Those are comfortable noises of Settling In at my desk for a long night of writing. I am drinking a mug of hot water (can’t find any decaf tea in the house) and watching the Zoecat play inside a cardboard box (I might get really techno-brave at the end of this post and upload pics of kitten-in-a-box) and I have surrounded myself with a stack of old notebooks I just resurrected from my one remaining box of Still Not Unpacked Stuff. Which I am keeping Still Not Unpacked for the very purpose of occasionally discovering something magical in it. And so Zoe can play in it. Or at least that’s what I’m telling myself.
As I read through these, I’ve come to the conclusion that I wish I could be friends with my younger self. She was funny. I like her style. I always envy my old journal-selves. Except when I cringe at them.
Some tidbits from the good old days of yore (2009):
Morning after my 21st birthday (my friends took me out partying, I went to bed at 2:00, woke up at 4:00 full of energy and watched the sun rise, relishing the experience of my first-ever hangover):
I am sipping hot, strong, black coffee. Because that seems like the thing to do to start a day like today. I feel Writerly, positively Writerly.
A few months later, while traveling, sleeping on couches, and reading a lot of Annie Dillard:
Today the god is old; he has been a god before. The sky’s completely blue, the blue of pewter coffee mugs, cracked and coin-filled underneath my grandma’s bedside table. The god wears coin-medallions. He clinks. He has been a god before—borrowed from another religion—but not for a long time.
A few thousand years before I was created from two cells, he ruled two kingdoms, two kingdoms that warred with one another like bad siblings: siblings jealous of his favor. And so he waxed glorious in their tokens and, impassive, watched them spatter hot blood in his name, or their approximation thereof. He has not once been a god since then, but today he spreads himself contemptuous and lazy like a billowed tent across the world. He needs me not, he gives me barest notice. I am free to roam the speckled shadows of my fancies and to borrow rhythms from the clanging of his massive coins.
But I don’t trust this god. I miss the god of yesterday, who smiled like someone with a secret.
And a morning of people-watching:
Rudely & crudely awakened at the ungodly (and undevilly) hour of 7:00am, chased out of my apartment by the unrelenting racket of the construction work on the building next door, here I sit in the neighborhood bookstore café, pen in hand and nostrils aquiver at the lure of coffee and eyelids barely propped open.
A homeless man is monologizing about martial arts and women’s self-defense to two preppy college girls at the register, who are paying him entirely too much attention in their identical wide-eyed attempts to be politely dismissive. The cashier ringing up their books behind the register looks merely bored.
An elderly woman with sensible, baggy clothes walks out; pauses; walks back in and examines a canister of tea and a magazine (which is the excuse to look at the other? is she ashamed of peeping at the glossy, lurid cover or the pricey organic tea leaves?); walks out again. What would it be like to be named Sue?
A tall girl with beautiful big blue glass earrings walks in. She has dyed red hair pulled into a low stylish ponytail and clops delicately over to the café bar on high stylish heels. What would it be like to be named Amber?
A man with a strange haircut and a strange gait comes in—or bounces in—or sidles in—or moves, strangely, inside the doors and over to the coffee line, which is now half a dozen characters long, like the word “coffee.”
Amber has parents. They sit down and drink coffee with her. Strange Gait stretches, rubs his face, and covers a yawn in rapid succession, with a series of strange gestures. He is wearing shorts on a day when everyone else has a jacket and umbrella draped over their arm or stuffed into their bag. He retrieves two large coffees from the drink counter and saunters, swaggers, or minces his way out the door, shouldering it open while clutching a cup in either hand like trophies.
An old man with liver spots, unkempt hair, and grizzled brows spreads the Sunday comics page out across his table and smiles indulgently down at it. He has jowls. He knows it and revels in them. He has a pen clipped to his breast pocket and he does not need reading glasses. What would it be like to be named Bernard, in an era in which no one names anyone Bernard anymore?
And now, as promised (click for a slideshow!):
Yeah that’s right, I just posted photos. What now.