You might as well know it, I’m stuck. Yes, I’ve turned in the Crane Fly thing, and an editor is reading it. It’s not quite ready for showtime but I’m told it’s lovely and impeccably close. And there’s another book and another they are all on each other’s heels … except there’s that problem I’m having, it’s that I’m stuck.
There was a time, let’s say it was days ago, it was actually probably many years, but there was a time when I was so confident and assured that I didn’t think there was one possible way I could get stuck. I’d been blessed with infinite words, I thought, and infinite ways of arranging them. Then there was a time after that, I don’t remember when, that I’d get slightly stuck but wouldn’t mention it. I never would ever have said anything to you, and you wouldn’t have suspected anything because these times were short and spaced far apart. Then after that there leaner times. I’d get stuck for days and think writing was dumb, and maybe sometimes I’d get stuck for weeks! I’d write, but write lousy. During that time I just changed the subject with you. If you said, “So, how’s it coming?” I’d ask if your brother was enjoying re-hab or how you’d lose those extra pounds, or if the abnormal growth on your arm was poisonous, and you’d let it go.
Now, though, you might as well know it. I’m stuck. I hate all these books and their bugs and hookers and weather, and their dalliances and miscues and odd little quirks. I hate sculptures that fall, and smashed falcons and haunted hotels and pomace and lees, I hate it all. I hate murders and lovers and things that explode in the night, I hate laptops that overheat, I hate the time between one and two. And so I’m going to Walgreen’s right now, I’m going there to apply. I’m going to ask them for an application to get a job, I’ll fill in my last places of employment, I’ll put you down for a reference. Please don’t mention my habit of wandering off when they call, or that shoplifting thing, or the little addictions I’ve got here and there. You can say I’m relatively clean and polite and have never killed someone on purpose and that will be fine.
The cat is not supposed to go out. It is not supposed to go outside the house, ever, not even once. I signed a contract to keep it shut in. And while I never encourage the cat to violate this pact, I must admit to you I don’t put a lot of effort into shutting it in. “Oh, what the hell” I said the first time it squeezed past. You see I open the door for the dog, I do it half a dozen times, I bet, each day. And while sometimes I make a small effort with my foot of holding the cat back, most of the time I say “Oh, what the hell” and let it go. I’ve told the cat I’m not responsible if he gets into a strange car, or takes catnip from unsavory characters, or consorts with the gang of deer by the creek, or agitates one or both of Ty and Ned. None of these, I’ve told the cat, is my problem. I’ve told him if he comes back I’ll feed him, but I won’t put up posters when he’s gone.
It’s worked so far. He’s not been nabbed by a hawk or infected in visible ways, he seems to be mindful of his freedoms. He comes back. The dog will not go out the back door where there is a large space that is fenced. He runs out the front door instead and terrorizes smaller animals and digests in other yards and always, for some reason, barks at Ned or Ty, whichever of them is oldest.
The three of us have a curious little chemistry. They seem to sense that I’m stuck, they’re given me space this week. They let me sit at the table with my red bull undisturbed, but sadly I’m still stuck. I’m going to read Lorrie Moore for a bit and then I’ll blind-pick something from the study and read that, too. Yesterday it was William Carlos Williams and that’s where I found “saxifrage”. It’s some sort of plant that grows out of rocks.
If you want to see a movie with me, call and I’ll go.