I got eaten by life and just recently was spit back out. I’m glad that happened.
Hi, It’s 5am and I have an hour before I have to get in the car and head to the oil refinery.
On April Fool’s Day my wife and I loaded everything we own in a moving truck and left New York City.
Many things are not unpacked here, but you better believe the first thing we unpacked was the coffee pot.
Hi, I take my coffee any which way, I don’t care at all.
We bought an apartment in NJ.
An envelope just came in the mail last night with the deed, fancy-stamped and all. And some mornings I do still wake up thinking, “Where the fuck am I?”
*looks around at the room, half-painted*
This is a prewar building. There are two safes hidden behind the plaster. The home inspector pointed them out. Circular cracks. We’ve exposed the dials. We haven’t tried opening the safes yet. Maybe once we’re settled in a little more. Once our dreams regularize. Once I get used to the water pressure and the new noises outside the new-to-me windows.
The closet when you first walk in is where I keep my work boots and my hard hat, the welding bucket full of the tools I drag from job to job. There’s room for more paperback books so each paycheck I’ve been buying ones I’ve always wanted to read, and putting them on the shelf to get to in a life.
Keep writing them. I’ll keep reading them.
We’ve got a dishwasher and a ceiling fan now. We’ve got a window full of lemon sunlight.
There’s cardboard boxes everywhere still. And the record player isn’t set up yet. And the paintings still aren’t hanging on the wall. This must be the place. This must be the place.
I’m in the middle of a second draft on a 70,000 word novel and this apartment feels exactly like that second draft. I can walk from room to room and see the skeleton of how things will become if we stick with it.
I’ve located the liquor store down the hill.
We’ve sampled three rival Chinese food restaurants. One has killer egg rolls but the lo mein is lousy. The other one doesn’t give you free ginger ale but the wonton soup is really good. Finally, our third Chinese food place does indeed deliver to our apartment and the food is sweet but you’ll just have to wait half your life for it.
We prefer the Russian/Korean/Uzbek place around the corner that makes kimchee and pirogies and cottage cheese cookies. All good things. Honey Bakery on Bergen Ave. Go sometime. I’ve figured out where I can park my car and which of my neighbors are psycho and which can be relied upon with spare keys. True answer: none of them nothing against how nice they look.
Some of the unpacked boxes say vague things on them like ‘Bud’s Desk’ or ‘Work Closet’ but I think I might just throw these boxes in the trash because I’ve been here for weeks now at my desk and going to work and I haven’t missed these things that are in those mysterious boxes.
My wife is sleeping.
She gets up at 7am and walks half a mile to a train that takes her to Manhattan.
She walks when the train gets her to where she is going. She walks. She walks at work. All day. And she walks home. She walks so much now. I’ve never seen her happier.
Someone once told me, “Nobody ever jumped off a bridge after a long walk.”
I don’t know if that’s true, and I don’t want to find out.
Last night, I could hear my wife lying on the couch crunching on potato chips. I like that sound. Part of the reason I married her is because when she crunches potato chips, it sounds like music.
Today atet work I was exhausted and in my room by my desk, doing nothing. She wasn’t drawing pictures at her desk or talking about important things on the telephone, she was just chilling, flat on the couch we bought at the Christian Goodwill/Food Kitchen over a decade ago.
People get all wound up with making sure they make their ‘art’. It’s like how people have to wash their goddamn cars and have to water the plants and have to do all the things they do. We torture ourselves too much.
My car is filthy.
My plants are dead.
I’d rather not live the life of a tortured artist.
I leaned back in my chair and looked through the Chinese food menu. Just enjoy the little things in between projects, such as: the stink of the fresh cut flowers on the windowsill, the way the hot coffee burns your lips and tells you to slow down, the email from a stranger saying your story they read made them want to write their own stories.
I go for days and days creating nothing. What I do make is assembled from a collection of stolen minutes here and there.
For a whole year I made nothing at all.
I was 28. I didn’t write a poem. I didn’t work on a story or make a song. I survived that just fine.
