which is nice. I think that reading The Gift in tandem with my “first” ("serious") writing endeavor has been a really great experience. I am now into book II of The Gift, which takes the historic and anthropologic discussions from book I and applies the ideas to two artists (Walt Whitman is the writer we’re currently exploring) and their work. This book has really given me a new perspective on the creative process and the role of the artist (both to himself and to his community). Right now I’m reading about the role of “divine” inspiration in tandem with the artist’s craft – his ability to hone what has been “given” in order to create art that may affect his community. It’s all very fascinating and while, at times, I feel that some of it might go over my head, I like to pretend that I am understanding Hyde’s wisdom and am in fact learning a thing or two about myself.
My writing has been off-and-on. I have moments when I will construct an entire paragraph or scene in my head with great detail; I end up running to the nearest notebook (I always try to keep one handy) or driving home as quickly as possible to write everything down. I try to elaborate as much as I can and add details to a superfluous degree, so that I can cut and paste and “slim” down my narration at a later time. Other days I discover a sentence or a single moment that seems usable, though I know not where, but I document it anyhow. One day, it will all come together. And if not, well, I’m just hoping all this exercise for my brain will serve me well one day soon.
I often trip over my own words when I’m writing. I get so caught up in the details, trying to catch every moment in its entirety; I end up losing sight of the movement of the piece and the writing becomes stagnant. Too many words. I’ll write a page or two, look back on it, and more often than not I find myself asking “So what?” What a troubling question, and applicable to so many things.
I decided many things this past week (what a statement), but one of the more important things I have decided is that I am officially excited for the upcoming school year. No more complacency or self-pity over my discontent; there isn’t time and it’s a waste of energy. There are many exciting school productions to take part in, and I am planning some of my own. I had a talk with Terrance today - who has been writing music this summer and hopes for lyric/vocal support from myself and our other roommates - we discussed the possibility of producing some absurdist films this first semester, and I have started outlining a (hopefully) exciting photography project for myself when I return to Racine. I’ve also got some independent studies in the works and have gotten myself in gear exploring how to go about completing a minor in graphic design in a timely fashion.
Gotta keep moving.