Make something when you feel like it.
When you make nothing, smile so damn wide. The great lulls of creativity in your lifetime don’t matter. Turn on the radio.
There’s a Talking Heads song that came on the other day while we were painting the living room orange. David Bryne singing about how lucky he is to live in the building that he lives in and I feel that way too.
I can get mail here now. If you send me a package I can actually receive it. For ten years when I lived in NYC, I couldn’t really get mail. It would either wind up at one of my neighbor’s apartments and I would never know which one or someone would steal it or worst of all, it would wind up at the post office itself and when I’d walk in there it’d be like walking into Hell itself. The clerks were behind bullet proof glass and had whips and much hatred for me and my NJ license that didn’t match up with my mailing address.
I guess I never changed my address because I always felt like I was on the verge of moving out of NYC but it never quite happened until one morning we woke up as if from strange fever dream and the moving trucks were outside on the sidewalk beeping their horns.
At our new place I can wash my clothes here too.
The old place I couldn’t really wash my clothes.
We had a washer/dryer but it was one of those economy ones from Italy and you could wash about half a t-shirt in it and when you opened the door, it was shrunk down to a 1/4 of a t-shirt.
A good chunk of the time in NYC, I washed my clothes in the bath tub and dried them on drying racks like I was in a movie about people who had survived the apocalypse.
For the first ten days when we lived in this new place, we didn’t have wifi.
I know, right?
Almost enough to drive a person to madness.
We dug through our DVDs and were happy we’d bought them when the video stores were going out of business.
One of the first nights here we watched the movie Adaptation. I don’t know if you’ve seen it. You should see it. Especially if you write.
I like this part in Adaptation where the orchid expert, played by Chris Cooper, is driving a beat up van through the swamp and is talking about his interests to Meryl Streep in the passenger seat.
He’s missing his front teeth and not totally paying attention to the road.
Meryl Streep doesn’t seem totally confident with this man. See he’s known now as a master of orchid intel, he knows everything there is to know about orchids and he is leading Meryl Streep into the deep swamp to try and find, and if they can, steal, the rarest of the rare orchid, but of course.
The man is human and he has had other interests in his life and if it’s a surprise that he wasn’t born with an orchid in his hand then surprise, surprise.
The orchid man says to Meryl Streep, “Look, I’ll tell you a story, all right? I once feel deeply, you know, profoundly in love with tropical fish. Had 60 goddamn fish tanks in my house. I skin dived to find just the right ones. Anisotremus virginicus, Holdacanthus ciliaris, Chaetodon capistratus. You name it. Then one day I say, “fuck fish”. I renounce fish. I vow never to set foot in that ocean again. That’s how much fuck fish. That was 17 years ago and I have never stuck so much as a toe in that ocean. And I love the ocean.”
Meryl Streep says, “But why?”
The man who used to love fish and who now loves orchids says, “Done with fish.”
Here’s my theory:
People aren’t born poets or painters or dancers or guitar players. They found out their time on this earth was worth those art almost by accident.
Tripped and fell and knocked over a bunch of words and they made a poem on the kitchen floor.
A person sound asleep sits up and walks down the hall and out the door and paints the moon on the side of a collapsing barn, wakes up in the middle of the day looking at the night they’d accidentally creates while sleepwalking. Then they keep on doing it because they get to stay a child.
A person picked up a guitar and found it bonded to their hands for three years instantly. They had no choice but to learn how to play it because if they didn’t learn how to play it they could never get tired of it and could never put it down and get on with the rest of their lives.
Anyways, we make beauty when we can, when we’re not too tired from trying to pay the electric bill and the water bill. And if you get pegged as a painter or a dancer or a guitar player, don’t forget that you’re a million other things too.
Okay, this was nice, but I have to go to work now.
Well, in ten minutes …
I have just enough time to read about Game of Thrones fan theories on Reddit, then I have to go to work. (There might be an ice dragon in the crypts beneath Winterfell ?)